Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Final Results: 2011NEM SCY Championships

So I was able to get these results and splits from the website after the race.  I am really happy that folks were praying for our travels and safety during the trip, and quite a few have commented that they were able to watch some of the events online.

Throughout the weekend I was thinking of my coworkers husband, Al, who passed away earlier in the week. I told Pat that I was "Swimming 4 Al" at Harvard, and was thankful to be able to put together some fast times and bring home some awards at my first championship meet in over 15 years.  I am really blessed that my wife and kids got me motivated to swim again with the gift of the music player just two years ago.  I've been able to lose some weight, trim up (a little - Emma still thinks I do not look that great in the Speedo - haha), and feel more energetic.  I also have had a great time meeting people from the Bennington area during practices and beyond at the meets - I would not have guessed as a teenager that I would have the opportunity to swim competitively as an adult.

I am planning to take a week or two easy, then gear up for the open water season this summer.  Peaks to Portland is definitely on the radar, along with a longer lake swim or two.  All depends on work and what the family has going on.  Who knows, I have never swum long course meters, and the championships for that are at the end of June in Middlebury.  Will this be the year I take a swim at LCM?

Final Results:

Men 30-34 year age group:

     Friday (3/18/11)
3rd place - 100yd Freestyle:      52.60 - splits: 25.29, 52.60(27.31)

3rd place - 100yd Backstroke:    59.62 - splits: 29.58, 59.62(30.04)

     Saturday (3/19/11)
3rd place - 50yd Backstroke:        27.76

13th place - 100yd IM:           1:03.18 - splits: 27.84, 1:03.18(35.34) 

     Sunday  (3/20/11)
6th place - 200yd Freestyle:     1:57.19 - splits: 
26.45, 56.04(29.59), 1:26.53(30.49), 1:57.19(30.66)

1st place - 200yd Backstroke:  2:11.88 - splits:
31.71, 1:05.75(34.04), 1:39.25(33.50), 2:11.88(32.63)

The Benninginton Area Masters (BAM) team (of one) finished:
     4th out of 14 in the Squad Division (Men's results)
     7th out of 17 in the Squad Division (Combined results)

Let me paraphrase Eric Liddell from Chariots of Fire: 
"I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I swim I feel His pleasure."

I am certainly not the fastest, but I do feel that when I swim I am using a gift that He gave to me.  

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sunday Recap: NEM Championships

As you can probably guess, Sunday started off with some waffles and other treats at the hotel.  We got packed up and checked out, then headed over to the pool for the final day of competition.  It was funny seeing Lena's reaction to the chlorine - thinking back to seeing her with Emma so many years ago was a real trip.  She still is not a fan of the humid (and stinky) environment at the pool.

I got in a good warm up and then prepared for the 200yard Freestyle.  I was hoping to get under 1:59.00 for the race, and was fortunate to get seeded into lane one (12th overall in my age group) .  I like being there - it is on the far end of the pool, so there are fewer distractions from the people lined up on the deck.  Also, there is a good sight at the rest of the swimmers, if you are able to get ahead.   Knowing that the 200yard Backstroke was to come, but in a while, I decided to go hard for this swim.

I had a good start and felt in control during the first 50, and was able to get out ahead of the pack.  I usually try to build the second 50, but just keep a strong tempo going as I hit the wall at the halfway point.  I then went all out for the third 50, remembering to lengthen my stoke and also settle into a 3-2-3-2 breathing pattern.  I had a slow turn as I started the final 50, but kept swimming hard.  I finished first in the heat with a time of 1:57.19, and took 3rd in the age group!  My splits confirm how I swam - the second 100 was even split, but I could have picked up the pace a tad more on the second fifty.

After a warm down and having Lena and Preston join me on deck to collect the medal and sticker for my paper, we considered what to do next.  I walked with them to the other side of the Anderson Bridge, but decided against walking into Harvard with them as it was a bit windy (again) and my legs were feeling tired from the first swim and the last two days worth of competition.  I wondered back to the pool and vegged out, watching for the best way to incorporate a dolphin kick into the breaststroke pullout, and then warmed up when the 200 Back approached.

I had fun cheering for the Cape Codders that swam before me, and even met up with Dan from the Pittsfield meet (he ended up getting the individual high point award for the men.  My goal for the back was to even split, and I was hoping to go under 2:10.  I had not swum the event in a meet this year, and still was not really feeling like my stroke was where it needs to be, so I figured an even split for the race and strong swim for the final event of the meet was the best way to go.

I started in lane 7, and was a bit worried about being so close to the edge of the pool.  I had a good start (for me) and felt good on the first 50.  I remember working the dolphin kicks off the walls and trying to stay in control  of the race.  I was swimming with the guys in lane 6, and as we came into the halfway point of the race, I was praying that they all went out a lot quicker than me and would soon die off.  That did not happen! haha  I got some encouragement from the Codders on both ends of the pool, and went as fast as possible on the third 50.  I kept chugging, with my arms and legs aching as I started the last 50.  The last turn was horrible, as I came to close into the wall and my legs did not want to push off!  The pain!!!  I was able to get away and finish the race just behind the guy in lane 6, with a time of 2:11.88.

I was hurting after that race, and had a tough time getting out of the water.  I have not been in that much pain in a while, and even cried a bit in the warm down pool.  Who says I am not sensitive?  haha  I took a shower and checked the scores table before heading up to the bleachers.  I was supper surprised with the final placing - I took first for my age group!  I could hardly believe it!  The family and everyone in the stands were excited too!

After a stop in the bathroom and then a drink from the concession stand, we made our way over to the Business School and loaded into the car for the ride home.  The long weekend was over, and it felt good to swim at Harvard again.  The pool is so fast, and I love spending time in Boston.  I think that the everyone had a good time - I know that Emma and Madison took in almost all of the sights, and Lena and Preston had some exciting adventures in the city.  It was great to see Pat, too!

Next year I will be at the top of the age group, and I am thinking of swimming more events during the weekend.  I know that God has helped me to swim as fast as I have been with limited training (in comparison with my high school days), but I was sure beat after such a long meet!  I plan to learn more about tapering and also making sure to be more consistent with training this year, and might even attempt to travel to Nationals depending on how busy our lives are next year.  For now, I'll just keep having fun with swimming ...

Saturday Recap: NEM Championships

Saturday morning started off much like Friday - headed to the breakfast with the family and enjoyed another Belgian waffle.  Mmmm. With the plans to meet up with Aunt Pat, I decided to drive to the pool today and pay the $5 charge to park across the street at the Harvard Business School lot, instead of the $10 it costs at the stadium, which is only a two minute shorter walk.  I am pleasantly surprised how well I can still navigate the streets of Cambridge after all these years - Lena still does not think I "navigate" all that well but I can get to the final desitination in one piece.

I was able to meet Pat almost as soon as I sat down in the bleachers - she took the T into the Square and walked over to the pool.  It was great to see her, like the good old days many moons ago when she would join my mom and dad and they would be cheering on my siblings and me.  I introduced Pat to Jim and then slipped away to warm up in the big pool.  After returning, Pat shared with me the recent news that caffeine has been 'proven' to boost performance, not just the anecdotal accounts that many people have after having a cup of joe.  She treated me to a cup of Dunkin (yep, even swimmers run on in) and we talked about life in general and the fun of pharmacy.

I was a bit disappointed that my events for the day were the 50yd Backstroke and the 100yd I.M.  I have never been the best sprinter due to a lackluster start and feeling like I need more than two lengths to get up to full speed, and the I entered the I.M. so that I had a second event to swim (and I didn't feel like waiting until the last event of the day, the 50yd Freestyle).  Pat gave me some good encouragement as checked out the heat sheets for the backstroke, which was nice.

I again cheered on the Codders in the backstroke events from the deck.  Patty swam really well, despite hitting the lane line three times - it has happened to me before as well: you hit the blasted thing once, and then it keeps calling you back for more punishment like there is a magnet attached to you.  She was happy with her time despite this, so that was good.  I hopped into heat 17, lane 3 when my time was up; the start was ok and I again focused on the dolphin kick at the start.  I felt like I had good shoulder rotation and a strong turn the first length, but was very surprised how easy the second lap felt.  I was riding much higher in the water for the first time in a long time, and had a good lunge to the wall to finish second in my heat.  I was seeded 5th going into the event and did not expect to place much higher, but my time was one second faster than my seed and I  finished the race with yet another bronze medal!

Pat was really pumped about the placing, and then the folks from the Cape started asking if I was going to get any medal other than bronze!  I said that I like that color better, and laughed as Pat and I grabbed a slice of pizza and sat outside, near the basketball court, to take in the cool, windy day.  It was really sunny yesterday, but just overcast today.  

After vegging for a bit back in the stands, I went down to the pool deck to get ready for the Individual Medley.  I swam this at the Frammingham meet a few weeks ago, so my seed time was accurate and I figured I would just sprint the first to legs of the event (Butterfly and Backstroke), then try to survive the Breaststroke before laying it all out in the Freestyle on the last length.  I was seeded in 15 place so I figured my bronze streak would end here.  And it did! haha   After mortifying Emma (due to my very skimpy Speedo - haha), I had a good start and swam a fast 50yds to start.  I was so worried about the 'legal' way to incorporate a single dolphin kick during the pullout of the breaststroke that I forgot to do it, then just powered home to finish a very surprising 13th overall in my age group!

We all loaded into the van and headed back to the hotel.  It was neat driving by the different buildings and art installations on the M.I.T. campus - wild stuff.  Lena was thinking of making dinner in, but Pat was looking forward to a celebratory dinner out on the town.  A short detour for Preston to check out a store, and we wound our way through the construction and traffic to the Government Center area for a meal at the Hard Rock Cafe.  Expecting a long wait, we actually got to a table in less than two minutes, and then had a great meal and conversation.  Pat was nice enough to cover the supper (and the parking - thanks, Pat!), and headed off to the T on her way home as we wondered around Quincey Market. Emma and Madison made plans to watch a laser show at the science museum - I was feeling really tired and did not have the gumption to take it in.  Lena, Preston and I headed back to the hotel and relaxed before the final day of events.

Click there for:   Meet Results 

I have to praise to Jesus for the ability to swim this well again after such a 15 year break from competitive swimming.

Friday Recap: NEM SCY Championship Meet

I worked long days (12 hours) on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday leading up to the meet.  After getting out of work I helped the kids load up our van and we waited for Lena to get home from school.  We left our home around 9:30pm for our hotel in Boston.  A quick stop in Greenfield, Mass, helped us to complete the three hour drive to the Residence Inn in Cambridge, adjcent to the MIT campus and Kendall Square.  After getting checked into the room and then parking the car, it was close to 1:30am before I was able to get to sleep.

Going into the meet, I decided to swim two event each day, as I was not sure about the rest I would be getting between swims.  Although everyone told me that it would take all day, I was a bit wary due to the fact that in the two mini-meets I swam this winter I had swam four events in the course of 1-2 hours, and was really tired!  I picked my strong events (all the backstrokes), plus added the 100 and 200 freestyle races with a 100 IM kicker - boy, do I loathe breaststroke!

I woke up around 8am Friday morning and went to breakfast that the hotel with the family.  Residence Inn has a lot of choices (hot and cold buffet, with Belgian waffle maker) and I was able to get a good variety of fruits as well, even taking some to snack on at the pool.  I returned to the room and finished packing, then headed to the T stop down the block to ride to the Harvard Square stop and walk the five minutes or so to the Blodgett Pool across the Charles River.  I was able to help an elderly guy buy a ticket for the train (apparently he had a birthday a week before so his Charlie Card was not working properly), and talked with him on the ride to the Square.  Upon entering the pool building, not much had changed since my last meet there in 1996.  I just so happened to run into my buddy from the Cape Cod team, Jim, as I headed up the stairs past the concession stand to round the corner into the spectator area -- remember that I met Jim at my first meet at Simon's Rock and he said all along I could hang out with the Codders at Harvard if no one else from Bennington came. 

After getting changed we headed down for a warm up swim at the far end of the pool while the 500 freestyle event was still going on.  I checked in on deck for my two events of the day before getting into the water.  I swam my usual 1200 yard warmup, then walked to the competition pool for sprints from the blocks during the 15-minute period that it opened up after the 500's completed.  I then went back to sit and watch the swimming before my first event of the day, the 100 Free, and was joined by my lovely daughter Emma and her boyfriend Maddison.

(Let me note here that I swam the same 1200 warm up every day, which comprised of 200 yards each free, back, then fly/breast drills, 4 x 50 yard kicking, 4 x 50 yard drills, and then 200 easy.  I also hopped into the water before each event, swimming 100 yards easy, focusing on the stroke for the upcoming event, and then I  stretched out with 200 yards of relaxed swimming after each event.  Pretty standard (and boring) for me, even from when I was in high school.)

The 100 Free went quick, as I was swimming out in lane one in heat 15.  I had a good start and went into my usual 100yd swim strategy of long and strong the first length, build the second length to be sprinting into the wall, all out on the third length, and keeping the reach long and rotation fast on the final lap.  My turns were ok, but a little too close each time.  Overall, I swam well, winning my heat with a time of 52.60 and placing a surprising 3rd overall in my age group (I was seeded 12th).

The 100 Back was the second and my final event for the day.  I enjoyed watching the Codders swim before me, then got to business for my swim.  I started in lane three of heat 13.  My starts lack much, and I tried to compensate with a longer than normal dolphin kick.  I followed my regular strategy, but I have not felt efficient in the back at all this season.  I am sitting lower in the water than I used to, due to 15 years and 25 pounds no doubt!  I have been working on adjusting my head position in the water as well as getting a better shoulder rotation, but still just not feeling like everything is clicking just yet.  Finished under a minute again, 59.62, earning my second 3rd medal.

A quick warmdown and I walked back to the T in Harvard Square and caught a ride to our hotel.  It was a warm and sunny afternoon, so I took a walk with Lena and Preston down to the Charles River, and we walked along the path on the north side of the river as folks jogged and biked by us.  It is so neat to see the city from foot, away from the hustle of driving around the city, and walking under the Longfellow Bridge and back to the hotel though Kendall Square.  As we got back, Emma and Madison met up with us, and Lena made a wonderful pasta supper in the room, and then the kids headed down the road to get some ice cream.  I was really tired, and got to bed early to rest up for Saturday's event's to come (including a visit from Aunt Pat!).

I have to praise to Jesus for the ability to swim this well again after such a 15 year break from competitive swimming.


Saturday, March 12, 2011

Hit 50 Miles Today

I swam with the local Masters group this morning. Lots more swimmers in the pool as the triathletes are starting to get back into the water. Nice to see more than the usual handful of faithful hitting the water.

I have been doing my best to taper for the big New England championship meet at Harvard this coming weekend, so I swam the posted workout instead of my own (main set courtesy of Meg and Jill with the BAM), adding a longer warm up and some extra pulling at the end. Here is what it looked like ...

800 w/u (200 Free, Back, Fly/Breast drill)

Main set:
4 x 75 on 1:30 (sprint middle lap, target time for me was :45 seconds)
1 x 300 on 4:30 (work long and strong strokes and bilateral breathing)

2 x 150 pull (free then back)

100 w/d
(total: 3000 yards in just over an hour)

This workout got me to the 50 mile mark through the USMS fitness log. I do not count any dry-land/running time with this log, just straight swimming. Trying to get into the water 2-3 days a week, usually for an hour at a time.

Keep swimming long and strong, and looking forward to SCY championships in just one week!

Don't Be Like Mike

My photo
Thankful that God has granted me a second chance (quite a few, actually) through my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I love the Lord, my family, and enjoy endless laps of swimming and circles on a motorcycle. Follow Jesus.