Monday, June 25, 2012

This Is One Of Those Moments

Date: Monday, June 25, 2012
Time: 2:10 p.m.
Location: Omaha, NE
Long Course Meters
0 days to Olympic Trials

I won't bury the lede: I swam a 1:04.16 in the 100 breast today, good enough for 68th place out of 139 participants. I was seeded 103rd, so I moved up!

I am extremely happy with the swim today. It will be an experience I will never, ever forget. Every minute of today will live in my mind forever. Unlike my previous two Trials experiences in 1992 and 1996, I am smiling and laughing. Not only did I beat my seed time of 1:04.42, but I raced very well, getting second in my heat. It was a tough race, but one that I will look back on and be happy with for the rest of my life. I definitely didn't have the perfect race -- I think I've only had three or four of those in my life -- but the mistakes are far outweighed by the triumphs.

I went out in 29.62, achieving one of my three goals for the race. Maybe it was a little too fast, but I needed to do that in order to be in the race. I think I turned second or third at the 50, and when I turned, I saw on my right two swimmers that were even with me. I was very tempted to glance to my left to see if there was anyone close on that side, but I didn't want to break my body line by turning my head.

After the pullout from the turn, I didn't want to start sprinting right away, as used to be my customary strategy. I used the third 25 to prep for the final 25, but I think the knowledge that those two swimmers to my right were even with me made me want to start my all-out sprint quicker than usual.

I don't know if turned out to be a hindrance, but I started feeling the lactate hitting right after the 80-meter mark. That's a few strokes earlier than usual, and I tried to ignore it -- as much as one can ignore the feeling of lead coursing through your arms. My legs weren't too tired, so I turned my focus to them in order to keep forward momentum.

As I passed over the mark at the bottom of the pool signifying 15 meters left, I decided to not turn on the afterburners just yet. I was already feeling the lactate, and trying to crank up the stroke rate would have been disastrous. I stayed at the same rate until the final five meters, and though I wasn't sure if I was going to get to the wall, I got there.

I had a feeling that I didn't win the heat, but I also knew that I didn't get last in the heat, which was the second of my three goals for the swim. Turning around to the scoreboard, I saw "1:04.16" and second place -- actually, a tie for second place -- and I was relieved. The guy to my left had won the heat in 1:03.6, and I didn't even know he was there! If I had turned my head to my left to look at him off the turn, I would have probably seen him, but I am glad I did not.

As far as my third goal for the race, I did not achieve that. This is the first time I am making this public, but I really wanted to go 1:03 today. I was upset by it for only five seconds when I saw my time on the scoreboard, but then happy that I beat my seed time of 1:04.42.

I want to give a shout to two people who were also in the 100 breast today: First, Steve West, who went 1:03.90 at 40 years old and will do incredible things in the 200 breast later this week at Trials. Steve and I have been racing each other since we were teenagers, and this is the first time ever he's beaten me in the 100 breast. Also, Stephen Estes was in a pretty bad car accident last October and I was moved to have him in my heat today. He was out of the pool recovering for three months, and to be able to be at Trials must have been a success in itself.

For the next 30 minutes, I was met with lots of words of encouragement from coaches and swimmers in the warm-down area. That made me feel awesome as well. My coaches, Mark Rankin and Coley Stickels, were very pleased with my swim. Mark was happy that I went under 30 for the first 50, and Coley was happy with my tenacity in the final 15 meters. I had a huge grin on my face for the rest of the afternoon.

I know this is being posted on the Internet and I have all the room I want, but it would take lots of space here to thank everyone that helped me through this journey to today's swim. Everyone who has interacted with me in some fashion in this past year has been a major source of fuel in training, and I had you all in my thoughts in the seconds before I dove into the water.

Though my journey to Olympic Trials is over, I've still got more racing coming up. I'm racing in the U.S. Masters nationals next week here in Omaha, so I still have to train this week. I'm flying blind here in terms of how much to train, how hard to train and how much to rest. But this will still be a fun experience, and I can't wait to race again in the Omaha pool!

Friday, June 22, 2012

I'm Ready

Date: Friday, June 22, 2012
Time: 6 a.m.
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Short Course Yards/Meters
3 days to Olympic Trials

Meet warm-up (about 1,400 yards)

Broken 100 breast (short course meters) :30 seconds rest between 50s
29.3 + 32.0 = 1:01.3

200 warm down

I woke up this morning feeling like complete crap. Nothing felt very good. Was it because I got a massage yesterday? I usually don't feel my best the day after a session with Tod Miller, because he does a great job of spreading out my muscles, and it takes a while for my body to re-adjust. This morning, I also didn't feel awake despite nearly nine hours of sleep, and it took a lot of effort to get motivated to do my broken swim today.

I needed to do the broken swim today. I always do at least one broken swim the week before my race, and I hadn't done one yet this week. Usually, I feel better after doing my typical meet warm-up, but I still felt groggy and heavy.

Besides all that, I was very pleased with my broken swim, especially since I had to swim it in short course meters. My stroke rate had to change a little bit to account for short course, but I think I handled the transition well. I felt pretty good going into the final 25, but my body wasn't used to having to do that fourth pullout, and my lungs were wondering why I was holding my breath!

The time is a little faster than I have ever gone in a short course meters race in Masters, which would convert to a low 1:04 in long course. That's a very good conversion considering my physical state this morning. And despite the way the swim went, I feel ready to race at Trials!

As I write this, about eight hours after workout, I am starting to feel better physically. It's easy to get demoralized when you're not feeling good physically so close to the big meet, and I was fighting the doubting voices in my head all day today. But the thing about taper is that each day is unpredictable, at least until the final two days before the meet. It's my hope and expectation that tomorrow and Sunday will be very good in the pool.

I am getting on a 7:10 a.m. flight to Omaha tomorrow, arriving a little after noon. I will go to the pool in the mid-afternoon and do a very light swim, probably no more than 2,000 meters. I might mix in some breakouts of 15 meters, but only two or three. I will be getting the kinks out from travel, and then doing absolutely nothing the rest of the day.

Sunday will be the final test of how the meet will go. I will do a fast 50 from a dive in the competition pool, a tradition that started when I was 22 years old. I had always had a disastrous first swim in my taper meets, and I figured the best way to start the meet right is to do a fast swim the day before the meet starts. That way, I'm getting my "bad swim" out of the way. Most of the time, this first swim is good, and that's what I am hoping for on Sunday, to take the good vibe into Monday afternoon.

I cannot guarantee I will have Internet access through Monday afternoon, so this may be the last blog post before I swim the 100 breast. The timeline estimated the swim to take place between 1 and 1:30 p.m. Central time. I am so happy about that, because I'll get to sleep in and take my time getting to the pool. I'll warm up around noon and be ready to go!

Send lots of positive vibes my way. every little bit helps!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

A Rested Body Is a Rested Mind

Date: Thursday, June 21, 2012
Time: 5:50 a.m.
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Long Course Meters
4 days to Olympic Trials

1. kick on 1:10
2. 25 drill/25 swim on 1:00
3. swim on :50

400 with pull buoy at ankles
25 scull/25 swim

4x100 back on 1:50 (avg. 1:35)

1 min. break

4x100 free on 1:45 (avg. 1:20)

6x50 on 1:15
No. 1 and 3 breathe six times
No. 2 and 5 breathe four times
No. 3 and 6 breath two times

Total: 2,400 meters (70 minutes)

My biggest fear with tapering is getting out of shape. This is essentially what happens when you overtaper. You rest your body so much, doing so little work that your level of conditioning eventually starts to wear away and you lose strength and endurance.

If I'm swimming well during taper, I fear that I could be starting to peak, and might get out of shape if I rest too much. That's why I turned up the juice just a little bit today on the 100s. I wasn't going faster than aerobic speed, but I probably didn't need to go that fast. On the opposite end of getting too much rest, you can not get enough rest, and your body can't perform at the level it's been training for on the day you need it to perform. I rarely  have had that happen to me, but I have overtapered a lot, mostly in college when double tapers were common. You would taper for the conference meet and get your NCAA cuts, then keep tapering for NCAAs two weeks later.

My body doesn't feel too great today, but in about two hours after I write this, I will be lying on a massage table, getting a nice pre-meet massage from Tod Miller. His pre-meet massages work very well in that they flush out any kinks in my muscles, but also get my nervous system in racing mode. The pressure he puts on my body isn't as hard as he usually does. It's just enough to feel relaxation, and a little rejuvenation. It helps that Tod is an athlete (triathlete, to be exact), so he knows what athletes want before the big event.

Another thing I'm looking forward to is getting home and turning on my Wii. I've been taking shorter work days this week, and with not much of interest on television, I've started playing a game I bought a couple of months ago, called Lego Indiana Jones. It's addictive, and I'm on a level that's seemingly impossible to finish! I was thinking of taking my Wii to Omaha with me, but I probably won't have a lot of time for playing video games, especially after I swim the 100 breast. Then, I'll be back to work for Swimming World, and the hours will be so long that the last thing I will want to is play video games when I get back to the hotel.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Dream a Little Dream

Date: Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Time: 5:50 a.m.
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Long Course Meters 5 days to Olympic Trials

1600 warmup

2x50 breast fast from push on 2:00
(32.6, 34.2)

100 easy

2x50 back fast from push on 2:00
(30.0, 30.8)

300 easy

25 breast from dive (13.4)

75 easy

25 breast from dive (13.2)

175 easy

Total: 2,500 meters (75 minutes)

My legs feel like lead today. It's part of the taper process, but that doesn't mean I have to like it! It's not great trying to sprint when your legs feel so heavy in the water, but I'm extremely excited about the way I performed today in spite of that. I haven't gone under 33 in a 50 breast since college, and though the drop-off on the second 50 was a little too extreme, I'm chalking it up to tired legs. They couldn't sustain my speed on that second 50, a point that was reiterated on my 50s backstroke.

Another thing that affected me a little bit was the chilly water. I estimate it was 76 degrees in there this morning. That's a little too cold. I could feel my muscles getting stiff during rest intervals. I'm rarely one to complain about chilly water, but for once Phoenix Swim Club had the aerators on a little too much last night! In the end, it's not a huge problem, but it does get uncomfortable when you're standing at the wall waiting for the next set.

I'll probably start complaining that the aerators need to be turned up in late July, when the monsoons roll through and the humidity makes cooling the pool more difficult.

Gonna take a nice nap today, but not as long as the two-hour nap I took yesterday! I didn't set an alarm for my nap, which was a good thing, but it made going to sleep last night a little rough.

Had some weird dreams last night, too. What I mostly remember is escaping a bunch of grenades being thrown at me, and my cat running toward me a few days later as we were cleaning up the rubble.

You gotta love taper dreams!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Self Control

Date: Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Time: 5:50 a.m.
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Long Course Meters
5 days to Olympic Trials

32x25 on :35, 8 of each stroke in reverse IM order
odd: swim
even: drill

200 kick choice

16x50 on 1:00 from middle of pool
1-4: 25 fly/25 back
5-8: 25 back/25 breast
9-12: 25 breast/25 free
13-14: 50 back
15-16: 50 breast

8x100 on 2:00
odd: backstroke descend to 1:19
even: free, hold at 1:20

200 easy

Total: 2,800 meters (70 minutes)

We're inside a week until Olympic Trials! There's no denying that the meet is drawing closer, especially when my teammates keep bringing it up during workout. I'm so happy to be on a team that's very supportive of me, and it's going to help me mentally on June 25 to know I have so many people cheering for me. On the other hand, it's a little scary to think that I have so many people anxious to either watch my swim or find out the result afterward.

This is the tough part of taper: Managing the mind. On days when you don't feel that great during taper (as was the case today) your mind tends to worry if the body will adjust in time for race day. And when you feel great (as was the case yesterday) you have to rein yourself in and keep the thoughts from going wild about race outcomes.

Self control is a strong exercise that I will be employing in the next five days. There will be so much internal and external stimulation that it will be easy for my mind to freak out. For example, the first time I walk onto the deck at the CenturyLink Center on Saturday afternoon for warmup might be a little weird. I've stood in that arena before, but not in this situation, so it will be a time to visualize a calmer environment and keep myself from thinking that it's all too overwhelming.

JR Rosania helped me with this last week when he mentioned a scene in the movie "Hoosiers," when the kids were overwhelmed by the big arena they were about to play in for the state championships. The coach measured the basketball court, assuring them it was the same dimensions as the court at their school gym.

The pool at the CenturyLink Center is still only 50 meters long. Nothing too special about that!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Don't Worry, Be Happy

Date: Monday, June 18, 2012
Time: 12:20 p.m.
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Long Course Meters
6 days to Olympic Trials

300 warmup

8x100 :20 rest
50 drill/50 kick, 2 each stroke, reverse IM order

200 free aerobic on 3:00 (2:40)
150 free on 2:30 (2:00)
100 free on 1:30 (1:18)
50 free (:38)

100 easy

2x50 on 1:30
#1: 15 fast breast/25 easy/10 fast
#2: 15 fast/35 easy

Five minute break

50 fast breast from push (33.98)

250 warm down

Total: 2,100 meters (45 minutes)

I felt very good in the water today -- though my legs were a little bit heavy.  I wanted to do that 50 fast that I had planned to do today. Mark Rankin was noticeably concerned about me doing it, thinking I might be in the best condition to do a fast swim today. I'm not sure why he was concerned. I've been swimming pretty well, but maybe he thought I was going through the "taper blues" today, and he didn't want to time a slow swim and have me mentally wrecked from it.

If I had swum slow today, it would have been fine. I've been feeling icky for the past three days, and if I wasn't feeling it today, I would still have six days to get things in order. But I swam quite well today, and I left the pool with a small grin on my face.

I am worried about my legs, though. They ache!!!!!! But, I do have six days, and I'm sure they'll turn around well before then. As I told Mark after my fast 50 today, I think I deserve to swim easy tomorrow. I will do more than 2,100 meters, though. My concern during taper is getting out of shape, so I'll keep up the cardiovascular training, but not overexert myself to the point of building up lactate or sustaining a high heart rate.

A couple of people asked me after workout what my time goal is for the 100 breast at Trials. I told them I didn't want to make an official time goal. My only goal is not to get last in my heat, and to that end, my training has been geared toward having a good race strategy that will allow me to keep at or near the head of the pack. All the splits I've been recording make it tempting to think of a possible time I could swim next week, but if I get caught in that, I build up an expectation that might be too high for me to reach at this stage in my life. The point of this is to have fun with the experience and let the results take care of themselves. So far, I am having a blast and I'm sure that will carry over to my emotions one week from now, when I'm warming down after my swim.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

On a Clear Day (You Can See Forever)

Date: Sunday, June 17, 2012
Time: 11:30 a.m.
Location: Tucson, AZ
Long Course Meters
7 days to Olympic Trials

300 warmup

5x100 free on 1:45
5x100 back on 1:50

8x50 breast kick drill on 1:10

4x15 breakouts on 1:00

100 easy

4x50 on 2:00
25 fast breast with bungee cord
25 easy back to wall

3x100 on 2:00 easy (50 back/25 breast/25 free)

 8x50 free on 1:00, breathe every 5

Total: 2,700 meters (75 minutes)

I had hoped to a fast 50 for time today, but I didn't have anyone available to time me, so I axed the idea. I could have done the swim and "guessed" my time, but it would have needed to be exact today. I didn't want to guess what I went and be totally off. I'll do a fast 50 either on Tuesday or Wednesday in Phoenix, since I'll have my coach Mark Rankin there to time me.

Today, I felt completely crappy in the water, until the last 700 meters. I felt more like sleeping all day than doing anything in the pool. This meant I was fighting the urge to get out the pool and take a nap. On the upside, it was a gorgeously clear day, with wonderfully perfect water to swim in today!

The only thing I don't like about taper is the guesswork of what the workout should be each day. It all depends on feel, and time of the week. Today, I'm not sure if I needed to be completely aerobic, or if I needed to do a pretty tough set to keep my conditioning up. I think I went somewhere in between, just because I wasn't feeling very good at the beginning of workout.

I'm not sure if I'll be able to swim tomorrow, since morning workout at Phoenix Swim Club is canceled. I have a half day off work tomorrow, so I might be able to swim at the noon workout. If I can't, then I am taking Monday off. It's not a completely bad thing, but it's not the best thing to do.

We'll see what happens!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Hot in the City

Date: Saturday, June 16, 2012
Time: 6:30 a.m.
Location: Tucson, AZ
Short Course Meters
9 days to Olympic Trials

400 warmup

100 free aerobic on 1:30
200 free aerobic on 3:00
100 free aerobic on 1:40
200 free aerobic on 2:50
100 free aerobic

4x100 on 2:00
1. 75 back/25 breast
2. 50 back/50 breast
3. 25 back/75 breast
4. 100 breast

50 free aerobic on :50
100 free aerobic on 1:30
50 free aerobic on :50
100 free aerobic on 1:30
50 free aerobic

4x50 on 1:05
15 breakout/35 easy

Two rounds:
25 breast underwater on :30
50 free aerobic on 1:00
25 breast underwater on :30
50 free aerobic on 1:00
25 breast underwater on :30

4x25 free one breath on :40

100 easy

Total: 3,000 meters (60 minutes)

During taper, you can't really take a day off. You will lose your feel for the water, and sometimes it will take an extra day to get back on track. Unfortunately, I might have to do that on Monday, because Phoenix Swim Club won't have morning workout. I usually take Saturday off, but needed to splash around today. Because the age group team was using the long course pool, the Masters group was forced to swim in the diving well, where the water was 83 degrees. Not a good temperature on a day when the air temperature was 78 degrees at 6:30 a.m.

I took my pace slowly through the workout to prevent overheating, but also because I didn't want to do much fast swimming today. (I will do that tomorrow.) The intervals made that pretty easy to do, and though the water temperature didn't make the workout comfortable, I still felt pretty good in the water.

Friday, June 15, 2012

What a Feeling

Date: Friday, June 15, 2012
Time: 5:45 a.m.
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Long Course Meters
10 days to Olympic Trials

300 warmup

3x(3x100 on 2:00
1. 75 swim/25 kick
2. 25 kick/75 swim
3. 25 drill/25 swim

12x50 on 1:00 swim aerobic
6 free (avg. :40), 6 back (avg. :42)

4x100 kick drill on 2:00
50 breast/50 free

300, work on breakouts and turns

4x150 on 2:30 aerobic
odd: back (2:05)
even: free (2:00)

100 easy

25 breast from dive (13.2)

75 easy

Total: 3,300 meters (75 minutes)

I didn't expect to swim so far today. My expectation was to swim at a very leisurely aerobic pace and maybe do some short-burst swimming. I was feeling OK this morning, though my legs did feel like lead. I've been doing housework and maybe running around the house, up and down the stairs for an hour each day Monday and Tuesday is starting to haunt me.

But I did my chores this week so I could use the time-honored "I'm tapering" excuse when given a "Honey Do" list. It doesn't mean my home will look like it belongs on an episode of "Hoarders," but certain things will just have to wait until I return from Omaha.

I have been doing this 10-day taper for a couple of years now, reducing down from 14 days, because it feels like the perfect amount of time to taper from an average of 3,500 meters per workout. I feel the same physical and mental sensations as those who taper for a full two weeks or more, but I think the sensations are more concentrated! In a few days my legs will feel like jelly, and I'll freak out about things not being ready in time for my race. It's normal, but it doesn't make it easier.

I don't really know how my body should feel on the second official day of taper, but so far ... so good!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Neutron Dance

Date: Thursday, June 14, 2012
Time: 5:50 a.m.
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Long Course Meters
11 days to Olympic Trials

7x100 on descending intervals
2:10 to 1:40

5x75 on descending intervals
1:35 to 1:15 (extra 25 on No. 5)

8x150 on 3:00 with snorkel
50 breast kick/50 free swim/50 free pull

8x50 on 1:10
odd: 15 fast/25 easy/10 fast
even: 25 left arm/25 right arm free or back

35 breast fast (10m fast into wall/25 fast)
(25s: 16.7, 16.5)

100 easy

Total: 2,900 meters (75 minutes)

Taper started this morning! I would do a dance, but I have to save my energy.

I really took advantage of the main set of 150s, swimming with a low heart rate (144) the entire time. The set was supposed to be done pretty fast on all eight, but that was for people who don't have a big race coming up in a little more than a week!

I was feeling OK today, and could feel some speed in my muscles today, but not fully developed. The 25 fast at the end was a very good idea. I wish we had been doing that set earlier in the season, to gauge progress. Mark said he thought I should be in the 15-second range on the 25 at Trials. I'm not entirely sure if that's possible, even with a shave and wearing a good suit. But I will work toward that goal! Today's times were pretty good to me. If you factor in that Mark started the watch at the time I touched the wall for the turn, I was on pace for a 50-meter swim in the mid-34 range. I'm happy with that.

Tomorrow will be another fairly easy day, at least that's the plan. I wasn't planning on those 25s today, but when Mark suggested it, I knew it would be a good test. So far, I'm on track, but taper is so crazy. Tomorrow I might feel like a million bucks. Who knows what I'll feel like the next day?