andygates: (triathlon swim bike run animation)
Swimmy stuff for today: the TriTalk massive have a simple March challenge: 20 swim sessions.  That's, er, every weekday!  I'm 1 for 1 and counting. 

And in case you're tickled by open-water swimming, the Great North Swim is waving its banner.  Windermere on the 12th/13th September, a mile swim, some elites to ogle and a good washing machine --  [ profile] skean  we could put your birthday cake on the halfway buoy ;)  The last time I was near Windermere was in a longship!

Swim woot!

Aug. 27th, 2008 09:30 am
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Just did my first continuous mile in the pool.  Stoked!
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This year featured a new swimming discipline at the Olympics: the 10km open-water swim.  It's long and gruelling and rufty-tufty: with no lanes, athletes block each other out, swim over one another, and barge to get the best position.  The Russian women's winner described some of the more hairy moments as like "boxing not swimming" and David Davies said he felt "violated" after being kicked, trampled and de-goggled in the melee.  And that's all on top of a two hour swim intense enough that he went off for a lie down in the medical tent and the girls, the day after, said it "really really hurts!"

This is exactly what the challenge sport community lap up.  They drink this kind of gruelling gnarliness with their porridge - remember in the 90s the marathoners who would go on about their blistered feet and bleeding nipples?  Or the naughties triathletes motivated by the weeping athletes crawling across the Kona finish line on their knees?

It's also exactly what the "pure sport" people are crying out for.  This is not rhythmic gymnastics or horse dancing, this is a proper first-past-the-post race that really is in the original Olympic spirit.  Coubertin would love it.  The ancient Greeks would love it.  I predict great things for open-water swimming in the next few years.

2012's open-water swim will be held in the Serpentine, in Hyde Park.  One to watch.


Aug. 19th, 2008 02:49 pm
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Foot fins.  For the human dololophin in your life.  8mph and jumps.  (Product page via Wired)

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It has been observed that I have a strangely serene calm lately.  I guess I'm not one for serenity normally.  I think it's the Plan.  Because I've handed all my big training decisions until over-the-horizon to the Plan, that whole stressor has gone quiet.  The stress of the training itself and the microplanagement still exists, but it's almost as if I've abdicated responsibility to the Good Book.

I wonder if this is what religion feels like?  I can see how it might be compelling; this is quite nice. 

Must rinse wetsuit.  Today opened the book with a sea-swim session with the club: force 4 and lumpy, swimming was like crawling across a ploughed field and every time you found a rhythm, a fat wave hit you in the face. About 1000m of hard going.  The buoys are visible on Google Earth!
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Has u seen mah bukket?The river today was much warmer, and we put a thermomomometer in to see.  Ten degrees (fifty to you yanks).  Okay, it took the best part of ten minutes to get comfortable, but the temperature was fine for actual swimming.  So any swim that there is, isn't going to scare us because of the cold.  I'm glad on that count alone that we made the effort to get wet.

Of course there had to be an issue.  I swim well only on an empty stomach, and I mean empty.  2 hours from a light snack, 3 from a meal.  Hungry works.  Fasted first-thing works well.  So a big late lunch and a pasty grabbed on the drive over was dumb -- and yea, verily was the price paid in spades.  From this are revealed three things:
  1. Barf chunks in your beard are bad, hm'kay?  But the swim washes them out.
  2. Never underestimate the bloodymindedness of a guy who knows how bad it would be to bail on the swim.  Even if he has barf in his beard.
  3. There is no shame in brainlooping the verses of Rocky 2's Burning Heart if that's what gets you to the end. 
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I like picking up hitchers.  The stories are worth it - even if they're really mundane, they're always new to me, and today's (the Grand Guignol life of Donna Rascal and her Spongebob square pants) was particularly memorable.  Is the life expectancy of the homeless in the UK really just 42?  Scary.  Still, she's deposited in Glastonbury and I got to be kept alert on the drive and assuage my carbon guilt, so we all win.

I was there for swim coaching.  The session was pretty handy, pointed out where my stroke was wonky, offered some good stuff to help with that... and then finished on two lengths of butterfly.  Never done it before, so length one was a frothing, gasping foambeater, but somewhere on length two I actually found a rhythm and some sort of a stroke.  This lubber absolutely loves it when he gets something right in the water - it's a rare treat.
andygates: (triathlon swim bike run animation)
Deep One by altenburgThe dawn is a deep red, scorching the bellies of low black clouds into a dull hot bronze.  That's to my left through the huge picture window at the pool; to my right, a haze of splashing and limbs.  I'm swimming without contact lenses this morning, barely able to make out the gridwork of tiles on the pool floor, and no more detail than that.

It is very busy. 

And after a few lengths, imagination and that apocalyptic sunrise conspire.  All the other swimmers are of a similar build: squat, thick-shouldered, a little muscular, a little ungainly.  Are they really all bald?  Are they swimming in sync, some awful, blasphemous sympatico that unites these slippery heavy fish-men?

Dear gods, I'm in a pool full of Deep Ones.

Don't panic.  They'll taste it, and they'll converge on you.  Just keep swimming.  Just keep swimming.

The illusion is broken only when I start drafting drills, swimming up close to the swimmer in front to take advantage of their wake.  No fish-man has such a ragged kick as this.  No half-human spawn of Dagon breaks into breast-stroke halfway up a length so that I end up up their arse.  And look, the feet that have just kicked me in the face are not webbed!  Sweet relieving joy!  These are humans after all!

And with a profound sense of relief, I shower and get the hell out of Dodge.
andygates: (triathlon swim bike run animation)
Yes, I'm so chuffed that I've reverted to teh internets stupidest emotional excesses.  Oh noes!!!111

andygates: (triathlon swim bike run animation)
Nobody else remembers that song from Disney's Hunchback of Notre Dame, do they?  Just me?  Good, good.

I have discovered how to get a clear lane at a crowded pool at lunchtime: get a cold; recover apart from a pound of lungbutter; take a strong expectorant cough medicine; swim.  Every hundred metres or so, enough gack becomes sufficinetly loosened that you have to stop to hack and gark for a moment.  After a few repetitions of this performance, the medium lane is empty, the slow lane is crammed and the fast lane has near-Parisian traffic problems.  Heh.

Found a new sweet spot today, synchronising the hip roll with the recovery arm's lift from the water.  All very rolly.  I think its a sustainable, hit-your-rhythm thing, but since my secret identity is Captain Catarrh, I can't confirm that just yet.


Feb. 23rd, 2007 10:32 am
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I've just let myself be talked into joining a work team for the Swimathon team 5k.  I don't usually do charity events but this has all the characteristics of classic Munky training drivers: an actual challenge, an immovable and close deadline, and the fear of public humiliation if I bork it. 

Up to five team members, at least 1k each.  Well, the Plan has me up to that sort of distance by then, so why the hell not? 

Oh, bloody hell.
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Things this apex week's taught me so far: Sleep is sacred, at least 7h; I can't sustain two intense workouts a day, one needs to be footling; Hit the sack prepped for morning training before breakfast for keenest results; A week's plan laid out in one go is really easy to follow; If you miss a session, let it go, don't bollix up your schedule trying to cram it in.

Yesterday's swim was the third helping of cream on this week's cake (after a tough brick on Monday and a gorgeous ride of the Tivvy Triangle into work on Wednesday). Two sets of 250m - 10 lengths - nonstop using Hutch's breathing advice. Some warmup and footling too. Left me feeling like I could sustain that trundle for as long as I needed to, so my stroke is finally (after what, 6 months?) going aerobic. Happy happy joy joy! Celebrated by buying some fish fingers :)

PM run was a write-off though and today is listed as rest day. Argh, wanna go run... but no, rest is training too.

Memo to all training types: check which towel you pack to public changing areas. Scurrying across the mixed change area from the men's showers to your locker past the morning's clutch of littleolds clutching a face towel to your nuts is not ideal. They squawk like baseball turkeys.
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Andy modelling the Speedo Swedish gogglesThe Swedish goggles arrived today and no, they won'y be going in the dressing-up box. I like these.

They're ridiculously basic: two hard plastic eye-cups (mine are the bling mirror ones 'cos I dislike eye contact while training), a rubber headstrap which doubles up, and a bit of string to connect the eyecups. Yes, string. Yes, you assemble them yourselves and have to tie a whole knot. They fit right in the orbit and seal dead tight - though Sam, I think they'd probably push out your plastic eye. Because there are no frames, visibility is excellent. You need to reprogramme your brain to parse the weird refraction around the edges but that only took about ten lengths. And then they're kinda like magic underwater eyes, very low drag or interference and really very lovely.

They're as simple and effective (and gnarly radical) as a fixed-gear bike. Me likey.


Jul. 29th, 2006 09:42 am
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One for the swimmers out there: my trusty Speedo Futuras have finally started leaking - and that's a showstopper with contacts. Time to go shopping.

I *want* some of the hardcore racing sockets. Speedo Swedish mirrors. Mostly 'cos I still wanna look like Ranxerox and that's just a comix thing from, crikey, 1991? Tiny mirrored penny eyecups are so cool. Gods, I'm such a saddo. Does anyone even remember Ranxerox except me?

So... do any of the swimmers here use the hard Swedish style gogles? Are they sane or totally bonkers - I've heard both? And if not, what do you use (and what sucks)? And tri-wise are these things going to have any peripheral vision (not that the Futuras did)?

(Or shall I shut up and go shopping, they're just a tenner!)
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Open-water swim followed by a barbie at the literally palatial pad of one of Exeter Tri's chaps today. A good educational (if short) swim in which I discover some useful things, like:

* Much of my OW swim problem comes from all the seawater getting down the back of my nose. If I trump like an heffalump, this doesn't happen and I can concentrate on my stroke (zipperskate, young Jedi).

* It's not just me, it happens to the other OW newbie too and she's a stronger pool swimmer. Seems that seawater cheats and gets in where freshwater doesn't. I wonder why?

* Tri totty. Say no more. well, I could, but this is public. Visions of loveliness.

* You think you're lean? You think you're ripped? You're a soft squishy plush toy. Ripped is when your sixpack is vsible through your wetsuit. He's young and I hate him even if he does tell filthy jokes.

* You are naked without your HRM.
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A few days on and I've had time to post-mortem Bude. It comes down to the swim being a right 'mare. I can't blame the conditions, which were pretty nice; I can put some blame on stress (which was high) and newbieness, but basically it's just that my crawl wasn't easy. Turns out from my diary that I hadn't had a good long solid crawl-bash for *ten* days beforehand.

St. Friel says, and the biomass and I generally agree, that newbie skills are developed through chronic exposure: in other words, lots of swim sessions. So that's what I need to do - one committed epic a week ain't enough. Time to take out a membership and get a routine.

Which segues conveniently into the idea of a large-scale training plan. Friel (Triathlete's Training Bible) lays out a truly epic scheme which is pretty much High Magick: lots and lots of sensible-sounding theory (tapering, peaking, base, blocks...) and rules which end up with a calendar of doom. Since I want Cotswold (10 September) to be my first "proper" rather than "newbie" race, I'll draw up the rolling monster and see how it goes. Goals for the race are:

1) Complete the swim all-crawl and in good freshness.

* Join Exeter Tri and swim regularly
* In August do OW practice at and over race distance

2) Have a bike split of better than halfway up the field.

* Maintain summer century fitness.
* Do speed drills as if for 10-mile TT.
* Enter a 10-mile TT?

3) A run time of 28:00 or better.

* Work on faster cadence.
* Drop some weight (!)

The nice news so far is that I feel like I've passed some interesting fitness threshold where active recovery is more appropriate than total rest and where I can train twice a day (previously, only bike-commuting fit in that description). So I'm hopeful for more improvement.

Oh, and Skean: Good luck for the weekend! How's the water? Warm yet?
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Been doing some OW training with the Clan Despair, whose fault it is that I'm doing tri at all... and it's like being back three months learning FC all over again. Breathing, lordy, the damn surface keeps on moving and then you get a big one and you're waving your arms around like a Fraggle in one of their dance routines... still, just about managed the distance (500m), so there's hope. I've worked out that you should breathe on the side opposite the fetch. That one was easy, it just took enough face-fulls of water to invoke the Small God of Floating Pukers for that. But big swells are confusing me. I think I should hold off as they rise, then power down them.

Taking pace from the guy in front helps a LOT, dispelling that "working but going nowhere" feeling. Dunno if it's drafting or eye-hooks, but it helps. Will try a nose-clip too, as I'm not sure I have time to learn breathing technique before Bude on Sunday.

Weather's looking like getting windy midweek, so only one more OW session before the race. Transition out of the suit is... well, funny. Drunken wobbling and general clumsiness ensues! Overall mood is nervously hopeful. I don't think I'll be in the rescue boat, but I fully expect to be the last man out of the water. Perhaps I should fit lights on the bike...
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The prospect of a 500 race swim on Sunday still makes my breath come short with fear. But last night's swim session was very, very good (once I found an open pool!). Thirty lengths (woot!) of measured, calm, aware stuff, pausing to catch my breath and work out what felt right and what felt wrong.

Singing underwater helps pace my breathing - otherwise I either huff it all out, or don't vent enough. Plus the bar breaks can be used for breathing timers. Best ones from last night were Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines, the A-Team Theme and the Worzel's classic Combine Harvester. The Jaws theme isn't so good 'cos it makes me giggle...

Kick - glide - first breath left.
Those magnificent men in their flying machines
Breathe right
Yom pe pom pom pom, pe pom pe pom pom
Breathe left
They're (ba dum de dum) all (ba dum de dum) frightfully keen
Breathe right
Those magnificent men in their fly-ing machiiines!

Hellespont, you're next.


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