Friday, March 30, 2012

Good Week

So I ran a decent 5K last Saturday.
Had a really good swim lesson Tuesday.
Then Thursday after work, I ran 20K, my longest run in quite some time. My right foot didn't hate me until the last mile. And more importantly, was very useable the next day.
I finished at 9PM, so I really questioned whether I was going to make it to the pool the next morning at 6 to get my swim in. Surprisingly enough, I made that happen without any trouble too.

It's nice when things are going well. It helps me get over the bad workouts. Like the hill sprints on Tuesday morning. Those were ugly.

I finally saw the New Masters Swim Group this morning. Bob was the only person from our old group. (most of the others no longer live in NJ).
I didn't get to see much of what they were doing, but at this point, I don't think it's something I need to make time for. As much as I enjoy being part of a group, it's just not going to happen right now. I will admit to being jealous of Bob doing Butterfly Drills this morning.

Cold rainy weekend ahead (mid 40s). I'm trying to get it into my head that I'm going to bike in it anyhow. We will see how that turns out.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Swim Lessons

I've already had 2 lessons. The first one was an hour long. After which I felt my mind was going to explode because I had been given so much to work on. I wrote most of it out so that I'd be able to keep track of it.
The 3 main points were:
Keeping arms and hips in sync.
High elbow catch & pull.
Hand exit. I'm creating a huge splash. I need to get out cleanly. He considered this the most severe of the 3 problems.

I spent 2 weeks working on this. I felt pretty confident that I had made significant improvements to the first two items but my catch & pull felt inconsistent and at times lacking power.

When I went back for lesson two, I signed up for a 30 minute slot. I figured that by keeping the time short, I wouldn't be overloaded. I love all the feedback but I had to slow it down a bit.

He watches me for a couple laps. He sees the improvement in the high elbow. Then asks how it feels to be swimming that way. I explain to him that it feels inconsistent. We get into a discussion about that and he sends me back down the pool to determine if it's equal on both sides or what is making me feel that way.
I get to the wall and he already knows what I'm going to tell him. It's the pull on the right side. And then the can of worms comes open. Here's what he saw on that 25.
My kick is throwing me off balance when my right arm is forward.
Which causes me to adjust my pull to keep me from going further out of line.
The bad pull + kick adds up to a terrible glide on my left side because my right hip isn't getting out of the water either.

How to fix? First let's keep it simple and remove the legs from the equation.
Pull buoy swim.
Right side pull improves dramatically. Need to work on deeper and wider reach up front at the catch which will allow for a more even pull and room for the exit at the end of the stroke.
Without the pull buoy.
Focus on a much smaller kick. Any time I allow my legs to go wide, not only does it add resistance but it's throwing off my body position.

The one other comment he added is that I'm not reaching far enough for my catch. I already know how to fix that. That is just a matter of me focusing on reaching deeper in front of me and maintaining a forward lean in the water. When I want to be fast, I do this well. When I'm thinking of other things, it's the first thing to go wrong. So it's part focus and part just being lazy.

It seems that I've got a bunch of stuff to work on. The good news, in my opinion, is that I don't have as many problems when I'm swimming with a pull buoy (which is similar to a wetsuit swim). So I'm alright with focusing on the arms/hip problems first, as that will translate to better times in the races. I'll work on the kick once I've got the feel for this front end stuff burned into my brain.
I did 3500m the morning after this lesson and already I feel much more consistent. The times were good too, but there was a ton of pulling, so it's hard to compare.

Monday, March 26, 2012


Race Results
Sorted by Age Group

We drove back to our hometown in Pennsylvania for this one. I wasn't sure if I was going to run or be the photographer. I dressed as if I were going to run it. It was a rainy morning so I wasn't sure I wanted to have the camera equipment out and getting wet.

The race start was about a mile from the house. We picked up Todd along the way and it sounded like he wanted me to run as well. So why not? Well this will mean I'll be racing 3 weeks in a row. 5K. 4 mi. 10K. Maybe it will be a good progression.

After sitting in the car for 6+ hours to get here the night before, I wanted to make sure I got a decent warmup in. I wanted to know if anything was going to be unhappy now rather than once I got started. I started my warmup at the right time but I ended about 5 minutes too soon. Not a big deal, I just felt like I should have kept moving is all.

I was going to be curious how this was going to go from a nutrition standpoint. This was day 6 of no simple carbs. No sugar, flour.... So I wasn't going to take a GU pre race either.

There looked to be about 200 people at the start line. I'd say about a dozen of them are people I went to high school with. Jim and Lonnie were up on the starting line. Todd, Jerry, Marty and I were back a bit. Directly behind me were a couple of past members of KB2. Ellis and Amanda.

Alright so what am I thinking? Well, judging from my run with Todd last weekend. I can only hope that he goes out too hard and falls apart. Otherwise I've no chance of beating him. Marty? He looks like he's in good running shape. I can only hope I can stay close. Jerry? Maybe he did a P90X leg workout last night and his legs are dead. If not he's going to be right there in the mix with us.

Horn sounds and we are off. A quarter mile into the run I find myself laughing to myself that there are a couple of 7 or 8 year old boys just ahead of me trucking along. I couldn't help but wonder if that was going to be sustainable for them or not. I think I worked past them about half a mile in.

Todd was leading our group of 4. Before he got too far out ahead of us he turned to see where we were and he pulled himself back a bit. Then we ran up the short steep hill and then it was a slight climb to the next turn. This would turn out to be the only time during the race that I would be leading our group of 4.

As we turned onto Madison, Marty, Todd and I were still together. I assumed Jerry was right behind us. It turns out his shoe fell off at the turn, so he wasn't with us any longer. Madison is a long straight stretch that is descending slightly. It was during this section that I was realizing that I'm taking 3 strides to every 2 of Todd and Marty's. (or something close to that). I also realized that I was breathing much harder than either of them... not a good sign.

We hit the 2 mile mark. Todd announces 14:23 or something close to that. Whatever it was, my response was "Too fast for me". I know. Not a very positive response. It definitely made me more concerned than I had been before I knew that bit of information tho'.

At the next turn, about a mile to go. We start climbing again. Todd and Marty are slowly pulling ahead now. There are spectators, just after I pass them. I hear one of them say, "Go Ellis". Ha! She is still right behind me. Well how's that for motivation? I've got Todd and Marty getting away and Ellis just a few steps behind. Just keep digging.

The slight downhill on Jefferson once again reminds me of how I am not using downhills to my advantage currently. I feel like I'm braking on every impact.

Turn onto Conewango. It's basically flat to the finish from here I'm guessing it's a half mile to go. I can see Todd and Marty up ahead but I have no chance of catching them. We run by more spectators and once again just after I pass. I hear "Go Ellis!" At which point I realize I'm going to have to find an extra gear at the end of this. I'm going to have to start earlier than her as well. I decide it's going to be at the turn at the Towers. Only problem is I'm already going all out. Then to make it worse. I try to pass a person ahead of me on his right initially but then he started to go wide, so I went to his left. Fortunately we didn't get tripped up.

Sure enough as we make the final turn. Ellis and another woman have a kick to the finish and both of them finish ahead of me. I crossed the line at 22:14 for a 7:10 min/mile in 30th place. Which is my best pace since 2008. So thank you, Todd, Marty and Ellis for the race. I now have a bit of hope as I start my speed work for the season.

Jim finished in  4th
17:54.10      5:46/M 
Marty finished in  25th
21:59.70      7:05/M
Todd Finished in 26th
22:00.10      7:06/M   
Jerry finished 45th (Thew a shoe)
23:19.80      7:31/M
I leave Genine's story/results out. I figure she might write something up eventually. 

Monday, March 5, 2012

Coogans 5K

This past week has been frustrating. I’ve come down with another respiratory infection. So far I’ve just been taking Sudafed and Mucinex to handle it but I don’t seem to be improving. I missed a number of my workouts in hopes that rest would help me recover. I can’t say that it’s helped. I may just have to go back in for an antibiotic as it’s already been a week. If it turns into a full sinus infection, that will be another week.

As an added challenge, I had a mistake on my calendar. I thought I had another week or 2 before my 5K. Todd mentioned it to me as we were running our hill loop this week. Sure enough, Sunday was the Coogans 5K. This is not a fast 5K course, there are some good hills to climb.
Just because it’s not a fast course, doesn’t mean there aren’t going to be fast runners. Todd’s bib pace is 6:46 I think and he didn’t get placed in the first corral. I guess the 5K specialists are registered for this one. (there is money to be won after all).

So Todd and I started side by side in the corral but he left me behind rather quickly. That wasn’t a surprise. He should have been at the front of our corral and we were probably more around the 2/3s mark which was more accurate for me. I felt pretty comfortable running along the flat leading us under the GWB/Cross Bronx Expressway, then we hit the first climb. Once again, I got to see how running hills gives me an edge on a course like this. The group I was running with all fell behind and I started to move through the pack ahead of me. As it flattened out, I was back to running with the pack. I was probably about to the 1 mile mark when the leaders of the race were headed towards me. I had no doubt that the first 6 or so were running under a 5 min mile. Me? Not so much. I felt that I was running fairly well tho’ until around mile 2. At that point it just started to feel very hard to breathe and I could tell that I was losing ground. Fortunately there was another climb and again I was moving through the pack. After that the rest of the course is downhill or flat. Quite a few people burned past me on the downhill. Hopefully I’m not losing all the ground I made up on the uphill. (some downhill practice is in order tho’). As I approach the finish I look over to see where Genine is, we completely missed each other at the Brooklyn race back in December. I found her easily today.

Typically you finish and kind of have an idea of how you did. My result was worse than I thought it would be. 24:23 or 7:52 pace. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised, my lungs immediately went into a full asthma attack when I stopped. It was nasty. I was coughing for the next 3 hours just to get back to somewhat normal.

Looking at the results, there were 5 Carlsons in the race. I was the fastest of them. So that's something right? 

Hopefully this cold clears out soon. It’s worn out it’s welcome.

On a more positive note, my swimming seems to be improving every time I get into the pool. That is back to being fun. 

Here is a video of the finish. Todd is at the start, I am towards the end of the video. Unfortunately the compression Flickr adds doesn't make for a great picture when you go full screen.