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  1. A mountain on 10th Avenue

    I had a fun time at the TNYA workout at John Jay College this morning. It was a little less crowded than usual because about 60 of my teammates are attending the team’s swim and dive camp in Ft. Lauderdale this week. Still, I had plenty of good lanemates to keep me company. Sean coached, and this is what we did:

    600 scy warmup

    Warmup set: 4x thru, IM order
    50 kick @ 1:00
    50 drill @ :55
    50 swim @ :50
    100 IM @ 1:40

    Main set mountain
    100 pull @ 1:35
    200 swim @ 3:10
    300 pull @ 4:45
    400 swim @ 6:20
    500 pull @ 7:55
    1:00 rest
    500 swim @ 7:30
    400 pull @ 6:00
    300 swim @ 4:30
    200 pull @ 3:00
    100 swim @ 1:30
    [Instructions were to stay long on the way up and build (both within swims and within ladder) on the way down. I alternated FR and BK on the 200 and 400 swims on the way up, then on the way down mixed them up as needed to keep good space around me. A couple of guys who tend to go out very fast and then (euphemism ahead) end up a little less so were leading the lane—I didn’t want to go ahead of them because I dislike having people on my feet during the first part of my swims—so I just switched to backstroke when I caught up, which worked out well. It was actually pretty fun having rabbits to chase down, and the challenge of seeing how soon after the halfway point I could switch to backstroke kept me amused on the longer pieces.]

    100 warmdown

  2. A windy beach day

    I enjoyed a sweet swim out at Brighton Beach today with the CIBBOWS crew. The day did not look promising—it has turned a little colder here, and it was very windy—but when I arrived there was a decent contingent of hardy swimmers gathered on the beach in their parkas. They were all gathered around Gilles, who was putting together a contraption of some sort—turned out it was a towable feeding station. It was very elaborate and well thought out, and we all watched and speculated about the chances it would work in the choppy water as he put the finishing touches on his creation.

    The water was bracing. Cara got a reading of 50 on her thermometer, four degrees warmer than last week, but we all agreed it felt a little colder than that, maybe because of the waves or cloudy conditions. I wasn’t too slow getting in today, and was rewarded with water that was exceptionally clear. I swam towards the west, into the wind. The conditions were very bouncy and fun—not too much chop. It felt wonderful just swimming along. About 50 meters into the swim I noticed three seagulls hovering over me as I swam, about 15 to 30 inches from the water’s surface. I turned over on my back and tried shooing them away, then tried explaining that I had no food for them, but neither tactic worked—they stayed right over me and followed me wherever I went. That was a little creepy, but I decided I could live with it.

    After I while I turned back. Gilles was just getting in the water with his feeding station, so I swam back to see how that would work. On the way I spotted one spider crab, and then another. I hovered over the second one watching it scuttle along the bottom, and even dove down to get a better view. I thought about touching it, but I haven’t quite gotten that brave yet. I tried showing it to Hsi-Ling and Capri, who were both nearby, but they were both taken with their own adventures in the choppy water so I watched the show alone.

    After a bit Gilles waved and called to me, so I stroked further out from shore to where he was swimming with Brad and Eli. By this time I had finally lost my seagull, but I noticed a couple swimming over Brad, who was doing backstroke. (He later told me he had tried throwing handfuls of water at the birds to try and get them to go away, but that that had no affect on them). The feeding station was floating along very stably in the waves as Gilles towed it behind him—cool! I swam with them for a briefly, then decided I wanted to head back in closer to shore to see if I could see more crabs.

    One of Brad’s seagulls followed me as I swam in. I saw a couple of big horseshoe crabs together on the bottom, and a few other more common ones. I floated on my back, thinking that I’d like to stay in being tossed by the waves all day, but knowing it was time to get out. As I headed up to my blanket, which was mostly buried, I could feel the sand crunching in my teeth. Too much grinning on the beach on windy days will do that to you!

    For once I had brought too few rather than too many clothes, and I got a little chilled on the beach as I waited for the other swimmers to come back in. I did just enough swimming today to remind myself how wonderful and free it feels to be out in the ocean, no matter the conditions. It makes me happy to contemplate a whole spring of training out here with friends ahead of me.

    But back to those seagulls—what were they thinking? Cara was also closely followed. I’ve had them do this before at Brighton, but not to this extent. When they weren’t following swimmers today, they were diving into the water and retrieving bits of seaweed and fighting over crabs onshore. I’m not sure how they obtained the crabs they were fighting over. I didn’t see any of the diving seagulls get one—the crabs I saw crawling along the bottom were in chest-deep water or deeper, and the seagulls I saw diving only submerged a couple of feet or so. It made me wonder whether the gulls were waiting to steal crabs from larger predators that could reach them, and hoped that might be us. (I didn’t dive down and bring a crab to the surface to test that theory.) Also, the three of us who were closely tracked were all wearing pink caps. Maybe I’ll try another color next week!
  3. Celebrating getting older

    This morning I had a playdate at Riverbank with three swim buddies. John, Rondi, Hannah, and I met up for a fun belated birthday swim for John. He had done his real one a few weeks ago in Florida. After that effort—37x300m on a lively interval—we thought he deserved a more relaxed celebration in the pool. We all wore our special birthday swim caps, and John and I wore our team cupcake suits from last year’s MIMS. Here’s how it went:

    900 lcm warmup

    Birthday set: 37 x 50 @ :60
    Odds = easy BK, evens = fast FR, primes = corkscrew (primeness trumps evenness or oddity)
    [Usually when I’m doing sets that involve switching between FR and BK, my focus is keeping my torso in one piece when I rotate, and on maintaining a strong kick on both strokes. I got to practice that a lot today, and the addition of corkscrew to the mix really upped the challenge on keeping the core firm and aligned. This ended up being a lot of corkscrew swimming—I settled on 8 rotations in one direction then 8 in the other to avoid getting too dizzy. There was plenty of time during these 50s to ponder the distribution of primes. Prime pairs are all well and good, but I really savored the non-prime pairs (25/27! 33/35!) once we finally got to them.]

    400 easy swim

    8 x (20-yard sprint, 35 yards easy) [4 kick, 2 FR, 2 BK]

    200 warmdown + play

    The pool was really hopping this morning—at one point we had 8 swimmers in our lane, and the adjacent ones were pretty full too. The Columbia masters team is off this week, so many of those swimmers are using Riverbank instead. I got to visit with friends from there whom I hadn’t seen in a while—between the birthday festivities and the chatting, it was a fairly social swim today. Hurray for birthdays!
  4. Workout with team, and more

    This morning I went to the morning TNYA workout at John Jay college. Brad coached, and I had a lane full of good lanemates—lots of camaraderie and banter made the time fly. Here’s what I did:

    750 scy warmup: 250 swim, 200 pull, 150 kick, 100 IM, 50 double-arm backstroke

    7 x 50 pieces of IM @ :55 (fl, fl/bk, bk, bk/br, br, br/fr, fr)

    Main set
    300 pull @ 4:30
    2 x 200 FR @ 3:00
    3 x 100 IM @ 1:40
    4 x 50 kick @ 1:00
    100 ez
    1:00 rest
    300 pull @ 4:15
    2 x 200 IM @ 3:30
    3 x 100 FR desc. @ 1:30, 1:25, 1:30
    4 x 50 kick @ 1:00
    100 easy

    2 x 125 (75 build, :15 rest, 25 sprint, :15 rest, 25 sprint) @ 3:00

    300 warmdown

    TNYA’s workout finishes at 8, and I was meeting a friend at 9:30 for weights at the Y, about 10 minutes away. This morning when I was packing my bag I was puzzling on what I would do with the time in between—my plan had been to row, but I did rowing class last night and wasn’t excited about more of that again so soon. Then I remembered that years ago I had bought a pass for lap swimming at the pool where TNYA’s workout was held, but never used it more than a couple of times. Lap swimming starts right after practice ends so . . . since I was told when I bought it (in the late 1990s!) that it never expired, I decided today would be a good time to test that. It worked! I got to stay and swim for another good bit before heading over to the Y. That’s a good thing to know about for days when I want to do some longer swims—the college’s lap swim hours on Thursday are from 8-6, and today I had my own lane the whole time I stayed (and indeed, for most of the swim, my own pool).

    I decided to do the rest of the HVT workout I had started on Tuesday, with the IM distances tweaked a bit (Hannah’s suggestion). It was supposed to be a quality IM set, but I got pretty tired and hungry after the first round and the quality started slipping away fast:

    10 x 25 @ :45, odds fast (4 bk, 3 br, 2 fr, 1 fl)
    100 IM fast @ 1:30 [1:16]
    4 x 50 recovery FR @ 1:00

    10 x 25 @ :40, odds fast (4 br, 3 fr, 2 fl, 1 bk)
    200 IM fast @ 3:30 [3:02]
    4 x 50 recovery FR @ 1:00

    10 x 25 @ :35, odds fast (4 fr, 3 fl, 2 bk, 1 br)
    400 IM fast @ 6:30 [6:20]
    4 x 50 recovery FR @ 1:00

    300 warmdown + play

    That was it—I like that set and want to return to it on a day when I can do all four rounds in the same workout, and give it the good effort it deserves.

    Weights were fun to do with a friend, and afterwards I was pretty tired. But then, on the way home, I got a message from swim buddy John that he was headed out to the beach! I was really glad. The morning after my little adventure with the spider crabs on Tuesday (they more or less frightened me out of the water), I had woken up thinking “You know, those crabs—they were really kind of neat!” I kept on thinking about them, and really wanted to see them again, but I knew they would probably be gone by the weekend. So when I got John’s message, I decided to to head out to the beach as well, just in case they were still there. I knew there was a good chance they wouldn’t be—wildlife sightings are pretty transitory at the beach—but I at least wanted to go check it out.

    I quickly packed a lunch and some work for the subway and headed out. When the train surfaced in Brooklyn I just watched the stations go by through the window—it was a gloriously warm sunny day, and a lot of the trees are already in full flower. The sky was a beautiful cloudless blue . . . until about half a stop from the beach. Then the fog enveloped the train, and there was just white all around.

    I arrived and met up with John and his friend around 1, and we stayed until 3, and the whole time a thick white mist hung over the sea and beach. It was eerily beautiful. A medley of foghorns played out over the lapping of the water. The tide was out further than I’ve ever seen it. I walked along the water’s edge, down to the “long” jetty—which today extended only about 10 yards into the water. I think I could have waded around the end of it. Rocks that usually stay underwater were exposed, and I looked closely at the carpet of bivalves that covered them. I watched one crab that had gotten trapped between rocks by the outgoing tide sheltering under them.

    Several seagulls were feeding on crabs—I didn’t see any spiders among them—and there was the detritus of a crab feast all around them—lots of legs and claws and shells spread out all over the intertidal zone. There was a single enormous horseshoe crab covered with barnacles near the waters edge, and as I watched a woman dragged it further ashore so some children could get a closer look at it. There were a lot of folks walking along the strand examining things.

    When I got back to the blankets John and I decided to go for a dip. I wasn’t looking to swim much after this morning’s workout, but I did want to go out and see if I could see any more crabs on the bottom. Alas, the visibility wasn’t good enough to see much today. After I got used to the water temperature, I floated on my back for a while and looked up at the mist. The ice bath felt good on my sore muscles, and I felt peaceful and happy. It didn’t take much to get out beyond where I could see the shore. After a bit I swam in.

    It was a pretty cool day at the beach, even without the spider crabs and without the sun. By the time I headed back to the subway, the mist had burned off on the other side of the boardwalk but was still as thick as ever over the sand and sea. I headed back to the city, happy to get in a bonus visit to the shore.
  5. A 3-swimsuit day!

    Today I had a fun outing to Brighton Beach with my friend Hannah. She’s the one out to visit 40 pools this year—see her blog and Patrick’s excellent interview with her on SwimmersCircle for more info on that fun project—and our primary mission was to swim at the Shorefront YM-YWHA’s 25yd pool. (Dipping in the ocean and eating local delicacies were merely side benefits.)

    When I arrived at Brighton it was chaotic—today was a special election day there, with a contentious race featuring a local candidate. There were people pamphleteering on every corner, extra security in the subway station, and the focal point of it all turned out to be the Shorefront Y, which was doubling as a polling station. I slowly made my way in and met Hannah, who had scored us free guest passes for the day. We changed in the cramped locker room and headed to the pool.

    Unlike most YMCAs, which are more or less secular workout facilities, the Shorefront Y is strongly identified with the Russian Jewish community in which it’s located. To accommodate its users’ religious observances, the Y’s pool schedule has co-ed hours, men-only hours, and ladies-only hours--we planned to try out the pool during the first and last of these, with an ocean swim sandwiched in between. We arrived during the ladies swim, which occurs around noon every day (the mens’ hours are early morning, before work). I had brought a workout, just in case we had our own lane to do with as we wished, but it was clear when we hit the pool deck that an interval workout just wasn’t going to mesh well with the other pool users. Instead, we swam mostly laps in the designated fast lane, politely dodging and working our way around the other two swimmers there.

    I felt a little uncomfortable about swimming during the ladies-only time here—the pool was semi-crowded, some of the other users didn’t have many options for enjoying the water in a way consistent with their beliefs, and I have tons of places and times that I can swim. Also, the two women swimming with us were not very accommodating lanemates (but then they were not being particularly kind to each other while passing, either) All in all, I was happy to get out after about 800 yards, change into a beach suit, and head outdoors.

    Before we did, though, we chatted with the lifeguard—Hannah asked her to take a picture of us at the pool for her blog. Turns out she was also the swim coach for the kids team at the Y, which has about 30 swimmers. She seemed ecstatic that we were at the pool, and wanted to know about our swimming backgrounds. She complimented us on being “professional swimmers!”

    The morning fog had still not scattered when we got to the beach. We spread out our blankets and sat for a while watching the seagulls. They seemed to be finding a lot of stuff to carry around—we saw quite a few flying and running around with things in their beaks. It was warm and peaceful, and we enjoyed a little snack while we chatted and waited for the sun to come out. Finally Hannah decided to go in—I stayed on the beach to watch our stuff—and she swam down to the white building and back. When I saw her heading back in I headed down to the water with her towel and parka to welcome her back to dry land.

    At the water’s edge I watched a seagull wrestling with a rather large crab. It dropped it when I got close, and the crab lay on its back waving it long legs around in the air. It had the longest legs I think I have ever seen on a crab, and I was mesmerized by its upside-down dance. Finally a wave came in and allowed the crab to turn itself back over. Standing upright, it looked just like a tarantula—a really huge tarantula. Ugh. Just then Hannah came in. I pointed out the crab to her, and she said that they were all over the bottom. “I don’t know if you’re going to like it out there,” she concluded. She knows me well! She did point out that the crab had 10 legs—we counted—whereas tarantulas would only have eight. The two extra legs weren’t that reassuring.

    I undressed and put on my cap, earplugs, and goggles, and headed in. We had talked about practicing quick entries into cold water for our 250m OW race in Iceland. Hannah managed this—I did not. If I’m this pokey in Reykjavik the race will be over before I get wet!

    I did manage to get out into the water and horizontal without seeing any crabs, at least. Then I rounded the big jetty, and there they were. First one, then two, then large groups of giant underwater tarantulas! I usually love the ocean, but today--it was like a horror movie out there. I swam out to some deeper water so that I wouldn’t be so close to them, but the water clarity seemed especially good, and I could still see the dark shapes beneath me. I decided to swim the other way—the water is deeper to the west—and it seemed for a bit like that would work. But I kept on seeing the dark shapes beneath me—by now they could have been anything, and I would have imagined tarantu-crabs. I gave up after not too long and headed in—I was pretty freaked out by the little beasties. Saturday it was seagulls, today crabs—I need to get braver about wildlife. Still, I enjoyed my brief time in the ocean, and was laughing at myself by the time I got ashore. There’s always something amazing going on at the beach!

    After our beach adventure we headed back in for part 2 of our pool workout. This time we had a much better lanemate—a young guy who was very polite—and we managed to do part of an HVT workout from several weeks ago. In the last 15 minutes of our swim the pool really cleared out---we swam some of the last set in adjacent lanes, with no one else in the pool:

    400 scy warmup
    8 x 75 IM, 4 drill, 4 swim [We alternated FL/BK/BR and BK/BR/FR]

    10 x 25 @ :45: 4 FL, 3 BK, 2 BR, 1 FR, odds fast
    200 IM fast
    4 x 50 active recovery

    That was all we had time for. Afterwards we went over to Neptune Avenue to pick up some khachapuri, then feasted during the subway ride home. A three-swimsuit day is always something to celebrate!
  6. My dream goggles

    This morning I had a relaxing swim at the Y with Rondi. The pool was hopping today—we swam with four in our narrow lane for much of the workout, and the other lanes were full too—but everyone was fairly polite and things worked out fine. Here’s what I did:

    1000 scy warmup (400s, 200k, 200p, 200 RIM d/s)

    400 FR drills and spl stuff

    4 x 100 FR @ 1:45 desc.

    500s with traveling backstroke
    50 BK/ 400 FR / 50 BK
    50 FR / 50 BK / 300 FR / 50 BK / 50 FR
    100 FR / 50 BK / 200 FR / 50 BK / 100 FR
    150 FR / 50 BK / 100 FR / 50 BK / 150 FR
    200 FR / 100 BK / 200 FR
    [I did 450s on most of these.]

    450, prime-numbered lengths = kick on back, non-primes = FR swim
    400, prime-numbered lengths = FR swim, non-primes = kick on back [I did this as a warmdown]

    One of our lanemates today was pretty amusing. During warmup he announced he was going to do some IM, and wondered if he should go to another lane for that. I looked over at the next-fastest lane, where there were also 4 swimmers, 2 of whom seemed ill-tempered and 1 of whom insisted on swimming down the middle of the lane (which might have explained the ill-temperedness, or not). I told him he would be better off staying in the fast lane, since if he moved he would both be doing IM and be much faster than his lanemates, whereas if he stayed he would just be doing IM. It wasn’t the most diplomatic thing I’ve ever told someone, but he seemed please with even the tepid encouragement to stick around. Turned out he meant it when he said he was doing IMs—he did 200 IMs one after the other all through our traveling 500s set. It turned out his workout consisted of 500 warmup—20x200 IMs—500 warmdown, mostly done as continuous swimming.

    The other strange thing was that after about 15 of his IMs he stopped, turned to us, and abruptly asked me how old I was. I still have no idea why he wanted to know. I must have been looking highly questionable today, for some reason—the lady beside me in the locker room decided to start a conversation by asking how big my feet were. (When I told her my shoe size, she looked disappointed, but then insisted, “But they are narrow, I can see they are narrow.” Not really, but I didn’t argue.) The Y can be a strange place. Sometimes I am tempted to wear earphones around, just so I can pretend not to hear people.

    After swimming we went upstairs for weights. My big excitement today was that I added some plates to my bench press—I’ve graduated from just doing the bar! Onwards and upwards. . . .

    One final thought: When I was swimming this morning I was thinking how nice it would be to have goggles that are kind of like a periscope (or half a periscope?), that allowed you to see straight ahead when your eyes were facing the bottom of the pool. It would be useful to watch your hand entry from underwater, plus it would eliminate the temptation to look forward to see how close you are to others in the lane. Would it be hard to make some goggles—or a mask, since it might require a little more depth than goggles would afford--with little mirrors in the bottom angled so they provided a view ahead? Or would that be too close to your eyes to allow you to focus properly? I have seen ads for [ame=""]glasses with mirrors that allow you to read in bed[/ame] without propping up your head—maybe something like that could be turned upside down and put in a waterproof case. If someone would invent this I would consider buying it!
  7. An IM sort of day

    I had a good swim this morning at Riverbank with Hannah and Rondi. The pool was a good temp, and not crowded—it was just us three in the lane for most of the session. I was in an IM mood this morning, so here’s what I did:

    800 lcm warmup (400s, 200k, 200p)

    200 IM, build each stroke
    3 x 100 (50 stroke strong / 50 easy FR), ST= IM order no free
    400 IM kick
    400 FR swim build by 100

    300 IM, build each stroke (dramatically)
    4 x 50 (25 fast / 25 easy), IM order
    300 IM kick
    200 FR pull w/ paddles, build by 50s

    200 IM, working turns and walls, rest easy
    4 x 50 (10-second sprint, rest easy), IM order
    200 IM kick
    100 FR swim

    100 IM strong
    100 FR pull
    100 IM kick
    100 easy swim

    200 warmdown + play

    I was enjoying the fast stroke swims today and feeling smooth in the water on all my strokes. It makes such a difference when the water isn’t too hot—both yesterday and today I didn’t want my swims to end.

    I had planned on heading out to the beach again today after my swim, but decided to stick close to home instead and get some chores done so that I don’t start the week feeling behind. Looking forward to a mid-week beach outing this week though!
  8. Back to the ocean!

    I had a calm swim this morning at Riverbank. It was a really misty morning, and the park seemed ghostly in the dark when I arrived. They have closed the track and football field that are right outside the pool for renovation, and so the walkers and joggers that usually work out there are gone—the park seems very empty in the mornings without them. The pool itself was very calm today—John and I had a lane to ourselves for about an hour of the two-hour workout—and the water was a pleasant temperature. Here’s what I did:

    800 lcm warmup (400s, 200k, 200p)

    10 x 50, odds = drill/swim, events = strong swim, 2 each stroke plus extra 2 free

    4 x 100 IM @ 2:15, desc.
    6 x 150 build/fast/easy, odds = FL/BK/BR, evens = BK/BR/FR
    [This was a continuation of the back/breast work I did yesterday. My breaststroke felt smoother than it has in a while on the fast 50s—hurray!]

    500 FR pull w/ paddles, desc. by 100s

    12 x 50 FR with tempo trainer, 2 each 6 different stroke rates, holding spl at 40
    [I started the tt at 1.06 seconds and descended by .03 seconds to .91. I noticed that at the faster stroke rates my freestyle wanted to become more of a catch-up stroke. Not sure why—that seems like a counterintuitive thing to happen when I'm turning over fast--but will play around with this more to try and figure out what's going on.]
    2 x 50 more, experimenting with .91 sr

    4 x 100 (50 swim/ 50 kick), swim = relaxed arms w/6-beat kick, kick = fast
    300 pull
    4 x 100 (50 swim/ 50 kick) backstroke easy
    100 warmdown + play

    After my swim I headed out to Brighton Beach for a quick dip in the ocean. It was my first time out since December. When I arrived today the sun was coming out, but there was still a low-lying mist hanging over the water and curling around the nearest jetties. It was beautiful and spooky. Some folks were getting in just as I arrived, and I undressed quickly and waded in. I was hesitant to go up past my thighs—it was pretty cold, and there were seagulls flying all around. The water was very flat and glassy, and I just stood there a bit watching the seagulls’ reflections on the water around me and appreciating being back at my wonderful urban beach. All the birds were making me feel uneasy, though, so I wandered back up to the beach hoping for some swim buddies—by this time the first wave of swimmers were receding into the mist. My friend Capri walked back out into the water with me and attempted to convince me the seagulls were harmless, but somehow her pep talk devolved into a graphic description of how one had killed and eaten a pigeon a few weeks ago. Umm, great.

    Finally I got my head wet and started swimming—not very far—and then floated around for a bit. It was peaceful and wonderful being out in the water again—I had really missed the beach. I got out before I got chilled, then visited with folks on the beach while I warmed up and drank hot tea. We had a nice turnout of about a dozen or so today—the water was up to 46, and several swimmers stayed for in a while. It’s great to be part of a group where so many folks have developed good cold-water tolerance. A few years ago I would have thought it was crazy to go in for even a short dip in waters that were in the 40s. Watching others swim at that temperature and thrive has made me think I can do it—I felt like a bit of a hothouse flower today for only staying in 15 minutes or so. And it will just get warmer from here on out. I’m glad the days will soon be here when I can get in longer swims outdoors.
  9. Happy morning swim

    I had a nice swim this morning at Riverbank. After a few days of my head feeling like a water balloon—stupid sinus infection!—I’m back feeling like myself again. Antibiotics are magic. (And I should know—this is my fourth course of them in as many months. It’s been a difficult winter).

    The pool was crowded, and I ended up swimming in a couple of adjacent lanes, ducking under the laneline to find space during my swims in place of passing or waiting at the wall for others to pass. That often works well at Riverbank. Five or six swimmers per lcm with a lot of variability in speeds means there’s a fair lot of passing, but also a lot empty space if you just look for it.

    Today was a make-things-up-as-I-go-along workout. I started out feeling weak and unsteady in the water, but things got better as the workout progressed. Here’s what I did:

    1200 lcm warmup (400s, 200k, 200p, 400 RIM d/s)

    Freestyle hill: 100/200/300/200/100, done at 1:45/100 interval, increasing speed throughout set

    100 easy

    2.5x thru
    3 x 100 (50 swim / 50 kick)
    300 pull with paddles

    3 x 100 BK/BR @ 2:15, desc.
    1 x 200 IM (FL and FR kick, middle 100 swim)
    1 x 200 IM fast

    100 easy warmdown + play

    I’m hoping to get out to the Brighton this weekend to play in the ocean a little bit. The water is warming up quickly—I fear I’ll miss the 40s altogether if I don’t get out there soon!
  10. Diving looks fun

    I got in a short but good swim at the Y today. I had been out of the water for several days with a sinus infection. With the help of some antibiotics, it’s gotten better enough that wearing goggles no longer seems like torture, so I decided that today would be a good time to work on figuring out why I bounce a bit when breathing on freestyle, and to what extent I can eliminate it. I did:

    600 scy warmup (400s, 200k)
    1200, done as 25s and 50s of various drills and breathing patterns
    200 easy warmdown

    I paid attention to the angle of my hands when breathing and not breathing, compared how much of my goggle was out of the water when breathing to each side, and experimented with the timing of the breath. Maybe the most useful thing I found to do was swimming while breathing every stroke, staying as smooth as possible, then trying to not change that technique when switching to 2- or 3- stroke breathing.

    Afterwards I went upstairs for weights. Lifting with a friend makes it a lot more fun—I remember aztimm mentioning a while back that he met up with a buddy to lift weights, and I’m glad that I have someone now too. Here’s what I did:

    2 sets of 10 reps military press w/ 10-lb dumbbells
    2 x 10 flies w/10
    2 x 10 curls w/10
    2 x 10 one-armed row: 1 w/10, 1w /12.5
    2 x 10 deltoid raises in 3 directions w/5
    2 x 10 lat pulldowns on machine (don’t remember weight)
    1 x 20 shoulder-blade pinches on lat machine
    2 x 10 benchpress w/45
    1 x 20 little upwards movements w/ benchpress bar

    This marks the end of my second week of doing weights, so I’m still doing pretty light stuff—none of this was to failure. Today we added in leg work too—all on machines: extensions, hamstring curls, adductors, abductors, leg press, 2 x 12 reps of all. (I’m not very good at remembering the alleged poundage on the machines.) Then we even did some ab work, which I definitely need to do more of.

    Over the weekend—before I came down sick—I attended the Aquapalooza meet put on by my team. It was my first sprint workout of the year, and my results weren’t very pretty, but I wasn’t expecting them to be. Mostly it was a chance to get together with teammates and have fun, and that I definitely did. We had 90 people from the team attending—there were lots of relays to swim, cheers to learn, tattoos to wear, and teammates to visit with. People are really getting excited about the upcoming meet in Iceland, and I think we’ll have some good numbers there. It’s fun to be part of a big team that is really intent about showing up and performing well at a focus meet, especially one in a semi-exotic locale.

    But the very coolest thing about Aquapalooza was the diving competition that followed the swimming. TNYA added a diving team about a year ago, and some of my swimming lanemates who first took up the sport then have learned enough to be able to compete. (That requires being able to do 6 different dives credibly). There are also some folks who dove in college who are just amazing to watch. I sat there mesmerized through the whole thing, and all I could think was “I have to do that!!!” I’ve never done any diving, but watching some of the relative newbies up on the boards inspired me. So I’m toying with the idea of doing the diving bootcamp that the team puts on in the fall and learning a little more about what that sport is all about.
  11. Workout with team

    I had a fun workout with TNYA this morning at John Jay college. Brad coached, and I split the slow lane with a new-to-masters swimmer after fleeing from my overcrowded regular lane. That worked well—I got to set my own intervals and substitute some stroke on the FR sets, and my friendly lanemate was glad for the company—otherwise he would have been swimming by his lonesome. Here’s what I did:

    Warmup: 400 scy s, 300 IM d/k/s, 150 kick

    500 FR build by 100
    4 x 125 FR @ 2:15 [I did 100 FR / 25 BK / 100 FR, focusing on hand entry on the FR, and enjoyed synchro swimming with my friend the next lane over.]
    4 x 50 kick @ :52.5
    300 FR build by 100 [rev. IM]
    4 x 75 @ 2:15 [odds FL/BK/BR, evens FR]
    4 x 25 kick @ :25

    300 swim [FR/BK/FR]
    4 x 125 IM w/ floating extra 25
    150 swim[FR/BK/FR]
    4 x 75 IM order

    200 warmdown

    Last night I did rowing class—my first in a while. My goal was to just last the whole 45-minute class, without killing myself on anything. Achieved! Here’s what we did:

    10-minute warmup with drills and 10s

    8-minute steady state piece

    Stretching break

    3 x (2:30 row, 1:30 light paddle) [2:45, 2:35, 2:15]

    3 x (:30/:30) [2:24, 2:11, 2:02]

    The Aquapalooza SCM meet is this Saturday—it should be fun. If you’re in the NYC area and reading this, you still have until midnight tonight (Thursday) to sign up! And if Saturday’s weather is even halfway as beautiful as today’s, a round of mini-golf on the course between the pool and the subway stop might be in the offing!
  12. Sunny morning workout

    I had a good workout this morning at Riverbank with Hannah and Rondi. Here’s what I did:

    800 lcm warmup (400s, 200k, 200p)

    8 x 150 @ :05 rest
    1-4 k/d/s, reverse IM order
    5-8 FR build / ST fast / FR easy, ST = IM order

    Broken 1500:
    1 x 50
    2 x 100
    3 x 150
    4 x 200
    All repeats on 1:40/100 intervals, aka BASE – 5, (aka a second a meter)
    [Got 4-6 sec. rest on everything through the first 200, then 7-10 on the last 3 swim. This set made me glad I’m not a distance swimmer, at least in meets!]

    400 kick with new yellow fins
    400 warmdown + play

    Weights and rowing tonight!
  13. Is it too late to repeat first grade?

    I seem to need remedial counting lessons.

    I had a nice and relaxing workout this morning at Riverbank. I was feeling leg-sore from last night’s ballet classe, so I skipped over Patrick’s IM workouts in favor of the “[ame=""]SPL/DPS Aerobic[/ame]” option. I almost passed over that one as well once I saw it involved counting strokes per length on (mostly) broken 400s. I’ve never been very good at keeping track of my stroke count in LCM—it’s not that I forget what comes after 29 or anything like that, it’s rather that whenever I do anything besides 2-stroke breathing, I tend to chant the strokes to myself as I swim along: “one-two-one-two-one-two-three!”, repeated endlessly, is one of my favorites. So I’m accustomed to starting over at 1 after every breath, and remembering not to do that for a whole 50 is often beyond my capacities. Nonetheless, I decided to give it a try today, and I’m glad I did because I both enjoyed this workout and found it helpful.

    I shared a lane with Rondi and one or two other polite swimmers. I adapted the original workout a bit—here’s what I did:

    800 lcm warmup (400s, 100k, 100p, 200 d/s)

    1 x 100 build
    6 x 50 counting strokes (3 @ threshold pace, 1 easy, 2 @ threshold pace)
    [From this I determined that my threshold stroke count was 41.]

    1 x 400 @ 7:30 [avg. 42 SPL, pace (THR + 2.5)/100]
    2 x 200 @ 3:45 [avg. 42 SPL, pace THR]
    4 x 150 @ 1:50 [avg. 39/40 SPL, pace (THR – 2)/100]
    The goal was to maintain threshold pace on all 3 and have SPL = 45, 43, and 41 on each successive 400. I missed my pace on the first round, but hit in on the second while holding the same SPL. I then decreased both my pace and stroke count on the 100s.

    It seemed a little overwhelming at first to keep track of strokes, lengths (I was afraid I had miscounted the 400), pace, and interval, but I eventually sorted it all out, more or less. I was successful in counting my strokes about 80 percent of the time on this first set. But—I had made it easy on myself by breathing every stroke. I decided to bilateral breathe on the second round to see what happened.

    2 x 200 @ 3:45 [avg. 43 SPL, pace (THR + 5)/100]
    4 x 100 @ 1:50 [avg. 41 SPL, pace (THR – 1)/100]
    6 x 50 @ 1:00 [avg 39 SPL (descended 41 > 38], pace (THR - 13)/100]
    The goal was to decrease SPL while maintaining (THR – 2)/100 pace. The first swims after I changed over to bilateral breathing felt pretty awkward, and I was way off my goal pace on the first 200s. But the learning curve was steep, and both the speed and the feel improved as I went through the set. I also got better at counting, but still managed to get an accurate tally for only about 66 percent of the lengths on this set. The 50s felt really great—I was going much quicker without them feeling effortful. (Now why can’t I just put 8 of those non-effortful things together for a decent 400?) I kept my 2-beat kick throughout, although it was more emphatic on the shorter distances.

    4 x 100 Kick
    2 x 100 pull + play

    I left the pool feeling less sore and more energetic than when I arrived—that’s always a good thing!
  14. Getting back into the swing of things

    There are lots of contrasts—cultural, meteorological, gastronomic—between the area I visit in Florida and New York City. But maybe the most striking one is population density. Here are the stats:

    Walton County, Florida: 52 people per square mile
    New York County, NY (Manhattan): 70,000 people per square mile
    (And according to this article, commuters can push that latter figure up to 170,000 during the work week.)

    It always takes me a few days to get used to having so many people around again—one thing I like about going to early morning workouts is the uncrowded streets and subways at that hour. The city may not sleep, but at 6am on Sunday mornings it’s at least catnapping. I was appreciating that sense of space and calm as I made my way up to Riverbank this morning. I was joined by Rondi and new lanemate Ada for the following long easy swim:

    800 lcm warmup (400s, 100k, 100p, 200d/s)

    6 x magic 700s (We took turns choosing what two things each 700 combined: FR/BK, Pull fast/pull easy, swim/kick, build BK/fast BR, FR/FL, swim/kick)
    [I dropped a 100 on most of these.]

    600 warmdown

    Mid-morning I went over to the Y for an informal group row. My goal was just to row for about 20 minutes and make sure everything feels good, both while on the erg and within the next few days, before adding the rowing classes back into my schedule. So far so good—if everything in my ribs and back still feels happy tomorrow I’ll plan on attending Wednesday night’s rowing class.

    I’m a little sore from the weights today but not too much—I’ll aim to do another session mid-week. The third activity I want to add back in to my exercise mix is ballet class, once a week to start. It’s always something of a shock to my body to resume my regular roster of activities when I return from the beach, and I’m anticipating that this year will be worse because the break from them has been longer. I’m trying to be super-cautious about any of the injuries I’ve had over the last few months resurfacing.

    Next Saturday I’m swimming in a local meet—Aquapalooza II, which is hosted by my team. Our coach sent around a tentative relay roster—it looks like I’ll be swimming lead-off on the 400 FR, 400 Medley, and 200 FR relays. (I love an organized coach!) When I signed up I kept my individual events to a minimum—just 2IM and 50 FR—because I anticipated I’d be swimming several relays. Right now that looks like a good call.

    The other meet in my plans this season is IGLA championships in Iceland. That meet just got a little sweeter with the addition of an open water event. It will be different from any race I’ve ever swum before because

    · It starts at 9 pm
    · It’s only 250 meter long
    · Expected water temp is 9 degrees C (about 48F)
    · There is a large geothermal hot tub located right on the beach!

    How cool will that be? The more I get into OW swimming, the more I’m amazed and excited about all the possibilities!
  15. Morning at the Y

    This morning I had a nice workout at the Y with Rondi. Here’s how it went:

    950 scy warmup

    Poolside construction break: We had a lot of toys at the pool today—fins, paddles, buoys, and kickboards each—so we had to see what sort of structure we could make with them all. I didn’t have a camara poolside to take a picture of the impressive result, but if you cross the Eiffel Tower with the Leaning Tower of Pisa and add some Gehry to the mix, it looked something like that.

    8 x 50 FR @ :50, desc. 1-4 and 5-8

    4x thru, 1st 2 rounds on 2:50, last 2 rounds on 2:45
    150 FR easy
    175 FR moderate
    200 FR fast [2:35-2:40s]
    This is one of my favorite sets to do with swimmers who are faster than me. It’s actually a set of descending 200s, but I get to reduce the easy and moderate swims by 50 and 25 yards respectively, so that I can vary my pace while keeping the whole thing on an interval that makes sense for the speedier swimmer.

    300 warmdown + play

    During the warmdown I tried out my new Zoomers Gold fins. I definitely like them better than the old zoomers--they're both more comfortable on the skin of my feet, and not as heavy. But I'm still not sold on fins. I'm just bugged by the feeling of a flat surface underneath my toes when I'm kicking. I'll have to see if I get unbugged as I get more accustomed to them.

    After the swim we went upstairs for weights. I’m trying to get started back lifting again after not doing so for a while. Since today was day 1, I was careful to keep things very easy. I think I read somewhere that most gains during the first couple of weeks of strength training have to do with a greater percentage of muscle fibers being recruited as you habituate yourself to each move—the upshot was whether you make yourself just a little sore or very sore during your first two weeks of lifting, there’s not much difference in the after-twelve-weeks results. So I’m hoping to go with the just-a-little-sore option. I'll know tomorrow whether I was successful.
  16. The Magic of Riverbank

    I had a nice workout with Rondi and Hannah up at Riverbank this morning—seeing good friends my first morning back was an excellent way to ease back into things after being away for so long. A swimmer from an adjacent lane, Mike, joined us on the main set (which he proposed), so there were 4 of us doing more or less the same thing, a rarity at Riverbank. We had the lane to ourselves for much of the workout before being joined by 3 other Very Fast Lane regulars. I only hit arms with someone once, so I haven’t completely forgotten how to circle swim!

    Here’s what I did:

    500 lcm warmup

    Main set—broken 800s
    700 FR, steady pace
    3 x 350 (150 build FR / 100 BK strong / 100 FR easier)
    4 x 200: 1st = 50 FL / 150 FR; 2nd = 50 FR / 50 BK / 100 FR; 3rd = 100 FR / 50 BR / 50 FR; 4th = 200 IM
    6 x 100 (50 fast + 50 easy swim or drill)
    [These were actually 800s for some, less so for the rest of us.]

    500 warmdown + play

    When I was last at Riverbank there was a wax earplug on the bottom of the pool that had been there for some time—we were monitoring its continued presence in our lane, and its changing color, as the days went by. When I did my first lap today I noticed that it had miraculously evolved features! Riverbank is truly an amazing place. It made me smile to see our little guy rolling around on the bottom as I passed over him every 100.

    What will the magical waters of Riverbank State Park produce next? Stay tuned . . .
  17. 1 pool, 3 airports

    Just did an easy swim this morning:

    1000 warmup

    8 x 150:
    1-4 k/d/s, RIMO
    5-8 Build FR / fastish ST/ easy FR, ST = IMO

    Magic 700 FR/BK

    300 warmdown + play

    Flights were easy, glad to be back home!
  18. Packing is done

    This morning I did Patrick’s “Ode to Ous” workout. It was a nice morning at the pool—some clear sky peeking through the clouds. My workout ending up being a little permeable—good thing there were lots of “masters minutes” called for—as I was saying goodbye and chatting with folks as they came and went during lap swim. Here’s what I did:

    1000 lcm warmup (400s, 200k, 200p, 200d/s)

    4 x 100 @ 2:00, gentle descend [1:50 > 1:38]

    2 x (3 x 50 FR @ :50, 1 x 50 FR @ 1:30)

    3x thru:
    400 FR @ 7:30 (desc. by round) [6:40, 6:30, 6:19]
    2 x 200 IM @ 3:50 (2nd faster than 1st + desc. 2nd by round) [3:52/39?, 3:50/40, 3:55/37]
    4 x 100 ST @ 2:30 (1st round FL, 2nd round BK, 3rd round BR, goal best avg) [FL 1:52/50/49/48, BK 1:45/43/42/43, BR 2:06/05/04/07]
    4 x 50 active recovery @ 50/55/60/65

    200 warmdown + play

    This set was tough but I enjoyed it! I was joined on the first round of the main set my swim buddy Mark, and on the last 400 by Bill—nice to get in one last swim with those two.

    I’ve been writing about the things I’ve found washed up on shore. Yesterday at sunset I was sad to see a dead sea turtle on the sand. It was about 2.5 feet long, and had been dead for a while—its head was clean scull, its front flippers were mostly skeleton, but the rest of its body still looked pretty meaty. (There was a seagull standing guard over it who seemed miffed that I wanted to take a look—it might have been having similar thoughts.)

    I called the local organization that rescues stranded dolphins and live turtles and nurses them back to health, and asked if they or anyone did necropsies on dead sea turtles. They took down the location and told me they would report it to the Florida DEP, which does sometimes investigate turtle deaths. I’m not sure what happened from there—the turtle was gone when I went walking this afternoon.

    Tomorrow I head back to the city. It feels like time--it's getting warmer here, and spring breakers are starting to arrive. Hoping to get in a last morning swim early, then head to the airport from there. Also hoping to spend as little time as possible in the Atlanta airport!
  19. Finally sunshine!

    This morning I did [ame=""]pwb’s 3 x 300 test set workout[/ame]. I got in on the whole "animal lane" action late, so this was the first time I’d done this test set. Since it’s the basis for determining the intervals for these workouts (that mysterious BASE), I finally know more or less what I should be doing my repeats on rather than just guessing.

    Here’s how the morning went:

    1000 lcm warmup (400s, 200k, 200p, 200d/s)
    4 x 100 FR @ 2:00, desc. (45, 40, 35, 29)
    4 x 100 K @ 2:30, desc.
    6 x 50 @ 1:10: 1 easy FR, 4 RIM build, 1 easy FR
    4 x 50 FR, going 6-7-8-9 AFAP strokes, rest easy
    100 easy
    [I stretched out the warmup sets—feeling pretty lethargic after 3 days out of the pool.]

    Test Set
    3 x 300 FR @ 5:30 [4:45, 4:45, 4:46]
    [This is about where I thought I’d be, given how hard it was to sustain 1:30 pace on 2 longish-rest 200s last week. The 1:35/100 pace gives me a BASE of 1:45 for future workouts.]

    6 x 50 FR/BK @ :55, 1:00, 1:05, 1:10, 1:15, 1:20

    4 x 100 @ 2:30: 1-3 kick desc., 4 easy free
    [This was a set of 8, but after 4 I stopped to chat for a bit with my another swimmer who had just come in, and lost the motivation to finish up these kicks.]

    500 FR pull with paddles
    [This was to have been my warmdown, but on the last 100 the sun came out, and the clouds cleared. I don’t think I’d seen blue skies in the pool for a week! Couldn’t get out now—so I added a bit more easy swimming to the agenda.]

    2 x magic 700s: 1st = FR/BK, 2nds = Kick/Swim with fins

    200 warmdown

    I’m not where I’d like to be with my swimming now, but keep reminding myself that I’m putting in some good work and having fun in the water, and that ultimately that’s what matters.

    My team is hosting a SCM meet on March 10—Aquapalooza II. Since we’ve added a diving team in the last year, we will have both swimming and diving events—that will be cool to see, especially since some of my lanemates have taken up diving and I’m looking forward to cheering them on. I’m not at all in meet shape but feel like I should make an appearance. I know I’ll at least enjoy seeing everyone after being away much of the winter. On offer at the meet are just the 50/100/200/400 FRs, 200 IM, and 100s of the other 3 strokes. (Plus a ton of relays.) I’m thinking of signing up for the 2IM and 50 FR, plus whatever relays I’m put on.

    Over the past few days interesting things have been happening out in the gulf. We had a small invasion of man-o-wars over the weekend, and there have been other interesting things washed ashore—lots of starfish, and some sea sluggy things (cylindrical beings, about the length of my hand and maybe 1.5 inches in diameter with no discernable back or front, but with a polka dot pattern all over their bodies.) If things look alive but stranded I sometimes help them back into the water. (Not the man-o-wars, though). Blitzes of sea birds have been going crazy right near to shore—from far away they look like a raft floating on the water. I’m guessing more sea life is returning to inshore waters as things warm up and spring approaches.

    On Saturday at sunset I saw two dolphins slowly synchro swimming along, spending about 10-15 seconds below the surface on each dive. They were going at about walking pace, so I walked along with them for about 40 minutes. They were very near in, ranging from about 20 -100 yards from shore. When they were close to me I could really appreciate what very large and muscular creatures they are.

    I haven’t felt much need to get in and see all this from the water—I just had a quick dip yesterday, staying on the close-in side of the sandbar--but I have been spending a good deal of time out walking the beach and outside on the balcony watching the show. I’m soaking it all in now before I head back to the city later this week.
  20. Happy IMs

    This morning I kept my promise to myself to do a longer IM set this week. I had two swim buddies join me (although they stuck with freestyle on the set)—it was nice that Bill and Mark showed up at the same time today so that didn’t have to do a double workout to swim with them both! It was another foggy morning, and there was a brief rain squall during the kick set. I love the outdoor swimming, whatever the weather! Here’s what I did:

    1000 lcm warmup (400s, 200k, 200p, 200d/s)

    4 x 100 (25k / 25s / 25d / 25 build), RIM order
    8 x 50 choice (25 build, 12.5 fast, 12.5 easy) @ 1:10
    I got these two warmup sets from one of Mallory Mead’s workouts—I substituted my own main set though.

    IM set
    8 x 200: 2 @ 3:45, 2 @ 3:40, 2 @ 3:35, 2 @ 3:30
    Odds = FR easy-moderate [3:18, 3:20, 3:19, 3:28]
    Evens = IM desc [3:35, 3:31, 3:30, 3:30]
    These intervals weren’t easy but I was really loving the feeling of working my IMs hard today—I felt so tired yet so exuberant on that last 200!

    200 easy FR > 200 fast IM kick pacman
    200 easy FR
    50 fast FL kick / 150 easy FR
    50 fast FL kick / 50 fast BK kick / 100 easy FR
    50 fast FL kick / 50 fast BK kick / 50 fast BR kick / 50 easy FR
    200 fast IM kick
    I did this set solo—lost my swim buddies after the 8 200s.

    600 warmdown

    During the kick set I started walking with the guy in the next lane—I had noticed him earlier in the week doing breaststroke at my freestyle pace. He said that he was a longtime area resident, but hadn’t been a pool regular until this year—previously he had swum in the gulf year-round. My eyes popped at that—I’d been looking for local OW swim buddies but haven’t had much luck finding folks down here who will swim in the gulf in the winter. We made some tentative plans to swim tomorrow morning—hope that works out!

    The other good news is that I made it to Alabama and back without being swept away by a tornado—the weather was pretty sketchy on the drive up, and on the radio I heard warnings for adjacent counties. But I stayed safe, AND got a good southern lunch—bbq, butter beans, turnips, hush puppies, and a slice of lemon-cheese seven-layer cake! And I feel virtuous too, because I passed up my mom’s offer to send the rest of the cake back with me.
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