Monday, July 25, 2011


I swam at our Zones meet in the Woodlands this weekend; I was joined by my daughter, Jennifer, who returned to competition after a two year lay off and swam a technically perfect 50 meter breast on little if any training, just missing a medal by .19 seconds.  I was fully tapered for this meet, my first long course competition since 2008.  The 400 free was the first event on Saturday, and while I did not break 5:00 as I had hoped, I still swam a personal best of 5:04.52, over two seconds faster than my previous best wearing a full body FSII.  Later, I swam the 100 free in a virtual race against my good friend and coach Tom Kristek, who had sandbagged his entry time and was seeded in a different heat.  We had wagered a latte for the loser, so my eventual victory (1:05.81 to 1:06.72) was bittersweet. 

On Sunday I decided to scratch the 200 and focus on the 800.  I warmed up at 8:00 (500 free followed by 6 x 50 pace) and again at 11:00 (300 free followed by a few 50s pace).  I was expecting to race at noon, but the organizers decided to seed the heats with both men and women, slowest to fastest, which pushed the start time back to 1:30.  I had had my usual grande latte, a yogurt and berries parfait, and two Aleve at 7:00, followed by a Cliff Bar and an EFS liquid shot washed down with Gatorade mid-morning.  At this point I was wishing I had eaten a full breakfast.  I had another Cliff Bar around noon and swam an easy 200 in the diving well about fifteen minutes before my race.  My pre-race nutrition was really worrying me, but I was committed so I tried to push it out of my mind.  I had consumed enough calories, but I hadn't eaten much real food, and I was feeling hungry. 

I swam in the final heat of the final event in lane 2.  Beside me in lane 3 was Larry Wood, who at 57 is currently in the next age group; he is consistently ranked in the top ten nationally and holds multiple Zone records.  Surprisingly, swimming in a different heat I had posted a faster time than Larry in the 400 on Saturday, a first for me.  Consequently, I was expecting the 800 to be a good race, and it was.  We were even throughout the first 700 meters, and I have never felt better in a race.  My goal was to break 10:40 (in 2004 at age 46 I swam an 11:14.79 at long course Nationals); Jennifer counted for me, and we had agreed that she would signal with the lap counter if I was off pace, either too slow (up and down)  or too fast (side to side).  The counter never moved.  I picked up the pace at the 500 mark, and Larry followed.  With 100 meters left, as expected, he put the hammer down and split a :35.33 for the last 50.  He finished in 10:27.11, and I finished a few seconds back in 10:31.51, having negative split the race 5:18.23/5:13.28.

Afterwards, he reached over the lane rope, shook my hand and said, "That was perfect."  And he was right.

00:36.90   :36.90
01:17.28   :40.38
01:57.87   :40.59
02:38.18   :40.31
03:18.43   :40.25
03:58.43   :40.00
04:38.24   :39.81
05:18.23   :39.99
05:58.13   :39.90
06:38.04   :39.91
07:17.45   :39.41
07:56.65   :39.20
08:35.76   :39.11
09:14.57   :38.81
09:53.40   :38.83
10:31.51   :38.11