I decided to repost my meet report on the Racing Forum to make it easier to find for those who do not happen to be following my Autumn 2015 Training Lab thread
Sunday 13 December Masters Meet at Ithaca College
This was my first time racing in a pool in three years.
I went into this meet with fairly low expectations as to how fast I'd swim (I expected most of my events to be 'lifetime slowest') but very high expectations in every other regard. Some might see a conflict there.
I anticipated that regardless of the times I swam, the meet would be thoroughly enjoyable and very valuable.
My specific goals were to:
1) Learn exactly where I stand now, compared to past years. Nothing reveals this quite as fully as racing head-to-head with fellow swimmers.
2) Give a good effort (if not maximum, very close to it) in all five events and still be swimming well in my final event.
3) Come away from the meet with 'data' on my current capabilities that I can use to (a) set improvement goals for the next several weeks to two months (or whenever I swim another meet) and (b) to plot a course from here to the goals I have for Masters Nationals April 28 to May 1.
I was thrilled overall with how I responded to the environment of being in a meet and racing other swimmers--which is quite different from the solo practice I customarily do.
Here are results, splits, and my review of each event in the order I swam them. (All distances are in yards):
200 Free 2:31.59
50 Splits: 35.5 38.2 38.9 39.0
(1st 100: 1:13.7 2nd 100: 1:17.9)
: Not my best splits. I slowed a bit every 50. I prefer my slowest 50 to be the 2nd, then get slightly faster on the 3rd and 4th. Consequently my 2nd 100 was over 4 sec slower than my first. Optimal splitting is to keep them within 2+ sec. I slowed this way because I felt 'acidotic' (lots of lactic acid in my muscles) during the final 100.
Even so I was pleased with my time, my time on a 'broken' 200 in practice last Wed was only 2:39.
100 Back 1:31.66
: I was thoroughly pleased with this as it was more than a second faster than the last time I raced 100BK in a meet, over four years ago. I was also pleased with how well I split this--swimming the 2nd 50 in virtually the same time as the first. This came with 15 minutes of swimming a max effort for 200 Free. This showed how quickly I've responded to an increased emphasis on backstroke in practice--which I did after a pulled adductor muscle limited me to training only back and free.
500 Free 6:48.72
50 Splits: 39.0 41.6 42.0 41.8 42.1 41.5 41.0 40.5 39.7 39.6
1st 250: 3:25.5 2nd 250: 3:23.7
: Another excellent race. For one thing I was in a racing situation on this with a swimmer in an adjacent lane and responded well to it. For another this was quite a bit faster than I'd expected. I'd done one 'broken' 500 in practice within the past two weeks and was very pleased that day to swim a 6:58. Going 10 sec faster was very satisfying. And the reason I swam a good time, and came from behind to finish ahead of the swimmer in the next lane was how well I split this.
I did my slowest split on the 5th 50 (coming into the halfway point of the race) then improved my pace slightly on each of the last five 50s. Consequently I swam the 2nd half of the race nearly 2 seconds faster than the first half--which is precisely how I aim to split 400m/500y events.
100 Free 1:10.95
50 Splits: 34.17 36.78
: This is the race I feel I have the most room to improve. My stroke felt great for most of the 500. It felt ragged and discombobulated virtually the whole way in the 100. That's because I've done virtually no high-speed (i.e. 100y/m type speed) training or racing in years. I plan to do it quite regularly between now and April.
200 Back 3:12.2
:48.4 :48.7 :48.8 46.4
1st 100: 1:37.1 2nd 100: 1:35.4
: I thought I was capable of swimming a bit faster than this--I'd swum 3:10 on a 'broken' 200 BK in practice two weeks ago, but I think the fact that it was my 5th event somewhat excuses that. And it was another event with very good splits -- pretty consistent over the first three 50s and 2 sec faster on the final 50. Consequently I negative split this.
How I'll use Information from these races
What I most look for in races is information. How do I respond to a competitive situation? How well do I pace? What is the 'math' of the paces I swim?
Let's take two of yesterday's races--500 FR and 200 BK to examine how I'll do that.
I have two critical pieces of data from these races--stroke count (I counted strokes in every race but the 100 FR) and time.
In both races I swam essentially the same stroke counts -- 17 SPL on 1st half and 18 SPL on 2nd half.
Over the next few weeks I can improve the 500 by doing the following
Swim 150y repeats in 17 or fewer strokes at paces of 2:04-2:05 or faster (slightly faster than the 50y paces I was holding in mid-race.
Swim 100y repeats in 16 or fewer strokes at paces of 1:22-1:23 (lower stroke count and faster paces than in the race.)
Swim 50y repeats in 15 or fewer strokes at paces of :40 to :41
To improve my 200 BK in the coming weeks I'll swim a set of perhaps 3 x broken 200 (4 x 50 with 10 sec rest between) at :47 sec/50 and 16-17 strokes. I.E. Slightly more efficient (on stroke count) and slightly faster than during the race.
By doing this I will program my nervous system to slightly greater Stroke Length and Stroke Rate than I attained during yesterday's races.
I will strive to swim these repeats feeling as controlled, relaxed, smooth, and stable as possible.
To see how successful I am at achieving the practice goals I've set, follow my posts on the Autumn 2015 Training Lab thread