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.