Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008: Swimming for ME year in review

2008 was a good year for swimming....

* An awesome year of Masters swimming with all my lane 1 and 2 buddies!

*2.4 mile Peaks Island to Portland swim, my first P2P and longest open water swim - I placed 6th woman, 4th AG and 33rd overall.

*1.6 mile Rockland Breakwater swim, a real race around the .8 mile long Rockland ME lighthouse breakwater - I placed 2nd woman, 3rd overall.

*Zone Urban Epic Triathlon, as a relay team I completed the 1.2 mile open water swim from Mackworth Island to Portland's East End Beach. Our team -- Team Triple Threat had the fastest relay team time and I had the 2nd fastest relay swim time and 2nd fastest of the female age groupers.

*Bowdoin Erswell Masters Meet - fastest women's time in 50 fly, 100 fly and 100 free, and 2nd fastest woman in the 50 free. I think I broke some Maine Master's women's age 35-39 records but can't tell for sure because they haven't been updated on the website since 2007!

*Karlyn Pipes-Neilsen swim clinic at the Pen Bay YMCA - a fun afternoon clinic, cool people and an amazingly fast and knowledgeable woman!

*Coaching a new kids swim clinic in the fall and again this coming spring.

*Good times -- with Mary at ZUE, at OOB practicing, with Kathy at Rockland, watching Ange smoke her competition, swimming with all my super cool Master's teammates at 5:45am three times a week, spectating so many amazing triathlons with friends competing... what more can I say... all these folks have kept me inspired and alive!

Goals for 2009

* Complete my second Peaks to Portland faster than my first (52:27)-- remember not to drink OJ!

* Do my first sprint triathlon -- and finish it still running -- perhaps the Pirate Sprint at Point Sebago June 7th?

* Go to San Francisco with Kathy and finish the Alcatraz swim without being eaten by a shark!!

* Do a PR in the 50 free at some point this spring

* Do sub- 2:15 in the 200 free this spring

* Swim the 500 free in a meet

* Have another awesome summer of fun in OP/CE with Mary and the gang

* Take advantage of as many ADVENTURES as I can and create them whenever I can

* Keep it FUN!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Pour it on

When I was swimming yesterday and trying to keep the descending pace for the 250's that we were doing I remembered how when we wanted to go faster we'd day "pour it on".
Wierd. As I thought consciously about going faster this popped into my mind and it felt like this as I sped up. Again wierd.

Other random thoughts...

As I was watching the Karlyn Pipes-Neilsen video last night I started twitching and tensing as if I needed to just jump in the pool right then. I think I am addicted.

Swimming is good for longevity, or so they say. I'll take it.

As you age you lose far less than 1% of speed per year in swimming. Speed loss only reaches 1% at about age 70, and even then there haven't been enough studies to be sure what older athletes are capable of. More and more the limits of age are being disproved.

I just read the other day that there have been some studies showing that when coming off the wall from a turn it is best to wait until the body is prone to take your first stroke... and not taking it with the shallow or deep hand as this creates more drag and slows one down.

And the bigger question... who actually does these swimming studies anyways?

Saturday, December 27, 2008

A lap swim

It was nice to swim with a new group of people today. Usually I always swim with my lane 1 buddies in our Masters program. We all know which order to go in and never miss a beat. Today I met Mary for a swim, and Kathy showed up too, so we had a good group to take over a lane -- always important for the community lap swims. But then we had a few college swimmers join us after our warm-up, which definitely pushed us to go much faster than our normal pace! Mary brought a workout from her coach Jen which turned out to be a great one. 3000 total yards. Thanks Jen! Half-way through the workout Mary proclaimed "I think this pool is short" as her times were much faster than her usual splits..... or could it be that you are swimming faster? The more likely explanation I think. Or it might have been the pink elephant suit? Whatever, it was fun to swim with you Mary. Can't wait for the summer open water swims.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Suit for Alcatraz

I found the perfect suit for the Alcatraz Shark Fest .... OMG am I really doing this swim?

Friday, December 19, 2008

I need a trainer!

Well here she is... my new (old) tri-bike.

You know what this means of course.
First this means she needs a name. So send me your ideas.

Second, it means that soon I will soon join the lot of crazy obsessed tri-riders out there. Mind you I will be going half their speed, but nevermind that. I just need someone out there to sell me their used bike trainer.

I need a trainer so I can ride indoors this winter. When I shall have the time for this I have absolutely no idea but it is a nice fantasy for now. I know some of you out there reading this must be getting new fancy shmantzy trainers and would love to sell me your old one. If so please send me a note!

Oh yes, here is my 3-year old. Pretty cute, eh? Destined to be a swimmer (once she loses the honking floatie, but note the Aquatic Edge bathing cap).

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Head position

Converging data points are always convincing. Karlyn told me to look down and lower my head and I just read this on another blog... Check it out.

Monday, December 15, 2008

"That lady" braves ice storm to swim

It was sleeting. It was raining. It was icy. It was slushy. The wind was whipping. It was dark. We had no power. There was a 1/2 inch of ice on the car.
So of course I got up. I got out. I was on the road. And then this happened.

And then this.

There was no way out!

Later in the day somebody moved the lines so we were able to drive precariously under them and get out. However we still can't get to our house. Luckily our power came back on Friday night.
I drove to 3 pools that day desperate to swim -- or at least get my kids to burn off some energy-- and everyone was closed.
Days off are dangerous for motivation I have learned. I was on track last week to have my highest yardage week in months, probably breaking 10,000 yards (which I know is normal for others out there). Alas. It was hard to get in this morning but I made it.

Friday is the last day for Masters until mid-January so I get to be a real dork and swim with the high school team. Last year they voted me "most likely to come to morning practice" for their yearbook superlatives -- except the really pathetic part was they called "that lady".

Monday, December 8, 2008

Karlyn Pipes-Neilsen Clinic report

It was snowing yesterday when I woke up and facing a 2 hour drive north did not seem like a good prospect. I almost hit a stop sign on the way out of town the roads were so slick. Luckily the highway was clear and even though I had to slow down to 50 it was mostly safe. It took a bit of sleuthing to find the Pen Bay Y -- the Google directions were wrong! -- but after stopping to ask no less than 3 people I found it. I checked in and was greeted by Fritz who I would come to find out later was the first Mainer to make it to the Olympics from Maine. Don't know if he was the first Maine swimmer or the first Mainer period... whatever still damn impressive. Karlyn was chipper and friendly and I could tell a lady with an agenda. She told me and the other 3 women who had just checked in to go down to the locker room and change as she wanted to start right off by taking "before" video of us.

Whoa! The pool was gorgeous. An 8-lane brand new pool. How amazing to have 8 lanes! I was jealous.

On the deck I sized up the rest of the clinic. A real mix of people from all different swimming backgrounds. Cool.

I swam my 50 for the camera and then moved over to warm up. The way she did the video was smart. All from the end of the lane zooming in as needed depending on how far away we were from her. It is much easier to get a sense of one's stroke from a head on or back shot as opposed to a side shot (note for future reference).

We started off by doing some drills (I can't remember the order) to illustrate her main technique points.

*Streamline -- how to really squeeze your arms around your head. Elementary swimming stuff but I still fail to do this 60% of the time.

*Blow bubbles -- again elementary, but I tend to hold my breath instead of letting some air off the top first. She also recommends swimming with your mouth open (which I do) so that you are used to having air and water in your mouth as you turn to breath. First you shouldn't be raising your mouth out of the water all the way as your turn and second you should always be prepared for unknown conditions as you breath -- like a wave or wake!

*Arm Position -- Think how you would position your arms on the deck to get out of the pool. Shoulder width. Straight down. She called it the box crusher.

*Hand Position - Not tilted (as I was taught long ago) but flat, level with the water. Think your hand is a plane coming in for a landing. Let it glide in a few inches under the water. I felt the difference of this one pushing my hand down on a partners -- tilted in (ouch in the shoulder! right where my injury is), tilted out (not much strength) and flat (wow! there are my lats!! those muscles the PT keeps telling me to use and strengthen). And catch this -- the free pull shouldn't be that far off a fly pull. NO MORE "S"-Pull...

*Kick- small straight leg kicks, with pointed toes -- got this one I think.

*Head - looking DOWN at the tiles. I think this is a hard one. Why? Cause I don't know where I am going. Duh she said -- that is why pools have BIG BLACK crosses at the bottom. Okay right, but still I like to see where I am headed. However, keeping your head up lowers your hips which makes you slower. Split a 25 and try it both ways and feel the difference.

We towled off and went up to watch our videos. She gave us more pointers one-by-one and then we headed down for about 1 and a half hours of drills in the pool. She really kept us moving so we didn't get too cold. These drills were hard to wrap my head around and get my body to move in different ways. And even when I was mentally trying, my body wasn't always doing what I thought it was, which she always pointed out. We sculled with straight arms and straight forearms to feel the added strength. We did a lot of catch up stroke. Her stroke is really a modified 3/4 catchup. And the other big thing.... no follow-thru! Another thing all of us old-timers were taught (and my coach still wants me to do). The "Umph" (as she calls it) is at the beginning of the stroke -- not the end! The good clean deep water -- which is going to push you farther-- is in the beginning of the stroke.

Another visual for the new stroke. Think pulling on a surfboard. That is is this stroke. Your body is the surfboard.

Well there has got to be some merit to it. She's broken over 200 (and counting) Masters records. And this weekend she swims in Boston for the LCM (Long course meters) New England Championships. Wish I could go! But I can't wait to see the results.

Great workout this morning for practicing my new stroke... 15 x 200 on 3:00. Made them all on 2:32-2:36 which I was happy about since it shows I am getting better at pacing and knowing my different speeds.

A free plug for a great video.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Why I swim

Another tough workout this morning. I must be getting old.

400 ez pull
6 x 100 on 2:00 with fins
odd - back
even - free, 3rd length underwater
100 swim down
6 x 100 with fins on 2:00, 25 tarzan fly (head above water), 25 tarzan free, 25 fly, 25 free sprint
100 swim down
4 x 100 on 1:30 hard
100 swim down
4 x 25 with fins on 1:00 , 12.5 yds easy, 12.5 yards sprint all out
100 swim down
4 x 25 with fins on 45, 12.5 yds sprint, 12.5 yds easy
50 sprint for best time all out with fins from the wall
400 warm down

The tarzan fly and free were exhausting! We were all breathing hard and he gave us less than a minute between sets. I just feel slow lately. I really didn't want to get out of bed this morning. The only think that gets me out is knowing that I'll see the gang and get to chat with people who love the same thing I do. It's really the comaradrie of getting up at 5:15am. In the summer it is different. I really do love swimming in the ocean -- more fun with friends but still exciting alone. Not the same in the pool. There really isn't an adrenaline rush like in the ocean where anything can happen... seaweed, fish, waves, crabs, seagrass, boats, beautiful sunshine, fog, surfers... and the solitude uninterrupted by flipturns. It's much more meditative.

Well thank god for Coach. He keeps me on my toes and invested all winter. And my team. They are the best!

Sunday is the freestyle clinic with Karlyn Pipes-Neilsen. I am so looking forward to this. It will be very interesting I think.

Monday, December 1, 2008

December Super Set

We do super sets on the first Monday of every month -- which consist of 10 x 100 -- with the interval dropping by 5 seconds every month. So by now our lane would be down to about 1:25, which is doable, albeit challenging.

Coach decided to 'kick it up a notch' and have us do our "fastest interval ever". He spread us out among the lanes and had only half the team come at 5:35 and the other half at 6:05am so there could be more intervals. Deb and I tried the interval he wanted ... 1:15. Sounded pretty tough to make 10 x 100 on these but what the hell, right? I was glad Deb was willing to try with me. He said to start on the 15 so I started on the 14:15 --- duh he meant the 15:00 so I ended up doing a fast 50 before everyone else started and turned right around with the first 100. We made 2 on 1:15 and then had to drop down to 1:20. By then we were already pretty tired and were not getting more than a couple seconds rest, and Deb was right there on my toes. I tried to lengthen out my stroke in the hopes I could use less energy and still maintain pace, which I think would have worked fine if we had started on the 1:20 interval. In the end, we finished them all and think just were a few seconds short on the last two. Next time we'll start with 1:20 and try to hold that.

He made us get out after the super set and told us, almost like it was a punishment, that we only get one shot to make the interval and that we couldn't swim anymore. Tough love I guess.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Descending workout

Fun workout today.

6 x 75 pull, one less stroke per length
300 kick, 50 ez 50 fast

5 x 100 on 1:50, 1:45, 1:40, 1:35
8 x 25 fly on 35
4 x 100 on 1:45, 1:40, 1:35, 1:30
8 x 25 back on 35
3 x 100 on 1:35, 1:30, 1:25,
8 x 25 breast on 40
2 x 100 on 1:20

200 kick
100 s/d

I was psyched to make the last 2 100's on 1:10. I'd like to be able to do that for a whole set. Then I'd really be in shape.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Search terms

Here are some of the more interesting search terms by which readers have found my blog. Not sure what that says about the blog except that Arnold is popular.

why do i get so tired while swimming
peaks to portland swim
where do arnold come from
alcatraz boy
arnold schwarzenegger tards out
cold water swimming

I couldn't swim Wednesday morning as my husband was away. I have to say one day off really messed with my brain. I got up this morning at 5:20 trying to convince myself to just sleep in and questioning what was so great about swimming anyways. I'm okay now. One workout fixed me, but just goes to show me that taking days off is BAD!

We did 2800 yards with some pretty fast 75's, the last set I couldn't make.
3 x 4 x 75 1:00 rest between each group
first group on 1:05
second group on 1:00
third group on 55 (only made the first 2)

I am so enjoying doing lots of fly now and I think it has really helped strengthen my back muscles in the right places which alleviates all the trouble I have been having with typing and driving. I still need to do some weights and bands for more strengthening as well as some core stuff, but it is a start.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Erswell Masters Meet at Bowdoin pictures

Thank you Jennifer for the great pictures!

Bowdoin Pool

The Team! We were the largest team at the meet with 25 swimmers.

Nancy, Julie, Lynda and Coach

Much of a swim meet is sitting around, conserving energy, staying warm and getting mentally psyched for your next event.

Coach enjoying a good swim

Deb in the 50 breaststroke

Ted, Carrie and Coach watching a close finish

Oliver and Julie

Looking at the "psyche sheets"

Matt and Claire (notice the fine print on the shirts)

Our kid crew of cheerleaders

Ted checking the heat sheets -- he's happy about something

Ann and Lisa

Deb in her Hawaiian suit

Friday, November 14, 2008

My favorite: A knockout

From where I sit I can hear the foghorn blasting a lonely echoing call in its own rhythm. And just a few minutes I enjoyed the low deep horn of a big tanker going by. It is a foggy misty warm November night. Better enjoy it while it lasts. We'll soon be buried in snow.

We had a great workout this morning. It is my favorite one. We do it once a month and it's called the knockout set. We start out doing 100's on 1:30 and with 100 that we complete the interval drops by 2 seconds so the second 100 is on 1:28, the third on 1:26 etc. until the interval drops so low that you can't make it anymore. Then you rest one interval out and continue on doing 75's until you can't make the interval anymore and then you do 50's, finally getting down to 25's. Coach let's us know when to go by blowing the whistle or yelling at us (much more effective). I love this set because it is a good fast continuous swim and I get to race the clock.

At the end of the workout a few people did no breath 25's and I thought let's do a knockout set of no breath 25's. We could start on 1 minute and work our way down til we can't make the 25's anymore. Great aerobic training.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Well I really did intend to write a "long" version of my race report sooner. I have been waiting for some pictures of the meet to post but I'll go ahead and post those later...

Okay so I'm 38. Swimming in a dinky Masters meet. Why on earth should I be nervous?

Well I was. And I think I didn't appreciate how much until after the 50 free. True I had not been doing any major workouts. Our team had been doing almost all stroke work. So I shouldn't have expected to go much faster than last year, right? Wrong. That competitive spirit never dies. After the 50 all was well and I did loosen up a bit. Things got even better after the 100. On the 50 my coach said I was tense and tight on the start and got off slow after the gun. To make matters worse I was in a heat with all men going sub 23 seconds. Coach said I was behind their wave all the way. I couldn't feel it but he said it probably slowed me down. On the 100 I actually felt exhausted on the last 25. Age. I took a breath off the last wall. Ugh. Much room for improvement. But after that things got better. I whipped off a fast 50 fly and it felt great. I was going to scratch in the 100 fly because I was so tired and was swimming a relay immediately after. I wanted our team to go really fast and didn't want to go in exhausted. But then I figured what the heck? I am 38 and swimming in a dinky Masters meet. Who cares if I am tired? Who cares if I don't do a PR? And then of course, I did a PR! I dropped a second from my time. That felt good.

So nerves. I think I used to be better at managing them. I admired my friends Mary and Ange this weekend and how they handled their nerves. The easiest way to just say it doesn't matter how you do. But sometimes it does matter. You have to be nervous, because you care. But you have to let it go and observe the nervousness, not be driven by it. As I get ready for some bigger meets -- like the New England Championships -- and the Alcatraz swim next August, I have got to get better at handling my nerves. While I have never been a long distance swimmer until my forays into open water swimming recently, I find it so much easier to deal with my nerves in this forum. Every race is different due to conditions. Not so much in the pool. And not so easy to overcome nerves in 26 seconds compared to 30 minutes or 50 minutes.

How do you conquer your nerves? Does it matter if it is a pool swim, open water swim, a tri or a run?

Friday, November 7, 2008

Ironman World Championships 70.3

For all of you who have been reading my blog for a while know that I love watching my friends compete in triathlons. Tomorrow my good friends Ange and Mary will be competing at the World Championships in Clearwater FL. This is a big race for both of them. The race starts at 7:35am and live video and athlete tracking is available at

They are both amazing athletes who have been TRAINING hard, are MENTALLY TOUGH and ready to take this race down!
I am so proud of them both. GOOD LUCK you guys -- we'll be watching and cheering!


Saturday, November 1, 2008

Bowdoin results: short version

I'm exhausted. Getting old sucks. I don't have the stamina for 5 events in a meet anymore. Here's the short version of my races. Full version later.

50 free - 26.9
100 free - 59.65
50 fly - 29.36
100 fly 1:08.11

I went more than a second faster in my 50 and 100 fly commpared to last year!
I went slower in the 50 and 100 free, but not by too much.

200 free relay - 1:55 !! Go team DEB, CARRIE and KAREN!! I think this might be a record!

Friday, October 31, 2008


These past few weeks I have been swamped by work and kids and blah blah blah .....
But tomorrow is the first meet!
50 free
100 free
50 fly
100 fly
My goal.. the long and short of it... swim faster than last year. If I can do that I'll be a happy person. And thank god I'm not swimming the 200 or 500! Maybe next meet I'll be ready for some pain.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Strength training

Well thus far my strength training has consisted of lifting 2lb weights twice and using my therabands three time. Kind of lame I guess, but I am trying. One of the methods recommend by Hodding Carter in his recent book is a parachute. The idea is akin to running with a weight belt on I guess. I looks like this:

My friend John who swims with the Y in Portland has actually purchased one these contraptions and has this to say:

"....let’s say you swim a fifty in 40 seconds. The same effort, with the parachute, would take about a minute ... It turns out that getting tangled in the chute is NOT the problem with flip turns. MISSING the wall is the problem. With the chute on, there is basically no glide. So, I'd start the turn at the usual place, give a big pull into the wall as I flipped, and then realize during the flip that despite the pull I had no momentum. As a result, when I went to push, there was no wall to push against until I had my legs almost completely straight. So, I'd say that some of the time difference was due to that (and to the fact that after the third miss, I'd start laughing at myself and almost need to stop to catch my breath).

I'd say it could be pretty good as a version of weight training on swimming specific muscles. On the other hand, losing the glide was strange, and I don't think I'd want to use it too much for fear of a) losing feel for the water and b) hurting something."

And for the total investment of $20 what the heck, right?
John keep us posted as you experiment more with the parachute!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Back from Bawlmer, Hon!

Well I must be getting old and dorky when I take pictures like this one...

Meadowbrook pool in Baltimore, home of the North Baltimore Aquatics Club

I did not see Michael Phelps, but I did see Katie Hoff and Bob Bowman! She got in my lane just as I was getting out -- the lane was "reserved" for her so we had to move after our workout. Katie is about 5' 9" but not as big as you would expect an Olympic swimmer to be. And as I watched her swim she crossed the midline with her stroke. I was surprised after all this stroke work I have been doing the last few weeks. Bob Bowman smiled and nodded as we passed by and examined Katie's stroke, surely thinking to himself "who do these women think they are!". Oh well, you only live once. I had a great 3000 yard workout with my friend Tanya and her Masters friends and it was fun to swim in a different pool. More over it was so good to catch up with Tanya and have a weekend to play in Baltimore.

Camden Yard

Field of Dreams... the girls were small enough to squeeze through the gate and run around the field but were too nervous to do it!

Jessie and Maria in their Mission Impossible poses

Friday, October 10, 2008

Off to Baltimore this weekend

Maybe I'll see Michael Phelps? My friend Tanya belongs to his aquatic club so maybe I'll drop in for a swim? That would be something. I'll bring my Sharpie pen for an autograph just in case. Ha!

Back in the real world we have been doing lots of stroke work. I have been fiddling around with my entry and angle of pull, as well as my head position. I just can't seem to get used to looking down at the tiles, as Karlyn recommends, I feel like I don't know where I am going. However I do feel the difference it makes in my speed and my hips elevating more.

As far as kicking off the wall I am starting to think that maybe there is more bang for my buck by doing a solid streamline -- really squeezing my arms to my ears and thumb locking my hands together -- than there is for doing a dolphin kick. During a race, like the 425 I just did, I get so tired by the end that I am not getting extra power from the dolphin kick b/c it is not quick enough -- it actually slows me down by breaking the streamline. I am going to practice tight streamlined pushoffs instead.

And on the core strengthening goal, I hurt my back this morning doing the "plank" -- a nifty exercise that my Tri friend Carrie taught me. It is like an immobilized pushup, you "rest" on your forearms and hold the raised pushup pose for 60 seconds. Sounded good. I tried 15 seconds on the side of the pool. Since two hours later my back has been in agony. Ugh. I think I better start slow with crunches. And as for the "wheel of torture" that John recommended... hmmmm.... I think I'll wait on that too. If anyone has any other good core exercises to start slowly with, let me know!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Learning to swim?

MARCH 16: A baby undergoes swim training at the Obstetrics and Gynecology Department of Youyi Hospital on March 16, 2007 in Beijing, China.

I am all in favor of learning to swim early but this looks positively frightening. I can only imagine how this little fellow feels hanging out in a garbage can with a plastic donut wrapped around his neck. BIZARRE!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

I made a 9-year old cry today

I really feel bad. Truly. And actually while I am now thinking of it I made 2 kids cry today (no not my own!).

But I'll stick with the one. I guess kicking backstroke with your arms above your head streamlined is a little harder than I thought. It was only 25 yards.

But apparently she couldn't keep her head above the water and got very scared. I am such an evil coach! Lots of the 2nd and 3rd grade boys couldn't do it either, but apparently they didn't get freaked out.

So I assured her it was okay. That yes I had asked them to do something very hard and, of course, she could always turn on her stomach or go to the side if she felt scared. She was better. We swam one 25 freestyle and I was elated to see most of the kids kept their ears in the water as they rotated to breath! Huge progress!

The rest of the time we worked on starts with some kids having open swim. Then I taught the kids how to tread water so we can play water polo next time.

Monday, September 29, 2008

CELT race report: Team Triple Threat gets 3rd OA

Andy, our speedy hard working (and muddy) runner

Lorenzo, the stud biker who survived some very wet roads

Alas there were absolutely no pictures of swimmers taken!

The stats:
3rd relay OA
5th fastest swimmer OA
5th fastest runner OA (20:31)
12th fastest biker OA (39:13)

Yeah Team Triple Threat! The two relays ahead of us were all male corporate relays so I feel like we did pretty well.
My swim felt good ... until I got to the 200 yd mark and then I kind felt like I was losing steam big time.
My time for the 425 was 5:15. (race time to the transition area 5:34).
1:07 - 100yd
1:13 - 200yd
1:18 - 300 yd
1:20 - 400 yd
0:17 - last 25

I would have liked to keep all the 100's under 1:15, but given that I was pretty slacking in my workouts before the race I can't expect much. But overall I was happy that I had some semblance of pacing going on. Maybe the ocean swimming is helping!

I was excited to open the mail today and find Karlyn Pipes-Neilsen's video waiting for me. I watched it this afternoon and the general gist (set to some cheesy music, but hey what can you expect) is to swim as if you are paddling a surfboard (she is from Hawaii). Wide pull, with a pause after entry, straight pull, with power coming from a elbow bend -- wrists stay straight -- and look at the bottom of the pool, not ahead (makes the hips drop). My initial reaction is that this is going to be a helpful video. I am going to have to watch it a few more times and experiment in the pool.

I have no doubt, soon my kids will also be saying "No Mommy, not the swim lady again!"

Sunday, September 28, 2008


Words of wisdom from Mary's 4 year old son (transcribed verbatim)....

Don't litter secrets,
don't litter food and
don't bring your secrets
to the beach ever again.
But if you come here put
your secrets in the trash

A future poet for sure.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Watch out Arnold Schwarzenegger, here I come

Weights. Three times a week. For an hour each time.

Yeah, right!

How the heck am I supposed to fit this in?

I know all my tri friends out there are working out 14 hours a week or more, but I'm having trouble managing three 1-hour swim workouts. And I already do these at 5:30am.

So my coach advised me today that in fact I do not need more fancy pantsy stroke technique tweaking, with fun trips to Hawaii and autographed DVDs (yes it is in the mail to me right now!!), but rather good old fashioned weight lifting and core strengthening. I nodded, agreed and was generally compliant. But oh, weight lifting is soooo unsexy and boring. And, I might mention, impossible to accomplish with three screaming kids running circles around you and stealing your therabands and weights.

I will -- somehow -- find a way. Cause I know after all coach is right.

Check ... purchased Karlyn Pipes-Neilsen's DVD and can't wait to watch it.
Check ... discovered she is having a swim clinic in Camden in December and another one in Andover, MA. Anyone going to join me?? hey they are not Hawaii, but until I have a spare $3000 it will have to do.

Sadly I will have to miss Hodding Carter's clinic this weekend. Maybe next time?

In other news.... I have a tri bike! Yikes. Don't know a thing about them. But this one needs a seat and I am quite sure a tune-up, which after Mary's blog entry today I am little scared to undertake. Is there such a thing as second hand bike seats??? And what is with this getting the right fit? How the heck does this work?

Much to learn. But it's kinda fun.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Dreaming of Hawaii

Well Masters officially began today. 5:30 felt very early but I rallied and it was great to be back in the pool with everyone. Over the last few weeks I have been thinking about what I want to do this season. I won't necessarily have more time but I will have more mental space to think about swimming as the my big exams I took in April and August, and that took up SO much time last winter studying, are behind me.

1. Make the most of my push offs and do all freestyle push offs with a strong butterfly kick. Do it in practice ALL the time.
2. Do some weight training, with weights and therabands. Build my core with situps.
3. Consider some changes to my stroke (a Shoulder Shift )?
Watch Karlyn Pipes-Neilsen's video.
4. Break 26 in the 50.
5. Break 58 in the 100.

And I have been dreaming of Hawaii... Kona, Hawaii.

No not the Ironman!

My dream is to go to Karlyn Pipes-Neilsen's training camp in Kona, Hawaii for a week and work on my technique. Her program sounds awesome. She currently holds over 50 FINA World Masters records in swimming and was just inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame -- my new hero. Oh and she is 46 years old! That is even older than my other hero Dara Torres. Anyways I am ready to make some changes in how I am training and swimming and this seems like a pretty good place to start.

I am also trying to do some things a little different nutritionally. I am drinking chocolate milk after every workout -- something about the carb to protein ratio is good for helping muscles recover after a workout. I don't understand the bio-physiology of it yet but maybe someone out there can enlighten me? So far it is working. I don't get headaches later in the day after working out. And hey it is also recommended by triathlete extraordinaire Ange so it has got to be good.

My other conclusion is that our team has to get an underwater camera. How else can I do all this stroke refinement and analysis?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Monday, September 15, 2008

Are we disorganized?

Well you be the judge.
We found a pair of my son's shoes at the park across the street today.
They were sitting neatly on a picnic table.
They had been missing for more than 3 weeks.
I really can't even believe we found them.
And then today I found 1 flip flop of a pair that
I thought were stolen in June at the pool.
Nope. They were in our house all along.
And one flip flop is still on the loose.

Can it get any worse?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Hanging up the wetsuit

I'm hanging up my wetsuit today... literally.. until next summer. SAD!! In more ways than one... But I found this great video on Alcatraz Sharkfest to get me psyched for next summer. This is going to be a great time. Are you ready Kathy?? (I know you are!)

check it out...

In other news I realized I haven't read a single book all summer. Lots of the newspaper, lots of the New Yorker but not a single book. What is up with that I pondered? I always have a book going. Oh yeah, I have been blogging and addicted to reading the blogs of people I have never met. So I've started Hodding Carter's Off the Deep End. It is pretty funny and I can actually relate to this guy who is trying to qualify for the Olympic Trials at age 45 (with 3 kids) in swimming. Okay not that I have that kind of determination, but I understand his need to be fast and do what he used to do so well and effortlessly. His tale is a funny lighthearted read. BTW, he is from Maine too, how cool?

Next on the list is a book I read about in the New York Times last week. American Wife.... an imagined peek into the life of Laura and George, of course with different names, and lot of sex scenes. The kind of book I should have read this summer. A review reads... "Should a liberal First Lady sit in a corner reading Saul Bellow while her husband pushes a ruthlessly conservative agenda? Sittenfeld dramatizes the question with a forgivably contrived plot twist. And who knows how close she has come to understanding Laura's inner life? My guess: Not close. But it hardly matters. This is a novel, after all, and it's a terrific one. "

Sunday, September 7, 2008

End of summer?

Well it has been one week since I have posted and I guess I am feeling very sad that summer is nearly over. I am relishing these last few days of sun and trying to get in as many ocean swims as I can. I managed a few last week. A gorgeous swim along Scarborough Beach on Labor Day with my friends Claire and Karen. It was so hot and the water was so cold! Interestingly, when I swam along Crescent on Wednesday and Thursday the water was much warmer, especially Thursday which I think was one of the warmest days for ocean water that I have felt all summer. Unfortunately I didn't get to swim for too long as it was quite choppy and just as I was getting in a boatful of teenage boys -- drinking something from cans....hmmmmm -- launched their boat and proceeded to do circles and then water ski along the beach. Even though the headed out towards Richmond I didn't feel too safe swimming due to the chop -- I could only see 3 feet in front of me!

Today may be one of my last swims of the summer, but I hope not.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Alcatraz here we come!

It's official... I am signed up for Alcatraz! Kathy signed up this week too. Wow, this is going to be an exciting trip. 800 swimmers, 1.5 miles, twisting currents, and jumping off a ferry for the start. I guess I'll be glad to just finish. A bunch of people I talked to at Rockland has also done Alcatraz so that got me more fired up to try it.

I really took it easy this week with swimming and did only 1 mile up in the lake. It was gorgeous. The water was 72 and not a soul was on the lake, well except for that loon....I actually had a loon chase me in the middle of the lake. He was hooting and cooing and chasing me and then went under water. Boy that made me swim faster. I later surmised that he (or she) must have been warning me to stay away from his/her brood of baby loons. Still freaked me out... they are BIG birds!

I can't express how SAD I am for this wonderful summer of swimming, beach days and freedom to be over! I am not ready to go back to work. And to top it off the first week of school is supposed to be 80 degrees and sunny everyday.... I will have to sneak some ocean swims in somehow.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Rockland Breakwater Swim Race Report

Another great day and fun race! It was sunny 80 degrees with a 60 degree water temp. At first it felt cold but as soon as I got going it felt great and I didn't even notice. It was a nice small race with about 33 people in two waves for each category: the 3.2 mile swim (2 loops of the breakwater) and the 1.6 mile swim (1 loop of the breakwater).

My ever faithful training partner Kathy joined me along with her brother in law Adrien.

Kathy and I


First the 3.2 mile swimmers took off so I was able to get a shot... I think Kathy is on the dock.

Then the 1.6 swimmers took off 30 minutes later, close to when the 3.2 swimmers were approaching their second loop. I got in the water with only 2 minutes to go, which turned out to be perfect. The Maine Masters folks did an amazing job organizing the race and had every detail covered.

After the start I stayed with Cheryl, who is a very fast local open water swimmer, for about 300 yards and then began to draft off of her. I was hoping to stay closer to her for longer but didn't want to burn out at the end so I let myself back off a little.
And the rest of the way I was on my own. I couldn't see anyone behind me, although occassionally I could see Cheryl and Doug ahead of me... too far to catch however! As I rounded the lighthouse there was a huge tall ship schooner passing by which was just amazing to see with the sunlight sparkling and dancing on the water. The lighthouse itself was also gorgeous and I wish I could have stopped to take a picture (luckily Photographer Jan Reale was there and will send me a link to all her pictures soon which I can share with everyone). It was refreshingly COLD on the other side of the lighthouse -- I was feeling surprisingly hot, which I did not expect. On the trek back down the breakwater there were large swells for the first third and then they died down so I got a bit closer to the breakwater to reduce my distance. In my eagerness to finish I started sprinting a bit too early, but recovered okay and just kept the pace through the finish.

1.6 mile results:

Time: 38:20
2nd woman overall
2nd AG
3rd overall

Just goes to show not matter how fast you think you are, there is usually someone faster! Always inspiration to keep working and swim faster.

Kathy came through with a 1st place woman overall in the 3.2 mile swim and 1st in her age group. Yeah Kathy!!! That was a long swim. And she got some nice "goodies" -- a mug, a signed copy of Off the Deep End by Hodding Carter (ME Masters swimmer) and a handsome plaque. Adrien got first in his age group too! Great job Adrien!

Here are all the top finishers in the wetsuit and non-wetsuit categories for both distances for women and men. Congrats to everyone and thanks to the organizers for a very fun race! This is a definite race for next year and I hope more of my Masters teammates come out too.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Acclimating to the cold

The Rockland swim: one loop around the breakwater, 1.6 miles

Any tips? It's gonna be cold in the water on Saturday for Rockland. The buoy reads 59.7, while here in balmy Casco Bay it is 62.2. And when I swam at OOB today it felt really cold to me. Not good. I just hate the cold. It makes me lethargic and stiff. At least the air will be warm -- 80's I think and that will help.

And breakfast.... I need some suggestions here. I have to leave my house around 6:30 so that means breakfast at 6 or so. What to eat? The race isn't until 10am.... It has to be something quiet to so I don't wake up my whole family. No blenders. Won't go over well with the hub. HELP!

Other than that I am just swimming for fun. Sure I want to do well, go fast and all that, but really just have fun and not get any leg cramps like I did in Peaks. What makes me more nervous, much more nervous is racing in a pool.... traditional 50's and 100's. The ocean is an adrenaline rush, a thrill, the unknown, the cold, all the people and jockeying. But the pool is the known, the defined, the measureable. Still fun but always comparable to all other races.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Finally, summer is back

I haven't had a swim like this in about a month. First of all it was warm, air and water. About 80 air and 64 water. Second it was not foggy or raining! The tide was exceptionally low, so low that I had to wade out about 200 yards that I normally would have swum. It was so low that even once I got going the sea grass was so long that it was nearly tangling around my legs and arms. Yuck! Something I would have shuddered at last summer but now is just a gross annoyance. After that it was great. Sadly I had no company.

Tomorrow I have a good workout for Kathy and I and whoever else might show up.

2 x 400 w/u; 400 free, 400 pull/drill
3 x 300 @ 4:30
4 x 200 @ 3:00
5 x 100 @ 1:30, hold 1:15 or faster

total 3000 yards

Saturday is Rockland which I think will be a lot of fun. I am really looking forward to doing this race with Kathy and --- yes! -- we are finalizing plans for Alcatraz next summer. Shark Fest!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

I passed!

What a relief it is to write that I passed my exam! I can finally go back to enjoying summer or what is left of it. Whaoo. Kind of
anti-climatic after all the studying and stressing.

Very nice swim with Kathy and Deb this morning along Crescent Beach. It did feel a bit cold again. Is it fall already?
I was so glad that Deb decided to come out with out us today as she isn't much into the ocean swimming. I hope she does again cause we had a nice pace going.

Anyways I can't write more now because I am being asked to spell words every 3-seconds by my daughter... more later.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Southwest Pond and Blueberries

Just got back from a few days in Washington County picking blueberries, eating awesome Mexican food (yes!) and doing some swimming. It was a relaxing trip with the kids up to my dad's camp. We learned a lot about the migrant workers... how they basically completely support the agricultural infrastructure of Maine. Right now there are about 12-15,000 migrant workers picking blueberries in Washington County-- kind of unbelieveable. Thus the amazing Mexican food we were able to enjoy each day -- nothing even close in Portland.

The pond temperature started out at 72 and steadily dropped each day without the sun to 69 by today when we left. Nevermind -- it was still wonderful and a refreshing change from the salty ocean. And not a soul on the pond.

Big exam on Tuesday -- hopefully the last of my life! Wish me luck......

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Swim with Kathy

Salty. Cold. Overcast. Very very low tide, sea grass and all. Oh yeah, did I mention cold. The lobstermen laughed at us. I have to give Kathy a lot of credit, she got me in at 5:40am for this long swim. No fiddling with the goggles, no chit chat. Thank you Kathy! I missed you while you were gone! We will be ready for Rockland without a doubt. I do have to say the sunrise was beautiful on the drive over, but that didn't last as the clouds rolled right in. About 1.8 miles total. Tomorrow the pool.... I'll have to find a fun workout.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Race photos from Zone Urban Epic 2008

I emerge from the water... what a swim!

My speedy runner, Andy, burning up the course.

And Lorenzo on the bike.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

My Dream Vehicle

Okay not really, but I had a lot of fun this week driving a white 1984 Ford pickup this week that a friend left at our house. It was standard with the old roll down windows and made this charmingly annoying buzzing sound anytime the driver door was open. The steering wheel was up high -- at least for me -- and made it feel like I was driving a farm truck. I made a couple of dump runs with the whole bed loaded up, so convenient and a wonderful escape all the SUVs, volvos and saabs I see tooling around here. All I need now is a halter top and some fuzzy dice and life would be great. And there's that word again -- ESCAPE.

Great swim on Tuesday morning with Kathy at Crescent Beach bright and early at 6am. Thanks to her motivation we swam at least 2 miles I estimate -- back and forth from the cove twice to the second LG chair. Flat, warm and wonderfully empty of people.

Today I got in a 1.3 mile swim at OOB. The first time all summer I have felt excited to dive into the ocean. The air was hot and the water a perfect refreshing but not freezing temperature. It took a good 3 minutes longer on the way back due to the current. I did notice how it is I don't swallow any salty water when I swim in the ocean -- something a few people have asked me about lately. I have never paid much attention to it until now. I'll save that for my next post as duty calls -- dinner!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Team Triple Threat, the Zone Urban Epic 2008 Race Report

Wow, what a fun race the Urban/EPIC was!

I wasn't feeling that nervous for the race and slept very soundly. I got up at 5am ate breakfast... this time cereal, banana with peanut butter, toast with homemade strawberry jam and earl grey tea. No orange juice on the advice of Ange who thinks the acid may have caused my leg cramps in the Peaks to Portland swim. My brother picked me up and we arrived at transition at about 5:50. I had dropped his chain the night before when I racked his bike so he had fixed that and went out for a warm up. There isn't much for a swimmer to do pre-race so I just chatted with people I knew and started sipping my HEED, which I did mix properly this time. By 6:15 Mary and Andy (my runner) showed up and the transition area was hopping. Interesting to see some of the elite female athletes -- they were svelte, muscular and tall. I was deinfately releived that I was not swimming in the same wave as them, although it would have been fun to get so utterly crushed.

It was clear. Then the fog rolled in. We couldn't see the ocean! I stashed some extra fuel just in case the start was delayed.

I caught the second to last shuttle to Mackworth with Mary and Claire. Ange was already there. Mucho fog as we crossed the bridge with very little water visible. Yikes! What would they do?

We arrived, unloaded and waited in line for the potty. The race staff said they were going ahead as if there was no fog and would delay the race only if it remained at the race start. Now I was getting nervous. I had been mostly caught up in being a Tri groupie and listening to all my Tri friends talk about the course challenges etc. Now the reality that I was swimming too set in. Saw John, my friendly competition from P2P. We all headed down to the beach and over to the left side for the pre-race talk by the director. They had set out many more buoys than last year -- thankfully! 2 orange, 2 yellow, 2 orange and then 2 orange on the beach. He said to head for the first set of orange and go through them. Ange had warmed up and said the current was very strong. Hmmm... As I watched the elite wave line up in the chute I was nervous and excited for Ange. What a group this was. A female pro headed to Beijing, 2 very fast amateurs and 3 very speedy Maine women. As they took off it was quickly aparent that something was very wrong. They were headed on a sharp left tangent AWAY from the orange buoys. The current was that strong. It seemed that the group only realized this about a minute into the race, seemingly not that long, but way off course. They now struggled to swim back to the orange buoys against the current. This surely delayed them easily by 4-5 minutes. It was awful to imagine how hard they were working to correct the initial misjudgement. Instead of swimming south towards Portland and the beach, they were all swimming north to get through the orange buoys.

The race director announced that the course was changing. All subsequent waves no longer had to swim through the first set of orange buoys. John and I watched the next three waves struggle similarily to head towards the orange buoys, let alone swim through them. He said he thought we should swim to the right and keep correcting ourselves that way as this may be the only way to get close to the orange buoys and "ride" the current to the beach, instead of swimming against it.

Well others strategies did not seem to be working, so I followed John's suggestion. As our wave of Relays, Athenas, Clydesdales and 45-49 year old men took off, I headed west and to the right. Everytime I sighted I saw that the current had pushed me south. I kept recorrectly to the northwest. This worked! I ended up very close to the orange buoys and decided this was good enough and let the current "push" me towards the yellow buoys, however I still had to keep over-correcting towards the north and Tukey's Bridge. This also seemed to work and I easily passed throught the yellow buoys. As I did I saw a steady line of light blue and red caps swimming north and just around the left yellow buoy. I felt for them!

From here it was a steady strong swim to the beach. My arms felt heavy, not from swimming so hard. I think it was mostly residual muscle fatigue from Peaks. I didn't push too hard. I thought about how fresh the water smelled. How warm the sun was. How the top 4 inches of water was actually somewhat warm and below that refreshingly cold. This IS SUMMER and I am doing something I LOVE. How cool is that?

I guess John was on my left at this point but I didn't see him since I was breathing mostly to my right. I started passing lots of people now. Kind of the opposite of most races where I pass lots of people at the start and then it thins out. Red caps, blue caps, green caps, even one white cap! People looked tired.

The last set of orange buoys were not in sight but I knew from last year and from a practice swim 2 weeks ago that the stone pier was what I should aim for. The finish line would be right around the corner. However I was still nervous that maybe I was wrong. I could see tons of people on the beach. Head for the people! About half way through the boat moorings I started to pick up speed. Not a full sprint like usual since I felt a bit lethargic, but I reminded myself that every relay swimmer I passed now was one less my team had to pass on the bike or run. I pushed hard. I rounded the pier and saw people cheering. I saw the beach and let go. This was it!! I swam as far as possible til I could almost touch the bottom, stood up and slogged through the water. Running was soooo much harder! I heard my name yelled once and again and again! That was nice.

I hustled up to the mini-transition area and Andy was waiting. He calmed took the chip off my leg as I panted and heaved and woobled. Off he went!

Most of the swimmers I knew had already passed through.... Ange, Katie, Mary, Claire.. I waited a bit and saw a few more ... Stacy, Carrie, Eric, Brent. Great job!

I showered, changed and headed to transition to find Andy as he waited for Lorenzo to come back from the bike. We were rocking! Lorenzo came in and it seemed we might be in 2nd place overall. Andy is fast so I knew we had a good chance. I went to the finish line with Lorenzo and we watched as the elites came in.

Lorenzo (bike, 1:14.56), Andy (run, 33:51), Me (swim 32:30)

Ange was 5th woman (among them 3 pros!) and she looked great coming acorss the line -- how impressive! (for more go to Ange's Drive to Tri). Andy crossed soon after. By his estimation we might be 1st! We saw Mary cross and she looked really good too, right on the heels of some of her top age group competitors (for more see IronMatron).

As they posted the results we saw he was right. We even beat all of the all male teams. Go Team Triple Threat!

Final Stats
First relay overall (2:26.28)
First XTeam overall

My Swim--
2nd overall in the Relay wave (32:20)
2nd fastest swim among all female age groupers
(one female much faster at 29:35, something to shoot for next year!)
10th fastest swim among all age groupers

(Elites not counted here because they had a longer swim due to the current and course change)

See all results at:

This will be a must do race for 2009!