Saturday, September 27, 2008

Post Catalina Publicity

There were a few links to the Catalina to California swim in the swimming press over the following days. I was very are some of them: (picture of the day)

Monday, September 22, 2008

Catalina Swim Pictures Posted

Between 4 cameras with 3 different time zone stamps, it was a little tough putting all the pictures in sequential order. It's getting close. Here's the link:

With time being in short supply as I prepare to leave the country, my complete write-up will probably have to wait until my upcoming plane trip to Abu Dhabi. Ahelee's comment on the swim though summed it up pretty well, though she has me blushing a little bit.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Catalina Swim Success

At almost exactly 3pm, I became the 157th person to cross the Catalina Channel in nothing but a swimsuit, cap and googles. In challenging conditions that one Catalina Channel Swimming Federation observer noted were the worse that ever produced a successful swim, it took almost 14 hours and many extra miles to land on a beach that had never been used as a landing spot before.

The volunteer crew of Jim Fitzpatrick, Ahelee Osborn, John Steed, Jen Schumacher, Lynn Kubasek, Ron Roberts, Jordon Roberts, Jan Roberts and David Clark was incredible! While fighting horrible motion sickness, they stayed up for most of the night (since I started at 1am) and missed their entire Friday to paddle kayaks, be escort swimmers, mix sports drinks, and cheer me on as currents, cold water, winds, and large swells at times meant almost an hour of aggressive swimming that produced no forward progression.

The swim though, is dedicated to my biggest support and love of my life, my wife, Ellie.

Glad its over! I will post pictures and a more complete write-up after I've had some time to recover.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Last Swim Before Catalina

Tonight was the last time I will be in the water before I jump into the Pacific ocean Thursday night for the 21 mile swim from Catalina Island to the California mainland. I had a lot going through my head with politics, work, family, and the swim. The 50 minutes of lap swimming during the masters workout at the Deerfield High School Pool went quickly. The 3,000+ yards felt good and slowly my worries and paranoia melted into the peace that always comes from the repetitive sound of sloshing water.

Thursday night plans are about final. We are meeting at a restaurant in Long Beach at 6:30pm, boarding the boat at 7:30, and aim to launch into the channel by 8:30. We will start the swim from Catalina at around midnight and arrive on the Palos Verdes pennisula between 10-11am on Friday morning...

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Saturday's Ocean Time

On Saturday morning, I met up with a group of Orange County open water swimmers for a swim from Corona Del Mar to Crystal Cove, about 3 miles. We carpooled from the Crystal Cove parking lot to CDM and were in the water at 7am. The swells were big, but the surface was glassy and we made the trip in about 1 hour and 45 minutes. Water temps have been holding just shy of 70 degrees and visibility remains a murky 5-10 feet. It was a great "short" swim to keep ready for this coming Thursday's swim. Thanks to all the swimmers, especially Jen Schumacher who will be a pace swimmer for me on Thursday, who did a nice pacing practice for the last mile!

I returned to the Pacific at 7:30 pm for a brief ocean kayak with Lynn Kubasek who besides being a pace swimmer for my Catalina swim, has graciously offered a couple of sea kayaks for the trip. We put in at Laguna Main beach in the dark after rolling the boats down to the beach from the house where they were stored. On the way out, a large wave caught us both a little less-than-pefectly pointed into the surf and we were flipped unceremoniously over and into the sand before being steamrolled by the kayaks. Wet, but determined, we timed the next sets a little better and got beyond the surf line and spent 20 minutes confirming they were ready for 10 hours in the Catalina Channel. The moon came out a few minutes into the paddle and it was so bright I thought we were being spotlighted by a vehicle from shore. We turned around and in the big surf coming in, the waves decided to have some fun with Lynn again, upsetting the kayak and pulling the headlamp from her head. We chased the glow in the surf for a few minutes in hopes of recovering it, but it disappeared. That is the second time in as many weeks that the waves at Laguna Main Beach have decided to keep a souvenir as we exited the ocean. Lynn, thanks for all of your help today!

I also want to give a special thanks to my family- especially Ellie for all of her understanding and support.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Swimming in Lake Michigan

Both Jim Fitzpatrick and I are here in the Chicago area on business this week, so we decided to meet up for a swim in Lake Michigan this morning at the Ohio Street Beach.  I left Deerfield at 6:10am and made my way downtown in a little over 30 minutes.  Unfortunatley, after failing to find a place to park, accidently getting on Lake Shore Drive going north for a few miles, and making my way back to Ohio St., I finally just had the car valeted at the "W" hotel so I wouldn't leave Jim wondering where I was.

After taking the tunnel under Lake Shore drive, I found Jim right on the shore.  We were about the only folks out.  We saw one other swimmer and Jim said someone had just got out.  The wind was blowing (in Chicago?!) and the water was choppy, but the sun was warm and the water a nice 68-70 degrees.  We swam north along the buoys past the breakwater and back with the Chicago skyline to the west and sunrise to the east.  After an hour and 15 minutes and 2 and a quarter miles, we parted.  

Our next meet up?  In one week at the dock in San Pedro on our way to Catalina!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

8 Hour Training Swim

My last big training swim before Catalina happened this morning. 8 hours from the strand in Dana Point. After 16 miles I was still feeling good and that is a big confidence builder for September 18th.

I met up with Jim Fitzpatrick and Lynn Kubasek at 7am at the Strand parking lot and we headed down the steps to a fog enveloped beach. After sticking bottles of sports drink in our suits, we headed out into fairly large waves and very murky water and determined to stay within sight of shore so we wouldn't get lost. It wasn't too fun- being that close to shore in big swells and chop made for a lot of bouncing around in a lot of kelp that scratched me up and irritated my nipples- I wish I had a rash guard. I'll admit with foggy goggles and the foggy air- I had a hard time even seeing Lynn and Jim swimming right next to me. We lost sight of the shore at one point and got pointed out to sea in the fog- not good. We were able to stop and use the sound of the waves to guide us back.

Lynn left us after the first 2 hour shift as we switched out our "crack bottles". Jen Schumacher then joined us for the second 2 hours as the fog was lifting. We were able to get out of the kelp forests for the latter part of the swim. Jen's friends came out on kayaks for the last 30 mins and commented on a couple of dolphins swimming along side me and Jim.

The 3rd 2 hours was an uneventful one. Jim and I swam alone up to the point north of Salt Creek beach and back for the third time. The water visibility for some reason improved from 5 feet to 10-15 briefly. The fog thickened briefly just before burning off completely.

During the last 2 hours, we were accompanied by Tory in a kayak, which was nice practice. The sun was bright and I got a bit of a sunburn on my back.

As we finished hour 8 a little after 3pm, we met Dave Galli on the beach. I had a good, but brief conversation with him before Dave headed out with just Jim for hours 9 and 10.

In the end, I only had a little bit of "raisin tongue", sunburn, and some chaffing on the front of my neck. The sea life was friendly and the shoulders held up. Gu Gels on the hour, 8 oz of Cytomax every 30 minutes, and 1/2 a Powerbar every 2 hours seemed to keep me well fueled.

A HUGE thanks to all the people who accompanied Jim and I on the swim. The most thanks goes to my wife Ellie, who ran kids to 3 soccer games today while being 5 1/2 months pregnant on her birthday weekend. She was supportive beyond belief of this swim I needed to complete 12 days before my Catalina Crossing. Guys, they don't make them any better than that! Mom, I promise I'll make it up to her. :)

Thursday, September 4, 2008

COHO Masters Workout

I joined the Deerfield COHO masters and coach, Jeff Summy, for a 9-10pm workout at Deerfield High School. It was my first coached pool workout in weeks and only the 3rd pool workout since my thumb was broken in early June. It consisted of a 600 yd warm-up of swimming, kicking and pulling. Then we did 6 x 50 yds descending before doing 10 x 200 yds on 2:50. Finally we did 400 yd warm down for 3300 yards (2 miles).

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Finding a Pool in Chicago After Labor Day!

Flew back to Chicago late Monday night and couldn't find a 50m pool for Tuesday morning.  I did find a 25 yard outdoor pool at the Midtown Athletic Club in Bannockburn online during the day.  It is conveniently located about midway between my work and hotel and had been recommended by some folks who I swam with at Deerfield's Mitchell pool during the summer.  I checked the facilities out Tuesday night and determined to give their 1 day free membership a try today.

After work I was able to start swimming at 7:35pm and was able to go until a few minutes before 10pm, a good 2 and 1/4 hours.  It was tough to get used to the warm water and short 25 yard distance after swimming in open water or cooler 50 yard pools since June, but I settled into my "groove" after about 2000 yards and was able to log 8-9,000 yards (4.5 to 5 miles) for the night.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Labor Day Swim in Laguna

Met up with Jim Fitzpatrick a little after 7 for the first 2 1/2 hours of his 8 hour training swim. Though the water was a bit choppy and visibility was 10-12 feet, the swim felt fantastic. We swam north to 3 Arch Bay and then back south past Laguna main beach about a 1/2 mile. We met up with Jen Schumacher after the first 2 hours. While coming in at the end, my attempt to body surf a late breaking wave ended in a flip over and lost googles- bummer. Probably swam 5 miles.

For anyone wondering about the tongue from Saturday- the eye and tongue were back to normal in a couple of hours. My shoulders felt a little fatigue, but no chaffing or impingement issues. I am feeling very good about a 10-12 hour swim.

A good friend of the family, Jane Posner, sent me a link to an OC Register article about Greg Farrier's Catalina swim a few weeks ago. Congrats again Greg! We'll have to get together for a swim soon!
Here is the link for those interested to get a feel for the swim:

Saturday, August 30, 2008

6 hours in Sea Water = Raisin Tongue

This morning Jim Fitzpatrick and I met up at The Strands a little after 7am for a 6 hour swim. We hit the water at 7:20 after stuffing bottles of sports drink and Gu gels in our swimming trunks. The water was a little murky so we only had visibility of about 10 feet. The water was almost glassy and its temperature was mostly high 60s with patches of low 70s and low 60s. We swam north for an hour to 1000 Steps Beach before turning around and heading back with the current. We did a short loop in front of the Strands before hitting the beach again where we switched up our bottles, got new gels, and joined with Jen Schumacher for another 2 and 1/2 hours. After completing that swim, Jen had to head out, but Jim and I loaded up with our 3rd "crack bottle" to finish our last hour. We only had time to go past Ritz Point, across Salt Creek Beach Park and back. We came up the beach a little after 1:30 with 6 hours and 12 miles of swimming under our belt.

The salt water that had entered my left google had not only caused some irritation during the swim, but a small infection and swelling as well. My tongue felt wierd and looked like a raisin...but my hands looked fine!

Thanks Jim and Jen and family for a great swim!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Swimming in the Dark Again

After work I went to the Mitchell pool to get in a swim. Getting into the water at 6:20pm meant that I only had an hour and 40 minutes before the pool closed. I determined to make the best of it and by 7:30, I was surprised by how dark it had become. For the last 30 minutes, I watched the pool, which has no lights, get darker and darker. When I got out at 8, it was dark, but I had been able to swim well over 3 1/2 miles.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Running Through Highland Park, IL

In a day break between marathon pool swims, I joined a friend and colleague from work, Andrew Fraser for a jog right after work. We jogged 6 miles through Highland Park (Ferris Beuller's hometown) to Lake Michigan and then back through the Golf Courses to Deerfield. All told, we ran almost exactly 12 miles in a little under 2 hours. I haven't done a long run for months, so I expect my knees will be sore tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Upping the Ante

Over the weekend, conversations with Jim Fitzpatrick and Lynn Kubasek convinced me that I need to up the yardage during the week. After flying into Chicago late on Sunday night, Monday morning 5am (3am Orange County time) didn't happen. I determined to make up for it today. This morning I did an hour and a half at Mitchell Pool in Deerfield (over 6,000 yards). After work I was able to get in another hour and 15 mins and over 5,000 yards). All told: 6.25 miles.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Corona Del Mar 1 Mile Race and Training

After getting back from Chicago late Friday night, my original plans to get in a couple of hours of swimming before the Newport Beach Lifeguard Association's annual Don Burns 1 mile swim were a little foiled. I did do a nice 15 minute swim before registering for the event. At the race I saw a good contingent of Nova swimmers including Jen Schumacher and Coach Ahelee, who shared some of the excitement from Dave Galli's channel swim yesterday.

The race started at 10am and I followed the breakwater and some other swimmers at the start until I realized that I was way wide of the first buoy. After I made the turn south, I made the same mistake on buoy 2. I decided I needed to start buoy-spotting myself unless I wanted to turn the mile and change race into a 1.5 mile effort. I rounded the last 2 buoys a little closer. I had energy to spare and kicked up the pace to finish the race strong. I finished with an unofficial 23:52 and 74th overall (out of 300+).

At the finish line, I ran into Jim Fitzpatrick, who also shared some details of Dave's Catalina swim before we headed out for a 2+ hour training swim in the bay. The sun came out halfway through the swim and 15-20 foot visibility and high 60s water made for a great swimming. Jim's advice and coaching both during and after the swim was invaluable. We made some plans for coming weeks- including a swim during the week in Lake Michigan when we are both in Chicago. Thanks Jim!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Congrats Dave!

I had a hard time going to sleep last night knowing my training buddy, Dave Galli, was on his way to Catalina. I checked the Nova blogs as soon as I woke up at 5am CDT and found out he was off to a great start. Coach Ahelee sent me a text at 5:30 (3:30PDT) with additional updates- he was doing great. I decided to swim with him "in spirit" and did a quick 2 miles at the Deerfield pool, before heading off to work. At work, I was able to exchange a few more texts with Ahelee and check the blog. Then I got the word- he finished! An awesome time of 10 hours 35 minutes. I called my wife and announced to co-workers, but I don't know if they appreciated it as much I did. I so wish I could have been there in person to see you in. Hopefully I'll catch you at CDM in the morning to congratulate you in person. For now...Congratulations Dave- you are the man!!!!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Chicago Running - Channel Heros

Another tough morning with the 5am alarm...I decided to give the shoulder a little rest and I ran to the pool and back (6 miles). I carried 5 lb hand weights for the first and last 3/4 of a mile doing butterfly motions to work the shoulders. I probably looked pretty dorky running along Lake-Cook Road and the suburbs of Deerfield, but's not how you look, but how you feel...and I felt hot and sweaty. :)

On the swimming front: I read Emily Evan's ( account of her successful Catalina swim last week and her advice-it has me stoked. The help from successful open water swimmers here in the county like Jim Fitzpatrick, Greg Farrier, and Ahelee Osborn is also great. I am looking forward to swimming with them on Saturday.

...but the biggest news- my training buddy for the past 8 months, Dave Galli (, is doing his Catalina swim tomorrow night. I am so excited for him. Work permitting, I am going to see if I can't grab an earlier flight and either be there with him for the swim or see him arrive in Palos Verdes.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Tuesday Morning ... tired

After 12 hours of driving over the weekend to Iowa and back, I slept through my 5am alarms on Monday morning. I was determined not to miss Tuesday. As my multiple alarms went off on Tuesday morning, one after another: my alarm clock, wristwatch, Treo, and computer...I had to get up- despite how tired I was.

On the way out the door I commented to my wife, "It is crazy to get up at 5am to swim in the dark... but it is even crazier to attempt to swim with Catalina Channel without more training."

I swam for an hour and a half at the Mitchell Pool in Deerfield and logged about 5500 yards. My right shoulder did start to hurt a little after an hour. With 1 month to go...I am a little concerned. Until my swim last month, I had never had any shoulder pain. I would prefer to do the Catalina swim without being "doped up" on a lot of Aleve and Motrin for shoulder pain.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Friday in Chicagoland

I did 3 miles in Deerfield's Mitchell Pool on Friday morning after missing Wednesday and Thursday mornings. Staying up too late to watch Olympic Swimming has me inspired, but sleep deprived. The right shoulder is feeling funny- but not painful- so I'm hoping its nothing.

I sent off my boat deposit, updated friends, and notified the Catalina Channel Swimming Federation about my September 18th swim date. I am looking forward to nailing down swim logistics this coming week. This weekend I'll be travelling to Keokuk, Iowa and Nauvoo, IL this weekend- so no swimming again until Monday morning. Hopefully the rest will be good for the shoulder.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Back in Chicagoland

After flying back late Sunday night, I missed my Monday morning swim. I did however confirm my Catalina swim date during the day. On September 18th, 2008, I'll be heading out to Catalina to swim back 21 miles to California. I expect to be around the 150th person to accomplish the swim- 1 of 8 or 9 this year.

Watching Olympic swimming was also a worthy distraction both before and after work on Monday. I am still in awe of Jason Lezak's anchor swim on the 4 x 100 free relay. It was arguably the best swim ever, even with Phelps dominating performances. Jason, a fellow Novaquatics swimmer, has the whole program beaming with pride.

Though I was dead tired when the 5am alarm went off on Tuesday morning, I had to get back in the pool. I did 5000+ yards in the Mitchell Pool in Deerfield before heading off to work.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Back in the Pacific and A Tenative Catalina Channel Swim Date

This morning I met up with Jim Fitzpatrick at 7am at Laguna Main Beach. We did a mile while waiting for Dave to finish up an appointment in Laguan Niguel. Dave joined us and we did a 2 mile swim from Main beach north to Crescent Beach and back. We did another half mile before Dave had to take off. Jim and I did one more Crescent Beach and back for a total of almost 7 miles and about 4 hours of swimming. Jim had another 2 hours on his agenda, but I needed to get back home for lunch with the family.

Right after I showered up at home, I got a call from John Pittman, the captain of the Outrider. He had a cancellation on September 18-19th. If schedules permit (to be confirmed Monday), I'll make my Catalina swim almost one month after my original plan, just a week or two before I head to Abu Dhabi.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Friday in Deerfield

5am alarm came too early, but I got to the Mitchell pool for a 1 1/2 hour swim. Worked on my stroke and did a leisurely pace:
1000 warm up
1000 w/ fins
1000 w/ fins and paddles
1000 w/ paddles and pull buoy
500 swim
5 x 100 on 1:20 (keeping a 1:10 or better pace)
600 warm down w/a 50 no-breather
=3 miles (5,320 "real yards")

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Thursday in Deerfield, IL

Another 5am cab ride to Mitchell pool in Deerfield where I stuck to the 90 minute routine: 6 "1000s" in the 47.5 yard pool. I broke them up by doing the 1st swim, 2nd w/fins, 3rd w/fins and paddles, 4th paddles and pull buoy, 5th w/fins, 6th swim.
=5,700 true yards

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Keeping In Shape in Chicagoland

I arrived in Chicago late Sunday night after flying over some nice thunderstorms on the plains. After a brief sleep and good first day of work at my new company, I decided to get in a few miles of jogging before dinner on Monday night. I did a couple of loops around the Chicago Bulls old training center in Deerfield next to the hotel I was staying. After dinner, the thunderstorms caught up to me in Deerfield with an incredible lightning display. The storm also knocked out power to over 500,000 people, destroyed a few homes, and caused some flooding in the area. It also made swimming Tuesday morning an impossibility.

On Wednesday however, I found the Mitchell pool here in Deerfield and used the 5:30am lap swim to do the following set:
1,000 warmup
200 kick w/fins
1,000 swim with fins
1,000 swim with paddles
1,000 swim with fins
1,700 swim
=5,900 total

I met some nice masters swimmers during practice (are there any other kind?) who explained that the reason the 50m pool was so fast was because it was actually 47.5 yards. I guess my 5,900m was more like 5,600 yards. :(

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Weekend Workouts

On Friday morning I got up at 5:00, excited to do a Novaquatics workout at Soka University. Unfortunately, I could barely lift my right arm again. My back, which I had thrown out slightly on Wednesday while moving furniture in Utah, was really hurting again too making getting out of bed a painful exercise. How old am I?! I knew it would be a painful workout, if it was possible at all, and I could be risking more serious injury. Crap! I crawled in bed for another few minutes of sleep before a scheduled follow-up appointment with Dr. Ip, my hand surgeon, in Huntington Beach at 9am.

At the appointment, Dr Ip was pleased with the results. I took off the splint and after he asked me to touch my thumb to the bottom of my pinky, I found it would not move. He indicated that I'd need a couple of months of physical therapy to be able to fully bend my thumb again. He also gave me a "thumbs up" to getting back on the bike.

I was starting to come to grips that my body wasn't immortal or 19. It needed better rest and healing time. I had to reassess all the old sayings that were keeping me going: "When the going gets tough, the tough get going" and "If it was easy, everyone would do it." and "No pain, no gain." Maybe, I need to let my body recuperate, postpone some plans, ease back in a little more slowly, and then I'll be better prepared for success.

On Saturday morning, I was feeling better so I did a short road bike (about 7 miles) and limited the climbing to Wood Canyon Drive in Aliso Viejo. I met up with Dave Galli and Jim Fitzpatrick at San Clemente pier at 3pm for an ocean swim. Jim admitted that he had some shoulder injuries during his past training, which had limited him for a couple of months. Dave, who is a physical therapist, diagnosed my shoulder as an impingement. That was good news, as it is easily treated. I limited my swim to a short 2.5 to 3 mile swim up the coast and back, breathing on my least favored side most of the time. Though visibility was lousy (3 ft) and the afternoon chop led to plenty of sea water swallowing, I finished feeling strong and without any shoulder pain or chaffing. Dave and Jim continued down the coast on their plans to knock out double that mileage.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Swimming at Dusk with Sea Lions

I got back from Utah late Wednesday night and so I was aching to get back in the water. Dave Galli was looking to do a 2 hour training swim at Corona Del Mar (CDM) at 5pm on Thursday night, so I told him I was in. CDM is a nice protected cove with a low sandy beach and even some buoys that rope off the swimming area from the boats and kelp. After a week of staying up late to watch Discovery Channel's Shark Week, I probably would have opted out of any other beach at dusk.

When I arrived at the beach, Jim Fitzpatrick and Dave were at the life guard stand shedding their outer layers and spitting on their googles. I quickly did the same and we headed to the beach. Since we were going out unaccompanied by kayakers, we tucked our water bottles in the back of our suits. Jim noted these were real "crack bottles". Instead of swimming laps around the bay, he suggested we just swim south for an hour and then turn around. I know the area from previous swims and I'm not a huge fan. Even on clear days, the large off-shore reef along Crystal Cove and the kelp beds just south of CDM provide lots of habitat for marine life, which I like when I'm snorkeling, but not when I'm swimming. The water was a murky 5 feet visibility and had the standard afternoon chop with some big swells. I didn't protest and so we started swimming.

After a mile, I looked down to see a spotted gray sea lion staring up at me. He swam along underneath me and Dave for 20-30 feet and the swam off. Soon he came around for a second pass. When he came zooming up from the depths on a 3rd pass, I'll admit for a split-second I was thinking shark ambush. After another 1/2 mile of swimming I saw both Dave's white cap and Jim's yellow cap on my left so I was confused when I saw a black cap to my right. I pulled my head up and saw a big black seal head bobbing on the surface checking us out. I put my head back in the water, only to see a sea lion underneath looking up again. Man, I was thinking, lots of shark food. After seeing another seal, I wondered what was so interesting about us...then I remembered I was wearing mirrored goggles. I had just read that shiny things attract the interest of sea predators- they look like fish scales. I swam on, but the swim wasn't feeling as fun as a minute earlier.

After another few hundred yards and another sea lion encounter, I tapped Dave on the shoulder and suggested we return to the cove and finish our 2 hour swim there. Jim noted we were 9 minutes shy of an hour, but agreed. So at quarter of a mile past the first Crystal Cove parking lot, we turned around. We swam back (without sea lions), did a loop around the cove, and swam into the beach after 2 hours of swimming. My right shoulder was a little sore for the relatively short swim and I scratched all of the scabs from last Saturday's chaffing off, but it was great to be back in the Ocean. I'll be back Saturday- but I'll be staying in the cove after 5pm.

Monday, July 28, 2008

After Swim Recovery in Utah

Well, I didn't realize it until a few hours after last Saturday's swim, but I got pretty "injured" during the 9 miles swimming off Newport. Apparently my lateral breathing caused the skin on my neck, both shoulders and chin to rub together to the point that severe chaffing occured.

I have had some nasty chaffing when wearing a wetsuit, so I am always sure to "Glide" up (apply lubricant) before swims when wearing one. Apparently the folds of skin on my neck and the whiskers on my chin can do some real damage too. See the damage shots taken on Monday night, a full 2 1/2 days later. Warm showers have been painful since I returned Saturday afternoon. For future swims, I know where I need to grease up!

My right shoulder has mostly recovered so I spent the morning swimming with the kids at the Green Valley Spa. I also did a few hundred yards of lap swimming. We took a trip here to St. George, UT on Saturday night to help my in-laws move. Lifting heavy furniture and boxes on Sunday so my in-laws could have both their needed items and a place to sleep Sunday night proved good therapy for muscle soreness.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

9 Miles at CDM and Crystal Cove

Had a wonderful 9 mile swim this morning in near perfect So. Cal conditions.

A little after 7am, Dave Galli, Jen Shumacher, and I put into the surf at Corona Del Mar beach in Newport. Scott and "Defro" accompanied us on paddleboard and kayak respectively. We swam south a mile to "Flat Rock" and turned around. Water temp was perfect, wind was almost non-existant and skies were clear. The water visibility was an usually clear 30-40 feet. It allowed us to see the reefs, kelp, sea plants, girabaldi and top smelt swimming among us for most of the morning.

At 8am we arrived back at the beach and met up with Jim Fitzpatrick who accompanied us for an hour and 45 minutes south through Crystal Cove state park. Just shy of the Laguna Beach city line, we turned around and headed back. Dave and Jen were smoking fast and Jim and I brough up the rear not far behind. Coming back, my pace slowed- but I think I kept my form up better than previous swims. Though visibility decreased, we had the wind and current at our back going north. Some drafting off Jim helped me stay with the group until mile 8. The last mile I fell off and my shoulders started feeling like lead. Landed back at CDM after 9 miles of swimming. Dave had put some distance on all of us and he was ready to do 2-6 miles more, so they turned around and started swimming again- incredible. I had to head home before Dave and Defro returned from their extra mileage trip.

Dave is going to have a great Catalina crossing time (easily under 10 hours). I need to hit the weights, but I still expect a 12-14 hour crossing time. I called some boat captains yesterday to see what dates might be available in early September. It will be nice to nail down the new date.

I'm heading to St. George, UT this weekend, so beyond the thanks to Dave, Scott, Defro, Jen and Jim, I need to give a special thanks to my family who let me take 5 hours out of a hectic morning to do this swim. Thanks for understanding Ellie and kids- I love you!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Friday Morning back in Aliso Viejo

I got to bed late after checking out the satellite tracking of Greg Farrier's Catalina Channel swim attempt. He had just left the coast of the island when I hit the sack. When I awoke at 5:40, he looked to be over halfway there and at the time of this post, he is only a 1 1/2 miles from Point Vicente. Here is a link to his tracking:

I ran to Soka University where Coach Ahelee was calling the set:
400m warm-up
2 x 100m kick
Something else?
4 x 150 swim, 50 kick
6 x 100m FAST w/fins, 50m fast kick w/fins
200m cool down

It was great to be back in the "home pool" with familiar faces. Tomorrow it is a long swim in the Pacific with Dave Galli starting from Corona Del Mar.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Last Day in Denver

Thursday was my last day working in Denver and I finished it up with a quick swim with the Highland Ranch Masters Triathlon group. Coach Susan Williams coached it. As usual, it was a fun set:
350 warm-up
1 x 200 swim
1 x 100 pull
1 x 200 swim
1 x 100 kick
1 x 200 swim
1 x 100 pull

Repeat 4 times:
4 x 50 on :55, :50, :45, :40

1 x 500 pull, every 5th length fast
1x 250
200 warm-down

I jumped out a little early to meet some great friends from work for breakfast before the our morning meetings.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

July in the Mile High

I got some good sleep last night, so the 5am alarm wasn't as intrusive as usual. I spent some time getting caught up on email and the news, so I didn't head off to Highlands Ranch for a workout until 5:45. I shared the lap swim lane with Rob, one of the quickest swimmers there in the Masters program, but did an easy 45 minute swim. I figured I'd get a good workout in the evening at the Cherry Creek Reservoir 2 mile race. The set was:
1 x 500 warm up
1 x 200 kick with fins
1 x 100 kick
5 x 200 pull gear on 2:45
5 x 100 on 1:20
200 warm down
= 2,500 yards

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Regular Morning Workout with HRM & Open Water at Grant Ranch

This morning I did the regular 5:45am morning workout with the Highlands Ranch Masters Triathlete group, though I decided to join them midway through the first set. It is the first time I've done the regular workout (instead of the lap swimming lane) since the surgery. I tried to keep pace with Joe Torres, a good swimmer who I was pretty evenly matched up with before the injury. The competition forced me to turn up the effort, which felt good. I guess Coach Susan Williams is just coaching Thursdays now, so we self-coached the following set:

1 x 200 warm-up
Repeated several times:
2 x 100 kicks on 1:55
3 x 100 swims on 1:30/1:25
Repeated 2 times:
2 x 75 (25 Fast, 50 Easy) on 1:10
2 x 75 (50 Fast, 25 Easy) on 1:10
2 x 75 Fast on 1:10
1 x 200 Pull
200 warmdown
= about 3,000 yards

After work, I ran to Grant Ranch and did some open water swimming in Bowles Reservoir. With Matt Beck and Pete Alfino keeping a watchful eye on the folks swimming in the glassy water, I did a 1500m warm-up, a 1500m with paddles, and another 500m with paddles and fins before time was called. Adding those 3500m to my morning swim, I had almost 4 miles (7,000 yards) under my belt for the day, I was hungry. So I ate a buffalo. :)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Open Water Swimming at Chatfield Reservoir

I haven't worked out on Mondays much this year because travel to Denver from Orange County on Monday mornings requires me to get up at 3am to catch the first plane out of LAX. After a day at the client, I'm usually bushed.

Since this is my last week in Denver, I decided I had to get in a swim at the famous gravel pond at Chatfield Reservior tonight. After work I went straight to the lake and changed into my swimsuit. There was quite a crowd on the Northern beach and 30-50 swimmers in the water. As I threw my towel and sandals under a bush, something stung ants! I flicked a couple off me and headed quickly for the water. After checking in with the COMSA observer, I did two laps of the pond for just shy of 4,000 meters of nice open water swimming.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Newport Pier to Pier Race

Dave had sent me a message Thursday night that his grandfather had passed away and he had to head back to Ohio this weekend. Looks like he'll have one more angel looking after him during his swims. Look forward to swimming with you when you return, bud! My condolences and safe travels.

Well, both procrastination and trying to figure out family travel plans to Newport for the Annual Pier to Pier race resulted in me not leaving the house until 40 minutes before the 10am start. Tough traffic on Balboa Island resulted in me getting to the beach at 9:55am. I put money in the meter and a surgical glove on my splinted left hand. I registered quickly, stripped off my clothes, wrapped my wallet and cell phone in my towel (no time to take them back to lock them in my truck!), laid my stuff under the Lifeguard stand and stepped up behind the group of contestants. Standing 50 yards to the right of Balboa Pier, I almost immediately heard the starter remind everyone to put their googles on and seconds later, he hit the start beep.

I ran down the beach and saw a nice head-high set breaking right near the shore. It made for a quick start to swimming as we all dived under the large wave. The surgical glove quickly filled with water and it felt like I was swimming with a water balloon instead of a left hand. After 1/4 mile, the glove started coming off my hand and created a nice drag with every stroke. I stopped, ripped it off and stuffed it into my swimsuit. I then continued with my splint exposed, which held up fine for the rest of the race.

At approximately 3/4 of a mile I noticed that I was all alone in the water. The leaders were well ahead, but I was surprised that there weren't a few more folks of my speed around. I started looking above the swells and spotted the mile buoy about a hundred yards further out to sea. I had been swimming into shore! The sea was pretty choppy and combined with the big swells, it was tough keeping the buoys in sight. As I rounded the half way point, I noticed a few other swimmers nearby and started to exert a little more effort. At 1.5 miles, I almost had another wave break on me. I again noticed that I was alone. I worried about that because it wasn't because I was so much faster that I was passing others. I swam with my head up for a while before catching glimpse of the next buoy and other swimmers. I found that I had once again veered towards the shore 50-100 yards after I found the last buoy.

I made another course correction and found myself with a half dozen swimmers. I turned up the juice a little more and hoped I'd be lucky enough to catch a nice set of waves on the way in. Unfortunately, the trip in to the shore was almost entirely on my own effort and I finished 97th (out of 300?) in 48:09. I felt I could have turned around and swam back without much fatigue, but instead of doing that, I broke into a nice jog back to Balboa Pier so hoping my stuff would still be there and I could get my truck before the meter ran out, which luckily I did.

I don't know where I'll be in a month, but today I felt great. I know I could have done it even faster and longer, so hopefully next week with Dave back, me off work, we'll start pushing the double digit mile distances.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Practicing with Novaquatics Again!

After arriving back in California late Thursday evening and enjoying my own bed, I got up Friday morning and did a 3 mile jog in Aliso Viejo. I attended to some work calls and errands before grabbing the noon Novaquatics workout in Irvine Wollett Aquatics Center. Coach Mike Collins called the set:

1 x 400m warm-up (50 free/50 dolphin kick)
3 x 50m descending
1 x 150 sprint

Repeated 6 times:
1 x 50 easy
1 x 150 sprint

Some splint malfunctions caused me to miss a couple of laps, but it was a quick fun workout on the day before the Newport Beach Pier to Pier race tomorrow morning. I swam the practice next to Coach Ahelee who had some nice, encouraging words and I got some got some good stroke pointers from Mike. After practice I ran to doctor and had the splint cut down and repaired.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Getting Back into Swimming Shape in Denver

The 5am alarm was tough this morning, but I am determined to start and keep up the daily swimming so I can quickly build my yardage up again. There is still some soreness in my pects and shoulders that really has me bugged. I guess I'm not 20 anymore!

I decided to do my own abbreviated workout again in the lap lane of the Highland Ranch Rec. Center.

500 warm-up
300 kick
200 with pull-buoy
10 x 100 on 1:25
1 x 50
1 x 100 kick/stretch drill
1 x 150 kick/stretch drill w/fins
1 x 200 with pull buoy
1 x 200 with fins
1 x 200 cool-down
=2,900 yards

My plan is to hit the "gravel pond" near the Chatfield Reservior for a mile or 2 of open water swimming after work today.

While getting the necessary forms for a Chatfield swim, I discovered the Aquaman race series at Cherry Creek Reservoir on Wednesday nights @ 6:15pm. There are races of .5, 1, 1.5, & 2 miles. I left work promptly and made it to registration with 10-15 minutes to spare. I did the 2 mile race with a moderate pace, finishing in 48:47. While I was certainly far from great form and had to stop a couple of time to fix my thumb splint, I settled into an easy-to-maintain rhythm after the first half mile and finished fairly strong.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Swimming at 6,000 feet...again!

I worked out with the Highlands Ranch Masters at their 5:45am practice. It was the first time in 6 weeks. Since I wanted to ease back into things, I used the lap swimming lane to do the following set:
500 warm-up
12 x 100 on 1:30
3 x 100 kick on 2:00
3 x 100 kick w/fins on 1:30
Pyramid (50,100,150,200,200,150,100,50)
200 warm down
= 3,500 yards

My right shoulder and right pects were sore- I wonder if I did something to it on Saturday. Doing a mile swim race as your re-introduction to the water after 5 weeks may not have been real smart. I may have strained something.

I want to quickly build my distance to over 5,000 yards a day in the next few practices and then find a way to do 7,000 to 10,000 yards a day during the week. I am moving to Abu Dhabi, UAE in the fall and want to re-schedule my Catalina swim for September, if at all possible. I'd also like to be capable of being a good pace swimmer for Dave in August.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Back in the Water!!

Against medical advice, I raced the Seal Beach Roughwater 1-Mile swim today. I got to the beach at about 6:45am with my suit on underneath, googles and cap in my bag, and waterproof dressings for my incision...just in case. When Dave and Scott showed up and had encouraging words after looking at the healing cut, I decided the 1 mile couldn't do it too much harm while wearing the splint and waterproof dressing.
While Dave headed off for the 3 miler at 8:00, I got a chance to chat with Lynne Cox, arguably the most accomplished open water swimmer on the planet. Her book, Swimming to Antartica, was a great read and inspiration to me last fall as I began planning for Catalina. She was so nice! She said she had heard of me(?!) Perhaps the Catalina Swimming Federation has a list of the attempts for the season?

Dave had a great swim and then lined up with me for the mile too. It felt great to be back in the water, though I almost immediately felt the effects of not using my swimming muscles for 5 weeks. Dave held back a bit and we finished the race together. It was a great help to have him next to me to keep me paced. I finished 4th in my age group and 31st overall. Thanks Dave and Scott!
I know that August 21st is out for a Catalina to California swim, but with some serious training, I may still be able to make my swim before the summer's out. Labor Day?

Friday, July 11, 2008

Friday- Cast Off!

Eventful day. Got up in beautiful Orange County, CA this morning after the Thursday evening flight back from Denver. I decided to do one of my old fun runs- the Laguna Canyon Ridge trail that runs a little over 2 miles from Aliso Viejo to the Top of the World in Laguna Beach. After the 4 mile run, I showered and headed to Huntington Beach to have a post-surgery follow-up appointment with Dr. Ip. The cast was removed and I saw some bloody butterfly bandages covering a 2 1/2 inch incision. Kinda nasty, but it was nice to get the cast off. He trimmed the exposed stitches and then told me that I should wait another 5 days before putting the incision in sea water- or risk infection and another surgery. That means tomorrow's Seal Beach Roughwater will be a spectator event for me....argh!

Next big news- I ran to Costa Mesa to do an ultrasound with Ellie. We are now expecting...GIRL #3! Wow! I don't know if I can handle 3 girls. I guess the money, messes, and drama will just be a little more involved in the Roberts house. Though Sam, my oldest, definitely didn't want another boy, he would prefer the addition was a canine.

Finally, I got fit with a waterproof splint in Newport. I'm ready to swim when the incision heals a little more. I am feeling like I need to do the Catalina swim this summer, no matter what- even if I have to delay the swim a few weeks as I may not get the chance again for a couple of years. I am moving to Abu Dhabi at the end of the year to work with a software company that is supporting the large development companies there in the UAE. I understand that swimming is big in the Middle East, but its a long trip to California. It will make it a little easier to do the English Channel in 2009 or 2010 though! Dave, let me know if you want to join me!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Wednesday's Workout in Denver

Ran 5.5 miles on a sub 8:00/mile pace. Did 100 situps and 100+ reps on the heavy duty pull cords- enough to feel fatigue set in. Felt Great. So much for a dry cast...

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Ready to Swim Again

Stuck in a cast since my surgery, it has now been almost a month out of the water and it is the peak of the open water season. I've gained 10 pounds. My kids have tauntingly spent a lot of time in the water during our desert states vacation over the past 2 weeks. In around 100 degree weather in Sedona, Scottsdale, Albuquerque, Denver and St. George (4th of July!) the pool was a great place to be. I've been dying.
I'll be getting my cast off this Friday and I'll get back in the water by racing the 5K and 1 mile at the Seal Beach Roughwater Swim on Saturday.

This morning I did a 3.5 mile jog, sit-ups, and cord pulls and I've got plans to double all the repeats and distances tomorrow.

Monday, June 30, 2008

The Surgery

After very little sleep Wednesday night, Ellie drove me from Sedona to Phoenix where I caught a rather uneventful flight home to Orange County. My father-in-law picked me up and I tinkered around at home for an hour or so before going to the surgery. The procedure was to be done in the Orthopedic Surgery Center, which is just off PCH near Fashion Island in Newport- not a bad neighborhood. When my time came, I was called out of the waiting area and instructed to strip to my underwear and put on the oh-so-fashionable hospital gown. I then took my place on a rolling bed so they could take my vitals and stick some IVs in me.

For those who don't know me, I have an irrational reaction to things touching me in areas where large veins can be found- my wrists, inside my elbows, inner get the picture. It causes me to get cold, clammy, and deathly pale. My blood pressure drops too. When applying the rubber band tourniquet to my right arm before inserting the IV, I got clammy and pale and the nurse called another nurse over to "distract me". Unless the distraction was going remove the feeling of a tight rubberband, mid-arm, stopping blood from flowing to my hand, it wasn't going to work. However the nurse was quick and the IV was in the back of my hand & tourniquet removed before I did someting embarassing- like pass out.

Next came the blood pressure cuff. After 7 failed attempts to register a blood pressure, it came back extremely low. The nurse joked that despite the low reading, my talking proved I was still alive and apparently after talking with the doctor and anesthesiologist, I was alive enough for surgery. They started rolling me to the operating room a few minutes later and the anesthesiologist took a position behind me as we entered the room. I felt suddenly tired and asked the doctor if I was going to be "going black" soon. He said "No, just something to relax you." I wondered what that was that about as I could feel my consciousness leaving me. The last thing I remember was moving from the rolling bed to the operating table and knowing that the "tired, fuzzy feeling" I felt meant that I was going to be unconscious in seconds.

I came to about 45 minutes after they rolled me out of the pre-op area. It was nice to be awake, but I felt like I was waking after a long, long nap and wanted another 20 minutes. They let me rest for about that long or longer before a nurse gave me a drink and helped me get dressed. It was a little wierd having someone put on my socks, put on my shirt and help me buckle my pants. But with a new cast and bandage on my hand, I wasn't going to get myself ready in any reasonable amount of time. Dr. Ip told me that the ligament was torn and they were able to repair it. Good news! They then had me sign some discharge papers and rolled me out the side door in a wheelchair where my father-in-law was waiting at the curb in my truck.

After fasting 18 hours, I was hungry so we stopped for a burger on the way home. My mouth was so dry that I choked on the fries, despite drinking almost 32 oz. of lemonade. I couldn't generate spit for almost 24 hours- what a wierd, uncomfortable feeling! I always took the saliva part of chewing and swallowing for granted- not anymore. I slept off and on for most of the next 14 hours with just a mild sting and decent throb in my hand before rushing back to the airport for the flight back to Phoenix.

At the time of this posting, it has now been 5 days since the surgery. The pain is completely gone and aside from a few Motrin Saturday and Sunday during our drives to Albuquerque and Denver, the recovery has been drug free. I am anxious to get the cast off and start some serious exercise again. Dining out with family and long hours in the car with snacks has made the pleats in my pants tight. :)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Pre-Surgery Workout

I had a family vacation already planned for this week in Sedona, Arizona, so I'll be flying back to Newport for 24 hours on Thursday to go under the knife.

Since anything I might do to mess my hand up will be corrected during surgery and the cuts from my mountain biking accident being mostly healed, I decided on Wednesday that I ought to take advantage of the water for the last time in a few weeks. I did some swimming in Oak Creek, which caused a little throbbing in the hand, so I decided to just put on my thumb brace and do some cliff jumping and diving. Man, I've missed the water...

Friday, June 20, 2008

Friday Run & Surgical Opinion

After being in Denver during the first 4 days of the week, I headed back home on Thursday evening. On Friday morning I woke at 6am to a georgeous Southern California day. Without the usual early summer morning cloud cover (aka June Gloom), it promised to be a scorcher of a day. I decided to take advantage of the morning cool to do a run. I ran from my home to Soka University and then down the Canyon View neighborhood to the Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park. At the Canyon floor I ran into my old hometown friends: rabbits, lizards, a coyote and hawk. I followed the trail and the stream up to Canyon View park and back home. It was a fun 7 mile jog in among the wild sycamores, coastal oaks, and animals as well as master planned and landscaped Orange County.

I then showered up and headed up to Huntington Beach for a Surgical consult on my hand. While the scans weren't conclusive, it was likely that the ligament would not heal correctly without surgery. An immediate surgery to reconnect the bone fracture at the connection point of the ligament would help avoid the need for more extensive ligament grafting in a couple of months. I scheduled the first available surgery- Thursday of the next week.

After surgery, I'll be in a splint for 2 months. After the sutures heal in 2 weeks however, Doctor Ip said I could swim again- if I have a waterproof splint made. Unfortunately, being out of the water for a month means I'll be probably be physically unprepared for Catalina on August 21st.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Injury Update 2

The official results are in on the thumb injury. My optimism has been tempered. The injury is a Goalkeepers Thumb, a fracture of the bone where one of my thumb ligaments attaches. Surgery and physical therapy is advised to ensure full, non-painful use of the thumb in the future. A small black thumb stabilizer I've been wearing since Saturday afternoon has prevented the thumb from causing me much pain, but it isn't a long term solution. I have a full doctor's consultation scheduled on Thursday. We'll determine at that time what the injury means in terms of the Catalina swim, but in all likelihood, the injury will require a minor surgery and some PT which will make an August swim impossible.

It seems silly that such a small injury could have such a dramatic effect on my training and plans, but I can't change it now. "It is what it is" and I'll just deal with the consequences, which hopefully won't preclude the Catalina swim, but it may mean changing plans to an English Channel or Persian Gulf swim in 2009!

Injury Update

After the Tuesday evening crash, I was pretty hurtin' for a few days. My Catalina Channel swim training pal, David Galli, pulled some strings and got me an appointment to see Dr. Cavallo, the doctor he works with in Newport, on Friday morning. The doc determined that the ligament in my hand was either torn, popped or strained and needed an MRI. I was able to schedule the MRI later that day. The preliminary results indicate a ligament strain. That is good news. It means I'll be in a splint for a couple of weeks instead of requiring surgery followed by a month or two in a split.

Additionally, the doc noted that with all of the open scrapes and cuts, swimming was out for a week. He prescribed some anti-bacterial ointment to help keep things infection free. At the time of writing, the thumb is still splinted, but the cuts are healing quickly and some weekend swimming is looking likely.

With any water activity over the weekend introducing the risk of infection and/or slower healing, the Huntington Beach pier swim on Saturday was out of the picture. I headed to the beach to support Dave and the other Novas. The Novas had some great performances. Coach Ahelee finished top in her age group. Christina took the women's first prize and fellow Soka swimmer, Roger Andellin, was a top 10 finisher. Dave was a top finisher as well- in 2 heats! Congrats team!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Getting Bitten and Heading to the Hospital

Well, its true. It finally happened. I had a good chunk of flesh taken out of me and had to get some medical attention afterwards. No, it wasn't a shark- it was the Mt. Falcon trial near Morrison, CO. Instead of saying the trial bit me, it is probably more accurate to say I ate it.

After getting off work on Tuesday evening and making a few phone calls, I followed my googled directions to the Mt. Falcon, a trail recommended by Ken Brumm, another consultant on my project and moutain biker from here in Denver. It turned out to be only 10-15 minutes from where I am working in Littleton. I quickly changed into my biking gear, donned my helmet and pulled my bike out of the back of my rented SUV. I figured I had a couple of hours before dark and a 4 mile ride should be easy doing despite a 2,000 ft elevation gain. The going was tougher than I had anticipated as I didn't have clip-ins and it is the first time I've ridden anything technical in almost a year. However, the views of Denver and the Rocky Mountain peaks to the west were incredible.

Click on the pict below to see the skyline of Denver from Mt. Falcon. Wow!
Coming down, I was having a blast. I begin to think I was finally getting the hang of it: bouncing over rocks and flying off the trail breaks that divert the runoff. I was going 20-25 mph on the bumpy singletrack. A half mile from the trailhead I got a couple of bumps in rapid succession and hit the wrong (front) brake after landing with my front wheel twisted in an attempt to correct a trajectory that would send me off the trail. The bike responded by turning even more, digging in the front wheel, and stopping rather abruptly. I did not.

I caught the initial impact with my left gloved hand and left knee. I tried to lessen the impact with a roll, but instead of rolling, my twist only caused my right hip and arm to dig into the gravel with my full weight behind it and skid along the dirt and gravel trail for 10 feet. Can you say no wind? Can you say hamburger?

Embarrassed and wind knocked out, I scrambled to get off the trail and rested in the weeds on the right of the trail in a relatively flat section of the route. Though covered in blood and dust, I told the biker following me by about 20 seconds who inquired how I was that I was fine- "just got the wind knocked out of me". After a few more questions, he was satisfied I was going to be OK and continued down. Afterwhich, I picked up my unhurt bike and continued down much more cautiously.

The rapidly coagulating blood mixed with dirt and gravel from the trail made nice black and red patches on legs, arms and left hand. As I got into my hot car with cold blowing AC, the sting finally hit. Ouch! I decided to find a clinic where perhaps a nurse could help me dig the gravel and dirt out of my arm and knee and get some antibiotics to prevent infection. A call to a project buddy, Todd Pittman, who had the unfortunate opportunity to use a local clinic a few weeks before revealed that after 8pm, my only option was a hospital.

The nice folks at the Adventist Hospital in Littleton cleaned my wounds, x-rayed my hand, splinted my thumb, and sent me back to my hotel. They also advised me to stay out of the water for few days until the wounds had stopped bleeding and oozing. Probably good advice. I guess my plans for Chatfield reservior this evening are not going to materialize.

(After cleaning off the blood and dust, it looks like I could be healed enough for Saturday's ocean swim, but if you click on the arm you can see what my "cleaned hamburger" looks like. I'm going to spare you the unbandaged knee.)

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Saturday Morning at WAC

It was nice to be able to sleep in until 7am before heading off to Wollett Aquatic Center (aka WAC) in Irvine for the Nova workout. Coach Michael Collins called the set:

1 x 300 warmup
1 x 300 (Free, Back by 50s)
3 x 100 (Free, Back by 25s)
6 x 50 (Free, Back by 25s)
5 x broken 600s specifically:
5 x 100 on 1:25, 1 x 100 on 1:20
4 x 100 on 1:35, 1 x 200 on 2:40
3 x 100 on 1:45, 1 x 300 on 4:00
2 x 100 on 1:55, 1 x 400 on 5:20
1 x 100 on 2:00, 1 x 500 on 6:40

2 x 150 on 2:00
2 x 100 kick on 2:00
200 warmdown
=4,900 yards

Friday, June 6, 2008

Swimming in the Dark at San Clemente

This morning I got up to do the 5:45am practice at Soka University with Coach Ahelee. She gave a good 2500m set of drills and sprints with fins. She will be staying with Novaquatics and Dave and I couldn't be happier.

The real story of the day is the story of the night. At 9pm, Dave, Ahelee, Carolyn, Brian, Scott and I met up at the San Clemente Pier, put on glow sticks and red flashing divers lights and did a 2 mile swim up the coast in the dark. Since the Catalina swim will be done 75% in the dark (we'll start at 11:30pm and should end at 9-10am), we wanted to get used to swimming in those conditions. I'll confess, I was a little nervous all day. Though I figured it would be fine, I still wondered how the marine life would respond to our lights. I had heard that lights attract fish. Adding to the concern was the fact that in the past several days there had been some agressive great white behavior 2-3 miles to the north at Doheny and 20 miles to the south in Oceanside and Carlsbad. (See reports here.)

A small sliver moon was out, the sky was clear, nice shoulder high waves were hitting the beach, and the wind was almost non-existant as we entered the surf. The water was a nice mid-sixties. The heavier waves forced us to start stroking soon after we went in since we had to duck under the large ones. As we started to swim north, something hit me in the back. I though Scott or Brian had thrown something at me, so I looked up. They seemed to be paddling along, so I kept swimming. Next I hit some kelp. I had no warning since it was dark, but I knew kelp was harmless and determined not to panic. Next I noticed how my arms were creating blue glowing bubble clouds- apparently the red tide was going to produce some nice bioluminenance light shows as we stroked and kicked in the dark. It was quite surreal. Then a fish hit my arm.

It was a small bait need to panic.

More strokes, then a small fish hit me in the cap. Again, I determined not to think about why bait fish break the surface. For the next mile, I got hit in the chest, arms, hands, head, shoulders and face by the flying fish. A few times the fish jumped out of the water, landed on my back and flopped their way down my back and legs before re-entering the sea. Dave was having a similar experience and the Scott and Brian were watching hundreds of these small fish jump out of the water all around us and dive back into the ocean leaving blue luminescent trails in the water.

After the 8 or 9th time getting hit by the fish, I settled into nice long strokes and had a wonderful 2 mile swim. While we all kept feelling the fish hit us, we watched the strange glow of our bubbles and kept an eye on the headlamps and glow sticks worn by our paddlers, Scott and Brian. We also kept close proximity to the flashing red diver lights mounted on the goggle straps of the other swimmers. It was a wonderful swim. As we returned to the pier, we followed the bright strobe light Carolyn was holding for us on the shore. I caught a wave that propelled me at great speed the last 100 yards. Nice body surf ride to end a great swim.

Fun, Surreal, Wild experience. Looking forward to Catalina!

Thanks Ellie for giving me the evening off to do this after being gone for a week. Thanks Dave, Ahelee, Brian and Scott! That is an experience you don't have on your own!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Swimming in the Rain

I tried to get some extra shut-eye on Wednesday morning, so this morning after a very unappreciated 5am alarm and very wet trip from my hotel to Highlands Ranch in heavy rain, I started my workout at 5:45 inside. Coach Susan Williams moved us outdoors when the lightning/thunder was not deemed a threat and the rain had lightened up.

I felt a little short of breath and I had some fatigue in my back and arm muscles after only a few hundred yards. It has me concerned. I expected at this point in my training AND after a day of rest that it would take 5-6,000 yards to get me feeling fatigued at normal pacing. Maybe it is the altitude or perhaps a lack of sleep. Whatever the reason, I'm going to work on hitting the sack early enough to get 7 hours of sleep every night versus the 5 I'm acustomed to.

The workout:
1 x 200 warmup

1 x 300 pull
1 x 100 kick

Pyramid consisting of: 25,50,75,100,125 and back down 125,100...
Going up, first 25 yards of each distance drill
Coming down, first 25 yards of each distance FAST

10 x 200 (3 on 2:40, 2 on 2:30, 3 on 2:40 pull, 2 on 2:30 fins)
1 x 100 easy

Repeat twice:
100 kick
8 x 25 on :30 (3 Fast, 1 Easy, 3 fast, 1 Easy)

1 x 200 warmdown
= 4,250 yards

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Tuesday Morning Mile High Workout

After flying back to Colorado on Monday, I was ready another good pool workout Tuesday morning. Kylie, a local pro triathlete, gave the set this morning.

1 x 200 swim
1 x 150 with pull buoy only
1 x 100 kick

8 x 100 (1-4 descending on 1:30, 4-8 90% on 1:25)
10 x 50 (1-4 first 12.5 FAST, 5-7 first 25 FAST, 8-9 first 37.5 FAST, 10 FAST) on :50

Repeat 2 times:
2 x 150 (first 50 FAST, 100 pace) on 2:20
2 x 100 (first 25 FAST, 100 pace) on 2:00
2 x 100 (1500m pace) on 1:20

1 x 100 kick
6 x 75 pull on 1:00
1 x 200 warmdown

=4,000 yards

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Saturday's Swim Up the Coast

On Saturday morning I met up with Dave and the dedicated paddle crew of Brian, Scott and Doctor Jack for a swim up the Pacific Coast. We started the swim at Corona Del Mar, swam north for 2 hours past the Newport Harbor breakwater, Balboa pier, Newport Pier, and then the next 2 breakwaters and put into shore after 4.5 miles. The water temperatures were in the low 60s, a few degrees colder than our southbound swim a few weeks ago.

Click to view the video of our swim past Balboa Pier

I felt pretty good until the Newport Pier, then my stroke started breaking down. It was tough keeping it together for the next 1/2 mile. Though the water temps weren't an issue and I felt like I had several hours in me still, I know my pace was dropping off significantly. These last 2 long swims have made glaringly clear my training needs for the next couple of months: weight training and stoke improvement.

Afterwards we made plans for training for the next 2 and half months. We are looking forward to spending a bit of time in the Pacific this summer.

Thanks to Brian "D-Fro" DeFrancesco for taking the picts!

Friday, May 30, 2008

Back in Southern Cal

After arriving in LAX a little after 11pm on Thursday evening, I did the obligatory wait for the luggage, wait for the shuttle, queue to pay for parking, and drive down the 405 to Orange County. I crawled in bed at 1am.

When the alarm went off at 5am, I wasn't readyto get up, but I wanted to head to Wollett Aquatic Center in Irvine for the 5:45am Nova practice. I crawled out of bed and got there in 15 minutes. Chris called the set on a 50m layout:
1 x 600m warmup
10 x 50m (odds sprint, even easy)
Repeat 3 times:
3 x 50m kick w/fins (sprint/easy, easy/sprint, sprint)
1 x 50m easy kick
5 x 50m sprint w/fins
1 x 50m easy
5 x 100m negative split 50s
6 x 50m sprint from blocks
1 x 200m warmdown

Get some naps today- tomorrow is a 9.5 miler in the Pacific.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Wednesday Ride and Thursday Swim

I tried out the new mountain bike after work last night with a nice ride up Waterton Canyon. It was fairly flat 6.5 miles each way. Then I explored a few miles of the Platte River down to Chatfield reservoir. All told, probably 20 miles of riding. It was incredible being in the mountains, smelling the cottonwoods, pines, and river in near perfect weather. I encountered a deer near the trailhead after the ride.

This morning I did the 6-7:15 workout at Highlands Ranch- only it is now 5:45 to 7:00 due to the kids workouts. Still I got in a good workout:
1 x 200 warmup
1 x 500 pull on 7:00
5 x 100 Race Pace on 1:40
1 x 400 pull on ?
4 x 100 Race Pace on 1:35
1 x 300 pull on ?
3 x 100 Race Pace on 1:30
1 x 200 pull on ?
2 x 100 Race Pace on 1:25
100 easy
100 Fast
200 warmdown
=3,400 yards

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Rest and Recovery Long Weekend

Well, it wasn't intentional, but probably good none-the-less: After the 7 mile swim one day and then a couple of miles with paddles a few days later- my body probably needed a few building days before tackling another big swim. A late Wednesday night kept me from a Thursday morning workout, Friday's workout at Soka University in California was cancelled due to the Speedo Grand Master Challenge. An overnight get away with my wife to La Jolla on Friday night meant lots of food and lots of sleep, and no Saturday intensive workout with Nova. I like to avoid working out on Sunday. Cold weather and a little rain conspired against a planned 4 mile swim at Laguna Main Beach on Memorial Day.

When I arrived back in Colorado on Tuesday morning, it had been 6 days since my last workout and I needed to get my swimming fix. On Tuesday evening after work, I left my client's and headed to Grant Ranch. Though the water in Bowles Reservoir was cool (mid sixties) and the sky was overcast, I was able to swim 2 short laps and 1 full lap around the lake in under an hour for 2600-2700 meters.

This morning (Wednesday), I did the 5:30am Highlands Ranch Masters workout in Northridge Recreation Center's outdoor pool for the first time. Summer is here! That consisted of:
150 warm-up

Repeat 4 times:
4 x 25 (2 drill, 2 kick) on :40
1 x 100 (changing each repeat: IM, free, stroke, free) on 1:30

1 x 400 pull (even 100s stroke)
8 x 150 (free, choice, free by 50s) 4 on 2:00, 4 on 2:15
12 x 25 (mid pool starts) on :45
12 x 100 (4 free, 4 pull, 4 fins) on 1:20
150 warm-down
= 4,200 yards

The age groupers are now swimming mornings too and kicked me out at 7am sharp.

I bought a mountain bike last night after the reservoir swim and hope to get in a good ride tonight on Denver's famous trails.