Friday, December 18, 2009

Rest week

It's a well deserved rest week. Ya know sleeping in, lounging around, eating lots of treats... Only it's not quite shaking out that way. First there is no way to sleep later than 5am in my house. If it isn't my son singing Frosty the Snowman at that ungodly hour (he tells me he is a fisherman and fishermen get up early - however I pointed out that they do not sing Frosty the Snowman, really they are very very quiet so they can surprise the fish, and he considered that seriously for a moment and then agreed with me so perhaps there is hope), then its my friend insomnia whose come to visit. Ugh!

As a result I swam anyways on Wednesday. I missed my swim friends. I missed the hot tub. I missed getting out of the house before the morning chaos ensued.

Today I'm sleeping in. Except it is 4:32am.

This is not right!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Meet Report: New England Short Course Meters Championships at BU

I know this can't keep happening. It cannot last. I do really know that. Change is a constant. And this weekend it just happened to be in my favor.

The BU pool was really spectacular. Clean and warm and spacious. Plenty of seating, all with good views. Friday night I drove down with Katie who was swimming the 800 free. It was a nice way for me to get in the right mindset for Saturday and Sunday and really fun to hand out with Katie. She did a great strong and steady 800 ad I was proud of her. We were out of the pool by 6:30 and on our way to dinner with Mary, the Iron Matron, in the burbs.

Saturday walking it I was greeted by 12 of my Lighthouse Masters teammates and more than 30 of our Maine Masters teammates. I think we are the most diverse team geographically with members from CT, MA, NH and ME. Our team is just fun, what can we say? I am really proud that my fellow workout teammates -- Jim, Gary, Claire, Ted, Katie, Julie, Liz, Jim B., and Peter -- all made it down for the meet (for many of them their first meet) along with Coach Kerry.

So it was hot, we had great conversation, many laughs, devoured juicy gossip, saw amazing swims... what we all look forward to at a Masters meet. I got to meet my current swim idol -- Karlyn Pipes-Neilsen, world record holder and swim goddess -- and even swim next to her in the 100 fly. She asked me what my goal was for that event just before we got on the blocks. Um... have fun, keep my eyes on your feet for as long as possible. She of course broke a world record right there next to me. For a moment I shared in the glory as if it was me who had broke the WR -- I mean I was right there in the same water and shook her hand after just like in the Olympics. Doesn't get much better than that, unless of course you are breaking the record.

On the blocks (me in white) with Karlyn (in pink).

Ready set go!

Me and my hero, WR holder Karlyn Pipes-Neilsen, after the 100 fly by the warm down pool.

Unexpectedly I did get taste of that later in the day. After I stalked Karlyn in the warm down pool and got my picture taken with her (yes I am a dork!) she gave me a brand new XTerra fast suit. It was tight as all get out. It took 15 minutes to put on and I nearly pulled 7 muscles getting it on. But once it was on, I didn't know the ride I was in for. My last event on Saturday was the 50 free. I didn't even get in the pool with the Xterra before the race. Right on the blocks. Coach was putting the pressure on all of us for this race. He wanted good times out of all of us since he had sat around all day (note of sarcasm). I was seeded in Lane 10. Kinda sucks but I decided I was gonna smoke it anyways. Karlyn was in the middle and another speedy MESC swimmer Jessica Knight was in the mix too. I just went gangbusters. I was in first at the turn!! I saw Gary, Ted and Jim cheering for me on the edge of the pool (benefit of Lane 10 I guess) and I just whipped my arms as hard as I could and kicked like I was shaking a rabid dog off my legs. Into the wall full speed.... 27.47!! (3rd place OA). I found out later it was also broke a NE Record set by swimming legend Jacki Hirsty in 1990. Jeez... I felt kinda bad when I met her afterwards. She is one amazing lady.

Other times..
100 meter fly 1:11.22
50 meter fly 29.85 (NE record)
100 meter free 1:02.49 (NE record)
100 meter IM 1:13.50

Now really what is best about these meets it having the team come together for relays.
I did three with fellow speedsters Jessica Knight, Son Nguyen, Anne Uecker, Cherly Kupan, Cheryl Daly and more. We got two more meet records out of those relays.

So all in all if I can keep swimming like this I am looking forward to turning 40 next year!
Thanks to my teammates for keeping it all real! You all are the best.
Go Blue Lobsters!
Oh yeah, we won the meet too :)

Mary and I: Check out the superhero suits!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

NE SCM Champs Meet preview

The psych sheets are up!

I don't know how particularly "psyched" I am for this meet. Not sure how fast I will swim. But I did surprise myself in March at the SCY champs so I'll go in with the attitude that it will be fun to see friends and hang out in a steaming hot pool building all day waiting for my events. I mean, really, what could be more fun? I guess only for us die hard swimmers this is considered fun.

My seeds:
100 IM 41/6
200 free 13/3
100 fly 3/1
50 free 16/3
50 fly 6/2
100 free 13/3

I am very happy because we have 12 people from out workout group going including our coach. From Maine we have about 50+ people going which I think is a record for us. We usually win this meet but have to contend with the NY Red Tide team who are usually pretty well stacked.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Lottery opens today!

The 4.4 mile Chesapeake Great Bay Swim lottery opens today.
10 Maine swimmers going for it. If we get in we have the privledge
of paying $250 to swim the churning waters of the Bay on
June 13, 2010.

Are you in?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Strength training

I have been getting to the pool early at 5:15 M W F for the last two months to do strength training. Before practice starts at 5:45 I get in as much strength training as I can. This has consisted of shoulder stabilization exercises, crunches on the ball, triceps, bicepts, lats (when my shoulders are okay), stroking with cords, fly on the ball... and when I have time leg curls and quads. I have mostly been focusing on the cord work but now that I have got a routine down I want to "kick it up a notch". In a word...


Time to work on explosive power and speed off the blocks and turns.

Plyometrics is practiced most often by runners but has become popular with swimmers too. The evidence for it significantly improving swim times is mixed. Dara Torres made a name for resistence stretching, but since I don't have a cadre of private stretchers and massage therapists I am going to try the plyometrics.

One of the most common plyometric exercises for swimmers involves jumping onto a wooden box while throwing a medicine ball up in the air. Other variations include jump squats (again with the medicine ball), dumbell squat jumps, and box jumps without the ball (see Swimming World, 12/09).

The other resources I will use as I plot my training regimen include the new book Swimming Anatomy (which is being heavily marketed to swimmers this holiday season) and Dr. Chu's website which has a good (albeit too long) plan already laid out.

Given that I don't think I'll get that much faster on technique alone and that all my competition seems to be taller and stronger than me already, it is time to get serious about strength!

Monday, November 23, 2009

National ranking!!

I was thrilled to discover last week that I have made the 35-39 AG Top 10 national times for 2009 in two events.

I am #9 in the 50 yards fly (27.8) and #9 in the 100 yards fly (1:02.53).

Now I may never have a national record or even a New England record, but if I can keep a national ranking year to year in at least one event I'll be plenty happy.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

2009 Greater Portland Swimmers Riverton SCM Meet Report

Son and Simon after tying in the 200 breaststroke at 2:47.90 (Photo by Cheryl Daly)

Great meet to shake off the nerves and get used to 25 meters, which I have concluded is decidedly more difficult than 25 yards.

This was a small meet with about 30-35 Maine Masters (MESC) in attendance. That being said, people traveled from as far away as Rockland, New Hampshire and Connecticut to swim. We had national record holders in attendance and swimmers of all ages. Basically a typical MESC meet!

I had a little extra challenge to my focus and concentration this day though. As my husband was sick, my choice was not go to the meet OR bring all three cherubs along with me (ages 8, 6 and 4). My kids are always up for an adventure, so we packed up our backpacks with all manner of sundry play items and headed out at 9:30.

First up was a great swim clinic led by Mike Schmidt, President of MESC and Facebook phobe. In spite of that fact, he's a damn fast swimmer and had some interesting thoughts on flipturns. I've been following Karlyn Pipes-Neilsen's advice on turns and practicing her "weapons of destruction" by not curling up too tight and putting my feet shoulder width apart on the wall for a more stable push off. Mike suggested curling up a bit more compactly and keeping one's hands closer to the head. I am going to have to play around with this technique I think.

Doug Pride, the other leader of the clinic, is well known for his ability to swim more than 1/2 way down the pool underwater in fly events. At this meet I had the fortunate/unfortunate experience of swimming next to him for the 100 meter fly which he finished in 58 seconds -- I on the other hand finished in a very painful 1:12 with a most pathetic third turn and last 5 meters. Anywho... Doug made the astute observation that my legs are way apart on my entry off the blocks ... another thing to work on.

As for the events, I felt I did okay besides the fly fiasco. Never ever have I experienced such pain and exhaustion swimming. I could barely get my arms out of the water for that last 5 meters. I have newfound respect for all the 200 flyers out there.

100 meter free was next after about 10 minutes rest. 1:05 ... got a second wind on the last 25 meters and decided I had to beat the 60 year old guy next to me. I hope I am swimming that fast at 60!

50 meter fly... just not feeling it today in the fly but did okay with 32.17. Son was right there behind me at 33

50 free ... my son came up just as I stepped on the block saying "Mommy, mommy". Ummm not now son. Within 3 seconds the horn went off. 30.06 Later he told me he just wanted to tell me he'd cheer for me. So cute!

After I finished I let the kids get in the warm down lane and splash around. They had a ball.
This day made me truly appreciative of my kids who did such as great job entertaining themselves all day and all my teammates who didn't bat an eye with 3 kids running around and pitched in to help entertain them (thanks Jim and Roxy!)

By the time we showered and congratulated the 1650 competitiors it was 3:30. We were all exhausted and celebrated with a special dinner out in a yummy and cozy gourmet pizza place. Great finish to a memorable day. In bed by 6:30 ... got to love that!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Which wetsuit?

Well I am sad to tell everyone out there the truth....

Don't buy an ORCA wetsuit.

I have now had 2 that have failed due to design flaws.
The first one -- an ORCA Evo -- ripped at the neck after 1 month of wear.
They honored the warranty and replaced it with an ORCA Sonar.
Although I have owned it for 2 years I have only worn it for 6 months (summers are short here in Maine).

After those 6 months of wear the painted shoulders cracked right through the neoprene, leaving the suit with over a dozen tears. Now mind you I wash it after every wear with fresh water. I dry it inside out first and then right side out lying flat. All winter I store it flat in a temperate clean area. I take good care of it, ya know?

ORCA however has decided that since I am outside the 1 year warranty period that they will not replace it.
No matter that other people I know that have had the same ORCA model and only worn it for one season have had the same issue.

So I need some help.

What is best wetsuit for me?
I want something I can both train in and race in.
It needs to be able to handle lots of wear and can't be too fussy.
But it should be fast.
It needs to keep me warm in 57 degree Maine water.
It also has to fit a petite 5'5" frame.

I have been suggested to take a look at the B70 Helix or Synergie and some of the 2XU Comp ... but can't try them on as the local shop is out of stock in my size.

So what do you think? Ideas please.....

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Time to build more pools...

More evidence that football is not only a huge waste of money but of lives too...

See the full article by Malcom Gladwell of The New Yorker, OFFENSIVE PLAY, How different are dogfighting and football?

from the article...
McKee got up and walked across the corridor, back to her office. “There’s one last thing,” she said. She pulled out a large photographic blowup of a brain-tissue sample. “This is a kid. I’m not allowed to talk about how he died. He was a good student. This is his brain. He’s eighteen years old. He played football. He’d been playing football for a couple of years.” She pointed to a series of dark spots on the image, where the stain had marked the presence of something abnormal. “He’s got all this tau. This is frontal and this is insular. Very close to insular. Those same vulnerable regions.” This was a teen-ager, and already his brain showed the kind of decay that is usually associated with old age. “This is completely inappropriate,” she said. “You don’t see tau like this in an eighteen-year-old. You don’t see tau like this in a fifty-year-old.”

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Warmer days

Speaking of warmer days... here is a picture just released of our Lighthouse Masters group on Peaks Island before the 28th Annual Peaks to Portland race this summer. We were 20 strong. Our finishers ranged from 31st place to 204th place, age 32 to age 62 with four age group winners. Way to go team!

USMS response to FINA speedsuit ruling

I have to agree with others that this letter was just baffling. Why would I want to buy a technical suit now, when I can only use it ostensibly for a few more months? Are sponsors breathing down the neck of USMS?

U.S. Masters Swimming Statement on Swimsuits
Contact: Rules Committee Chair, Kathy Casey,

Dear Swimmer ,

The FINA Masters Committee has recommended that the FINA Bureau, meeting in mid-January, approve its recommendation that Masters swimmers be governed by the same swimsuit rules as the elite pool swimmers. If the Bureau approves the committee's recommendation, it is anticipated it would go into effect after the Bureau meeting. If this recommendation becomes policy with the FINA Bureau, USMS will implement it for our sanctioned swim meets.

For the time being and until the FINA Bureau issues its policy for Masters, the June 1, 2009 ruling that allowed technical suits in USMS swim meets is still in effect. If you choose to compete in a USA Swimming sanctioned meet, you must follow USA Swimming rules.

If you would like more information on purchasing technical suits, you may contact your swimsuit dealer or any of the following:


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Example ... Long term goals

Lois Kivi Nochman shows us how it is done at age 85-89 age group.

Will there be any records left to break by the time I get there?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Long term goals

What kind of goals are worthy?

I've been thinking about this lately.

My goals in the pool seem so much more urgent than those for open water. I mean, I just go out there and swim in open water races. Those goals are so much more dependent on the, waves, temperature, number of swimmers. But in the pool. Oh yeah. If I set a goal and don't make it, I feel terrible. Even if I don't swim my fastest time. There is no cheating the clock.

So with all this in mind I am resetting my long term goals. I know the pool goals will still vex me. I'll just have to keep swimming different events and mixing it up.

My long term goal is to be doing what I do now at age 60....65... 70... older. I have role models. Take Roxy. She is 59 and has done Alcatraz three times. Wants to do it again. Yowza.

I am always inspired by the stories of older Masters swimmers doing amazing things. Just that they are still out there swimming. I hope I am.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

More motivation to comeback...

Dara Torres says knee surgery, which could take her out of the pool for up to a year and a half, may give her more motivation to make a comeback for the 2012 London Olympics. Still my idol...

Monday, September 28, 2009

More race pictures...

Post swim cheering on athletes in transition before I got too cold and had to head back to the pool.

Carry coming in for the win!

Pictures by Beth Rand Photography.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

CELT 2009 Race report

425 yards in the pool, 14 miles on the bike and 5K trail run.
Short and sweet... it rained a lot.
And it rained some more.
And then we won first relay overall thanks to our astounding races by Lorenzo, 2nd fastest bike OA, and Carry, fastest runner OA!
I broke out the FS Pro speed suit as I probably won't be able to wear it at any Masters meets this year. Got close to John in the water but he was too fast. But then my speedy little legs caught him on the way out on the run. Sorry dude! Not even close to Steve. Not sure that will ever happen.
Way to go team. Congrats to Katie (OA women's winner) Mary, Stacey, Jeff (OA men's winner), Mike (who finally got to beat Mary) and Team Brady-McCusker (Family Relay winners).

Here's to more fun relays next year.
Final stats:
Swim: 5:10 (fastest woman OA)
Bike: 38:17
Run: 20:07

Monday, September 14, 2009

It must be the 1st day of Masters

2:36 am ... I am sleeping so fine. I am a great sleeper. No problem falling asleep and I never feel sluggish. Naps. I love them.

But little people waking me up in the night being scared or because of pee problems... well that pretty much wrecks the rest of the night. So here I am at 4:48am wide awake eating a banana and a glass of chocolate milk, ready for the 1st day of Masters. No matter that I only got 5 1/2 hours of sleep. Three more months of hard training ahead, then a short break and then two more months. Yup that is it... swim season. No more basking in the warm sunlight swimming in the sea of inspiration, traveling to exciting races with "shark" or "island" or "escape" in the banners. Nope. Back to the chlorine and hairballs and 5am morning practices and leaving the house in sub-zero weather and snowstorms to get to the pool. I'm leaving behind the intoxicating smell of neoprene and that stunning superhero look.

But if there is anything good about buckling down for a long cold New England winter, it is getting back with all my Masters teammates. Without them I'm quite sure I wouldn't be having so much fun.

Here I go!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

YTD yardage totals

January: 22,400

February: 23,500

March: 26,000

April: 21,800

May: 30, 510

June: 28,165

July: 32,025

August: 19,305

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Rockland Breakwater race report or Starfish 1.4 mile or Tropical Storm Danny Race

The Breakwater on a sunny day... not at all what it looked like today.

Imagine if you can ....
Seas 4-6 feet. White caps. Constant driving chop. Wind speed 20 m.p.h. Pelting rain. Air 53. Water 60. Oh yeah, Tropical Storm Danny was bearing down on little ol' Rockland Maine.

But I make this sound more exciting than it was. Once we got in the water all that disappeared and all that was left was 60 degree water that felt goood and a little swim with lots of fun people including my pals the IronMatron and Kathy the Alcatraz escapee.

On account of the weather conditions the race was shortened from an upside down "J" loop around the lighthouse to a straight 1.4 mile out and back along the breakwater (down from a 1.6 mile). The breakwater did it's job and completely protected us from the crashing surf and monster waves on the other side. On our side it was mostly flat and warm with the only inconvenience being a multitude of lobster pots. Can't get more Maine than that.

They had the Rockland Police, a Rockland EMT, the Marine Patrol, the Coast Guard and a whole slew of lifeguards and kayakers. We were watched over.

I was arm for arm with Mike and Dave for about .3 miles, which was fun but I had to apologize because I kept knocking into them as they created a wave that kept pulling me closer to them. After that I went closer to the breakwater to cut down on the distance I ultimately would swim and lost them. For the rest of race I was alone mostly. On the way back along the breakwater were dozens of starfish which were a pleasant distraction.

It all went by pretty quickly..... I apologize for the lack of pictures but it was too rainy and cold to even attempt any photography (pictures are from last year).

Final stats:
3rd OA
1st woman
time tba....

And congrats to Mary who was 2nd woman in the 1.6, Cheryl who was 1st woman in the 3.2 and Kathy who was 2nd woman in the 3.2 mile race! that's a no "gomer" zone. Way to swim hard women!

Monday, August 24, 2009

New header

ya like?

Features Kathy (orange) and I (green) swimming to Richmond Island earlier this summer on a gorgeous and calm Sunday morning.

This was one of those summer swims that gets me through the long dark and frigid days in January.

Climate change?

From WCSH in Portland Maine...
"As of 7PM another 0.17" of rain had been recorded at the Portland Jetport. This brought the monthly precipitation total to 3.45" and the meteorological summer (June, July & August) total to 20.61" which is the wettest summer ever."

The ocean here in Portland has topped 70 degrees Farenheit many times in the last two weeks, just as The New York Times reported the warmest ocean temperatures ever this July.

Today the body surfing was amazing today thanks to Hurricane Bill, while yesterday the beaches were closed due to the tremendous and dangerous waves. A 7-year old girl died in Acadia National Park after being swept away at Thunder Hole by a rogue wave along with her parents. She was found dead later. Kind of puts it all in perspective.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Alcatraz Sharkfest 2009 Race Report

Here's the thing.

It is totally do-able.

Now I know. There is a lot of hype around this race. But the truth is.... you could do it too.

It was FUN. Kathy and I got there early. Probably too early. Like 5:45. Alcatraz was still shrouded in fog with the lighthouse beacon still cutting out over the sea. Slowly people trickled in and by 6:55 we took our last trip to the porta-john and suited up. It was cold so it felt good to be covered in neoprene. The pre-race talk didn't give much in the way of direction as I had been lead to believe and hoped. They joked about beach closings in Santa Cruz and other nearby locales due to shark sightings! Then all 900 of us (there were 1000+ registered) started the "parade" to Pier 41 to catch the ferry.

By the time the ferry actually departed we were sleepy and feeling sweaty in our suits. We laid our heads back and nearly fell asleep... he he. "Ho hum another race", we joked. Helped keep the nerves at a manageable level. To our surprise we rounded Alcatraz and circumnavigated the whole island ending up on the far eastern side, just peaking a view of SF. We were told to line up in groups of 3 and Kathy and I jumped to it. This was the best part. Just standing there in anticipation. All suited up and peering out through the dark large bulkhead out to the sparking sunshine and turquoise water. Like leaping into heaven. And then we jumped! The water was perfect. Refreshingly cold but no numbing.

We went straight to the start line (the other ferry had almost disembarked everyone) and wiggled our way to the front. And kept wiggling. Too many large men in the way. Literally not more then 1 min 30 seconds passed (just long enough to relieve myself, sorry folks) and we saw a visual countdown underway on one of the boats - 10 - 9- 8- 7 -6- 5 - 4- 3- 2- 1 ... and neither I nor any of the people around me waited for the horn. We just took off.

Here is where I unintentionally made a good move. I kept my head above water and swam "tarzan" for about 10 strokes. It kept me from being kicked in the face I am pretty sure. By then I had enough space to hunker down and get serious about going all out for a bit before settling into a normal pace.

It was choppy and there were small and quick swells. For those in Maine, I figure it was like swimming Pine Point on a windy day. Just doable but tiring. I admit I spaced out a bit in the middle of the race. I was able to sight pretty well off the large orange buoys on the back of the pace boat, but couldn't make out much more. During the middle 1/3 most people I could see were to my left with many fewer to my right. I thought this was good, but in retrospect I think I should have taken a harder in line to the right. I had to keep redirecting myself that way probably b/c of the current. Tony from the SCAQ blog reported that many swimmers (him included) were "swept off course by 300-yards or so due to an aggressive high tide flow moving through the bay". Probably this is what I thought was just me not swimming straight. Part of the fun of open water!

However once inside the breakwater, I was in my element. Only about 3-4 minutes of the race were left but I gunned it and passed LOTS of people here. It was much flatter and easier to make some good headway here so I enjoyed myself. This was fun!

Final stats:
47th OA / 655 in the wetsuit division (120 non-wetsuit competitiors)
7th woman OA
1st AG

Kudos to Kathy my fabulous training partner who was 3rd woman overall in 36:37 !! Way to go!

Only 2 Mainers in the race and we both won our age groups. Go Maine!

This is a race I will definitely do again.

Kathy and I in our post-race euphoria... yeah baby!!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

New Training Technique

1. Get large, very large, inner tube.
2. Fill with approximately 150 lbs of kids
3. Secure rope to tube and self.
4. Tow around for 30 minutes.

Great workout for my back and lats. Forced my head down a bit and made me widen out my stroke. Felt good and the kids loved it!!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Sick of this weather...

"Monday was the third day in a row of no rain at the Portland Jetport this month.Quite remarkable when you consider that since June 7 the longest we have gone with no precipitation in Portland is two days." From the weather report.

Fogged out today for a swim to Richmond Island. Fogged out yesterday but we swam anyways. The cormorants and stripers kept us company. We could barely see the waves breaking on the beach as we swam in water about 3-4 feet deep. I am so glad we did it though. It was beautiful. Usually we don't on account of safety... but now Kathy has this nifty contraption which, while it makes us feel safer because we can see it, doesn't actually make us any safer b/c there is no way that a boat could see it.

I think we need to retrofit it with a flag and flashing beacon.

This weather pattern --- which I think is global climate change coming to fruition -- really stinks. Summers are the only (well most) redeeming thing about living in Maine and now we are losing them to rainy cool Seattle weather? Ugh.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Getting psyched for Alcatraz "Sharkfest" 2009


Congratulations on your entry in the 17th annual ALCATRAZ SHARKFEST SWIM, scheduled for Saturday, August 15th, 2009. You will attempt the challenge which only one Alcatraz prisoner – John Paul Scott – successfully completed. Of course, Scott was discovered the morning after his escape on the rocks near Fort Point. He was taken to an Army hospital in the Presidio, where he was treated for shock and hypothermia before being returned to the island prison. Both the Anglin Brothers and Frank Lee Morris made it off the island, but were never seen again. Their fate remains unknown. Be prepared for the experience of a lifetime!

Okay there are no sharks right?

Only 900 people at the start?

And how cold is the water? 55-58 degrees...

I've been collecting advice over the past year from various people. Here are some tidbits.... (names have been changed to protect my informants)

"The race is not that tough. It is more about overcoming your fear."

"Have the time of your life! This is terribly exciting and a lot of fun.
It is something you will tell your grandchildren about because everybody
knows that `you can't escape from Alcatraz'. "

"There is always a cross current but your host will know the water. They will do
the test swims the day of, and the day before, your swim and they will
tell you what to shoot for."

"Here is the trick, swim to the edge of the island once you jump off the boat and then ask the kyakers which way the tide is running, If it is definitively moving in, swim directly towards aquatic park, don't arc towards it like they recommend. If the tide is slack then do the arc like they tell you."

"Don't become obsessed with your time. This could not be a
certifiable swim. I say this because there is no starting line and no
one honors the starting horn. It takes 10 minutes to get 700 swimmers
in the water (3 swimmers jumping in parallel every 5 seconds from two
doors). Swimmers hit the water, and go for it. "

"Pause a few times to take in the breathtaking view. The Golden Gate on
your right. The Oakland Bay Bridge on your left and San Francisco in
front. J had a camera stuffed into her suit and stopped
several times to take photos. Check behind occasionally to see how far
Alcatraz has moved right or left. This can give you a good feel how you
are doing in the current."

"There are tons of sharks in the S.F. Bay but no man-eating ones like the
Great Whites for example."

The plan (for now)...

wear the suit.... apply shark faux tattoo...

follow the map...


Do you have some advice for me?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Gail Osgood Photography: P2P race shots

Thanks to Gail Osgood for these hilarious and amazing shots. She does amazing portrait photography also.

Gail Osgood, Photographic Artist
P.O. Box 6211
Cape Elizabeth, ME 04107
(207) 741-2700

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Peaks to Portland Race Report 2009

244 swimmers. Water temp 60 degrees (according to the NOAA buoy). Air temp 64. Tide dead low at race start.

It all seemed to go so fast. Literally.

With all the extra people it seemed more chaotic, but the Y people did a pretty good job handling the logistics. As it was low tide there was no current to pull or push us. Thus we all knew the times would be slower.

Mike, awesome kayaker, had it all figured out though. I did not need to worry. He talked about "cheating" this buoy, cutting this line and all other kinds of marine talk I didn't understand. I told him "I'll just follow you". But it was crazy right from the start! Not at all like last year

First of all there was no warning for the start. Just all of a sudden a horn to go! Luckily I had my goggles on. Not even 5 seconds into the race a woman next to me reached over and pushed my head under! Unbelieveable. Then after I gave her a shove back I found myself arm and arm, nice and cozy with another woman. It took me about 10 strokes to realize who was next to me.... (the amazing Cheryl)... and I just took it down a notch. Definitely no sense in burning myself out this early.

The whole rest of the race, right up to the finish I was neck and neck with various swimmers and kayaks. No breathing room. A few times kayaks tried to cut me off, and in one instance did. I had to yell "Excuse me" to one kayaker who didn't understand this was a swimming race.

Ah well.

It finally cleared out a bit at the end for me, probably because I laid on a bit of my good old sprinting mojo. Honestly I was pooped though. About 300 yards from the beach I got a massive leg cramp, just like last year, but heck I was too close to care. I could taste that murky low tide scum drifting up from the bottom. Oh yummy East End Beach.

I stood up a bit too early and tried to run and then realizing it was too shallow to swim but yet too deep to really run. I dove back down and tried to swim. However, I still managed to edge out unknown 2 women with my last minute sprint.

In the end I finished:
3rd AG
31st OA / 244
5th woman OA -- stinks but 30-39 is a stacked AG

Time 54:18

This is 2 minutes slower than last year but I moved up in the rankings so I am pleased, especially given the increase in the field by more than 100 swimmers.

Congrats to all my Lighthouse Masters Teammates who also completed the swim, some for the first time!
Working out with them is what makes this all so fun.
Special congrats to Kathy (1st AG), Jim (1st AG), Deb (3rd AG) and Roxy (1st AG).

More pictures to follow. Thanks to Mike for these great photos from his iPhone.

Peaks to Portland Video

Race report to follow....

Here is a video that includes me and Kathy, my amazing training partner, emerging from the water.

It was a great race and a beautiful day.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


That's me. #185.

Could be up to 240 swimmers this year.

Last minute nerves are getting everyone. Will there be enough bathrooms on the island? Can you use a GPS (no)? Does anyone know a kayaker? How cold will the water be? How much crazier will the start be with 240 vs. 150?

Don't know why, but I'm just not nervous yet.

Could it be that this is year 2? Or perhaps because I did a lot more long swims this summer in preparation? Or is it that I'm resting on my laurels from the SCY Champs? Or that this kind of race is so unpredictable and dependent on conditions that there is no sense in getting nervous?

Well whatever, I feel good and ready for this race. I got in 5 swims of more than 2 miles straight in the ocean and about four 2 mile swims in the lake. My shoulder has been aching a bit out of the water, but in the water has felt okay. That will be something I'll have to attend to after the race. My strategy is to ride the glide -- something I have mastered in the lake this summer. Once I get warmed up (say after a mile) I can really cruise and expend less energy by riding my glide, kicking in short tight spurts and extending. It's quite cool when it comes together. Being able to do it in the ocean depends on how smooth the water is.

1 day countdown is on!

Keeping my fingers crossed for no fog and smooth conditions.

Hey - also want to wish good luck to Ange and Mary who are competing in their first IronMan at Lake Placid on Sunday. Race hard guys!!

Also thanks to Mike my awesome kayaker who I know will plot a good course for me.

See you on the beach!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Norway Tri Pictures

Beautiful Norway Lake

Mark and I before the race

Me in my speedy and trusty wetsuit gearing up for the swim

Emerging from the swim and leading the pack! (only time in the whole race- ha ha!)

Leaving for the run and very happy I am...

Making the big (and only) break and giving the last 25 yards a big kick...

Mary, me and Angela after the race ... thanks for all your support guys. Maybe someday I'll be as fast as you.

Dara and I after the race

Monday, July 13, 2009

Norway Tri Race Report

Fun fun fun! My first triathlon was great. I finished running, even with enough energy to have a kick at the end. I just wanted to make it all the way through and I did.

The race... 2/3 mile swim, 11.8 mile bike and 3 mile run. The long swim was the selling point.

The day was gorgeous. Really perfect. Low humidity. Mid 70's. Sunny. Water temp just 68. Couldn't ask for any more. Small race field (only 125 people). I stayed overnight with Ange which made race morning very stress free. Thanks Ange!! She helped me figure out what I needed, gave and lent me things I did not have (race belt, gu, water bottle, helmet) and even offered to lend me her bike. Seeing as I had only ridden my bike 3 times I thought it best to stick with my tried but true good ol' bike.

I was seeded in the second wave (out of three). This was fun because although the waves were sent off 3 minutes apart I was able to pass everyone in my wave and all but 2 or 3 in the wave ahead of me. Clearly this was not a tough field of swimmers... many were doing sidestroke and breastroke... however it was a 'feel good' way to start my first triathlon for sure. Mark made me laugh in the middle because he stopped swimming to yell "Go Alina!".

I had a good transition and hopped on the bike and passed Ange, Mary and our 9 cheering children. Very cool. (Big thank you to Mary for bringing my kids up to the race with her!). The bike was a beautiful course of rolling hills. I spent most of the bike saying hi to people passing me and enjoying the scenery. I think people thought I was wierd for saying "hi" but who cares. I was having FUN. And although I am as slow as can be on the bike, no women passed me until about 4 miles in. Yeah!

On the run I left feeling great... I have a funny picture I will post soon. I continued to get passed but figured all I had to do was keep moving. The first 1.5. was all uphill. Ugh. Keep the feet going I kept thinking. The second half was a breeze, all down hill. The only person I passed during the bike or run was in the last 25 yards of the run. I like to save a little mojo for the finish so even if my time is slow, I still look good at the finish.

Final stats:
Total time: 1:37.19
Swim: 13:26 (1/110 overall)
Bike: 51:25 (66/110 overall)
Run: 32:27 (84/110 overall)
4th AG
17th woman

This race is a definite for next year. It was well organized, the right size, and so fun!
Pictures to follow....