Movement

12 June 2019

It has been a very long while, but here I am…

Have you ever done something for 16 hours straight? I mean, really done one thing continuously. Have you slept that long? What about driving without naps or sitting down to a meal. Heck… have you ever moved your body for 16 hours without even stopping to use the bathroom? I have. I know what it is like to be continuously in motion for longer than I can drive, or run, or sleep, or really do anything else imaginable because I swam that long. I can be categorized amongst a small group of elite people in this world – many of whom I know in person – who have pushed their body beyond its limits, more and less than 16 hours but all equally prosperous. This is an honor I can’t begin to explain. When you go this long, distance almost becomes irrelevant. To go and have gone is the accomplishment. 

I’ve been exposed to endurance athleticism for longer than I can remember. I never thought of marathon swimming to the extent of it being at the same caliber as say an endurance run event, maybe because for me swimming comes more easily. I began toying with the thought of running a 50-mile race recently and found myself stumped questioning if I’d be able to complete this. Ultimately, I’m relatively confident I can if for nothing else, I know I have the mental capacity to overcome the struggles I may endure. Or so I’d like to believe. 

So, from where did this derive? This drive or passion or energy outlet – the latter I think most fitting for most of my life. I’d like to blame my father, and I mean that in the most endearing way, as he is the reason I was exposed to the incredible sport of open water swimming and from such a young age when youth (by number, not by character) was seldom found at each event. For this, I am grateful and I appreciate the value of exposure. Though as rewarding as that was, I think I applied this as my outlet because I believe in it. I believe in the power of this sport. 

To me, open water swimming is not showing up to a race start smothered in butt paste with goggles in hand and laughing with your fellow water logged friends. No, that is the fun part – like the cherry on top. It is the reward for overcoming all the seconds and minutes and hours of internal struggle that you fought through to get to the fun. Rather, this sport is therapy. This sport offers an outlet, an escape, a sense of freedom. I have cried in my goggles because of physical pain due to my environment (i.e. swimming my first ice mile in 35F water temperature or vomiting for eight hours across Lake Tahoe wishing harder than ever to feel dry land). I have laughed alongside kayakers whom I respect more than many close people in my life. There are so many in-betweens of these two scenarios, but I know I have run, run so very far away from people and situations and problems and emotions too extreme to face head on all while pushing stroke after stroke after stroke in the water.

We all experience highs and lows; successes and failures. It hurts to feel and some part of me is gluttonous for the numbing that comes from physically pushing when my mind is too weak in other areas of life. This might sound harsh or extreme, but I know I am not alone in this. How could anyone endure hours upon hours of discomfort if not with more grandiose intent. I believe in athleticism, I believe in endurance, and if nothing else, I know my truth… my greatest and most authentic truth is swimming and being in the water, be it to splash around or push beyond my preconceived capabilities. I slipped off the bandwagon lately and lost sight of my work-life balance, but I’m working to improve this. The power we each hold in making the decision to move and live each day experiencing life through movement is as beautiful as life itself. 

I’m back

20 March 2018

It is lunchtime on a Tuesday and as I sit here at Starbucks sipping a coffee with almond milk (because I took up coffee – particularly espresso – last year and haven’t been able to turn back), I can’t help but laugh a little. I thought it’d be wise to reflect a bit and put down some of my thoughts onto paper. Why? Well, my birthday is Thursday. Thursday, I will be 28 years old. It’s kind of a weird age I think because there is such a dichotomy in where people are in their lives at 28 years old. I’ve got friends from high school who are married, who have a child… or multiples, who have jobs they call their career. All of these things are great, but I also have friends who are still finding themselves, following their passions, and figuring out where they want to be. I think I somewhat fall into the gray area of this whole realm.

I have lived so many lives already; seen so many sunrises and sunsets from so many points on the globe. I’ve climbed mountains, swam oceans and rivers, done volunteer work in slums at the equator line in Africa, and splashed with penguin and dolphin near the Antarctic. Life has given me love – with family, with friends, and in the very few relationships I’ve opened myself to fully, it has given me love as well as heartbreak. It has taught me strength, perseverance, and acceptance. I am grateful, very grateful. Though I did not imagine I’d be sitting at Starbucks two days before my 28th birthday thinking about what to do next.

Let me preface, I finally started a job in November that I thought was THE job. I love the industry, I love the connections I was making, I love every aspect of what the job entailed. Despite the enormous good, it was not the right situation… I’ll leave it at that. Anywho, I follow a good amount of social media accounts that got me thinking. For years as I traveled (you’ll see old posts from when I initially started this blog site) people suggested I become a blogger – my passion for writing, for travel, and for adventure would be able to share middle ground. I never thought possible but now I think why not. Granted, I’m going to have to learn how to focus in more on specific topics or themes because I can have a tendency to cover too many bases.

To save you from my rambles any longer (for now), here it is. This is where I’m going get back to me; where I am going to share my travels in hopes they offer you insights, my adventures and swimming endeavors in hopes they offer you inspiration, and maybe some healthful posts including food or exercise as therein lies one of my other biggest passions. I hope you can appreciate that in revamping and recreating this site, I’m rediscovering myself. I know that each experience leads us to the next and there will always be more good to come. So I continue to take on the world, know that your follow is appreciated and welcomed. Also while you’re at it, follow me on IG: @dseacliff for more of the adventures.

Now don’t mind me, I’ll just be sitting here day dreaming of my next trip back to Hawaii…

Maui • March 2018

River Swimming 

12 October 2015

Who knew that rivers other than the Hudon could be so much fun?! Okay, that is sort of a joke. I am totally bias to the sweet Hudson but I can’t deny the good times I’ve had in other rivers, especially this month. 

A few weeks ago Kathleen Wilson put on a wonderful Swim Around Charleston event! It is a relatively new swim event but one that I’m excited to watch grow. What could be better than a 12-mile swim, surrounded by dolphin, set around a beautiful city, and run so well that the start is almost early it is so on time. I wasn’t a swimmer for this event this year, I had the pleasure of hanging with Kathleen on the official boat all day, but I fully intend to jump in to complete this swim in the very near future! I’d recommend it to anyone. https://m.facebook.com/pages/Swim-Around-Charleston/180662841996941

This weekend I went back to Chattanooga to participate in the Swim the Suck 10-mile swim down the Tennessee River Gorge. Now this is a little hidden gem I’ve known about! I participated in this swim two years ago and loved every aspect of the event! From Friday night’s dinner cooked by Hank Hill, race director Karah Nazor’s father, to the local brew kegs at the end, and every second in between. This is another event I have to give huge kudos to the race director for because through all the chaos, she smoothly runs an event that makes everyone feel as though they are family and keeps them coming back. http://www.swimthesuck10mile.com

Enough preaching about how great the events are in general, which goes unsaid if you have been to either of them but a little more about this weekend in Chattanooga.

I arrived Friday afternoon a few hours before the pre-race meeting/dinner so I headed to the Brewhaus to meet my CouchSurfing host for the weekend, Caleb. Don’t worry, it isn’t as sketchy as it sounds – and I have survived each of my CS experiences with a smiling face. I met Caleb and chatted for a bit, then headed down to the river to jump in for a splash with Victoria (always love seeing her – and she was the reason I came to Swim the Suck my first year!), Randy (I’m working on getting this guy into the cold), and Caroline! After a quick stretch out swim we headed up to Outdoor Chattanooga to check-in. The incredible Karah presented a PowerPoint highlighting the key bits. I won one of the raffle drawings which was entry in to 2016 Kingdom Swim in Vermont! Stoked for that. 

    
  

Victoria and I! 

The Vermontster Ice Swimmers meet again!   
 My assigned kayaker never showed to the event so a dedicated floater kayaker stepped up and offered his service. Now, I won’t deny my unease and he totally knows this because we joked about it after, but in talking with Erich at the dinner he informed me he had never piloted a swimmer before. I was a little hesitant because I’m used to putting my trust in my kayaker (thanks for spoiling me, dad and Lizzy and Alex and Terry and Pat and Margareth and all you other kayak swim support pros!), but all reservations went out the window quickly as we made our way down the river side by side. Erich could not have done a better job and I am so grateful for his incredible support and talent. 

   

 Our finisher awards were hand crafted cutting boards stamped with SUCK and bottle opener key chains, appropriately since swimming is all about the eating and drinking. Karah also designed awesome Suck hoodies! Another important aspect of the sport – the swag. 

 
Erich is in the white kayak and I’m the bobbing head next to him, just after my finish.   
 
It was a rainy but wonderful start. 

   
Met some more of the amazing Palmetto Masters swimmers. 


Thanks again for everything, Karah! And this is Alex Meyer, Olympian beast who competed in the London OW event. 

   
I am really happy with how my swim went thanks to carbopro, jolyn, earth’s best (because broccoli should always be a part of marathon swimming), and speedo. I felt no pain and I remained steady and strong the entire swim!

I have so much gratitude for the open water swimming community and am glad to have the feeling of home in each of the people I’ve met along the way, and in so many beautiful bodies of water. 

Swim happy, everyone! 

The Good Kind of Hurt

You know that feeling you get when you push yourself so hard that every muscle in your body aches? That feeling of pure exhaustion and over exertion that hinders you natural flow? That feeling that makes you want to collapse and scream in agony, yet somehow you also want to smile because you earned that level of pain? I love that feeling. 

I can’t honestly say I was prepared for what I took on this past Saturday and Sunday. I didn’t dedicate a fraction of the time or effort most of my sea friends committed to their training because life got in the way and I let it.  

This weekend I participated in Stage One and Stage Two of the 8 Bridges swimming event in the Hudson River. This is by far one of my all time favorite events – as a swimmer and volunteer. It is also by far one of the absolute greatest open water events in the world, and is in fact the worlds longest stage race. The event is well organized and enjoyable, and takes place in an amazing location. I completed Stage Three a few years ago and loved every second. Since the first year of the event I’ve wanted to do more stages. This year I went for it and registered for the first two stages, with the ultimate goal of making my way all the way down the Hudson soon enough. 

Swimming in the Hudson is like magic. If you’ve never done it then you’re missing out. That might sound strange to most people, and I’m sure I present somewhat questionable having said that, but it’s the truth. An amazing waterway with breathtaking views, I like to think of the Hudson (particularly the 8 Bridges swimming aspect) as an escape. Where else can you transcend reality and societal norms in such a way as to put your head down for hours on end and see nothing but the silhouettes of mountains, the shapes of playful clouds, and…well, your kayaker, because let’s be honest you need them there with you and you see them at nearly every breath you take. It is therapy for the soul. 

Upon arriving upstate in preparation for this event I surprised myself in that I am not sure I’ve ever felt less nervous for an event. I was sort of waiting for it to hit me that I’d be taking on this challenging journey down the river but that slap in the face never seemed to come. I think this has something to do with how great the event is in its entirety. To be surrounded by so many talented, genuine, spirited, generous, and loving people is a special thing, and that’s what this event gives you. I don’t believe the nervous ever set in for me because of the people, my people. Like so many great open water swim events, it is easy to feel a sense of belonging that you might lack in many other aspects of life – at least that is how I feel. This same feeling came over me when I was in Vermont for the Ice Swimming Championships, the feeling of pure bliss in knowing that each individual around you shares the passion you have or nonetheless carries the desire to support that passion in you. 

  
I digress. Stage One was beautiful. We started off with a perfectly calm and peaceful morning picking up just a bit of chop on the second half. To be frank, I don’t have much else to say about day one because it was so great in all aspects. Oh, but I will mention how wonderful it was to finish strong with John smiling on one side, gliding through the water on the paddle board and my amazing kayaker Lizzy on the other side, with a smile on her face as she’d had all day. 

  
Day Two on the other hand was rough. Having been in a car accident less than two weeks ago and experiencing whiplash, I was slightly hesitant in the conditions we were experiencing. The Hudson sure likes giving us a true washing machine adventure. Hour after hour I kept waiting for the moment the river was going to calm down and the sun was going to shine. It didn’t. Despite my neck pains though, it was a fun ride! Maybe not ideal for 7+ hours of swimming but even in those testing conditions, how could one not love being toyed with by the very element in which they came to play? I love it. Toward the end of day two the current changed after only two swimmers reached the ending point, the Mid-Hudson Bridge. All the rest of us who hadn’t made the choice sooner to get out were pulled, as the speed picked up against our favor. That’s how the river works, like magic. 

  
Open water swimming is a test to withstand anything the elements so choose to throw ones way. It’s the price of admission to enjoy the waters and I would happily pay that price any day. Though I was a part of those pulled just shy of the bridge, I have to say I’m pretty happy with myself for swimming nearly 40 miles in two days. I wasn’t sure how my swims would end – now I know, and the worst of it is sore muscles – and I would do it again like that in a heart beat. Maybe with a little extra training time though next year. 

🙂

 

 

SCUBA Honduras, Day Four

26 June 2014

It’s amazing. You set an alarm for 6 am and you wake up at 5 am because of the sunshine and music. Our power went out last night (happens a lot) so we woke up to no power or water or anything. Thank goodness for our breeze!

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Kevin and I walked over to UDC around 6:45 to get ready to go for our dive. He led a bit of our open water group. Diving in the OW was sooo much more exciting! I didn’t bring my camera out for the first dive but we saw a spotted eagle ray, a lobster, a trumpet fish, an octopus, Sargent Majors, and so many more fun things! We came back to the boat to switch tanks etc and then went out for a second dive, during which we practiced a lot more drills. We saw a squid on the second drive! Amongst other neat little sea creatures. Just, awesome.

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I took a little siesta in the afternoon and the guys were just hanging while Andrew was diving… When all of a sudden I awoke to the word fresh cookies! The little shop at the end of our side “rode” to our house had fresh out of the oven dulce de leche cookies with a heavenly filling. Mom – we must imitate this recipe! Yum.

(PHOTO – quote & sign)

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The Mango Inn has a sweet little restaurant owned by a man named Brad. He’s from Minneapolis and bought the Mango in March, fixed it up a bunch, and created a wonderful spot with good food, good music, and great people! I highly recommend if you come to Utila.

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That’s Brad. And this is a disco cat wanderer.

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Time for karaoke at UDC. And another T-Shirt challenge. And an incredible night with tons of new friends.

Good night!

Good night, friends!

Here Again, There Again

22 June 2014

It’s 10:45 pm and I am exhausted. The past week has been super packed with highs and lows. The highest high was quitting my terrible job! Glad to be moving on to greater things. It couldn’t have worked out more perfectly timing wise either.

I got to go help out for Stage 3 of the 8 Bridges swim (one of my all time favorites and run by the greatest people) and spend the day on the water in multiple forms – boat, paddle, and swimming – with some of the most kind and fun-loving people I know! Ed finished his 4 stages strong, Andrew began the first half of his endeavor impressively, and John set a record! Just to name a few neat details.

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Yes, that is his swim suit that Ed is holding above his head. And Ed, since I know you’re reading this… You’re welcome. Told you I was spreading the fun 🙂

I got to spend lots of time this weekend with my friends from Ireland now that their back for the summer!

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Claire, Andrew, Kevin, and I went out with all the others as well. What a great night! Many more to come.

Well, with all that now just a memory off I go again tomorrow on the next adventure. I am flying to Honduras tomorrow to visit my friend Andrew. He is down there for a bit to get dive master scuba certified so I figured I’d join him for a week to get myself certified. Following that I am off to Mississippi to see my friend Stephanie, then Charleston for a few days with my mom. Lots of updates to come!

Sweet dreams, world. x

Editing

5 June 2014

I’ve been laying in bed working on fixing up my blog on this rainy morning. Ed asked me the other day if I had been writing at all. I haven’t, I told him…but he got me thinking. Initially this blog began as a way for my friends and family to know I was alive while backpacking Europe nearly two years ago. Since then I’ve kept it going with blurbs about other travels, random swim events, and some personal inspirations and writing. I think now is a good time to start expanding my topics and making my site a bit more intricate.

Those who know me know of my passion for baking (thanks to my incredible mother who owned a pastry shop while I was growing up!), so prepare your eyes and stomachs for those goodies. Those of you who know me also know how strongly I believe life is about balance so I will probably share some good healthy eats while I’m at it.

Food and swimming and travel and nature and animals and photography and peace… hm. Yeah, those are good topics, I believe! Shoot me some ideas if you think of other things I should share! And hang tight while I figure out this whole link coding stuff so that my topics are grouped flowingly 🙂

Hope you’re having a wonderful Thursday!

dev