Today is my last post on this GFM page as I am happy to share with you my new official website: www.MeredithNovack.com .
Thank you all for supporting and being a part of the Maui double. It is time to move on to the next dream...swimming around the entire island of Oahu while raising one million dollars for charity. This event will be corporately funded and money collected for charity will be done through More Than Sport. I learned so much sharing my first ultra swim adventures on this site...I hope you follow me to www.MeredithNovack.com where I will be blogging, sharing photos,etc.
I've been in massive waves, followed by sharks, outsmarted rip currents and chased by helicopters...but last week was the first time I ever truly understood what it would feel like to be in a situation where you could drown...
I trained hard ALL year. This winter, I flew to Australia and swam 5 or 6 days a week during my "off" season. It was summer in Sydney and a dream of an opportunity. I trained in cold water for the first time since I was twelve. Half of the pools I swam had salt water in them and were 72 to 76 degrees. I could only manage about two hours before I started turning blue. Most of the pools in Hawaii are at least 80 degrees and the ocean averages 80. The past few weeks I have been training with the MAC Team at Queens University as well as MAC Masters at the Charlotte Latin School in North Carolina. It has been an absolute privilege swimming with some of the best swimmers in the country...there were many days that I had to kill myself in warm up just to make the intervals! It was so exciting to experience Dave Marsh's methods up close and personal. I felt like I was back in college. I utilized stretch cords, bands, power racks, FINA regulated blocks, light strips on the bottom of the pool that are set to the clock, and my favorite - these open ended mesh bags that go around your ankles that made me feel like I was getting sucked backward in the ocean. I really loved being around so many amazing athletes and coaches (especially Coach Jeff Dugdale) who truly define the word excellent. It may not have always been ideal for someone who's shortest race of the year is 3k but it was so nice to have support and challenging sets. I've really pushed myself...4:40am has been really hard but no big goal is easy.
I travelled to New York a few days before my race. I love airports and hanging out an extra four hours wasn't too bad...apparently there was a major storm in Long Island complete with 14 inches of rain and flooding. I was oblivious to this as I read all of the new September issue magazines and chowed on gourmet salad. The next day, I had a lovely stretch out swim in the ocean...I don't know where exactly but it was at a guarded beach which had two flags about 400 meters apart, so I got in and did laps in the chilly, choppy water. The sun was shining and seagulls flying as I went back and forth in the 75 degree water. Later that day, I started my trek to Lace Placid. The weather in picturesque Lake Placid was miserable -grey, cold and rainy, high of 55.
I AM a warm water swimmer. That fact is not lost on me. I usually train in 80 degree water and the lake I've been practicing in is 86. I have trained close to 10k more than a few times in 88 degree water (in the pool in Hawaii, Florida and Asia). While high temperatures can make recovery between sets challenging, I am able to swim my normal times - sometimes even faster. I feel as if all of my muscles relax and fire on all cylinders when things get hot. It takes intense focus. My body type is suited to warmer water - more Kate Moss than Kate Upton...
There was a cold snap in Lake Placid leading up to the National 2 mile Open Water Championships. The day before the race, I wanted to get a quick feel for the water. I got out about ten minutes later, shivering violently, and guessed that the water was around 60. There was nothing for me to do at that point except to be positive and try not to worry about it. You can't choose race conditions! I kept telling myself that I would be fine! Attitude is everything and I had worked too hard to let the weather throw me for a loop!
I had never swam in water under 70 degrees without a wetsuit. I have used both XTERRA full and sleeveless wetsuits. They have the best customer service on the planet and always sent whatever I need wherever I happen to be when I raced triathlons professionally...while I use their products now for training, as a professional swimmer, the rules have changed. Open water swimming and marathon swimming rules are very simple and straight forward. In marathon (Channel) swimming wetsuits are forbidden no matter the temperature. A traditional swimsuit must be worn. In FINA/USA swims 5k or more, the water must be over 60 degrees...while I wasn't looking forward to freezing, I tried to push all negative thoughts out of my mind.
The course was simple. Four out and backs along a cable with buoys about 400m long. Two miles. My goal was to break the National record in my age group...I had trained all summer based on those splits (@ 1:20 LCM). My plan of attack was to swim it like 4 x 50s. Out fast and feeling great/ holding/ strong, powerful, grabbing water/ go, go, GO!
When I woke up, the temperature was 50 degrees. It was cold and gray and not expected to warm up. I had the most delightful home stay and was only a five minute walk from the start. I bundled up on schedule and headed to the lake. I decided to stretch and not warm up...no sense in standing around wet and barefoot during the mandatory 15 minute briefing before the start. Time flew and before I knew it I was standing knee deep in frigid water, looking at the start, and wondering if I would be all right...
I probably knew a few seconds after the start that things weren't quite right but I pushed it out of my mind. I was seeded 9th overall ( men and women) and was in the first heat, first wave. I knew who the favorites were and kept an eye on them... I was holding and where I wanted to be even though I felt I was spinning my wheels and gasping for air. At 600m in, I kept getting past but fought to keep my line...getting colder, starting to struggle. The second loop was miserable. I spun and spun...every heat seemed to catch and pass me.
"Try harder! Work harder! Come on!" I screamed at myself. Stay on people's feet...you are faster...but it didn't matter. I was giving everything I had and was being passed by the entire field. I didn't understand why I was moving so slowly. Every part of me was cold, goosebumps...and my feet were twinging with cramps. I was afraid if I kicked any harder that my feet would lock up and so my kick got slower and slower. On the third loop, I knew I was in trouble. I was swimming left and right. I noticed how close I was getting to the lifeguards that were out there in kayaks and floating platforms and wondered if they would pull me out. I was more than cold. I was shaking but determined to keep going. I figured they would pull me out if I needed to be rescued and that I should focus all my energy on giving 100%.
The fourth lap was so scary. I was out of my mind with cold. I hardly knew where I was going and every part of me was starting to cramp. I was weaving all over the place, even managing to be on the wrong side of the buoys swimming into my competitors head on as they neared the finish. "Keep going!" was all that I was yelling to myself. I stumbled on, going super wide around the last buoy.
When I finally reached the end, I was in tears. Surprised that I had made it, my hands were in the mud of the lake, holding myself up. I couldn't move. I didn't know if I could stand - my feet and legs were in cramps...three volunteers grabbed me from the water...friends in tow, I went straight into a hot shower...
And so there it is...that is what happened at Nationals. I have been very upset... I gave 100%... I am surprised that wasn't pulled...I am proud that I did my best...but I am disappointed with the outcome and feeling that so many months of training, waking up at 4:30am went down the drain...I am upset because for the first time, ever, I seriously felt like I could drown...
I know that FAILURE IS NOT ALWAYS FAILURE and I am sure, in time, there will be some valuable lesson...
I will say: if you are going to fail, FAIL BIG. Put yourself out there, commit and really go for it...as failures go - this one was pretty epic!
Australia was amazing...five races with the highlight of placing second in my division in a swim with more than 6,500 competitors and deciding to train and race through a serious dilemma (getting kicked in the head, knocking out a tooth and not knowing if I had cracked my jaw) made me so much tougher. I made a huge decision, to approach every day positively and to not disrupt my schedule...being positive is a daily choice...and it paid off!
I am back in Hawaii. Trying to get into a training routine and getting my long, blonde hair back in shape after a few months of abuse! Kahea at the Marsha Nadalin Salon has her work cut out for her...but they know what they are doing! It's so funny...Kahea has learned so much about swimming and the last time I saw her she said, "Mere, did you get your hair tangled up in your goggles?!?" I did...
A few weeks ago there was a huge controversy in the media. It all started with a swimsuit ad from Target. Target had taken one of their beautiful, young models and completely altered her image. Digitally, they grossly erased her inner thighs.
Anyone that knows me well knows I love fashion, beauty and magazines! Reading fashion magazines is my favorite non athletic hobby. There are times when you can find me in front of the camera lens. I constantly fight with photographers to not photo shop my images. While I don't mind a stray hair or two being corrected, removing any physical attribute - moles, freckles, etc. is completely unacceptable!
Truth is beauty and sport is very beautiful and very real - sometimes raw, graphic...
While I know most ads and images in magazines are photo shopped - I had no idea to what extent! I was SHOCKED.
I was shocked to find out how heavily images are manipulated. I thought they hired supermodels for a reason. They have amazing figures, hair, skin, look fantastic in clothing, know how to sell...the average model is 5'10" and weighs around 130 pounds and has teams of stylists, makeup artists...I never knew that when I looked at a Victoria's Secret catalogue at the page that shows you the different styles of swimwear, that their amazing bodies had been drastically changed.
I want to know who made that decision! Are 60 year old men in business suits calling the shots? Did the photographers themselves start this new "beauty ideal"? Are women photo shopping other women?
I am saddened that "thigh gap" is a beauty ideal. The truth is, I cried. It made me think of when I was 13, 16, 24...hating my body and wishing my short, powerful legs looked longer and had a coveted gap. I used to try to stand in a special way so they would appear thinner...I am not that same, impressionable young girl that went through body image and food issues like millions of other ladies...but for just a moment it brought back those inadequate feelings.
When is someone going to say NO to digital thigh gapping? Most women's thighs touch. I think we should celebrate diversity. ALL shapes and sizes. Beauty shouldn't fit into a cookie cutter mold...heavy, thin, thighs that don't touch and thighs that do, scars, freckles, gap teeth, kinky hair, ebony skin color...there is so much to love!
What I love most about swimming, biking and running is that no matter what I look like - it always makes me feel beautiful.
Keep things real!
I am currently in Australia writing my book and this Saturday I was invited to train with 3 of Sydney's best marathon swimmers. I was pretty excited...I knew I would have to try really hard to keep up and I was so glad they asked me to come along. It was beautiful out- mid 80s. Not a cloud in the sky. The pristine water was a gorgeous deep blue and warm for Sydney- around 70 degrees. Dori's plan was to swim "two and a half to 3 and a half - more if I feel good."
"What does that mean?", I asked.
"It DOESN'T mean 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 k if that's what you're thinking", Thorsten said.
Ok...guess we're swimming long! Glad I had lunch and brought some water...
We started at Bondi Beach, taking our time cutting through light chop and then heading right. The plan was to swim a few beaches down and then swim back, get some water and then do "Bondi laps". Swimming loops of around 2k.
From the start, Dori pulled ahead (she is training for a double crossing of the English Channel). She swam confidently towards a rocky peninsula. I thought Matt was on her feet and Thorsten was behind me. The chop picked up and we started swimming towards some big waves slamming into rocks. I glanced up. It wasn't Matt on Dori's feet. It was Thorsten and they were pulling away- a good 8 yards ahead. I started to get really nervous. My mind drifted and I started to worry about sharks. Why, oh why, must I always worry about sharks?!?
Thankfully, Matt was swimming behind me and when he moved around to start bridging the gap I sprinted and grabbed his foot.
"Matt, be my swim partner!!!!", I yelled.
"OK," he said...in swim speak that's the equivalent of me crying, "Please don't leave meeee!!!"
On we went, riding up and down on huge crests of waves. The waves pounded the black rocks and Dori stopped. We all caught up and treaded water, me pulling my feet close up to my chest still worrying. Dori said it looked like there were lots of rocks around and that we were going to have to swim out wide. She was right, there seemed to be rocks everywhere even though me were so far from shore. Again, my anxiety creeped up. A black helicopter flew over head and all I kept wondering was if there were sharks in the area. Was there a shark in the area?
Matt knew what I was going to say and said not to worry- that white helicopters meant sharks. Great.
Everyone was super kind. It's very mentally challenging swimming in a brand new area and they knew what I was going through. Swimming in unfamiliar territory can be extremely nerve wracking.
I tried to calm down when we decided to swim two beaches away down the coast. While I swam I had quite the conversation going on in my head. I was telling myself to suck it up, swim faster, stop being such a baby...I could tell Matt was swimming easy so I could be near him and panic was making me swim slower and slower...but I kept going! We were now in much bigger waves. Pro only not for beginners waves. They pushed strongly towards shore and we rode them as we angled to the right.
We stopped. I looked at my watch- almost 29 minutes since we started. Matt had GPS and said we had swam 2k. Going back was going to be interesting. Definitely slower. Treading water, another helicopter zoomed by us and then turned around and headed back to Bondi.
Trying to cut through massive waves was fun! Even though sometimes they smack you on all sides. It was a welcome distraction from my fears. I enjoy big waves and chop. I try to fly above it. I'm so little and it's easy to get thrown around so I just relax, stay high and breathe when and where I can. I had a little bit of trouble sighting and had moved right of Matt, swimming outside. I didn't want to be near the rocks...rock side or shark side- what a choice?!?
After we swam around the point I got confused. There was another point about a mile ahead and I wasn't sure if that was where we were going. Matt broke stroke and yelled we were swimming in towards the beach. A minute later we regrouped and Dori said to swim to the far rocks near a cliff about 1,000 meters away. I couldn't see anyone swimming at the beach and asked if we should be in the water...everyone said it was just impossible to see because of the waves.
My anxiety was creeping up, again, and I told myself only 15 more minutes...I swam my best through the cool waters and heard another helicopter zooming around. There were now two helicopters that I could see when I breathed to the right. A black one and a white one! Oh my God!
We still had more than six hundred meters til the rocks...we were in no man's land and everyone started swimming faster. I think I was shaking while I was swimming...
Now there was a red helicopter on the scene. It was getting louder and louder and we kept swimming faster and faster. This red rescue helicopter swooped low and hovered a few feet above me...300 meters til we could scramble out on the rocks...less than five minutes! Swim!!!!
The helicopter was so close the water was spraying me in the face and throwing me around. I was so scared I couldn't cry. I sprinted as hard as I could and caught up to Matt, Dori and Thorsten. My mind screamed, "GET OUT! Get out of the water NOW!!!"
None of us had any idea of what was going on. Why wasn't anyone on a bullhorn? I kept going- head down, charging towards safety.
It was so strange when we got to the rocks...there were two lifeguards in a boat and a few snorkellers and hundreds of people on shore. We could see EMS and lifeguards on the rocks and slowly the pieces came together...apparently there had been some horrific accident on the rocks. A man had possibly fallen from the cliffs onto the rocks below... The helicopters were filming us for extra footage...
I said a quick prayer for the injured person and thanked God for keeping all four of us safe...
My nerves were shot and I was done. Matt, Dori and Thorsten got back in and swam 12k for the day while I changed into my bikini and enjoyed being on the sand for a change...
Welcome to Australia!
I still can't quite wrap my head around this training swim. It was one of the scariest moments of my life...I am happy I kept going and I suppose that's just like life- pray, do your best, keep going...love, Mere
Two weeks ago I set a World Record...and everyone keeps asking, "What's next?"
I am planning a swim so massive it will turn the world of swimming on it's head! It will take a year and a half of planning and involve thousands of people...millions of people will take notice and millions of lives will be positively impacted!
This year my goal was to reach people around the world and inspire them with my journey of faith and determination. When faced with life's tough moments keep moving forward. Setting a World Record and achieving a world first on my first ever channel swim was amazing. I am working on a book, a television show and looking for sponsors for 2014 and beyond...
Why sponsor me? I make a lasting impression in people's hearts and minds. When I walk into a room of people expecting a swim star, I can feel the disappointment. Everyone expects someone 6 feet tall, major muscles, impossibly thin, in their 20s...I am none of these things. I am relatable, around 5'6", 37 years old, not physically imposing...I am the best because of my relentless drive, passion and faith. I am not trying to be someone else. I just try to be my best. I aim for excellence-not perfection...
So when I enter a room I might not turn everyone's head but I do turn their HEART.
I flew. Technically, I kept the reins on, loosely, for the first half...but I was a woman on a mission! From the beginning I considered the half way point the start. I told myself for months that the race starts at ten miles.
I swam mostly freestyle. 90%. Churning and burning, up tempo. It was an absolutely gorgeous day. The water and the sky were competing with each other - who could be bluer or more beautiful...the mood was light and we were off to a fantastic start.
We swam smoothly and silently. The sun glistened over the small waves as it rose to reveal all of God's glory. Bill led me out over the coral. The boat was on my left and Jenn, in bright yellow kayak that looked almost as long as our boat, was on my right.
Hands grabbing at the clear water, I pushed the pace ever so slightly. The pressure of setting a world record played in the back of my mind...
...I turned around. I was sitting in the front seat, and exclaimed, "We have a problem!" Right away Christa counters with, "There is no problem. We will fix it! "
She didn't even know what the problem was! It didn't matter...everybody was 100% in the game and ready to tackle any and every challenge that lay ahead. I had accidentally bought 12 large bottles of seltzer water! Everyone immediately offered to exchange their water...Christa was right! There would be no problems.
When we got to the boat dock it was pitch black. The only lights were car lights. Budget Car Rental (isn't the name so appropriate? ha ha) kindly upgraded us to a mini van when they heard our story. It was filled with everyone's gear, grocery bags of food and water (we had no idea how long the day would be so everyone was prepared just in case), sunscreen and all of Angel's video and camera equipment. There was a lot of nervous energy and excitement. We moved around quietly in the dark - loading the boat, using the bathroom and parking the car. We were getting ready for an epic day out at sea.
We left the moonlit dock in silence. I wondered how quickly the sun would rise...my head was filled with a million thoughts...after about 15 minutes with Bear at the helm everyone started to relax a little bit. I can't remember if I said anything on the way over nor can I recall what anybody else was saying. My mind was already on the swim. I prayed that God would keep me safe from harm and bless all 7 of us. I prayed that everyone would rise to the best of their ability and enjoy the day...and I prayed, "God, please bless this swim. Let me be a ray of light. Please help me do my best."
We pulled up pretty close to Club Lanai area. It was just before 6:25am. Bill and I were really happy and surprised at how high the tide was compared to my practice swim a few weeks earlier. I had only trained during low tide when navigating the coral was extremely difficult and slow. I still had to be very careful but already this looked like it would be a good start. Jenn was first up on the kayak. She put on her gloves, adjusted her pink hat and made sure the Shark Shield was on. My biggest concern for the day were sharks - especially in the murky and shallow water that you find one mile in and out of both coasts. I did not care for the sections going into and out of Club Lanai and Mala Wharf. We were all on high alert. Bill was going to swim out with me at the start...
At exactly 6:30am I made my way into the Auau Channel. I swam smoothly, navigating through the coral next to the abandoned pier. I swam away from Lanai into a blindingly beautiful and brilliant sunrise.
To be continued...
Excellence versus perfection and the start of my big day.
This swim wasn't about a lot of things. There was hardly any money, I had no Channel swimming experience (this was my first), I didn't have the ideal body type and, truth be told, I made many mistakes along the way. At 37 years old, it's not like I haven't had dreams before...what made this swim different is that I decided to focus on excellence not perfection and I relied heavily on my faith.
Excellence is achievable. It's about doing your best and it's something that you can achieve every day!
Last year, right before I started training for this twenty mile swim, a friend looked at me at 5:30am and said, "It's not enough to just show up." It was true...that morning I had just shown up. My plan was to just go through the motions. I felt that, hey- I showed up and I'm getting the yards in so what does it matter? What my friend said really struck a nerve. If I was going to be the best in the world then I couldn't just "show up". I needed to do my best every single day, every single set. I needed to give the proper focus and attention and effort during all of practice.
What makes this swim so special is that I can look back at the past ten months of training and know whole heartedly that I could not have done more or given more. While I was understandably nervous and a little scared of the big day that lay ahead of me, I was confident that I had done my absolute best to get to the starting line.
There was not one thing that I would have differently in training. Not one thing.
The morning of the swim we got off to a little late start. The Maui marathon was going on the same day and we were staying at the Kaanapali Beach Hotel, the host hotel. The streets in front of the hotel were blocked off. We took some side roads and accidentally went the wrong way. Jenn was pretty nice with 5 backseat drivers yelling at her!
We were almost to the boat dock when I took a sip of my water and said, "Oh, no!"
The REAL ANSWER to the question WHY.
I didn't know if I could do it...11 months ago I decided I wanted to be a Channel swimmer. I didn't know what I was getting into. I started with reading about the English Channel. 55 degrees did not sound like a lot of fun. Next!
Molokai to Oahu seemed like the riskiest of Hawaii's Channels. I read story after story of box jelly fish and decided to keep looking. I did not want to swim in the dark, either. I kept looking at the Auau (Maui) Channel and it seemed too simple. I had already swam 8 miles in a row so I was pretty sure I could swim 10. I wanted a challenge. Tsugaru in Japan seemed very interesting but I thought I should start locally...and then I read about Double Crossings. I didn't even know they existed! And then it spoke to me. Actually, it didn't speak to me. It SCREAMED.
Why not do something so amazing, so challenging that it may even change your life?!?
You know that little voice inside your head you hear BEFORE the next voice says, "oh, I could never " or "oh, you shouldn't " or "oh, you can't do that"...I decided to listen to my heart and not the negatives in my mind.
Most people do not dream big enough. Most people limit themselves. I do it. I'm guilty. Everyone does...but I decided that day to really challenge myself. I decided to do whatever it was going to take to achieve this dream.
Did it matter that I wasn't even sure I could swim 20 miles? Why would God put this dream in my heart? If God put this dream in my head and in my heart then, surely, I must be able to do it...
I knew I was going to have to work incredibly hard and that no matter how difficult things got I would need to keep going! The second thing I felt strongly from the start was that I could break the Men's Record. The record was 11:45 and for some reason I just knew I could do it. I was completely inspired. That afternoon I wrote out 4 months of practice...
My plan was to do the work and have faith. To be a bright light and share hope and positivity through swimming. I wanted to smash the Men's record and inspire.
That was day one of the dream...
11:01 NEW WORLD RECORD!
There is so much to this story...it's practically gone viral in the media and what you heard about the 15 foot tiger shark is true! I will share the story in a few days. One thing is for sure - The Surf Channel show on this swim will be amazing!!! It was an extremely dramatic and tense moment captured on film by Angel King...
I am elated, excited, in shock...I can't believe I am back in Oahu...I can't believe I have a World Record. Physically, I am doing very well...I 'll let you in on a little secret- I was so excited when I finished the swim that I didn't want this day to end...I put on my high heels and dragged everyone to Fleetwood in Lahaina where we dined on the roof top and I had steak and champagne! My poor, amazing crew was so exhausted...three of them fell asleep in the car on the way back!
There are so many stories to tell...I have decided to write a book about my year in Hawaii training to set a World Record and THE DAY THE DREAM CAME TRUE!
I still can't think straight. I'm about to walk down to the Post Office to send out my official paperwork for this record...WOW. Thank you for cheering. Thank you for the positive energy and the prayers.
The next three photos are from the two days before the swim...
A sunset photo shoot at Kaanapali Beach Hotel is all that's left for today...the crew is here...the grocery shopping is done...they are going snorkeling at Black Rock during their two hour break today. There are so many details but at some point you have to let go. The crew will take over Twitter, FaceBook and gofundme for the next 48 hours. We will try to post some behind the scenes of the sunset photo shoot and in the morning...there are so many things to say and share but there is not enough time...right now I really need to zone out and relax...that means reading Vogue and US magazine and watching Iron Chef, Gossip Girl or the Kardashian's ...just some good, clean fun.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for following and supporting me on this journey. I am in excellent hands and I have faith.
Is the laundry done? No! Are the dishes done? No! Am I in Maui? YES!
I made it to Maui and now the adventure truly begins. The crew will start to assemble and we will be ready for Sunday morning. There have been many, many details that I have been tending to. There is no agent, publicist, chef, travel agent, driver. Just me. Tons of heart and determination!
I need to start handing over responsibility to the team. It has been truly overwhelming and a bit of a struggle to eat right and get the sleep I need and to focus. Yesterday afternoon I swam at Kaimana Beach and it did not feel great. I am at that inbetween stage in taper where your body doesn't know what is going on. I have faith that I will feel amazing by Sunday. Don't get me wrong- I am very strong. Everything needs to be on point to set a world record.
We are still about $400-800 short of fully funding this trip. It is amazing that we are able to fund this World Record attempt between 2 islands and with a crew of 6 people for less than $4,000. It is amazing. So many people and companies have been making this dream come true. Thank you Mokulele Airlines, Kaanapali Beach Hotel, Aloha Salads, the Marsha Nadalin Salon and The Surf Channel.
Thank you Tai at Hybrid Design Hawaii for printing my swimsuits with no notice.
I will write more tomorrow but right now my mind is so scattered and there are still so many details to handle and phone calls to make...
I really need to focus and let go. Let go. Let God.
I will read your words of encouragement. They will fill my mind for twenty miles....
The DREAM is happening! EVERYTHING is happening! We WILL be on the start line come 6am at Club Lanai this Sunday!
Thanks to YOU.
I did not get here alone. There are so many people who are a part of this journey. As of today, more than 40 countries are following this swim. Many of you have contributed in special ways- printing my swimsuits, giving me rides, cheering loudly, great hugs, sweet private messages, kind words on FaceBook and Slowtwitch...this blog is for everyone that will not be able to be in Maui this weekend...
Valisa and Ward were the first friends I made on the Masters Team. This year, Valisa and Ward drove me to EVERY SINGLE SWIM RACE. Every one. Ward even let me change the radio station. And Valisa even ate my awful scrambled eggs that I made in a pot (I couldn't find a pan). She is the definition of a true friend. I consider the two of them my Ohana (family). I wish they could be in Maui but they are in my heart.
James and Matt have been my lane partners Monday through Friday at UH. They're the best you could have! James is technically faster than me (way faster, like 5 or more seconds a 100)- but I beat him in every open water race this year :) except one :( And he tries to take it out on me every opportunity that he gets. I am a very strong kicker (example - last week I was still very tired but was kicking my fast 50s fly on a minute yards holding close to 40 seconds with a board) and usually lead the lane in that. With pulling equipment on I can handle the big boy sets. On IM I hold my own. Matt is a strong sprint freestyler and makes me work hard to keep up. Our lane is full of positive energy and we try to motivate each other and I really love it. Rick and Bill are my lane partners on the weekend. Rick lets me draft off of him and is super nice - I kill myself to keep up and sometimes modify things but I would never dream of swimming in another lane because they are so great!
My friends Gretchen, Mia, Rebecca and Kelly have been so supportive and enthusiastic. They were truly driving forces behind this project...they all live on the mainland, have children and busy lives but always found the time to support and encourage me and help me build a solid game plan. Because of these ladies I now text, have Twitter and a relationship with The Surf Channel and AlohaSalads. I really look up to these strong women and appreciate all of their help.
Thank you to the 40 people who have made financial donations. Simply stated, I would NOT be leaving for Maui this week without your help. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. We made it to the starting line because of YOU. I have paid for the flights and boat and rental car with your money. Right now I am still working on hotel arrangements...
I won't sugar coat it- this adventure swim is an insane amount of work for one person. I am passionate. I am driven. No one in the world wants this record as bad as I do and that it how I am able to handle it. I figure that being the absolute best in the entire world is not easy. So I decided to work harder than I ever have, consistently, and give this dream a million percent and to not quit and see what happens...I still can't believe I'm going sometimes.
The next part is up to me. And my team. They are ready. I will start winding it down soon. It is difficult to handle all of the details and request and focus on swimming.
I NEED TO PREPARE FOR BATTLE.
While I prepare for some personal warfare, getting ready to meet negatives with positives...I just wanted to say thank you and that I carry all of you in my heart.
Thank you for the messages, letters, donations, car rides, phone calls and prayers...thank you for everything!
A few weeks ago I called Leahi Camacho and asked her if she would let me borrow her Shark Shield. Leahi, sweetheart that she is, said yes right away. I am so thankful - we could not afford one and since I am swimming in shark territory it had weighed very heavily on my mind...Leahi Camacho is 17 and just set the world record for being the youngest person to ever swim from Molokai to Oahu...she is a force to reckon with and she has a brilliant future... We have chatted briefly about Channel swimming and I can't wait to join the ranks in a few days and I can't wait to give her and her Dad a hug when I see them in Kona in a few weeks. It has been very comforting being able to talk to someone who has very big dreams and no Channel experience only a lot of passion and heart, like me. THANK YOU, Leahi.
Going to church has really helped calm my nerves. I really appreciate the prayers...I believe in the power of prayer.
This weekend was maybe my second or third entire weekend off of swimming this year. I really needed the sleep- plus now I am all caught up on the Kardashian's and William and Kate and Miley Cyrus. My nails are coated in OPI's Heart Throb (a clear milky pink, I used two coats) and church was awesome. I learn something every time I go. I finally made it to Leonard's for malasadas. The line was super short- less than 15 minutes! And I also got my hair done at The Marsha Nadalin Salon(it's where I get my nail polish, too). Kahea Brown is my stylist- she is fantastic at cutting and coloring and she gives a head massage to die for. I keep joking with her that the next boyfriend I have, we are going to take a private lesson on shampooing and head massages!
Anyway, it was a great weekend! I am ready for this week ahead...
Ten months. 220 + morning practices. 16 x 4-7 hour swims. The training is done. I have done everything I can, made it as difficult as possible...many swims alone, in the pouring rain, rough ocean, not enough sleep...it is finally over. In eight days is the dream. The team is assembled and flights have been booked. I'm crying as I write this partly because I am so exhausted and also because I am so happy and excited and I can't believe I / WE did it.
Raising at least another $800 means we won't be 4 to a hotel room:) and I can stop stressing about renting a car...I kind of forgot we might need one when I started budgeting...also food...honestly, at this point I'm so ecstatic that I will be able to get to the starting line that nothing is going to bring me down.
I have three photos to share that really sum up the last three days.
Photo One: Me the night before my last 5:30 am 6k+ practice...I am flat out beyond tired. Completely exhausted and I know I have more to face in few hours...my face says it all...
Photo two...I have written about it before...there have been many days that I have to walk/jog to practice in the rain. You have to really want it. I want it so bad. I almost smiled when I saw that it was pouring...I thought- I don't care what you throw at me, Devil- this is not going to stop me. Is this the best you've got?!?
It poured, I felt pretty awful...tried to convince Dan and myself that I should get out at 3k and he said, "No. Finish. Go 100,200,300,400, 2x500, 400,300,200,100." (It was choice except the 500s and 300s were all free and on an interval) I only took about 5 seconds between everything except the 500s. My brain was still telling me to get out...my neck and shoulders stopped bothering me on the 500s(holding around 7 min on 7:30) and I got back in the game. I am really thankful Dan told me to keep going. I rarely ever ask to get out. I have to really be hurting. I have only gotten out early maybe twice this year (stopping at 5 or 6k instead of 7 or 8). Anyway, I have really tried to get every yard in. Having coached Ironman distance triathletes and ultra marathoners I know how important it is to get the distance done. It's not about how you feel or what you want but getting the distance in. I wrote my training plan and am 100% confident that it was the right plan...anyway, I am so thankful that I did EVERY practice. Not doing all 6k would have played at the back of my mind and now I am feeling great that I got it done. The photo was taken during the 500s.
Photo Three: Two days off! I get to sleep in. YAY. All I am going to do is read magazines, go to church and have malasadas (donuts), paint my nails, get my hair done at the Marsha Nadalin Salon...proper rest is important and right now it is vital. I want to ready to go on September 22nd. This photo shows I am taking this weekend very seriously!
Have a great weekend everybody! And thank you for all of your support!
Flights are being booked, interviews are coming on schedule...we are $1,000 short...it's very hard to put pen to paper right now...I knew the last two weeks would be a scramble:) to make the dream.
I still can't believe that in a week I'll be flying Mokulele Airlines to Maui! This journey has not been quite what I imagined, kind of like life. I really have to keep my head in the game and take great care of myself...eat right, sleep...and that is so difficult right now...I've lost four pounds in the last two weeks which is the opposite of what I should be doing...so I will just do my best, work hard, pray hard, have faith, keep a smile,eat more, share the spirit and message of this trip which is when life gets tough - you have to keep going! Never give up!
Here is a quote that is inspiring me today...
"Excellence can be obtained if you care more than others think is wise, risk more than others think is safe, dream more than others think is practical, expect more than others think is possible."
6,000 yards here I come...20 miles I am so ready for! $1,000 : IMPOSSIBLE I S NOTHING, BABY!!!!
Two weeks to go: Wow! I can't believe it...there is a beautiful saying by Marilyn Monroe...she says something to the effect that sometimes things have to fall apart in order to come together...at the moment hotel and flights are still up in the air, fundraising is dreadfully short (I'm in the negatives)...but I have a funny feeling that everything is going to be ok.
I can't completely explain it. I don't think the Lord would have put this dream in my heart for it to not happen...this entire journey I have met the most amazing people and made many special friendships. I got to practice in Maui and Lanai. Training at the North Shore for three months was fun, beautiful and challenging. My training has taken me to new heights. 7 hours is something I am very proud of...I have heard and read many times that there is a world of difference between a 6 hour swim and 7-8...it's true. I got to a place that I broke but I know it has made me stronger- I know I can physically swim through it.
Recovery for marathon swimming is a little different than training 10k and down...I found that my training was very cumulative - I have done a long swim and built upon it roughly every two weeks for four months...the majority of my long swims I did the day after an open water race. I really like how that worked out. I didn't really need any major recovery until I hit 4 hour swims- then I only needed about 2 easy days and one day off...once I got to 5 plus hours, things changed. I really made it tough on myself on purpose. I was as tired as I could be, by design, including lack of sleep going into the last 7 hour swim...I have taken 5 very, very easy days and am kind of playing it by ear even though this week is "just" 4 x 6k swims...
While I do worry about certain things - I have faith and my faith will bring me through. I've trained as hard as I could. Now is the time to recover and stay positive and look to the Lord...
Thank you for all of the support. In the last 2 months I have tracked more than 3,000 people following this swim via different websites and I know that there are thousands and thousands more...I appreciate all of your kindness and prayers. I truly need as much help and support as possible over these next few days.
The dream IS happening and the record IS within reach...
7 days: UH Masters swim practice, Maui to Lanai, Maui Channel Relays crew, Waikiki Rough Water Swim, 7 hour open water training swim at Kaimana Beach...It has been amazing. I am exhilarated and exhausted...I started crying hysterically while I was swimming after the six hour mark because I realized that this was the end of all the long, hard training...and I wondered: Is it enough? Am I strong enough? Am I going to make it?
Every question passed through my head and in my heart...I only know one thing. I could not have tried any harder. I met every challenge, I made every practice, I swam every yard...
I entered the seven hour swim very tired. Channel training is very cumulative. You want it to be. I have done very, very long swims every other weekend for the last three months...this week I got very little sleep and raced on Monday. The race is one of Hawaii's open water Crown Jewels. It's a point to point race from Kaimana Beach to the Hawaiian Hilton Village Hotel. Many of the best open water swimmers from around the world fly in. It kind of feels like the US versus Australia (in a good way)! I had a very nice, clean start. I swam on the inside of the course and felt like I was catching people any time the waves kicked in. It was a solid swim. Not fast for me but a very nice training day highlighted by having a pod of dolphins swim underneath me. Pretty fantastic! I love races because I get to see so many friends and have the chance to meet new ones.
Tuesday was the 7 hour swim and I got off to a crazy start. I called a taxi to meet me at 7-11 and while I am at the store buying all of my Gatorade and PowerGels I find out that I grabbed an old expired credit card. Of course the taxi pulls up at the same time. The taxi driver was wonderful (Charley's Taxi) and took me back home, then back to 7-11 and then to the beach! My 6 am start was now just after 6:30! Of course, no one is at the beach at 6:30 am...I dive in, ready to swim to the flag and back a million times til more people show up, and discover that the water is really, really murky. Hawaii murky water completely stresses me out...to me it means "big fish"...on my first feed break I called Bill...I am glad he didn't pick up the phone...so I kept swimming...a group of friends came by and I swam out with them for about an hour further out in clearer water...but after they left it was back to murky, dark water...I know this swim made me tougher. I had to deal with a lot of anxiety...I have some anxiety about my race...everyone knows what has been going on in Maui and while I have the best crew on the planet and a safety plan, it is, of course, on my mind. My family gets so worried and I feel for them...they just don't always understand that swimming, for me, brings so much joy to my life. This swim is not a death wish. It is a life wish. I feel most alive when I swim!
Everyone has to deal with adversity and fear. I am no different. I know that when things get tough you have to stay positive and keep moving forward. It 's the message of this swim...
September 22nd is right around the corner...not all of the pieces are together yet- I am still talking to potential sponsors and I still need to raise more money...but I'm so close to the start line I can taste it!
WE HAVE A BOAT!!! Thank God for Firefighters, LifeGuards and the US Military... They have been so incredibly helpful in this process! Training in Maui was amazing. I flew into Kapahulu on Wednesday. I had no idea that Mokulele Airlines was such a gem! I was very surprised when a tiny plane pulled up...I was expecting something that would fit a few hundred people...this plane seats 8. It was one of the most special trips I've ever had. The view was SPECTACULAR! Hawaii is divinely beautiful and I got to appreciate all of its glory from the sky. We flew through puffy white clouds. I felt like I was in a dream.
As everyone knows, money has been incredibly tight. I got a fantastic deal on my ticket and the trade off was to wait in the airport for a few hours for the rest of the group to show up. While I was in the airport I started chit chatting with a Fireman. I told him about my swim and how I was still looking for a boat...he gave me a phone number and said to call one of his friends...
Maui greeted us with gusts of wind and white caps that afternoon and I wondered what we would have in store for us Thursday. At dinner I ran into someone who has been very supportive and kind since I shared my dream with him this past winter, Trent Grimsey (World Record Holder of the English Channel). We share a lot of the same quirks (we both sometimes get extremely nervous about big fish and bananas don't work for us in the ocean)...anyway, it's the first time I've met him in person and I'm so glad!
The plan for Thursday was to swim sections of Maui to Lanai. Bill and Mark were going to swim the whole way and the deal was to jump in and hang on for as long as I could...Bill swims @3:30 pace and I am more of a 4 hour swimmer but I managed to hang on for up to 50 minutes at a time. I studied the wind and felt the waves and currents. The Auau Channel is incredibly deep...3,000 plus feet...that didn't cause me any problems but what was a little unnerving was the spectacular light show you see on such a brilliant, calm day. It looked like rays of light shooting up from below and it can be a little startling. I saw the section of coral that I will be swimming over twice and figured out what line to go. We were on a small fishing boat with a gentleman who has crewed for Bill 14 times. I will be very honest here...I overstepped my bounds with this nice Captain- I pleaded with him to please, please, please take us to Manele Bay...the Four Seasons Lanai had called last week and I felt that I really needed to meet them in person if I had any chance of securing hotel sponsorship...I felt like this was my only chance and I took it! I am so thankful the Captain dropped me off...I have been doing whatever it takes to make this swim a reality...hours and hours of emails, phone calls, promotion, letters...I have been fighting really hard and chasing down as many leads as possible... The meeting was lovely, the staff at the Four Seasons is impeccable, friendly, warm and polite... and my fingers are crossed!
Friday morning was a relatively short swim and some snorkeling swimmer style (just goggles) to look at all of the beautiful fish near Black Rock. Bill, Mark and I drove out to meet the Firefighter, "Bear", and look at his boat. Long story short, I am thrilled to announce that "Bear" will be the Captain and WE HAVE A BOAT!!! YES!
The Maui Channel Relays took place on Saturday and I was invited to be the timer and crew for Team #18, the most "experienced" team from Oahu. It's invaluable to have time out in the middle of the Channel and I am so grateful...Plus it was a blast to warm up with them! They are the nicest 6 swimmers you could ever hope to meet.
My time on Maui and Lanai was much too short. One day I would love to have time to hang out in Lahaina and Whaler's Village...I did have a quick gelato...but sight seeing is not on the menu right now. SETTING A WORLD RECORD IS.
3 WEEKS, baby! STAY ON SCHEDULE and MAKE EVERY DAY COUNT!
I can truly visualize the dream...I am in Maui and Lanai for a few days of training and crewing for other swimmers. I want to do this amazing training trip justice and write a heart felt blog. Right now I am literally on a boat helping time and organize exchanges and cheering... So for now please enjoy the photos from the Maui Channel Relay. I am on the Shangri-La crewing for Team #18! Go TEAM!
You only live once! Today I am flying to Maui for the first time ever. I am so excited...today the dream seems just a little bit closer... I am going to train on the shores of Lanai and Maui for a few days before heading back to Honolulu for the Waikiki Rough Water Swim and my last long training swim (7 hours). These next few days will be filled with specific training... Practicing where I'll enter and exit the water (there is a lot of coral in the area so it's tricky), practicing swimming into the famous winds (to feel what it's like), practicing with boats and kayaks...
The big day is less than a month away! While it has not quite come together- I am in dire need of financial assistance and sponsors- there are so many positives...for example: less than twenty morning swim practices to go!
Truth be told, while most of you have a glimpse into the marathon swim world - most people will not understand or ever see all the tears that have gone into this swim. They won't see the hours and hours of phone calls and emails. I can't tell you how many times I've heard the word no or have had people tell me to my face that I should reconsider my vision and that I will not raise the money or make this goal...I don't care what the naysayers have to say. They are not the ones training "As If" since December 2012. This is my dream, my adventure, my life and I will do what God put in my heart. I will work hard and I will make this dream...after all...I'm on my way to Maui and Lanai to train right now and who would have imagined that?!?
I SAY WORK HARD, DREAM BIG and GO, GO, GO!!!
INSPIRATION : I draw inspiration from God, my family, friends, athletes, positive quotes... anywhere I can find it. While I believe that achieving great things requires a lot of self motivation- you HAVE TO WANT IT...it can be helpful to look at others.
My greatest inspiration in open water swimming has been Gertrude Ederle. Her story is incredible and holds a special place in my heart. She was the first woman to cross the English Channel in 1926. Most people don't know the back story...that 99 percent of the men at the time did not believe any woman could do it, that she had tried before and failed, that it was truly a race to be the first with 3 women scheduled to make the attempt that week and that when she accomplished this dream she inspired millions of women everywhere. When she arrived back home to New York more than 2 MILLION people came out to throw a ticker tape parade!!! This was before cell phones, TV, the Internet...How phenomenal!?!
This past weekend was my longest swim to date and almost the entire 6 hours, I was thinking of Leahi Camacho- a wonderful young lady that I had the pleasure of meeting when I guest coached in Kona a few years ago. Leahi's dream of crossing the Kaiwi Channel was happening while I swam. She is only 17 and still in high school and out there riding 7 foot waves, dealing with jellyfish and flat out conquering the 26 mile distance. I thought about what she was going through and prayed for her safety and thought, "OK, Mere! Suck it up. Leahi is giving her all for 15 hours today. Come on! YOU CAN DO THIS!" Honestly, the past few months it's been pretty comforting to know that someone else in Hawaii has been chasing their dreams and getting in the loooong swims like I have...
My family is also my inspiration...I don't think my Mom will ever understand how inspiring she. She is so private...she doesn't like me writing about how she battled cancer this year and stayed so positive and played tennis every day that she could...even if it was just for five minutes with my Dad...she is the strongest person I know! My Dad is my hero and truly the family manager- I don't know how everyone could have coordinated all of our schedules growing up without his help. My Dad does not read this blog and is not my "friend" on my main FaceBook page- he loves me dearly but open water swimming makes him so worried. He watched Shark Week ( I never have and won't!) and couldn't sleep for days because he worries about my swimming. I try pretty hard to not talk to him about some of my adventures on the phone ...but I always tell him when I see dolphins! Dolphins are good!
I think it's so important to stay motivated and positive on a daily basis...don't be afraid to draw strength from God and from others...use it to be your best!
SPONSORS NEEDED. The numbers...
6 hours straight swim last Sunday
90 oz. Gatorade
60 0z. Water
2 servings of Honey Wheat Pretzels
$1207 raised - MUCH MORE NEEDED
58 phone calls to make in the next three days
11 hours of sleep a night and...
1 POSITIVE, I CAN DO THIS....LET'S GO ATTITUDE!!!!
My six hour swim went very well...I fell a little bit apart in the last half hour but my tempo stayed high and consistent until then. I had some lovely company for the first hour and a half and then I swam by myself- God bless the Hawaii LifeGuards that watch over me. I am really thankfull at the excellent job and selfless service that they provide. I never feel alone swimming...I know so many support me and really want me to set this record...I thought about Leahi almost the entire swim. I was hoping and praying for her and her squad. I am so proud of her and so excited about her future! As soon as finished swimming I checked the athlete tracker because I wanted to cheer her in...but she had already been finished for forty minutes! Wow! Anyway, she was definitely a source of positive inspiration for this swim and I couldn't be happier for her. She made her dream of being the youngest person to ever swim from Molokai to Oahu come true! See dreams DO come true...
This week is focused on recovery...eating right (hello Aloha Salads!), great sleep, lots of phone calls and emails to potential sponsors/supporters and maybe a visit to Marsha Nadlin's Salon (ask for Marsha or Kahea).
Train AS IF...since I have started this journey, I have had to train, "As if..." It's kind of like training to make the Olympic Team... You start months and months ahead. You practice whole heartedly. There is no room for doubt. You train your brains out, for me - 5 to 6 hour swims...you keep the FAITH that everything will come together. My swimming is coming along fabulously...it almost seems like the easy part. The hard part has been getting sponsors and money for this World First. It's just me getting these Press Releases and emails and letters out...I can do it. Just like my swim, I'm not going to quit. I am going to stay the course, keep going, ask everyone for help and do my best... Around 600 people are reading this little blog and I just wanted to say thank you for all of your support and prayers.
Now about swimming...the last four days of training were extremely varied and fantastic in their own way. I swam in pretty big waves (more than 3 feet)and choppy conditions at the North Shore. I actually got thrown at the beginning...it's so very rare for that to happen to me! Rest assured that I am a very experienced swimmer and this was just a good wake up call to pay super close attention! The day before I was hammering it out with Bill and Rick and Nadine in the pool. Loved it! Monday was a relaxing, stretch out swim in Waikiki - it seemed like a lake compared to the North Shore and I felt very strong and powerful... That carried over to morning UH Masters practice on Tuesday. My main set was 3,000 meters long and I managed to descend the whole set...even though I tend to start so fast! Anyway, training's been great and hopefully, with more hard work and exposure, sponsors will come around soon! Thank you for all of your support!!!
Getting Uncomfortable... this Sunday I woke up all cozy and warm to my rude alarm clock, darkness and rain. I walk/jog to swim practice so sometimes that means I have to do it in the pouring rain. Whenever I start jogging away from the apartment building I have that moment...the moment where you ask yourself how bad do you really want it?
Greatness is made in moments like this. Champions are made at 5am and the days after a race...I don't know any pro who placed in the top 3 at Kona who wasn't back out there at the crack of dawn getting an easy run...not because it's easy- it's really not...it's because it is a key moment to capitalize on. It's an important moment that will make you better. The best always want to get better.
Being the best isn't always easy. It might look easy on the outside but the test is on the inside. Getting uncomfortable is what makes you a better athlete.
It's that simple and that hard...
Could I have slept in? Sure. Could I change to a slower interval instead of trying to hang on Rick and Bill's feet? Sure. Could I go to the beach or mall instead of writing emails to potential sponsors? Sure. The list goes on and on and everyone has one.
The best advise I can give is to stick to your training program. Don't change it. Make every practice. Be consistent. As a coach I tell my clients to not change anything unless we have discussed it. If it's flexible it can be flexible otherwise it's not! You have to have faith in your plan and faith in yourself. Then execute. Get uncomfortable. Welcome it. It's an opportunity to grow...so train with people better than you, do what your coach says even though you don't really want to, get up earlier...there is only one way to get better and it's not the easy way. Greatness does not come easy...but, again, how bad do you want it?
Up next...5 hour and 15 minute swim in 1-3 foot chop at The North Shore. More rain? Bring it!
More than 25 million people will see this swim...this is a unique and fantastic sponsorship opportunity for the right company...Imagine being featured on an international TV show with your company's logos splashed on swim caps, swimsuits, crew uniforms the boat itself, banners...professional photos, radio/tv/newspaper interviews...I have 3 weeks to financially make this window. DREAMS DO COME TRUE. Work hard. Be amazing. Go after every opportunity you can get - I don't just preach it, I LIVE IT. I need your help. Every mention, tweet share idea and penny counts!
"You can never cross the ocean
Until you have the courage
To lose sight of the shore"
- Christopher Columbus
It's an exciting week! Press releases are coming out, more sponsorship meetings are taking place. I need $10,000 in sponsorship money in the next three weeks to make this swim a reality. I train every day "as if". I don't have room for doubt in practice. It's full speed ahead with sending emails and knocking on doors and five plus hour swims this week. I need everyone's help...I know I can swim a million hours...sponsorships seem to be a tougher beast! But I can do it!!! Three weeks! Come on!!!
Hawaii has the most challenging and competitive open water racing on the planet! The ladies are fast and aggressive...this weekend was race four of four at The North Shore Swim Series. I am stoked to have won the 35-39 Age Group Seies Title and have finished 7th. Overall...
My goal was to sneak into the top ten but after making so many mistakes - swimming too wide, getting kicked in the face...let's just say it took a lot of digging nd soul searching and a positive -I am not gonna stop attitude to get the job done!
Hawaii swimming is not like the mainlnd. At most events there are only 2 or 3 total buoys on the ENTIRE course!!! It's up to you to decide where you want to swim (close to shore, wide, straight line) and figuring out Oahu's constantly changing currents and navigating through rocks, coral and islands make the races very technical. Hawaii racing is the best!
I learned alot...I learn something every time I compete and I am always learning new things on long swims. Yesterday I swam four fours in a slightly choppy ocean. Finally some tough conditions! This training swim did not uite go to plan but I am thankfull. I think this wekend made me a little tougher.
I'm also thankfull for the ten swimmers and kayakers that came out to swim a section and lend their support. I really appreciate ALL of the help...the positive notes, FB messages, phone calls, helpfull fund raising advise and monetary donations...THANK YOU. I NEED MORE SPONSORS and I am positive with your help things will come together over the next few weeks.
I am often asked what I eat during ocean swims. Here is what works for me: honey wheat pretzels, PowerBars, gala apples, gummis, Gatorade and water. I recommend trying different things out in practice (both at the pool and in the ocean) to get a feel as to what works best for you. Practice makes perfect!
The BEAUTY of swimming...I am always asked what kind of products I use to keep protected from the sun, my hair undamaged and skin smooth...I spend hours and hours both in the ocean and in the pool. I train five or six days a week come rain or shine and here, in Hawaii, it is usually shine, shine, shine! I swim doubles every week or two. My favorite kind of double is a pool session followed by a trip to the beach. I love kick and pulling sets. I can pull thousands and thousands of meters. While I love pulling, Coach Dan is not always so keen...he is always mentally challenging me - he thinks that physically I can handle most anything which I find amusing.
For a swimmer I am tiny. I am barely five foot six and usually many inches shorter than my fellow competitors and 25 to 45 pounds lighter! With my size 9 feet and super long torso, I might look 6 feet tall in the water but I guess you could say that I am the Kate Moss of marathon swimming!
I like to look my best and always feel beautiful when I swim...so why wear a plain lipbalm when there are so many pretty glosses and lipsticks with SPF...there are plenty of mascaras that don't smudge on goggles...I think wearing makeup to races is fun. Some of the coolest, most patriotic manicures and pedicures can be seen at the Olympics!
Perhaps my biggest beauty battle is with my hair. I am so thankfull that Marcia Nadlin Salon colors and cuts it to perfection. On my own, I slather it with thick conditioners, leave in conditioners and floral/fruity hair oils. I'm not sure who said, "Beauty is pain" but they are wrong! It's easy to look good and feel fantastic with very little effort!
I was blessed to do a photo shoot last week with Angel King. She is a talented photographer based out of San Diego, CA. We headed to the white sandy beaches of Kailua and later traveled to a secluded beach on the North Shore...
What can I say? I loved the glamourous part!!! When it comes to marathon swimming...I LOVE IT ALL.
Happy. Alive. Full of JOY and ENERGY! This photo really sums up this weekend...
Woohoo! Fabulous weekend of racing and training at The North Shore and Ala Moana...a new race report is coming up soon!
My BIG swim is slated for September 22nd and I still need sponsors and financial support...please help me spread the word! The first official press releases come out this week.
I chased a shark!
So last Sunday I chased a shark...I was invited to train with "the guys" - a moderate 6k stopping to look at "The Shipwreck". "The Shipwreck" makes me laugh because it is the world's tiniest shipwreck. If you blinked while you were swimming you would miss it! It's only a few feet long and it doesn't really look like a ship.
Waikiki was super flat. No wind, sunny. The kind of early morning where you know t's going to be a beautiful day. I get teased a bit because I like to take a bunch of short breaks. I'm not the kind of swimmer that likes to swim thousands and thousands of straight freestyle. I like to take quick breaks and mix it up..but "the guys" instructions were very clear. No real breaks until The Shipwreck unless we saw dolphins. Fun rules!
Well, we did not see any dolphins but as soon as we got to "The Shipwreck" someone yelled, "Shark!" Only this was a very gleefull sounding yell. Nonetheless, I held back while "the guys" went and checked it out. A few little sharks scurried away and one big daddy shark slept in the ship. I treaded water and waited. I am not one to invite danger. Curiousity drew me closer and "the guys" coaxed me to examine them a little closer. To my surprise there was a beautiful five foot white tip reef shark about eight feet under me and a foot or two ahead of me...so I did what any normal free spirited marathon swimmer would do - I gave a good chase!!!
I went and chased it! Super fun CHASING SHARKS!!!
Wow. It still makes me smile.
Chasing sharks on a lovely Sunday morning...and chasing my dreams, too.
This weekend I was hit hard... I didn't have an ideal week of training and flew in from California the night before...waking up on the day of the North Shore Swim Series Race #2, I still felt positive and full of good energy. It was an absolutely gorgeous, perfect Hawaii day...the air smelled of plumerias and ocean and the wind was calm and the sunshine warm...I decided to take a different approach to this race - last race, my start was fantastic. I leapt at the horn and had lots of clean, smooth water. This race I decided to go with a different tactic. I got behind the fastest ladies and wanted them to lead out and be on their feet. This was a huge mistake! They did not have a great start, the line was very crowded and next thing I know, I am 100 people back getting punched and kicked! At around 300 meters into the race I could not shake two women punching my purposefully in the arm! It was very upsetting and I had a choice - stay the course and be calm or fight and hit back. I chose to stay the course and try to keep calm...I drifted a tiny bit back to let them go and then was kicked very hard in the right eye!
At this point I was only 50 meters from shore and I had a major moment - I thought, "Should I quit?"
I was extremely upset and hurt. I was not having fun. It would have been very easy and understandable to stop right there...but then I thought about my Maui Channel swim and my message: When things get tough, keep going. Don't stop. THIS WAS THAT MOMENT. I had to keep going! I could not give up. Sometimes life is not about winning first place - sometimes it's simply about surviving. This moment of great adversity would NOT stop me from FINISHING. So I got back in the game...
In the next 400 meters I moved up into the top 50... I kept going and I kept trying. Even though this is the first time in my life I have not podium-ed in Open Water swimming in my Age Group, I am most proud of my result.
37th. Overall and very proud of it.
This race means alot to me. I could have stopped and I didn't. I think this moment is something I will carry with me on my Double Channel swim. I learned alot and I grew... thank you Aloha Salads, the Wards, Dan and everyone who helps me keep things in perspective.
Last weekend I raced at The North Shore Swim Series and then hopped on a plane to Southern California. I love racing in Hawaii...the level of competition is so high. My race was fantastic- I chose a tight line and swam over the rocks just as I had practiced the week before. Swimming with only three or four feet of salt water between you and the jagged rocks on the bottom of the ocean in the rough waters at the North Shore can feel daunting- I was much more confident this time. I was pleased with the outcome - first in my Age Group and 23rd. Overall- less than two minutes back from the champion...will try my hardest to get into the top twenty this coming up Saturday! I debuted the new Aloha Salad swim suit, a lovely, bright green one piece...it reminded everyone of salad!!! Aloha Salad- Healthy. Local. Fresh. Chris Lufrano, owner of Aloha Salads came out to cheer and shared small plates of their salads with all of the swimmers! I am so thankful to them for sponsoring me and also to Valisa and Ward for getting me to the airport on time! The adventure continues with some training in sunny California...more to come on the trip soon!
North Shore Swim training...had a very special Hawaiian practice on Sunday...was invited by two of my idols in the sport (Linda Kaiser and Bill Goding) to swim a few miles at the North Shore...it was great practice for me getting comfortable swimming over rocks...it started out a quiet, rainy morning with a pretty strong current against us at Sunset Beach - and cleared up as we swam along the different shades of blue and over turtles, fish, eels...we swam through a wildlife protected preserve area and I felt as if I was in an aquarium. I saw fish that had a body like a black salad plate and big electric blue tails...we swam behind an area that was a wall of rectangular rock and the white waves were smashing against it like video from a National Geographic special...we swam by Jack Johnson's (the musician) house and he was out surfing and waved hello...and happily we all finished at the same time that the Waikiki Swim Club finished and went to brunch! I love swimming...whether it's in a pool, lake, river or ocean...but Sunday was a special day and I am thankfull/blessed...
16 weeks and two days to GREATNESS!!!
98 swims left til GO TIME!!! It's such an amazing feeling to give everything you have to a dream/to be in total control and have zero control at the same time/to be scared and empowered and strengthened and humbled...I am truly where I am supposed to be. Thank you for supporting and following this world record swim...it is very rare that a female has a shot to not only break a men's record but to forge new ground...too often people limit themselves - when you feel like quiting just regroup and keep going!
NEW DATE!!! Due to requests from current and potential sponsors this World First swim has a NEW DATE... SEPTEMBER 22, 2013.
This gives us more time to properly promote and The Surf Channel adequate time to prepare for this epic journey across the sea! I will include the North Shore Swim Series as part of my preparation and will enjoy meeting new fans and friends at the Aloha Salads tent after the swims...my swim is your swim...never give up on your dreams...LIVE WHAT'S IN YOUR HEART...aim high and DO YOUR BEST.
506,880 minutes in a year...how are you going to spend them?
Everything is right on track for a World Record swim this fall...I have four sponsors in place and am looking for more. As a pro triathlete, most of the relationships I had with my sponsors lasted years and years...I rode Javelin for ten years before switching to Hawk. I worked with Gatorade, PowerBar, Victor Swimwear, Thompson, and PhotoChambers for four or more years. I believe in representing quality products- products that I rely on a daily basis.
Up this weekend...swimming with The Waikiki Swim Club and The San Diego Triathlon Club and then making a social appearance at one of my favorite events- The Honolulu International Triathlon!
Make every moment count...
This swim is...ON!!! Sponsors are coming on board and they all had the same request-please move the date back so we can properly publicize and promote this swim and invest financially. So I said YES!!!
Dreams do come true...this one is just starting...
Thank you for all of the positive messages, emails, leads, donations and ideas. I appreciate everybody's kindness, FAITH and support. We are going to make it!!! Sponsors are coming onboard...MY SWIM IS YOUR SWIM. Keep it up!
"Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others MAKE IT HAPPEN." -M. Jordan...
So much exciting news to share next week, great contacts and partnerships being made, this is really a BLESSED and INSPIRED journey. We can do it, my friends...staying strong, moving forward...MY SWIM IS YOUR SWIM.
Lots of meetings this week! The response has been overwhelmingly POSITIVE. I am so excited about the future...
This weekend I swam around the Mokulua islands from Lanikai Beach in Kailua...please enjoy the photo...
This weekend's training was spectacular! On Saturday I had a double...first, I went to Masters Swim practice at the University of Hawaii...and then I decided to SWIM AROUND AN ISLAND!!! What can I say? It was even cooler than it sounds;) Photos and videos to come later this week...posted on FB and The Surf Channel's page.
On a serious note - I have one week to find sponsorship to make my window. I have streamlined as much as possible and am asking for $15,000. We can do it!!! My swim is your swim.
Be a part of a world first...no woman has ever swam the Auau Channel twice. Meredith will be the first to ever swim from Lanai to Maui and back in the same day!
Mark your calendar: September 22, 2013 Meredith is setting a World Record!!!
She has been training incredibly hard and has her sights on smashing the men's record of 11 hours and 45 minutes and inspiring millions everywhere! She trains heart and soul for this twenty mile swim in the beautiful state of Hawaii. She is a member of the University of HI Masters Swim Team and the Waikiki Swim Club. A former professional triathlete and swim coach, she inspires everyone around with her joy and passion for the sport.
Her message is simple...when faced with lifes challenges - keep going. Never stop...never stop believing in yourself and loving yourself...it's important when faced with adversity to not get stuck. Just keep going!
Meredith needs your financial support. Marathon swimming is very expensive. These costs cover her crew, captain and boat fees, hotel, airfare for 6, photography, SharkShield, etc. This very exciting event is going to be filmed by The Surf Channel. The show is expected to reach 25 MILLION viewers! The title sponsor will be named Executive Producer on a television show that will air internationally!!! The signage and footage in beautiful Hawaii will be unforgettably amazing.
Saw your photo and name on SwimSwam when I was checking out WRWS 2013 pics. We spoke briefly in the water of Kaimana Beach the day after the race. You mentioned that you were wrapping up a 7 hour training swim in preparation for your upcoming 20 plus mile channel swim.
Best of luck!
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