Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Everest, All Wet

Something weird happened today...I finished an 8,000 yd. pool workout, as scheduled, and actually enjoyed it. That's just wrong.

Let's put this in perspective. First, I am a sprinter in the pool at heart. I went 49 in the 100 in college, and still went 53 last winter. But a 200? Forget it. A 500? Pathetic. Back in 2002 at New Englands, I went out in 3:03 and finished in 5:19. It isn't supposed to be done that way. You should have seen that piano fall from the ceiling. I have always believed, and will continue to believe, that quality is far more important than quantity. As one wise man once said, "if you practice swimming'll get good at it." I learned to teach my body what it felt like to swim FAST. For example, we trained with fins doing all-out 25s from a dive. With stretch cords, we would work returning from the far end just as much as getting there in the first place.

Since Nationals in August, I haven't done more than one ride per week, and never more than 22 miles or so. Running has been better, but I'm still only doing 2 runs/wk for about 12 miles (I'll add a third run starting next week). Swimming, on the other hand, has been going very well. I've been in 4 days/wk, for a total of about 12,000+ yds. And the intensity has been there. I am putting in times- and repeats- that I haven't done in practice in a long time. I'm also using paddles once per week, which has made a huge difference- until I did 19x100 on 1:20 with them last week. My left shoulder has felt a bit screwed up ever since. So I came to today a bit concerned that I might do further damage.

The noon group started a campaign a while back. Every Wednesday we alternated between all 100s and something else. Week 1 was 30x100, week 2 3,000 mixed, week 3 40x100, etc. I made it to the 50x100 and 5,000 mixed, but the last 5 weeks I've bailed early because I didn't want to put in junk yards, and frankly, I found it terribly boring. I typically got out around 4,000.

So today was the finale, 8,000 yards. Work was slow, I felt pretty good, ate a little more for breakfast, worked on hydrating and salt while at the office, and opened up to the idea that I might finish the whole thing. Here's the workout:

4 x (400, 300, 200 ,100)- First time through on 1:30/100, then 1:25, 1:20 and 1:20.
16 x 125 on 1:50, descend 1-8, ascend 9-16
4 x (1x100 on 1:20, 2x75 on 1:15, 3x50 on 40, 4x25 on 25)

My lane set up a great rotation in the first set so we shared the lead and also got lots of incredible drafting. The first 2,000 took zero effort. It was like sledding downhill. Even the next 2,000 was only harder when leading. That entire set was devoid of thought. I just turned the brain off, stayed in line, and took it easy. I knew I would need to if I wanted any hope of finishing.

It was around 3,000 when a few others started dropping of the pace a bit. And at 3,800, the calf cramps started. I hate calf cramps, and get them in most harder or longer workouts. Good push offs are impossible, and I end up swimming with at least one foot completely flexed so my toes are pointing up until I reach the wall. Not fast. The cramps continued to get worse for the rest of the workout. By some miracle, I never had to stop. I also swam fairly well the entire time, and stayed mentally engaged in the effort the whole way. I never got bored.

Somewhere near the end, I began thinking about how far 8,000 yards really is. I know Mt. Everest is 8,000+ meters, but at the time, I figured I had swum almost as far as Everest is above sea level. That's pretty cool. Grant me a little leeway on this one.

Anyway, it feels great to have finished this. And it's fine if I don't do something this stupid again in a while.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!


  1. Nice work, good to work through the pain. How long did the whole workout take? Happy thanksgiving!

  2. Holy Smokes! A 53 100...flying!!!

    I like the idea of using the fins to teach your body what it feels like to swim fast, one of my training goals is a 1 minute (or as close as I can) 100M long course. Quality over quantity is something you short coursers can teach us long course freaks to make life a little more tolerable.

    I did a 10k continuous swim 6 weeks once...once is a key word. I was ready to run into the wall head first by the time I got to 6k to end the boredom

  3. My dad was just talking about watching you guys do that workout while he was on the treadmill. That's just nuts! I hear that last year you did 10,000, though-- and I guess that's even stupider, huh? :) Nice work. I'm not sure I could finish an 8000 yard workout, let alone keep pace!