Tag Archives: swim

My Response to IRONMAN’s SwimStart Initiative Announcement

I think this is in response to the deaths that have occurred… I think it’s a wise choice to be proactive about educating folks on the anxiety of the swim start so they can be aware and try to plan for the experience. It won’t end up a complete surprise, even though you don’t really know until you’re in the thick of it.

I am actually a professionally trained classical musician… Throughout school, we would PUT ourselves into anxious situations, or run up and down a flight of stairs to get the heart rate going, and we would have to perform. What it did was teach us how to manage the stress and anxiety of the situation and perform so the audience had NO idea we were nervous… Because they were paying to see a performance, not us sh*t our pants!

So, this is why I am able, with my 2:05 ish IRONMAN swim (hopefully faster this year!), to be on the very start line of the swim start – HECK NO AM I SWIMMING AN EXTRA 50-100 YARDS! I just know to expect that I’ll have to hold my breath for 4+ strokes and that it’s going to be cray cray. And, I remind myself that it’ll all calm down… Especially as I begin going off course! 😉


Swim Breakthrough!

Wannabe Swimmer?
Suffer from “dense leg syndrome”?
I fall into the last two. I wannabe a swimmer but I suffer from “dense leg syndrome”. Yes, that is an official diagnosis…that I have made up.
After a swim a little over a week ago, I sent an email to the two coaches of the group I’m training with this season. During that swim, I had to throw the pull buoy between my legs for the last two-thirds of the workout.
That’s pretty much the ENTIRE workout!
Why did I have to do that? Well, after the warm-up and just starting into the main set, my legs started to fatigue so much where they felt like dead weight. They eventually started falling to the bottom of the pool. Each time my toes would touch the bottom while I was “swimming freestyle,” I would quickly bounce my legs back up. But, I could not do that the whole time, particularly for my own sanity!
This reminded me of last year when I could not swim at all and suffered from this curse! Putting that pull buoy between my legs was my only savior. It helped me build confidence and actually had me completing my workouts, but it was a crutch. Or, was it? I mean I would be swimming with a wetsuit during races, so it’s pretty much the same thing, right? Ohhhh…I LOVED the couple times I did workouts with my full wetsuit in the pool! Those workouts went quickly–so quick that the sun was still out when I left the gym!
Anyway, back to the pull buoy… yes, it IS a crutch when not part of drills, especially because I relied on it so heavily! To think that I thought I had graduated from needing that stupid thing beyond drills! 
Let’s complicate my neurotic thoughts of how bad a swimmer I was because I did not hear back from the coaches. I figured they had already given up, packed up, and left the stadium. But, that was not the case.
I got to the group workout on Tuesday. And, I was EARLY! Yes, I’m never early. I’m either late or just on time. But, I was glad I was early because Coach Craig spotted me while he was yelling rest intervals to folks in the pool and called me over.
He handed me two kickboards. Great, I have to do kicking drills as punishment for sending them that message! No, he actually wanted me to do some floating, with the kickboards holding me up at my waist and my arms and legs extended forming an “X”.
He told me to also think of my butt, calves, and back of my head just clearing the surface of the water. For my butt and calves, that really involved some adjustment-serious activation of my core, particularly by needing to flatten out the small of my back. But, to REALLY get my “dense parts” up, I had to really think about just the back of my head clearing the top of the water. What I was doing was almost looking forward, which was driving my bottom half down. So, I had to tuck my chin in a little closer to my chest. That tucking led to me feeling like I was tilting forward. But, I was in fact now level in the pool.
The only way I can describe this new feeling is how I have read or heard before. I was “swimming over” something like a barrel. THAT is what it REALLY feels like. And, it’s a weird feeling that takes some getting use to. However, it’s worth getting use to when you’re able to get from one end of the pool to the other with LESS effort and FASTER!
That was how the rest of the evening felt. And, I could not have been happier!!!
So, if you would like to be cured like I was, do just as I did and spend 5-10 minutes feeling the water just as I did. I guarantee you will thank me after you get the water out of your ears!

from ironman to FAT!

admittedly, i feel as if most of my posts are “it’s been a while” type posts. but, i suppose the reality is that i’m always busy doing SOMEthing; i have too many ideas that i’d want to write about so i get overwhelmed and decide to “do it another day”; or, i’m just plain old LAZY!



Ironman Wisconsin

let’s rewind to about a month before ironman wisconsin…so about early august 2012… I! WAS! OVER! IT! i didn’t want to train anymore! i had seen what i learned to be “dark spots”…and THERE WERE TOO MANY! or, was i just lazy?

i learned later that i probably just needed to eat something. therefore, i was borderline hallucinating – at least, that’s what i’ll call it! but, i also learned from interviews while in Kona with Timex Sports Multisport Team Elite & Pro athletes that they were normal, even if you DIDN’T need calories.

OR, WAS I JUST LAZY? who knows, but there’s always a kernel of truth to every thought, right? MOVING ON!


Ironman World Championships with TimexSports

while i was in kona covering the week of the ironman world championships with Timex Sports, i sought inspiration, a re-ignition of the flame that i had way back when i originally signed up for wisconsin just a year earlier. it was the fire that quickly turned to smoke about a month before MY race day.

i needed renewed purpose AND an understanding about what my brain was going through before and after my race. before, it was, “CAN I BE DONE ALREADY?!?” during the race, it was, “HOLY! I’M GONNA DO THIS! BUT, I’M NEVER GOING TO DO IT AGAIN!” after, it was, “THAT WAS THE HARDEST, YET MOST REWARDING, THING I’VE EVER DONE IN MY LIFE! NEVER! AGAIN!”

so, what did i do?


Me Time=Fatty Time!

i took time for myself and TRIED not to overly guilt myself for not doing workouts. i TRIED to remind myself that i worked my ass off for a year, especially LEARNING TO SWIM, and deserved the break. it was time to give burnt-out-brain a break!

well, i was successful in not doing many workouts. yes, i was still shoveling calories in my mouth as an elongated celebration of my hard work and accomplishment. too bad, my body couldn’t burn calories without the ironman training type fitness though!

what started at the end of july as 178 pounds, leaning out even more up to august, turned into today’s ONE HUNDRED NINETY FOUR (yes, 1-9-4!!!) pounds! ken needs to get back into the rhythm, ya think?

granted, at the start of november, i started one-on-one personal training sessions and group classes with coach mike of fast & fit coaching, so i have built up some muscle but, SHIZNIT, i gotz to GET BACK TO WORK!


and, photos don’t lie.

mike is sure to document measurements using calipers AND photos. i’ll save you from the most recent shots until i’m more pleased with the outcome (then, i’ll show before & after shots), but let’s just say i don’t look like i did about 2 years ago in this shot for the Cupid Undie Run…which is where I’d like to be once again!

Cupid Undie Run - February 2011

how am i going to get back into that type of shape or EVEN STRONGER & BETTER? well, i’ve established purpose and accountability.

i’m going to continue the strength sessions with coach mike, but i’ve also moved to more of a paleo eating lifestyle, cutting out processed foods, grains, unnatural sugar, etc. google “paleo 101” or “paleo grocery list” and you’ll get the idea. better yet, grab a copy of paleo diet for athletes and read it!

additionally, i’ve committed myself to proudly represent TrainingPeaks (where i log and analyze (OVER-analyze) my data) as a brand ambassador in 2013, so i’m kept accountable there. i’m most excited here about sharing my TP workouts on social media and here so you all can stalk and see how much better than me you are! AND, i know that you’ll be interested in watching my progress so that’ll keep me accountable too! it’s my hope that you’d share with me your workouts as well so i can be inspired and vice versa too! to inspire & be inspired!



oh…before i forget, you get get their premium version for FREE for 2 weeks with my code: ken13. their free version offers a good amount, but if you are yearning for more analysis and visuals, GO PREMIUM! it’s inexpensive, AND FREE FOR THE FIRST TWO WEEKS! SIGN! UP!



Group Training

finally, what best to keep me accountable than working towards something WITH A GROUP! i’ve got several races planned for 2013. but, i’m actually looking forward to GROUP TRAINING so we can share war stories and “talk shop” together about nutrition, hydration, salt pills, chamois cream (ok, maybe not that)…but, you get the point. i’m gonna find a group to train with so THEY can give me heat for not showing up and, most importantly, so i can feed off of their energy during training as well. i’m just not the “solo trainer”–i learned that last year. i need the group. so, that shall be my plan!



in closing, i want to give special recognition to Timex Sports, TrainingPeaks, Fast & Fit Coaching, The Running Institute, you all, my close friends, and, most importantly, my better half, for believing in and supporting me in 2013 as i reach for and tackle my goals. i sure hope to add more brands to my SAG wagon and will be sure to give them recognition when appropriately as well!



Yeah… that Google search and all its derivatives didn’t prove to be very successful. It was like those times when I frantically search for the lowest price on a product, insisting in my head that it MUST be hidden SOMEwhere!

… to no avail!

Oh well…

Next best thing….

Attach a noodle to each of my legs.

Yup… That’s what I would do.

Can you believe it?!?

That is what I’d do!!!!!

But, I really didn’t.

I settled for just making LOVE to my beautiful pull buoy!

During my two most recent workouts (after a great lesson with Ms Andrea Rudser-Rusin and when I believed to have received permission), I used the pull buoy to keep what mobsters would consider an easy night’s work (aka my legs made of concrete) afloat.

I shoved that thing between my legs and used it! I used it and it built my confidence! Oh yeah, it did!

At my lesson, I was told not to kick… But, I was still having an issue with my legs falling, no matter how how much I thought chest down… shoulder down… relax… blah de blah de dahh!

So, I kick with that thing between my legs. Yes m’am, I am kickin’ from dem hips… Not dah knees! Promise!

So, on Saturday…what’s also known as my long training day… I did 50s pretty easily… Then, I surprised myself with a few 100s.


Tonight, I surprised myself and did some 150s and I think a couple 200s… AWESOME!

But, is that cheating??? Won’t I have even MORE help from a whole wetsuit on race day???


it’s like i post a dramatic two paragrapher and leave y’all hangin’! sorry!

i had my issue on the bike last tuesday…a WHOLE 10 days ago…

that also happened to be the last day i worked out (until i snuck into the gym to do a quick “efficiency upper” workout after work today!)…

this is how it played out…

POOR ME! eh…whatever!

so…bike…dizzy…flush…tired…weak…worried…took time off…planned to try back up easily this past monday.

no go…got hit with some flu bug that had me with a sore throat and REALLY tired beginning saturday evening.

it must be related to everything else, right?

OH…and, it MUST be related to my blood pressure which tends to “ride high”, right?!?


probably…but…who knows…

saw doctors…they just think it’s a virus…and that my body has been spending time telling me subtly with the random dizziness during workouts and then suddenly reared its head this weekend. AND, that blood pressure…nope…no need for drugs yet! just gotta keep an eye on that salt (wahhh!) and keep the activity high (yay for training! ugh!)  

ok…thanks…i wish you drew blood and did more to be sure but that’s just super-neurotic me!

what do i think?

yes, i think they were correct. 

i also think that a lot of everything was MAJORLY due to stress and fatigue… the nutrition thing i think is next on that checklist. 

i’m a high strung guy. i’m super anal-retentive. i’m a worrier. i want everything i do to be 200% great so it takes a lot for me to delegate. therefore, my plate is typically OVERFLOWING! oh…it probably doesn’t help that i pretty much self diagnosed myself with attention deficit disorder too, does it?!? (i did an online test!)

I ALWAYS WANT TO PROVE THAT I’M GREAT BECAUSE I WANT EVERYONE TO LIKE ME! so, i take on everything and try to do tons at once and make tons of notes to myself so i know where i left off on the project i just walked away from. (post-it would make a fortune off of me if i didn’t enjoy evernote so much!)

yup…i laid it out there…so?

how do i continue accepting that all of the above that i just threw up onto you is…hugely…just me?!? how do i make it not literally get me sick?!?

i share it.

i think about it.

i try not to over-analyze it (keyword: TRY!).

and, i work on taking care of it…


“it” is ME!

i need to say “no” more often when asked to do something. i need to understand that it’s okay not to be perfect all the time. i need to let go more and trust in others. i need to allow myself to get a massage more often than i have to help me relax because i recognize that it’s really difficult for me to just stop, close my eyes, and take deep breaths in the middle of the day…i need to “schedule it”.

clearly…i haven’t been doing much training…almost two whole weeks…so…i’ve had time to think. 

where do i go from here?

my plan is to feel good that i just shared all that with you…

then, i’ll work tomorrow…then, i’ll hopefully get to the vision quest workout at the UIC 50 meter pool in time to get a few laps in…and then i’ll enjoy my evening…

i’ll try to disconnect more and make sure i’m “doing me” enough so i can be “on and fresh” for training and the rest of my life at work and with my friends. this is a perfect time for a restart. i mean, it feels like spring in chicago already! AND, i’ve been given permission by my coach to follow doctor’s orders and ease back into training by doing 50-60% of what is prescribed this weekend.

i’ll balance it.

i’ll figure it out.

i’ll let go a tad.

but, i won’t try to change me.

I gotta swim?!?

i gotta swim?!?



“Look how far you’ve come in a week!” …a trained musician’s perspective…

…that’s comforting to hear especially because I almost cancelled this morning’s swim lesson because I wasn’t confident and my left shoulder hurts!

The lack of confidence comes from my frustration at the work I put in at the pool this week.

However, after I got the ‘kudos’ from Marcia this morning, it reminded me of the frustration that I had when I was training as a professional musician.

A lot of the time, you think you’re not making progress. However, the time (EFFICIENT AND FOCUSED TIME) you’re putting in provides several baby steps toward the goal in mind.

The baby steps only make your thinking more in tune with the task at hand and you begin to pick everything apart…often to the point of driving yourself crazy… So, as you think that you’re not making progress, you probably have! It’s just that you’ve become hyper aware and are continually fine tuning.

The analogy I often heard in conservatory was this… peeling the onion piece by piece, it is practically never-ending because there is a lot of surface area to address in each of those layers. There is always room for improvement and there is practically NO such thing as perfect!


That goal was this morning’s lesson!

Nevermind the anxiety I had from being late because I timed my morning ride poorly.

Honestly, I thought that the fatigue on my legs from the ride (which involved 25 sets of strength and endurance intervals), the total 1.5 hours in the saddle, the sore shoulder, AND the 30 minute tardiness all were a recipe for disaster. Yet, I had that “throw your hands in the air” feeling that said to me, “What else can go wrong?!?”

This is often the point where we think less…or do less over-thinking…and we surprise ourselves. We hope/trust in the work we did and can only control so much.

So, there it was… a quick and efficient lesson where I seemed to surprise Marcia by the numerous 25 meter laps I accomplished with okay breathing.

We re-introduced catch up drills with the kick board to work on my bilateral breathing (aka WSB); the “bug” motion with my stroke so I didn’t reach too far down into the pool; and a wing type motion when my arms are coming out of the water and re-approaching their entrance.

I’m hoping the “wing thing” will solve this soreness I’ve been having in my anterior shoulder. Otherwise, I’ll beg for a break from the pool and/or recommended strengthening to address it.

I actually notice the soreness more so when lifting my arm up, particularly laterally, or when pushing myself up from laying down with that left arm… SO, not so much, if at all, during swimming!

Yeah…this randomness of a blog will now end because my train stop arrives. But, don’t blame a guy for being efficient and logging all this geeky data out of his head…

Yes, I’m sending this to Coaches Dan Litwora and Marcia Cleveland for further analysis!

Thanks for reading and supporting me on my journey!!!

Kick from the hips…

Extracted from my note to my coach:
I was able to do the first full 25 meters with minimal panic and didn’t have to stop.

I went into this swim thinking that I was going to consciously think of a minimal kick “within the box” and from the hips.

I think focusing on that helped me through the first 25.

I started to think about breathing and other stuff and had a harder time not stopping once to quickly catch my breath for most of the subsequent 25 meter laps I attempted.

I was able to do 2 more, not back to back, 25 meter lengths…but they weren’t super comfortable and required fight especially toward the end of each as I would begin to panic.

It’s definitely difficult!!!


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