Tag: open water swimming

Beach Day!!!

So if you hadn’t gotten the idea yet, I love the beach.  I love the sound of the waves.  I love laying out in the sun reading.  I love swimming in the ocean.  It’s just so great.  Nature’s amusement park if you will.  I miss the beach greatly when I am away for it and haven’t seen it since 2011.

Today I got to go to the beach!!  We went to Seal Beach in California, which was a new beach for me but great.  It’s crowded but beautiful, with a huge pier and lots of parking.  I was just so happy to be back in the water and away from the ‘walking vacation’.

seal beach

The day started great.  We left the hotel and headed to Seal Beach to first meet up with one of my twitter friends Samantha Ferraro.  She is a food blogger and we started talking because of a mutual love of cooking and Julia Child.  The first time we tweeted she asked the question-

twitter

I thought it was funny that anyone would be deciding to make tomato cobbler and orange curd.  After that we kept in touch and she asked for some advice in preparing for a triathlon and we chatted about the open water swimming part.  She lives in Seal Beach so it was too convenient not to meet up, so that’s what we did for lunch.

We ate tacos and chatted and had a lovely time.  I told her to come out to Utah and I can show her around.  It would be fun to cook together sometime.  You can read her food blog at http://littleferrarokitchen.com/

My second tweet up.  Both have been great!
My second tweet up. Both have been great!

It’s so neat the way we can connect with others so easily, have a positive impact and make friends with people we would never come in contact other ways.  I especially love twitter for this.  It is so nice to have a forum to share with likeminded individuals that share common interests.

So after our lunch Maddie, Mom and I went to the beach and spent the rest of the afternoon playing.  I got out my safe swimmer and swam for about 20 minutes.  The current was really strong or I could have gone longer.  It was so much fun!

open water beach beach girls beach2

It was just so peaceful and fun. I could have stayed there forever.  Sadly we had to leave to get back to my folks house and the long trip to Northern California started.  My Mom drove the whole way which I was very grateful for and we had good conversation, so it all turned out well.

Favorite day of the trip- beach day- followed closely by the massage.  So great!

 

Deer Creek 2013

Open water swim #6 has come and gone!  It was a great day.  This is my third year doing the Deer Creek swim and last year I did the 5k and I thought about doing it this year and probably could have but was worried about my training ability this summer.  I wanted to have fun and enjoy the day so I signed up for the 1 mile and I’m glad I did.  It was a great day and I felt quite pampered.

The day started with an early wake up and meeting Renee and Tania.  Renee kindly agreed to be my paddler for the race and Tania came along for support.  It was so nice to not have to drive and just relax.  Plus, I almost never have any spectators at the races.  The only other people who have come were my Aunt and Uncle in Las Vegas (my next race is slam the dam in October!)

It was really nice of Tania to drive me and load up my kayak into her truck.  I hope she had a good time and is inspired for her first open water swim race in October.  She’s become my favorite swim buddy (along with Renee and Kate) and we are both working towards a strong finish at that race.

Anyway, we got to the lake and they were running behind but it gave time to stretch and get ready.  I was a little worried about the cold water because its been a little cooler and we swam Blackridge pond last week which was freezing, so I thought Deer Creek might also be cold.  Luckily it was the perfect temperature and they did a great job keeping boats out of the way. It wasn’t until the very end of my race that I felt any boat traffic at all.

Our group was the last to start and I felt strong in the water.  My form has really improved this summer, which is good because my cardio has suffered with my back treatments.  I worked in 50 stroke segments throwing in 25 strokes of breastroke when I got tired.  I even did a couple sets of 100.  The race went quickly and I ended up with a time of 1 hour, which isn’t my fastest but it isn’t my slowest mile swim.  To compare my time at GSL was 1 hour 24 minutes (that shows you what a difference current makes!)

I felt a rush of pride fill me as I pushed the finishline buoy.  Its a huge accomplishment and a lot of fun also.  Renee was great- a very encouraging paddler and friend.  The whole thing was awesome!

I hope that someone reads this and thinks ‘If she can do that, I could do ……”.  I want to encourage you all to find a worthwhile physical activity and embrace it, push yourself, NO MATTER YOUR SIZE.  If I can do it, anyone can.  It just takes hard work and the right support with a little bit of luck thrown in.  I can’t imagine my life without open water swimming and I’m so grateful it came into my life in 2011.

Here’s some photos:

DSCF1075

All of my medals.  Eat your heart out Michael Phelps
All of my medals. Eat your heart out Michael Phelps
Swimming away!
Swimming away!
Finisher
Finisher
Etsuko and I before race
Etsuko and I before race

before race mile

1 mile marker
1 mile marker
Tania and Renee, my pit crew
Tania and Renee, my pit crew

Deer Creek Clinic 2013

After I got home from the temple I went with my friend Tania to the Deer Creek Open Water Clinic which is held every year before the Deer Creek Open Water Marathon Swim that I am participating in for the 3rd year next week!  Last year I did the 5k but have less training and am doing the 1 mile this year.

For some reason there was a small turnout so basically Goody, Josh and Gordon put on the clinic for Tania and I, which was super nice.  They could have cancelled seeing it was just the 2 of us but they went ahead anyway and I was grateful (aren’t open water swimmers the nicest?). It was Tania’s first time swimming outside of Blackridge pond in Herriman and she was pretty nervous, but she did great!

I felt pretty good but my stamina is nowhere near what it was last year. 😦  However, I swam about 800 yards and it was good practice for Saturday.  Thanks to Josh and his boys for kayaking as I swam.  That was super nice.

I was thinking the other day- Doesn’t it seem like I’ve been open water swimming my whole life?  Its hard to imagine my life without it, and yet its only been 3 summers.  I first heard about it in July of 2011 and my friend Jim Hubbard took me to the Deer Creek Clinic and I was nervous just like Tania was and look how far I’ve come.  Pretty cool! https://smilingldsgirl.com/2011/08/05/deer-creek-clinic/

If you look at that post from my first swim it says it all:

“I did it! I did it! I did it! I swam in open water for a mile and held my own with people who had all done it before without a wetsuit. This is the best day of my life!”

I think Tania was feeling some of that as we left.  That’s what makes open water swimming or anything worth doing in life.  Its the people.  I know so many great people.  I always said I must have helped an old lady across the street in the pre-earth life because I don’t know what I did to deserve such great people in my life.  I watched my friends help Tania and was truly moved and thought of my long journey over 3 years and how great it has been.

Great people=A Great Life

Tania and me.
Tania and me.
Tania ready for her first big swim!
Tania ready for her first big swim!
Josh, Goody, Gordon
Josh, Goody, Gordon

Summer Updates

S0 it got to be 103 degrees today. Let’s just say SUMMERRR is here! I have been having a great time.  Summer is always so much more fun for me than Winter.  Just the addition of open water swimming makes my life better.  (Swimming in an indoor pool just isn’t the same). I’ve been able to see all my swim friends that I somehow miss in the winter.

Here are some highlights

I’ve been to plays including Wrinkle in Time at BYU which was mind blowing and Tarzan at Scera which was good.

My BFF Emily and I at Tarzan
My BFF Emily and I at Tarzan
Rachel B and I at Wrinkle in Time.  She's so cool and it was an amazing experience. Like no play I've ever seen
Rachel B and I at Wrinkle in Time. She’s so cool and it was an amazing experience. Like no play I’ve ever seen

I’ve been working really hard at my new job with Poler.

like this photo tons.  Been a happy time in my life.
In my office. I like this photo tons. Been a happy time in my life lately.

I’ve been reading a lot, especially rereading Jane Austen to get ready for book club. Its funny because I talk about them a lot but I haven’t actually read them in a long time.  They are just as brilliant as I remember.

reading

I’ve been swimming up a storm.  I wish I could go everyday but with work and other responsibilities there just isn’t time.  Went last Saturday to Deer Creek and today to Blackridge Pond in Herriman.

The girls ready for a swim.  Love open water women!
The girls ready for a swim. Love open water women!
Happy Rachel swimming at Herriman.
Happy Rachel swimming at Herriman.
I kind of love this photo of me at Deer Creek.  Got curves?
I kind of love this photo of me at Deer Creek. Got curves?

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Scraped my arm and leg tripping at Deer Creek.  First swimming injury
Scraped my arm and leg tripping at Deer Creek. First swimming injury
Despite my scrapes I was happy to be in the water.
Despite my scrapes I was happy to be in the water.

Other fun things…I performed in master class on Wednesday and sang Wishing You Were Somehow Here from Phantom of the Opera.  I’m no opera singer but it was fun to let my diva out.

Speaking of diva’s Drop Dead Diva started on lifetime which made my BFF Emily and I very happy. We had dinner together and a little diva watching party.  It did not disappoint.  Great season opening.  I think made even better by the fact that it almost didn’t happen.

emilyThe meal turned out really good.  It was buccatini (my new favorite pasta) with fresh cherry tomatoes, sausage, parm and fresh herbs from my container gardens which drumroll ARE STILL ALIVE!

Look how big my mint is!
Look how big my mint is!
Look how big my basil has gotten.  I guess I don't kill all living creatures :)
Look how big my basil has gotten. I guess I don’t kill all living creatures 🙂

I also made flank steak for the first time to great success

flank steak
Not bad looking right? Flank steak is my new favorite

I went to a Josh Turner concert with my friends Emilee and Rachel M (I know a lot of Rachel’s and Emily’s!).  He was super entertaining and has the most sexy voice I think I’ve ever heard.  Its low and he has an old fashioned southern drawl.  His band was really good too.  It was a great night.

Hawaii girl reunion Rachel, Rachel and Emilee
Hawaii girl reunion Rachel, Rachel and Emilee
Josh Turner and the crowd
Josh Turner and the crowd

All in all its been a great summer!  Hope you all have a great 4th and enjoy the hot weather as much as I do. 🙂

Anything I Can Do You Can Do Too!

swimming

Today I went visiting teaching and told my girl about my swim.  Her response was ‘Wow!  I could never do that!’.  I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that response in the last 3 years (crazy that I’ve been open water swimming for 3 years btw!).  It can actually be quite discouraging because I want to inspire people to do as I do, not make it seem impossible.

If you haven’t noticed I’m not exactly the typical athlete with a svelte figure.  Every swim I’ve done I’ve weighed between 275 and 310 lbs (yes, I just admitted that to the world. Deal).  I’m a big girl and always have been.  It wasn’t all that long ago that  just the idea of swimming for a mile felt impossible but I had a gentle friend put in my path who never wavered in his support of my seemingly impossible first swim back in 2011, and I did it!

I’ve faced other challenges besides my weight such as a fall down the stairs, chronic pain/fibromyalgia, PCOS, hormone problems, diabetes scare, and more, so training isn’t always easy or even possible.  I’ve faced personal challenges, heartaches and disappointments, which have felt like a fall down the stairs.  I’ve spent a greater part of a year looking, building, buying and moving into a new house.  I have at times dealt with crippling anxiety and even panic attacks that can make goal setting difficult and self acceptance challenging.

I’ve had all the challenges any of you face and yet I’ve completed my swims.

I don’t want to sound like a great hero.  In fact, I am trying to prove the reverse- that there is nothing particularly special about me.  If I can do it, so can you.  Even people with minimal swimming experience have made amazing strides with consistent practice.  I have seen people barely be able to cross the length of a pool, swim a mile in the GSL 6 months later.  I’ve seen people conquer fear of water, waves, being submerged, etc and do great things.

The way I see it you have 2 choices in life.  You can either take chances or watch as other people take them.  Even if its not an open water swim, I am sure there is something that you look at and think ‘I could never do that’.  I guarantee you ‘THAT’ is the thing you ‘NEED’ to do!  There is nothing more satisfying than doing something you never thought you could do.  It could be singing a solo in public, painting with watercolors, running for public office, starting a small business, writing a novel, entering a triathlon, giving blood.  Whatever. Find out what that is and DO IT!

Now you may not succeed.  My friend Goody had a goal to swim the Catalina channel in California.  He was in the water for 16 hours and eventually it had to be called off.  It was devastating but he took it like the trooper he was.  You know what he had to face this year? Cancer. I can only imagine the fighting spirit he developed in that water and setting a bold goal helped him in his victorious battle.  He also became the first Utahn to swim an ice mile in below freezing water.  So, your victory may come in a different way than you had planned but it will come.

Part of the reason I know all of you can do what you dream of doing is because I face the same doubts and fears.  Every time I swim I face anxiety about whether I’ll be able to finish.  Not just before the race but many times while I’m swimming.  I got to the point in the last GSL swim where I could hardly move my right arm.  The current was killing me and I could do about 20 strokes and I’d be pushed inside.  I had seen a woman give up early in the race and I wondered again and again if it was going to be my outcome.  I guess I decided I wasn’t going to let the lake lick me and it didn’t and that is the real victory!

I have a quote on my bookcase by the divine Nora Ephron that says ‘Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim’.  Stop saying ‘I could never do that’.  Stop it!  Think of things you can do and haven’t tried and do them.  Go for it!

I can think of so many times when this advice has benefited my life.  Because of a demon of a choir teacher, I was petrified of singing in public for years.  I even refused to lead the music on my mission because I had been so humiliated as a teen.  That said- I always knew it was something ‘I wish I could do’ but thought I just wasn’t made for singing.

In 2006 I was so miserable with life that I sought fulfillment in anything and signed up for voice lessons.  My first recital my hands were shaking and my skin was pale, but you know what I got through it and 7 years later it turns out that singing in public is actually something I’m quite good at.  I’m not saying I have the greatest voice in the world but the acting and performing is a strength.  That’s the blessing of doing hard things, of pushing yourself. You find out what you are made of and it constantly surprises you!

Last year I had a goal to introduce someone to open water swimming.  I felt it had done me such good and I wanted to share the favor.  Unfortunately I come in contact with relatively few new people so I didn’t know how I would complete this goal (speaking of impossible goals!) but I had faith and even made it a matter of prayer.  Well, in April of that year I discovered #ldsconf on twitter and made a ton of new friends while watching General Conference. One was a girl from Washington State named Abby.

We still have never met but she read about my prep for the GSL swim and my race last  June and one day she asked me if I thought she could be ready for the race on the Columbia River in September.  “Sure!” was my gleeful reply.  I remind you I had never met this person and yet I felt confident she could do it.  Later I remember asking myself ‘You don’t know this person.  What if she has a terrible experience and then blames you?”

Well, fortunately she swam it and had a wonderful swim with a great time.  Life is usually like that.  We need a little encouragement to do hard things and then we pass that gift on to other people.  We are the heroes of each other or we should be.  That’s the great thing about doing hard things is it inevitably puts you in the path of other dreamers, and your life is so much the richer for those relationships.  When I think of the people I have met through just swimming and singing I am blown away.  The decision to try seems self evident for the friendships alone.

Like the poet says:

Tomorrow is not promised to anyone, young or old.
Today might be your last chance to hold tight to the hand of the one you love and show all you feel.
If you are waiting for tomorrow, why not do it today?
Because if tomorrow never comes, you certainly will regret for the rest of your life
Not having spent some extra time for a smile, a conversation, a hug, a kiss,
Because you were too busy to give that person what ended up being their last wish.
Then hug tight today the one you love, your friends, your family, and whisper in their ears how much you love them and want them close to you.
Tomorrow is not promised to anyone so stop saying ‘I can’t’ or ‘I could never’ and go and do it!
There. That’s my pep talk.  Eat your heart out Zig Ziglar. Sure love ya!
DSCF0497
Also some did not get to see my little bit of fame from the TV the other day.  With the music and everything I was quite the culminating hero to the piece. (part 2).  I hope somebody sees it and says ‘wow. She looks like me.  Maybe I could do…’

Goings on

So I’m doing this awesome Wellness challenge started by old friend Heather.  The challenge is based on a point system where you get points for healthy eating, exercise and spiritual reading/goal setting.  I like that it isn’t solely focused on weight because as I well know sometimes the lbs can be out of your control.

“This challenge is based on a daily point system with each of the following categories awarding one point per day. At the end of the 21 days two winners will be chosen: the person who lost the greatest percentage of their total body weight and the person who has the highest total number of points. Be HONEST!!!

1. Drink 48 ounces of water a day.
2. 45 minutes of exercise (doesn’t have to be consecutive)
3. No soda or alcohol
4. No sweets a.k.a. desserts, pastries, candy, etc. (Sugar-free alternatives are okay)
5. No fast food or unhealthy snacks
6. Consume two servings of fruits and veggies each day
7. No eating after 8 p.m.
8. Read 15 minutes of spiritual or motivational text
9. Write in your journal or blog.
10. Make a personal goal everyday (getting 8 hours of sleep, organizing a closet, reading to your kids each night, etc.)

**You get ONE FREE POINT PER AREA, PER WEEK. For example, you can skip exercise for one day a week and still get your point or you can have one whole free day!

Pretty cool hah,
Well, the challenge #9 means I will be blogging a lot in the next 21 days.  Gotta get my points. 🙂

Luckily I have a lot going on.

As I said yesterday I made an offer on a condo but the sellers have been strange in counter offering.   At first they offered too high and included a bizarre contingency that they had to buy a house or the offer was void.  I thought that was crazy.  There is no way I would do something like that.  Forget it.  I could end up without a house.  Then they sent a counter offer that was less without the nuts clause but they took out closing costs so it was basically the same.

The truth is the sellers over-improved their house for the neighborhood and now they are expecting me to pay for it.  They said in their offer that they couldn’t go any lower because they would lose money.  I said I’m sorry but what they have into the house is not my problem.  I am concerned with what the house is worth.  I can’t pay more because they have over-spent.

I’ve gotten a lot of advice and am okay if I lose the house.  I love it but there are other homes, other days.  We will see if the sellers wake up and get it together.  Nerve wracking!

The other craziness in my life is next Saturday is my swim!!!  My practice 5k seems like decades ago.  I can’t even believe it. Lately I’ve felt weak in the water.  I felt really strong after my Great Salt Lake swim but lately I’ve been dragging.  I can’t explain it but its been very frustrating and makes me nervous for next week.  I wish I had time to do a practice 5k next week to feel more confident but there is just no time.

I’ve been trying to change my breathing so I’m taking shorter breaths but in the meantime it leaves me feeling weak.  Just frustrating and nerve wracking.

I wish it was this weekend, and I could just be done. 2 weeks before any goal is done is the worst.  It just about makes me crazy.

https://smilingldsgirl.wordpress.com/2012/06/06/when-goals-make-you-nuts/

 

At least I have end of the month next week so I should be kept hopping and hopefully the week will zoom by and I will be a finisher at a 5k swim!

So, that’s my rambling post for the day.  Let me just end by saying what a crazy Olympics this has been.  Great job Gabby Douglas, Rebecca Soni, Tyler Clary, Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps.  Wow!!! Its interesting because in Beijing Lochte and Phelps won everything but in London a lot of different swimmers have made gold.  It’s like they all just met together and said ‘let’s give everyone a gold’.  Pretty fun to watch.

I was watching Phelps race today on BBC and with about 15 meters left the coverage stopped! Talk about leaving me hanging! So I’m watching it now.  He did it!  Hurray! What an amazing accomplishment.  3 time gold medal winner in 200 IM.  So great!

They are all so amazing and inspire me to be awesome in my little effort next Saturday.

Let’s do it!

Ok.  So that’s my ramblings for the day.  More to come tomorrow.

 

 

First Open Water Swim

So I am pumped! The beginning of the open water swim season has started. As many of you know I am training for the Great Salt Lake Open Water Swim.  It will be the first of 3 open water swimming races this year- Great Salt Lake, Deer Creek and Slam the Dam.  Naturally I will be swimming in the open water much more than 3 times, every week if I can.

My goal this year is to introduce someone new to the sport.  I know it sounds scary but its really exhilarating.   You also have never met nicer people of all ages, shapes and sizes.  Can’t swim very well? I’ve seen people make incredible strides in a matter of weeks.

Anyway, today my friends and I went out to the Great Salt Lake and swam through the marina and around the buoys several times.  I started to get water in my goggles (a bad thing in the GSL) so I had to go in but I was tired so its just as well.  I’d say I was in the water 45 minutes or so.

Before swimming in the GSL

I was really worried about the water temperature and how my muscles would react.  Fortunately this has been a warm winter and the water is already 70 degrees!  It felt cold at first but its amazing how quickly you adjust and it was fine.  The greater challenge was the wind and the choppiness in the water.  That’s the hardest part of open water swimming but its also part of the excitement when you finish.

There is an optical illusion that happens every time I swim in the open water.  Whatever you are sighting seems so far off, until you are practically on top of it.  It feels like you aren’t making progress and so when you arrive its twice as thrilling! You did what momentarily you felt you could not do.  Its great!

Seriously friends come out with me sometime.  If you do I will buy you dinner!  I think you will enjoy it as much as I do and if not you got a free dinner. 🙂 .  Other lakes are opening now as well as the GSL such as Bountiful Lake and Blackridge.  Hurray!

http://www.utahopenwater.com/

To read about my other open water swims:

https://smilingldsgirl.wordpress.com/2011/08/15/open-water-swim/

https://smilingldsgirl.wordpress.com/2011/10/02/slam-the-dam/

Life at the Gym

PROGRESS AND GOALS

So just got back from a tough workout with Coach Dave- 1500 yards in 300 intervals each time going faster. My best time was 7 min 14 sec which I feel really good about.   I’m going to keep training and working hard for the Great Salt Lake Swim that which is coming up on June 9th.  Its a 1 mile swim but the water will be pretty cold so it will be a challenge.

I have also signed up for the 5K at the Deer Creek Open Water Swim!  This is the longest I have ever attempted but I have close to 6 months to prepare and I know I can do it.  I figure most of my friends did the 5k last year and I can hold my own with most of them.  My Dad might be able to come and be my paddler which would be a great experience together.  Its so motivating to have a race to look forward to.  Thanks in advance to all who are working to make both races happen.  They need volunteers for simple tasks if anyone is available June 9 or August 11th let me know.  Can’t wait!

I also am determined to get below 250 if it kills me.  Ok maybe not kill me but you get the idea.  I’ve worked so hard and last week I had a weight gain.  Was totally bummed out but I’m using it as a catalyst to try even harder.  I decided to sign up for a fresh meal delivery service here in Salt Lake that will help me get a better idea of portion controls and limit my diet with greater ease (with my new freezer this is even easier).  Its not something I would want to do forever but I think to help me get ready for the race it will be worth trying out.  Plus, the company does not have auto-renewal so to try it out for 2 weeks can’t hurt.

I’m also continuing with the bountiful baskets and between my freezer, portion controlled meals and lots of fresh produce I figure I will be doing all I can to eat right.

I know its weird but I love post work out photos. Its like a way of saying to myself- yes I did that! Don't you love the goggle eyes and swim cap line!

Sometimes in my quest for greater success I can forget how far I’ve come.  Take a look at these 2 photos one is from 2010 and one taken today.

2010 with my awesome trainer Michele. She has been with me through literally thick and thin! Weighed around 305 lbs
Michele and I today. Weigh around 260

I admit in 2010 I had hoped for a more dramatic before and after but I can tell a difference.  I certainly can feel the difference. It feels good to be able to say I tried as hard as I could to take care of my body and despite what felt like the gates of Hell opening up after me last year I am still pushing forward.

NEVER JUDGE

I also had a good experience today at the gym.  There is a lady who is in my ward who also goes to my gym.  She seemed sweet but on the surface not someone I would have a ton in common with (wears a ton of make up, dresses in designer clothes etc).

I was just in a good mood and went up to her and said ‘we should work out together sometime.  I’m sure you’re way ahead of me but it might be fun.  I’m kind of a lone warrior here.”  She said she would love that and asked if I did other things besides swimming.  I said ‘I’m not the most coordinated person in the world (huge understatement) but I will give most anything a try. I like kickboxing, yoga, spinning, working out on the machines. “

She seemed really happy that I talked to her and afterwards texted me saying “Can’t wait to work out with you :)”.   Just goes to show you shouldn’t judge by appearances. You lose out on a lot of friends that way.

She also said ‘you always seem really positive at the gym.  I think it would be great to work out together.’ This made me happy that people are watching me and maybe even a little inspired despite all my moaning and groaning!

BIKE

I’m also thinking about buying a bike.  The idea is to find a bike that I can tottle around Draper on turning everyday experiences into an active experience.  I need a bike with a seat that is large and frame that’s easy to mount.  Most bikes I don’t feel balanced enough on or that it can support me but this one looks very interesting.  Its called a Trek Navigator 2.0 and has 21 gears, low frame, big seat, front shocks and the local bike shop price is actually lower than I’ve found online.

So far the reviews I’ve read online are really good.  Thoughts?

SPRING WALK

One last thing.  Yesterday I was without a car because I have a company car and on occasion the company needs to use it!  My friend Jill was super duper nice to let me use her car so I could make my voice lesson (which was awesome.  I’m learning Defying Gravity and it is so thrilling! I’ve come so far and feel the song encapsulates the last  couple years of my life. ) .  Anyway, after dropping her car off I got to walk home in the beautiful Spring weather.  Everything is lush and smells delicious.

I snapped this quick pick with my camera phone (all of these photos were taken with my camera phone.  Not bad hah!). I’m so grateful to live in such a beautiful place and that God gives me glimpses of His grandeur on occasion.

Sometimes I forget how beautiful Utah is and how stunning the mountains are. Often I have to look up and remember that they are there and it takes my breath away. I'm so lucky to live here and I never want to move.

Christmas Swimfest 2011

So today might just be the perfect day! You know when you occasionally have those days that are pure fun and stress free? Aren’t those the best?

As any blog reader knows I have become an active participant in Open Water Swimming and Utah Masters Swimming.  In a year full of trials this has been the greatest of blessings.  It has given me goals, a sense of accomplishment, made exercising fun and provided me with a whole community of friends and support.

Its really hard to imagine that I swam in open water on August 5th at the Deer Creek Clinic for the first time. After that fateful swim I said:

“I did it! I did it! I did it! I swam in open water for a mile and held my own with people who had all done it before without a wetsuit. This is the best day of my life!”

And what a crazy, wonderful 5 months of swimming it has been since that first swim!  What a crazy year it has been! With so many challenges, which this blog has dutifully chronicled, I am so grateful to have rediscovered swimming, and that wouldn’t have been possible without the encouragement and nudging of good friends (I swear Jim Hubbard got about 30 emails from me before Deer Creek I was so nervous but I made it through and then did Slam the Dam, then Masters Swimming.  What great experiences!).

Swimming has really been an unmitigated good in my life, and how often can you say that?

Every year I do some kind of Christmas party (usually to show off my tree, which I love).  This year I decided to do something different and give back to the swimming community that has so kindly nurtured me.  So I came up with the idea of a Christmas Swimfest. (For me half the fun of a party is in the planning of it and this one was no exception).  I found Christmas swim caps (they have tons to chose from on Swimoutlet.com.  I had enough people, 12, that I was able to get the group rate.) This is the one I chose:

Then to finish the plans I rented 2 lanes at the Gene Fullmer pool in West Jordan (something I’m glad I did because it was super crowded and only $15 a lane, so no biggee). I figured this was a good central location for everyone and it was close to the Golden Corral where we went for a brunch afterwords.  My friend Erin agreed to plan the workout, which was super nice given she had gotten like no sleep this week working on her papers for her PHD.  Thanks Erin!  (I was worried she might start sleep swimming but it was fine 🙂 ).

Aside from a mistake I made with the restaurant directions everything went great.  We had a wonderful time and a good workout too! 10 swimmers came, we swam sets, did relays (my favorite. I love racing and I’m very competitive!) and we even went down the large slide at the center.  It was really a lot of fun. Thanks to everyone who came and for all the support this year.  Merry Christmas!

(ps.  There are already talks of more Swimfests.  It should be a great 2012!).