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  1. Swim and P90X!

    by , March 19th, 2012 at 04:23 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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  2. Comes a flock of Albatrossians!

    by , March 21st, 2012 at 05:09 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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  3. IG, Wed., March 21

    by , March 21st, 2012 at 06:35 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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  4. Workout 04/11/12:

    by , April 11th, 2012 at 02:43 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 06:55 PM by rxleakem

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  5. Halfway thru P90X!

    by , May 8th, 2012 at 11:34 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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  6. Leslie's Core: In Praise Of

    by , June 3rd, 2012 at 04:06 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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  7. Monday, June 11

    by , June 11th, 2012 at 05:38 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 05:25 PM by The Fortress

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    Swim Workouts
  8. Experiment in Pain

    by , June 29th, 2012 at 04:15 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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  9. 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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  10. Thornton's Life of Livingston: New Weight Training Ideas

    by , July 26th, 2012 at 05:37 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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  11. 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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  12. My submission for the most boring workout

    by , August 18th, 2012 at 03:19 PM (Random Nonsense)
    Lifetime SCM

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

    Updated August 18th, 2012 at 03:24 PM by qbrain

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

    by , August 21st, 2012 at 10:04 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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  14. Wednesday, August 22, 2012 at the Y

    by , August 23rd, 2012 at 12:22 AM (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.
  15. 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 09:02 PM by swimsuit addict

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  16. A new pool for the list

    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):

    Manhattan
    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

    Brooklyn
    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

    Bronx
    1. Lehman College pool (50m)
    *2. Van Cortlandt Park pool (50m)
    *3. Crotona Park Pool (100m)

    Queens
    1. Flushing Meadows Corona Park pool (50m)

    Staten Island
    1. Wagner College pool (25y?)
    *2. Lyons pool (50m)
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  17. Wed Sep 5th, 2012

    by , September 5th, 2012 at 01:07 PM (Ande's Swimming Blog)
    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
    Whitney coached
    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

    Main Set

    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
    ...
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  18. Sardines on Toast

    by , September 12th, 2012 at 01:00 PM (Chicken's Nuggets)
    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:

    http://www.foodnetwork.com/altons-sh...deo/index.html
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  19. To Bannerman's and Back

    Yesterday I was part of a small group test-swimming a new course in the Hudson from Cold Spring, NY north to Bannerman’s Island and back. It’s probably the most scenic swim route I’ve ever done, and a glorious day to be out on the water. The day had a little bit of everything—beauty, difficulty, adventure, and most of all fun. The course itself featured a lot of the highlights of the beautiful Stage 4 of 8 Bridges, which I had loved swimming in 2011.

    The route was first swum solo by Rondi a few weeks ago; her blog gives a map of the route and a description of her trip. For Saturday’s adventure we had 9 swimmers of various speeds; part of the point of this swim was to test tidal predictions and swim times for a range of swimmers. The start was very near the MetroNorth train station in Cold Spring, a plus for those of us traveling up from the city. We were divided into four pods of swimmers, each with its own kayak or paddleboard escort, while Dave patrolled the course on Agent Orange.

    We started during the latter stages of the flood (northerly) tide, and the goal was for all swimmers to reach the northern tip of Bannerman’s Island around slack in order to ride the ebb (southerly) current back to our starting point—a “tide me up, tide me down” swim, at least in theory. But since we would be catching only the last, weakest part of the flood and the corresponding early portion of the ebb, the current assist wouldn’t be very great—Rondi estimated the 10.5K swim would take around 2:45 to 3 hours for my group.

    The day was wonderfully sunny, with a hint of fall crispness in the air. Strong winds from the north were predicted, and we had seen white caps on portions of the river during the train ride up. The kayak launch where we started was in a protected cove, though, so during our preparations before splash time things looked very calm. That changed as soon as we started swimming. Once we headed out beyond the cove into the main portion of the river, it became clear that the wind would be pushing some nice choppy swells directly at us for the first half of the swim.

    With me in the third pod were Hannah, Willie, and Eli, with Andy kayaking alongside. We swam well together, and I could usually see all three of them to my right as we travelled along together. Stroking into the swells turned out to be fun if challenging—there were some nice roll-y waves which we were swimming directly into. I played with the water’s undulations, occasionally switching to dolphin kick with freestyle arms when the waves pushed my legs up behind me. Air temps were in the 60s, but the water was warm, in the upper 70s. Still, with the wind, it was pleasant feeling the sun on my back as we swam along.

    We passed the densely wooded rolling hills of the Hudson Highlands, punctuated by sheer rocky cliff faces. Sometimes I would roll over to do backstroke and admire the puffy clouds moving along rapidly overhead. When I did that, the waves breaking over my head would send sprays of water over my face that left enough space for me to breathe. I really liked that effect, and played around with it several times on the trip up.


    Our pod swimming upstream: me, Hannah,Willie, Eli
    (Photo credit A. Moore)

    We could see Bannerman’s Island in the distance, and I would occasionally pick up my head to see it getting closer. We stopped once or twice for leisurely feeds—it takes a while to feed four swimmers from one kayak—but otherwise stroked steadily along. Our instructions had been to swim steadily at a comfortable pace up to the island, in order to get there before the tide changed—then on the way back we could “play tourist” all we wanted.

    As we neared the island the water grew flatter and much easier to swim in. At the time I thought the wind had died down, but in retrospect it seems we were just being sheltered from the wind and waves by the island itself. Around this time the fourth pod caught up to us, and Rondi joined in with our group. As we neared Bannerman we all stopped for a final feed before heading clockwise around the island and its ruins.

    Bannerman’s Island is a bit of a curiosity. It’s a small bit of land about 300m from the eastern shore of the Hudson, and contains what looks like the crumbling ruins of a medieval castle on its northern side. The ruins are actually those of an arsenal built around the turn of the twentieth century by a munitions baron. The island and ruins are clearly visible from the railroads that run along the Hudson’s eastern shore, and when passengers first see the structure they wonder what the heck it is, and what it’s doing out there in the middle of the river. The site is now owned by New York State, and tours of the island are given every weekend.


    Hannah and Eli swim past Bannerman
    (Photo credit A. Moore)

    As we headed up the west side of the island, we could see that one of those tours was about to start—people were disembarking from an official-looking boat onto the island’s dock. The idea flickered through my mind that we could climb out and join in—I’ve always wanted to go on a Bannerman’s Island tour, but have never been up there at the right time. But mostly by this point I was preoccupied with the swimming. Conditions had grown tough fast. Once we were no longer sheltered by the island, the wind hit us again with full force, and it was apparent that the tide had turned early and was ebbing south as we were trying to make our way north. It took some hard swimming at this point to make it to the north tip of the island and round the point, but we all managed.

    When we finally rounded the tip and reached the eastern side of the island we were able to float and chat for a bit, marveling at how fast the current was carrying us back southward. It was fun watching the scenery go by as we relaxed in the water for a bit. The trip back seemed like it would be much easier, with both the wind and current with us.

    We swam together for a while, then split up as we were joined by a second kayak—Eli and Willie went on ahead with Rondi, while Hannah and I enjoyed a more leisurely pace. We took full advantage of the “playing tourist” provision, stopping and making sense of the different landmarks we passed. Hannah showed me the road she loved biking on Storm King Mountain, we stopped to admire the view of West Point in the distance, the Croton Aquaduct tunnel, and whatever else happened to catch our attention. Andy proved to be an excellent tour guide as well as kayaker. Hannah was kind enough to share some of her wonderful feeds with me—applesauce and chocolate pudding. (I had only brought juice and water for this trip, and was missing my figgy pops around the 3h mark). I really enjoyed the meandering journey back to where we started—races are all well and good, but I think I enjoy social open-water swimming even more.

    Finally we arrived back at where we had started. The entire swim took us around 3h20m. It was a spectacularly beautiful trip, and a really wonderful way to spend a glorious early fall day in the Hudson Valley.
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  20. Lunchtime swim 09/28/12

    by , September 28th, 2012 at 03:41 PM (Workout Swimmer)
    This was not the day for swimming, apparently. My husband turned off my alarm last night (by accident?) so I slept in and totally missed workout this morning. Went at lunch, and didn't even have time for a 3000.

    8 x 75 warmup on 1:15 (50 free, 25 other)
    10 x 50; 2 hard on :40, one easy on 1:00, last one Sprint
    200 P @ 80%, on 2:40
    50 easy on 1:00
    2 x 75 IM no free on 1:15
    100 easy
    50 fast
    200 IM hard, on 3:00
    50 kick on 1:00
    2 x 75 free on 1:00
    100 (50 k, 50 s)
    4 x 150; swim/kick/swim by 50's building to sprint on 2:30
    100 easy cool down
    Total: 2800

    Plus, on the down side, every time I do something really hard - like the Sprints - I'm thinking - why do I want to go to meets again? I kinda like just going at a nice, leisurly pace. Don't know what's gotten into me - guess I need to have someone to race to keep me positive & remembering the fun of the race - not something I got at lunch today.
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