One Hour Swim

My mission to “swim like a swimmer” took a big step forward yesterday. I competed in my first swimming national championship, the 2012 USMS Speedo One Hour Postal National Championship. Any national championship with that long of a name can’t be a legit national championship. And you are right. Sorta. Let’s break this down.

  • USMS as in US Masters Swimming. Basically if you aren’t competing as a swimmer as an age grouper, high schooler, collegiate or elite, you are probably swimming Masters.
  • Speedo as in the brand, not necessarily the brief-style swimsuit.
  • One Hour as in swim as far as you can in one hour.
  • Postal National Championship as in mail in your results to USMS and see where you and your swim club stack up (hence the “sorta”).

Anyway, like I said, I made my attempt at swimming an hour straight yesterday. While I frequently swim 90 minute workouts, rarely do we do more than a few minutes at a time (and never more than about 15 minutes). From a runner’s perspective, this seems strange, since very little of our training is done in small increments. Since this is how the rest of the swimming world trains, I don’t question and blindly accept it as truth (as every good athlete should).

After a short warm up, I got going at 6:35 am at NAU’s Wall Aquatic Center (which sits at ~7,000 feet and seems to be perpetually set up as Long Course Meters). I was sharing the lane with two other guys that were also doing the one hour swim, and they started just behind me. I knew I could hold 1:30’s, which would come out to 4km, so I thought I should start there and progress. I came through the first couple hundred just under that pace. I felt comfortable so I just let it flow. My first 1km split was 14:20 (1:26 average), which surprised me. I got a little excited and sped up the next 1km with a 14:12 split (1:25.2 average).

The old question “is the glass half full or half empty” rules every endurance athletes psyche during a race or hard effort. I am sure of it. If you are feeling good, the glass is half full; I’m already halfway! If you are feeling bad, or perhaps you are running a 10k on the track (in which case you are doomed before the gun goes off), the glass is almost always half empty; there’s no way I can hang on that much longer! Yesterday was a glass half full kind of day. As I passed the 30 minute mark I pressed a little harder. 3rd split in 14:10 (1:25 average). Right around 2 miles in, ~3200m, I started to feel the burn. My shoulders were getting tired of course, but more than anything, my forearms were hurting. With each length of the pool it was getting harder to keep a good catch going. I was pleasantly surprised to see the 4th split at 13:58 (<1:24 average). From there it was everything I had left. I tried to swim the final 250m in 3:20 (1:20 pace) but came up just a bit short.

I finished up with 4240m which equals 4637 yards. (For my nonswimmer readers: If I had actually swam in a short course yards pool, I probably would have been even further as there would have been more than twice as many turns, which are almost always faster.)

I’m really happy with where I finished up. A one hour Ironman swim is a benchmark for a decent swimmer, and I beat that by almost 400m (3862m). Swimming continues to go in the right direction, which is all I can ask for. I know I won’t be putting the hurt on anyone this season in the swim, but with all the work I have been doing in the pool, I think I will be able to swim well enough that I will be around later in the race to put the hurt on during the run.

Family weekend at sea level

On Friday I went home for some family action. My Great Uncle Niller had flown all the way in from Copenhagen, Denmark, which doesn’t happen very often. I spent the majority of the weekend at my aunt’s beautiful home in Northridge with my cousins, brother, sister, mom, dad, sister-in-law, Farfar (father’s father in Danish)…

Those that know me well know that I’m a family guy. I love it in Flagstaff, but I do miss my family a lot while I’m here. I’m lucky enough to have my own travel agent (mom) that gets me home once or twice a semester. Guess who is the favorite child?

Another perk to going home is sea level! I took this opportunity to do a little swim marker to see where I am at. USA Triathlon has a swim test that they use to evaluate potential Collegiate Recruits: 200 all out, 1 minute rest, 800 all out. Last year I did the test several times, putting up my best time in July. On that occasion I swam 2:13 and 10:10 for short course yards. At the time I was ecstatic with the result, especially the 200. I had rested up for the test and it was my last hard swim before turning my focus 100% on the cross country season.

Swimming has been going very well up here in Flagstaff. I hit 30,000m in one week for the first time a couple of weeks in anticipation of my first ITU triathlon coming up. I didn’t taper at all for the test, but I knew with my new swim fitness and a little extra oxygen I was ready to swim a good time.

Coach Ian did some filming of the swim. My form has improved, but I need to bring my arm underneath my body to really get the most out of my stroke.

My triathlon coach Ian Murray met me at CLU and took me through a good warm up. I got myself pumped up and dove head first into the 200. I swam a 2:10, which was a little bittersweet because I thought I was ready to break 2:10. I tried to enjoy all the extra oxygen during that short one minute rest, and then set off on the 800. I hit 9:41 — a 29 second improvement!

While the 200 wasn’t quite as fast as I was hoping, I surprised myself in the 800 and I can see that all the hours I am spending at the pool are paying off. I spoke with Barb Lindquist yesterday and we agreed that if I can keep this regimen up, I will be an entirely different swimmer come next Spring.

My swim will really be put to the test this weekend at the Myrtle Beach ITU Continental Cup. Lots more to come before and after that race.

Super Bowl, Knee Struggles & Swim PRs

Happy Super Bowl Sunday! What a great, American spectacle. I was rooting for the Colts (Manning is the man), but I am just happy it was a great game. We had some teammates over — Darius Terry, Joe Withers, Simon Gilna and Eric Lynch — and we all made and ate lots of food. My contribution was my Mom’s chili recipe and Trader Joe’s cornbread. Both were delicious.


The knee troubles continue. As of now, I am able to run 10-20 minutes without pain. As I go longer or increase pace it begins hurting. I have been icing, ultrasounding, and strengthening for over a month now with little improvement. It is getting pretty frustrating. And to frustrate me further, I have been trying to get a CD with my MRI images mailed to NAU’s team doctor for over a week now. Patience is a virtue, I guess.

Once the doctor receives the images, we will have some orthopedics take a look. Depending on their suggestions, I may end up undergoing arthroscopic surgery on my knee. I have read and been told that, as far as surgeries go, arthroscopic knee surgery is about as noninvasive as it gets, with reports of people back running in a couple of weeks. The quick recovery time makes the surgery very appealing. Frankly, I don’t see myself back running full strength in a couple weeks without the surgery anyway. Why not get it fixed?

But I am getting ahead of myself. For now, I wait to see what the doctors say.


Today I did a time trial as prescribed by USATriathlon. The protocol for the test is a 200 (yards or meters), 1 minute rest, 800. I did this test a month ago and, converting from yards to meters, 2:45 and 12:45 equivalents. In today’s test I swam a 2:39 and a 12:13, 6 and 32 second improvements, respectively. I plan to continue to do this test once a month to measure my improvement.

Needless to say, swimming is going in the right direction. Still, I have a lot of work to do. For 2010, I want to be under 2:30 for 200m and 11:06 for 800m (at sea level). I swam over 20,000m for the first time this last week. I am hopeful that many more high volume, high intensity weeks will get me closer to that goal.

Indoor and Outdoor

Because of my recent setbacks, running the 2010 indoor season is out of the question. There are but a couple meets left before the conference meet and there is no way I will be ready. Outdoor runs into the middle of May and beyond, so I think if I continue down the road to recovery, I should be able to salvage a decent outdoor season. After the improvements I made in cross country, I think even a mediocre season for me should yield some solid PRs.

Time Trial and Brick Action

These last few days I have done some tough workouts that should be good indicators of where my fitness is at. Monday I decided to go for a 1650 yard time trial in the pool (~1500m which is my race distance). The goal pace was 26:00 and I was happy to see that it wasn’t too bad to hold this pace. I finished at 25:55 with some energy to spare.

Tuesday I decided it was time to see where my run fitness is at with a 10k tempo. I ran 32:53 (5:18 pace) and felt decent at the end. I am hoping that I can run at least 34 minutes with an all out effort at the end of the race.

Today I did a modified workout that we do at NAU a couple times of year. It consists of 4×400, 10 minute LT (a bit easier than tempo), 4×400, 10min LT, 4×400. The idea is that both systems, aerobic and anarobic get worked. In the triathlon spirit, I modified this workout to make it a brick. After a 2 mile warm up, I went for a 10 mile bike. Once back at the track, I ran 3×800, headed out for about 12-13 minutes on the bike, 3×800, 12-13 minutes on the bike, and 3 more 800s. It was hot, but I was really happy with how my legs felt coming off the bike. 800s were 2:27-2:29 with a 2:18 last one.

I am going for a long run with teammate Myles Kloer tomorrow off Mulholland drive near UCLA. I have never been there, but I have heard it is a nice place to run. Other than that, next week should look pretty easy. A couple bike rides with some “race pace” riding, maybe some strides or shorter reps for running, and in the pool a few times.