Saturday, April 29, 2017

March 2017 - Coastal Masters Meet, Finally Under 6 Minutes in the 500!!!

No rest for the wicked! The Coastal Masters meet was a week after the Frank Clark meet. I signed up for 8 events, all different than the ones I just did and including a 25 of each stroke. I drove down to Wilmington the night before and stayed with Heather. I got in a little late, but was able to go to dinner with her when I got there. We didn't stay up too late since we had to be up kind of early to get to the meet in Bolivia. She helped me get my suit on in the morning, thankfully.

We drove to the meet separately so I could get on the road back to Raleigh after the post meet BBQ. On to the meet. The first event was the 500 Free. The one event I really care about doing well in. I warmed up well then waited for the deck seeding to be done. Now, the issue with some masters meets is that we sometimes need to estimate a time if we haven't swum an event before. Unfortunately for me, my actually time was 6:00.47 seconds and 6:00 is a popular estimated time. You see where I'm going with this. Now, both Heather and one other person put in 6:00 as a seed time. I know Heather is faster than that, so no biggie, but I didn't know the other woman. When we were seeded I was in lane 6, Heather in lane 3 and the other woman who had a 6 minute seed time was in lane 5. I knew I was in trouble when she started in the water. I would have to pace/chase people a couple lanes over, which is a bit more difficult. I couldn't see Heather the entire race, but I knew she went out fast. I was doing my best to keep up with the guy between us that I cold see. Mark counted for me. I told him that as long as I kept my splits below a 36 mid he could just put the numbers in as usual, but if I began to slow to start yelling at me. I was pushing pretty hard and he was quiet, until the last 100. When I heard him start to yell I thought for sure I was in trouble, so I gave the last 100 everything I had. I wanted to get under 6 min so bad. I touched the wall, looked up, and saw a 5:51 on the board. I had to do a double take, then realized I had done it, and by a lot! Heather had finished about 5 seconds ahead of me, so it would have been interesting to see how I could have done if she was next to me. Mark wanted me to push to see how far under 6 I could go, which is why he started yelling that last 100 yards. Thanks Mark! Just based on that race alone the meet was a success for me. Everything else was all for fun. After I cooled down I texted my college coach and Harry to share the good news. I was just a bit excited about the accomplishment.

The other races I did were the 50 Free (28.06), the 100 IM (1:11.41), and the 100 Free (I dogged it at a 1:03). The first two of these were to get some of the postal swimathlon league races done. We won't talk about the 100 Free. The end of the meet had all the 25's. These were fun short sprints an my times were pretty good and about what I expected.

So, not only did I accomplish my goal of getting under 6 minutes in the 500 Free, but I also got all my races I needed to get for the first quarter of the swimathlon league. Check and check!

The rest of March was dedicated to increasing my solo swim yardage/time up to 3 hours (roughly 7 miles) and to preparing for Zones. I kept with the pattern of doing a long solo swim every 7-10 days or so, gradually increasing the time with each swim and working on nutrition. All the pools I swim at have a big clock that I can see while I'm swimming, so for my swims I did 30 minute intervals, stopping for 30 seconds to a minute in between each for nutrition. I did a 2.5 hr swim the week after the meet and the next two were both 3 hours. Here's some data from my first 3 hour swim. Pretty solid in my opinion.

I ended up deciding on the Hammer Perpetuem (chocolate flavor) as my nutrition for the swim. I don't mind the taste, it's easy to drink, and it's got everything I need. Taking a swig of that followed by a swig of water seems to work best. Glad I got that figured out! After the second 3 hour swim I started to "taper" just a bit for zones. By the time the end of the month came around, I was well ahead of pace for my million yard goal.

March distance: 72.16 miles (127,000 yards)
Annual total (as of March 31): 185.57miles (326,600 yards)
Approximately 45 miles ahead of where I need to be at the end of March. Steady as she goes!

Friday, April 28, 2017

February 2017 - Frank Clark Meet and Increasing Yardage

I really stepped up my training in February. I was able to get at least 6 practices in per week, many of them I was able to get 4000 yards in. I also started increasing my yardage in preparation for my marathon swim in April. I started with 1 hr straight and worked my way up from there. I tried to do that once every 7-10 days or so with the main goal to test nutrition and also to make sure I could swim straight for longer periods of time. I know from my Ironman training, that liquid nutrition would be best for me, so I started with trying the BASE Hydro. The problem I encountered with that is that I don't like fake tasting fruit drinks and the lemon-lime flavor was really overpowering. I then tried watering it down, which was better than the full strength, but still wasn't enjoyable. I was glad I was able to figure out some of the things that didn't work in enough time to find something that would. In February, my long swims topped out at 2 hours (8500 yards).

I was also trying to prepare for the Frank Clark meet at the end of the month, so in practice I was working on a variety of things. I came to realize that breaststroke made my tendonitis flare up, so I backed off of that and started doing some rehab exercises. That seemed to work out alright. I used Training Peaks to plan out my workout schedule around my ever-crazy rotating work schedule. I think that really helped a lot. I followed the plan as best I could and didn't let myself slack off, even when I wanted to. I listened to my body and when I needed to back off on intensity I did, when I felt like I could push, I did. By the end of the month, I was well ahead of schedule with my yardage goal. I had built a pretty good buffer in case I got sick or something, and with the flu starting to go around I think that was a good thing. Here are my totals for February.

Annual total so far: 199,600 yards (113.41 mi)

The Frank Clark meet was my first meet since Nationals last year. I decided to buy a tech suit not only to help my times improve, but also because it provides more coverage for my longer swims to help with the amount of sunburn I'd get. I will tell you that putting on one of those suits is no joke. Thankfully Nancy suggested I try it on before the meet to make sure that I could get it on. I'm glad I did. I needed Chris' help getting it on, but I did get the right size, I think. Nancy had to help me get it over my shoulders the morning of the meet, but I still managed to get it on. We had a pretty good size group from RAM go to the meet. I was able to carpool with Doug, Laura, and Will. Amanda and Mark were also there and I met another RAM teammate, Rebecca. It was a really low-stress fun meet, though it ran a little slow at times. I had signed up for 5 events. The 1000 Free was first. The last time I swam this was at Nationals last year, and I had counted my laps wrong so my time was slower than it would have been. Point being, I had something to prove. I was seeded in the lane next to Mark, so I used him as a pacer, trying to stay with him as long as I could then try to prevent him from passing me at the end of the race. The plan worked pretty well. I PR'd my swim with a 12:15.72. More importantly, I split a 6:02 at the 500 mark, which bodes well for my open 500 Free at the Coastal Masters meet.

 Image may contain: text

The rest of the races were all for fun or to try something different. I did the 200 IM, an event that I really dislike but wanted to get a time in for it. I did it in 2:36.97. Next was the 200 Free, another tough event. I'm still hoping I'll be able to get back below 2:10 someday, but it might take awhile. My time for that one was 2:14.66. Now, for as long as I've been swimming, I can't remember ever racing the 100 Back. That changed during the meet. I did it for what I believe to be the first time with a time of 1:15.60. Someday I'll learn how to do backstroke better. My last event was all for fun, the 50 breast. Just like with the 100 back, I didn't have any expectations for it. I put up a solid time though, 36.59. By the time the meet ended we were all pretty hungry so we grabbed some lunch before hitting the road. All in all it was a good day. The picture below is one Amanda took at the meet and shared on Instagram.

Image may contain: 5 people, people smiling, people standing and outdoor
From left to right: Doug, Me, Rebecca, Mark, Amanda.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

January 2017 - USMS 1-hour ePostal 2017 and Other Goal Progress

I didn't waste much time getting started on my 2017 goals. To reach my yardage goal the plan is to swim roughly 6 days a week on average. That will be a bit of a jump from 2016, but not too much that I'll injure myself doing it since I gradually increased my yardage toward the end of 2016. The only hiccup in that plan came in the first week of the year when a winter storm kept pool facilities closed for an entire weekend. I had already taken New Year's Day off since Chris and I went to Myrtle for the night. I had also taken that following Wednesday off, probably because of work. As a result, I missed 4 of the first 8 days of the year, however that wasn't necessarily a bad thing. I plan to keep track of my yardage in My Fitness Log on the USMS website. It also keeps track of my progress toward my goal. As you probably guessed, I was behind for the first month. No worries, plenty of time to catch up. After that first weekend I only missed 4 days the rest of the month, which were designated rest days. By the end of January I had swum 91,400 yards (or 51.93 miles). I had also gotten back on track according to my FLOG since the goal yardage for the end of January to be able to get to 1M yards by the end of the year was 48.26 miles. Status of Goal #3 - on track!

No automatic alt text available.

Feeling motivated to go after my 500 Free goal time and work toward completing the Postal Swimathlon League (I'll explain in a bit), I signed up for a few "local" meets, maxing out events in all of them. On the 15th I signed up for the Dixie Zone Championships, which RAM hosted on April 7th and 8th. On the 20th I signed up for the Frank Clark meet in Greensboro on February 26th and the Coastal Masters meet in Bolivia, NC on March 4th.

Events for Frank Clark: 1000 Free, 200 IM, 200 Free, 100 Back, and 50 Breast.
Events for Coastal Masters: 500 Free, 50 Free, 100 IM, 100 Free, and 25's of each stroke (total 8 events) and two mixed relays.
Events (originally) signed up for Dixie Zones: Day1 - 1650 Free, 1000 Free, 100 Fly, 400 IM, 200 Breast. Day 2 - 50 Fly, 50 Back, 100 Breast, 200 Fly, and 500 Free. I also made myself available for all the relays. I opted out of the relays and switched a few events as the meet got closer. I will review those in a later post.

Now, the Postal Swimathlon League is a competition done in quarterly intervals. Quarter 1 (Jan-Mar) is the "Sprint" Distance events; 50s of each stroke and the 100 IM. Quarter 2 (Apr-Jun) is the "Middle" Distance events; 100s of each stroke and the 200 IM. Quarter 3 (Jul-Sep) is the "Long" Distance events; 200s of each stroke and the 400 IM. Quarter 4 (Oct-Dec) is the chance to improve your time on any of the events you want. At the end of the year your final times for each distance and then cumulatively are added up. It's more something to do for fun and to attempt every event as some point throughout the year than anything else. I figured "why not?" This also factored in to my decision to change a few of my events for Zones.

Lastly, but certainly not least, I did the first ePostal of the year. The postal I missed in 2016. The 1-hour ePostal. It's simple, swim as far as you can in an hour. I set a goal of 4400 yards. I ended up with 4375 yards. Here's how it went down. I got with Harry and decided on a date, we chose the 31st of January. Location, Optimist pool in North Raleigh. Optimist was set up SCY, width-wise. I swim at Optimist regularly so I thought it would be good. I'm not all about excuses, so although this will sound like one, it's not, it's just an explanation. The pool in the middle was warm, like really warm. At the walls, cool. Not something I would have expected to have an issue with, but I realized pretty quick that pushing to both go somewhat fast and do so for an hour straight that it was one. I was at 2250 yards around the half-way point and was making good progress. However, after about 2500 yards or so going back and forth through the different temperatures was starting to make me nauseous. I was quickly losing my motivation to go fast or to even finish the postal. I kept pushing, just telling myself that any additional yardage is better than none. 3600 to 4000 yards was the worst. I really almost stopped it was that bad. My splits reflected as much and I'm sure Harry could tell something was up at that point. Kept pushing. I was able to pick up the pace for the last 5 min or so and had never been so happy to get to a wall as I was when that clock hit 60 min. I was bummed to fall short of my goal but I was glad I got it done. It was my first attempt at the 1-hour postal, so I will just have to do better next year. Progress toward Goal #1 - on track!

Now for the results of the postal, which will impact Goal #2. top 10 in each AG get points for the National Championship races, including postals. I had to wait until just recently to get the results of my postal. 4375 yards landed me in 14th place in my AG. 4400 yards would have tied me at 10th. You can see how not getting a single point would bother me, and it did for a bit, but in the end it's a starting point and fuels my motivation going forward for the rest of the National Championship races this year. So, no points from the 1-hour ePostal and thus no significant progress toward Goal #2. My next chance for points will be in the Swim Around Lido Key.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

New Swimming Adventure and Goals for the New Year, 2017

One thing people close to me know is that I can be a bit obsessive with the things I love and that my passions can and often do change rather quickly. By the time I got to my Half Ironman at B2B last year I was pretty burned out on triathlon. It was also becoming something more dangerous than I thought it would be and I just didn't feel safe riding on the roads anymore. Thankfully, cycling is not my passion and I understand not everyone I've gotten to know during my time training triathlon can toss it aside. For me, the risk outweighs the reward. Some choices suck, but this wasn't a hard one to make. Maybe someday cycling will be safer and people will be more biker friendly. Until then, if I get the urge to ride, I'll do it on my trainer. I didn't want to run anymore either, at least not on any sort of regiment or training plan. Nothing to do with safety and more to do with overall lack of motivation or desire. I complained about doing it far more than I enjoyed it. So, after the Turkey Trot I was done with running for a while. It's now mid-April and I haven't run since December 1st or biked since I got off my bike in T2 at B2B. You probably see where this is going by now.

Swimming. My first passion and my happy place. It's what keeps me sane when life gets crazy. I had a number of goals last year, some I accomplished, some I didn't. This next chapter of my athletic journey probably started back in May when I discovered the ePostals, though I didn't know it then. At that time, I had missed out on one of the postal swims, the 1-hour ePostal. As a result, goal #1 for 2017 is to do all 5 ePostals.

The second goal is one I actually had last year but didn't pan out. I want to achieve All-Star status for my AG with USMS. Since the Lake Lure races in 2016 were cancelled last year I lost my chance by no fault of my own. Goal #2 for 2017, All-Star status! I plan to increase my chances by swimming 3 of the 6 USMS Open Water Nationals races this year, the first of which is just days away. The Swim Around Lido Key is a 7 mile marathon distance swim in Florida this Saturday. I was able to convince Chris to make the FL trip with me because it's the same weekend as the Dark Side Half Marathon in Disney. We both get to do a race and have a mini-vacation at the same time, win-win! The other two USMS Open Water Nationals races I'm signed up for are back-to-back in Chattanooga the first weekend in June. The first is a 2.4 mile swim on Saturday, followed by a 9.2 mile ultra-marathon swim on Sunday. These were a bit more expensive than I thought they were going to be, so I decided to bag the 4th swim I was planning to do in Seattle. Hopefully I'll be able to get enough points from the 3 open water swims and 5 postal swims to get the All-Star award for my AG. Only time will tell.

The last goal is probably the one I've shared the most, but it is the last one I made. I had set a yardage goal in 2016, but I had to keep upping it toward the end of the year. So, for 2017 I set a really high yardage goal that would keep me in the pool more but also should be doable with all the training I'll have to do for the longer swims. My yardage goal for 2017, Goal #3, is 1 million miles (1M)! That is roughly 570 miles. I had never really tracked annual swimming yardage/mileage until I started logging workouts on Strava. As a result, I can't be 100% certain I've never done it before with all the swimming I've done in my life, but we'll just say it'll be new territory for me.

In addition to my 3 goals for 2017, I also hope to do the Brute Squad Postal again in November and participate in more meets. I'd like to PR some pool races. All-time PR's would be great, but really any PR since the end of my college swimming career would be fantastic. I may even start a "PR by AG" tab, since I will plateau eventually because of age. Hopefully I'm still several years away from that. Now that I think about it, I did have a 4th goal, though it wasn't specific to 2017. I wanted to swim the 500 free in under 6:00. Spoiler alert, I've accomplished this one already!

There you have it, my goals for 2017. I've been bad about updating this blog so far, so for the sake of this post not being ridiculously long, I'll do a few more to catch up to the present. A lot has happened so far and I'll have more to say than I thought. Stay tuned!

Since I never did an end of the year post, but I did post them on Facebook, here are my mileage totals from 2016:

Swim: 327 mi (575,805 yds)
Bike: 2,265 mi
Run: 675 mi
(These totals include: 1 Marathon (my first), 1 Half Ironman, 1 Half Marathon, 1 10K Race, 1 8K Race, 2 Open Water Races, 5 Postal Swims, and 6 SCY Nationals Races).