Sunday, December 30, 2007

Lap of the Gods

Great article that captures a lot of the joys and challenges of open water swimming:

Lap of the gods

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The 7 Best Things About Having the Flu on Christmas Day

1. I won't gain the 5 pounds I usually gain over the holidays
2. I'm being forced to take a break from exercise, which is probably a good thing
3. I feel like crap, but being quarantined is quiet and peaceful. I'd be playing with my nieces all day otherwise.
4. Pedialyte: YUM! (Read sarcasm.)
5. Watching Audrey Hepburn movies in bed with Raybon's laptop.
6. Getting serenaded by my nieces, who stood in the hallway, while I stayed in my quarantined room.
7. Hanging out with Willow, my one companion in my quarantined room.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening

by Robert Frost

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Jelly Brain

I feel like my brain is turning to jelly. I'm sitting here in front my stupid computer at work on a freaking Saturday. Raybon is gone at a LAN party, playing shoot 'em up games with his friends all weekend, so I figure it was a good time to do that server upgrade so I don't sit at home by myself wondering if I have any friends. One thing good about being married is you almost always have someone to do something with, even if you have trouble figuring out what that thing should be.

This mail server upgrade is taking for freaking ever.

I've been massively anti-social lately. I've blown off party after party. Last night, last weekend, the weekend before that. Soon, I will have no friends whatsoever. I don't really feel like explaining why I'm doing this, but maybe blowing off parties is a bad idea. I feel like I'm regressing. Someone once told me that when you get into your late 20's-early 30's sometimes your idiosyncrasies become amplified. I hadn't found that to be true, but at the moment, I feel sort of like that. Maybe I'll go to the next party I get invited to, just to resist inertia.

I had an Oxy moment today... I was riding around on my bike after swim practice by myself. I had a route in mind, but took two wrong turns and did a completely different ride than the one I had planned. After turning around after a missed turn, I got back to the street I missed the turn on, and there was the Tri Team (which I just joined) coming back from their annual Donut Ride (bike ride followed by Donut eating contests), which I anti-socially blew off. I said Hi to Coach and then tagged along as we rode back to the pool and our cars.

This is the kind of thing that happens that Oxy loves to obsess over. What if I hadn't made a wrong turn? What if I chose a different route? What if I decided at a different moment to turn around from my wrong turn? What if I rode a little slower. What if I hadn't stopped and ate that Hammer Gel? What does this all mean? I have no idea. Probably nothing at all. Well, the one thing its already made me face up to the fact that I blew off yet another social event and that maybe the line should be drawn here. Aack!!! Not yet!!! There's a Triathlete of the Year party next Saturday. Can't I blow off just one more thing before I repent of my ways?

Truthfully, I woke up this morning kind of wanting to go on the Donut Ride, and hoping someone at the pool at swim practice would encourage me to come along, but I felt too shy to go of my own accord. I need to be less passive.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Hawaii 70.3

Umm... To all of you who don't talk to me regularly, this may come as a shock. I signed up for a Half Ironman in Kona, Hawaii. This was not included in my list of athletic goals for the next year.

I told M.A. this morning about it. She is Ms. Open Water at M.M., and I half expected her to feel betrayed. Kind of silly, huh? I feel like I'm cheating on swimming. I talked to Big L. a little bit about my identity crisis, and she seemed to think that was silly, because triathletes are swimmers. I probably am being silly.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Pining for the Water

A couple of nights ago I lay in bed and smiled as I thought about the open water. It's the first time I've pined since June.

Easy Yummy, Healthy, Chocolate Shake Recipe

Protein, chocolate, natural sugars, almonds!

1 bottle Chocolate Almond Amazake
Half a box of Mori-nu Soft Silken Tofu

Blend in blender.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Grass Fed Beef Has Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Something my acupuncturist told me today, and a link to an article:

Thursday, November 29, 2007


I'm dieting again, this time, not to lose weight, but in hopes that my aches and pains will feel a little better. I'm staying away from refined sugar, corn syrup, and animal fats (other than fish oil), because supposedly they cause inflammation. I'm eating salmon, rice, fruit, and veggies as the core of my diet. I'm not eating dairy. I feel kind of crappy still, though. I don't feel like eating. Well, I should say, I feel like eating stuff that is bad for me, and I can't. Raybon says I'm just going through withdrawals.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Dead Watch

The watch I use when running died today. Should I just take this as a sign that I should listen to my body rather than looking at my watch?

Seven Lists of Seven, Amendment V

Seven things that attract me to [my spouse or significant other or best friend]

1. He knows I’m insane and loves me anyways
2. He’s learned to not take my mood swings personally, and sympathize and let me be
3. He's the only person in my life that is firmly committed to me
4. He gets up early in the morning so that I can get to 7 a.m. workout on time
5. He wants my time and attention
6. He tells me he loves me constantly
7. He doesn't have a bad temper

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Congratulations, Coach and Ultra-M

Coach got third place and a spot on the podium after the grueling, 3-day Ultraman. Ultra-M also finished strongly. I'm continually impressed with these two, so anything they can do to go beyond that is absolutely amazing.

Inside Triathlon had a great article about Coach and his motivations during the race, and the role his athletic accomplishments play in his life with his lovely family and successful business.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Ultraman, Day 2

Coach is still in second place overall after an insane 267.6 mile bike ride today. Exciting news for all of his swimmers and triathletes.

It was very windy. I wish I remember the MPH, but Ultra-M said she'd never biked in such windy conditions before. I was pretty excited to get a phone call from her, and so glad to hear she made the time cutoff (12 hours.) Considering the wind, distance, and elevation gain, just finishing is an amazing feat.

I forgot to mention yesterday that Ultra-M was the second woman out of the water. That rocks! Ultra-M doesn't ever use the word fast to describe herself, and sometimes even uses the nasty S-Word (s--w), but I'll have to bring this awesome accomplishment up every time she tries to use that word to describe herself again.

Congratulations, again, Coach and Ultra-M!

Go Coach and Ultra-M!

Coach and Ultra-M (C.P.) are in Hawaii competing in the grueling Ultraman, a 3 stage race consisting of a 6.2 mile ocean swim, a 261.4 mile bike ride, and a 52.4 mile run.

Coach wasn't listed as one of the top contenders in a an article on "Inside Triathlon", but at the end of Day I yesterday, he was in second place, ahead of last year's champ. Woo Hoo!!!

Ultra-M is topping off a year consisting of the Western States 100, Lake George 40 KM swim, Catalina Channel solo, a Triple Ironman (3rd place woman) and Full Vineman, to name just the ones that pop into my head. Go, Ultra-M, go!!!

This is pretty exciting for me, spectating from many miles away. Coach and Ultra-M are two of my favorite athletes. My favorite athletes are all people I know, and both of them are just mind-blowingly amazing. All of a sudden I feel honored to have shared a pool with them a month ago when the 3 of us swam 400's X our ages. OK, I'll try not to be a goofy fan girl.

Inside Triathlon Article: Colting, Armstrong lead Day One of Ultraman

Friday, November 23, 2007

Some thoughts that have been going through my head:

- I have a bad habit of romanticizing things. Most things sort of are what they seem to be. A swim across Lake Tahoe is a swim across Lake Tahoe. It's a challenge, but not anymore a spiritual experience than everything else in life. A marriage is a marriage. They both can be great, but what's great about them is pretty obvious, not really mysterious.

- There's no one perfect path for my life. I'm not going to get to heaven and have a cruel God say to me "This is the life I really wanted for you. Boy, did you blow it." I panic because I think that there could be some better life for me that I am totally missing. Perfection is an evil dream. I'm happy I have choices, chances, and room to make mistakes. I should make good choices, not perfect ones, and even if I make the occasional bad one, I should just chalk it up to a learning experience.

- Time is a gift. It's something to enjoy. This is easier to do, now that I understand a little better that my life doesn't have to be perfect.

- Friendships take time. I'm happy with the relationships that I have, and I know depth is not something that can be rushed. I'm all too trusting, and all too ready to give my heart away. I'm not saying most people are terrible, but I guess trust comes in degrees, and overtrusting someone is sometimes an unfair expectation to put on people.

- I'm pretty darn lucky. I'm safe. I'm in good health. I live in a nice home in a beautiful area of the world. I don't want for anything necessary, and I have the means for the occasional indulgence. I have time to do things I enjoy. I have a few good friends, and lots of other nice people in my life. I'm married to a decent man, who doesn't cheat, isn't cruel, and occasionally helps with the dishes. I'm not bragging, I hope. I say this with a sigh of relief, honestly. Phew! Any of this could go away at any second, but why worry about it now? Life is really, really hard sometimes, but sometimes it cuts you a break. Sometimes for years at at time, even.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Details Left Out of Last Post

- Woke up this morning feeling like I'd had 3 beers and had been up 3 hours past my bedtime.

- Tanya and Ultra-M kindly babysat me throughout the ride.

- Rode almost 40 miles

Old La Honda - First Time

I climbed Old La Honda yesterday.

Hmmm... I intended to just leave my post at that. There is a lot more to it. Ultra-M (formerly C.P., which frankly doesn't begin to cover it, although at the time it was about the highest compliment I could think of) talked me into doing a Saturday group ride with T.S. Can I just say, that while I had fun, am so glad I did the longest ride I've ever done that included a right-of-passage and benchmark climb, I did not belong in this group or riders. I got dropped maybe 2 miles in. This, surprisingly, was not the blow to my ego I thought it might be. I mean, I've only ridden my bike off my trainer maybe a dozen times now. I kept thinking of how much I've improved since I first started swimming, and hoping I'll make similar improvements in my cycling. When I'd been swimming for a few months, my coach timed me swimming a 100 as fast I could. I think I did a 1:45. In a race, I can now do about a 1:10, which while nothing to brag about in itself, shows how far I've come. I made most of my improvements in the first year. I figure if I can make a 25% improvement in my cycling, someday I'll be a halfway decent cyclist.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Weird Ways People Find My Blog

I installed Google Analytics on my blog so I could see how many people read it. For a long time, my blog wasn't searchable, but now almost everyday some random people find it by searching for stuff in Google. Here are the top search terms people use to find it.

1. seaweed girl's blog
2. "bruckner chase"
3. "low on gas" car stopped
4. because conservatives are pessimists quote
5. best wishes or congratulations
6. catalina channel swim
7. congratulation wishes
8. forrest nelson swim
9. happiness is a function of fending for oneself
11. michele santilhano
12. michele santilhano catalina
13. schadenfreude is the word of the day
14. seaweed highway
15. wishes and congratulations
16. wishes and congratulations word

I chose Google Analytics because it only shows trends, and doesn't allow me to see any identifiable information. But still, if any of you people who are out there reading my blog haven't outed yourself yet, please do. I promise I won't be anything but flattered.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Quote of the Day

"When all else fails, breathe." - Me, to myself, today and everyday for the rest of my life probably.

I'm sure I'm not the first person to have said this. Actually, I'm 100% sure, because I just googled it, and lots of people have come up with it independently. Maybe not highly original, but useful and important.

Optimism vs. Pessimism

From my experience, as a life-long, recovering pessimist, I'm going to say that George F. Will is wrong. See below. If you're a pessimist, you live with disappointment even before whatever bad could happen occurs. And by expecting the worst to happen, you may even influence the world to make things happen according to your expectation. Maybe it is better to live with no expectations whatsoever, but if you're going to choose optimism vs. pessimism, I think optimism is the way to go. At least, that's the perspective I'm taking for now. I've been a pessimist long enough to be sort of sick of it, and I feel like it is worthwhile to try something new.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Does Having Children Make People Happier?

I typed this question in Google and found this article:

Parenthood Does Not Make People Happier

It has occasionally been pointed out to me that my problems are stupid, and that I should have kids, so that I'll have real things to worry about. It has also been pointed out to me when I'm feeling a sense of ennui, that I should have children and it will be cured. Evidence seems to be to the contrary.

A person I know who complains a lot about how much anguish her children have caused her is always asking me about when I'll have kids and why I don't have kids yet. I'm always tempted to say back to her, "Well, you make it sound so great, I should really think harder about having them."

I'm not close to too many children. My older brother's kids don't seem to like me much. On the other hand, my husband's brother's children love me. They are wonderful, loving, brave, curious, thoughtful people. They are also selfish, competitive, loud, mean, and demanding. All in all though, if, God forbid, anything were to ever happen to their parents, I would adopt them without a second's thought and love them until I died. But, if I knew I would have kids just like them, would I?

Assuming the study is true, is it better to not have children? An argument to the contrary:

In Memoriam XXVII - Alfred Lord Tennyson

I envy not in any moods
The captive void of noble rage,
The linnet born within the cage,
That never knew the summer woods:
I envy not the beast that takes
His license in the field of time,
Unfetter’d by the sense of crime,
To whom a conscience never wakes;

Nor, what may count itself as blest,
The heart that never plighted troth
But stagnates in the weeds of sloth;
Nor any want-begotten rest.

I hold it true, whate’er befall;
I feel it, when I sorrow most;
’Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Everyone Be Nice To Me

I'm in a super sensitive, paranoid, PMS-y, should-lock-myself-in-a-padded-room-for-the-next-few-days-kind-of-mood. I could elaborate over and over again about the weird interactions I've had from people, but it would break my rules of using my blog as a rant. Over and over and over again. People are mean! Or I'm too sensitive. That is probably it.

Here's a link to a blog about how I felt about the same as I do about a year ago:

How to Eat Fried Worms

It sure is weird when my seasonal moods line up exactly by the day. In some ways, it is comforting. All this hullabaloo is about nothing but the weather.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Quote of the Day

"Because true conservatives are pessimists, they are happier than liberals, for three reasons. First, pessimists are rarely surprised. Second, when they are wrong they are delighted to be so. Third, pessimists do not put their faith in princes - in government. They understand that happiness is a function of fending for oneself. Happiness is an activity; it is inseparable from the pursuit of happiness."

- George F. Will

This quote was on my Starbucks cup a while ago. Do you think it is true? I wonder... I'm usually a bit happier if I have a goal I am excited about. Cynically, sometimes I think it is because I fool myself into thinking when I'm done with my goal, I'll be happy. Sometimes there is a momentary celebration, but also a letdown until I find I've moved onto the next thing.

I wonder in what sense he means that pessimists are happier than optimists. Could you pursue happiness if you were pessimistic about the outcome of your goal?

Friday, October 19, 2007

Elwood's Hit Play

My brother is a professional actor. He was recently in the play "Snow Falling on Cedars." Here is a link to a rave review:

Of course his name isn't really Elwood. You'll figure out who he is if you know my real last name, which I'm sure anyone reading does.

Hooray for my feet!

I had a podiatrist appointment yesterday. He looked at my feet and told me I have nice high arches, but tight calves from swimming that make my feet flatten when I stand up. He gave me a brace to wear at night, ace bandage-y type braces for my feet, and instructions for stretching and icing. He said he could get me running soon enough. This made me happy. I asked him if he thought I could run a marathon, and he said he couldn't say for sure, but his philosophy is to do what he could to help people achieve their goals. I picked him because he is runner and triathlete. I figured he'd understand. He had all kinds of cool quotes on his wall, like the one on Jocelyn's website "What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?" and "Sing like no one is listening, dance like no one is watching, and love like it's never going to hurt."

Yeah!!! Take that, P.T. who told me I could never run more than a 10K.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Blogs I Subscribe To

This is a list of blogs I subscribe to. They are mostly blogs of people I know, although many I hardly know at all. Some of them are just blogs I found by accident. Three of them are pretty much never posted to.

Jocelyn's Blog Aspiring Pro Triathlete I swim with. Sweet person, and an amazing athlete.
Jocelyn's Other Blog
Oxy's Blog - Can't see it unless you are her MySpace friend
Rose's Blog - My Sister-In-Law. Ditto about the MySpace thing
Camille's Blog - Friend of mine who used to live in Flip Flop. Mentioned more than once on this blog.
Emily's Blog - Baby Blog of my Flip Flop Master's lane mate, Princey and her husband Ark
Princey Pie - Rarely updated, but I subscribe just in case
Celery Queen's Blog - Found this by accident while looking for Maui Channel results. A swimmer/triathlete from SoCal
Follow Me To France - Jessica's Blog. Found this by accident while trying to find out Water Temp info at Lake Del Valle. She an inspiring swimmer with an oh-so-close and remarkable English Channel attempt.
Sarah's Blog - Swimmer at MM. Coach sent out a link. She swims a lane up from me, but we have never spoken, despite the fact that I've commented and complimented her on her blog several times. The internet sure is weird. Or maybe it is just me.
Leadership Is Art - In the profile of someone who commented on Sarah's blog. I argued with a comment he made on her blog, and never got a response back. Have seen him around, but never spoken to him.
Pinetoast - Nice guy I know, good friend of mutual friends
Rosa Sinensis - Wife of Pinetoast, also good friend of mutual friends
TDAnotes - MM swimmer. Only one post. Found through Sarah's blog. Nice guy who introduced himself to me. A little less internet weirdness than usual.
Who Needs a Running Skirt - MM Swimmer. Cool person who started her own running skirt company.

I found out I have 5 Google subscribers. I know one is me, one is Raybon, and Princey Pie told me she would subscribe, but who are you other two people? I always out myself when I read someone's blog. I'd appreciate the same courtesy.


I know you are all on the edge of your seat wondering why I haven't been blogging. I've been managing my time better, and using my little downtime for reading and relaxing. I haven't felt the urge to blog so much. Tahoe sort of possessed both me and my blog, and everything else seems less exciting. My life is kind of boring, but I'm not bored at all, if that makes any sense. I feel happy, confident, and peaceful.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

More About Why I'm Going Nuts

ActivityTime (Hours)
Swimming 1
Eating/Fixing Meals1.5
Getting Ready for Bed0.25
Morning Routine0.5
Physical Therapy Exercise
Strength Training
Everything Else0.5
Total 24

Ok, I don't do all these things, but if I did everything I wanted to do in a day, that is what I feel like I should do in a day, that is what I would be doing. No wonder I'm going out of my freaking mind! No wonder I make stupid mistakes all the time. No wonder I have trouble concentrating. No wonder I'm always tired.

Somethings gotta give. I can think of one thing I'd like to knock right off that list: Driving. I'd either have to move, work from home, or change my job. Changing my job probably wouldn't help. I'd have to drive to work anywhere. It would knock a little time off maybe, but it might not. It'd have to be a job in Scotts Valley for it to help at all, and since there is no Master's team in Scotts Valley, it wouldn't help. Not giving up the swimming. Since I can work from home some, I can knock off driving time from my day. I think I'm going to work from home more, at least twice a week Then see if I can shift some of those things on my schedule to days where I work from home, or the weekend. Like maybe I can do as much meal prep as I can on the weekend. Or figure out how to eat healthily with really simple stuff.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Hooray for Fall

It's too early for deep thoughts, but I'm in a good mood.

The weather is a little dreary, but there are nice things about the fall. Runs in the wood are more pleasant. I get to wear cashmere. I can wear my red leather jacket.

That's all for now. Maybe I'll add more later.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

What I Got Out of Swimming Tahoe

Tahoe was draining. When I finished it, I wondered why I did it, because I felt weaker, not stronger, both mentally and physically. I hoped that as I recovered, I would come out of it stronger than ever.

It's been a hard thing to evaluate what I got out of it, in the process of recovering. I would have moments of positive energy, followed by more moments of fatigue and self-doubt. Sometimes these moments stretched on for days. I think the long term effects of it are still worth pondering. Running in the forest by myself the past couple of weeks has given me a little bit of time to reflect upon the difficulty and benefits of what I did.

1. I fulfilled a goal on my list of things to do before I die, which was to do some kind of significant swim, 10K or greater. It's hard for me to explain why this was important to me, except that when it first captured my imagination it seemed like an amazing, crazy feat. I first heard about it when I did my first open water swim around the Flip Flop Pier, which was an amazing life-changing experience in itself for me, and I knew it was something I wanted to do. Initially, I wanted to swim the Pier-to-Pier, but doing Tahoe as a relay last year made swimming it solo exciting.

I think I have a problem characterized by Groucho Marx, that I would never want to belong to a club that would have me in it. Now that I've accomplished my goal, it really doesn't seem like that big of a deal. It's a terrible thought, really. Maybe I'll be plagued by these types of thoughts the rest of my life. I hope not, but it's possible. But just because they occur to me, doesn't mean I have to listen to them. And as I swam across that Lake, I pushed that thought out my mind for 6 hours straight. As I trained for it, I'd fight it on and off for months. And by accomplishing my goal, I won. I imagine this power is something that will go away without exercising it, so I'll need to set goals for myself throughout my life.

2. I learned a lot about myself and my relationships to people around me. I've gone through a lot of ups and downs with this. I asked people for help and was turned down by people who I really thought should help me. For a long time, I came out of the experience a bitter, angry, disillusioned person. It was hard for me give people my well-wishes when they sought after fulfilling their own goals. I was jealous of other people who were able to find more support in their goals than I was.

There have been many things I've gotten out of this. In forgiving the people around me, I've had to learn to take people as they are, and still take vicarious pleasure in their accomplishments, even if they aren't always as supportive of me as I want them to be. I've learned to more deeply appreciate the few people who did help me in my goal, and who have since offered to help me if I choose to do another long swim.

I've also learned that I can be a deeply judgmental and negative person. Everyone is good and bad both, and we are all by necessity selfish at times, but if I focus on what's bad about everyone around me, I'll be a lonely, unhappy person.

I can't pretend I've found the right balance here yet. It's hard to see how it helps the people around me in the long run become better people if I'm supportive of their goals, and they aren't supportive of mine. I do know that when I feel connected to others, I'm a happier person. I can't make anyone a better person, really, but maybe I can make the world a better place by trying my best to support other people in their goals. This sounds good for now anyways. My whole life may be a learning experience in this respect.

3. I've learned that I am capable of some degree of independence, even if it is a painful thing to experience. It helps immensely to know other people are there to support you, and makes the experience much more fulfilling, but it really isn't necessary. I don't mean to say this to sound ungrateful to the people who did give me support, but I did feel very lonely throughout my training and swim.

4. It was a huge confidence booster. In the weeks since Tahoe, I've thought about other goals that are much less interesting or compelling, but still slightly daunting: e.g. losing weight, gardening, running farther, biking without fear, being more organized, learning to paint. These are all things where I've "thrown in the towel" when they got frustating. My life is a bit of a mess, but I feel confident that I can sort this out with the kind of commitment and positive thinking it took me to get across Tahoe. It might seem a little silly that I need to cheer myself along throughout the day for such mundane things, but in the long run it will improve the quality of my life. Perhaps later, the confidence will be applied to something more exciting and glamorous, but for now, it gives me a sense of peace to know it is there.

Athletic Goals for 2007/2008

I'm feeling aimless. I feel like I need a goal that I can get excited about. Maybe I shouldn't feel bad about the fact that I'm feeling dissatisfied and ambivalent. Maybe all that means is I'm lucky to have choices. It's hard for me to figure out what I want, but I'm grateful that I have options.

Possible goals for the next year:

1. Another big swim, possibly a channel crossing.
2. Relaxing and enjoying swimming and running and not worrying so much about performance.
3. Breaking a 22 in the 1650 freestyle
4. Feeling comfortable consistently swimming on a 1:25 base
5. Swimming 4200 yards in the Hour Postal
6. Getting in better shape cardiovascularly through running and cycling
7. Doing a triathlon

Thoughts on my options:

1. Another big swim, possibly a channel crossing.


It captures my imagination. I'm not sure how else to explain it. The challenge? The glory? My love for the power and unpredictability of the open water?


It probably won't be satisfying in the ways I want it to be. Swimming Tahoe and training for it was hard and lonely. I don't regret it, because everything that was hard about it was a learning experience and also empowering. Reading the accounts of Michele's swim was inspiring and fascinating, but also frightening. Marathon swimming could not be a lifestyle for me. As a lifetime goal, it could be empowering, enlightening, and enhancing, but as a long term lifestyle it might be harmful. I don't think I need another challenge like Tahoe at this point in my life. I think what I got out of it in terms of learning about commitment and building my confidence is enough fuel for a while.

2. Relaxing and enjoying swimming and running and not worrying so much about performance.

Of course, enjoyment has intrinsic value. Relaxation is definitely necessary for a happy life. This would have to fit somewhere in my goals, but knowing my personality, it would not be enough to be satisfying. Every time I've tried to be a happy-go-lucky slacker, I've been unsuccessful at it.

3. Breaking a 22 in the 1650 freestyle
4. Feeling comfortable consistently swimming on a 1:25 base
5. Swimming 4200 yards in the Hour Postal

I guess 3, 4, and 5 are all tied into one another: getting faster. I think in terms of priorities, I'd like to get back to the basics for now. I chose swimming as an activity because it was healthy and enjoyable. I chose to set performance goals, because it enhanced my enjoyment and interest to set goals for myself.

Do these goals seem reasonable? My P.R. for a 1650 is 22:56. I'd have to swim about 3.4 seconds faster per 100. I swim pretty comfortably on a 1:30 base right now, and when I'm energetic, confident, and, um, have just the right person in front of me to draft on, I can swim on a 1:25 base. Maybe some combination of pushing myself mentally and supplementing strength training would help me with these goals.

6. Getting in better shape cardiovascularly through running and cycling

Doesn't seem like there are too many cons here. Cross training is beneficial. The only thing I worry about is that when I push myself when I run, I sometimes use up all of my “give a crap” for the week and don't have energy to swim hard. I wonder if it would work well to alternate hard running weeks and hard swimming weeks.

7. Doing a triathlon:

Maybe running and cycling for enjoyment and cross-training will lead to racing and performance goals apart from swimming, but for now it isn't really necessary.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Just In Case

Someone who knows about this blog asked me if I thought my surgery scar got infected at the pool. I hadn't thought about the fact that I might be implying that by saying that one of my fellow swimmers had an infected surgery scar. I just said that to explain my relationship to that person, not to imply that there was something wrong with the pool I swim in. I was actually wearing a waterproof bandaid before I went to Urgent Care, so it seems pretty unlikely that would be the case. My doc told me it was healthier to leave it off when I swim, and that he wanted to see it dry out rather than kind of steam up inside the waterproof bandaid.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Michele Swims the Catalina Channel -

This is from Forrest- The Crew Chief:

I've heard stories of incredible fortitude. Michele's 13-hour Catalina
Channel swim was the first time I've witnessed a feat of this magnitude.
Her crossing immediately ranks among my "top 10 favorite swimming stories".
It's that inspiring.

Had I known (at the time) exactly how seasick she was on the evening boat
trip over to the island, I might have counseled Michele differently. Our
experienced boat pilot stopped mid-Channel in a chaotic mixed-swell and
strong winds. There were doubts this would be an ideal swimming night.
Maybe it was time to reconsider. The best I had to offer was the forecast
was for diminishing winds... by the time she'd cross these waters again,
perhaps 12 hours later, the winds were supposed to be calm. As luck would
have it, the forecasters were correct - for once.

Michele was ill before the swim started, and continued to struggle with
nausea and internal distress. Imagine trying to feed every 20 minutes,
knowing the drink is meant to sustain you. And it's just as likely going to
make you wretch your guts. Michele hesitantly drank at each stop. Even a
few sips brought on the heaves.

What rarely wavered was Michele's focus. One goal. Even if she could take
only a few strokes at a time. I'd watch her talk with herself. Pep talks in
the pitch black waters, to help calm her nerves and discount negative
emotions. Convince herself she had the ability to put together 50
consecutive strokes. Then put her head down and after 2 strokes wince in
pain, roll over and nearly vomit. On occasion, there were vocal sounds that
I'm not sure were human. Only to repeat this process.

I've watched swimmers falter, but never have I seen one recover from such
despair. About an hour before daybreak, after 5 hours of swimming, and 2
hours of regular gut-wrenching heaves, Michele said she'd suffered enough.
She wanted to "call" the swim. Make the pain stop and climb aboard the
escort boat. Find a hot shower and sleep the remainder of the day.

What Michele proved to us, today, was she could suffer another 8+ hours.
And she ought to "call" this 20-mile Catalina Channel crossing a crowning
success... and I hope Michele doesn't hold true to her mid-Channel promise
to "never swim again". It'd be a downright shame if she missed the
pre-party swim at November's Catalina Channel celebratory event.

This is from Emily Evans-Crew Member:

Yes - Michele made it! - It was an great event adventure swim experience.
Michele has a powerful mind I think they could solve the energy crisis if
they tapped into her will power - it's quite amazing. She did a great job
- despite sickness, and "large fishies" bumping her in the night. Some of

the highlights of the swim from my vantage were to see Michele go from
experiencing pain and illness to putting her head down and plowing though
the water with focus and determination and as she came to the shore a
group of 5 or so dolphins came to greet her as she swam against the current and
to those lovely rocks we all now (the small car to toilet bowl size
rocks with teeth). Everyone on board was amazing as well. John paddled
with craned neck and gentle encouragement and kept Michele on track.
Susan was a constant voice of encouragement and tried to help Michele to
remember that left arm every time she swam too far from the boat. John Pittman was
amazing and his crew as well - steering a course and helping and answering
questions. Laura cooked up drinks in the kitchen and kept careful watch
over the feeding schedule -and when tough love was needed she had plenty
to serve up. Forest was a pillar of strength and wisdom and his advice and
assistance were absolutely crucial to the success of the swim.

On a personal note - I must admit there were times that I thought this
(channel swimming) is a strange sort of sado-masochist recreational
phenomenon. We the crew are the sadists forcing down juices and drink and
forcing our friend to continue through pain - and Michele enduring the
hard times in order to gain the satisfaction of completion. But in the peaceful
moments I could hear the rhythmic splashing of Michele's arms in water and
see stars, clouds and birds overhead -and in the intense moments I could
feel everyone's hearts pounding with excitement and encouragement and
minds spinning through expectations, fears and strategies for both - and I know
why challenges such as this one are so enticing.

Now I should try and get some long awaited sleep and perhaps dream of
black waters, rocky coasts and an amazing group of wonderful people - all of


Saturday, September 15, 2007

Weekly Summary (Or Why I'm Going Nuts)

My dog got sprayed by a skunk, at 5:15 in the morning. Bathed her twice. Took her to the vet to get her bathed again.

Went to the Urgent Care clinic Tuesday night for a mildly infected scar from my cyst removal surgery. Got home way past my bedtime.

I got lost on my way to a Weight Watcher's Meeting. I printed out directions, but didn't print out the address. I knew the street name, and figured there'd be a sign, but there wasn't one. Turns out it was in some building on the second floor.
Got up at 5:30 a.m. so I could swim at 7, and didn't get home until nine, since I ran until 6:30-8:00.

-Felt very anti-social, and didn't talk to anyone in the locker room at swimming at all.
- Found out my car which was supposed to be fixed this weekend won't be finished until next week.

Got up at 5:15 a.m. to swim, only to find that Hwy 9 was closed about 3 miles up the road. Turned around and went home, and got on my bike trainer again.

Ran out of gas in an area without cell phone coverage.

Week in general:
Worked out 9 times total.
My house has fleas! We think... Haven't seen them yet, but Raybon and I both have bites. Willow has never had fleas. Not sure which of the two dogs that visited our house last month to blame.

Sounds like a bad week. But:
Had a good laugh about the skunk incident with my co-worker Sandy.

Was lucky to have decided to go to Urgent Care. One of my fellow swimmers had a painful, troublesome problem with her own infected scar.

Didn't really wanted to go to WW anyways. Mostly wanted to kill time in between work and running.
Ran with very little pain. Am probably going to recover just fine.

Thursday really wasn't so bad. Just felt tired for the most part.

Had a nice lunch with Raybon, who also worked from home that day.

Running out of gas was actually a fun adventure (at least for a biking wuss like me.) See below. Had a nice ride with Jac.

Week in General:
Lost weight, I think.
Not to tempt fate, but although I'm tired, I'm in good spirits. Ease up on me fate. Don't let my positive attitude come off as "What else you got?"

Accidental Adventure

Apologies in advance for all the typo's. I'm feeling a little tired and lightheaded.

I woke up this morning looking forward to a swim workout followed by a bike ride with Jac. The workout was an easy pyramid set. The ride was flat and not too long, 20 miles tops on a road with a wide shoulder. I tried to focus on my cadence, but other than that rode at an easy conversational pace with Jac. I was starting to feel like I had a handle on this cycling thing. I'd unclip automatically at a stop sign, and focused on my pace rather than being terrified of falling. We turned around right as we got to a hilly, curvy road that I usually take home from work. We talked about riding a little farther, even maybe some day riding all the way to my house in the Flip Flop Mountains. Someday... Frankly when I say "Maybe someday I'll swim the English Channel" it sounds more plausible, despite the fact that I see riders doing it all the time.

OK... When I first started writing this blog I wrote about all the stupid things I do, figuring it had good entertainment value for my readers. Back then I was very protective about who read it. I still don't think too many people read it, but my cover has been blown enough to fear having people who might be laughing at me rather than with me. But it's an important part of the story. I ran out of gas. It was stupid. I should have known better. I knew I was low on gas on my way to practice, but figured I'd push it because I was afraid I'd be late. But by the time I got done with riding with Jac and got in my car at her house to head home, this thought completely exited my head.

I ran out of gas on the road that Jac and I debated about heading down, and wisely decided to turn around. When I first started taking this road to and from work, I was pretty nervous, because there is no cell phone coverage, and a lot of the houses say stuff like "KEEP OUT" and have crazy looking gates and rusted cars. When I ran out of gas I was pretty close to a very nice looking place, though, but I decided against bothering them for their phone. I decided instead to take my bike out to Highway 9, and see if I could get better phone coverage there, or maybe stop at the Jewish Summer Camp that was right next to the Highway there.

The hills were more than I bargained for. Jac and I thought about doing a hillier workout, and I was afraid I'd go so slow I'd have to stop and wouldn't be able to unclip before I fell over. I'm glad I did this hill, because I now know that was silly, and unclipping on a hill is really not that hard. I stopped and walked a little bit (luckily none of the numerous weekend riders who take this route saw me and laughed at me.) It's been a long time since I've done a semi-challenging hill: 8 years, back when I lived in Flip Flop proper. I wasn't too bummed about being forced to do this actually; it seemed almost like fate that I'd be forced out of my comfort zone a little bit.

There was no phone coverage when I reached he highway, so I asked the Jewish Summer Camp if I could use their phone. They were very kind, and I called AAA. I then thanked them and started my ride back to my car. When my car stopped, I had a choice of whether to head down hill or uphill, I figured I should get the hard part out of the way first. I think my flat, confidence building ride this morning made me forget what the actual hard part for me is: going fast down hill. I was terrified. I clenched my brakes so hard going down that winding road, I felt sure at times my hands wouldn't have the strength to hold on much longer. My guts felt like they turned to liquid. I've read about this happening to people, but had no idea what this meant until I actually experienced it. I had to tell myself over and over again to not panic, that my hands would not fatigue, that I wasn't going to faint or lose balance and fall over. When I got to a point where I felt safe stopping, I realized I had already gone a little past my car. My whole body shook.

Some perspective on my ridiculously dramatic account of today's adventure:

- The section of hill I rode was only 1 mile long.
- As I sat and waited in my car for the tow truck to come with gas, an old man on a road bike came riding down the same road I came down. He didn't look like he was going fast at all. Either I don't know how to brake properly (entirely possible), or what feels like a roller coaster to me is actually a pretty wussy ride.

What's weird about this is when I used to ride more often, when I went to UC Flip Flop, I rode down roads just as steep and longer than 1 mile. I don't remember ever feeling terrified or out of control. Jac, who is only 23, and has been riding consistently since a younger age, sometimes doesn't understand my terror of riding. I don't know if it is just that I'm not as over my fear of clipless pedals and my slick road bike I thought I was, or if I've just become more painfully aware (sometimes literally) of my mortality in ways I didn't when I was younger.

All in all, I'm not too sorry I ran out of gas today. It all worked out pretty well, and I did all sorts of things on my bike that forced me out of my comfort zone: hills, winding roads, no bike lane, going faster than I felt comfortable with, riding alone, gravel, and a one lane road. Only 2 miles total, but a month ago I was terrified to do 2 miles just down my block. I must say my fascination and respect for cyclists has increased 10 fold. Not that I didn't respect them before, but as I drove home and watched them climb longer, steeper hills than I did, I had to mentally bow down before them.

Trying out a new sport is teaching me humility in ways that Lake Tahoe solo swim and my Catalina Channel relay really did not. I always want to explain to people that I'm not a big wuss, and that I'm actually a pretty brave swimmer, but I always feel like a dork when I do this. I think I'll resolve not to mention my swimming adventures at all next time I go to a run workout or on a bike ride.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Word of the Day: Schadenfreude

From Wikipedia:

Schadenfreude is a German word meaning 'pleasure taken from someone else's misfortune'. It has been borrowed by the English language[1] and is sometimes also used as a loanword by other languages.

Schadenfreude is referred to in the Simpsons episode "When Flanders Failed." Lisa accuses Homer of feeling schadenfreude when Homer gloats about Ned Flanders being on the verge of bankruptcy. Lisa asks Homer, "Dad, do you know what Schadenfreude is?", to which Homer replies in a sarcastic tone, "No, I do not know what Schadenfreude is. Please tell me because I'm dying to know." Lisa then explains "It's a German word for shameful joy, taking pleasure in the suffering of others." Homer responds with "Oh, come on, Lisa. I'm just glad to see him fall flat on his butt! He's usually all happy and comfortable, and surrounded by loved ones, and it makes me feel...what's the opposite of that shameful joy thing of yours?" "Sour grapes." "Boy, those Germans have a word for everything."

Monday, September 10, 2007

Willow's Terrible Day

I was going to write this from Willow's perspective, but it came out kind of sappy.

My poor baby doggy (um, is sappy a bad thing?) got sprayed by a skunk this morning. I got up early to make the 7 am workout, and took her out to front yard like I always do before I leave for work. It was dark outside, and there is not light near the gate to the front yard. I heard a scuffle, and then heard Willow sneezing convulsively. There was an overpowering smell, and I realized she had a run in with a skunk. I ran into the house, told Raybon, who made me run to get a flashlight. By the time he got outside she was in the neighbors front yard, sneezing, and rubbing her face in the dirt.

"Crap," I thought. Selfishly, I wanted to ask Raybon if he could just take this one so I could go swimming, but I knew that was the wrong thing to do. (He wouldn't have gone for it anyways.) We washed her with hydrogen peroxide, vinegar, and baking soda, and then again with baby shampoo. We did it outside with the hose. We almost always bathe her in the bath, so she won't get cold. Poor thing, got sprayed in the face with a skunk, then got doused over and over again with cold water and a nasty mixture of peroxide and vinegar diluted in a gallon of water. She was very, very patient, and whenever I went away to get something from the house, she tried to follow me. Poor sweetie. We put her in her kennel in the shed, and left for work. The house reeked, because the skunk smell from outside seeped through the open bathroom window.

I did get to swim at noon, but I was exhausted. We paid $40 to have the vet bathe her again, because she was still stinky, and it hurt my back to bathe her the first time. She doesn't much like the vet, ever since she had surgery there a couple months ago. She doesn't smell all that bad now, only a little bit.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Menlo Plus Catalina Relay, August 12th 2007

How the Team Came Together

Michele Starts Putting Together the Team

Back in early February, when I was still feeling a little lonesome swimming with my new club, Menlo Masters, I noticed a familiar name on one of the club's monthly newsletters. I smiled from ear to ear to learn that an English Channel swimmer I'd met the previous year, Michele Santilhano, with whom I'd corresponded with by email had joined the club. I was so excited; I immediately emailed her and told her we needed to meet at one of the workouts. We met for a workout and dinner, and shared stories and plans. I was so pleased to have a new friend at my new club, and to feel the camaraderie of having another crazy open water swimmer on my team. Michele is a nurse from South Africa, who is an ultra-runner, marathon swimmer, and Ironman triathlete. Every other weekend she knocks off some event that would be a normal athlete's life time goal.

In February or March of this year, Michele told me she had put me on a mental list of people for a relay across the 21 mile Catalina Channel she was going to do in preparation for her solo swim in September. I immediately broke my New Year's Resolution of learning to say "I'll think about it", by answering "Absolutely." As an aspiring marathon swimmer, I couldn't think of anything I would rather do. She excitedly told our coach, Tim, about our plans, and he sent out an email to try to help us recruit 4 more people to round out our team. I questioned my sanity in committing to this without much thought.

Meeting Marianne

One day at workout I met another open water swimmer. I'm sort of an open water swimming groupie, and internet addict. I'd combed through results of open water swims looking to see which Menlo swimmers did open water, and found that Marianne was repeatedly the open water points champion in her age group. I was leading the lane next to hers, which had 2 other people in it, while she swam by herself. She invited me over, which I think may have been my first day moving from Level 3 to Level 2. I couldn't quite keep up with her, but I had fun trying, and she was very friendly and welcoming. She asked me my name, and when she started to introduce herself, I said, "I know who you are. You're famous. You're Marianne" We talked a little about open water, and she feigned not knowing that she was open water points champion, although I'm pretty sure she did know.

She later inquired in the locker room about the Catalina Channel Relay. I asked her if she'd like to join us and she thought it didn't sound like much fun, being on a boat in the dark for hours and hours and not really getting much swimming in. As we were putting our relay together, and I asked people to join us, people kept telling me to ask Marianne. They told me to keep asking when I told them her initial answer, and she might change her mind. I did this and hoped she would.

Lorraine Joins Us

Michele and I scheduled a meeting with potential relay members. Two other people showed up, one of them a woman named Lorraine. I was instantly impressed by Lorraine She was friendly, confident, mature, intelligent, and had open water swimming experience. That she was friends with Marianne, and obviously cared about her a lot was also a plus. I was glad when she told us she would join our team, and hoped she would help us recruit Marianne. She turned out to be a great asset to the team, with her candid nature and organizational skills.

Marianne Finally Joins, Along With Emily

Marianne, Lorraine, Michele, and I, along with a bunch of other Menlo swimmers, spent the day at Lake Berryessa. I also met Michele's friend from Davis, Emily, who Michele had recruited to be a team member. I instantly got the sense that she would be a great person to have on the team. She was friendly and energetic, and seemed like a sweet, modest person. After spending the day with us at Berryessa, Marianne decided to join us on our relay. Michele, Lorraine, and I were all delighted.

Mike Completes the Team

Tim told me that he had talked with another potential relay member, Mike, and gave us his recommendation. I had seen Mike at our Menlo Master's Run-Swim-Run-Swim-Run, which he won by a wide margin. We'd also shared a lane once or twice, although I'm not sure we had met. After Tim told me about Mike's interest, we shared a lane about a week later. I was having trouble keeping up with him that day, but he and the other person in the lane were very supportive and accommodating. We introduced ourselves, and I asked him if he were the Mike that was interested in the relay, and he was very surprised to learn that I was one of the organizers. (I wondered later if it was because I seemed sort of whiny and wimpy that day in workout, and didn't seem so much like a tough open water swimmer who would help organize a relay across the Catalina Channel.) Michele was also in the pool that day, and I introduced her to Mike, and told her he was great and that we should let him on the team.
The team we started putting together in March was finally complete in early June.

Saturday Before the Relay

I woke up on Saturday morning at my parent's house, still pretty shook up about the car accident I had the day before and also exhausted from my Tran-Tahoe solo swim. I thought the car accident might be a good excuse for not doing it, but I also thought that since I'd committed to doing the swim, I should do it anyways.
I was scheduled to swim the third leg of the relay. I thought it would be good to go last, so I could get as much rest before my swim as I could, and that the relay would likely be finished before I got to swim my second leg. This would mean I would have to change places with Mike, so I hoped he would be willing to do that. I called Michele and told her about my accident, that I would still swim, but thought I should change places with Mike. She promised she would baby me, and talk to Mike for me.

Lorraine and Michele picked me up at my parent's house and we drove up to San Pedro. We got there very early. We stopped at Cabrillo Beach, where Lorraine and Michele chatted up a friendly lifeguard. Our plan at the time was to swim to this beach to finish the relay, and the lifeguard said he'd watch for us. We had a lot of fun doing cartwheels and Pilates in the sand. I told Michele and Lorraine I'd never successfully done a cartwheel before, and Michele said she hadn't either. Lorraine did one elegantly, and Michele and I tried out best. Lorraine declared me a successful cartwheeler. I guess I'll take her word for it.

We also met another interesting person. We watched him get in the water in his goggles, cap, and baggy trunks that came up above his belly button, and then watched as he swam out to a buoy. I thought he looked a little goofy in his trunks, but saw in him a kindred spirit in his love for the beach and buoys. We talked to him a bit and found out he was a member of the Cabrillo Beach Polar Bears. He let us see their little clubhouse, where we found out he and his wife were the 1999 King and Queen of the Cabrillo Beach Polar Bears.

We killed more time at an aquarium, where Michele bought cute whale's tail mood charm necklaces for everyone on our team as souvenirs. We then arrived at the 22nd Street Landing Seafood Grill and Bar and had dinner with everyone on the team, as well as Marianne's partner Joan; Mike's daughter Shelby, who would be accompanying us on the boat; Forrest Nelson, our official observer; and Emily's mother, who's name I forget unfortunately. I felt comforted after listening to Forrest talk to everyone. He is an experienced Channel swimmer, and a very knowledgeable and responsible person. Michele spoke to Mike at dinner and he kindly gave up his cozy 6th leg of the relay to me.

The Swim

It was already dark by the time we boarded the boat. I believe it was around 8:30 or 9. The boat was clean and spacious. I climbed down below to where the bunks were and fell asleep very easily after Michele sweetly tucked me in. Michele woke me up at 4:30 a.m. after what felt to me not much time later to tell me I was up to swim in half an hour. I'd been suffering from lack of sleep since the week before my Tahoe solo swim, and couldn't believe how hard I slept. I felt a little sorry I didn't even see the island or the start of our race, but not very. I really needed the rest. I stumbled up the stairs and through the doorway to the deck of the rocking boat, where I found Marianne sleeping on the deck in her All-American parka. It was pitch dark. There was no moon at all. I saw Emily swimming gracefully, smoothly, and very fast in the black sea. Mike helped fasten my lightstick and glow bracelet on me before I jumped in.

I still felt a little sleepy, but also felt nervous. The word surreal has been used by many members of our relay to describe the experience. I swam towards Emily, and we sort of rammed into each other. I treaded water until Emily climbed back onto the boat, and began my swim.

In an embarrassing lack of forethought, I had brought a tinted pair of goggles. The boat really didn't have a lot of light. I felt self-conscious after watching Emily's lovely graceful stroke, and also knowing I was being watched. I tried to focus on keeping a smooth stroke and breathing pattern, but gave up, because every time I did this I started to almost run into the boat. I heard Forrest call out my name as a warning both times I did this, and finally decided my main priority was to focus on not crashing into the boat.

The sun came up during my leg, and I kept swimming away from the boat and towards the light. I felt pretty goofy about not being able to stay straight. I also felt a little crazy. I got far enough from the boat at times to feel a little panicky (it didn't take more than few strokes to do this), and had a vague crazy thought that it might not be the right boat. (I wasn't quite crazy enough to actually believe it was true.) My leg was finally up and Michele jumped in. Again, we collided as we did the transfer. I clumsily climbed back into the boat, coached by Forrest on how to do it.

Lorraine got in after Michele I think most people felt a bit queasy, due to the surprising amount of rocking on the boat in what seemed like a calm sea from a swimmer's perspective. Lorraine was the most affected of anyone by seasickness. I was very impressed by how incredibly good humored and graceful she was despite not even being able to keep down Gatorade. I watched her swim beautifully with her long dancer's arms. I got a chance to chat with Emily, who offered to swim Catalina solo together sharing the same boat the next year. Emily is a different class of swimmer than I am, so I was amazed by this generosity and lack of ego.

I started feeling sick, and went down below to take some ginger pills and sleep some more. I luckily didn't get too sick, and was able to keep everything down, despite my occasional urge not to.

Part of me wishes I had more energy to feel more like a participant in everyone's swims, but it simply wasn't there. A few of us felt this way, I think. Michele seemed the most energetic of anyone, and I'm grateful for the tea she gave me to soothe my stomach, and generally babying me and everyone else on the boat. Her good nature was a gift to everyone on the team. She probably had the best "team" experience of any of us, because she seemed the most present. I was woken up when we were about half an hour to shore, and after debating a bit with myself, I got in my suit, cap, and goggles, and joined Marianne and Emily in the water, as Marianne took us into shore. I swam with them for about 15 minutes. Michele jumped in with us at the last minute.

We had hoped to land on the sandy Cabrillo Beach, but because of strong currents instead landed on rocks close to San Vicente Point. This is what most Catalina Channel swimmers choose to do. Forrest told us to help Marianne by telling her when to hold on and when to float in. I wasn't sure how to time this, but Forrest yelled to us, and Emily and I relayed the information to Marianne and Michele, who joined Marianne in climbing up onto the rocks. It looked very difficult and scary, and I was glad I wasn't the one who had to do it. Marianne finally found herself on shore, and raised her arms in a victorious V. I like to think of myself as being a gutsy person, but Marianne is one of my heroes in that regard. She finished our relay at 10 hours and 3 minutes, blessed by great conditions in a calm sea.

We swam back to the boat. Marianne was pretty badly cut-up. Nothing very deep, but there was a lot of blood and quite a few scrapes. I ran and got my first-aid kit. Lorraine and I helped cleanse her wounds and bandage her up. I was glad for the opportunity to once feel like a team member by helping Marianne out.

We parted ways with feelings of affection and accomplishment. I think we were all tired and at a loss of words to explain exactly what happened. Even after writing this long account, I feel like there is more to be said, but in summary I feel lucky to have had the opportunity to share this adventure with a great group of people.

Word of the Day

I use this word and hear it used all the time, but never thought much about what it actually meant. Great word.



Etymology: Latin congratulatus, past participle of congratulari to wish joy, from com- + gratulari to wish joy, from gratus pleasing -- more at GRACE
1 archaic : to express sympathetic pleasure at (an event)
2 : to express vicarious pleasure to (a person) on the occasion of success or good fortune ; also : to feel pleased with
3 obsolete : SALUTE, GREET

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Bored, bored, bored

I can't run. I'm not supposed to swim for another 3 hours, because I'm supposed to wait 48 hours from my surgery. I'm biking tomorrow and Monday, so biking is out. What to do?

Being bored is awesome! I haven't been bored for months! I'm finishing up a book I'm reading and just chilling out.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Minor Surgery

I had a cyst removed from my back this afternoon. It has been there for about 14 years. Raybon thinks it is kind of gross, but I've been too busy with my other appointments since he informed me of that to have it taken off. I didn't think much of it when I made the appointment, or even when I showed up this afternoon. But when I got there, and they started talking about big needles, scissors, and scalpels, I started to cringe. It wasn't so much the pain that I was scared of, as having to hear scissors go snip, snip, snip on my flesh, and feeling pulling and pressure as bits of me got ripped away. I wondered if I'd catch a glimpse of blood or something like that. I almost backed out. The anesthesia was the most painful part.

The thing that made this whole thing more scary and funny was that after he made the first incision, the power went out. The nurses franctically looked for a flashlight and someone to hold it for the doctor. This went on for I'm not sure how many minutes, but the backup generator finally kicked in, and the doctor completed the surgery. I asked him what the worst case scenario would be for a power outage in his office, and he said from the patient's perspective it would probably be a pap smear.

I'm OK, but I can't swim for 2 days. My new running coach told me to take it easy on the running this weekend because I'm in pain from overtraining, too, which leaves cycling, but I may just take this opportunity to just not exercise at all for a few days. Might be good for me.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Diet Blog

I started a new blog, chronicling my calorie consumption. If you're interested:

My Diet Blog

Crazy Full Life

My life has been bursting at the seams with activity lately. There's so much that's happened, I haven't had time to blog about it, although so much of it deserves reflection.

Things that have happened in the last two weeks I should blog about, but haven't:

1. My third Aquathlon
2. My first triathlon (I blogged a little about it.)
3. My first running team workout
4. My houseguests (Miho, Rose, and Elwood)
5. Two dogs visiting our house, both of whom marked their territory in our kitchen. Willow was amazingly understanding.
6. A relay swim across the Catalina Channel.
7. A great swim followed by tacos with 007 and C.P.

Best Wishes and Congratulations, Elwood and Rose

My baby brother Elwood got married on Monday this week to his fiance, now wife, Rose. They stayed with us for 4 days before the wedding, so I got to see first hand some of the nervousness and preparation, which climaxed on Saturday, resigned on Sunday, and turned into happiness, beauty, and hope on Monday. The wedding was beautiful. I love my brother dearly. I was scared for him. Marriage is a huge step and tremendous leap of faith, as I well know 8 years into my own marriage. But when I saw how happy he and Rose were, I felt more at ease, and when I heard how beautiful the vows they wrote were, I felt hopeful that they will have a life full of love together. I wish I had a copy of them to post here, but instead I'll post what they had me read during the ceremony:

The Irrational Season
by Madeleine L'Engle

There comes a moment when a decision must be made. Ultimately two people
who love each other must ask themselves how much they hope for as their love
grows and deepens, and how much risk they are willing to take is indeed a fearful gamble...

Because it is the nature of love to create, a marriage itself is something
which has to be created, so that, together we become a new creature.

To marry is the biggest risk in human relations that a person can take...

If we commit ourselves to one person for life this is not, as many people
think, a rejection of freedom; rather it demands the courage to move into
all the risks of freedom, and the risk of love which is permanent; into that
love which is not possession, but participation...

It takes a lifetime to learn another person...

When love is not possession, but participation, then it is part of that
co-creation which is our human calling, and which implies such risk that it
is often rejected.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

2 x 16 Candles

Yesterday was my 32nd birthday. I celebrated it by doing my first triathlon. I got up at 4 a.m. in the morning and drove over to Shadow Cliffs Regional Park, where I met J. This was her second triathlon, and her first swim that included open water. I'm a little tired to blog about the details, but I didn't fall or die, and I had a lot of fun doing something new. J. got a few people to shout Happy Birthday to me as I finished, and even got me a card. My family is in town for my brother's wedding, and I was informed in advance that my birthday would not be celebrated amongst the all of the wedding hullabaloo. I whined to J. about it on Wednesday on our bike ride, so it was sweet of her to remember.

My godparents had a little party for me. We watched "The Outlaw Josie Wales" and ate spaghetti and had birthday cake. I love birthday cake. I love cards and presents and having people sing to me. I talked to a few people about how they feel about birthdays, and mostly people seem to think that birthdays aren't that big of a deal and that it isn't important to them to feel celebrated, but I like having one day a year where I feel important to people.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Behind on Blogging

Lots has happened that I haven't had a chance to blog about. I'm still working on an account of our Catalina swim. I have 3 pages so far, and haven't even gotten to the day of the swim yet, so per usual, I am a little overly wordy.

Because I am brimming over with gratitude, I felt like I need to mention sooner rather than later that Big L. gave me a bike lesson yesterday, accompanied by C.P. and J. I rode with them for over an hour and half, and it was a tremendous confidence booster. Big L. also adjusted my seat, which seems to make a world of difference. I felt much more stable and I am now a little bit less than terrified of my clipless pedals. Thank you! Thank you!

C.P. and Big L. encouraged me to do a sprint triathlon on Saturday, which I'm going to do with J. I'm pretty excited about it. It's called "Tri for Fun", and you don't get official results, which sounds perfect to me. My best swimming experiences were my first ones, when I just wanted to finish. Those and my Tahoe relay last year, where I tried my best without getting a time. I'm hoping I can capture some of that fun that I felt with this new sport.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


I've been exhausted lately. I'm starting to feel somewhat better, but towards the end of the day, I am clutzy, and I am still unfocused at work.

I decided to drive down by myself on Friday, although I had the opportunity to carpool with C.P. and L on Saturday. It's about a 6 hour drive to my parents, and about 8 to where we were meeting in Long Beach for the relay. I wanted to have enough time to rest for the swim, and a long drive on Saturday didn't seem like a good way to be well rested for a swim that started at midnight. I've made the trip down to my parents many, many times over the last 14 years I've lived in Northern California, but this was only the second time I've done it by myself. I've always either gotten a ride with a friend, Raybon, or taken the bus or plane.

I left without directions, and got a little lost, but my Treo and Google Maps got me back on the right track. Because I got lost, I wanted very much to make up for lost time by not taking my time and stopping for lunch, and by speeding. I was very tired, so this was a mistake. I was so tired, I had trouble keeping the directions in my head as I drove, and often forgot what the next street I was supposed to turn on was. Instead of stopping for lunch, I went through a drive-thru at McDonald's and got a Happy Meal.

I got as for as Goleta, which is just north of Santa Barbara. I looked down to get a drink from my water bottle, and by the time I looked up, I saw that a big white van ahead of my had stopped. I slammed on my brakes, but it was too late. I swerved towards the left side of the freeway (I was in the fast lane), and hit the van with the front, right side of my car. I screamed. As I stopped my car, I started bawling like a baby. My guilty conscious came out in full force. Why did I drive when I knew I was tired? Why didn't I ride with C.P. and L.? Why didn't I wait until Raybon got back from his business trip later that evening, so he could come with me? Why do I do things out of feelings of obligation when I'm too tired to do them? Why do I have this stupid, guilty conscience?

The guy in the van was completely non-chalant. He said, "Sorry. Traffic just came to a stop." His car didn't have so much as a scratch, but mine looked pretty bad. I hit his bumper, but it was higher than mine, so it hit the hood of the Prius instead. An EMT that was driving by stopped and held my hand. He kept asking me questions and trying to comfort me. He asked if it was my parent's car, which made me think he thought I was much younger than I am. I was embarrassed to tell him I was almost 32. He chuckled at my Happy Meal. He really wasn't making me feel better. I felt like crying, like it was something I needed to do anyways that the accident just facilitated.

Anyway, I'm fine. I don't know what's going to happen with the car yet. There's more to the story that involves a fiasco with a dubiously ethical tow truck driver and Enterprise, but I'm not sure how much I want to go into it. I was shaken up and felt sort of taken advantage of, but it's all going to work out in the end. Lesson learned: call your insurance company if you have an accident, and ask them what you should do. Don't let anyone else make decisions for you.

I feel not much more than the normal aches and pains at the moment. Thanks for asking.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Brief Update

Friday 8/10/07 - Got in car accident. Raybon's Prius. I'm fine. The other driver is fine. Prius not so good.

Saturday 8/11/07 and Sunday 8/12/07- Swam in 6 person relay across the Catalina Channel. Fun people. 10 hours 3 minutes.

Tired now. Blog more later.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Am I Done?

I'm coming on 32 in 2 weeks. They say the person you are in your early 30's is who you will be for the rest of your life. Should I just settle into myself, or keep trying to work on my problems? I'm starting to think I may just be who I am. I may decide to tackle various challenges for the rest of my life, but maybe I'll be approaching them with the same tools and handicaps the rest of my life.

Things I'm afraid I'll be for the rest of my life:

1. Shy
2. Awkward
3. Passive
4. Narcissistic
5. Obsessive
6. Panicky
7. Bitchy

Part of me feels relieved at the idea that "I am done." I can be Ok with myself if I am any of the above things, because I'm done and there isn't anything I can do about it anyways. The other part of me thinks I should take constructive steps to work on all of the above. All of the things above that I do end up hurting other people (yes, even the shy part.)

I guess I can't consider myself done. But I think rather than getting mad at myself for being all of the above things, I should think hard about concrete steps on how to get past my problems.

What do I have in my favor? (Just to be nice and make up for all the mean things I said about myself in the list above.)

1. Generous in helping when asked.
2. Try hard to be considerate, despite my awkwardness and solipsism getting in the way sometimes.
3. Determined (the upside of obsessiveness, I guess.)
4. Honest.
5. Loyal.
6. Intelligent. (Sometimes I don't think I use the brain God gave me enough, though.)

Socializing and Swimming Day

At pretty much the last minute, I decided to do the Flop Cruise. M. and L. (better come up with aliases soon) asked me over and over again whether I was going to swim it many times over the past few weeks, and I always said no. Excuses: "I'm boycotting it, because they chose to do this instead of the Pier to Pier", "I don't feel like racing", "I've done it too many times." When I woke up this morning, I didn't want to go either. But I went. I can't explain it exactly. Why? I don't know. I think my thoughts were along the lines of "This is what I do, I'm an open water swimmer." Jean-Paul Sartre would have a word with me, I guess.

Raybon went with me, doing what he felt his husbandly duty, I guess. I asked him why he wanted to go, and he said "I've got nothing better to do", which I guess sounds a lot like my answer for why I went, too. I got there and immediately looked for M. and L. I got there kind of on the late side, so I was surprised they weren't there. I saw a lot of my old Flip Flop Masters teammates, which was surprisingly very nice and comforting. I think at Lake Berryessa and at the PMS SCY meet, I felt a little uncomfortable seeing everyone, because I was a defector, but everyone was so friendly and welcoming this time. It's nice to go somewhere where everyone seems to know and like you. MMakaTS is starting to feel like that, too.

Ahenobarbus was there. He told me that he read my blog, which was surprising and flattering.

M. and L. did show up. I had half-joked with M. about racing today in the locker room on Friday. We swim in the same lane, and have been faster or slower than one another depending on the day or part of the workout, so I thought it would be fun to race someone the same speed as me. It was fun, but hard. M. is one tough cookie. She's a masterful open water swimmer, and while I kept up with her for half the race, she took the turns around the buoys a lot more smoothly than I do, and once that happened, I never caught up, and she managed to gain even more ground. I could give a lot of sore-losery excuses about why she beat me, but she did fair and square.

After the swim and awards, (I got first place out of one people in my age group), Raybon and I did some errands, and I then showered and headed to a MM party. I got there 2 hours late, and the party had pretty much wound down at that point. I felt like a big dork. I followed my usual M.O. of talking to another new person for a really long time. I stayed for 45 minutes, mostly to make it sort of feel worth it. I hate parties. Honestly. They feel more like an obligation than anything else. I want to bond with my teammates at MM though, so I thought it might be worth the drive and potential awkwardness. I thought about asking Coach before the party if he could give me a job to do so I wouldn't feel like I had to talk to anyone. I made it through quite a few F.F. social events stressfully, but unscathed, so I guess I'll live through this, too. In the long run, it might be worth it.

Congratulations, 007

15 miles in 7:38. Awesome swim!

Friday, August 03, 2007

Go, 007, Go, Go!

007 is swimming across Long Island Sound 11 hours from now.Go 007! You're going to kick so much ass!

Space Cadet

I'm bad at taking hints, especially when I'm tired. I swam in a lane with a woman I rarely swim with, and 2 other people. I took the rear, because it was breaststroke day. She wondered to me if the person in front of her was concerned that she was following too closely, and told me she hates it when people do that to her. I explained to her that she shouldn't follow too closely, and to leave 10 back if she catches up to them, and if she still catches up to them, to ask to go ahead. I now realize that she may have been indirectly complaining to me about following too close. Being a poor breaststroker, I was focused more on my technique than on not following too close, and I don't have the confidence to leave 10 back. PBBBT.... The nerve of me to feel like I should be explaining lane etiquette to her, when I now realize that i was the one she may have been talking about. How embarrassing.

Note to Self

Always take your vitamins. This is important. I felt like crap for a week and a half after Tahoe, and now feel like a new woman after taking a multivitamin and fish oil for 3 days.

Sorry for using this blog for stuff of no interest to anyone but me. Actually, you know what, no apologies.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Happy Anniversary

Tomorrow is the anniversary of when I first tried out M.M. I took me over a month to actually decide to join, so maybe September 8th should be the real anniversary. Maybe I'll celebrate until then.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Other Soloists...

I did a search on "Trans-Tahoe" in Google news, and discovered that one of the soloists listed as "Did Not Finish" finished in 7 hours 32 minutes. I wonder if they all finished, but didn't have their times listed because they came in too late. Raybon said that they were pulling teams 200 yards behind me. Maybe they made an exception for soloists?

Saturday, July 28, 2007


Some people think my open water swimming makes me brave. I'm not sure whether it does or not. There is a lot of fear involved that I have to work through, but I think my fear-o-meter is not exactly gauged correctly. I'm afraid of competing, I'm afraid of failure, but I'm terrified of falling. Hence, I'm terrified of my clipless pedals. Now that I'm done with Tahoe, my major swimming goal for some time, I feel like I don't have an excuse for not getting on my bike.

I rode down my block today. I probably went a half mile total. Do you have anything you're really afraid of? Something that makes your whole body shake, like it does when you've swam in 52 degree water for half an hour without a wetsuit? That's what happened to me as I rode my bike. I decided to make it easy on myself, and only clip in with one foot. I didn't fall, I'm happy to say. I did clip in with both feet twice, on accident, but unclipping wasn't quite so scary as it might have been. Hooray for me! Triumph! I rode half a mile without falling! I rock! I think I'll do this every day until I just feel like I can go a little more.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Post-post-Tahoe Posts

So far I've written 3 posts about my Tahoe swim. I'm trying to decide which one I like better.

In some ways "I made it" is my favorite one. It is short and sweet, and maybe it gets down to the important part anyways. I accomplished something. Enough said. Why try to make it more or less than what it is, as if by reflection and analysis my accomplishment is somehow better than that of someone less analytical?

My second post may be too much information. But it's the kind of thing I like to read about sports: what people went through psychologically as they race. I think bare results are kind of boring. I care a lot more about the relatively modest results of people I know than the stellar results of the best of the best. In the past, I've defined an athlete as someone who tries to improve him or herself by setting performance goals. Having finished my goal and still finding myself stuck in a lot of my annoying habits, I need to reflect on how much of this is pretense and how much reality. I do think I grew from the experience, but I wouldn't say I was transformed. That probably only happens in movies. I'll be working on my foibles and apologizing for my peccadilloes the rest of life I guess.

Sometimes I think pretending that my athletic accomplishments have anything to do with spirituality is kind of B.S. Especially when I feel more accomplished if other people tried the same thing as I did and failed, as noted in my last post. I guess it proves that I did something difficult if not everyone is successful at it, but I already knew it was hard when I finished it. It feels a little bit like I'm happy about someone else's failure, which is something I feel uncomfortable with. If any of the people who Did Not Finish ever read that post, I'd be pretty sad if it hurt them, and maybe point them in the direction of my post on what I define as a successful swim. I kind of hate my "Blatant Bragging" post for that reason, and would delete it, except I know other people have already read it, so I'd rather just leave it up and apologize for it.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Blatant Bragging About Tahoe

I'm allowing myself to blatantly brag, because I worked my ass off on Saturday, and need to feel rewarded. Plus it is my blog. What else is a blog for? My numbers obsession wasn't going to be satisfied with my race until I could see where I placed. Here are the stats:

Out of 7 soloists, only 4 finished. I finished 4th. Of the people who DNF, one of them has a time for a 1650 about a minute faster than me, and another of them was a Hawaii Ironman Qualifier. How do I know this? Um... I'm a scary google stalker.

I finished ahead of 10 teams.

In addition to this 10 teams, and 3 soloists did not finish.

Less flattering statistics:

3 soloists finished ahead of me. One of these, Iris Nishimoto, finished in 4 hours 19 minutes 55 seconds. Awesome. Sorry you missed all that chop, Iris. :-)

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Trans-Tahoe Race Account, July 21st 2007

Glenn and I arrived in Lake Tahoe Friday afternoon at 1:00 pm. On the way there, I prayed about the swim the next day. I prayed that I would be able to finish the race, that I would be strong and focused, that I would be safe, and that I would finish the race with a sense of gratitude and humility.

At the captains’ meeting on Friday night, the butterflies in my stomach that I’ve had on and off all week resumed. The one thing that piqued my attention was the stress they put on that the race would end at 1:30, 6 hours after the start, and that it was crucial with their agreement with the Coast Guard that we get in the boats if we were told to. I had hoped to just swim in anyways without official results if I didn’t make the cutoff, but I nodded in understanding. I knew about the cutoff when I signed up for the race, so this was entirely fair.

I saw Tricia and Nicole, my most frequent lane mates at Flip Flop Masters. They both gave me hugs, and Tricia very sweetly told me she'd be thinking good thoughts for me the next day.

Much to my surprise, I managed to get a good night’s sleep that evening. Even before races that are much less important to me, I don’t sleep well. I told myself that the race isn’t what is important at that moment, what is important is sleep, and somehow that worked.

We got up around 4:45 that morning. As I looked at myself in the mirror, I had a rare experience of being happy with my physique. I was proud of my broad shoulders that would take me across the lake and happy about all of my extra padding that would give me warmth for my swim.

We arrived at the Marina a little bit before 6 a.m. A team of swimmers who were renting a boat, but not a pilot, were there, too. One of them asked me if I was swimming it solo. I said yes. When she was little distance off, but not far enough to not hear me apparently, I asked Glenn “Do I look crazy? Is that how she knew?” She turned around and answered “You’re not crazy to us.”

I finally got to meet my pilot. This was his first time piloting the race. He explained that he would stay to my left side the whole time, and I wouldn’t have to bother with sighting. This is exactly what I asked of him, so I was glad. I explained that if the wind picked up and the gas fumes were heavy, I would want him downwind of me. He seemed amenable to this.

My pilot asked me what my strategy would be. I told him what Tim told me, that I should keep it relaxed for the first 2-3 hours of my swim, and then start racing past that point. My pilot then asked me if I thought I’d stay with the pack, and I told him being one of only seven solo swimmers, and not being a fast swimmer anyways, I’d be towards the back. He answered “Well, it’s just for fun anyways.” I didn’t explain to him that just because I wasn’t fast it was still a serious thing that meant more than fun for me.

I lined up on the beach with the other solo swimmers. We introduced ourselves and shook hands. Our race numbers were all 001-007, mine being 002. There were 5 women (including myself), and two men. One of them commented on how cool it was that one of the guys was 007. I said, at least we are all 00’s and have a license to kill. Someone on a megaphone told us we needed to move down the beach. I thought it was kind of funny that all 7 of us solo swimmers lined up in the wrong place entirely. “Stupid soloists,” I muttered and later hoped that they knew I meant myself as well and was just joking.

The race started at 7:30 am. I started on the far right of the beach with the rest of the soloists, and tried to stay to the right of the pack so that my boat would find me. It took them about 20 minutes. For about 5 of those twenty minutes, I popped my head up a lot, and even looked backwards to see if I could see my boat. I was getting nervous; realizing I was supposed to meet them at the buoys that were by now far behind me, and hoped they would know to start looking for me by now. Luckily, Glenn recognized me and the boat moved up to me.

I kept swimming. The boat moved way up ahead of me. I swam back up to the right of it, after which they stayed in place as I swam ahead. The plan for them staying to the left of me, with me just looking to the left at where the boat was to know which direction to go, was clearly not working out. I sighted on the boats ahead of me. Again, I told myself that my responsibility was to swim as best I could and not let setbacks that I couldn’t control, like my boat, bother me.

My shoulder started to hurt almost immediately after I started the race. The whole right side of my body was feeling kind of tight even the night before. I remembered that my health wasn’t something I could control entirely, and hoped that if I relaxed, kept my stroke long, and swam through it, it would clear itself up. I can’t remember at which point this actually happened, but it felt fine after swimming for a while.

After my first feed, my pilot and Glenn told me which direction to head. I swam from feed to feed for most of the race. The feeds went pretty well. Glenn threw me a bottle full of a mix of Vitamin Water and Knudsen’s Recharge. Every other kind of sports drink I’ve tried makes me kind of sick. This worked well: I didn’t feel hungry at all the entire race, and I didn’t feel sick at all.

I got cheers from other boats and swimmers in the water as I stopped to feed, which was heartening. I didn’t have much time and energy to smile back and thank them, but I appreciated it nonetheless. Glenn also shouted encouragement to me along the lines of “You’re doing great, you’re rocking it!” He’s a pretty shy person, and I’ve never seen him cheer for me like that before, so I was pleased he stepped up to the plate in terms of giving me praise and encouragement in this race that was so important to me.

I can’t say I was as kind. I was frustrated with having to sight the race myself. Despite feeling unsure of their instructions, I guess they were understandable enough that we maintained a reasonably, although not perfectly straight course for most of the race. If I wasn’t keeping a straight course, I guess the pack around me wasn’t either, because I was surrounded by boats and swimmers for the entire race.

Three hours in, at my sixth feed, Glenn shouted to me “You’re halfway there.” My face fell. He backtracked “I mean, you’re more than half way there.” I told him “I better the hell be. My time is halfway up.” I swear I swam for the next 1.5 hours faster than I swam the previous 3. I was a little surprised at the reserves of energy I found. I kept lying to myself “Swim hard to the next feed, and then you can coast into shore.” I said this at every feed until I finished race.

Luckily the water and wind were fairly calm for the first 4.5 hours of the race. After that though, the chop picked up very hard and very suddenly, and I pretty much swam directly into it. In some ways the last part of my race was harder than any other swim I’d done previous to Tahoe, even apart from the fact that I had already swam for 4.5 hours. I’d experienced chop before, sometimes that hard, and sometimes for that long, but never as hard and as long at the same time. I think what made it hardest is that I was completely unable to find my rhythm. When I tried to keep my head down for long enough to find a rhythm and get a good hold of the water, I veered off at what Glenn later told me was almost a 90 degree angle to where I initially aimed. I was sighting every 30-60 strokes before that, but I started sighting every 14 after Glenn and my pilot kept insisting that I kept going the wrong way and needed to sight more. I still zig-zagged my way until the end.

I didn’t find out until the end of the race, but at the 5 hour mark, there was call on the radio that they were going to pull from the race everybody that was behind the sailboat that was, according to Glenn, only about 200 yards behind me. He said he wasn’t sure exactly how close the next boat back from the sailboat was, but I feel fortunate that my feeds didn’t take a little longer, that I didn’t freak out more than I did when my boat didn’t find me, and that I was able to swim as hard as I did.

I finished the race in 5 hours and 54 minutes, 6 minutes short of the cutoff. I wish I could say I ended the race with a feeling of grace, triumph, humility, and dignity, but I didn’t feel that at all. People at the shore were excited to see a soloist finish. They asked if I needed help or anything. I’m embarrassed to say that the first thing I said after finishing was “I need the bathroom.” I’m even more embarrassed to say that the next thing that came out of my mouth was complaining to Glenn about having to navigate the course myself. Glenn gave me a hug after I got dressed, and I felt like crying like a baby. I felt like a child who’s been up to late and been to a long tiring party with too much sugar, just wanting to cry and not even knowing why. I found a nice spot where I could sit down quietly under the trees and look at the lake for a while, while Glenn returned to the boat so he could get back to the Marina and get the car to pick me up.

A lot of the negativity that I managed to push out of my mind as I swam and mentally prepared for the race rushed at me after the finish. I guess the need to battle it wasn’t as urgent after the finish, and being so overwhelmed and exhausted, I succumbed to a lot of the thoughts that I hoped I could defeat by finishing the race. Why did I do this? Did finishing so close to the cutoff mean that if conditions were even worse I wouldn’t have finished, hence I shouldn’t have bothered attempting? The doubts compounded on themselves, because my main reason for doing the race was that I hoped that the race would make me mentally and spiritually a stronger person.

I sat down at an empty picnic bench. One of the people who cheered for me as I finished, sat down with me and offered to get me food. She and her team members had pulled themselves from the race as soon as it got choppy for safety reasons. I sympathized and told them they were smart to put safety first. Veronica and Sara, two other people from the Flip Flop Masters relay, came and said Hi and congratulated me. I congratulated them on getting 4th place in their division. I told them how frustrating the race was, and although I couldn’t say I had fun or a pleasant swim, I knew that the frustration would fade with a good night’s sleep and a nice dinner, and I’d be left with the satisfaction of completing the race.

That turned out to be a true. I woke up this morning feeling refreshed, and as we walked to breakfast I felt, instead of the bratty kid I was the day before, like a happy one who is enjoying the sunshine and happy with the world and her place in it. I hope that much like my physical body was weakened at first from the challenging swim, but will be stronger as a result, my mental and spiritual self will be as well. My shoulders already feel better, and so does my soul. I’m giving myself permission to float on the feeling of accomplishment for at least a week.

I didn't finish the race with the sense of gratitude and humility that I prayed for, but as I recover, I'm starting to feel it. Thanks to everyone who helped me with this.

Thanks, Glenn, who put so much effort into crewing for me and assisting me on my training swims. I asked a lot of people to crew for me, and you were the only one to offer, and for that you deserve nothing but my gratitude. A million thanks for your help, and putting up with me at my bitchiest and most selfish moments. These kinds of swims are a team effort, and I hope you are proud of yourself and what you've accomplished.

Thanks, Tim, for helping me with my training plan, for the advice on how to recover from my wrist injury, and for getting me through the psychological aspects of my training and racing. I can think of many times I would have given up on this race if you hadn’t encouraged me, and I wouldn't have even thought it possible without challenges like "Can Do February" or the New Year's Days 100 x 100's. You and everyone at MMakaTS are a constant source of inspiration to me.

Thanks to Bruckner for taking the time to answer my questions with your seasoned advice for the race, and your encouragement. Thanks to Marianne, for being helpful and supportive throughout my training, sharing the training plan Tim wrote for your solo Tahoe swim, and being a fantastic lanemate.

Thanks to everyone else who sent me their well wishes, and for all the mental support you've given me. Thanks especially to Mom and Dad, for calling before, during and after the race to send your support. Thanks for being proud of me.

And mostly, praise God for answering my prayers of allowing me to finish the race under the cutoff time safely, and continuing to teach me humility and gratitude. You didn’t make it easy for me, but as Captain Matthew Webb, the first person to cross the English Channel, said “Nothing great is easy.” In an odd way, the difficulties actually made it the perfect swim, and coming in just under the cutoff proved that it was exactly as hard as it should have been while allowing me to complete my goal. I'm grateful that it was it was challenging, but possible.