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I had a very pleasant swim today up at Riverbank. It was a mellow morning there, and Rondi and I had our own lane for much of the session. Here’s what I did:
800 lcm warmup (400s, 200k, 200p)
100 (50 FL / 50 BK)
200 (50 FR + 100 K + 50 FR)
300 (100 FR + 50 BK / 50 BR + 100 FR)
400 (150 FR + 100 K + 150 FR)
500 (150 FR + 200 IM + 150 FR)
400 (100 FR + 200 K + 100 FR)
300 (100 FR + 50 FL / 50 BK + 100 FR)
200 (0 FR + 200 K + 0 FR)
100 (50 BK / 50 BR)
[This set was loosely inspired by one of pwb’s pyramid workouts that alternated IM and free, but I changed it up (ie watered it down) considerably.]
4 x 150 k/d/s, IM order
300 warmdown + play
After workout I went by for a session with my chiro/ART guy. He worked out a knot in my upper back that had been plaguing me for the last week and a half, and worked on my intercostals (rib muscles) some as well. The latter was pretty painful—certainly not as bad as the muscle spasms I was having there before Christmas, but still pretty excruciating. But if it ends up helping then I’m all for it!
I have applied for Stage Two of the 8 Bridges swim this summer. It felt like a leap of faith to sign up for a marathon swim right now, given the last couple of months—but I know that by June there’s every chance I’ll be back in good swimming form and the last few months of illness and injury will be a distant memory. I worried that signing up would make me more nervous and impatient about getting back in shape, but so far it’s had the opposite effect. Looking out at the Hudson from the Riverbank pool, and recalling how fun and amazing the 8Bridges swims were was last year, has made me calmer and more hopeful about my recovery, and genuinely hopeful that more good times lie ahead. I was definitely enjoying that this morning while I swam along!
. . . the chance to make the very first set of footprints in new-fallen snow!
That was me this morning—or at least I was among the first. I arrived back in the city yesterday, just in time for the first significant snowfall of the season (not counting the freaky snow back in October). This morning I enjoyed tromping through the sparkly white powder on my way to Riverbank. Luckily the subway was running and the pool open, and I enjoyed a nice swim, sharing a lane with Rondi and one or two other well behaved swimmers. Here’s what I did:
1000 lcm warmup (400s, 200k, 200p, 200d)
12 x 50 @ 1:00, desc. in sets of 3 [did first 3 sets FR, last set BK]
500-400-300-200-100, middle 100 of each swim BK, rest FR
400-300-200-100 FR, middle 100 of each fast
300-200-100 FR. middle 100 of each kick
200 warmdown + play
My goal today—and probably for the next few weeks--is to rebuild aerobic endurance while keeping things gentle enough to let my ribs finish healing. Freestyle feels good up through medium-fast speeds—sprinting still needs to wait a bit.
The snow was still falling when I left Riverbank—I think we've gotten about 5-6 inches so far. I love riding the elevated part of the train and seeing the snow accumulations of the rooftops! So pretty!
Today’s workout was a belated celebration of Hannah’s birthday. We enjoyed having our own side-by-side LCM lanes at the PCB aquatic center for the following swim:
100 IM piece (50 FL + 50 BK)
100 IM piece (50 BK + 50 BR)
Rounds 1-2 are warmup (drills for stroke if desired)
Rounds 3, 5, 7, and 9 are fast FR, easy ST
Rounds 4 and 8 are easy FR, fast ST
Round 6 is kick
Round 10 is warmdown
It was a fun set, and a good one to have a similarly paced workout buddy to swim with. I managed to complete everything except the kick—I missed 200 of that, for a 4800 lcm workout. We celebrated with a post-swim breakfast at the nearby Waffle House. It was packed at 9:30 this morning—I think we got the last two places at the counter!
This was the first of two belated birthday workouts on my agenda—I’ll do my own soon, once I can manage more than a 50 fly at once.
I was sad to see my NYC friends leave today--my one frustration with being down here where there are so many great places to swim is that I have to import swim buddies to enjoy them with me! But I’m going back to the city soon myself. I’m going to relish these last few days of outdoor swimming before heading back up to real winter.
Today was another two-swimsuit day. This morning I swam with Janet and Hannah in the gulf—Hannah and I swam ½ mile to the east, then back, all well beyond the first sand bar. The water was 58 degrees, air temp in the low 50s, but the sun was strong and there was little wind. The water was a little cloudy, but it was a delicious green, especially in the shallower parts, and I could see the sandy bottom from time to time. Janet said that a pelican flew right behind us for a while before it lost interest—I never saw it. There was also a flock of diving ducks floating in the water that we swam past as we went in. Afterwards warming up we picnicked on the beach—a great way to celebrate a glorious morning.
This afternoon we went over to the PCB aquatic center for a quick swim. Janet designed the workout, which I liked a lot. I stopped a little early because I was feeling sore in my ribs—sometimes I forget and do my flipturns a little too hard still. Here’s how it went:
800 scy warmup [I did 700]
4 x 100 FR/BK by 25s
4x through, ST = IM order
400 swim, done as 2 x (175 FR + 25 ST)
50 ST kick
50 ST drill
50 ST build
50 ST fast
[I made it though 3.5 of the rounds before warming down.]
4 x 100 something
The pool was great—the air temp had warmed up to the 60s, and there were a few clouds in the sky to keep things interesting. During warmup I spotted a big group of buzzards circling around something west of the pool—there must have been about 20 of them.
Today I swam at the PCB aquatic center with Hannah and Janet. As we drove up we noticed that the pool was set up lcm—hurray, a bonus long course day! (Usually it’s scy all weekend.) We had a short workout planned so that we would have enough energy for a post-workout adventure. Here’s what we did:
800 lcm warmup (400s, 100k, 200p, 100k)
4 x 50 d/s IM order
400 FR swim, last 100 fast
2 x 300 (100 fr + 100 bk + 100 fr)
3 x 200 FR, 6-beat kick on last 50
3 x 100 FR fast @ 3:00 [1:26, 1:22, 1:20]
I split a lane with Hannah, and we paced each other on all the FR parts of the workout, which was fun.
After our pool workout we drove an hour north to Morrison Spring in Ponce de Leon, FL. I had heard about this as a good place to swim, with a constant year-round temp of 68 degrees, so I decided to try it out while my visitors were in town. Besides the spring pool, there is an underwater cave there that attracts scuba divers—there were several dozen there when we arrived, most part of classes. There were no other swimmers. We ate a picnic lunch and lazed around in the sun a bit before trying out the water. It was lovely, cool and quite clear, with lots of fish and vegetation to look at on the bottom, and cypress trees surrounding the swimming area.
Two divers entering the springs
The bottom of the spring is the same white sand as the beaches here--not mucky at all.
You could swim downriver a ways from the springs—Hannah and Janet were braver than me and swam further after I turned back, and they reported some cabbage-like vegetation as the river grew shallower. We explored for about 20-30 minutes in the water before climbing out. On my way back upriver I saw a large turtle swimming below me. It’s definitely a place I want to return to!
Today I finally did the 12 Days of Christmas workout that I wrote in early December. A couple of friends from NYC are visiting me here, and we headed over to the pool midday. It was about 40 degrees when we set out, but clear and very sunny, and the pool felt delightful. Nice to have swim buddies again!
Here’s what I did:
Twelve Days of Christmas Workout
One of my workout partners was swim tourist extraordinaire Hannah, who has started her own blog about her 40-pools-in-2012 project. Today was pool number 4 for her, so she’s off to a good start!
Before our workout we went stopped by one of the local attractions here—the Museum of Man in the Sea. I pass it every time I drive to the pool—it’s a shed surrounded by various bathyspheres and submersibles and subs and such—and I’ve always been curious. It’s mostly a museum about diving technologies.
The exhibits on the early history of diving weren’t that impressive—they were basically dioramas featuring lots of Ken dolls—but once we got to the late nineteenth- and twentieth-century artifacts it got more interesting. There was an impressive array of diving helmets through the ages,
various diving suits and rebreathers, and submarines—lots of submarines! And Sealab!
A lot of the underwater contraptions came via the local Navy Special Systems Center in Panama City. My faves were the tiny submarines and swimmer transport vehicles, although actually being in them didn’t look like much fun. This contraption can put divers under in a pressurized environment before they actually descend—kind of a human pressure cooker:
There was also a cool board of knots:
Being a man in the sea apparently requires lots of knots.
As for our own women-in-the-sea experiences, those will have to wait a day or two. Yesterday afternoon the beach was littered with man-o-wars—many of them no bigger than a fingernail, but some larger ones too. The unusually strong winds the previous couple of days must have blown them inland. I usually wait a day or two until after they disappear from the beach before venturing in again, so a swim in the gulf will have to wait. But there’s still hope for some ow swimming tomorrow—we’re travelling up to check out a spring-fed swimming locale. I’ll report back once we’ve been!
I had a nice solo workout this morning. It was a warm clear morning, and I got to watch the sun rise and the moon set—it was lovely. The water temp was a degree or two cooler than usual—they like to keep it around 80-82 here in the winter—so I thought it was just perfect.. (I suspect the pool slept without its covers overnight—it was extremely windy yesterday, which makes putting them on a challenge for the guards—and that made the water temp drop a bit.)
Here’s what I did:
1200 lcm warmup (400s, 200k, 200p, 4 x 100 d/s RIM)
3 x 100 FR desc. @ 1:50 [1:45, 1:35, 1:30]
3 x 100 FR/BK halfsies, desc., @ 2:05 [1:50, 1:41, 1:33]
3 x 100 IM desc @ 2:15 [1:45, 1:42, 1:35]
6 x 100 FR practicing [ame="http://forums.usms.org/showpost.php?p=242825&postcount=28"]chaos’s 2:3 drill [/ame]with my tempo trainer
400 straight, done as 150fr / 50bk / 50br / 150fr (free done moderate-fast with higher-than-usual cadence)
4 x 100 (50 kick / 50 swim with 6-beat kick) @ 2:15
400 play + warmdown
I was glad to finally add some IM back into my workout—just a little today, but I hope I can gradually increase it. I’m enjoying playing with my stroke cadence with the tempo trainer.
Today a couple of friends arrive for the weekend—looking forward to doing some fun workouts with them during their stay, plus perhaps exploring a new swim venue! It’s turning cloudy and cold just in time for their arrival, but I think we’ll have some better weather over the next few days!
I swam a solo workout during lc lap swim this morning. There was a small wisp of pink in the sky as I drove over to the pool, but otherwise it was a grey morning—clouds completely covered the sky, and it misted on and off during my swim. I kept hoping for a proper rainstorm—I love swimming in the rain—but mist is all I got. Here’s what I did:
1000 lcm warmup (400s, 200k, 200p, 200d)
6 x (3 x 50 desc. ez/med/med-fast):
sets 1-4 FR @ 1:00 [50 > 41]
sets 5-6 BK @ 1:05 [55 > 43]
2 x 200 FR (100 kick w/ snorkel + 100 swim with 6-beat kick)
5 x 100 FR playing with tempo trainer and various stroke rates
2 x (3 x 50 FR desc. @ :55) at 68 spm [45 > 41. That’s a faster cadence than the previous 50s descend, and although the fastest 50s weren’t faster, they felt a little less effortful.]
400 kick (mostly FR, some BR) w/ snorkel [I figured out that I can kick without discomfort if I use my snorkel and just hold my arms out in front, in “superman” position, rather than trying to streamline.]
400 warmdown + play
Afterwards I did a long stretching session. It felt good.
There were two articles in the local paper about the gulf today. A dolphin got into distress a few miles up the coast from me, was helped out by folks on the beach, then insisted on swimming back to its pod before a rescue team could arrive. And an area diver discovered a new species of shrimp that looks like a red twig. Cool stuff going on out in the water, always!
This morning I had a nice morning swim at the PCB Aquatic Center. I got to the pool a little after 6 just as the sky was lightening (sunrise is around 6:45). There were 8 swimmers there already—it took a few moments to determine this, since fog obscured the far end of the pool—so I shared the lane with an affable swimmer I hadn’t met before. (Between the military and southern traditions here, I end up getting “ma’am”-ed a lot by young male poolmates.)
As I did my workout a beautiful sunrise unfolded—there were plenty of clouds that made the whole sky rosy. Here’s what I did:
1000 lcm warmup (400s, 200k, 200s, 200d)
5 x 100: 1 FR pull, 1 FR w/ snorkel, 1 BK, 1 FR w/ snorkel, 1 pull
100-200-300-400-500 ladder: middle 100 of all swims = BK, all else = FR breathing to sunrise side
200 warmdown (100k, 100s)
It’s really too bad the moniker “Chicken of the Sea” is already taken—it described me perfectly today!
It was another lovely day here—we’ve really lucked out with the weather this year—with air temps in the 70s, water temp 61, bright and sunny, light winds. The gulf was fairly calm and very clear, and there was just a bit of surf breaking at shore and at the first sandbar. I went out mid-day for a swim. Because the tide was fairly high, I decided there was probably sufficient depth to swim between shore and the first sandbar, so that’s what I did, heading east about 15 yards out from shore.
After swimming maybe 400 yards or so, and not seeing much of anything, I suddenly spotted a big white blob right ahead. Jellyfish! It was a little bigger than a bowling ball, and seemed to be settled down right on the sandy bottom. But because the water was only3-4 feet deep, that seemed too close to me, so I veered right to swim around it. The blog drifted right too, so I veered sharply left. It seemed to wander left as well. At this point I was pretty much right over it, so I just closed my eyes and swam fast for a few strokes. I got past it, but once I couldn’t see the thing for some reason I started feeling very afraid. I ended up turning towards shore and swimming in.
Once up on the sand I walked by the water’s edge for a bit, telling myself it was silly to be so scared of a jellyfish, especially one of those white blobby ones that don’t even sting. I slowly worked my courage up for getting back in, and started to do so, when I spotted another jellyfish rolling around in the surf. Oof! It was a cabbage-head (brown-and-white) one, which do sting. It was in the breaking waves right by the shore, and I assumed it would get washed up on the beach, but as I watched it seemed to make its way down under the waves and work itself back out to deeper waters. Some articles I’ve read about jellies assume that their movements are completely determined by waves and winds—that doesn’t square with my experience of them!
After watching the cabbage-head swim back out into the gulf, I decided that I really didn’t want to get back in after all. So I walked along the shore back to my starting point, and got dressed. I wasn’t ready to go back inside, though—it was too pretty a day, I really wanted to swim, and I didn’t want to end on a scared note—so I stood there awhile and watched the waves. I decided that maybe swimming in the shallow water inside the first sandbar wasn’t a great ideas—too close to any bottom-dwelling critters—so instead I would swim out past the sandbar, even though I’m still a little skittish about that. So I got undressed, got in, and did just that. Once past the sandbar I swam a little ways east, but stopped short or where I had seen the jellies, then swam back. I was feeling a little nervous out there, so I decided to think of 5 things I was not afraid of in the gulf. Nothing came to mind. At least I saw no jellies out here.
I body surfed in past the sandbar, then decided that that had been so much fun that I would do it again. So once more I waded over the sandbar, navigating the surf, which had grown a little bigger by this time, swam east, turned around, swam back, then bodysurfed in. I waded back out to the top of the sandbar and took off my goggles and looked around—it was a glorious view, surrounded by water and with an expansive view of the sky. I finally felt calm and at peace. I swam slowly in, floated a bit in the emerald water, then waded in to shore.
Just a few steps to go before I cleared the water, I looked down, and what did I see but . . . another one of my friends! This jellyfish was a harmless white one, and seemed flattened down against the bottom, just inches away from my foot. It wasn’t quite as big as a manhole cover, but it was pretty big. I just laughed and skipped quickly out of the waves.
It was a gorgeous day here. This morning I went over to the pool for a quick scy swim. Some of the masters I had met last year were there, but there was no group workout—we each did our own thing. Here’s my short workout:
1000 warmup (400s, 200k, 200p, 200d)
10 x 100, odds = FR pull, evens = FR/BK halfsies (with flip turns!)
I'm adding in flipturns gradually--they're still a little uncomfortable for my injured ribs, and just because I can do some now doesn't mean I need to do a whole workout's worth of them. Ditto breaststroke and dolphin kicking. I'm trying to take things slow and be patient with the progress that I'm making--I will really be glad when I can get back to full training though.
The pool was being very well used this morning—the college team from Sewanee is visiting, plus the kids team was there. All 20 lanes were full. We lap swimmers had to split lanes! It was nice to have so much energy on deck and in the water—good coaches can be fun to be around even if they’re not coaching you specifically. And it was nice to see my masters buddies from last year. I was sad but not surprised to learn that there are no longer coached masters workouts down here anymore—the coach that was running them has grown too busy. With only about a dozen masters swimmers using the pool, and them wanting to swim at different times of day, it’s hard to sustain a program—much to the frustration of those few who like doing group workouts and doing meets.
When I got home it was so beautiful out that I decided to go for a beach swim too. The sky was brilliant blue and cloudless, and the water was a sparkling light green, very clear and calm. I swam 500 yards down the beach and back, then floated around for awhile—the water was 60 degrees, and very comfortable with the strong sun shining overhead. It was such a delightful sensation being surrounded by the translucent green water—like floating inside a gemstone.
I enjoyed a wonderful swim in the gulf today. It was very cold last night—23 degrees for the low, which is about as cold as it ever gets in the winter here. But by 9:30 this morning air temp was up to 37, the sun was shining brilliantly, and some moderate north winds had made the gulf as calm as a lake—there were a few ripples, but no waves, plus the water was exceedingly clear. The nearest buoy in Panama City Beach read 57. The bluff above the beach was sheltering the sand from most of the wind--this, combined with the sun, it was a very pleasant place to be. I headed out for a swim.
I walked along the sand first for a ways to check for jellies—just saw one big white ones, nothing scary. As I was heading back the sheriff’s office truck that patrols the beach and collects trash went by. I asked if they had seen any man-o-wars (I had seen a couple a few days ago)—they had not, just a few moon jellies like the one I saw. Good!
Once back at the chair I undressed quickly and headed into the water. Zoooowwwwie! It was painfully cold. I waded in up to my knees, then a little further, trying to catch my breath as I got used to the biting cold. I was originally hoping to swim a mile today, but I started to reconsider—no way this water was 57! I told myself I would duck under and start swimming after 10 breaths, so I started counting, got to 11, then told myself 20 would be the magic number. It wasn’t. I started over, and this time after the tenth breath I dove in and started stroking.
I am often skittish about swimming out past the sandbar, even though the deeper water there is the best place to swim for any sort of distance. For the last few days I have swum in the limited space between the shore and the first sandbar, even though that means changing course often to stay in sufficiently deep water. Today I resolved that I would be brave and swim out past the sandbar, so I immediately headed towards it. After a dozen strokes I had reached it, and had to stand up and wade over it to get to deeper water. Once I was to swimmable depths again, the water was significantly warmer. It felt downright balmy after the frigid water right by shore—it was 57 at least, probably warmer. In retrospect it makes sense the 2-3 feet of water inland of the sandbar had cooled way down overnight, and hadn’t had much opportunity to warm up in the sun. With no waves, it hadn’t mixed much with the warmer, deeper sea beyond.
I swam comfortably towards the beach flags ½ mile to the east. Apart from some shrimp tunnels I didn’t see anything other than an endless sandy bottom. The sun felt good and made the water sparkle, and I enjoyed the deep green of the gulf. I was a little nervous swimming out beyond the sandbar—I always imagine that there are scary sea creatures out there, though I’ve rarely seen any—but I kept telling myself to just put my head down and swim, and that’s what I did.
Once I reached the flags I turned around and swam back. The temperature continued to be comfortable, and there was negligible current or wind in either direction. The tide was heading in, and it sometimes pushed me further in towards the sandbar than I wanted to be—I could tell by the bottom getting closer, but also by the water getting colder. Occasionally I turned over to do backstroke and enjoy the view of the sky. At one point I startled when I spotted a couple of dark things rising up from the water about 30 meters away . . . turned out they were pelicans floating on the water. I stopped and waved to them, but they didn’t acknowledge me.
When I got to within 100m of my starting point I headed back in over the sandbar—I had to stop and wade over it again, as the water was mid-calf at the shallowest parts. Once inland I swam the final distance to my chair, and that was enough time in the cold inland water to thoroughly chill me. I stayed in just a little longer to explore some underwater rocks just west of where I started—not too much to see there—before I exited the water and quickly put on my parka and boots. I was pleased with my mile swim, and proud of going past the sandbar. It bugs me a little that I’m so skittish about swimming out from shore here, and I’m hoping that my apprehension of what might be out there will lessen as I swim more in the gulf. It took me a while at Brighton to be confident and happy when swimming on my own, and to not imagine that every shadow or ripple was something dangerous. I wish that confidence transferred automatically to swimming in new waters, but it doesn’t seem to.
At sunset tonight something magical happened. There are great blue herons that live down here, but I rarely see them—usually only once or twice during a season. This evening one flew in and landed on the beach right in front a few minutes after sunset. We watched as it stood by the water for a long time, then slowly took a few steps back and forth right at the water’s edge. After a while a second heron flew low by right beside the first, then they both took off and flew down the beach. They stayed there for a while before flying back down our way, settling about 20 yards away from each other. I’ve never seen more than one heron at a time down here—they’re big graceful birds, fairly shy of people, and fun to watch, especially during their unexpectedly awkward take-offs and landings. I hope they come back to visit soon.
Today was a special treat—a LCM swim in the middle of the day. Usually the only lc hours are 6-9 on weekday mornings, but the pool was closed during those hours today due to temps dropping below 30 last night. Instead, it opened at 11, and was set up long course—probably at the request of one of the visiting teams, Delta State, who was working out at that hour. I arrived at the pool around 11:30, chatted a bit with the Delta State coaches, who were very friendly, then hopped in one of the empty lanes for the following gentle workout:
1000 warmup (400s, 200k, 200p, 200dr)
5 x 200 FR @ 3:45, odds pull, evens swim [held these at 3:15-2:20]
5 x 100 BK/FR halfsies @ 2:05 [descended 1:55 > 1:40]
200 warmdown + play
In the warm pool under the strong midday sun I forgot what a cold day it was. Getting out I was reminded—temps only got into the mid-40s here today, plus there was a brisk wind. Hurray for swim parkas!
In the locker room I met a visiting masters swimmer from Germany. I had noticed her in the next lane clipping off 1:30s on some longish freestyle swims. We talked about Worlds in Italy next summer—she’s made her reservations for the meet already—and about IGLA champs in Iceland, and about the ups and downs of training as masters athletes. I liked her and hope to see her at the pool again soon.
Delta State facts: The Statesmen and Lady Statesmen (why do colleges give their women’s teams such awful nicknames) are a DII program from Cleveland, MS, and their colors are dark green and white. The Fighting Okra is the university’s unofficial mascot. They heard about the PCB pool from other coaches at nationals last year. They’re not planning any open-water training sessions while they’re at the beach, at least not after today’s cold weather. Three Lady Statesmen who retired to the locker room early report that drylands have been brutal during this training trip. They have a sweet 50m pool back home, but it’s indoors.
In beach news, yesterday I was a little concerned to see a couple of man-o-wars washed up on the sand. But I only saw 2 in a long beach walk, and today I saw none, so maybe we won’t have an invasion of the little beasties. If all looks clear tomorrow I might opt for the gulf over the pool, even though the water temp has dropped a bit and is now in the high-50s.
I had a beautiful swim in the gulf today. The water was a gorgeous turquoise green, and very sparkly in the bright sunlight. A northwest wind had tamped the waves down a bit from yesterday’s boisterousness, and with less wave action the sand that had made the water cloudy settled out, making for great visibility. I could see the bottom everywhere I swam, and when I looked out underwater into the distance the delicious greenness just seemed to go on forever.
I swam easy about 500 meters down the beach and back, then floated and played for quite awhile. I was wearing a red swimsuit, and when I submerged and looked up at the waters’ surface I could see its reflection surrounded by the turquoise water. The floor of the gulf was pockmarked by ghost shrimp tunnel entrances—they look like small anthills, and feel a little crunchy when you step on them. I felt them yesterday when I was in, and could see them today. I tried not to put my feet down too much, because I didn’t like the idea of wrecking the little shrimpie’s homes. I did dive down to get a closer look at them. Sometimes small gobi fish hide out in these tunnels but I didn’t see any today.
The population of ghost shrimp tends to fluctuate quite a bit down here—when it is high, they produce lots of castings, which float up on shore and mark the outline of the waves:
I just started seeing these lines the last couple of days—they weren’t here when I first arrived. I’m guessing the recent warm weather may have something to do with the ghost shrimp boom.
There are also spots in the gulf where there are lots of castings in the ridges on the bottom—I mostly try to avoid these, but when I do swim over them they are quite a bit warmer than the surrounding water. Maybe the dark castings absorb more heat than the white sand—the same thing happens when I swim over the occasional dark rock formation.
I also saw a few clear jellies on the beach this morning—luckily I didn’t run into any when I was swimming. There have been purple flags up for the last few days, but I have seen only a few jellies in the water or on the beach. Here’s a nice fresh one that rolled in just as I was walking past this morning:
I have been enjoying the days in the 70s, but the weather is supposed to return to more seasonal temps tomorrow. This year 4 out-of-town teams are doing training trips at the pool. I might go in tomorrow for an early-morning lc swim.
After a bit of a setback right before Christmas I am back in the water . . . a little. Yesterday I ventured into the gulf just to test how a brief swim felt. The water was 61, the air temp in the high 60s, and there were breaking waves at the shore and again out at the first sandbar, about 30m out. I navigated past the waves and swam a little bit back and forth along the shoreline. After a week of being out of the water, it felt like being home again. I swam for about 10-15 minutes, then stayed in for a bit and floated and looked up at the sky while the waves bobbed me up and down. It was very peaceful, and I felt very grateful to be surrounded by water in such a beautiful place.
Today the conditions were pretty much the same, only with a few more waves. I went in at high tide, so the water was deep enough to the shore side of the sandbar to do some real swimming (but never so deep that it was above my head). Here’s what it looked like from the 4th floor balcony—the waves never look as big from up there as they do once you’re down on the beach:
I swam back and forth a quarter-mile stretch for about 30 minutes today, and it felt good. The water was intensely green. Visibility wasn’t great—I could see where the bottom was, but it looked pretty cloudy. I didn’t see any sea creatures directly, but I did see the sand suddenly shift around a couple of times as I was swimming over it, so there might well have been rays underneath me (the ones that live close to shore here are very light--the same color as the sand—and can be difficult to see unless the water is really clear). There was a pretty strong current going eastwards, so twice I swam that way until the end of my course, then let the current bring me back to my starting point while I floated on my back. Glad to be back in the water, and happy to close out 2011 with a final swim in the sea!
I am trying to be patient and take things very slowly this time around as my rib heals up. It’s been a little frustrating because the weather and water here have been close to perfect for swimming in the gulf all this past week—I just want to hop in and go! As long as the weather stays this pretty, and the gulf this swimmable, I’ll probably devote the limited amount of swimming I’m doing to the open-water. Hoping to get in a nice New Years Swim tomorrow! (There is a “polar bear plunge” scheduled at the Watercolor Resort, just down the road from here—but it’s hard to take that name seriously when water temps are in the 60s!)
Happy New Years everyone!
I had a nice solo swim this morning at my Florida pool. The kids’ team was working there—they were in 5 of 8 lanes when I arrived, with 3 lap swimmers in the other 3 lanes. The sweetheart of a guy who coaches the team offered to consolidate the kids so that I could have my very own lane too—I assured him that splitting a long course lane with another lap swimmer really wasn’t a hardship, and that I could even (horrors) circle swim if need be. He seemed surprised. Lap swimmers here are spoiled!
Here’s what I did:
1000 lcm warmup (400s, 200k, 200p, 200s)
100 FR @ 1:45
200 FR @ 3:30
300 FR @ 5:15
400 FR @ 7:00
300 FR @ 5:15
200 FR @ 3:30
100 FR @ 1:45
[Goal of set was to go faster on the way down than on the way up the pyramid—I did, going 2-5 seconds under 1:30 pace for the 4/3/2/1 (The first 3 swims were all around 1:35 pace.)]
6 x 200 @ :15 rest: odds IM kick, evens FR pull or IM swim
Today I enjoyed a short swim at the end of a long and busy travel day. I got to visit one of my all-time favorite pools, the Panama City Beach Aquatic Center. I was hoping to run into some swim buddies when I headed over there this afternoon, and as soon as I pulled into the parking lot I saw a couple of familiar faces heading to the pool. I hadn’t seen Paul or Wil since last winter, so I took a few minutes to catch up before we headed in for a swim. Here’s what I did:
700 scy warmup
Then I did the beginning of a workout with 3 Paul, David, and John:
3 x 200 @ 3:30, desc. [I did fr/bk halfsies, 2:59, 2:50, 2:39]
3 x 150 @ 2:30, desc. [I did fr/bk/fr sandwiches, 2:15, 2:06, 2:00]
100 warmdown [There was more to the workout, but I was tired and wanted to get some food before I collapsed. I was glad I got in a swim, though, especially since some subtle pink clouds poked out of the drizzly sky during the sunset. I love swimming outdoors!]
This swim puts me over 700 miles for the year. That seems like a lot.
And before I sign off, a little holiday gift to everyone who is traveling and perhaps working out in unfamiliar pools—I really like this poem by Alison Luterman, about dealing with less-than-ideal lap swim conditions:
Because Even the Word Obstacle is an Obstacle
I had a very pleasant swim this morning at Riverbank, with Hannah and special guest lanemate Carolyn, who got up extra-early to start out her day in the city with a swim. I’m glad she did, both because it was great to see her and because it ensured I made it to the pool! The three of us had our own lane. Here’s how it went:
1000 lcm warmup (400s, 200k, 200p, 200s)
Basic set: 500 / 400 / 300 / 200 / 100 swim, with 2 x 50 kick after each swim
Embellishments: (1) Middle 100 of each swim is backstroke, and (2) last 50 of each swim is fast.
FAQ: The middle 100 of 100 = the entire swim.
[We didn’t think of adding the embellishments until after the first 500, so that part was a little long, but it got livelier from there. We were able to kick 3-across in the lane since the pool wasn’t crowded.]
21 x 50, multiples of 3 = BR, multiples of 4 = BK, multiples of 7 = FL, earlier in IM trumps later in IM
500 warmdown + play
My goal today was just to swim some yardage and have fun without doing anything too intense, and I achieved that. I’m still exploring what I can do in the water without too much discomfort. On the last 100 of the descend set, I found that the faster I swam my backstroke, the less painful it was. After playing around a bit more, I generalized this finding: the better form I swim with, ie the tighter I keep my core, the less discomfort I have. It makes sense that keeping my body as straight and firm as possible protects the sore rib and intercostals. I get into trouble when I do stuff that allows my upper back to arch—looking up when breathing on fly and breaststroke, twisting instead of rotating on backstroke (or freestyle), breathing too late on fly. Those are all technique errors I know I’m prone to and try to avoid, so I guess it’s in some ways nice to have immediate feedback when I do them. I was surprised and pleased that I could do fly with minimal discomfort today. I still can’t dolphin kick on my back or streamline well, though, so those 12 days of Christmas will still have to wait!
The embellished descend set gave me another idea for a Christmas set though: a pyramid, or tree, of FR swims that everyone in the lane gets to add an "ornament" to (like the embellishments above). You could end up with some fun and complicated swims, depending on the number and creativity of the swimmers involved.
This morning I swam at Riverbank with John, but we each did our own workouts. The weather has turned cold here—24 when I left the apartment—and the pool was pretty quiet. Here’s what I did:
1000 lcm warmup (400s, 200k, 200p, 200 d/s)
8 x 200 FR @ 3:30, odds pull, evens swim, desc. [went from 3:28 > 3:10 on the pulls, 3:25 > 3:02 on the swims]
400 moderate swim alt FR/BK by 50s
300 play + warmdown
It was easy to descend the 200s—I started out pretty tight and sore and loosened up as I went along, plus grew more confident pushing myself. The rib feels better, but I still can’t streamline fully or do fast flip turns, so I was glad to be swimming longcourse.
Today was my first time trying to swim since Wednesday, and the first day asthma symptoms haven’t hampered my swimming since Thanksgiving weekend. After a couple weeks of struggling in the water and trying to find ways of swimming without making my breathing or rib injury worse, I finally just gave up and spent the week recuperating. I also heeded my doctor’s advice to take enough pain and cough meds to make sure I am sleeping through the night, and that’s made a world of difference in my mood and energy levels. I generally don’t like the haziness I get from such drugs, but it was the perfect accompaniment to evenings curled up on the couch watching televised Nutcracker productions—it really brings out their magic and delight. All in all, it was a very restorative week.
And now that I have some energy and am feeling good again I am enjoying all the festiveness of the city at Christmastime. We had a nice dinner out last night to celebrate my return to health, and walked around the neighborhood enjoying the lights and trees and general atmosphere. I do feel a bit like Rip van Winkle—the space between Thanksgiving weekend and now all seems a little condensed and blurry, and the holidays are unexpectedly here. At least I have a few days to enjoy the city and get things done before heading down to Florida—I’m very much looking forward to some warmer weather and some nice beach time down there.
I swam at Riverbank this morning with swim buddies John, Rondi, and Hannah. It was a make-up birthday workout of sorts—I missed my birthday swim last week because I was under the weather. Rondi brought in fun bubble swim caps with flowers for us to wear in honor of the day. Here’s mine:
Birthday cap, with today’s swimsuit in background.
Looking forward to wearing these for some beach synchro next season!
I’m still not back up to swimming workouts. A respiratory infection that responded only to a second course of antibiotics left me with some pretty severe asthma symptoms that I’m still struggling to get back under control. But I am clearly on the mend at this point, and today was able to swim some laps of easy freestyle and backstroke while my pals did a more challenging workout. It felt good to be back in the water, and really great to be swimming with friends again after a couple of weeks off.
My challenge right now is swimming at a pace that does not trigger any asthma symptoms, which is to say a pace that doesn’t make me breathe hard. I have once again found my tempo trainer useful. Now instead of playing “beat the beeps,” though, I’m playing “don’t beat the beeps.” I set the TT for :25 - :28 seconds, then slow down if I get to the 25/50/75/100m marks before the beeps sound. If I start coughing or have trouble breathing, I just set the tt a little slower. At first I was dismayed to be limited to swimming so slowly, but after a few lengths discovered that I was finding joy in just being in the water and in moving around regardless of how fast or hard I was going.
I’m also currently hampered by a rib injury that I sustained coughing—no flip turns or tight streamlining or short axis strokes for me just yet. I was majorly bummed when this happened last week—I knew it was a possibility once I started having bad asthma symptoms, because I’d cracked a rib once before from asthma-related coughing spasms. I’m sure I’ll be bummed about this again, once my breathing is all better and the rib injury is what’s holding me back from full training. But today, at least, I’m in that post-health-scare state of just being really grateful that things are finally headed in the right direction, and feeling optimistic that even if it takes awhile I will get back to feeling (and swimming) like I think I ought.
And once things are all better I’m looking forward to the birthday make-up swim, part two—this one involving the workout David wrote for the occasion. My friends did it without me last week, so they’ve gotten a preview of the fun—it involves a 4500m set that finishes with a 250 fly. It’s a fun crazy challenge to look forward to—and one that I’ll definitely wear my new black flower swim cap for! It seems like it might take a while before I'm ready to tackle the set—I’m thinking I will probably save it until sometime after the new year, maybe down at my Florida pool--but I will eventually get my birthday properly aquatically celebrated!!