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.