Monday, September 1, 2014

Another Week of Beetsdown Training

To my UK and Australian readers, pardon my past indiscretions. They were the result of ignorance. Really, I am not that crude. In America that word simply means "hitting the wall." Having now been more perfectly informed, however, I vow to think better, do better, write better. Not only that, but in my quest once more to defeat Randy Beets, I even vow to train better.

I know Randy has been ill and, consequently, he has sought to lower expectations. However, we are not world-class pool swimmers where things like starts, flip turns, reaches for the wall make the difference between victory and eight place. Furthermore, our races are not decided by hundreths of a second that are won by years of training. In short, Randy is a young man who has been improving at leaps and bounds. If he trains smart, not just hard, he can still be in very good, if not top form by early October. I, therefore, am not coasting to a presumed victory. I am training diligently for what I think will be an epic struggle.

For each of the last three years, the margin of victory between us has closed. When we both did this event our first time in 2011, I smashed Mr. Beats by nearly an hour. In 2012, the gap had closed to around twenty minutes. Last year, Randy took the lead and held it for four miles before I caught him. We then swam side by side for approximately a half mile, fighting each other like a couple of well-trained pit bulldogs. It was grand fun. When I finished and climbed out of the water, Randy Beets was only minutes behind. Yes, I am feeling some pressure, and yes, I am hoping for a full recovery and good training for my rival and nemesis.

Monday, I went to the pool. I had Randy Beets in mind the whole time I swam up and down the lane. My buddy, John Misterfeld, and I met up at Twin Rivers and started our workout about 2:00 o'clock. I warmed up with 2,200 meters straight and then drank some Gatorade, set my watches, and got my mind right for my Beetsdown set. I started with the set of 100 meter repeats at 1:56 for the first seven and then they slowed to 1:57. This set makes me swim at my CSS (critical swim speed, which is about 1:40-1:45 per hundred.) I find that pace a bit difficult. But after having done this set, in various forms, for several weeks now, it is getting easier, much easier. Not only that, but my endurance at that speed is growing by leaps and bounds like Randy Beets' ego.

During class Monday night, I walked outside and it was still so hot is felt like the air hugged me. It was sort of like jumping into a pool of hot water. I felt it everywhere, not just my face: my arms, back, legs, all of me was wrapped up in heat. I like that. Really I do. I was born in June back in the day when most people, my folks included, didn't have air conditioners. I enjoy the heat and have missed it this year. We have had the coolest summer on record, but it has turned hot just in time, I hope, to get the water in Chattanooga up where it needs to be.

After class, it had cooled off a bit and I felt like taking a run. I went out with no plan having abandoned the idea of my vVo2 workout because of the darkness. I could do it, but I can't see my watch as clearly as I like so I just ran. This was my first time running in the dark since last winter, and I enjoyed it. There is something about the quietness, the low traffic, and the anonymity of the dark that makes running at night a different animal. I had forgotten how much I like it. Also, for the first time in a long while, I felt really good, like I could run forever. My pace, although still embarrassingly slow, was better than it has been without doing intervals, since my stress fracture. Finally I felt like I am coming back.

All in all, it was a really good food day. My weight on Monday morning was a surprising and disappointing 167.2. Huh?!?!? I did the 5,500 in the pool then had a protein shake and a peach. After class, I ran 4.13 miles and had another protein shake and half an apple. Weight Tuesday morning? 165.2. Huh?!?!?! Better but I am getting a little discouraged by the length of time it is taking to shed  this extra adipose tissue. I can't throw in the towel, however, because I know where that leads. I suppose at my age that weight will forever be a battle for me now until I die.

Tuesday, I rode my mountain bike to work and then met John at the pool in the early afternoon. I just started swimming and stopped my warmup after 3,200 meters. I drank some water and then went into my countdown set only this time I expanded it to 1,800 meters with small paddles. Now, the 25s don't feel hard at all and they aren't long enough to get my respiration going strong. The 50s did make me breathe a bit, however. One of the changes I made this time was to take the sprints all the way up to 125. That had me sucking air like a turbo-charged diesel engine. I swam it with small paddles, and when I finished it was time to get out and I had 5,000 meters done.

Wednesday, I rode my bike to work twice and John and I met up at the pool early, a bit after 1:00, and I swam

8 X 100 @ 1:55 (Ouch!)
5 X 400 @ 8:15 with small paddles
total: 6,100 meters.

After work I ran 4.04 miles. My late Monday run interfered with my sleep. After teaching in the morning, swimming in the afternoon, teaching a night class, and running after 9:00 pm, I slept very well, thank you.

Thursday, John and I were back at it. I started with another long warmup:

2,000 countdown
12 X 50 @ 1:30
total: 5,000 meters.

Friday morning I went out for a long (always a relative term) but multi-paced run. I did an out-and-back 8.35 miler on Money Road. While out there, I received a $100 donation for the Diabetes Foundation of Mississippi. That was unexpected and it gave me a real boost. Later I met John at the  pool and I was so tired from the run and the accumulated fatigue of the week that I really couldn't train properly. I barely swam a warmup 1,000 and then stood at the end of my lane and wondered how I could last until 3:00 pm (John's goal). I set my watch for a 20 X 100 set @ 2:30. Remember, I have been swimming these at 1:57 and this week even down to 1:55. I was barely making the wall in 2:00 and felt so bad that about half the time I would stop the watch to catch some more rest. Eventually I finished the set, did 2 X 50, and crawled out. Sometimes your body simply says, "Enough." Mine didn't say it, it screamed it.

Saturday was cool and rainy but with no lightning in sight, a rarity in Mississippi. I lounged long in the morning and spent some time with my wife. She had a chore to do with her siblings in the afternoon, so I headed out for the pond alone. I am always alone at the pond now, and although I do miss my training with Randy Beets, I cherish the solitude I get on the fish farm. I think all endurance athletes like "me time" and the company of their own thoughts. I do have some company there. Birds of dozens of species always paint the landscape with their colors, their sounds, their movement.

With my pool crash only a day old, I had no expectations and decided to just swim and let my body dictate how far and how fast. The water was cool with no hot spots and I felt good as I just settled into an easy rhythm. I did three swims for 3.72 miles, my longest open water effort since the Chicot Challenge. Since I love swimming in the rain, this was one of my most enjoyable and memorable swims. The rain just kept coming down. The sky was dark but not dangerous-looking and the water, though cool, was warmer than the chilly air making climbing back in after a nutrition break a joy rather than a chore.

For the week, I

swam 30,685 meters,
ran 20.62 miles,
lifted weights one time, and
rode my bike to work four times.

That, my friend, is Beetsdown training.