Tuesday, September 5, 2017

The road to Dover...7 days and counting...

Seven days and counting until my window opens for the English Channel~September 12th-19th.  At this point the hay is in the barn and its a matter of getting rest, eating right and not injuring myself in some way.

There is a ton to write about the English Channel journey the people and experience. That will come in due time. Today however in swim practice I was thinking about the variety of different training venues I have frequented the most in and around Boston.

First up, are the pools.  I guess one would have to say that MIT's Z-Center is my home pool. It is a fabulous indoor 50m by 25yard. I have been swimming there for nearly 13 years under the watchful eye of Coach Bill. I spent a lot of time in this pool training for the Channel. In the winter swimming short course and in the late spring and summer swimming long course.  Arguably, the nicest pool in New England.


The Wayland Community Pool has also become a favorite over the course of the last year. It's a 25 yard indoor pool with a bubble.  The spring and summer is awesome swimming outdoors with the bubble off-love it!  Coach Jen serves up a well thought out tough workout every practice with spot on pointers and tips.  The other swimmers are great and it has been really fun getting to know them.


I often wonder, would I rather swim in a great indoor 50 meter pool on a regular basis or in a 25 yard outdoor pool? With these two pools it's a tough call.

Of course, you can't train to swim the English Channel only in a swimming pool as that would be like training for the Boston Marathon on a treadmill. It doesn't work. The journey has led me to several open water venues that I am sure I will continue to frequent.

High on the list where I spent a lot of local outdoor swimming time was the L Street Bath House in Southie.  It was founded in 1931on Dorchester Bay providing recreational facilities for Boston's working people during the Depression. Today, it is a recreational facility managed by the city serving the local area and Boston open water swimmers.  It has great views of the Bay, the Harbor Islands and the JFK Library.  I have totally enjoyed observing and getting to know the characters that hang out there and make the the Bath House. The highlight was definitely the first day I swam there, it was pretty cold out and I swam for over an hour and Scotty that works the front desk was so impressed that he gave be a L Street Brownies sticker. 



(it ok to shower in the nude though-😉)

Nahant Beach just north of Logan Airport is another swimming area that I enjoyed getting to know. It is a long, long beach jutting out from the Boston Harbor to the Atlantic.  I had a couple really good training swims there over the course of the summer. The most memorable being a four hour training swim with Tommy that turned out to be a six hour swim. That was a big confidence boost that day.  It's a really long way from one end of the beach to the other~or at least it feels that way.



There was only one fresh water swimming hole and that was Lake Cochituate in Wayland.  To shake things up every once in awhile and to avoid a drive into Boston to swim at L Street or Nahant I would head to the lake.  It's a big lake close to home where the Wayland/Weston crew team practices. Most memorable was in late spring when I out there swimming by myself when one of Courtney's friends hit me with an oar from their two man shell.  It certainly woke me up from my swimming day dream!


It has been a ton of fun swimming in new places with new people in and around Boston!

The final preparations of packing are taking place and we are ready to fly to England to get this party started.






Sunday, August 20, 2017

#95 & #96 Long, long, ago...

This blogpost really takes things back to the beginning of my swimming career, like nearly, 45 years ago (gulp-that's hard to type)!

Summer family vacation this year was in Bend, Oregon. Some people were coming to Bend for the solar eclipse however we were there for vacation a family reunion and to celebrate Pa's (my dad's) milestone birthday.

You see Bend is where I joined my first swim team in the early 70's. It was the Bend Swim Club and we practiced at the Juniper Park pool. Back in the day it was a 40 yard outdoor pool-yup 40 yards. I have many fond memories of practicing and competing at Juniper Park with the Walker, Corrigan, Miller and Ellis family's. At swim meets we sat under the tent played truth or dare, ate powder jello-o mix and admired our stacks of ribbons and medals. 

Today, pool #95  is a 50 meter competition pool with a retractable roof to enjoy swimming outdoors during nice weather. There is also an indoor 25 yard indoor pool with an adjacent teaching pool and jacuzzi. The aquatic complex is part of a fitness and recreation center with a weight room and exercise studios. 

It was quite busy with lap swimming and swim team and polo practice in the divided up competition pool. The indoor pool was packed with people doing water aerobics. Pool #95 certainly wasn't what it use to be!

Not fully expecting it I was able to squeeze in another new pool on vacation. Pool #96 is the Sunriver Homeower's Aquatic Recreation Center in Sunriver, Oregon. Sunriver is where we use to train in the winter when the Juniper Park pool closed down. The original pool was  a heated outdoor rec pool with six lanes set up for lap swimming. It was fun to swim in the cold and snow with the steam rising from the pool. That pool was filled-in years ago and moved to another location. The new pool is a big outdoor family aquatic park with water slides, a lazy river with a three lane area sectioned off for lap swimming. Despite the warm pool water for family activities I was able to get several decent swims in.


Water wasn't too far away from several of our vacation activities. There was a fun family tube float down the Deschutes River and kayaking, swimming and SUPing at Elk Lake. 



There was also activity outside the water with the requisite family snipe hunt and a trip to Mt. Bachelor for Sean to do some reconnaissance.




It's always great to hit two new pools in a week especially when they are kinda sentimental. Even better when you can mix in a family celebration! Fun family vacation!




(unusually colorful sunset due to wildfires pic taken from Pilot Butte looking at the Cascades)

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

#94~Pac12 Pool Challenge

Not all the universities in the Pac12 have swim teams (my alamater being one) and likely not all of them have beautiful aquatic complexes. 

After my swim today at pool #94 I thought why not hit all the pools at the Pac12 schools? If they don't have a swim team they certainly must have a pool-right?


Pool #94 was Arizona States Sun Devil Fitness Center in Tempe. It's a rather new looking facility with a 50 meter by 25 yard pool. I swam with the Swim Devils Masters team. Coach Jonny, a Brit with a fun accent had a funky and and fun workout that was a perfect recovery after two long slogs in San Francisco over the weekend. 

It was a short practice and the main set was a kick set:

Six times through:
30 seconds kicking from the wall
50 kick
30 seconds vertical kicking
50 kick
30 seconds kicking on pool deck
100 kick

So I have swum at three of four Pac12 schools pools; USC, UCLA and now ASU. I am thinking I can get one more in by the end of October. This may challenge may take some time as I don't have any reason to go to Coug Country and Pullman, Washington!

#pac12poolchallenge

Sunday, August 6, 2017

San Francisco Cold Water Training Camp



The final push and apex of my English Channel training was a weekend in San Francisco. It was a camp organized by Chloe McCardel and Dan Simonelli for myself and three others; two Texans and a Belgian who are swimming the Channel in September. It was a intense packed weekend designed to maximize our time in cold water. The base of operations was at the historic South End Rowing Club in Aquatic Park.



Friday early evening we had briefing session at the club to lay out the logistics for the weekend. The SERC is sooo cool for as long as we lived in San Francisco and have spent time there I had never been there-that was a mistake. It's an old two story building part museum and athletic social club with awesome views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz and the USS Balcutha in Aquatic Park.  The plan for the weekend was simple-to swim! Friday night a short night swim and then two 6 hour swim on Saturday and Sunday.


Friday night's swim was short but very memorable. It was only three of us; Dan, Brian and me. We set off for a break wall swim in darkness with the lights of Ghirardelli Square dimly lighting the way. Once we got to the break wall and took the turn it got really dark real fast except for an occasional flash of the strobe from Alcatraz. At times kinda creepy but so fun!




Saturday morning came quick with goggles up at 8am. After a short logistics conversation with Dan about feeds and the course we were off. Water temp was in the low 60's and it felt just fine. I was encouraged that I felt so acclimatized. Basically, I swam in half circles and full circles most of the day with some detours to the buoy just outside the park. The tedium of swimming in circles set in around four hours. I powered through the last couple hours and swam roughly a total of 22,000 yards. My watch stopped keeping track of distance at three hours and 11,000 yards so just doubled it. Nutrition wise I stuck with the warm Roctane mix and  added in a couple of baby foods. I was tired when I got out but not bad.



After a short rest at the hotel we ate at my fave Italian restaurant Trattoria Contadina. It was just the nourishment that I needed for the next morning. I popped two Advils and slept ok. Goggles up was at 7am so it was an early bell well at least it felt like one.

Surprisingly, it was pretty easy to get in the water as I think the mindset was, "let's get the work done"  and I was happy we were going to swim outside the park to shake it up a bit. Yet again the water temp felt fine which made me feel good. The first three hours went fairly quick as I was swimming with Brian. We went out of the park a couple times; down to Fort Mason and out and around the break wall. After Brian got out my primary track was lapping the park with some small tweaks. The conditions were noticeably  choppier than the day before. For feeds I mixed in some sliced peaches~quite tasty. At hour five I decided to do one last break wall swim as that swim along with the park loop would get me almost to six hours. It may not have been my brightest move as I was pretty beat at that point and it was quite rough and choppy on the outside. At one point I thought I shouldn't be out here alone. I completed the loop and had only 15 minutes left. Unlike the day before where I had a burst of energy at the end  I was dragging butt. 



Bottom line...I did it a broken Channel (two back to back 6-hours days)! Feeling pretty proud as it was a big training milestone for the English Channel. Just over a month to go till Dover!

My reward was a trip to North Beach Pizza to treat myself to some good eats...yum!



Below is the favorite cartoon I saw in the locker room at the club.



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!?