Breaking Through Mental Walls

Trying to not freak out about my upcoming swim as it feels like it’s far away and so close at the same time. I’m still trying to finalize my crew which if I could get that settled, I think I’d feel better about things. It’s a huge commitment to ask from people, I know. The more I talk to other people about how they were during some of their swims, the more I realize how important it is to have the right people around you also. Support goes beyond just giving you food and water. I really am putting my life and the success of my swim in their hands and that’s a big deal for me as I’m saying that I trust someone that much when asking them to be on my crew. Having a bad crew could mean that the swim is doomed from the start. It’s a team effort as I see it.

Support, at least for me, starts way before the actual swim date also. There are training swims and also dealing with what I’m going through emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. I have a hyperactive brain also so I really feel for those who have agreed to be my crew. At the same time, I love them even more for putting up with me as I know I can be very difficult at times. I know what I’m going to put them through and am eternally indebted to them for taking that on as it means the world to me. It goes beyond just being friends with someone. I can put up with a lot of crap in return though as I’m probably the most loyal reliable person you’ve ever met (even to a fault, trust me on that one). I can handle the physical training for the swim and really need the support crew for handling the rest of it.

I’ve been going down to Laguna Beach 2 – 5 times a week to swim with the Oak Streakers and have rarely been in the pool. I’m more motivated to swim in open water anywhere than to get to the pool 5 minutes from my house. The Oak Streakers are more fun to be around and with just saying I’m swimming from Point A to Point B, I’m not staring at my Garmin 910 XT wondering when my next break is and “OMG IS THIS OVER YET???” I was in the pool 2 weeks ago and even with my mp3 player, I was bored at about the 4 KM mark. I pushed myself to finish that day’s planned 8 KM pool workout. Anyway, I’m taking Jamie’s advice on “swim as much open water as you can.” I really do like Laguna Beach a lot and it’d be a possibility of living there if it didn’t involve a 2+ hour commute after work. For my SoCal life, Laguna Beach has quickly become my happy place though.

SF Aquatic Park from the South End Rowing Club pier
SF Aquatic Park from the South End Rowing Club pier

Longer training swims have been mostly happening back up in SF with the South End Rowing Club. Odd to think that in January there was no way in hell that I was willing to jump into that water.

On 10th May, I completed my coldest swim ever and it was in Aquatic Park of course. The thermometer at the “pizza box” buoy said it was 54.1 F. F*** that’s cold. I never warmed up during that swim and lasted two hours.


F*** that’s cold!

Over Memorial Day weekend, my SF Fairy SwimMother (better than a Fairy Godmother) Suzie Dods hooked me up with Gabriel Viti who was about my speed and training for the English Channel. I arranged to meet up with Gabriel at SERC at 7 AM that Saturday. We managed to both crank out a 3 hour swim, which for both of us was an hour longer than we’d ever been in it. Swimming in AP with a buddy is a hell of a lot more fun and easier to deal with the cold even if the conversations during the swimming part are nothing more than “How you doing?” “Good. You?” “Alright. Let’s go.” His girlfriend Angela was awesome too with meeting us at the end of the pier with our food and water!

Last Saturday I completed a 8 KM / 4 HR swim in it. Water temperature was 56 F along the buoy line so about 53 F by the cove entrance. Simon Dominguez had sent out an email to the SERC google groups looking for a zodiac pilot as there were a group of them training for long open water swims (English Channel, Anacapa, etc.). I emailed him introducing myself and asking if I could join them last Saturday. He said sure and they were all different speeds so I’d fit right in. He was aiming for a 4 hour swim on Saturday also. Met with them (Ranie, Kimberly, Len, Steve, and Simon) at 7 AM on Saturday. No buoy so we had to leave everything on the beach. I hate having to get in/out of the water but oh well. They took me outside of the cove west to the Gas House and then east to the end of the Creakers and back in for a feeding. We had an ebb that entire time. I lost them going in for the feeding and couldn’t see them. I was so cold though that I had to get back in the water and swim to stay warm(ish). There were what seemed like 200 people circling the buoy line like a shark feeding frenzy. WTF? I got trapped around one girl who kept zigzagging around me and smacked me in the head one time. It was obvious she didn’t know how to sight at all or maintain a steady speed. I think Simon said later that it was people practicing for Escape From Alcatraz the next day. They were gone within an hour. We stayed in the cove for the most part afterwards which was just as well since the tide had changed to a flood time so it was work to get to the opening as it was. I was extremely tired and happy at the end of the 4 hours though as I’d finally managed to do a 4 HR / 8 KM swim in the Bay! I was still coherent with no signs of hypothermia. I couldn’t spend any time in the sauna though as I had to run over to the East Bay to meet up with one of my best friends for lunch (hadn’t seen him in months and it was worth the 90 minutes of driving to see him for 40 minutes). My body seems to be adapting well to the colder water temperatures which is giving me confidence on not slipping into hypothermia during my Anacapa swim. πŸ™‚ Also knowing that I can do that long of a swim in the Bay helps assure me that I can do longer distances in water 13 F warmer since I’ll be using less energy keeping my body warm.

8 KM in 4 HR and 56 F in SF Bay! :)

And I ran into Suzie giving a intro class after my swim! It was cool that she was there for that moment. πŸ™‚

I did chaf badly on my left side where my swimsuit goes along my shoulder. I could feel it during the 4th hour. There’s some chafing on my right side although I can’t feel it. Left side I can feel almost all the time. I swam with Fog City Masters yesterday (don’t tell Coaches Tom and Cindy that I cheated on them!) though and made it through that workout reasonably well. I also discovered that I can get travel size packs of the lube I use so I picked up some of that on Sunday morning.

I had some chafing a couple of weeks ago from Laguna Beach swimming. According to my friend Peter, the salinity changed in the water which is why a lot of us were chafing back then. So lesson learned anyway to always lubricate since you don’t know when you’ll actually chaf. Now I know!

Ouch! Totally worth it though.
San Francisco Bay chafing (totally worth it for an epic swim)

Salinity Changing Chafing
Laguna Beach salinity changing chafing

Feeding choices are going good. Right now I’m doing applesauce, diced pears/peaches, and occasional cookie bits. I’ve done boiled pasta / potatoes in the past. None of it has upset my stomach so far. I make sure that I eat at each break/feeding also as I learned the hard way on how important that is to maintain my body temperature in addition to hunger. Aside from the feedings, I’ve decided to get away from consuming sugar whether in fruit or desserts. It’s not so much related to my training as related to how I’ve felt about myself physically lately. I’m not feeling as strong as I should be feeling and I’ve noticed that my sugar consumption has gone up the last couple of months. I don’t normally eat a lot of sugar so that’s an easy one to cut out.

I had my first lesson in a long time with Evan yesterday after Masters practice (hence why I wasn’t with my team). We worked on my kicking to try and keep it nice and tight the entire time that I’m swimming. A good thing is that my hand is in the right position when entering the water. He asked me to sight so he could give me feedback. He wants me to get confident enough with swimming in a straight line that I only have to sight every 8 – 10 strokes (and I think he said even up to 20 strokes in calm water). A reason why I really enjoy working with him is that he doesn’t focus just on how to swim in a pool with me and adds in all the open water stuff. I told him next time I want to really start working on bilateral breathing.

On Sunday, 18 May, I finally got to meet Lynne Cox in person! She’s been helping me A LOT with answering my questions about marathon swims and been an absolute sweetheart. I was glad that I finally got to meet her in person at one of her book signings. I asked our mutual friend Sandy for tips on a present for Lynne as I wanted to get her something to show my appreciation for her guidance. Sandy said that Lynne wasn’t materialistic and enjoyed good food. Well THAT’S easy enough. πŸ™‚ I got her some goodies at Sapphire Laguna after a morning swim that week. While at the book signing, I got a message from Sandy that she was done with her swim and would come over to the book signing. It was great to see Sandy again as I hadn’t seen her since February. Can’t wait to swim with her again and we’ll get her out of that wetsuit once and for all. πŸ˜‰ After the book signing, Sandy asked Lynne and me if we had time to grab something to eat. Sure! Holy crap..I ended up having lunch with Lynne! Sandy had to leave to take care of some stuff and left Lynne and me to talk. Of course with all swimmers, we ended up talking about swimming and the swimming community. It was awesome to finally get some time with her to talk and she really is just like a normal person. I feel so lucky to have gotten that time with her! πŸ™‚

Lynne Cox and me

It’s been a difficult few weeks emotionally though. I’ve been able to get my chi back though over the course of the past week. I was feeling really down last Tuesday after coming back from SF. I got together with my friend Brandon and we had a good heart-to-heart talk. I haven’t known him that long and he’s quickly become a bit of a spiritual guide for me. He reminds me a lot like my VP of he doesn’t tell me what to do with my life but just says things to make me think about things in a different way. I wish I had talked to him ages ago some of the stuff that has been going on with me. The rest of my bouncing back has to do with going home and being around good people that are the solid foundations in my life (including two of my best friends), putting positive energy out there, reconnecting with those who have been there for me in the past, and trying to stick with what I get positive vibes from. Being back up in SF helps a lot with that as those are people that I’ve known for several years, some back to childhood. This isn’t the time for me to get into any drama scenarios as that’ll just pull me down and make me lose focus. I have control over that though and can pick my battles. I feel like I’m becoming “Old Kelley” (as my VP at work calls it) again. πŸ™‚

And I found somewhere to go spinning when up in SF which is awesome as I can keep that part of my cross-training up. I was talking with one of the women who work there and she said that with my schedule, I really am getting the best of both worlds of bouncing between the two cities. Still planning on moving back home when the time is right. I’ve put my faith that all of this will make sense later on why I’m in LA. For one thing, I wouldn’t be swimming Anacapa if I wasn’t as I wouldn’t have formed the friendship with Lynn that I have as she was the one who said I should do it and I said “sure.” In a way, it’s given me a purpose with my swimming as I may be lost on that otherwise. It’s one of the biggest challenges I’ve taken on definitely. I’m only going to come out stronger from this.

Mental walls were broken this weekend in many ways.

So next up…longer open water swims, more lessons with Evan, and going to put some workouts with my San Mateo Masters team here and there to force myself to do intervals. And hopefully solidify my support crew!

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