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swimsuit addict

  1. Convalescing

    I had surgery on Friday and am currently at home recovering. Everything went quite well—the operation was able to be done laparoscopically, and I only had to spend one night in the hospital. I’m still a little sore and have been instructed not to lift much, but am able to walk around fine. Best of all, I got cleared by my surgeon this morning to get back in the pool whenever I feel like it, with the caveat that I take it very easy at first. Hurray! I hope to go over to my Y pool and swim a few laps on my own—or at least float and scull a bit—this afternoon or tomorrow. I don’t anticipate going to organized workouts until next week at the earliest, but I’ll just go by how I feel.

    As I see how my recovery goes over the next few weeks, I can finally start making plans for my summer swimming season. My LMSC’s first (and perhaps only) LCM meet was yesterday, and while I was bummed to have to miss it, I have been really enjoying hearing my teammates’ reports trickle in. I do hope that I can do at least one LC meet in July or August, since I absolutely love LC and would be sad not to post any times in it this season. LC nats looks like a long shot, but I haven’t counted it out entirely yet. I might be able to do the CZ meet if it’s scheduled at College Park in August, depending on which weekend it is—I’m keeping my eyes peeled for more info on that one.

    I do have a couple of hospital observations, some swimming-related:

    The nurses were thrilled with my arms, which are still mostly hairless from having shaved down in Atlanta. It made the tape holding various IV-related tubing stick really well, and pulling tape and bandaids off me was probably less painful since it wasn’t a de facto wax job.

    Monitoring equipment is not set up for well conditioned adults with low heart rates. In the recovery room, every time I fell asleep, the monitors attached to me would start beeping, because they were set to alarm whenever patients’ heart rates fell under 50. I finally convinced the nurses that my normal resting heart rate was actually lower than that. (Little rant: It’s exasperating that patients’ stats are just compared to population averages and not individual baselines, even when the data to make the latter comparison exist. Maybe increased computerization of patient records will bring about some change here, but I’m not holding my breath.)

    Watching “House” when you’re actually in a hospital is not as amusing as the idea of doing it is. This is one of my fave tv shows at home, but it was too winceful-making to watch once I was lying IVed in a hospital bed. Baseball games are far more soothing.

    That’s it! I’m so very glad and grateful to be home, and my keys this week are being patient and careful as I begin resuming my normal life and exercise routines.
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  2. Still feeling the taper?

    Now that I’ve gotten over my soreness from Monday’s rowing, I finally had a swimming workout where I felt really fast and loose and good. I walked over to the morning TNYA practice. The pool temp was back down to 80 degrees—hurray! Here’s what we did:

    800 scy warmup

    300 swim (100 FR / 100 BK / 100 FR) @ 4:15
    10 x 25 ST (alt. 2 DR / 2 swim) @ :35
    3 x 100 FR @ 1:20 [swam these right arount 1:16]
    5 x 50 @ 1:00 (2 recovery, 3 desc) @ 1:00 [32 on fastest one]
    100 easy

    Then a variation of the above:

    10 x 25 ST (alt. 2 DR / 2 swim) @ :35
    6 x 100 FR @ 1:25, 1:20, 1:15, 1:25, 1:20, 1:15 [13, 15, 13, 20, 15, 12]
    5 x 50 @ 1:00 (2 recovery, 3 desc) @ 1:00 [30+ on fastest one]
    100 easy
    [I chose to go in the middle of the lane on the first round of this and felt a little squozen between lanemates ahead and behind me. On the second round I asked to go first and enjoyed the comparative roominess. My times were good for me, and it felt easy. Could I still feeling my taper this far out?]

    Next was a kicking/hypoxic set:

    3 x (2 x 75 kick @ 1:30, 4 x 50 swim w/ limited breathing @ 1:05) [I actually only did 2 rounds of this and did them mostly warmdown. Sometimes I have just so much effort in me, and today I think I must have used it up on the preceding set.]

    Then I hopped in the slow lane, where all the swimmers had gotten out early, and did sculling and stretching for the last few minutes of practice.

    It was nice to have a workout where my body felt good in the water, and eager to swim! Plus I have a massage scheduled for later this morning. It’s a good day.
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  3. You can turn anything into exercise

    This morning I swam with TNYA. The pool was a little on the hot side, and I was very sore from rowing yesterday. I just wasn’t feeling the love from the water, and ended up getting out early. Here’s what I did:

    400 scy warmup

    10 x 50 @ :50 w/ long breakouts, odds FR, evens ST

    Kick set: 25, 50, 75, 100, 75, 50, 25, all @ 1:30

    4 x 225: 2 FR @ 3:10, 2 IM @ 3:40

    Then I went over to the Y for a good long stretch and light weights. While I was there I watched some of a new class the Y is offering, called “Conductorcize.” I got a giggle from the name, but once I watched “Maestro Dworkin” and his acolytes for a bit, the whole thing started to seem really charming, and a great fit with my Y’s Active Older Adults program, which tends to be as much about socializing as exercising. (There are plenty of very active seniors who work out very hard at the Y, including one man who lifts prodigious amounts of free weights, but the AOA program draws a different crowd).

    But while I enjoyed watching the conducting action (the stretching balcony overlooks the group exercise studio), it did strengthen my conviction that classes that end in “-cize” and “-obics” are probably never going to be my thing. (I have a long-standing prejudice against aerobics and its ilk dating from my days as a basketball player in the 80s, when aerobics classes started pre-empting open court time.) The one exception has been my rowing class, which started out being called “OarRowBics” but soon got changed to “Power Rowing.” I have a hard time picturing myself happily Conductorcizing at any age, but who knows? In any case, this class made me smile--there is something whimsical and sweet about a roomful of folks having a really great time waving take-out chopsticks in time to music. (As long as it doesn’t come to a pool near me—please please, no taking over the lap lanes for AquaConductorcizing to Handel’s “Water Music.”)
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  4. Why swimming is far superior to all other forms of exercise

    I’ve been very lazy the last few days. I didn’t really set out to take time off per se after nats—I figured I would just listen to my body and do whatever seemed fun to it, and that has been precious little other than vegging out on the couch watching Yankees games. So when I agreed to go do a rowing workout with Mr. Addict at our Y today, it turned out to be a real shock to my system.

    A little background: Mr. Addict is a runner. He’d been wanting to do a hard repeat mile running workout, but for various reasons had not been able to this weekend. So he instead decided that we could do the equivalent rowing workout. Since I didn’t have an agenda and just wanted some motivation to do some sort of exercise, I agreed. Here’s how it went:

    7 minute-warmup with drills
    3 minute rest/easy row
    7-minute hard piece [2:22 avg pace]
    3 minute rest/ easy row
    7-minute hard piece [2:16 avg pace]
    3 minute rest/ easy row
    7-minute hard piece [2:21 avg pace]
    3 minute rest/ easy row
    2-minute hard piece [2:06 avg pace]
    3 minute rest/ easy row
    1-minute hard piece [2:01 avg pace]
    3 minute rest/ easy row
    1-minute hard piece [1:57 avg pace]
    3 minute rest/ easy row

    I had intended to descend the 3 7-minute pieces, but really blew up after the 2nd one—I had tried to bring my pace down under 2:12 during the last minute of the piece, and it really took the stuffing out of me. I was so tired after it that I lay down beside my erg machine during the 3-minute break and just gasped for air. As I was doing this one of the Y staffers giving a tour of the facilities to a prospective member walked into the rowing room. They didn’t linger long.

    This wasn’t my best ever rowing day, but it did make me appreciate how great working out in the water is, and having it there to support you when you get exhausted. I think one of my favorite things in swimming is floating on my back and sculling gently when I’ve just finished a hard satisfying set. Lying on the rowing room floor just isn’t the same.

    My other take-away from today? Be wary when giving distance-oriented athletes carte blanche to design a workout!
    Tags: rowing
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  5. From the Swimming Pool to the Jury Pool

    This morning I slept through the early-morning AGUA workout. I ended up going over the Y to swim on my own around 7:15. The pool wasn’t crowded, and I ended up doing a short swim followed by a long stretching session afterwards, which seemed to be the proportions my body was craving. My swim was just 1600 yards of easy swimming, drills, and play.

    Afterwards, I went downtown to serve my second (hopefully last) day of jury duty. Part of living in New York City is getting called down to the courthouses every 4 years like clockwork to be part of the jury pool. There are almost no automatic exemptions anymore; every so often the NYTimes runs a story about some politician’s jury duty experience—Giuliani is that last such story I remember seeing. Everyone who lives in the city has their own jury duty war stories, celebrity sightings, and theories about how to avoid actually getting picked for a jury . I’ve lived here since 1994, and this is the 4th time I’ve been called. (I was never on a jury, but was once a jury alternate.) You’re exempted for 4 years after you serve, and you can postpone service up to 6 months each time you’re called.

    Why do New Yorkers get called so often? The head clerk in our jury holding pen helpfully explained it like this: “You could like in upstate New York, in Seneca or Cayuga County, say, and you’d get called every 15 years, if that. But you wouldn’t want to live there, because nothing happens up there! You live in New York City, where the action is. This is where things happen, and when things happen, we need jurors. So here you are!” (New Yorkers—you gotta love their attitude. Or not).

    Jury duty feels like being in high school again. Attendance is taken at the beginning of the day, and the first day always features a movie that seems like a civics-class reel-to-reeler, only with incredibly high production values. It seems like it should be narrated by Troy McClure, but instead features Diane Sawyer and Ed Asner giving a brief overview of the history of criminal trials (Greeks good, Romans bad, medieval people very bad, then the triumphal March of Progress culminating in our current system. These are all illustrated by actors in costume—I arrived this year during the throw-the-witch-in-the-pond scene). Then follows a survey of jury scenes in movies and tv, as Diane assures us potential juries that while any trial we serve on might well be exciting and dramatic, the rules might be different than what we’ve seen onscreen. Then exhortations about civic duty, etc. etc., and the film is over.

    Conditions for jury duty are actually pretty civilized---there are comfy padded chairs, some study carrels and tables, free WiFi, a 15-minute sign-out sheet for anyone wanting to take a break, long lunch hours and early dismissals. You can usually count on serving just 2 days in the pool if you’re not picked for a jury. Things used to be much worse, but there was a jurors’ rights reform movement in NY state that had good effects, as well as raising juror pay. State courts are probably the best to serve in; the one time I was in a juror pool in federal court, we weren’t allowed to have cell phones or any sort or electronics with us in the jury rooms, and hours and breaks were much less predictable.

    Yesterday my day went like this: show up at 8:45, break for lunch at 11:45, reconvene at 2:15; sent home at 2:45. There was no jury selection going on at any of the courts my jury pool was assigned to yesterday (the one biggish trial that was supposed to select a jury yesterday opted to have the judge hear the case instead). I’m hoping today’s experience will be similar, and that we’ll be kicked loose early—surely the judges and lawyers would like an early start to their holiday weekend?

    This weekend I’m planning on swimming at Brighton Beach—the water temp is now 60—as well as doing a few rowing workouts.

    Happy holiday weekend everyone! And good luck to everyone doing the 1-mile swim in NC!

    Update: We were all kicked loose around 1, and don't have to come back for at least another 6 years (extended from 4 now it seems). Woohoo!

    Updated May 28th, 2010 at 02:21 PM by swimsuit addict (update)

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  6. Easy Tuesday

    This morning I swam a workout with TNYA. I was originally planning to do a short easy swim on my own at the Y, but one of my teammates is moving to Cambodia this week, and there was a going-away breakfast for her after practice, so I went and was glad I did. I liked the workout and had good lanemates and was really glad to see folks I hadn’t run into in a while. Here’s what we did:

    400 warmup

    8 x 50 w/ extra-long streamlines @ :55

    4 x 50 K @ 1:10, 1 x 100 FR @ 1:20
    3 x 50 K @ 1:05, 2 x 100 FR @ 1:25
    2 x 50 K @ 1:00, 3 x 100 FR @ 1:30
    1 x 50 K @ :55, 4 x 100 FR @ 1:35 [I took this set easy, and did FR/BK halfsies on most of the 100s]

    50 easy

    9 x 150:
    100 FR / 50 FL @ 2:30
    75 FR / 75 BK @ 2:30
    50 FR / 100 BR @ 2:30
    1:00 rest
    100 FR / 50 BK @ 2:35
    75 FR / 75 BR @ 2:35
    50 FR / 100 FL @ 2:35
    1:00 rest
    100 FR / 50 BR @ 2:45
    75 FR / 75 FL @ 2:45
    50 FR / 100 BK @ 2:45 [By the 2nd round of these my body had finally loosened up, and I went faster as the set went on and the rests got bigger, and felt good.]

    25 FR, 50 FR, 100 FR, 50 FR, 25 FR, all on 1:15

    100 warmdown

    Our LMSC has already sent out an email lauding Metro swimmers who went to nats and listing those who placed in the top 10 in their events, and so the coach included that in his announcements, and many people at workout and breakfast asked me about the meet and congratulated me on my swims. That seemed especially gracious, given that I had affiliated with another local team right before the deadline for nationals. (That team sent 30 swimmers, and TNYA ended up with just 2 besides me. But TNYA’s big focus meet is Gay Games in Germany this summer—I think there’s around 60 swimmers signed up for that, plus a polo team or two. It’s funny that more people from this team go to travel meets overseas than compete in local competitions.] But then, one thing I’ve always liked about TNYA is that they are not overly competitive with other local teams, and have always supported me in whatever I’m doing even if it’s not exactly what the team is focused on at the moment.
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  7. Atlanta aftermath

    I woke up today still feeling both the excitement and exhaustion from nationals. It was definitely a successful meet for me, and I am delighted and relieved to have swum so well. I am still reeling a bit from how much all my races hurt. I don’t remember feeling quite so wasted after all my swims at other big meets. One of my teammates said she worried after each of my races that I was horribly disappointed, because she would see my slumped over with my head in my hands right by the ladder, but then I would show up a few minutes later in our team area with a big smile on my facing announcing a big time drop. I did pretty much collapse right by the ladder after all my swims (except 50 BR, after which I felt just normally fatigued). I truly didn’t think I could walk away from the pool without a few minutes recovery time. I don’t recall ever doing that before.

    I think I still secretly have the fantasy that I can have a terrific breakthrough swim AND have it feel really great. That has happened a few times in my masters career—my 400 lcm IM at Portland (unfortunately DQed) and my masters PRs in the 200 lcm IM and 200 scy FR come to mind. On all of these I dropped significant time and just felt happy and exuberant, and ready to hop in and swim them again afterwards. But usually, swimming longer races (100s and up) fast just hurts, and I still hard to accept. In Atlanta, they really really hurt. I can blame the 400 IM hurt on bad pacing, but not my 2BK, 2IM, or 100 FR. Even my 50 BK was yucky painful by the end, and it was just a 50!

    I feel like a lot of my taper is just a big pep talk to myself, preparing mentally to endure that level of discomfort. Since I have been swimming masters, I have usually had good tapers for big events, but maybe part of that is just that I’m unwilling to dig quite as deep during my in-season races.

    All this makes me wonder—do other people train and/or race during the season at the same level of discomfort that they feel when swimming their races at big events? I don’t do many practice races in workouts, and even when we do an x for time, I secretly always feel like I’m keeping things within a certain comfort level. I have a hard time imagining being willing to endure the same type of pain that I felt during my Atlanta swims on a daily or weekly basis, but maybe I’m just an especially wimpy swimmer. So, a question: If you do a lot of practice races or race-pace training, how does this work for you? And do you feel any less pain in big races if you are put yourself out there more frequently?

    But enough complaining! I was so happy about bettering my swim ratings in 5 events that I updated my graph. Here’s the pre- and post-nationals version (my nats events were 50 BK, 50 BR, 100 FR, 200 IM, 200 BK, and 400 IM):

    Before Atlanta:


    After Atlanta:


    It’s not as pretty a proof that I’m a sprinter as before, when all the lines sloped downwards, but it’s cool that I moved all the events I swam in ATL into the into the top portion of the graph.

    One longstanding goal that I won’t achieve this season is finally making a scy top ten list. I’ve been fortunate enough to swim a fair number of SCM and SCM top ten times, but I’ve never cracked the list in yards. That’s definitely not happening this season either—my top rankings in the USMS database are 17th in the 200 BK and 200 IM and 18th in the 50 BR. So that goal will have to wait for another season. I don’t think aging up next year will make it any easier, given how tough the 45-49s are.

    Now, on to LCM and OW!
  8. Last day at nationals

    This morning I got to the pool for the early warmup even though I wasn’t swimming the 500. I just wanted some alone time with the water, to say goodbye to the pool. I got in a nice calm warmup—about 2000 yards—and even swam a bit in the warmdown pool just to see what it was like without a bazillion people in it. I loved how blue and peaceful it felt over there.

    It was fun watching the 500 swimmers—we had several 500istas from AGUA that I cheered on, plus several other swimmers I know from my area and past competitions. I really do love hearing all the bells ringing at the end of the race. I think it would be cool if they were like handbells, with a different tone for each lane. Maybe you could arrange them so they would play a major scale if the swimmers finished as seeded (although with 10 lanes there would be a couple of extra notes). Each heat would produce a different little tune determined by the swimmers.

    Then I swam the 50 BK leadoff for our B relay. I finished in 31.31, which was a bit better than yesterday’s 31.45 and just nudged under my 40-44 PR from 2008. It was a nice note to finish the meet on.

    My main source of stress today was worrying about how I would manage to climb out of the pool after my relay swim—we weren’t in an end lane, and the high walls looked intimidating. I even asked yesterday if I could swim FR on the relay so I wouldn’t have that problem, but it was too late to switch things around. I shouldn’t have worried—all the teams in my heat stayed in the water until the end lanes were done and we could swim over to the side. I have seen plenty of swimmers hoist themselves easily and gracefully out of the pool (including Fortress, who was in the heat ahead of me in the 50 BK yesterday), so kudos to them. I clearly need to work on more strength training!

    Then it was time for a quick shower and change, before heading off to the airport. I found swimmers who had driven to the meet who were happy to take the cheap rolling duffle bag and cooler that I had bought for the meet off my hands, and made a couple of new friends in the process. Then off to the airport, and up and away—I’m flying back as I’m typing this.

    Happy swimming to everyone still at the meet, and safe travels!
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  9. Nationals Day 3 (Day 2 for me)

    This morning I slept in after an excellent dinner with the AGUA crew Friday night. Since my events were slated to start at around 1 pm, I was a bit unsure about what to do about warm-ups today--early warmup would be too early to do much good, and later I was sure the pools would be too crowded to get in the type of warmup that I like to do. I ended up driving over to one of Atlanta’s public pools, in Washington Park, mid-morning to get in some laps, and that worked out well. It was a 10-lane 25 yard pool, and there were only 3 people in it. I did about 1500 yards (100 warmup, 3 x 50 desc., 3 x 50 easy, 100 easy, 100 upside-down IM). It was a nice calm time to collect myself and loosen up the kinks from yesterday before my crowded event schedule today. (I think the pool is closed on Sundays, else I would recommend it to those not swimming early events tomorrow).

    After warm-ups, I drove to the swim center, ate a bit of lunch, got my neck worked on, got my suit on, and got ready to swim. Here’s how my races went (time and comments appended in blue to pre-race goal sheet):

    200 IM
    Masters/lifetime PR: 2:25.82 (1998) (32.2, 38.9, 42.0, 32.6) (Swim rating = 85.1)
    40-44 PR: 2:31.16 (4/2009) (32.8, 38.1, 44.9, 35.3) (SR=86.2)
    2010 best: 2:32.56 (4/11) (33.3, 38.3, 45.1, 35.8) (SR=86.0)
    Time needed to beat best swim rating: 2:31.94
    Keys: easy FL, accelerate into turns, rhythm + turnover on BK, hand speed on BR, kick on FR
    Time: 2:27.06 (33.16, 36.60, 43.05, 34.16)
    Comments: This is the race I wanted to swim. I’m thrilled with the time, which is my best since several age groups ago. I thought after yesterday’s 200 BK that my IM had no chance of beating my BK time, but I got within spitting distance of it. This time converts to a swim rating of 89.2, which is by far my best ever in scy for this event.

    100 FR
    Masters PR: 58.07 (27.78) (2002) (Swim rating = 86.7)
    Lifetime best: 57.53 (1981)
    40-44 PR and 2010 best: 59.56 (28.94) (3/2010) (SR=87.4)
    Time needed to beat best swim rating: 59.52
    Goal: I’d be thrilled to go under a minute again.
    Keys: happy and relaxed off blocks, accelerate 2nd length into turn, kick on 3rd length, push turnover and kick on last 25
    Time: 59.97 (28.82, 31.15) (SR=86.8)
    Comments: I was indeed thrilled to see a 59 by my lane again. I was also left not quite sure what to make of this swim. I felt out of breath from the git-go, and breathed every stroke the whole way even though I kept telling myself not to—it was like I was not really in control of what my body was doing. Maybe I was hyperventilating before I got in the water, or maybe just really exhausted by the time this race came around—I’m not sure why my body was reacting the way it did. Aside from the breathing issue, I felt I executed my keys well—decent turns, strong finish, good pacing. I was a little sad not to get a season PR from this one, but I feel like this was the swim I had in me today, and that I did a good job of staying with the swim under not-ideal conditions.

    50 BK
    Masters/lifetime PR: 30.70 (2001) (SR=85.8)
    40-44 PR: 31.35 (3/08) (SR=87.3)
    2010 best: 31.62 (March) (SR=87.6)
    Time needed to beat best swim rating: 31.58
    Keys: explosive start, push turnover, accelerate into walls, kickickick
    Time: 31.45 (SR=88.1)
    Comments: I hit all my keys on this one and was happy with the swim. I kind of hoped I might have a break-out swim on this one and go under :30, but that didn’t happen. I do feel like I swam the best race I had in me today, and that’s what I was ultimately looking to do.

    So I ended up 5 of 6 on bettering my best-ever ratings in each event. This was a really successful nationals for me, and a really fun and amazing one as well. Friday I think I was a little overwhelmed by the venue and the crowdedness of things; today I made a point of looking around when I was behind the blocks and just taking in the fact that I was here swimming in the 96 Olympic pool at an event that had drawn so many other people who love swimming, and feeling really amazed and grateful at getting to have that experience.

    I also saw a bunch of really astounding swims—the men’s 100 FR especially just seemed to produce one amazing time after another. And some of my teammates had some breakthrough swims that were great to see. I also got to catch up with my Florida coach and training buddies, which was really nice.

    And I did wear my flower cap in the warmdown pool a couple of times today, and found out that I should have been doing that earlier. People really are nicer when you’re wearing a flower cap. They stop and smile and say things like, “Oh no, you go on ahead.” Plus, I met a women who was going to have a whole relay swim with flower caps today. I somehow missed seeing them swim, but hope other people did and cheered them on—it apparently included 3 new masters swimmers doing their first meet together.

    Tomorrow I’m swimming a morning relay as my farewell to this wonderful pool and event, then driving to the airport to fly home. Delta, please please get me home in time for dinner!

    One other thing: The natatorium has a vending machine that sells goggles and swim caps. Pretty cool!
  10. My first day at nats

    I had an amusing first day in Atlanta. I arrived early (in an impressive thunder and lightning storm) and got in a good warmup—it wasn’t too crowded, and I was glad for that. I was glad to have gotten in some starts at the 30-minute session yesterday, as the line for starts seemed very long.

    Then it was time to swim. Here’s how my events went (today's time and comments appended to my pre-meet event goal sheets):

    400 IM
    Masters/Lifetime PR: 5:13.51 (1999) (1:12.9, 1:22.8, 1:26.1, 1:11.7) (84.4 swim rating)
    40-44 PR: 5:20.62 (4/2006) (1:17.8, 1:20.2, 1:31.6, 1:10.9) (SR=85.3)
    2010 best: 5:33.43 (January) (1:17.3, 1:24.6, 1:36.4, 1:15.1) (SR=84.1)
    Time needed to beat best swim rating: 5:28.47
    Other goals: a well-paced race
    Keys: relaxed FL, establish rhythm on BK, head down on BR, exuberant FR, accelerate into walls on all strokes.
    Time: 5:19.01 (1:13.32, 1:19.17, 1:32.03, 1:14.49)
    Comments: I felt really nervous about this swim. I think I got too excited and went out too hard on the fly. The only time I swam 100 FL this season, I went 1:11.5, so I probably need an opening fly split more than 2 seconds slower than that. My legs felt dead the rest of the race, and I suffered. I didn’t do a good job of thinking about my keys because I was hurting too much. I was scared to look at the clock after, but when I did I was thrilled. I was hoping to go under 5:30, and secretly thinking I might have an outside shot of under 5:25, but I never imagined I’d break 5:20. So, I got a 40-44 PR and a best ever swim rating (87.9) in my first swim! I still think that better splitting might produce an even better swim, so that’s an exciting thought for future scy seasons.

    50 BR
    Masters/lifetime PR: 34.08 (2000) (87.1 swim rating)
    40-44 PR: 34.83 (3/2006) (SR=87.0)
    2010 best: 35.52 (3/21) (SR=86.8)
    Time needed to beat best swim rating: 35.38
    Other goals: <35?, good turn
    Keys: build into fast turnover on first few strokes; head down; coherent, powerful turn
    Time: 34.12
    Comments: I was really excited about swimming this event—the timers were laughing at me because I was so eager to get in the water. I felt I executed my keys well, and my time was a lifetime second-best, just .04 off my best from 2000. I also picked up a swim rating PR with a 90.3—I’m not sure how many ratings over 90 I’ve ever gotten in scy. Maybe the key to blissy swimming is to just swim 50s—this race was all fun.

    200 BK
    Masters/lifetime PR (and coolest-ever splits): 2:26.52 (2002) (35.10, 37.14, 37.14, 37.14) (SR=83.4)
    Best swim rating: 2:31.30 in 2009 (SR=84.7)
    40-44 PR: 2:30.07 (2007) (SR=84.2)
    2010 best: NT
    Time needed to beat best swim rating: 2:32.34
    Goals: <2:30, a well-paced swim
    Keys: still head; think rotation on 1st 3 strokes off each wall, then push turnover; accelerate into walls
    Time: 2:26.27 (35.33, 37.33, 37.07, 36.54)
    Comments: I was really happy with this swim. That time is a lifetime best for me (just beating out my time from 2002), and I executed most things well (the start was conservative because I was worried about slipping, and my first turn was too close to the bulkhead, but everything else seemed good to me.) My swim rating on this one was 88.3.

    So, three 40-44 PRs, 1 lifetime PR, and 3 best scy swim ratings. It was a successful swimming day.

    I also had a lot of fun at the meet—got to hang out with teammates from past and present, and see some folks from faraway who I never see except at big meets. There were some really impressive swims and races going in—with 2 10-lane pools going at once, it seems a bit like a track meet where there’s always something good to watch.

    I got a neck treatment from our team’s trainer (yes, we have one here!) once I was done for the day, so I’m feeling good despite swimming a lot today. Tomorrow if I’m not swimming a morning relay I may go warm up elsewhere before driving over to the meet, since my first event (200 IM) doesn’t start until later in the session.

    Congrats to everyone who swam today, and good luck tomorrow!
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  11. Not in NYC

    Tuesday morning I did my 1000-yard warmup at the Y right down the street from me. Since it was before 6am, the pool was not at all crowded, but I did get to see a couple of open-water swimmers I hadn’t run across for a while (one of them training for MIMS—her yardage and mine that day were way on opposite ends of the spectrum!)

    Then I headed off to the airport—my flight was super crowded (the one an hour before to ATL had been cancelled) and about an hour late, but that’s par for the course at Laguardia. After landing in ATL, I got my luggage and car and headed off for Alabama.

    The drive from Atlanta to my hometown takes about 4 hours. The first 1.5h is on interstate, and isn’t all that interesting. The last 2+ hours, though, are on a little 2-lane state road that meanders through woods and farmland and down the main streets of a half-dozen small towns. It is a gorgeous drive, and the really amazing thing about it is that not once do I pass by a chain restaurant or store or even gas station—no McDonalds or Gaps or Walmarts in sight, and definitely no Starbucks! Except for the other occasional cars on the road, nothing I see would look out of place in the 1960s or 70s It’s pretty amazing, and makes me feel way far away from New York City very quickly. When I start passing through towns that my basketball team played back high school, I know I’m getting close to home.

    (I don’t think all the little towns I drive through have really been passed over by the modern world. It’s likely that they’re like my hometown, where Main Street is home to older local businesses, and fast food places and Walmart have congregated a bit outside of town. But it’s funny to not even see any billboards or signs for them on the state road.)

    So far my time down here has been very relaxing. Enterprise is beyond mellow. I’m visiting with my mom and aunt, aka “Thelma” and “Louise,” and they are quite a pair.

    Death and burials seem to be a theme this visit. So we’ve discussed T&L’s 20 aunts and uncles (they all have names like Buford or Condy or Mina Lee), and when and how each died (only 1 is still living, and they’re not absolutely certain about him). Today, we visited two different cemeteries in order to refresh various plastic flower arrangements. While there, we also drove verrrrry slowly through the car pathways while discussing who is buried where, what sorts of flowers look best on graves, and whether new graves should be reseeded immediately or allowed to “settle” for a few months first. This whole town is also plastered with campaign signs—for coroner. It seems that is the intriguing race this political season.

    My main swimming-related focus during my time down here is eating healthy—I’m trying to stay away from fried foods and desserts. I finally got out my B70 to show to my aunt, who loves pushing desserts on me, and she reluctantly agreed that maybe cake was not the best thing for someone hoping to fit themselves into such a garment. I was also successful in staying away from the fire ant beds in the cemeteries today, so that’s probably also a plus on the meet prep side.

    I’ll leave tomorrow morning for Atlanta. Looking forward to the meet finally starting!
    Tags: alabama
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  12. Heading out tomorrow

    I got in a little swim at noon today at Asphalt Green. I did about 1600 yards, with a tad of sprint FR and lots of drills. Then I did a few backstroke starts—Coach Craig pulled some major strings with the facility and got an actual touchpad in for us, so I really enjoyed starting on the sticky wall, and was happy to check off the last thing on my prep list before nats.

    Tomorrow I leave for Atlanta. I’m flying in around noon, then driving down to southeast Alabama for a few days to visit my mom and aunt. I’ll drive back up on Thursday, hopefully in time to get in a quick swim in the competition pool. I’ll swim tomorrow morning before I go out to the airport--I'm planning on just doing my meet warmup, then a nice stretch. Wednesday will be an off day, since there is no place to swim in my hometown.

    Good luck to everyone heading to nationals—travel safe, swim fast, and stop by and introduce yourself to me if I haven’t found you first! (I’ll be with the AGUA team—just ask for Janet. We got some team togs today, so the team should be recognizable.)
    Tags: taper
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  13. Dreamy Saturday workout

    This morning I swam the LCM workout with AGUA masters. I was feeling pretty good from the outset today—no wooziness or headaches. Here’s how it went:

    600 LCM warmup

    600 more warmup / easy swimming [this was actually a set of 250s FR and 200s ST, but I just swam easy and got out in the middle for an extended on-deck stretch]

    10 x 50 @ 1:20?, odds working on underwater efficiency, evens adding quicker turnover

    5 x 100 @ big rest, 25 fast, 75 easy [this set was actually 10 x 100 @ 2:00, 50 ST fast, 50 FR easy, with taperers doing 1 on/ 1 off, but I modified it further to do my fave LC 25m sprints. I got to practice going off the blocks a few times on this set]

    300 warmdown/play

    I felt really dreamy and relaxed in the water today. The practice was not too crowded, and I went in the back of my lane, about 20 seconds behind everyone else, so I really felt like it was just me and the water.

    Yesterday I posted my goals and keys for my first day of swimming in Atlanta. Here’s the same for my second day (Saturday):

    200 IM
    Masters/lifetime PR: 2:25.82 (1998) (32.2, 38.9, 42.0, 32.6) (Swim rating = 85.1)
    40-44 PR: 2:31.16 (4/2009) (32.8, 38.1, 44.9, 35.3) (SR=86.2)
    2010 best: 2:32.56 (4/11) (33.3, 38.3, 45.1, 35.8) (SR=86.0)
    Time needed to beat best swim rating: 2:31.94
    Keys: easy FL, accelerate into turns, rhythm + turnover on BK, hand speed on BR, kick on FR

    100 FR
    Masters PR: 58.07 (27.78) (2002) (Swim rating = 86.7)
    Lifetime best: 57.53 (1981)
    40-44 PR and 2010 best: 59.56 (28.94) (3/2010) (SR=87.4)
    Time needed to beat best swim rating: 59.52
    Goal: I’d be thrilled to go under a minute again.
    Keys: happy and relaxed off blocks, accelerate 2nd length into turn, kick on 3rd length, push turnover and kick on last 25

    50 BK
    Masters/lifetime PR: 30.70 (2001) (SR=85.8)
    40-44 PR: 31.35 (3/08) (SR=87.3)
    2010 best: 31.62 (March) (SR=87.6)
    Time needed to beat best swim rating: 31.58
    Keys: explosive start, push turnover, accelerate into walls, kickickick

    I think one of the biggest challenges for me in Atlanta will be dealing with the crowded warmup and warmdown pools. I really like having space around me when I swim, but I don’t think I’m going to find much of that. I’ll just have to be flexible and determined about getting good warm-ups in both days. If warm-ups are really a zoo, it will just make me look forward swimming my actual events (where I will have my own lane) even more!

    I am hoping to make it to the pool on Thursday in time to register and get in a little swim in the competition pool after the day’s events are done, but it looks like I’ll need to get there pretty early in the afternoon for that. I’ll be driving up from Alabama after spending a few days with family there, so that should be doable.
    Tags: taper
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  14. Easy Friday swimming

    I went to noon AGUA workout today and just did some easy swimming. I’m still feeling a little lightheaded from Wednesday, but things are definitely getting better.

    The workout involved various different pacing and effort levels, but I ended up swimming it all easy except for some fast turns and breakouts and an occasional 3-5 stroke cycles at race speed. I worked on some technique keys (BR head position, BK elbow bend, FR head position) that I hope to do well in my races in Atlanta.

    Here’s the workout I did:

    300 warmup

    6 x 150 @ :20 rest

    5 x 100 @ 2:20 [I moved down a couple of lanes for this set and the next, since the fast lane had 7 swimmers and I was just taking it easy.]

    12 x 50 choice: 3 @ 1:10, 3 @ 1:05, 3 @ 1:00, 3 @ 55

    2 backstroke starts [Coach Craig’s tip: head further back when in start position]

    150 warmdown

    I felt good in the water by the middle of the workout, and enjoyed just taking it easy. I was glad to get in a bit of work on my BK starts, but only did 2 because starting on the bulkhead really chews up the skin on my toes. Maybe I’ll ask if they can put in a touchpad Monday morning to do some more BK start work—I think the pool has some (I don’t think they’re the high touchpads like will be in Atlanta—but any surface would be better than the bulkhead).

    I’ve been a bit of a slacker about writing down my goals and keys for each race in Atlanta. That’s partly because I really am not sure what to expect. I decided to attend this meet somewhat late in the season, and my reasons—I thought it would be fun to go to a major meet with a big team, I could combine it with a trip to Alabama to see my mom, and I wanted a distraction from other goings-on this spring—didn’t really have that much to do with achieving individual swim goals. My overarching aim at the meet is to enjoy a fun few days of swimming, and to feel like I’ve gotten the best that my body could do out of each swim.

    But I do also like to have numbers to shoot for, and I was feeling at a bit of a loss there. It’s been years since I’ve tapered for a scy meet, so I don’t have a set of recent yards tapered times to aim for. Most of my best yards times are from my early 30s, and many of them seem so far out of reach as to seem daunting. But yesterday I remembered the swim rating calculator. I decided to comb through my old times, determine my best swim rating in each of the events I’m doing, and see what sort of time it would take to beat that rating at my current age (44). It turns out that those times yield a nice set of challenging yet achievable goal times. Hurray for swim ratings!

    So here’s the pertinent info for my first day of swimming at nats (Friday):

    400 IM
    Masters/Lifetime PR: 5:13.51 (1999) (1:12.9, 1:22.8, 1:26.1, 1:11.7) (84.4 swim rating)
    40-44 PR: 5:20.62 (4/2006) (1:17.8, 1:20.2, 1:31.6, 1:10.9) (SR=85.3)
    2010 best: 5:33.43 (January) (1:17.3, 1:24.6, 1:36.4, 1:15.1) (SR=84.1)
    Time needed to beat best swim rating: 5:28.47=85.4
    Other goals: a well-paced race
    Keys: relaxed FL, establish rhythm on BK, head down on BR, exuberant FR, accelerate into walls on all strokes.

    50 BR
    Masters/lifetime PR: 34.08 (2000) (87.1 swim rating)
    40-44 PR: 34.83 (3/2006) (SR=87.0)
    2010 best: 35.52 (3/21) (SR=86.8)
    Time needed to beat best swim rating: 35.38
    Other goals: <35?, good turn
    Keys: build into fast turnover on first few strokes; head down; coherent, powerful turn

    200 BK
    Masters/lifetime PR (and coolest-ever splits): 2:26.52 (2002) (35.10, 37.14, 37.14, 37.14) (SR=83.4)
    Best swim rating: 2:31.30 in 2009 (SR=84.7)
    40-44 PR: 2:30.07 (2007) (SR=84.2)
    2010 best: NT
    Time needed to beat best swim rating: 2:32.34
    Goals: <2:30, a well-paced swim
    Keys: still head; think rotation on 1st 3 strokes off each wall, then push turnover; accelerate into walls
    Tags: atlanta, goals, taper
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  15. Relief!

    This morning I went to the early AGUA scy masters workout. Here’s how it went:

    200 scy warmup

    5 x 100 @ 1:40

    6 x 75 kick FL/BK/BR @ 1:45

    8 x 25 @ :30, done as 2 x (12.5 easy / 12.5 fast, 12.5 F /12.5 ez, 25 ez, 25 sprint) [did 4 FR, 4 BK]

    10 x 50 @ 1:30ish (coach’s sendoff), done at goal 200 pace, [I did 5 FR @ 500 pace, 5 BK @ 200 pace]

    400 warmdown + play [for those of us going to nationals—everyone else did something complicated involving a 200 using the average times from the 50s above]

    I enjoyed this, and got to check off most of the tapery things I was looking to do today (some sprint FR to work on turnover, fast BK turns, a bit of pacework).

    Then came the part of the day that I had been dreading—I had an appointment to donate blood. I’m having surgery a couple of weeks after nationals to resolve some longstanding health problems, and my surgeon has recommended that I bank a couple of units ahead of time. Because of various constraints, I needed to schedule one appointment this week.

    I was nervous because the last time I gave blood, when I was in grad school, I fainted afterwards, and it literally took hours for my blood pressure to stabilize enough for me to leave the donation trailer. But today’s experience went better—no fainting! And now I’m feeling pretty good, and very relieved at having no more surgery-related things to deal with until after nationals are over—now I can just relax and taper and swim and enjoy.

    For the next few days I plan to take it pretty easy in the water and stop if I feel too tired, but that’s probably what I’d be doing during my taper anyway. Tomorrow I have a massage scheduled, and I’m definitely looking forward to that. Lying on a table getting kneaded definitely beats lying on a recliner getting blood drained out of you!
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  16. Monday middday swim

    I had a nice noontime workout at Asphalt Green today. Here’s what we did:

    300 warmup

    4 x (100 FR @ 1:30, 100 IM kick @ 2:00)

    4 x broken 200 (50/:05/50/:10/50/:15/50) @ :30ish rest, odds ST fast, evens FR [I wish the final 50 of my IM felt as great in real life as they did with :15 rest preceding them in this set!]

    Dive work [I got some good tips from Coach Craig on my dives and relay starts. Doing the swinging arm relay start is really fun.]

    200 warmdown

    Tonight Mr. Addict's choir sings its last concert of the season--Mendelssohn's Paulus. I've never heard this piece in concert before (although I feel very familiar with the bass part of the chorus at this point), and am looking forward to just sitting back and enjoying some beautiful music in a great setting this evening. One of my alto swimming friends will also be among the singers.
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  17. Diary of a Wimpy Open-Water Swimmer

    For the last month I had been antsy to get in some open-water swimming, but the water temps had been a little too cold to me. Finally this past week I got word that the water out at Brighton Beach had topped the 50-degree mark, so I made plans to go out on Sunday and swim with the CIBBOWS crew. I was planning to swim no more than a mile, since I'm tapering for Atlanta, but as it turned out I needn't have worried about swimming too far!

    This morning turned out very cold (40s air temp) and windy, but I headed out anyway. I was having some misgivings once I got there. The beach was as deserted as I've ever seen it--the blowing sand and the cold discouraged most of the crowd that usually hangs out on the sand and boardwalk. I did manage to get in the water, and swam a bit. I lasted only about 5 minutes, maybe 10 minutes tops, before heading back to shore. The wind and whitecaps made it difficult going, but it was mostly the stinging cold that drove me back to land.

    Even so, it was a very exhilerating short swim, and I'm glad I went--my OW swim season has officially started! It was great being out at the beach even in the wind, and reminded me of why I look forward to swimming out there every summer. I hope to go out again next week and last a little longer.

    And I will say it once again: Hurray for swim parkas! They might be the greatest invention ever,
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  18. A pleasant LC morning

    This morning I swam the LCM workout with the AGUA masters. I swam a lane down, for taper purposes. Here’s what we did:

    600 LCM warmup

    3 x (2 x 100 smooth @ 2:15, 1 x 200 fast @ 4:00) [I did FR on the 1st round, FR/BK halfsies on the 2nd, and BK on round 3.]

    8 x 50 Kick w/ fins @ 1:30, done as 2 x (25 ez/ 25 fast, 25 fast/ 50 easy, 50 easy, 50 fast), 1st round FR, 2nd round FL

    10 x 50 choice, odds superfast turnover for 6 stroke cycles at beginning and end of length but easy in the middle, evens build to strong finish

    3 x 500 @ 9:00? [I just did 2 of these as an extended warmdown—I mostly played on the first one, then swam my 400 scy IM in my head while doing the second (I did the turns @ 400 IM pace, but the rest easy free).

    I enjoyed this workout, plus got to check off all the little things I had hoped to work on today.

    Tomorrow I’m going out to Brighton Beach to swim—my first open water swimming of the season! The water temp is reportedly in the 50s, but there have also been reports of jellies already. I’m hoping to have a short, pleasant, and sting-free swim!
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  19. Grab-bag workout

    I did an easy short swim at the Y today on my own. I started with my standard 1000 scy warmup (400 swim, 200 kick, 200 pull, 200 rev. IM drill/swim), then did about another mix-and-match 1000 or so that included the following:

    twirling fly kicks a la Fortress, only without a monofin [I managed not to stray into other lanes on this, although it would have been particularly easy in this pool, with its narrow lanes that do not correspond to the lines on the bottom! Next time I do these I will bring my nose clip!]

    some 50 free/back halfsies, focusing on keeping my knee bent at the same angle as I flip my legs over on my turn [sometimes I bend my knees a skunch more right as my feet are about to make contact with the wall—probably defensive reflex from heeling the wall one too many times—and then spend a split-second drifting into the wall, rather than simply flipping over and making solid contact. When I focus on keeping my knee position the same, my turns feel way more bouncy.]

    breaststroke at different turnover speeds, focusing on watching my hands recover right under my face (to work on head position, and keeping rhythm efficient as I speed up my stroke)

    some backwards kicking (FL, BR, and FR), followed by a feet-first 25 IM (just for fun)

    a couple build 50 BKs, focusing on pretty technique

    some dolphin dive 25s

    100 corkscrew IM

    and just some easy, dreamy swimming

    It was a good session. I’ll get back into working-semi-hard mode tomorrow—today my goal was just to have fun and get loose enough so that I could have a good stretching session after.

    Tonight I went to ballet class—probably my last one til after Atlanta.
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  20. The smooth delicious center of the IM

    I swam the noon masters workout at AG today. I started out working on my BK and BR sprinting, since I'm swimming 50s of both at nationals, then combined the 2 strokes with an eye towards working on the middle part of my 2IM. Here’s how it went:

    600 scy warmup

    7 x 75 k/d/s @ :15, odds FR, evens FL/BK/BR

    75 easy swim

    16 x 25 fastish @ :30, odds BK, evens BR
    100 easy @ 2:00
    6 x 50 fast @ 1:00, 2 back, 2 breast, 2 back [I the odds build and the evens fast]
    100 easy
    3 x 100 fast @ 1:50 [I did these as BK/BR halfsies, and skipped a 50 of the last one]
    100 easy
    95 from blocks for time [I did an IM middle, ie 50BK/50BR]
    200 warmdown

    Taper superstitions: Although I really like playing with numbers during most of my swim season, and am usually watching the clock to note my splits on anything over 100, I don’t like knowing what times I’m swimming during my taper. This is particularly true of any swims that I will be doing at the meet I’m tapering for—ie, I don’t want to know my time for a 200 IM from the blocks in practice if that’s an event I’ll be swimming. In fact, I often refuse to swim the exact distances or strokes that I’ll be doing in the meet, preferring to practice my races in pieces instead.

    I don’t know that this is completely a superstition on my part—I don’t really believe that knowing my times will magically jinx me at the meet or anything. Rather, I do it mostly because I know myself well enough to realize that if I have data to play with, I will worry about it. It is analogous to peeking at the scoreboard at meets during the backstroke leg of the IMs in order to see the FL split. I finally convinced myself to stop doing this, because I know that there is no number in the world that I can see up there that will make me feel more confident and relaxed in my swim. If the split is over or under my goal split, I worry that I’m pacing the race wrong, and if even it’s right on the number that I was aiming for, I just find something else to worry about, like whether my perceived effort is too great for that particular time. In short, numbers can turn me into a worrywart.

    It’s the same during taper—if my times are slow, I worry that my taper is not going right, and if they’re fast, I worry that I’ve tapered too soon or that I’m working too hard. I find it easier to just ignore the stopwatch and trust that I’ve put in the work, and that it will all come together at the meet.

    Is anyone else a stopwatch-phobe during taper?
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