I have had some serious doubts about my ambitious marathon swimming goals this summer. I decided to attempt two big swims to include the length of Tahoe (21 miles) and 6 weeks later, the Catalina Channel (also 21 miles). Even when making this decision, I was certain I was crazy but these are the things I like to do to myself. I am addicted to endurance sports and I just love the process of training and seeing what your body can do when you just ask. When you do these swims, they are typically solo but takes a village of support. It’s just you, your boat and your crew. You are only allowed a swimsuit, cap and goggles. Your crew supports you by feeding you on a set interval like you are a porpoise. You can’t touch the boat or anything so they throw your food, otherwise know as “feeds” to you which you should consumer in 30 seconds or less. I largely stick to liquid feeds in a bike bottle. I find it hard to chew while treading water. I use Carbo Pro with Ucan Hydrate mixed in about 10oz of water and that is what I drink every 30 minutes. I also supplement with Gu with caffeine when needed.
Anyway, coming into April I felt like my training was way behind where it needed to be so was seriously starting to panic. I battled two big illnesses this winter including the dreaded Norovirus which I picked up in Mexico on a surf trip. I was thinking this surf trip was perfect and amazing cross training so did not worry in the slightest that I would miss 5 days of swim training in February. And that was very true! Then the dreaded Norovirus took me out for an extra week. I thought, that’s ok! It’s only February. I proceeded to ramp up, following my swim plan. Then I get it hit late March with the flu and 102 degree fever which rolled into the most awful chest cold with an nasty cough which took me out for a good 10 days. I showed back up to join the Irish POD at the South End Rowing club hacking up a lung as I pushed myself to get back to swimming in San Francisco Bay. Every time we stopped to gather the group, there was me coughing and they all seemed quite concerned. They are the Best! So at this point it is April 5th, I don’t have my full strength back and I am feeling so behind. And then I have my typical work load which tends to ramp up this time of year.
This is year two of Marathon swimming for me and still a total newbie! Thankfully I track my swimming in Strava so I went back to compare year over year weekly volumes and I was pleasantly surprised to see I was averaging double what I averaged last year at this time. And since I am ramping up from 12 miles to 21 miles, I guess that is about right. SO YEAH! I was able to get my brain back in the game and relieve my self doubt. I am officially 90 days out from the first swim. How am I feeling? Well shockingly pretty great!
The past two weekends I think my swim training really officially started + helped to grow my confidence! Two weeks ago on Saturday, the South End Rowing Club hosted a challenging swim called the Kirby Cove Swim. Well, the wind gods wouldn’t have it and it changed to a Golden Gate Swim which was totally the right call. And this swim did not disappoint! We had some insane 20+ knot winds, super choppy conditions with some swells that I swear must have been 3 feet. I just thrive in this condition. I was literally body surfing the swells and had an absolute blast. I made it back to club in about 1 hr 15 minutes with my swim buddy Mark, got myself checked off so they know I didn’t drown and then headed out for 45 minutes of swimming in the Aquatic Park “Cove”. If you haven’t been for a swim here, you should! Those of us who have access to swimming in San Francisco Bay are truly lucky. Those of us who are members of South End Rowing Club are the luckiest of the lucky!
The next day I had planned a swim with Sylvia of Pacific Open Water Swim Co. It is usually a pilot’s surprise which means you are not exactly sure what you will swim. I just let her know that I was ready to get out in the bay and out of my normal routine swims for a fun 3 hour swim. Yup, that is my idea of fun. Like I said, I am crazy! On swims with Pacific Open Water Swim Co. I shed my watch as it is my downfall. I am best knowing nothing about how long I have been in the water and how much longer I have to go. Not to say I don’t ask and I don’t whine. I totally do that too. Our 3 hour swim was a swim around Angel Island which I swam last year a couple times. I love love love this swim.
I loved it so much that I did it again just this past weekend with a couple friends, Brad and Mark. What a treat to experience that swim with them. The conditions were definitely a touch more challenging this last weekend and as Sylvia says “just a wee bit of texture.” Still an absolute blast! I nailed by training plan last week and at this point, hope to do my best to nail all of the weeks leading up to the Lake Tahoe swim on July 26th. Part of my training plan includes a trip to Ireland late May for a swim training camp called Hit the Wall with Infinity Channel Swimming. I am so excited to go to Ireland with an amazing group of ladies from South End Rowing Club. I guess right now I am training for training camp which totally cracks me up but it is the truly how I have been thinking about this month’s training. I get excited when the bay water temperature drops as it has such a wide variance this time of year. Ireland is going to be COLD and expect 55 degrees or less. And did I mention jelly fish. I am oddly excited to maybe experience my first jelly fish sting. Yup, crazy!
Lots more swimming to be done this year and I hope to report out my progress along the way. Ultimately, its all about the Catalina Chanel on September 15th!