Thursday, February 15, 2007

Valentine’s Day Practice

As I expected it was a small turn out last night given it was Valentine’s Day, something Coach Brad turned to his advantage by making available three options for our workout’s main set: a sprint set, an IM set, and a ‘distance’ set (which for Hyack Masters means anything 200 and over). Most of Lane 6 swam the IM set (Ian is actually racing the 400 IM this Sunday), while I chose the distance set to work on my backstroke. If you’re curious about the sprint set you can go to my teammate Joe’s blog and read about his adventures there. The distance set was broken into two parts – some dual purpose speed work comprising of 12 x 50 on 1:00 and then straight into 3 x 200. Pace for the fifties was determined by dividing your 200 PB time by four and then adjusting each by the following rotation: first fifty +2, second fifty +1, third fifty +0, and fourth fifty -1; repeating the cycle three times. Once properly fatigued you then carried on into the 200s swimming intervals of 3:30. Not having a PB for 200 back I went with my new low target time for the race and proceeded to fail miserably at achieving any sort of decline in my times. In fact my second and third to last fifties saw me hitting +3 until a sterling effort on my last fifty hauled in a +2 on my final try. This was a minor victory in itself as I was seriously considering by the midway point in taking a minute breather, or even skipping a fifty entirely. Not surprisingly my first 200 was dismal (though my turns have seen considerable improvement recently) and in a move to preserve some semblance of technique I upped the interval to a full 4:00 (a Lane 3/4 interval). The extra thirty seconds clearly helped as I took nearly ten seconds off my first attempt’s time the second go around, and then another ten seconds on the third to ultimately obtain something which could be characterized as ‘not completely sucking’. At least I achieved the desired decline for my 200s though a cynic would wonder, given the eye-brow raising time of my first 200, if it was possible not to. That’s a rather noteworthy event for me even if I did hedge a bit on my interval times.

A quick note on my target times for my race mentioned briefly earlier. Since I’m racing many of my events for the first or second time I don’t have any proper ‘personal bests’ to gauge my real progress. So early in my training logically I should be setting best times every time I swim. Consequently I give myself a range of times within which I expect I should be able to swim on race day. If I do better than that I consider it to be the equivalent of a ‘PB’, worse and I consider it to be a setback. For 100 meter races I allow a two second range, a span that translates into a second for any fifties and four seconds for 200 meters. So when I write of a time being in the “low range of my target” that would mean a swim which did marginally better than hoped, whereas something in the “high end” would be marginally worse. I’m very uncertain about my 200 distances as I don’t feel ready conditioning-wise to race them, my backstroke especially as in a short course pool it means seven turns. Frankly it scares the bejezus out of me. I had set my target range for this upcoming Sunday’s English Bay swim meet’s 200 backstroke as far back as October and only recently have adjusted it (marginally) to the extent where my original upper limit is now my lower limit for this race. But as long as I get a decent race I’ll take it – just to get something on the board.

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