Sunday, August 21, 2016

#78 Rocky Mountain High

This weeks blog reminds me of one of my favorite albums growing up; John Denver's Greatest Hits. I remember buying it at Wagners grocery store in Bend, Oregon. My favorite song on the album was Rocky Mountain High.  Was John Denver referring to high altitude training? Likely, not...but that is what I think about as this is the second time in a month that I have been in Colorado swimming in high altitude. The first time in Colorado Springs and this time in Boulder. 

I had never been to Boulder. It is one of those special places I have always heard about and finally I got to go there. This trip was extra special as first I got two great swims in and second and more importantly...well I will get to that later.

Pool #78 was the Scott Carpenter Pool a 50 meter outdoor pool in a beautiful park setting. I swam with Boulder Area Masters. With the number of swimmers in the water for the first practice at 5:40am and a second workout to follow BAM clearly has a robust membership. Not surprising as Boulder is a mecca for healthy living. It was a solid 3500m workout and while I felt the altitude respiratory wise I also felt it with heavy legs. 

The second swim was an open water swim again organized Boulder Area Masters. It was at Boulder Reservoir at sunrise~beautiful! It was a fully supported session with two courses set up and kayakers with walkie-talkies watching swimmers. It was clearly a training ground for triathletes as many were going out for a bike ride post swim.

The second reason this trip to Boulder was so special and bittersweet was we were dropping Sean off at CU. Sean wanted a mountain feel to his school and a place that would complement his outdoors lifestyle. He found it with CU in Boulder. It is a beautiful campus at the base of the Flatiron Moutnains with Tuscan sandstone architecture. 

I will have a lot memories of this college drop off but the overriding one was seeing how happy Sean was from the way walked and looked around but mostly a silly smile he couldn't wipe off his face. 

(the silly smile)

We will miss his lumbering presence and big caring personality in Weston but know it will be used in Boulder to meet new people, do new things and begin to discover himself and what success means to him.

Sean we are very proud of you! #skobuffs

Looking forward to more Rocky Moutnain Highs and altitude training in Boulder.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Cold Water Acclimatization~Mount Desert Island, Maine

This year we shook up things up vacation  wise and went to up to Maine. We headed pretty far north up to Mount Desert Island. It's home to Acadia National Park which is celebrating its 100 year anniversary.

Shannon rented a cool house in Southwest Harbor with a huge deck overlooking the harbor. It was to be a fun filled family week; hiking, kayaking, biking, eating and...swimming.

My friend Grant had a lot suggestions of various watering holes to swim in as he knew the area well because they have a family summer cottage there. 

Below are some of the cold water hotspots I hit. As it was vacation I only swam for 1000-2000 per session. Not far but it did the trick to get some exercise in, experience cool open water and check out new swimming holes.

First up was Valley Cove a quick drive from our house. It was a short family hike with beautiful views overlooking Somes Sound before coming upon Valley Cove. We were all pretty hot due to the hike so a dip in the cool (low 60 degrees) water was welcome. 

Next up was the harbor right off our deck. The water was tidal so there was quite an ebb and flow with the tide coming in and out. My big toe said the water temp again in the low 60's.

(Tide in morning)
(Tide in-evening)
(Tide out)

With a couple of salt water swims under my speedo it was time for some freshwater.  Echo Lake was a family beach a short drive from our place in Southwest Harbor. Not sure what the water temp was, maybe mid/high 60's. Whatever it was it felt really nice and comfortable.

The next fresh water spot was Long Pond where I had a couple sessions. It is anything but a pond~it's a huge freshwater lake. Long Pond is where Grant trains when in Maine. The water temp so pleasant just like Echo. I did a couple out and backs that just scratched the surface of the pond. Looking forward to swimming more there in the future.

Going back to salt water brought me  deep into Acadia National Park to Sand Beach. After a hot morning hike up the Beehive Trial with Shannon a cool swim was sounding welcome. I didn't realize how cool it would be though! There was fair number of people on the beach but very people in the water. If they were in it, it was only up to their knees. That's because according to the sign on the lifeguard tower it said it was only 58 degrees!!! While I only had time to swim about 1000 yards I must say while cool it didn't feel too, too bad.

(Sand Beach from the top of Beehive)

Fun times checking out new places to swim and new experiences with the family. Looking forward to going back to MDI in the future. 

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Citius, Altius, Fortius

With the opening ceremonies of the XXXI Olympiad in Rio de Janiero taking place last night I think it only appropriate to have an Olympic theme to this blog.

The Olympic motto; Citius, Altius, Fortius meaning Faster, Higher, Stronger was top of mind this morning for a couple reasons. First I was going to compete for the first time in the Wild Fish Swim Festival in Salem, MA. Second and more importantly Olympic swimming kicks off tonight and my friend Conor Dwyer is seated well and looking really strong for his events.

I entered the 2 mile swim and obviously did it sans wetsuit. It was a small cove and the water was quite warm and I must say the water was a bit dank. It was a two loop course that I swam with my synchro partner Jen. 

Felt good throughout the race pacing well with Jen and as we made the turn at the backside Bobby M came from out of nowhere. He passed us but we remained very close to him. I tried to put on the gas at the last buoy thinking I could catch him but to no avail. Bobby finished just a small bit ahead of Jen and I. Per usual Jen came out ahead. 

Post swim I was a bit obsessed in how Conor did in prelims in the 400 free in Rio. As it turned out he did really well and cut 1.5 seconds off his best time and is seated first for finals tonight. How crazy and exciting is that?

My Olympic moment was making the podium today. I finished second behind Bobby M. I beat him in the last two races this summer but he got me today by a small bit. 

Age adjusted with the other two competitors on the podium being 25 to 33 years younger than me I feel like a gold medalist!

While not a medal I did get a wash rag to commemorate my awesomeness!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

#77 & #78 Altitude Training~Colorado Springs, CO

With the summer Olympic Games starting in Rio in a short few days I thought it only fitting that I get some altitude training in Colorado Springs.

Actually I was staying at The Broadmoor for a business meeting. With a little early recon the week before I found a beautiful 50 meter pool at the exclusive Country Club of Colorado. It's a private members only club so the chances of getting in were slim. A simple ask by me of the aquatics manager landed a day pass to the pool. I'm glad I asked as the setting was gorgeous; an outdoor 50 meter pool at the base of Cheyenne Mountain.

Luckily the scenery looked good because  I sure didn't! I was slightly out of breath, alternate side breathing was a thing of the past and my send off's while typically manageable were a bit tight. I started to blame it on fatigue from the 3 mile Misery Challenge a couple days before when it dawned on me it was the high altitude-duh! Once I figured that out I just enjoyed the scenery and swam a leisurely 2,000 meters and got out. 

This pool ranks in the top 10 of all pools I've swum in based purely off the setting. Glad I made the effort to ask to swim there. If you don't ask you don't get!

The second high altitude training session of the week was the lap pool at the Broadmoor Hotel. Absolutely no comparison to the Country Club of Colorado but it was a legitimate outdoor lap pool at a hotel. I slogged through 1,000 yards which was a good way to decompress post meeting and to get ready for the awards banquet. I still felt the altitude, perhaps not as much.

A little internet research showed that I was at 6,000 feet in elevation in Colorado Springs versus 46 feet in Boston. Now I fully appreciate why our Olympians train at altitude at the U.S. Olympic Training Center. 

Hopefully this training will have me swimming faster at sea level soon!

Will be back in Colorado in a few weeks for some more altitude training.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Synchronized Swimming...Misery Challenge

Last weekend was the second annual Misery Challenge in Manchester by the Sea. It was a spectacularly beautiful day albeit a bit hot.

With the success of last years event the number of participants increased. There also appeared to be a solid core of swimmers from last year. 

The good news was that my synchro swimming partner and friend, Jen was there. Yup my synchronized swimming partner! 

Jen is an avid swimmer both in the pool and out. She is also a swim angel for Swim Across America's Boston Harbor relay swim. Her kind, easy going and patient personality is ideal for a swim angel and synchronized swimming.

Last year Jen and I swam in a handful of open water events together including the Misery Challenge. Wheather we started those races together or in different heats we alway seemed to finish within 60 seconds or less of each other (Jen always in the front)-synchronicity!

As this was a time trial start entering the water two by two Jen said we should go together. I happily agreed!

The water temp felt great at about 65 degrees. The tide was quite shallow to start so we had to do some swimming and walking. Once we got out into the channel it was smooth sailing. We swam side by side, in synch, with each other for 1.5 miles out to Misery Island and made the turn back to the harbor and the finish. I made a quick wardrobe change at Jen's suggestion and ditched my swim cap as it was falling off. We had some sighting issues trying to find the yellow course buoy and swam a bit astray. We found it fairly quickly and fell back in synch towards the finish. 

We hit another shallow patch towards the finish and had to walk about 10 feet before final couple hundreds yards swim to the finish.

I know I swam faster because of our synchronized swimming routine and was two minutes quicker than last year.  I finally had the same time as Jen!

Quaffed a post race morning Cisco beer and was off to the airport to Colorado Springs.

Thank Jen~ for being a great synchronized swimming partner! 

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Chloe's Boyz

Our friend, open water swim coach and all around Australian English Channel swim goddess, Chloe McCardel spirit was ever present (for a few of us) during Swim Across America's Boston Harbor Relay yesterday.

Swim Across America is a fabulous fundraising organization for cancer research. Since 1987 they have raised over $40 million for cancer research in their ever growing number of swims across the country from Boston, Nantucket, San Francisco, Chicago and beyond.

SAA has also been the starting point of new friendships for many. Ours relationship started with Chloe McCardel in 2014.  Chloe is a world class marathon swimmer, coach and open water swimming ambassador. She was the coach of our 2014 SAA English Channel relays. SAA's Boston Harbor swim serves I guess as a bit of a reunion for Rip, Grant and I. While Chloe has clients across the globe we are quite sure we are her favorites in the United States. 

(I should have eaten more veggies as a kid)

The conditions for this years SAA Boston Harbor swim were perfect for followers of Chloe. It was overcast, cloudy and the water was cold--just like the English Channel. Over the course of the day we swam sans wetsuit for roughly two hours with experienced Boston Harbor swimmers and some who were swimming in cold open water was a new experience.  The water was likely in the high 50's and at one point I heard someone say it was in the mid-50's.  A good day for cold water acclimatization.

(Grant has subtle entries into the water)

As the sun finally began to peek through the clouds a spontaneous dance party broke out on the bow of the boat.  It was then that we realized that my foot was bleeding.  While I wish I had cut it busting out a dance move I think I actually did it jumping off the boat to swim. Chumming the waters for sharks.

(Rip's traditionally painted toes and my bandaged foot)

Chloe has swum across the English Channel 13 times. Six solos swims, two double crossings and last year she did a triple crossing. The first triple in 25 years! Last year she also crossed the channel three times in one week. The first time ever in history. This year her goal is to break the long standing Australian English Channel record of 19 lifetime crossings. Earlier this summer she has already crossed three times.  She has four more to go. With her positive personality, determination and hard work I am sure #20 isn't too far off in the future later this summer. Chloe-thank you for being a motivating force for Rip, Grant and I to try new swims. Go Chloe!

(Photo op mid dance party)

Thank you SAA for all you do in raising money for cancer research and being a place where new friendships happen and dreams unfold. 

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Picture Perfect

What is it about the Doty One Mile Swim where year after year I always get a great pic taken with my swimming friends? This year was no exception.

(Doty Swim 2016-event orgsnizers Elaine & Greg)

The Doty swim is a low key memorial open water swim in South Boston that honors Jim Doty an open water legend in New England. It is organized by Greg O'Connor and Elaine Howley. The swim starts at the L Street Bath House parallels Carson Beach to the radio tower and back.

It felt good to get an open water swim in post Gibraltar. The water certainly wasn't as crystal clear but it felt equally cool. 

I swam a couple of minutes faster than last year which is good or else the course was shorter. Hopefully the former!

Post swim the group moved just up the road to the L Street Tavern (of Good Will Hunting fame). The tavern is a typical local Southie neighborhood hangout.  

Mighty Squirrel a new microbrewery in Boston and a sponsor of Elaine's upcoming marathon Lake Tahoe had a beer tasting at the tavern for Doty swimmers. They have an IPA, IPL and a light lager all very good. My favorite was the IPA. Their secret sauce is that all their beers have 4 grams of protein. 

I think my favorite thing about Mighty Squirrel is their slogan~Celebrate Mighty Moments! Isn't that something we should do everyday?

(Healthy dinner with my new Mighty Squirrel glass)

It was a picture perfect day in South Boston swimming and sampling beer with friends and celebrating mighty moments!

Pictures from past Doty's

 (Doty swim 2015)

(Doty Swim 2014)

(Doty Swim 2013)