Monday, July 2, 2012

First swim at Deer Creek - 2012

Sunday morning, my favorite time to swim.  My wife and I drove up Provo canyon to the Wallsburg turnoff.  We stopped a little before the turnoff and parked by a little parking lot that is close to one of the main marinas.  I'd rather walk a 1/4 mile then pay $10 dollars a day for State Park parking fees.  If everyone is raising prices then why not the State of Utah!  Sorry, minor irratation, but it's ridiculous what they think we not boaters should expect to pay to just have the pleasure of driving down to the water.  Perhaps that is why I'm not an expert at finding out of the way entry points to both Utah Lake and Deer Creek.

Anyway, bright and sunny morning.  We were ready to launch about 10:20 am.  My wife was going to be support and I squeezed into my safe swimmer (literally), need to drop some lbs!  Water seemed a little brisk, was a little worried that I may not be able to stay in to long.  But my fears were not justified, soon I was pushing along.  Crossed the little channel and followed the shoreline as it wound around the small montain that the lake borders on it's easter border. 

My wife thought I was doing fairly well today, stopped at about a mile for a quick water break.  At this point I could see a bluff or ridge, but my wife said it was probably another mile off.  In reality according to google later, it was about a 1/2 mile a way.  One reality when you swim though, you often have to swim all the way back to the start.  Though I wanted to round that mountain to the Deer Creek Resort side of the lake, I decided prudence and turned around.  Probably a good idea now in retrospect. 

I think hypothermia sneaks up on us sometimes as swimmers.  I didn't think I was having a hard time, but  Char told me I was slowing down a big time at the two mile mark.  She gave me some of that Gu Gell, and it fired me up enough to finish strong, but I could barely pull myself out of the water.  It took me a while to warm up enough to get the strength to start moving.  Later at Carl's Jr's, I was shivering a little.  I'll tell you, 90 plus temps felt pretty good when we left the restuarant.

Later that day though I was exhausted.  I've felt this way after skiing all day and getting really cold.  I then compared this experience to my 1/2 marathon run the week before.  In terms of soreness and wear and tear, no doubt running is much harder on my body.  But swimming takes a toll on energy.  After reading about Goody's attempt to cross from Catalina to Long Beach this last week, it even made that attempt that more impressive to me.  California coast line is not as warm as everyone things.  That water is usually in the low to mid 60's.  That's pretty damn cold for 15 hours, which is what Goody did this last week.  Unforunately he wasn't able to finish, but if anyone get's a chance, go a head and check out this blog report about his swim. 

One thing that I've really appreciated about swimming and running.  For the first time in my life I've been able to push my body to a point that I've thought was impossible.  I'm amazed at what power our human bodies are capable of achieving.  I'm also aware though how fragile we are as well.  We can do some pretty amazing things, but we also have to be aware that the elements can have a major impact on us as well. 

I'm not sure right now which of the open water events I'm going to enter this year.  I kind of want to swim in the Deer Creek OW event, but I'm torn.  I don't have the funds this year to do both Deer Creek and Slam The Dam in Vegas.  I'll let everyone know when I've figured it out.  Right now I'm just training for the 5k or 8k swim.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Race Day: American Fork 1/2 Marathon

Woke up really early last Saturday morning.  My wife and I had all our running gear ready to go.  Drove over to the high school where bus pickup was for the canyon by 4 AM.  I was a little chatty, which means I'm nervous, my wife was really quiet, but eventually our bus arrived at the start sight up American Fork canyon.  Tribble Fork Lake is a tiny little fishing reservoir up one of the side canyons, but it does have a nice starting spot for over 1700 runners.  There we spent some time waiting for the other buses, our friend Gary, his brother Jeff, and Gary's in-laws arrived shortly after my wife and I.  We then all spent nervous moments talking about the race, joking about how cold we were, and mentally getting ready for the race.

My wife Char, wanted to run the entire race with me.  I felt no resistance this time.  Deep down I knew I needed someone by my side.  I had been in my head all morning, admitting that I was truly a little bit scared but also determined to prove to myself that I could pull it off.  One passing thought I had when the bus took us up the canyon was how long it was taking.  I was thinking, "man, that's a long ways to run".   But at this point, standing with my friends and wife, knowing that I was minutes from going for it, I realized there was no turning back.

Finally 6 AM rolled around and we were off and running.  In my case I call it trudging, or slowly jogging.  At about 295 lbs, I am a big guy.  Mentally the idea of really opening it up and running like I was in high school is intimidating.  I think it's been years since really just letting go and flying down a basketball court or road with my legs.  So at first I started down the canyon in a slow jog.  Other runners flew past me of course and my wife had to hit the bathrooms right before the gun went off, so she caught up with me quickly.

At this point I was trying not to be swept away with the excitement of all the runners around me.  Starting out to fast and fading would be a disaster, but I think I was a little tentative as well.  I tried to remember all the advice that everyone had been giving me and tried to enjoy the scenery.  I can't tell everyone how nice it was to have my wife with me the entire race.  From the start she was calm, even offered to carry my fanny pack because it was bothering the hell out of me.  She told me the whole time she wanted to be there the entire race for me.  It was a very selfless thing for her to do, I love that woman!

Soon we were in the main canyon and the road became even steeper.  We passed the first aid station and I developed some more confidence.  It was about mile 4 when I started to really open up my pace and finally found a happy place that I've not had since I was a young man in high school.  It was awesome feeling my body adjust to the pace, my lungs didn't hurt, my feet and legs felt great.  The pace felt natural, and soon I was passing others down the hill.  I've heard other runners talk about spotting a target runner in front of them and mentally picking off runners, one at a time, you know what, that is pretty awesome as well.

We made it to the bottom of the canyon, about mile 8, in about the time I estimated pre-race.  I probably would have been ahead of my planned time if I wasn't so tentative in the first three miles.  I did have to stop at this point at the aid station and water up and take a quick nature break.  But then the hard part started for me.  The part I was nervous about was how the heat would affect me when we hit the valley.

At first I did pretty well, about mile 9 I was explaining to my wife that I was feeling really good.  I also remarked that I had beat my personal best in terms of miles and she gave me a high-5.  One thing I noticed with this type of race, just like my swimming event last year in Vegas, you seem to end up racing next to the same people through pretty much the entire event.  All I remember is one lady with neon pink running shoes, I must have passed her 10 times, and she would pass me 10 times.  One of our friends who is one of my inspirations was also in our running group most of the race.  We had a fun little joke going throughout most of the race, unfortunately she had some dehydration issues about mile 11 and did not finish, but she's ended up being alright after tended to by race and medical personnel. 

I hit my personal wall about mile ten, just a little past Lone Peak High school.  Thankfully Char was with me, she kept me focused on the big picture and taking each mile one at a time.  I did walk a little at this point and realized that I simply was just getting dehydrated.  I started pounding the sport gels and tried a little tip in terms of sucking down salt packets.  This seemed to work and running in areas that I was familiar helped as well.  Eventually we made it Fox Hollow and I knew mentally I was close.

At this point I remember telling Char, "I have this!", and she kept encouraging me to dig deeper.  Surprisingly I realized I may even hit my target time of two hours and fifty five minutes.  Mile 12 didn't take long to get to though I was really starting to feel the heat.  Earlier I had run through sprinklers just to cool down my body and I noticed I was completely dry from that earlier dousing.  After mile marker 12 was one more aid station, at this point I didn't feel like I could drink anything or throw it back up.  So I had the aid station helpers douse me with several glasses of water which helped.  The whole time I could hear the loud speaker at the finish line calling out the names of finishers.  

Soon we were going down a neighborhood street close to the finish line.  A number of the residents on this street were shouting encouraging words.  I'm surprised how much that means to me.  In past races I was the spectator and I always wondered if a stranger shouting encouragement was a big deal or not.  Let me tell you it is!!  If you ever do attend these events, please encourage the runners, they really do use it to fuel that inner fire.  The final turn to the start line was coming fast at this point, and I could see the high school which was just hundreds of yards now away.  At this point something just shot through me.

What energy I didn't think I had was replaced with an overwhelming desire to finish strong.  I told Char something like, "Let's do this:", and I leaped forward.   Char told me to be careful and not blow myself out before the finish line, but it was almost like an irresistible force took control.  I could feel my body straining hard as we came around the last turn and I saw the finish line from about a 100 yards away.  I was told to not sprint, but I was caught up in the moment.  I could see a few of my friends just across the finish line, I heard the other runners who had finished calling out encouragement, I remember some younger kids giving me high-5's as I ran past them. 

I felt an overwhelming sense of joy and accomplishment as I finished.  I had to do a little fist pump in the air and emotion, exhaustion overwhelmed me as I accepted my medal and then stopped to catch myself physically.  A combination of elation and emotion cascaded in waves.  Char came up to me and gave me a giant hug, telling me how proud she was to watch me finish.  We were both in tears, it was a really awesome moment.

Later that day I was talking to my friend who signed me up.  She was the one who put the medal around my neck.  She was so proud of me as well.  She made a great observation, she was so happy for me that I was able to enjoy one of those rare moments that are just for "me".   I come from a background, culture, religion, whatever you want to call it.  The point is that often what we want can come into conflict in terms of what we think we understand.  I thought for many years that having a moment that is uniquely your own, something that is entirely yours and no one else, would be selfish and something not acceptable to "God".  Where I came to that conclusion is from a combination of experiences and philosophies, but I must admit that this was just a great opportunity to bask in something I did for me.

I had a similar experience at Slam the Dam in Las Vegas last fall, but this was even more intense due to the fact I simply didn't think I could pull it off.  The self doubt and questioning myself finally stopped Saturday morning.  I'm still sorting through my feelings today as I write this post.  I know that something has changed in terms of how I look at challenges now.  Has it changed me fundamentally, it's too early to tell for sure. Life is all about growth and challenges, this has encouraged me though to push myself harder physically.  I also realize it's time to get serious again about getting down to a healthy weight.  Though I'm happy with finishing, I realize that to push myself more will require even more physically and I'm really playing roulette with my life if I don't treat my body the right way.

Now it's time to train for my next event.  I think I'm going to sign up soon for the Deer Creek Marathon Swim in August.  I'm also going to post and update on my swimming adventures this season.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Change of pace the last few months: Pre Half Marathon

Returning from Hawaii, a friend of mine told me they were signing me up for a 1/2 marathon in Utah.  This is a very close friend and she loves running.  Her love for running is perhaps greater then my love of swimming, so it's a big deal to her.  Unfortunately when she signed me up, my inner fears began playing in my head.  The idea of running 13.1 miles seemed daunting.  I of course then became sarcastic and a little resistant to the whole idea, though I did agree that I wanted to run the event.  This was about 3 months ago, and just a little more then 48 hours ago I did run that 1/2 marathon.  My friend felt a little crapped on, but I she was at the finish line to see me finish, and she witnessed an awesome moment that I will never forget.

Though I still feel swimming is my love and passion, running has grown on me.  The difference between running and swimming, running seems to be a little more social.  Swimming is fun with others, but in most cases it is you against the elements, it's very difficult to communicate with another swimmer if your face is buried in the water and you are pounding out the strokes.  Running if you are somewhat in shape can be much more social and I've always loved talking to people, so when I finally came to the the point this weekend where I realized what I loved about running.  It's being able to share that community of fitness and personal accomplishment with others while your in the middle of the event. 

Training for this event was mentally challenging.  My attitude did suck and I think I pissed my wife off a couple times the way I moaned and groaned every time I had to go. I'd make us excuses about preferring running on my own versus with others and many other excuses.  Though I did go at times on long runs with my wife, daughter, and friends, I still had a crappy attitude.  It has perhaps driven my wife to the point where she no longer wanted to run with me, but then something strange happened.

I actually had a good time!!  Yep, maybe the running hurt, maybe I wasn't really in the mood.  Perhaps I didn't yet have the same love for the exercise that others shared.  But one Sunday morning not long ago I went running with my wife and my 16 year old daughter and things began changing.  I was able to jog for over 8 miles without being in excruciating pain and after finishing we all went out to dinner.  It finally hit me that this was a great time to spend some quality time with part of my family.

Finally last Saturday morning the day arrived.  I had trained for the event but I was not really ready yet physically.  My best run was a little more then 8 miles.  I had no idea in my head if I was ready.  Deep down I knew I was going to try my hardest to finish all 13.1 miles, but I hadn't yet made that firm commitment or conviction that I was going to finish no mater what.

Finally it was race day, which I will outline in my next post.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Guess where I swam!!! Prettiest place on earth!

 Yes, it's time to update this blog for it's original purpose, to talk about traveling and swimming!!! Whoo -Hooo!!!  Yes, it was Hawaii, Kauai to be exact.  We stayed a marvelous 7 days on this wonderful island and enjoyed every minute.  My wife and I really understand what it is to have the Hawaiian blues, it's particularly acute after this trip.

This first post will be about the swimming, for family and friends (and myself later), I will post a daily log of what we did and where we went.  As for the swimming and running, we stayed on Kauai's east coast.  A little town called Wailua, which is just a little north of the airport.  Didn't get to swim much the first full day in Kauai, did a little snorkeling down at Poipu, was a little intimidated by the rough ocean.  But it is winter and the seas are always a little rougher.  But I couldn't resist, so the next day we drove about a 1/2 mile north of our condo, stopped at a little beach I included on google maps below.  Decided we'd first try and swim north, but I ended up swimming in place, realizing the current was pretty fast coming my way.  My buddy Gary decided to swim it anyway and I decided to try my luck farther up the beach swimming the other direction. (Yep, I whipped out on this swim). It was much faster with the current, and I did that twice.  Interesting experience swimming my first time but enjoyed in immensely.  My wife tried swimming but I think going against the current was a little difficult for her, and after having to swim pretty hard at the end of my two runs to get back to shore, it probably wasn't the safest spot to swim.

 My safe swimmer worked great!  My wife said it was very easy to spot from the shore, and she took a fun shot of my bobbing in the waves. I do
look like a human buoy, one of my friends nick named me Bob, after
seeing that picture I tend to agree.  In the second picture just to the right
my wife is grinning because we both love running in Kauai.  Just look at
the scenery.  There was a nice running/walking/cycling path along the
coast that was just north of our condo and ran 8 miles up the coast.  You
would find a number of locals and visitors walking along this path each morning.

It took a few more days, but the day before we left I was able to get my longer swim in for the trip.  We had stopped at this location a few days before but it was raining.  Salt Pond Park is on the southwest side of the island, located just to the west of Port Allen, and close to my favorite town which is Waimea.

We found a nice protected harbor, though Gary and I were both kind of wanting to swim farther out into the main coast line.  Kauai maybe the oldest island in the Hawaiian chain, but there are some razor sharp lava rocks on their beaches.  The idea of some current sweeping us into some of these lava piles was not something either one of us thought would be fun.  So we ended up swimming .12 mile lengths the protected bay.  My wife and Gary's wife sunbathed, and we decided to do some laps :).  Pictures below of me again with the safe swimmer, and a better angle of the bay.  Plus a couple shots, one of the fantastic sunset that evening, along with my difficult goodbye to the Hawaiian sun.  I will be back, when is the question, but it will happen someday and I guarantee I will bring my safe swimmer and find some more interesting adventures.

Killer Sunset!!!

Was kind of a somber moment but happy still!  Will miss this place!

Post note, we did swim one more day just off the Sheraton Resort by Poipu.  Wish we would have taken the camera.  It was pretty overcast and windy, water was much more unsettled.  Did find a safe place to swim out into the ocean, longest distance yet.  Think we got about a .25 mile off shore, but there was a very light rip tide out to the ocean. So not wanting to risk a possible change we decided to call it off after a couple swims out and back.  Fun swimming through the surf though.

Monday, February 13, 2012

7 days and a few hours!!!

Okay it's 8 days away!!  Getting ready to scratch a new state off of the 50 state list.  What a  place to go do it!!  My friend told me the winter waves are pretty rough this time of year, but I'm sure I'll find a nice protected area to get a good swim.   Getting excited now, still have a long week ahead of me.  Also shooting for a 5 lb drop to 280 lbs by the weekend.  Gotta get extra tough on those calories this week.

Kauai Sunset

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Polar Plunge and weigh in.

Hey, today I get to jump into icy cold water at Utah Lake.. Actually I'm pretty excited about it.
Unless they try and make me pay $50 bucks, if they do, I'll just walk down the road a bit and
jump in for free ;)

Weight in today.  I could tell this week would be a good one in terms of weight loss.  Scale said....
285.00 !!

That's a 2.9 lbs loss actually.  I was 287.9 last week.
Fat loss % 47.0, loss of .5%

Not a bad week, plus getting tan for Hawaii in another week and a half.

Oh, update regarding my blood work.

Testosterone was 349, so definitely down, should be closer to 500.
Also my DHEA was down as well, didn't know much about DHEA until the other night.  Guess
it's pretty common hormone for those in their 20's.  I guess I need to start supplementing more
with that product.  My Estrogen levels were borderline to high as well, but I've been taking
a good supplement to reduce it.  I imagine that the Doctor will want to supplement me with
Androgel and DHEA, I won't see him again until early March.  I have been working a lot harder
with the major muscle groups in my body.  I have noticed a little change in terms of how I'm
feeling now every day.  I may have been pushing the aerobic a little too hard in December.  My
body was pretty worn down.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Mixed bag

Mixed bag, guess it's an old phrase but it works on many levels for me this last week.  Emotionally it's been a roller coaster, but physically I pulled back somewhat.  Not completely lazy, just cut back a lot on the aerobic.

Been dealing with what I thought were emotional issues that I had related to pushing myself so hard lately, but then visiting the doctor I'm realizing that it's more. He made me take some tests and I think after we know what exactly I'm dealing with it will make things easier emotionally.  It's most likely lower testosterone levels that I've been struggling with the last couple of months.  Doing my own research I've found that it's actually fairly common for many men over the age of 40.  I was actually fairly surprised that a friend of mine who weight lifts constantly is also having the same issue.  He encouraged me to aggressively get it treated, told me it would help in a bunch of area's of my life.  I guess I've been somewhat afraid of the medical treatments because my father has gone through prostate cancer.  I told him a few years ago that I may have low testosterone and he freaked out that I was considering taking some type of supplement.  But it was interesting to see the negative affects of not having enough testosterone in a man.  All the things my father was worried about, cancer, heart disease, emotional issue, depression, all related to low testosterone.  My buddy told me, wild mood swings, the depression, low libido, it's like being a female PMS'ing 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.  So when your wife says you don't understand, um No, I completely understand.

So I'm modifying my diet somewhat, also my workouts somewhat as well.  Body For Life is still pretty much the outline of what my diet will look like.  Six small meals a day, but I'm going to start restricting the sugar even more.  Doctor wants me to reduce my sugar to pretty much nothing for a while.  Something to do with the estrogen metabolites he has me on (DIMM) and also said it would increase my metabolism.  So 70-80% vegetable(s), fruit once or twice a week, and 15 % protein, 5% fat (good fat like Fish Liver Oil).  This is going to be a challenge, but if it cleans out the estrogen, restores my testosterone, improves my muscle mass and helps weight loss, then it's what I have to do.

I guess the way to look at it.  A normal person with normal hormone levels can workout, change their diet, and see expected results.  The Doctor told me, when you are messed up hormone wise, it's ten times as more difficult to get the same results.  He was actually pretty surprised I've done as well as I have in terms of weight loss and results in the gym and pool.   In some ways this was encouraging, let me know there maybe some light at the end of the proverbial tunnel.

Results for last week
Weight  287.8
Fat %  47.8  ( That number is encouraging, a full 3.7% loss in 3 weeks)
Didn't take measurements, planning on it next week.

This week I'm gong to push harder aerobically.  Will hit it hard three times in terms of my muscles in my legs and chest/back.  Not going to focus as much on arms, or smaller muscle groups for the next week or two.  Want to build some heavier muscle, one to help stim T levels, but also to burn more fat.

I still think 280 is possible by the time I leave for Hawaii on the 21st.

great article on Testosterone