Swimming Through a Messy Life

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Getting a 3.5 km swim in at clean, lovely Christina Lake.

Keeping up a weekly swim blog is hard work. What if nothing exciting or momentous happens in a given week? What if many momentous things happen, but they don’t necessarily relate to swimming?

Or maybe…swimming should be my metaphor of moving through things in the medium of water.

I am going through a lot of things in my life right now. A deep breath.

  • I’m newly separated and adjusting to that both well and terribly
  • I have a wonderful new job that presents a big blue sky of opportunity but also a steep learning curve and a big chance to do something great – and as a work motivated person, this is so important to me. But yeah. Pressure!
  • I definitely have a form of PTSD from my previous job
  • I have a teenager who is moving through her own changes and challenges, and doing a far better job of it than I did at the same age
  • I am new to this whole world of my own financial management and planning and this presents its own steep learning curve and uncertainty
  • I am preoccupied with my health and feeling a bit of fear. Well, maybe not just a bit.  I have some terrible habits and some shite genetics
  • My lawn needs mowing and my deck needs painting and OH GOD THE WEEDS
  • My beloved new wetsuit gives me awful neck chafe and it looks like I’m spending a lot of time in dirty chambers of sex bondage
  • I’m not spending any time in dirty chambers of sex bondage

So – to just go out and swim through it all? Sometimes it seems overwhelming.

I like to solve problems, and I also have a tremendous need for growth and change. The stability of a regular swimming practice is working well for me, even as the rest feels sometimes like a radio in my head that I can’t tune in.

How can I apply what I am doing with swimming to the rest of a messy life? Read More

Back in the Lake

IMG_7565I’m back in the lake!

Last Sunday was my first lake swim of the year. It’s much later than usual, due to the heavy snow pack in the mountains creating colder than usual temperatures. Or at least that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

I swam out at Nancy Greene Lake, which is a smallish lake about 30 mins drive from my house. I like training here because I’ve mapped the distance quite accurately. Swimming the “triangle” gives me approx 1000 metres, so it’s easy to track my progress and accomplish a practice goal.  Swimming in a triangle is also nice, because triangles are one of those shapes that just do not get enough love.

The lake is cold and deep, and the weeds grow long and thick as the summer goes on. I don’t mind the weeds at all and actually find the surreal underwater green-ness to be quite thrilling and interesting. There’s always a chance that a big ugly fish face will emerge from the depths to say hello. I also like to take my dogs along on swims at Nancy Greene, because they can run alongside me on the shore. I can keep an eye on them and vice versa. Sometimes they swim with me, and we become a battle fleet. I’m sure they feel this way too.

I wore my oldest, thickest wetsuit for my inaugural lake training swim. It’s a 4 mm Blue Seventy Sprint, so I figured it would be the warmest option. I wore it for my first 2 years of events before I decided to upgrade to the Blue Seventy Fusion, which didn’t work for me at all. Read More

Training vs Racing

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Happiness and anticipation for the Long Bridge Swim in Sandpoint, Idaho

Right now, I like training more than I like racing.

Don’t get me wrong – I enjoy event days too – the atmosphere of anticipation, the cameraderie, the snacks, the fashion parade of wetsuits, the men in wee speedos…its all good.

BUT – the reason I swim is not to race. It’s to access the feeling I get while swimming and after swimming.

What I want to discover is how far/long I can swim in this sagging 43 year old meat sack. What I want to do is swim in amazing places all over the world.

I think I would be happier if open water events were positioned more as experiences rather than races. Of course, I am concerned with my time and my performance at any given event. But the reason I swim is to tamp down my sharp and uncomfortable edges. Competitiveness has a way of creeping into my head and my body and gives me the exactly opposite feels that a challenging but relaxed training session or light lake swim gives me. I stopped swimming with a local masters group because I was overcome with the negative mindset the practices triggered in my head and body, especially during a time of misdiagnosed illness. This would express itself in swimming too hard and then crying in the shower if my body wasn’t up to what I was asking of it. And of course it wasn’t up to it – it was liable to fall asleep at any given moment. It would remind me of how I felt when I quit competitive swimming as a teenager, when repetitive, negative thought patterns became a big problem for me.

Swimming on my own terms is my solution for the brain that I was born with. And solo training takes me into the positive space I need, and allows me to channel those characteristics into my work (which I LOVE), rather than my workouts. Read More

Swimming with Rattlesnakes

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I’m on a boat, waiting to swim the Rattlesnake Island 3 k. (2014)

I’m writing this on a plane on my way back to Comox, BC. My work takes me back to the Island this week, and I’m looking forward to chalking up a few more swims in the local aquatic centre. I made a quick executive decision to not bring my wetsuit on this trip, after some research that told me that the local lakes around Comox will still be a bit too cold for training. This may be true, or I might just be a wuss.

By June I have usually been in the lake a few times. Christina Lake is often the place for my annual first foray into the open water outdoors. It is always awesome to feel that chilly briskness on my face and hands. That first wetsuit pee is also very nice. This year I’m either a little less brave OR it’s still too cold. Following a strict training schedule in the pool is also my focus, as I strive to get my kms in and build for the longer events coming up this summer. Cold water training will have to wait a week – or at least until I’ve made it through at least 5 cold showers in preparation.

Last week I trained 3 times, including one midweek session that was 4800 metres. I could not consume enough carbs in the 2 days that followed (toast fans, are you out there? Can I get an AMEN?) and finished up the week with a short Saturday night session that focused on drills – specifically my underwater pull. Rather than throwing my shoulders into each stroke, I’m working hard to develop the water feel in my pull through fist drills, doggy paddle (yes!), and sculling. My early swim coaching taught the centreline pull technique so I must undo this tendency to pull to the middle and then out and down. I’m an avid reader of technique tips, and right now I’m finding TriSwimCoach and Swim Smooth blogs to be helpful. Read More

Recovery Week

IMG_3213Ahhhh….recovery week!

I have to say that I’m enjoying this week with my foot halfway off the gas pedal. It’s given me a chance to rediscover my bike (hi, bike!), do a few more yoga classes, and gear up for the next 5 weeks of intensifying training.

I have several swims planned for this summer and fall.

  1. VOWSA Canada Day Challenge: 4 km
  2. Across the Lake Swim: 2.1 km
  3. Kootenay Lake Sunshine Bay to Nelson: 24 km (3 x 8 km over 3 days)
  4. Skaha Lake Ultra Swim: 11.8 km
  5. Lake Chelan Swim: 2.4 km
  6. Swim Serpentine: 3.2 km

This will be my 5th time swimming Kelowna’s Across the Lake Swim, and my second time swimming Lake Chelan. The other swims are brand new to me, and have required me to focus my training on longer distances. This involves following an actual PLAN plan, which I haven’t really done before. I have to say that I’m really enjoying it.  I started the new year with a 5 km plan offered through Prairie Girls Swim Squad and found it to be well-designed, motivating, and focused on results. I really liked the variety of the workouts and have adapted several of them as I build up my weekly kms. Read More