Jun 25, 2011

US Masters Nationals 25k, swimming with some of the nations best Open Water swimmers

Swimming with the many of the nations best open water and in many cases that other concrete jungle with lanes, walls and lines (aka, a pool) masters swimmers is always a treat each June. I am so blessed to be able to hang with such great and selfless folks, friendly and yet when that gun goes off competitor's to the end. Vic Rian, Jim Barber, Marcia Cleveland to name a few. These folks and other's between them probably have and hold more than a few national records, perhaps some world and many age titles to their credit not to mention such huge accomplishments like the English Channel, Swim around Manhattan island (MIMS), Catalina channel, and so on. I also have the honor to swim almost daily with my training partner Doug McConnell, who in his own rite is way up the ladder in accomplishments. 

The other critical leg to any endeavour like climbing Mount Everest, is team work. This time I was treated to having my long time close friend and college roommate, Charlie Hiltunen, come along for the day and kayak alongside my long workout.

Long time friend, Charlie Hiltunen, kayaked for 61/2 hours supporting my crazy dream. I think he had it harder than me, 85f air temp and humidity. Not sure who had the harder day.
At this point in my training for the English Channel, swimming a 25k (15 miles) is akin to a long workout and this was exactly how I approached the weekend. I and Doug didn't slow down training this week to rest or "taper" as this week like so many before it was another 45,000 yards, this time the bulk coming in 'A Long Swim' as my partners blog so aptly describes. 

We arrived a bit before 6am on a warm morning, water temperature this year was a wonderful 75f (last year for the 10k Nationals it was 90f) so I was looking forward to a nice 'dip'. Storms in the area inundated us and delayed the start for two hours. So I laid down on the floor and draped my swim suit across my eyes and took a snooze. I woke up one or twice to chat with old Goshen friends Leslie Barks and Mark Ahonen which was a wonderful surprise to see after so many years and learn of their interests in the sport as well. They both are members of the host team and themselves run marathons and do tri-athlons. Anyway, They made the official call that the distance would be shorted to a 20k. However for those folks that made it to 20k within 6 hours they could continue on to the original 25k distance. 

About 30 minutes before the restart woke up a bit groggy, got changed and greased up. with a swim this long the chaffing even in fresh water is a bit unpleasant. I was feeling very relaxed and casual, an attitude I was fine with given my view of this was more training. So off we went and the day progressed. My feeding stops were similar to my attitude, a bit more casual than usual. So we chugged on, and on, and on. The sun finally came out late int he day along with some strong breeze and boat chop on lap 4. I enjoyed this since this added some distraction to the otherwise mundane left arm, right, left, right, L, R, L, R...You get the picture. Well as things went I pulled across the 20k finish line around 6 1/2 hours so my day was finished at the official distance due to the storm delay, I was a bit bummed as I was just moving long nicely in 'forever mode'. 

I ended up 5th in the nation this day in my age group and to be honest I did have a bit of that 'comptetitive remorse' for taking it so relaxed. But I'm fine with that and really more to the point, my right shoulder which had developed a pulled muscle/nerve issues at Tampa bay was clearly back where it should be. So I was comforted by knowing that going forward the next two months were full throttle.

This past week was a light week in training mileage 20k total to recovery these old bones. Today (Saturday) we were back in Lake Michigan in 57f cold water (love it!) and crystal clear water with group of 'Usual Suspects' - Doug, Marcia, Chris, Laura. 

So here we are today, just under 60 days to the the next step in the 'One Stroke at a Time' journey. I am fired up and continue to learn from all the divergent paths taken thus far, set backs, success's and other personal challenges that I have shared to date. 

I can feel the mental focus sharpening and physically stronger than I could have imagined 3 years ago. My Journey of self discovery continues to amaze me, the wonderful family, great training partners and friends that have helped me along the way is what is really important. Thanks Everyone!

Get Busy Living or Get Busy Dying! I choose to Live!

Jun 21, 2011

"Change for the Channel"

The Barrington Swim Club, whom Doug and I have supported for many years as swimmer parents and volunteers are pleased to announce that an age group competition has been established to benefit the charities and social & emotional educational programming in 220 District.
Thank you to everyone for your donations and warm thoughts that will carry us across the cold English channel.

Week one results!
1st place - Colts $ 57.64
2nd place - MUSTANGS
3rd place - PONIES/PRE-TEAM
4th place - SENIORS

Only 2 more weeks!
Check under the couch, in the car, duffle bags, etc. and bring in your spare change on Mondaythru Thursday!
Funds are to help our Master swimmers Don McDonald and Doug McConnell as they train hard to swim the "English Channel" this fall with funds being donated to support Mental Awareness in the Barrington Community.
Thanks to all of you for donations already given.
Lets see who has the most change laying around!
Who will get the surprise award????
More results next week!

Jun 10, 2011

Teach your children well...

This picture is from a number of summers ago but I was recently reminded of the importance of teaching your children to be resilient and to accept strong challenges with courage and faith.

Remember the first time as a kid you tried something that scared you to death and looked impossible. Here my daughter swam a half mile with me on lake Wawasee in Syracuse, IN.

Jun 5, 2011

The personal price of My Journey to swim the English Channel

Recently, I was painfully reminded at a deep emotional level that only a parent can feel about the price one pays for taking this journey to swim the English Channel. 

Lets not kid each other, the time away in the water is time not spent with family, neighbors or friends. Even when your family and friends are kayaking alongside or taking the trip with you to some exotic place (Like Tampa, FL; Boston, MA or Dover UK), its still you, alone, swimming for hours in the water and them in the boat.

We Open Water Swimmers each have our own reasons and I carry with me the burden of mine everyday for taking this path. I will be the first to admit it has always been my dream to take this journey but so have many other things in my life and are equally important like my family, my daughter and friendships. We have hopes and aspirations not only for ourselves but for those around us, that maybe something positive can rub off on them by taking such journeys together? Sometimes its hard to tell if the value is learned? Sometimes the results aren't apparent for a long time. 

Using swimming, a singular team sport as a vehicle to teach self respect, kindness, courage, and humility I believe has strong value learned through setting long term goals, dedication and being resilient to deal with both the ups and downs of taking such a Journey.

Here are the ones taking this journey with me that I hope share in this learning opportunity?

Putting in the Mileage -2 1/2 months until Dover & US Nationals 25k

I continue following the training plan and this week logged 45,000 yards, in the past seven days have been in lakes more now than the pool. This will continue to be the plan from here on out. Switching to much longer weekend swims 5k (3.1 miles) minimum and heading to 10-15k range over the next few weeks.
In two weekends the US Masters Nationals for the 25k (15.5 mile) distance are being held in Indianapolis so this will be a good strong workout day for me. This is the same lake (Morse) I have been now for a number of swims so it comfortable and well known. But 70 very talented national caliber people are entered and it will be crowded until things stretch out. Since my goal is Dover and the English Channel this will simply be a 6-7 hour workout for me. Charlie Hiltunen, one of my long time friends will be kayaking and providing support for safety and food stops this day so the kayak will be full of food and we'll both need lots of sun screen.