Thursday, June 30, 2011

My three main issues with triathlons

Tonight I'm helping Josh and Lora (Blond Runner) with an OW clinic mostly geared towards triathlon athletes.

In preparation for my portion of the discussion and practice I did a little research because of three main concerns I have towards Triathlons in general that have been bugging me about the "multi-sport" scene.

1.  Inequality in the three disciplines:  Triathlon boasts that it includes three disciplines (Swim, bike run).  Everyone knows that.  But what not everyone realizes, is that those three disciplines are not treated equally in triathlons.  Triathlons are to test your endurance.  However, the level of endurance is not split equally among those three disciplines.
For example:  As of today, the top ten Kona records for each discipline is here.

Swim:  2.4 miles (Top 10 times between 46-47 minutes) 10% time
Bike: 112 miles (Top 10 times between 4:18 - 4:26) 55% time
Run: 26.2 miles (Top 10 times between 2:40 - 2:42) 35% time

If it were split evenly in demonstrating endurance equally among the three sports, the swim would be more like 6 miles and the bike would be dropped down to around 75 miles.

2.  Triathlons favor the rich:  With open water swimming (non wetsuit), there is essentially no significant advantage in what type of equipment you use.  You have a swimsuit, cap, goggles, and possibly ear plugs and/or nose plugs.  With English Channel standards, there is no wetsuit allowed.  Triathlons allow them.   OK so if you get a real fancy wetsuit, it may cost you several hundred dollars.

But the real killer is the bike portion.  The elite athletes can spend well over $10K on their bike (or a sponsor pays for it).  With the fancy beak helmets and the solid wheels and all the feather light components of the bike, not everyone can afford that.  Granted most beginners could care less about where they place, they just want the challenge of completing the race.  Fine.  But be aware, that triathlons are not designed or supportive of an even playing field.  They're more geared towards the advanced athletes with a ton of money.  To get to the point of obtaining a sponsor, you still have to have a super sweet bike just to compete with the pros enough to prove to the sponsors that you are a serious contender.  You can train all you want, but there is no way you could compete with the best in a crappy bike.

3. Some triathlons involve pool swim instead of open water swimming:  Ironman is not guilty of this, and most serious triathlons that I've seen are not guilty of this.  Typically it is community facilities guilty of this.  They say, "Heck we've got a pool and alot of our swimmers are training for a triathlon, so let's put one on!"  They fail to realize, that triathlons should really involve Open Water swimming, not pool swimming.

Imagine if an Ironman event included a pool swim, then the transition involved simply getting out of the pool and hopping on a spin bike right by the poolside. Then after the bike distance, just moved over a few feet onto a treadmill and do the run on a treadmill.  That would be absurd, and you'd probably get a handful of people ignorant enough to do that.  No serious triathloner would go for that.  By doing the swim portion in a pool, you are essentially robbing the swimmer of experiencing a real triathlon where it is done in open water.  No flip turns necessary, no lines on the bottom to sight off, no lane lines to protect the swimmer for being exposed to some serious splashing and waves.

You might justify it with "It's safer, we have lifeguards watching over everyone in a controlled environment."  OK I'll give you that.  But be aware, that no serious multi-sport athlete is going to feel as accomplished in the pool swimming triathlon as one that includes an open water swim leg.  Pool swimming triathlons are for total newbies.  The newbie is being robbed of properly training for, and really experiencing, a 10% portion (see issue #1) of the true essence of triathlon.

OK - I'll step down from my soapbox now.  I really feel better venting that.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Very choppy GSL swim

Met Goody and Josh at the GSL Marina at 6:30am. The sun was just coming up. What a nice sunrise view! I haven't met up with Goody since the GSL race a couple weeks ago. He's been swimming in Pineview lately. I've got to get up there sometime.

Viewing the sunrise from the Marina parking lot.
We walked down into the water from the boat ramp and talked while breast stroking to the entrance of the marina.  It was nice to get a good chat in.  Then I started my watch and swam to Blackrock.  The waves and wind was coming from the 1 'o clock and was fairly strong.  I ended up swallowing two mouthfuls of water.  Yuk! I dry heaved.  It wouldn't come back up.  I didn't feel sick or anything.  Gotta be more careful.  The problem was when I breathed to my left, sometimes the waves would come up and over me and fill up my mouth at the same time I was breathing.  It happens so fast that my instinct to swallow takes it.  So I have to be more focused especially in waves to make that inhale extremely quick.  When I put my head to the side to breath, I need to postpone taking the breath until I am confident the timing of the breath won't include a mouthful of water.

Stopped the watch once I got out at BR and it was 25:45.  Turned around and met Goody and Josh and we swam back.  This time Josh really poured it on coming back.  Cause when I got to the buoy at the marina, I looked back and couldn't see any sign of them!  I turned back around towards the marina and there was Josh waiting for me.  We both looked for Goody and he was off in the distance.  Those SSDs are great for locating your buddy that might be off course.

Goody and Josh called it a day and I continued east towards Saltair.  The wind and waves shifted from being a Northwesterly wind, to a Southeasterly wind.  Very strange.  The wind was so strong that my SSD was at my 9 o'clock.  I thought I was in the middle of a small tornado.  The waves were very close together and felt like I was getting rained on but it was coming from the side.  Definitely good EC practice.  Turned around at the last buoy and swam back.

Time elapsed: 1:40
Distance:  @ 3 miles total

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Swimming for Denise

Tonight there was a party at Roy Aquatic center to help raise money for Denise Ashby. She is fighting cancer and there was a huge pool party. I got there early enough to get in 800 yards in before the only lane line in the deep pool got crazy enough to call it quits. I wanted to do more, but it was insane with the number of kids in the pool and there was no respect for "lane". But I'm OK with it. I wasn't expecting to actually get in even 800 yards.

It was cool to see so many neighbors there to support Denise. I hope she was able to raise enough money to take the fight head on instead of worrying about expenses.

800 yards total

Monday, June 27, 2011

Very flat GSL swim

This morning I met Josh at the GSL Marina at 6:30am.  We swam from the marina out to Blackrock.  The water was very flat and almost like glass. There was a subtle breeze from the north.  I took this swim very relaxed.  Didn't push it at all.  Clocked the swim from the marina to blackrock at 25:13.  Unpacked my SSD and got a drink of Gatorade and then swam back easy.

The sun was coming up and it was a perfect day for a swim.  The water temp on my watch showed 75°F.  Quite warm.  Looking forward to Wednesday's swim.  I'll do a 5K then.  Thursday swim in BL, and then Fremont on Fri/Sat.  That will be 5 days I will have swam open water this week.  I think that's a new record!

2.28 miles total

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Better than nothing

A fellow Utah OW Swimmer once provided me some advice.  Something like "Its better to get one long swim in per week then a bunch of little ones."  However I've been reading lately that a bunch of little ones are better than a couple longer ones.  I guess it depends on what your goals are.  For me right now, I need to focus on consistency.  If I let myself skip a workout, then I get lazy mentally and motivationally weak.  So today even though I knew I had to get off work early which meant getting in to work early, I still got up early and got in a shortened workout, with a major emphasis on focusing mentally 100% during my swim on my technique, and power.

Ha! Nice farmer tan!
1000 free no equipment - focus on long powerful strokes.
1000 pull w/ankle strap.  Even longer held extensions, and strong pulls

2000 yards total 
Way better than skipping the swim.  Felt strong.

Shoulders are feeling fantastic!  This week I did a weight training session at lunch and that was awesome for my body!  I will do it again next week twice, and then pick up the frequency a little more as time goes on.  I was looking at some old photo albums and came across this picture which is inspiring to me.  Wish I looked like this now.  This was back when I lost all that weight.  Before that when I was fat I was into powerlifting.  So I had lost all this weight and the muscles remained.  Then I got back into swimming, quit lifting, and now I'm a little flabby and not muscly either.  Boo!

During this morning's swim I realized that the 2011 British Long Distance Swimming Association's One Hour Postal results are probably finalized, so I checked this morning and sure enough, the results are out!  I was pleased to find that I came in second place for my age group.  Placing that high in the USMS one hour postal as all the more difficult!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Wavy Salt Lake Swim

Went to the Marina this afternoon and got in the water at the boat ramp.  The water felt so refreshing on this hot day!  Swam to the opening of the marina and started my watch for the swim to Black Rock.  The waves were pretty strong and were coming from the Northeast so they were pushing me.  I swam nice and easy with my SSD.  The only thing in it was my car keys.  I didn't have a gatorade bottle, so I just had to swim today without any relief from the saltwater.

When I got out of the water at Blackrock, my time read 21:54. Wow.  The swim back I didn't record but it was probably over 30 minutes cause of the headwind and waves coming right at me.  That was great EC practice.  Very happy with today's swim.  Almost skipped it due to time constraints, but I really rushed it and I feel great.

Planning Fremont swim next weekend.

2.26 miles total

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Feeling better

Yesterdays workout was a little bit of a struggle.  Today's workout was much better.

7000 - 7 x 1000 free w/ :30-:60 ri
50 back

Ninjagirl got in the pool a couple lanes over during my second to last set.  She was pacing me at a faster pace than I like to go at, but it was great to pick it up a bit.

7,050 yards total = 4 miles

This is about the yardage I think I'll maintain for a bit.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Post Ragnar Swim

This last weekend I was chauffeur for Van 2 in my work's Wasatch Back team "I fought the Rag, and the Nar won".  I got only 2 hours sleep Friday night, but yesterday I caught up with a long nap during Father's day.  The weekend was lots of fun and I honestly was glad I didn't have to take on some of those hills.  They were brutal!  Today's swim was the first in a week.  Hopefully things will quiet down a little and I can get back into a routine.  For the next little bit I'm going to especially cross train in order to get some good weight loss going, so my yardage will slip.  Here's what I did this morning:

1000 free
2000 - 10 x 200's free on 3:00
1000 free

4000 yards total

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Today I was inspired by three people.  All of whom I have never met:

1) Gertrude Ederle - I'm actually quite ignorant of this lady and all her accomplishments.  I need to study up more on her.  But last week a friend at work noticed this clipping in a magazine of her old school goggles that she used.  In order to get a good seal she used candle wax to keep them sealed against her face!  Ouch!

Brandon Slaugh - GSL 1 mile winner 26:17
2) Brandon Slaugh - Last night Mark Watson with the Tooele Transcript gave me a call and asked how the event went last weekend.  He told me that he interviewed Brandon and got his quote as "I'll never do that again!".  Wow.  Josh told me Saturday that he did backstroke the whole time and that he didn't even put his face in the water.  Impressive, but not very inspiring.

What kind of person are you.  Do you ride a scary amusement ride with your hands up and your eyes wide open?  Or do you ride it with your eyes clinched shut, your hands death gripping the bars and exit the ride smelling of urine?

You can be a really fast pool swimmer, and that might even equate to being fast in open water, but that doesn't make you an open water swimmer.  When I think of a true open water swimmer, they have alot of heart and not necessarily alot of brawn.  You're way better off with alot of heart, because you'll have the desire to improve on the brawn and that will come with more experience and practice.  But if you have a ton of brawn and no heart.  You can't really progress.

And I don't really mean to bash the guy.   I didn't talk to him, I was out with the 8 milers.  He came out, he got in, he kicked butt.  I'm suspect that he's looking back now at the race in a much more favorable light than the moment he got out.  For me this race was more about the individual experience and learning to love the lake, than simply beating everyone else to the finish.  I feel strongly about the lake and I guess its difficult for me to understand how others don't fall in love with it instantly as well.  I know it's unreasonable of me to feel that way.  Everyone is different.  And for many it takes time.

Nicole getting a fresh rinse after her 1:03:38 mile in GSL
3) My third inspiration is Nicole Anderson - Talk about a woman with a ton of heart and an ounce of brawn.  It took her over an hour to finish the one mile event last week.  She came in last.  She was asked by boaters to just get out and give up.  She wasn't in danger, but she continued on and she finished.  She has a passion for the lake and now she has a greater love for it due to her experience IN the water.  She may have come in last place, but she was the one that inspired me most in the race.

After my 2 mile swim this morning looking towards Antelope Island.

This morning I went to the marina at 7am and wanted to see how fast I could do the exact route of the mile.  I lined up right next to the green buoy and started my stopwatch and swam at about 85-90% to black rock.  The water was perfect.  I wasn't cold at all and there were only tiny little ripples coming from the north.  I got the finish and stopped my watch when I was fully out of the water.  24:54.  Nice.  My watch thermometer read 67°F.

On the way back I took it easy and enjoyed the water.  Long relaxed strokes and loved having the sun on my face as I was heading east.  It was a fantastic morning!  A little over 2 miles in GSL.  What a great start to my day.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Standard Examiner article on the GSLOW Marathon Swim event

Jason Asay, reporter for Davis county's Standard Examiner newspaper wrote this article on the race.  Check it out.

At the time the readers were picking up this paper from the driveway, our swimmers were out in the water making their way to Black Rock.

Very good timing.  And nicely written!

Antelope Island To Black Rock Marathon Swim 2011

Finally the anticipated day has come!

All the swimmers arrived at the Marina and we had our briefing.  I gave them some quick details about the race and it's history.  I knew that probably all of them had read up on it on the website so it was a very abbreviated version.  We had three vans to transport the swimmers to the Island.  I should have gotten one more, so people could stretch their legs out.  It was a long 2 hour ride to the boats.

In my van was Goody, Rob, Suzie, Sylvia, Greg and John.  Sylvia's boater had a misunderstanding with the meeting time and was nowhere to be found.  Suzie said that she and Sylvia swim together all the time and are about the same pace and that they could just share Suzie's support boat.  I was scrambling.  I didn't know what to do.  I wasn't concerned that there would be an incident out on the water.  I was concerned because according to the USMS OW handbook, and under the guidelines of getting USMS sanctioning we are REQUIRED to have every swimmer have their own safety craft for this marathon swim event.

On the way to the island I realized that we had Sylvia's boat on the island and now we had to find a way to get it back.  Then a thought popped into my head!  My oldest son Austin, my wonderful 15 year old boy was home sleeping in his bed.  He is a very experienced kayak support!  Fortunately I live really close to the island causeway and could pick him up on the way.  I called him on my cell.  Lucy placed the phone right next to his ear next to his drooling face on the pillow.  "Hellllllo?"  In a very strong and directing voice I answered, "Austin!  I really need your help son.  I need you to wake up NOW, and get ready to paddle from Antelope to Black Rock."  "What!?"  "You heard me.  I need you to get up right now!  You'll even get paid for your time boy!" (Which I don't do when he paddles for me.  Just give him some pizza or something lame like that).  "I'll be there in 15 minutes.  Be ready for me on the front lawn when I drive up".  "Geez!  OK!" he said.  Austin definitely wears his feelings on his sleeve for all to see.  He was not happy.  He had his cute pouty face on when we drove up.  Everyone in the van was laughing when they saw him.  Here was my mini-me teenager being forced into submission on a Saturday when he'd rather stay home and sleep and play video games.  Good thing for him Sylvia is a hoot.  I loved her frivolity and I'm sure it made his day alot better.

When we arrived at the causeway the swimmers saw the overhyped electric sign as well as well as this temporary sign on the brown welcome sign about biting gnats and mosquitos.  It was funny to see their reactions to it.  Granted there are large swarms out there.  But how bad it really is depends on WHERE on the island you are.  We made our way to Garr Ranch and had our last potty break.  It was a LONG ride for everyone.  We took the very bumpy dirt road south of Garr Ranch to the end of the road.  There was Chris Haramoto with a small party of others taking pictures and watching the 11 swimmers rush out of the vans, and quickly apply their lube to their trouble spots.  Many of the observers were wearing bug nets over their heads.  Nice!  Way to freak the hell out of the swimmers.  I wasn't even wearing bug spray and I think I got bit once by a mosquito.

Rob showed my all the dead bugs that had tried biting him on his lubed up shoulders.  Haha.  Great idea, just smear lube all over your entire body and you don't even need to worry about bugs at all!  We took some pictures of the swimmers and their support crews.  Then finally got all the boats in the water and I told them all that we would be walking quite a ways to get to a point where we could swim.  I pointed them to a couple of landmarks way off on the Oquirrh Mountains where Black Rock was.  Fortunately I had paid attention on the way back the day before to find those huge landmarks in relation to Black Rock, and it was spot on.

They walked for a good half mile or more to just above waist level for some of them.  I realized that I had left Rob's two camera with Chris for taking pictures.  That would have been a HUGE Fail #3 but I told the group to keep walking and left my boat with Jacob while I RAN as fast as I could back to the waters edge to retrieve the cameras.  Then I ran back.

I made it back to the boat and Jacob and I paddled like crazy to catch up.  Fortunately the underwater beach was still flat and they were now just barely up to their waist.  There were some really tall guys in the group, John and Greg.  I knew they were all ready to go and they had to start sometime.  I had my loud lifeguard whistle with me and the timers were on shore, but they were ants on the horizon.  I used my watch which I had synchronized with Josh the night before.  We would start at 10:46 am exactly.  We counted down all together from 15 and I sounded the whistle.  Everyone was in and salt water for the first time in 70 years was being churned up by nearly a dozen swimmers heading south from Antelope Island!

I took a few more pictures and caught back up with Rob.  He is mostly a right side breather and he told me he likes his support at 1 or 2 o'clock.  This was my first time being a support paddler.  It was tough!  I often caught myself drifting into never ever land in my brain and realized that I was about 20 feet ahead of him at his 12.  Ooops.  Focus Gords!  You can drift mentally when you swim, but the support has to focus on the swimmer!

I was really impressed with Rob's stroke.  Looks so effortless and smooth!  The wind and waves unfortunately were NOT like they were the day before.  They were coming from the southwest and hitting the swimmers at 2 o'clock.  After about 2 hours it shifted a little to the swimmers 4 o'clock.  Will Reeves and John took off right from the start and they were off to our right a little.  Joe and Jason were ahead of us a little and off to our left.  I knew Will, Greg and Joe would be big contenders, but I was especially surprised by Jason.  I knew he swam in High School and that he was a big time waterpolo dude.  He admitted that he and Christine had never swam in open water before.  I was like what?  You two should have signed up for the one mile!  But they both did very well!  I was especially impressed that their first open water swim was this race.  Jason might have won it had he trained.  He told me after the race, he swam maybe 1000 yards total in preparation and training for this race.  Unbelievable!

With the wind hitting me from my right and really pushing me into Rob I ended up just paddling on my left and doing a J stroke to keep centered on my landmark right above Black Rock.  Rob took his feedings every 25 minutes and I was focused on getting those timed just the way he wanted.  Near the end one of the sail boats was motoring its way to the marina and passed right in front of us.  I don't mind when the boaters pass a few hundred yards away, but this guy wasn't budging from his course and passed about 30 yards in front of us.  Geez guy.  Thanks!  Not a dangerous situation, but a little too close for comfort.

I got a call on my cell phone several times during the race and I was notified when Will finished first, then Greg, and then from Stephy who headed up the lifeguards for the one mile.   Also from Cathi who was just coming back from her own race.  She ran the Utah Valley Marathon this morning and was coming out to cheer for the finishers.  When Rob and I stopped for the last feeding I told him he was very close to beating Joe and Jason.  He picked it up, but their line was right .along the shore and I think the current is stronger there in pushing them towards Black Rock.  We ended up coming in just a couple minutes after them.

Goody was right behind us for the first couple miles, but Rob pulled away and ended up taking 5th with a time of 4:23:54  With the water level being this high the point to point distance from where we actually started to swim and the water's edge at Black Rock according to the GPS waypoints came in at 8.34 miles.  A little longer than my swim last year.  Here are the official results:

Photo Courtesy of Great Salt Lake Photos
All the racers stuck around for some post race pics and interviews.  They all seemed tired, but thrilled at having completed the adventure together and I absolutely LOVED watching the interaction that was going on among everyone.  Family supporters and observers were mingling with the swimmers and everyone was happy.  That was the icing on the cake.  The swim itself was something I had envisioned.  But I didn't envision the level of comradery that was evident!
Clean up was time consuming but finally got it.  My Brother in law Brendon was gracious in helping us get the buoys out with his canoes.  I still have a few last things to follow up on, but its nearly 100% done.

I am SO grateful that it turned out this well.  There were alot of volunteers who really made the race a success!  I was so grateful that the weather turned out the way it did.  The entire field of 11 finished and that itself is a small miracle.  In the old days people were pulled out of this race left and right!  I was so happy to have met the swimmers and get to know them a little bit.  I'm already excited for next year's event!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Pre-race day

Little did I know that the day before the race would probably be even more busy than the actual race day.  Here's what we did:

5:00 am - woke up Jacob, got all the stuff in the Van, ate breakfast, crossed off TODO list items and packing lists.

7:00 am - left the house.  Stopped at Walmart for last minute items that were needed (rope, snacks and Gatorade for the paddling).

8:00 am - picked up a kayak from my friend

9:00 am - drop off the van and the trailer (3 kayaks being transported) at my Mom's and meet Cathi with the VW Beetle to pick up Rob.

10:30 am - picked up Rob from the airport

11:00 am - quick "drive by" tour of downtown SLC

12:00 pm - lunch at Redrock.  I went with the cannot fail Sausage Grinder.  Love it.

1:00 pm - picked up the trailer from my parents house that I had left there earlier in the day.

1:30 pm - meet Josh and Brendon at the Marina.
Jacob and I starting to get the kayaks loaded.
2:00 pm - Start to put the buoys in.  Brendon had two canoes which we loaded up.  I went out with them and tried to help where I could, but my boat didn't have any buoys and was used as more of a line of sight checker.  Putting in buoys in a straight line is time consuming and difficult!  I ended up heading back because I knew swimmers and kayakers would start to show up to drop off their kayaks
Ideal conditions - breeze from the north and no storms.

3:00 pm - Goody and Rob went out for a pre-race swim.  I love watching people get in for the first time and observing their reactions to the salt and it's extreme float characteristics.

4:00 pm - Met Joe Wolf, Suzie Dods and Sylvia Marino, John DaPrato, Jason Richards, Christine Sloan, Will Reeves and Scott Kunz.  Unfortunately Jill Minter was unable to attend the event.  She emailed me, but I was offline and unable to receive it.  So our field of 11 swimmers were here and ready to go!  Many of them also got in for a preview of the lake.  The wind was coming almost directly from the island and there were some pretty good waves.  I was very hopeful that it would be a preview of tomorrow.

5:00pm - Josh, Jacob and I loaded up the kayaks on the two Utah State Park boats.  It was very cool how we were able to get them all on there.  Those a huge boats!  We left at 5:30 for the island.  With the waves we really took a beating on the way over there.  But the huge metal boat that Dave Shearer has is awesome!  It's built like a submarine.  We finally got as close as we could get to the island, but I was disappointed that we had about a mile and a half journey in the waist deep water to get the boats to the waters edge.  I jumped in and the water felt great.  It wasn't cold.  It was comfortable swimming water.  I measured it at the marina at 70 degrees.    I tied the boats together like a train and handed six of them off to Josh to get started walking to the island.  A while back Dave asked me for an estimate of how long we would take to get the boats to the island and back.  I knew it depended entirely on how close we got the the island.  But I threw some absurd number out since he asked, "15 minutes".  Ha!  It ended up being like 10 times that.

6:00 pm - By the time we got to waist deep water we still had about a mile to go.  With the waves and wind coming from the north it slowed us down.  Josh was towing 6 boat and I was towing 5.  It was slow going!

7:00 pm - Finally I arrived at the water's edge.  I quickly pounded in the two sand anchors and started roping the cable through each boat's hand holds.  I was extremely annoyed that it was only 50 M from the edge of the dirt road.  Last year when we planned this out with the State Parks, the water was 4 feet lower, and the waters edge was about 1/2 mile -3/4 mile from the end of the road.  But the water had risen so much it would have been WAY better to take them via land.  Oh well, next year.  If the water remains at 4197' we'll do that instead.

8:00 pm - after anchoring the boats and locking them together, Josh and I headed back.  This time having no boats and with the wind helping us head back it was a little faster,  but just a little.  Neither of us had brought our goggles and I took my GPS to get a waypoint.  But on the way back it started beeping like crazy and it wouldn't respond to my button presses.  Oh Crap.  It got water in it.  So much for being waterproof.  I quickly turned it off and from that point on tried to keep it totally out of the water.  The rest of the weekend I had to rely on Brendon's GPS which I was going to let Jacob use.

9:00 pm - arrived back at the marina.  All the swimmers were gone, and then realized that I had locked the van (It had all the event shirts, and camping gear in it and lots of personal items which I didn't want to get stolen).  Rob was nowhere to be found.  I was hoping he was just chatting it up with some locals or maybe doing some SUP'ing with the club that was here.  Jacob and I took showers and setup camp.  Still no Rob.  I was getting a little worried, I figured he was with someone.  I checked my cell and didn't see any missed calls.  The Sailfest group was eating, but I didn't see a booth for taking money for dinner so we hoped in the van for a quick trip to Stansbury for dinner.

10:00 pm - We ate Del Taco.  Jacob is a loyal customer thanks to Cathi's running friend Dan who took him there once.  Hey at least it's cheap.  On the way back I got a call from Joe Wolf.  Rob had gone of with him and Suzie and Silvia.  I drove to his hotel to pick up Rob.  I felt like a turd locking him out from his stuff.  I should have slowed down and thought about it.  Giving Rob the key would have been a way better plan.  Fail #1 and the race hasn't even started.  I apologized but felt like a complete retard the rest of the night.

11:00 pm - After the Sailfest dinner there was a makeshift outdoor theatre setup along the south side of the Marina office.  Right next to where our tent was setup. When we arrive the movie Captain Ron was playing with humongous amps blasting it towards the crowd.  I wanted to stay up and watch it, but I knew I had an early morning the next day.  I tried sleeping instead.  Fail #2.

12:00 am - after the movie instead of the party ending, it was time for the Bonfire!  People were laughing, chatting up, and having a grand time.  Jacob was already in deep sleep, but I was tossing and turning.  The noise, the guilt from locking Rob out, the anticipation of the morning, and then to my surprise.... heavy winds and rain.  Even a few flashes of lightning?  Where did this come from?  The weather report was supposed to be awesome for today and tomorrow.  Hey at least it might scatter the drunken pirates around the bonfire.  Yeah right.  They kept on partying.  I was totally fine with it.  I was worried about being a terrible host for Rob.  Tomorrows a big day for him.  Among the noise of the fire, the loud laughter and the rain, I finally heard the most welcomed sound in the world, Rob snoring.  Whew!  At least he was asleep and I could quit worrying about him not getting any sleep the night before a marathon swim.

3:30 am - last time I checked my watch before finally being able to sleep was just before 3:30am.

5:15 am - my cell phone alarm went off.  I got up, got changed and started to tear down the tent.

It's official!  Race day is here.......

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Great Salt Lake may one day become more like a single unit instead of a couple of oddly conjoined twins

After realizing that the northern end of the island is 2-3 times saltier than the southern end, I figured that would make swimming in the northern end extremely difficult.  I found out today that there is discussions about making the imbalance between the two ends less extreme.  Here's the KSL report:
Video Courtesy of

I met Lynn earlier this year.  In my opinion, she's an attractive lady, but the picture KSL showed was more of a mug shot.  Next time get one of her pretty smile!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Only a few days left to register for the GSL race!

Registration for the GSL race ends on June 9th.  So get in before it's too late!  For more details on the race and to register, visit

You can do it!

Friday, June 3, 2011

First Masters workout in months

So this morning I went to SDRC and swam with Masters.  However I felt some serious grinding going on and then ended up cutting out early.  My shoulder felt great last night at the clinic and that was very encouraging.  Perhaps because it was so cold that it masked the painful inflammation that appears to still be an issue.  Here's what I ended up doing:

300 - 4 x 75's (25 kick, 25 free, 25 back)
500 - 5 x 100's alternate back and free by 25 on 1:30
50 easy
500 - 5 x 100's all free on 1:30
300 - 3 x 100's kick with fins on 1:30
50 pull

1700 yards total

At this point I realized I was probably doing damage so I stopped.  Need to ice and also visit with Dr. Richards about moving forward with surgically removing the calcium balls from my left shoulder.  If I'm going to do it, now is the time!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

GSL Clinic

Met Josh and Jim at GSL Marina for a Open Water clinic.  There were 4 people besides us who showed up.  We discussed:

  • Goggles – It is important to have goggles that don't fog up, provide a good range of vision and are tinted to best suit the amount of sunlight available.
  • Wetsuits – Provide warmth, and higher buoyancy in the water which helps swim faster. However for longer swims chaffing may occur. Practice in your wetsuit to find your problem areas and make sure they're lubed well for an event.
  • Sighting – “Crocodile Eyes”: be sure to not breathe while sighting. It causes your head to lift too high out of the water and results in your feet sinking and losing your streamline. Sight using crocodile eyes ½ stroke before breathing and then breathe to the side. Take a mental picture and adjust.
  • Bilateral breathing – one of the best practices you can do for going in a straight line, and for keeping an eye on those competitors. It may be awkward at first if you have a bad habit of only breathing on one side, but force yourself to do it and you'll be so glad you did.

    Then we got in and practiced sighting and just swimming in the GSL.  They had all never swam in GSL before and were surprised at how buoyant they were.  They were all wearing wetsuits on top of that as well.  We ended up swimming .28 mile is all.  Just out of the Marina for a bit and then back.  The water was 60, but it felt colder.  Probably because we weren't swimming the whole time, but discussing things for most of the time in the water.  

    They all seemed to enjoy the experience and didn't appear to be too put off by occasional clouds of brine shrimp eggs.

Spencer wins Marathon Despite Rough Water

This is the final news article for this series of Great Salt Lake Marathon swims from the early days.  The exciting thing is that the trophy you see in this picture, will be displayed in person by Orson's son, Steve, next Saturday at the GSLOW event!  Here's the article from August 4th 1941, from the Salt Lake Tribune:

Spencer, second from left, receives trophy for winning Antelope island -
Black Rock beach swim.  Dr Munn Q. Cannon, of the A.A.U. swimming committee,
is on the left; James Latses, who presented the trophy is on Spencer's right...

Spencer Wins Marathon Despite Rough Water

Orson Spencer Monday had once again proven his right to claim the title of Utah's outstanding swimmer after conquering a grueling five-hour battle with mountainous waves to win the annual Antelope island-Black Rock beach swim.
Spencer, who was the only entrant to complete the grind, clambered ashore at the end of 5 hours 7 minutes and 22 seconds, one of the slowest times ever recorded in the swim.
Six swimmers started the race, but after the first hour the wind started kicking up huge whitecaps and it became only a question of finishing the race regardless of time.
 Ned Winder dropped out first and then Ed Watson, former champion, became sick and had to be taken from the water.  Ken Lyman pushed behind Spencer for most of the distance, but tired [of] the waves mounted and decided against continuing.
Perry Leavitt was taken from the water next and then big Wayne Christensen of Ogden got a mouthful of brine and was forced out.
Official[s] suggested that Spencer drop out, but he insisted on continuing on in and received the plaudits of some 500 fans who watched the finish.
Spencer received a trophy from James Latses of Black Rock beach for his victory.
Officials of the match were Dr. Munn Q. Cannon, chairman of the A.A.U. swimming committee; Denny Aushermann, Don Reddish, Rex Sutherland, John Neff, Ward Armstrong and Dr. Ralph Cornwall.

From the Press Box... by Jimmy Hodgson
Orson Spencer's victory in the grueling Great Salt lake swim Sunday was not only the hardest victory Orson has scored in his long and colorful paddling career, but one that brought him the most satisfaction.
The 30-year-old paddler was the victim of an automobile accident last year and spent some time in the hospital with a badly broken arm.  As a result of the mishap many critics were prone to count Spencer out of the Utah swimming picture.  But he proved them all wrong Sunday.  He's still king of the Utah paddlers and no question about it.
Spencer has been training for this swim for more than three months.  Ever since the first of May he has made it a point to swim at least one mile a day in fresh water.  There are few days that he hasn't covered the long grind.  His demanding conditioning drill put him in good shape Sunday.  No man could have covered that hazardous and storm-tossed course without having a world of stamina.  Orson well deserved the triumph.
Won at Pineview 
The only event that Spencer has taken part in since his accident was the Pineview dam swim at Ogden two weeks back--which he won.
The Pineview dam swim is a two-mile event, compared to 8.2 miles for the Great Salt lake event.  The salt marathon is apparently just a little bit too long and too hazardous, particularly in rough weather, to prove attractive to swimmers.  The race would be much more appealing and draw bigger fields over a shorter route.  Only the brave will enter the event now, and some of the paddlers who performed Sunday announced after the meet they would never compete again.  A shorter course would take nothing away from the event and it would add much to it by assuring more interesting fields.

Ward Armstrong of Ogden, who helps promote the Pineview race, figures that the Junction City race will soon be the No. 1 marathon swim feature in the state.  "Spectators can see the entire course from start to finish.  It's a natural spot for a race.  The event gets better every year." he commented on Sunday.

What now?

One thing I have learned about myself is that I'm extremely goal driven. I always have to have something grand to work for. After Tuesday's success, I have been thinking about what I need to work on next. The English channel is still 14 months away..

So next up for me is to lose 20 pounds. Over the past several months I have been allowing myself to eat anything I wanted realizing that it was going to add a nice layer to my body to help handle the cold swim. Now that the layer's real purpose is over it is time to get rid of it. I also need to focus now on the planned marathon swims I have this summer that do not have cold water elements involved. The best thing I can do in addition to losing 20 pounds is to work on SPEED. No more channel pace swimming! Time for some kick butt wake action.

This mornings swim was all about getting those shoulders moving and not necessarily about distance or speed. My left shoulder is very touchy and it was nice to hit the hot tub before and after this mornings swim:

1000 grandpa pace free
600 kick w/ no fins
400 IM EASY (1 arm fly)

2000 yards total

Computer down again! Limited to iPod till it gets fixed again. Grrr!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

English Channel Qualifier - Black Rock to White Rock 21.7 Mile Swim in 10:59

I have been training for this moment for months!  I have had a little countdown timer on my home page that I saw everyday.  It did a countdown back when it was like 180 days left.  It kept it constantly on my mind everyday as a goal that I needed to continue to train and work towards.  It was exciting seeing it get down to a handful of days left.

Watching the weather over the weekend I was frustrated as I saw that there was a forecasted storm on Monday, so I opted for Tuesday.  However it also accompanied strong winds from the south.  So my plan to swim from White Rock to Black Rock changed the other way and we started at Black Rock and swam north to take advantage of the forecasted wind. I also wanted to do this swim hoping that it would set a standard as a serious marathon swim in the GSL with channel like difficulty.  I challenge anyone to do this swim.

Little did I know, the wind played a very minor role in the swim.   The waves going north were only noticeable for about one mile of the swim.
Cathi applying tons of Channel Grease to my trouble spots
(50% vaseline/50% Lanolin)

Anyhow I arrived at Black Rock with Jacob, Austin, Cathi, Sam and Oliver.  We got the boat in the water, applied sunscreen, channel grease, and Josh and Sabrina arrived to wish us well.  What nice friends!

When I got in it felt cool, but not unbearable.  I was guessing it was about 60°.  After I waded out about 150-200 yards or so I was up to my waist and asked Jacob to take a temp reading with the digital thermometer.  It read 58.4°F  I was surprised.  From here I stopped wading and began the swim.

Here are the complete stats and info, mile by mile, which I had Jacob keep track of at every feeding (which was mileage based and not time based):

Log Entries
Actual Start Time: 8:11am 5/31/11

Time Time last Mile Water Temp Feeding Comments
Mile 1 8:36 25 Min 58° F Gatorade Feeling Good
Mile 2 9:05 29 Min 56° F Hot Chocolate Starting to feel cold
Mile 3 9:43 28 Min 51° F Hot Chocolate, Swiss Roll Water below "Brine Shrimp Poo" is freezing! The surface area captures all the heat from the sun and leaves the water below with no source of heat!
Mile 4 10:19 36 Min 58° F Hot Chocolate Slowing down, but temp feels a little better now.
Mile 5 10:57 38 Min 58° F Hot Chocolate and Banana Lips are swelling. Can feel that I'm swimming into the current from Antelope.
Mile 6 11:39 42 Min 59° F Swiss Roll and Gatorade Warmer. Still current though
Mile 7 12:23 44 Min 58° F Cereal Bar and Gatorade When is this current going to end!
Mile 8 13:04 41 Min 59° F 2 Swiss Rolls and Propel. 800 Mg Ibuprofen Still pretty slow. Projected finish is in jeopardy
Mile 9 13:38 32 Min 59° F Cereal Bar and and Propel Current appears to be gone, now in neutral water, with slight breeze from southeast.
Mile 10 14:04 26 Min 59° F Swiss Roll and Gatorade Feeling comfortable now with the temp. Not shivering and handling it better.
Mile 11 14:33 29 Min 60° F Cereal Bar and Gatorade Warmed up a little. Left shoulder feeling achy.
Mile 12 15:04 31 Min 60° F Swiss Roll and Propel Shoulder starting to hurt.
Mile 13 15:30 26 Min 60° F Orange Juice No more OJ! Too acidic. Shoulder really hurts now.
Mile 14 15:55 25 Min 59° F Propel Feeling cold again. Shoulder still hurts
Mile 15 16:30 35 Min 61° F Swiss Roll and Propel, 800 Mg Ibuprofen Jacob handed me a "yellow" propel with a big smirk on his face! Played along. Dumped it out next to me and pretended to find relief in the warmth.
Mile 16 16:52 22 Min 60° F 2 Swiss Rolls and Propel Finally! The forecasted wind has arrived and some 2 foot swells pushing me north. Love it!
Mile 17 17:20 26 Min 61° F 2 Swiss Rolls and Propel Wind has died down, but can feel current pulling me northward. Right on!
Mile 18 and 19 - no stats recorded. Jacob is getting trunky at the finish
Mile 20 18:20 No data 64° F Hostess Lemon Pie Feeling extremely ravenous! Swimming along shore now. Water is at waist level now. Water is warmer.
Mile 21 - no data. Jacob and Austin are way ahead hoping to see Cathi, whom they are talking to on the radio. So much for feedings and staying close to me!
Mile 21.7 (Finish) 19:10 No data No data Pizza! Thanks Cathi! Long walk from knee level water to dry ground. About a 1/2 mile walk.
30:22 58.7° F
Actual Finish Time: 19:10 (7:10pm)
Elapsed Time: 10:59
Distance swam: 21.7 miles
Point to Point Distance: 20.5 miles

Swimming through Brine Shrimp Eggs.
Warm on top, freezing underneath.
In several areas on the lake are these rivers of  Brine Shrimp Eggs (which I've lovingly called in the past "Brine Shrimp Poo")  It's not the funnest stuff to swim in.  They are anywhere from 1-6 inches in deep right on the surface.  When I swim through those I can feel that it absorbs alot of heat from the sun as the water temp right at the surface is warm.  But below that it is much colder!  Colder than if it wasn't there.  It's like it absorbs the heat from the sun and doesn't allow ANY heat below it.

Pickled Tongue after the finish.  Picture taken
by Josh posted on
Around Mile 7 my lips and tongue were pretty swollen and I kept thinking "So if I end up swimming 3 times further than this, is my tongue going to be 3 times as swollen?"  If that were the case my tongue would be as big as a hot water bottle, and my lips would be massive and I'd entertain everyone saying "Bubba Gump Shrimp".  Fortunately, they didn't get worse than they did at Mile 7.

Also, right at noon when the sun was highest in the sky, at that time the water was clear and I really loved looking down in the clear water and seeing the sun's rays delve way down into the depths of the lake.  It was so beautiful!  I really should have taken a picture.

Once I got to Mile 10 I realized I only had a few minutes before hitting the six hour standard for  qualifying for the English Channel.  The rules for qualifying are simple:  Swim for at least 6 hours or longer in 61°F Water (or colder).  Secondary Objective Complete!  Now to finish the main objective!  Swim the full 20+ mile route.

I could really feel the water pulling me at mile  16-17.  Like I was swimming downstream.  It was great!  When I got to mile 19 I saw what I thought was White Rock.  It wasn't  It was the corner before that.  I was a little bummed knowing that I had another couple miles to go.  It was tough at the end.  I just wanted to be done.  But I kept going!    Jacob and Austin were on the radio with Cathi chatting it up and laughing.  They were going way up ahead and then I'd yell at them and they'd wait for me to catch up.

Austin and Jacob - my support crew
About half the time Austin was asleep or chillin' in the back of the boat.  During the time when the wind and waves were helping me out, I noticed while I was breathing, that Austin woke up from a long nap.  He lifted up the hat that covered his face, and turned around to dig through the bag.  He put on a sweatshirt cause he was a little cold, and then put a towel over his legs and went back to sleep.  That had me laughing underwater.  Here I am in sub 60 degree water for hours, and a little wind blowing in 70° air temp is giving the poor boy goose bumps!

High clouds in the afternoon, robbing me of sunshine
that would help me during the cold swim.
The hardest parts of the swim was the cold, and the shoulder strain the last half of the swim.  I prayed before, and several times during the swim, as well as afterwards.  I believe I was blessed with the strength and determination to finish, despite the long exposure to the sub 60 degree temp.  I definitely haven't been very consistent on cold water acclimation, and that was my biggest worry.  I often envisioned a trio of legends swimming next to me in the lake:  Ed Watson, Ken Lyman and Orson Spencer.

As far as strength and endurance, I never hit a "wall" where I didn't have any energy.  The only two problems were the cold and the shoulder which I didn't let stop me.

Cheering party at the White Rock Beach finish.
At the White Rock beach, Cathi and all the kids were there.  Josh and Sabrina were there too with their kids.  I was 59 minutes beyond my projected finish.  Not too bad though.  Carting the boat and all our gear to the car was a pain!  It was heavy, and the axle that I built last year just doesn't work well on wet sand.  So we had to carry all our stuff probably 3/4 mile or so to the car.  Josh was a stud helping me get that carried there.  What a true friend!

As of this moment my shoulders are stiff.  I think I'll take a few days off and let them heal.  Here's video and pics:

Here's all the pictures and raw video:

It is also my hope that by swimming this distance in the Great Salt Lake will prove to the world, that the Great Salt Lake is just as wonderful to swim in as other lakes.  Sure it's salty, and has huge rivers of brown brine shrimp eggs, but those two characteristics shouldn't prevent swimmers from enjoying the many other beautiful characteristics of the lake.  

Also something of note.  This nearly doubles my longest OW swim.  Sweet!  How's that for breaking a PR?