Sunday, September 30, 2012

Back to the Pool: Today's Workout

All good things must come to an end, and that includes open water lake swimming season. So it was with a heavy heart that I returned to the pool this week, and I needed a good workout to see me through it. This one goes by fast, and challenges you with lots of different speeds and times. So if you're in need of a little indoor lap swimming boost, try this workout on for size:


300 Swim
6 x 50 Kick - focus on keeping your feet close together and touching your big toes together with each kick
6 x 50 Drill/Swim - touch toes every kick and feel your rhythm (also helps eliminate any scissor-kicking)

4 x 75 Build each (get faster each 25)
12 x 50 Drill/Swim in IM Order

This set is continuous, no rest other than what is in the intervals. Go through all five rounds of the set without stopping. The 25s and 50s should increase in speed from a Distance Pace in the first round to All Out in the last.

5 X
2 x 25 @ :30
1 x 50 @ 1:10
1 x 100 - Distance Pace @ 1:30
1 x 200 Pull - Smooth @ 3:20

200 Cool Down

Total: 4000 yards

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Great Waldo Crossing of 2012

As open water swimming adventures go, it was top of the heap. Okay, maybe it wasn't quite as dramatic as last year's traverse of Crater Lake, but our group crossing of Waldo Lake last weekend, one of the clearest lakes in the world, was breathtaking from start to finish.

When we started swimming, the lake was so smooth it was like a blue mirror of the early morning sky above. Water temperatures around 60 made it pleasant, if slightly chilly near the shore, and only a few degrees colder out toward the middle. We started off with ten swimmers, plus our support crew of a kayak and paddleboard. Three of the swimmers planned to do a shorter out-and-back route, while seven of us had signed on to swim from North Waldo Campground to Shadow Bay in the south, two of the only three places on the lake's rim where a road comes into the lake. The rest of the lake is surrounded by forest and wilderness, a unique and beautiful place.

While I typically post a photo of us in wetsuits about to start swimming, I thought I'd prove that we are actually normal people who wear real clothing most of the time. Okay, we're mostly normal people who wear neoprene a lot of the time, but here we are in our warm clothes on the beach before the swim.

So this is where I say something about the water clarity at Waldo. It's simply stupendous. You can see a hundred feet or more, making it feel more like flying above a submerged topography than like swimming. As you can see, we weren't above taking a break to clown around under the water. When you're swimming with a group, you could literally look around and see the other swimmers next to you like they were hovering in thin air. I spent at least fifteen minutes of the swim tripping out on all of the swirls of light on the bottom beneath me, the prisms created by colliding waves. The soundtrack in my head played "Right here right now, there is no other place I want to be" on an endless loop.

At a couple of spots, we got out and sat on the beach to warm up. The silence at Waldo is pristine, and for a moment we sat without speaking, listening to nothing more than the slight sighs of the water against the rocks at the edge, looking out over the unspoiled beauty of the clouds reflected around us. Although some wind and chop picked up in the last mile or so of our 6.2 mile swim, most of it was calm and lovely and I felt strangely like it was over all too soon.

But of course, then came a big barbeque, potluck, campfire, and an evening of friendship and fun. Once again, I find myself one of the luckiest people on the planet, because I get to experience such beauty and share it with some amazing people.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

An Open Letter to Male Cyclists

Drafting behind an unsuspecting female cyclist: just don't do it.

There's no nice way to say it - following a female cyclist closely enough that she can hear your heavy breathing in her ear is Creepy. Creepy with a capital C. Now if you know her, and you're rolling in a pack on a group ride, or you're in a draft-legal race, that's different. But when she's toodling along the bike path and she unexpectedly hears you huffing and puffing behind her.... yep, creepy.

For clarification,


For the second time in as many weeks, I've passed another cyclist on the path only to have him latch onto my rear tire like a blood-starved leech. Now normally I try to maintain a very sedate pace on the path. For one thing, I don't think it's safe to go over about 16 mph when there are kids on trikes, dogs on invisible extend-o-leashes, drunks weaving all over the path on their bikes, and people riding while doing all manners of things from texting to kissing their girlfriend. Yes, I saw ALL of those things on my ride today. Really.

Now I know there are roadies and triathletes out there who think that the bike path is the cosmic proving ground where they can show how awesome they are by riding 25 mph on their drops or aerobars, but I'm not one of them. I usually use the path as my warm up or cool down and wait until I hit the open road to unleash the quadriceps. So when I passed Creepy Bike Commuter Guy with his corduroy pants tucked into his white tube socks and his coolio fixie with the straight handlebars and loaded messenger bag, he must've been going no more than about 12. A casual "on your left" from me, and he was gone in my rear view mirror, or so I thought.

Two minutes later, I hear this odd sound, like a rasping noise. I think it's coming from my rear wheel - maybe a candy wrapper or leaf got stuck to it? I look down and back, don't see anything. Keep going. Now I hear another weird noise, like a whale surfacing in the ocean with a big wet blast of air. What the heck, have I blown my tire? Look down again: nothing. The noise starts coming regularly, and I just about grab my brakes to pull over. Lucky for me I don't because this time when I look back, I notice something odd: another tire about three millimeters from my own. Yep, it's Creepy Commuter Guy, taching himself out to the redline to keep on my back tire. Ugh.

Luckily, this wasn't anything that a quick acceleration to 25 mph couldn't fix. A few minutes of putting the hammer down and he was gone like a bad dream. But the point remains, that if you're a woman it can feel kind of eerie to have a guy following that close behind you. Oh I know, if you're a man you might be rolling your eyes right now. The guy was probably just trying to get a draft, a free ride. Or perhaps show he fast he could be by hanging onto a triathlete's wheel for awhile. I'm sure there was some rational explanation. But the problem is, when you're a woman, you inevitably run into creepy guys at regular intervals in your life. This blog post by UnWinona sums up what many women face on a daily or weekly basis. If you think she's exaggerating, I can assure you that she's not. This stuff really happens. And guys really do follow you or keep pestering you, even when you've told them you're married or asked them to leave you alone.

So if you're a nice guy, and I bet you are if you've read this far, pass that draft on up and wait for the next male cyclist to come your way. Or if you really want to race, find a local time trial or crit and test your legs that way like a real man. But leave my rear tire alone. Thank you.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Just Another Day in Paradise

Just got back from our annual pilgrimage to Waldo Lake, camping for the last five days. More on that later, but here's just one beautiful picture of heaven on earth. This is me with my sister Marisa and brother-in-law Nick, about to go for a swim.