Tag: plus size fitness

Deer Creek Open Water Swim 2019

Hey friends! I have been experiencing a very busy summer between keeping up both of my podcasts and my other responsibilities. I haven’t been as involved in open water swimming in the last 2 years as I once was but I still really love the sport. Last year I didn’t do the swim at Deer Creek and I really regretted it. It’s such a terrific event and there’s no pressure as far as time because we all have support and the 10 milers (I still can’t believe there are 10 milers!) give me plenty of time to finish before things are done.

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Even though I really wanted to, I was nervous about participating this year because of my terrible sleep schedule and my lack of training. I knew I wasn’t as ready as I should be but I felt I could still do it if I could wake up in time. I gave it some thought and decided to go for it. Then 3 days before the swim my paddler had to cancel and I thought that might be the end of it. However, to my joy my friend Lisa agreed to paddle for me, which I am super grateful for.

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Last night I was actually able to get to sleep at a decent hour! It wasn’t all REM but I got a good 5-6 hours which is great for me so I woke up nervous but excited. Then I started in on the race and the water felt great. Half of the race is mental because it feels like you aren’t making any progress and it can get very discouraging. Luckily I had support and I just keep swimming (as Dory says!). It got harder towards the end because there were more boat waves but I kept going and eventually finished.  It was a slow but I did it.

You can watch it all in the above video. Another race has come and gone- 12 races in total for me. Now I just want to get even more ready for next year! What a great experience!

2016 Deer Creek Open Water Swim

Hi! I’m excited to tell you another open water swim is in the books! This is my 11th swim and unfortunately my only race for 2016. I was hoping to get 2 in this year but with my travels it just didn’t work out. Hopefully next year will get a few more in.

I will be honest with you I felt a little under-prepared for this race and like I always do I got very nervous this whole week before the race. What if this is the swim that I can’t finish? I feel like it is eventually going to happen one of these days but so far it hasn’t. As I got my Dad and drove up to the race I felt nauseous and began to wonder ‘why do I put myself through this?’. Even as I got in the cold water (it seemed colder than last year) I wondered if I could do it.

But then I start swimming. I got about a 1/4 mile and I really was doubting my abilities. The 1/2 mile marker seemed like a million miles away. It seemed impossible I would ever get there. But I divided it up into small amounts, 100 strokes, 50 strokes, even 25 strokes and I kept going. Finally I made the 1/2 mile marker and wished the race was over but I had to keep on going.

I did several 100 lap batches and at the 3/4 mark there were a lot of boats so the waves get large and difficult to manage (especially when you are tired from swimming for nearly an hour). But I just kept going. My friend Etsuko was my paddler and she helped encourage me and boost my spirits. When I finally saw the finish line I knew it was almost over. I had almost done it and I could feel the adrenaline sink in. I gave one more push and hit that buoy with conviction! Wahoo!

So I am a finisher! My 11th race is done and it was an amazing experience. My Dad also finished which is an awesome accomplishment especially for someone who can’t swim freestyle.

In the end, it was an amazing experience and I’m so proud of my medal. I know it is an Olympic medal and I was one of the last ones to finish our little race but it feels good to watch these Olympians and know I did something physically hard today too.

I am a finisher!!

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GSL Open Water Clinic

It’s official 2015 open water season has begun and life is happy for yours truly.  Next week is the GSL 1 mile swim and it will be my 4th year swimming it.  I am probably my least prepared for it but I had a test swim today and it gave me more confidence for next week.  They said I swam about .9 miles today and it wasn’t too bad so I think it will be great for the race.  Please pray I will be able to sleep next Friday because that could be a problem since the race is early in the morning.

Today was the GSL Open Water clinic and it was a huge success.

DSCF8005The water was very warm at 75 degrees.  This is why they have the GSL swim so early in the year because the salt and position makes it heat up very early .

Getting in the Great Salt Lake is an experience.  Your whole body reacts to the salt. Your nose and any other tender spots burn, your skin tingles and the water feels heavy like no other.  As you are swimming you can feel the salt sucking strength from your body as you quickly get dehydrated with no relief. People think it is like the ocean.  It is nothing like the ocean.  5 times saltier than the ocean in fact!

open4It was so funny some tourists from New York asked us for tips during their stay and where they could buy “local shrimp”.  I didn’t know what they meant at first and realized they were talking about the brine shrimp!  These are microscopic organisms that live in the Great Salt Lake, the only living organism in the lake.  Certainly not the kind of shrimp they were hoping for!

This year the water is very shallow and it seemed extra potent.  It’s so shallow they had to take all the boats out and have them in the parking lot.  We started at the marina and then they had about 5 buoys set out going towards the south beach.  The GSL swim has always been a straight shot to the Black Rock beach but this year they are doing a loop to one of the rocky beaches because of the water (if they did Black Rock it would have to be half swim half run and I’d be out).

I have decided this year to swim in batches of 50 and as I was testing out my stroke I think it will be good to alternate breaststroke and freestyle.  Sighting is so hard in Great Salt Lake even with buoys and the current can be very strong. There is something so motivating about swimming breaststroke open water because you can see your target dead on.  It is a little bit slower probably but it feels faster in the moment which is very encouraging.

Open water is such a mental sport.  It always feels like I am never going to get to the target.  I tell my friends it feels like you are on a swimming treadmill.  Even when you are very close it seems like you aren’t going to make it to the final destination.

But today I went out of the marina area and then about a half mile and then swam back to the marina.  Gordon told me it was .9 of a mile so pretty close.  This has given me great encouragement for next Saturday.  I was really nervous since I haven’t swam open water since last July but now I feel confident.  I’ll be tired but I know I can cross the finish line!

open 2 DSCF8012 openMy friend Etsuko is swimming open water this year (hurray!) and her friend could not understand why we would get in that stinky ‘cesspool water”.  It’s hard to explain.  Sometimes the swims give me anxiety and stress me out but there’s nothing like the feeling of finishing especially at GSL.

There is something about the human experience that needs to occasionally do hard things.  And people don’t expect a big girl like me to do something hard.  With my feet issues I can’t run or do anything like that so when I first went to open water it was like finding my home.  It was where I belonged with all the other misfits who love the water.  Even among swimmers a very small percentage do open water.

I’ve had so many people I’ve taken to the lakes and they hated it.  It was dirty.  It was gross.  It was cloudy.  But then every once in a while there will be someone like Etsuko, my friend Abby or myself who love it.  We love the challenge.  We love being out in nature.  We love the unpredictability.  We love the comradarie and family but at a certain point we just love it.

It’s like when you love key lime pie you can say a few things that you like but it in the end comes down to your taste buds just like it.  Same with me and open water.  It is hard.  It makes me nervous and I doubt myself sometimes but I love it.  It fits me and I am SOOOOOO Excited for the summer.

I hope you can all find your athletic match and hopefully it can be outdoors enjoying the beautiful, crazy and sometimes stinky world God has given us.

Stay tuned for tons of fun open water updates this summer and all the excitement of next weeks big race! Go SLOW!

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