Saturday, March 29, 2014

Caturnalia: The day of the dog

I am dedicating this Caturnalia to a dog. Yes, a dog. I discussed it with my cats and they are cool with it.

I am an animal lover which is why it pains me to see images like this:


This dog is sleeping on a cold concrete floor surrounded by her own poop right here in my city of Charlotte, NC. Deaf and pregnant, she is scheduled to be gassed in the same facility I ride my bike by 2-3 times a week.

No animal deserves to live (or die) like this.

Luckily, Steve stepped in from "The Mutt Runners" and agreed to foster this dog and her puppies if $1,100 could be raised to cover her vet and transportation expenses. When I made my donation only $110 had been raised but the full amount was raised within the next 6 hours and this pup was pulled from the shelter.


Steve, in conjunction with the CharlotteSPCA will work together to get this dog the medical care she needs. Steve will raise and ween her puppies, she will be rehabilitated, and eventually adopted. Organizations who do this kind of work are the unsung heroes of our time.


But the sad truth is most cats and dogs are not this lucky. 7 out of every 10 animals brought to this facility (I refuse to call it a shelter) are gassed. In fact, Charlotte's kill rate is almost double the state's average. While the conditions this dog was living in absolutely disgusts me I know programs like this receive no funding and are the dirty underbelly of any city you might find yourself right now. Legislation over the years has been slow to change and some cities a more proactive than others.


If you feel the need to buy a special dog because you don't want to deal with fur or because breed X is just so cool and "fits your personality", I have one thing to say to you: HTFU. There are LIVES to save. Get over yourself.

  1. Stop buying from breeders. This profession is completely unregulated and not only are you sentencing dogs like the one above to death but you are also encouraging the very existence of those horrible puppy mills you often see in the news.
  2. Spay/neuter your animal. You do not need to breed it and your animal will not make you money so let those ideas go. The only way to reduce the homeless animal population and animal control kill rates is through sterilization. Removing its ability to reproduce will not chance its personality so don't make excuses that are completely unjust.
  3. Support your local rescue. There are lots of ways to support your local rescue organization that has nothing to do with taking in an animal. Monetary donations are always the easiest but they also need stuff like cleaning supplies, old blankets, extra food, bowls, dishes, towels, bleach, office supplies, skills . . .  the list goes on. They need help transporting animals well as home visits just to check the suitability the animal and potential new home environment. Follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to see the great work they are doing everyday.  
  4. Adopt. It does not matter if you adopt from a rescue or local facility. Every life saved saves another and you cannot put a price on that.
  5. There is just something about a rescue that will make your heart smile.

If you are interested in help Steve expand Mutt Mansion, donate here. Sadly Mutt Mansion will be closing in the next 45-60 days if 50% of the funding isn't reached. Why do animals always get the short end of the stick?

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Caturnalia: Philosophers

"I have studied many philosophers and many cats. The wisdom of cats is infinitely superior."  -Hippolyte Taine
IMG_1998

IMG_1996

Friday, March 21, 2014

"What have you been up to?" You asked. I tell.

Now that I am not writing about swimming, I have nothing to write about. True story.

Except cats. I can always write about cats.

Thanks buddy.
Yesterday I went to see Dr. Greenapple. He checked me out, healed all of my aches and pains, and balanced my body for the arrival of spring with the use of acupuncture. I am realizing now that wrapping up the winter with a series of blog posts dedicated to swimming was a great way to say goodbye to the water element of winter and welcome the wood element of spring. This is the time to establish the foundation my race season will depend on (which starts in just over a week, welpers!). When I look at my body and its surroundings holistically my thoughts and emotions immediately become a little more perspicuous.

These are not my feet
With that being said, this week will round out four weeks of  >45 running miles per week. The first week of lots of running was fantastic. The week went by really quickly and I felt like I was running on clouds. The second week was craptastic. I had some pretty pathetic runs and I was not a happy camper. But by week 3 my body was starting to adjust to the new run load and now it is the new normal.

Oh look! My knees are locked, swimmer style 
I have been eating a lot of big salads lately. In fact I have been craving them. I get off work and finish my workout and all I can think about is downing the biggest salad I can imagine. Because I this I rediscovered Crisp. The salads are gigantic and I can add grilled tofu because it adds a great char-grilled flavor. 

It is a lot bigger than it looks (never heard that before)
Last weekend I took a short trip to Charleston. I needed to check out my rental which has been largely ignored by yours truly. While I was there I decided to drive over to my old stomping grounds to check out the Trek store ride. 
It started at 7:30 . . . 
It was still dark . . . 
This is waaaaaay too close to swimmers' territory . . .
The only people who start bike rides at 7:30 on a Saturday morning are people with kids. There is a reason I don't have kids. Ok several . . . well let's just move on. I joined in with the group ride for about 90 minutes before departing to do my own set of intervals. I took advantage of the male dominated pee break to make like a tree. 12 miles later they caught me, womp womp. Luckily I was able to finish off my last round of intervals before enjoying another hour by my lonesome. I ran THE Greenway (which is just the THE Greenway b/c it is the only one in town) as well as THE Ravenel. I visited all of my favorite restaurants and enjoyed a really nice dinner at Il Cortile Del Ray, a local Italian restaurant I never had the chance to enjoy while I lived there. On Sunday I took a chance with the weather and lost miserably. I spent 90 minutes of my ride in the rain. With one more run to do I took advantage of a break in the rain to go for a short run. I once again lost that bet. Feeling defeated, I got in my car and drove back to Charlotte soaking wet. 

I have not been doing much cooking at home but I did finally try Bang Bang Burger. I am not impressed. In fact, in no world should a meatless burger cost more than a beef burger. I ordered the black bean burger. If it weren't for the pickles the whole thing would have had zero flavor. The fries, however, were excellent. I will go back and try the mushroom burger . . . just so I can order some more fries. 

Sorry Bang Bang
And finally, I took Peter (my tri bike) to Inside Out for a little nip and tuck. For my birthday (and Christmas b/c that's how Dec bdays work) I received an Omega brake which cleans up Peter's cockpit. Since I am not going to be buying a new bike anytime soon I need to get the most out of my P2 as I can so I had the new brake installed and upgraded my water bottle system. I have also been working with James Haycraft on my fit. I purchased some shorter cranks and a new saddle. I am pretty excited about it and hope to post about all the changes I have made but I need to get through this race first. You know, just in case.

Peter is one smoooooth operator 

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Caturnalia: Typical Saturday

Saturdays are the only days I get to observe the cats in their natural environment. Let me tell you, they get pretty jacked about Caturnalia.


IMG_2297

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Swim series continued . . . how to swim (and act) like a swimmer

Hopefully by now you are convinced that adding a little more swimming in your off season will do nothing but help you as you enter the next season of racing.

1) Caps and goggles
Let's start at the top, shall we? If you have been racing a lot you should also have a large wardrobe of swim caps. They are standard issue for every race, expect those that have been written on with permanent marker. This is all you need. The seam of the cap should line up with the bridge of your nose, not your ears. Take the time to make sure the cap is centered and tuck in ALL of your hair. It is not acceptable to have a significant amount of hair hanging out of the back of a swim cap.

Nope
Get a pair of low profile goggles. "Swim masks" are designed for open water swimming and more specifically to maximize visibility. Leave them at home when you are headed to the pool. Inside Out sells a nice variety and is in fact about to embark on a goggle tour online and at its Cary location. I personally recommend Speedo Vanquishers and/or Blueseventy Nero Race for your pool swimming pleasure. If you are feeling ambitious buy a pair of sweedes but I promise you will hate them.

2) Swim suits
Do not do your swim training in a triathlon suit. Ever, except race day. Do you ride your bike in run clothes? Do you run in bike clothes? No? Oh really? Don't get in the pool in your one piece trikit or even your tri jammers. First of all, triathlon attire is not designed to be chlorine resistant. You are wasting your money. If you are really into that kind of thing just give me your money and I will give you a real suit and pocket the difference. Deal? Kewl. Secondly, you are swimming, not triathloning. You don't need a fleece pad or small pockets to swim your one-hour workout. Let it go . . . and embrace the brief.

Gentleman:
I am firm believer in the brief-style swim suit. This whole jammers trend has got to go. You know all of that "more is more" philosophy we have been tossing around? Well that does not apply to swim suits. I know you guys think you are doing the ladies a favor by erring on the modest side of life but jammers just aren't that flattering. Even if you have spare tire, big butt, huge quads, whatever, briefs are the way to go. Only when your belly hides your briefs should you switch to jammers. 

With that being said there is a right and wrong way to wear a "speedo." Swim suits are not underwear so do not pull them on as such. The waist line of the suit should be uniform around the hips. The phrase "high and tight" should not apply here. The suit should be worn so low it just covers your bottom's crevice. These are minor details but when it is done right, you know it and when it isn't you know that too . . . 

Yesssssssssssssss
Noooooooooooo
Ladies:
While guys' suits should not be "high and tight" yours should. When you go for a run, the girls should be compressed and supported. The same holds true for swimming.Your suit size should be two digits, ie 26/28/30/32/34/etc and it should match your waist size. If the diameter of your waist is approximately 27 inches, you should wear a 28. You should not be wearing a size 34 swim suit. If you need/want to incorporate drag into your workout, you wear a drag suit on top of a normal (tight) suit. One of the very best resources for suits is SwimOutlet.com. They almost always have suits on sale and most suits have been reviewed so you can find the right one for you.

3) Watches
Swimming is centered around time yet you go to a swim practice and the one thing you will notice is swimmers never wear watches. I know some of you are more comfortable wearing your Garmin 910 but learn to read a pace clock. It is the best instant feedback you will come across. Every pool worth swimming in will have a pace clock and probably two. Most pools have even switched to digital clocks which is suhweeeeet!
Old school
  • Monitoring your pace will help you stay engaged during your workout. I do a lot of pace work and I use the clock to help me determine if I am ascending, descending, or holding pace. I determine my threshold pace and I am usually above or below that pace depending on the purpose of the set. There are a lot of ways to determine threshold pace but a 1000 TT is the easiest. Use that pace as your guide. 
  • Keeping your eye on the clock is a great way to help you count. Doing 10x 100 on 2:00 and you started on the 16min mark? Your last 100 will start on the 34min mark. See how easy that is? Only when I completely zone out do I lose count. If you are losing count then you are not getting as much out of your workout as you think you are. 
4) Heartrate monitors
Ditch them. They are not accurate in the water. Unless your workout contains abbreviations like EN1 and SP2, I would suggest you just leave heart rate out of it.Completely.

4) Train like you mean it
There is no such thing as 3-4K receovery swim in a wetsuit.
  • Drill work should be hard, not a hard effort but hard to do. You are working on your weaknesses so they should be somewhat difficult. You certainly should not be able to do 1000 straight of drills worth your while. If you are just sailing through your drill work, it is likely you are doing the wrong drills. 
  • On that note, see stroke work as drill work and not as a waste of time. Incorporating the other three strokes in your workout will do nothing but improve your freestyle. Butterfly helps build power, backstroke helps with lower body and core engagement, and Breaststroke helps with timing and body position awareness. IM work is a great tool for creating aerobic/threshold sets. Do 6x 200 freestyle one day and then do 6x 200 alternating free and IM the next day. Note the difference. 
  • Flip turns are essential to making progress in the water. I know most triathletes use the excuse "but I don't do flip turns in open water." Let's just all agree to stop making excuses, mmmk? Flip turns are a training tool that will improve how you train which is directly correlated to how you race. 
  • Incorporate hard kick only sets. Most triathletes use kick sets as recovery sets only but they have soooooooo much more potential. I know you are scared a hard kick set will absolutely ruin your legs for your 4 hour bike ride but let's be realistic. 8 hard minutes are not going to ruin your life. Kick with fins will help develop ankle flexibility but kicking hard with an engaged core will help you improve your body position and hip flexor use and recruitment.  
Inspired by our very own Charlotte resident
5) Swim with the swimmers
I will be perfectly honest. I watch people designate themselves as "triathletes" in group swims all the time. These people never improve. If you attitude is "I am a triathlete so I do not have to swim this stroke stuff or kick or do anything other than freestyle ever (and the more pull the better) then there is a good chance you will not improve. For some people, like Billy Pilgrim, that's perfectly ok. If you are truly interested in becoming a faster triathlete, swim with the swimmers. 

Charlotte is fortunate to have three very good programs. There may be more but these three easily the best:
  • SwimMac Masters - Probably the most traditional masters program in town. There are practices available throughout the day with the main one taking place at 5:30 AM at the Charlotte Latin Facility. Two coaches run 22 lanes of swimmers of all abilities (as well as a subsection of triathletes) They do stroke work, big distance sets, starts, turns, kicksets, the whole schebang. The training calendar is focused around the local swim meets as well as short course masters nationals which is held in a different city each year in May. There is also a small group of swimmers who train for open water events such the Chesapeake Bay 4.4 mile swim. 
  • MSA - The Mecklenburg Swim Association is an adult aquatic training group that welcomes all ability levels to their Blakeney location. Adult fitness swimmers, competitive pool swimmers and triathletes train together in a team environment. But most importantly the workouts are lead by Patty Waldron, a professional coach who has 34 years of coaching experience, ranging from bubble blowers through professional triathletes to a Masters World Record holder. IMHO, Patty is the best coach in town for adult-onset-swimmers looking to learn to swim and develop proper technique work. MSA offers 11 workouts a week as well as private and semi private lessons.
  • MCAC Masters - I switched from SwimMAC to MCAC because I live and work close to uptown. The program was rather lackluster until Jonny "no H" Tango took over but his high energy and positive attitude keeps me coming back. JT coaches intense high volume workouts MWF at 6-7:30. Jeremy Gregory uses long course to focus on technique and pacing work at the same time TTh. Our very own Heather Hageman does a little of both at the workout she leads from 12-1 M-F. While the program takes up a mere 6 lanes at the MCAC, the range of ability levels is pretty wide. All the coaches give a lot of one on one time to make sure the athletes are getting the most out of the workout and ability.

And finally, just remember you were once the fastest and most determined swimmer of all!

Happy swimming!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Caturnalia: Superiority

Cats are so superior they don't even bow down to drink.

from a href="https://vimeo.com/">.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Swim series continued . . . a view from the otherside

I asked if any of my followers on Twitter would be interested in writing up a counter argument to my swim series (sounds more impressive than it is). It took several weeks but I finally got a bite! "Billy Pilgrim" has been a mainstay in the NC Triathlon community. He does not have a swimming, cycling, or even running background. He just decided to become a triathlete. In wearing the mantle of "triathlete" he has foisted upon himself the necessity of training for three sports.  Billy, unlike previous blog posts' point of views, maintains the opinion that swimming MORE is simply unnecessary. I recognize not everyone is in it to win it but I firmly believe taking the time to improve your fitness in the water will catapult you out of the middle of the pack (MOP). Billy believes that once you reach an "acceptable" level of swimming the time is better spent invested on your favorite and best sports. Some may say Billy is obviously completely wrong but nonetheless here is his post:

Hi. My name is Billy Pilgrim and I’m a middle of the pack triathlete who 1) races for fun (mostly) and 2) likes to challenge myself by completing in events. I mostly do sprint triathlon racing, but one day want to do a half or even a full Ironman distance race. After a race, I’ll look at the results, and I’m pleased with my performance as long as I beat 50% of the other men in my age group. Running is my main sport, but I’m no slouch on the bike, and swimming is my least favorite. In fact, I wish practically ANY other sport were at the front of a triathlon race.

I read your swim/cat blog :) and have a few issues raised there that I wanted to point out, with my main point being this: People such as myself don’t need to spend much time in the water. Basically, I can swim pretty terribly, and still meet my goals for almost any triathlon race. My swim training only needs to consist of what will get me through the race, where I get to T2, and the real race starts. I know I sound like a duathlete, but those guys are weird dorks, and there is no Slowtwitch forum for duathletes.

Triathlon and cats are a great combination, IMHO
 In your first blog, to pick out a few things, I see:
“People want to get better at swimming but very few people actually do what it really takes to see improvement in the pool” and “…how hard I continue to work at swimming” and “..I would venture to guess you could benefit from doing a little more focused swimming”

I’m not a great swimmer. I swim maybe 1:40/100Y, when I’m well trained. Last year at my key race, the Lake Norman Triathlon, there were 66 people in my age group. For the 750-meter swim, people in my AG swam from 13:21(1:37/100y) all the way to 24+ minutes (2:55/100y). If I swim anywhere near 1:40, or heck, even under 2:00/100y, that should put me into a good position to bike down and then run down most of the other guys in my age group. Heck, at smaller races I may even see the podium! And I can do all of this with hardly any swim training. Especially without hauling myself to the pool 4-5x a week in the dead of winter.


Another example, in your second blog from Tim Ferguson. He pointed out 2 swim myths.  1, The swim doesn’t matter, and 2) The swim is all about technique, not fitness. I agree the swim DOES matter in that you have to finish, but other than that, I can swim just fine with very minimal training. And while good technique and good fitness may be important to the ICE Racing team, me swimming 1:45/100Y doesn't take a whole heck of a lot of technique or fitness. I’d certainly never swim 37K over 6 days unless my cruise ship were taken over by Somali pirates and I had to figure out a way to swim back to shore.

Then we come to James Haycraft. Is this guy real, or did you just make him up for the blog? Sure, he has dreamy hair and is gorgeous-in-a-non-gay-way running wearing that pirate hat and green speedo, but for MOP Pilgrim, I just can’t resonate with him. I hear he swims so much, the chlorine turns his hair blonde. I’ll come back and read his tips when I line up beside a Raelert brother at my next race.

MOP James Haycraft, circa 2009
People forget how far he has come. I guess that's the point
And this latest post written by Lori Ackerman is like a breath of fresh air. I’d marry her if I weren’t already married, and if she weren’t married to a guy nicknamed the Honey Badger. I’ll show up to the pool once a month, maybe in the early morning. I’ll see Lori there swimming long course, and doing her flip turns. I’ll do my 3x500 workout, and get out before her. Sure at our next race she’ll beat me out of the water by a minute or two, but in the end it won’t really matter. I’ll finish in the top 20% of my age group, celebrate with 3 or 4 cheeseburgers, and go back to reading my cat blogs.

So all this to say that swimming is only important to swimmers and to folks trying to win triathlons. Bike for show, Run for dough. Swim, NO.

Poor widdle guy
I agree. Somewhat. Swimming a lot is not absolutely necessary. The best way to determine how you should spend your time is by evaluating your goals, priorities, and happiness. If you goal is to find your way to the podium, tackle an ironman, or maybe qualify for AG Nationals, I strongly suggest you use some portion of the off season to build some swim fitness. If you have a demanding job, personal, or home life then yeah, maybe 9 hours in the pool isn't for you.  If you hate swimming and swimming makes you miserable then don't do it. Simple. 

But . . . 

If mid-season, every season, you find yourself frustrated having been left behind by the podium pack then I would like you consider swimming now to break down some of those barriers preventing you from being more competitive. If your frustration leads to you making excuses like "the swim does not matter anyway" then I challenge you to try actually training and seeing first hand the difference it will make. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Swim series continued . . . Lori Ackerman

While this is not the last post in my swim series, this is the last testimonial. Spoiler alert: I saved the best for last. Tim, Adam, and James are all talented, good looking, and hard working athletes but they just don't hold a candle to Lori Ackerman. Lori is beautiful, brilliant, and driven. After years of watching her husband race she decided to take the reigns and jump in herself. She has taken a methodical approach to reacquainting herself to racing triathlons, starting with a sprint, then an olympic, and then topped off her 2013 season by tackling Augusta 70.3. She hired a coach and is now training for her very first ironman, Ironman Chattanooga. She even started blogging about her journey, check it out here! I could spend an entire entry on why Lori inspires me but I will let you see for yourself . . .

I am thankful to Jenny for allowing me to contribute to her blog series on swimming.  I am proud to offer the perspective of a middle of the pack athlete and how I've changed the way I view the swim portion of a triathlon.  You won’t find me swimming 20,000 yards and you’ll rarely see me in the pool more than 3x a week, but you will find me in the pool 12 months out of the year working hard to be a better swimmer.

Lori "Mrs. HB" Ackerman
I consider myself an “average” swimmer and even I can see that many middle of the pack triathletes phone it in on the swim.  Swimming the same boring set of n x 500 once or twice a week, many triathletes wonder why they don’t see any improvement.  I took 4+ years off from triathlon and when I decided to make a comeback with the HIM distance, I decided I needed to be all in. Last year I got pretty serious about swimming. Even though I was only swimming 2-3x a week, and with what I'd call minimal effort, I've gone from averaging 2:00+/100yd to consistently holding 1:40/100yd or better during my longer efforts.  I'm not shattering the swim by any means, but I'm certainly out of the water closer to the front of my age group than I ever was before.

I think 4 key things have made a big impact on my improvement in the water.

1.    Going Long
Long Course is spectacular for endurance. The first time I swam long course I hated it, but I've grown to love it.  I really think it comes a lot closer to mimicking open water swimming than short course ever could. Want your workout to feel even more like an open water swim? Try swimming next to SwimMac with 10 kids crammed in a lane across 3 lanes and they’re sure to drown you a few times just like a choppy open water mass start.

The mass start
2.    Early Bird  
I quickly realized that I absolutely have to swim in morning. I roll out of bed without a second thought. I have to be out of the pool at a certain time to get to work so there's really no time to waste. GTWD, right? I just found that after a long day at work I talked myself out of getting in the water probably 75% of the time. I could bike and run after work but something about hitting the pool just didn't sit with me very well. Rather than fight it every single workout, I recognized swimming at night wasn't for me and moved my swims to the morning.  When I get out of the pool I feel a huge sense of accomplishment. I get to go to work without that burden on my shoulders . . . 

 . . . Buuuuuut I definitely dread those few seconds before jumping into that freezing cold pool. Once I am in, I truly enjoy swimming and I love it.  Changing my mindset required a little reflection on my part.  When all scheduled swims are complete for the week it’s a huge relief, so much so that every week this thought goes through my head:

“I love swimming!!! But damn I’m glad that last swim of the week is over!”

3.    Flipping Out!
In order to become a better swimmer I also committed to flip turns. Swimming never intimidated me but if I was going to train for a HIM (and now an IM) I was going to be fully committed to all 3 sports . . . and flip turns. Flip turns were important to me because I wanted to feel like a real swimmer. James' blog about flip turns honestly pushed me over the edge and I decided to commit.  I struggled a bit at first but Ashley told me for about a month I needed to commit to the flip turning in every workout and not worry about my times.  He told me I'd be slower in the water at first but soon I'd be faster.  Who doesn't want to be faster???  I know it might sound strange but they have really helped me to work on my endurance. Incorporating flip turns into my workouts has forced me to work on my breathing pattern, which has come in handy on my harder sets. I always felt that split second on the wall was a short rest and it really is. Flip turns eliminate that rest and forces you to maintain a solid breathing pattern.

4.    Work it Out!
Having a set workout in the pool makes swimming fun, creates a challenge and brings results. Unlike running or biking, swimming is a sport where you can train hard every workout.  If you always swim long and slow you’ll be a long & slow swimmer.  Commit to some challenging workouts every time you jump in the pool and you’re guaranteed to see results. I am coached by James Haycraft and when he puts a workout on the spreadsheet it’s my job to do it, like a challenge. Swimming hard also keeps me in great shape through the winter without beating up my body.  

I know a lot of people turn to a master’s program or swim with friends to keep entertained. I’m often asked how I stay motivated or how I keep it fun. I do swim mostly by myself but I have a handful of friends that may or may not be there at the same time. We have a good group up north in the mornings including Carrie Behme, Ashley Ackerman, Nick White, Jill Baulieu, Susan Schroeder, Hope Childress and the occasional John Behme sighting.  Although we are not swimming together, it's nice to see a friendly face in the pool.  

I'm pretty self-motivated.  I choose to workout in very small groups or alone, I've always been that way and I enjoy it.  It's nice not to have to worry about anyone but yourself, just GTWD. Mondays are CRAZY in the pool, but Wednesdays are dead.  I love Wednesdays.  Sometimes I might be the only one in the pool at the end of the workout.  It's quiet, it's peaceful and I love it. Having a set workout also keeps me motivated and keeps me entertained. Of course my favorite swim days are when I can drag my cute hubby to the pool with me; he always keeps me entertained! 
The "cute" hubby
In writing this Jenny asked: “Making progress in the swim is a slow and on going process which frustrates most people. What kind of indicators helped you to realize you were actually getting better?”

I know it isn’t very “swimmerish” but I love swimming with my Garmin 910 in the pool.  It gives me instant feedback and it really takes a lot of the math and thinking about the clock out of it.  Plus, it holds me accountable. Sure, I know Ashley and James will probably never look at my rest times or analyze the entire workout but knowing that they could helps to hold me accountable.  The watch also allows me to look back at the workout and see what I really swam each interval instead of relying on my memory. Finally, it's pretty cool to look back a year ago to see the progress I've made. Occasionally I leave the watch at home, which is really nice. Even though I use the pace clocks on the wall during each swim it’s nice to look back at the entire swim workout later that day.  I realize I probably look like a tri-dork with my big clunky watch but I’m over caring what any haters might think.  Even though I can get smoked in the water any day, I’m confident in my own personal swim journey so I really don't care what anyone thinks! 

I realized things were changing in the water last April at my first race back after 4 years away.  Granted Jetton Sprint is a tiny race, but I was the 4th female overall out of the water on a horribly choppy/miserable swim.  This was a huge boost of confidence and gave me the push to keep working hard. I also knew I was getting better when long course felt normal and no longer felt like pure torture. 

Being consistent in the pool this winter has helped a ton and I have taken the opportunity to start tweaking little things with my stroke here and there, no big major changes and certainly not a lot of changes all of once.  I think I’ve tweaked all that I can on my own and I’m now considering spending some time with a swim coach to analyze my stroke.  The big question I have now is . . . where do I go from here?  At my Half Ironman Debut in Augusta I was 16th in my age group out of the water versus 40th on the run.   I'm not ready to start swimming more than 3x a week, my time is clearly better spent biking and running, but I do wonder what changes I could make to see more results.
Strokin' it, Augusta 2013
If you’re struggling with motivation to get in the pool…just dive in! Keep consistent and have fun! It’s worth it!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Caturnalia: Close encounters

Good morning! Cats make good alarm clocks. Most of the time they are content to sleep beside me but when the view starts to look like this, I know it is time to get up for good.


Gotta go run!