Saturday, March 31, 2007

Time Change

There is something very wrong with the world right now. I think it has to do with the stupid time change forced on us by Congress. In the past few weeks, some of the nicest people I've met have been very rude to me. One of them cussed me out, once in an email and once on a voicemail. I've never even seen her mad before. She is not the only one, either.

I'm trying to let all this go. I'm trying not to spread the anger. I unfortunately have been pretty snippy with Raybon today. He's been snippy, too.

Let's all try to be lights to one another. Try to be happy and forgiving and to get back on our feet. Let's all take naps this weekend. Eat ice cream. Journal about what it is that is making us upset. Pray. Hug our puppy dogs. Watch silly movies. Try to be understanding when people are snippy (especially our spouses.) We're all in this together. The world is a little rocky right now, but hopefully we'll all find our equilibrium and be our nicer selves soon.

Sorry. This is running a little too heavy on the "Chicken Soup for the Soul" for my taste, but I kind of think it is needed.

Battling Uncertainty

I'm working on trying not be so unsure of myself. These are symptoms that I want to deal with:

1. I have to think of more than one reason to do anything. I always need a backup reason, in case my first reason isn't quite good enough.

2. Being non-commital about my goals. Signing up for races at the last minute, and even when I'm at the starting line wondering if I really have a good reason to be there.

3. Feeling embarrassed if I'm not doing what everyone else is doing. Feeling like a dork and a show-off if I double up at workouts and nobody else does, for example.

4. Constantly feeling like I have to apologize for who I am, both the positive and negative aspects of my personality.

5. Doing whatever anyone asks of me. Since I can't find personal motivation for doing something, doing something because it was someone else's idea is the only way I'll do anything.

I'm committing to swimming across Lake Tahoe solo this year, no matter what it takes. I want to do it on the Trans-Tahoe relay race day, July 21st, but even if that doesn't work out by some unforeseen circumstance beyond my control, I'll do it on another day. I'm hoping that the resolve it takes to get me through this will teach me how to break out of my above habits.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Directions to Dover

Someone on the Channel Swimming group posted this link. Gotta love Google.

Directions to Dover

Monday, March 26, 2007

Deleted Post

You may have noticed I deleted my post about being a punching bag. In my post, I said "I figure almost everyone is a paper tiger." Raybon told me, that's not true, most people aren't tigers, paper or otherwise. He's right. I shouldn't be so defensive.

Sunday, March 25, 2007


No. I did not mess up on the title and forget to put "Flip Flopping." I am going on a cruise to Mexico. Raybon's parents and brother, sister-in-law, and nephew are going, too.

Am I excited? Don't you know me by now? Does it involve swimming? No, I don't know, and no. I hope I don't offend any of my readers, but I can't think of anything much more bourgeois than going on a cruise. Maybe I'm fooling myself by thinking I'm anything but bourgeois in the first place, but I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I'm going.

We're going to Mexico. Shouldn't that be exciting? Mazatlan, Cabo San Lucas, and Puerto Vallarta, to be specific. I've never been to Mexico. I can try to see if I remember any of my Spanish I learned in high school, college, and Guatemala.

There's no lap swimming pool on board! This will be in the middle of my Trans-Tahoe training. Coach mocked me a little bit last time I suggested I could forget how to swim or lose conditioning in a week. I don't entirely believe him, but he's a good coach and smarter than me about this kind of thing, so I guess he would know. Other people and my experience tell me he is wrong, but maybe it is just in my head. Ok, it is. I had a really good swim 2 weeks after my surgery, so I should be OK.

Monday, March 19, 2007

1650 fly, 2007

I swam at a meet on Saturday in a town that Camille calls "Big Shaft." I showed up to swim the 1650 fly, and got talked into a 100 freestyle at the last minute by Channel Princess. I was so nervous the whole time I was there. I could barely answer a simple question about where my Treasure Island to YMCA swim was. (Um, shouldn't it be clear from the name of the swim?) I spaced out a lot when people tried to talk to me. Last year I wasn't quite so nervous. It was just Raybon and I there alone. This was my first sort of social event with my new club, and social events are always scary for me. I think when world's collide, it is a little weird, too, so having Raybon there in some ways made me more nervous.

I somehow found myself up on the blocks to do a 100 freestyle. I belly-flopped. I felt stiff and awkward. I didn't take it very seriously, thinking of it as just a warm-up for my 1650 fly. Still, I did a 1:09.75, which while not a great time in and of itself, is a personal record for me. I was so excited, I almost hugged Raybon when I got out and heard my time. I was expecting the woman to say something like 1:14, I felt so crappy while I swam.

The 1650 fly went well. I bettered my time from last year by about 45 seconds, although last year I stopped and fixed my cap. This year, it fell off on the last 100, so I didn't bother fixing it. Two of the Mellow Masters coaches cheered for me and the other woman from my club who swam it, Frances, which made me feel happy to be part of their team. In the locker room, I talked with some other swimmers about their experiences with their clubs. I told them I was from Mellow, and they said that Mellow is really known for the kindness of the people who swim there. That's nice to hear, and I'd have to say I agree with that assessment.'s the embarassing part. Mellow Masters has a team blog. Being the internet addict that I am, I check it pretty frequently. In the blog post, she gives Frances and Peter kudos for swimming the 1650 fly. She doesn't mention me. She says that if anyone knows anyone else who swam it, they should mention it on her blog. AAAHHH!!! It's driving me nuts. I've already checked her blog at least 5 times today to see if someone posted about me swimming it. I can't do it myself. I'd be bragging. Ok, I'm bragging here, too, but it's my blog. My readers all know I'm a big dorky ham.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Flame War

I joined a Channel Swimming newsgroup about a month ago. I was a "benign lurker" for about a month. There are a lot of swimmers from the Bay Area on the group, so I thought maybe some of them might like my Water Temp Widget.

Here is my post:

Hi Everyone,

This is my first post. Ahelee Sue Osborn sent my blog on my thoughts about swimming the English Channel to the group last year. I've been a benign lurker on this group for about a month. I'm an open water swimmer who lives in Flip Flop, California.

For any Macintosh users (OS 10.4 Tiger) on this group who live in the Bay Area, I wrote a little widget that displays the temp in the Flip Flop Bay and the City. It uses reports from buoys from It's pictured in the attached JPEG. If you want to install it, just click on the link below in Safari.

If you have any ideas on how to improve it, please let me know. I may try to make one for Google Desktop, so PC users can use it, too. I could maybe customize it for people who live in the U.S. (I wouldn't know where to get buoy reports for places outside the U.S., but would be happy to find out.)


I got a couple of positive responses right away. Then two negative ones. The first was from a swimmer from these parts:

what about a watch ? a lot of us wear watches that show water temp and the NOAA site is quite good. even the local paper lists water temp...

The second was from the Hon. Secretary of the Channel Swimming & Piloting Federation:

Why do you need a widget?

The water temperature in the Channel changes very slowly and only by a degree or 2 at the most. Usually it is by a decimal place of a degree. Today it is 50.2°F (just over 10°C) mid Channel. A month ago it was 49°F. A look once a month would be good enough for most. Once a week is more than you would need to see what is happening.
This year the Channel has not cooled down and at the moment it is about 4 °'s higher than usual. You might think that this would mean it will be a good summer temperature wise, and it might well be so - but the water temperature in the Channel is really dictated by the "Golf Stream" and the warm water it carries does not arrive until about mid May. The question is "will it be warmer or colder than other years?

If you are that serious about water temperature and the sea conditions you can visit the Sandette site and read - and print - all the information every day.
Just add the links I sent to the site earlier to your e-mail folders in their own file, call it "aa - weather"
The "aa" will put it near the top of your folder list and you can store any new sites that interest you as you go along
To get the ball rolling for your weather site collection the home page for the "ndbc" site is
The Sandette site is site 62304$station=62304 --
One of the San Francisco sites (there are a few in that area) that seems fairly active is ftpc1
There are sites all the way down the Canadian & American Pacific coast - throughout the Caribbean - and up the US Atlantic coast. Just pick what interests you.
Daily water temperature is not really that important if you are contemplating a Channel swim or any other open water swim. It will vary more if your area is in a land drain off region or an river estuary with a water/tidal flow, but even then it is the air temperature and wind chill etc that makes the big difference on the day.
You should be looking at the wave height and length and comparing it with the wind speed and direction. At the same time you should be getting a local weather forecast. That way you will learn how the Channel, and your own chosen area works.
You can also look at the chartlets on the "ndbc" sites to see how things like the wave height and length change over a period of time and when the tide turns.
The wind direction and the tidal flow affects the wave height and it's length.
Wind and tide together and you get a long swell style of sea.
Wind against the tide and you get a short sea with breaking crests.
Wind across the tide and you can get a "washing machine" type of sea with waves from all directions - or a surfing sea that helps you along and gives you a much better swim speed/time swim.
The stronger the tide the more it effects the conditions. That's why there is a difference between Spring tide and Neap tide swims. You do not need to worry about the wind speed and direction as much on a Neap tide. Good conditions on a spring tide can however produce a good swim.
Swim your sets and pleats, do your pool training - but understand that in the open water you are not in control. You are at the mercy of the local conditions.
Records are made when the conditions are right and you get the help that others do not have on their swim. Record attempts fail because the conditions did not mature as expected, or were not considered in the attempt.

The right day for a record in the Channel is very hard to predict and only happens about once season, if at all.
That's the day when the wind goes from a light North Easterly to a North Westerly and increases to about 15 knots just as the tide starts to turn (about 4 hours after High Water Dover). This situation holds up the flood tide - which is flowing to towards the NE into the wind then creates a "surfing sea" with the wind across and behind the tide while it turns clockwise. To get it just right the wind then needs to drop and continue anticlockwise to go West / South West and be light for your arrival on the French coast. For that to happen we need to have a day when we are swimming in the top half of a depression that is spread over a large area and not to strong while moving slowly NE to East in direction. The tidal/wind assistance in this situation can be worth up to 1.5 nm or more in assistance (that's something like 30/40 mins to a good swimmer) --- And you all thought it was down to your swim speed. ---
Oh! and I forgot to mention adding "Land & Sea Breezes and the other local anomalies!

The sea conditions a few days before will have a big affect the sea conditions - & - if you get really proficient you can look at the other sites above and below the area you are interested in to see how they affect what is happening.
If you do all that you might not miss all the good days that happen because you were told the forecast was not going to be good.
A South Westerly - without all the other elements taken into account - is not the best to swim in.
That will give you about the first 5 hours of wind and tide together followed by 6 hours of wind against tide.
A North Easterly - will give you the first 5 hours of wind against tide followed by 6 hours of wind and tide together.
A North Westerly - will give you a day with the wind across the tide, you start with protection from the wind by the land and, if it is not to strong you might get a surfing sea and some help. You might get the Washing machine effect. Unfortunately you only get to know what is going to happen as the day and swim progresses.
Hence a lot of swimmers sit on the beach saying "should have gone" and some are out there swimming saying "why did we start".
The result of all this is a swim that is regarded as one of the worlds top swims and a big mental challenge as well as a physical one.
"Expect the worst and hope for the best"

Man, tough crowd. I figured if I'm going to hang with these folks, I better develop a sense of humor and a thicker skin.

This is what I wrote back:

OK, nobody needs a widget. I think half the reason I wrote the widget is geek appeal. Admittedly, I'm a big nerd who is a little bit in love with her iMac. I'm not a professional coder, so if any of you are, please don't judge me too much for my sloppy code. I like widgets and thought it would be fun to write one that would be helpful for my hobby. The water temp here in Flip Flop varies a little more widely than in the Channel. I used to check the buoy reports at NOAA on the web more than once a day, and the widget makes it a bit easier. If it is less than 55, I don't go. (Is that wimpy?) If it is more than 58, I'm there. Everything in between just depends on how I feel. To me, a degree makes a huge difference in how much I'll enjoy my swim. You're right about air temp making a huge difference, for sure. My Mac came with a widget for that, so I was just filling in some other needed info.

At the request of a few other people, I'll make a widget for the Sandettie Lightship buoy. I'll look into seeing if I can include some of the other important information you pointed out. If you're not a geeky Mac lover like me, you definitely don't need to download it.


A couple people wrote back in support (one off group, one on.)

And... That's all I'm going to say. Hope you found This was all in a public forum (300+ people worldwide), so I don't feel bad about reposting it here. I don't want to burn my bridges with anyone, so I'm not going to say anything here that I wouldn't say to the person on the group.

Monday, March 12, 2007

What I Love About Willow

Willow is my teacher. I love how excited she gets about the things she loves to do. She dances around and wags her tail anytime she gets to do what it is she wants to do: go for a walk, a ride in the car, doing her business, getting fed, and sitting on the bathmat when we take showers. I wish I could take that much pleasure in the things I like doing. I'm glad I have a few things that make me smile at least.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Sprinter Brain

This morning was a sprint workout. Kind of fun, but I think sprinting has a similar effect to caffeine on my nervous system. I speed when I drive. I rush through my day without really thinking. I think I neeed some kind of meditation after every sprint workout. Maybe I need to warm down at least 1000 yards until my brain waves get back to normal.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Quote of the Day

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.”

-Nelson Mandela

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Attention Hog

Monday morning, in the pool after workout, Michele S. (who swam the English Channel in September) was talking to a guy about her adventures and future plans. I hung out and piped in with what little knowledge I have about channel swimming. When I got out of the pool, someone in the locker room said to me "Being an overachiever again, Nori?" I said, no, I just stayed in the pool to participate in an interesting conversation. I guess I'm starting to gain a reputation.

When I first joined Mellow Masters, I tried to make it a point to keep a low profile. I got in the back of whatever lane I was in and tried to say out of the way. I've kind of screwed that up some. Last month I got 7th place in the little competition to swim the most yards. This may or may not have been by accident. I intended to swim 100,000 yards from the beginning, because that's what Coach set for us as a goal. I went over 100,000, because I want to swim Tahoe's width, and in order to be on track in training, I had to do a long swim in February.

Subconsciously, though, maybe I just want recognition. Coach read off the names in the top 10 every morning, and for most of the month, I was right below number 10. I have to admit, every time I heard the number of yards that the people in the top ten were swimming, the wheels in my head started to turn.

At the meet last Saturday, Coach said that whoever swam all 10 events would get an award. I figured, the more events I swam, the more practice I'd get, and that it would be fun to try things I'd never normally swim, like a 100 breaststroke. These are the reasons I’d give if you’d ask me. Really, as much as I pretend to not care, I'm a sucker for awards. I always have been. I watched my sister come home with awards from school as a toddler, and couldn’t wait to go to school and get some of my own. You could see where a 3-year old with that kind of attitude would later end up as her high school class valedictorian.

I did a 2-mile ocean swim in Flip Flop this summer. I promised my 5 and 7 year old nieces I'd give them my ribbon if I won one, but when I got a blue one, I decided I really wanted to keep it. It was one of three first places I've gotten in my swimming career (including age group and high school swimming.) Before I did the swim, they asked me if I would win. I told them I wouldn't, and while I'd be thrilled if I did, it wasn't important. They didn't quite get it. When I asked them if it was OK for me to keep my blue ribbon, I felt silly and selfish, but this was something they understood completely. The 7 year old said to me, "See, you really did want to win."

There is a meet coming up with an event called the 1650 fly. I did it last year, and hadn't intended to do it this year. I figured I proved what I needed to prove to myself by doing it once. But lately, Coach keeps talking about the event. He names off the people who plan to do it this year. I watched one of these swimmers swim lap after lap of butterfly enviously.

I feel conflicted. I really want to do it. I’m torn between wanting recognition and not wanting to be a show-off. When I was young, I was the annoying kid who always raised her hand up with the answer in class. It's weird even thinking about getting any recognition for my swimming, being the mediocre swimmer that I am. I never thought swimming had much of anything to do with ego for me, but lately I'm starting to feel like that little girl I was, wanting to please her teacher, and wanting to be the best in the class. When I did the 1650 fly last year, I didn't tell too many people about it, not even my coach. I thought it was to prove something to myself, not everyone else. This year, I'm not proving anything to myself. I feel confident that I can do it.

I don't judge other people for wanting recognition. Why do I judge myself? If I want to do it, maybe I should just do it. I wonder if people who worry so much about their motivations ever become athletes. Yesterday morning, as part of the workout, Coach told us to swim a 100 freestyle as fast as we could and then brag about our times. Should I stop pretending I’m something I’m not, and just embrace my competitive self?

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Amazing Grace

As I mentioned earlier, I saw Amazing Grace last night. It's a movie about William Wilberforce who led the abolitionist movement in England and worked tirelessly his entire career to end the British slave trade. He was a passionate idealist and a devout Christian. I found his life story to be very inspiring and convicting. I felt envious, and it made me wish I had a cause and a way to fight for it.

I didn't know much about the movie before seeing it, but I was surprised at how entertaining it was. The dialogue is very witty, and there is a romance in it, which, in a rare turn of events, didn't turn my stomach.

Deep Thoughts

The actor who plays Wilberforce, Ioan Gruffudd, is pretty hot. I wasn't sure if I was attracted to his character's passion, wit, and idealism, or the actor's physical appearance. I'm not generally attracted to actors, so I thought it was probably the former. (Brad Pitt, boring. Tom Cruise, what a weirdo. Ben Affleck, kind of a dude. Jude Law, vaguely gay [not that there's anything wrong with that, but it's not what I'm into]. Leonardo, too much of a baby. Mark Walberg, kind of a beefcake.) But, I looked up William Wilberforce on the web, and was a little disappointed by the real life portrait I found of him. I'm afraid my crush will be limited to the film version of him.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Losing my Grip

I have a bug in my head about swimming the width of Tahoe this year...But at the moment, I'm so tired I don't even want to think about it.

I swam 108750 yards last month. I don't generally count my yards, but it is certainly more than I have ever swam in a month before. The longest swim I did in one day was 10,000 yards. My body has generally felt pretty good, but my mind is very tired.

I swam in a intrasquad meet today. 10 events in 2 hours. Exhausting. More tiring than swimming 10,000 yards at one time by a long shot. Then I came home and did weights. Then I got on my bike. Then I went and saw "Amazing Grace" with Oxy, Raybon, and Nia. The movie was wonderful. Both entertaining and inspiring. If it was at all boring, I definitely would have slept through it.

I feel like I'm losing my grip a little bit. Maybe I'm just PMSing. Maybe I'm overdoing it.

I think I should take a week and go fairly easy. Swim everyday, but don't try to double up at all until I feel like I'm a human being again.