Saturday, May 24, 2008

Swimming Better than in Kona

Fishing is popular at the Golden Lion Lake. I changed the "cover" photo today, because the sky was exceptionally clear - almost like Hawai'i and at least as hot.

I came to the realization that my swimming, overall, is now better than it ever was in Kona, except perhaps for a few short sprints in Kona where I could get really pumped up and give it everything. My best swimming in Kona was the year 2006 or earlier. My last year or so there, I was busy with work, I stopped going to Masters, and I did it more for relaxation than in order to improve. So my last two swims at Hapuna in the summer of 2007 (Honu and Peaman's Hapuna) were disappointing. I also could no longer keep up with my friends at the pier. I felt tired and as if I had lost it.
The dragon fruit (pictured) is delicious and is a good source of vitamin C. It also helps people with higher levels of uric acid, which causes gout, something that tends to stiffen the joints.

Based on my mathematical calculations at the beginning of this month, I estimated that if I could swim 400m in a pool in 6m 45s, I would be roughly equivalent to the level of whatever I had done in Kona during my prime time there, given that I had to convert yards to meters and slightly adjust distances. After returning to Taiwan in early July last year, I did not swim at all until early February when I had one morning ocean swim, which was rough and ended in tragedy for one of the participants. Then after we had moved from Taipei to Kaohsiung and no longer had to worry about fixing the (old) house and packing and moving 20 years of belongings, I came across the indoor pool in which I currently train and started going there in early March. The first day I swam about a thousand meters and then got dizzy and was sick in the changing rooms.

Today, being Saturday, I arrived at the pool at 9:00 am, and after a 100m warm-up, availed myself of the opportunity to swim a moderate or fast 400m given that the pool was almost empty. I went 6m 40s, without any flip turns and with looking at the wall clock every 50 meters, and maybe I was not really warmed up at that stage. I also did not taper, as I swam each of the four previous days. I then continued to swim at a more comfortable pace, and reached 5,000m after 1hr 41m in the pool. I then switched to hand paddles (500m using TYR Mentor "M" size, which appears to be almost smaller than my hand now, followed by 250m using TYR Catalyst "XL", which is a bit too big for me, so I am pretty slow with them). Then a few little swims with just my hands so that I finished on 6,300 meters.

I know on one occasion in Kona I swam about 4,350 yards in the pool, and that seemed like I was really into swimming big time. This week I swam 26,450 meters over 5 consecutive days and I felt strong throughout the whole of each swim. My last 500m each day was little different from when I started out. On May 1 this year, I wrote on this blog that my goal was to get my 400m time down from 7 minutes (my time at that point) to 6 minutes within one year. Now I have gotten one-third of the way there. Actually, I am probably somewhat less than one-third as the improvements timewise are not linear, meaning that it gets harder to improve the faster one gets. This is just the law of physics. However, what I do know is that I am getting stronger, and the improvements are coming, a little here and a little there. Rachel recently shared about kaizen, to quote her: "[the] Japanese philosophy of continuous improvement based on progress made in slow and steady gains in every arena of life." I like the way this encompasses more than just how fast one can flip turn or how much one can glide. Much more than even the swimming itself is implied: a better bed and better rest, better and more consistent food, better work for money, better family life, etc. - it all works together to help us be successful in our swimming, and sports and life in general.

A little before I started writing today's blog, I was showing my wife my blog and also one or two others, including Bree's. She remarked on all the pictures of Bree out training, and commented that on my site one hardly sees any pictures of me. I wanted to try to explain that I am not as beautiful and photogenic as Bree, but I do realize that I am getting stronger and stronger and while I will never look like a 28-year-old anymore, I may get to the point with all this swimming where I am actually willing to post a picture of myself on the blog.

I think that besides the persistent (swimming) training these last couple of months, I have gradually come to enjoy living in Kaohsiung. For me life is pretty laid back and I dress and do things just as I did in Hawai'i. It also seems that most things in life here are less expensive, which means I could afford to visit Kona occasionally for racing and hanging out. So there is a lot to be thankful for, and I am glad that I am better because of all the encouragement and helpful advice I have received from fellow bloggers/triathletes.

Padded cycling short by TYR. Cost just under $20 in Taiwan. Not sure how good it is for swimming (if diving is involved), as it does not have a waist cord (!) but it should be good for those long rides. I bought it at a store that is part of the company that makes stuff in Taiwan for TYR. Even the TYR hand paddles I bought in the US were made in Taiwan. Seems like everything is made either here or in China these days.

1 comment:

Randy said...

Bruce, thanks for your good wishes for Karen. She is doing much better today. She came to the pool with me today and read while I swam. So she was happy. Reading is her favorite past time followed by swimming. And since she is not allowed to swim right now, it was the next best thing.

One of these days I'm hoping to get up to the sort of distances you swim. Right now 2500 to 3000 yards is a long way for me. Keep up the good work. You are my swimming inspiration.