Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Just tell me what to do...

I swim with some pretty accomplished people at MIT Masters whose out-of-the pool lives are quite impressive - they are leaders in science, law, engineering, business, and healthcare to name a few. Yet there is one thing that we all have in common, particularly those who awaken at 5am to swim: we all want someone to just tell us what to do. Yep, it is true. I don't know one single person that enjoys swimming alone or who is excited about coming up with their own workout. I have witnessed some master's swimmers attempt to swim on their own and the results are not pretty. If they get in at all (50/50 chance) then they splash around looking up every so often to see if miraculously another swimmer has arrived with a workout. It is kind of sad. Eventually, they bail after adjusting their expectations for the day from swimming 4000 to being really happy to complete a solid 1500. Even if you feel like crap there is something comforting about getting that little slip of paper from your coach (or looking at the white board) and doing what you are told to do. Of course, we all know that this has its limits and some of us utilize the "masters option" when, for example, a kick set is given to us.

Today's workout is now one of my favorites - great job John for keeping it strong the whole workout!

200 warmup
3 x 25 drill :30
75 breast :20r
3 x 25 drill :30
75 back:20r
2 x 25 drill :30
75 fly :20r
4 x 100 kick :25r
400 swim 6:00
400 pull hypoxic 3,5,7,3 on 6:00
400 fast swim
8 x 50 fast on :45
300 swim 4:15
300 pull hypoxic by 75 7,3,5 on 4:15
300 fast

Monday, August 12, 2013

2013 Boston Light Swim Recap

Bye-bye, Boston!
There was a sticker in our race bags that said "8.0 - Boston Light Swim". At the race meeting a few of us relay folks joked that we would need to cut it in half (or quarters) to use it. After the swim on Saturday, it was no longer a joke. The solo swimmers - those who finished and those who Did Not Quit (thank you for that designation, Tom Currier!) - earned every mile. I am particularly proud of my MIT Masters teammates Bob Burrow and Jonathan Gladstone who trained hard and finished strong, as well as all of the swimmers, solo and relay alike. This brief write-up will happily tell the tale of Team Trident, a two person team made up of Bill Geary and me.

Bill and I did not determine our race strategy until the boat ride out to the lighthouse.Thankfully, a key part of Team Trident was our pilot crew, John and Kenny, who are experienced pilots and did the hard work of strategizing the course. Bill's wife Kathy made up the third member of our crew, keeping us positive and warm. As we left the dock, John and Kenny started whispering about wind, chop, currents, etc. but we were blissfully unaware as we marveled at how cool Boston looked as it disappeared behind us. In retrospect, we were like 2 school kids whose parents did not want to spoil the trip by scaring us. In my head all I heard was Greg's promise at the race meeting that "the first 4 miles will fly by"!

One of the coolest parts of the day was seeing all the boats arrive in front of the lighthouse. It made me proud and happy to be a swimmer, and to have the privilege to participate in this event. It was a beautiful day and people were in good spirits in all surrounding boats. As we had been warned, a boat zoomed up on us, poles and nets ready, asking what was going on. After we explained, they looked at us and said "people are swimming? To Boston?"

After consulting with the crew, we decided to do 25 minute pulls and leapfrog the course, which roughly equates to a mile at a time. The second coolest part of the day was when the horn went off and everybody jumped in. After a few expletives, Bill went off first. It took a good bit of his first pull to find clear water, but he looked strong and kept a great pace. Kathy kept time and we had a five minute signal (a waving towel) and I jumped in when Bill climbed the ladder. I was so happy to be swimming and was surprised that it was not super cold but a bit choppier than I expected given this supposed "quick trip" in the first 4 miles. The most wonderful part of this swim is that we never really had to sight - our pilots kept us on track, at times with the boat on our left and then when the current shifted on our right. I was swimming in the middle of the Harbor Islands and never felt safer. As everyone has reported, it got rough after the bridge and between Spectacle and Thompson Islands, and in the last 2 mile slog to the finish. Knowing that we could push it and then rest made it a fun event. I kept thinking about the solo swimmers and how they were faring in the conditions. I also questioned whether I could do 8 miles myself in the rough water, and honestly I don't know if I would have been able to do it.The temperature, which I worried about most, was a non-factor.

Bill and I finished together and truly enjoyed our experience. We are so grateful to our crew John, Kenny, and Kathy for all of their hard work. Greg O'Connor is an extraordinary race director, always keeping safety at the forefront. On the beach he was visibly upset that so many swimmers who trained so hard had to be pulled because of the rough conditions. All of the volunteers worked a very long day and put in many hours the night before and week before the race. They often say that it's easier to compete than it is to volunteer from a time and exhaustion standpoint, and I think that is true. A heartfelt thank you to all volunteers.

This was the most fun swim event that I have ever participated in.The camaraderie with the swimmers and volunteers, the support of the local yacht clubs and pilots, and swimming in my favorite city among the beautiful islands made for a lot of great memories. While I will wear my BLS tattoo and t-shirt with pride, I'll hold the "8.0 - Boston Light Swim" sticker for when I swim the 8 miles. Maybe next year?
The boats gather at the start
Bill swimming strong
Check out those waves!

All done!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Ready, Set, Go! Boston Light Swim

The historic Boston Light Swim is this weekend and four swimmers from MIT Masters are participating. Bob B. and Jonathan G. are doing the 8-mile journey as solo swimmers (an incredibly impressive feat), while Bill G. and I are taking part as a two-person team. We also have crew members helping out the solo swimmers on their boats: Heather (BB) and Coach Bill (Jonathan) and our most famous teammate, Elaine Howley, will be on the safety boat helping out friend of MIT Masters Greg O'Connor, the race director. All of this is to say there will be lots of good karma out there. The Boston Light Swim is the oldest open water swim marathon in the United States and dates back to 1907. I won't go into all the details as doing so makes me a wee bit nervous, so if you want to know about this fun event you can check out the Boston Light Swim webpage for more info. Bill G. and I have not exactly set our strategy yet (read: we like to wait until the last minute) but thankfully our trusty boat pilot/lead strategist John is all over the planning. The forecast looks good, but as we know that can change at any minute. I have to say I am pretty excited to participate in this epic swim in the city I love so much, with people who embrace open water swimming. Godspeed to all the racers!

Today's workout:

400 drill/swim by 25 :15r
4 x 50 stroke on :60
200 kick
6 x 75 IM order no free 1:20
Three times thru: Broken 600s going:
400 easy pace :20r
200 fast on 3:20
7 x 100 working each part of the stroke on 1:40