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Maple Syrup with a Side of Chlorine

03/15/14: NEM SCY Champs Distance Day

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The New England LMSC Short Course Yards Championship, affectionately known as "the Harvard Meet," attracts close to 900 people each March to the Boston area for some fast swimming in a great pool. This year there are a total of 854 swimmers from across New England and beyond. The meet is spread out over two weekends, with Distance Day in the middle of March on a Saturday offering either the 1000 or 1650 for both sexes, and then the regular meet the following Friday-Saturday-Sunday. I have never competed on the distance day and last year didn't swim at all, so with my weekend off this weekend I signed up for the 1650 this year.

I was able to schedule a trip to Boston, my favorite city just three hours to the east of home, with my family and also squeeze in a swim at a pool I always look forward to swimming in. With our my daughter unable to attend and Jinho in Guatemala on a missions trip with the school, I rounded up my wife, Preston and Lina to join me. I also arranged to meet up with my aunt Pat, who lives a a few towns north of the city, to help show us around - she is apparently immune to the humid environment of the pool and tries to watch me swim when I am in town.

We headed out Friday and checked into our hotel in Cambridge after an easy drive in. I had requested a parking pass, but they were out; fortunately I was able to get street parking within view of the room for the overnight period. We took the T into Government Center and explored Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market, deciding to eat at the Hard Rock Cafe for pre-race nourishment. While chilly, the moon was shining as brightly over the lights throughout the area and we had a wonderful time.

The next morning, I woke up before 8am in order to drive the car to the Harvard athletic area and park for free for the day. I walked from Blodgett Pool to Harvard Square to catch the T back to the hotel for breakfast. At this point I was able to get a parking pass (oh well, at least I would be covered for after the meet), and we headed out to meet my aunt at Park Street. We checked out the Old Granary Burial Grounds and Statehouse before making our way through the Commons, past the Ducklings and the Swan Pond, and down towards the finish of the Boston Marathon. We continued west on Newbury Street before getting back on the T to head up to Harvard. We farted around Harvard Square for a bit (there is the newstand with media from around the globe and checked out Newbury Comics before grabbing a quick bite at Subway (those new Flatizza things are tasty and not to heavy) before heading on to the pool. (I've been wearing a pedometer and so far had logged 11300 steps!)

How long is it going to take to squeeze into this?

Checked in, warmed up and waited. I was asking around for a counter, and met Matt from RI who was swimming in the heat before me in the shallow end so we counted for each other. Harvard has the main competition pool, 5 lanes in the diving well (29 yards), then 6 lanes in the shallow end. For distance day, you can opt to swim in the shallow end with an in-water start and save $2 on your entry fee; since this is my first 1650 (I did the 1500 scm at Riverton a couple of years ago) and my training has not been focused, I choose to swim there [Really, I'm just cheap ]. Matt had a great swim (his first mile, too - way to go, Matt!) and I quickly went from the turn end, grabbed my goggles and cap and hopped into the start end for my race.

My plan going into the swim was to string together 3 x 500 then finishing out with a strong 150 to complete the 66 lengths required for the race. I maintained a comfortable pace and lead over Jon in the lane next to me for the first 500, working on two dolphin kicks off the wall and 13 stroked per lap. I increased to a strong kick for the first 4 strokes off the wall in the middle 500 and was able to stay ahead of Jon. I felt tired in the final 500, and around 47 Jon caught me as my upper back/shoulders tightened up, actually sneaking ahead in the mid 50's. I decided to pick up the tempo at 59 (a little earlier than I planned) with increased turnover and a stronger kick, battling back and forth with Jon. I gunned the last fifty and just touched out Jon, coming in at 19:38.89! What a race! I ended up taking first in my age group for the event.

(rx in the green cap FTW!)

Event 4 Men: 35-39 1650 Yard Freestyle
1 rxleakem 36 Bennington-NE 19:57.75 19:38.89
32.49 1:06.14 (33.65)
1:39.93 (33.79) 2:14.82 (34.89)
2:49.73 (34.91) 3:25.51 (35.78)
4:01.03 (35.52) 4:37.08 (36.05)
5:13.64 (36.56) 5:50.09 (36.45)
6:26.14 (36.05) 7:02.19 (36.05)
7:38.81 (36.62) 8:14.97 (36.16)
8:51.13 (36.16) 9:27.72 (36.59)
10:04.57 (36.85) 10:41.70 (37.13)
11:18.35 (36.65) 11:54.62 (36.27)
12:31.42 (36.80) 13:07.75 (36.33)
13:44.25 (36.50) 14:20.92 (36.67)
14:57.90 (36.98) 15:34.06 (36.16)
16:10.23 (36.17) 16:46.25 (36.02)
17:22.62 (36.37) 17:56.84 (34.22)
18:32.58 (35.74) 19:08.21 (35.63) 19:38.89 (30.68)

*Note that twice I had the same 50 split, something I have always found awesome in others swimmers.
The second occurrence was back-to-back; a combo bonus!
** So I swam: 5:50.09, 6:04.53, 6:02.22 plus 1:42.05. Probably took the first 500 out ever so slightly too fast.

After a quick warmdown (totaling 3774 yds for the day), we brought the car back to the hotel and took the T into town for dinner at Jacob Wirth/'s German Restaurant, in honor of our exchange student. I refueled with Wiener Schnitzel. We had a great time, capturing this photo before saying good night to my aunt after an excellent day:

Preston (yes, he is 16 and that tall now), Auntie, Rx, and my beloved.

This morning we ate breakfast at the hotel and then took the long way home on Route 2, driving through Lexington and Concord to check out the pivotal starting points of the Revolutionary War along the Minute Man National Historical Park. We took some pictures at The Wayside, Orchard House (where Louisa May Alcott penned Little Women), Emerson House, and finally Walden Pond, which is on my bucket lists for an OWS.

Another most excellent swimming adventure!

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Updated March 16th, 2014 at 10:18 PM by rxleakem

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  1. GregJS's Avatar
    Hey nice going Mike!!! If you were hoping to go under 20:00, you must be psyched. Very steady on those spits, too.

    On a very odd side-note, I coincidentally had Schnitzel for dinner sat. night as well. (Also, since we didn't have very good luck with the "stopwatch workout" you left for our master's practice, we came fairly close to your yardage for the day as well.)

    But mainly: Congrats on another great swim!
  2. jaadams1's Avatar
    Nice job Mike!!!
  3. ekw's Avatar
    Awesome swim! I am jealous of your Boston jaunt - I lived there for five years before I moved here and loved it but I haven't been back yet.
  4. StewartACarroll's Avatar
    Awesome swim and terrific blog post. I especially enjoyed the description of the race. Congrats on a great time.
  5. rxleakem's Avatar
    Thanks, guys! It was blessed to be able to squeeze a swim in during the trip (not to mention myself in that suit ), and to finish much faster than I anticipated. I love Boston!
    Updated March 19th, 2014 at 02:37 PM by rxleakem
  6. swimalicia73's Avatar
    Nice swim! Thanks for warming the pool up for me for this weekend!