Wednesday, June 27, 2007

I Have a Dream Meeting

MMakaTS is doing something really out of the ordinary. We're being given the opportunity to support kids through 12 years of their educations through financial assistance, tutoring, and mentorship. I think Coach sees us as a great potential resource for reaching out to the community, and it shows how much he cares about his swimmers and also the community at large by putting together a program that will allow us to support these children who are greatly in need of love and support. Sarah did a nice job describing the meeting we had last night about it on the MMakaTS blog. I hope I can find a place to help somewhere in this venture. I've done volunteer tutoring in the past, but haven't found a place to put my efforts lately, and really feel the need to feel like I'm making some kind of a contribution.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Quotes of the Day

These were posted on the Channel Group:

"The future depends on what we do in the present."
Mahatma Gandhi (date unknown)

"Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude."
Thomas Jefferson (date unknown)

"Success is the good fortune that comes from aspiration, desperation, perspiration and inspiration."
Evan Esar (date unknown)

"What do you mean it hurts? Of course it xxxxxxx hurts. You are trying to swim the xxxxxx Channel you xxxx! Get in there and xxxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxx swim. TBC stands for Total Body Confusion not xxxxx xxxx xxxxxxxx you xxxx! You’re all xxxxxxx mad the xxxxxxx lot of you."
Sister Freda Streeter of the Sisters of the Immaculate Verbal Flagellation (Dover Beach every year since 1983!)

Abby Normal



I did another 4 hour swim at Lake Del Valle. This is the first one I did without anyone swimming with me. Another weekend, another training swim. Thanks, Raybon, for feeding me.

I hurt my wrist again. Last time it was my left wrist, this time my right, probably because I've been using my right hand lately for the stuff I usually do left-handed. Although I'm right-handed, I do lots of stuff left-handed because of my right shoulder problems. My doctor/acupuncturist Dr. Peggy Chen and some trigger point massage recommended by Coach fixed me up easily last time, so I'm not terribly worried. I'll probably be icing and wearing a brace a lot at work though. I wonder if people will notice I switched wrists. Maybe they'll I'm a big faker, and just forgot which wrist was supposedly hurt, like when Young Frankenstein noticed Igor's hump moved from one side to the other.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Quote of the Day

This was something Eleven told me a long time ago:

"Assuming that people have bad motivations for their actions when they don't [or you don't really know - my addition] is just another way of being mean."

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Should I use my Tahoe swim as a fundraiser?

I've thought about using my Tahoe swim as a fundraiser. I feel a little bit torn about it. Particularly when I was stressing out about finding a boat and a crew, I was tempted to do this because I thought it would make people more willing to help me. I didn't want to do it though, because I felt so desperate, it seemed clear to me that my reasons for doing so were selfish. I thought my motivations might less muddied if I did a swim like "Swim Across America", where I would be part of a large group of people working for a cause, and I didn't so much need the support of other people.

Now I am not so much in need of help for my Tahoe swim. There are a lot of reasons that I can think of doing a swim for charity:

- I would generate money for a good cause.
- I'd be happier with my swim if I knew I was helping other people by doing it.
- I'd feel supported in my swim by the people who gave money.

Granted, 2 of the 3 reasons listed above are more about me than anyone else. Is that a bad thing? Would it even have been a bad thing if I did it when I was in need of others help to crew for me? Are our reasons for helping others ever completely unselfish? Would a lot less good be done in this world if people constantly worried about their motivations?


Should I use my Tahoe swim as a fundraiser?
Yes
No
  
Free polls from Pollhost.com

My Celebrity Look-Alikes

I don't think I look anything like any of these people, but this was kind of interesting anyways.

http://www.myheritage.com

Sunday, June 17, 2007

HUGE Sigh of Relief!!!

I found someone to pilot for me for Tahoe. I am deeply relieved, since the consensus was that I needed both a pilot and someone to keep an eye on me the whole time. Yeah!!!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Congratulations, Gabriel



My godparents' son Gabriel graduated from high school today as his class valedictorian. He's been in every newspaper around, so this mention in my humble blog is hardly a big deal. His parents have been nicer to me than almost anyone I've known, so it feels really good to see them so proud of their son who has done so well. He gave a great speech today. He was funny, humble, sincere, and wise beyond his years.

The graduation ceremony was hot, and a little long, but graduations are an amazing thing in some ways. All the pride that the students feel as they accomplish something, all the compliments lavished on them by faculty, and all the love and support showed to them by their families is a great thing to be able to witness. As I've said in the past, seeing loving families gives me hope for this world, and it was nice to be surrounded by that today.

Thoughts on Tahoe

I've been depressed because I haven't been able to find anyone other than Raybon to crew for me for Tahoe. I think I've finally realized that this is something I can't take personally. Even though I've been excited to help my friends with their athletic goals in various ways, I can't expect that people will do the same for me. That is just my way of showing love and support, and other people have other ways. I can't discount their friendships based on the fact that they aren't as excited about my swimming as I am. People who have turned me down when I've asked them to crew for me have generously offered their help to me at other times in my life when I've needed it, and I have to realize that those things are meaningful. I think I was so flattered when so many people told me they'd like to assist with a Catalina or English Channel swim, it's been a little saddening that those same people have turned me down when I've asked for help with Tahoe. But I think there are certain things that just signal to people the need for support, and a 10 mile swim across Tahoe doesn't seem to be one of them, at least for most people. Weddings, break-ups, English Channel Swims, graduations, sickness, birth, and surgeries are all things that rally support from people, and I've been very fortunate to have people who have been there for me in all those things that I've been through. Other people are lucky to have people in their lives with the time, interest, and wherewithal to assist them with their long swims. But I've been lucky in my life in other ways, and am grateful to my friends and family for offering support for me in other areas in my life.

Part of what has made me depressed through this is thinking that I never again want to help anyone with their athletic goals. I know now that this is not something I need to give up, because it is something that makes me happy. I can still feel happy and loved and not expect that everyone will show their love and support in the same way that I do.

Yeah!!! I think I may be over this hump. Onward... If I have to pay someone to crew for me, I will. If I can't do the swim, I'll be sad, but I've gotten so much just from the journey, that I can't regret that I tried.

Splash and Dash Addendum

I know at least one MMakaTS member knows about this blog, but I'm not sure he reads it. Just in case: Mike Ingardia got first place overall and Mike Fero got first place in the Masters division. Yeah!!! We had a pretty small showing compared to the other big Tri-Team (it was their event), so it is kind of cool the we had a couple people do so well.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Splash and Dash

In an email chain to my Catalina Channel relay team, Oceana emailed us a link to a 1500 meter swim/5K run. It sounded so perfect. Almost all of these multisport events have a hugely disproportionately short swim, in terms of the amount of time it takes to finish that portion of the race. With this race if I was the kind of runner I think I can be, it'd take me about the same amount of time to do the run and the swim. It was on my way home from work. I pass by it every time I drive to work by myself. (I take a different route when I commute with Raybon.) The most I've run lately is 4 miles, so a 5K run was totally doable. It was almost like fate. I decided I had to try it.

I showed up at the event pretty early. Ok, this might sound a little rude, but I was impressed by how much more beautiful all the multisport athletes were compared to most of the swimmers at the open water races I do. They were largely, younger, thinner, and kind of just cooler. Don't know where the cooler impression came from. Vocabulary, sense of humor maybe. I guess the word I want to use is "intimidated" not "impressed." For some reason, even though I swim in a two piece fairly regularly, I felt really naked walking around in my jog bra and short running tights. I honestly have a love/hate relationship with my curves. Aesthetically, in some ways I prefer to have a little fat on my body rather than being bony. I'd be pretty happy weighing 10-20 pounds less than I do, but I wouldn't want to be all skin, muscle, and bones. But these women just look fast. Even though I had the right outfit, my body just shouted "poseur." It seems a little more acceptable to be a rolly-polly open water swimmer when you're surrounded by them.

The swim was pretty easy for me. I pushed it a little hard, but mostly kept my stroke long and relaxed. I was amazed at how much more aggressive this swim was than most of the open water swims I've done. People swam very close to one another. I got out of the water a tiny bit out of breath, but mostly felt pretty comfortable.

I pulled on my socks, and shoes with elastic laces and started my run. I was a little nervous about the run. My plantar muscles have been bugging me, as have my ankles. I told myself to just run it anyways, and hope for the best. Both my ankles and feet feel pretty good at the moment. I got passed countless times on the run. I don't think I passed a single person. I tried not to let this get to me. I thought about how much worse this would have been in a normal multisport event, where the swim is so much shorter than the running and bike portions. I realized though, that this was my race, not theirs, and I just ran it.

Honestly, the run hurt quite a bit. Swimming never hurts that much. I've often prided myself on my ability to push through pain, but I forgot how much more it hurts to run than to swim. It was hot, and there was a nasty, nasty hill towards the end. It was fun though. I liked experimenting with how hard I could push myself. I still have a lot to learn about racing with swimming, but running is fairly new to me, so just talking to my body and telling it to push harder and seeing what it can do is kind of intriguing.

I came in a little under an hour. That was my goal. It's so funny, so often when I set a goal for myself timewise, I'll do almost exactly what I set out to do. I don't know if I just have a really good sense of what I'm capable of, or if my body just figures out how to do the time I want. I wonder if I could somehow hypnotize myself into getting much better times.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

1-800-DAM-FAST

I wore a T-shirt I got at Lake Berryessa today. I bought last year's shirt, because it was cheaper. It's kind of cute on the front, with pictures or mermaids and mermen wearing caps and goggles. On the back it says "How am I swimming? Call 1-800-DAM-FAST." DAM is short for Davis Aquatics Masters. I bought it at Berryessa because it was hot, I had nothing but a sweatshirt to wear as a top, and I figured I could pull it off. Not because I think I'm DAMFAST, but because I've seen other people wearing them, and I know it is just the T-shirt from a fun race. As I wore it today, I realized people must think I'm the biggest dork. I wonder how many bad impressions I made on people today. My dentist, my dental hygenist, the guys at the Taqueria, the guys at Starbucks, the folks at the running store. They probably all think that I think I'm hot stuff.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Warning

Eating popcorn is potentially very dangerous and expensive. I cracked a molar on a popcorn kernel. I'm lucky. I just need a filling and not a root canal.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Lazy Weekend

I almost completely blew off swimming this weekend. I didn't do my 30 x 400's. That was the right decision. Raybon and I went to breakfast, and I was too tired to hold a conversation. I actually put my head down on the table. (It was an outdoor picnic bench, so it's not quite as rude as it sounds.) I went and got coffee with him and Oxy. I was pretty tired and grumpy. I didn't want to be there, much as I love and miss Oxy. I joked with them that I was their chaperone, since Raybon really wanted to see her, but they find hanging out alone together awkward.

I was supposed to do a 4 hour swim with 007 at Lake Del Valle today. Blew that off, too. Just didn't sound like much fun to me. I swam with Eleven and Oceana this morning instead. It was foggy and cold, but we had fun. It was great seeing them and swimming together. Sigh. I wish I were a normal person again. Just kicking it at the beach with my friends, not feeling pressured to swim more than half an hour.

We saw a peregrine falcon right on the beach eating a seagull. I know that sounds gross, but it was actually pretty amazing. I don't think I've ever seen a falcon that close. It was completely unafraid of us. It devoured almost the entire gull in minutes right before our eyes. How do I explain how amazing it was? It had these piercing yellow eyes with large round pupils, and it looked right at us with no fear whatsoever. It had thick, powerful legs above the talons it used to grip its prey. Eleven and I both wished we were there to see it make the kill. I don't know that I've ever seen a wild animal eat another wild animal before. There's something impressively visceral about it. It's a little interesting that most people's favorite animals are carnivores. Dogs, cats, raptors...

I attempted to do a 3-hour swim by myself this afternoon. I was reading on the Channel Group about swimming from feed to feed, so I sort of looked at it that way. I figured I'd get out after 2 miles, drink some hot chocolate, get back in for 2 miles, drink some hot chocolate, get back in for 2 miles, and then head home. I only got through one round of 2 miles and chocolate. It was a nice swim, though. Sunny and pretty and relaxing. I got bored and chafed though, so I decided to I didn't want to go any farther. I have to learn to love swimming again. The swim I did with my Channel swimming group, B., and Ahenobarbus two weeks ago was a blast. It's so different when you know you are out there swimming with people of like mind.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Just in case

Just in case it sounded like I was ungrateful to all those who have helped me in any way with my swim, I want to say thanks again. I appreciate all that everyone has done for me. Thanks, Glenn. Thanks, Tim. Thanks, Michelle. Thanks, Naomi. Thanks, Bruckner. Thanks, Marianne. I don't know that any of you read my blog, but I think I've said thanks to all of you in person anyhow.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Swan Song

Maybe what is getting to me is the idea that Tahoe's width will be my swan song as far as long distance swimming goes. After this, I don't know that I'll do anything more than a 2 mile race. It isn't that I haven't enjoyed my training, or that I think I won't find the end result rewarding. I would love to swim the English Channel someday, but I realize that you have to be a more assertive kind of person than I am in order to accomplish these type of goals. At the very least, you can't be shy of asking for help. I've always found the idea of marathon swimming (and swimming in general) so exciting, that I've jumped at the chance to help people accomplish their goals whenever I've been asked, and in any way I can think of without being asked. I sort of assumed I'd easily find people to help me, but it really hasn't been easy.

I've lost focus in my training. I'm more excited about the idea of doing the "Alcatraz Challenge" 1.5 mile swim and 7 mile run right now than Tahoe, because I think this is the type of event that I can find challenging and don't need to rely on other people for as much. I need to find my focus again. Focus on the positive aspects. I'l make it across, with Raybon as my sole crew member, and this will be fine.

Tahoe is beautiful. I love to swim, and in terms of texture, temperature, and clarity, Tahoe is the nicest water I've ever swam in. It is so vast and deep, I experience a similar sense of power that I feel when I swim in the ocean.

I love training. Every time that I realize I'm swimming more than I thought possible last year, I feel rewarded.

I need to do this swim. It has been a long time goal of mine to do some kind of significantly long swim. While my training swims might technically meet these goals, I think participating in an event that I've prepared for is what will make me feel really accomplished.

The confidence I've gained by not listening to people who judge my motivations (snickers about my A-type personality, jokes about me showing off by doubling or tripling up) has been great. I've learned to shake these comments off without any animosity towards the people they are coming from. I hope I can carry this into other aspects of my life and not fear success the way I have in the past.

What do I need to keep doing to accomplish my goals?

- Keep up with the long swims.
- Keep up with working on my speed.
- Be kind to myself, and take breaks from training when necessary. (Or just lap swim when I'm too tired to keep up with my lanemates.)
- Keep thinking about the positive aspects of training and how great it will feel to finish the swim. Think about how great it was to finish my first open water swim, and how my feeling of accomplishment might compare to that.

Snap Out of It!!!

C.P. told me I haven't been myself lately. It's true. I've been down. Hey, on the bright side, C.P., a relatively new friend, thinks it is unlike me to be down. Lots of my older good friends think I'm something of a gloom and doom type. So, hooray, maybe overall I'm changing for the better.

I moved down a lane in practice. My usual lane had two guys in it that I didn't recognize. Level 2 at MMakaTS can vary pretty widely in speed, and the Level 3 lane next to it was empty at the beginning of practice, so I moved over. I felt really unmotivated this morning. People who swim two lanes down from me normally kicked my ass. I just wasn't interested in doing any ass kicking this morning, I guess. I think I used up all my "give a crap" doing a 4 mile (long for me) run and swimming at Lake Berryessa last weekend.

Why am I down? You know what, I'm not even go to bother. I can think of lots of reasons, but I'm sick of dwelling on it. No more Kierkegaard. No more Aimee Mann. It's kind of funny, but if you look at the "Reflection on Gandhi" post, and the "Anti-Depressants = Instant Enlightenment?" post that it links, they are both published on June 2nd, one this year and the other last year. I thought it was my surgery last year that made me overly introspective, but I seem to be going through something similar right now. What the? You're not supposed to experience seasonal depression in the summer, right? Lance Armstrong says that being introspective isn't compatible with being an athlete. I've been having fun exercising my brain, but it is straining my soul. I was thinking as I went through this that I should get my Ph.D. in philosophy. If I did, I'd have to stay away from what I find the most fascinating, which is 19th Century Continental philosophy, like Nietzsche and Kierkegaard. I'd need to stick to analytics.

C.P. told me not to train this weekend, and that I need to do something fun for myself. Fun? Huh? I can't remember what I like to do that isn't training related. I planned on swimming 30 x 400's this weekend. C.P. told me not to. Don't you think psyching myself up to swim 30 x 400's will help me snap out of this mess? I promise to take Sunday off, honest.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Rethinking

I should re-order my posts so that you read them in order they were posted. Read "Reflections on Gandhi" first, "Sainthood" second, "My Decision" third, and this one last.

I'm wondering it Kierkegaard might have been onto something. I may re-read "Fear and Trembling." (It was a hard read the first few times, so we'll see.) Kierkegaard writes about Abraham being asked to sacrifice his son Isaac. Once he relinquishes what he loves most, God's gift to him of a son, God gives his son back to him. He is asked to choose God over his humanity, by doing something ethically reprehensible, and in total violation of the love and loyalty that bonds human beings together.

I'll have to re-read it to see what exactly Kierkegaard meant, but I can see in the story of Abraham and Isaac a metaphor for the conflict that Orwell talks about between sainthood and humanity. A saint has can't choose loyalty to friends and family over God or the world overall. But maybe by resigning our loyalties, what we've given up will be given back to us more fully.

I need to work, so I'll think about this some more later. Sorry if this makes no sense.

My Decision

I've decided I don't want to be a saint. I've also decided I don't want to be a humanist. I've also decided I don't need to live a life where I find some perfect golden mean between sainthood and humanism. I'm just going to try to live my life loving God, myself, and others and hopefully have some fun along the way. Finding the perfect answer doesn't seem possible, so I can't believe finding it is what is life is all about.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Sainthood

I'm trying to decide whether or not I want to be a saint. I know that sounds ridiculous. If you know me well at all, you know sainthood is a longshot. I can be grouchy, selfish, and egotistical. I'm prone to addictive behavior, which makes me susceptible to temptation. I'm not trying to decide whether or not I will be a saint, and I'm trying to decide whether I want to be one.

I've been going through a lot of changes lately. I haven't really stopped to sort if out, and to think much about whether or not all these changes can be made sense of together.

I've stopped apologizing for myself as much. I think for a while, and still occasionally, it has made me realize that I'm an angrier person than I thought I was. I think the part of me that was humble (perhaps falsely) and apologetic held back anger. Maybe my apologies were just anger turned toward myself. I don't really know. Maybe all the swim training I've been doing has resulted in an overabundance of testosterone. I'm hoping that this is just a phase, and I'll find a way of being peaceful in my relationships towards everyone around me that doesn't involve having to be sorry for who I am. I think it will work out. Being forgiving of myself has already started to allow me to more forgiving of others.

I've found peace in knowing that God loves me. In some ways, this has allowed me to be more loving to those around me. I'm less fretful and self-centered when I talk with other people. In other ways I feel less connected. I feel less needy and dependent, so in a way I feel less bonded to the people I'm closest to. I do feel more compassionate towards most people around me, though. Again, I'm hoping that I'll come out of this a better person eventually.

I don't know how many of you read the Orwell essay below, but it talks some about how loving God means you can't have any exclusive love for human beings. I can see how as I become less needy, it might become more possible to love people less exclusively. The question is whether this is for the best or not. Maybe I've rejected my humanity in favor of non-attachment because too many of my past attachments have painfully not worked out the way I wanted them to. The message I hear again and again is that is my disappointment comes from my expectations (desire or attachment) and that it has nothing to do with other people's failed responsibilities. Is there a richer life I could be missing where I could have expectations of others, be hurt occasionally, but build strong bonds with people by fulfilling their expectations and by having my expectations be filled by others? Maybe there is some Kierkegaardian way of resigning your expectations, but still finding joy when they are fulfilled after they are resigned? I really don't know. It's too bad life is so short, or that I can't throw one life away living it one way, and have another to try the other way. I don't see figuring this out very soon. In the meantime, I'll continue to pray.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Reflections on Gandhi

Sorry for not blogging lately. Wrist resting. Here is something else interesting to read. I read this essay in college and don't think I understood it as well as when I reread it this time. An essay by George Orwell:

Reflections on Gandhi

Here's a short excerpt from it:

"In this yogi-ridden age, it is too readily assumed that 'non-attachment' is not only better than a full acceptance of earthly life, but that the ordinary man only rejects it because it is too difficult: in other words, that the average human being is a failed saint. It is doubtful whether this is true. Many people genuinely do not wish to be saints, and it is probable that some who achieve or aspire to sainthood have never felt much temptation to be human beings."

Hmmm... Maybe I'll pick this up again later when I can type more easily. Talk amongst yourselves. The reason I didn't understand it when I read it in college is because I was such a shy little thing who hadn't experienced much of anything in life that I couldn't understand why in some ways it might be more brave and noble to risk being human than to be a saint. All I wanted then was to be a saint.

This relates a little bit to a previous post of mine:
Anti-depressants = Instant Enlightenment?