Today’s my birthday and it also happens to be Jill King’s birthday so we had a donut extravaganza after practice today. I brought in two dozen donuts and Jeff brought in another three dozen and I forced all the age-groupers to dig in so that I could avoid the temptation of leftovers.
I enjoyed a wonderful Boston Kreme donut, the best out there, and that’s all I needed.
It’s creeping closer to the day of the meet…or the days of the meet, really and I am feeling the pressure of it more and more.
Today’s workout was all about breath control and I get a sense that Jeff has geared the workouts a bit toward the weekend. There’s no tapering going on, and no shaving or anything like that — ‘it’s the October Open,’ as Jeff would say, ‘we don’t do that yet.’ But the workouts aren’t the ones that have had me staggering away from the pool. Instead, they’ve allowed me a chance to focus on technique and on things that will help me in the race.
When it comes to the weekend I feel most nervous about my 100. I’ve had a tendency to fly and die for the most part when I have done the 100 for time and I’ve also struggled to find the right mix of pacing and going until I can’t go anymore.
I spoke after practice with Jeff for a while about the meet in general, and I had discussed that race with him yesterday as well as with Pat Sullivan. This morning it was Zack Wise, another Curl swimmer who, at 21, is slightly older than the rest of the group (like myself), and an awesome guy. Zack is in the no-time heat for the 100 and likely will be beating me by a good 18 seconds and when I voiced my concern over the 100 freestyle. He talked me down.
“Stop thinking about racing, man,” he said. “For real. For the next few days stop thinking about it. Worry about it on race day otherwise you’ll psych yourself out of swimming it the right way.”
So that’s what I’ll try to do. But it isn’t easy. The past two nights I’ve gone over the race in my head time and time again. Thinking about breathing and starts and turns and finishes. Trying to imagine how bad it’ll hurt in the last 25 and what I’m going to say to myself to push through the pain — because frankly that’s what a 100 is about. Hurt. I’ mean, you’re basically sprinting 100 yards, if it doesn’t hurt you’re doing something wrong.
We worked on starts at the end of practice today and they felt better than they have in a while. I feel fairly confident about my starts right now, I’m getting better at keeping all the parts of it together and maintaining decent power right away.
To me the biggest part of the 100 race is going to be my breath control and my own ability to fight through the pain. So as we worked through some of the workouts — a lot of which focused on keeping the stroke long and perfect — I tried to focus on pushing all the way through, especially after Jeff caught me coming in less than perfect and called me out for being in a rhythm that would allow me to go through the workout forever but was really not productive in making me better.
I don’t like to be called out for not doing the right thing. It’s embarrassing. The whole point of working out is to feel the burn and get tired and push through. That’s when your muscles are building and the work actually makes a difference. I need to be better at that in the pool.
It’s tougher and tougher to blog about these workouts right now because my mind continues to look forward to the meet this weekend. I’ve looked over the meet sheets, I’ve figured out my schedule for when I’ll show up, etc., and there’s not much else on my mind.
Tomorrow will be practice as usual, but I’m not sure what’s in store for Friday, except that the nerves will continue to increase.
For now I’m gonna get a little more work done out here at Redskins Park and then head over to RFK for the birthday celebration at USA-Costa Rica.
Washington Post reporter Paul Tenorio will train with a swim club over the next few months and chronicle his journey as he attempts to transform from regular guy/sports reporter to competitive swimmer — everything from his waistline to his best times.