Monday, July 26, 2010

34th Annual Trans Tahoe Relay - Invitational

The Trans-Tahoe relay is a 12 mile crossing, about 150 6-person teams.  This is a great picture highlighting a bit of the chaos and organization at the start of the race.  You can see the first swimmers, just off the beach, and the 150 boats looking for their swimmers.  Also shown, you can see 3 boats with huge orange balloons to help swimmers spot their boat, and our teams spotting each other.  Thanks Mike, our Peninsula Community Center Aquatics Masters coach, for totally setting us up.

Yes, the water is brisk.  The previous month, we were looking at low 50's water temperature.  Fortunately, the sun kicked in, and we had a balmy 63 degrees race day.  The water is so blue, and crystal clear, it's unlike most open water events, and the water itself tastes so fresh, again, in contrast to events like the Alcatraz swims.  It's an early start, with the race at 7:30am, we were up around 5am, to pack our gear, get the boat, and cross the lake.  It's the perfect time, since the weather and water is so calm.

Damon had a huge day in so many ways.  He came off the shore so fast, and had us out front of Tahoe Tessies.  This is just before he finished.  See the boat next to us, getting ready for their transition too?  See how clear the water is?

Great job, Damon.  Off to the races.

Captain Candace

Candace was another part of the fantastic trip.  At times, I am just along for the ride, and don't recognize the magnitude of our endeavor.  Candace is an example.  Just 4 days before the event, we didn't have a boat.  Again, our coach, Mike put out the word, and with lots of calls and pings, we hear we have a boat, and a captain, Candace.  As best as I remember she is the wife of a friend of a friend of a friend.  Still, she takes all 6 of us out, all day.  Sight unseen.  No conversation beforehand.  No agreement of how it's going to be.  She just shows up, ontime, gorgeous ski boat, smile on her face, basically, get it, let's go.  Thanks Candace.  You rock.  So happy to have met you, and spent the day together!

The Gang
From left to right:  Candace, Chris G, Matt T, Chris "Zola" C, and the indomitable Damon.  Missing is John T, Matt's brother (in the water) and me (below).

More later.  Pog wants to be father / son.

Not all business
We met at Sunnyside after the swim to kick off the celebrations.  Well, as it turns out, we pretty much were celebrating the whole day, but you could say we kicked off our land-based celebrations here.  Every now and again, I couldn't help but feeling elated to be a part of team Zola, and at the same time feeling like I was kinda 'special' - in the, well, special sense.  Here, I'm looking particularly short and grey-haired, surrounded by the youngsters.  Yes, that's John on the far right, covering up Damon.  Damon, my shirt never looked so good.  You da man.

From our sponsors
Got Mike?  Yes, we got Mike.  Our awesome coach.  He does so much for us, so quietly.  Well, not so quietly this minute.  We had 7 teams represented, or 42 swimmers here, along with family and friends, I am guessing over a hundred present over the weekend.

Chris is one of the founders of Zola, home of the Brazilian superfood made from acea berries.  I think that's how he stays so young, and an all-around nice guy.  Thanks again, for sponsoring us!  All you readers out there, drink your Zola.

Getting down to business
This is a bit of an odd shot, but I like it for highlighting the beautiful water, clear as can be, and I think this is Matt getting down to business.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Getting Ready for Trans-Tahoe July 17th

This is a picture I took last year, just before the relay.  We started here, took the boats across the Lake, and swam from the other side.  It felt a little daunting at the time.  It's a long long way across....

It turns out, it was a long way, but so much fun.  Prior to, there was so much to worry about.  As a fill-in member of the team, I was nervous about pulling my weight, and as it turns out, my team are guys that have been the best of friends for, well, forever.  Additionally, they are all about 15 years younger than me...  Not sure exactly, but best as I can tell...  So, yeah.

Getting ready
So, this year they asked me to come back.  That's good.  So, getting ready.  I've been swimming pretty good, but missed a couple months, more or less, April and May.  Coming back though, I really didn't worry about it.  I actually started back in lane 2.  I haven't done that in many years, but coach put me there.  Again, it was fine.  I knew it would come back fast.  And, it did.  I just swam probably my fastest 100 meters ever.  1min 19sec.  Yahoo!!  So, I have basically a week left to train.  I think I am as strong as I will get, but I am going to focus on doing 30 minute swims.  The first legs of the Trans-Tahoe are 30 minutes.  It's about 1/2 of our normal workout, but typically, we are swimming 100, 200, 300, sometimes 400 meters at a time, instead of race day, it's more like 1600 meters.  About a mile.  So, I am excited!  It's going to be fun.

Jib Jab
I'll have to get back to this.  Gotta run to the store...Happy weekend!!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

PCA Masters Swim Practice August 12, 2009

I just found this video off our PCA Masters website. It's really pretty mundane, but explains a lot that would take forever to explain and never really get conveyed by writing.

The lanes
This view is positioned over lanes 4 (right) and 5 (left). You can see some of lane 3 and 6 to the further right and left respectively. Each lane has swimmers with similar pace. In fact, they are pretty much in order of their pace within the lane too. The fastest leads the lane, followed by the next fastest and so on, with the slowest person in the back.

Lane personalities
As it turns out, our fastest lane is lane 5. Typically, those in this lane raced in college or at some point were very competitive, and now, they are still really fast. They pretty much know the drill, and are sophisticated on how they approach each workout, down to each swim within the workout. The only people in lane 5 that do not fit this description have some swim aids.

Swim aids
Swim aids include "zoomers" or swim fins. They are little short fins designed to be used for swim training. There are also paddles. These fit the palm of your hands, and use rubber tubing around your hand to hold them in place. They are larger than your hand, so you can pull more water in your stroke. Finally, the 3rd swim aid is the pull bouy. Usually it sounds like pull boy... the two words are hard to say together, especially if you are mid-workout. The pull bouy is a styrofoam figure eight shape piece you hold between your upper thighs. It's purpose is to hold your hips higher in the water so you can pull with just your arms, and let your legs drag behind you without sinking. All three of these theoretically help you focus on strengthening something. Sort of the concept of batters swinging two bats before they go to the plate, so one bat feels so much lighter. The unwritten part about swim aids is, they are a crutch. They allow you to swim faster than if you weren't using them. Swimming fast feels really really good. No question, it's a great workout, with or without aids. With aids, you can go fast. The other unwritten thing about swim aids. They really don't make you go faster without them. It's a myth!! The myth holds up, because they are really fun to use, and we need something we can say, why we use them other than, I am using a crutch. So, notice their use in each lane...and smile.

More on lanes
Moving from lane 5 to 4, those in lane 4, in general can have similar characteristics to lane 5 although of course, they are slower. Whereas lane 5 becomes predominantly men, lane 4 has a larger percentage of woman, and typically they are woman who swam at college level. Also, you will find men who used to be lane 5, and are at a point where they need to move down a lane now. Finally, there are young men who have come up through the ranks, or just because they are young, and strong, and pretty good swimmers, they can hang in lane 4. And last but not least are the oldies. Guys like me. We have been swimming a while, but came up through the ranks, typically starting in lane 1, and as we got stronger, moved up. Lane 4 is cool. Everyone is used to the routine. We work hard. And occasionally have a bit of time for Jib Jab.

My lane
These days I call lane 4, my lane. I pretty much have to be on my game to stick with lane 4. For example, I missed about 2 months of swimming and came back to lane 3 by my choice, and mid-workout, my coach said, move to lane 2!! Dang!! I haven't swam lane 2 for a while. Which brings me to another point. Swimming you lose fast, and gain strength back fast. I told someone this week, think in terms of a day a week. Meaning, for every day you practice, you erase a week of not having practiced. So, last week I swam 4 days. Using my formula, I would erase 4 weeks of no practice. Half way back!! So far, this week I moved back to lane 4. It's been a huge struggle. I can't keep up. So, I go to the back of the lane. As long as I don't get lapped, its fine. I just get less rest, and work harder every lap, with of course, the intention of getting back to where I left off.

So, that's my goal. To get back to where I was. Why? Okay, the real goal is, swim Trans-Tahoe relay without being an embarrassment to my team. What team? It's the same guys I swam with last year. Team Zola*. A bunch of really nice guys, albeit younger than me by 10-15 years. I hope no more than that, but it's possible. Anyways, they are all super swimmers. In fact of the 6 of us, I think at least are swimming in lane 5 and the rest are in lane 4. So, you see? I am working my fanny off to get to be the slowest person on the team, and hopefully not as slow as I am now.

Jib Jab
Okay, this whole post was Jib Jab.
*One of our team members, Chris Cuvelier is the founder and president of Zola, a superfood energy / nutrition drink company (and our sponsor)!
**I used to be addicted to swim aids.  Especially zoomers.  They were so much fun!!   The downside for me, was trying to swim in events, after not having swam aid-free.  So,  I am on the 12-step program, and take it a day at a time.