Monday, March 26, 2007

Swim Meet Wrap Up


Whirlwind weekend! I think a 3 day swim meet is harder than any triathlon I've done, hands down. It's an endurance test of epic proportions - from nutrition and hydration, to stretching and staying warm, to being able to turn on the speed or work the pacing (anaerobic vs. aerobic), to keeping your mind in the right framework to not miss a turn and get DQed. What FUN!

Overall, we were happy with our results. We finished 14th out of 56 teams and we were 4th out of 7 teams of our size. We edged out the 15th/5th place team, North Suburban/Burbank YMCA by only 12 points so that was quite a victory - we scrambled to catch them throughout the whole weekend... MIT, the team ahead of us was in reach if we'd been able to make it thru the blizzard to the distance day last weekend (1000 and 1650 yard swims) AND if we'd had a few of our currently injured swimmers on board to swim more relays. It's disappointing to know that we have the skill, strength and speed to finish higher but that busy work/life schedules and bad weather inhibit our numbers. It's all about volume and point quality!! We've got the point quality, now we need to recruit the numbers.... it'll happen - we've come a long way as a team in a few short years...

Coach B just aged up into the 55-59 age group and she broke 3 or 4 New England records with her swims this weekend. Overall, she finished with 191 personal points - 4th place woman at the meet...and only 14 points out of first place. Totally amazing.

Personally, I had a fantastic meet. In December I was really frustrated with myself and felt like a weak link in the team...but for this meet I know I did my best and the improvements were remarkable. Here's the run down - my times this year with the time differences of previous PRs...

200 yd Freestyle - 2:56.32 (-0:10.3) - NEW PR
100 yd Freestyle - 1:19.29 (-0:02.91) - NEW PR
50 yd Freestyle - 0:37.02 (-0:00.10) - NEW PR
200 yd Breaststroke - 3:31.18 (-0:03.70) - NEW PR
100 yd Breaststroke - 1:41.15 (first time swimming this event) - PR
50 yd Breaststroke - 0:46.12 (+0:00.86) - old PR of 0:45.26 still stands
200 yd IM - 3:27.93 (-0:13.67) - NEW PR
100 yd IM - 1:34.19 (+0:00.22) - old PR of 1:33.97 still stands

I feel great about all these numbers - I'd attribute some of the improvement to fitness but more of it to technique. I swam a technically perfect 200 IM and I'd attribute at least 7 of the 13 seconds I gained to working excellent turns and pushoffs. I love that concentration and focus can make such a difference!!

It was a great weekend - and now it's time to shift from speedy swim workouts to distance... and to spend the bulk of my time focused on running and biking - you know, the stuff you have to put up with after the swim!!

Don't let Bold tell you that it's all about the bike... my friends, the fishies have it, hands down!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Swim Meet, Day 2

We're chugging along... moved from 15th to 14th place overall so that's good news. Our coach just moved into a new age group this year and is smashing all the records for New England's pretty fun (and funny) to watch. In one event, she beat the NE record by about 11 seconds...and then the next person behind her in her age group at the meet swam 44 seconds slower. Awesome...

I had another great day! Two events and two relays... here's the run down:

50 Breaststroke:
seed time: 0:46
previous PR: 0:45.26
swim time today: 0:46.12

50 yard sprints are tough...I felt like I was flailing a bit and didn't swim all that well technically so I think that was the difference on this race... first race of the day and all... I was a little stiff...and I over-thought it... should've just relaxed and worked the glide and walls...instead I was trying to swim too fast... better to not fight the water. Still, within a second of my PR is fine with me!

200 Freestyle:
seed time: 3:15
previous PR: never swam in a meet but fastest practice time, 3:07
swim time today: 2:56.32

This swim felt great!! Which means I could've pushed harder!!! Oh well - I was incredibly happy to swim under 3 minutes...didn't know I'd improved that much... I swam a steady pace that felt good but not too too hard...didn't want to take it out too fast and then die. Next time I'll turn on the speed at the 100 yd wall and swim the 2nd 100 faster with each 25. I was second in my heat (by 10 seconds) so that was kind of fun...and I inched out the 3rd place finisher by only a second so it was nice seeing that effort.

Also swam the lead off leg of the 400 freestyle relay (1:20.49) and the breaststroke leg of the 200 medley relay (0:46.34).

I'm pretty tired! One more'd be nice if we could break into the top 10 but the chips are against us for this meet. Tomorrow I swim the 100 IM, the 100 Breast and the 50 Free... I feel sure I can swim PRs for the 100s but the 50 free is a toss up... I'll just do my best. I've been amazed at how much visualization of each race has helped me. Well worth the mental exercise just before the race...

Just in case you were wondering, swimming ROCKS.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Swim Meet, Day 1

Things are going great at Blodgett Pool, Harvard University. This'll be quick because I'm exhausted... but I swam personal bests in all three events I swam today... here's the run down:

200 Breaststroke:
seed time: 3:35
previous PR: 3:34.88
swim time today: 3:31.18

It felt GREAT - I did some visualization before the race on my start, my pullouts and my turns and it felt like I swam a technically perfect race. Nice.

100 Freestyle
seed time: 1:22
previous PR: 1:22.21
swim time today: 1:19.29

I've been swimming times in broken 100s at practice that have suggested I could swim a 1:16-1:18... so I was aiming a little higher but it's still REALLY nice to have a new PR on this one...

200 IM
seed time: 3:42
previous PR: 3:41.60
swim time today: 3:27.93

Almost 15 whole seconds faster!!!! It's a little bit about fitness and a LOT about experience and pacing. I took it out slowly and got faster and faster. Again, the visualization before hand of all my turns and technique helped a TON. Swimming is so much more a thinking sport than it seems.

We're in 15th place at the end of today - more swimmers arriving tomorrow so we'll see how it goes. It really hurt us that our distance swimmers couldn't make it to distance day last weekend because of a snowstorm. We'd be in the top 10 for sure... but there's still lots of time!!!

No wi-fi at the pool but I'll try to update more tomorrow night. Everyone else is swimming great too - lots of PRs all around - and Coach set two new New England Masters records. We're very proud!!!

train hard!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

More School?

OK, I need more advice. It's non-triathlon advice but it relates to triathlon in that it would move me to a part of the country where I could train outside ALL YEAR LONG. This would allow me to battle my depression more effectively as well as make the most of a swimming and tri lifestyle. ALL good.

SO. For those of you with advanced degrees...who have done any kind of graduate studies beyond a 4 year bachelor's degree...tell me this: Was it worth it?

I'm considering a 2 year, full time program of study. Financial aid is available but there aren't assistantships or fellowships. I would need to secure additional loan(s) for my living expenses. I'm reasonably sure that the returns on my future employment would be substantial.

Tell me what you think in regards to these areas:
1.) did you get out of grad school what you thought you would?
2.) are you working in a job that you could not be working in if you hadn't gone?
3.) is the debt you've accrued as a result worth it in the long run? remember, it's only 2 years, not 7 or 8 or 11... can you make any suggestions to me about finding funding?
4.) if you had to do it again, what, if anything, would you do differently?
5.) any other words of advice?

Swam our final practice before the meet this morning... i feel fast. I'll try and post updates from the pool but I'm not sure if there's wifi so I may have to wait until the evenings. Tune in to follow our progress over the weekend!!!

Thanks for the advice!!! (TriZ and Rocketpants - i'm sure I know what you'll say re: grad school... but just humor me... ;))

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Midweek Apathy

Need to make myself dinner.

Don't really feel like it. And it's a good thing my house is out of delivery range.

Does a bag of microwave popcorn make the list of Wholesome Triathele Dinners? No?

How about An Entire Pan Of Brownies? Didn't think so....

I'll keep thinking on it... maybe if I think long enough I'll fall asleep and the problem will resolve itself.

Hey, if you find that this post isn't really doing much for you, head over and visit TriZilla - she had an unfortunate bagel/ginsu knife incident and could really use some comment love - and lots and lots of encouragement and good thoughts... life throws some crap at us when we least need it. It would mean a lot to her...and to me.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Swim, Swim, Swim!!

OK, finally fell asleep at around 1 am. Not fun. And almost slept thru the alarm this morning. But I didn't miss the bus and we had a pretty fun dryland session and swim workout. Feeling a little better this morning. It's still cold and dark and gray...and snowing... but I'll survive. Better days are indeed ahead. Things always look brighter in the morning...

We're heading down to Cambridge this weekend to swim at the Short Course Yards (SCY) USMS Masters Championship Meet at Harvard. The meet last year was super fun...we had grand plans this year to head into the main meet weekend with points on the board... this past weekend the distance events were held - 1000 yds and 1650 yds - and we had a whole crew of folks raring to go...but their plans were foiled by snow, sleet, and freezing rain on Friday night and Saturday only one swimmer was able to make it down. Fortunately he swam like a fish and placed 4th in his age group to get us 13 points on the board! Not the 100 or so we were hoping to have but it's something!!! We may have to give up our dreams of a top 5 finish and just go for top 10. Here's hoping we can maybe match our 6th place finish from December.

I'm swimming more events than I have before but they're spread over 3 days instead of 2 so it doesn't feel quite so daunting. Here are my events and seed times (in case you're just tuning in and are unfamiliar with masters meets, you send in your expected swim times and swim against people of your same TIME rather than same AGE....that way the meet moves along quickly and you're never DEAD LAST in your heat if you have a super competitive age group. Your final results are by age and you typically get team points for 1st - 15th place.)

200 yd Breaststroke - 3:35
100 yd Freestyle - 1:22
200 yd IM (my Mt. Everest) - 3:42
1 leg of the 200 yd freestyle relay (50 yds)
** glad to have the 200 Br. and 200 IM over on this first day as they are the two hardest for me.

50 yd Breaststroke - 0:46
1 leg of the 400 yd freestyle relay (100 yds)
200 yd Freestyle - 3:15
1 leg of the 200 yd medley relay (50 yds of whatever coach chooses for me)

100 (not 110!!) yd IM - 1:34
50 yd Free - 0:37
100 yd Breaststroke - 1:45
1 leg of the 400 yd medley relay (100 yds of ?? TBA...)

Quite the endurance weekend!! I'm looking forward to hanging with my friends and having good swims - I feel really strong and have been swimming PR times lately so I hope to beat most of my seed times and hopefully come away with a bunch of PRs!! It gets harder each meet to not have any expectations...but I feel good about my individual performance of late... so it should be fun!!

Train hard!!

Monday, March 19, 2007

Almost Tuesday

11:20 pm. Can't sleep. Usually I'm out after a paragraph or two of my book - but it's been 2 hours of reading and I'm not remotely tired. Might have something to do with the fact that today was a rest day... and that on Saturday night, I slept for 12 hours, 'cause it seemed that I needed to. Or it could just be that there's a lot on my mind... probably a combination of it all...

Training is going pretty well. My depression meds have really made a huge difference over the past three months and for that I'm so greatful. But it's March. And it still feels like January. It's cold. And snowy. And gray and everything is dirty and ugly. And despite the fact that my body is responding to the demands I'm placing on it...and that I'm getting stronger and more fit... I look out the window and see the same bare trees, the same ugly brown, and tears fill my eyes. Mostly because I know that somewhere in the world, there's a warm, sunny beach, a cherry blossom tree in full bloom, there are pear trees and dogwoods and green grass and tulips. And I'm missing it. I'm here in this cold, gray, wasteland... and I'm frustrated because I know I have the power to change my circumstances...and yet, I'm still here. Like the sea anchor of my past is dragging along the bottom...keeping me just below the surface of change.

I seem to lack the ability to be patient with myself. Redirecting your life takes time. Moving is a big prospect. Leaving behind all that I've known for the past 13 years is a gut twisting concept. And yet, the fact that I have the power to change things is both terrifying and quite possibly the biggest relief I've ever felt. What will I do? Where will I go? Who will I love? Who will love me? It's a blank slate...and I just have to build the underpinnings of my castles in the air... At times I feel a little like I'm standing outside of myself watching things unfold. Like I'm the movie...and I have no idea what's going to happen next. Even though my patterns always unfold toward totally predictable outcomes...

Kinda tired of the predictability of my choices...

I don't want to complain...because I really don't have much to complain it's boring. Feel free to tune out... it's just that this time of really turns me into someone I'm not. Someone I don't really like.

Time to make a gratitude list. Because there really is so much to be greatful for. It's just hard to keep the perspective after 5 months of cold, gray, barren, lifelessness. I'm ready for technicolor. Time to recover from the storm, assess the damage, claim the ruby slippers and step into the light...

11:43. Still not really tired. Although I'm sure the 5 am alarm clock will kick my ass...

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Feedback please...

Audrey posed this question a week or two ago... and it's one that I've struggled with too... both in friendships and relationships...

"How long do you have to date [or know] someone before you let them see the crazy?"

Exactly how long? And do you have any recourse if you blow it and spook 'em with too much too soon?

Inquiring triathlon minds want to know.

ps. ran 5 consecutive sub-10:30 min miles yesterday!!!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Shift of Game Plan...

OK, temporary setback...NOT going to the ATL next week as previously planned...which is disappointing but I have to believe that there's some reason for it that has not yet made itself clear to me... maybe the plane I was supposed to get on will have something wrong with it... who knows... I'm trying not to worry about it though. Will postpone my trip to some later date, maybe April or May, hopefully when I can schedule some interviews and maybe hook up with some masters swimmers to get a tour of the city. Here's hoping anyway...

Workouts have been really strong of late... I did my first 2 hour endurance spin on Sunday...and my legs were total mush after about 1.5 hrs... bummer!!! Seeing as the Timberman bike will be closer to THREE+ hours, it's a good thing I'm already working this issue, eh?! Runrgurl, IronTom and EB (that would be short for Energizier Bunny) have got me dialed in to their schedules so I'm working hard to keep up. It's SOOOOOO nice to finally have a group of fun training partners. I feel sure that THIS is what I've been missing from my Tri Life. Feels great.

It was -23˚F with the windchill this morning when I got up to go to the pool. Does anyone else agree that that's just WRONG? I've SO had it with the northeast... and winter in general...


Friday, March 02, 2007

My Thursday Evenings of Late

Burgers, grilled cheese, chicken nuggets and shirley temples at Chilis: $40

Rainbow sherbert and Ben & Jerry's Vanilla ice cream to go with the amazing lemon cake baked by an expert 10 year old pastry chef: $9

Snow Dogs DVD, chosen at the video store by the sweetest 7 year old who had a really hard day and had to sit in my lap crying for awhile before she felt better: $3

Sending a harried single mom to evening swim practice while putting smiles on the faces of 3 little girls who are going thru their parents' divorce: PRICELESS...

Kids rock. Be sure to love yours and any that you can find nearby... it'll fuel YOUR soul as well as theirs...

And train hard!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Progress is Motivating!

Easy treadmill recovery run yesterday...thought I'd start out at 12:00 min miles and slowly increase the pace until I got to 75% of my heart rate, just to see how things are progressing.

12 min/mi = about, that's kind of new. Cool.
11 min/mi = about 65%. Even better. Held that for about 5 minutes and it settled back below 65%...nice.
10 min/mi = 70%...held this to the end of mile 1...still no increase, holding steady at 70%. Huh.

Still feeling really good, fairly easy, pretty strong...

9:30 min/mi = ~74%... let's see how long I can stay right here... only slightly uncomfortable.

Well that, my friends, was the first sub 10 min mile I've run in a long time. I held it into mile 3 for a little bit but my HR started to creep up...75%, I backed off a little bit and finished out 3 miles at about 10 min/mi... nice. Felt awesome.

And this morning in the pool, my 100 yd. free repeats were coming in consistently at about 1:32... at a relatively easy effort. It's all about not fighting the water.

There's nothing quite as motivating as progress...

Train hard!!