Thursday, July 20, 2017

#93 Keeping it weird-part deux

It was back to keeping it weird in Austin, Texas. The last time I was in Austin was pool #71 (Barton Springs) in the fall of 2015.

This time it was in the middle of the summer with blazing hot temps for our sales meeting.  Shannon and I made it a long weekend to enjoy the great food, music and all the fun weirdness Austin has to offer. We did some food trucking, watched the Congress Bridge bats, listened to music and cruised hip South Congress.

Importantly, I was able to sneak in a little swimming on the side. It wasn't ideal water temp or enough distance swimming for English Channel training. It was a bit of a rest week or at least I told myself that.  Pool #93 was the Deep Eddy Pool which is purportedly the oldest man made pool in Texas-how about that?  The began as a swimming hole in the Colorado River and turned into a resort in the 1920's.

By my stroke count I knew it wasn't 25 yards so I guessed it was around 33.3 yards. Sure enough when I asked somebody they said it was.  The water is spring fed so it was refreshingly cool. It was a bit murky, not that big a deal. It was kinda hard to guess how far I swam as I was just swimming back and forth so I would guess it was around 3,500 yards. It wasn't enough but it was all I needed to start the day.

The coolest part of the pool is the outdoor locker room that was built during the Depression by the Works Progress Administration. Barton Springs has a similar locker room. You are certainly one with nature when you are rinsing off and changing outdoors!

After a great brunch with mimosas and some shopping on South Congress it was time for a reprise of pool #71.  It was as hot as heck so we went to Barton Springs to cool off with hundreds and hundred and hundreds of other people.  It was a bit of an obstacle course to get in four laps in this 260 yards of this pool like swimming hole.  I just kept telling myself that its ok...its a rest week!

Looking forward to going back to Austin in the future. It is a really cool town that would be fun to explore even more when its a tad bit cooler outside.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Miles and miles

These days when I speak of putting in the miles I tend to think about swimming. Generally, that is true but over the 4th of July weekend it wasn't only miles in the water but a lot of miles in the car too.

It started with a trip to JFK airport so Courtney could meet up with her Barcelona group for their 3 week adventure. While it seemed like a good idea to drive her there it wasn't, as traffic was brutal leaving Massachusetts. The upside was Courtney got to spend time with us (😉) and we stopped in Westport,CT for the night to visit with old friends.  

When in Westport in the summer where does one go but Compo Beach for a morning dip. My trusty sidekick Andy joined me for a beautiful sunrise swim to beat the boat traffic for the holiday weekend. We swam from Compo to Burying Hill Beach and back. Great morning! 

We then wandered up the Connecticut coast towards home to Hammosett State Beach in Madison for some beach time.  A long and wide beach and very crowded. A quick several hundred yards to round up to 8,000 yards for the day!

It was back to Weston for a quick turnaround the next morning for the second part of the weekend. To kick off the day I made a trip to L Street for a dip. A really nice morning with calm waters.

By 11:00am we were out the door to the Berkshires in western Massachusetts and Stockbridge. We had a fun afternoon playing corn hole and lounging in the pool at our  friends lovely new home. The highlight of the day was a picnic on the lawn of Tanglewood and the traditional July 3rd James Taylor concert. Really nice evening.

The next morning we kicked off be the 4th of July celebration with swim in a quintessential Norman Rockwell setting, the Stockbridge Bowl. It was a relaxed group swim. Post swim brunch with mimosas and a short stop at the Norman Rockwell museum we on our way back to Weston. A quiet cookout for Shannon and then to bed. A great weekend with beautiful weather.

Total mileage for the long weekend 758.5. 750 miles driving and 8.5 miles swimming. Oddly enough I was more tired driving than swimming. I guess that is a good thing if you,are training for the English Channel.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Recovery week...of sorts

Well...while not totally intended to be a recovery week it was quite likely that. The prior couple of weeks the yardage/mileage had ramped up quite a bit. I had some great pool swims and time in cold open water. Despite a mildly aching left shoulder-it was all good!

While I did swim four days this week the intensity was greatly reduced. It was a forced reduction due to a mix of business and pleasure travel. 

Monday started with a quick morning swim at L Street before a dash to Logan Airport. I went at low tide. Not ideal for conditions as my hand scraped bottom more than a few times. It was a cold water swim of about 56 degrees so it was good nonetheless.  

Tuesday I was in Orlando for business and it was the official day off from swimming. Felt a bit guilty. 

Wednesday was a return visit to pool #28 the YMCA of Central Florida in Orlando. It's an ok 50 meter pool. I didn't swim well. It was a bit of a struggle. That's ok because after that I was on my way to meet Shannon in Boulder to visit Sean.

I got to Boulder mid afternoon for a quick visit with Sean to check out his new apartment and to meet Kenney the kitty (named after Kendrick Lamar) before Sean had to go to work.  I hooked up with my MIT buddy Dustin and went to an Eagles tribute band concert on Pearl Street. We then went to visit our favorite bus boy at the Boulderado Hotel. Very fun!

Thursday morning was an early bell for Dustin and I to join Boulder Aquatic Masters for an open water swim at the Boulder Reservoir. It was a beautiful morning. Such a well organized swim with a great looking group of triathletes and swimmers young and old. I took a three hour break and then joined the masters group back a Scott Carpenter Park Pool (#78) an older but nice 50m outdoor pool. It was a sprint workout with lots of rest. Not my favorite but I did get a double workout in before noon!

Friday was back at Scott Carpenter for the 7:00am practice. The intent was to do the double a 5:30am and roll into the 7:00am. I just couldn't get out of bed. Just as well as my shoulder was still feeling a bit wonky. The masters coach Angelique was a former MIT masters swimmer and I also swam with another former MIT'er Ulla. Small world. 

The balance of the trip was Shannon and I hanging with Sean. We had a great time being with him and his friend Lexi. There was a fun hike around the base of the Flatirons followed later that day by dinner with Sean's favorite meal of steak frites. The next day it was a visit to the bustling Boulder Farmers Market and off to Nederland for lunch. 

I was happy to get four days of swimming in albeit light-ish yardage during seven days of travel. Not always the easiest thing to do. I was even happier to meet Sean's friends and to see how well he is adapting to living on his own, working and adapting to living in Boulder (likely not hard). Very proud of him.

Recovery break is done. Tomorrow it's back to ramping up the training and yardage as I don't have any meaningful travel for the next three weeks-sounds fun!?

Sunday, June 11, 2017

A Good Friend...

We all have friends that we believe will stick with us in thick or thin but it's not often when you see it in action. In fact this training session it was really going way, way above and beyond!

In preparing for the English Channel there have been challenges along the way like trying to find a pool if I am traveling or not being able to swim enough because of work obligations and I am sure there will be more of that to come. The big stressor has been getting my 6-hour qualifier swim completed. It's a requirement that all solo swimmers need a solo six hour swim in water temps below 60 degrees. Living in Boston coming out of a long winter and coolish spring the harbor has been in the low 50's. I wasn't going to subject myself to that torture. I was stressed about getting it done soon to get it off the check list and before the local waters spiked up above 60. So was time to take the show on the road? I thought of flying to San Francisco to swim in Aquatic Park or even flying to England for a quick trip to Dover Harbor. With a little Google work, the right water temp and encouragement of a good friend it was off to a familiar open water swimming hole of Westport, CT on Long Island Sound.

My good friend Andy and crew member for my Channel swim suggested that I come down and swim off of Compo Beach and he would kayak for me. I struggled a little bit with it at first as I was hoping the water would be around 59/60 degrees and it was only 57. With the encouragement and pushing of Andy I decided it was the right time to get this qualifying swim-done.

I got to Andy's house around 9:00pm on a Thursday night with the intent of shoving off from Compo before 8:00am. We chatted about logistics and did the food prep for the both of us. You wouldn't think it would be that complicated but when you are in the ocean and in kayak for six hours there a lot to take into consideration. When I went to bed around 11:00 it was raining and thundering outside-a bit ominous for our morning adventure. We got up around 5:30 to a cloudy and drizzling morning. We pressed on and decided if it was too miserable we abort the mission and try another day.

The tide was out and Long Island Sound was fairly calm.  We got the kayak off the car and got our provisions loaded up. With some laughs along the way about our ensuing adventure and some strange looks by passer-byes and a shriek as I entered the water we started just before 8:00am. 

No doubt the water was chilly and within the hour the rain had stopped but it remained overcast much of the day. The plan was to have a warm feed every 30 minutes. It took a couple feed to get the kinks out and then we settled into a solid routine. I very much looked forward to the feeds to get something warm in my body and to have somebody to talk to. Andy, was so attentive to making sure I drank the whole drink and have everything prepared on time so I wouldn't have to tread water in the cold for too long.  He even counted my strokes along the way to determine a baseline of when it looked like I was slowing and got tired.  We slogged on for about 2.5-3.0 hours past Sherwood Island, Southport and up to Fairfield before we turned around to head back. There were a few times where there seemed to be a strong tide against us where it felt like we were going nowhere. We were much closer to shore on the return trip and it was fun to see the huge mansions along Long Island Sound.  It was even more entertaining to see Andy doing some type of yoga moves on the kayak to work the kinks out from sitting for so long. In fact, at one point it is rumored that he may have fell asleep in the kayak for a moment.

I was so happy to see Compo Beach and the lifeguard shack was we made our way back across Mill Pond. By the time we got to the beach it was just over 6 hours.  Mission accomplished!

All in all, it was a good day.  I was able to practice feeding, got in a long solid swim and importantly began the cold water acclimatization process in earnest.  There times I was quite chilled but not enough throw in the towel.  This was my first time in cold water for a meaningful swim so I felt real good about the accomplishment and certainly getting the 6-hour qualifier completed. Big stress relief off my back.

Some say that swimming is an individual sport but those "in the know" certainly understand that it is far from that and when it comes to long distance marathon swimming it is truly a TEAM sport. I would have never completed this mandatory 6-hour swim if it wasn't for my good friend and kayaker Andy! Thank you Andy!

Two weeks later I connviently had a business meeting near Westport so I was able to sneak in another swim at Compo beach in 58 degrees.  Yes-Andy was there this time without his kayak but with his cap and goggles. We swam for two hours from Compo Beach up past Sherwood Island. It was a big swim to start the day.  A gorgeous morning and great place to swim!

Monday, May 29, 2017

Memorial Day Challenge

If the kick off to summer is the Memorial Day we kicked it off in a big way.

To celebrate my friend Jen and I planned a big workout that ranged from pool swims to open water and back all before 10:15am.

We started at Wayland masters with 6:00am practice. It was my first swim in the pool with the bubble off. It was overcast and dreary but that was ok because we were outside. It was a spunky 4700 yard workout. After a big six hour swim two days before I felt pretty good.

It was a quick change actually a towel wrapped around my waist and trip to Lake Cochiuate ten minutes down the road. The open water swim session was up next. We changed at Pam's beach and set off for a swim. The water was a bit cool likely in the low 60's. It may have been a bit accentuated with the clouds. We swam first to the public beach on the other side of the lake. Jen was a bit chilled so we headed back to Pam's. Round trip it was 1.6 miles.

Warmed up in the car for a bit and then went back to Wayland for the 9:00am practice.

The weather continued to be cool, cloudy and the wind picked up. Frankly, it was easier to jump back in the pool than stand on the deck in the cold.

With a full warm up and a 100 warm down It was a 5,000 yard practice. The same sets as the prior workout. While I completed the full workout I didn't fare quite as well on a couple of the more challenging sets. That's ok! 

All in all, it was a 12,500 yard morning. Not too shabby and a great pool and open water kick off to the summer.  Sure glad Jen is training for a long swim and was a willing participant in this triple threat Memorial Day swim.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017


My good friend Zach is really into the minimalism movement. You know concepts like; less is more, buy one article of clothing and get of rid two and love people/experiences not things. I have even attended a minimalism lecture with him. It's beginning to rub off on me.

When you think about it swimming is the ultimate minimalistic sport. All you need is a body of water and a swim suit and goggles, if you so desire. 

This week I brought my swimming back to the bare minimum with my first open water swim of season in Boston Harbor. Some consumption oriented people that don't adhere to a spartan mind freeing lifestyle join fancy health clubs like Equinox for their fitness needs. I have gone the other way and have gone back to the basics by joining the Curley Community Center aka the L Street Bath House in South Boston. The Community Center serves a very authentic Southie clientele not necessarily the young Equinox type professionals working in the Seaport or Financial District's. 

The Bath House is an large older build that sits on Dorchester Bay . It has basic weight rooms and cardio rooms and even a boxing sparring room. It is also divided by the men's side and the women's side. Some areas of fitness facilities are for single sex use only. The impetus for me to join was that the locker rooms open up to the beach for easy open water swimming access and have steam and sauna rooms to warm up after a chilly swim. There is a men's beach and a women's beach. 

As it was my first time at the club I was a bit more observant than usual and noticed that exiting from the men's locker room to the beach that the "old timers" were let's say a bit immodest with their swimming togs if any, at all. Interesting. 

The water was a tepid 55 degrees. It took me a bit of time to ease into the water but nevertheless-I persisted. Once I got in and started swimming I felt just fine. I stayed in the water for about 25 minutes. I didn't swim far but that was ok as this was more of a "mental" challenge than an actual workout.

I took a quick steam which felt great and went about my Southie day. Shannon, Zach and I had brunch at Local 149 and then Zach and I had a beer at a very minimalistic Shannon's Tavern next to Zach's new uncluttered home. 

Looking forward to more open water swimming time at the L Street Bath House this summer.

Was Whitey Bulger was an open water swimmer as I'm quite sure he frequented the Bath House?

Monday, May 15, 2017

To be a Trojan...Is to be an adventurer

To be a Trojan...Is to be an adventurer~Virgil

It's been 1,361 days since I've swum in these two pools consecutively. I have swam countless yards and in 56 different pools at home and abroad. The swimming adventures during that time period have been many and memorable. But none quite as memorable as August 21, 2013 when I swam in both the Mc Donald's Olympic Swim Stadium and the Los Angeles Swim Stadium pools in the same day. You see it's because it was on that day 1,361 days ago I dropped Ryan off at the University of Southern California to start his college career.

This week as a family we celebrated Ryan's graduation from college. Wow-how time flies! It started with a very chic dinner at Nobu in Malibu. It was a quintessential LA scene with beautiful people all around and a primo table right on the water. We were joined by Ryan's friend Mayme as Sean hadn't arrived from Boulder yet. Sean would have loved the setting but not likely the food.

The following day we enjoyed walking around Silver Lake, lunch downtown and resting for the evening festivities. Thursday night, the was the family graduation party at The Bungalows. Affectionally known as The Bungs they are a unique and special living complex with about ten small individual bungalows surrounding a courtyard. Ryan lives there with there with 12 of his good friends. The setting is ideal for hanging out. With all the time the boys spent in the courtyard enjoying each other's company and partying it was the perfect place for a family grad party. The Bung mom's decorated the courtyard and had BBQ catered. It was great to meet the parents of Ryan's friends and catch up with the boys and celebrate their achievements. I've had the good fortune to spend time with some of the boys over the years-a great group of young men. It was truly a magical evening and a highlight of the trip and one which I know all will remember for many years to come. Wish I could say it was an early night for an early morning for the big commencement

It was an early morning for Shannon and I as were on campus by 6:45am to save seats for commencement ceremonies as they were expecting 60,000 people. Commencement was filled with pomp and circumstance from the regalia and robes of the faculty, the cardinal and gold landscaping, marching band music and the releasing of white doves at the end of the ceremony. The commencement speaker was Will Ferrell. He did a great job of mixing humor and advice to the audience. It was then a mad dash to the engineering school's ceremony to safe seats yet again. It was here that we got to see Ryan walk across the stage or at least on a big screen tv. There were 650 graduating engineers so it was a long ceremony. The featured speaker was Andrew Viterbi the namesake of the engineering school and the inventor of the 50 year old Viterbi algorithm. Not entirely sure what the algorithm does but it's drives much of the technology we use today. It was time for more pictures and I don't think Ryan was too pleased but that's part of the drill! We then all went back home to rest before a family dinner. Not sure how we did it but we all eventually rallied for our last family dinner. It was memorable day of formal celebration of well-earned academic achievement. 

Shannon and Courtney then headed to the airport to take the red eye back to Boston as it was Courtney's prom on Saturday night. Since she was going to prom with swimmer I can post a picture of them in this blog. Look how beautiful she is and what a great looking couple they are. 

On Saturday, Sean, Ryan and I hung out for a bit before we went to the beach in Santa  Monica and then to our final family graduation event at a Bung bros parents home in Bel Air (that's what the Snapchat geotag said). It was a lovely setting and a low key way to wind down. 

It was a perfect four days to spend time with family, make new friends and to celebrate current and future successes. 

Ryan's successful adventure in college has in many ways been shaped by the goal setting, self discipline and the hard work he learned in swimming (see I could tie this back to swimming).  While there is one more year of grad school left this was certainly a big life milestone and new chapter starts today.

Ryan we are all proud of you and look forward to seeing where your adventures take you in the future.

While we are a family of Huskies, Trojans, Buffs and who knows what else in the future let's all take heed of Virgil words and be adventurous like Trojans!

#Fighton #USCGrad