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The Olympic Club 1500M
January 26, 2019
Forgive the long diatribe, but this might be entertaining for you.
while back, Kirt encouraged me to do a 1500M/Metric Mile masters swim
meet. I thought, what the heck, that sounds cool. I swim the mile all
the time for triathlons and I love the distance. And this would be
something to aim for during the Winter. I asked Coach Tim for some tips
and pretty much followed his advice. Just last week I went 21:49 and the
goal was to just to go sub 22:30 so I felt pretty good heading in to
said, I've never done a swim meet before and I was totally nervous. For
added color, it turns out that my daughter Lily's swim coach was going
to be seeded in the next lane to me. No way could I let her beat me! And
Lily's water polo coach was in the heat ahead of me. Certainly I had to
So today was the day; the meet was at the Olympic Club in SF. My heat was at 9:23 AM.
Had a good breakfast and drove up and parked 3 blocks away at the suggested garage.
Walking out on the street, looking at my phone for directions to get to the club, some tweaker on a scooter says,
"Hey man, I lost my phone. Can I use yours to make a call?"
I mumbled "no" and kept walking to which he screamed, "Well FUCK YOU!".
Welcome to San Francisco! My nerves were now additionally rattled.
on and finally found the club. The pool(s) are underground at the
Olympic Club. It's amazing; there is a 5 lane wide 33 foot long pool
which is where I warmed up in and then the 8 lane 25 meter pool for the
race. It was nice to see Kirt (who had got me in to this) who directed
me to the locker room; it was huge. Imagine how much that real estate is
worth! That said, we weren't allowed to use the lockers so I had to
stash my race bag on the pool deck with wallet, car keys and phone in
it; added stressor - hope it wouldn't get stolen.
meet had this very low-key vibe to it. There wasn't really any where to
spectate. And, in truth, there weren't that many people around. I guess
folks would just come and go after their heat (there were 14 heats -
this was a 7 hour event). But my nerves were going nuts and I felt like
throwing up; had never done a swim meet and didn't know what to expect.
And it was really humid and even felt uncomfortably warm in the
it was time. I was in lane 4 between 55 yr old Stephanie (Lily's swim
coach), and another 57 year old woman, Jana, who also swims at Burgess
Masters where I swim. I thought there is no way Lily's coach is going to
beat me, let alone Jana. Hell I am 5+ years younger!
we walked down to our lanes and I asked the timer if I could dive off
the side vs the dive board; she said yes as I'm not that practiced with
diving off the board and didn't see how 1 or 2 seconds would really make
a difference. Suddenly, the announcers said "Swimmers, on your mark!"
Bang! To say I actually dove is probably an overstatement. More like
just falling over. Of course, my goggles filled with water. F!
Regardless, I kept up with Stephanie on my right going down and then
Jana on my left on the way back for about...100 meters. I was going way
too fast and sort of panicking and felt like I was going to drown. Tried
to calm down and had to slow down, trying to do longer pulls. I focused
on just keeping track of my laps and breathing. Things seemed to be
getting better but, well that got f'd up, too. I was counting "13
lengths" when the lap counter said I was on 11! F! Who to believe? Of
course, that becomes something you fixate on--which lap am I on? As a
result, I was swimming sort of panicked, not looking down but looking
forward (which flooded more water in to my eyes) which was likely not
the 500M/20 lap mark (by my count), I looked at my watch; it said 7:25.
This was much slower than the 7:16 average pace I'd done just a few
days ago. Oh well, I just want to survive this damn thing. The good news
was that the lap counter must have checked something and realized they
were off by 2, and they adjusted it so they were now tracking correctly.
So less to fixate on there. However, the water in my goggles was
increasing so I finally flipped them open to drain them, loosing more
hit 1000M/40 laps, and calmed down a bit. Turned up the pace, inspired
because both Stephanie and Jana had now lapped me at this point. I'm
going to get through this though I thought!
it happened - my right calf cramped up. F! F! I had daughter Lily's
words in my head "When I get a cramp, I just swim through it". Ha! So I
tried not kicking on the right side then pushing off hard on the flip
turn to try to get it to relax. I literally had thoughts of just DNFing.
But how pathetic would that be?
500 meters to go... right calf is letting go, feeling better. Stephanie
is now next to me again (after lapping me) - I will keep up with her.
And then... the left calf cramps. I resolved to just pull for the next
200 meters, dragging my sorry legs behind. Thankfully they finally
I swam the last 100 kicking as hard as I could and just barely edged out the slowest swimmer in the heat by maybe 2 seconds.
Meanwhile, Stephanie and Jana were done around 2 minutes ahead of me and had already gotten out of the pool.
I was just gassed, hanging on the wall, trying to catch my breath.
There was no glory in finishing.
the next heat had already come out on to the platform and they were
waiting for me to get the F out of the pool to start the next heat-I was
holding the whole thing up. Problem was, there was no way I could lift
myself up with the diving board handles; my legs were cramping from calf
to hamstring. I finally clambered up like clubbed Halibut banging
around on the pool deck, hoping not to tear one of the timing cables.
God I was ruined but I had to get out of there for the next heat! As I'm
trying to stand I hear "Mr. Mein, I'd like to have a word with you".
What now? What did I do wrong? Did I miss a flip turn or not touch the
timing pad? I don't think so. I apologized to him and said I was
cramping everywhere. It felt like getting pulled over by a Police
Officer. "Mr. Mein, you used your watch to time yourself. Participants
are not allowed to use other devices for pacing or timing." The ref
busted me for LOOKING AT MY WATCH at the 500 mark. Motherfucker was
smiling the whole time like I just made his day busting me. At least he
wrote down my time - a relatively pathetic 22:16, fully 27 seconds
slower than what I'd done in practice just a few days ago.
So at least I wasn't the slowest in the heat, however, the time was DISQUALIFIED for the "watch infraction".
Kirt, so sorry I didn't stick around for your heat but I just wanted to
get the heck out of Dodge and collect myself back at home.
sure if there was much learned in this whole thing but it's remarkable
how being out of one's comfort zone (trying new things, no matter how
similar) is such a shock.
March 3, 2019
Results | Pictures
||A Cat named maybe
missed you guys out there today; it was weird, though, no familiar
faces. Just Barry Phelps (who got 2nd overall last year and first AG for
us 50 year olds - I racked next to him right by the run exit) and
Martin Spierings (he's Gunnar's tri coach from Santa Cruz; really good
swimmer and 43 years old). My sister Sinda was doing it and my daughter
Lily was doing the relay with her nephew Finn - Sinda's son (bike) and
Lily's friend Martina (run).
Weather was pretty good at first; a little rain on the drive over then it seemed to warm up and was humid.
They announced, tho, that the water temp was 54 degrees, holy shit!
looked pretty damned nervous at the swim start and said "this is the
last time i am going to do this race - too damn cold!".
I waited till the bitter end to get in; wow, the water was cold going down your back and on your face, F!
gun goes off. The good news about the cold - you felt like swimming
faster to get warm. There are two left turns marked by buoys.
kept fighting with the dude next to me to get position. Made the first
turn. Then the second buoy seemed way the F far to the right. So I swam
to the left because it was more direct.
up, shit, no one is near me. Uh oh, I might get DQ'd for cutting the
course I finally thought. Cut back (F!) to make the buoy. That was a
crucial mistake; I wasted a bunch of time doing that.
put the speed down on the straightaway and caught one guy. Popped up on
the deck like a wounded seal and ran back to T1. But my fing watch
didn't record it.
know how you fixate on shit like that. Totally fiddling with the watch
the whole run back, barely had time to take the wet suit down. Got to T1
as Barry was leaving (12:21 vs my 13:06 and 1:19 vs 1:38 T1).
idiot that I am I was thinking "I gotta get the Strava times!" (Mark,
you are to blame!) so I fiddled with it to get the watch in to bike
mode. My expectations on the bike were minimal; haven't been riding
much. But was surprised to be going 25mph on the way out. On the way
back, a bit of head wind. And...some kid passed me on the return lap!
Holy shit, WTF? Only Barry and Derrill have passed me on the bike in
the course wasn't too bad; only yelled "on your left!" a few times.
Enjoyed seeing my nephew riding his Mtn bike and my sister as well.
lap, though, it started raining - hard. It actually was a bit
nerve-wracking and slightly overwhelming. Finally hit T2 and reset my
watch to go back to Run mode (loosing time to do it of course).
Everything in T2 was wet. The rain was still heavy. Ran out and for the
first 1/2 mile thought, wow, I'm actually getting kind of cold. Barely
broke 7 min pace for the first mile, running through a few puddles. I
resolved to just finish the thing "21 mins is ok" I thought. Plus I
haven't been running much with my new job. Then the rain let up and I
was getting in to the groove. Suddenly there is a pitter patter of steps
right on my ass. So I speed up. At the turn around, there's this dude
who looks about my age. "How old are you?" I say. "Just turned 50" he
says with an accent. F! He then proceeds to introduce himself - Doug
Woods, a Kiwi. I tell him I am 50+ too and plan on tripping or pushing
him with a laugh. We bring the pace down to 6:35 then 6:30 then 6:20. F,
it hurts so GD much. Finally he gapped me; got me by 11 seconds.
My avg HR was 174, 182 max for the friggin 5k. (Last year I averaged 6:20 pace but avg HR was "just" 169).
the end, Barry kicked ass with 1st AG and 3rd overall. Martin kicked my
ass going 2 mins faster in the swim, out-transitioning me and with a
faster run split for 2nd in his Ag and 6th overall. I got 3rd AG/11th
sister was first AG. Daughter Lily was 3rd fastest in her swim wave
(all women and all relays) for the swim and put 1 min in to me. Their
mixed relay was 2nd.
Pretty satisfactory day on balance. At least I got 3rd, unlike last year which was 4th but with a faster time!