September 2007 Archives

It Wouldn't Be September Without...

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I was feeling kinda low on energy this past weekend. I chalked it up to the new swimming schedule getting to me, and blew off the weekend run. Monday's swim was ok, but at work I again started to feel rather drained. By noon at Tuesday, I knew there was something more serious wrong with me, so I headed home to the couch. After sleeping Tuesday and especially Wednesday away, I felt a bit more like myself on Thursday.

Friday's swim seemed to confirm that. I wasn't exactly strong in the water, but I managed a 3:05 on my first 200 free. Alas, the second one was slower at 3:15, but I was able to finish the workout well.

I'd like to hope that I can come out of this and build my strength, but personal and workplace pressures seem to be building. The road ahead is going to hold far greater challenges than just training.

Consistency

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Once again, I ran at work on a Tuesday. That's 3 runs in 8 days - I'm almost a runner again!

On Monday, I got some feedback that I needed to kick harder on my freestyle, as my legs were riding low in the water, and adding drag to slow me down. I've always known that my kick wasn't that great, and the start of a new season seems a perfect time to focus on this weakness.

Today's main set featured 18 repeats of 50m freestyle, with a gradually reducing pace time. I tried to focus on my kick, and while I definitely lost the plot a little in the middle, I was able to finish up with a strong kick. The upside was that the strategy saved my arms some grief. I was some winded, though!

As the weather cools off, I'm finding myself more and more drawn to being outside. Hopefully, I'll be able to get another month of running and cycling in nice weather before I have to start thinking about the elements, again.

Benchmark

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After 1000m of warmup, we did a benchmark set.

100m at 100%
rest 3 minutes
100m at 85%, count strokes
rest 3 minutes

First time through was freestyle, second time through was breastroke (or fly, but like I'm chosing that!)

First off was the fast 100m. I was hoping for a 1:30. My PB is 1:21, and the Q time (FINA 2008 world champtionships) is 1:12.7. I surprised myself by managing to stay at a high level of exertion throughout the 100, and with my finishing time of 1:25.

In the warmup, I was doing 16-17 strokes per lap fairly consistently, although admittedly I was taking it pretty easy. It makes a difference. At 85% effort, I was having trouble with my stroke count - it went 19, 19, 18, 18. Still, I'm happy that it was under 20.

Of course, I strongly suspect that there are only 2 or 3 of us in that half of the pool who can't swim a 1:20. Bleh.

On to breaststroke, which I was frankly much more keen to do. I had the priviledge/pressure of leading out the lane. I don't have a recorded PB for the distance, but the Q time is 1:33. I worked extremely hard over the first 100, but wasn't immediately sure I was pulling away from the lane. Maybe that added pressure helped, as I finished with a smokin' 1:35.

On the next set, I aimed to stretch out a bit more, but still keep my speed. I barely held onto a 9 stroke per 25m average, but came home in 1:37. I was very stoked.

It will be interesting to see if I'm able to take any time off of these in the next month.

Ladybug Power

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Well, for the first week in forever, I'm committed. swim, run, swim, and now bike commute.

I got the wife and kids up and moving this morning, then sat down to breakfast and a tall glass of water. I caught up on my morning reading, and chatted briefly with an old friend while sitting at the computer. After a while, my youngest drifted into the room, and 7 colourful ladybug stickers appeared mysteriously on the back of my hands.

By 8:30, my stomach had settled, and I was off. It was barely over 10 celcius (50 F) out, so the first kilometer was somewhat chilly. When I turned west, I guessed that the wind was behind me, because I started just flying along. When I climbed the overpass over the highway and barely dropped below 25km/h, I was sure of it.

Alas, eventually, I had to turn north. I still felt pretty good, and the nice part about this road is the smooth pavement and either wide paved shoulder or outright bike lane along the entire length. I held 32km/hr into the subdivision, and along a slight downhill. As I reached the point where the slight downhill becomes a slight uphill, I (for reasons unknown) switched to a tougher gear. Suddenly, my legs were working a fair bit harder, but I tried to get my cadence up to something reasonable. The result was a surge up to ~38km/hr. Even once the hill got going, I only dipped down to 35km/h.

It was as though I had suddenly found a tool - something I can use in pursuing all those things I talked about after the marathon. It became a mantra in my head - the courage to attack. I attacked the rest of the way to work, to the point where my quads were aching. The net result was that I was fast, and fairly winded when I got there.

My bike computer reports an average speed of 30.0 km/h over the commute, which might just be a seasonal record. As I headed for the shower, I congratulated myself for riding aggressively, and felt a small sense of accomplishment.

As I took my biking gloves off, what did I see? Ladybug stickers. Hmm... Maybe there's something to them.

How Long It Takes

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This week, swimming seems to be a mix of drills (mostly kicking - yuck) and "easy" pace times. When I say easy, I mean in comparison with February.

On the first day last week, I was afraid that everyone in my lane was going to be way faster than me. I'm sure it didn't help that I was sharing a lane with a lifetime swimmer and a top-class triathlete. So when we did a long set of freestyle pace work on Monday, I was very happy to hang around at the back of the line. Interestingly, some of my lanemates who were just flying at the beginning of the set weren't really getting away from me by the end. While it made me feel a bit better about "belonging" in the lane, I'm sure it will only last until everyone is back in shape, at which time I'll have some real work to do.

Despite not running on the weekend (bizarrely, I had early morning errands both days - that never happens!), I was able to get in a run yesterday. It was raining, and cool, but still very nice. I only did about 5.5 km, but was rewarded by a (rainy) BBQ lunch at work.

Today, I did my first 200 IM of the season. The breathlessness of it all was almost nostalgic, but not quite.

The pace work was a mix of free and non-free. The whole lane opted for breaststroke, and I was asked to lead out. Yes, there is one stroke in which I can keep up with the Joneses. It only took 4 sessions to be tagged as the breaststroke guy, I guess. The stroke itself is going ok, I guess. I started out holding 50s/50m, but couldn't keep it up. I'm fairly certain that I'll be able to gain some time on my turns, once I'm used to not breathing (again).

Hopefully, I'll be biking to work tomorrow, and swimming again on Friday. I strongly suspect that I'll be pretty sore by the end of the week.

Rest is Good

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I biked to and from work yesterday. Actually went fairly fast, too, averaging over 27 km/h in both directions - not bad for mostly urban riding.

This morning's swim was easier than Wednesday's. There was more rest build into the workout - the coach even promised it would be easier than Monday. I also probably did a better job pacing myself. I definitely faded towards the end, maybe at around the 2000 m mark. Still, it was a much more encouraging swim than Wednesday's was.

I think I'm going to be sore today.

Humility

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So as I'm struggling through this morning's swim, the coach asks

"Did you swim this summer?"
"Nope"
"But you ran, right?"
"Umm... a little."

He laughed.

Well, you reap what you sow. Granted, this morning's workout had more kicking than I wanted, but I struggled pretty badly. I earned it, though. Clearly, it's time to get back into proper shape.

It occurs to me that now is an excellent time for a little humility. I'm essentially starting out down the road of two separate endeavours, both of which will involve a lot of learning and hard work. Yes, I ran a great marathon this year, realizing a dream of mine. Yes, I've been active for a few years, and have been in very good shape as recently as this spring. Yes, I'm a smart guy. None of these facts will help me get to where I want to be. The road ahead on both fronts will be a long one, and it would be best if I approached these endeavours with the respect they deserve.

One final word - while travel and other interests kept me out of triathlons completely this year, the swim club's triathlon group has had a great first year. One of the stronger swimmers did his first (and apparently last) iron distance tri this past weekend, and was telling the story this morning. Great stuff. While I'm not going in that direction anytime soon, I'd love to be there someday. Plus, I DO intend to do triathlons next summer - as many as I can. I'll need to, as the plans for a year from now are exciting, and challenging.

I've come a long way, but there's a long way to go. Today isn't the beginning, but it was a beginning.

Chapters

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I checked my monthly running mileage for August the other day. It looked like a bad week. Ugh.

That said, I haven't been completely inactive. I effectively biked to work twice last week. Got in a run on Saturday, too. Haven't been doing the pushups and situps regularly, but I have been doing them.

Really wanted to run today, but wasn't feeling great. It was 2pm before I finally gave up on the idea. I guess it was just one of those blah days. Oh well.

All this ends now, though. Swimming starts Wednesday, and it will become my focus. I'll continue to run when I can (hopefully a bit more often!), and bike to work on occasion. I'll continue to build on my core strength with my morning calisthenics. The more core and upper body strength I can build on my off days, the better.

If there's one piece of consolation that I can take from this summer, it's that at least when I'm being fairly inactive, I'm still much more active than I was five years ago. Plus, I'm not dropping out. I still have plans. Ambitions.

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  • Cheryl: Right on Wendy! read more
  • Wendy: That swimming fitness will be back before you know it! read more
  • deene: you have to listen to your body, you probably needed read more
  • Cheryl: The heat, mixed with the humidity were extreme and it read more
  • Wendy: Sorry to hear you were so ill, Warren, but good read more
  • Cheryl: Sounds like a tough go! It's a shame that everyone read more
  • deene: anything timed in seconds and with repeats sound tough to read more
  • jank: Ease comes soon while riding in a group. As long read more
  • warren: Sadly, no. Nor did I delve into the Leguminosae family read more
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This page is an archive of entries from September 2007 listed from newest to oldest.

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