:::: MENU ::::
Posts tagged with: swim

Etch-A-Swim: Gossamer

A bit late on this one, but this Etch-A-Swim was from Sunday’s Hermosa Pier to Manhattan Beach Pier open water swim. Remember Gossamer from Looney Tunes? Well, that zigzag of a swim reminded me of his fur. Lemme tell you, that was probably one of the harder “Pier to Pier” sessions we’ve had because we faced a current going against us. It felt like a treadmill where I just wasn’t going anywhere! Water was clear too so that messed with my head as well! It took me almost 2:20 to complete! I really had thoughts of “What is happening?!? Will I be able to make Ironman Canada’s swim cutoff at 2:30? This is cutting it realllll close! Where is everyone? They’re all probably eating breakfast already!”

I came out of that swim pretty spent out of energy that I suffered on the run. It was even a flat run too! We had to do a 3 loop run of 4 miles each. Counter clockwise from the Strand to Woodchip, then clockwise, then back to counter again. That first loop was pretty much a Walk-A-Thon because I just didn’t have enough energy. I was pretty much doing 15:1 run:walk minute intervals then eventually 2:1. Second loop was better as I was able to do 5:1. Then the third, after having some Hammer Endurolytes from coach Brad and another Gu Roctane, I was able to get most of my energy back and ran for the most part. This was definitely a learning experience for me because my nutrition was waaaaaay off! I mean, almost 3 hours of back at the beach (20 minute run warmup then 2:20 of swimming) without nutrition, then continued on a run? That’s a recipe for disaster! I only brought 1 bottle of Accelerade, and some Gu. Once I was out of Accelerade, all I had was water. Not enough. Even I knew that. For some reason I thought we had SAG support to swap out, but we didn’t. For South Bay runs, we usually don’t. Now I know what to do. Unfortunately, it’s these miserable experiences that make us learn, and that I did.

Etch-A-Swim: Wildflower Long Course Swim

Even though I shaved off 8:15 off my Wildflower swim time from last year, imagine if I actually swam straight! Here’s more of my swim bloopers, but at least I know what I need to work on these next few months! (red = my swim, dotted blue = what I was supposed to do)

Build 2 – Loads of Miles, and Time Travel

Last weekend was my first appearance of a Build #2 workout with the team. I’ve always somehow managed to be out of town since the first of it this season – Monterey for a company party, and also Texas for the Austin Marathon. A quick rundown of what happened – Friday, met up with teammates Jeff and Val at the Equinox down the street from work, 3,800 yards. Whew! Saturday a minimum 4 hour bike ride & 30 minute run. Sunday, run another 11 hilly miles, then more swimming.

We met up at our usual spot in Santa Monica spot, Ocean/San Vicente, and our route was simple – head north on PCH for 2 hours, then head back. Since it’s a build week, this was my opportunity to push it and see where I compare to last year. Alumni was supposed to spin up and add 2mph for 15 minutes, then back to normal pace, but after a few hours I lost track. Out of the gate, we did a fairly high cadence but high speed warmup for 30 minutes. Took a while to get into rhythm, but eventually averaged out to a 25mph range. Attacked the flats, and was smart going uphill. At one point, my teammate Donovan, Jasmine, and I hit about 43mph on a downhill! A new PR! (42 was last year). I made it out to Las Posas, pretty much where the regular roadway of PCH ends and becomes a full on highway, so I took the exit and headed east. I even saw At the 2 hour mark, I was near the Camarillo area. On the way back though, there were some MAJOR headwinds, and my speed was about 14-16mph. Legs were burning by the time I hit “Big Rock”, a part on PCH where you bike in between two large cliff-like rocks. The headwinds were so strong that the second half ran 20 minutes more. I was looking at my GPS watch near the end and really wanted to get to 80, but 79.82 at 4:22 was the final tally. A teammate who did the exact same route as me said he did 80.1, so I’ll take take that! Oh, but the workout wasn’t over. Out to a hilly Amalfi to do 15 minutes out and back.

Not to get into details, but I was invited out Saturday night to go have a beer. Oh, sure, I’ll come hang out for ONE beer, then head home early to sleep. Ummm… that always never happens, and didn’t end up getting home until 2am! Woke up at around 7:30 for an 9am run. Leisurely got out of bed, wanting to make a big breakfast, looked at my phone… NOOOOOOO it was 8:30am!! Did I just time travel?!? We had to Spring Forward an hour and I totally forgot about it!! Good thing I live pretty close to practice, but I didn’t have breakfast. A big no-no! Got some Gu and headed out the door.

The route was our infamous Amalfi Loop, which takes us around the Palasades and Santa Monica. 3/4 uphill, but after one loop reverse it. It actually became my new favorite run route because it’s a great variety of hills, flats, and terrain. Score! I hope we get to do this again! I was so spent by the time I got home, became super lazy on the couch, but I really needed to get a swim in. I was on a time crunch because I had to make it to a Drag Queen Bingo Fundraiser in WeHo’s Hamburger Mary. I swam for an hour, so I ended up doing 2,200 out of the scheduled 3,800. Better than nothing, but my shoulder was feeling a little sore, so I needed to lay low on that a little.

Overall, probably one of the toughest IronTEAM weekend workouts to date, and it brings back memories of last year’s hard workouts. Very challenging, but feels very rewarding. It made my recovery week so much sweeter though… love those!

Desert Triathlon 2012: More Than a Race

photo by Holly Meyer

I have to admit, coming into the weekend, I wasn’t 100%. Less than a handfull of people knew about my situation, but the Thursday before Desert Tri, I was visiting my uncle (dad’s brother) in the hospital. It was an intense emotional roller coaster of a day. I’m going to spare the details, but unfortunately he passed away that afternoon. The family was there to say our goodbyes, and we’re glad we did, but still, no one should go through this, or witness it. Took the day off on Friday to reset and collect my thoughts (and have Scoops Ice Cream), but if I was a little weird or distracted last weekend, now you know why. I tried to stay strong all weekend. I came at peace of the whole situation on our drive to the desert, because my overall outlook on someone passing is more of celebration of their life and how they influenced family & friends, how great of an impact they had, rather than sit in infinite sadness and dwell on it. I like to see the positive in things. We all know he’s in a better place, and all I could do coming into the weekend was to dedicate my race to my uncle. It was more than a race. It was more than “my revenge” to finally complete a race I was disqualified the year before. It was about overcoming life’s challenges, and how we deal with it. So the amazing sunrise photo above was a reminder that it was a new day, a new day to create new experiences. Time is precious, and we better make the most of it.

So they morning started with a 4:00am alarm… snooze… 4:15, 4:30… ok ok… 4:45. Got ready in a quickness and our room was out the door by 5:00am. I wasn’t nervous about the race, but more excited about how most of my teammates will be newly crowned triathletes. If anything, I was looking forward to the finish line experience with everyone. We arrived at Lake Cahuilla in La Quinta around 5:45am and was able to park the Triathlon War Machine nearby. We set up our transition areas, and I was glad to have shared the space side by side with my close friends Rommel Calderon, Mike Ngim, and Donovan Batiste. 7:00am, the team gathered to do a 5 minute warm-up jog nearby, then we were off to suit up for a warm-up swim!

The event: 0.75 mile swim, 24 mile bike, 6 mile run.

This race was supposed to be “just another day at the office,” and I treated it as so. It was another practice for our team, so we shouldn’t let it get to us. Since we did pretty much the same distance the previous day before, I wasn’t sure how I’d hold up on Sunday. I was just to go out there and have fun with it. 7:33am was my wave start time, and just like all the other triathlons, I stayed in the back of the pack and calmly went from buoy to buoy (in a zig zag fashion, I bet). Didn’t get hit or kicked in the face, which is always a good thing. Took longer than usual at T1, but I made sure I applied the right amount of sunscreen and wiped away all the excess dirt from the lake.

Throughout the bike, I felt fresh. I learned from Ironman Champion Chris McCormack’s book “I’m Here to Win” the concept of pacing, not drafting. It’s where you find someone to match your target speed, and try to keep up. Whenever someone would pass me on my left, I would take the opportunity to follow (within a safe distance, of course). I wouldn’t pace the same person all the time, as it was a trial and error from time to time to see who was right my liking. This allowed me to move ahead, catching up to my age group offsetting my slower swim time. It’s actually a strategy I used at Vineman 140.6 last year. From time to time, I would think about my late uncle, and think about the happy memories we had. He definitely gave me the strength to push my limits here. Towards the end, I pulled back my effort, to recover and save my legs for the run.

It was a quick T2, but by the time the run started, I could definitely feel the heat. By the first water stop, not even a mile into it, I splashed two cups of water over my head. “Oh, that’s why visors are better for triathlons!” It was the same run as the day before, so it was no surprise here. Flat, boring, and hot. I splashed water at every aid station as much as I could, and tried to keep a decent pace throughout. As long as I was faster than Saturday’s stomach disaster, I was happy. I’m not sure what the difference is between an Olympic and International distance is, but compared to my 3:37 Carpinteria Olympic, and getting DQ’ed last year at Desert, this was definitely a PR at 2:50:29!

By the end, always the best part of any of the races we do as a team, was cheering on everyone coming in through the finish line. We stay til the end, leaving no man behind. Hugs all around, high-fives, cheers everywhere. IronTEAM “Tunnel of Love”. It’s tough to explain, but it’s a tear jerking moment. That’s why I seriously love this IronFamily. The support we have for each other, the bond that we have is stronger than anything I’ve ever experienced. We endure through many challenges, we witness the transformations, we witness greatness. Much props to our coaches for guiding us through this journey. This is only the beginning too. There’s many more months to come and many more “tune-up” races to do this all over again. I’m already having my IronTEAM withdrawals. When am I going to see everyone again? Oh yeah, swim is tonight… so it will be soon enough. Go TEAM!

Race Stats
Overall: 02:50:29
Swim: 00:34:52
T1: 00:04:12
Bike: 01:12:34 (19.8mph pace)
T2: 00:02:17
Run: 00:56:34 (9:25/mile pace)

Oh, and check out this amazing highlight video captured by Rommel Calderon
and Carlos Pineda:

Desert Triathlon 2012: Saturday Practice

Saturday, the team did a 2 hour bike ride, 1 hour run, and a quick swim in the lake (in that order). It was pretty much the same (actually more) than the Desert Tri on Sunday. Initially it was difficult to get to the meeting spot because the Sprint Distance of the Desert Tri was still in session. Rommel’s Triathlon War Machine (pictured above), had to navigate through poorly coned areas, being yelled at military wearing camouflage that blended in with the road (they should’ve at least wore neon vests!). We pretty much rode through the same race course, with bonus routes. What was funny was that from time to time, we would get chased down by dogs, sometimes even small brave tiny ones like below:

The course was super flat, so our group rode in aero most of the time, pushing our limits since it is a build week, after all. We finished the route early, and when we got back to homebase, coach Brad said “What are you guys doing? A 2 hour ride, is a 2 hour ride. Get back out there!” Oops! We had about 15 minutes to go, so we did an out and back. Stats for the ride: 36.51 miles, 17.8 mph average.

Immediately after the ride, it was a run (no surprise here). We did the same run course that was scheduled for the race – super flat, but super hot at the same time. No shade, and by this time of the day, it was high noon, so we were getting the worst of it. Super HOT! I felt fine for the first loop (3 miles), but once I completed that, I had major stomach issues. Was it the heat? Was it exhaustion? Was it harder for me to digest? Was it the hotel breakfast? I seriously didn’t feel right. There were times I thought of turning back to camp, but I ended up walking it off. For the next 2 miles, actually, I walked most of it. Glad my teammates Holly kept me company for a mile, then Kevin joined us the next mile. We did learn a bit of trivia from Kevin though that the bumpy surfaces in the gravel area was made by the oscillations of the shock absorbers from the cars driving through it over time. *Insert NBC’s “The More You Know” PSA commercial outtro here* The final mile we ran it home. Whew! What a day! Stats for the run: 5:80 miles, 11:07/min pace.

Oh, but training wasn’t over then! After lunch at our area, we rested up a bit, got our race packets at the nearby expo area. We suited up in our wetsuits, started with a warm up swim to a buoy, and when we returned our coaches made us line up to do a mass start simulating how the race start would be. We did that twice (2 loops!). I was actually surprised I was pretty calm from the start to finish. I guess repetition does make things better! After, the team took this kick-ass group photo:

The rest of the day consisted of a team dinner at a a Mexican Restaurant called Las Casuelas Nuevas. Fun games & raffles ensued, with some beer & margaritas (and also cups of NUUN-filled waters), our recipe for possible PRs. Before our coaches tucked us into bed, they went over all the details of the course, calmed us all down a bit, then it was off to our rooms to make final preparations for the race!

Part 2 coming soon…

Return of the Hunger Monster

On Tuesday, we had our usual coached swim. Not really sure how far I swam, but it was an hour worth of splish-splashing fun. We did quite a few sprint intervals to get our heart rates up, then did a few drills crowding the lanes with similar-speed teammates and did races across the lane. Boy, it was a pretty tough workout, but again, felt great in the end… and HUNGRY. You see, we always joke about these “monsters” that exist in the season, and in particular, the Hunger Monster always attacks after the swim. I ended up going to Chego after practice and had their Prime Rib Rice Plate (w/fried egg, water spinach, Chinese broccoli creamed horseradish, roasted garlic paste, shallots) AND Pina Krackalada (coconut sticky rice, candied pineapple, puffy rice krackle, sesame). THAT’s how hungry I was. Oh, so good!

Year 2 – 1,000 Yards

Last year, I didn’t hit 1,000 yards until mid-February. Around this time, the team had their 1k marker set, but I was still in my “special” lane still learning how to swim. If I remember correctly, I was still using the paddle board. I was still taking private lessons at UCLA, learning how to breath, learning how to FLOAT. I was “at risk” of not completing the swim portion of our triathlons. Coaches were baffled and worried, but were always there to help. Just a few months after, I completed my first triathlon, then a half Ironman, then a full Ironman. Milestones for sure in swim, but milestones overall. I love the challenge.

So yesterday, at our Tuesday coached swim, we had to do a 1,000 yard, “physical recommitment” to see where we’re at. I was already so excited to do this because I’m actually DOING the sets this time around! We started off with a 200 yard warmup, or keep going until we hit the 7:45pm mark to start the timers. Coach Jason was keeping track of our lane, the Intermediate lane. They kept track of the laps, which was such a HUGE help because I didn’t have to worry about anything else but SWIM. During the swim, I had a lot of the drills in my head, to pay attention to my technique, and also I could hear all the coaches voices on correcting my form. Jason would yell out how many yards left, and once I heard him say “300 left!” a huge rush came over me and was feeling strong and ready to finish the swim! Final 1k time: 23:58!!!!!!!! What?!?! I was expecting over 30 minutes! Whew! Oh but wait! The set wasn’t over. We had to do timed 100s. At first it was supposed to be 2:15 but he changed it to 2:30. If I came in before that, then that’s the rest interval. Not sure how many I did, but I always ended up doing 2:15 so I still had time to rest. This session was awesome! Felt great the whole time, muscles didn’t feel very fatigued, but mainly just out of breath. This was a game-changer for me, as I’m actually VERY excited to step it up in the swim this year!

Birthday Swim

Monday was the last day of the long New Year holiday weekend, so yesterday, it was back to work I go on my birthday. Luckily, it wasn’t too busy at work, and everyone were slowly getting back into the grind. It was relaxing actually. During lunch, had lunch with coworkers at La Sirena Grille in El Segundo. Even one coworker thought I was 25. Sweet! I’ll take that. At night, I got to spend the rest of my birthday with my closest friends… in the pool. I really needed that dip in the pool, which turned out to be very refreshing. I was actually “feeling” some improvement in my technique, with Coach Catherine from the Tri team was instructing our lane. I really like how she explains the drills and why it’s helpful. She told me things I wasn’t aware of (or keep forgetting about), especially my left hand opening during my pull, and my early hand exit after the pool. It was great too because everyone in our lane was about the same exact pace. I really enjoyed the fingertip and catch up drills because it slowed my stroke down to really focus on my technique, because I tend to rush things and not use the glide to my advantage. Overall, it was a productive swim. I think we swam a little over a mile, and I’m feeling my swim fitness level slowly getting back to what it used to be ear the end of last season!

Post-swim activities included heading to City Tavern in Culver City where the beer taps were AT the booths. Dangerous! Their Brew Burger, which was on a pretzel bun, and beef & chorizo patty was delish! Got to know a few more teammates there, then we continued the night at Bigfoot West not too far away.

As far as feeling older. I actually feel better than I have ever before in my life! Mentally and physically. I think it’s because I’m surrounded by fabulous people who continue to inspire me day in and day out. We really have to live life to its fullest!

“Today is the oldest you’ve ever been and the youngest you’ll ever be again”

The Infamous Shark Fin

We all know swim drills are tough. I’d rather much be doing long sets, but I know it’s very important to help with our swimming technique. As we enter our 4th week with the team, I went to the 8:30 late session at the Culver City Plunge last night, and we’re still doing drills.. and oh man, I’m struggling so much, especially the Shark Fin (see the video above). I end up sinking so much! Tri Coach Jake pointed out my kicks are at the knees where they should be at the hips, plus I should be just rotating to breathe instead of lifting it up so much. I guess my body is in survival mode because that drill feels so awkward, and I tend to lose breath so easily. We did a lot of skate and one-arm drills as well with some quick 50 swims in between. I do feel some slight improvement in my skating drills though, so that’s a plus. One step at a time, one step at a time, I always tell myself.

IronTEAM First Swim of the New Season

Here we go again… another season, more pool sessions. Exactly one year ago, I was the only one in the pool who didn’t know how to swim AT ALL. I couldn’t really survive in the deep end, so I was put into the super shallow lanes just learning the swim basics and drills with Coach Jason & Coach Brad giving pointers. This repeated for the remainder of 2010.

This time around was a whole different story. I no longer had to learn how to swim, but only to perfect the drills and technique I took a year to learn. I was just so happy that I was able to keep up with the rest of the team. The swim practices are now combined with the tri team, so the coaches had to split the sessions into two different hours, so that the coaches can give proper instruction on deck to the new teammates. The sessions are 7:30-8:30pm and 8:30-9:30pm. The first session the coaches went over drills at the pool deck on yoga mats and towels for half an hour, then in the pool for the rest. The second session was mainly for tri alumni or experienced swimmers, so we didn’t need any dry-water instruction, and it was off to the pool we went. Wow, it’s been a while since I did these drills, so yeah, they weren’t easy! Skate, or side balance, was still as tough as the first time I did them last year (well, slightly easier), and a lot of kicking drills to help proper body balance. It was all about technique and that’s what we all need at this point!