Retesting my CSS Swim Pace

>> Wednesday, December 31, 2014

I tweeted this on Monday morning:

All of the quality swimming I've been doing lately has been paying off, and I knew it was time to re-test my CSS pace. (Here's my first post with my first intro to CSS training from last month.) I'm not sold that CSS is the "right" way for endurance athletes to train, but it's working for me at the moment, so I'm going with it!

Here's some of what I said about what CSS training is (and how to find your CSS pace) in my post last month:

They say to swim an all-out 400, rest and swim easy a bit after that, and then do an all-out 200. Find the difference between your time in the 400 and 200, and then divide that by 2 to get your CSS pace / 100.

For example, here are my numbers: I swam my 400 in 6:10. Then I did my 200 in 3:00. The difference between those is 2 times is 3:10. Divide that by 2, and my CSS training pace should be 1:35.

The idea is to NOT go "all out" for every interval swim, because that's less beneficial. But instead, swim your CSS pace and then take less rest. That way (supposedly), you're swimming at a pace that will help you become faster and build your endurance. Their website gives a few workouts to do based on your CSS number, so check it out here.

So on Monday, my all-out 400 was 5:55, and my 200 was 2:55. The difference between those is 3:00, so my CSS pace is now 1:30. Ouch. That's a big difference for me. I don't owe this improvement all to CSS, but it's been helping. As fast-swimming-buddy Robby B has said (the guy who turned me on to CSS), I'm showing some improvements because I'm simply hitting the pool more often than usual.

Oh, and I'm finally seeing some swim workout numbers plateau. Last Friday, I did that 40x50 swim workout I like to do (where the 50s are split up into sets of 5 with the last of each of those sets being "all out"), and my "all out" 50s felt good, but they were nearly a second slower (on average) than during the same workout 4 weeks earlier.

And in related at-the-Y tweets, THIS also happened:

Seriously, he just walked up to the urinal, reached up his shorts, and whipped it out to take a piss.


Christmas Workouts

>> Monday, December 29, 2014

For having finals, doing final grading, and being gone or on the road for nearly 4 full days of these past 2 weeks, my training doesn't look too bad:

My SWIMMING is still going strong: over 8000 yards during these 2 busy weeks? Nice. I'm looking to have another big month (after last month was my biggest in 4 years hitting over 20,000 yards) even though I feel like I'm "backing off" a bit.

My RUNNING is where I figured it would be. I'm still just doing easy/moderate runs as I'm sort of re-building a "base" for my janky sacrum/back/hip. On the 20th, I did an easy 5-mile run with my sister-in-law's boyfriend on the open roads in southern MN. (We call him "New Matt" because we already have a bro-in-law named Matt.) On Christmas Day, I did the same run, but I upped the pace a bit - I ran 1 more mile in only 43 seconds more. (First real effort since running the "24 Hour Relay for Aaron" 2 weeks ago - averaged 6:34 overall, and middle 3 miles at sub-6:30 pace. Not "tempo," but a decent effort.) And then I Instagrammed this:

"Just finished a 6-miler on this sexy, quiet, freshly re-paved hwy in southern MN.

My BIKING... wait, WHAT did I say in my off season training plan post 2 months ago? That I'd try to hit the trainer a bit - even just twice a month? Oh yeah. Where's my trainer again?... Oops.

And you see my STRENGTH work is pretty high! That's a lot of leg exercises to keep my butt strong so my running can keep progressing. Blast that ass!


Spiderman is Published in Spiderman!

>> Saturday, December 27, 2014

This should be my final post about my friend Aaron who passed away from brain cancer. His widow Nora just posted this on her blog:

"Aaron’s obituary is in his favorite comic... Amazing Spider-Man.
#12 is out January 7, so don’t talk to Ralph if you don’t want a spoiler."


If you remember, Aaron admitted to being Spiderman in his obituary. Here it is from earlier this month:

Final update: the time to donate is over. We raised just over $1000 in cash/checks during the 24 Hour Relay on the track, and we raised $2800 on our YouCaring page...

... for just over $3800 total! That was well above my initial goal of $2500. I'll be (hoping) to meet up with Nora shortly to give her all of your gifts. THANK YOU EVERYONE!!

p.s. Since the event, we've had a better venue offer to host next year. (Not that there was anything wrong with the Hamline track - it's just small.) And many of the runners mentioned doing the 24 Hour Relay again next year as an annual memorial race because they had such a good time. We'll see. It sure was a fun event in the memory of a great guy. We love you Aaron!

- 24 Hour Relay race report
- A few more things to wrap up the 24 Hour Relay
- All the photos on Facebook


Friday Funny 848: Christmas

>> Friday, December 26, 2014

Thus far in my life, I've found this to be true:

Also, after this past week, who can get a BINGO here?

Stop by for more funnies all week long! Happy weekend!


Friday Funny 847: Shower Thoughts

You know those "shower thoughts" that you have? You know, those deep semi-pointless ideas you have when standing around mindlessly in the shower? Well there's an entire Reddit subgroup about this topic.

And more cats doing adorable things.

Oh God yes!


Here are 6 more "shower thoughts" from that site:

"The gas flap is the zipper of the car. If you see one that's open, you feel embarrassed for that person. And then you immediately check your own."

"No matter how many kids are waiting to see Santa, you can't open up another line with a second Santa."

"Essentially, the heart beats itself to death."

"I turn 23 tomorrow. I will literally and mathematically be in my prime."

"There should be a paint remover called Pain't."

"Santa is like the clown that does Jesus' birthday party every year."

Lots more funny stuff on!


Friday Funny 846: THEE Best Gifts Ever Given

Because it's the day after Christmas, I thought I'd share 10 of the best gifts ever given:

Find more funny things posted all week long on!


Friday Funny 845: Santa Ranks His Reindeer

BuzzFeed recently shared Santa's ranking of his best-to-worst reindeer. This is fantastic:

1. Comet

Comet is Daddy’s good boy. He’s a damn fine deer. I tell him things I don’t even tell my wife. Sometimes when the other reindeer are sleeping, Comet and I wander off to watch the freshly falling snow and just think about life, you know? What does it all mean? And, yes, we can read each other’s thoughts. I know some of you will think that’s crazy, but I’m a magic fat old man, so you can imagine how many fucks I give. (It’s zero.)

2. Dasher

Dasher’s fine. Whatever.

3. Dancer

Dancer’s spirit was broken a LONG time ago.

4. Cupid

When it comes to reindeer, Cupid is fat and slow. He’s made it perfectly clear that this is a business arrangement we have going and he’s just going through the motions. And you know what? Fine. Have it your way, Cupid.

5. Donner

Donner acts like every sleigh ride is a suicide mission. He puts the other reindeer on edge. He’s a major liability but if you want your reindeer to be flying reindeer, your options are super limited. One time he kicked me right in the spleen.

6. Prancer

Prancer is a REAL HANDFUL. Yes, she’s good at what she does. But the problem is she KNOWS it. Honestly, she’s the best there is in the flying reindeer game but her attitude is total garbage. She gets the job done better than anyone but as far as I’m concerned, she’s a garbage deer.

7. Rudolph

As you know, this was a whole thing. The Rudolph saga was completely overblown by the media. All of the other reindeer are STILL getting hate mail. It’s nothing but drama with this deer. His contribution to Christmas has been exaggerated at best. It’s like, OK, we get it, his nose glows, cool. Meanwhile, I’ve got a decades-old PR nightmare that won’t die.

8. Blitzen

Blitzen would be a great deer except for one MAJOR deal breaker: He. will. not. stop. biting. me. Every day he’s biting me. There’s nothing he loves more than just biting. Does he bite other people? Not really. No, he loves biting me specifically. All the time. I literally hate him.

9. Vixen

Vixen wants me dead. She’s made that very clear. She scares me. I lay awake at night just wondering if tomorrow will be the day she finally takes me out. It’s a terrifying existence.

Lots more funny stuff on!


Semi-Wordless Wednesday: 4 Christmas Photos

>> Wednesday, December 24, 2014

We started celebrating Christmas with family this past weekend, and Santa came to our house early Tuesday morning. Here's 4 photos from this year's fun so far:

Charlie opening presents from Grandma Monica.

The 3 grandkids on my in-laws side.

I Instagrammed this on Monday night: "Henry wanted to leave a muffin and milk in his
Thomas cup for Santa. In related news: because of our schedule, Santa is coming tonight.
Well, I guess he's already been here. Tomorrow morning will be fun..."

In front of the tree before tearing into presents from Santa!

Merry Christmas everyone!!


Final Days to Give to Aaron's Family

>> Tuesday, December 23, 2014

When I upped the "goal" on the YouCaring donation page for the "24 Hour Relay for Aaron," I also changed the final date to Christmas. So if you were planning on giving, click that link above NOW! It's quick and easy with a credit card.

I also promised I'd share ALL the photos from the event with you all. Here's a Facebook album with lots of my photos and photos from the runners that they sent me as well. (You would have already seen most of them in my "race report" from the 24 Hour Relay, but that Facebook link has about 20-30 more photos.)

And finally, I just have to share this. A blogger buddy came out to take one of the hours of the relay (along with a friend of hers). She was the same person who snapped a few photos of me during the TC 10 Mile around the 7.5 mile mark. She posted her thoughts of coming and running in this relay on her blog. In her post, she kept asking why she was really there, and she kept feeling intimidated by some of the speedy runners who were there before and after her shift. Near the end of her post, she says this:

The next morning, as I lazily climbed out of bed and started getting ready for my day, I again asked myself why I did this.

And I realized something.

Here's why.

Because I guarantee you read this whole post going, where the hell are all the pictures she usually posts in her recaps?

In the thousands of words above, I could say a million things. I could have good intentions to the heavens and back. But until I show you I actually did it, does it really mean anything?

Team Skin and Bones. We did it.

And yes, we DID do something. We found out that something shitty happened to someone. And we tried to make a difference.

We didn't just sit at home and click like on a Facebook status.

We didn't just say to ourselves "Gee, that's too bad."

We got up off our ass and said - they are asking for help, and we can offer it. So we did.

I love that. I love that because that's the same way I felt when I heard Aaron was entering hospice care. "I wish I could do something... so why don't I do something?" With all of your help, we've raised nearly $2500 online, and another over $1000 in cash. There's still time to do more. Donate here.

- 24 Hour Relay race report
- A few more things to wrap up the 24 Hour Relay
- All the photos on Facebook
- Donation page


STILL Gaining Speed in the Pool with These Workouts

>> Monday, December 22, 2014

November was my biggest swimming month in over 4 years, AND they were good workouts. I'm seriously expecting to plateau soon, but I'm enjoying that my speed is still getting faster and faster in the pool!

Here are 6 recent swims as compared with similar workouts about a month ago:

• Dec 2: 1500 tempo test: 23:41. That's over 1 minute faster than my 1500 tempo 5 weeks before! I did a tempo swim at the end of October that was sort of my "baseline" test for the winter, and this was my first "straight through" swim since that one. In those 5 weeks, it dropped 1:07, to an average of of 1:34.74 / 100.

• Dec 5: 3x400 (400, 2x200, 4x100) and 3x200 (200, 2x100, 4x50). My 400s were 0:18, 0:11, and 0:13 faster this time vs the 21st of Nov; and my 200s were 0:05, 0:09, and 0:04 faster. And the time between my sets was shorter this time too! Nice.

• Dec 9: 15x100 with 0:20 rest with a 1:27.80 / 100 average. They were all under 1:30 with the fastest being 1:25.0. Five weeks before, I did the same workout with a 1:29.4 average, and that was with 0:30 rest! (I've been working on getting my rest times shorter.)

• Dec 11: VO2 Max "Test Swim" - lots of warmup, then 5x100 ALL OUT with long recovery. I don't know if this is an effective workout, but it's a good "test" that I read about a few years back. I've done it maybe 5-7 times over the last few years. I last did this workout just over a year ago in November of 2013. My 5x100 all out were 1:16.9, 1:18.0, 1:19.2, 1:20.5, 1:21.3 for a 1:19.18 average last November. This year, I bettered my splits by 2-3 seconds each: 1:14.8, 1:15.9, 1:16.1, 1:17.0, 1:18.1 for a 1:16.38 average. I thought I'd be able to keep my times from constantly slowing this year because I have much better endurance now, but they still slipped about 1 sec/100. But I suppose if you're truly swimming "ALL OUT," then the times will slow down as you go.

• Dec 15: 4x400 with more effort each 100 (85%, 90%, 95%, all out). I first did this workout at the end of October, and I averaged 6:14.89/400. I did the same swim a few weeks later, but I slowed up a BIT because I added a 5th 400. That time, I averaged 6:17.9/400. This time, my times were 6:09.6, 6:12.2, 6:12.3, 6:14.4 for an average of 6:12.1/400.

• Dec 18: 9x200 at (or just under) CSS pace. I did this about 6 weeks ago (before learning about CSS) pretty "all out" with a 3:05.2 average. Then I did it 4 weeks ago at CSS pace in 3:09.9 average. This time, I cut the rest from 0:30 down to 0:20, and I still dropped 2.6 seconds/200! And I was still trying to keep them from being "all out" and instead close to my CSS pace. My average this time was 3:07.30. (For more about this "CSS" training that I've been enjoying, CLICK HERE for a post from a few weeks ago.)

So I'm not making CRAZY gains yet, but times are still dropping. I'll take it.

Just out of curiosity, I looked at how fast I've been swimming the last 2 months vs the 2 months before that. (I'm not saying this to prove I've gotten faster; I'm just using this to show that I've been training harder lately.) In Nov and Dec, I swam about 2200 yards slower than 1:36 pace out of the total 30,550 yards swam. So that's 7.2% of my total yards swam "slow" in the last 2 months. In Sept and Oct, 9500 yards of my total 15,350 yards were slower than 1:36 - that's 61.9% of my total yards. That's a big shift in speed/training in the last 2 months.

Click here for my initial post on lots of new and good off-season workouts, and click here for my bit about CSS swimming.

The downside to making some consistent gains in the pool is that part of me is saying "you can stop swimming until like April or May, and then just start doing some of these workouts and you'll be set for tri season in the summer!" I'm trying to ignore that voice...


Race Results in RunMinnesota

>> Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Nov/Dec issue of "RunMinnesota" was delivered recently:

It's a not so secret pleasure of mine to see my name in the race results they print near the back of the magazine, but I haven't been back there in over a year because of my injuries. In this issue, I was treated to seeing my name back there twice:

Sweet. The "Loony Challenge" went well for me, and I got mentioned in 2 out of the 3 "Loony" races where I made the top 25. In the TC 10 Mile, the top 25 only went up to 54 minutes! So I was NOT in that group!

Thanks MDRA / RunMinnesota!



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