Thursday, March 28, 2013

Mornings start so early

I'm as bad as I was in high school (millions of years ago, when we had to share the pool with diplodocuses). I set my phone alarm, but forgot to turn it ON. I just happened to wake up at 5:15 a.m. and my limbic brain took over. Before I really knew what was going on, I was at 56th and Old Cheney, just 30 minutes behind schedule. I managed to fit in a 100 warm-up before our 1,000 time trial. And, despite getting lapped repeatedly by Adam and Mike, and having to hack up loogies a couple of times, I did OK. In fact, I even did an extra 50 because my limbic brain can't count. I'm not sure what my time was and it doesn't really matter. I did the best I could with a nagging chest cold.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Cold Showers

With the ocean swim clinic just a month away, I figured I'd better start acclimatizing with cold showers. Oh.My.Freaking.God. Have you ever taken a cold shower? I mean, straight-from-the-cold-handle-only kind of shower? 

Even more than the distance and wave swells and puking up salt water, I dread the cold. I like to be warm, in fuzzy socks and a soft robe with a fat cat snoozing in my lap while I lounge in a big lazy boy recliner by the fireplace. The water in the English Channel is none of those things. It'll be about 60 degrees, which is much colder in water than it is in the air. Hypothermia is the most common cause of incomplete EC crossings. When a person goes into hypothermia, they are beyond shivering and start to become disoriented as the body directs all of its energy to the core. If you don't get pulled out in time, you could drown or have a heart attack. 

Supposedly, taking cold showers can help your body adjust to the harsh reality of cold water swimming. I start out with tepid water, then gradually twist the temperature knob over to the cold side. When I've taken care of all the shampooing and whatnot, I turn it to straight cold and try to stay under the frigid water spray for a minute or so. That's the longest minute in the world. But, it's necessary. I have to do whatever I can to get acclimatized. I try to think positive things like the cold water is good for my muscles, it's good for my circulation and if I can get used to it - that's one major obstacle that will be out of my way by the time I head to Dover. Let's get cold.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Keep Going

Today's workout sort of sucked, but I consider it a victory for consistency. I haven't been able to sleep much the past few nights and felt tired and grumpy this morning. We had a monsterous workout involving multiple sets of 300s, 400s and 500s. Adam, my lane partner, was lapping me every 250, which is par for the course, but I was really feeling slow today.

At one point I thought, "This is stupid. I'm not getting anywhere. I may as well just get out and take a long shower and get to work early." But, then I thought, there are no hot showers in the middle of a marathon swim. Whether you're feeling good or bad doesn't matter. You just have to keep going. So, I dug in and kept alternating strokes to get the yards done. And I did.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Just another Tuesday

I swam 5000 yards this morning with the Y Masters Team and felt wiped out. The long swim on Sunday sucked the life force out of me, but I got up, got to the pool and did the workout. I'm a lot slower than the guys I swim with, but they're a fun bunch and I want to get in the most yardage I can, so I stick with the Blue group. Coach Gary Bredehoft has us organized into three teams: Red, White and Blue depending on our volume.

Today's morning menu:

1 x 1000 @ 18:00
Freestyle Mixed Warmup/Recovery - Zone 1 (EZ1) 300 Swim, 200 Drill, 300 Pull, 200 Kick
4 x 200 @ 03:20
Freestyle Pull Lactate Threshold - Zone 4 (LT1)
1 x 800 @ 13:30
Freestyle Swim Intensive Endurance - Zone 3 (EN3)
2 x 400 @ 07:00
Freestyle Pull Lactate Threshold - Zone 4 (LT1)
4 x 100 @ 03:00
Freestyle Kick Fins Aerobic Endurance - Zone 2 (EN2) 100 kick on Side Drill 100 dolphin Kick on Back 100 Freestyle Kick 100 Kick Choice
4 x 100 @ 02:00
Freestyle Drill Intensive Endurance - Zone 3 (EN3) Odd # - One Arm drill, right down, left back Even # - Catch Up Drill
2 x 200 @ 04:00
IM Stroke Swim Lactate Threshold - Zone 4 (LT1)
1 x 400 @ 07:00
Freestyle Mixed Cool Down/Recovery - Zone 1 (EZ2) (50 non-free/100 free, repeat)

I forgot the breakfast I had so lovingly prepared the night before. I suppose steelcut oatmeal will survive another day in the fridge. I thoroughly enjoyed the breakfast power sandwich and coffee with an extra shot of esspresso at Panera Bread. It's an expensive treat, but worth it once and awhile. I enjoy munching on a yummy egg sandwich I didn't have to prepare while perusing through Facebook updates on my phone.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

St. Patrick's day long swim

Today I managed a 18,200 yard swim at the downtown Y. I'm surprised it went as well as it did considering I indulged in our dinner group's Mexican feast last night and couldn't sleep for the resulting acid tummy. Finally, after a Gaviscon and 2 acid reduction tablets, I was able to sleep ... only to dream about dozens of tornadoes heading for the house I was in with a former Madonna patient. Totally weird. I was actually relieved when the alarm went off just so I could get on with the day.

Even though this was a long swim, it was less than half what I'll have to swim at the END-WET swim in July and the English Channel. But, I still feel good to have put in that many yards. It was a confidence booster.

I discovered something. It's really hard to pee while treading water. Peeing in a pool is gross and that was probably my problem, but I won't have a women's locker room nearby when I'm swimming in open water so I wanted to practice that little necessity. I wasn't successful. I had to hold on to the side of the pool and actually made use of that handy ladies locker room a couple of times. 

But, the feedings went well. I didn't have any trouble slurping Perpetuem from a water bottle while kicking like a drunken duck to stay afloat. And the Perpetuem worked great. Though feeling a little fatigued, I was able to maintain my pace, swimming each 2000 within a minute of each other. Granted, it was a slow pace, but I kept going.

Long swims are not very glamorous, it's just hours and hours of swimming -- in this case, 5 and half hours of swimming. I thought about my body position and stroke form, then wandered off to vacations past and future, then thought about some of my favorite foods, then did karaoke in my head to a few tunes. Somehow, the time passes and I don't get bored.

I even chuckled to myself, "You know you're a marathon swimmer when you catch yourself thinking, 'Thank goodness, only 5000 yards left!'"

Lots more yards to go.

Friday, March 15, 2013


I love my job. Ask anyone who works with me. But, it also is pretty stressful. I have the privilege of promoting the rehabilitation services of one of the nation's best rehabilitation hospitals. I work with an incredible team of talented people to share patient stories, plan advertising campaigns and media. I get to plan events and work with management to strategize the future of the hospital. It's really a dream job and believe me, I know how lucky I am. 

But still ... there are days that totally stress me out and this week was full of them. I was planning to get in some strength training and yoga after work, but didn't end up leaving work until nearly 6 p.m. most evenings. And by the time I got home, I was tired, hungry and cranky - making it easy to bail on my exercise plans.

I need to think of a strategy for this. My work is not likely to get any less hectic, but I need to fit in some yoga and strength training and cycling (just because I like it) even when all I want to do is eat kettle chips and slam a beer or two. I want immediate gratification instead of earning it through a workout. Food for thought there.

Meanwhile, I'm really enjoying getting to know other marathon swimmers through the marathon swimming forum and on facebook. I'll get to meet some of these folks at the clinic in LA and again at the END-WET 27-mile swim in July.

I have a long swim planned in the morning, followed by yoga. And 15,000 yards on Sunday. I do love my weekends.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Step forward, step back

Good 5000 yard swim this morning with the Masters team, but got a little derailed this evening. I planned to do the kettlebell class at ProActive, but didn't have a t-shirt. My hubby kindly brought one to me... but class had already started and was pretty full, so I bailed and came home. I was tired and hungry, so it didn't take much to get me off track. I did some free weights and arm thingies in the living room, but not the workout I would have had if I'd stayed for class. Lesson - always have everything I need in a gym bag, ready to go.

Monday, March 11, 2013

One Hundred One Hundreds ... and then some

Yesterday, I swam 100 x 100s on the 1:45 with these fine gentlemen. It was the first time I'd tried this particular set and it was fun since is was a group event. I don't think I would have enjoyed it as much on my own. Even though I tried to keep track of the numbers by switching up each 1000 with pulls or kicks with fins, I still had to ask Kris what number we were on. I swear he was purposefully underestimating just to haze me. He's a Channel Swimmer who has swum every Manhattan Marathon Swim since the dawn of time. He looks amazing for someone older than most redwood trees.

After that set, I swam another 2000 ladder (25, 50, 75, 100, 150, 200 and same thing back down) and some easy IMs just to warm down and get in a few more yards.

I met Erik Bahr and Michaella Kumke for crepes and coffee at Cultiva. It was so nice to enjoy their company over a perfectly prepared latte and a decadent crepe filled with bananas and topped with real maple syrup. The snow was howling outside, but we were cozy inside.

I did a few things at home, took a nap and then it was time for afternoon Masters Swimteam practice at the Y again. The weather was horrible, but there wasn't any email or facebook posting about it being cancelled, so I just went. I did most of the workout, but my armpits were chafed raw and I was ready to call it a day. I need to remember to bring the bag balm. (Swimming is so sexy).

After practice, we plowed through the snow to Yia Yia's for our LMAO social. I enjoyed having some time with the other swimmers and meeting their families. 

Pretty much a perfect day: swimming, hanging out with friends, eating, napping, swimming, eating and hanging out with friends. 

Friday, March 8, 2013

English Channel - July 2014

I'm swimming across the English Channel in July 2014. Just writing that out loud is worth about 5 miles, I think, which leaves about 20 to 25 more miles, depending on how the tides push me around.

I know this seems like a crazy, probably stupid, thing to do. Why would anyone want to swim for hours, and hours, and hours, and more hours in frigidly cold water with jellyfish and junk and huge shipping tankers between two countries that have much more scenic and historic sites on dry land?

Why train for a year and a half, take freezing cold showers, make wise food choices, get to bed early so I can wake up to swim early and save every dollar all for one long day of swimming ceaselessly from one shore to another?

Because I can. At least, I will give it everything I've got to make it happen. The English Channel doesn't give a lick about my confidence or my training. The weather can change in a flash or I may get cramps or hypothermia. There are things I can't control that make this a huge gamble. But, to the very best of my ability, I will train to be as prepared as possible. The rest is up to God and the Channel Goddess.

I wish the answer was more noble and certainly more eloquent. But, really, "because I can" is why I'm  doing it. I want to have my name on the Channel roster. I want to have this as my flag in the sand. It's sort of vain, really. Will anyone love me any more because I've swum the Channel? I hope not. But, I suppose, it is a stab at the passage of time and an effort to prove something to myself. I like to have big goals.

If this intrigues you, please join my support crew. I can use all the positive feedback and cheerleading you can offer. No one crosses the Channel alone. I'll try to make this adventure as interesting as I can, though long distance swimming is, by its very nature, a solo mind game. So cheer loudly :-)