Thursday, May 15, 2014

On swimming with friends

I started swimming competitively when I was 7 years old. Synchronized swimming for a year before that and swim lessons from the time I was 6 months old. I grew up swimming. Most all of the swimming I did was with other people, on a team. I was always surrounded by competitive people who wanted were there had the ability to punish themselves in the water. When I am surrounded by people like that, it's "easy" to keep coming back everyday for more torture fun. 
When I moved to Hawaii and started swimming again (after a long hiatus), things were different. I wasn't surrounded by my friends and I wasn't around people who enjoyed going to practice. I was swimming alone and I was only swimming once, maybe twice a week, 2500-3000 meters tops. I never thought I needed to swim more than once or twice a week to rebuild and then keep my swim fitness. And swimming alone is not fun, so I rarely did it. I wasn't motivated and thought all those years of swimming would stick with me. "25 years of swimming doesn't just go away" (well it does...I don't think I'll ever be swimming at the level I was swimming at 10 years ago, but I don't want or need to be swimming like that.). I thought I could fake a "good" swim pretty well without being in the water. I can, but I also can't. I was bored, unmotivated and swimming alone. I could fake a decent swim pretty well, but my swimming was no where near where it should have been with all the swimming experience I have. The swim should be my strength, where I can gain an advantage, I should be able to be out of the water with as little effort as possible while still going fast so that I can have a great bikerun to add on to the swim.
How long had people been telling me this and I just didn't listen, "I've been swimming for XX-years, I don't need to swim 8,000 meters a day to have a good triathlon swim." Well, the 8,000 meters a day part may be true and I really don't want or have time time to be back there, but more consistent, purposeful swimming is definitely paying off.
I started small. I joined a masters team, gasp!, something I never thought I would do, ever and I was going twice a week. The people were great, having a written workout to do with others was something that was definitely missing and there was a coach on deck to hold you accountable...sort of. Masters is different (Disclaimer: I've only ever been on one team and all teams I'm sure are not alike), a workout is provided, but you do what you want to do and can come and go as you please, if you don't want or ask for directions/critiques, you don't often get it. Your coach doesn't hover over you or give you a hard time if you're late, leave early or completely alter the workout. So what do you think happened?! I didn't complete the workouts, I got out early, I still wasn't motivated. I was swimming MORE, but that more wasn't necessarily BETTER. My swim times improved slightly, but I still wasn't totally committed to swimming smarter.
It took about a year for me to realize listen decide on my own (even though I had had many suggestions in the past that this would be in my best interest) that putting in the work and time necessary to focus in on and strengthen my strength was important. I'm so glad I did. It has made all the difference. I am fortunate enough to have moved super close to a pool and have connected with a solid group of people that I swim with at least once a week. Having other like minded people around who are trying to improve their swimming allthewhile having a good time and enjoying each other and the workouts (and the pool "toys") has made all the difference. I look forward to jumping in the pool atleast once a week with these people and get sad if I have to miss a day with them. I only wish I could swim with them every morning they get together and fight the bluehairs for lane space! Because of this/them, when I go to swim on my own the other 2-3 more times, my workouts aren't as awful as they used to be. Thanks!
There's still plenty of work to be done and gains to be made, but I can say with 100% confidence that my swim is coming back and I'm truly starting to enjoy swimming again. Living in a place where I can swim outside year round, ocean or pool, definitely doesn't suck and makes things much more enjoyable. I think if I lived somewhere where I had to swim indoors almost all year long (like I have done the majority of my swimming career) I wouldn't be in this swimming place that I am right now. I don't dread going to the pool anymore. I look forward to it. I enjoy it and if I have to miss a day with the morning crew I get a little sad. Getting up to swim in the morning before work or going there right after to get a swim in before another activity isn't always the most fun thing in the world, but I love it! And I NEVER regret it when it's done.
Relationships and the people you surround yourself with are what's important in life, in my opinion. The
people I've met and the friendships I've made through swimming and sport are some of the best relationships I have. And swimming has done that for me.
I believe this photo was tagged, "the six degrees of Michelle Simmons"
Thanks Mom and Pop for putting me in those lessons and swim team all those years ago!  

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Outrigger Swim

Saturday was a BEAUTIFUL morning for a swim...but first things first. I started the day with a 13.5 mile run...Honu is 3 weeks away so couldn't let this swim race get in the way of my planned run for the day...anyways....

Outrigger Canoe Club puts on a 1.1-ish mile invitational swim every year and it's followed by a great brunch, dry fit T-Shirts, Cookies by Design, beach towels and time with friends. Todd Iacovelli was the race director this year and he did an amazing job! Thanks Todd! The course was explained well, it was well marked with three orange buoys and one yellow buoy, the lifeguards and volunteers on jet-skis on the course were well positioned and visible and most importantly, everyone swam with Aloha.

The water conditions at this race are never the same (last year we had wicked currents), that's ocean swimming for ya!, but this year we were lucky enough to have epic conditions (I have embraced rough ocean swimming conditions lately, the rougher the better, but conditions like this are equally as sweet). It was low tide, there were minimal waves and swell and the water was crystal clear. I rarely take time to look at my surroundings under water when racing, being an ex-indoor-pool racer we never got the opportunity to check those kinds of things, it was black line (or ceiling) ALL THE TIME, head down and swim, but Saturday was beautiful, fish everywhere and 3 Honu! 

Seriously, there were minimal waves
See the rock wall....
....can't see the rock wall...the right way to exit the water...
and check out this stud!
I was super happy with the swim. It begins at Sans Souci (Kaimana) beach, we swim out to sea and do a counter clockwise triangle then swim back in to the Outrigger Canoe Club. Very low key beach race start, no pushing and shoving, no jockeying for position, no countdown, just a 5 minute and a 90-second warning. I was alone (read... out front with my feet getting tapped every other stroke) all the way until the first buoy, at which point, the eventual male and overall winner came around me, I grabbed his feet for a while until I realized he was heading in the wrong direction...whoops, so I turned and went the right way. Finally he got back on track and took off. I should have stayed on his feet, but I let him go, rookie mistake! The rest of the race was swum alone. I tried a few times to close the gap, but wasn't making up any time and he wasn't gaining on me, so I settled in and swam at a pretty good pace, (all the while checking out the scenery below) for the remainder of the race. In retrospect, I probably should have paid a little more attention toward the end as I finished the race a bit  far left and had a much longer beach run than everyone else. Next year.

It's tough to compare times year-to-year, week-to-week and even day-to-day in ocean swimming because the currents, tide, weather and conditions dictate the actual length and finish times. Overall, I think I did swim faster than I did last year (although it was a totally different course), at least I felt a whole lot stronger in the water and I am building my swim confidence once again. I ended up 2nd OA and 1st female.

Side note...I'm loving my new ROKA SwimSkin...super fast!!

Thanks Kalani for the great pictures from the day!

Only a few more weeks until Honu...getting excited!!! 
Bonnie's famous Cookie's by design winner cookies

Thursday, May 8, 2014

My Tuesday Night

I don't have a whole lot to say about this other than check out all these fun, fit, motivated, inspirational people I got to spend Tuesday night spinning away with! What a workout. Watch out Honu! T-minus 23 days! I cannot wait!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Salty Balls and Bike Nutrition

I've wanted to try making my own bike nutrition for a while now and finally got the motivation to do so before our training weekend on the Big Island last weekend.....

I've read and seen a lot of information out there about what people like and have used to fuel themselves through their rides. Some of it sounds good and some of it notsomuch. In my opinion, when you are riding for hours on end, a calorie is a calorie, but sometimes you I just get sick of gels and want something different. Hence, my attempt at making something new and different (for me).

I got the salty ball recipe from Haley's Blog and tweaked it a little bit for my own liking. They were a hit! Delicious perfect bike fuel...I need to figure out how to best store them on my bike so I can get to them easier...a zip-lock sandwich baggie in your jersey pocket is not the best method...bento box maybe??suggestions anyone??

The other recipe we tried was a take on Lärabars

Here's the recipe: 
1 cup nuts (almonds, cashews, pecans, walnuts, peanuts, hazelnuts (whatever suits your fancy))
1 cup sweet dried fruit (dates, raisins, figs, strawberries, bananas, cranberries (whatever suits your fancy))
1 cup filling (this is optional) Kind of the same as the sweet dried fruit, just other options (dried cherries, dried blueberries, dried apricot, dried pineapple, cranberries, goji berries, more chopped nuts, dried coconut, chocolate chips, coffee beans, cacao nibs, shredded carrot (whatever suits your fancy))
2-4 tbsp flavoring (also optional) (maple syrup, agave, vanilla, cinnamon, citrus zest, ginger, mint, cloves, coconut oil, cacao)

This "recipe" totally allows you to get creative. Mix whatever sounds good to you. Put the fruit and nuts in a food processor and mix until a sticky, workable "dough" is formed. Add in your flavoring and process until combined. Add in the filling, pulse well (don't ruin the texture). Shape into balls. wrap in plastic wrap or put into sandwich baggies and put in refrigerator until you are ready to ride. Storage/best riding method for holding the balls is still up for debate 
My favorite concoction of the ball making was the tropical balls. It was a combination of cashews, coconut butter, shredded coconut, dried strawberries, and some maple syrup. 
Eat up!