Thursday, September 29, 2011

Crazy Times

I've been a little busy. I've been coming off a little crazed in the emails I dash off quickly to friends and family members, and in my infrequent posts on the swimming list I visit. I have just been extremely busy at work. I work all day and when I get home at night, I really don't want to do much more than veg out in front of the TV. For the last couple of weeks, I just haven't wanted to get up in the morning to work out.

Also, I was in Baltimore at a conference on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, which means the work that I needed to get done wasn't getting done. I meant to do more work in the evenings than I did, but it's amazing how 8 hours of seminars can sap your energy.

We have a new associate starting on Monday, and my hope is that things will get a little more under control. Right now, both my boss and I are working from crisis to crisis, and letting a lot of other things slide. I finally sent off 2 leases to a client this morning that I promised her 2 weeks ago. Whoops. Every day I come into work with a plan in my head about what I'm going to get done that day, and every day my plan gets sidelined by what needs to get done RIGHT NOW.

My boss is out of the office today for Rosh Hashana and I am thrilled to report that I'm actually catching up a little bit. Maybe by the end of the day my desk will look a little bit less like an explosion of unorganized papers.

What this all means is that my latest challenge has gone completely out the window. I ate like crap while I was in Baltimore, and I felt it. I was lethargic and also really, really bloated. Bleh.

So I'm starting the challenge over as of Monday. 3 swims + 1 strength training class per week.

Also, I'm getting my eating back on track. Actually, I started that (kind of) yesterday. I ate well all day, but then we went to the Texas Roadhouse and I had some rolls. Because they are filled with crack.

Anyway, my goal is to eat healthy, whole foods, like I know I can. I actually already feel better and much less bloated. Today's breakfast was eggs. Today's lunch will be a salad and a few ounces of leftover steak. Tonight's dinner will be chicken on the grill and green beans from the farm share.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Can I Have A Redo?

Week 1, and I did not, in fact, make it to Chisel!. (I kind of love that the class name includes the exclamation point)

But I have excuses. Yesterday was a really loooong day. Masters was at 6:30, which means I got up at 6. Then I got to work and hit the ground running, because that's the only way work is operating these days, driving to two different meetings and picking up things from client offices. Which means nothing got done that was actually sitting on my desk to get done. Pushed back another day. Sorry, clients!

Then we had Evensong rehearsal up in Cambridge from 7:15-9:15. Then I drove home and we finally made it home by about 10:45. You can ask Jason, I was exhausted and didn't even want to talk. At all. I get in those moods sometimes when I've been *ON* all day. I just - don't talk to me. It comes out harsh, I know, and I feel bad that Jason bears the brunt sometimes of this side of me, but I reach my saturation point and then I'm done.

Then I had to unwind a little by reading The Oatmeal. Totally necessary!

Today we have Very Important Meetings and other things at work, and I was actually at my desk by 7:55 AM. I could have never been in that early if I had gone to a 6:30-7:30 class. So here I am, taking the few minutes I have to scarf down lunch today to tell you all my excuses.

I have a back-up plan, though. It's called strength training class on Friday morning. If all goes as planned, that shouldn't be a problem. Friday! It's on!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


I had kind of an awkward moment in Masters swimming this morning. We did a ton of drills, focusing on our stroke. At the end of one set, the coach told me I looked good. Nice!

I've really been working on my stroke for the past several months, and have taken all of the constructive criticism I received from the coach to heart. Now my elbows are more bent, my arms go into the water wider, I concentrate on lengthening my arm at the end of each stroke before I pull down, and I no longer let my left arm drift toward the bottom of the pool when I breathe on the right. I didn't even realize I did that last one until our coach showed me a video of me swimming. Every time I breathe now, I consciously think about holding that left arm out straight. Hopefully, eventually it will become so ingrained that I won't have to think about it so much.

Today there were only two of us in my lane, so we were swimming together. I'll call the other person "B". She is the woman I wrote about before who didn't seem thrilled that I got moved up a lane, but who seems to have accepted me now that I've shown I can keep up.

At the end of the next set, the coach stopped us and told B to synchronize her stroke with mine. B is a fast swimmer, and part of that is due to her rapidly cycling arms. The coach said B needs to slow her arms down and be more efficient like me.

Awkward, right?

I kind of grinned sheepishly at B, and she and I took off on our next set. I realized that when B's arms slowed down, so did she, and I had to slow way down and wait for her so that she could stay parallel to me. The coach had us do that several more times throughout the workout, and I could tell B was not thrilled. She was nice about it, but it's never fun to be told you're doing it wrong, and, oh yeah, that person swimming next to you is doing it right, so do it like her.

Hopefully this won't mar the friendliness that B and I have now.

On the upside, though, I'm swimming really well lately. The last few workouts I've done, I've felt like everything was really coming together. I'm not kicking too hard, my stroke is more efficient, I'm breathing fewer times - everything is flowing nicely.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Next Challenge

I've been thinking about my next challenge and I've decided that it's really time for me to buckle down and add strength training back into my routine. But I'm going to do it in a fun way, not drag myself to the gym and do 30-45 minutes on the weight machines, which is kind of the most boring thing ever.

Probably half of the people in my Masters swim group take a class called "Chisel!" at the Y on Wednesday mornings. Everyone raves about it. I figure this will be a good way to get in strength AND I already have buddies there from swimming. The teacher does two other strength training classes on Monday and Friday, so maybe I'll eventually throw one of those on my plate too, but for now I'm just going to shoot for the Wednesday class and see how that goes.

I'm going to keep up with my swimming though. Jason has been on a surfing movie kick lately and I am in awe of the athleticism of the men (and the few women) who surf these giant waves. I sit through most of the movies with my jaw on the ground. The latest one we watched (and the best, in my opinion) was Riding Giants.

Watching these amazing athletes inspires me, not to take up surfing, but to get out there and DO IT! Like a Nike commercial. My sport is swimming and I've been getting better over the past 6 months, but I need to keep improving and working on my personal athletic skills.

I think strength training will only help my swimming efforts. I also hope that adding strength training will be the extra kick my body needs to start leaning out some. I'm so tired of being this size. I've whined on here enough about it, so I won't say anything more than this: you know what is really the most frustrating about being the size I am? I know I would be more aerodynamic and could get my times lower if I lost some weight. Right now, that is where a big part of my frustration lies. I want to be faster in the pool and losing weight will help.

So starting tomorrow (Monday), I'm going to aim for 3 swimming workouts and 1 strength training working per week. This challenge will run for 8 weeks, through the 2nd week of November (ending November 12th). This Wednesday I'll be at Chisel! and I'm excited!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Swim Across America 9/10/11

Saturday I swam my first open water swim with Swim Across America! I raised $920 for cancer research at Women and Infants Hospital right here in Providence. At the end of last week, I was getting a little nervous. Hurricane Katia was creating big swells on the Rhode Island beaches, and rumors of rip tides were floating around.

However, the water on Saturday morning couldn't have been better:
Not only did the swells really die down, but unbeknownst to me, the beach at Wheeler State Beach is protected by a breakwater because it's also the same area where the ferries head out to Block Island and Martha's Vineyard. So the water was actually pretty smooth - much smoother than any of my practice swims.

Here's the route for the swim (we mile swimmers made the loop twice)I signed in and got my yellow cap and my number
Plus, a sweet tat (which is still secured firmly on my shoulder, despite several showers and a workout swim this morning)
I ran into my Masters coach and introduced her to Jason, but she was a little distracted because she had been assigned to watch over Clara Walker, the 86 year-old former Olympian. Clara is a native Rhode Islander who swam in the 1948 London Olympics. Amazing! She swam a half mile on Saturday. Clara Walker is my new hero!

After I registered there wasn't much to do besides wait.I also snagged a pineapple Chobani for Jason, since he didn't have the chance to eat before we left, and they had food for the swimmers.

Jason snapped this picture while I was dutifully listening to the announcements and safety instructions.Right after the announcements, I bumped into a woman from my Masters group. We wound up having a mutual-appreciation conversation (I complimented her speed, she complimented my kick) and she made me feel much less nervous about the upcoming swim. It's always nice to have a buddy. She and I lined up together and ran into the water together, then she took off (because she's super fast).

The 1-mile start (the half-mile swimmers had pink caps and started about 10 minutes after us).After the 1st loop, I thought, "I have to do that again?! Maybe I should have done the 1/2 mile...", but then the 2nd loop flew by and before I knew it, I was finished.

Done!I met both of my goals, which were, (1) Finish, and (2) Don't be last.

About 30 seconds in, I realized I hadn't asked Jason to time me, and I had forgotten my waterproof watch. Darn it! However, Jason said we started at exactly 9:00 and he's pretty sure I came out of the water at 9:29 almost exactly. So I swam the open-water mile in 29 minutes, which I'm very pleased with, considering it's only about 10 seconds off my fastest pool time.

Jason and I spent the rest of the day at the beach. We stayed at Wheeler for awhile, then headed over to Scarborough, where the lack of breakwater meant we had some fun waves to jump. We also both got completely fried. Note to self: Jason hates touching sunscreen and will thus not apply it evenly, or even completely, on my back. My back is currently 3 different colors of tan.

All in all, the swim was fun and I'm glad I challenged myself. I'm looking forward to seeing what kind of events I can swim next season.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Week Off

I just took an inadvertent week off of swimming, which doesn't fit into my swim challenge plan at all, but I think I needed it. Last Monday I didn't want to swim. Fine. 5 more days left to get in my 4 swims.

Tuesday I was fighting off the last remnants of a Monday-evening migraine. I'm not sure where that come from, though I think it might have been from the crazy pressure changes from Hurricane Irene. So no Masters swimming.

For the rest of the week, I just didn't feel like getting up and going to the pool. We have been so busy at work, and every morning I just wanted to sleep a little longer. By the time I got to Thursday morning, I wasn't even trying to get to the pool and officially decided I was taking a week off.

Yesterday, I thought about swimming, but wound up bumming around with Jason in the morning, then heading to Arcadia State Park, or as I like to call it, the most enigmatic park in the world. I don't think Rhode Island actually wants anyone to use the park. Heaven knows there are no rangers, or welcome centers, or helpful signs, or maps. There are 4 or 5 roads with signs labeled Arcadia, and I think we found the main park area, but I can't really be sure.

After driving around on dirt roads for an hour or so, we finally just parked, and started walking on a trail. Either it would take us somewhere interesting, or we would just turn around. About 45 minutes in, we ran into an older couple taking a snack break. We asked them if they were familiar with Arcadia and they produced a book and a big map of the park, with actual marked trails. We discovered that we could summit mighty Mt. Tom (at 430 feet. I love that they call it "Mt." Tom. Kind of adorable, really), then loop back on a dirt road to where we parked. We took note of the book they had, for future reference, happily ate a few of their homegrown cherry tomatoes, and continued on our way.

So this morning I finally made it back to the pool for Masters swimming. I have determined that a week off was exactly what I needed. I felt coordinated and sleek in the water, and my times were pretty awesome, if I do say so myself. Also, my breathing is more efficient - meaning I'm breathing less frequently, which adds to the whole streamlined effect. It felt great to be back in the water, and I'm actually looking forward to going tomorrow morning.