- Watch 1984 Olympics and wanted to try all the toughest swim, bike and run events of the
- In 1984 achieved the marathon and length of the bike road race
- failed at the hard swim events....200 fly, 200IM, 400IM
- Last week, I finally got it done and did all events every day: 200 fly 3:29, 200IM 3:40, ,400IM 7:37 all SCM
It was back in 1984, that I was watching the LA Olympic after a 3 weeks 2500 km bike tour in the Alps and Cote d'Azur. I had just got done my trip and was hanging out in Tuebingen in the Black Forest area in Germany, visiting an uncle who was a prof there. With the LA Olympics on, and me not speaking word of German, the only thing I could figure out on TV was watching the Olympics and the WEST German TV was glorifying "The Albatross Michael Gross" (this guy had the wing span of an NBA 7 footer".
Gross was a 100m, and 200m fly guy as well as pretty dominant at the free. In the same Olympics Canadian Alex Baumann set the world record in the 200IM and 400IM.
I watched the Olympic Road race cycling event in which Alexi Grewal beat by Steve Bauer and thought, "well those guys are going fast, but hey, I did one day in the Alps where I rode something like 16 hours and covered 225K with my touring bike and camping gear....if I lighten up like then, what they are doing does not look that hard"...and frankly I'd done the distance at age 18 so the biking was not "that impressive". Next up, Joan Benoit wins the Olympic Women's marathon in 2:25. Now that was impressive. Next weekend Carlos Lopez take the men's marathon from Alberto Salazar, Rob DeCastella and a bunch of heavy favourites....the LA heat did not favor the larger marathoners....now I know they had no hope.
So in Sep of that year, I got back to Montreal and the Montreal Marathon was on, so I said, "I biked 4-16 hours per day, surely jogging for 42.2K should be easy. I can run 10K". Well it turns out having 10K as the longest run in your life and not running all summer after being on military basic training is not great prep for a marathon....10K at 45 min, 20K at 90 min, 30K at 2:15.....then the wheels fell off at 33K on my perfect "easy even pacing". I walked a large chunk from 33-37K until I grabbed a bag of potato chips and a large bottle of coke from a spectator and then cranked out the rest....end time 3:42, had a few beers in Lafontaine parc and passed out under a tree back when beer companies sponsored sport events.
OK, I got the hard bike and run events done and went to the pool. I could do Red Cross caliber swimming, and being a studly 18 year old, figured, that just by watching Gross and Baumann, I could do the 200 fly, 200IM and 400IM.
Well, I lasted all of 3 floundering strokes in the fly and instantly went into hyperventilation and gave up.
The "hardest swim events" from the LA Olympics were not happening
That was 1984.
From 1985 to 2015, I went on a 31 athletic journey in triathlon. "The hard LA Olympic event challenge" now 31 years old in the fall of 2015 got kind of turned back on in my head. If I could not bike and run, I may as well swim.
So I have been on a multiple year journey, now closing in on 3000 km of swimming since the fall of 2015 to learn how to swim all strokes. If there is something I have going for me, it is persistence....who the hell pulls up a personal challenge athletic challenge from age 18 and then tries to achieve it at 50+....then again, I think most of you are like that!
So finally this past week, I got up enough nerve to try a TIMED 200 Fly and 400 IM. I actually had never swam longer than 100m fly in one stretch, although for the last year in I have done a ton of that stroke. The last two months, I have been focusing on breast and back....I hate and suck at both, but I will never get better without doing them
So last Tuesday, I was joined by a friend and after a warmup we did the following all short course meters, wall push off
200 IM easy
200 fly TIMED hard 3:31
200 IM easy
200 IM Timed hard 3:40
200 IM easy
rest, recover, swim a bit of free easy
400 IM Timed 7:37
This was one of the most fun things I have done in sport indoors. Probably the most. The 200 fly I don't really know how to pace, but I think I have done enough hard intervals in that duration (like 1K repeats, bike repeats, XC ski repeats) that physiologically I know how to pace the duration.
So that was last Tuesday. Like more of you, we are never happy with our "performance", so I decided that for the rest of the week, all my main sets would be IM focused and I would do these Olympic events at least once per day to get comfortable with the duration, and pacing and just not be intimidated by them
I had to do 3 of the swims in 50m LCM set up which makes that version of the 200 fly infinitely harder and it was a big 30K swim week so I did not break the 200IM and 400IM times, but I think I took the 200 fly down to 3:29 yesterday.
Now these times are slow relative to real swimmers and I have a ton of low hanging fruit to improve my back and breast stroke and I will just by doing more.
But mainly I finally achieved what is now a 33 year old challenge. I've done all of the "hard/long" event from the LA Olympics. Along the way I have been inspired to do this watching Phelps vs Lochte, Phelps vs LeCloss and going back to Seoul 1988 watching Anthony Nesty beating Matt Biondi and Michael Gross in the 100 fly. Like Nesty, I am almost always the only non white guy in the pool unless I go swimming in India (which is almost never).
We got an ST virtual swim meet and I owe Monty my 50m times in each discipline and 100 IM. I will get to those, but I needed this detour into a 33 year old personal challenge. Swimming has been an outlet while I can't yet walk/run/bike smoothly and while I invest and get my tech startup going (http://www.bluwave-ai.com), the daily detour to the pool is like a vacation where I control all elements. In startup land, I don't control customers, I don't control Venture Capitalists, I have really no say in what most people do in my company, because they are either being paid poorly or not at all as they invest with me to build this thing....swimming, everything feels so nice and deterministic.
Sorry for the long report...if you got this far, I am sure you enjoyed the journey, if you read the exec summary, then you got the top level story!
Now I have the rest of the year to improve all....by December 31, I want to do a 10K swim total time with breaks under 3 hrs, with 2500m fly, 1250 back, 1250 breast, 5000 free (broken up in segments of IM or free). That's the end of year goal.