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.