Friday, January 27, 2012

One Moment in Time

Behold, the Magic of College Park!

On Wednesday I was given the opportunity to attend the biggest sporting event of the year in College Park: Maryland vs Duke.  This is always a big game, and although the Terps have not been as successful over the past few years, you just never know what's going to happen.  This year was an even bigger occasion, as they dedicated the court to Gary Williams prior to the game.  When my old tri buddy Larry "The Slug" Rutledge offered me this seat a few months ago, I was so psyched and could obviously not pass it up.  It was so loud in the Comcast Center that you couldn't even hear the tribute video, but it didn't matter, because the place got quiet QUICK when Gary took the mic.  Known for rarely cracking a smile, it was a rare chance to see GW legitimately choked up as he addressed the crowd and gave on final fist pump.  Gary was the maestro behind the Terps' rebirth in the 80s, following the death of Len Bias and the subsequent NCAA sanctions, and led them to Sweet 16s, a Final Four, and, a year later, an NCAA Championship.  I had the rarest of rare opportunities that year, to actually be in attendance at the Georgia Dome as my college won its first National Championship.  There are few moments in my entire life that can even come close to that night 10 years ago. 

The game itself was up and down.  The Terps built a little lead, but went into the half down by a basket.  In the 2nd half, they kept it close for a while, but lost the momentum, and couldn't close.  Duke is, unfortunately, just a much better team.  At least the Terps put up a fight.

It's always a trip down memory lane when I'm in CP, and on this particular Wednesday, I also had the chance to swim in the pool that I learned to swim in all those years ago.  Larry got me into the gym and we headed down to the pool, and, unlike the Merritt, it is:

1) an enormous pool
2) super deep
3) very well lit
4) not chock full o'chemicals

The 50m pool was cut up into a 25y section, which I swam in, while the deeper end/diving well was being utilized by the soon-to-be-cut water polo team and diving team.  There are 10 lanes when they do it this way, and 5 were being used for a Masters' team, but 5 were open to circle swim.  When I arrived, I had to share a lane, but pretty soon I was the only one in the pool.

I'm always talking about how somehow I used to be able to swim much faster than I do now, and that I don't believe it because I still race about the same speed.  And yes, obviously meters are longer than yards, but even with a typical conversion, I still come nowhere close to what I used to do in CP. 

I had already swam Wednesday morning, but wasn't going to pass up the chance to swim in the big pool, so I gleefully hopped in and started swimming.  It felt so good, such a massive volume of water, I love it.  The way the water spills into a little causeway, it's just so fast!  And with a nice, visible digital clock, I could easily see my splits.  The difference a pool makes.  The one thing I did notice was that it was a warmer temp than they used to keep it.  It was comfortable, but I was looking forward to the colder water.

I did a 500 warmup, then 3x100 and then 4x50, before going into a main set of 3x(200-100-50) on 3:00, 1:30 and then 50y easy in between sets.  First one: 2:50, 1:23, :38.  Comfortable.  Even with a conversion of 8-9sec/100, that still was faster than I would normally swim in the meter pool.  Second set: 2:45, 1:19, :37.  Nice!  Last set: 2:39, 1:17, :36.  It was awesome to have a reminder of previous swimming "glory."  I've never been a particularly good, or a fast, swimmer, but I remember being able to do 200s in the 2:40s, and 100s in the 1:12 range and able to do them on 1:20.  My swim workouts were all set up by Tri Guy Tommy back then, and they were so different than what I do now.  3x a week, 4000-5500y, with a 500 w/u, 5x100 drill-swim, then up to 800 of kicking (with fins).  Main sets would be in the 2000-2500 range. 

I decided to see what I could do for a couple of hundreds, so I went hard for one (1:15) and waited til 2:00 to go again.  Another 1:14/15.  Then 2x50 on :60 (:35, :34).  Not too bad.  I think part of it was, when my knee was better, I could really do a strong dolphin kick and I'd take a minimal amount of strokes per length, and I was doing a lot more "speed" in the pool.

What's most sad perhaps is the fact that, as of July 1, the pool will have no swim/dive team or water polo team inhabiting it, when the school cuts 8 sports teams (including those, and men's xc/track)

I was really pleased with the workout, and just excited to get to be in College Park for the night.  I decided to not swim on Thursday, instead opting for my first attempt at riding in almost 2 months.  Just an easy 45 minutes on the trainer.  Predictably, I hated it.  This morning it was back to the pool and I felt terrible.  Such is life.

The other initiative is getting back in the weight room.  When weight training was part of my regular routine, I was almost never hurt, I felt stronger, and had more energy.  With typical IM training predicating high volume, it's hard to find the energy or desire to be in the gym.  But, when you look at the improvement Craig Alexander made this year, and see that he was putting in the gym time, it's hard to deny the correlation.  Of course I'm not talking about meathead-style training, but strength and balance.  My body is so broken down, it's the least I can do.  3 days in the gym this week, focusing on building smart, core, stretching, foam rolling - the little things I generally avoid.  Seems to be working.

Heading up to NJ shortly as this week is college hoops week for me.  Seton Hall vs Louisville tomorrow night at The Rock in Newark.

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