Sep 22, 2009

Switching gears - season change and so must I

A little break and now back at it both in the pool and organizationally.

Masters practice has moved indoors and back to M,W and Sat. am schedule with weekedays at 8pm (ugh!) and Sat. in the morning. So looking for fill-in workouts on the other days. Good news is the winter season is a chance to work on stroke technique, duel side breathing and pacing.

Continue to swim a couple times a week in Lake Zurich at 630am. Pretty consistent at 2 miles per session feeling very comfortable. This Friday for fun thought I would go around twice for a 4 miler. Water temp seems to be staying in the upper 60'sf but I am determined to see what happens when it gets below 60f in the coming weeks. I really need to push this limit (with people along for safety in kayak's) so I know what more needs to be done. I understand cold is the killer in the channel and the only heater will be my swimming engine. Doug and others from the Lake Zurich group continue so the company is always welcomed. THey love this as much as I do. Love working out with these guys and the other masters in Barrington. Great competitive group and this pushing, especially with Doug, will pay dividends down the line.

Will begin weights and core excercise slowly over the next few weeks and keep this going all winter as I want to prepare for what lies ahead this next summer, lots of open water races and the swim portion of Tri's. My goal is to do my 6 hour hour cold water swim which is required per the channel organizing group to even qualify.

Finally, One fun note on Doug McConnel's friend, who I have yet to meet, Mike Solburg who just swam the channel last Friday in 13:31. Started in the morning and finished after mid-night. I watched his GPS tracking system live throughout the day and found myself nervous, motivated, impressed, so encouraged and yet found myself asking deep down "what in the hell are you thinking" and "am I willing to accept the punishment (mentally and physically)between now and then to accomplish this life long goal". The answer keeps coming back absolutely. I am committed, focused and will prepare myself through the next 12-24 months with milestones that will purposely test my metal. Cold, dark and rough water will become my friend.

I will know before I even get in the channel water..I have already done what is necessary. Then it is up to the gods.

In honor of Mikes accomplishment, here are some pictures from his swim:


Sep 17, 2009

Mike Solberg - A friend-of-a-friend's channel attempt Friday

If you care to know what its like swimming the channel. Here is Mike Solberg a friend of a friend (Doug McConnell) that will make his attempt Friday. You can track it live via GPS by following the instructions on his blog. Here is the link:

Sep 12, 2009

Alcatraz race

Early morning up at 5:30am after a night of windy rain and of all things in San Francisco thunderstorms and then down to the docks for race sign-in along with 700 other "nuts" for the 8am jump. Water at the "Rock" was a balmly 58f and seas with a slight 2-3ft chop. Needless to say I was happy this was not happening when I got to swim time;)

The entire race group walked down to the boat (ferry actually) listening to the scottish bagpiper blaring away which I love. Kind of cements the committment to what you are about to do.

Made it off the boat in the first few groups of three (you jump off one of the tourist boats from each side door three at a time four feet into the bay water just off Alcatraz Island). First time without a wetsuit so alittle nervous, water temp didnt bother me but the usual thrashing of many people and getting yur orientation to Aquatic Park takes a few sightings (lifting your head) to get on track. During the middle part was getting tolled around with what I am guessing was ocean freighter bow waves but made the way through and kept a good line to the harbor entrance. Finally was able to get into that forever stroke pace and was reayd to enter the harbor. As planned made it to the harbor entrance in a small pack of swimmers and kicked up the pace to drive to the finish. Made it to the beach and as usual stumbled a bit getting up the beach to the finish. Why in gods name do they make swimmers get out of the water to finish a race, were swimmers, not runners??

Anyway had a great swim, finished 11 overall and first in my age group in 29:47 minutes (1.4 miles) which was significantly faster than my 33:07 from two years ago and without a wetsuit which I guess saves you 10-15% effort so I am very happy with this result, happy with how I felt in the 58f water and chop and know I could easily kept on going. Gives me confidence to continue my training for the English Channel..

It was nice for everyone (mom,dad, rachel, ted, kate, thomas and griffin) to come watch and support. Katie (my sister) is doing a similar race Sunday morning so we'll do it all over again.

Sep 11, 2009

Aquatic Park, San Francisco training

Arrived in San Francisco in the early afternoon and was met by mom and dad and then went to sister kates house where we hung around for a few hours. Great to see evveryone but miss my wife, Jennifer, since she needed to stay home. This trip was really a daddy/daughter excursion kind of like Indian Princesses we used to go on so fun by all. Kate and I made our way down to Aquatic Park to join a group of swimmers at 6pm for a swim in the Bay and around aquatic park.

Probably 35 folks were there most in wetsuits and a few in bareskin (love that just like me). Got right at it after initial course instruction and enjoyed the 61f water for almost a mile. I found myself struggling with salt water in the mouth (just not used to it) for a bit but just like anything else will learn as time/trining miles pass. I felt strong and was able to increase my tempo freely as we swam back into the protected park area from the open bay. Warmed down a bit and got out. It was windy and got the shivers until I was able to rinse off salt water and get dressed but this passed quickly.

In all a good solid first test of swimming for probably 30 minutes in cold, murky slightly wavy water. Cold training is the key past basic endurance. Get some more in Friday and the race Saturday morning.

Sep 9, 2009

Alcatraz, final prep swim in lake zurich before leaving

Got in another early morning swim in lake zurich. about 2 miles, water temp 66f, air temp 67f. I went by myself this time which is probably something I will need to deal with as I intend to swim until water temp goes below 55f and then perhaps switch to a wet suit. The more cold water time I can log the better. Also at some point I will need to add a safety kayaker when temps go below 60f as I really dont know what potential body reaction to hypotherma could be at this point.

Anyway, off to California and two days of 61f salt water training thursday and Friday before the event. Last time I did a 33 minute swim for the 1.2 miles but in a wetsuit. It will be very interesting to see how I do this time time wise.

Sep 6, 2009

Labor Day Weekend swim - Grandview lake, southern Indiana

Visitied friends Andy and Kristi Lugo at the southern Indiana lake house for a welcome day on the water. Enjoyed libations but made it to bed after several wondering how I would feel in the morning during my swim? Woke up at 6am which in Indiana is 5am Chicago time, thus I forgot that it was completely dark and wasn't going to wake my wife to accompany me in the kayak while swimming. So we waited until 730am and got underway. Water was very comfortable (guessing mid 70's) and made my way around getting in 2.2 miles. I did checck my time but was ablee to pick up stroke tempo as I continued so likely well on good pace.

Thanks to Andy, Kristi for hosting us and Jennifer for kayaking alongside...

Sep 3, 2009

Sharing a fellow swimmers real time channel effort

I wanted to share a link to a friend of a friend who is in Dover as we speak and waiting for his "window" to open for his attempt at the channel. He is a friend of Doug McConnell who I have been swimming with and thus learning a great deal about the prep needed and challenges along the way. We wish him the best

Sep 2, 2009

Lake Zurich training

Swam a comfortable 2.2 miles this morning with Doug McConnell and a new and welcoming group of Lake Zurich regular's for a beautiful 6am (66f water, 47f air temp) swim (of course w/o wetsuits) and got to see the sun come up, steam rolling off the water as we made our way around. This group swims three days a week so this is a welocme addition to the indoor masters training practices. Water was very clear and had fun chasing fish around while easily stroking in the calm water.

Sep 1, 2009

Ohio Street swim - big waves and surfing

Went down to Ohio street beach Sunday September 30, 2009 for my usual swim and to my liking big winds were driving from the north down lakeshore and driving big surf with it. Wate temp was 62f. Neither were a problem and good experience in guessing 3-5 foot waves. Being within a couple hundreds yards of the sea wall also brought reflection waves out against me. Focused on being relaxed and stroking through (or in most cases down the face of waves). Was a shorter swim but fun. Oh yeah, no wetsuit.