Redemption Swims

Nothing like watching ninja warrior to see bad ass people doing unbelievable things and realize self-doubt is the biggest sabotager.

They all have missions, names like “the best day ever” , “Luci Steel”, “Iron Butterfly” and I’m no different. I’m your green swimmer girl, swimming oceans to inspire people to use less plastic and help save our oceans and our planet.

I have been home for one month since attending Infinity’s Hit the Wall Training Camp in Ireland. I was having lots and lots of self doubt after Ireland’s Hit the Wall Swim camp. I attempted a 6 hour swim on the final day and only made it 4.5 hours. In the moment, I was happy with my accomplishment but the next day I was overwhelmingly disappointed in myself. I knew I could have gone the full 6 hours. Full details in my Hit the Wall Camp Blog recap.  I really was handling the cold water just fine but mentally I was not strong and let my brain play games with me. Then there are people like Amy Gubsner, a legend in open water swimming and Padraig of Infinity who told me that I didn’t even know what I was capable of. I knew coming home from Hit the Wall that I wanted to really challenge myself to overcome two things. I absolutely hate swimming in circles. I absolutely cannot wear my watch for swims longer than 2-3 hours. I tend to obsess about how long I have been in the water, how long I have to go, can I make it… So what did I set out to do? Just that! I swam by myself (mostly), in circles with my watch 3 times over the past month for 5-6 hours.

I am so lucky to live in San Francisco and be a member of the most amazing club on earth, The South End Rowing Club. We have an amazing area to swim called Aquatic Park. You can see my 2 mile route below in green (Thank you again to Amy for taking me on this course in the early spring!). I leave the south end rowing club beach and swim clockwise around the cove, to the “flag”, to the “goal posts” to “the Wedding Cake” at the opening and then outside the cove to the end of “creekers” and back along the same route. For me, 5 times = about 5 hours and 6 times = about 6 hours so that is exactly what I set out to do.

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Aquatic Park Swim Route in Green

Another hurdle I had to face was a few little muscle pains and issues. I needed to get it addressed and fast. I definitely waited too long but I had my stroke looked at by my friend, Ahelee who is a gifted coach. Unfortunately, lots of my old bad habits had weaved their way back so back to the pool I go to work on my stroke to prevent injury. That coupled with massage, lots of stretching and rolling, I am back in a pretty good place. Lesson here is listen to your body and address issues as soon as possible. If I had waited much longer, it may have taken me out of my big events that I am working so hard towards. I will be swimming the length of Tahoe on July 26th and then Catalina in September.

4 weeks ago I headed out for my first 5 hour swim by myself at 6am. I had a little Mega Chill float (loaned to me by Irish POD buddy Eric) to hold my feeds which I swam out and attached to a buoy off the docks. Coming back to the beach would surely mean failure.  I feed at 45 minutes and then about every 30 minutes from then on. I would feed at the buoy and carry a soft flask to feed at the turn around point. My feeds are very basic, with just 8 oz of water, Carbo Pro and Ucan Hydrate. I supplement some Gu as well. I gave up caffeine this month after attending a marathon swimming panel. One of the recommendations was to use caffeine as a drug so I cut it out of your life entirely and only use it later in swims to give me a nice pick me up. Taking a little caffeine GU at hour 4 was amazing! That last hour was rough and my mantra to get me through that last hour was “ninja warrior”! With my feed buoy just being off the beach it was super hard to rally for that last lap. My head was saying 4 hours is good. You can just go in to the beach. It’s right there. I was so proud I pushed those thoughts out to head out for my final lap. Once I got to the flag, I knew 5 hours was about to be in the books.

South End Rowing Club Beach and my starting point

South End Rowing Club Beach + my start point

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Float on the right tied up to a buoy and me heading out on my first solo 5 hour swim in circles with my watch! 

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5 Hour Route! Lots of fishermen on the piers that I was avoiding.

The next weekend I took a rest week as I was coming off a cold but the next two weekends would be 6 hour swims. The 3rd weekend of June I did a 6 hour swim followed by a 2 hour swim. The forth weekend I did a very challenging 3 hr San Francisco Bay swim which was a cross current swim with a wee bit of chop! My arms were toast after that swim as I was trying to keep up with a stronger swimmer, Katie who came for training swims from North Carolina. We are both attempting to swim the Catalina channel this summer so it was an absolute pleasure to meet and swim with her. We both joined Pacific Open Water Swim Co. for an epic swim around Alcatraz.

As I started out my 2nd 6 hour swim the next day, my arms felt sore and my body felt tired. I didn’t think I had 6 hours in me. Once I finished lap one, everything had really loosened up and I was feeling pretty good. At the end of my second lap I saw what I hoped were some of my pod mates heading off the beach and it was! I joined them for a swim outside the cove, fighting the flood to fort mason + gas house. It turned out to be a fabulous mix of the B team pod and the Irish Pod so I was absolutely thrilled. A few of the Irish Pod decided to head a bit beyond gas house towards marina green. This was a very welcome change from my circles. And super nice to have some company! Once we got back to the cove, I said goodbye to my pod mates. I had another 2.5 hrs to go and that actually went by pretty quickly. But that last lap! It is just the toughest to rally for the last lap and get going but I did it! Two 6 hour swims in the books and just one more 8 hr swim to go! Swim logs below.

 

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First 6 hour swim which was completely solo the entire time!

 

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6 Hour swim with a Irish POD + B Team POD meet up mid swim! What a pleasant surprise!

When I came in from the beach after my last 6 hour swim, many of my Irish POD + B Team POD buddies were all over the club. I was beyond stoked about what I had just accomplished!!! The newbie swim had just wrapped up. I was greeted warmly by Irish POD mates Vanessa and a bear hug by Colin. Others in the shower helped to get the zinc off my back. Then I came down after the shower and sauna, greeted by other POD mates, Fran and Bobby with just lots of love and food. I am so lucky to have all the support of the South End Rowing Club community. I may have been swimming alone for much of these swims but I certainly never feel alone. I feel lots and lots of love!

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Zinc, Zinc + more Zinc. And one Happy Swimmer!

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Vanessa, part of the Irish POD + gave me a post swim back massage

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Post swim bear hug from Colin who is part of my Catalina Crew

I have one more big weekend of training and then it is tapper time for the length of Tahoe on July 26th!

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