October 2007 Archives

Age Group Swim


Today I got asked if I'd been an age group swimmer. Did I swim when I was 14-15? Heck no! I was an awful swimmer as a youngster, and quit altogether at around 12.

Which, I guess, begs the question as to what exactly I'm doing. The question I actually got asked is "how did you get so fast then?", but considering how far I still have to go, maybe that's not a fair question. I seem to be almost as fast now as I was midseason last year. Will I improve, and break through into new territory? I hope so, but it's far from certain at this point.

Our main set today was one of the toughest ever. 16x100, on a pace time which is 20 seconds slower than your PB. For me, that means 1:40. If we failed on consecultive attempts to meet the pace time, we were to stop.

As we found out afterwards, this is a workout that is used for age group swimmers - kids who swim 7-9 times a week, and have nothing else to worry about beyond swimming. The idea behind the workout is that it identifies your basic strength. Sprinters go fairly fast at first, but their times fall off, and if they complete the set, they only barely do so. Middle distance swimmers fare better, and long distance swimmers will probably never be in danger of falling off.

Of course, we aren't age group swimmers. The time that we were given was very tough, and realistically I don't think that any of us could have held the time. I know I certainly didn't.

My first rep was ok, as I finished just under 1:30 and so I had a few seconds to catch my breath. The second rep was much harder, and with less rest, things went crazy pretty quickly. I ran into some traffic on the 4th and 8th iterations, as some people were doing slower pace times. I snuck 15 seconds before rep 8, after having failed the 7th, to try to let the lane traffic clear. I was able to get back under my rep time, but I don't think I went any faster than 1:35 from there on out. Far more often than not, I swam 1:38-1:40.

I did fail, probably 4 times in total. My last failure was on 13, and I really hoped that I would fail on 14 so I could stop. Still, it's not in my nature to go easy even if I'm struggling (though it's not always in my nature to go full out, either). I think I swore alout when I finished 14 on 1:39, and instead of stopping had to head out again immediately.

My stroke definitely broke down early and often, as I had to revert to breathing every second pull, especially in the first 50 of some sets (but yes, sometimes in the first 100). Oxygen was at a premium, which made it progressively difficult to go fast. Hence, my times slowed down, and stayed slow.

I'm sure the swim would have been much more difficult if I hadn't had a disappointing 100m free race last year at Winterlude. Woe betide if I break 1:20 this year and have to repeat this workout next fall!

That said, I look forward to trying this workout again sometime soon, especially since the coach has said he'll tailor it based on our feedback. The 27 minutes or so I spent doing it were extremely NOT FUN, but it was an interesting and challenging experience. If the pace times could be tailored to something more appropriate to 3x a week swimmers, it would be interesting to see which profile fits me best - sprinter (not!), middle distance, or long distance.



Sunday's evening collapse should have been a hint. Maybe the swollen lymph node and the lack of energy were hints, too.

What really hit home was Wednesday's swim. After dragging myself through the warmup, the main set was 14x100, starting with 4 freestyle, descending. I started at 1:40, and could not get any faster. I felt like I was stepping on the gas, but the Datsun wasn't responding.

I opted to listen to my body. I got out of the pool right there, went home, and went back to bed. It basically took me the rest of the week before I was feeling myself then.

To contrast, this morning we did a timed 400m. I opted for freestyle, and here were my 100m splits: (appx): 1:35, 1:45, 1:35, 1:35. A lot better than 4x1:40 with rest between each one, eh?

A Walk in the Park

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Sunday I opted for an 8km run, rather than my usual 5. It didn't feel great, but it didn't feel bad, either. Another baby step forwards, I guess.

Afterwards, we went pumpkin picking, and spontaneously decided to take a walk along Stonebridge Trail. There were lots of people out, walking in groups. There was even an elderly couple riding their bikes. In the park along the way was an Ultimate tournament.

Even though most of the leaves have dropped, now, the colours were still the highlight of the show. Every nice day feels like the last one of the year, and something to be cherished.

Of course, after an 8km run and a 5km walk, there was a price to be paid. My hamstrings were quite sore for the rest of the day, and I crashed hard come sundown. But that's...another story.

Sunday Walk

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So my average swimming distance last week was 3km. I swam my first ever 9km week last week!

The distance felt ok. My freestyle is slowly getting its power back, albeit slowly. It's still intermittent, but when it's there, it feels very good.

One of the main sets last week was;
800 fr mod
400 fr neg split
2x200 fr 100%

My 200m fr PB is 3:08.1, and I managed to swim ~3:08 and 3:11 for the last two. Given how hard we'd worked up until that point, I was pleased.

I was pretty sore after my run on Thursday, which is a fair sign that I'm more or less back to ground zero on my running. I ran again Sunday, putting in 5km then stretching out as well as I could. I didn't feel too bad afterwards.

Today's swim was a mixture of drills and speed. We did two hard 50 breasts, where I struggled to get down to 45 seconds. We then did a 100 freestyle at the end. My arms didn't have the stamina to go hard for a full 100 by that point, and I came home in about 1:27.

Work and home life have been extremely busy lately, but there's a light at the end of the tunnel. It's hard slogging all around at the moment, and while I know I'm not flying through it as best as I can, I am moving forwards, at least.

Running At Lunch


I barely qualify as a runner these days, but I'm hardly feeling sorry for myself over it.

Monday was Thanksgiving, and after swim club some of us went out for breakfast. I ended up at a table with two people who'd done at least a half iron distance triathlon this summer. There were lots of stories told, with the occasional "Well, you know what it's like, Warren. You're a runner/marathoner, right?" I smiled.

Today I slipped away from my desk around 10:30, got changed, and headed out into the mist and drizzle for a short run. About 2.5 km away there's a park that I've taken to including in my lunchtime runs. Today, rather than run through, I stopped, and walked around.

There were throngs of people in the park, with paths lined with flags and police type tape, tents from the rain, and children running everywhere. The regional cross country running meet was on, only a short distance from work. Better yet, my son had elected without any prompting to join the team, and was competing in an 800m race.

He was playing soccer with his friends when I found him. He was quite surprised to see me. "Why, I was just out for a run," I joked.

I'd taken him our for a quick run on the long weekend. We'd walked over to the school, and he'd shown me the loop he practices on every day. We did four loops, which annoyed him, because at recess they only do 3. I talked to him about what a negative split was, and he told me stories about him passing his classmates.

When the girls in his class lined up for their race, the boys hung around near the start line, cheering them on. Eventually the pace bunny appeared and led them, and the girls were off. The boys all rushed to their corral, and stood shivering there for at least 10 minutes. There were about 25 corrals, most of which were in use by the various schools present. When all schools were ready and the bunny well rested, they, too, were off.

I tried to spot my son in the rapdily converging throng, but could not. All that meant was that he was not one of the early leaders, nor one of the early trailers. I jogged around to the midpoint of the race, and waiting for the kids to come. After cheering the bunny on ("you can take them!!"), I started cheering for all the kids wearing the son's school colours.

I had no idea what to expect, but somewhere around 30th (out of maybe 150-200 kids) I saw my son go by. He was looking very strong in comparison to the kids around him, and passed one boy as he went past. I stayed where I was, cheering each boy from his class, cheering by name for the boys I recognized.

When the runners were all gone, I ran over to the finish line. I had to dodge some traffic, and missed my son finishing, but saw him in the chute. He had finished in the top 20, and was very pleased with himself.

By the time he got to me, he was still breathing heavily, so I offered to walk it off with him. He told me that he'd felt pretty bad around the 3/4 mark, but I guess he found a second wind, because he kept passing people, including a classmate who had gone out much too quickly.

We walked back to his school's tent, where he grabbed his lunch and sat down to eat. At that, I said my goodbyes, and ran back to work.

Ok, so I only ran 5km in 2 hours at lunch, but I can't think of a better way to have spent my time!



Ok, so I haven't run in forever. So be it.

Swimming, on the other hand, is coming along well. Monday was another benchmark day, with 100 full out, then 100 doing a stroke count, in 2 different strokes. (We were also supposed to do heartrate measurements - active rate and recovery rate.) Yay, but there's a catch - we had to do the 2 different strokes than we did last time.

That meant backstroke and butterfly. Yuck.

I opted for backstroke first (duh - believe me, it's a duh). My time was fairly awful, at 1:50. I don't have the best backstroke at the best of times, and I haven't felt good at it yet this year, even for me.

One hundred butterfly is further than anyone wants to go in that stroke. I put on a brave face, and charged out of the gate. The first 50m actually felt pretty good - I was actually kicking twice per pull, and while there may not have been much propulsion in my kicks, my 'fly had a pretty good feel.

By about the 60m mark, everything was (unsurprisingly) going away. When I say everything, I of course mean oxygen. My kick started to founder a bit, and my arms were burning. I tried to keep the pace up (and my head down, butterfly is one of those strokes where not breathing feels like it's way faster), but that smooth fun feeling was long gone. The last 25m involved gasping and sputtering, and trying to push my burning arms through the water, over and over.

My time was very rewarding - something like 1:24 (maybe a tiny bit faster!). My freestyle PB is only 1:21, and that's with putting a lot of work into it (not a beginning-of-season type thing). This was even faster than my freestyle time of 1:25, though I suppose I shouldn't be too surprised by that.

Even better, I was only about 5 seconds off the Perth qualifying time of 1:19. I'm not sure that I want to be working on 100 fly this year, but maybe I should be.

Today's set was a long one, with very little rest. I ended up doing 2850 metres. It was a healthy mix of freestyle and breaststroke. Interestingly, I wasn't terribly fast (though I did pull off a 1:30 100m free somewhere in the middle of a set), but my stroke was feeling noticeably better. I'm starting to get my feel back from last winter, and even my coach has noticed the difference.

Now what I really need to do is go for a run.


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Recent Comments

  • 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
  • jeff: WOOHOO! did you ever come up with a name for read more

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