Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Making waves at USMS Nationals

The venue for the 2015 USMS Nationals was the North Side Aquatic Center in San Antonio, TX.

This venue offered two warm up and warm down pools. One inside and one in the diving well. The competition pool ran two heats at a time with 10 lanes in each heat. It was amazing, and there was plenty of deck space and seating.

I flew to TX on Wednesday and arrived about 11:30pm.  Given that my hosts, Rodney and Carolyn,
get up very early, they left a key under the mat for me.   Thursday was the first day of competition with two events, the 1650 and the 1000.  I was entered in the 1000, and my heat was scheduled to start at 11:30am, so I had plenty of time to sleep in and warm up.  The last time I swam at SCY Nationals was in 2003, and I swam the 1650 and placed 10th in my age.  I was not sure if I had a qualifying time for the 1650, since I had not raced it since 2003.  The 1000 it is! Before heading to the pool, I spent the morning visiting with Rodney over coffee and fruit.

It was a cool day, as you can see by the cloud cover in the photo above.  I was excited to finally race for the first time in a LZR Pro suit that I purchased on sale from SwimOutlet. I think that by the end of the 4 days of competition it was a bit stretched out, but is still better than wearing a 'regular' training suit. Everyone was racing in a 'fast suit' so I was really glad that I got one!

Since I traveled to the meet solo, I needed to find a counter for the 1000.  It was not too difficult to find a nice girl named Wendy that said she would count for me.  She was counting for others in need as well.   I wanted to pay it forward, so I counted for an 82 year old gentleman name, Jack.  Wendy asked me what pace I wanted to hold, so I said that since I didn't want to blow up, let's shoot for :40 per 50, or 1:20 / 100, since that was the qualifying time pace. She said that she would place the counter towards my right arm if I was going faster than pace, and on the left side if I was swimming slower than goal pace.  Cool, at least I had some sort of idea of how to stay on pace.  The first 50  I was swimming ahead of pace, so I tried to cool it a bit, and was feeling very comfortable the 1st. 300. As the race continued I was feeling stronger, and the counter stayed on my right side.  I felt like the energizer rabbit, and continued to click off the laps.  I had a breathing plan, and that was to bilateral breath every 3 for the first 500, then try to pick it up and breath 3, then single. That seemed to work out pretty well for me, and for the last 75,  I decided to breath every stroke because I was trying to work harder.   Since the heats are mixed male and female, there was a male a few lanes over that finished ahead of me, so he got the bell lap.   I was very pleased with my finish time which was well below the qualification times. (all times are at the bottom)  This was the first time I have swum the 1000, and I like it! I want to work on getting under 6 minutes in the years to come.

That was good to get out of the way - Phew!  Before returning to the homestead in Helotes, I treated myself to a yummy taco or two at Taco Cabana, plus I visited a local chiropractic office to purchase a cervical pillow.  When I arrived home to two happy doggies, I took them for a walk. Man, it was humid!  Carolyn was surprised to arrive home and no one was to be found!  It was great to see Carolyn again, and enjoyed a nice mellow evening with pizza and vino.

Day two, Friday, up next were the 200 Free and 100 Back. Not my absolute best events, but would love to get better at them with more racing experience.  Something really strange happened when I was sitting on deck drinking water which was a very sharp and painful sensation in my throat upon swallowing. It felt like I was swallowing a rock!  Ouch! Did not feel normal, so I was kind of freaking out a bit, because it also hurt to touch my neck.  My plan was to have it checked out after my events, and in order to do that I needed to call my family practice Dr. in NY, so that she can write a referral to the urgent care in TX in order for the visit to be covered by Tri-Care. Geez!  Did all that and then had to concentrate on swimming the events.

I changed into my suit, and as I was heading over to warm up in the indoor pool, I was SO delighted to see Fred, my old swimming pal from when I lived in TX. He now lives in TN, and he came to race as well. He always places in the top 5 or 10 of his AG.  I really needed some good advice on how to strategically attack the 200, because the last time I swam it in March, I over kicked the first 50 and my legs turned into bricks. Luckily I asked Fred what advice he can give me for pacing the 200, and he said to make sure the 1st hundred feels like easy speed, then pick it up the rest of the way and go for it!   That was good advice.  It's been so long since I have raced anything, that it's still taking me a while to learn how to dig deep. Again, fairly happy with my finish time.

My dear friend, Zetta, was going to try and see me swim an event, but what was more important to me was the fact that I got to see her!  She took time out of her work day, to come to the pool and we had a wonderful visit between my two events. I didn't want her to see my 100 Back anyway!!

Another cool thing that happened that morning was seeing and talking to Josh Davis!  I wanted to tell him all about the kids that went to his swim clinic in NY, and how I really talked up his clinic to them, so that they would go, which they did! (see previous post)  I also mentioned to him that in 2008 I took a team to his clinic in HI and the girl on my team, Catherine,  that he presented his swim cap to for having the best stream line in the group was accepted to the Air Force Academy!  I also had to tell him that Fernando says "Hello," All good stuff.  So of course I had to get a picture of him and Ron, who I knew from N.Y. & now resides in TX. Ron is the safety coordinator at Northside. 

Except for the fact that my throat doesn't feel to great, It's been a lovely two days!  Oh - the 100Back, nothing exciting to mention about that, I need to work on everything!  

I drive over to the Complete Urgent Care about 10 minutes away from the pool.  I nice young female doctor sees me and decides that it would be best if I get an Ultrasound of my thyroid.   She thinks they might be able to take tonight, and arranges for me to have an appointment at 7:30pm at the imaging place. Did I mention that it's Fiesta weekend in San Antonio, which is a week long party!   Who wants to be working late during Fiesta?   

I drive back to Helotes and have about 90 minutes to spend before I need to report to the imaging place in the medical center. After the ultrasound is all said and done, I return home at about 9pm. I watch some TV with Rod and Carolyn and call it a day.   Will get the results of the diagnostic tomorrow. 

Day 3, Saturday, up next, the 100 IM. Now this event is fun!  I like individual medley, but I just wish I was a faster stroke swimmers. So needless to say, a 25 of each is doable.  I guess I swam the event okay. It was not my best time from 20 years ago, but I was pleased non the less.  Had another opportunity to spend a leisurely morning with Rod and Carolyn, so we walked the dogs together. 

I was fortunate to have most of the afternoon free after my event,  so I arranged to have lunch plans with Chick and Jenna. It's been 12 years since I have returned to San Antonio, so to see these two was really special. 'Chicka' and I have many memories of training together on the track, running the trails, and many a marathons!  He and Jenna are a beautiful and happy couple - very happy for them!  We had a lovely time catching up on old times, and making future plans to see each other again, while eating at EZ's, a classic San Antonio staple.  

After lunch, I returned to the ranch chill out before going to Leon Springs for the BBQ!  The BBQ was a planned social as part of Nationals. They had a live band, and good food. Rodney and Carolyn enjoyed it, however they did not dance with me!  We met two very nice couples, one was from San Diego California.  'Zeek' and Sharon. Zeek swam for Brown, and is just getting back into the sport again.  I wanted to call it an early night, so we were home by 9pm. 

Results of the ultrasound indicated acute thyroiditis, associated with a 4 mm nodule in the right lobe of my thyroid.  (sarcasm - Great!)  Still hurts to swallow, and will get blood work done in FL.....waiting on those results. 

Thunder, Lighting, Thunder, Rain!!  We had 3 nights of storms out of the 5 I was there.

Day 4, Sunday, the final day of competition, and on deck was the 500 F and the 100 F. After the 1000, I was ready to rock the 500.  I needed some mental sharpening for the 100!  I needed to be up early and to the pool since the 500 started at 8am.  I didn't have to worry about the competition pool being crowded for warm up, since it was not a mixed event. I took advantage of seeing one of the 'on deck' coaches by the blocks and asked him to set me up on properly using the fin. He did, and we adjusted the setting of the fin back a notch. Much better!

I needed to seek out a counter, so I located one of the "on deck coaches" in a bright yellow T-shirt, and asked her to count for me. Her name was Erin, and she was from Baltimore. She was very helpful. I told her what pace I wanted to hold, and she said that if I go slower than that, she would move the counter. She only had to move it on lap 13.  I held mid 37s. I believe I had a personal best for that event, and the next goal will be to knock off 11 seconds.  My 100 was a disaster.  I probably didn't get a good warm up, and needed more confidence in the head. I was late off the block, and totally missed my last turn. Oy Vey!  Ah Caramba!  Live and learn. 

Basically finished about the middle of the pack in all my free events.  I'm in a fairly competitive age group, considering the top 16 times in the 100 F are under 1:00 and only the top 8 in the younger age group are under a minutes. My 100 PR is 1:01, so I have a long way to go. 

 It felt good to be racing, and seeing friends. I look forward to more racing, and even some open water events in FL, as long as there are no alligators!!  Sharks I can handle. LOL!
1000 F -  12:33.98
200 F   -  2:21.05
100 Ba -  1:22.76
100 IM -  1:18.00
500 F   -  6:11.17
100 F  -   1:04.14

Monday was a good rest/travel day.  Tuesday T2 workout with coach Jenna is the following:

300 swim/200 pull/ 100 kick
Preset - Drills
8 x 25 (scull on stomach/swim/doggie paddle/swim) 25 of each and repeat
4 x 75 (25 LA/25 RA/ 25 swim)
Main (ladder)
100 Pull strong
4 x 50 -   5 breaths or 200 pace
200 pull strong
4 x 50 -   5 breaths or 200 pace
300 pull strong
4 x 50 -   5 breaths or 200 pace
400 pull strong
4 x 50 -   5 breaths or 200 pace
300 pull strong
4 x 50 -   5 breaths or 200 pace
200 pull strong
4 x 50 -   5 breaths or 200 pace
100 pull strong
4 x 50 -   5 breaths or 200 pace
200 cool

Happy Laps!

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