View RSS Feed

Alex's swim journal

It's a journey: musings on art, literature, life... and occasional notes on training.

  1. 800 IM

    by , February 21st, 2013 at 08:58 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    After a day with some relaxing distance swimming and without any short-axis strokes, I was refreshed and ready to go for my first 800 IM... Dreaming up the 2000-yard descending ladder 800, 600, 400, 200 all IM (did I dream that or was this some diabolical nightmare I could not escape? I began to question myself as I hit the wall and turned after 150 fly!)... as I was saying, dreaming up this purgatorial workout is one thing, but actually doing it? I had never done more than 500 IM, never done more than 125 fly at once, I was beginning to question whether 400 IM was such a good idea. Just sent in my registration for the Whitefish Bay meet in March: 4IM, 200 back, free, and breast, 2IM... a good workout to say the least. If I could do an 800 IM and follow it with 6-, 4-, and 2-IMs in the same workout... yes, then I would feel better about that slate of events I just signed myself up for!

    Here it is... IM mount purgatory (or perhaps IM abyss... Dante's Inferno is a series of ever more constricting concentric circles converging on the earth's physical and metaphysical core):

    1000 wm-up swim on 20:00--free/pull by 200 (build pace); finished in 16:07
    800 IM on 16:00 (14:5?)
    600 IM on 12:00 (11:09)
    400 IM on 8:00 (7:13)
    200 IM on 4:00 (3:35)
    6 x 50 pull/free cool-down

    Another 3300 SCY; in 65 minutes.

    Wow, 200 fly is painful! And 150 fly is painful! And, what was so hard about 100 fly? Yeah, it was painful too! At 75 I honestly didn't know if I would stop at the wall at 100; going for 150 seemed like a good idea and things were going fairly smoothly, I was finding something of a rhythm... at 125 I was beginning to doubt that decision. At 150 I willed myself to turn and start back down the lane... stretch, reach, push the sternum, lift the hips, kick... at 175 my lungs were gasping, my shoulders and lats burning, my abs felt like they'd just done 200 crunches, but I knew I was doing this... 200 fly! First 50 of the back portion of the IM was just recovery, like I was clearing acid out of my lats and catching my breath... I was able to build and increase pace on the last 150 Back. As I leaned back to touch the wall and transition over to the front for breast I saw 7:35... wow, I thought, I'm making good time and might have more than a minute to rest before that 16:00 came around. Then I promptly lost 4-5 seconds on my breast leg... this 200 was pretty sucky and it just went on and on and on...! Freestyle, finally, but I was too tired to push it hard... cruised to a 3:20-something 200 for that leg, maybe it was in the 3:10s (I honestly can't remember if I was in the 14:40s or 14:50s when I finished)... it didn't matter, I was done! My first 800 IM. And in a little more than a minute I would be turning around to do my first 600 IM... 150s seemed a little easier than 200-yard legs, but I was pretty gassed. The fly was steady, the back actually felt good after only about 25 yards, breast was miserable, but improving slightly... during my free leg I kept thinking how similar this feels to the last 150 of a 5k! Maybe that means I'm doing something right. 400 IM was a piece of cake by comparison... never had a "recovery" length and ended up finishing in 7:13 (the seed time I sent in for 400 IM is 7:00; my practice PR being 6:59). 200 IM was not as good (I almost took a backstroke flip turn at the 100 mark... it seemed so weird to have only 50 yards of back!), but I was tired...

    Saw Scotty on the way out and said he should give the workout a try; he shook his head, emphatically, as if trying to ward off some evil spirit. "You're NUTs!" he said.
  2. 3K (3300 SCY)

    by , February 21st, 2013 at 12:45 AM (Alex's swim journal)
    Blog Entry 200!

    Today I needed an easy day... I'm starting to feel the soreness and fatigue of the hard workouts I've been doing over the last couple of months. I'm such a slow-twitch freak, it's still taking me a while to get used to swimming FAST or HARD on a daily basis. Today, I wanted that feeling I used to love... just get in and keep moving, stay aerobic and feel the air in my lungs, the circulation in my veins, that nice warm yet relaxed feel at the end of an hour-long swim, mostly continuous. No long rests, no hard bursts, stay in control. Here's what I did:

    1000 EZ free 17:00 (build to moderate pace)
    1:00 break to switch lanes
    500 Back, steady pace (this took me about 10:10)
    1000 Free, moderate (16:30)
    500 Back, steady (right at 10:00)
    300 free cool-down

    The twist on this nearly continuous EZ swim for about an hour, was the fact that I still managed to work in some backstroke endurance stuff and, since my back has improved so dramatically in the last couple of months, I'm able to use that instead of doing an extra 1000 free.... which means for all intents and purposes it was an EZ day with close to the yardage I've been putting in on my harder days. Three or four months ago I never would have dreamed I could do 1000 in back at basically 1:00/50 pace for an EZ workout, my backstroke was so painfully slow for so long!

    I know, I know... the hard stuff I've been doing over the last couple of months has made those improvements possible, so I'll be back to that soon enough. But it was nice to be able to just relax and enjoy the swim for once. I'm thinking about trying a descending IM ladder for tomorrow while I'm still fresh after the warm-up: 800 IM, 600 IM, 400 IM, 200 IM. No fly or breast today, so I'm hoping a break from that will help me come back with better energy tomorrow. Being a distance guy, I never feel that good about racing a distance that I can't double in practice, so doing even a slow 800 IM and 600 IM will make me feel a lot more confident about being able to swim a hard 400 IM at Whitefish Bay in a week and a half. Those 200s are looming as well... it's gonna be a lactic acid burn fest!
  3. Infernal torments... or, evilstroke is the devil in my IM

    by , February 19th, 2013 at 07:34 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    This was supposed to be something of an EZ day... not!

    400 EZ swim
    4 x 100 on 2:00 (alt. free and pull; 1:29-1:30)
    100 EZ pull
    100 free w/ fins
    400 dolphins w/ fins (alt. front and back by 50s)
    300 in breast kick work (board, streamline, full stroke by 50s)
    300 dolphins w/ fins (alt. fr/bk by 50s)
    4 x 50 fly (:48-:52)
    4 x 50 back (:44-:46)
    4 x 50 breast (:55-:58)
    4 x 50 free (:36-:39)
    200 IM (3:21; :50, 1:40, 2:39...)
    100 EZ free, cool-down

    3100 SCY

    I was leaving as Scotty was finishing his warm-up and he hadn't really thought about what he wanted to do, so I suggested the 50s followed by 200 IM, since he wants to do 50s at the next meet. He told me later he was hating me for this!

    My Breaststroke is just absolutely the worst... I don't even know where to begin. I did less kick work on that than I did on the dolphins today because I almost pulled my groin at one point... right-side very tender. If my fly can come in at :50, my back at :50, and my free at around :40 in the 200 IM at the end of a 3000-yard workout, then I should be poised to make a run at that 3:00 mark for the 200 IM at some point toward the end of this season... but the breast is really holding me back: a :59 breast leg! Ugh.

    Got back into the gym for some strength and conditioning work for about 30 minutes... really don't like that either; I just want to get in the water and swim, non-stop, for about 4000 yards. Maybe I'll give myself a break and do that tomorrow, recharge the batteries.
  4. Encouraging day after break

    by , February 18th, 2013 at 08:48 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    After taking my first day completely out of the water since January 25, and only my third day without swimming all year, I was hoping I would feel a little faster and more rested. I was fighting off a cold yesterday, so I knew I couldn't get my hopes up too much... and I'm beginning to doubt the efficacy of my "swim to the breaking point, swim some more, and THEN take a day off" program. Whatever, you really can't tell if it's a limit if you don't try to push past it now and again.

    Today I did 3600 SCY and took a really long time to do so, but swam faster in the process--so longer rests, harder swims was the theme:

    WARM-UP (19 minutes):
    400 EZ swim on 7:30 (7:00)
    4 x 100 pull/free on 1:50 (1:33-1:35)
    4 x 50 free on 1:00 (:37-:39)

    MAIN SETS (60 minutes):
    5 x 100 IM on 3:00 (1:33-1:36)
    10 x 100 on 3:00 alt. Free/Breast (frees in 1:15-1:19; breast in 1:44-1:48)
    5 x 100 Back on 2:15 (1:39-1:48)

    600 EZ swim, done as:
    -100 free EZ
    -100 pull
    -100 back pull
    -100 back
    -100 breast
    -100 free

    This is encouraging because of the fast times. Originally I'd planned to do a 100s day, something like I did last week (intervals at 1:45-2:15, depending on the stroke), but Scotty showed up about half way into my warm-up and said he was doing 100s too. After warm-up he suggested 5 x 100 IM, 5 x 100 breast, 5 x 100 free all on 3:00; he's focusing on the 50s and the 100 IM, 100 breast for the Whitefish Bay meet. I need to focus on the 200s and the 400IM, but I also need a speed day now and again, so this was good for me. I convinced him to alternate free and breast and that worked out really well for both of us. Scotty's not doing any backstroke (except in the IM) for the next meet, but that's going to be something of a focus for me (especially at the 100-200 distances) through the state meet, so I added on the last set of 100s back while he was doing his cool-down. We realized too late that I probably should have swum the backs when he was doing the breast (our times would have been much closer and we would have pushed each other pretty good). On the 100 free we were really close, I touched him out on the first rep and was close on the last one, but he was maybe half a body length ahead on the three in the middle. Still, I'm getting closer... He used to beat me in the free as badly as he beats me now in breast and fly!

    Tomorrow... thigh thrashing, core crunching conditioning and kick sets. I'm going to hit the dolphins pretty hard and do a lot of breast 50s, alternating board, streamline, and full stroke.

    Plans for the Whitefish Bay meet, for me, include:
    Event #2 = 400 IM
    Event #4 = 200 Back
    Event #6 = 200 Free
    Event #12 = 200 IM
    Event #15 = 200 Breast

    1200-yards of torture; looking for redemption on the 200 IM!
  5. 7500 SCY... torture fest

    by , February 17th, 2013 at 01:42 AM (Alex's swim journal)
    I am so incredibly tired from this workout that I almost couldn't blog. I texted this workout to Scotty a couple of days ago and he wrote back "You're nuts." Sounded great around Thursday; this morning as I was getting ready... well, not so much so. It's like seeing a mountain in the far distance and saying, "yeah, that would be cool to climb." The closer you get to it, the larger it looms before you. I decided just to focus on getting through the warm-up, then the first set, etc.

    Here's how it went:

    8 x 50 on 1:00

    Main sets:
    5 x 200 free on 3:30 (3:05-3:08)
    400 IM on 8:00 (7:24)
    5 x 200 on 4:00/3:30*
    400 IM on 8:00 (7:40?)
    5 x 200 on 4:30/3:30**
    400 IM on 8:00 (7:30)
    5 x 200 on 3:30/4:00***
    400 IM on 8:00 (7:4?)
    5 x 200 free on 3:30 (3:18-3:24)
    2 x 50 fly on :10 rest
    2 x 50 back on :10 rest
    2 x 50 breast on 1:05
    2 x 50 free on :05 rest

    2 x 50 free EZ

    *Swam back, free, back, free, back--backs in 3:45-3:48; frees, 3:10s
    **Swam breast, free, breast, free, breast--breast in the 3:50-4:00 range; frees in 3:17
    ***Swam free, back, free, back, free--backs were around 3:50, the frees at 3:17-3:21

    I knew I wasn't going to make it through the last 400 IM, so I swam it as a broken 400 IM, or 8 x 50 in 400 IM order, however you want to look at it.

    What can I say? It was slow, but I was happy just to have survived it... the goal of the day was to build endurance in all strokes. I did 4 and 1/4 miles; 500 yards of fly, 1100 yards of breast, 1500 yards of back, 4400 free.
  6. Recovery days? We'll see...

    by , February 15th, 2013 at 06:36 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    After pushing pretty hard Monday through Wednesday, I've taken it down a notch the last couple of days (4950 SCY/130 minutes over two days). Lots of kick work, just a little bit of sprint. Yesterday was basically a warm-up followed by a long breaststroke set:

    400 EZ free on 7:30
    4 x 100 free on 1:50 (1:29-1:31)
    4 x 50 free on 1:00 (:39-:42)
    2 x 100 back on 2:30 (1:48, 1:54)
    700 in breast work (alt. 50 breast kick w/ board and 50 breast)
    100 back
    200 breast (around 3:50)
    200 EZ free
    25 swim
    25 off the blocks,forward start

    Today, I met Scotty for the 25s... I always swim these faster with him in the lane next to me. He killed me on fly and breast, I owned him in back, and we dueled the heck out of the frees (tying almost every one). Here's what the day looked like:

    400 EZ warm-up 7:00
    50 free, crisp (:42)
    2:00 rest
    8 x 25 fly on :45 (:22-:26)
    1:00 rest
    200 fly/back (first two legs of 400 IM; 3:42)
    8 x 25 back on :45 (:19-:24; mostly :19-:21)
    200 back/breast (2nd two legs of 400 IM; 3:50*)
    8 x 25 breast on :45 (:24-:27)
    200 breast (3:55)
    8 x 25 free on :45 (:15-:17)
    break--master's "minute"
    2 x 50 fly
    5 x 50 dolphins hard underwater; free cruise after surface
    2 x 50 back, dolphins hard, cruise after surface
    200 EZ free

    *100 back on this 200 was about 1:42; so the breast was 2:08--yuck!

    My breast and fly appear to be getting slower rather than faster, WT#? Focusing so much on kick, maybe the front end is falling apart. Don't know, but I'm frustrated. I'm just going to try to relax, not think too much and swim hard tomorrow when I do my 400 IMs... see if I'm not making some kind of progress. Less than half of my yardage was freestyle Thurs-Fri, which means my freestyle should be pretty fresh tomorrow. But who knows anymore?

    On another note... Backstroke is getting better quickly. I noticed in my meet results from last weekend that my 50 split for the 100 Back was faster than my 50 back in the January meet. Faster only by a few tenths of a second, but given the pathetic flop of my start (see my entry on 2/10) I'm pretty happy with this result! My 50 Back time has taken a real turn for the better in the last month... hoping my 200 back will do the same for the next meet!
  7. 200 back

    by , February 14th, 2013 at 02:31 AM (Alex's swim journal)
    Today I had to break up my workout again. I had enough time to get a little more in in the morning, but without much of a warm-up or cool-down, which I think I'm going to pay for somehow. And again, I did 30 minutes of conditioning in the evening before the swim. My legs were totally thrashed from the extra backstroke work in the morning, plus lunges and squats... so the kick sets didn't feel good and I don't think my technique was holding together all that well. Here's what I did:

    5 x 200 free on 3:30 (3:11, 3:08, 3:09, 3:09, 3:10)
    :30 rest
    5 x 200 back on 4:00 (3:44-3:47)
    1:00 rest
    400 IM in 7:55

    200 EZ free
    300 dolphins/fly w/ fins
    2 x 50 fly
    300 breast kick
    2 x 50 breast
    200 EZ free

    I was pretty happy with the 200 Back set on 4:00, a very aggressive interval for me on 200 back. That was a real workout. I'm hoping those times come down over the next couple of weeks, because I'd like to do the 200 back at the next meet (on 3/3/2013) along with the 400 IM (first) and the 1650. There is a lot of time between the the 200 back and the 1650, but the 200 back (event #4) is pretty close to the 400 IM (event #2)... there will probably only be one or two heats of each. Between them is the 50 free, which I won't do, but those heats will go by pretty quickly, so my endurance on back has to be really good... got to be able to swim it faster even when tired. I can do a couple of other events that day too and I'm thinking about maybe 200 free and 200 breast; swimming the free hard and just going for smooth on the breast (no DQ). But to be able to do a schedule like that I need to shift my focus to 200 work and 400 IM for the next few weeks and really build that endurance. I'm just going to keep adding reps on the 200 back and free, keep working technique for the fly and breast... and try to do a 400 IM, even if it's just an EZ cool-down, everyday. I'm already half way through the check-off challenge (a little bit less if I don't count my two DQs at the last meet, but maybe 3/4s of the way there if I want to count practices).
  8. 100s day... 3700 SCY

    by , February 12th, 2013 at 06:25 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Without any afternoon meetings today I was able to take a little longer lunch at the Y and did the following:

    500 EZ swim
    10 x 50 on 1:00 (mostly around :40-:41)
    1:00 break

    10 x 100 on 2:00 (mostly 1:22-1:24; mostly 1:22s in first half, 1:24s in second)
    11 x 100 swum as so:
    -2 x 100 fly on 3:00 (These were around 1:55)
    -100 fly/back on 2:30 (50 of each; 1:50)
    -2 x 100 back on 2:30 (1:48, 1:50)
    -100 back/breast on 2:15 (50 of each; 1:55)
    -2 x 100 breast on 2:15 (mid- to hi-1:50s)
    -100 breast/free on 2:00 (1:40s?)
    -2 x 100 free on 1:45 (1:29, 1:32)
    2:00 break

    400 IM relaxed, focus on "legal" fly and breast kicks (7:30)
    masters minute
    200 free, EZ

    The second main set was working on segments of the 400IM, my focus for the next month or so. I slowed down the fly and breast a lot to focus on the kick, make sure there isn't any residual fluttering on the dolphin or at the end of the breast in-sweep. I'm still having trouble pointing my left toe on the out-sweep (it's trying to point out, but just can't make it as far out as the right foot--this might be a flexibility issue, or might be related to the muscular imbalances I mentioned in my previous entry). In any event, I think the kick sets last night helped a little, because I asked our afternoon lifeguard, Jen, to take a look at it--she's been watching and commenting my progress over the last few weeks--on that last, slow 400 IM. She said the kick on both fly and breast looked a lot better, more balanced. Progress. I watched my 100 splits on the 400 IM and they were approximately 1:57 fly, 1:55 back, 1:58 breast, 1:40 free. Very slow, but working hard to keep the feet together on fly and breast. My strategy for the two March meets in which I'd like to do the 400 IM might be to go real EZ and safe on the fly and breast, and push the back and free hard to try to get myself back under 7:00. We'll see how it goes in the next week or so. Meanwhile... lots more work on the breast kick with the board, and the dolphins w/ and w/o fins.
  9. Double by necessity...

    by , February 12th, 2013 at 11:21 AM (Alex's swim journal)
    Yesterday I had to do a double by necessity... didn't have enough time at either end of the day to do the full workout, so I split it in two... short swim in the AM on the way in to work and 30 mins of conditioning in the weight room from followed by kick sets in the pool on the way back.


    400 on 7:30 (6:55)
    4 x 100 on 1:50 (1:34-1:32)
    4 x 50 on 2:00 (:40, 39, 39, 40)
    1:00 rest
    400 IM, EZ, focus on technique; 7:45
    2 x 50 EZ fr, bk cool-down

    8:30-9:00 PM (took it all the way to closing time again!):
    100 fr
    100 dolphins w/ fins
    200 back dolphins w/ fins
    400 breast kick drills
    200 fly kicking w/ fins
    200 back dolphins w/ fins
    200 EZ free/fly

    2900 SCY/60 mins.

    It was supposed to be something of a recovery day (or reverse taper) after yesterday's meet. My kicks are terrible and I really need to work on them. My big problem is the dominant (left) leg doesn't want to slow down or back off... I joked with the lifeguard it was probably all those right-handed lay-ups I did back in high school; maybe as a result the left leg can be explosive, but the right one is like "what's the big deal? chill!" As a result when I do breaststroke kick work the difference is pulling me off to one side of the lane when I'm using the board or just kicking in streamline. Don't really know what to do about that except maybe do a bunch of right-leg only squats, presses until it evens out. Does anyone else have this issue?
  10. Feb 10, Meet Results

    by , February 10th, 2013 at 03:45 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    After an EZ day Friday and a quick dip yesterday to practice starts, Forward and Back, I was pretty excited... My starts were feeling much better, cleaner entries. Friday I did a set of 10 x 50 free on 1:00 in which I just focused on smooth technique... I descended my times comfortably from :47 to :36; and since anything in the mid-thirties from a push start is really fast for me, I was pleased with the fact that I felt so "in-control" of the stroke at the end of the set... still pretty relaxed.

    My back starts yesterday were going really well. Scotty was watching me, he said my entry was great, my speed off the wall was good, and he couldn't believe how much distance I was getting on my underwater dolphins w/o losing momentum. I was doing 6-7 dolphins and then surfacing for 2-3 strokes before hitting the 15-meter line.

    So, after perfecting the back start to my satisfaction I was [sigh] not happy with my back fall-into-the-water-a-second-after-realizing-the-buzzer-had-gone-off version of a start in the 100 Back today. I dominated my age group--since I was the only one in it for this event --and beat my seed time by 7 seconds, finishing in 1:33. But I was pretty flustered at that start, was all over the lane and my form was falling to... well, lets just say it was on a swift downward trajectory. I was confused about the start sequence, so I was justing getting my feet set and my hands on the start bars when the "swimmers take your mark" command came... I hadn't even begun to pull up when the start was sounded (it came pretty quickly too). So my own special start sequence went something like this: (1) *long whistle* grab the bar with one hand, and (2) "Swimmers take your marks"... start setting feet, grab bar w/ *Honk* other hand, and (3) wait, what? was that the start already? (4) fall back, (5) do two dolphins, (6) surface at the flags contemplating whether I should go ahead and finish the even with elementary backstroke. Even with the sucky start Scotty said I was real close to second in the heat (despite the fact that most of the other seed times in my heat were 10-15 seconds faster than mine, the slowest). It hurts to think of what could have been... oh well, maybe next time.

    My other events were even less impressive. I was within 1-2 seconds of my seed times on everything else. Seed times (in parenthesis) and results:

    50 breast (:47)--44.xx; but DQ'd
    50 free (:31)--:31 ... 2nd in age group; beat Scotty in a freestyle event for the first time!
    100 back (1:40)--1:33 ... 1st in age
    50 fly (:45)--:43 ... 3rd in age; Scotty was 2nd, with a :34!
    200 IM (3:20)--3:21; but DQ'd

    I haven't swum but 3 meets in my life, but was disappointed about being DQ'd--in both those events I was in lane 7 (lanes were pretty narrow) with a wall to my left on the first leg and the referee right on top of me. On the breast he said I had a flutter at the end of my kick. On the 200 IM it was my fly leg (I was focussing my breast entirely on having no foot movement at the end of the in-sweep, so he didn't say anything about that). Apparently on my fly I had some flutters as well... though I don't think I was alternating kicks, I've been working really hard on the legs dolphining simultaneously, but I have a dominant leg and so they separate and will look uneven. I've had Scotty watch this in practice and he's said I'm legal just a bit asymmetrical due to a differential in leg strength. And this anatomical weirdness obviously sent up no flags in my last meet, or even on my 50 fly when I was in lane 3 of my heat (2 lanes removed from the ref on that side) today. It certainly doesn't convey any competitive advantages, so the DQs were disappointing. Maybe the ref was overzealous, but regardless I'll have to work on that a lot... I can foresee a ton of kick sets in the next couple of weeks. Don't know if anyone has any suggestions on that. I want to get it right.

    Being in a narrow lane 7 on the 200 IM was awful... it was basically an open water swim with the turbulence from the next lane (Scotty was in lane 6 about 5 seconds ahead of me on fly) and the blow back from the side wall... so after a decent start from the block and a relaxed first length of fly everything started to come undone: I practically bounced off the side wall on my first length of back... I'm guessing I didn't have decent velocity because when I counted strokes from the backstroke flags for my back turn I was about a yard and a half short of the wall (gliding in with my one permitted front pull); coming out of that turn was so bad I was practically scraping the bottom... then I had a slow turn in to the breast, remembering I had DQ'd my first event of the day with the breast stroke kick I was hyper-conscious (and slow) about this leg, and then my free was ... well, I'll never know... because I DQ'd, the splits weren't recorded/listed. The timer said something like "nice going; 3:21" before the ref came over to say he was DQ-ing me for a flutter kick b/c my legs were alternating toward the end of my fly. Perfect! There was only one heat of 200 IM, so, yeah, I should expect the sucky slow lane, but I really felt like I could have done better than my end-of-workout 3:19 from push start last week. Just another list of things to add to the long list of experiences I know I've got to have on the way to swimming better at these events. Who knows when I'll do 200 IM again in a meet, but it can only get better, right?

    On the up-side, I met another whole group of regulars at these WI masters meets, who were super supportive and encouraging. Folks are so nice at these things! And, maybe backstroke really is my thing... the "short-axis" strokes are going torment me until I get them right... that's an up-side? You bet, I'm all about tormenting myself.
  11. Snow Storm; 3200 SCY

    by , February 8th, 2013 at 09:48 AM (Alex's swim journal)
    A nice snow storm blew in while I was at the Y, early yesterday PM. Streets were totally clogged with the wet sticky stuff by rush hour. The scene from the pool deck, looking out the windows, was pretty surreal: the aquatic center was surrounded by a sea of white. Next time I'll remember to take a picture.

    The workout, my last "hard" one for the week before the meet, went by quickly. And it was a nice confidence builder.

    400 EZ swim (free in 6:50-7:00)
    600 kick = 3 x thru: 4 x 50 kick on 1:00 (IM order w/ fins)

    10 x 100 on 1:50 (alt. fr/pull; desc. frees = 1:30, 1:28, 1:26, 1:22, 1:19; pulls, 1:34-1:29)
    8 x 25 fly on :45
    8 x 25 back on :45
    8 x 25 breast on :45
    8 x 25 free on :30
    1:00 rest
    200 IM on 4:00 (3:21)

    200 EZ swim (back and free, about 3:30)

    Total= 3200/65 minutes

    Notes: It felt great to be getting stronger with each rep of the 100s free... I like being able to crack the 1:20 barrier at the end, lately I've been bottoming out at 1:21-1:22... so I'm pretty happy with that. The 25s were so-so, It did help me increase my turnover a bit on back and free; my short axis strokes are still just really slow (and exhausting!). My 200 IM felt good and is only a second off my seed time... at the end of the workout, so I feel like I'm poised to set a decent PR on Sunday. Each of the first two legs was right on target for my seed time (fly in :48, bK in :52--Sunday, with start from the blocks and a harder effort on back I could be at 1:32-1:37 at the half-way point instead of 1:40), my breast was probably :56-:57 (sad face!), so my free was :44 (slow, but not as bad as the evil-stroke).
  12. 2K recovery day

    by , February 7th, 2013 at 09:28 AM (Alex's swim journal)
    Yesterday AM I did 2200 SCY in 45 minutes (didn't have much time, because of a meeting at work). I thought it should be an easier day since the broken 1650 and IM torment ladder the day before. Here's what I did:

    400 EZ free on 7:30
    4 x 50 fr on 1:00 (:38-:40)
    :30 rest

    4 x 100 IM on 2:00 (1:40s)
    1:00 rest
    5 x 200 IM on 4:00 (3:32-3:39)*

    200 EZ free

    *Seemed like an easy day on paper because of the reduced yardage, but... where doing 200s free on 4:00 is a piece of cake, doing 200 IMs on the same interval is still quite challenging for me... after reps 2 and 3 I gave myself an extra :30 (so really it was 3 x 200 IM on 4:00 and 2 x 200 IM on 4:30), adding an extra minute to the workout. I would have liked a longer cool-down, but was running out of clock.

    Today I'll be able to get a lunch-time swim in, I'm considering some higher intensity stuff with shorter distances to prime the pump for Sunday's meet. No strength/conditioning work for the rest of the week. Maybe I can get back to my Yoga in the next couple of days.
  13. Broken 1650 + IM Ladder 1500

    by , February 5th, 2013 at 07:22 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    A little less than a month ago (see my 1/10/13 post) I did a broken 1650 in 27:05 (26:05 actual swim time), improving from November's 27:23 (26:23). Today I managed to drop even more time... down to 26:51 (25:51 of actual swim time). That's a 30 second improvement in less than three months. And the first leg (500) was 6-8 seconds slower than the first 500 of my January broken 1650. I'm tickled to death that after being on a plateau for so long I'm dropping 10-15 seconds off of this test set every month now. I added the 1500-yard-long ascending ladder of IMs to torture myself even more. Here's the whole workout:

    400 EZ swim (about 7:00)

    6 x 50 fr on 1:00 (moderate pace = :42-:45)


    Broken 1650 free (:10 rest after each step):
    100--finished in 26:51 (25:51 actual swim time).
    3:00 rest

    IM Ladder:

    100 IM on 2:00
    200 IM on 4:00
    300 IM on 6:00*
    400 IM on 8:00
    500 IM finished in 9:40-something
    1:00 rest


    3 x 50 free EZ

    *Took an extra :30 after the 300 IM before starting the 400 IM, but I made up for the lost time on the 500 IM at the end, to bring the set's total time in at just over 30 minutes (I remember when I couldn't do 1500 free in 30:00 only a couple of years ago). The whole workout was exactly 4000 SCY in 85 minutes.
  14. Flag-free Backstroke

    by , February 4th, 2013 at 10:08 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Today I focused on free and back, though I managed to work in some of the other strokes as well. Kind of light on the yardage (3000 SCY/65 minutes), but I was feeling more tired from the core/strength workout yesterday than I thought I would. I also think that the backstroke in my first main set was pretty tough, even as I kept my free times down. Here's how it went:

    400 EZ swim on 7:30
    4 x 100 fr on 1:50 (1:30-1:33)
    4 x 50 fr on 1:00 (:42-:40)
    1:00 rest

    10 x 100 on 2:00 (alt. fr/bk; 1:22-1:24/1:44-1:50)*
    4 x 50 on 1:15 (IM order; :48 fly, :45 bk, :50 br, :45 fr)**
    2:00 rest
    200 IM (3:23)**
    1:30 rest

    200 fr (3:24)
    200 bk (4:03)
    2 x 50 fly
    2 x 50 fr

    *The 10 x 100 on 2:00 in this set was actually on 1:45 for free and 2:15 for back (which of course averages 2:00 per 100)... this gave me a little more than :20 rest after each free rep and :30-:25 rest after each rep of back.
    **I was a lot more tired on this 200 IM work than I was on Saturday with 3 x 400 IM; I think the strength work yesterday was taking its toll... when I swam on Saturday I was coming off an EZ day Friday and had 48+ hours of rest since Thursday's core/strength workout.

    I am really beginning to hate having only one set of backstroke flags up at our Y. As I come into the 25/75/125/175 turns I keep trying to find the edge of the diving board out of the corner of my eye as a visual cue, but I'm all over the place on that turn--when I remember to turn at all !. The pain doesn't register right away, but I'm coming away with some nasty purple bruises on my arms once or twice a week... I'll notice them later and think "wow, that must have hurt!"
  15. Working off Super Bowl splurge in advance...

    by , February 3rd, 2013 at 05:37 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Got into to the Y early this afternoon for a 40-minute conditioning session; my warm-up was a 9:00 mile on the treadmill which felt really comfortable. The core and strength exercises are not as torturous now... am able to do about 20 reps of everything. They also don't leave me unable to do much afterward anymore... instead of the soreness setting in right away I just have a nice warm feeling.

    After the drylands I got into the pool just to stretch out... here's what I managed to do:

    500 EZ free on 10:00 (9:00)
    500 back on 11:00 (10:30)
    500 breast on 11:00 (10:15)
    3 x 200 on 4:00 (2 free in 3:15-3:20; 1 bk in 3:50)
    2 x 50 EZ free on 1:00

    Everything felt very comfortable, not pushing at all, just going for an "active rest" feel for this recovery day. Tomorrow and Wednesday will be my hard days this week, I'm going to try to taper a little better for this weekend's meet. I'm going to run my registration by the post office tonight, so it will go out tomorrow morning. Here's what I'm signing up for w/ seed times:

    Event 3 = 50 breast, :47
    Event 7 = 50 free, :31
    Event 11 = 100 back, 1:40
    Event 14 = 50 fly, :45
    Event 17 = 200 IM, 3:20

    These are all close to my fastest practice times, except the 50 breast. For that event I used my first 50 split from the 100 breast I did at the last meet. I have a hard time swimming any faster than :50-:55 per 50 in breast in practice, but I wasn't sure how the block start would affect the time until I went back to the splits from that 100 BR. I suspect the same for the fly, though my 50 splits in practice are in the :48-:52 range I feel pretty confident with a seed time of :45. I really like the fact that the order of events is such that I'm going to get to swim a good hard 50 (or 100) of all the strokes before I get to the 200 IM (my "focus" for this meet). Am hoping it all comes together for that, realistically I could hit 3:10, I'd love to go 3:00, but am sending in 3:20, which is just a second off my fastest practice 200 IM, just to be safe.
  16. 200s Day; 400 IM PR

    by , February 3rd, 2013 at 01:06 AM (Alex's swim journal)
    It's been a 6K weekend already. Last night I got in late for an EZ 2100, all freestyle. The Y was nearly deserted, but I had to swim off a pint. Probably could have taken the day completely off, but didn't want 2/1 to go by without doing something. Ground Hog day would have to be something more extraordinary. 2/2: Anthony's birthday... we celebrated by going out for a burger at lunch. Swimming this afternoon with a burger in my belly... pretty out of the ordinary!

    I needed to have a good distance day, but I did not want to overdo it. I woke up this morning feeling really tired, and since doing a couple of 6000-yard+ Saturdays in a row I figured I could hold back this week. I still wanted to do 4-5K. What to do? Since most of the week I've been doing 25-, 50-, 100-yard segments of 200 IM... trying to increase speed, I decided on straight-up 200s, with a smattering of longer IMs. Here was the plan I finally went to the Y with this afternoon after the hamburger went down:

    3 x thru
    5 x 200 on 4:00
    400 IM

    And here's how I did:

    5 x 200 on 4:00 (desc. 3:15-2:58--basically the warm-up)
    400 IM (7:20)
    5 x 200 on 4:00 (2:53, 2:53, 2:52, 2:44, 2:44--Scotty joined me for this set and I started pushing pretty good)
    400 IM (6:58*)
    5 x 200 (first 2 backstroke, broke 3:30! last 3, free 3:06-3:10)
    400 IM (7:10)
    6 x 50 EZ free w/ a lot of dolphin kicks

    Total: 4500 SCY

    *I've probably done fewer than a dozen 400 IMs lifetime, so I was super stoked about breaking 7:00. My free leg was pretty strong (1:28), which means that my endurance is getting better on the strokes (I wasn't dog-a$# tired after 100 of each!) and, though the times on the strokes weren't blazing, they also weren't terrible... breast is now definitely the slowest. So, actually, the 400 IM PR was not that surprising... I've only been putting the pieces together for about a month and I should be improving it all the time. What did surprise me was the two 200 frees in the mid 2:40s in the second set. That's pretty close to a PR in 200 free for me and I haven't been doing 200 frees very much lately. The 200 Back in 3:29 surprised me too... I've been doing that in 2:40s-2:50s of late, so my technique and endurance is getting a lot better in that stroke. A couple of months ago my back stroke was ok, but very slow turnover... I would usually give myself 5:00 to finish a 200 back in my warm-ups and cool-downs, for example.
  17. 52 miles in January

    by , January 31st, 2013 at 10:51 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    I checked my FLOG after entering the yardage from today and I'm over 52 miles for January. Think it has to do with the fact that I'm swimming almost every day. Last January I was swimming longer workouts, but fewer days and only ended up in the 40s. We'll see how long I can keep it up, what w/ the deadlines closing in and all. Having meets to prepare for, rather than just the distant future of an open water season, is helping me to stay on task. Plus, I've only been working on all four strokes for a little more than a month and I'm really liking it (the learning curve is always steepest at the beginning).

    Today was supposed to be an EZ day in the pool followed by a 30-minute strength/core conditioning session. The pool work felt a lot harder than an easy day should feel though.

    1000 Free warm-up (moderate pace, build)--16:30
    1:30 rest
    100 Fly on 2:30
    100 Fly/BK on 2:30
    100 Bk on 2:15
    100 BK/Br on 2:15
    100 Br on 2:15
    100 Br/Fr on 2:00
    100 Fr on 1:45
    100 Bk on 2:15
    100 Fr on 1:45
    100 Bk on 2:15
    :45 rest
    8 x 50 on 1:00 (2 x thru the 200 IM order)
    600 free in 10:00

    3000 SCY/60 minutes

    I actually thought I'd be able to hold a 2:00 interval on all the 100s, but I was feeling a bit tired, so I thought it would be better to swim each rep of the other strokes with some more rest and keep my technique strong. The idea of the 10 x 100 was to work each leg of the 400 IM, broken up by the 100-yard segments of the 200 IM (so the fly/back 100 of the 200 IM, for example). That 100 fly was tough after last night's workout. I counted my stroke cycles, though, and on all the 25-yard fly lengths I did today I was doing 4-6 dolphins and 8-10 complete stroke cycles... don't know if that's good or bad, but it gives me something to pay attention to and try to improve.

    The 50s: original plan was to do 20 x 50 (5 x thru the 200 IM order: 50 fly, 50 bk, 50, br, 50 fr) and then do a quick cool-down. I read the calendar wrong, however, and got to the 2400 mark and was told I only had ten minutes left before the HS swim team needed the pool (I thought they didn't start till 4PM today and it was 3:20!)... so I said "perfect, 1:40/100 pace gives me exactly 600 yards in 10:00, which puts me at 3000." A longer cool-down than expected, but the stroke 50s were feeling pretty tough and I probably shouldn't have been working the IM stuff so hard after the last 3-4 days. It was at this point that I remembered I needed to put in some dry land time in the gym anyway.

    I felt pretty good going through drylands today. That is definitely improving; I'm not so concerned about it improving my times--that work is going to have to come in the pool itself--but my joints feel more "solid" and my abs and obliques aren't complaining so much about the plank and stability ball work. Anything to head off the injuries before they start!
  18. More work on IM...

    by , January 30th, 2013 at 11:19 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    Today's workout was focused on maintaining technique with a quicker turnover. Hence the 25s. And I needed a day with some speed injected since the last few days have felt sluggish.

    400 swim on 7:30 (EZ free; 6:50)
    4 x 100 fr on 1:50 (1:30-1:31)
    4 x 50 fr on 1:00 (:42-:44)
    2:00 rest

    Main sets:
    16 x 25 fly on :45 (mostly :23-:25)
    200 IM on 5:00 (3:30)
    16 x 25 back on :45 (:21-:24)
    200 IM on 5:00 (3:40)
    16 x 25 breast on :45 (:23-:25)
    200 IM on 5:00 (3:45)
    16 x 25 free on :45 (:17-:18)
    200 IM on 5:00 (3:45)

    200 EZ free

    3600 SCY/90 minutes

    I was not able to get into the Y until really late again; this time on my way home from work. So I missed Scotty and could have used his help pushing myself on the "fast" 25s, which ended up not being so fast... but I felt pretty "in control" the whole time. I thought the 200s after each set of 25s might help me transfer the speed and turnover into the context of a 200 IM; so I was working the stroke I had just finished especially hard and tried to relax on the other three in each 200. In reality, my technique on fly is just not there yet and so trying to increase turnover usually results in the body undulation falling apart... but if there were a category for crazy kicking-flailing funky chicken swim, I'd probably have that down really well! Things went much better on the back and breast portions. Honestly, by the time I got to the free leg of my 4th and final 200 IM--when I was supposed to be focusing on the free--I had just enough energy left to survive it.

    So, I have to send in my events and seed times for the next WI masters meet at the Madison East Y. It's Sunday, February 10. I'm going to move up from the 100 IM to the 200 IM and from 50 Back to 100 Back as my focus events; I thought I would do 50s for the rest of the strokes (fr, breast, fly), which are all components of the 200 IM anyway. I'm not a sprinter, but I won't be embarrassed in a 50 either... on the other hand, I really would like to lock down PRs in those events, so I can start to track my improvement at all distances in all strokes. There is a meet in Whitefish Bay (just north of Milwaukee) at the beginning of March and I'm considering moving up to the 400 IM for that and the 1650 in preparation for the state championship SCY meet in late march; we'll see how the 200 IM goes. At the very least, my check-off challenge score card is filling up quickly... after this next meet I'll have all strokes down for 50; everything but the fly for 100; 100-200 IM; 500 free; all in meets... but the 200s lurk in the background... don't know if I want to wait until LCM to tackle them. I could do 200s in practice, and, with exception of fly, probably have done already this year; but I really want to be able to say I've swum every pool event in a meet at some point during the calendar year.
  19. A double today!

    by , January 29th, 2013 at 11:53 PM (Alex's swim journal)
    First time I've done this in a long time, but I was so sore still today from Sunday, that I was having a hard time convincing myself to get in at all. By the time I did finally get to the Y this morning I only had time for a quick swim because of a meeting at work. I convinced myself that this was ok, because it was supposed to be another drylands conditioning day anyway. So, I figured I would break it up... swim on the way into work and then stop back by on my way home in the evening to do a quick drylands workout.

    The AM swim was a quick 2200/51 minutes; I was miserably tight and, though my times were a little faster than yesterday, still felt really slow. I did mainly 50s and 100s on generous intervals, trying to keep the speed up a little. I probably did four 100s free on 1:50 in around 1:26-1:28 somewhere in the middle before switching over to 50s, which were a little bit faster (:38-:40) than yesterday, but didn't feel easy by any means. At about 1600 I decided to do 2 x 200 IM on 5:00 to get myself up to 2K yards. The first one was in 3:28 (pretty close to the fastest I'd ever done) and the second was 3:19 (now I've got my seed time!)--something happened on my breast leg, I didn't lose tons of time, and I think it was faster turnover on the front end of the stroke. I did an EZ 200 fr and then hit the showers.

    All afternoon I still felt sore, tight... not as bad as yesterday, but I thought the swim would help loosen me up. I was running late at the end of the day and was probably just looking for an excuse to skip it anyway (such is my frustration with drylands!) that I decided I didn't have time to stop by on the way home... maybe I could get back after dinner. My night to cook: tacos! Dinner was pretty quick; dishes went fast, all of a sudden it was almost 7PM... lo and behold, I had plenty of time to get to the Y before closing. Really?!

    Whatever... I went in, ran a mile on the treadmill to warm up, went through the same conditioning exercises I did on Sunday, and felt pretty good. I thought, since I only had time for 2200 in the AM, I might finish off the day by stretching out for an EZ 1000 in the pool. This was probably the best thing I could have done! It was probably what I should have done on Sunday for a cool down. Something happened on that thousand in the pool: all the tightness was gone, all the soreness was gone... fatigue was still there, but it was as though all the toxins had been brought out in my drylands to be flushed by the cool-down in the pool. Nice. So I ended up with 3200 in the pool, all quality work I could feel pretty good about, a mile on the treadmill, and a good 30-minute conditioning session in one day.

    Stopped at the store for bananas on the way home and made smoothies (frozen berries and fruit mix, banana, vanilla yogurt, skim milk, handful of fresh spinach). Great way to finish out the day!
  20. Ugh...

    by , January 29th, 2013 at 12:20 AM (Alex's swim journal)
    I didn't get to the pool until very late today and I was tight, extremely sore from the weekend. I went to bed last night feeling pretty good and woke up this morning with the delayed-onset soreness from yesterday's conditioning--the first drylands session in a week. I can't wait until my body is more fully adapted to those core exercises, etc.

    The swim today was tough, felt like I couldn't get it out of first or second gear:

    400 swim on 7:30 (7:00)
    4 x 100 on 1:50 (alt. pull and fr)
    4 x 50 on 1:00 (fr, desc. :45-:41)
    8 x 100 on 1:45 (alt. pull w/ paddles and free)
    4 x 25 fr on :30 (:18-:20)*
    2 x 50 fr on 1:00 (:40)*
    2 x 100 back on 2:15 (1:45-ish)
    2 x 100 breast on 2:15 (1:47, 1:52)
    100 EZ free

    2500 SCY/48 minutes

    *I initially planned to do at least 10 x 100 fr on 1:45, but was moving so slowly that I decided just to break up the last 200 of this set and try to find a higher gear. Hope tomorrow feels better!
Page 11 of 21 FirstFirst ... 789101112131415 ... LastLast