Sunday, February 19, 2012

100 x 100s

After being able to check off "ride Mt. Diablo" from my bucket list, I've been on a roll.  Although, if I had written "ride Mt. Diablo without blowing up and losing it mentally," it would still be unchecked.  Luckily, the amazing riders who accompanied me (read: rode at a snail's pace to keep me company and then towed me back to the main group after I continually got dropped) were so gracious, it was definitely a humbling ride.  There were tears shed on that ride solely out of frustration with my lack of bike fitness. Which, when climbing up a hill, does not help with the breathing.  I was literally gasping for air as my legs were screaming and I was cursing.  Not pretty.  The moral of this ride was that I needed to not only tweak my bike fitness, but strengthen my mental toughness.
The amazing riders who brought new meaning to a "no-drop" ride
After a minor foot operation earlier this week which halted the bike/run routine for awhile, I decided to test out my mental toughness in the pool.  Another huge item on the bucket list was swimming 100x100 yds. In triathlon lingo, this 10K swim is also referred to as the "birthday set," meaning that most crazy triathletes would prefer to ring in another year of their life by swimming 10K.  I would have welcomed that idea, but this past birthday I was on a Florida-bound plane and had never even heard of the 100x100 birthday set before.  Oh well, there's always next year!

Maybe I'll try this next time in open water? Not so many flip turns...

I had asked a few fellow swimmers if they would be interested in joining me for this epic swim, but (gasp!) they were hesitant.  No worries.  Ironman is a party of one anyways, so I thought I might as well start exercising those mental muscles of toughness and perseverance.  

The longest distance I have ever done in the pool prior to this was 7,000 yds in college.  Normally, my swim workouts are around 3-4K, so this set was triple my normal yardage.  I had read various blogs about how to swim this- most suggested slower paced sets, mixing it up with pull buoys and paddles, and having extra calories/electrolyte replacements on board to keep you fueled throughout.  

Here was the set I came up with:
10 x 100 warm-up (75 free - 25 back)
20 x 100 swim on 1:35
10 x 100 pull with :10s rest
20 x 100 swim on 1:35
10 x 100 kick with :10s rest
20 x 100 pull with :10s rest
10 x 100 (25 fast, 75 easy) on 1:35

Surprisingly, I had amazing focus throughout this entire set.  A total miracle.  Focusing on my intervals and the specific set I was swimming helped tremendously.  Just like Ironman, you break up the race into different components and focus on the task at hand, instead of thinking about the entire 140.6 miles.  When I started getting tired, I would replay what an old coach told me, "When your form suffers, your pace suffers..." and would immediately make adjustments to keep my elbows high and my stroke steady.

When I was 9,000 yds through, I saw a buddy of mine on the pool deck, and he cheered me on for my last 1,000 yds like an old swim coach.  I finished with a huge smile on my face.  Not only was another item checked off the bucket list, but I felt like there was a big deposit in my "mental toughness" account.  I definitely can always improve on this, but getting a 10K swim under my belt (or rather under my sore lats!) is a step in the right direction.  And for those of you who were wondering?  It took 3 hours.  So if your birthday is coming up and you like to swim, well, you know who to call.


  1. Great writeup! Wow...10K of THAT is an amazing accomplishment.

    Congrats on checking off another bucket list item! We hope your foot recovers soon.


  2. I agree with Marv.n.Jo. Great write up!!! My birthday just passed but would like to swim as well as you do. Free lessons, right??

  3. Thanks, guys! And Arman, I'd be happy to swim your "birthday set" with you. I think 10,000 yds of swimming will give you plenty of time to perfect your stroke. :)