Tag: Salt Lake

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.

Rachel Eat Pray Love Day 1

So I know I say things like this all the time but it doesn’t make it any less true- today was one of the best days of my life!  It was so wonderful!  Its hard to believe that I ever contemplated doing anything else and that I could be the same human being that was so miserable on Tuesday.  I wish I wasn’t such a spazz and had a constant, even tone to my days but alas that’s just not my style.

The one thing about an insanely hard week with a seemingly impossible deadline and a near-panic attack is that everything can only go up from there and boy did it.  I’m so glad I decided to spend the money (and it wasn’t too bad actually) and treat myself to a weekend  of rehabilitation and rejuvenation.  I needed it so badly!

For starters I finished the month end in time!!!!  I still can’t believe it!  Hurray!  Heavenly Father really does answer prayers and help you do the impossible when you have faith.  Seriously.

So done with my Friday free (hurray!)  I set out for a massage at my gym.  (Would have asked my dear friend Jill but she had to take a 9 to 5’er for insurance 😦 ).  Anyway, got a one hour massage and it was heaven. Seriously if I was rich I’d have a massage every week.

zen achieved

Oh I forgot I got to the massage late because I was cleaning my car because my folks are using it this week and guess what I threw into the recycle dumpster?  Yes, my keys.  It was quite the endeavor to get them out climbing up on a laundry basket that was in the dumpster and hurling myself into the cardboard.  It actually hurt and I have bruises but I got the keys!  Nothing was going to get me down!

found the keys. Dumpster diver extraordinaire!

After the massage I got the car wash and then headed to the hotel.  I am staying that the City Center Marriott in Salt Lake. I stayed here once before when in 2007 I along with 4 of my friends celebrated the last day of a job I hated and the beginning of a happy Rachel.  It is honestly one of the happiest memories of my life. So, naturally I have a special fondness for the hotel and its luxurious accomadations (amazing robes, tons of pillows, soft sheets, thick curtains etc).  Just look at the pillows!

Is that not heaven

They weren’t ready for me right away so I went off to have some lunch.  At first I walked the wrong way and so I asked these businessmen if they knew of any good lunch places. “There’s Carl’s Jr” they responded.  Isn’t that rude?  For all they knew I was a visitor to their city.  I would never do that.  Anyway, nothing was going to get me down so I headed the other way and went to wells fargo to deposit a check and asked the teller if he knew a good place “The Robin’s Nest” he said.   It was just around the corner so I went and checked it out.

I figure in lunch places it is always a good sign when the line is long and the tables are full.  This was the case at Robin’s Nest.  Everything was delicious from the bread to the orzo side pasta.  I got the gobbler (turkey ‘thanksgiving’ style sandwich with cranberry relish, mayo, lettuce ect).  The half was huge and the lunch combo came with drink (fresh squeezed lemonade no extra), orzo pasta or chips and a dessert bite (I got the lemon square although everything looked fabulous).  I heard Bobby Flay say that ‘delicious’ was passe as a food adjective so I’m not sure what word to use.  It was scrumptious.  Perfect lunch.

Love a good sandwich

Once I checked into the hotel I read for a little bit on my fluffy pillows and then napped for about 30 minutes.  Feeling great I headed up to the pool/hot tub and had a great swim.  As a Masters Swimmer (I was going to say competitive but I don’t know if last in every race really counts as competitive) I naturally always wear training swimsuits.  So, it is nice to occasionally swim just for fun and wear a suit that feels a tiny bit more attractive.   Is that terrible to say?

Love this photo. Feeling pretty!

At the pool they had this sign that made me laugh.  Kind of a challenge to the whole weekend in a way!

Oh you better believe I’m swimming alone and dining alone, going to the movies alone, whatever. I’m having a spectacular time alone and breaking all the rules!!!

After a refreshing and relaxing swim/soak I came back and read some more and worked on my novel.  It’s just a silly thing I’ve toyed with over the years.  I am going to finish it for the national novel writing month in November.  If I don’t I have to do a polar bear swim! (Its a bet with my friend Abby).

Next up I went headed to dinner.  My friend Heidi had recommended The Copper Onion to me and as it is minutes from my hotel I thought it’d be a perfect fit.  Boy was she right.  I have never been to such a nice restaurant in my life.  Everything was beautifully presented and tasted sublimely good.  Best restaurant meal I’ve ever had.

I decided to try different things.  Be bold and daring because that’s the kind of day it was!  So here are the courses:

For appetizer crispy pork belly salad with pickled vegetables.  I’ve always wanted to try pork belly and it did not disappoint.  The salad was rich, decadent, salty, sweet, spicy (pickled jalapenos).  So good!

pork belly salad. Yum!

Then I got the duck which I’ve never had before.  I’ve always heard it was too fatty and I hate eating chicken fat.  Figured wouldn’t like duck fat any more than chicken.  But this was perfectly cooked.  The fat was completely rendered out with a crispy skin, cooked medium rare.  Then underneath the duck breast was duck confit (holy cow yum!) and a baby portabello mushroom that was the best mushroom I’ve ever had.  All accompanied with a butternut squash puree that was like butter and a mixed green salad with roasted peppitas.  (Salivating yet? Wait until you see the photo).

Most amazing entree I’ve had at a restaurant. Can’t wait to go back and try more things.

Then for dessert I had a chocolate pudding that was divine.  It was rich with a crunchy topping and whipped cream.  It had sea salt or something sprinkled in to counter the sweetness.

chocolate pudding. This costs $4. Isn’t that insane?

I cleaned my plate in every course but the great thing is I didn’t feel stuffed or even overly-full.  I felt perfectly satisfied.  The food was not overflowing like at chains but it was all delicious and memorable, which I’d take any day over quantity.  I got all of that delicious food plus a drink for $40.  Doesn’t that seem like a pretty good deal?  You’d pay triple that in New York or San Fran.

The thing I appreciated the most about the restaurant was how accommodating they were to me as a single diner.  I’ve tried to eat at nicer places by myself and felt literally singled out and that I was an inconvenience for a busy waiter wanting more tips.  This is why I usually get take out not because I’m afraid of being alone at a meal but because it isn’t a pleasant experience as a rule.

Tonight was totally different.  First of all The Copper Onion has a bar (a suggestion I often give single diners as it easy to find someone to talk with and does not feel so isolating as a big empty table) with a separate bar menu but they also have what they call the counter.  This is like a separate bar area that faces the chefs.  It was so much fun seeing everything get made and smelling all the dishes!  My waitress was wonderful. Kind, accommodating and extremely knowledgeable about the entire menu (she was partly responsible for my bold orders!).   See the smile on my face!

Happy Rachel (I also wore eye make up for the first time since the surgery. Hurray!)

The meal was sublime and when I finished it was 6:50 and as I walked past The Broadway theater next door to the restaurant I noticed that Perks of Being a Wallflower was playing at 7.  Perfect timing!  The Broadway is one of the only independent theaters in Utah and while many of their choices seem a bit dreary for my tastes this was a film I’d been wanting to see.

It is definitely not for everyone but I loved it.  Its funny, sad, different and the dialogue is perfect.  I think it is one of the few movies I’ve seen that gets the feel a high school experience right.  Most movies about teenagers feel like the show Glee that is mostly starring 30 year old actors in high school.  This was much more authentic.  I don’t know if I totally bought some of the darker elements but still very emotionally satisfying to see something original and different.   I felt inspired!

Here’s the thing that made today special.  I have obviously lived alone for many years of my adult life.  I’ve gone to movies alone, eaten alone, even went on a cruise alone, but I don’t’ know if I have ever spent a day with basically no companionship and had such a spectacular time.  It is really gratifying to know that I can be that happy all by myself.  I think I have to remember that when I’m feeling lost and out of control.  I have the power to feel happy all by myself even without all the luxurious trappings to prop me up.

I feel proud of myself.  I did something that  nobody else I know to my knowledge has done.  I spent the whole day by myself and had a spectacular time. Granted most everyone I know doesn’t even have that option but still its nice to know I can do it.

Even more than that, its nice to know I can relax like a real human being.  Feels like forever since I’ve relaxed. Since Hawaii for sure.  And how great to have achieved my Hawaii zen right in my own hometown for pennies on the dollar of what I’d spend on any trip, anywhere.  What a freeing concept!  I look forward to many more adventures!  It’d be great if some of my friends joined me but also great to do it alone.  How freeing is that?

Most importantly I feel like I can conquer the world again.  I wish I didn’t get the anxiety and I am getting better at dealing with it but I’m grateful in a way for it because it forced me to take action and create happiness for myself.   I learned that making a decision is a freeing experience and then planning for joy is the only way to really get it.  Rarely is it presented to you for free.

I’m grateful to God for giving me this day.  In the world of billions of souls going about there day He proved once again this week to me that HE KNOWS ME and HE WORKS MIRACLES!   I can’t wait to hear Him speak through His prophets tomorrow.  I will have notebook in hand and am confident I will receive instruction and inspiration.   I am so blessed. I am so grateful. I am so inspired. I am so HAPPY!

 

 

 

 

GSL Clinic 2012

The medal I WILL be getting next Saturday!

Today was a great day! As you all know I’ve been training for months to get ready for the first race of the open water season- the Great Salt Lake Marathon Swim next Saturday.  To help us prepare Josh and Gords held a clinic tonight at the lake.  There was a good turnout with a lot of new swimmers (I’ve had 3 salt swims so I’m experienced 😉 ).

I went down with my friend Heidi.  It was her first time in the GSL so that was fun.  It’s always fun to carpool with a swim friend and chat.  They really are the best people I know.

Anyway, we started with some instruction from Josh and Gords about open water safety, equipment and the course.  I really appreciate the time they and their families give to introduce others to and support the open water community.

My friend Heidi and I after the swim

I bought a safe swimmer today.  This is a devise I’ve been meaning to get for a while.  It helps you be more visible in the open water.  Plus, it provides floatation if an emergency occurs.  I recommend any open water swimmer purchases onehttp://www.utahopenwater.com/p/safeswimmer-device.html

Then we got in the water.  It was cold at first but really not that bad.  I felt strong and got some sighting/swimming tips from my friends.  The nice thing about the GSL is you get tired you can relax and float!   The salt is still kind of shocking (My friend calls it going for a quick pickle!).  We swam around a 1/2 mile and it felt good.  I feel more confident than ever before about next week.  All my training is paying off!

One of my goals this summer was to introduce someone to open water swimming.  I’d love to nurture someone’s talent the way others nurtured mine.  Well, I have a twitter friend who I’ve never met but we chat on occasion.  I’ve told her about open water swimming and encouraged her to sign up for her local swim in September.  Today she said “thanks! I’ve been thinking about doing it for a couple years now, but you have inspired me to actually go for it!” That made me feel really good. It’s amazing how connected we all are to each other in a positive way. The idea that my little life might inspire another makes me so happy.  I’m glowing!

Today was one of those days that makes me happy to be me!

Smilingldsgirl Mentioned on KSL

So my cousin Anne Tuttle Brown was on the radio this morning for the program “A Woman’s View” with Amanda Dixon.  Eventually they started talking about plastic surgery and the desire to change our bodies.  It was during this discussion that Anne mentioned my post The Only happy FAT woman in America.

She said my motivation to change my body was not because I hate myself but because I love who I am and want to be healthy.  She talked about how I can look in the mirror and see a beautiful woman despite being overweight.  Amanda Dixon asked for the name of the blog and Anne told her.  Amanda then said the blog sounded like “genius!”.

It was an exciting moment! (I know it is just Utah radio but it made me feel like a celebrity for a couple seconds!) It is especially exciting because I love Amanda Dixon and ate up her book called “Wake Up to a  Happier Life”.  I related to it because it is about her journey from her unhappy legal career to a fulfilling job in radio.  As all you loyal blog readers know, I faced a similar career challenge several years ago. Making the decision to jump into the unknown, searching for happiness, has made all the difference.

Anyway, they mentioned the blog and spoke highly of it.  Thanks Anne for paying me such a compliment!  I love writing this blog and it is my hope that it inspires just a few people, or at least makes them laugh.  If it does so for one person then it is well worth the effort!

This is an mp3 file of the entire program ads and all.  My part is in the last 13 minutes.

Murtaugh List and Regina Spektor

regina-spektor

So last week I went to a Regina Spektor concert.  She is a very talented singer born in Russia who fits well into the indie female folksy genre that is so popular.  She is similar to Ingrid Michaelson, Norah Jones, Aimee Mann, and Missy Higgins.  In fact, in some ways I like her better because she is edgy and daring with melodies and arrangements.  On the other hand, sometimes I don’t get her style- she’s too edgy for me! Her song Fidelity is featured in a Target ad right now and her songs Us and Hero were on the 500 Days of Summer soundtrack.

Being fans, Anna and I were naturally excited to be attending her concert in Salt Lake.  It was kind of a crazy weekend for me.  I went to the Regina concert Friday night and then Saturday drove down to St. George for my friend Bonnie’s wedding.  I was exhausted by the time Sunday came around! Thanks to Anna for coming with me to the concert and to St.  George.  She was such a great help to me, and it was a big sacrifice for her. I love you!

Anyway, Friday we went to the concert- Anna, her roommate Becca and myself.  Before the concert we ate at the Pie up by the University of Utah (I know enemy territory!).  It is the best pizza I have had outside of New York.  You don’t even need any toppings. It’s delicious!  After dinner we drove to the concert.  It was at a club called In the Venue that is standing room only.  It is the same place we went for the Ingrid Michelson concert but this time it was even more crowded.  Plus, we arrived early so that added another hour to the standing.   By the time Regina’s opening act was finished (btw the opening act was thoroughly lame…in the grand tradition of opening acts) I was already exhausted.  It was a mosh pit with hardly room to move.  To make matters worse, even though I was up front I was in a place where the grand piano blocked any view of Regina.  No matter how I tried to crane my neck I couldn’t see anything but her legs on the pedals.  This seemed like a lot to put up with for a pair of legs!

Finally the crowd made me feel nauseated and I was getting overheated.  I bravely began to make my way through the crowd.  I basically became a human plow trying to find my way to the back.  Along the way I pushed many a young kid and even had some rude comments.  One woman said “I was standing there first and thanks for stepping on my toes”.  I felt like saying “I beg your pardon mademoiselle.  I am sorry I didn’t ask your permission to step on you in a MOSH PIT!”.  Rude!   Finally I made my way back and wolfed down a Gatorade for $4.  It was then that I realized “I’m too old for this stuff”.

Murtaugh List

I’m too old for moshing it at standing room only concerts. I’m too old for road trips with little sleep.  I’m too old for Motel 6’s with lame, scratchy sheets.    I’m too old for nothing but pizza and root beer for dinner.  I need some nutrients!  I’m too old for skipping 2 meals and then binging on a huge dinner.  I’m too old for giant ice cream Sundays and anything with the words “extreme sour” in it.  I’m too old for trendy clothes, head banging music, tantrums, sleeping  in past 9, wearing t-shirts with “funny” sayings, practical jokes, big wads of bubble gum, prank phone calls, cartoon network, teeny bopper music, any kind of eating contest, glitter, costumes for no purpose, camping for “fun”, sleeping on the floor, watching the Hills or America’s Next Top Model, all-nighters, selling my blood, cosmic anything, group sports of any kind (especially dodge ball), Weird Al anything, Chef Boyardee, lame car games, ice skating and dancing to impress a boy (what was I thinking!), eating fake cheese, pop tarts, ramen noodles and most prepackaged foods,  flirting to impress a boy, anything in a “fun land/arcade”, and petty fights with friends.  The list goes on.

Basically I’m too old to be doing things that aren’t genuinely me.  I am too old to be playing a part or trying to fit in. I am not saying I have to be completely selfish but when you are young you go along for the ride easier.  Now I would be more likely to express my feelings and then agree to what others want to do. I remember going to concerts at the Velor in Provo.  It is loud, crowded, and miserable.  The music isn’t my taste and you know why I was there- to impress a boy.  I am too old for that kind of stuff.   If  I do  end up doing something on my Murtaugh list expect me to feel tired, even exhausted and grumpy.  I will try my best but no guarantees!

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If you are wondering about the title of my entry, the Murtaugh list comes from an episode of my favorite show How I Met Your Mother where Ted makes a list of the things he’s too old for.  These include going to raves, sleeping on futons, piercing your ears, and laser tag. Then Barnie and Ted have a challenge where Barnie attempts to do all the things on the Murtaugh list and Ted does a list of  stuff old people do like go to bed at 8 and eat at 4.  It’s pretty funny.

The other unfortunate thing about the Regina concert is she had a foul mouth.  It was too bad because her music is beautiful.  I don’t know why women feel they have to  be so ugly and unseemly.  It makes me sad.

Roommate Reunion and Ingrid Michaelson

I have mentioned on this blog that my current roommate is my 30th.  Over the years I have shared apartments with 30 different women.  They have each taught me much and almost all have been positive experiences.  That said- some have risen to the top and become life-long friends while a few more have made an indelible impact on my life.  In my fantasy life I would live minutes away from all these special friends.  We would swap recipes, watch each other’s kids and be there for hugs and comfort.  Sadly most of them live away from Utah (and even the one’s that do have a life.  Afterall, we aren’t living in a Norman Rockwell painting!).  Still, my heart yearns for the friends I do not regularly see.  I miss them and wish they were here.

Lately I have felt a little lonely so you can imagine my excitement over a recent trip to California for a ROOMMATE REUNION!  One of my most prized friends/former roommates Emily Alvillar Whitman came to my sister Megan’s in Palo Alto, California and I joined her.  The three of us then had a lovely weekend of reminiscing and catching up.  It was very nice of Megan to host and allow us to sleep on her coach! The weekend was simple- nothing too flashy- but it was great to reconnect with an old friend.  Plus, I got to spend time with Megan and her family.  Seth was very nice to watch the girls so the three of us could go to San Francisco for the day. (Thanks Seth!).  We went to all the sites Golden Gate Park and Bridge, Chinatown, Piers etc.  Emily got some jewelry and we converted a magnet into a keepsake ornament to help us remember the trip.

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On Sunday we enjoyed spending time with my family for my grandma Wagner’s birthday party.  She is such a wonderful woman and loving example in my life.  I will have to write an entire post about her someday.  Emily was a good sport and seemed to enjoy herself at our family party (sometimes being at someone else’s family function can be awkward.  Thanks Emily!).

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On Monday it began to rain and then Tuesday it was torrential downpour.  I don’t think I have ever seen it rain so much in Northern California.   It was so bad that on Tuesday the rain made the battery short out while driving Emily to the airport (after visiting the temple).  We ended up putting Emily in a yellow cab and then Seth came to my rescue.  Hopefully the car won’t sustain any permanent damage.  If it does I will feel awful.

We made some cute crafts on Monday.  I am a volunteer for festival of trees and as such we are each responsible for creating 8 gifts that can be sold at the festival.  For my gift I am making long sleeve t-shirts with Christmas symbols on them.  I hope they turn out ok.  It’s kind of complicated how you make them but basically you cut out a stencil out of freezer paper and then you iron on the paper to the front and back of the shirt.  Then you pain the shirt with textile paint.  Once the paint has dried you set the paint with the iron.  If any of you have cute and inexpensive craft ideas for the festival let me know.  It has to be something that does not require sewing or knitting.

Anyway, it was a wonderful trip and I hope we do it again.  It is important to reconnect with friends. You never know when you will need them or they will need you.  I believe that people are put in our lives for a reason and that we will be accountable if we throw people aside as if they are worth nothing.  Relationships are worth sacrificing for and certainly worth preserving.  Why is I seem to be in the minority in this view?  It seems so logical to me!

One last comment is on Friday I went to hear Ingrid Michaelson sing at a concert in Salt Lake.  She was a great performer with a beautiful voice.  What made it more exciting is the tickets were only $15 plus fees!  Anna and I went and it made me all the more grateful that she is here.  I’m so glad that we are not only sisters but that we have so many common interests- even enjoy the same concerts.  I am sure the time will come when she is busier with friends and school but for the moment we are spending a lot of time together and I love it!  The only downside to the concert is it was standing room only. With my foot condition it is hard for me to stand for hours (I told Anna that I am not as young as I used to be! I’m too old for this stuff!).  I am not sure how I am going to get through the Regina Spektor concert at the same venue but somehow I will figure it out.  It is worth it to see such amazing talent and spend time with my sister.  I can’t wait to hear Regina sing!

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