Tag: open water

In Defense of GSL

I was asked at work to write a blog about a fun thing to do in the outdoors in Utah. So I put together this post on the GSL.  Most of it will be review for regular readers but I thought I might as well share it.

In Defense of the GSL

What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of Utah?  Most Americans would probably answer 1. Mormons and 2.  Great Salt Lake (maybe skiing or the Olympics for 3rd?).

I’ve lived in Utah for most of my adult life and the interesting thing is until 2011 I had never been to see the Great Salt Lake.  I had driven by it but not stopped to take a look and certainly not swam in it.  I would bet 80-90% of Utahns were like me and had never set foot near the Great Salt Lake.  This is funny because daily buses of Chinese tourists come up to take a look at it.

gsl

Why don’t people go to the Great Salt Lake? Well, the long and short of it is- it smells.

One blog said:

“Yea, I was going to say, who would want to stink like the Great Salt Lake!??! You can smell it as you start to drive near it. My daughter went on a field trip there, and her shoes stank for at least a week. A co-worker once went out there and her shoes stank up the whole office afterwards.”

Sounds pretty unpleasant right?  WRONG!

finish-gslI was in the ‘who swims in GSL?’ camp most my life but in 2011 I discovered open water swimming and my life has never been the same.  As great as pool swimming can be (I love any kind of water) there is something special about being out in nature where the water is unpredictable and full of surprises.

And no body of water is more unpredictable than the Great Salt Lake. It’s a totally unique and exhilarating experience.

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You step in the water and your skin prickles.  My friend calls it going for a quick pickle. Every pore in your body reacts and burns (people think it is like the ocean and it is not at all). It’s a wild experience but to me that is part of the fun of it.

There are so few times in life we can do something special and when I swim the GSL I can honestly say I’m 1 of only a handful of dedicated swimmers who have that same experience each year.  That’s pretty cool! Plus, it really is beautiful.

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The older I get the harder it is to be genuinely surprised by anything and each time I swim in the Great Salt Lake (or any open water) it feels new and unexpected.

Every year on the first Saturday of June my swim club Salt Lake Open Water (SLOW) sponsors a 1 mile swim in the Great Salt Lake and it is tough in every way.  But it is also exhilarating. I have done it 3 times and each time goes down as one of the best days of my life.

finisher
To challenge and conquer nature is an experience every human being should have.

Some tips:

  1. Make sure to go early in the summer (May and June) because later there are too many spiders and bugs.
  2.  Always go with friends when open water swimming and wear a safe swimmer so you are visible to boaters.
  3. Keep a swim to an easy return level because conditions can change rapidly at the GSL (windstorms can come on and I’ve been in 6 foot swells without warning)
  4. You will have brine shrimp (only living organism in the lake) on your body and suit but it washes right off.  (There is a hose to rinse off in. Rest comes off in the shower. No big deal)
  5. Contact SLOW on facebook and find out when swimmers are going and join in.  There are members of the Wasatch Front Polar Bear Club who swim GSL year-round!
  6. Have great goggles. I usually tuck an extra pair into my suit because you do not want to have goggle problems at GSL
  7. Drink lots of liquids before and after because that salt will dehydrate you fast
  8. Where possible have a kayaker accompany your group giving water, checking safety etc
  9. Count your strokes.  This has helped me so much with open water. The shoreline can feel like a mirage but when you focus on 20 more strokes, 50 more strokes, you will get there.  I promise!
  10. Sighting can be helpful but GSL is tricky since nothing grows around it that’s why best to go with group.
  11. Smell does not last for weeks.  Take a hot shower and launder your clothes in hot water and you’ll be fine
  12. Oddly the smell is much worse just outside the lake than when you are swimming in it.  I don’t know if you just don’t notice it but it really is a non-issue in the water.
  13. Wouldn’t recommend shaving anywhere right before going in the GSL.  It will burn!

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I’m probably not making it sound like very much fun but swimming in the Great Salt Lake is an adventure.  It’s something you can gather with friends and take on together.  It’s a beautiful part of my home state and I recommend everyone give it a shot, smell and all.

Open water swimming also teaches me about life every time I am in the water.  The shoreline can feel so far off but if I push through and don’t give up I will prevail.  That’s one of many lessons I’ve gotten from the sport over the years.

Oh and you do float which is kind of cool!

interview-photo

Here I am getting interviewed after my 2013 race, which was incredibly difficult for me to finish but I did it!

Next time you are in Utah let me know and let’s swim GSL together!

GSL 2014

Another amazing open water swim race has come and gone.  Honestly I’m so exhausted I don’t know how much I can write but I will do my best.

I’ve often said I race partly for my swim family, partly for nature, partly for fitness but mostly for life.  Every swim teaches me something profound about life and this was no exception.

Here I am before the race:

before raceI was really nervous as I always am.  Great Salt Lake is so unpredictable and my last 2 years have been very tough for me, even 2012 when I was so well prepared was a beast. Both of those years there was wind advisories and the races were nearly cancelled.  I was praying so hard that we would get smooth water for once…

And my prayer was answered. Smooth water!

When you enter the Great Salt Lake it is like no other experience I can describe.  Your whole body screams with all the salt.  Your tongue swells up, your nose burns, and any soft skin let’s you know quickly it doesn’t like it.  All this adds to the challenge.

But luckily I decided to go for it and this year my friend Anna came with and she did amazing! A lot of my other friends weren’t in town or didn’t swim for one reason or another.  In fact, it looked like over half the swimmers were new to GSL.  There was one group from California that flew in for the race.  They go to races as friends all over the country.  How fun is that!

So they started the race in an odd way.  We had to climb over all these rocks and I had flip-flop sandles on.  I felt like I was going to slip and break my ankle.  It was kind of nuts.

Here I am trying to get down to the start:

DSCF5601Then the race started and within the first 5 minutes all the sudden my whole right side cramped up.  I felt like I could hardly move.  It seemed like I would have to pull out with that much pain so early on.

Luckily there was an awesome kayaker who helped me calm down and encouraged me to try another stroke so breaststroke it was. It seemed to strain my side less and after about 3 sets of 100 the cramp was mostly gone. (I count strokes in batches of 100)

I was still doing a lot of breaststroke but then worked in 100s of freestyle and even got a 150 in.  It was so shallow that it was hard to do a freestyle stroke for a lot of the race.

There’s me in all that water. Surrounded by nature and all that water.  It will never get old.  So beautiful!:

S0015609See how close the kayaker was?  He was a lifesaver and was so encouraging.

I also decided to not worry about sighting and just swim.  The current was very light so I didn’t have to worry about getting pulled inward like I did last year. I was confident enough in the kayaker that I knew I could just swim.  With my lazy eye sighting is not my strength but it’s especially hard at GSL because there are no trees or big objects to sight on so it’s sort of a fruitless enterprise.  I’m glad I abandoned it all together.

So, I kept going in batches of 100 strokes.  Another one and then rest 20 seconds, and another.  Finally I got to the spot to run in and it was probably 200 yards.  I actually speed walked because I was worried about turning my ankle on that type of rocky/sandy beach. (Plus I was exhausted).

Eat your heart out Bo Derek! 🙂

DSCF5621Here’s the crazy thing- cramp, stops, breaststroke and all I finished in 1 hr 4 minutes.  Last year it took me 1 hr 23 minutes!  Almost 20 minute faster this year!  I still can’t believe that!

It just goes to show a lot of obstacles can be in your way at the beginning of your goal but if you keep going, do 100 more, and then another, and another, you will finish.  Like I said, swimming teaches me about life. And what a perfect lesson to learn this week starting a new job for new company, doing something new!

I will never forget crossing the line and knowing I did it!  Cramp and all I did it! Please take my story and set a bold goal.  People of all shapes and sizes can do awesome things.

Thank you to the organizers, kayakers and my friends for cheering me on both at the race and away. I might not have done the race at all if it wasn’t for all the wonderful encouragement.

It feels good to be Rachel today!

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A brick of salt for a salty race. Love this photo
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My awesome kayaker. Such great support
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Anna did amazing. 35 minutes first GSL/open water race!
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We did it! I love my open water family

Destination Swims

SLOW Newsletter, Volume 2, Issue 1

I am very fortunate to be the editor of the newsletter for our local open water masters swimming group Salt Lake Open Water or SLOW.

Each quarter I get the task of assigning articles and profiles to members and I enjoy making my little contribution to the community that has helped me so much.

This quarter I put myself in charge of writing an article on Destination Swims.  I think it turned out pretty well so I thought I would share it with all of you.  It is a great way to travel, make new friends and see the beautiful lakes and oceans with fellow masters swimmers.

Destination Swims by Rachel Wagner
One of the benefits of being a member of SLOW is not only meeting up with open water swimmers here in Utah but around the globe. With a little research and reaching out to new people we can have fun and rewarding experiences in the water wherever we travel.

There are several types of approaches to destination swims. Josh Green and Kate Pettipiece both met up with masters groups in Colorado (Grand Junction and Montrose respectively) when traveling there for other reasons so they could stay in shape and ‘not miss a swim’.

Other SLOW members have planned their vacations and travels around open water swim races and groups. Erin Jensen has done 4 swims as far distant as Florida and Hawaii:

“For all four, I knew that I wanted to go on vacation, but I didn’t care when. I wanted to make sure that there was a swim happening or else why would I go? The last time I had a destination swim was in Florida.”

Especially oceanic/lakeside vacations will often have established masters groups and open water swims and so it is easy to contact them and plan your trip without too much effort. Of her most recent swim in Florida Erin said:

“Using Google search, I looked up the different Master Teams websites. I found two in Florida, but on opposite sides of the state that worked within my free time. In looking at cost of the trip, I ultimately decided on which one was going to be cheaper for me to get too So, last May I swam the 2.4 mile Hurricane Man swim. It was fabulous and a wonderful experience”

Developing relationships with other open water swimmers can be particularly helpful when it is a location we often visit. I visit my parents in Sacramento area frequently but have never actually lived there. In 2012 I looked up ‘Sacramento open water’ on google and came up with a meet up group called The Sacramento Swimming Enthusiasts who met about 15 minutes away from my parents’ house at Folsom Lake.

destination swim

This proved to be particularly helpful in 2012 because I was getting ready for my first 5k and I did my first test 5k during that trip. They were all much better swimmers than I was and so not only did I have a great time but I learned some new techniques, got some tips, and trained hard while visiting my parents (plus got a break from the fam…).

Unfortunately I haven’t been able to meet up with them again because my visits to home have been brief and crammed with stuff but I hope to and really enjoyed my experience.
This May I am traveling to Tampa to visit a friend so I searched facebook for a masters group there and found Tampa Bay Open Water

Swimming and have already contacted them and plan swimming together. They are a new group so were very receptive to meeting me and learning about SLOW. I’m really looking forward to it.

There are many ways you can come into contact with swimmers when you travel. Social media platforms like facebook, twitter and meet up.com all feature clubs and races with a simple search. Google can take you to websites and blogs for groups and individual swimmers.

Also, the USMS website has a club finder section that can be helpful. In fact, that’s how I first heard about Deer Creek swim in 2011 and met Jim Hubbard.

So on your next vacation see who you can swim with. You will find it enriches your trip, produces meaningful relationships and helps you become a better swimmer.

DNF is Not a 4 Letter Word

For those of you who do not follow me on facebook you might not be aware of the recent drama in my life.  It started in the summer when my new friend Tanya and I started training together.  She was new to open water.  New to swimming in fact.  She is a student of my friend Kate who is a fabulous swim instructor for adults.  She’s introduced so many people to swimming and open water over the years and has helped me tons with my own stroke.

In July Tania mentioned to me that she wanted to prepare for a race but didn’t feel she would be ready for Deer Creek in August.  The next obvious choice was to take the trip out to Slam the Dam in Las Vegas at the beginning of October.  I have done this race in 2011 and it was a lot of fun.  I figured why not?  (I had signed up last year but various dramas kept me from attending).

So the training began and we got to blackridge pond as often as we could and we both saw improvement.  More importantly we had fun and became dear friends.

Tania and me.
Tanya and me.

Tanya is honestly good for my ego because she thinks I’m such a good swimmer.  I love to swim but pretty much always know I’m the slowest girl in the room and I’m ok with that.  I get the job done and that’s all that matters to me.  I’ve told Tanya repeatedly over these weeks ‘this is a hobby.  If it isn’t fun you are doing something wrong’.

That said, I’ve had nagging doubts about my abilities all along.  With my back and other chronic pain I haven’t been able to train as hard as last year, it was frustrating for me to feel like I wasn’t the swimmer I was just a few months ago.  These anxieties were made worse by the realization of a strict time limit at Slam the Dam.  For some unknown reason the park service would only give them until 11 am and then everyone has to be done.

This only gives the 1.2 mile swimmers 1 hour to swim.  The organizers have told me it is ‘plenty of time for a swim’ but they don’t understand or aren’t interested in nurturing new/nontraditional athletes.  My best time on a 1 mile swim is 53 minutes. At Deer Creek my time was 1 hr 2 minutes for 1 mile.

To make matters worse they sent out an email last week saying “If you are not adequately prepared mentally and/or physically, do not race”  What does that even mean?  I’m not mentally prepared for life let alone a race.  I mean who feels adequately prepared for something so monumental?  I bet if you asked Michael Phelps he’d tell you things he wished he’d done or worked harder on.  To me this was baffling and kind of mean-spirited. (and I begged for some kind of an accommodation but no go)

They have also made it clear that you will be pulled from the water if you go over time, which I’m ok with but I just wish the time limit didn’t exist.  It honestly makes me sick inside.  Sick for my friend.  Sick for me.  Sick for all the other new swimmers who will be discouraged from participating.  A side of me wants to throw in the towel and not make the effort to drive out there and be humiliated…

But where’s the victory in that? I’d say there is about a 50/50 chance depending on weather, current, course, strength, stroke etc that I finish the race.  My GSL time after all was 1 hr 24 minutes so not even close to the cut off time because of the strong current. (Thank you Utah races for not having a time limit or at least a strictly enforced one).

50/50…so I either succeed and have a triumphant moment or I get a DNF (Did Not Finish).  Even now there is a side of me that shudders when I say those words.  It is so outside of my nature to not finish, and yet isn’t it always a possibility in any endeavor?  At least anything worth doing can be a success or failure?

The funny thing is  the ingredients are nearly the same for a finish and a DNF- both have training, goal setting, driving, racing, happy friends and lots of people who say to me ‘I could never do that’.  The only difference is me and my pride.  Kind of silly…

I love what JK Rowling says about failure. ” It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default”

I don’t want to fail by default.  For me a DNF will be a DNQ (Did Not Quit)

swimmingHow do you guys deal with DNF’s and potential failures in your goals?  Its especially hard when it is so outside of your control.  What are your strategies?

I can definitely promise you this- I will not be swimming Slam the Dam again anytime soon.  If they only want athletes with a specific set of skills than they have got it.  This will be the last year myself or my blog are involved.  Too bad really…

I’ve gotten some great encouragement on facebook from the swim forums.  Thanks everyone!

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:

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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. 🙂

GSLOW 2013

A few weeks ago I posted a blog about how I was taking a slower approach to training this year compared to last year.  I had been feeling pretty good with my decision and my pain levels have decreased considerably but I still wanted to participate in the Great Salt Lake Open Water Swim like I did last year.

Open water swimming is such a big part of both my physical and social life that the idea (even suggested by my doctor) was too painful.  I talked to Gordon and Josh about and they agreed I could take it slow and there wouldn’t be a strict time limit.  (some races have an hour and I knew unless the water was perfect that would be tough).

I was really hoping to get more training in before the race, at least in the pool but between my treatments and new job I could barely make it to the gym let alone the pool and/or open water. I was being trained this week so I couldn’t make the clinic or other swims at GSL either so I was going to the swim fairly green and untrained.  (Oddly enough I wasn’t that nervous maybe partly because I’ve done it once before and I hadn’t built it up in my mind (see my post When Goals Make You Nuts before last years race!)).  In fact, yesterday it hardly even felt like a pre-race day at all.  (I did get nerves but nothing like before.

Anyway, this morning came and I brought cupcakes to the race and headed out to the lake.  This year was a little different because most of my friends from Utah Open Water either weren’t participating or were doing the 8 miler which started and ended at different times than my race.  I missed seeing the familiar faces but grateful to see some of my dear friends.  My friend Etsuko was first to catch my eye and she was positive and happy like usual (although I knew she felt as unprepared and as nervous as me!).

Looking confident before the race
Looking confident before the race
Etsuko sporting the new SLOW swimsuits and a smile
Etsuko sporting the new SLOW swimsuits and a smile

This year the race started in a different way.  Instead of going down the marina to the start buoys we had to climb over rocks and swim out to the start.  Jim said he thought it was really a mile and a 1/4 but Gordon said he measured and was sure so I trust him.  It felt longer maybe because of more of a swim to get the start line?  It wasn’t my favorite way to start the race especially when the opening whistle didn’t wait for  Etsuko and I to get there. Oh well!

Off we went and I felt pretty good at first.  In fact, a woman swimming with Etsuko and I cancelled her swim about 15 minutes in because the salty water was too much for her.  It is an experience.   (Listen/read the account made of the lake, water and race on NPR’s All Things Considered here)

I got more water in my nose and mouth than I would have liked and that is a huge detriment at the GSL.  People think it is the same as the ocean.  It is NOTHING like the ocean.  I think they say it is 5 times saltier than the ocean and it feels.  My friend Kate calls it ‘going for a quick pickle’. Your whole body reacts and let’s just say that after being in it for an hour and a half every tender part of my body feels tender still! Thank goodness I have found great goggles although I needed to put more anti-fog because I could not see the finish line at all.

One of my problems with the race was I kept veering to the right and wasting energy and as I would try to go to the left it didn’t seem to help much.  Finally I resorted to long stretches of breaststroke and I’m not great breastroker.  (Will need to work on that for future races).  It was the only way I felt I could see my targets.  The current was giving me tons of grief.  (the current in the GSL can be as strong as an ocean and it was powerful today!).

I say this every time I swim but it is true- part of the thrill of racing or open water swimming is that I don’t think I can do it.  Not before the race; although that is true.  I’m talking in the race I felt like I couldn’t do it a hundred times.  Today was especially rough because I was so far behind everyone (my lack of training did show but I was proud of myself) and I couldn’t see anything to sight- partly because of my goggles but also there just wasn’t a ton to look at and the finish line is always such a mirage.

Strange thing this year is it was so shallow I walked a large section of the end.  It was so shallow I couldn’t even breaststroke it home.  That’s why the video looks a little strange.

A neat thing this year is Talkin Sports crew at KUTV 2 entered a reporter in the race and is doing a 2 day piece today and tomorrow.  I’m not sure why but they picked me to interview when I finished (maybe I was last or maybe I was crying because I really didn’t think I was going to make it.  When I saw Etsuko at the finish line I lost it!).  Anyway, he interviewed me and I’m excited to see it air tomorrow at 10:30 (it is a 2 part bit with my part airing tomorrow).

This video is kind of long so feel free to zoom it up to about 2:20.  The interview is on there and my emotional finish.  (I will post a link to the published interview once it airs if they post it on the website)

After the race Etsuko, her lovely family and I went to my place showered and had a quick and tasty lunch of hotdogs, potato salad, watermelon and cupcakes.

Here are some more photos of the day.

Etsuko and I at finish line!
Etsuko and I at finish line!
Now that is goggle eyes!
Now that is goggle eyes!
Proud finisher
Proud finisher
Being interviewed
Being interviewed
Tasty post-race lunch
Tasty post-race lunch with Etsuko’s family
All of my medals (center one that says GSLOW in black that is this years)
All of my medals (center one that says GSLOW in black that is this years)

It was very meaningful to me and the fact that I finished with such simple training gives me more confidence than ever before.  I knew just me, alone can do it!  I don’t need some big regiment to finish (although it would have helped not going to lie).  I think my performance will only go up from here because of the mental boost this swim has given me.  GO SLOW!

A Week in Chaos and No to Slam the Dam

So I’ve had an intense last couple of days.

Saturday- book club highlight of the day.  Great turn out, great friends, great discussion.  We read The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella which I’ve mentioned a number of times on this blog as a fav.  We had this great discussion about workaholism in the modern culture.  Then I went home and spent 5 hours on an audit for one of my jobs.  I finished drained and so glad I didn’t have to teach the next day

Sunday- went to church, fast Sunday.  Didn’t have to teach but didn’t get much spiritual feeding because my week to go to sharing time.  Then had dinner with my sister.  We had some girl talk and watched Downton Abbey.  I have so much I need to work on.  My personal life is far from perfect. It was fun and supportive but felt tired next Morning.

Monday- Found out that month end close was on the 5th this week instead of the 10th and I was going to be out of town on the 5th.  Serves me right for taking a day off work!  Stressed out all day.  Then miracle of miracles Avalara called me and said they could move up my closing to the 3rd so I could get everything done.  Great news!   Stress has moved into the anxiety stage but some relief (most dangerous kind of anxiety is when you think it has been resolved and let your guard down). 10 hour work day

Tuesday-  Found out my ride to Henderson to stay with my Aunt and Uncle wasn’t going to work out.  (The details don’t matter but it was a  communication problem that caused me a lot of anxiety).  Felt unprepared for race.  Spent $100+ on race already.  Couldn’t decide what to do.  Was supposed to be fun but then with all the work anxiety and mechanics of it all it was anything but fun and certainly not relaxing.  I had a decision to make could either stay here, give up on my plans, or find a way out there and swim a race I was unprepared for but could probably do anyway?  My fear was if I didn’t go I would just end up working anyways and then be ready for a mental ward by Saturday….10 hour work day

Wednesday- Had a big long cry, near panic attack.  Felt overwhelmed by everything.  And then like a bolt of lightning I just knew ‘I have to make a decision.”  and then I knew “I’m not going” and I immediately felt a confirmation this was the right choice.  Seriously a lightness I had not felt in a long time came over me and I smiled.  My Dad called me about 5 seconds after hearing me in sobs and couldn’t believe the transformation.  All it took was a decision to be made.

Then I said what can I do to relax instead of working if I stay?  My solution- go to City Center Marriott (my favorite as it was my victory celebration when I quit my job in 2007) from Tuesday to Monday morning get a room all to myself and watch Conference and enjoy.  They have the best pool, hot tub, robes, sheets.  I know I will be able to sleep well.  Its near everything (in the center of the city!).  I want to try out some cool restaurants and really try to relax.  If this doesn’t work than maybe I really have lost the ability to relax.  I think my mission sucked the power out of me.

So, it was a hard decision.  I loved the race last ever and had a great experience but sometimes you have to do what is best for your brain and body even if it doesn’t match up with your goals.  My eye still has sutures and my equilibrium is still off.  I had maybe 3 swims in September and today I was training with Michele and I about passed out doing stair steps.  Don’t know if from overwork or my eyes.  Either way my body just isn’t itself at the moment and there is nothing I can do about that.

I know the next 3 months are going to be hyper stressful with a move, packing up, closing on a house, finding tenants etc and maybe I needed this break to be able to handle all of that (which is way overwhelming)?

Maybe Heavenly Father just knew I needed to focus on Conference this October because my spiritual canteen has been feeling low (only so much I can gain all by myself).  My family might come to the hotel and enjoy it with me but I told them NO WORK TALK!!!!  NO DRAMA!

I wish I was better at handling anxiety.  I wish I could do more and be more but then I think of all I do and wonder maybe I do too much?  Then there are slow weeks where I am itching for things to do.  Balance  between work and life are impossible for me.  Thank goodness for my friends who keep me sane. Thank goodness for boxing and swimming and thank goodness for my parents for loving me and not judging when I struggle.

So there it is.  That was my decision making process.  I know it was the right thing to do so it will be interesting to see what my Heavenly Father has in store for me.