Friday, June 29, 2007

Taking the Plunge

Fish swimming

This week I made a key decision about my next training cycle: I will focus on swimming and do nothing more with my running and biking other than to keep maintaining my endurance base for the occasional marathon/century fun run/rides.

Swimming is clearly my performance limiter. My Florida 70.3 race results showed that I can bike and run fairly well just doing simple endurance training, no speed work or hard brick workouts. My swimming, OTOH, leaves much to be desired. If I want to really improve as a triathlete, I've got to tackle my weakness and now's the time to take the plunge, now that I no longer hate swimming (as of April when someone introduced me to drills and toys that make swimming more fun :-) and now that I've found Karlyn Pipes-Neilson, an exceptional swimmer and instructor, to help me in Kona.

So, for the next 4 months, I will be doing 4-5 swim workouts per week and limiting myself to only 2-3 biking workouts and 2-3 running workouts per week most of the time (any more biking/running would take away from my focus on swimming, I think). Though I could probably meet my goal to finish the Miami Man Tri (1.2 mi swim, 56 mi bike, 13.1 mi run) in under 6 hours by knocking off 8-10 minutes from my bike and run segments, that would be almost too easy (just work on my strengths!) and unsatisfying in the end. Knocking off 8-10 minutes from my swim time, however, would be something I'd be proud of.

Here's my plan:

1. Early July (Orlando) - Work on technique. While keeping some fundamentals about good balance I learned from Total Immersion swimming, try using Karlyn's much wider swim stroke for more power and straighter swimming (just got her DVD).

2. Late July (Kona) - Take private lesson from Karlyn. Afterwards, continue practicing at the Kona Aquatic Center and in Kailua Bay (open water swimming). Try to find a masters group or other swim group to join.

3. August (Orlando) - Continue working on technique. Build endurance to be able to swim 2500-3000 yards at least 3 times per week.

4. Early Sept (Kona) - Attend Karlyn's 4-day swim camp. Afterwards, continue practicing at the Kona Aquatic Center and in Kailua Bay (open water swimming) on my own or with others from the camp. Start working on trying to swim at a goal pace of 2:30-2:45/100m, which translates into a 50-55 min swim time for 1.2 miles.

5. Late Sept (Orlando) - Practice drafting with Dave or someone else swimming in the same lane. Keep trying to find a masters group or other swim group near me to join (no luck as of yet).

6. October (Orlando/Omaha) - Do the Health First Tri on 10/7. Look for open water or pool swimming opportunities while in Omaha week of 10/15. Practice swimming with my wetsuit (Miami Man is usually a wetsuit legal race).

7. November 11th, Miami Man - Finish the race in less than 6 hours.

Wish me luck!


MarathonChris said...

Sounds like a great plan...I know you will do well!!

Brent Buckner said...

Luck wished!

Good call on working swim technique... certainly that was your Ironman limiter. Iron Pol got a lot out of upping his number of swim workouts. And you can do a lot of swim technique work without compromising your bike and run endurance workouts.

Cory said...

Sounds like a good plan. I am confident you will achieve your goal.

Wendy said...

Brilliant plan, Shirley! Swimming is a game of technique, the better the technique the less energy you expend while going faster. And the more energy you save, the more you have for finishing stronger. It's a win-win.

Maddy said...

Awesome! I love that you plan and work to improve!

You're such an inspiration!

Miami Man in under 6? No problem!

ShirleyPerly said...

Thanks everyone for the positive comments. Before, I was actually content to swim slow while I worked out another performance limiter (nutrition) that was keeping me from biking/running strong. Now that I've pretty much figured it out, it's time to get faster swimming. And being in a pool on during these hot summer days feels great!

Susan said...

WOW! Impressive! I think you need me to be your assistant and follow you around Florida and Hawaii...

Best of luck!

Anonymous said...

Sorry, Susan. The position has been taken. It required the ability to lift 50lbs and elite frequent flyer status.

Petraruns said...

I'm with Susan - with all the work you're putting in I think you might need 2 assistants. What a plan - it sounds great and like you're looking forward to it as well. Can't wait to see how it all goes, keep us posted!

Rural Girl said...

It's all in the plan, baby! Good luck and happy swimming. I need to check out the Total Immersion stuff.

Cliff Tam said...


I got a feeling u can go below 2:40/ 100m.

My experience with swimming. In 2005 Nov, I learn how to swim freestyle again. Back then, i can only swim 2 laps before huffing and puffing. For the next 7-8 months, i swim consistently 3-4 times a week.

Always working on drills and working with a coach. By the end of the season, I swim a 38 min in a HIM. That's 1:57/100 m.

Looking back, I didn't realize i was swimming smoother. It took a lot of time until i perfected or more conscious of my swimming style and what i should and shoulnd't be doing. Once i 'feel' my way in the water, it is easy.

IrishBlue said...

I've never tried a tri, but I'm sure swimming would be my weak area too. Sounds like you have put together a great plan though.

Good luck with your training and leave some time to enjoy Hawaii. (Kona coffee, chocolate covered macadamia nuts, the kind people...wish I could join you.)