Countdown to the first day we can swim!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Swimming with Chicas from Smith!!

Hit words/phrases/thoughts of the weekend:
Cold, "Black and Yellow, Black and Yellow," Cold, microwaving meat, COLD, need to get fat, cold, Smith, cold, "it's all for practice/the experience!!...right?", cold, waves, cold, gossip, Cold, FOOD!!, COLD, parking, freezing, MIT, cold,"Yeww, HAIR!!..oh wait it's just seaweed," :'(COLD!!, wet, sticky, Anna: "I keep thinking about hitting a dead hand".... O.o ....Us: "ANNA!! Why did you have to say that!!"

If you didn't get it from my hit words/phrases/thoughts list above: it was really COLD this weekend!! Not only was the water 61 degrees on Saturday at Lynn Beach and mid-60s on Sunday at Revere Beach, the weather was really crappy. On Saturday, it was around mid-60s, cloudy, and rainy. Sunday was low 70s and still cloudy. What is it today? Sunny and high-70s. Just our luck...Oh well, it's all for practice right? Since we don't know what conditions we will be swimming in, it was good to go through these, far from ideal, conditions. For that reason, we took the cold water, rainy weather, 7-8 feet waves, knee-nigh red algae shores, and the asperity of the ocean salt with (uhh vacillating) alacrity.

Anyways, enough of my complaining, here are some details of this awesome weekend...

"Black and Yellow, Black and Yellow"
I received a call from Emma and Mackenzie saying they were at MacGregor dorm (where I am staying) around 10am...I was still in bed. (Productivity fail. I had planned to get up early to bike and lift that morning. I couldn't fall asleep until 3 am though. Too excited maybe?) We got to Lynn Beach around 1pm. I can imagine that we looked quite silly when we got there. It was kind of like one of those pictures where you have to pick out the objects that didn't fit. First of all, the beach was very sparsely populated. Second, those who did decide to brave the weather wore multiple sweatshirts and/or wetsuits (if you were a surfer). Emma, Mackenzie, Anna, and I pittered down to the shoreline in our speedo one-pieces (in Anna's case: 2-piece). I don't know if people were impressed or just thought we were crazy, but we were definitely too concerned with actually getting into the water to care. The act of actually getting in the water was quite an ordeal. With every crashing wave, we inched towards the open sea, shrieking about the shockingly cold water and laughing nervously (well, maybe it was just me) at what we were about to attempt.

We swam about an hour before we
decided to get warm and defrost. It took forever to get warm and it was analogous to microwaving a piece of frozen meat. While my skin got warm, my insides were still freezing. My extremities felt this contrast the greatest; my fingers and toes tingled as my blood failed to warm them. Every time Anna opened the van door to throw out pistachio shells, I would recoil from the cold air.

After sitting in the car for an hour or so, we decided to try again. (Retrospectively, getting out made the second swim much worse) The second time we got in brought crappier weather, bigger waves, and no Anna. Although we ended up warming up faster than the first time, we didn't stay in as long. After a defining wave that crashed over us, we decided it was too dangerous to continue and struggled to shore.

I think, the Pour House half-off burger and Pinkberry frozen yogurt that night was well deserved. :D

Revere Beach was definitely better than Lynn beach in that the weather was much better and water warmer. Once again, getting in was rough but this time we shrieked about knee-high red algae. We had to wade through several feet of the slippery, sticky, weird stuff before we could find clear water. It was so GROSS!!

Revere Beach was much better for sighting. There were more buildings and five lifeguard stands, which were great to letting us know how far we swam and setting goal for when to stop. (At Lynn Beach, we ended up sighting surfers and telephone poles. The conversations went something like this: "Let's swim to that surfer." "The one with the paddle?" "No, the furthest one after the one with the paddle." or "Let's swim to the 12th telephone pole." "The one with the person next to it?" "Which one? All people are moving!")

We didn't end up swimming that much at Revere. We got out after an hour and decided not to go back in. This was partially because we had been tired from staying up late the night before and partially because we dreaded getting wet, cold, and covered in algae again.

On the whole though, this was a very successful weekend! Looking forward to more swimming fun!! :D

Update From Virginia

Hello Again Blog Followers!

It really is quite terrible how long it has taken me to post again and I sincerely apologize. Fortunately I have been much more faithful to the training than I have to recording the experience, and I will try to summarize what I have been up to the past few months.

So much to write about, I don't even know where to start! This summer I am interning at NASA Langley Research Center so I am fortunate to be close enough to home to have the support and help of my family; I really don't know how I would do this without them. My mother has taken on the title of coach, although defers to my father the "head" coach when they are telling me to do something I don't want to (like taking a cold bath...ugh). The two main aspects of training I am focusing on currently are racking up some yardage (kind of obvious I know) and cold water acclimation.

Getting in yardage actually isn't the hardest part, its finding a cold, or even cool, place to swim! All of the pools in the area are at minimum 83 F, more than 20 degrees warmer than what the channel will be when we swim in August. The times I get to swim in the river are a joy because it seems to average a temperature in the mid 70s - nice to swim in but still much warmer than ideal. Unfortunately this means I have to resort to cold showers and baths to acclimate my body to the cold. I made the mistake of "treating" myself to a warm shower a few days ago and boy do I regret made going back to the cold twice as hard.
As for building up my endurance, I have found that it is very difficult to swim significant distances during the week when I am exhausted from work and the commute, so I limit weekday practices to only a few miles, never more than 4 a day, swimming at the local YMCA. On the weekends when I have more time, my parents and I drive out to a friend's house on the Chickahominy river to get in some open water mileage. We have tried swimming at several different times during the day and find early morning to be by far the best. There is minimal boat traffic, the sun hasn't come out in all its scorching glory, and no one has plans at 6 in the morning. This does mean I have to get up earlier on the weekends than I do for work (especially on Sunday when I have to be done in time for church at 10), but it's worth it and I get to nap in the afternoon.

Ah the Chickahominy of the rivers Pocahontas would have frequented in her day, but let me tell you in reality it is not nearly as pristine as Disney's version. It is so full of dirt that while swimming I can never see past my elbow when I take a stroke. In a way I guess the lack of visibility is nice, if there is any trash or human pollution contaminating the river I can rarely see it. I did run into a rotting banana peel once because I couldn't see it until I was already upon it, and another time I found a wad of duct tape in my suit, but I don't think anything in the river is toxic so until I start growing an extra limb this is my training location. Not all of the river is gross however and the flora and fauna are quite beautiful. There are countless osprey nests and the babies are just hatching, so cute! The parents used to get nervous when I would get near, but they seem to accept my presence now. There are quite a few fish as well, but I can only see them when they jump or are unlucky enough to be snatched up by the osprey. We also have seen some herons and snakes...The first snake we saw was right when I was exiting the water and helping my parents pull out the canoe. A long black snake suddenly appeared not a foot from the canoe and swam underneath it. After doing some googling we decided it was probably a harmless northern water snake, but it was a reminder that the rivers here are home to cotton mouths as well. I can only pray that we never run into one of those.

I want to give a special thank you to the Felkers who helped me with my training when they came out to visit. You guys were great! Mr. Felker with all his expert canoe knowledge helped out my mother and Mrs. Felker was awesome, going out on the water for several hours despite getting motion sick. I can't wait for you guys to move back to Virginia!

I feel like I haven't even scratched the surface of everything I have done, but I am going to wrap this up before this post gets too long. Thanks you all for your support!


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Beautiful Day at Walden!! a different sense I guess...

No one there except us

Rainy. Cold. Wet. BUT AWESOME :D

Friday, June 17, 2011

Terrible at this blogging thing much?

Yes. I am epically failing at updating. I think one of my issues (among many) is that I think of things I want to publish but forget/don't have time to write it down. Then by the time I want write an entry, it's usually only one or two days from something exciting and I think that I can summarize everything in one post. Long story short: I make too many excuses.

Training in May and early June was pretty dismal. With finals, starting summer, and moving to a different dorm, I slept really terrible hours: sleeping at 3am and getting up at 1pm. It wasn't that I didn't have plenty to do. However, going cold turkey after drink 3 caffeine drinks a day definitely did not help my situation. Forget working out, getting out of bed became a daily struggle.

For training sake (and health sake) I have been trying to progressively get up earlier everyday. Pulling an all-nighter to work on my research project and to catch an early train jump started this change. Funny story with that is I ended up passing out at 7 pm the next day while on my laptop, half way off my bed.

I also increased my training intensity. My goal for each week is to swim 5-6 thousand meters each day and a dryland/lifting/cardo/abs session or at least work out twice a day. How is it going so far? As expected, I'm tired and sore. :( I actually find it pretty difficult to stay in the pool for the whole 5-6 thousand and my practices are not that creative. Although, how creative can one be when the best way to get in yardage (meterage? haha) is to do sets of 300, 500, and 1000s. Dryland with various MIT swim team members are always fun though (especially lunges with Anna Kokensparger).

Open water swims:
Although I have not entered into any open water races yet, I did swim in Long Island Sound when I went back home last weekend. Lessons learnt from that experience:
  1. Currents are a *****. When I was going against the current, I bared moved.
  2. Need new goggles. I have two problems with my current pair. I have a weird issue where, after an hour or so, my google would suction onto my eyes really tight and in really awkward positions. Hypothesis: my eyeballs are taking in the oxygen/air?? The goggle second problem is less mysterious. My goggles lost its anti-fog quality and the contrast of the cold water and body temperature quickens condensation.
  3. Salt water makes me really dehydrated. Actually, not only does it make me dehydrated, it also makes my mouth swollen. Blahhhh Clara had told me that using mouthwash should decrease the swelling. I'll have to try that on a longer swim.
I also went out to Walden Pond on Wednesday with a group in Boston. Walden is about 1.5 miles around the perimeter. Super fun! Pictures and more details to some point haha

Last thing before I close this monster of a post, swimmers are not meant for land!! Twisted my ankle doing suicides. Oops. Living on ice and pain killers right now.

Over and the beach (Revere) for more swimming!!! YAY!!