Postal Swim!

>> Monday, February 14, 2011

[If the term "postal swim" is new to you, let me quickly explain. A postal swim is usually a race against people from anywhere, but everyone swims in their own pool. They swim for a set amount of time (commonly it's an hour), they share their results, and then they determine the "winner."]

I just wanted to do an all-out hour-long swim as a "check-in" to see where I was at with my swimming (and for a little kick in the ass). Beth Shutt had just noted that she had done her own postal swim (and covered nearly 4,500 yards, that beast!), so I thought I'd ask her for any words of wisdom. I'm ALWAYS open for advice, and it means a TON coming from someone who is much faster than me!

Side note: If you remember, Beth took FIRST PLACE at the Rev3 Cedar Half IM in Sept, and I was there to snap this photo:

Here are the 3 bits of advice that Beth gave me: (and I'm going to call these my "Tips of the Week!")

1) Definitely start at a very sustainable effort and build into it. Both years I've done it, I've negative split by quite a bit and I think that helps a lot. Going out really hard and holding on for an hour doesn't seem like too much fun. :)

2) Have your timer/official put a kickboard in the water to indicate every 500 or 1000 yards/meters. That really helps break it up a lot and keeps you on track as to where you are. I find that I lose track really quickly of where I'm at so to know "okay, it's been 2000 or 3000 yds, only xxx amount to go helps me to keep pushing hard. Also, it gives you an idea of how much TIME is left.

3) Get a really good song stuck in your head early so you aren't cursed with a bad song for a full 60 minutes. :)

Thanks for the tips, Beth!!

Here was my take on those 3 points from Beth:

1. YES. I WILL start easy. I won't negative split the swim (I RARELY negative split swims, and I WON'T in a swim over an hour), but I do NOT want to feel like jelly and have still 30 minutes left.

2. I wasn't doing an "official" postal swim, so I had no one to count for me. I planned on taking splits on my watch every 2 laps (100 yards) to help me keep track of my distance - I do that for most of my swims. BUT, what I took away from this point of Beth's was to break it up into 500s. And that helped A LOT.

3. Always a good point about getting a good song stuck in your head! For some reason, I always get some old catchy Beyonce song in my head when I'm swimming for a long time by myself. D'oh.

On to the swim!....

Here are my 100 splits broken up into 500s, followed by my current thoughts / state of mind:

1:34, 1:41, 1:44, 1:45, 1:45 = 8:31

"Good. Easy. But sweet Jesus... you've got a long way to go!"

1:44, 1:44, 1:44, 1:45, 1:44 = 8:45 (17:16 total)

"Still feeling OK. Decent average. Can you hold on to that?" I had a woman in my lane going the EXACT same pace as me, and she helped me to stay strong. Thanks anonymous woman!

1:46, 1:43, 1:45, 1:43, 1:45 = 8:43 (25:59 total)

"This SUCKS!" This was the most depressing part of the swim. I'd done 1500 yards, but I still wasn't at the half-way point. Major low-point in the swim. But I knew that feeling was coming. I worked on being "smooth" through the water - thinking back to my T.I. drills.

1:45, 1:47, 1:46, 1:45, 1:49 = 8:54 (34:53 total)

"OK, this is do-able." I was doing the math in my head, and it went something like this: "OK, you'll do another 500, then another 500, and I don't think you'll quite get in a 3rd 500. Can you? Stay strong!" Morale was lifting...

1:47, 1:46, 1:44, 1:46, 1:46 = 8:51 (43:44 total)

Still doing fine. Body was getting tired, but feeling OK. Worked toward the end (which was totally in sight!). Also I had the pool to myself over the middle 1,000 - 1,500 or so, but a man joined me around the 50 minute mark, and that helped me push to the end.

1:45, 1:45, 1:44, 1:43, 1:43 = 8:44 (52:28 total)

"Nope - not going to get in another FULL 500, but keep it as fast as you can here!"

1:45, 1:44, 1:41, 1:41, 1:44 = 8:37 (1:01:05 total)

I looked at my watch when I was starting my last lap. It read 1:00:10 at the 3,450 point, so I'm calling it 3,440 in 1 hour. But I still did that last lap to make it an even 3,500 yards.


3,500 yards in 1:01:05
3,440 yards in 1 hour
1:44.73 average / 100 yards

That's nothing too impressive, but I'll take it! My goal was to be under 1:45 / 100, and I BARELY squeaked that out!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

On to a quick depressing topic. In my last post, I said how I've been told I can't run for a while, and I have a "night splint" to sleep in to help my heel heal. I get injured often, but this one feels different, and it bums me out.

In all of my years of running (in H.S. and then over the last 5 years), I usually flare up an old injury after doing something stupid. Like in H.S. when I went for a 12-miler with my previous long run being around 7 miles. Or more recently, going too long too soon after too hard of a workout.

But this time, I felt like I've been doing things RIGHT. If I'm going out for a 6 mile tempo run, that now means a 2 mile WU, 6 hard miles, and a 1-2 mile CD. In the past, it would have just been a super fast / hard run from the moment I left my front steps that ended the moment I got back; no WU or CD.

I ran the half marathon 2 weeks ago and felt GREAT. I took 5 days COMPLETELY off from running after the race to let things heal (even though I felt fine), and just did some light cross-training. Then, 5 days after the race, I did 3 moderate 1 mile repeats after warming up and stretching, and I even cooled-down and stretched more afterward. The next day, I went for a short, easy run with my pregnant wife. After that, my heel was screaming. Where's the stupid mistake? I don't know this time. And that's what hurts the most. I CAN'T find a spot to place the blame of my boo-boo.

For the next few weeks, here's my view as I crawl into bed:

I'm getting more used to sleeping with it. I had to adjust it Saturday night because I woke up with the top of my foot going numb. So I walked to the bathroom to fix it so the Velcro noises wouldn't wake up Pharmie. And somehow, she DIDN'T wake up as I was sneaking out of the room:

"... tip-toe.... THUMP... tip-toe.... THUMP... tip-toe.... THUMP..."

Anyway, lots of swimming and hitting the trainer over the next few weeks. No use doing something even more stupid in February.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

One final good note to end on: I had a nice swim with "the gang" yesterday! It had been my first swim with some familiar faces in a while. Here we are once I called it quits (after about 3,000), but before these 3 wrapped up another 1,500 or so:

Kathryn, Julia, Freak-a-zoid, and Steve H.

Thanks for the swim, Julia!

I'll be back with the winner of the Ryders Eyewear giveaway tomorrow! If you didn't enter and missed the giveaway post, click here to go to that post and see the sweetest animated GIF that I've ever made! ;)


Kelly 7:02 AM, February 14, 2011  

Bummer about the injury but nice job on the swim. Just wondering what you use to track your lap times? Your regular watch? Doesn't it slow you down / fiddling with the buttons? I just use the pace clock but would never remember that many splits.

Steve Stenzel 7:52 AM, February 14, 2011  

Kelly, yes, I just use my regular watch. My "split" button is the big one across the face of the watch, so it's easy for me to hit every 2 laps. I don't do flip turns, so as my left hand (my watch hand) grabs the wall to start the turn-around, I bring my right hand up to hit the button. I've been doing it that way since about a year after I started swimming. It works OK!

Christi 8:06 AM, February 14, 2011  

Thanks for explaining the postal swim! I will have to try that sometime. Great job by the way!

Kelly 9:26 AM, February 14, 2011  

Thanks for the answer. I saw a cool looking device one time that goes on your finger, and you can just click it with your thumb to count laps & record splits. I've always been curious about how well it would work & was wondering if you had one. I suck at counting laps & am forever losing track.

Beth 11:17 AM, February 14, 2011  

My goodness - I can't believe you kept track of all that by yourself! Even with the help of a watch I would have been hopelessly lost... :) Anyway, great job again!! And sending you speedy healing vibes for that heel!

Anonymous,  2:53 PM, February 14, 2011  

The injury - could it be just from running too many miles? I remember something you wrote in your blog a few weeks ago about how you'd run more miles in 1 week than you had since highschool. I don't know ...just an idea to consider. I love reading your blog and I hope you get better soon!

SingletrackJenny (formerly known as IronJenny) 5:21 PM, February 14, 2011  

Sheesh! you were consistent!!! Good job! I want to do that with you guys sometime - can we use fins? just askin'..... ;-)

CoachLiz 8:51 PM, February 15, 2011  

Great job on that swim. I was looking forward to a picture of wrinkled finger tips.

carmen marc valvo swimwear 9:32 AM, February 16, 2011  

Really that is great work, that record is absolutely very good. Thanks alot for sharing these information here.

Ellen 8:13 PM, February 16, 2011  

Those women are killers in the pool! And you have a great lap consistency!

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