Sunday, April 28, 2019

SCAR: The top 10 things you need to know about long distance swimming

You know how there's always that one friend who pops out a kid and then is like, Oh wow I never knew this was going to be so hard.  (raising said child)  As if there are NO books published on parenting, and you have ZERO friends with kids willing to tell you the truth.  (Trust me, I don't have kids BECAUSE I know the truth... so it's out there, you just have to find it.)

Well, right now I kinda feel that way about swimming.  I mean, I feel like someone should have warned me.  Not that it would have stopped me from signing up for a long distance swim.  (The truth certainly doesn't stop anyone from having kids.)  But I would have known what was coming.  I could have taken some breathing classes and learned how to swaddle before I was thrown into the deep end.

So I'm going to be that friend.  I'm gonna tell you all the things you knew but didn't really know about preparing to swim 17 miles in the middle of a 41 mile swim.

1.  Despite the fact that you have chlorine emanating through your pores, you will reach a point where you physically can't wash your hair.  Your arms will be limp noodles by your sides.  You will be lucky to open the bottle of body wash and drizzle it down your lower half.  I recommend short hair.  And hats.

2.  You are going to eat as though you haven't seen food in a month.  All. day. long.  I can literally eat an entire 4 course meal and be hungry again an hour later.  And no, I'm not eating Chinese food.  I'm eating EVERYTHING.

3.   You will adapt.  AFTER you stress the body.  And this will happen in cycles over and over and over again.  You will hit faster splits than you've ever seen in your life, and then the next day fail a workout that you should be able to do with your eyes closed.  And just like you got used to swimming 10k a week for Ironman training, you will get used to swimming 40k a week.

4.  You're going to chafe.  From swimming.  *pause to let that sink in*  I recommend vaseline.  Under the arms.  On the inner thighs if you have a pull set longer than 3k.  Hopefully you can claim that it's because your lats have doubled in size.  If not, maybe you just need a better suit.  I recommend Jolyn.

5.  Swimmer's ear is not just for kids!  When you spend 2-4 hours a day in the pool, you are going to be water logged!  Your ears do not like this.  Get some alcohol.  Pour it in your ears when you get out of the pool.  You're welcome.

6.  Remember those 5 hour long Sunday bike rides?  Now you're doing a casual 5 hour Sunday swim set.  (Don't forget the sunscreen!)

7.  You remember Amanda Beard's autobiography?  In the Water They Can't See You Cry?  It's true.  They can't.  #tintedgoggles  I don't know how many swims I finished and told my training partner, I cried through that whole last set.  Obviously, everyone's reaction to stress is different.  Me?  I'm a crier.  And not just for sadness.  If I'm angry and I'm yelling, that's a good thing.  If I'm angry and I start crying, you better run cause someone is gonna die.  When I'm exhausted, I bawl.  It's fine.  I don't need you to do anything differently.  Just don't freak out, OK?

8.  Sleep and food fix almost everything.  Don't feel guilty about taking what you need. 

9.  You will get through the distance... IF you do the work!  Do the work.  PLEASE.  Don't skip swims.  Don't skip strength.  Don't skip any of it.  Just do the work.

10.  Having someone to do the work with you... priceless.  My friend Melody and I have been swimming together for a long time.  We figured it out a few years ago, but by now it's been maybe 7 or 8 years?  We've been talking about SCAR for about 5 years, and because I wasn't going to be racing this year, we decided to go for it.  Of the 750,000 or so yards that I swam in training, less than 50,000 were swum solo.  For the remainder, I had Melody by my side.  This made it so much more fun and enjoyable.  I can't imagine having done SCAR without her!  (And since it was her idea I probably wouldn't have!). 

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

UMWC: Finding Aloha in Moving Forward

I've started and stopped and deleted and started again at least a dozen times.  But the truth is, there's not much more I feel like sharing about Ultraman Worlds.  For my crew, who were with me through the days before and after, and got me though the race in one piece...  I feel like our stories are sacred.  I don't necessarily want to share them with the whole world.  I like being able to say "circle of recovery" and know that there are only 3 people on the planet who can laugh in solidarity. 



Maybe what everyone should know is how amazing my crew was.  How when I was having a meltdown at the bike turnaround on day 1 they held my bike steady as I gulped air and tried to hold back tears.  How on day 2 they made me smile and laugh during the climb, and reminded me to just "take the next breath" and fed me egg rolls to boost my energy half way through the day.  They absorbed whatever I gave them and reflected back to me only the positive affirmations and mantras that I had chosen, allowing me to stay "in the zone."  

And how my mom burst into tears at the end of day 1 when she saw me on the massage table, overcome with the emotion of it all.  And how my dad and sister drove 55 miles (each way) to meet us at the finish of day 2, so they could schlep my bike (and back-up bike) back to Kona, leaving more space in the crew van on day 3. 



And how on day 3, they didn't care how slow I was moving, only that I kept moving.  And we talked, and they told me stories, and Josie spontaneously used foreign accents to keep me laughing and Chris allowed himself to be objectified by performing (at the request of my girls who knew it would be a pick-me-up) for me as I ran by the crew van, which he was using as a pole.  (BTW, he's got moves, in case you were wondering.) 

And how my family got the key code and let themselves into our rental to decorate it before we got back there when it was all said and done.  And they ended up staying to the wee hours of the night and we laughed, and played pin the tail on the llama, and had a spontaneous dance party.  Only my sister could get me up and dancing after 3 days of Ultraman racing. 



These are the moments that I carry with me.  I don't remember every single thing that I ate.  Or thought that penetrated my mind.  Or swirly sensation that graced my body over the 3 days.  I do remember how much I felt loved and supported.  I remember the beauty of the island, and feeling so grateful to be able to do what I do.  I remember laughing and having fun and enjoying the moments.  I remember feeling like I had nothing left to prove when it was all said and done...  satisfied... finished... ready to move on....

Hopefully if you wanted more details and info you had a chance to listen to the podcast with YogiTriathlete or read the Q&A with my SFQ sisters.  2019 is going to be a chance for me to give back to those who have supported me over the last few years.  I have more crew opportunities on my calendar than races.  And I couldn't be happier or more excited to give back and pay it forward.  

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Always Anotha Thing: Finding Aloha in the Next Big Thing

#findingkona was never about Ironman.  The true meaning behind it has more to do with the idea of stepping outside your comfort zone.  Of taking risks.  Believing in yourself.  Believing that you are worthy of huge goals.  Big, scary goals.  Ones that force you to risk failure in order to achieve them.  It's about deciding that a dream is worth 100% focus and dedication, no matter how long it takes. 

At the time when I gave my dream a name, my goal was to qualify and compete at Ironman World Championships, thus Finding Kona was born.  Once I qualified everyone asked me if I would change my handle, and my response was NO.  No, because there will always be another dream.  Another goal.  Another challenge.  I have a few on my mind right now, but after those... there will be more!  I just don't know what they are yet.  And that's the beauty of dreams.  I don't ever want to stop dreaming.  As the #bff said so eloquently after Ultraman, (insert Boston accent here:)  There's always anotha thing.

After I qualified for Kona, I added the hashtag #findingaloha to my repertoire.  To me, this represented the idea that I was fulfilling this dream with passion and joy.  Finding aloha, or love, in everything I do.  And just like #findingkona, it's not limited to my race in Hawaii in 2016.  It is my goal every day when I get out of bed.  To chase my dreams with passion.  To be joyful in the pursuit, even when my body is being beaten down in training, and I'm failing workouts.  Remembering that I GET to do this brings everything back into the correct perspective.

I sat down with YogiTriathlete at Indian Wells 70.3 to talk about Ultraman.  You can listen to that podcast here.   But if you missed the podcast extra on Patreon...

The next big thing is called the SCAR Swim Challenge and it looks like this:
Day 1:  Saguaro Lake, 9.5 mile (15.2 km) swim
Day 2:  Canyon Lake, 9 mile (14.4 km) swim
Day 3:  Apache Lake, 17 mile (27.3 km) swim
Day 4:  Roosevelt Lake, 6.2 mile (10 km) swim

In case you got distracted by the individual swim distances, it's a 4 day, 4 lake, 41 mile swim that takes place in April near where I live.  My swim training partner and I have had our eye on it for a few years, but with my other goals it was never the right time to take on this challenge.  After I was invited to Ultraman Worlds, and qualified to race Ironman Worlds again last fall, we discussed it and decided it was time to throw our hats in the ring.  There will never be another time as perfect as Spring 2019 for this adventure.

The swim is conducted on English Channel rules, meaning no wetsuit and actually "no bathing suit past the crotch" so no Sim shorts (aka: cheater panties), no speed suit, no competition suit.  Just me, my swim suit, and a swim cap.  And a fuck ton of calories.

Each swimmer has a kayaker.  I've hired my #bff's husband's bff.  :)  Say that fast 3 times.  I met Kevin when H was getting ready for H2H.  He was her crew captain extraordinaire, and when I was talking about SCAR and wanting an experienced kayaker H suggested Kevin.  He's already been in the lake practicing so I know I'm in good hands.  Apparently in the past some of the kayakers couldn't make the distance on day 3 because the wind tends to kick up in the afternoon forcing you to swim/ paddle against a current.  Just a little added bonus.

There are cutoff times each day, but we've been ramping up training pretty quickly and I have no doubt I will be 100% prepared to cover the distance come April.  Speaking of training-- I was meant to be a swimmer.  There is nothing I look forward to more than double swim days!  We've been working on strength-- lots of band work, lots of IM.  I've never swum so much butterfly in my life.  I hit a wall about a week ago and felt like I couldn't lift my arms out of the water.  I *know* that in a couple of weeks my body will adapt and I will feel more normal again, but holy hell, I've never felt my shoulders ache like this in my life.

2 months ago, the thought of swimming 17 miles terrified me.  I honestly wasn't 100% sure I could cover the distance (after already swimming 18 miles on the first 2 days).  1 month ago, we worried about the water temps.  Would we freeze trying to swim 41 miles in April without a wetsuit?  Today I am confident that we will cover the distance, warmed by the desert sunshine.  That we will be part of the black cap ceremony (honoring those swimmers who complete the entire day 3 swim within the allotted time).  That we will be #findingaloha every minute of those 41 miles because this is an adventure unlike any we've ever taken on before and we are worthy of this dream.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Everything Team SFQ wanted to know about UMWC!

Just wanted to share an interview that I did with my Team SFQ teammates!  Click HERE to read the interview on the Smashfest Diaries.  Hope you enjoy!


Thursday, November 22, 2018

Diary of an Ultraman: Day 22

It's race week.

Time is now slipping by so quickly.  Lists are being made.  Supplies being gathered.  Crew getting organized.  

The bike is tuned, cleaned, inspected and ready to roll.  

My head feels a little more aligned with where I want to be.  

Every time I think about tomorrow (which is about every 15 minutes or so) my chest tightens and I feel like I can't breathe.  And then I take a deep breath, and let it all go.

Day 18 was a rest day.  I drank coffee.  Watched Chris race a swim- run event from the pier while Dan swam the Ironman course.  We went to breakfast and had more coffee.  I watched Ironman Arizona coverage while relaxing all afternoon.  It was the last chill day.  No schedule.  No errands.  No timeline. 

Day 19 we slept in today and got to the pool around 715 am.  Knocked out some tempo 50s at a pace I haven't held in probably 12 weeks followed by intervals on the bike, which also were at a power output that I haven't seen since late September.  Proof that my body is handling taper and getting ready for race weekend.  Afterwards we ate lunch and ran a couple of errands, and then just chilled in front of Monday night football while discussing immunology.  

And then....

The bff arrived!!!!

I'm pretty sure all eyes were on us in the baggage claim area as I nearly tackled H as she came out of the secure area.  All is well now in my world.  We headed back to the house after we collected bags and scrounged for food while enjoying a bottle of chardonnyay (well, mostly she did, I watched).

Day 20.  Crew Captain Chris escorted me on my run this morning.  We had a few pickups just to get the legs moving.  After the run (and some coffee) H and I went to the pool for a little recovery swim.  We met DB at the end of his ride and ordered some smoothies and coffee from Green Flash Coffee while waiting for the back up bike to be inspected at the bike shop next door and then headed home.  We had a couple of hours free before we picked up my parents and went to the meet and greet at Kona Brewery. 

During the social, Josie's plane landed and DB was dispatched to pick her up.  She joined us for another 2 rounds (theirs, not mine) before we called it a night.  On the way home from happy hour(s) we were laughing so hard in the van, I kinda got sad for a moment thinking I was going to miss all the fun that was going to be had in the van that weekend.  But that quickly turned to gratitude.  My crew was having fun and making memories.  This weekend was going to be epic.

Day 21.  This morning we slept in and drove down to the pier for a dip in the ocean.  I had a 35 minute swim so the plan was to just swim 1.2 miles.  At the turnaround spot we got to swim with dolphins.  I took this as a sign that the island was sending me love. 

This afternoon I had a skype session with Jess and we talked mindfulness strategies for the weekend.  How to remain in the moment, how to refocus when the mind wanders from gratitude, and how to execute from a place of calm.  Afterwards the crew and I headed to registration, got checked in, got our race binder, and I had my interview with Steve King.  It was a seamless process and we fully felt the Ohana love all around. 

We went home and Heidi made us an early dinner- kale bowls which were FABULOUS.  My tips for prospective ultraman athletes:  1.  Have a bike mechanic on crew.  2.  Have a professionally trained chef on crew.  We ate to our hearts content and then we went over our race plan.  Outlined nutrition protocol, discussed gear choices, tasks for each crew member, pre and post race plans.  It was a lot of information but everyone needs to be on the same page and have a chance to ask questions.  The most important thing is that everyone is flexible and the plan is fluid.  Things are bound to come up that are not what we planned, and we have to be able to adapt and keep going.  We discussed some of the possible obstacles, but you never know what we will encounter on race day. 

Day 22.  Thanksgiving day.  I started my day with a 30 min jog with DB under a full moon.  The roads were quiet and we just took in the calm.  After the run I hopped on my bike for a 45 min easy spin with Chris as my escort.  We did a little bit of climbing in the beginning just to test out my new compact crank system (oh yeah, they did end up getting the correct one ordered in time for race day, so bonus!!). 

Following the ride, we had some coffee and breakfast #1 before we went to the Ultraman brunch (breakfast #2) at the King K Hotel.  Brunch was followed by the athlete meeting where they went over each day's course and the rules of the race.  We took a couple of pics and were sent on our way.

We came home and got straight to work.  Josie and H started meal prep.  Chris started prepping the van and the bikes.  DB and I started packing my transition bag for day 1, and all my extra gear for both bike days.  We also laid out all my swim gear, and filled the bottles that will either need to go onto the kayak or onto my bike at the start of the ride.  Hillary called and we went over race strategy and I could feel how much she loves this event.  She will be with us in spirit this weekend as we travel over this hallowed ground. 

Now?  Now we relax.  We have 14 hours before the start.  14 hours.  That's over 50,000 moments before I dip my toes in the Pacific Ocean and start my journey.  I can't believe how quickly it has come.  I dreamed of this day for the last 18 months, or 5 years, depending on when you start counting.  I feel so incredibly lucky to be able to do what I love more than anything, surrounded by people who love me, for the next few days.  In the last few years I've said "yes" to more and more dreams and opportunities.  Life is so short.  SAY YES TO YOUR DREAMS.

THANK YOU to everyone who has reached out and shared words of encouragement.  Thank you to everyone near and far who has cheered on social media.  I haven't had a lot of time to be on Facebook or IG, so I apologize if I haven't responded personally-- but I am getting the messages and they mean so much!!  Thank you to my "mainland Ohana"-- my friends and family at home who have been with me on this journey from the start.  They've trained with me.  They've laughed and cried with me.  They've been my support system over the last year of this journey.

Thank you to Sheryl, David and Jane for giving me this opportunity and for creating a course that showcases the beauty of the island.  Thank you for the enormous amount of work that went into changing the course when the volcano erupted earlier this year.  I feel lucky to be in the group of athletes that gets to experience Ultraman World Championships on this new course.   

Thank you to my coach, Hillary, without whom I would probably have never even attempted this crazy distance.  Her passion for the sport is contagious, and her love for the island is palpable.  I know without a doubt I am ready to take on this adventure. 

Thank you to my family, who when they heard I was invited to race Ultraman, decided it would be the perfect time for a family vacation to Hawaii, and they booked a trip.  They will be at the start and finish lines each day and with me in spirit over the entire journey. 

And most of all, thank you to my amazing crew.  I hope I take time to tell you every single day how much I appreciate you.  You have given up vacation time at work, given up time with family over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, and given of your energy to be here and support me in this journey.  Dan, Heidi, Chris, and Josie-- you are my chosen Ohana, and I love you all.  I could not do this without you guys.  I am forever grateful.

I'm signing off now and as much as I'd like to say I'll be back on Monday with updates-- I can't make any guarantees.  When I have recovered and processed and digested everything that happens I will have a story to tell.  Until then...

Aloha.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Diary of an Ultraman: Day 17

I slept like a rock last night.  YAY!  I started my day with a 10 mile progression run over the final 10 miles of the day 3 course.  It was a little bit overcast today so it was perfect running weather.

After the run I made a quick breakfast, ran one final errand before my first crew member arrives tonight, and took a soak in some epsom salts.  Before long it was almost noon and time to start thinking about biking again.  We have dinner reservations tonight with my parents before picking Chris up from the airport so the plan was to leave by noon, pick up my bike, and head toward Waimea to make up the missing miles from the ride I did the other day on the day 2 course.

Less than thrilled about the weather.


As we drove inland we started noticing the clouds hanging pretty low in the sky.  Once we passed through Waimea and started down the descent on the back side it was pouring rain and foggy.  After 10 miles, I told Dan to turn the car around head back to Waimea, this wasn't likely to end any time soon.  We found a little cafe in Waimea and had lunch.  The rain persisted and since we didn't have all day to wait around, I decided I would just ride the descent from Waimea back to Kawaihae.  It's about 10 miles, super steep and winding road.  The winds were a bit switchy so I'm glad I had an opportunity to practice this before race day.

Inside the lava tube.

On the way home we made a quick stop to check out the lava tube that opens up right onto the QK.  I have run and ridden past it at least a dozen times, and never had the time to stop.  Today was that time.  We also hit up a little road side stand -- intending to get malasadas but they were waiting for the dough to rise, so I settled for a coconut instead.

Coconuts!


Friday, November 16, 2018

Diary of an Ultraman: Day 16

I woke up a wee bit cranky as I did not sleep well... did I drink too much caffeine on Thursday?  Am I at the point now in taper where I'm not doing as much so I don't need 9-10 hours of sleep??  Either way, I was a little gruff when the alarm went off.  But that quickly wore off as I got some coffee in me, and we headed toward the pool.

Today's set was only 4k, but a good 1k+ of swimming with paddles which reminded me that I just did a 10k 2 days ago... and 5 days ago... My arms were D.E.A.D.  Hopped on the bike straight out of the pool and cruised a couple of hours easy on the QK.  

On the way back through town we picked up my parents, stopped briefly to drop bikes off at our rental and take a quick shower, then we were off to brunch at the Coffee Shack.  One gigantic latte, and a papaya boat later and we were heading back down the hill to relax for the afternoon.  (The food was amazing, and the people really are as friendly as I thought the other day!!)

We stocked up on groceries and as the afternoon wore on we prepped dinner and relaxed out on the lanai as we ate and watched the sunset.  Do I sound more relaxed to you??  Cause I feel more relaxed.  

One of the things I loved to do before I got serious about triathlon was cook.  I could spend hours in the kitchen and made a point of trying new recipes every week.  I love food, and I love experimenting and working with different ingredients.  As I planned and prepared dinner for my family tonight it reminded me of how much I miss spending time in the kitchen.  All of our produce was locally grown, and we had fresh fish (caught in Hawaii), and even dessert that we had picked up at the Coffee Shack.  

Tomorrow is probably not going to be quite this chill, but I'll take today for what it was and allow tomorrow to be what it needs to be.  I'm heading to bed for the night.  I promised to share a few things that I had learned over my few days away-- and I still will.  But for now, I'm going to just let this calm carry me into sleep.  

Aloha.