Thursday, December 20, 2012


I've logged just under 292 miles swum so far this year. I'd like to bring that up to a nice round number, say, 300. This number has no particular relation to my swimming goals but it would annoy me to wind up just a bit short of such a nice number. As long as I don't miss too many sessions between Christmas and New Year I think I can make it.

Sunday, December 16, 2012


I'm swimming short interval on mondays and slightly longer ones on wednesdays. Short for me is 1:35 for 100 yards. The idea is the shorter intervals are good conditioning and the longer intervals mean swimming faster.  I'm looking for a pool meet in a few weeks to see if the theory holds.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

2012 Open Water

So in total I swam 14 open water races in summer 2012. I competed in 5 different lakes and the Hudson River. No ocean swims this year. I'll try to branch out going forward. In order of decreasing distance

Kingdom 10 mile
Lake George 10k
Son of a Swim 6 mile
Cape Cod Superswim 3.1 mile
Jim McDonnell 5k
2 Bridges 5k
Quassy 3 mile
Jim McDonnell 2mile
Lake Moreau 3k
Quassy 1.5 mile
Jim McDonnell 1 mile
Lake Moreau 1.5k leg of the aquathlon
Lake Moreau 1.5k
Quassy .5mile

For races that are the same distance I put the ones that felt longer first. I counted the Son of a Swim even though it is not technically a race. I didn't count the 1 mile practice swim at the Jim McDonnell Swims. Maybe I should have.
Fully half of these swims are shorter than 3 miles with only 2 meeting the commonly accepted definition of marathon swim.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Next Year

The end of the year is approaching, and I'm thinking about what swims I can shoot for next year. I'd like to get in a few pool meets this winter, as well.

I used one of those states I've been to tools. ( to make a map of all the states where I've completed an open water swim.
The States I've swum in

That's a grand total of 5 states for anyone having trouble counting the small ones.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Running with real runners

This was probably the smallest event I've competed in on dry land. There was a real cross-country start and most of the course was on trails. Wifey said she could see the runners pass by nine different times. The JO's are held on the same site later in the day so there were a lot of kids and teenagers in groups out walking the course. Many of them looked sleepy and some were even wrapped in blankets as the went along. They made very friendly spectators. too.
Most of the trails are wide enough for several people to run abreast. There were only a few spots where we had to pass single file. With only forty-five runners this was not a problem. At least not for me. There was only one hill, around halfway through the course. Steep and long. I passed several people on the way up only to have them fly past me when I had to slow down at the top. I have got to learn how to run hills without killing my pace.
I felt pretty good about my time of 24:09 just 27 seconds off the PR I set running for the hills on an easier course (on the road) a few weeks earlier. It was good enough to get me the overall finishing place of 38 out of 45.
A great event and a very fun course. It was fun to run with (behind) some real runners.

Age Before Beauty 5k

Who: Greystone Racing and USA track & field
What: The annual Age Before Beauty 5k Cross-Country
When: Sunday, November 11th
Where: The White Memorial Foundation & Conservation Center, Litchfield CT
Why: Because the water is cold

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


The Bearcat 5k is a tough course on the cross-country trails at Hotchkiss school. The course is three loops of roughly one mile each. Spectators can see the runners pass by at the one mile mark the two mile mark and again at the finish. The third loop is almost exactly the same as the first running in the opposite direction. I remember from last year that mile two is the problem mile. Mile two slopes gently down for more than three quarters of a mile only to make up all that altitude in a few hundred yards. Watching the runners come in to the 2 mile mark they probably look like they are hurting.
Anyway we started spread along a line in a field. I settled into my pace and went the whole race in sight of the same runners. I admit a few of them pulled ahead in the third mile, but not completely out of sight.
There was a guy standing at the 1 mile mark calling out times. Anyway that's what he claimed. I think he was a little before the mile mark because he called out 7 minutes right as I passed him by. For me a 7 minute mile is fast.
I think I fell off pace a little bit in the third mile but I finished in 25:15. Just about a minute and a half slower than my race the week before.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Bearcat 5k

Flush from the previous week's 5k wifey and I signed up for another local race.

Who: HYSB and the Hotchkiss School
What: Bearcat 5k Cross Country Challenge
When: October 7, 2012
Where: Hotchkiss School Campus
Why: Well, I accepted the challenge

Running for the Hills

The day of the race was perfect. Perfect for a run any way. Gray and rainy a light, misty, cold rain. One that keeps you wet but doesn't completely soak you. Wifey and I arrived and picked up our numbers. We found out the course had changed since last year because of flood damage on one of the roads. I didn't know if the new course would be easier or harder. We got to the start and lined up with the rest of the runners. The course would be an out and back.
They gave us the airhorn and we were off. Wifey managed to start much faster than me. I got caught  up in the starting jumble. As the jumble sorted out I settled into my pace. I spotted wifey ahead of me and slowly caught up to her. I was trying very hard to hold my own pace and not get caught trying to race my wife. She has always been much faster than me.
Around the time wifey left me behind I caught up with our yoga instructor. I guess I should say one of our yoga instructors but he was the only one running this 5k. He stuck with me for a little while before falling in a few step s behind.
Considering the name of the race the course is not that bad. There is a noticeable hill around the one mile mark and the turnaround is at the top of another hill. I kept wifey in sight all the way to the turnaround. On the downhill after the turnaround a young girl just flew past me. She was barely more than half my height and I'm pretty sure she was taking longer strides on the way down the hill. I saw her catch up with wifey before disappearing from sight.
Sometimes I am amazed that the same stretch of road looks completely different in opposite directions. When I got to the 2 mile mark I had no idea what landmarks I should be looking for on the way to the finish. I only passed one person on the second half of the race. It was a younger guy. I figured he had gone out too fast. I still had wifey in sight ahead of me and my yoga teacher a little ways back. A few minutes after the 2 mile mark I came to the top of a hill where I could see the road stretched out in front of me. I could see about half a mile ahead at that spot. The finish was nowhere in sight. If I could have seen it from there I might have tried to pick up my pace. I don't know how that would have worked out but not seeing it was a little discouraging. It made me think I was misjudging the distance I had covered since the 2 mile mark.
So I just thought about my form. Let your knees pump, I thought, and keep your breathing easy. I felt pretty good. I just didn't know how much longer I could hold my pace. I ran through the whole stretch of road I had seen from that hill and just at the end of this long open bit there a was a little sign that said 3 miles. It's a good thing that little sign was there because the finish was hiding around the corner and I still couldn't see it.
I came around the corner running all out. Wifey was still just ahead of me. Sweat and the misty rain was in my eyes; I couldn't read the clock. Was it saying 28 something? That would be a disappointment. Slowly it came into focus. It wasn't reading 28 it was reading 23.
I caught up with wifey just a little ways past the finish line. I just ran a new 5k PR by nearly 3 minutes. I was delighted.
We stayed for the awards. Wifey got a Run for the Hills mug for winning her age group. Then we went for second breakfast.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Run for the Hills

So the open water swimming season is over. At least it is over in New England. I've probably finished my last outdoor swim until May.

But around here the fun never stops. So wifey and I signed up for a local 5k run.

Who: The Great Barrington Land Conservancy
What: 2nd Annual Run For the Hills
When: September 30 2012
Where: Simon's Rock in Great Barrington MA
Why: Because the fun never stops

I ran this race last year and set a PR at 26:25. This was a pretty big deal because my previous best was nearly ten years old.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Timed mile

Wifey and I went to the local track for a running workout. Wifey has an established speed workout that she has been doing on the track for some time now. I decided to do a timed mile for reference purposes. I haven't actually run a mile for time since I was running track in high school. I ran a 6:04 in what I think was my sophomore year.
Anyway wifey timed for me and I ran a mile in 6:16. What do I take from this?
Speed work is really hard. I think all the speed work I've been doing in the pool has been great for me, but I should work some faster running into my routine. The conditioning benefit has got to be tremendous.
Also with some more training I think I can outrun a sixteen year old version of me. Cool

Friday, September 14, 2012


Not all my adventures in open water swimming happen in the open water. Or even in the water at all. The biggest adventure of the lake moreau swims came the evening before. After a carb-loaded dinner. We walked back to the car only to realize that my keys, rather than being in my pocket where they belonged, were in the cupholder next to the driver's seat, inside the car.
Now I'm not going to list all the excuses for why I would do something so foolish. I will only say that I am a creature very much of habit and routine. If I alter my routine I tend to screw things up.
So there we are, trying to figure out who we can call to help us out. The owner of the restaurant gave us a coathanger with a shrug and "if you want, you can try this"
Well, it's not something I've tried before, but there were a few other patrons waiting outside who have a little more experience. One of them confidently walked over and told us he could get in no problem.
But then when he got to the car he seemed concerned. "ooh Subaru, I've never done of these before"
But then a second guy came walking across the parking lot. "Subaru huh? I've got one of these, I can get into it"
Well it took about 10 or 15 minutes and we were just thinking that he'd have to leave us to our own devices when he got the door open. Wifey vowed to hide a key somewhere about the car. But I was too relieved that I wouldn't be spending half the night standing around in the parking lot to make any promises at all.
So to the dude who helped us out.Thanks again.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

About a mile

That's how I think about 1500 meters. I've gotten used to thinking about open water swims in miles. Converting to metric is harder than just doing the math.
Anyway I left the campsite on the opposite side of the lake and drove over to the beach where the races were starting. There were two tables for check-in. I figured one was probably for the swim and the other was for the trail run. I couldn't tell which was which and the lines were short so I just picked the one on the right. I was wrong, I should have gone to the table on the left first. My mistake might have caused a full 15 second delay in getting checked in, so, not such a big deal.
Wifey and our little son were going to be walking over from the campsite and they probably wouldn't be arriving until after the start. I had plenty of time to get set up before the start of the race.
I think I missed the announcement that the pre-race briefing was about to start. I just saw a bunch of swimmers down by the water listening to a guy with a clipboard. I grabbed my cap and goggles and ran down there.
Whatever I missed it wasn't much, because I got a full explanation of the course. The start would be in water. As soon as the briefing was done we waded in. Most of the swimmers were wearing wetsuits. The race directors said the water temp was 74 degrees. Usually 74 degrees feels pretty cold when I first get in. But this time the air temp was cool enough that the water actually felt warm. They gave us a count down and then we were off.
I found myself drifting to the right on the long stretch between the first and second buoys. I  had to correct my course a few times. This meant that I was already on my own early in the swim. The lake felt small. I'm not sure that it is the smallest lake I've had a race in so far. But even from in the water I could see almost the whole of the lake at once. I thought that swimming a shorter event first could really be a problem for me in the next race, so I didn't push my pace at all.
When I finished I found that wifey had arrived, no problem, in time to see the end of the race.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Three K

I've only done one other swim that is a comparable distance to 3k. I wasn't quite sure how to think about it. I did the 2 mile in Reston, though, and that is a very similar distance. The field was very small. Fewer than 20 swimmers in the event. I spent most of the swim on my own. The lake was still flat. I didn't notice any wind. Navigation was simple. The buoys were easy to spot because there was no chop to hide them. The bottom disappeared from view before I rounded the first buoy. I could see the sunlight casting beams through the green water. Just before rounding the second buoy I noticed there were some strands of lakeweed below me. The very top of the weeds, which was all I could see, must have been fifteen or twenty feet down.
I made a point of not trying to sprint into the finish. I didn't want to make the aquathlon harder for myself.

Aquathlon Part II

I stopped at the water station on my way out of the transition area and then I took off down the trail. Immediately it felt pretty rough. My legs felt heavy and my calves were tight. My breathing was ragged, not the way it should be when setting out on a run. The trail was level for a while. I just jogged along hoping I could settle into a rhythm. The trail brought me out onto the road. I followed the road for a few hundred yards and then made a sharp turn onto another trail. They had a guy stationed there to make sure no one missed the turn.
The new trail was steep and narrow. My calves were cramping up. After a minute or two I slowed down and walked. I was thinking I might have to walk the rest of the way. Somewhere around there a guy overtook me. I stayed behind him for a minute because there was a part of the trail that was so steep he had to walk it too. But then the trail leveled out a bit and he was out of sight quickly.
After another minute I started trying to run on the easy parts of the trail. There were a lot of spots that were steep enough I had to walk up. Then I started finding some spots that were steep enough I had to walk down. I noticed the drawstring on my suit was uncomfortably tight, so I pulled it loose.
Run a little, then step carefully then run a little more. I found I convenient mens room (large tree) just off the trail and when I emerged from behind it a few moments later I actually felt much better.
I continued for a while stepping carefully through the tricky spots and running between them. Then the trail I was on junctioned into a wider trail. I wasn't sure of the distances at that point but I think this was somewhere around halfway. I realized that my calves had finally loosened up. The up and down part of the trail was mostly over. The remainder looped around part of the lake and then over a bridge and back to the beach. I was feeling pretty good by this time. Every time the trail changed direction or crossed another trail I had to pause to check the markers.
A little past where I think the 2 mile mark was I overtook another racer. I told him I was coming up on his left and he waved a hand to acknowledge. I glanced at his number and realized he wasn't doing the aquathlon he was finishing out the 15k trail run. Meaning he'd been out on the trail since around the time I started my first swim. "looking good" I shouted back to him. A short time later I crossed that bridge and from there it was just a short distance past some picnic grounds and the playground. By the time I spotted the finish line I barely had time to try to sprint to the end. Just under an hour and 10 minutes and the toughest 5k I've ever run.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Aquathlon Part I

My third event of the day was the aquathlon. 1.5k swim and 5k run. For me those are pretty even distances. Meaning I should spend around the same amount of time swimming as running.
After finishing the 3k swim I got my new body marking, my chip and my bib. I set up my running stuff at the designated transition area. I'd never done an event with a transition before so I didn't really know if it made a difference how I laid things out.
The start was in water about knee deep. We were swimming the same course I had already covered three times that morning. I think there were only three people, including me, swimming without a wetsuit. The water temperature had measured at 74 earlier in the day. We walked out to the starting point and they told us one minute to the start. About thirty seconds later a dog on the beach barked, doing a pretty good impression of an airhorn. We all chuckled but no one actually started early. At the actual minute mark they blew the airhorn and we were off.
My arms actually felt pretty good on the swim. I know I was not swimming at my fastest but at least it didn't feel like a struggle. A lead pack took off and I quickly lost track of them. Just after I rounded the first buoy I found myself swimming shoulder to shoulder with a wetsuited swimmer. We stayed even for a long time while swimming for the second buoy. I could tell that his stroke was faster than mine, though. Eventually he fell behind, or I pulled ahead. I passed one more swimmer after I rounded the second buoy. Mostly because I was swimming straighter. I think I spotted her again as I was rounding the fourth buoy. I actually tried to pick up the pace on the finish of the swim.
I'm pretty sure no one passed me on the swim. The only people ahead were the ones who took off right at the start.
I ran up on shore and to the transition area. I tried to throw on my shirt but, of course, it stuck to me and it was a bit of a wrestling match to get it on. I pulled on some shorts as I sat down and messed with my shoes. Wifey told me my transition took two minutes. I know that with practice and some forethought I could make it quite a bit faster. On the other hand I took off on my run with a little bit of sand in my shoes as well as in my shorts. Over a long enough run that would be a problem.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Lake Moreau

This weekend was the lake moreau swims and aquathlon in lake moreau state park. Naturally I went for  the triple dip. 1.5k followed by the 3k followed by the aquathlon 1.5k swim and 5k trail run. There was also a crazy hard 15k trail run that started just after the first swim.

When: September 9 2012
Where: Lake Moreau State Park Ganesvoort NY
Why: Because Summer is still not over

Friday, September 7, 2012


I pumped up the tires on my bicycle and suddenly my ride to work was a lot faster. I have to remember to check my tires more often. It's getting cooler in the mornings so my little ride into work is very pleasant. But another month or so and it will be cold enough to be unpleasant. This weekend is my last open water race for 2012.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Quassy pictures

I think this is the start of the 3 mile. You can actually see the whole course going almost all the way across the lake. 
Any swim more than an hour or so will give me some sneezing fits. Looks like I'm about to have one here

Monday, September 3, 2012

Lake Quassy Half Mile

So for the half mile swim I finally got smart and found a better position for the start. I started all the way on the outside so I wouldn't be completely surrounded by other swimmers. This saved me a lot of trouble on the start.
Within a few strokes of the start I knew that this was not going to be a fast swim for me. I think it was the sprint at the end of the one point five. I just felt like I had no strength left in my arms. Maybe I should have tried to push harder. But I didn't. I just eased back until I was swimming comfortably.
I went wide around the buoy and I didn't even try a sprint on the finish. I came in just under 18 minutes. It was the slowest pace of any open water swim I've done so far.

Lake Quassapaug

Anyway here is the basic info on the Quassy swims

What: 6th annual Quassapaug open water swimming festival
When: Saturday September 1st 2012
Where: Lake Quassapaug, Middlebury CT
Why: Because summer is not over yet

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Mile and a half

A 1.5 mile race seems strange until I figure it is about the same as a 2.5k swim which seems like a pretty common distance. It was the same course as the 3 mile but just one loop. 
The start was crazier than the 3 mile. It took a long time to clear up. I never felt like I was on my own. Someone tried to swim right over me at one point. Its wasn't even at a turn. 
For a pretty long time on the out leg there was someone tapping at my feet. This was driving me nuts. I don't mind if you want to catch a draft. And I know that judging the distance, so you're not just swimming into me, can be a little tricky. But seriously if you're hitting my feet every second stroke you're just being rude. Also I'm still a little worried about my sore foot. So I'm a little more sensitive to toe tapping than usual. 
Pretty soon after the start I fell into a good rhythm. I felt like I was working harder than on the three mile but I was pretty sure I could hold the pace right through.
I was still swimming in a pack as we came to the turnaround buoy. Again I was surprised at how aggressive the swimmers were. Another swimmer came up on the inside right as we got to the buoy and forced me to take a wider path to avoid a collision. 
After the buoy I found myself swimming even with a woman in a blue suit. I kept correcting my course to my left which, no doubt, was crowding her. I don't think she appreciated this. But she should have. The swimmers still coming down the first leg of the course were drifting to our side of the buoys. I barely avoided several head-on collisions. Eventually the blue suited woman adjusted my course, and (thanks to newton's third law) hers, by giving me a shove. 
I held my pace until the end of the race when I tried to push it. I poured on as much speed as I could and I caught up to a pair on swimmers right at the end. And they completely boxed me out. This was frustrating because I really think I could have flown past them if I could just have found a better line.Oh  well. It was still a strong finish and I know I got those two to pick up their pace more than they would have otherwise.

3 mile

The 3mile swim at Lake Quassapaug is two loops of an out and back course. They explained that the yellow buoys are a quarter mile apart. There is a raft just off the starting chute where we could place our water or other drink. I learned my lesson at Lake George so even though this was only 3 miles I placed a bottle of juice out on the raft.
It was a mass start from waist deep water. It was a pretty messy start. I didn't get kicked in the head but it did take a while to get clear of the churning mass. Even when I was clear there were still several other swimmers in view matching my pace. It felt like I got an extra boost on the way back. Just a slight breeze right along the line of the course seemed to be pushing me on my way.
When I came around the raft at the end of the first loop I was pleased find my bottle of apple juice there on the raft. I quickly drained the whole thing and was back on me way.  The second loop didn't seem to go any faster than the first one. But at least it didn't feel harder.
I actually had a few collisions. A guy swam right into my ribcage. I really was not expecting that. On my way back on the last leg of the swim I banged arm to arm with a lady on her approach to the turnaround buoy. Just like the arm to arm hit you'd get in the pool sometimes. I think she was further off course than I was.
Once I was clear of the turnaround buoy there were no more collisions. I tried to pick up the pace for the entire last quarter mile. Afterwards, much to my surprise, got a medal for winning the 30-39 age group.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Qausapa quasa..something

Tomorrow will be my first open water races here in Connecticut. Also the only race that I didn't find through the USMS site. Lake Quassapaug. It's nice to be able to day trip to a race venue. Most of the time I need to make overnight arrangements.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Late Summer

The morning here in New England is nice and cool this time of year. In a low-lying place, like the one I  live, there is fog every morning. By lunchtime it will be warm. This means I need to wear my bicycling gloves on my way to work in the morning. And I think it also means that the water temperature in all the local lakes is starting to trend back down. The water is still fine. I should get another month or so of swimming outside.
But it makes me glad I got in two lake swimming sessions this week. This weekend I've got more events.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

10k thoughts with photos

The official Lake George results were posted this morning. My time is 3:19:10. This is only a little faster than my pace for kingdom swim.
The 10k Swimmers start
I'm going to have to race some more 10k's because I think I can bring that time down a little bit.
Jogging up on shore. This seemed to take a long time.
In any case Lake George is a fantastic place for a swim. The event was very well run, and I had a great time.
After the finish with my son.

Monday, August 27, 2012

10k Start

The 10k swimmers lining up for the start. The raft the lifeguard is standing on is also the refueling station.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Lake George 10k

The course is a 2.5k loop. So the 10k race is 4 loops around. The out portion of the loop has us swimming generally south and the back portion north. The course is most of the way across a large cove in the lake.
We start in water about waist deep. We follow the yellow buoys out and the orange buoys back. The 2.5k swimmers start first. Then it's our turn. We wade out to the starting buoys. This would have been the time to place our gatorade/juice/water on the little refueling raft. They didn't leave us to mill around in the water very long. As soon as everyone got up to the start chute they blew the siren to signal our start. From the mass start the group spreads out pretty quickly within a hundred yards or so I have all the room I want. I can still see swimmers out in front or me and off to either side. Pretty soon we start to overtake some of the 2.5k swimmers. They started only 5 minutes ahead.
The water is incredibly clear. The bottom is probably 30 feet away when I finally lose sight of it. On the way out I didn't notice much chop in the water but I was consistently drifting to my right. On the way back I was drifting left. My first loop seemed to take a very long time. I had to keep reminding myself that I should be expecting each loop to be 45 minutes at least. Just before the last buoy the bottom came back into view. Turns out that buoy is in only about 4 feet of water. I swam through the shallow water back to the start chute and the re-fueling raft.
The race provided some bottles of water and gatorade. I took a bottle of orange gatorade, drank most of it, and, following the advice of the lifeguard on the raft, placed it carefully so I would be able to find the  same bottle my next loop around.
On my second loop I could feel a little bit of chop in the water. Not too bad but I wouldn't want it to keep getting more intense. I got a look at few other swimmers on my way out but no one very close. I actually overcompensated for the wind and went too far to the left before the turnaround buoy. On the way back I felt like the waves were pushing me along. I just had to make sure they didn't push me onto the wrong side of the buoys. When I got back around to the re-fueling raft I saw there were whole bunch of swimmers in red caps. It was the 5kers. I found the bottle of orange gatorade that I had left last time and drained it. The siren blew for the 5k swimmers and they took off in a mass.
I took off after them and soon I was right in the middle of the 5k pack. I got a new burst of energy from having so many swimmers around again. I also got a little help navigating. The 5k group opened up pretty quickly but I had red caps in sight all the way out. After the turnaround I felt fantastic. My stroke felt strong and smooth. The waves seemed to be pushing me along. Just before the last buoy I saw a woman fly by me. At that pace she must have been on her final loop.
As I turned the last buoy into the shallow water suddenly everything felt terrible. My stroke felt choppy, the waves were tossing me around instead of pushing me along. Everything was a mess.
I got to the re-fueling raft, and I was disappointed to find there was no more gatorade available. Note to self: next time be sure to bring my own supply to stage on the raft. I grabbed a bottle of water and drank about half of it. A guy in a red cap, wetsuit and beard popped up. He said "I've been stalking you the whole way back from the turnaround but I couldn't catch you"
This made me feel pretty good. I told him I'd see him at the finish, or maybe out in the middle and I took off. I felt like a mess. I was starting to get hungry. I could feel a little bit of chop in the water. I was still being pushed to the right. I was having a lot of trouble finding the buoys. I had to keep stopping and swimming breaststroke because I couldn't find to buoys with my normal spotting. The folks on the kayaks were very helpful, pointing me in the right direction. I swam and swam and swam and the buoys never seemed to move. And then I was passing one on my left. I never saw it until I was past it. Eventually, with a few more directions from the kayakers, I made it to the turnaround buoy.  Heading back I felt much better. Not quite as fantastic as my last loop but better.
I overtook another swimmer on the way back. I didn't see the color of his cap but I figured considering how quickly I passed by he had another loop to go. I was trying to keep my stroke steady. My sighting was much more effective on the way back. I wanted to give a push to the finish but I was afraid if I tried to push too soon I would wind up finishing that much slower.
I caught up with another swimmer just before getting to the last buoy. I decided to go for it. I did my level best to pick up the pace. I couldn't see the difference but I think I passed one more person on the final swim into the finishing chute. The ground was just out of reach. And then the ground was in reach. Once my fingers were touching bottom I swam a few more strokes and then I finally stood up. The beach had a very gradual slope so it was still a long way into the finish line. Well I decided I was going to go for it right? I did a high-knee jog the rest of the way in and right up onto shore.
Someone read off my number and someone else handed me a finishers medal.
As soon as I got past the finishing chute I saw wifey on her way over. She had our little guy with her. Also she had a snickers bar for me. I sat down right there in the grass to eat it.

Lake George

Lake George is a fantastic location. The water quality was very impressive. So, as per usual, the basic info:

Who: Green Leaf Racing
What: Lake George Open Water Swim. (offering a 2.5k, 5k and 10k)
When: Saturday Aug 25 2012
Where: Hague NY on Lake George
Why: To have one more big swim this season.

Friday, August 24, 2012


Today I'm heading to Hague NY. Tomorrow it's the Lake George Open water swim. I'm signed up for the 10k. This is a pretty big swim for me. 10k is just a bit more than the 6miles I did for Son of a Swim in June. As a little twist, I've actually been to Lake George. Although last time I was there I swam no more than a few hundred yards total. I believe I was 14 at the time.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Goose Pond

Yesterday was a lovely swim at Goose Pond up in MA. We spotted quite a few fish while swimming over the weedy parts. Out one side, across, and then back the other side to our starting point. I had a lot of trouble navigating when we swam the leg across the lake. We were swimming directly into the sun and I could not see anything. Certainly not the landmark I should have been swimming for. Still a fantastic swim.
Today I skipped my usual run because I don't want to risk my calves being sore for the big swim this Saturday.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


Wifey and I got to do our Saturday morning yoga again. Then at the very end I sat up in a bad way and wrenched my back. This left me very sore for the rest of the day. Not to mention feeling foolish. Get through the whole yoga class feeling great and then tweak my back during what should be a restful period. I was still pretty stiff and sore on Sunday but I decided to try a pool swim. I did a one hour swim. No intervals just a nice easy swim. About 50 minutes into the swim my back finally loosened up and started to feel better.
On monday the pool was closed. So my regular speed work was out of the question. I decided to do a trail run. I did three miles on an out and back on a local stretch of the appalachian trail. Everything felt great except for stubbing my toes on a root a little more than a half mile in. Interestingly although it hurt it didn't interfere with running. So I finished my out and back. The result of all this is my back is almost completely back to normal and I have a very sore foot.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Richmond Pond

Another new lake for me. Richmond pond. Much smaller turnout than last week. I estimated 1.3 miles based on my mapping. Wifey came, along with our little guy, and joined us for the picnic after. As a note to self: air temperatures in the late afternoon are cooler than they were just a few weeks ago. I should remember to bring some warmups for before and after.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Yoga Party

Wifey and I got to do our Saturday morning yoga this week. We haven't been since before all my open water swims. This summer has been pretty busy so far. Just a few more events coming up. The studio had a new room, which was really nice, and the class was much bigger than usual. Come fall I hope we can make it routine again.


On friday I did 300 yards worth of butterfly. This is 50% more than my usual workout. I found myself very sore in the lower abdominal region. Almost to the point that I thought I had hurt myself. People are always trying to figure out how to develop their lower abdominals. Now, of course, all the muscles in the midsection are connected. But everything seems to focus up at the top, just a little below the solar plexus. Except for the butterfly. I really have got to do more. This fall or winter I should really do the 100 and 200 fly in some pool meet or other. Lets mark that as a goal for this season.

Thursday, August 9, 2012


Last night's swim was at Queechy lake. Biggest turnout of the summer. People were there from nearly an hour north and an hour south.  Another fantastic lake. We swam across up one side then back across and down the other side. We stopped to regroup 4 times. This gave me a chance to play around with my pace. On the shorter legs I picked it up to swim right at the head of the group. The rest of the time I went along at a more normal pace. That put a few people ahead of me on the longer legs.
After the swim, a beer and a burger. It doesn't get much better.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Sunday Stroll

This weekend wifey and I took a run together. We haven't done for a long time. Wifey is still keeping her distance very limited so she actually walked the last mile of the loop. But it was still really nice. Back when we were planning to run the NYC marathon we would go off on long runs together. We could run and talk for miles and miles. Maybe we'll be able to do that again.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Big Pond

Wednesday was a swim in Big Pond in Otis MA. Weather was a little iffy. But it turned out just fine. We swam into the wind on the way out and then swam with the wind behind us on the way back into the beach. I usually prefer it that way. If the wind is blowing across my path it will be constantly pushing my of course.
This is now six different lakes just to the north in Massachusetts that are all new to me.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Pile it

I finally added some weight to my weight training. A little on the deadlift, a few more reps on the bicep curls, and a little bit on my wrist roller. No extra soreness. That could mean I should have added some weight earlier. But I've done it now.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Speed? Work

Wow. This monday's speed work was the hardest I can remember. For the last few hundreds I was really struggling to make the interval. I made it. But for a little while there I wasn't sure that I would. I know I relaxed my training considerably this month. After completing Kingdom Swim I've dropped my weekly mileage considerably. I may play around with some higher intensity shorter duration workouts during the rest of the week.

Friday, July 27, 2012


Went for my run today. I haven't actually run my loop in three weeks. Even though I was running pretty well Sunday morning this afternoon it just wasn't happening. Oh well. I'll see what I can do next week.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

cut short

My monday speed work was cut short because they had to close the pool. This turned a 2000 yard workout into an 800 yard workout. Oh well. My weekly mileage is not nearly where it was in May but I am getting some distance in open water every week. Since my overall distance per week is reduced I figure the speed work and intensity is that much more important. Maybe I'll make my speed work a twice a week thing instead of just once a week.
On the other hand I think my strength training is going well. I think I'm going to add some more poundage to my deadlift. But maybe I'll do a smaller increment. Up until now I've been doing five pound steps. I'm thinking maybe I could do a two pound step

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Canaan Road Race

They claimed that this is a relatively flat course with one challenging hill. I think it would be fair to say that there are two. They are obviously talking about The Hill right after the 2 mile mark. And it is a serious hill. No messing around. But it only shows up at the very beginning of mile three. There is another hill. One that just pops up during mile 4. A hill that under other circumstances wouldn't be such a big deal. But I was trying not to fall off pace too much during mile 4 and so I really felt it. I was impressed with the pacing of my fellow runners. Pretty much everyone around me 1.5 miles into the race was still right around at the finish. I followed one couple for most of the race. They passed me just around the one mile mark and I didn't lose sight of them until they turned into the finish chute some 50 seconds ahead of me.
I finished with the palindromic time of 43:34. Which means a per mile pace of 8:43. I had this same per mile on the second fastest 5K I have ever run. I'm pretty pleased with my run and I'm hoping to build on this for a few more races late this summer and into fall.

5 mile Road race

Who: Northwest CT YMCA
What: Canaan Road Race
When: Sunday July 22nd
Where: Canaan CT
Why: To see

Even though there is still plenty of time for more swims this summer I decided to mix it up with a run. How can I resist? It's just down the road. This was a very fun race. Hopefully I can do it again.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

New lakes

I Joined up with the pacemakers for another lake swim. This time in Greenwater Pond. About 1.2 miles out and back. Absolutely beautiful lake. Fantastic swim. There are so many lakes and ponds in the area and I only know a very few of them. This is wonderful exploration for me. Also it is nice to get some swimming in with people who are about my speed.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

the trifecta

So I tagged along with some swimmers from up in Massachusetts for a little adventure. We did a swim in three different lakes and biked from each lake to the next. They called it a trifecta biathlon. We regrouped after each leg so we all started together. I couldn't really keep up on the bikes. But I had no trouble swimming. I got to do three great swims in three different lakes. These lakes are all new to me.
I had a great time with this group and I hope to be able to join them for a few more swims in the next few weeks.
I was surprised how tired by arms and shoulders felt. It could mean that I'm still not fully recovered from the Kingom 10 miles. Or it might mean I was up too late on saturday. Or just that the biking is more demanding than I realize.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

blow-by-blow part 3

After the tires I jogged up the hill near the starting line. Past the tent where they were blasting some pump-up music, I ran through the spay from the fire hose. I came to a bridge over the river. The course took me down the bank and under the bridge. There was another bottleneck here as a row of people carefully picked their way through the river and out the other side. As I was waiting a couple of people came up behind me and hopped in the water. Rather than carefully stepping along the uneven bottom they just swam it.
Damn it! Why didn't I think of that myself?
So I followed them across and passed a few people on that obstacle. I jogged around another pond and came to the obstacle called bucketville. This just meant getting a five-gallon bucket at least half full of water and carrying in a big loop. You were allowed to go two people to a bucket but of course I was out there on my own and not part of a team. So the bucket went up on a shoulder and around I went. I wanted to be able to run, but didn't want to splash out all the water. At the end of the loop the water went back into the pond and we had to cross.
The crossing was maybe 40 feet and I don't think the water got more than 4 feet deep. But I learned something on the last river crossing. I flopped forward and swam right across, zipping right past the folks who were carefully picking their way over the uneven bottom.
On the way to the next obstacle I thought that they seemed more spread out than they had in the beginning. When I got to the next one I found and interesting change of pace. There were multiple jenga games set up on a round table in the path with instructions to remove 3 pieces. This was a bit annoying because all the easy pieces were gone and there were piles and piles of loose pieces on the table. The only reasonable thing would be to make an entirely new stack and then pull three pieces. Anyway I figure if I'm already off and running before the stack falls over then, who cares?
I ran off to the next obstacle: tunnels. The tunnels are maybe two feet in diameter 12 feet long. Too narrow to crawl through I had to slide on by belly. The inside was so slick that on the first tunnel I slid nearly all the way through with just one push. I got a little over enthusiastic on the second one and I bumped my hip on the top of the tunnel. Ouch. But the tunnels were fun.
The next obstacle was possibly the most dangerous. It was basically a slip n' slde on the side of a hill. We had to run, or actually walk, with a funny knee bent gait up the slip and slide. It was around here that I realized I actually managed to pass a few people from two or three waves ahead of me. Once again we looped around toward where the race had started. I ran through the spraying fire hose again and I came to the plunge pool.
This was an aboveground pool maybe three and a half feet deep with what looked like a badminton net stretched across. The idea is you duck under the net and get completely sumberged before climbing out the other side. I should mention the name of this obstacle is "cold splash" As I approached I found two women gingerly climbing into the pool and eyeing the net warily. Well I thought that was ridiculous. This was not exactly the first time I was getting wet this morning. I yelled a warning as I ran up and vaulted right into the pool. I popped up on the other side of the net and climbed out. It turned out the water wasn't all that cold. Maybe it had been sitting in the sun too long. Back down the hill with the finish in sight, I passed a few more people even though the path was a little too narrow. The last obstacle was a maze made my string through ankle deep water in the original pond. There was another bit of a bottleneck here as everyone worked their way through. But, since there were people at all points along the path there was no real possibility of taking a wrong turn and having to double back. After that it was just an uphill run to the finish line.
That was my first ever mud run. I had such a good time I will have to do some more.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Additional Kingdom Reflections

When we finished the course it turns out that wifey was colder than I was. Up in the kayak she got plenty wet from the waves and the rain. Not to mention being exposed to the wind all that time.
Every swim so far this summer I've brought a small duffel bag full of warm clothes. I call it the bag of warmingness. And every time I've thought "today is such a nice warm day I'm never going to need all this stuff" and every time I've brought it along anyway. Well I was finally glad to have all those warm-up clothes. Wifey got all wrapped up in polar fleece. I was happy with a pair of shorts and a technical shirt.
I thought my nutrition worked pretty well. Big dinner followed by big breakfast meant I was feeling comfortably full for three hours or so. I had some squeezable things of apple sauce so I was able to get a little bit of substance into me during the swim. The rest of my feeds were just watered down apple juice, the same thing I'd been drinking on my long pool swims. If I'm planning to attempt more distance or time in the water I'm going to have to find more foods that work for me.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Kingdom 10 miles

We start on shore in a mass start. The kayakers have already deployed and are waiting in a rough line between the first and second buoys. I hang  back, like usual, because I do not wish to start a 10 mile swim by getting kicked in the head. When they blow the airhorn for the the start I take off at a jog into the water. I keep on wading until the water is up past my waist and then I dive forward, dolphin kick a few times, and start swimming. The start is a real jumble. I took a bad line at the beginning so I wandered off to the right and had to come back to get around the first buoy, but at least I was out of the mess for a little while. I rounded the buoy, after I got back into the churning mass of swimmers, and started passing kayakers on my left.
The kayakers were mostly lined up by number from 75 down to 1 so wifey should be around the fifteenth kayak I passed, or about a fifth of the way down the line. Well the kayakers were mostly in order, but there were a few lower numbers hiding out at the beginning of the line. As it turns out finding wifey in the kayak was no trouble. Trying to follow her once I did find her was the tricky part. With all the swimmers trying to join up with all their kayakers it was, possibly, more of a jumbled mess than the beach start. I crashed into one other kayak  in the mess. Wifey kept getting boxed out by other kayakers and I would lose track of her.
We passed the buoy by the lighthouse that was the two mile mark in the Son of a Swim. I was still seeing other swimmers and kayakers but things were a little more open. I was feeling great. On the way to the next buoy we took a different line than most of the other swimmers, so things didn't bunch up again until we turned around the next bouy. At the next buoy we turned to the right and started across the lake west to east . This is a long straight stretch. Probably more than a mile between buoys. I'm still feeling good but I find this part a little frustrating. I have no reference points and I can't tell that we are making any progress.
The next buoy is somewhere off of the islands. We go around three small islands. Almost as soon as we turn around this buoy the character of the lake changes entirely. Suddenly I'm being tossed around by waves and we are being pushed toward shore. It is a struggle to get to the next buoy and turn south to complete the trip around the islands. After we turn we get some protection from the wind and I think that maybe there is only to one bad spot.
I was wrong about that. As we continue south past the protection of the islands the chop picks up again, The sky looks ominous. I get nervous thinking that the race will be halted due to the impending storm. Then I get nervous thinking the race won't be halted due to the impending storm. Meanwhile I'm swimming. As soon as we cleared the islands, and I realized this is what I would be swimming through for the next 4 miles or so, I threw all my time goals out the window. Later wifey told me that I was right on pace up to that point. But I find great freedom in not finding out until later.
I couldn't tell that it was raining, but it was. I could see wifey's race bib and hat whipping in the wind. I could see whitecaps all around me. And so it went for another long straight stretch. Maybe with more training these kinds of conditions will affect me less, but I find it takes me more effort to swim slower through rough water.
Occasionally I would ask wifey for reassurance that we were, in fact, making progress. I honestly couldn't tell. She assured me that we were moving forward, we were right on course, and I would have another feeding in nine minutes. Nine minutes could have been nineteeen or thirty or five. I had no concept of time.
Dory from Finding Nemo is singing in my head.
Then wifey told me when we got around that buoy we would be able to see the town. This sounded like a good thing. When she pointed to the buoy, I could actually see it. When we got around the buoy wifey could see the town just fine. What was even more exciting to me is I could see the next, and penultimate bouy.
You can be sure I was not using words like penultimate at this point. But I could see the penultimate buoy because it was much closer than the other buoys had been spaced. Also, having come around a point of land, there was partial protection from the wind and waves. In order to resist the temptation to keep sighting on the buoy and wasting energy I decided I would not peek for at least one hundred strokes. I lost count. Started again. Best guess, there were maybe 700 strokes between the third to last and second to last buoys.
At this point I could actually see the beach, the tent where there was food. But I still had to go around the last buoy. This is the same buoy off the beach that we went around right at the start of the race. I'm pretty sure they didn't move it while I was out on the course. I'd like to say that I poured it on to finish strong. But that is not true. I plodded along like I had been doing for hours. Rounded the final buoy and headed for shore. I had to adjust my course three times between the last bouy and the finish on the beach. The wind was giving me one last push. Wifey peeled off to my right to get to the kayak landing area. I swam until my fingers hit bottom and then I swam a few more strokes. I stood up feeling less wobbly than I expected and stumbled up onto the beach.
Partly I stumbled because I was tired. But mostly because there was a long orange kayak cutting in front of me. One volunteer asked the kayaker to please not trip the swimmers, another one recorded my finish and a third one gave me some blue gatorade.
I found my cheering section: Mom, Dad and baby son. And when they asked me how I felt I told them my most pressing concern.
"I require chocolate"

Kingdom Swim

So this weekend was Kingdom Swim. This was The Big Event. I'll have a few more swims this season but nothing else comparable to this. I can't recommend this swim highly enough. The atmosphere is fun and friendly. They let me register for the 10 mile back in January when I only did my qualifying swim three weeks ago.  I also saw some familiar faces from some of my earlier swims.

What: Kingdom Swim 10 mile
When: July 7 2012
Where: Newport VT on Lake Memphremagog
Why: Because I wanted to do a big impressive swim

Thursday, July 5, 2012

blow-by-blow part 2

I took of on the next section. We crossed a bridge and started up a hill. Quite a few people chose to walk so I passed a few people on the way up. Around the top of the hill there was a sign giving us three numbers to remember. Then there was a sharp turn and the next obstacle: the web. Rope tied between the trees at different heights and angles. Step over duck under and squeeze through. I passed another person here. After the web the course went off-trail and down hill. This may have been my favorite part of the whole race. I had lost sight of anyone in front of me so I just took off running through the woods. I felt like a little kid, leaping over logs and having a grand old time. I caught up with a few more people at the mud crawl.
I didn't actually have to crawl, I got elbows to knees and managed to walk right under the tarp. The mud continued for a little further. I passed a few more people here, as the mud sucked at their shoes. Then I got to the river crossing, which was a pretty serious bottleneck. Climb down wade across and climb out. But there was only room for one person at a time to climb out. Everyone was polite and more or less left the river in the same order we came in. Then we got back on the trail and passed that water station again.
Still a little thirsty I grabbed another warm cup of water and went on my way. The next obstacle was just switchbacks. The course zigged and zagged. Run about 50 feet, turn around run 50 feet back, repeat. This was maybe the easiest obstacle, but I should be polite because I very nearly bit it on the slippery grass. I passed a few more people who were wisely walking this obstacle. As soon as we got out of the switchbacks we came to the tires. The tires were all two rows deep. The first row was one high and the second row was either two or three tires high. That meant I didn't need a lot of fancy footwork. I stepped in the first tire and leapt over the second row. By this time the had nearly looped back around to the start.


Monday, July 2, 2012


Since my number was 362 I started in the 4th wave. The starting line was on the main road in the park. At the buzzer I took off at a jog with the rest of the group. After just a few hundred yards we turned off to the right to follow a trail uphill. This was the first bit of congestion. The trail narrowed down to single file and there was no more room to pass. So pretty soon we were heading back down hill at a brisk walking pace. Then we came to the first real obstacle: The swamp. This was knee to waist deep water. The water was all stirred up with mud so you couldn't see your feet. There were there were rocks and downed trees to step over and the bottom was muddy and uneven. We had to step carefully. A few people bit it and got a face full of muddy water. We went single file through this bit. I couldn't have gone much faster if I had wanted to.
I climbed out of the swamp and jogged off to find the next obstacle. They called them "molehills" mounds of dirt, or maybe small hills six to eight feet high. You had to run, climb, or scramble up one side and then back down the other. I found if I got a running start I could pop right up to the top without having to scramble with my hands. Then I would pause at the top to make sure I had a clear path before running down and using the flat ground to get my pace back under control. There were about 5 of these molehills. The last one was actually an asphalt cliff about three feet high. The ground was level on the other side so it was leap up and keep running. 
The course continued relatively straight before curving around through some knee deep water on the shore of a pond. I passed a few people on the straight stretch and a few more running through the water. As long as the water didn't go past my knees I could actually do a high stepping sort of run while most everyone else was walking. The course continued around the pond and then to the docks. 
It was way too far to jump from dock to dock. So it was hop up on the dock, jump into the water hop up onto the next dock. The water turn out to be about chest high.  After the docks I got back on shore and ran for the walls.
While I was watching the first wave I could see that the walls were a real problem for some people so it could be a bad bottleneck. I hit the first wall right behind some guys who were sailing right along. Another dude got there about a half-second after me and we went over no problem. He was still about a half-second behind me when I got down from the third and last wall. The course continued past the walls for a little while before turning right at the water station. I grabbed a cup from one of the volunteers and downed it. It was warm.


last pool

Today was my last pool workout before Kingdom Swim. It felt harder than last week but I managed to get through it ok. A few more lake swims and then it is the big event.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

My first mud run

We started in waves based on bib number. This was to minimize bottlenecks on the course. Given that there were more than 450 participants on a course no more than 5k long this was essential. Of course there was no way they could eliminate bottlenecks completely on this course. All this means is that the first people out on the first wave had a chance to move through the course considerably faster. But so what? Under no circumstances would I be in danger of winning the the race.
They counted twenty obstacles, including some wall climbs, tires, water, and some fantastic mud. It also included running up a hill and along a trail. So maybe it should only be counted as 18.
I opted to do the run in my five fingers shoes, rather than my normal running shoes. This was absolutely the right choice for me. I was able to zip through the thickest mud without losing my shoes, do my climbs and scrambles more easily, and swim through several of the water obstacles almost without noticing I was wearing shoes. I only saw one other person who made the same call on shoes and they definitely got a lot of comments.
I'm not really sure about the etiquette on mud run obstacles. I tried to avoid cutting ahead of people it seemed mostly rude, sometimes dangerous and occasionally impossible. I felt much better jogging past people between the obstacles; there were a lot of folks who mostly walked.
I finished the thing with relative ease and had, I will claim, as much fun as anyone on the course. I think I should do another one of these things.


So here is an event that is a real change of pace for me.

Who: Northwest CT YMCA
What: The 2012 Wyld Mud Run
When: June 30th 2012
Where: John A. Minetto State Park
Why: A fun change of Pace

This was my first ever Mud Run and the first time the local Y organized a mud run Overall I thought it was pretty great.

Friday, June 29, 2012


I could really feel the heat on my run yesterday. I don't think it was over 90 and yet the heat really had an effect. A 4.6 mile run is on the upper edges of what I will undertake without water breaks. I might, under some circumstances, stretch it out to 6. But since it is long-ish for a run with no water stops I need to be that much more careful about being fully hydrated before I head out.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

a few more

Maybe the weather will permit me a lake training session today.  At this point I'm not to worried about training volume. I would like to keep a fairly regular training schedule and get a few more chances to work on feeds from the kayak.

Monday, June 25, 2012


I did my speed work today. Only I wasn't thinking about swimming fast. I was trying to pay attention to my body position and my stroke, especially the entry. It felt very demanding. Definitely very good conditioning. But I didn't ever feel like I was struggling to make the interval. Afterwards I threw in 200 yards of butterfly. One lap at a time, but one lap at a time is how you build.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

my finish

Yeah, I was supposed to come in on the other side of that rope. Oh well

Not-so-super Swim

The campsite where we stayed was on the north side of John's Pond, right next to the town beach where the race is held. So it was easy to make breakfast and then stroll right over to the start. My trouble was, it was a hot night, and I woke up thirsty. I didn't figure this would be a problem. They would have water before the race. Well, I was wrong about that. This was not a disaster, I just jogged back over the campsite in order to refill some water bottles. But I'm not sure I got enough water into me before the start of the race.
The course is a half-mile triangular loop course. That means 6 times around for the 3.1 miles. Six times around and a little bit more. There was a 1/2 mile race as well as a 1 mile race. Everybody starts at once and swims on the same course. Needless to say things are a bit crowded at the start, The 5k and the half mile starts together with an in water start. I waded in about waist deep as we lined up and I thought the was was cold. I wasn't really expecting cold to be a problem for me in this race.
They blew their siren and we were off. Considering the mass start it wasn't all that bad. No bad collisions, no kicks to the face. I decided I would do my count from the tetrahedral buoy furthest from shore. So I counted "one" as I made that turn. Since this was an acute triangular course all the turns were sharper than 90 degrees. I felt like my turns were sloppy and slow.  I was surprised that I still found  a few 1 milers on my third loop. I was just beginning to think that the course was too small for things to really open up when suddenly I found myself alone. There was a large gap ahead and a large gap behind.
Despite the simplicity of the course I still had a little trouble with navigation. The entire course was marked by three buoys, and on the longer legs of the triangle the next buoy was very difficult to spot. This usually meant several strokes of breaststroke while I located the buoy and got myself pointed at it. The buoy was just too small of a speck for me to see with a quick sighting. I was consistently drifting to my right on the way out and to my left on the way back in. That matches the direction of the wind so maybe my drifting isn't all that mysterious. By the time I was on my second loop I was amazed I could have ever thought the water was cold. I was hot. I actually had that feeling of being a little too warm that I usually only get during a pool workout.
Near the end of my fifth loop  another swimmer blew past me on the turn. I figured this guy is already coming in for the finish maybe I can see where he goes. But I lost track of him and so I started my last loop without knowing where exactly the finish line was.  I kept looking for my oomph. I wanted to put on a little speed for the finish. But I just didn't have it. I moseyed on in to the end of the race and swam right past the finish, because I didn't know where it was or what I should be looking for. My official time: 1:35 something. Considerably slower than my previous 5k races. I'm disappointed with my finishing time but after all I only have two other races to compare it to. At this point I can hardly even guess what the problem is. Was I slightly dehydrated? did I sleep poorly? Was my navigation adding a lot of distance? The title of this post is my feelings about my swim.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Cape Cod

This was, as best as I can recall, my first trip to cape cod. It was also my third 5k and the first time we camped out the night before. All previous swims have launched from home or from a hotel room, so that was an added logistical challenge. Anyway the basics.

Who: Mashpee Recreation
What: The 23rd annual Cape Cod Superswim
When: June 23rd 2012
Where: John's Pond, Mashpee MA
Why: Because MIMS sounds like a bit much

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Something different

Took the boat out on the lake today. It was my son's first boat ride. We even got him into the water (wearing his life jacket of course) We'll have that little guy trained up in no time.

go again

Another warm day today. Time to get ready for another weekend adventure. These adventure are really coming at me fast. Anyway Saturday, for me, is the Cape Cod Superswim. Here's hoping the weather will be ok. There's an AM rain prediction now.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Go jump in a lake

It was, is, hot today. I got in some beautiful lake swimming with my coach in the early hours of morning. Wait is 7:30 the early hours? Anyway three trips across the lake was a great way to start the day. And a decent way to keep cool.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

more big fun

So the Son of a Swim gives it away. My big event for this season is the Kingdom 10mile.  But I've got more events planned. I'm having a tremendous time at all of these swims so far. Almost every swim is a personal best because I've never competed at that distance before.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Big lake swimming

So this was the biggest and the smallest event that I've done so far. Eight swimmers altogether. Four doing six miles and, I think, two each doing 4 miles and 2 miles. The official water temperature they gave us just before the start was 65 degrees. We suited up, greased up, and we got a group photo just a little before the start. Looking at it now it is not obvious that I am nervous. But I most definitely was.
We got the kayaks launched and the wind pushed them off to the right. The eight of us waded just past knee deep into the water and then, as one, hesitated. I stood there thinking how very cold the water felt and wondering if I could really do 6 miles at this temperature. Then Phil sounded the horn on his boat and it was time to stop being nervous and start swimming. It was a pretty good jumble. As much of a jumble as you can make with only 8 swimmers and 8 kayaks. I just pointed myself at the first buoy and tried not to cause any collisions. I figured wifey, who was my kayaker, would be able to pick me up after the buoy. As it turned out,  she picked me right up even before the buoy. As I  made the turn and set out for the second buoy I caught a look at one other swimmer already way out ahead of me. That was the last time I saw another swimmer. It was just me and wifey in the kayak. Not exactly typically romantic but I kept thinking how wonderfully sweet it was.
The third bouy was also the one mile mark, and just past it I had my first feed. I had prepared six bottles apple juice, diluted about 50/50. They had around 12oz each. I expected that would be more than I would want at most of my feedings. But when I got the first one, sun warmed and sweet, I eagerly drank every drop.
I got my second feeding at the fourth buoy, which was also the 2 mile mark, and again I drank the whole thing. By the third mile I was actually feeling pretty good. I was beginning to think I could do some real distance at this temperature. When we arrived at the last buoy which was the three mile mark I saw Phil in his boat. I guess he was taking pictures. He asked me how the water was and I told him it wasn't bad. He shouted that it was all downhill from here. I got another feeding and we set off on the return trip.
Downhill, maybe but upwind. In fairness it was not such a terribly strong wind. And the chop it was generating as not all that big. But it was enough to feel a big difference. Mile 4 was considerably more difficult than mile 3. But it was not until the 4 mile mark that I had some real problems. Wifey grabbed the next bottle for feeding but with sunscreen on her hands she could not pop off the little plastic cap. After struggling for a minute we decided that I should give it a try. Wifey came back around and right when she was about to give me the bottle my left calf cramped up. It came on so powerfully I barely had the presence of mind to not grab the kayak. This was a serious, potentially swim ending, cramp. It took me several tries before I finally was able to stretch it out. Right when I thought I had fixed it, it cramped right back up again. I guess the cold water was having more of an effect than I had thought a mile earlier.
Once I finally got my leg sorted out. I got the bottle from wifey and, not being in a mood to mess around, simply bit the cap right off and, once again, drained it. The fifth mile was still upwind and right into the chop. And most of the time I was doing a funny lopsided kick to keep my leg from cramping up. At the 5 mile mark wifey was kind enough to bite the cap off for me for what should be my last feed of the swim.  At this point I could feel a colder layer of water just an arms length below the surface. I was afraid to tread water for more than a moment because I thought the colder layer might cause my leg to cramp up again. I think that was the only bottle that I didn't drain. I was starting to feel an empty feeling in my stomach but rather than mess around with more solid food I decided to just bring it home and eat on shore. For most of the last mile I could feel that colder layer below me. My stroke would bring my fingers through it almost every time. The last mile was the only time I bothered to sneak a peak at the next buoy. It was also the only time I swam into the kayak. We finally rounded the last buoy and I didn't even try to make a sprint into shore. I just kept my stroke going, then there were lake weeds reaching up to graze my belly. And then the shore, which never seemed to get any closer was there. I grabbed the ground with both hands and got my feet under me. I waded out of the water to the cheers of the 4 milers and the one 6 miler that I had lost sight of more than three hours back.
Then I made a beeline for the car where I knew I had a chocolate bar.

Son of a Swim

What: An official qualifier for Kingdom Swim
When: June 16th 2012
Where:  Newport VT in Lake Memphremagog
Why: To qualify for the Kingdom 10-mile

The course is a simple out and back and it includes a 2, 4 and 6 mile option

Thursday, June 14, 2012

2 days

Did my run today. Tomorrow we hit the road for Newport VT. I really hope I can get the straps holding the kayak on the roof of the car to stop buzzing. That will drive me all kinds of crazy in short order. Just a few more snacks and it's time to sack out.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

almost there

Did a quick dip in the lake to practice signaling and feeding today. This weekend will be our first long swim with wifey as my kayaker. We're feeling pretty good overall. Pretty low volume the last two weeks, but you can't cram for en endurance event anyway. One more training day tomorrow and we will be off.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Son of a...

Swim. That's right. This weekend, Newport VT. This will be my biggest race so far. 6 Miles in mighty Memphremagog is my goal. There are, I believe, only 3 other swimmers undertaking this distance at this time so it will also be my smallest.
The distance is no joke, but I've covered it quite a few times in the pool. And I've done some good open water distance these past few weeks. Although not more than 5k continuous or about 3.5 miles in a day.
Wifey and I got in some good practice with the kayak. Now that I have a good idea of how close to the kayak I should be I haven't been crashing into her. (hint: it is closer to 12 feet than to 6)
I've figured out a little about water temperature and I think that it will be ok, even in Vermont.

Correction: I swam 4.1 miles in open water at the Jim McDonnell Lake swim on the saturday


I almost talked myself out of putting those extra pounds on my deadlift. You know, the pounds I was talking about adding last week? Yeah. I but I failed to talk myself out of it but instead went for it. It felt harder. But also pretty solid. A good deadlift is one of the most satisfying things in a workout. There is something so very simple about it. See that? Pick it up. Now put it down. That's your workout. repeat as needed.
Anyway I was all ready to make an excuse because of this weekend. But I am glad I didn't

Friday, June 8, 2012


After being beautiful all day when it is time to swim it clouds up. Well i'm going in anyhow

Thursday, June 7, 2012

road work

Beautiful day today. Jogged my normal loop. I am really enjoying getting faster. I say to myself "conditioning, conditioning, conditioning" as I run up the hills.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

not crashing into the kayak

Did a session in the lake with Wifey kayaking for me. It went great. I didn't crash into the kayak once. There was a light breeze, too. This is very important practice for some upcoming swims.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

pile it on

I think it might be time to add more weight to my deadlift, again. For a while I was adding weight almost every week. Right now I seem to repeat the same poundage three or four or five times.
I see strength training as a constant balancing act. I need to keep pushing for additional strength, meaning I want to add weight to the big lifts as often as possible. But I also need to avoid hurting undoing weeks or months of work, meaning I need to add weight slowly and safely. It really helps that I have no particular deadline.

Monday, June 4, 2012

emphasis on the work

So, I made it through my speed work this afternoon. Not surprisingly, after a busy weekend, it was a bit of a struggle. I do believe that these workouts make a difference, even though they continue to happen in the pool.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

In the lake

I met up with my coach for some lake swimming. Absolutely beautiful day. Nothing like yesterday at all. Also got in more than three miles and it felt fantastic. I've got to find some stronger sun protection though; I think I got a little burned on my back. I guess this is when I start buying up diaper cream for the zinc oxide. After all this wonderful open water swimming I could almost skip my monday pool workout. But I still think that my speed work is too valuable (and too productive) to slack off of it.

Alone in the middle of the Hudson River

So the race started at 11:30, check in at 10. So that means wake up, eat breakfast, get ready and go. Poughkeepie is just around an hour out so leaving the house at 9 feels pretty civilized. It is no exaggeration to say the weather was miserable. Overcast, cold, and alternating between raining a lot and only raining a little bit. When we found the starting line it looked pretty sparse. Just a handful of swimmers and volunteers mostly staying out of the drizzle under the tent. I passed the time drinking  blue gatorade and then running off to the porta-john.
I was worried about the colder water and about the current and chop. I was also worried that swimming under the bridges would trigger a sense of vertigo that I sometimes get, kind of like a fear of heights. So naturally I was signed up to swim 5k and see how I dealt with all of that.
After getting a head count of swimmers at the starting line, and with zero ceremony they started a countdown from ten and we were off. This was the biggest mass start I've been a part of so far, and we had to turn around a buoy just about a hundred meters from shore so things seemed pretty crazy for a while. I tried to relax, not get kicked in the face and wait for things to open up. There were three buoys marking the triangle turn to be made around the easternmost stanchion of the mid-hudson bridge. As we rounded these buoys most of my attention was on avoiding bad collisions with very little to spare for whether passing under the bridge would make me feel small and dizzy.  I set my sights on the walkway over the Hudson some 900M north against the current and my stroke fell apart. I was swimming directly into some waves, possibly the wake of a moderately sized boat and I was having trouble adjusting my breathing so as not to get a lungfull of riverwater. When paused in my struggle and looked around I had lost sight of every other swimmer and most of the support boats. There I was, as the title of this post suggests. For all I knew I was in dead last, after all it was a pretty small field. Surprisingly these things did not cause me to feel nervous and upset.  With about 1K of 5 behind me I finally started to feel pretty good. I pointed myself at the walkway bridges and kept going.
It turns out that I had not been left behind as much as I thought because I met up with a few other swimmer when I finally found my way to the walkway over the hudson and rounded the triangle turn. While trying to cross back under the walkway I had the distinct impression that I was swimming in place under the bridge. This would not be the last time I felt that way. Once I cleared the walkway I was heading south again and with the current. I actually had another swimmer with me for a while, until I wandered off course, or perhaps the current nudged me.
I caught a glance at the starting buoy when I was about 50 yards past it. This worried me. "How am I ever going to spot that on my next time around?",  I wondered to myself.
While rounding the three buoys at the mid-hudson bridge I overtook a group of swimmers. I was already several strokes ahead of them before I realized they were wearing yellow caps instead of green. The 2.5k'ers. I figured if they started 45mins behind us and these are the first yellow caps I'm seeing then I am way off my pace for this swim. Oh well, I was still feeling good, and if it took me longer to finish at least I would know I could handle the extra time in the water. On my way back to the walkway I overtook maybe two more yellow caps. And while I was rounding the buoys I spotted two green caps as well. I tried to pour on some power for the last few hundred meter, but I felt like the current was throwing me around. Somehow I caught a look a the finish buoy and I was able to head straight for it. Actually the river was pushing me closer to shore so I had to adjust my course a few times. I rounded the buoy and started what I thought would be the final push into shore. The current threw me off course in about ten strokes, but I managed to get in eventually. I stepped onto shore carefully, they recorded my finish and another swim hits my personal record books.

2 bridges

So lets start with the basic info before I get into my own experience.

Who: and CIBBOWS
What: The first ever 2 Bridges Swim under the walkway
When: Jun 2nd 2012
Where: The Hudson River at Poughkeepsie NY
Why: Because you think big rivers are awesome

So this was the first ever 2 bridges swim. There was no swag bag, no chip timing, and just a skeleton crew of volunteers. But I had a pretty great time

(I'm the one with the beard)

Friday, June 1, 2012


Tomorrow is the second weekend of my first ever open water season. Poughkeepsie is actually close enough to qualify as local. The water should be considerably colder than in Virginia last week. About 68-71 as compared to 76-78.  Also it looks like there is a chance of rain. I hope that doesn't turn out to be a problem. I'm taking today off swimming to keep my shoulders fresh.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Pool again

There is something depressing about the first pool workout after having such a fantastic time in Virginia at the Jim McDonnell Lake Swims. But, even though I was very pleased with how I did, I know I can do even better. And that means not slacking off on my training. Also that was just the season opener for me. I'm planning to make my first open water swimming season as busy as possible.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

1 Mile

The one mile race was my third ever open water race. Also third in two days. And my seventh trip around  Lake Audubon. I put myself towards the back of my wave and followed the pack out onto the dogleg. This was the first (and only) time I actually caught a look at my lovely wife, watching from the walkway.
I was a little tired by this point but I figured there was no point in holding back, if I had any power to spare now was the time to pour it on. By this time navigating the course actually wasn't hard. I could feel that sighting was more effort than before, though. This was probably a good thing, because I think I started to be more efficient about it.
Everything felt pretty smooth until I had already passed the turnaround buoy and was on the long stretch back in. I slowly reeled in another swimmer who I had spotted a few yards ahead of me. I pulled up on his right within about 8 feet and half a body length behind. I figured I'd be happy to stay right there or, maybe, if I was lucky, actually pass him. But then the distance between us had disappeared and I  had to veer right to avoid crashing into him. So I corrected and then I had to veer again to avoid crashing into him. And then a third time. I figured maybe I should try picking up my pace. If I spent less time swimming alongside him maybe he wouldn't have time to wander so far off course. Well that plan failed and the long-delayed collision took place. It wasn't really much of anything. I slowed down, skipped a stroke and got behind him for the draft. I'm still having trouble with drafting so after a little while I swung way out to his left and got back to swimming my own pace.
I lost track of him almost immediately so I don't know if I actually did wind up  passing him or not. For that matter I can't tell if he was practicing some racing technique and deliberately boxing me out or if he just tends to pull to the right. In fairness I should allow that I may have been pulling to the left. But I don't think so.
When I got around the drain I let it all go and did a reasonable approximation of a sprint into the finish line.
Three races, one clinic, two days and it was time to head for home.

After I grabbed a little more food

2 miles

Between Saturday and Sunday they adjusted one (or two?) of the buoys so that the course would be a true mile instead of one and two-thirds kilometers. I couldn't tell the difference. I'm not even sure which buoy(s) they moved. In any case since I knew I could make three times around before being overtaken by my own hunger I started out pretty confident. I think maybe I was not the only one who felt that way because my group (wave C) went out faster than my wave in the 5k. Anyway it seemed faster. By the time I came out of the dogleg and back to the main lake I was looking at a pack of swimmers way out in front of me. It was more or less what the leaders of the clinic swim had looked like just before I lost track of them entirely. I said to myself  "Well Rick, there's basically no chance of chasing them down so just relax and focus on your stroke" So that's what I did.

It came as a bit of a surprise to me when I made the first 90 degree turn at the far end of the lake and found that I was right on top of them. I seem to lose track of other swimmers at the turns so I don't know how many of them I actually passed, but that was still a pretty good ego boost. Things got a little more spread out on the way back but I think I might have passed one or two more people. But as I was swimming around the drain two swimmers blew right past me. It is possible they had been riding my draft for a little while and jumped on their chance to make a break. But at least I know they weren't the winners lapping me, because I then followed them most of the way to the turnaround at the end of the dogleg. Everything felt  pretty smooth for the rest of the swim. There were maybe two other swimmers around me for the home stretch. When I caught sight of the drain I saw there were two swimmers just starting around it. I thought to myself "Rick, you can catch those two" I expected that if I caught them they would race me into the finish. Instead I blew right past them. It was not until later that I realized they must have been from a later wave just starting their second lap. Sorry guys!

I felt pretty strong jogging up out the water into the finishing chute. Time for a little more food and then one more race.

The clinic

The advice on navigation that they gave  during the clinic might have been helpful to me before blundering through the 5K. Not that it was useless after one open water race. Use big features on the shoreline to help you navigate. Get a look at the course before the race. They talked a little about the mental aspects of open water and mentioned a few drills that use might use in your training. But there is no substitute for practice which is why the clinic included a practice swim.

The swim had wave starts just like the races. From my point of view the major difference is that there were not as many faster swimmers participating in the clinic. Which meant that I started in the first wave. I put myself toward the back of the group and we were off. This was wave A so there were some fast swimmers. I didn't even make an attempt to hang with them. My short term goal was to keep them in sight. So I followed the lead pack around the dogleg and back towards the main lake. But by the time I had turned out of the dogleg and onto the main part of the lake I had lost track of the lead pack. I couldn't see anyone to either side. I suppose a savvy and experienced swimmer could have been riding my draft at this point but I doubt it. So I swam out the rest of the course on my own, without a bunch of other swimmers to help my navigation. Much to my delight I managed fine on my own. I did pause on my way back between the turnaround and the finish and look around. I couldn't spot anyone in front of me or behind. I got to the finish feeling great and went for a second round of food.


I was seeded in wave D for the 5K swim. So I got to see waves A through C start. I walked into the water with group D and put myself toward the back of the group. I had no experience swimming in a pack and didn't want to risk getting kicked, elbowed, or tangled up with the other swimmers any more than absolutely necessary. We got the signal to go and I started off slowly, trying to stay behind the pack and follow them to the first buoy. I had looked at the course map plenty of times but I didn't really have any sense of scale. How long would it take me to get to the first turnaround? More importantly, how long would it feel like it took me to get to the first turnaround? How close would I need to be to spot the buoys? I didn't know any of these things. (as it turns out I guessed right about how close I need to be to spot a buoy: pretty close) Anyway my guidelines were go with the flow and keep the shore on my right.

I followed the pack to the first turnaround buoy and got myself around it without getting lost. A little bit after the buoy I got that horrible feeling. The feeling that tells me that there is no way I can keep this up and I may as well quit right now. It is pretty disheartening to get that feeling so early on in a race. On the other hand maybe it has to show up at some point and it's better to get it out of the way soon. Since that feeling has shown up a few minutes into every long workout that I've done since February I know it doesn't mean a thing.

I relaxed and completed my first lap around the course, navigating almost entirely by the other swimmers and the shore. By the second lap I was feeling a little more confident. I thought that since I had just gotten a swimmer's eye view of the course I would have an easier time navigating. Not so much. On the long stretch down the main part of the lake I spotted a buoy and started to turn around it. About six strokes past it I realized that it was not, in fact, a turnaround buoy. It was a stay-between-this buoy-and-the-shore buoy. Oops. So put myself back on the course and continued on my way feeling foolish and slightly annoyed. When I did find the turnaround buoy (by following the other swimmers) I thought that maybe it was bigger than the others. That was my new working assumption.

At the end of my second lap of the course I felt better than I had at the end of the first. By this time I actually was getting a little bit of a feel for the course. When I passed the last turnaround buoy I thought  I would try to pick up the pace on the long straight stretch towards the finish. It was exactly then that my calves told me quite firmly that if I tried to kick any harder they would cramp up and cramp up hard. My stomach then spoke up. It spoke of a cavernous, gaping, empty feeling, and threatened that if I did not do something to remedy this gnawing painful hunger it would instigate a work slowdown and my shoulders would definitely be on board with this. So I said to my stomach "look, there is food at the finish line. As much as we need. The faster we get there the faster we eat" 

I can't actually be sure that I swam any faster on the home stretch. I did pass a lot of other swimmers, but according to my calculations they might have been from a later wave on their second lap of the course.

I finished in good form, meaning I did not trip, or knock over any of the officials despite feeling slightly dizzy from suddenly being vertical.  Someone handed me a bottle of water, someone else took the timing chip off my ankle, a third person took a numbered bib out of my cap.