Tuesday, March 20, 2012

If only it would have counted!

Mark is away. You'll be reading this a lot this spring and summer. Right now, Mark is in Dunkerque (this sounds like a fantastic far away land, but really it is in France. I guess France is kind of like a fantastic far away land). He was in Paris last week.

Last week Mark went to Paris with his training partners, Tyler, Alana, and Angela, and one of his coaches, Lionel, to get away from March Madness. No, not the basketball tourney but rather the two weeks that is comprised of NCAA racing. During the college championship season, most coaches focus on their college athletes, and rightly so. They are focused on tapering, pumping up, and racing. While this isn't all bad, during college championship season, Mark tries to get the heck out of Dodge. When he is away he can focus on himself and his swimming. No distractions (nagging wife, baby, college team, NCAAs, blah, blah, blah). So, he ponied up and headed to France.

Mark trained in Paris (eat, sleep, swim, repeat) last week and this week is taking a stab at French Olympic Trials as a guest swimmer. Mark swam the 100m breaststroke Sunday (prelims and semi's) and yesterday (finals). He got second. If only it would have counted...

You see, for Mark to qualify for the Olympic games he will have to earn a top two finish at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials. "But what if he gets third but is better than the #2 guy?!" It doesn't matter. Top two pack their bags and jump the pond to London for the games and #3 through the rest go back home. So, when Mark got second at the French trials (not a crazy fast time, but decent for an in-season swim. Mark's semi-final's time was better at a 1.00.4), I kept trying to figure out how we could convince the United States to just count it. After a lot of analysis (really for no good reason), I decided it just couldn't count. Bloody hell!

Today, after I checked on our dear friend Laure's results and saw that she not only made the Olympic team after making a recent comeback to the sport but totally dominated her event, I wrote Brett Hawke (Mark's coach) an email. It read...

"I just saw the results from French trials...looks like Laure had a great swim. Congrats, Coach!! Now let's get the rest to London."

It is exciting to watch others (our foreign friends) make their Olympic teams, but it does make me a tad anxious. I know it also contributes to Mark's I-just-want-to-race-already attitude. But, soon enough the time will come for Mark to make his own team.

T-minus 128 days until the Olympic games... in case you were wondering.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Home... home on the range

We traveled to Missouri last weekend for some quality time with the family and a little bit of racing. My family is from Columbia, Missouri (home of the Missouri Grand Prix), so we treat this weekend each year as a double whammy.

Yes, the boys (Mark, Eric, Tyler, Fred, etc.) swim... and swim well. But, in their down time (and during feeding time) they can all be found at the Rubenstein homestead. Last weekend, Mark, Annabelle, and I, Eric Shanteau, Tyler McGill, and Gideon Louw bunked up at my parents' home while others stayed with my brother. Each night my mother cooked for the entire group and after dinner all could be found in the basement in a heated game of ping pong--don't worry, Tyler... you'll have plenty of time to practice before next year.

Mark and Adam Klein playing Coach Lionel Moreau and Fred Bousquet in doubles--Tyler was merely a spectator.

The meet wasn't too shabby either. There were some great swims, then there were some fine swims, then there were some swims that we wish could have been better. This is typically how it goes. The most exciting part of the meet however, didn't take place in the water, but rather ont he podium when Matt Grevers proposed to his long time girlfriend, Annie Chandler. After the question had been popped, I huddled around Russell (video guru for USA Swimming) while he looped the video over and over again. I think I watched it 8 times.

Mark swam well. It was solid. It was fine. He was satisfied. Was it great? Not particularly-especially not after last month's race in Austin. So, after a "fine" performance in the 100m breaststroke finals, Mark decided to give it one more try. The next morning in the prelims of the 200m breaststroke, Mark swam the first 100 "fast" like a 100m breaststroke and "floated" the second 100m. This is a common practice amongst specialists like Mark. Mark is a 100m breaststroker. All other events are secondary and, thus, Mark is willing to sacrifice other races to focus on the 100. The third time Mark raced the 100m breaststroke he did not swim as fast as he had hoped. But, it'll do, Mark. It'll do.

Next month, Mark will be heading to France for a little training trip and French Nationals where he'll get another chance to get 'er done!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

One trick pony... One practice swimmer

Mark has swam doubles (2 practices a day) for as long as I have known him. Not every day, but three times a week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday) he has gone to practice from 7-9:30-ish and 3-ish-5ish. On Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday he typically trained once a day. This schedule is normal. Regular. It is what we did throughout college and what he has done since... until now. Now our everyday Olympian is a one trick pony (one practice a day swimmer). It was a big change. He now swims and lifts in the morning and is finished (like totally finished) by 11am at the latest.

What is point of this switch-a-roo? Something about confusion (in a good way). As our good friend Albert Einstein said, "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

So, thanks to Albie (Einstein), Mark's training schedule has changed. He seems to be adapting well. He has come home and has actually told me about good workouts. Not just "it was fine" or "okay" but more like, "Hey, Ash...I had a good one this morning." This is big news. Huge.

The other good news is that with Mark home in the afternoons I don't feel quite as bad leaving the housework and laundry to him. A big pile of dirty laundry at the bottom of our closet is my happy-you-only-have-one-practice-today gift to my dear husband.