Tahoe: A look back

September 8, 2015 § 1 Comment

IMG_20150806_205417Tahoe happened in July.  I found this post sitting in my drafts folder.  But because it really is the best time of the year, and it’s a shame to let such an event go to waste, let’s reminisce.11695958_10100534397230472_3311924401407648567_nA few weeks ago (like…15 weeks ago) I headed up to Tahoe to do the Trans-Tahoe swim on a star-studded boat. IMG_20150806_205457We all wore our uniforms (sweats) and were ready to take on the competition.

6 swimmers, 11ish miles across the lake.

Unlike past years, the morning was cloudy. IMG_20150811_155629 And cold. IMG_20150811_155536Like, really cold.  And the water wasn’t super inviting.

But we battled on. 20150718_080840 And eventually the sun came out. IMG_20150811_160523 And the Cheladas came out. IMG_20150811_160007 And things were awesome.  Like they are every year. 20150718_131556Because that’s how Tahoe and this crew rolls. 11760338_10100534798915492_3397795908193799603_n until next year… IMG_20150718_164647

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Race Report: Del Valle 10K

June 25, 2015 § 1 Comment

IMG_20150625_145610the dry hills of northern california

This is going to be the most boring race report ever.

Two weeks ago I drove up to Sunnyvale for the Del Valle 10K.  I left crazypants with Mimi and Grandpa, and stayed with some old friends who were fantastic hosts/fellow racers/support crew.  We got up around 5 the following morning and made the drive out to Livermore.  The water was a really nice 71 degrees, the sun was out…pretty ideal.

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My strategy was to go out really, really easy and hang on.  Because I was terrified of not finishing.

The course was 4 x 2,500m loop around a lake.

So I went out easy.  Like, suuuuuuper easy.  For the first 7.5K.  That is a very long time to swim easy.  Fortunately I had this song to keep me company:

The. whole. time.

My splits:

Lap 1: 39+ min
Lap 2: 42+ min
Lap 3: 41+min
Lap 4: 41+min

With about a 30 second break between loops 2 + 3, and 3 + 4 (I just swam by the aid station after the first lap, didn’t need a break).

Total time: 2:44:xx

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Strategy made for a boring race, but it worked!  I broke 3 hours, didn’t faceplant running up the ramp (which I was nervous about), and came out honestly feeling fine.  I thought I could have gone further (though in retrospect, I felt like I picked it up at the end, when in reality it looks like I just held steady).

Aside from a foot/leg cramp towards the end of lap 3 that I thought was going to be the end of my race, but somehow miraculously disappeared, there was little to no excitement.  I spent a lot of lap 2 worrying about a turtle biting me.

IMG_20150625_150348time for beer

I finished not sore, surprisingly not too exhausted, and feeling like I need to do another 10K to see if I can actually race it.  …then proceeded to not swim for what is now going on 2 weeks and promptly got out of shape.

And that was it!  Ready to rock Tahoe.

Done.

June 2, 2015 § Leave a comment

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…and just under 2.5 hours later, it was over.

Win.

 

Looming

June 1, 2015 § Leave a comment

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Summer sunrises in New York City are awesome.

T minus 11 days until the Del Valle 10K, which can mean only one thing: time to cram.

A lot of people this past week have asked me: how far of a swim is that?  I answer: it is a 10K. 10,000 meters.  6.2 miles.  A distance that you should probably train for.

My strategy in approaching this race thus far has gone something like this: swim about 3x a week and start off most workouts with a 2-4K straight, just so I get used to jumping in and going.  Then don’t really worry about the rest. How’s that for a well thought-out plan.

I have done a few longer workouts: 7K, 7.5K, 8K…but–surprise!–haven’t been able to squeeze in my really long swims.  And the 2 week trip to Kentucky/NYC from which we returned yesterday didn’t help.  But it did help with this:

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That’s a huge inflatable swan and day drinking.  But in a pool.  So it half counts.

But now it’s crunch time.  Things just got real.

SO TOMORROW!  Tomorrow I am going to the pool at 6am, and I am getting in a full 10K.

That is a ridiculously long time to swim alone.  But if I’m going to feel any sort of confidence going into this thing that I might be able to actually finish, I have to do it. Mentally it will make a huge difference.

It’s going to suck.  It’s going to suck a lot.  But fortunately I got a new cap straight from the alma mater to give me extra power.

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YES WE CAN.

Catch you on the flip side.

r-r-r-r-raaacesssss

March 25, 2015 § Leave a comment

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Finally.  FINALLY.  After 2 years of hardly anything, I’ve got a schedule happening for 2015.

So far it’s just water (I have some foot stuff going on, I’m going to go see a doctor about it soon, still hoping to sign up for a half or two in the fall, but for now no running.)

SO!

I realize this is backwards in terms of distance, going from the longest swim to the shortest, but what are you going to do.  Also, note that none of these are in the ocean (that’s really just coincidence.)

Time to start ramping up the yardage…

It’s been so long.  So happy to be back.

Lap Swim

March 10, 2015 § 4 Comments

IMG_20141113_113810this is not ‘nam.  there are rules.

You may have noticed the lack of running talk here.  I haven’t run in almost 2 months due to some foot issues.  So I’ve been spending more time in the pool.  This means a lot of time at lap swim.

I’ve been told that lap swimming can be intimidating for non-swimmers.  I assume it’s like the one time I decided to go on a ride with the local cycling club.  I was stressed and felt like I was in everybody’s way the entire ride.  That is why it only happened once.

I like to think that swimmers are not like that group of cyclists.  But that is not always the case (see: here).

Once, I swam for a team in the Czech Republic.

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That is (a very pale) me and my Czech coach, Jura, at a meet in Vienna.  And for posterity’s sake, here is Jura in his coaching uniform:

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But before Jura saw me swimming one day and invited me to join the local club team, I swam during lap swim at the local pool.  The pool was next to my apartment and was actually really awesome.

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Lap swim at this pool, however, was not awesome. Couples would make out in the middle of the pool, people swam on whatever side the lane they wanted to, and sometimes the guards just wouldn’t put lane lines in and people would swim both the long and short length of the pool, like this:

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Total chaos.  (That picture is actually WAY more orderly than the pool ever was, because without lane lines nobody was swimming in a straight line.)

Imagine it’s a beautiful day and you head out on a run.  But every time you pass a bush or a parked car someone jumps out in front of you.  That is exactly what it was like.  And after colliding head on into the supple belly of yet another scantily clad octogenarian for the umpteenth time, I would be like, “WHAT IS HAPPENING!  THIS ISN’T THAT COMPLICATED!  DOESN’T ANYONE HERE FOLLOW THE RULES?!?!?”

swimming-skewed-downold czech men: i swim where i want

So many days I left the pool knowing that the only reason my heart rate went up at all during my “workout” was because I was about to get homicidal.

But those days are behind me.  Now I swim at an absolutely gorgeous Olympic-sized pool, where there are rules posted in English and established lane lines and I can converse with people outside of a simple “Excuse me”.

1237408_589180961134440_251501823_omy current pool

And yet lap lane strife continues.  And not just between experienced swimmers and new swimmers.  I watch new swimmers butt heads with other new swimmers every day. Figuratively and literally.  Lap swim strife abounds.

Sharing a lane with other people is easy.  It really is.  Sharing with people who aren’t the same speed as you is totally doable.  You just have to know the rules.

SO!  For everyone’s sake…

BASIC RULES ON HOW TO SHARE A LANE

First things first: Where to swim

  • Splitting a lane–When there are only two people in a lane, you can “split” the lane.  That means you just stay on one side of the black line, that is your side of the lane.  Simple.  No reason for any conflict.

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  • Circle Swimming— This happens when there are more than 2 people in a lane.  As the picture at the top of this post depicts, it means you always stay to right.  Much like you would if you were driving (in the US).

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Odds are, if it’s at all crowded, you’re going to have to circle.  Just the way it goes.  And in my experience, circle swimming is where things begin to go downhill.  So…

Next: 5 Basic Rules for Circle Swimming

  1. If the lanes are marked by speed (slow, medium, fast), do the best you can to be honest about where you belong compared to the other swimmers in that lane.
  2. Swim on the right side of the lane (as mentioned above)
  3. Pass on the left (as you would driving or cycling)
  4. Give people space. Don’t push off the wall right in front of someone else who is about to turn and start a new lap, and don’t push off the wall right behind someone who just started a new lap. Give a person 5 seconds at least before you push off behind them. Personal space. Recognize.
  5. Be aware of your lane mates.

Rule #5 is really what it all comes down to.  When your head is in the water it’s easy to be oblivious to everything else around you.  But lanes can get crowded, and not everyone swims at the same speed.  You’re sharing the space with varying ability levels and should act accordingly.  Which brings us to…

Passing:

  • If someone is about to pass you in the middle of the lane, just stay calm and keep swimming straight and to the right and leave it up to them to get around you.  And don’t be an asshat and speed up and race them as they pass.
  • If someone is on your feet when you come into the wall, or if you notice someone is catching you, just stop on the wall, in the corner, and let them pass you there.  It’s a lot easier than passing in the middle of the pool.
  • If you are the person passing someone, make sure no one else is heading down the lane in the other direction.  Avoid collisions.

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Pretty straightforward.

There are certain situations that are, in the long run, unavoidable at lap swim (the lady with the breaststroke kick that takes up the entire lane, the old dude who crosses over onto your side every time he breathes…)  That is the nature of the beast.  It’s always a craps shoot.   Which leads to….

My biggest piece of advice: when you head into lap swim, be prepared to be flexible.  Pool’s is empty?  Awesome!  Killer workout exactly as you have planned.  One of those days when everyone decides to go to the pool at exactly the same time and there are 8 people in each short course lane, at least two of which are old ladies that don’t want to get their hair wet?  That sucks.  Do your best.  And next time you might have 4 lanes to yourself.  You just never know.

Stick to the rules, apologize when you run into someone, forgive others for their trespasses, and keep things in perspective.  It’s just one swim.  Everything will be fine.

DSC01496the beginning of what i believe to be some sort of water polo practice in CZ.  and yes, those are fins and snorkeling masks.  i don’t know.

awesome square-headed swimming diagram via

400 IMasochism

February 24, 2015 § Leave a comment

IMG_20141113_113142 (2)

Yesterday was a little bit of a struggle day, mentally and physically.  I felt crappy.  I decided the best way to deal with it was to pile on a little more pain.  So I went to the pool and did a 400 IM.  Legally.  LONG COURSE.

I haven’t done that in over a decade (because why in god’s name would you).  It wasn’t pretty, but I didn’t cheat.  It was legal, two-hand touches and all.  Sometimes a little personal victory is all you need to lift you up.

Hurts so good.

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