For those who don't know, a "Birthday Swim" in the HPB-vocabulary is a 100x100 set, where you end up doing a 10k swim. It takes anywhere from 2.5-4 hours depending on your speed and is a monster of a set, mentally and physically. Personally I love them for 1) the challenge 2) it skews your sense of time so the next time you have to swim 4k, it's like a little breath of fresh air in comparison and 3) I feel like there's a fitness boost that shows up in my swimming a few days after attempting one of these. This was 10k swim #4 for me, but my first official "birthday swim"! I did a 100x100 on a whim back in 2012, I had a NYE '13 50x200 set and then our Camp HPB 110x100 set, with the bonus 10 thanks to some lightening on attempt #1 of the day.
Holly, who joined us at camp earlier this year recently wrote an article for Triathlete Mag about the Birthday Set and its origins, which is a must read if you ever want to attempt the set. You can read it here:
It was one of Brett Sutton's "special" sessions—in my mind, up there in the books with coachie's treadmill marathon or I'm sure my favorite grueling 30x800 track session. You can't help but feel a little special taking on this challenge, whether or not it's actually your birthday.
So, just for fun—here's this morning's set!
For reference on my cat scratch above, B.O. = "band only", or the "bane of my existence", R = rest and the number that follows is the # of seconds rest you get between finishing one 100 and starting the next and all of the @ 1:35, on 1:30, etc. are the intervals you should leave on for the set so that if you're leaving on 1:30, you'll push off every 90-seconds and your rest will vary depending on how fast you swim. F = fast, E = easy and B = back. I'm sure there are variations on the swim coach shorthand but this is what my middle school coaches used and it's what has sticked each time I copy a cheat-sheet from Hillary's swim for the day!
The first 4.5k or so were actually in the pool at the YMCA normally reserved for old ladies and jazzercise thanks to the swim team hogging the lap pool so the first 90-minutes were done at a sweltering 89-degrees (or so temp posted on the board said). So I was bright red and kept stalking the swim team, waiting for them to get out... which they didn't until 7:30am [don't these kids have school? Pretty sure homeroom was at 7:50 for me...]. Finally they started to leave and I hopped over to the lap pool and enjoyed temperatures that didn't feel like I was drowning in bathwater.
Nearly three hours and two very tired arms later, I finished up, hauled it to the nearest starbucks for rejuvination in the form of coffee and a breakfast sandwich and plopped down at my laptop to get to work! It may not be the most glamorous of birthdays but can't say I can complain. :)