Tag: swimming

Medal Hangers

This post is kind of a product shout-out that I am excited about.  You will all probably remember that I recently completed my 10th open water swim race. Until today I had those medals on 2 nails on my wall.  The idea was that looking at the medals each day would help  motivate me to keep swimming and trying to stay in shape.

Well, a few weeks ago my friend over at http://www.disneyinyourday.com/announced a giveaway on her blog for a medal hanger from https://www.medalhangers.com/.  I had never heard of a medal hanger and I thought they were really beautiful. I entered the giveaway and to my delight I won!!! I never win everything so it was so exciting!  I used my prize and added a little bit to make a custom hanger and I love it so much!

medals4I came up with the saying ‘Water Knows No Size” because I think it encompasses my swim philosophy.  There is no other place where I could win 10 metals but in the water and in that sense the water knows no size.  In the water it is about how fast I move my arms and legs not how much I weigh. I’ve always felt at peace in the water and most girls are self conscious in a swimsuit but oddly enough it is where I feel the most confident. Go figure!

I went with 2 layers on my medal hanger but you can have more than that.  There are also a number of fonts and icons that you can pick from.  Here are some others on the site I liked:

Anyway, I know a lot of you race and I thought I’d share this quality product.  They have 100% satisfaction guarantee and they are built to last.  Your medals are something to proud of and this is a way to show them off and hopefully be encouraged by them.  I think it would be a great thing for kids to see and hopefully encourage them to enter their own races or other athletic enterprises.

If you get a medal hanger I would love to see what you chose.  (I’m not receiving anything from them.  Just thought it was a good product and I’m really enjoying mine.

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Deer Creek Open Water Swim 2015- 10th Race

DSCF8062Today my friends I am a finisher, 10 times over!  Yes, I finished my 10th open water swim at Deer Creek and I couldn’t be more thrilled (and tired!).  If you’ve been a follower of mine on the blog you might recall my very first race back in 2011.  In fact, after my first open water swim at the clinic that year I posted “Yesterday was the best day of my life!” I hope that everyone is able to find something they love like that in their life.  Once was all it took to get me hooked!

What a journey it has been since that first attempt. 10 races have come and gone and they all are treasured memories.

deer creek5Like always today’s race had its fair share of challenges.  I went in to the race feeling pretty confident.  I felt strong at Bear Lake and then did a practice swim on Thursday that went very well.  My plan was to break up the swim into sets of 100 strokes and then do 25 strokes of breaststroke.  The problem was for some reason my asthma was bothering me and I felt pretty wheezy.  It didn’t seem like I could get enough air which was causing me to get a lot of water up my nose and in my mouth.  This is not the ideal way to swim by any measure.  But I kept going…

DSCF8036This race was really neat because my Dad swam it with me.  Typically my family and I don’t share a ton of common interests and so it was really neat to share this experience with him! He did the entire race alternating between breaststroke, backstroke and sidestroke but finished and did very well!  It’s been a cool month for me with the swim with my Dad and doing the book videos with my Mom.  Both meant a lot to me.

DSCF8060It’s the weirdest thing when you are swimming open water because it feels like you are on a swim treadmill.  No matter how fast you go it feels like you aren’t making any progress and you will never reach the darn buoy.  Then you do and it is so exhilarating! You would think after 10 races it would get less exciting but it is still such a thrill.

DSCF8044My time wasn’t good on the race but the important thing was I finished.  I’m very proud of that as I am for all of my finishes.

DSCF8048I’d like to thank my paddler Michelle for taking time out of her busy schedule to help me achieve my goals.  She couldn’t have been more encouraging and wonderful.  It was so great to catch up as she isn’t my trainer at the moment since I left that gym.

deer creek2I also want to say thank you to Jim Hubbard and everyone at Salt Lake Open Water for being such a wonderful community that nurtures all types of swimmers.  I couldn’t be more grateful that I am accepted and cheered on at every race.

Thank you and on to 10 more!!

Here is my youtube update on the race.

Bear Lake Monster Swim Trip

bear lakeHey guys!  I got back today from my little vacation up at Bear Lake.  For the last few years they have had an open water swim up there but I have always had a family commitment.  Well, this year I didn’t so I decided to go for it.  (Plus, they were doing a 1/2 mile swim which was super nice of them).  I found the only motel in town which looked like something out of Bates Motel but it was somewhere to sleep and headed up there Friday afternoon.  (I also saw Ant-Man and Mr Holmes this weekend so make sure to check out the movie blog for those reviews).

It’s kind of a weird tourist destination because aside from the lake there isn’t a ton to do.  There are only 4 or 5 restaurants and a few little shops.  No movies, bowling, or other activities for tourists.  I guess the lake is more than enough but Friday and Saturday afternoon it was raining and so it dragged a little.  I don’t know if I would want to get a place up there because when I couldn’t swim it would be kind of boring.

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But luckily this trip the rain didn’t stop the race and I did get to swim.  You can see from the photo up above I finished and got my medal! With the weather it was very choppy waters and so I was glad I went with the 1/2 mile instead of the mile. I finished in 39 minutes which I was proud of.  I know technically it is slow but for me that was a pretty good time.   Here I am in the water:

bear lake8It was a small group of 1 mile swimmers but everyone was so friendly (as is always the case in open water events).  It was neat about 10 minutes into the swim I noticed a girl stopping and it didn’t seem like an ordinary stop.  She was gasping a little bit so I stopped and asked her if she was ok.  She said she was swallowing water and her asthma was bothering her. I’ve been there so I told her to do some breaststroke for a little while to get her confidence back and calm down the nerves.  She did and she finished the race! Afterwards she told me my encouragement had meant a lot to her.  That’s what is great about open water swimming- the community spirit that accompanies the sport.  Even though I am far from a typical athlete I probably was the best one to encourage someone like her to finish her race.  As I always say ‘if I can do it so can you!’.

Here’s a picture of all of us swimming the 1/2 or 1 mile races:

bear lake7I made this little video after the race.  It’s what I call old school- just my laptop and chatting, so don’t be too tough on that part of it.  The internet was very bad up there so I would have done more if I could.

Here I am showing my medal to Jim Hubbard who first introduced me to open water back in 2011 (I call him my open water missionary).

bear lake6After the race we all chatted for a bit and then I went back to the hotel room and had some breakfast and a good nap. Then later on in the afternoon the sky cleared up so I decided to go back to the beach and wear my glorious sun hat I bought a few weeks ago.

bear lake11 bear lake 10The lake was beautiful and the sun felt great. I wish I could have laid out in it even longer! But alas the sun went down and this morning I had to drive back home.  Still, it was a nice little break and I hope to do the Bear Lake Monster Swim next year and hopefully eventually get up to the 7 mile full race instead of just 1/2 mile. My next race Deer Creek Open Water Swim will be my 10th open water race! Can you believe it?  I can’t.

GSL Open Water Swim 2015

My friends I am a finisher!  Today marks my 4th finish at the Great Salt Lake Open Water 1 Mile Swim!

gsl1This year it was my own fault I was nervous because I hadn’t trained that much.  It had also been since the last GSL swim that I had swam in a race and only twice in practice.  A side of me wondered if this would be the year where I wouldn’t be able to pull it off.  I really did.

gsl3Luckily my friend Etsuko decided to swim this year and she was so great to drive and get me out the door in the water!  All my friends are amazingly supportive and put up with my worrying.  Thanks guys!

Last week I was really worried because my sleep had been especially bad.  Not getting to bed till 3 or even 4 and then settling with 4 hours of sleep or less was brutal.  I was afraid I’d show up to the race with only 3 hours of sleep!  But then the strangest thing happened.  All of the sudden this Wednesday- Friday I went to sleep earlier and I found I was waking up earlier (very unusual for me).  It ended up being no problem waking up at 6:30 for the race which I thought was a mini-miracle.

It felt very old-school at the race with a lot of faces I haven’t seen at races for a while.  My friend Kate was there and she totally rocked her swim.  She finished 6th in the one mile!

gsl4The oldest swimmer in the one mile was 63!  That’s what is so great about this sport.  You can participate at most any age.  What a blessing!

It was a little nerve-wracking because the weather report was calling for storms starting as early as 9 am.  We had some strong wind but nothing that stopped the race thank goodness.

This year because the water was so low we did not do the straight shot to the Black Rock beach.  It was a loop starting on a beach and then looping some buoys and heading back to the  marina for the finish line.  At first it felt a little bit like Utah Lake because it was so shallow.  We went way out practically to the first buoy on feet before beginning to swim.  This time I decided to break up the swim in 50 stroke batches which was good because the wind was very strong.

The first segments were definitely the most difficult as the wind was pushing us around pretty strongly.  I ended up doing a lot of breaststroke so I could keep my eye on the buoy especially at that beginning.  The problem was I had my eye on the wrong buoy!  So, I ended up backpedaling and doing more work than I needed to do.  Stupid me!

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One of the advantages to being last is I get a lot of paddling support, meaning the kayakers are there to kelp and encourage me.  This is very motivating and their kayaks give you something to sight (which I am not very good at anyway).  Because I was mixing up the breaststroke and freestyle  I didn’t worry too much about sighting on the freestyle but it is something I am working on.

The kayaker, my friend Sarah, was great, encouraging me to stop less and the last 2 segments I got with very little stopping.  She also helped me get some water  and other assistance.  Thanks Sarah!

Open water swimming is the strangest thing because the buoys really do feel like mirages, that you are never going to get there.  It seems like you are on a swim treadmill sometimes and not getting anywhere.  The key is to not worry about anyone else and in the words of Dory “just keep swimming”.

And that my friends is what I did- I just kept swimming.  I didn’t give up.  I pushed on through and I am a finisher!!  Wahoo!

This makes it the 8th official (91th unofficial) race I’ve swam and finished in.  I am proud of what I have done.  Proud and grateful.  I promise if there is anything in your life which you want to do but fear you can’t- go for it!  If I can do it you can too.  Surround yourself with good people, prepare more than I did and go for it! What have you got to lose after all?

One day it could be you looking down at your medals reminiscing about every last race they correspond with.  What a blessed person I am.  Thank you Salt Lake Open Water and thank you for supporting less than perfect swimmers in the club.  I feel so blessed and now on to Bear Lake and Deer Creek!

medals(Sorry if this post is a little disjointed.  I’m super tired from the race).

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!

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.

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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!

Missing My Race

Friends, I feel sad.

I’m still in a lot of pain but that has become fairly normal.  What makes me sad is missing my race.  For the last 3 years the Deer Creek Open Water Swim has been one of my favorite things to do during the entire year.  I looked forward to it like Christmas, maybe more so, and now it is out of the question.

I was able to sell my spot which is good but it is still a serious bummer. I was just reading a post on facebook and it all sounds like so much fun.  I guess they have awesome finisher medals and are doing the kayak raffle again.  I’m sure they will get a good turn out like last year.

If there was any way I could do it I would, but I can’t even stand straight right now.  Moving my leg hurts let alone kicking in the water.

That’s it. I’m just sad.

But there is a lot to be grateful for. I’m grateful for good friends who have been so supportive.  I’m grateful for all the prayers from family, friends, and my internet community. I’m grateful to anyone who has given me a ride or helped me out especially my friend Stacia and my roommate Regan.

What do you guys think I should do Saturday instead of just stewing on my missing the race?  I don’t have many options and everyone seems to be busy.  Any creative ideas?

I remember thinking in June that my life was going so well and wondering how long it could all last.  Well, July threw me a curve ball I wasn’t expecting.  Sometimes that’s the way life is. The Lord builds you up so you are ready for something hard (and I realize in the grand scheme of things my hard thing isn’t that hard but still it’s been tough for me).

I just wish I could swim in that race…Sigh.

On to next year!