Category Archives: Uncategorized

Merry Christmas to all!

Can’t believe the time has flown so quickly. Pictures from past holidays have been popping up on my social media sites. Damn, a lot has happened in only a year.

Here’s wishing my dear reader(s) a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Years. I hope your new year is filled with the swimmingest times and friends, and I hope the New Years Resolutionists crowd your lane for the minimum amount of time in the new year.  Looking forward to getting back in open water soonest!

Swimming with a team is how you get fast

When my dear reader(s) last checked in, I told them how I found a team, the Reading Masters housed in the Burbank YMCA in Reading, Mass. I’ve made every practice this month and must say I’ve enjoyed every minute of it, even the ones that required me to wake up at 6:15 am on a Saturday morning.

The 8-lane pool at Burbank Y

I’ve not had much luck getting faster in the last few years. I’ve been self-coaching, kidding myself that I could get fast all by myself. Yet, despite my efforts, I would still average 1:45-1:50 per 100, even when I sprinted.

But it is hard to insist on that slow an interval for 10 x 100 when the lane next to you is doing their 100s on 1:30. Alas, I managed the first 100 in 1:23, something I hadn’t seen in years. And then managed to maintain 1:32-1:33 for the remaining nine 100s. Couldn’t believe it.

And then yesterday I was alone with one other swimmer. Our main set was 2 x 300, 2 x 200, 2 x 100, 2 x 50 then back up. All descend. I thought our interval for the 300 was 5:15. Unfortunately, as I breathlessly came to the wall after the first 300, she left on the second, and I realized we were doing them on 4:30. Yikes! After those two were done, I realized that meant that I did each 100 of that 300 in just under 1:30. Yay me!

The speediness continued. All the 100s were on a 1:30 and I got 3-4 seconds rest each time. Unbelievable. Never thought I’d get back to those times.

And this is only because of the team. There’s nothing better to increase your speed than having someone on your toes or to have someone ahead of you to chase. So glad I found Reading Masters!

Found a team!

Swam with a team last night for the first time in a long time (2014?). The team is Reading Masters, hosted by the Burbank YMCA in Reading, Mass.

I’ve been here since July and my dear reader(s) are probably wondering: Why did it take you so long to join a team, Iron Mike? Well, this is Massachusetts. Apparently here masters swimmers can only meet and swim together at 5 am. And I’m not a morning person. I looked around before and after I moved here for a team, and found several, but all of them meet mornings, at either 5 or 6 am. Just too damn early for me. I simply couldn’t find a team that meets nights. Until now.

No idea how I missed Reading Masters. They swim Tuesdays and Thursdays 8:15-9:30 pm. Sure, that’s late. But that’s okay for me. My boss is great: As long as I do my hours, she doesn’t really care when I show up. So last night being the first time I’ve swum with Reading, I came in this morning an hour later than usual. No biggie.

Anyway, besides the weeknight swims, Reading Masters also swims Saturday mornings, 7:00 to 8:30. Wunderbar! That’s four hours of swimming per week with someone else deciding what we’ll do. I can just sit back and do what I’m told.

And with that, last night…holy crap. It’s been a while. The main set was 4 x {4 x 75} on 1:15, 1:10, 1:05, 1:00. So yeah, I kept up through the first set and got 4 or 5 seconds rest. But then after the first 75 of the second set, uh, no. Thankfully, the guy I was sharing a lane with had no problem splitting the lane instead of trying to continue circle swimming. I tried to keep up as best I could; I skipped 50 of one of the 75s just so I wouldn’t be so far behind.

The final was 16 x 25 in IM order on :45, which after the first “IM” turned into :40, then :35 after the second IM. Damn fast. This was followed by 16 x 25 free on :30. More doable. But jeez, what a (great) workout! 3400 total in the end, after the warm-up, pre-set, and cool down.

So nice being back!

Nope!

Just plain ol’ nope. Not gonna do it.

Went to Revere Beach today, geared up and ready to swim. Figured after my Vampire Swim in 51F water (all 10 strokes of it) and 43F air temp, how bad could it be in Revere with the sun out, 45F air temp?

Well, within seconds I knew it would be bad. Upon stepping into the water, my feet were on fire. So damn cold. Went up to mid-calf and dropped the thermometer in, let it sink.

So beautiful, so unassuming…

Cold. Mercury hovered between 49 and 50F. Felt colder. Frankly, couldn’t believe I was able to stay in the 51F last weekend as long as I did. Probably peer-pressure.

I tried to go to Breakheart Reservation right after. Haven’t been yet, figured I could buy the annual parking pass and while there take a temp of the lake water. That’s the only lake nearby that you’re allowed to swim in. Might be colder. Might be warmer. Who knows? Couldn’t get there anyway; something big was going on as people were parked up and down the street leading to the park. Couldn’t even get in. Will try again during the week.

So perhaps my ocean swimming is done for the season. Dang.

Go back human, you can’t hang

Great swim today

The school SCM pool finally opened back up today. So happy. Decided to do some “distance tolerance” today. What that meant for me was 8000 meters, long and slow.

500
1000
1500
2000
1500
1000
500

See? Very simple. Two hours 50 minutes. Nice and slowly. But damn my arms felt dead when I was done. Heavy, like lead. I’m going to feel this tomorrow.

In other news, read the latest post from my friend Katie, about her latest SwimRun competition. Katie’s a sponsored professional triathlete, and she’s just taken up this swimrun thing. So of course I had to read up on it today.

Where do I sign up?! Swimming and running from island to island? Reminds me of rogaining, or my dreams of a swim rogaine! I wonder if one can do a swimrun and just walk the “runs”? I’ve been reading about them in Outdoor Swimmer recently, and now my friend is excelling in them. Perhaps I will have to try one soon, eh?

Pictorial tour of a mussels farm

Today we took a different kind of tour: All you can eat mussels, swimming and a tour of Our Lady of the Rocks church. Kinda costly (50 euros per person), but in the end, worth every cent!

We got picked up in downtown Kotor and were motored to a mussels farm in Drazin Vrt. Four of the lines belonged to the owner of the restaurant we ate at. We were able to sit, swim, enjoy some homemade wine (so good) and play with the kayak.

That basket at the bottom of the second picture is filled with oysters. My wife knocked back 10 like a pro. A bit after taking that picture, a sea bass about a foot long stupidly swam into that area. The Russian woman cooking for us netted it easily with a small toy net about 7 inches in diameter. That poor fish I’m sure is by now someone’s lunch.

The kids played around with the kayak. I have a newfound respect for kayakers; it is not easy steering those things. We also found three jellyfish in the mussel farm. Upon coming home and doing some expert Internet research, we discovered that they were from the Cotylorhiza tuberculata kingdom and phylum, better known as the fried egg jellyfish. According to the wiki, its sting has little to no effect on humans. Not that I want to run into one, but that is comforting since we’ve seen lots of them when we were boating in the middle of the bay. All I know is before our next swim-able vacation, I’m buying a waterproof camera. Those things were so beautiful from underwater.

We ate about 200 mussels between the six of us eating them. Our youngest isn’t a big seafood fan so she ate the local sausage, ćevapčići, which itself is so dang good, and 30 euro cheaper for her!

We hung around the mussel farm, swimming and enjoying ourselves, petting the local cats, until it was time to head to Our Lady of the Rock church, a 500+ year old Catholic church on an artificial island in the middle of the bay. Quite a beautiful stop on our way home from stuffing ourselves with mussels.

Not really a swimming entry today, I’m sorry. But I did want to write about the beauty of this place. Highly recommended, two thumbs up!

The pool was fast today!

So, two days in a row of good swimming. I love it!

Today I did another CSS (critical swim speed) test. If you don’t know CSS, click the link. I really love the Swim Smooth method; it’s worked the best for me. Anyway, the theory is that you swim a 400 time trial (after a warm-up of course), record your time. Cool down slash easy swim for about 10 minutes, then time trial 200. Then some math is done at Swim Smooth’s website and you come up with the time you should be able to swim to maintain per 100 for 1500.

Back in October, my 400 was 6:15 and my 200 was 3:03. Then in December I improved my times: 5:58 and 2:48. Not too bad, right? Since December I’ve had issues with my elbow, so I’ve been swimming slow and steady, at the most 3x a week. My yardage has been 9-12k a week, not too much.

Well, after yesterday’s great workout, I thought I’d do another CSS test. Hadn’t realized it had been so long. Anyway, I swam the 400 and 200 today in 5:50 and 2:46! I think my times were so good because I’ve been swimming slowly and steadily. I feel wonderful. My new CSS time is 1:32 (from 1:36 in October). So theoretically it means I should be able to do 1500 in 23 minutes. I’ll take that!

Great swim today

Can’t believe what a great swim I had today!

So today I decided to just do an easy 3 x 1000. I pulled my hamstring yesterday, or perhaps just got a cramp. Anyway, my leg hurt. So I took it slow. But when I finished the first thousand in 17:00, I started to get concerned. Holy crap, I usually swim that in 17:45 or 18 minutes. Why so fast today? I wasn’t even trying!

So I took my usual 10 seconds rest, then started my second thou…

…and finished 2000 yards in 35:00. Never, ever have I swum that fast!

I didn’t even feel like I was going fast. I did feel like I was very efficient. So I started my third thousand, and finished it at 50 and some change.

Normally, that takes me 57-58 minutes! What the hell is going on? Granted, it’s been a while since I’ve timed myself, but holy wow.

What I’ve decided after today’s wonderful workout is to swim a CSS test tomorrow. The last time I did the CSS test (Dec 13th), I ended up with

CSS test
5:58 for 400
2:48 for 200

New CSS Pace:
1:35/100yd

I really think I may have dropped my CSS time. I’ll report back tomorrw!