Sunday, August 28, 2011

Swim to the Moon :)

     Ok, I'm not quite sure how to begin talking about this race.  I guess I should go back to childhood.  I was a shy, quiet girl in school, most of you know if you've read anything in the earlier blogs, so I won't get into that.  But anyways...I felt like I was never good at anything besides swimming, and in high school I was a pretty strong swimmer.  Could of been more if I ate better and had more positive thoughts.  Anyways..I always had big dreams.  (Who admits this?  lol)  
     I ran a marathon at the age of 22.  A long, long time ago I had the goal of swimming the English Channel.  When I met the runners of Medina County, I found out what ultra-running was and wanted to do that, too.  (And, secretly, an Ironman...perhaps ultra-ironman races too)  Why?  I'm not sure.  I'm not sure why I enjoy exercising for long, long periods of time or what motivates me to do these things.  Whatever it is, it's in my heart.  It's like something is pulling me towards it.  I love it.  I love being out in nature, enjoying the beauty that was created for us.  Maybe that's one reason.  With swimming....I don't know...I've always loved it.  Before I swam on a team, I was ALWAYS the last kid in the pool, never really wanting to get out.  I love how the water feels as I pull through it with my stroke.  I love how these activities make me better prepared to handle any situation that is thrown at me in life.  I love how I can think more clearly, love and appreciate the people in my life more, and take on challenges, not only physically, but with the mind as well.  
     I used to be a negative thinker.  As I've grown up, my thinking has changed more to the positive.  I don't doubt myself too much anymore.  I've put in the hard work, and I'm ready to perform.  (Whether it's athletically or in school/work)  It doesn't matter how fast or slow I am compared to others, what matters is that I give it MY all.   I always know I'll finish the event.  That's no question (as long as I train, hydrate and eat properly...this will need some work though as I grow and enter more races, and more races of greater distance).  There's this one quote by Apolo Ohno..(yes, I like to read about Olympic athletes..:)  "I acknowledged the negativity....then I let it go."  Very powerful.  No use in being negative anymore.  It gets you nowhere.  And "You can't put a limit on anything.  The more you dream, the farther you get."  Michael Phelps-I believe there is truth in that statement.  After letting going of negativity in my thoughts, I realized that I COULD do these things that I wanted to do.  I have had some great role-models, such as my parents for always working hard towards their goals and never giving up.  They are probably some of the most hardest working people I know.  Also, ultrarunners of NE Ohio.  Yep.  You all have amazed and inspired me.  Then, joining Team Toledo Triathlon Club.  There's a bunch of people older than I am too competing in triathlons and Ironman Triathlons, both men and ladies!  How cool!  So, I know there's real people out there doing these things.  If they can I :)
     Anyways...I'll say a bit about the actual 5k swim lol.  I knew I'd be able to finish, no doubt in my mind.  Some people say 1 mile of swimming=4mi of running.  I'm not quite sure if I agree with that.  That means I would have run like 12mi today, I don't think I put that much effort in the water lol.  My goal was to swim in under 1:30, hoping to swim around 1:20ish if I swam fast.  I'd be happy with 1:30. Friend from Team Toledo told me to use the first 500yd as a warm up.  So I didn't go out too fast.  I still went out fast, but not too fast.  All the other girls in my wave went super fast at the start.  I never know how I'll do compared to others in my wave because this summer I entered races that I had never done before.  So I wasn't sure if they were just going to be way faster than me or if they were going to die out.  A lot of them lost their speed and I was able to pass.  I eventually caught up with some men (hehe) and my friend who was with me did as well (this always makes us feel awesome LOL :)  I quite enjoyed swimming in Lake Michigan.  The water was clean, dark, but clean.  It was fun swimming around buoys and looking for the next one.  Swimming through a tunnel and under a bridge was cool, too.  I finished in 1:22:30.  I definitely could have swam faster, I think..but with distance swimming (especially it being the first 5k race you've entered!)  you want to make sure you save energy for the whole thing.  So I didn't go too fast.  It was a steady pace.  I didn't even see the finish until the last buoy!  Which is when I sprinted :).  Clearly...distance swimming...and distance anything is more what my body was made for.  (Which is awesome because I like it!)  
     I'll probably do it again next year.  I'd like to get into more open water swimming because it's fun and challenging.  My friend from FL said she'd crew for me when I decide to swim the Tampa Bay 24miler, and I'd like to swim the English Channel.  Yep :)  
     On another note, for my exercise physiology class, our teacher asked us to find a topic within the exercise physiology field and find a research article to share in a few weeks and lead a discussion on it.  We eventually have a review paper on that topic due at the end of the semester.  I am interested in seeing how body fat vs training effects certain endurance athletes (particularly ultra-endurance athletes) of different disciplines like ultra swimming, ultra-running, and ultra-ironman triathlons.  I found one study on male ultra-swimmers about body fat, height, leg and upper body measurements vs training volume and intensity.  Some studies say that having a higher amount of body fat will help in long-distance swimming because of the cold water (yes, true), but in this study they actually found training intensity and volume were a better indicator of race time.  Now, if I recall correctly, the men had an average body fat % of 17, at about age 40.  Which is I believe in the healthy range, but not athlete range (don't quote me, I haven't written the paper yet)  Interesting.  I also found more studies about ultra-runners and other ultra-athletes where body fat isn't always the best indicator of race performance.  Yes, you don't want to carry around excess fat, but what I've found so far that as long as you're still in the "healthy range or slightly higher," you can perform just as well as your leaner competitors, given the same training volume and intensity.  It seems training volume and intensity are a greater predictor of race time.  So..I'll post my work when I'm ready.  I want to study all endurance athletes and their measurements vs training variables.  It's cool stuff!

"To accomplish your goal, you have to be willing to sacrifice beyond what others are willing to sacrifice; you have to be willing to train at levels others are not willing to train at; you have to be willing to accept accomplishing goals that others never reach."  John Schaeffer

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