Friday, August 24, 2012

Missing a little between

So as my title says I missed a few things by being a bad Blogger...I did a support swim for an Anacapa Channel swimmer and it was incredible...I did a 2.4 mile race and a handful of so many fun things along my way to my adventure of the island. 

Tomorrow is my big day!!! I won't go into detail of all the between I missed getting me to my journey for tomorrow, but I will say how thankful I am to family and friends that supported me wholeheartedly in the last 10 months with all my craziness.

I have what I think will be a great crew for me with my Mom, Drew, Lynn, and Rob. I can't forgot Tracy though who will have my boys on the beach waiting for me.

Until I update again to give details of my adventure....

Thursday, August 23, 2012


My Mom and the boys headed up North with me for the Shark Fest Alcatraz swim on July 28,2012.  It was a great trip to spend the weekend in San Francisco with my Mom and the boys.  Sight seeing and just relaxing.  It was perfect weather for SF too!  It was actually a little hot...

A large group of the Oak Streakers came out for the Alcatraz swim.  Such a great time! 

The swim was interesting.  The swimmers walked over to two ferry's that traveled over to the Island.  There over 900 swimmers.  Here is the interesting part of the swim over 900 swimmers!!  Yes over 900 swimmers!!  What a crazy start this was for me.  Once the ferry's made it to the Island we were shuffled off the boat in a single file line jumping off the boat and into the was only about a 5 foot jump.  Once you jump you need to swim fast to get out of the line of fire for another swimmer to jump in.  It was like we were sheep being herded through the gates. 

So yes all 900+ had the same start time and were out there treading water.  I was worried about the treading water.  What worried me was the water temp.  I was worried of getting too cold before the race even started from just treading water and not moving.  Thankfully the water was at least 59 degrees...probably 60 in some parts so treading the water wasn't a worry I even needed to think about.

I couldn't even hear the race bell sound because there were so many people in the water around me.  I did see the front runners of Oak Street start swimming so I figured well it is time to go.  Off I went and what a miserable start.  I felt like a trout trying to swim upstream and I didn't make much progress for the first 5 minutes.  I had people grabbing onto my legs and pulling me back or their stroke would hit my legs down and cause so much drag on me with my body that for the first 5 minutes I was nearly in a doggy paddle over a nice freestyle crawl.  I finally broke to the left of the group to get out of the masses of swimmers and found a comfortable stroke and area to just enjoy my swim. 

Toward the end of the swim you swim through the jetty that leads into Aquatic Park.  There is a strong flood that comes in and can push you very far right if you aren't in the right positioning before the tide comes in.  There were a few swimmers that needed to be re-positioned in the water because they were pushed too far right.  I must admit I was worried of becoming one of those swimmers as well.  I am not a very fast swimmer so I thought my chances of getting stuck in the tide are pretty great.  With a smile on my face though I can say I wasn't pushed too far right.  The race was pretty easy for me.  Of course, I didn't take a way a medal like all the other Oak Streakers, but I had such a blast with my family there that weekend. 

My time was 49:45...I came in a lot better off than I expected.  Of course the Shark Fest site references the swim as 1.5 miles and I am pretty sure it wasn't 1.5...if it was a short 1.5 miles. 

Amazing support swim and a Jelly...

(July 2012)

So after a challenging start to my last support swim with a kayak I got the opportunity to have an amazing support kayaker!

Even after my 6 mile success swim with only muscle pain in my shoulder vs joint pain I was still a little nervous on how I am going to hold up on my Anacapa swim. I know my conditions could be brutal with winds which in turn could make it a rough day for my shoulder. That being said Julie offered to go out and do a long support swim with me. What a great time! I went out looking for 8-10 miles and was going at it with one big loop of the Laguna coast down to the Newport coast area.

The water was amazing it was nice and warm at at least 65 degrees with some areas closer to 62. The 62 was a bit chilly after swimming in 65 degrees most of the time.  It was also clear. I did have some patches of kelp, but nothing too bad. There wasn't any sea life to really talk about it was a fairly uneventful swim, but sometimes I need those uneventful swims to appreciate the training. After about 1.5 miles into the swim I just kept thinking in my mind how much fun this is and was able to appreciate what I am trying to do and take in all the water. It was a lot more fun to be able to break away from the Oak Street laps for a change and know we have a point A destination and flipping to head back to our starting destination.

No we didn't have any wild life but we did have a Gordon! Gordon was out with a SUP and paddled over to say hello when he realized it was me swimming with Julie! What a great surprise to see a friendly face to life my spirits.

We only made it was far as Emerald Bay point and Julie thought the boat traffic was picking up to a point of her not feeling comfortable keeping me 100% safe. The crazy thing is as an open water swimmer I have a larger fear of boats than the wildlife. I opted to follow my supports advice and turn back and finish off with a lap or two at Oak Street once we got back.

While I do love running through the eel grass with it hitting my swim cap I had a startling and painful surprise as I went through some almost at my ending point. I feel like it came out of no where and was hidden in the dead eel grass.  I was bombarded with a jellyfish.  I felt the sting and instant burn.  I screamed a pretty loud and high pitched scream jumping back in the water.  It felt as though the jelly was still stuck on my face.  There were about 4 guys behind us on boards and they wondered had was Julie.  She said the way I screamed she thought I must have seen a shark.  I informed them I was stung by a jelly and then quickly peaked back in water to see what it looked like.  It was just like the two I had seen previously at La Jolla and on my 6 miles Semana swim.  So it finally got me! 

We were right at Oak just a little further past the surf line than we usually are and Julie asked if I wanted to go in now.  I wanted to keep swimming though.  I finished off my swim to the rocks at Cress Street and then swam back to Oak Street.  I did call it day after that instead of doing a lap of Oak to the buoy at Main Beach.  Although I will say it was easy to finish off my swim in that moment because the sting burned so badly that the cool water temperature made my face feel so much better.  When I had it out of the water I could feel the sting worse. 

It was an eventful end to what I determined successful swim even if I didn't get 10 miles in and only had just under 8 miles.  I felt strong and when I got out I had no pain in my shoulder joint!  It was also one of the best meals at Wahoo's I had ever had...amazing how good food tastes after swimming for a little more than 4 hours. 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Semana Nautica - 6 Miles at Goleta Beach (7/8/12)

I don't generally care for races because of my speed, however, I did decide for a great training swim I would sign up for the Semana Nautica race in Santa Barbara.  The race starts West of the Goleta Pier and swims East up the coast to Arroyo Burro Beach.

The 2012 race had the largest number of registered participants at 33!  13 of the 33 were females!!  Of the registered swimmers 8 were Oak Streakers with 2 additional Streakers for support of a couple of the swimmers.  It was awesome to be out there with a small pod of my swimmer friends.

Left to Right: Lynn, Patsee, Tanya, Me, Lisa aka Nemo, Brian aka Orca, Vanessa, Carol, Peter, Kelley

The day started out drizzly, foggy, and a bit chilly.  There was the thought of possibly delaying the start of the race due to fog. Check in started at 7:30 am with an anticipated start time of 9 am.  The race director did a quick little safety speech about 8:45 am. 

I arrived with my Mom and the boys at 7:30. We watched everyone else filter into the parking lot of Goleta Beach removing their kayaks and SUP boards for their support.

Mommy and Me

Matthew, Me, and Samuel

I anxiously waited for my support kayaker to arrive.  I hadn't met my kayaker at this point other than through e-mails and I knew I was looking for a pink kayak.  I think it was about 8:15 when I found her.  We met face and face and I briefed her on my style of swimming.  I kindly let her know she was in it for the long haul because I am a slower swimmer and warned her I do pull right quite often when I swim.  Up until this race I hadn't really swam next to a kayaker for any means of solo support for myself.  I knew it would be interesting and a bit of a learning curve for me, but that was an understatement!!

Paige and Me

I started to prep myself for the race and I realized I was quickly going from being chilly with the outside weather to feeling warmed up again.  It wasn't because the weather was getting any nicer (as you can tell from the pictures I posted above), but because I was starting to get anxious for the race to begin and it was exciting me creating internal warmth to move throughout my entire body.  It felt good and oddly enough for the first time prior to starting the race I didn't have the butterfly nervous feeling in the pit of my stomach. 

This was going to be a big day for me.  Not necessarily because I was swimming 6 miles.  I have swam 6 miles before and a couple months ago when I first accomplished that distance is when it was a big moment for me.  This was much more a big day for me all directly related to my left shoulder.  This was going to be the longest swim I had accomplished with my shoulder pain for about a month.  I was nervous and anxious to see how my shoulder would hold up.  I really didn't want to have to call my own swim from pain out of my shoulder.  In preparation of pain in my shoulder I had used an ibuprofen creme on the area causing me pain while I swim and also took a couple ibuprofen prior to my swim.  I gave them enough time to move throughout my system.  These two things coupled with me paying more attention to the placement of my arm with my left stroke is what I was hoping would pull me through this swim. 

It was shortly after 9 am when the race director started the race.  All the kayaker and SUP supporters were already out in the water and off went us swimmers into 60.3 degree water for a 6 mile stroll in the open water!  I felt happy and was really excited to have this training swim with a support kayaker.  While this was a race I looked at it more as my training with a kayaker. 

Of course almost right from the start I started to pull right with my swim.  Ugh!  I swear I think I could finish at least 10 minutes faster than I normally do if I could manage to swim in a straight line one of these days.  I spend a lot of time recorrecting my direction.  Sooo, the start of my race left much to be desired!!  I swam out to the edge of the pier and was far right.  I heard Scott Zorning yell out to me from the end of the pier and I realized he was telling me I was too far right.  I looked around and my kayaker was no where to be found.  I just put my head back down and continued to swim using the other kayakers as my place to site as I couldn't really see any swimmers from the surface of the water.  I also breathe right so I didn't have anything to sight from off the coast as it was on the left of me.  I swam for about 5 more minutes and my kayaker was still no where to be found.  I started to wonder if she ever got in the water.  The other swimmers weren't significantly ahead of me at this point so I just swam on.  Well...nearly 30 minutes into the race and I was alone in water I had never swam in, it was a little chilly, NO kayaker, and I started to question in my mind if this swim is really worth doing.  I was contemplating if I should swim to shore and walk my way down the beach to the finish line or keep swimming.  I stopped and started to wave my hands back and forth as I waded the water hoping one of the other supporters would see a random swimmer behind them and find my kayaker. 

The entire time I just kept thinking in my head what in the world is she doing?  Does she not realize she doesn't have a swimmer next to her?  I wear a polka dot bikini for goodness sakes and a bright yellow swim cap how can she mistake another swimmer for me?  Did she not get in the water?  Does she just not know what the heck is expected of her?  Why did I pay for a kayaker who has left me alone?  Was she bored and decided to just take off with the other swimmers than stay next to her slow one?  I had a number of other things in my mind during the moments alone, but I will keep those detailed thoughts to myself...

Well about 35 minutes in I had decided it was time for me to turn back to shore.  The water was cold and a little murky.  I had no feeds on me to sustain my energy for 6 miles.  I deemed this would be far too risky of a swim for me to complete.  Then I heard clicking of dolphins.  I never saw them, but I heard the clicking.  The chatter of the dolphins was enough for me to stop and wave again to give it another chance for someone to see me.  I didn't want to give up and call it a day.  I needed to see how my left shoulder was going to hold up!  Shortly after I heard the dolphins I realized it looked like a paddler was starting to head my direction.  Low and behold after about 40 minutes Paige and I reunited!!  Her first words "I was looking for you".  My first words "Well I have been right here".  We pretty much left it at that and I didn't really have much else to say to Paige at that moment that would have been constructive.   She did tell me I had dolphins only a couple feet from me.  I told her I heard them, but I didn't see them.  Off we went to swim together. 

As I mentioned before I hadn't swam with the support of a kayaker before.  This was something I had taken for granted in all my swimming.  I didn't really think it would be something that would take much practice and skill to do.  However, to a degree I was quite wrong.  I think I was wrong for myself because I am a swimmer who pulls right.  Paige had stopped her kayak a little ahead of me at a point.  I don't believe she stopped directly in front of me, but she hadn't stopped too far right from me.  As I was in my rhythm of swimming I slammed into the kayak full force with my momentum and I briefly had a flashback of a car accident I had about a month prior.  My entire body crunched up and caused an instant leg cramp in the back of my thigh.  At this point I just thought "wow this is clearly not my day".  I stopped briefly to try and work out the cramp.  I took my first feed at that point when I was about 1 hour and 30 minutes into the swim.  I was hoping the fluids would help my cramp and it did!  Yay!  I was on my way again. 

After the crash I had much more respect for the support of the kayaker.  Maybe respect isn't entirely the right word, but I definitely was much more aware of her in the water.  I didn't look at her being the one looking out for me and staying out of my way, but more so I watched for her and made sure I kept a bit of distance between us.  I think she also paid more attention to my swimming and where I was.  Neither one of us wanted me to crash into her again.  She offered me the best advice anyone probably could have given me as my support paddler.  Since I pull right she told me she is going to direct me with her kayak and I need to swim in the direction the front of her kayak is pointing.  She told me I was too far right and I am going to have to swim more than I should by not keeping a straighter line. 

Beautiful view of the cliffs lining the shore

Me swimming closer to shore finally

Paige really ended up being a great support for me.  She took some cool pictures for me while I was swimming with my camera and she offered me words of encouragement.  I really ended up enjoying my time with her during the race.  I just had to get past the negative start.  

While out I didn't see too much wildlife because the water wasn't completely clear, but I did swim over a beautiful jellyfish.  It was just like the jellyfish I swam over at La Jolla Cove.  Jellyfish are interesting to me.  I feel like the ocean stands still when I see one in the water.  It is like all my surroundings go silent and I only see the jelly gracefully move through the water.  This jelly was about 3/4 the size of my leg with its top and tentacles combined.  I wanted so badly to stop and take a picture of it with my camera, but I was too worried my hands were too cold from the water temperature that I would drop my camera and lose it in the water forever.  I just lifted my head and told Paige about its beauty.  There were a number of salps I swam through as well.  

About 2-2.5 miles left in the swim I stopped for another feed and right when I stopped a few dolphins came swimming up to us.  Oh my goodness it is moments like these on why I swim in the water.  They were full of energy.  At one point they were as close as 4 or 5 feet from me...jumping in and out of the water.  As silly as this is even though I was in a "race" I swam backward a little bit so I could play with them.  I looked under water for them as they dove under, but like I already mentioned earlier the water wasn't clear...not even clear enough for me to have visibility of the dolphins even 4 feet from me.  It is amazing how much of a motivator the dolphins are to me and probably a number of other open water swimmers.  I feel like I really needed to see those dolphins to really keep in a positive mind frame.  Part of me wonders if those dolphins knew I wanted some encouragement.  No one else that I know of saw or even heard the dolphins.  I would like to think (in my crazy mind) they were there just for Paige and I to bond over. 

Back of my head and my new friend

So we were off after my feed and everything progressed well for me.  I wasn't really paying much attention to my time other than when I needed another feed. (Paige didn't have a watch on), but I did feel like I was being pushed quite a bit (that's always a nice feeling). 

All of a sudden before I knew it she told me we were almost at the finish line.  I stopped and asked her if she was sure because there is no way I had been swimming long enough to cover nearly 6 miles.  She pointed out the flags that I was to swim up through and she was right!  I was so proud of myself.  My shoulder had held up well for me with very little discomfort and I didn't give up even though I had a tough start of the swim.  I was so stoked!  I knew at this point I was the 2nd to last person in the water, but I didn't care I was so proud of myself.  Of course, I don't really ever understand how it feels like once you see the finish line it sometimes feels like it takes you forever to get there.  I took one more feed to get me through my last 20 minutes of swimming around the buoy and up on the beach. 

Finishing with a huge smile! (my Mommy is to the left cheering me on as always)

I was happy overall with the entire experience.  I learned a lot from this swim and I regained some confidence in my left shoulder for my upcoming swim of 12.4 miles.  I finished with 3 hours 20 minutes 43 seconds!  That was a good 10 minutes better than I had expected with even the best conditions.  Granted I do think I could have taken at least 5-10 minutes off my time had my start been more successful, but in the end I am stoked with the time I had and I kept swimming!  I also got this really cool ceramic mug with whales on it to commemorate my accomplishment.  I can't wait for next year!!

Still smiling with my mug of accomplishment

Samuel, Me, Mommy, and Matthew post swim!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Let's Play Catch Up...

It's been a bit of time since I have last posted.  I have been swimming, but much of my time has been limited due to issues with my left shoulder.  Since I have last posted I did do a few things along with keep up with my regular weekly swims.  My long swims have had a bit of a damper on them as I have been struggling to make it past 3.5 to 4 miles the last few weeks (maybe even month).  It has definitely been difficult for me to get over. 

I have made a couple of attempts so far to hit 7.5 to 8 miles non-stop, both fell short.  My first attempt stopped at 6 miles and my second only made it to about 4.5 miles. 

Something I don't think I have talked about yet...I am being documented by two independent film makers for my Anacapa Channel swim.  I was being filmed on one of the days I attempted 7.5 and I only made it 4.5 miles that day.  That was a tough pill to swallow.  

Since those failed attempts I have been giving my shoulder a lot of rest...or trying to at least.  I tried for a few other long training swims with little success and my distances seemed to be getting even shorter.  I had been feeling blah about my swimming and defeated. 

I did go have my stroke analyzed at Think Physical Therapy.  It was worth it for me to do this.  I saw in an under water video what I potentially had been doing wrong on my left stroke that is causing me my pain.  I have been now more aware of how narrow my stroke is and I am improving. 

A few fun swims I did was the La Jolla Cove Pier to Cove swim.  Although I was disqualified I had a blast.  I was DQ'd because I started early.  There was a guy and his wife who were looking for another swimmer or two to start early as he was a disabled swimmer.  Jeremy had polio when he was younger and it affected his right side.  His disability coupled with his wife only being in the ocean a couple of times (they are from Arizona) they felt more comfortable to have someone else swimming with them.  I volunteered because I wasn't doing the swim for a time...I was there for fun!  

The waves were rough getting out that day.  It took me 14 minutes to get to the edge of the pier and along the way of being pummeled by waves I lost Jeremy and Allison.  I stopped and asked one of the kayakers for the swim if they saw anyone else heading out.  He didn't and I waited a couple more minutes with no sign. So off I went solo with no kayaker or swimmer to go with me.  It was okay though.  I figured that at some point I would have others pass me up and then I wouldn't be solo anymore.  That never happened.  I did see at least a dozen sting rays and saw the most beautiful jellyfish I had ever seen.  Of course that freaked me at first.  I was afraid of being stung so I swam abruptly right to avoid it not knowing if there were more to come.  It was huge and a beautiful purplish brown color.  I stopped a few other times to look back, but I never saw the two swimmers I started out with.  Bummer!  I finished feeling really great and no shoulder pain.  In fact for the first time when I got out I was the first one to finish!  That felt GREAT!  ha, ha.  Of course it only lasted a few seconds because I had to tell the race directors I started about 30 minutes early.  It was then I was DQ', but again its okay I had a great day.  Met new friends and spent great time with old friends.  Jeremy and his wife made it out and finished the swim strong.  I got to see the two of them finish side by side.  I was really happy to see them finish so happy together. 

The weekend after La Jolla I did a road trip with Lynn up to Arroyo Grande to swim at Avila Beach with Rob's group.  It was a great time.  I had the privilege of meeting a few new friends and spent some fun time in the car with Lynn.  We had hoped for cooler water and it was up to 59 degrees, which was a lot warmer than we thought it would be.  Lynn and I were hopping for 54-55 degrees.  I got about 1.5 miles in. 

So that for the most part gets me caught up to date...

Friday, June 1, 2012

Double the cracks...double the swims

Today started with and ended with Shaw's Cove in Laguna! What a way to welcome June!!

Another beautiful day at 6 am with warm and clear waters.  What was special about today? Well today I decided not everything is about training and it was a day to remember why I am in the water vs. thinking.  With that said...what I mean is it was a fin day. I downsized my fins so I don't get as much of an aid, but definitely still an aid. I wanted to keep with the group this morning so I wore them because it is fun to keep up. Best part was it allowed me to shoot the crack this morning. Yay!! When I say 'the crack' this is the crack between the rocks at Seal Rock aka Ray's Crack. Oh my goodness what fun it was today. I went for it following Patsee's lead. I figured if Patsee was going do it I will take it as an unspoken dare and follow. So I did. It was awesome! I have done the crack a handful of other times but never like it was today. Don't get me wrong it was safe, but maybe felt like it wasn't the best idea mid way through, but by then there was NO turning back. I kicked and swam like I would never swim again. Getting out of the crack Steve asks me how it felt...what went through my mind was 'depends could you see the look of fear in my face as the waves were churning up around me? Because if you couldn' was great!' Although my response, and it was definitely honest, was 'put it this way that crack was tougher than the entire swim' everyone got a good giggle and there I was still catching my breathe. Haha.

It was super fun this morning!!

I double downed at Shaw's today and went back for more after work for a night swim. It was fantastic! I got there late from some of the swimmers. So I walked to a far corner of the south cove and just thought okay no turning back again just go for it and swim back in with the group. Had the water not been calm again I wouldn't have been able to safely get in where I did. I caught up to the group and swam but also just felt like we were playing for a while. We went to the Giggle Crack. At this crack the water sucks you in and then spits you out. Julie went fearlessly in at first as Patsee and I thought the tide might not be right...of course after she did it we couldn't help but do it. Again a lot like today I was being pulled in almost by a 'dare' from Patsee following her. Well I can see why it is the Giggle Crack. I laughed and screamed out woohoo's in and out. It was super fun!

We saw quite a few sting rays and a bat ray while in the water. Before I got in I did see a dolphin in the cove, but I do have to admit when I first saw the fin prior to getting in the water I waited to have assurance the fin was welcoming vs unwanted. Turns out it was a dolphin so I wasn't worried of being in.

After fun, food, conversation, and nothing but laughter along with some fulfillment talk we all jumped in once more for a night swim.

It was a great night with lifetime friends full of crack shoots!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Calm and Clear

What a great way to end the month of May with a morning swim bright and early with 13 other Oak Streakers!  The water was refreshing, warm, clear, and low tide!  You could nearly see the bottom.  (Funny comment about seeing to the bottom...Lisa asked me a few weeks ago what songs I sing in my head when I swim.  I gave her my range of artists I sing while swimming and told her one fall back when the water is clear is definitely Will Smith (Big Willie) "Miami"...replaying the lyric in my head of 'water so clear you can see to the bottom' whenever I can see such depth in the water.)  Today was a Big Willie day at moments.  

Kelp seems to be starting to die off, which is sad, but also nice to know it won't be in the way as much.  There were tons of schools of fish in areas.  The water was so calm most of the group swam the crack of Seal Rock...I just played around the reef watching the wildlife.  Of course this was because I was trailing behind a little and didn't want to shoot the crack without someone close to me.  Safety first...I opted to not chance getting scrapped by a wave pushing me into the rock.

Total trip of my morning swim was probably about 1.25 miles.  Short, but well worth the early morning wake up call.  Swimming back to shore about 75 yards from the shore I saw a baby ray just chillin' in the sand.  Reminds me to never forget about the string ray shuffle and to continue to embed the rhyme in Matthew and Samuel's heads...especially at Shaw's Cove.   

Shaw's Cove about 6:05 am on May 31, 2012