I will get my cold water acclimation back. I will. I need to. I’ve lost it over the last few months of not swimming in my beloved Bay much due to circumstances. I’m swimming across the Catalina Channel (21 miles) on August 14 – 15 which is my big swim for the year. I have an awesome crew that I don’t want to let down. I don’t want to let myself down. I know that I can do this. Many thought I couldn’t swim from Anacapa Island to Oxnard (12.4 miles) last year and I proved them wrong. I never doubted that I could do that swim. I don’t doubt that I can swim across the Catalina Channel either. I know that I can do the distance. My only limiting factor is my body’s reaction to cold water and my biggest fear of hypothermia. Hypothermia is all me (compared to my other big fear of boat and their propellers) and the one thing that I can train myself to deal with.

Love the sunrise from Aquatic Park.

This year will be much different from my Anacapa Channel swim last year in how I’ll train for Catalina.

1. Masters Practice. I’m back with the San Mateo Masters twice a week to be barked at, run through a gauntlet, and general ass-kicking workouts especially when I hear my 2 least favorite words: “sprints” (fearful in any sport) and “descending” (in swimming heart skips a beat with excitement when I hear this on a bike).
2. Kayakers. My two kayakers on my crew are both South End Rowing Club members that I’ll get to do the majority of my long training swims with. My communication with them will be sorted out during my training and they’ll know me as a swimmer.
3. South End Rowing Club. Being back in SF, I have the luxury of coming here midweek in addition to the majority of my training swims being here. I’ll be here 2 – 3 times a week to work on distance and cold water acclimation.
4. Nadadores Loco. Literally translates to “crazy swimmers.” A subset of South Enders who do long bay and ocean swims. Save on any car-related expenses and just swim there. Swims measured in hours. Alcatraz? They’ll do it 5 times before getting out. My kind of people.
5. J Body Works. Having difficulties finding a personal trainer at my pool’s gym, I started training with Nan Luma at J Body Works for core and upper body strengthening. She also knows my entire (mostly orthopedic) medical history and how to overcome leftover issues.
6. Pilates. I found a Pilates studio that teaches real traditional Joseph Pilates’ Pilates to work on core strength.
7. OMPower. My spinning studio. They also just added indoor rowing which will help upper body and core strength. I’ve befriended a few of the cyclists / instructors who help me with overall athletic physical, mental, and emotional training as they love endurance also.
8. Cycling. My last blog post gave an account of my developed love affair with cycling. It’s been a schedule challenge to keep both balanced. However, there are similarities between the two sports, especially in regards to nutrition (including during the activity), endurance, stretching, and the importance of a strong core.
9. Distance vs. Time. The bay tides mean that a 5 mile swim can either take you 1 hour or 5 hours. Training is about time in the water. I will work on building up to doing a 10 hour Bay swim regardless of distance. This has been a HUGE stress relief.
10. Diet. BIG ONE. I started working with SarahLynn Baird in South Pasadena last year to help monitor my fat vs. muscle ratio and nutritional intake. For someone who worked out as much as I did, I had excess fat. She also helps with overall nutritional guidelines for my diet and makes sure I’m on track since “garbage in, garbage out” is true. I’ve cut down on my alcohol intake A LOT. Cooking at home more. More portion control. Less snacking. Less fatty foods. Less processed foods. Less lying to myself on what I just ate. New co-workers don’t really bring food to work and those who do leave it in the kitchen which I can easily ignore.

Strength Training with Nan Luma @ J Body Works.

I know what I need to focus on and what to ignore. A year older and a lot wiser and stronger. I know what I’m getting into and I have better resources to have a strong successful swim. I’m in charge of this swim and commanding what I need out of myself and my crew.

I’m freaking out less which is also in part to my choices for crew. Most of my crew are swimmers who have either already completed a Catalina crossing or doing one this year! I feel like I’m in more control over this than my Anacapa swim. I’m grateful that I did Anacapa last year to figure out the kinks for swims like this. I have a veteran crew that I can rely on for training advice.

I’m learning a lot about myself and what I’m capable of as time goes on. Last weekend I rode 95 miles on my bike, 33 miles farther than I had gone before, which was just a couple of weeks before that. I didn’t know if I could last that long on a bike and just went for it. The first half of it was climbing and descending in the East Bay Hills. I only got on a bike 4 months ago and now it seems like you can’t get me off of it. I’m a horribly slow climber (okay, like how everyone says they’re a slow swimmer too I guess) and stick it out as that’s the hard work that’s rewarded with usually awesome descents (my comfort zone). I discovered after my 95 miles ride that I traumatized my body similar to how I felt after Anacapa, although on a smaller level. My body was exhausted. I was out longer than expected and survived on an energy gel, 2 cookies, 1 energy waffle, 1 pack of energy chews, and 3 bottles of water (2 with electrolytes). After stumbling around a bit back home, a sourdough toast sandwich w/ butter and half a bananas quickly went into my bloodstream. I stated feeling more normal shortly after eating. Good to know as that’ll be included with my feeds choices.

Exhausting myself over 153 KM on the bike.

I’ve also signed up for the Cinderella Challenge (85 miles, 4400′ elevation gain), (Inaugural) Women’s Gran Fondo (70 miles, 5400′ elevation gain), Princess Challenge (73 miles, 6100′ elevation gain), and planning on Levi Gran Fondo’s Gran + WC (Willow Creek) route (98 miles, 8200′ elevation gain). The first two are in April/May and the last two are in September/October. Catalina is nicely in-between especially given the Princess Challenge and Levi Gran Fondo being more demanding on me physically, mentally, and emotionally.

I’m focused more on the weekly long training swims than anything during the week. This weekend I’m upping my swim training by a good factor. Last weekend I also did my first SERC nutcracker swim of 2015. These are named for their perceived complexity factor. Fort Baker to Point Bonita was 4 miles with not much help from any currents getting out from Fort Baker, water being choppy under the Golden Gate Bridge, and then variable conditions out to Point Bonita, along with being in shark territory and colder water outside of the gate.

Finding balance in my life (especially between the water and bike) has kept me mentally and emotionally focused and sane. I’m more confident and relaxed this time around. Perhaps also more determined.

My usual view of the start of my swims.

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