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  1. Garbagio Lessons

    by , March 7th, 2012 at 01:39 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Preamble: Sorry for how long this is. I wanted to jot down a few thoughts I have had on this season so far, and it has gotten a bit extended, verbiage wise, even for me. To leaven the mood, I will put a few pictures in here and there of me playing with Ciara's pony tail.



    Ciara's wonderful father and my father figure/swimming coach, Bill White, perches like a better angel atop my right shoulder.
    *

    We last left our cliff hanger on the eve of my 1650 swim at Carnegie Mellon University, Feb. 26th, 2011.

    At the time, if memory serves, I suggested that if I swam reasonably well, there would be no need for me to quote extensively from Sartre's Nausea. I am happy to report that this has, indeed, proven the case, and there is no reason whatsoever to ruminate for so much as a split second on :


    • "Ma pensée, c'est moi: voilà pourquoi je ne peux pas m'arrêter. J'existe parce que je pense … et je ne peux pas m'empêcher de penser"
    • "Every existing thing is born without reason, prolongs itself out of weakness and dies by chance"
    • "I know. I know that I shall never again meet anything or anybody who will inspire me with passion. You know, it's quite a job starting to love somebody. You have to have energy, generosity, blindness. There is even a moment, in the very beginning, when you have to jump across a precipice: if you think about it you don't do it. I know I'll never jump again."

    These, and many more existential bon mots just as depressing have absolutely no relevance to today's vlog!



    Ciara and I attempt a mind meld of the sort popularized by those bluish people on Avatar.

    Instead, I would like to take the opportunity to offer something ever so rare in my episodic entries to date: potentially actionable swimming advice that might help my fellow middle distance freestylers approaching their Twilight years (in the non-vampire old-fashioned sense of the term.)

    Data
    One reason for the delay in posting my results is that I keep hoping for the Hyteck Meet Manager results to actually make their way a) onto the Internet, and b) into the "event rankings" section of USMS as was promised by my LMSC. But as is the case with many such promises, this hasn't happened yet, and I am slowly bracing myself for the thought that yet another of my swims in recent years won't count for possible TT consideration.

    So instead, here is the hand-written sheet from my CMU backup timer, who posted the splits from the electronic scoreboard:



    Historical Context

    JIM THORNTON 59 1650 Free 19:38.20

    JIM THORNTON 58 1650 Free 20:03.90

    JIM THORNTON 57 1650Free 19:34.18

    JIM THORNTON 56 1650Free 19:54.24

    JIM THORNTON 55 1650Free 19:47.91

    JIM THORNTON 54 1650Free didn't swim it
    JIM THORNTON 53 1650Free didn't swim it

    JIM THORNTON 52 1650Free 20:41.65

    JIM THORNTON 51 1650Free 18:59.22

    JIM THORNTON 50 1650Free 18:53.69

    JIM THORNTON 49 1650Free 19:27.75

    JIM THORNTON 48 1650Free 20:34.05

    JIM THORNTON 47 1650Free 21:10.00

    JIM THORNTON 46 1650Free didn't swim it
    JIM THORNTON 45 1650Free didn't swim it

    JIM THORNTON 44 1650Free 21:40.54

    JIM THORNTON 43 to 0 1650Free didn't swim it (though my mother might beg to differ--how many laps in a shared placenta is a 1650?)

    As you can see, my times have bounced around a bit over the past 15 years. My lifetime best performance was at age 50, a time when my coach Bill White helped me get into the best distance swimming shape of my life. I remember that year we did the following practice:

    10 x 100 on 1:25 warm up
    2 min rest

    10 x 200 on 2:30

    2 min rest
    10 x 200 on 2:30

    cool down


    To this day, making this practice remains by far my proudest moment as a practice swimmer!

    You will also notice that before age 49, I never broke 20 minutes. I was not swimming particularly hard at this point in my masters career, the body suits had not come out, and these times were all done at practice, not a meet.

    Two other conspicuous 20 min+ outliers include the 20:41 done at age 52, which can be explained by broken ribs; and the 20:03 at age 58 (last year), which was the first year the body suits were banned, plus I had suffered a detached retina that January, which put me out of the water for nearly three weeks.



    I have always thought I look good with that flouncy pony tail out the ball cap look! Now I can prove it!

    Analysis of Recent "Comparables"

    For an apples-to-apples comparison, let us look at my recent swim at 59 (19:38.20) and my swim at 57 two years earlier (19:34.18).

    On the surface, it appears that I have slowed down by 4.02 seconds over the past two years. My pace per 100 has deteriorated from 1:11.41 to 1:11.16, or a quarter of a second per hundred in two years. On an annual basis, it would seem that I am slowing down by approximately one eighth of a second per hundred.

    There are, however, several fudge factors that make this "apples-to-apples" comparison more of a "Granny Smith vs. Red Delicious" situation.

    First, suit differences.

    At 57, I swam the 1650 in my "floatie" body suit, the B70. At 59, I swam shaved an in a LSR elite jammer given to me a couple years ago. Did the suit change make a huge difference in my times?

    It definitely did in some events. At 57, for instance, I swam my lifetime best 200 SCY freestyle in the B70, breaking in the 1:54's for the first and only time in my life. Since then, my fastest 200s have been high 1:57s. My 50s and 100s have also shown clear deterioration thanks to the suit change.

    But for some reason, distance events of 500 and over don't seem to have shown as much of change. It seems like they should--with the B70 on, I took 1-2 less strokes per length swimming exactly the same way as always; moreover, I regularly gained at least a couple feet further on pushoffs and dives.

    You would think such things would prove especially additive over longer distances, but so far that hasn't been the case. Perhaps the inability of body heat to escape the body suit as easily might muddle its impact on my own distance performances.

    Conclusion: replacement of the B70 with a jammer probably hurt my time, but I cannot absolutely prove this.



    In this corner, Red
    vs.


    In this corner, Granny

    Even apples-to-apples comparisons are difficult to make sense of in the post-Body Suit Era!
    Second, accumulated yardage leading
    up to the 1650.


    This year's 1650 was preceded by 423.44 miles in all of 2011; 41.79 miles in January, '12; and 60.60 miles in February, '12.

    The B70 1650 two years earlier was preceded by 330.53 miles in all of 2009; 38.76 miles in January, '10; and 28.62 miles in February, '10.


    Conclusion: swimming significantly greater distance probably helped my performance, though the suit change variable makes this also difficult to prove.



    Is a Jim Clemmons-style mustache the key to time drops in swimming?

    Third, a more
    intelligent pacing
    strategy for me.

    Before this year's swim, I solicited advice from Ande.

    Some selected excerpts from my questions and his always great counsel:
    _________________________________________
    Originally Posted by jim thornton
    Ande, did you post something on swimming the 1650?

    I'd like to do a good time this year, but I am wary of going out too fast and becoming cooked. Once I cross over to that "cooked" stage, it's agonizing to keep on going. But if I go too slow to avoid premature baking, it's hard to make it up on the other end. Any advice?
    Swim by feel, assuming you will probably feel too good at the beginning and thus should consciously slow down?
    _________________________________________
    Hey Jim,

    Great to hear from you. So you want to have a great 1650 & you want to split it correctly, swim it "just right" instead of being over cooked by going too hard up front or under cooked by going too easy.

    "just right" is the trick and it's tricky.
    Your 1st 100 needs to feel EASY.
    You need to cruise it, going too hard on your first few 50's is usually way worse than going too easy.

    BE VERY WELL CONDITIONED.

    Do a great job warming up before your race.

    Know your pace.

    Do some longer swims in practice, some faster than your 1650 pace, some at & some below. Know what that effort feels like.

    Ideally you want to hold the same exact pace the whole way, but diving in and excitement, makes some people rabbit the first few 50's.

    You can only do what you can do. Swimming above pace up front is very likely to be detrimental. Settle into a sustainable pace and hold it.

    Your pace an differ based on water temp. The warmer the pool is the worse your pace might be.

    the best thing to prepare for the 1650 is consistent hard longer training and some speed work.
    _________________________________________
    Originally Posted by jim thornton

    Ande, thanks so much for a very detailed and helpful reply.

    I was starting to feel pretty confident, but last night we had a practice which started off with 8 x 100 on 1:25 warm up, then some 50s kick, then 2 x 500 on 6:15.
    To break 20 on the 1650, I know I have to average around 6:00 per 500. But on the first 500 in practice, I did a 6:01, and the second one I just squeaked in at 6:14.

    It was demoralizing.

    But I usually try to negative split distance stuff, and I probably swam that first 500 faster than was comfortable. Plus the water was hot, I'd swum a meet the day before, and I was pretty tuckered out from swimming every day, without stop, since Jan. 28th.
    So...who knows?

    I am definitely going to take it out easy because by the end of last night's second 500, I was definitely not feeling ready to do another 650!

    Today, I just went in and swam a slow 1650; I will probably take it easy at Wed. and Fri. practices, and just stretch out on the days in between.

    I will take your post with me and try to ingrain your advice.

    Thanks again!


    _________________________________________
    Hey Jim,

    You're welcome for my reply, happy to

    don't let your performance in a particular practice crush your spirit
    just keep showing up & do the best you can
    how many times a week are you training?
    how far per practice?
    if possible, before you taper, attempt to increase your
    x/wk, yds per practice, & pace.
    do it by just being determined to swim faster in practice.

    so you want to break 20:00 on your 1650
    20 x 60 = 1200
    1200 / 33 = 36.363
    so you need to ave 36.36 per 50
    that should be easy and very doable for you

    ingrain my advice & come up with a
    training plan and a
    race plan

    holding 1:12's should be very easy for you
    I bet you can hold under 1:10's
    _________________________________________

    Right before my B70 1650 at age 57, I solicited the advice of an on deck coach, who told me to go out smooth but strong on the first 500, then pick up each 500 thereafter.

    Here are my splits from that race: 1 1-5 Thornton, Jim 57 TPIT-AM 19:50.00 19:34.18
    30.96 1:05.54 (34.58) 1:40.03 (34.49) 2:14.52 (34.49)
    2:49.55 (35.03) 3:24.78 (35.23) 3:59.96 (35.18) 4:34.94 (34.98)
    5:10.07 (35.13) 5:45.07 (35.00) 6:20.07 (35.00) 6:55.36 (35.29)
    7:30.52 (35.16) 8:06.58 (36.06) 8:42.46 (35.88) 9:18.37 (35.91)
    9:54.37 (36.00) 10:30.72 (36.35) 11:07.09 (36.37) 11:43.09 (36.00)
    12:20.04 (36.95) 12:57.12 (37.08) 13:33.82 (36.70) 14:10.80 (36.98)
    14:47.27 (36.47) 15:24.20 (36.93) 16:00.74 (36.54) 16:37.19 (36.45)
    17:13.84 (36.65) 17:50.36 (36.52) 18:26.61 (36.25) 19:02.29 (35.68)
    19:34.18 (31.89)

    I started out following the coach's advice, and I did feel strong and smooth--for a while. My first 500 was a 5:45.07. By the 1000 mark, I was starting to hurt, realizing too late that what feels good early on is not necessarily as easy as you think. My 1000 split was 11:43.09. The final 500 of the race was 6:00.36.

    Compare this "start strong and decay" approach with the strategy I adopted, thanks to Ande's advice, this year. The second strategy is perhaps better described as "baby and coddle yourself beyond belief, and pick it up as you start to feel more comfortable."

    I took the first 500 out in 6:10.38, more than 25 seconds slower than the previous race. The guy on my left and the guy on my right quickly disappeared into the gloaming in front of me, but I reminded myself of Ande's wisdom to ignore the rabbits and realize going out too fast is usually a much bigger mistake than going out too slow.

    At the 1000 mark, I was at 12:10.91, now 27 seconds slower than my time in 2010. To an outside observer, it no doubt looked like I was setting myself up for total disaster. Note: to break 20 minutes, you have hold just a smidge over a 1:12 pace, and I was far from doing this.

    But somewhere around this point, I caught up with both rabbits. I felt good, I felt strong--precisely the opposite of how I had felt two years earlier after going out much more quickly.

    My final 500 was a 5:40.27, which was (at that point of the year) my fastest 500 of the season.

    My final 200 was 2:10.11; my final 100 1:02.91; and my final 50 a 30.01.

    Granted, overall I was still 4 seconds slower than when I swam it the "hurty" way, but when I got out of the pool at the conclusion of this year's race, I didn't feel the need to glance around to make sure the facility had an AED on hand. I felt pretty good, actually--and extremely happy that I had broken 20 minutes.

    Conclusion: each swimmer must know his or her body and design a race strategy that works best for the energy systems and musculature therein. My friend and coach Bill has been a long time advocate of the "go out fast and try to hang on" approach.

    For me, however, I have found that husbanding my energies, especially in longer races, seems to be the way to go. Not only does it hurt less, but I have come to believe that I just do better this way. Don't get me wrong: I am a big believer in pain and suffering. But I am not a believer of stupid pain and suffering, the kind that comes from misplaced Calvinism. If I tip over into what we used to call the lactic acid bath too soon in a distance race, I just tie up and can't finish strong.

    What I am trying to do now is to figure out exactly where the line is (and the line shifts over the course of a race), swim as close as possible to this line without crossing it, and at the end, when I know I can cross the line and still finish the race, only then do I give it my all.

    Final note:
    Strategic Application
    to Other Events


    This past weekend, there was the last regular season AMYMSA meet before our championships. This meet, held at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, was again supposed to count for USMS purposes. The first event was the 500, and given that I did my season's best time in this event at the end of the 1650, I was hoping to match last year's best mid-season time of 5:33.

    I used the same basic strategy of the 1650, but because the distance is so much shorter, I didn't coddle myself quite so much at the beginning, I did, however, remind myself to keep things smooth and under control.

    Here are my splits:

    AGE GROUP: 55-59
    1 JIM THORNTON 59 M SEWY 5:28.81

    30.82
    33.36
    33.53
    33.63
    33.39
    33.58
    33.07
    32.88
    33.41
    31.14

    Later, I did a pathetic 50 freestyle, thrashing impotently like a maniac. My time here, 25.69, was so dispiriting that I figured I would never be able to do a decent 100 again and should concentrate from now on only on 200s and longer.

    The last event of the 3 and a half hour mudhole meet was the 100, and Bill told me he thought I should scratch because my time would likely be demoralizing. I didn't want to do this because the Albatross SCM meet is coming up soon, and I signed up for a bunch of events and wanted to gauge how my current conditioning would allow me to perform in multiple freestyle races in close proximity.

    Bill said that he thought I would be lucky to swim in the 56s, and that I should brace myself for doing a 57 in the 100.

    So I decided to just swim the 100, not worry about my time, and try the "out easy" strategy here, too.

    Here's how I typically judge the best possible time you can do for a 100:

    take your 50 time (25.69) and add 1 second to it (26.69)to determine how fast you should take out your first 50 in the 100. Then take this time (26.69) and add 1.5 seconds to it to get the time you can do on the second 50, which doesn't include a dive (28.19).

    Thus my fastest theoretical 100 would be 26.69 plus 28.19 = 54.88.

    Here are my actual splits from the 100 on Sunday:

    AGE GROUP: 55-59
    1 JIM THORNTON 59 M SEWY 55.11

    27.00
    28.11


    What makes this even more unusual from my perspective is that I misjudged the flip turn at the 50 mark, and had one of those foot-only push offs that gives you virtually no momentum off the wall. If I had had a decent push off, it's possible I could have had my first negative split 100 ever!

    The strategy, it would appear, even works on 100s!

    I will have to try it out on the 50 next!

    Note to self: No matter how much it itches, do not forget to shave!

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  2. Last swim in Dallas

    by , March 12th, 2012 at 08:49 PM (Chowmi's Blog)
    This is Spring Break week! We decided to leave a few days later to make sure our assistant is ok on her own. Her husband passed away last Wednesday while she was at work. We didn't know if she would work this week, so Breck was on hold. But, she wants to get back to her routine and keep busy, so we are off to Breckenridge tomorrow AM!

    SCM, Baylor Fitness Center
    on my own

    200 warm up

    6 x 10 sec cords; easy sprint with paddles

    8 x 50 on 1:15
    free with PFS
    smooth, but amazingly fast 35-33's

    100 easy

    4 x (15 seconds no breath, immediately (that means no breath) into a fast 25) on 1:30
    This was really hard on #3 and #4. I took 1 breath on each of the last 2, and made the first 2.

    100 easy. lots of breaths!

    8 x 25 on 1:00 monofin fly! no breath.
    100 easy
    4 x 50 kick on 1:15
    TYR burner fins; kick on sides

    100 easy

    6 x Dives to about the 15m

    100 easy

    The End

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Alright! Awesome workout today if I do say so myself. I still felt rushed at the end, since I had to eat lunch, pick up one daughter and then the other, and we were on a really tight schedule to make it through Braum's for ice cream and then back down for their swim practice.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Next up: Outlet shops at Silverthorne, here I come!!!!

    PS - Jerkey wagon on Main street, here I come!!!!
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  3. Buck up, Albatrossian! Buck up!

    by , March 14th, 2012 at 04:33 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    It is going to be a bit difficult to write today's vlog, given my recent posting in the No Whining Pledge thread of the discussion forums.

    For those of you who missed it, here is what I wrote:


    When I swam with Pitt masters at the U Pittsburgh pool, there was a morning group (up at 5 a.m.) and an evening group (practice starts at 5:30 p.m.)

    As an unconscious whiner who emitted little whimpers involuntarily, the way a person with halitosis exhales puffs of putrescent breath that he has gotten so used to that its smell seems like normal air, I was informed one day by Pitt's excellent masters coach Jen that I didn't need to be this way.


    There was, Jen told me, a legendary non-whiner who swam in the 5 a.m. practices, a fellow named Rich Durstein who never complained about anything. The man could have a spike through his head and he would not have mentioned it, nor the impact said spike would have on his ability to hold a tight interval.


    Perhaps, Jen suggested, I could try to be a
    little bit more like Rich Durstein.

    I am nothing if not suggestible!


    And from that day on, I determined to Durstein my way through the vicissitudes of life, shouldering no shortage of woe and handicap without so much as a micro twitch of my mouth corners!


    This was approximately five years ago.


    I have yet to meet Rich Durstein; indeed, I have come to wonder if he even exists.


    They say that if God did not exist, then Man would have had to invent him.


    Perhaps it is like this with Rich Durstein.


    I don't know.


    But I do know this: after five years of Dursteining my own way through life's teary veil, the thought of
    ever uttering a whine or complaint has become inconceivable to me. I am, in my own way, a model of Dursteining swimming.

    Take your pledge? No need, my good man!


    This would indicate I am capable of backsliding, of paying attention to my corporal state, my fevers and colics and headaches and cramps, and commenting about same either through soliloquy or groan!


    But I am incapable of doing either!


    Sometimes I believe that when Man felt the need to invent Rich Durstein, Man inadvertently invented me!


    If you would like help following my path, I will do my best to help. My disciple Leslie is making progress. I shall not comment on the nature of this progress. It is not the Durstein way.


    --from [ame="http://forums.usms.org/showthread.php?t=20289"]No Whining Pledge - U.S. Masters Swimming Discussion Forums[/ame]


    Part 1. Dispassionately Related Symptomatology*

    *no judgment whatsoever of the sort that might be perceived as "complaining" or "excuse making" or the like is intended; indeed, any such judgment, if espied, is purely coincidental and/or a projection of the reader's own psychodynamic propensity for whining, kevetching, and so forth, certainly not anything that could legitimately be pinned to Mr. Thornton.
    I remain committed to Dursteining, as I have been doing for countless uninterrupted years now, but I do need to cite several medical facts of particular relevance to this week's upcoming Albatross meet. Let me sum up these facts in a plain, unadorned way, using the unemotional language of a long-time coroner who regards each new corpse with the same degree of ennui as its predecessors.

    Thornton, James, male, aged 59, considered 60 by FINA. A generally unremarkable specimen in recent months, Mr. Thornton presents with the following symptoms:


    • Sniffles and a certain gravel in the voice that caused his wife to inquire, "Have you been crying?"
    • Body aches and the episodic appearance of goose bumps, particularly when exposed to a draft.
    • Neuralgia.
    • Inability to walk up a short flight of stairs without a sensation of exhaustion in lower extremities.
    • A sense that his 2-a-day regimen of meals containing at least 8 oz. (and frequently much, much more) or red meat, much of it containing nitrates, may be fueling DNA damage throughout his frail elderliness
    • Unable to complete "child's play" like swimming practices without what he describes as "hog whimpering effort"
    • The following results from his CPAP device (see caption for explanations)




    Thanks to regular use of his CPAP machine, Thornton's AHI, or Apnea Hypopnea Index, is 7.3--most of which is accounted for by hypopneas (delayed breathing: 6.8 per hour, on average) with only a relatively small number due to full-blown apneic strangulation (cessation of breathing altogether: .5 per hour).



    Graphs of Mr. Thornton's generally unremarkable (to knowledgable doctors) CPAP results. It does seem, however, to this layman that Mr. Thornton leaks an awful lot.

    Part 2: Historical Context

    On March 15, 2011, exactly 365 or 366 days ago from today, March 14th, 2012 (Leap Year throws off my ability to calculate), I posted the following Vlog entitled simply, "Albatross" http://forums.usms.org/blog.php?b=14471. Naturally, the ideal thing would be for my readers to go back in time and reread this entry in its entirety. But I know how short-spanned the modern attentional ability is, so I shall simply excerpt a few of the choicer passages that strangely echo with today's situation:

    It almost failed to occur, this bid of mine to come back from retinal detachment, financial depression, and a recent severe case of incapacitating sniffles.

    Last Thursday, I awoke at 3 a.m., my nostrils spilling twin cataracts of Niagara-like mucous falls.


    Last Friday, I spent the entire day daubing my nasal passages with deeply absorbent tissues, and still these were not enough to stem the flow!


    Why can they not make nostril tampons for men who get colds this severe? Why is this natural market niche not being exploited? Best healthcare system in the world? Sadly laughable joke for those of us who cannot find a simple nostril tampon or maxi pad when we so desperately need them.


    On Saturday, I had not the energy to leave the couch for more than an occasional cheesecake refrigerator run.


    On Sunday, I forced myself to go to the Y where I swam an open turn 1650 in about 33 minutes--and almost could not finish, so deeply lethargic and hypoglycemic and dizzy I was in my cold!


    The entry ends on a high note, with me managing to draft my way to completion of a grueling set of 10 x 100 on 1:25 warm up; 20 x 100 on 1:20; 8 x 100 on 1:15; 4 x 50 on :40.

    It is somewhat analogous to this Monday's practice of 8 x 100 on 1:25, 300 kick, 5 x 200 on 2:40, 3 x 200 on 2:30, 3 x 200 on 2:40, 6 x 50 on :50, which I also made--mostly by the grace of god and drafting.

    Two days later, on March 17th, 2011, I posted again, showing how merely finishing practice had been flukish indeed. Again, best to reread the entire entry-- "An Albatross Around One's Neck" http://forums.usms.org/blog.php?b=14508 -- but for those of you who are pressed for time, here's the breast meat:

    After Monday's miracle practice, in which I rose Lazarus-like from the sick couch to complete, albeit with drafting assistance, a grueling workout for an aging fellow, my own pipe dreams and capacity for suspension of disbelief in myself convinced me to enter the Albatross meet.

    Alas, at last night's practice, the familiar malaise and effeteness thrust themselves upon me with renewed vengeance. Weak? Check! Shaky? Check! Hypoglycemic? Check! In no condition whatsoever to swim in a swimming meet, even one that did not first involve driving for a minimum of 5 hours? Check!


    Still, a tiny voice inside me has always urged: Forward Ho, Jim!--its sound, if anything, growing louder in proportion to the hopelessness of my mission!


    And thus, sickness be damned, I will soldier on to Bethesda and do my best to set the new 200 SCM freestyle Albatross
    meet record in the 55-59 age group. If I can accomplish this--impossible, I know, but if...--then I shall be forever known not just as a multiple Zonesman but as an Albatrossian, too!

    And it will be the Albatross who must wear me round its pallid neck, not vice versa!




    Heroically, and against all rational odds, Mr. Thornton did triumph last year, establishing a new All Time record at the Albatross meet (albeit one likely to fall this year to the ever estimable Bradford Gandee, 58-year-old youngster) in the 200 scm freestyle of 2:13:04. (Splits 30.66; 33.17; 35.04; 34.17.)

    In the process, he established himself as an Albatrossian for the first time. The question is: Will it be his last?

    Part 3: Analysis

    Does last year's eerily similar, if less severe, outbreak of pre-Albatross meet physical, mental, and spiritual contagion/weakness hold any prophetic powers for this year's bid for Albatrossian Status Redux?

    The financial community would have us believe that "past performance is no guarantee whatsoever we won't lose all your money this time"--and it is not a bad motto by which to live a good American life, I must say.

    However, let me quickly ruminate on a couple codicils to this fall-back position.


    • I do feel sicklier this year than last year, though I am not sure if you could put FINA 59-year-old Jim beside FINA 60-year-old Jim that the former could completely convince the latter of this assertion.
    • I am swimming in a presumably easier age group this year, and the aforementioned Bradford Gandee is no longer a threat (though he might well steal my record.) Paul Trevisan, human beast of sprinting magnificence, will kill me in the 50 and 100 this year just as he did last year. The difference: Paul and I are now in the same age group (he was 60 or 61 last year.) There will absolutely be no Albatrossian status possible for me in the 50 and 100; fortunately, Paul is not swimming the 200 or 400, the records for which are currently:


    • Men 60-64 200 Free 2:29.31 3/21/2009 David Harmon - ANCM-PV (Doable, I hope)
    • Men 60-64 400 Free 5:00.89 3/25/2000 Edward C Morgan - 1776-DV (Iffy)
    • I have also learned a bit this season about how to split such races better, and unless my symptoms disappear significantly by Saturday, I suspect the pressure to not go out too fast will be even greater. Two examples:
      • 200. At last year's 200 SCM, I went out in 1:03.87 and came back in 1:09.21, a differential of 5.33 seconds. In yards this year, I have had better luck with more even splitting. For example, I swam a 2:00.07 in the 200 SCY free, going out in a mid 1:58 and coming back in a mid 2:01, a differential of around 3 seconds.
      • 400/500. I didn't swim the 400 at Albatross last year, but I had my best midseason 500 in years by slightly negative splitting it 10 days ago: AGE GROUP: 55-591 JIM THORNTON 59 M SEWY 5:28.81





        • 30.82


        • 33.36
        • 33.53
        • 33.63
        • 33.39
        • 33.58
        • 33.07
        • 32.88
        • 33.41
        • 31.14



    It was after this meet at Duquesne in Pittsburgh, which was supposed to be recognized for USMS, but won't be, that the symptoms afflicting Mr. Thornton appeared to gain the upperhand. He won't complain about these, of course. But here are the words that clinicians often hear from men and women with such symptoms who are not of such a stoical mindset as Mr. Thornton:

    Ah, the body aches intensify! The gas leakage, too, even though the CPAP is not turned on.

    Indeed, the most you can coax from the likes of Jim Thornton about his upcoming trip to the Albatross meet is this:

    I shall soldier onwards the best I can--Albatrossian Redux or not, I shall embrace my fate smiling (or whatever twitching of the mouth corners I have the energy to sustain)!

    Vomitari, te salutamus!

    This, in the end, has always been an Albatrossian's proudest oath.

    And on such a note, let this vlog simply add by way of encouragement--

    Buck up, Albatrossian! Buck the **** up!

    You have been in this realm before, and by Odin's beard, ye shall be in this realm again!



    Odin, the King of Norse Gods, advises his son Thor (Old Norski for Thornton) to buck the **** up and ready his loins for Ragnarok. Thor replies in the strong but curiously low voice of men like him everywhere: Jeg vil buck den **** opp, far! Og kjempe sammen med gudene i den siste kampen som allerede er forutbestemte vi skal miste. For hva mer kan en rettferdig spør enn å dø seierrik frem?*


    ------------------------------------------------------------------
    *Translation: I will buck the **** up, Father! And fight alongside the Gods in the final battle that has already been preordained we shall lose. For what more can a Righteous Man ask than to die nobly?

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  4. 9000-yard swim today...

    by , March 18th, 2012 at 11:26 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    The plan was to do 8K (8800 SCY) today... my swim last Sunday (my step-back week) was 6K and the week before I had done 8000. I got to thinking about it, though, and decided I should shoot for 9000--a nice round number. I remembered that 8K was not quite 5 miles (it's like 4.95) and I wanted to shoot for a milestone I hadn't hit yet: 5 miles, that's a long swim!

    I broke the swim into 1K segments again (1000 free, 100 breast) and swam continuously except for brief bathroom breaks at 3300 and 6600 (these were about 1.5 minutes a piece). Stopped briefly to say goodbye to another swimmer at around 8000 (don't want folks to think I'm too rude just because I never stop long enough to chat).

    I mixed the gatorade pretty strong today, knowing that hydration wouldn't be as much of an issue as the lack of carbs to burn in the later stages. I finished off the last of my 20-ounce bottle at 8800 exactly. I was fueling with a swig every twenty minutes (or every kilometer, which is about the distance I do in twenty minutes on these long swims). I swam another 200 free-style to round out my 5-miler!

    After shower I refueled with another 20 ounces of gatorade (regular strength) and made the slow walk out to the car. I'm pretty tired now... time for a nap!

    Total time: 2 hours, 51 minutes.

    Updated March 19th, 2012 at 08:22 PM by mcnair (number dyslexia)

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  5. Palate Cleansing

    by , March 19th, 2012 at 12:20 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    I'm awaiting the art work for the Sequel to Buck up, Albatrossian! Buck up! (http://forums.usms.org/blog.php?b=21165) and the invaluable life lessons this recent meet bestowed upon me, your Vloggist Everyman, and hence, by extension, to you, i.e., Everymanandwoman Everyman.

    In the meantime, please enjoy today's palate cleanser of a vlog, which I offer in the spirit of less is more, the less being any extraneous verbiage I have managed to X-out, using the pen feature of the Paint program that comes free with Windows ®.

    This represents the first time in history that the words All, American, Listings, for, James, and Thornton have ever been collected together in a single document, sequentially or otherwise.

    If it can happen to me, it can happen to you, too, Everymanandwoman Everyman everywhere!

    Have an excellent Monday, March 19th, 2012.



    PS: Major thanks to Jeff Roddin for running a sensational 2012 Albatross Open during which his dapper-looking and newly minted septuagenarian father, Hubert (?) Roddin*, set two new national records and his doe-eyed daughter, Rachel-Ray (?) Roddin, had her pre-toddler debutante coming-out party (ostensibly to introduce her to Pittsburgh Society/ineligible bachelors).

    I also got the chance to meet Ruth Ann (?) Roddin, Hubert (?) Roddin's lovely bride and quite possibly my future Grandmother-in-Law, as well as continued my uninterrupted winning streak in all distances of 400 m or longer that I have enjoyed against every member of the Roddin family. The streak dates back to the Chris Greene National Open Water 2-Mile Cable Championships two summers ago. It continued its uninterrupted peregrinations to glory thanks to the lovely Mulie Roddin, my likely future mother-in-law, who has shed the last of her baby bumpage, replacing this with blue-steel core musculature, but somehow still managed to lose to me and my own core, which when lightly flicked resembles a water bed. Not to worry, Mulie--it was still your finest 400 m swim in decades, in my opinion.

    And it goes without saying that my gratitude knows no bounds, as well, to my mither, Leslie Livingston, with whom I co-own a house in Vienna, Virginia, which--unlike my other real estate ventures over the years--has actually seen a modest price rise on Zillow ® recently!

    Nice to know that post-starter mansions in the close-to-Langley area of Washington, D.C., have begun to rebound from our recent economic woe!

    One more little peep of disturbance from the Sino-Islamo-Soviet-Indo-North-Korean-et-al geopolitical realm, and everybody in Northern Virginia's gonna get filthier rich, Leslie and me included!


    Here's hoping anyhow.



    Jeff Roddin demonstrates the perfect racing dive, pike position.




    Jeff and Mulie Roddin at a pre-marital counseling session with me during which I explained to Jeff the unbelievably noxious batch of suffering compounds that would be unleashed in his brain if he blew it with Mulie and did not get married in a timely fashion. Shortly afterwards, my possibly future bride, Rachel-Ray, was born, demonstrating once again that God helps those who help themselves. True, I have been accused of helping myself to too much. But God 'n me don't look at this way.


    ______________________________________________
    * My recent inclusion in the highly rarefied-to-my-ilk world of All Americanism has induced such euphoria that even the realization I am only 10-years-young than Jeff Roddin's father cannot dampen my spirits. It does, however, continue to blow my mind. I thought Jeff was several decades older than me. His gravitas certainly argues for such a premise.
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  6. Swim and P90X!

    by , March 19th, 2012 at 03:23 PM (Chowmi's Blog)
    I started P90X!

    I don't know how much direct transference this will be to my swimming, but it sure is fun, and a nice break from swim-training! Ugh, I wasn't looking forward to doing much in the pool. Now, it's fun! I do P90X mainly, and then add-on with a dabble of swimming. A way to take a break without completely doing nothing and having to work my way back up!

    Day 1 (Sat, 03/17). Even after 13 hours in the car back from Breck, put a bug in hubby's ear that he might want to swing by the office....oh, and bring back my P90X DVDs, thanks! Chest & back - mainly pushups and bar dips. I think I did 10 accross the board, and instead of bar dips, I just used a stretch cord.

    Day 2 (Sun, 03/18). 3 hours of ferris-wheel kit with Helen. That was exhuasting! Later, Plyometrics, which was a bunch of jumping around and squat variations. Had to pull out the minitrap to modify! Some were pretty easy, like the jumping over a bridge/river, and one can hardly resist saying "wheee!" each time; but the jumping in a cross with one foot, jeez, I could barely do that!

    Today, Mon 03/19
    SCM, Baylor Fitness Center
    on my own

    200 warm up

    6 x 50 on 1:00
    free with PFS

    100 easy

    6 x 50 on 1:00
    free with PF

    100 easy

    6 x 50 on 1:00
    3 x free with snorkel
    3 x free just plain ol free

    100 easy

    50 blasto!
    free with TYR Burner fins
    29 very flat.

    100 easy

    200 kick
    sides/tummy

    100 easy

    The End
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Wowie! My arms and legs were tired today, but not too sore or uncomfortable. Plus, I had to rush in and swim, since the weather was suppose to be really bad, so I felt time crunched the entire time. The good news is the fins slow down my arm turnover, which is a good thing. My left shoulder is a bit weak, so it really helps to drive the legs and use the arms at about 90% effort instead.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Today is something with shoulders, triceps and biceps. Tomorrow is yoga, thank goodness!

    PS - I flipped through the pages of the nutrition book, and then quickly decided it was not for me.
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  7. Comes a flock of Albatrossians!

    by , March 21st, 2012 at 04:09 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)


    Please pour yourself a favorite beverage, be this a goblet of Chardonnay or a punch made from dark roast espresso and Everclear, sit down upon your favorite couch with your iPad 3, other tablet device, or laptop computer, and commit to a good old-fashioned Dickensian style
    meet report that will leave you both inspired and smarter!

    Last Friday, March 16th, I drove down to the Middle Atlantic Compound that I co-own with Leslie Livingston and her family (don't ask: the intricacies of squatters rights real estate law are well beyond the scope of this report, though I will refer interested parties to the Office of Circumlocution for more info). The ride was uneventful; not so the repast of flank steak and asparagus and polenta that greeted my arrival, nor the first two episodes of the show, Shameless, that Leslie and I watched until our respective hypnotics knocked us into our respective rooms to sleep in our respective states of drugged babyhood.


    The next morning, Leslie made one of her smoothies, which include various berries, spinach leaves, aged contents from supplement bottles, potions, lawn waste, unguents, and a few tinctures that I think may have gotten women into trouble in Salem, Massachusetts in yesteryear, though thankfully that is well past us.


    We made our way to the Albatross meet with our respective goals in mind: Leslie to beat her own World and/or National Records in the 50 Fly and 100 Back, and to do similarly well in the 50 Free (she accomplished the first; half accomplished the second; and scratched the third--for more, I recommend reading her excellent blog.)


    My goals were at once more modest and more daring, given our respective reservoirs of swimming talent.


    I wanted to:



    1. Set the new Albatross record in the 200 freestyle
    2. Set the new Albatross record in the 400 freestyle
    3. Do well enough in the 100 to make it into the Top 10 in my new age group
    4. Possibly do well enough in the 50 to do similarly
    5. Contribute to three relays with my 1776 teammates, Dale Keith, Geoff Meyer, and Paul Trevisan, the four of us adding up to exactly 240 years of collective elderliness, thus qualifying to swim in the 240-279 relay category.
    6. Finally, preserve my Albatrossian record (set last year when I was in the 55-59 age group) in the 200 SCM freestyle, though I realized this was no longer in my control. The great Brad Gandee has signed up to swim this, and though his seed time was slower than my record, I suspected that he may well have sandbagged...

    I shall record the various races in the order they took place, with commentary to follow each one.

    100 SCM Freestyle

    Age Group 60-64 - Male

    Paul Trevisan 57.61

    James Thornton 1:00.14

    I came in second to my 1776 teammate, Paul Trevisan, a sensational sprinter who has set a number of World Records in the past and was hoping to break the 100 and 50 records here, too, despite the absence of a tech suit. Paul came close but didn't quite make it.


    What proved somewhat encouraging to me, if not Paul, is that two of us in the 60-64 age group beat most of the other swimmers at the meet in the 100 free.


    The next oldest swimmer who beat me (but not Paul) was Darek Sady in the 35-39 age group--Darek swam a 58.00.


    Two guys in the 25-29 age group beat us both: Bryan Rivera, with a 53.58; and Nick Kaufman-O'Reilly, with a 55.24.


    Commentary:


    Sprinter Paul and Middle-Distance Jim clearly swim the 100 in different ways, beyond, that is, the fact that Paul swims it
    a lot faster!

    Check out the respective slopes of our splits:




    Paul's slope is reasonably steep here, indicative of the "leave nothing behind" philosophy of sprinting the whole race and trying not to die too badly by the end.


    The differential between Paul's 50s was 4.33 seconds. Would he have gone faster overall by saving a little on the front end? Who knows?





    My slope, on the other hand, is less steep, indicating a more controlled approach.


    My differential was 1.98 seconds. Would I have gone faster had I not coddled myself so much on the front half? Again, it's hard to know for certain, but several factors conspired to convince me to swim the race this way.


    First, it's worked for me in various other swims so far this season.


    Second, the difference between my "smooth EZ speed freestyle" stroke and my frenzied "all out sprinting freestyle" stroke is not huge, time-wise, but it is very significant energy-expenditure-wise.


    Third, unlike last year, where I signed up too late to swim the 400, I knew that at this year's Albatross I would be swimming the 200, 400, and three relays. Since I tend to do better, rankings wise, in the 200 and 400, I didn't want to use up too much on the 100.


    All the above notwithstanding, I was a bit disappointed when I looked up and saw that I'd failed to break a minute. At the 2011 Albatross meet, I swam .99 faster, turning in a 59.15, which proved good enough to earn me a tentative 6th place in the World that year--FINA TT rankings:




    My splits last year were 28.47 and 30.68, for a slightly higher differential of 2.21 seconds. One technical flaw this year might have accounted for a bit of the difference--I didn't see the final wall until I was right on top of it, and ended up taking an unnecessary final short stroke. Still, I doubt this made too much of a difference. The bottom line is that I probably tried harder in the 100 last year.



    200 SCM freestyle


    Fortunately for me, Paul Trevisan doesn't like to swim anything over a 100, which gave me a relative free pass in the 200.

    I came in fifth overall for this event, with the only four fellows who beat me (admittedly by substantial margins) were in the 40-44; 35-39; and 25-29 age groups.


    Age Group 60-64 - Male
    1776 James Thornton 2:12.59

    Age Group 40-44 - Male GERM Daniel Bellin 2:01.28

    Age Group 35-39 - Male
    GERM Frederik Hviid 2:00.53

    Age Group 25-29 - Male
    UNAT Bryan Rivera 1:56.99
    CUBU

    Age Group 25-29 - Male
    UNAT Sam Garner 2:08.94

    Despite losing to whippersnappers, I was happy with this swim.


    What was particularly gratifying when I looked up and saw my time was knowing it bested last year's 200, where I'd set the Albatross meet record of 2:13.04 in the 55-59 age group.


    Here are my splits for this year's 200:




    The difference between my first and second 100s was 2.53 seconds. Since the first 100 benefits from a dive, I feel I swam this race pretty evenly, which was my goal.

    Last year's 200 had the following splits (sorry I can't find a SwimPhone graph for last year's results):


    30.66, 33.17 (first 100 1:03.83)

    35.04, 34.17 (second 100 1:09.21)

    Difference between last year's 2 x100s:
    5.38

    Maybe the reason I swam a faster 200 this year is because I saved up a bit on the individual 100 earlier in the day. But I think a more significant explanation is that I simply paced things better this year for my kind of swimming style.


    Could I have done a better time going out a bit faster this year? I am not sure, though I concede it's possible. But more and more, I am beginning to conclude that for my body type, stroke, and energy systems, an evenly balanced swim is the better bet than the "hold on and try not to die" approach.


    In any event, last year's 2:13.04 proved good enough to make the tentative Top 10 worldwide:




    Had I been FINA 60 last year, instead of turning it this year, my 2012 time would have actually been good enough to place No.1 in the world by nearly a second:




    Of course, this year isn't last year, so who knows what will happen.


    My time did set a new Albatross record in the 60-64 age group, plus in the heat after I swam, Brad Gandee ended up having to withdraw half way through the race because of cramps.


    Thus my 55-59 Albatross record in the 200 SCM still stands. Who cares about world placement when one can legitimately boast:
    Ich bein ein duble Albatrossian!

    Men 55-59 200 Free 2:13.04 3/19/2011 James Thornton 1776

    Mr. Roddin, please know that you can stamp Stetari by this 200 Free Albatrossian record for at least one more glorious year!



    400 SCM freestyle

    I signed up for the 50 free, but it was less than 15 minutes away from the 400. The meet, which had started at 3 p.m., was dragging on. Besides Leslie's a.m. smoothie, and a couple of scrambled eggs consumed before we set off from the Compound to the pool much earlier in the day, all I'd had to eat was some Gu Chomps and a banana. My stomach was beginning to roil. It was nearly 7:30 p.m. by the time my heat in the 400 SCM free was ready to be swum.

    I also knew that immediately following this heat, the last of the day, my 1776 teammates and I would be swimming 3 quick relays.


    Call me cowardly, but I decided that if there was ever a time to adopt the controlled pace strategy, this was it. After all, it had worked quite well for the 200, and when I swam that race earlier in the day, I actually felt energetic and good as opposed to shakey and nauseated.


    Anyhow, I came in third overall in the 400 SCM free with a time of 4:48.72.


    The fellows who beat me were:


    Age Group 45-49 - Male

    Jonathan Berry 4:39.19

    Age Group 30-34 - Male

    Jeff "Muppet" Strahota 4:48.06

    I actually spied Jeff on the final length, though I didn't know at the time it was him. I'd failed to secure a counter, and though I was 90 percent sure that I was swimming the last length, there was enough uncertainty about this in my mind that I didn't want to turn entirely to lead in case I had to finish with another 50.


    Nevertheless, I did my best to beat Jeff and almost succeeded.


    Here are our respective SwimPhone graphs:




    Muppet's graph above





    My graph above.



    A couple notes about our respective races:



    1. Jeff told me at the Social after the meet that he always likes to be the first one to touch on the very first 50 of distance races.
    2. His first 50 was 31.75; mine was 34.92. His first 50, in other words, beat me by 3.17 seconds.
    3. By the end of the whole 400, his time beat mine by .66 of a second.
    4. Jeff's last 50 was 35.90, and mine was 34.31, which means I beat him by 1.59 seconds here.
    5. Overall, our average 50s were extremely close: 36.01 for him; 36.09 for me, or 8 one-hundredths of a second for each of the 8 x 50s.
    6. Could I have perchance beaten Jeff if I'd exerted myself a wee bit more, particularly on 50 No. 1? I don't know. The thing about swimming fast at the beginning of a race, at least for me, is that it has a multiplier effect, sort of like the way a tiny millimeter off as a bullet leaves the barrel of a rifle can miss the target by a wide margin, particularly the further away such a target (or final wall) is.
    7. I do think I might have swum a better 400, especially if it had been the first event, not the last individual event of the day. My "meters to yards" conversion time worked out to a 5:28, pretty much the same as my best 500 of the year, albeit in a worse pool but swum first thing in the meet.
    8. Leslie told me she thought I looked "lackadaisical" on the first 50, I am think perhaps I could have gone slightly faster here. When control blossoms into a lackadaisy, is it really control anymore--or something else entirely?
    9. I think for me the ideal way to swim freestyle races 200+ and divisible by 4 is similar to the old school relay order: second fastest guy first, followed by slowest guy, then the third fastest, then the fastest guy as the anchor. Put more simply, grading the four quarters of the race would thus be: B D C A. The difference, of course, between one person doing a long swim and four people doing a relay is that the dive yields such an advantage that the individual race, ideally, should be swum A D C B. Even with the dive, I swam my 400 A D C B.
    10. Conclusion: I probably should swim first 100 a little bit faster, particularly first 50; and start descending a bit more aggressively on the third 100, all the while staying away from teetering over the lactate threshold.

    I didn't swim the 400 last year, but here are the FINA results for 2011's 60-64 age group:




    Who knows how my time will fare in this year's rankings? With luck, I may even get another chance to swim a SCM meet before the end of the year.


    But one thing looks certain: I can add the coveted Albatrossian title for a third time in an individual event!


    Mr. Roddin, sir! At the risk of sounding cruel, please do not dither too long before hiring the masonry artisan to rechisel into the granite tablets a replacement name for Mr's. Harmon and Morgan, former record holders in the 200 and 400 SCM freestyles, respectively!


    Sorry, fellows. There's a new old-bird Albatrossian who is taking over the roost!


    *


    240-239 Year old SCM Relays

    For the infinitessimal numbers of you who are still reading this vlog (thanks, 61-year-old Jim Thornton and older versions of you! I am always happy to see you guys walking down Memory Lane here at our vlog!), I just found out that I have reached my limit of pictures for this blog (you are allowed to add no more than 10--who knew?)

    So let me just make relatively quick work of our relays, which, thanks to my wonderful teammates, earned each of us three more Albatrossian meet records (I am certain of this, though they don't keep records for relays in any spot that I can find.)


    Men 240-279 200 SC Meter Medley Relay

    WORLD: W 2:01.03 12/5/2009 GOLD COAST MASTERS -USA G SCHMIDT, T SHEAD, J WOTTON, C CAVANAUGH


    USMS: N 2:01.03 12/5/2009 GOLD COAST G SCHMIDT, T SHEAD, J WOTTON, C CAVANAUGH Team Seed Finals Points ================================================== ============================= 1 Colonials 1776 'A' NT
    2:09.02 12

    1) Keith, Dale M58
    32.57
    2) Dougherty, Steve M61 38.22
    3) Trevisan, Paul M61 30.36
    4) Thornton, James M60 27.87

    Five minutes later, we swam the 200 free relay. My teammates let me lead off so I could get an official time for the 50, which I had scratched because of it being right before the 400. My lead-off time isn't that great, but it would have snuck into the TT last year.


    Men 240-279 200 SC Meter Freestyle Relay

    WORLD: W 1:49.69 10/17/2009 GOLD COAST MASTERS -USA J WOTTON, C CAVANAUGH, D QUIGGIN, C BURNS


    USMS: N 1:49.69 10/17/2009 GOLD COAST J WOOTON, C CAVANAUGH, D QUIGGIN, C BURNS Team Seed Finals Points

    ================================================== =============================
    1 Colonials 1776 'A' NT 1:50.33 12

    1) Thornton, James M60
    28.22
    2) Keith, Dale M58 28.19
    3) Meyer, Geoffrey M61 28.76
    4) Trevisan, Paul M61 25.16

    Note:
    we missed the World Record by .64 seconds! Those fellows, moreover, swam their time in 2009 and thus almost certainly had the advantage of high tech body suits! We came so close! Who knows, perhaps we will have a chance to try it again, preferably when I haven't just swum a 400 and 50 within the previous 10 minutes!

    Finally:


    Men 240-279 400 SC Meter Freestyle Relay


    WORLD: 4:07.34 W 12/3/2011 VENTURA COUNTY MASTERS –USA G GRUBER, H KERNS, J MCCONICA, M BLATT


    USMS: 4:04.88 N 5/18/2008 OREGON T LANDIS, W EDWARDS, M TENNANT, R SMITH.
    ================================================== =============================
    1 Colonials 1776 A NT 4:13.35


    1) Keith, Dale M58 1:05.08
    2) Thornton, James M601:02.45
    3) Meyer, Geoffrey M611:04.93
    4) Trevisan, Paul M61 1:00.89

    We weren't that close to this World and/or National record, which is confusing.


    How can the world record be slower than the USMS record?

    Anyhow, the faster of these two times, 4:04.88, beats our end-of-the-meet, utter-exhaustion, be-jammered time by 8.47.

    If Paul and I had swum our individual 100 times from earlier in the day, we would have done a 1:57.75 (actually, probably a bit faster because one of us would have had a relay start). The other two swimmers would have had to swim a 2:07.13 to tie—if each swam exactly a 1:03.56, we’d have the new record!

    The point is that there are some new Albatrossians to deal with now in the 240-279 age group.

    Cover your french fries and your eyeballs alike. We are out to peck and pluck out anything we can to feed our insatiable hunger for more glory, and then take flight!

    [nomedia="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GYW5G2kbrKk"]Flying like a bird | part 14/14 - YouTube[/nomedia]



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  8. IG, Wed., March 21

    by , March 21st, 2012 at 05:35 PM (The FAF AFAP Digest)
    Swim/SCY/Solo:

    600 various

    3 x (4 x 50 fly drills) @ :10-:15 RI

    10 x 50 @ :15 RI
    odds = 25 long breast pullout + 25 scull
    evens = fist circle breast drill w/flutter kick
    (got that drill here: http://swimswam.com/2012/03/breastro...jessica-hardy/)
    50 EZ

    10 x 100 @ 1:45
    odds = free
    evens = back kick
    -- smooth and easy
    -- focus on breakouts
    50 EZ

    8 x 25 back shooters
    50 EZ

    Total: 3050

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    I was pretty blasted after yesterday's hard speed workout. So I reverted to IG recovery today. Just as well because I'm swimming with backstroke and SDK specialist Susan Williams tomorrow and I don't want to be dragging my *ss for our speed workout. That will be two non-solo workouts this week.

    Had a wonderful visit with the Roddins before my swim. Julie joked that I was delivering my 2013 split request form early. lol. I got to admire their new furniture and especially admire Rachel, who is about to take her first step any moment. She is adorable. Plus, Jeff said my guess of 1799 for Nationals attendance may be pretty accurate!

    Will try to get in 30-45 minutes of stretching and rehab while Lil Fort is at swim practice tonight.
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  9. Workout 04/11/12:

    by , April 11th, 2012 at 01:43 PM (Maple Syrup with a Side of Chlorine)
    I got up early this morning for a swim before work, and joined in at the end of the triathlete train that was churning up the fast lane. Well, they saw me after the first swim, and bumped me to the driver's seat ...

    w/u:
    2 x 150 (speed play)
    3 x 100 (speed play) - did strokes
    2 x 50 (speed play)

    Everyone left at this point so I plodded along with:
    4 x 100 kick on ~ 2:00
    8 x 100 swim on ~ 1:30
    - Did 2 FR, 2 BK, then
    - Build a 100 FLY over 4 (timed - 1:07.66)

    200 loosen and out (somewhat solo/Rec/2000yds/40 min)
    ----------------------------

    Good swim today, and it was fun to spend my warmup period with the group. There were six folks there today, so no room for anyone no joining in. I have been playing with nutrition type stuff, and swam the last two mornings on an empty stomach (just water). I read on the marathon swimmer site that is helps to get the body to burn fat over the food in your system, so other than feeling a little woozy until I get some breakfast I only notice that I am not as peppy in the water. Probably a good thing.

    Updated April 27th, 2012 at 05:55 PM by rxleakem

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    Swim Workouts
  10. Halfway thru P90X!

    by , May 8th, 2012 at 10:34 PM (Chowmi's Blog)
    Well, I am still going strong!!!

    I am halfway thru Week #7 of the 13 week total. This is the 3rd and last week of Phase 2, then the "recovery week" #8. (Plus photo!)

    I think the key is proper modification. This is really hard because most people I have talked to say they started it and couldn't finish and/or got injured. There isn't a coach standing next to you telling you what and how to modify, and a lot of people say they get so competitive they try to keep up with Tony & crew. Plus you have to modify in relation to the fact that you are also swimming. The videos don't account for the fact that you are swimming - training - and that a lot of effort is duplicated, so you are going to really hurt yourself by all the double dipping if you don't eliminate/modify those bits. The last thing is not to think of it as a do-or-die in 90 days. If you think of this as a first round sampler, leaving room for heavier weights, more reps, higher/farther leaps, deeper lunges, etc, then you will probably decrease your chances of getting injured. You have all the time in the world, so think of the program and an indefinate and customizable repeat after the first 90 days! Remember, these guys would look completely foolish doing your job, so it is the same thing when you pop in the DVD and try to keep up with them. They were selected because they are super duper good at it, and have rehearsed the sequences for the video not unlike any other type of performance. You aren't going to get on stage and play Hamlet on the first round, so build up to it!

    +++++++++++++++++++++++
    I am happy to report that I can now bicycle backwards for the full 25 count. I could do cross leg instead of full legs out on the cross over sit uppy things, but that was on my strongest day, and I have only done it once. And I can do all 25 sissor kicks (yes, I wait for the number!). The key is to squeeze your butt and use the raised leg as the balancing end, and the down leg (1 inch off the floor, butt squeezed!) as the elongating move.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    I skipped the swim meet on Sunday! I was not well over the weekend, so I bagged my cameo 50 free. I mentally calculated I had a low 28 in me, and then decided the recover period AFTER the race would cost me too much of my P90X consistency.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Here is my workout on Monday!
    SCM, Baylor Fitness Center
    Billy G coached

    Here is Billy's commentary on his 1500 LCM fly: He did it the summer of/after 1980 Trials. Since he was in great shape, and trained with a distance donkey team, he decided to try it. His time was 19 something. He made it completely fly legal. The official, who is always really bored in the D-events, had nothing better to do so he walked with Billy the entire way, just to see if he was fly-legal. Billy's time was a big bell curve. Once he got to about 700-800, he was really disgusted. But he decided to just do another 100, another 100, until he got to 1200 and at that point he knew he could finish, and he started getting faster. His last 100 was not as fast as his first, but again, he bell curved his splits.

    ++++++++++++++++++
    200 swim/200 kick/200 pull

    6 x 75 kick on 1:30
    50 smooth/25 strong

    8 x 125's pull
    4 on 2:00 (yes, I actually used a pull buoy)
    4 on 1:45 (no equipment, swam these)

    10 x 100's swim
    4 on 1:35 descend
    1 on 2:00
    repeat

    I gave it a big decend and went 1:11 and 1:10 on the #4's. Solid and strong, i'd say about 92.5% effort.

    The End

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
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  11. Leslie's Core: In Praise Of

    by , June 3rd, 2012 at 03:06 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    After the Greensboro meet, during which I managed to beat everyone in attendance in the 200 freestyle who was also at least 59 years old, I decided that it was time for me to take the next step.

    That next step is to become more like Leslie.

    I think I can say with 100 percent accuracy that our little Leslie, AKA, Leslie "The Fortress" Livingston, is not only a World Class Masters Swimmer but also the Patron Saint of Masters Swimmers Everywhere as well as Mither Nonpareil to a Quartet of Unbelievably Talented Athletic Youngsters: Zach, Ali, Gillian, and her favorite of all, Jimmy, the man child.

    One of the keys to Leslie's swimming success, I believe, was her decision to embrace and excel at something most of us post-40 Masters never learned during our swimming youths: the SDK.

    I was trying to recall the exact circumstances that caused Leslie to pursue excellence in this new "second fastest of all strokes"--and to put it into the pitiless vanquishment of her 50 and over female (and, honestly, male) competitors. (I can't begin to tell you how many chauvinistic men of a certain age were muttering in the Greensboro locker room that the 50 fly and 50 back have been forever ruined for them by Leslie's untouchable World Records! Besides me, there must have been at least one more embittered old jerk doing this.)

    Leslie has told me more than once the inspirational story of how she came to devote herself to SDKs and the core strengthening this requires.

    Alas, my memory is not what it used to be, and what it used to be wasn't all that great.

    For the life of me, I just couldn't remember what this story was. So this morning I Googled "why Leslie decided in middle age to become the best 5' 3" to 5' 4" female SDKer in the world" (or words to that effect) and the following image popped up on my screen, bringing the whole episode back with such detail it was as if it had all just happened yesterday!



    For those of you who may not know, Leslie was a stand-out distance swimmer at Dartmouth University, where she specialized in the 400 IM and 200 Butterfly.

    She attended Dartmouth on a full scholarship because her great great great great great grandfather on her mother's side was a cousin to Jim Thorpe's great great great great uncle by marriage. As most of you know, Dartmouth was originally founded for Native Americans, who to this day are given preferential treatment in admissions process.

    Not that this in any way made up for the savage racial taunts Leslie experienced from her Pale Face classmates. Indeed, for much of her freshman year, Leslie's only friend was her roommate and fellow part-Ojibway, Elizabeth Warren.



    How mercilessly were Les and Liz teased for their high Indian cheekbones and somewhat shrill war cries! In one particularly cruel episode, Harvard boy, Mitford Romney (known to the Sioux and Ojibways at Dartmouth as Two Faced White Weasel Born of Multiple Mothers) lead a gang of privileged white country clubbers to the girls' dorm. As the frat boys held the comely squaws down, Two Faced White Weasel Born of Multiple Mothers pulled out an authentic tomahawk purchased for the occasion at a New Hampshire Stuckey's, held it high above his head, and yelled, "Now I'm a'gonna cut your Sacagawea's off!"

    The next thing Leslie remembers was waking up at age 46, with four kids (the oldest of which she hadn't yet met), a bit of mid-life dysthymia, and a desire to get back into swimming shape. She started swimming at a pool near her house in suburban Washington, DC, where she had been practicing law, wifing, and living a completely unmemorable life for decades.

    The coach suggested she might want to learn SDKs, and Leslie thought it was a good suggestion.

    So she practiced, did exercises to strengthen her core muscles, and over the next four or five years became incredibly good at SDKs!

    It's an amazing story, and I am sure that many of you will find it as inspiring as I have.

    All of which is leading up to a set I accidentally stumbled upon while swimming a solo practice at the Sewickley YMCA pool last Thursday:

    Easy 1000 warm up

    Continuous 50s kick for as long as it takes, performed with a kick board but without fins in the following order--

    First 50, all flutter kick.

    Second 50, 1 dolphin kick off each wall, followed by the rest of each length flutter kick.

    Third 50, 2 dolphin kicks per wall, followed by flutter.

    Fourth 50, 3 dolphin kicks per wall and so forth....adding a single dolphin kick per length..

    Until you kick the whole length only doing dolphin kicks.

    In my case, I finally made it with 30 dolphin kicks per length, which brought this kick set to 1500 yards.

    I finished up with some actual submerged dolphin kicks, swimming 25 yards length underwater (took me 28 kicks to do this.)

    Then the normal cool down procedures.

    I was pretty sure my back would be killing me the next day, but it didn't. DOMS, or delayed onset muscle soreness, kicked in two days later, but not in my back but rather my abs, which became very sore indeed. When I mentioned this to Bill, he said that the pain indicated I was probably doing the SDKs correctly.

    Clearly, I'm far from ready to Venus de Milo my own abdominal regions the way Google has opted to do for World Record holder, Leslie. Nor am I prepared to put on a war bonnet and declare, via blood curdling whoops, my intention to raid the 60-64 Age Group.

    My own great great grandparents were not related to a famous red Indian like Jim Thorpe but rather, I am fairly certain, derived from anonymous pastey-faced European mongrels, themselves beget during one of those frequent collective-horde "love fests" that is a chief reason evolutionary biology has driven human sperm counts to such Zarathustrian numbers!

    Still, I do plan to continue my SDK practicing whenever I find myself solo in a lap lane! Unlike Leslie, I have never had much of a Sacagewea to count on. But as her own experience has so nicely shown us, it's never too late to grow one.
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  12. Monday, June 11

    by , June 11th, 2012 at 04:38 PM (The FAF AFAP Digest)
    Sunday:

    45 minutes of RC exercises and stretching


    Monday: Swim/LCM w/Susan @ Rockville

    Warm up:

    500 various
    8 x 50 w/fins
    -- 20 UW + 30 drill

    Main Sets:

    16 x 50 w/fins @ mega rest interval
    odds = backstroke @ 100 pace
    evens = EZ free or DAB

    16 x 50 no fins @ mega rest interval
    odds = backstroke kick @ 100 pace, 16-17 SDKs off the wall
    evens = EZ DAB

    50 EZ

    4 x 50 w/parachute
    -- 2 breast, 2 free

    50 EZ

    Total: 2800 m

    30 minutes of RC and scapular stretching


    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    I felt like I got a real quality workout in with Susan at Rockville today. Because school is out in MD (not here yet), there were no backstroke flags at one end and there were fewer lanes. We managed fine, but opted not to do a 100 AFAP back. But I think the 50s were good training for that event. My quads were burning on the finless kick set. Hoping to do another 45 minutes of RC and stretching later today. Tomorrow is PRP after a swim.

    I am really glad to be getting some LCM training in. Last year, my 2 week vaca in June + no LCM did not bode well.

    My kids are very excited that their cousin (19) made the Olympic team in kayaking! There is only one slot and she won it in a tie breaker. Nice article in the Post.

    Updated June 12th, 2012 at 04:25 PM by The Fortress

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  13. Experiment in Pain

    by , June 29th, 2012 at 03:15 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    The incredibly kind Anna Lea Matysek sent me this yesterday in response to my Facebook status, which read:

    After suffering a tear-inducing back spasm yesterday morning--four days before the Spire Institute swimming meet--and still suffering greatly from sciatica, pelvic girdle nerve pains, and agony in the lumbar regions--I have decided to try an experiment: I am not babying myself. I am Marquis de Sade-ing myself instead in the hopes this counterintuitive fix will allow me to swim this weekend. In the meantime, if any of my Facebook friends are secret heroin addicts with access to an abundant supply of the elixir AND a clean hypodermic needle, would you consider letting me know how much it would cost to get a little juice in the right spot?

    http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpag...pagewanted=all

    Inspired by both Dr. Weinstein and my swimming coach/friend Bill White, who was swimming butterfly two weeks after a severe Grade 3 shoulder separation, I have decided to meet my fate somewhere near the shores of Lake Erie.

    I shall keep you posted, perchance answering the question posed in this self-portrait by early next week.

    The one thought that keeps me going is that if I somehow manage to paralyze myself while diving off the blocks, then at least the pain will go away.

    --A fellow traveler for all the assorted USMS back pain sufferers, Jimmy.


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  14. La Traversee

    Mental imagery.... I did much to prepare myself for this swim in Quebec by focusing... on details... yet unknown. Quiet time (too little in my life) meant: eyes closed; slow rhythmic breathing; details. One at a time.
    Imagine: the water... color/clarity/temperature/taste/feel/movement the weather... wind/clouds the scenery... shoreline features/boats etc. When one arrives in a new place, there is always a comparison.... one by one real details displace the imagined.

    THE COMMUTE
    It is a 10.5 hour drive without traffic/ without rest stops/ without customs and immigration checks, and we left High Falls at 4 PM Thursday afternoon... you do the math. The sun was setting by the time we hit Montreal. The roads soon narrowed to two lanes and there was very little evidence of civilization for hours and hours. No lights, no cars, nothing. The few signs of life looked like camp sites so... I imagined that we were driving through a vast wilderness of lakes and forests. There was very little change in elevation. At about 3 AM Friday morning, we arrived in Roberval. A couple of motels, a hardware store, some fast food joints, and there... our hotel on the left. It was obvious that the lake was across the road; no lights, no reflection, but one could sense the water. There was a little confusion at the desk... check in for the 20th starts at 4PM. OK, check us in for the 19th we need to hit the sack. It took a little juggling, but 10 minutes later we were asleep.

    MEET AND GREET
    The highway forks onto a "main street". La Traversee posters on the light posts mark the way. We pass the hospital, a few restaurants, banks, shops, offices... then a park, and just past that, an impressive complex that include a small cove with grandstand seating below an array of international flags. There is a triangular swim course set up... 500 meters per loop I am told; a blue floating dock with a touch pad bridge; another permanent dock with some workers attaching ramps. Behind that a couple of large white tents, and then... the Traversee offices. I enter the offices and am quickly met my Marie and Caroline and Roger. Roger takes us on a quick tour of the facility and gives us a little history of the event. Marie presents me with a copy of the local paper and tells me that a local news station will be coming by to chat in a little while... but until then the tour continues. On the dock, I meet The International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Coach, Gilles Potvin. Monsieur Potvin has competed in La Traversee du Lac St Jean and a bunch of other professional marathon races that took place in the rivers that we drove past last night in the dark. We board his boat for a short tour of the finish and to take a few temperature readings. When we return to the dock, I have a brief interview. I find some of these questions difficult to answer... especially the whys. I think the "why do you want to do this?" question is more easily answered in the past tense.

    FIRST DIP
    I am anxious to get in the water, so I goggle up and jump in for a few loops around the triangle. It feels good. Cool 70ish degrees. The water is hard and translucent brown from the iron content (as per M. Potvin) but clear. I fall into a comfortable pace and suddenly there is a swimmer passing me. I match a few strokes and then quickly stop myself as another and another swimmer flies by. They were part of a group of swimmers attending a training camp in Roberval. Many would be participating in one of the races (1k, 2k, 5k) on saturday and are (or will be) national team members. Another of the swimmers that flew by was http://openwaterpedia.com/index.php?..._van_der_Hulst ....crazy fast! Ian is swimming the pro 32k next week.
    A couple of loops quickly turned into 3k... time to get out, dry off, eat, sleep, arrive back here at 4:50 AM to board the van to Peribonka for a 7 AM splash time.

    PREP
    I assembled a few bags of feed (5 scoops perpetuem/ 4 scoops endurolytes) and explained the system to Clare. Each baggie was to be mixed in a 1/2 gallon container (the motherlode). This mix consumed at a rate of 12oz/30min. Each 12oz mix would have an additional 2oz water added to it. I would get 2.5 hours out of each motherlode. Other feed items available by request.
    I lay out my pre swim clothes, pack my post swim clothes, set the alarm and go to sleep.

    GO TIME
    We wake up, load the car, grab some coffee and head for the office parking lot. Everyone is there already and to my surprise, the van is filled up with women to see us off! Marie is our tour guide for the 90 minute drive and gives a bit of local history as we pass through a few rural villages, and over white water rivers. Its really beautiful and still.
    We arrive at the marina in Peribonka a little early and the boats are being checked over and loaded up. My escort would be a small armada consisting of a 16 foot skiff with an 8.8 hp motor. Clare would be feeding me from this boat. There was a spare 16 footer with an extra motor on board. Also, a 25' cabin cruiser with an EMT and a 17' army zodiac complete with a rescue diver on board.
    They gave me some instructions.... 3 buoys in Peribonka keep them on your right, right, and left. A countdown in french... I didn't know where we were until they got to trois... and splash time! The start is actually up river to a buoy, turn 90 degrees to another buoy, 90 degrees and.........

    There is a small triangular island not too far from the start. I'm guessing its formation has something to do with where the rivers converge, and after that... there is nothing to see for a long time. The water was dead flat at the start which created quite a contrast with a minor chop that would accompany me for hours and hours. I tried to find a good stroke rate to accompany it, but sadly, it always felt just a bit awkward. The 16 footer Clare was in seemed to bob quite a bit. I could see her hanging on... not for dear life, but enough to try and stabilize. I started with a stroke rate of 68 for a couple of hours and then settled into 62. I did try to bring it up a bit several times, but it felt sloppy and since the water was a comfortable temperature, there wasn't the need to try and generate extra heat.

    So it went for hours and hours, feeding every 30 minutes on delicious strawberry-vanilla Perpetuem and plugging away toward Roberval.

    THE HOME STRETCH
    I asked Clare to alert me when we were 3 miles to the finish. I really had no idea of how far we had come or how far there was still to go. Gilles Potvin pointed out a water treatment plant and warned me, "you will be looking at that for a long time, but as soon as you pass it, the finish comes quickly".
    I tried to avoid looking at it and started to breathe on my left so to eliminate the temptation. I switched to feeding on chocolate GU for the last 2.5 hours. After 10 hours of milky bland Perpetuem, the sweetness of the chocolate was intense, but in a good way. I didn't want to dilute it with water, and since the sprinkler system was working well, I felt adequately hydrated enough to forego additional H2O.

    An additional support boat had come out. I assumed this meant we were close. Still breathing on my left, I was suddenly startled when I noticed a bunch of boulders a foot or two beneath me... I stopped... looked right... I was nearly on top of the breakwater that protects the little cove... one last buoy, and head for the touch pad.

    THE FINISH
    There were a good number of people waiting for me on the dock, including press, medical personnel, officials, and a bunch of young swimmers who I imagine swam one of the races earlier in the day. Many thanks to Gilles Potvin for bringing his swimmers to greet me! I took a long minute before walking up the stairs to the dock... making sure that I had "good legs" for a dignified exit. I was tired of course but felt good otherwise. A blue terrycloth robe was places on my shoulders, and I was handed a bouquet of flowers, and (as Clare and I were told is tradition) a most delicious square of fudge. Kisses, handshakes, high fives, congratulations... and we were off to the event hospital for a quick check up. Blood pressure; temperature; blood sugar...good, good, good. Off to a quick shower and then a sit down with the press for a few q's and a's.

    THOUGHTS
    The hospital and showers are all contained in the same building that the Traversee offices are in, and all within 50 paces of the finish. The efficiency of this organization is inspiring... the Gold Standard that I as an event director can't possibly duplicate, but will do whatever I can to move toward. I'm not entirely surprised by this as I met Eric Juneau at the USMS sponsored Open Water Safety Conference and was quite impressed by his presentation.
    I can't recommend this event enough. It is a rare opportunity that an amateur swimmer can experience the professional atmosphere that La Traversee has created. I think every race director could benefit from a pilgrimage to Roberval.

    http://www.traversee.qc.ca/index.php?id=1&lang=eng

    ...gotta go now, off to Finland and Sweden! more thoughts later
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  15. Thornton's Life of Livingston: New Weight Training Ideas

    by , July 26th, 2012 at 04:37 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    I realize that Leslie "the Fortress" Livingston is a much beloved--no, make that a most beloved--swimmer in the pantheon of USMS greats.

    By contrast, I am something of a minor non-entity/known irritant who uses his skills in the latter to win attention, be this mildly positive (yeah, right!) or somewhat negative ("The only thing worse than being talked about," suggested Oscar Wilde, "is not being talked about.")

    To this end, one of the most successful strategies I have discovered over the years has been to Boswell myself to Leslie's Dr. Johnson by which I mean a relationship not entirely unlike the one enjoyed by a helminth in the digestive tract of his human host, only in a literary sense.



    Might Necatur Americanus prove as similarly ameliorative to Leslie's gluten allergy as biographer James Thornton has proven to be in the documentation of her life? The answer in a future vlog (but here is a hint: Yes!)

    As Wikipedia puts it about the exceptional Boswell-Johnson relationship:

    Boswell's Life of Samuel Johnson, LL.D. (1791) is a biography of Dr. Samuel Johnson written by James Boswell. It is regarded as an important stage in the development of the modern genre of biography; many have claimed it as the greatest biography written in English. While Boswell's personal acquaintance with his subject only began in 1763, when Johnson was 54 years old, Boswell covered the entirety of Johnson's life by means of additional research. The biography takes many critical liberties with Johnson's life, as Boswell makes various changes to Johnson's quotations and even censors many comments. Regardless of these actions, modern biographers have found Boswell's biography as an important source of information.

    As even a casual review of my vlog entries will convince you, Thornton's Life of Livingston is, in so many ways, my life's great project and metaphorical case of intestinal parasitism.

    It is, I suspect, no accident that both Mr.'s Boswell and Thornton share the name James.

    But why, one might reasonably ask, would we need to read Thornton's Life of Livingston when Leslie, through her own daily scribblings, is providing a perfectly detailed Livingston's Life of Livingston in her own right?

    And while it is true that you can count on Leslie's own incredibly well-read blog, The FAF AFAP Digest, for the minutiae of her life as a swimmer--the yards doing this, the meters doing that, the equipment used here, the other equipment used there, the dry lands, the wet lands, the pilatic yogic positions, the cornu copiae of physical, psychological, hormonal, geo-political-spiritual miseries racked up as a consequence, and so forth--I maintain that to see the Big Picture of the Life Leslie (or La Vie de Livingston, as Proust might have put it), you really need to start reading Thornton's Life of Livingston much more carefully, more often, and with many, many, many more comments left in the comments section.

    At the risk of seeming impertinent, Leslie is much too close to her subject to see the forest for the trees. Not so I!

    Furthermore, like James Boswell, James Thornton has no impediment with "taking liberties" with the "facts" in order to better capture of the truth of Leslie's life, a truth, I might add, is likely to elude the dear girl herself.

    For who among us can truly claim to know ourselves better than I know you, even those I have barely met?

    With all this as preamble, let me cut to the chase here before I lose too many more of you dear readers, for I do sense a certain restlessness in the ether, a shuffling of papers, a clearing of phlegm from the throat, as if in preparation for saying the likes of, "Okay, well..." or "Gotta nuther call..." or "Shut the **** up, I can't stand to hear any more of this lunatic prattle!"

    To wit:

    Some of you may recall that one of my earliest "chapters" in Thornton's Life of Livingston was the classicly controversial vlog entry, Love Leslie, Hate Jim http://forums.usms.org/blog.php?b=8731.

    This simply recapitulated the fan reaction to our ***-for-tat argument on the subject of the putative "benefits" of weight-lifting for swimmers that ran in Swimmer Magazine.

    Leslie argued it is essential to do this in order to swim fast.

    I argued that the literature said quite the opposite and that, moreover, it was dangerous.

    I told you so: on the nature of an obnoxious, but not altogether unfactual, saying.

    It appears that I have been correct, at least in the latter declaration, all the while, proving yet again that Thornton knows Livingston better than Livingston knows Livingston--yet another reason why Thornton's Life of Livingston should remain the number one literary destination for anybody with even a passing interest in Leslie, including most of all Leslie herself.

    For this is what happened to the lass:

    While once again attempting heavy weight lifting last week, Leslie heard something elastic snap in her elbow, triggering instant pain. In a text message, she wrote to me that perhaps she would stop heavy lifting forever, that she had, indeed, come around to my way of thinking: i.e., that it is a dangerous waste of time for swimmers!

    Oh dear, further chase cutting, I now believe, has become a matter of survival. The audience for today's musings, I greatly fear, is dwindling faster than the Donner party!

    Absolutely no more preamble then. For those intrepid few who have remained with us so far, there is a payoff--and a sizable one at that.

    Thanks to Bill White's eagle eye, I am happy to propose a much safer couple of alternatives to classic heavy weight lifting that Leslie can take up instead.

    Please check out these two regimens, one of which is great for the arms, and the other which will give even the flimsiest of us specimens the abs and core of Mr. Ryan Lochte himself (who will be appearing soon in an upcoming episode of the Vlog the Inhaler, AKA, Thornton's Life of Livingston and Lochte.)

    (Note: many of you may be familiar with the first exercise regimen. The second one, however, which Bill brought to my attention yesterday, is likely to be completely novel to anyone who has not spent time incarcerated in North Korea. Don't miss it!)

    Safe approach to arm strength training:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/0..._n_541956.html

    Safe approach to torso strength training:

    http://www.buzzfeed.com/daves4/korea...rse-than-the-s
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  16. The invention returns!

    I had another fun swim at the 100m Crotona Park Pool this morning. The section of the pool with the seam in the bottom that we used to circle around is still blocked off, but this morning the lifeguards brought out Andrew’s portable bottom line for us—it had been at the pool all along! Rondi, Hannah, John, Teresa, and I all circled happily around it, while the 6th lap swimmer swam back and forth a few yards away. Here’s what I did:

    1000 super-lcm warmup: 400 relaxed FR + 3 x 200 ST/FR

    600, done as 3 lengths build, 2 lengths fast, 1 length easy

    2 x 400 FR, odds pull with paddles, evens swim, focusing on bilateral breathing and steady body position

    4 x 100 with tempo trainer, varying stroke count

    200 warmdown + play

    That was it!

    I did manage to get a few pictures of Andrew’s invention—it’s basically two pieces of metal, each about 15 inches long, with holes through which a looooong piece of neon yellow-green cord is strung. The metal beams sit on the bottom of the pool, where the T would normally be, and are heavy enough to keep the cord from moving around. While the cord is easily visible when you’re swimming near it, it’s hard to see in the above-the-water shot below.


    All wound up after workout


    (Photo credit J. Hughes)
    Viewed from the pool deck
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  17. My submission for the most boring workout

    by , August 18th, 2012 at 02:19 PM (Random Nonsense)
    Lifetime SCM

    1x5000 swim (~71 minutes)
    1x200 cool down

    Updated August 18th, 2012 at 02:24 PM by qbrain

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  18. Sprint Salo #4 - 08/21/12

    by , August 21st, 2012 at 09:04 AM (Workout Swimmer)
    Solo this morning - but it wasn't so bad. Remembered that I downloaded Dave Salo's Sprint Salo workouts (and laminated them) so I picked a few that I really liked and did one today. I believe it is #4 in the book. I'll be doing these on Tues & Thursday's from now on, whenever I have to swim solo in the mornings & adding some of his nasty sprint sets after the ATAC practices MWF to not only get in some distance, but get in some quality work. I believe it will (hopefully) become more fun to sprint (or as I call it, blast) and will improve my speed. It's nice to have a plan.

    400 swim
    4 x 100 pull no paddles
    4 x 50 swim
    6 x (75 IM order + 50 free) broken at 75 for 10 sec, on 2:00; one minute recovery after #3 -
    75's build, 50's sprint
    50 easy
    Pull- 4 x ( 2 x 25 @ :25, 50 @ :50, 100 @ 1:30, 50 @ :50, 2 x 25 @ :25) 30-45 sec rest after each round
    50 easy
    Kick - 4 x (4 x 25 + 50) @ :30/1:00; 25's sprint, 50's - stretch & blast off walls
    50 easy
    4 x 50 on :45 AFAP
    400 warm-down
    Total: 4300 SCY

    This was possibly the hardest kick set I've done in years. I was exhausted. Frankly, I was supposed to do the last 4 x 50 AFAP - and I just limped through them. The 6 x 75's were nice (at first), second three I actually broke the 75 into 50 + 25 with 10 sec rest & blasted that last 25. The 50 free was more of a build than a sprint, but I was huffing & puffing all the way through it. It was a bit depressing to see that my 100 time on the Pull was only about 1:15 - I would have thought I could go faster than that, but "oh well".
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  19. Wednesday, August 22, 2012 at the Y

    by , August 22nd, 2012 at 11:22 PM (Fast Food Makes for Fast Swimming!)
    Had similar chaos today at the YMCA pool, with the swim team using three of the lanes, and then having two lanes open for lap swim, and the other 1 lane space for a swim lesson group. It all worked out well this time, since we knew what to expect. This will be going on for about two weeks like this until the hours get changed around again.

    Swam with Jared

    Warmup/Getting into it:

    5 x 100 Free @ 1:30 (1:09s)
    5 x 100 Free @ 1:25 (1:08s)
    5 x 100 Free @ 1:20 (1:07-8s)

    Our warmup was an undetermined amount when we started. Jared just said 100s, and I went. After 3 of them I asked him how many he wanted to do...he then said "let's do 5 @ 1:30, 5 @ 1:25, 5 @ 1:20." OK, no problem with me. Well...as we started the 1:20s, he was cursing himself for suggesting it. I was having fun with it.


    100 IM semi-strong but with a relaxed tempo

    10 x 50 Flutter Kick w/ board @ :55 (:45-:49s)


    Free Pull w/ paddles Set: (1500 set)
    2 x 50 (on each of the following) @ :55, @ :50, @ :45, @ :40, @ :35
    Jared got out here...I kept going - staying on interval:
    2 x 50 @ :50, @ :45, @ :40, @ :35
    2 x 50 @ :45, @ :40, @ :35
    2 x 50 @ :40, @ :35
    2 x 50 @ :35

    100 EZ and out

    -------------------------
    3700 Yards

    I had fun with the final pull set. Rock n roll taper mode for sure since I have the LCM meet on Saturday. Most yardage I've done in a while, but I was feeling great so I went with it.
  20. Cape Cod Bay swim, part 1

    I returned yesterday evening from an amazing adventure in Cape Cod centered around a 20-mile swim from Plymouth to Provincetown. On Monday morning I picked up a Zipcar, collected Rondi after her early swim at Riverbank, and drove up to Plymouth, MA. It was a beautiful day for a drive, and with a trip to an unfamiliar part of the country and the excitement of the next day’s swim the road before us seemed full of exciting possibility.

    We arrived in Plymouth in time for a quick walk around the harbor and a lunch of lobster rolls before checking into our hotel. Then it was back down to the harbor to meet up with Dave and boat pilots Dan and John. The plan was for Dave and me to swim together, flanked by his boat (Agent Orange), which would be driven by Dan, and John’s Plymouth-based boat. Rondi would feed us both from John’s boat. I made arrangements with the harbor master to park my car overnight near the boat launch while I was away, and went over my feeding schedule and equipment with Rondi. We all discussed boat loading plans (2 am at the boat ramp dock), how the swim would go (route and feeding routines, swim protocol), and contingency plans (where the nearest hospitals were, what to do in case of shark sightings).

    The last of these was a bit of a concern for me going into the swim. Cape Cod’s seal population has been growing rapidly in recent years, as has the number of great whites that feed on them. There had been some sightings in the area, and a well-publicized attack several weeks ago on the Atlantic side of the Cape, a few miles around the point from where we were headed. I tried not to think about all this overly much heading into the swim—the risk of encountering dangerous wildlife was there, but it seemed very minimal, and in any case I knew that open-water swimmers regularly travel through waters populated by all kinds of sharks in places like California without incident. A bigger worry to me was that I would get the shark heebie-jeebies during my swim, and spend considerable time feeling fearful or jittery out in the ocean instead of enjoying it.

    On a happier note, John told us there had also been lots of sunfish sightings in the bay waters this season. I wasn’t sure what sunfish were exactly, but Rondi and Dave seemed to think that was cool, so I decided that they must be a good thing to hope to see during our crossing.

    After the meeting it was back to the hotel. I had a snack, then lay down to try to get some rest before the swim. The last thing I remember before drifting off was wondering what sunfish looked like. I ended up getting a good few hours sleep—I was snoozing by 6:30, and woke up excited and ready to go around 11:30pm. That was a little earlier than I’d planned on getting up, but it gave me plenty of time to have some cereal, get ready, and prepare some hot feeds and hot water for the boat. When Rondi awoke I asked her what sunfish looked like. She found a picture on her phone and showed me (they’re funny looking creatures!), and we decided that its frilly back end looked like a tutu. While I made my final preparations she entertained me with some sunfish facts—they can grow up to 1000kg, they eat jellyfish, and swim really slow. I decided that if I started worrying about sharks during the swim I would think about sunfish instead.



    We arrived at the boat ramp a little before 2, with plans to start the swim around 3am. While I was sleeping Dave and Rondi had festooned Agent Orange with glowsticks that hung down a little over the waterline, to make the boat easily visible to swimmers during the dark. I had brought some glowsticks and battery-powered light strings for John’s boat as well. (Although both boats had various lights higher up on them, it’s nice to have some at swimmer’s-eye level too). Fellow CIBBOWS swimmer Mo arrived—he was another one of the five swimmers attempting the swim—and we loaded up the boats, climbed onboard, and headed down to the start. The other two boats were loading elsewhere, and while we were all starting from the same beach we were not attempting to coordinate the start times. Basically, when your boat arrived and you were ready to go, you splashed. Each swimmer’s time would be kept by his or her boat. We saw fellow swimmer Eileen just leaving the beach as we arrived, and a little ways into our swim we saw Greg’s boat heading into shore for his start. It was nice thinking of all of us out there somewhere, stroking along in the bay, due to converge eventually by the end of the day.

    It was quite dark—the four-day-old moon had set hours before, and clouds obscured most of the stars. The ride out was really amazing, with the three boats motoring along in the dark across the smooth water. Rondi and I sat in the bow of our boat, playing with some glowstick bracelets I’d brought along, giggling, and watching Agent Orange and Mo’s boat trail along behind us. I was feeling excited, a little nervous about the beach start in the dark, and eager for things to get under way. I mentally rehearsed what I needed to do once we got near the beach and slowed down: inhalers, lube (I’d already sunscreened back at the hotel), cap and goggles, attach lights. (I would wear one green blinking light on my goggle strap and attach a steady orange one to my suit so that I would be visible to our boats in the dark. In this, as in so many things, I followed the example of my more experienced swim partner Dave).

    We arrived near Whitehorse Beach, our designated starting point. I was glad to see that our boats could get us very close in to the shore—I had been worried about having to swim into a dark beach, but we were close enough that the sand was lit up from the boats’ lights. I took off my parka—the air was in the low-60s, and I had needed it during the zippy boat ride over--and got ready to swim. I asked John what the water temp was—he got a reading of 63—and debated whether to wear earplugs. I usually don’t if the water is above 60, but I wasn’t sure if the temp would drop as we went into deeper water. When I saw Dave was wearing his, I decided to go with them, figuring that taking them out if I didn’t need them would be easier than having them passed to me from the boat later on. When Dave and I were both ready we jumped into the water and swam, then waded, the few yards to shore. I didn’t want to put my feet down on the dark bottom, but eventually I had to.

    When we were completely out of the water and on the sand, we exchanged a few words, raised our hands to signal to the boats we were starting, then headed out into the water. We were soon swimming alongside each other with the dark water stretching out beneath us.

    Going into this swim I had decided upon four goals:
    · To last more than 10 minutes swimming in the dark (an easily achievable goal to give me a taste of success early on, and something to shoot for in case just I got panicky with the night swimming)
    · To beat my previous time-in-the-water PR of 6h31m (a somewhat more difficult achievement-focused goal)
    · To come out of the water with a list of five things about the swim that were unique, or new to me (a process-focused goal, more specific and measurable that “enjoy the swim and appreciate the experience”)
    · To be proactive and resourceful about fixing any problems or discomforts as they arose (an improving-my-skills goal—I hadn’t been so good at this during swims earlier in the season—as well as what I needed to do to help ensure that I would stay happy during the crossing).

    That first goal was indeed easily achieved. I wasn’t scared at all of the darkness once I was swimming in it. In fact, it was one of the most magical parts of the swim, mostly because there were tons of green glowing jellyfish beneath us. They ranged from grape size to softball size, and it was simply unreal watching them bounce along below us as we swam above. I could feel their squishiness on my fingers as I stroked along. Otherwise, it was pitch black below. It was like swimming in a lava lamp, for hours. Any air bubbles from my hand entry also seemed to glow in the water. When I turned to breathe, I could see the blue light strings on John’s boat and the glowsticks on Agent Orange, and sometimes I could see Rondi’s glowstick bracelets as she moved about on deck. Dave’s goggle and suit lights were also very visible, but surrounding the illumination of our little flotilla was nothing but darkness.

    I felt like we had only been swimming for about 10 minutes when Rondi signaled for our first half-hour feed, and those thereafter also seemed to come jarringly quickly. I was so mesmerized by the light show below that I was reluctant to stop for feeds, although it was nice to see Rondi and have her serve up some warm drinks. Since I had been unsure what the water temp would be going into the swim, I had prepared both warm and cold liquids (a rotation of tea, gatorade, juice, and milk), with some solid or pureed food every 2 hours. We had arranged for me to start off with warm feeds, thinking they might be a comforting thing to have in the dark, and agreed that I would tell her when I wanted to switch to cold. I ended up having warm feeds for about the first 2/3 of the swim.

    For a while my goggles and I weren’t getting along so well. At first feed I told Rondi that I might want to switch to my backup pair at the next feed, but by then they were working fine. Soon though I decided that I would be happier in my more favored type of goggle (I had started off with another model because it had clear lenses, which I thought would be better for the initial low-light conditions). I made the switch and was happier. Score one for goal number 4! I probably could have swum with the first ones for the entire swim, but why put up with something you can fix?

    After a few feedings I gradually began to notice that the sky to my left seemed to be lightening a little bit. Slowly things became brighter, and I could discern the outline of the boats against the sea and sky. The jellies became white-outlined translucent creatures rather than glowing green blobs. Dawn was approaching. The night was behind us, and we would soon be swimming into sunrise!


    (Photo credit R. Davies)

    Cape Cod Bay swim, part 2

    Updated August 25th, 2012 at 08:02 PM by swimsuit addict

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