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.
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
6 x 50 on 1:00
free with PF
6 x 50 on 1:00
3 x free with snorkel
3 x free just plain ol free
free with TYR Burner fins
29 very flat.
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.
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:
Set the new Albatross record in the 200 freestyleSet the new Albatross record in the 400 freestyleDo well enough in the 100 to make it into the Top 10 in my new age groupPossibly do well enough in the 50 to do similarlyContribute 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.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.
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
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:
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.His first 50 was 31.75; mine was 34.92. His first 50, in other words, beat me by 3.17 seconds.By the end of the whole 400, his time beat mine by .66 of a second.Jeff's last 50 was 35.90, and mine was 34.31, which means I beat him by 1.59 seconds here.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.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.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.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?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.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!
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]
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/)
10 x 100 @ 1:45
odds = free
evens = back kick
-- smooth and easy
-- focus on breakouts
8 x 25 back shooters
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.
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 ...
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 06:55 PM by rxleakem
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
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.
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.
45 minutes of RC exercises and stretching
Monday: Swim/LCM w/Susan @ Rockville
8 x 50 w/fins
-- 20 UW + 30 drill
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
4 x 50 w/parachute
-- 2 breast, 2 free
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 05:25 PM by The Fortress
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
...gotta go now, off to Finland and Sweden! more thoughts later
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!"
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:
Safe approach to torso strength training:
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
1x5000 swim (~71 minutes)
1x200 cool down
Updated August 18th, 2012 at 03:24 PM by qbrain
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.
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
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
Kick - 4 x (4 x 25 + 50) @ :30/1:00; 25's sprint, 50's - stretch & blast off walls
4 x 50 on :45 AFAP
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".
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
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.
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 09:02 PM by swimsuit addict
It’s getting to be do-or-die time for visiting NYC’s public outdoor pools—there’s roughly one week left in the short season. I took advantage of a Pool Tourism Club outing this morning to visit Lasker Pool in Central Park. It’s located in the northeast corner of the park, and is an easy walk from the 110th Street stop on the 2 train. This oval-shaped pool, which turns into an ice rink during the winter, features curved metal walls that make flip turns challenging. It’s dimensions are listed at 240’ x 190’ x 3.75’; we swam in one of the 6 marked lanes that bisected the pool the short way, giving us lengths of approximately 58m. That seemed apt, since one among our group was celebrating his 58th birthday!
I swam an easy 1000m or so, happily interrupted at most walls by conversation. It was a beautiful morning, and joy to be moving around in the water, surrounded by friends amid the beautiful backdrop of Central Park’s landscaping. My body felt surprisingly good, and my two Hannah-inspired laps of butterfly felt wonderful, almost like mini-massages.
Although Lasker is an easy commute from my apartment, this was the first time I had swum there, so I was able to add a new pool to my list of NYC pools (below). A delicious brunch afterwards made for the perfect morning. Hurray pool tourism!
New York City pools I’ve swum at (asterisked = outdoor pool):
1. West Side Y (25 yd), W. 63rd between Bway and Central Park West
2. West Side Y warm-water pool (20 yd?)
3. Riverbank State Park indoor pool (50M), W. 138th Street on the Hudson
*4. Riverbank State Park outdoor pool (25yds)
5. Asphalt Green competition pool (50M), E. 91st and York
6. Asphalt Green warm-water therapy pool (15m?)
*7. Asphalt Green outdoor pool (25yd, now gone)
8. John Jay College Pool (25y) 59th and 10th
9. Baruch College Pool (25m) 24th and Lex
10. City College pool (25y) W 145th and Convent Ave.
11. Columbia University (25y) 116th and Bway
12. NYU Palladium pool (25y x 25m) 140 E. 14th St.
13. Vanderbilt YMCA (25y) 224 E. 47th
14. Chelsea Rec Center (25y) W 25th between 9th and 10th
15. New York Athletic Club (25y) Central Park South @ 7th Ave.
*16. John Jay Park Pool (48y) E. 77th and York
*17. Hamilton Fish park pool (50m) Pitt and Houston Streets
18. Reebok Club pool (25y) 67th and Columbus
19. Chelsea Piers (25y), W. 19th Street on the Hudson
20. JJC pool (25y), 76th and Amsterdam
21. Manhattan Plaza (25y), 43rd and 10th
22. McBurney Y (25y), 14th between 6th and 7th
*23. Jackie Robinson (25m), Bradhurst Ave. @ W 146 St.
*24. Lasker Pool (25m) Central Park, near Malcolm X Drive/110th St entrance
1. LIU—Brooklyn (25y) Flatbush and DeKalb
2. St. Francis College pool (25y) Brooklyn Heights
*3. Red Hook Pool (40m)
4. Shorefront YM-YWHA (25y) Brighton Beach
1. Lehman College pool (50m)
*2. Van Cortlandt Park pool (50m)
*3. Crotona Park Pool (100m)
1. Flushing Meadows Corona Park pool (50m)
1. Wagner College pool (25y?)
*2. Lyons pool (50m)
Jeez I'm a bad blogger
I swam, Wed, Thu, Fri & Sat
Did not swim Sun, Mon or Tue
no practice Sun, had other commitments on Mon & Tue my car wouldn't start so I dealt with car stuff, but I finally swam today and
lifted Wed, Sat & plan to lift today
Wed Sep 5th, 2012
Still at mabel davis, LCM
6:00 - 7:30 dove in just as my lane started the main set, drove for 5 min and realized my work shoes were in our other car so I drove back to get them
swam with Todd, Jim & Dick
beside Ned Marcio tyler & Joanna?
My left hip is still hurting
4 x 500 IMs
1) 200 fl (drill) 150 bk 100 br 050 fr
2) 050 fl (drill) 200 bk 150 br 100 fr
3) 100 fl (drill) 050 bk 200 br 150 fr
4) 150 fl (drill) 100 bk 050 br 200 fr
800 neg split
4 x 250 IM done
1) 100 fl 50 bk 50 br 50 fr
2) 050 fl 100 bk 50 br 50 fr
Chicago's annual Big Shoulders 5 and 2.5km swims were held last Saturday. Every year I promise myself two things for the next year:
1. never to swim it again because, well, why would I pay to swim in Lake Michigan; and
2. if I break promise 1, only enter the 2.5k, which would give me time to smugly watch other people finishing after myself (hopefully).
Both promises broken, I headed to the starting line at an obscene hour on race morning. The weather had been a bit dodgy leading up to the race, and the organisers had warned of potentially rough conditions. The water turned out to be not too bad, though, and I was pleasantly surprised. Actually, not pleasantly surprised because I like it rough! There was a smallish swell that was nice and regular and some surface chop, but nothing too slappy or random. The water was very murky, which I like, because because the only sandy bottom I want to see when swimming does not belong to the lake.
As usual, I ended up placing in the bottom half of my age group. I took a huge kick to the left boob when the guy in front of me decided to suddenly change to breaststroke going around the 2nd turn buoy. For identification purposes, I noted he had on a full wetsuit and (non adventure style) beard. Couldn't find him on the beach afterwards though. My right shoulder hurt like a b%^& the whole time, but I swam in lovely straight lines, mostly in the right direction.
The best thing about the swim, though, was my sardine suit. Here 'tis:
Here's a sardine:
Here's me and some other swimmers being lapped by the elite wave:
It looks like some of us got stuck in their teeth.
Here's a recipe for sardines on toast, which I may or may not try:
Let me start by saying I give really good advice, frequently excellent advice, and when I give you advice, you should take it. More importantly, make sure I plan on following my own advice.
I am getting ahead of my self, untaken self advice is towards the end of the story, but important enough to mention first. Back around the time I was doing the Waikiki Roughwater, Coach Anna said that she wanted to do the Maui Channel Swim, a relay of six people who swim from Lanai to Maui with the aid of a guide boat. Like a good little swimmer, I nodded my head and said sure and continued on with my ignoring-the-coach thing I occasionally do.
Strangely, Anna kept mentioning the Maui Channel Swim (MCS). She mentioned it so many times over a long enough period that I thought she might be serious, unlike when she says "kick with no flippers". About this time she had also convinced me that I was in charge of organizing the relay, head coach Dave independently seconded this idea and I nodded my head like a good little swimmer and started recruiting.
In November the relay became official when I mentioned it to Dennis, who went home and mentioned it to Molly, who said something along the lines of "If you have to be eaten by a shark for me to have a Maui vacation, so be it" and promptly booked his tickets.
By Christmas we had a half dozen people interested, and by June we had almost the same half dozen signed up.
Dallas Aquatic Masters (DAM) has sent relays for 21 years, so instead of finding a boat, organizing hotel rates and doing a whole lot of work I am too lazy to do, we just signed up through DAM. The DAM rate at the Sheraton was better than any other comparable hotel rate, they provided us with a boat captain we were very happy with and they did all the paperwork and money handling for the MCS side of things. Pretty darn easy.
As relay organizer, I did do a fair bit of research on estimating trip cost, when to buy airfare, if the Sheraton deal was the best price, what we needed to worry about and when relay organizer became team captain I attended to paperwork requests, phone calls to the boat captain, attending meetings and paying the captain. My only organization failure was not keeping everyone up to date when times kept changing and in the future, I would know to just publish the official times of all the meetings the day before they happen since they moved around by an hour and that hour is only important the day of the meeting, not two weeks before.
The stars aligned, and we all trickled into Maui free of injury. The DAM "organized" practice swims off black rock are really times when lots of swimmers will be in the water, so I ended up leading 3 practice swims for our relay. During no single practice swim did we have all 6 team mates because of flight and tour schedules, but there was nothing critical we all needed to be present for at the same time. I am not sure how restful a vacation this trip was to Maui for most of my teammates, because some of them packed their schedules with activities, but I think everyone enjoyed their time in Maui, and touring didn't impact anyones swim.
Saturday morning, time to get on the boat! Four swimmers were staying in the hotel and two were staying somewhere else, so the hotel swimmers met in the lobby at 6am to head to the boat ramp to meet everyone else about 6:30 to load the boat and wait for it to be launched. We were on the road by 6:02, loaded the boat and headed to starbucks for a coffee until 6:45, the estimated launch time. By the time we got back to the ramp (the Starbuck's really is a block away), Captain Lee had launched and was waiting for us, "patiently", as we took pre race pictures.
OH! Our team name! (Skip if you really only care about the swim) Dennis was the first to book (via his lovely wife Molly who could care less if Dennis actually swam if she got to go to Maui), but about that time he started a new company. This company happened to be a fire and water damage company and their clients usually notice their house has been flooded, after the get home from work... which means late nights. Good news, Dennis' business is doing quite well, bad news is all their business is usually until late at night and he doesn't have anyone trained that he trusts to be first on site yet. So Dennis stopped showing up at the 5am practices a few weeks after signing up for the race. In early August, we have a prerace party... and Dennis doesn't make it because of a call that came in. His wife and kids made it to the party... and approved of the name. Team Where's Dennis?!
It is about 6:50 and we make the 25 minute boat ride over to Lanai, the weather is beautiful and the seas are calm. We chatted with Captain Lee a bit about currents, our route, how we want to do transitions and how conditions will change as throughout the swim. The night before he gave me really good directions on how to swim into the Lanai since the swim into the beach hasn't been dredged in years, the channel is very narrow, there is lots of coral and we were at low tide. Keeping this advice in my I headed off to the beach, and did notice while swimming in that even the channel was incredibly shallow.
After an easy swim into the beach, I walked up to the beach and noticed my first mistake as I turned around to look at the boats. I switched to a new sun screen the morning of the race, and the new sunscreen left a haze on my goggles that I could not wash off in the sea water. Looking into the sun was very much like a sun flare in a photography, with the sun blurred across my vision and everything else left in a shadow. If I was looking forward, I could only see outlines of boats, but looking anywhere else, my vision was fine. Of course the start is directly into the sun, and was now completely dependent on my boat finding me.
[nomedia="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CXGVtVf8Q9s&list=PL44434A404FB191FB][IMG]http://sphotos-b.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash3/c67.0.403.403/p403x403/564606_4570591389922_646604394_n.jpg[/IMG"]Anna pre race announcement MCS 2012 - YouTube[/nomedia]
This year's start was a water start for the first time, we lined up waist deep in the water at the end of the dock, a flag was waved and off we went. A thirty minute swim was no big deal for me, I had done a few 30 minute swims, 3k continuous and hour swims to become comfortable with long duration swims. What was really disconcerting was when I was 10 minutes into the swim looking for my boat and I kept seeing the same boat off to my right, after passing mosts boats quickly. I am pretty sure someone took their 100ft yacht out to watch the start of the race either on purpose or by chance, but I never thought I would get past it. A few minutes after passing the Queen Mary 2, my boat found me! Yeah, I can stop trying to sight into the sun!
With the boat in sight, things get pretty easy, just try to keep the Captain in sight and I am heading in the right direction. If I am looking at the bow, then I am heading too far north and probably away from the boat and if I am looking at the motors, I am going to run into the boat. This works pretty well if you and the boat can match pace, and it worked fine for me.
After following the boat for only a couple minutes, Anna signals me that there is only 5 minutes left and our signals are 8"x11" numbers stapled into a folder. I assume that I just didn't see the 1, and I have 15 minutes left.
Four minutes later the boat pulls away to drop Joe, the next swimmer, off in front of me. Right around the 30 minute mark, Joe tags me and I take off swimming towards the boat, climb in and take a seat.
That wasn't bad at all. I yet again was really surprised no one else wanted the first leg, I was the only one who has actually set foot on Lanai. What also surprised me was how many people took off faster than I did at the start, I was no where near the head of the pack. A lot of time was probably wasted trying to connect with the boat and if I did it over again, I would just head north after coming out of the channel and let the boat captain know that was my strategy. We had none, and I just swam towards the boats hoping for the best.
As the first swimmer, I now have 2.5 hours before I swim again and am fairly tired after my 30 minute swim so grab a seat at the back of the boat watching Joe followed by Dennis. I sunscreen immediately, and have a bottle of water during this time. After Anna goes in and I help Dennis up the ladder and stow it, I am feeling a little sea sick. I head to the cooler, grab a gatorade and take a non-drowsy dramamine.
Advice: Everyone on the relay got a sea sickness patch, and everyone followed the recommendations to put it on the day before... except me. I sent out the video to my team to convince everyone to get the patch, and I ignored the advice because it was supposed to be smooth this year. It was smooth this year. Nice smooth rolling 4-6 foot swells. My advice to everyone considering the MCS, GET THE PATCH, put it on 24 hours ahead of time.
Five minutes later: "Oh crap, I am going to pop" running to the back of the boat, hand over mouth trying to hold back my gatorade colored vomit before I actually get to the side and empty my stomach. Good news, it was all liquid that I drank since being on the boat. Bad news, probably another 4.5 hours in the sun with 30 minutes of intense swimming without being able to keep fluids down. I am now mildly concerned that I am jeopardizing the relay finishing and my health.
As far as sea sickness goes, my problem was mild, I just couldn't tolerate anything in my stomach. Once I emptied my stomach, I didn't feel great, but I wasn't hanging over the side green in the face either. So I manned the ladder waiting for my next swim to come up. There was some concern about me swimming, but I pointed out I was much more comfortable swimming than sitting on the boat.
About 5 minutes before my swim, I suggested that we pull well ahead of Chris (who was in the anchor spot), and I would drink a water then toss the bottle back in the boat. I knew dealing with stomach cramps are a non-issue compared with dealing with dehydration. This worked ok, but Chris' leg was in quite tough conditions, so I got very little time in the water with some water before she caught up. Going much further ahead and she would have difficulty sighting in the swells.
10 minutes of bliss. No cramps, the swells had gotten progressively bigger now that we were outside the protection of the Lanai shallows and the wind picked up a lot to create some chop. Fun swimming for me and about 5 minutes into it, I realized I wasn't pulling my weight at that my pace and stepped it up quite a bit.
After finishing my swim and climbing into the boat, my water bottle and gatorade that I didn't finish before my swim are nearby so I resetup near the ladder and am good for about 45 minutes. During one of the transitions as I put the ladder up, the Captain kicks the boat into gear, I get knocked back with my shin pressing the steel rod connecting the two engines, the captain makes a hard turn slicing a 3" gash into my shin. Not a banner day. I put some vaseline on it, cut man style, and hope to minimize the chumming. It is very shallow, so it doesn't bleed much, but I didn't think to pack anything to accelerate clotting, so the vaseline will have to do.
Right before going in again, I think I was video taping or something, my stomach does a somersault and I am at the back of the boat again. My swim starts in about 3 minutes from that point, I grab a bottle of water to rise and jump over the side to start my swim. Good to be back in the water!
At this point the swells are dying down and other than the occasional wind induced whitecap, the swimming is the easiest it has been for me since the start.
The water is crystal clear, but the ocean is so incredibly deep between the islands that all that you can see is a deep dark blue. It is beautiful, and enjoyable if you find swimming in the swells enjoyable, but I don't think any of my relay saw any sea life during the race. Most of us did experience some small stings during our swims that were probably from little jelly fish, but the pain went away before any of us were out of the water just leaving a short line of red marks where we were hit.
After another enjoyable 10 minutes in the water, I was back on the boat and we can start to see land marks. At this point the sea is pretty calm, my dramamine might have kicked in and seeing the end in sight, I actually feel good. Really good. Seemingly all the sudden I am up walking around the boat, chattering away, talking about swimming a group finish, who is going to be the one to finish and really enjoying the last 30 minutes.
Advice: Get the sea sickness patch. Put it on 24 hours before. Enjoy the ENTIRE race.
We all agree that we will swim to the finish together and by our time, I will be the one person who has to official run up the beach to the finish table. I want to finish as a group so I hang back and swim with the everyone into the beach, then I am off and running to the table. The finish is quite confusing because the finish table is setup in front of the boat lane, and since they had a boat run over a swimmer last year, they kept the table in the same spot, but moved the swim up buoys about 50 yards north so the water buoys don't line up with the flags of the chute in the least. Luckily, we weren't going to time, and there was someone to point down the beach to where the finish chute was.
Grabbed a celebratory water at the finish desk and headed back to hang out on the beach with the team and our families.
Even vomiting over the side of the boat, this was still an incredibly fun swim. The time flew by both in the water and on the boat.
Notes on the swim:
- Direct distance from start to finish: 9.85 miles
- Estimated swim distance: 12 miles (my estimate)
- Estimated swim time: 6 hours
- Actual swim time: 5:04:35
- Actual swim distance: 10.7 miles (garmin on the boat)
- Start time from Lanai: 8am
- Leave from Mala Ramp Maui: 6:50am
- only food I saw consumed on the boat: water, gatorade, gu, fig newtons, salt tablets
- food on the boat: Apples, oranges, drink powder, peanuts, potato chips, cookies, energy bars, rolls.
I am not sure our transition method was as effective as it could have been. It took a long time to get the finishing swimmer on the boat leaving the next swimmer without a guide for 2-3 minutes.
We brought way too much on the boat.
The fig newtons were really popular. One or two sealed packages of cookies is probably enough food. Even I wasn't hungry and most of the food bought was not eaten on the boat.
Spray sunscreen sucks on a windy boat. The spray ends up on the boat and in your teammates eyes and mouth. Consider non-spray for the boat.
Consider zinc oxide for the nose.
Put on the same sunscreen on the beach before practice swims as you will use on the boat during the race. Does the sunscreen cloud your goggles, get in your eyes, etc? Address these issues before the race.
Leave flip flops with the person who drops you off at the boat ramp. They aren't needed on the boat, and if everyone swims to the finish, no one has shoes! Beach sand is hot and not having shoes limits the post race celebration options.
Updated September 9th, 2012 at 03:00 PM by qbrain