Wednesday, January 29, 2014

USMS One-Hour Postal Swim Recap

Late last year I joined US Masters Swimming with hopes of just getting at least one event in, I imagined a swim meet, 50 free, 100 free, 100 back... just as a measuring stick of my current swimming ability.  With a whole ZERO swim meets any drivable distance from me, I just swam my own workouts and found the Postal Series with my friend Adam.  I did the 3000 short course yard swim at the end of the year in 53 minutes, good enough for dead last in the country (of 12 who entered that postal).

This year I intend to swim all 5 postal events.  They start with the 1-hour in January to be swam anywhere at any time before the 1st of February.  Adam completed his yesterday with 3225 meters (long course).  I had been feeling like crap lately in a race and a few workouts so I had suspicions I might not make it to 3000 yards.  Nonetheless, the deadline for submitting my swim was looming and it had to be done.
All my gear.  So simple.
Having noticed a huge depression in my energy and strength lately, I attempted to compensate by carbing up as much as I could leading up to the race.  What's made this tough is that Kristen and I started a Whole30 program on the 23rd, no doubt the cause of my slump.  So no pasta, bread or other "traditional" carbs.  Relying on what the good Lord gave us, we cranked out some pretty awesome starchy vegetables for carbs like loads of sweet potatoes (breakfast hash, or mashed), rutabagas, cauliflower rice, spaghetti squash, butternut squash and beets (these are a new favorite food but holy crap are they a bit alarming when they dye everything that comes out later a blood red).  I think I ate about 3 lb of vegetables Tuesday night and a good pre-race meal of the same and hit the pool around 9:30.
Only about half of what I'd consumed to fuel up Tuesday evening.
I don't really like warming up, so I forced myself through a few laps to at least see how I felt mechanically.  My back's had a pretty wicked knot in it for about 2 days and I expected to feel it on my left arm pull.  I could detect the knot each stroke but it didn't really cause any discomfort and definitely no pain so after my lame warmup, I was ready to go.  I preset my Garmin for time alerts every 15 minutes.  I had originally intended to just set it at one hour but that would have caused me some certain madness.  I am in a time warp when I don't have at least some perspective of where I was in the hour, I need alerts at shorter intervals to keep my from thinking I'm 40 minutes in when it's been only about 12.

I started off typically, quicker than a pace I could keep throughout the hour but with swimming, it's a different strategy than running, at least for me.  I'm going to blast through as much yardage as I can while I can maintain good form.  I got about 300-350 yards in before my pace was slower than 22 seconds/length.  I attempt to maintain pretty decent form the whole way because quite simply, good form makes swimming easier, the problem is, it's not that easy to maintain for a long period and be efficient.  I watched my strokes/length tank and tried to take advantage of being in a short pool because I'm pretty good at turns.

After I was done knifing through the water, I started plowing through it, I could feel fatigue setting in pretty quickly, almost right around 350 yards when I felt my self slow down, with a lot of doubt between me and at least 3000 yards, I pressed on.  I had nothing better to do at the moment.

What seemed like 25 minutes into the swim, I finally felt a buzz on my left wrist.  One quarter of the way done.  I was still feeling lousy and at this point I had another swimmer sharing my lane.  She appeared to be just doing a kicking set, and really only a bit slower than I was swimming, at least in my head.  This was part depressing and part motivating.  I made a mini-mission to see how many times I could lap her.  I lost count but it was a fun side game that made the yards disappear until I felt the 2nd 15-minute alert.  By now, I was feeling looser and in a comfortable pace, I'd figured I'd pushed through a wall and was good to go and the 3rd quarter hour ticked by in what seemed like 5 minutes and I had only 15 to go.  And was pretty oblivious to how far I'd swum to that point.  I did do one quick distance check at about 27 minutes and saw 1775 yards done.  A bit of a surprise at my pace and I figured, pessimistically, I'd only continue to slow and 3000 was still in jeopardy.

The last bit of the swim was a mixed bag.  Some laps felt awesome, almost "fast", others felt like each recovery stroke pushed me backwards when it hit the water in front of me.  Feeling sloppy but still moving comfortably, the up/down feeling of the last 15-min leg expired quickly and I'd finished my first postal of 2014.  3700 yards and boom goes the dynamite!

I knew I had some metal blocks with my 3000 yd postal last year and a new nutritional challenge that I think I might have figured out for this one.  I'm excited for the rest of 2014's postal series but the 10K sounds like a beast.  At least I have a ton of time to prepare for that.

1 comment:

  1. Woah postal was METERS...and LCM at that!