Monday, December 7, 2009

Old Doo-De-Doo-De-Doo-teronomy goes swimming

I began my racing season, swim phase, Saturday. Before we go any further, let's note the wording of that. "... began my swim season" is a world apart from my previous approach of simply going to the Masters Swim meet near my home as a one-shot deal.

Results were mixed. I can't remember my times specifically, because they only post them on the scoreboard for a few seconds until the next heat starts, so by the time you're done in the cool-down lane, you have to rely on your oxygen- (and in my case, congenitally competence-in-general-) deprived brain to remember it until they post the results online, which they haven't yet. I was hoping for a breakthrough showing so my coach -- who was there, of course -- would know beyond a doubt how much impact his coaching had made, but it was something short of that. Something well ahead of disappointing, though. To borrow from T.S. Eliot in a way I'm sure he never dreamed of, far short of a bang but well short of a whimper.

I can't remember my 200 time, other than it brings to mind an earlier section of that same Eliot poem: "Paralysed force, gesture without motion". Especially during the final lap, when the pool somehow lengthened by 20 yards. I got some great advice from a couple of my heroes in the sport immediately, though(this is where you really get your money's worth out of Masters swimming). I had a better plan for my next event, the 100, and I wasn't even done dripping.

My 100 was 1:15.something, which I think is a personal best, and it felt pretty good. My deckside coaches told me I looked a million times better in the 100 than the 200, until of course it fell apart in the last lap or so, right on schedule. Actually, one of them told me I fell apart on the last lap. Then the other one told me my first half of the race looked great. Then Rich, my coach, congratulated me on my first lap. Fortunately, I ran out of coaches before I ran out of good laps. Also, in general, word was that my body positioning is good -- a huge improvement from my sinking, dragging cyclist's legs as recently as summer.

 My 50 was also a PR, about 33 seconds, but of course in that one my technique was mostly just thrashing. Rich seemed very pleased by that one, mostly that my splits were pretty even. I was surprised to see the improvement in the sprints after stinking up the middle-distance event. And yet to come was the longest one, the event that mattered most to me.

And my 500 saw me come in at 7:50, which was 2 seconds off my best but still disappointing, partly because I was aiming for a 7:45 minimum and a 7:30 as celebration-worthy, but mostly because I finished feeling like I didn't swim hard enough. I can point to a couple of key causes, but they're boring and sound like foolishness or whining or both, so to hell with that. I'll just keep going to more swim meets and see if my typical pattern of stinking up the first race of the season before getting into a groove holds true. At swim practice this morning, Rich said I'm doing a time trial Wednesday. 500 yards. Cool. I've got a score to settle with myself. The groove begins day after tomorrow. Bang.

Side note: My swim-team affiliation, C.A.T.S. (Capital Area Triathlon and Swimming), joined forces this year with the Grand Rapids-area Rays to become the Stray Cats. I didn't have a Stray Cats t-shirt, but between events I wore a fleece from the Humane Society. I hope that was close enough. Thank you very much. I'll be here all week.


Steve Stenzel said...

Congrats on that first lap of your 100! ;)

And that's still a great 500 time! Nice work, Jef!

Dave Trendler said...

Congrats on the PRs, Jef! And way to keep those goggles on. (That's at least half the battle.)

For me, taper always benefits sprinting more than distance. I bet you'll PR in this week's time trial.

Nöel said...

Nice swim, but I'm not sure about the picture of the cat taking a bath on the blog entry.
This isn't kitty it?

alchemist57 said...

Hi Jef - Greetings from Hong Kong. You are a machine! It's been great to see the conversations and comments on incorporating Frazz into my award remarks. Gerhard (the incredible linesmith who was partnered with Dave Sim on Cerebus) said immediately: well, I should have guessed you would figure a way to get comics into this! Cheers to the commentators who have taken the time to check it out. And, buddy: we still need to get together for that lunch-of-mutual-admiration.

Jim Smith II said...

Congrats on the swim times Jef!

Feeling like you could have gone a little harder is the worst! During the race you're focused on making sure you've got something in the tank for the finish (or making sure you don't bonk) and after the race you're thinking about all the seconds you left on the course (or in your case in the pool)...