Making The “Same” Feel “Different”

As you can imagine, training to swim the English Channel requires…lots of swimming! This morning I made the same old Clocktower Pond feel different. It made my normally enjoyable morning swim even more so today.

How can I make a pond “different” you ask? Well, it was actually at my coach, Marcia Cleveland’s suggestion. I simply split up my 4 lap swim into counter-clockwise and clockwise laps. On the odd number laps, I swam counter-clockwise; on the even laps, I swam clockwise. Simple, right??!! Why didn’t I think of that!!

It can be easy to take each workout for granted and become complacent. This morning I knew I was going to swim 4 laps at Clocktower Pond. What I didn’t know was how the same workout I have been doing for weeks became different simply by changing direction!

This Sunday, I’m slated to swim 6 laps at Clocktower. I’m going to mix it up even more. I will have Michelle hold up a white board telling me which direction to swim for each lap. This way, I have no idea from one lap to the next, where I am going. It should be interesting!

Until next time…stay focused on your goals and do everything in your power to achieve them! Oh, and don’t be afraid to change things up once-in-a-while. You may be surprised how different the “same” feels when you do!

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Deer Creek Open Water 5K Swim…Here I Come!

In my continuing quest to expand my horizons in the world of open water swimming, I have registered for the Deer Creek Open Water Marathon Swim – 5k non-wetsuit division. The race will take place on Saturday, August 13, 2011, in, of all places, Deer Creek Reservoir, just outside of Heber, Utah.

Although I swam the Governor’s Island Swim last summer as my 1st “official” open water swim of my English Channel quest, I think Deer Creek will be a different step along the journey for a few reasons. First, obviously, the distance is greater. While Governor’s Island was a 2 mile swim; Deer Creek is a 5k or 3.1 mile event. Second, Governor’s Island was a salt water swim; Deer Creek is fresh water. This makes a difference in buoyancy. It’ll be more challenging to maintain correct body position at Deer Creek. Third, Deer Creek requires me to have a safety paddler at my side for the race. This will be a chance for my lovely wife, Michelle, to paddle our Liquid Logic Versa Board during a race. Finally, I plan on beginning work on my nutrition while in the water for this race.

Deer Creek will be a challenge; one I accept without hesitation! After all, due to its location, I’m certain I’ll have the opportunity for an enjoyable swim during which I can learn. A trip to Rubio’s in Salt Lake City, Utah, is also a side benefit!

Until next time…stay focused on your goals and do everything in your power to achieve them!

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What Was I So Afraid Of?

I have been considering swimming with a USMS Masters swim group at my local YMCA. The group meets most mornings, but on Tuesdays and Thursdays, the swim is in a 50-meter pool. I like the idea of swimming 50 meters before I have to perform a flip turn for several reasons: (1) I believe it mimics open-water swimming where, obviously, there are no flip turns — you can’t use the wall to speed up; and (2) honestly, my flip turns aren’t the best! My fear of joining the Masters group was simply this: there are some really excellent swimmers! I didn’t want to feel out-of-place by being super slow, having bad flip turns and, generally, not knowing what I was doing!

Last week, I shared my concerns with my lovely bride, Michelle. She looked at me aghast and said: “(1) You are a good swimmer; (2) If you are going to swim the English Channel, don’t you think it would benefit you to swim with the Masters; and (3) You’re a friggin Ironman!” Well, with Michelle’s prodding, I attended my 1st Masters swim this morning at 5:15 a.m. (truth be told, I was 5 minutes late and didn’t get into the water until 5:20) at the West YMCA here in Boise. It was AWESOME!

The coach on deck had a solid workout — it even included some backstroke. She was kind, thoughtful and approachable. She explained the drills and unfamiliar stuff to me in a way I could understand. She kept an eye on me and “coached me up.” We chatted about her philosophy after the workout; it’s a philosophy I agree with…get the form right and the rest will follow. The swimmers were just as friendly as could be.

It just goes to show you: (1) getting out of your comfort zone every now and again is critical; and (2) fear of the unknown vanishes the instant the thing is no longer “unknown”! I know I’ll learn a lot from swimming with the Masters group. I plan on swimming Tuesday and Thursday mornings (and I will be in the pool early!).

Until next time…stay focused on your goals and do everything (even trying something that makes you uncomfortable) in your power to achieve them!

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Update On “Something Totally Different…Norb & The Tour Divide”

On June 2nd, I wrote to let you all about Norb DeKerchove’s CRAZY attempt to ride, self-supported from Banff, Alberta, Canada, to Antelope Wells, New Mexico, USA.

Today, I am proud to announce he made it! Yep, 2700+ miles in just over 24 days! He is now safe in his lovely wife Eve’s arms (after a good shower and scrubbing). I’m not sure when he’ll be back in Boise; I cannot wait to see him!! It’ll be a fantastic reunion with stories aplenty, I’m sure!

Until next time…stay focused on your goals and do everything in your power to achieve them!

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So Long Ironman (For Now)…Hello Swimming Focus!

Ironman Coeur d'Alene 2011 Swim Start - Courtesy of Alyssa Smith

One week ago, on June 26, 2011, I completed my 3rd and, for now, final, Ironman triathlon. Ironman Coeur d’Alene was an awesome race. I rediscovered what it means to push my body further than I thought possible. My result: 13:43 was not what I had hoped for, but after reflection, I am pleased with my effort.

After I decided to attempt an English Channel swim in 2013, I realized I would have to put my massive amounts of cross-training for Ironman on hold eventually. In order to get the mileage of swimming in to properly and adequately prepare for my Channel attempt, work and spend time with my family and friends, something would have to give. Those “somethings” are lots of time in the saddle of my bike and running. Now, that is not to say I won’t be riding and running!! I think I would go a little crazy if I didn’t continue to do those things. Now, and for the next 2 years, swimming will be my primary focus.

I will be forever thankful for the patience and support my family and friends have given me in pursuing my Ironman dreams. I know they are all “on board” for the next challenge…preparing for and successfully completing my English Channel attempt in 2013. Training re-starts Tuesday!!

Until next time…stay focused on your goals and do everything in your power to achieve them!

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Kayakers…a Catalina Channel Swimmer’s Best Friend

One of the swims I am contemplating in my training for my English Channel 2013 attempt, is the Catalina Channel. Although this swim will not occur until 2012, I came across an article today by Beth Barnes, a kayaker who has accompanied numerous swimmers during their quest to swim Catalina Channel.

I really enjoyed the way Ms. Barnes put things in her article. The critical importance of kayakers during a swim across the Catalina Channel is well-known in the marathon-swimming community. I’m looking forward to working with someone like Ms. Barnes during my swim. Give Ms. Barnes’ article a read. It may very well give you goosebumps. It did to me!

If you want more information about swimming the Catalina Channel, here is a link to the Catalina Channel Swimming Federation. Take a look.

Until next time…stay focused on your goals and do everything in your power to achieve them!

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And Now…Something Totally Different – Norb And The Tour Divide

I wanted to take this opportunity to recognize my “brother,” Norb DeKerchove, who is taking on a challenge as great as swimming the English Channel. (Personally, I think he’s crazier than I am!)

Norb has decide to “Ride the Divide.” What the heck is that you may ask. Well, simply put, Norb has chosen, voluntarily, to ride a mountain bike along the continental divide from Banff, Alberta, Canada to Antelope Wells, New Mexico, on the United States-Mexico border. This route is a whopping 2,745 miles with over 200,000 feet of elevation gain. Norb will be taking off from Boise on the drive to Banff on Sunday. The “Grand Depart” happens Friday, June 10, 2011, at 9 a.m.

According to the Tour Divide website: “Tour Divide requires no entry fee or formal registration. There is no prizing for finishing.” It is simply a challenge for the individual. A challenge requiring not only a massive amount of fitness, but an attention to detail and logistics that borders on the incredible.

Norb’s vision of “riding the divide” sprang to life innocently enough one night in the fall of 2010 when he, me, and a group of friends saw the film “Ride the Divide.” What is funny about the beginning of Norb’s quest is this: as we were leaving the theater, someone in our group said: “I wonder how long it will take before Norb tells us he is going to do this”!! You see, our group had trained for Ironman with Norb and we knew how his mind worked! Norb is truly a “go big or go home” type of guy. He dreams big…and does everything in his power to make those dreams come true.

In fact, when I told Norb about my quest to swim the English Channel in 2013, his response was something along the lines of: “Sounds great…what can I do to help?” It is this attitude coupled with the many adventures Norb and I have been through together since we first met 2007, that leads me to call him my brother.

If you would like to follow Norb’s progress, this link will help you. If you would like to read about Norb’s adventure leading up to his epic adventure, and his adventure itself, check out his blog. This is the homepage for the Tour Divide.

Please, keep Norb in your thoughts and prayers during his time on the Divide!

Until next time…stay focused on your goals and do everything in your power to achieve them! GET OUT THERE AND DO SOMETHING YOU DON’T THINK YOU CAN! It’s good for the soul.

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