Post-race blues and Where do we go from here?

Racing is fun, but it can exact a toll – physically but also psychologically.

The combination of long distance and high intensity in open water races can deplete one’s glycogen stores dramatically, and the result can be temporary lethargy in the water. In my experience this summer, while I wasn’t noticeably affected by races up to 5K, the four 10K’s I did (not including the current-assisted Little Red Lighthouse “10K”) all messed me up for a while. It was typically about a week before I felt back at full strength in practice.

While the body needs time to recover from a long, intense race, I also found that the mind may need time, too. It’s not often discussed, but for me the “post-race blues” are very real. The longer the race, the longer it takes. The more important the race, the longer it takes. The symptoms: Basically, a lack of desire to swim. And if I do drag myself to the pool – a lack of joy in swimming, and a lack of motivation to work hard.

In any case, it’s not surprising that in the aftermath of last weekend’s event, I discovered new depths of exhaustion, both physically and psychologically. 9 days later, I’m still not there.

—–

It’s OK, though – it was the last race of the year. Fall is traditionally a time of resetting and renewal in the swimming world. The summer championships are over, and most teams have taken at least 2 weeks off. Lots of drilling, lots of long, slow stuff.

And the same will be true for me – though the “new year” is beginning in late October rather than the typical mid-September. I’m looking forward to dusting off my strokes, and perhaps making another run at 4:30 in my 400 IM. I’m looking forward to focusing on speed again, and finding my way back to a sub-5:00 500 Free. (When you start doing 10K’s with any frequency, you come to see the 500 as a sprint.)

My most important focus for the next couple of months, though? Technique. It’s been 16 months since I began training consistently again, and as I ramped up my racing distance the top priority was fitness. At this point, I’m comfortable with my fitness. And though there will be some further fitness ramping a few months down the line, the highest-leverage area for improvement for me right now is technique.

—–

But then what? I can’t say I haven’t given some thought to Open Water Tour 2011. In fact I’ve given it quite a lot of thought. The only solid conclusion from these thoughts? That there won’t be one – at least not anything like the 2010 version.

I will probably swim the 2.4-mile race in Madison in August, because it’s an easy drive. That will likely be the only USMS national championship race I’ll attend. And I’ll be at Big Shoulders in September, of course.

The only 2011 race I’m currently registered & paid for is the 10-mile Kingdom Swim in northern Vermont on July 9. There will be some other ultra-distance type stuff that I’ll eventually add to the calendar. I’ll announce it when I do.

—–

Programming note: I’m discontinuing my regular “Week in Review” feature. I may occasionally post sets, but I’ll no longer report my weekly yardage. There’s less accountability this way, but hey, if I can’t hold myself accountable internally, I probably shouldn’t be a marathon swimmer.

2010 Open-Water Season in Review

Despite my best efforts, the 2010 open-water season is now over! Like Rob, my original plan was relatively modest compared to the end result (though it seemed ambitious at the time). At first, I aimed to run the gauntlet of USMS open-water national championship series – North Carolina, California, Colorado, Virginia, and Indiana – and finish off the season at Big Shoulders in Chicago.

As the year wore on, I found excuses – one by one – to add more events. For the Nike Swim Miami, it was an excuse to visit an old college roommate. For the Cascade Lakes Festival, I got to meet up with my parents and visit my grandmother. For Madison, the drive from Chicago was too short to pass up. Ditto for Diamond Lake. For Little Red Lighthouse, it was a chance to try an NYC Swim race before applying to MIMS. For Swim the Suck, it was a chance to try a true marathon swim and extend my season into October.

And now here we are, 17 races (in 12 states) and 57.4 racing miles (92.4K) later. True to the blog’s title, all races took place in freshwater lakes, with three exceptions:

  • Nike Swim Miami (Atlantic Ocean)
  • Little Red Lighthouse Swim (Hudson River)
  • Swim the Suck (Tennessee River)

How to even begin to sum up this experience? With a list, of course!

Continue reading “2010 Open-Water Season in Review”

Race Report: Little Red Lighthouse Swim (New York, NY)

RESULTS here.
Preview post here.
Daily News of OWS article here.

The phrase “little red lighthouse” may evoke something quaint and isolated – possibly in Maine – but make no mistake: This is a big, urban swim. After a summer of so many rural lake swims, I was looking for an excuse to try one of NYC Swim‘s well regarded events. Most were either too short to justify traveling to New York or, as in the case of MIMS and Ederle, longer than I was ready to do this year.

Continue reading “Race Report: Little Red Lighthouse Swim (New York, NY)”

Kayak Escort Practice Swim!

This morning, while 45,000 runners sweated through an unseasonably warm October morning in the Chicago Marathon, I went for a nice long swim in Lake Michigan.

I was joined in this outing by my new friend Thomas – ultra-distance cyclist, fellow Point swimmer and, it turns out, owner of a sea kayak! After a recent Point outing Thomas had suggested that if I ever wanted to explore regions of the lake outside the swim buoys, he’d be glad to provide an escort. With the last blast of summer weather, the stars were aligned – I took him up on the offer.

Continue reading “Kayak Escort Practice Swim!”