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! 

From A Real Poet

20 August 2015

I came across a quote today that instantly shivered me from head to toe. The goose bumps came from a place of relatability and reflection. This quote by Muriel Rukeyser, a great American poet, touched me for its most simple and basic explanation of truth. 

“The journey is my home.”

Why is this so powerful? Well, I already explained the emotion it evoked within me. But that is just it. Rukeyser essentially summed up in five words the pure essence of my existence. 

Having recently moved my home base, I can’t help but to yearn for the road. I love it here – the people, the climate, the culture. It is great, don’t get me wrong. Though my true self can’t help but to feel as though I’m in a cage. Maybe a shark cage…like those cages people go in to watch sharks, I mean. I feel like I’m in that cage now, watching the sharks swim around when all I want to do is be in the open with them. 

It is that open sea that is the journey, and that too is my home. 

  

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. 

🙂

 

 

Iceland Day Six

1 April 2015 

Happy April Fools, ya fools! 🙂

Today was by far the most incredible scenic span of road we’ve driven thus far on this trip. We left our little Laekjarkot home in the mountains just outside of Borganes and headed toward Stykkishólmur. The drive was about two and a half hours but along the way there were a few fjords to check out, amongst beautiful black sand beaches. We took the long road that follows the coast line of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula because it was meant to be a beautiful drive. Well, it would have been if we were able to see the road! I was at the wheel for this leg and we had TOTAL white out conditions. Remember how I mentioned that Iceland and Florida have weather condition (despite temperature) similarities? Yeah, proof once again. The snow and winds were so intense that we couldn’t see five feet in front of us – we could barely see the car on our tail. Sorry buddy, I wasn’t in a rush to drive where I couldn’t see. Anywho, check it out… 

   

Once we got in to the mountains the wind calmed down a bit. Our next challenge was the curvy unplowed (seldom, at least) road that stretched the middle of nowhere.  

   

We came across these neat little pockets of river playing peek-a-boo through the snow. 

   

    

Until we finally saw water once again.  

 

When we got to the shore line we discovered the most magical black sand beaches. I’ve read of these beaches in Hawai’i but never had the chance to see them. Wow!

   

   

   

     

Every stretch along the way from here to our little town for the night was jaw dropping; the churches, the waterfalls, the glaciers, the fjords. 




      

  

     

These views don’t get old. We were so excited to see our first fjord! I mean, can you beat this gorgeous piece of Mother Nature goodness?!

   

We arrived to Stykkishólmur a bit earlier than our check in time at the hostel so we explored what the town had to offer. Now, this is a big town here in Iceland. Many told us not to miss it so we intentionally stayed the night here. Fifteen minutes after arrival we had seen it all! Ha. It’s yet another beautiful spot, don’t get me wrong! Probably one of our favorites. 

   

  

See that little red dot in the top right corner of the picture above? That’s a light house – remember that for later in this post. 

 

I found the famous rye bread in a little bakari (bakery) they make here. The woman in the shop told me they cook the bread for twenty four hours and in empty milk cartons. So neat! Mom, I will try to bring home an authentic recipe. SO good. 

  

We got a recommendation for a yummy restaurant for dinner and it just so happened to be about 8 steps from our hostel’s back door (size perspective of town). Of course the entire menu was seafood based. Do you know me? If you do, you know I don’t eat seafood. I put on my big girl pants and tried the fish burger made with a fresh cod they caught locally. Alex had a bunch of mussels and then spoon fed her self the sauce. She loved her meal; I did not. But that’s okay! I tried it, and I am beyond sure that anyone with an appreciative palate for seafood would have loved it! 

 

 

We can’t figure out if eating at 7:30 pm is equivalent to the early bird special (sunset isn’t till ~9 pm right now) or if there just aren’t enough people around to make a restaurant look full. Great spot though! And primo local brews! 🙂 

    

Once we finished dinner and dessert, we literally ran (I mean it – literally!) out the door and through the docks, across the harbor, and up a big hill to catch the last moment of the sun’s flirting colors as they submerged below in to the oceans blue. Remember that red light house a few photos ago? Yeah, that’s what we RAN up to after stuffing our faces. Wise decision? Maybe not. Worth it? ABSOLUTELY. 

 

  

  

  

  

Still not regretting being somewhere warm x

Iceland Day Five; We Meant To Do That

31 March 2015

“That” being sleep an hour and a half past our alarm then drive an additional eight hours than intended (kind of) today. 

Let’s start with how last night ended – frozen hair in the hot tub and discussing the Northen Lights with our new friends from London. We saw one while we were all getting to know each other, though it’s probably debatable as it also may have just been a cloud. It was another beautiful night regardless. The man at the desk told us all he would give us a wake up call if the lights danced in the sky through the night but we never got that call. 

So as I mentioned we got moving a little late, we hit the road by 7:45. Our planned direction this morning initially was supposed to bring us back up a bit North of Reykavik but multiple people told us that making that extra stretch east along the southern coast toward Jökulsarlon to see the Glaciers was worth it sk that’s what we did. The driving was insane at points along the road – super strong winds and covered in ice. Alex maneuvered the speaker system and set up our iPhones with Bluetooth so we could jam out…to Christmas music. Ha. Anywho, check out this drive – we saw some glaciers along the way too: 

   

 

Baby volcano.

   

Glaciers we are going to be climbing Saturday.         

My new friend with four legs. 

This view from our guesthouse tonight is beautiful. Like everything else. Even if we did drive past the street three times. 

           

Iceland Day Four; Not Lost in Iceland

30 March 2015

The alarm went off and we hit snooze. 6:30 felt too early, so we decided 7:30 would feel better. It did. After breakfast we said goodbye to Ingi, our Igdlo host who was beyond hospitable. The car rental facility picked us up and we got our wheels for the week.

 

 I’m very purple today. Bye, Reykavik!

  

We hit the road toward PING PARK and got lost in the frozen tundra… but not really. It was breath taking – reminded me of a road trip I took out in the Western US with my grandfather and his older brother when I was in high school. Alex and I were warned about the winds on Golden Circle road but only realized just what everyone meant when we made our first stop. 

     

The map nearly flew out the window. We drove in a bit further and found a beautiful lake. Of course, my immediate reaction was how I wanted to jump in. Then I got out of the car. Brr!!!

   

         

 

As we continued down the road through the park to the town of Geysir to see one of the largest natural geysers in the world, we had the parking karma gods in our favor (this a very busy site), we rushed out of the car to catch a glimpse. Wow! How neat. Alex has seen geysers before and being that she is a earth science teacher, she taught me about the pressure build up under the very thin crust. A handy travel companion in a place like this 🙂 

   

      

I have some awesome photos on my camera of this, but since I’m doing this blog 100% from my phone you’ll have to know me to see those back home. You need to see this. All of you! You must see Iceland. 

We followed the one main road and a whole bunch of roundabouts to a small town called Hella where we are staying for the night – we splurged, $40 each for a hotel instead of a hostel. Man oh man was this worth it! Stracta Hotel is insanely fresh. That’s a good thing. It opened last summer so everything still feels new and smells of fresh wood (again, it’s a good thing). We ate a quick snack of cheese and crackers then headed in to their hot tub and sauna for the evening. 

   

        

Check out our view from this place, just a few volcanoes. One ready to erupt any day now. No big deal. 

   

  

Oh, and our room number matched my swim cap I packed. Meant to be. 

 

Alex had a yummy fish soup for dinner (her second fish of the day) made with fish caught across the street. I had a bar and a gerber sweet  potato squeeze. Well balanced meals, ha. The wonderful woman who works here gave us a little treat sampler. Wish we knew her name but when Alex asked she said its a typical Icelandic name that’s too hard to pronounce. 

 

Hot tub again now, then bed. Early up to explore the icebergs! 🙂 

Iceland Day Three

29 March 2015

Happy Birthday to one of my very best friends! Alexa, I hope you had the most wonderful day x

We slept so well last night! I don’t think we budged an inch till the second the alarm went off…ten and a half hours later. Our intention this morning after breakfast was to meet in the city to go off on our glacier climbing adventure! But it didn’t work out that way. Alex booked the tour for us last week back in NY but slightly misread the transportation situation so we didn’t have the means of getting to the glacier, ha. Fret not, my friends! Today worked out for the better. We came back to the hostel, showered, rearranged our weeks schedule, then booked and made our plans for the rest of the week – which still include glacier climbing, amongst Rift Valley snorkeling between the tectonic plates (!!!), lava cave tube climbing, and fjord exploring. Yup, be jealous. Iceland is pretty neat & I’m still glad I’m here rather than Miami (sorry, ekk).

  

Did I mention we woke up to fresh snow? Iceland is a lot Ike Florida. Okay, that sounds bizarre. What I mean by that is that we woke up to snow, then walked for a while and put on sun glasses and took off our rain coats, then at one point we walked in to a store and it started raining, then we walked out of said store to hail. Then the sun shone once again. And then it hailed with the sunshine, for three minutes. It’s basically the same as Florida…except cold. 

We walked all over downtown Reykavik and booked a few more nights at a backpackers hostel and the popular Kex hostel (where DM told me Mumford & Sons has played!). Check out this view near the Cathedral:  

 and the Cathedral:  

  

  

  

 

Mom, I thought of you when I saw this bar stool. How neat is this!  

 We stumbled upon some live local (religious?) music in the flea market.  

 And found an Irish pub down the road from some graffiti.   

  

  

Alex found a great new outfit & I found a great way to prioritize time. 😉 (I did NOT purchase this, to be clear.)

  

 The views along the water are incredible. 

   

We stopped at the hostel to drop our stuff and change before heading out for dinner and drinks. We settled on Indian food – cannot believe Alex has never had Indian before, so what better place than in Iceland to try it (I had my favorite Indian food ever in Luxembourg) – then walked around till we came across a great little Irish pub. Side note: why is it so hard to find people in Reykjavik when the population is 208,752?! Our New friend pointed out it was a Sunday. Oops. We listened to Irish Folk music and sipped our Icelandic Einstök white ale until the third Einar we met decided there was no better topic than American Politics to discuss with us. Learned a lot about sensorship and the figure head that is the Icelandic president. Interesting is an understatement. This bar was pretty cool though, it was a whiskey bar. Alex and I had the feeling it was definitely the type of place our swim friend Ed R. would have loved. 

    (Einstök: Thinking you you, Brian!)

     

 

Alex had the yummiest alcoholic ginger beer with lime. Need this is the US!

  

The Indian restaurant had the best poster in their bathroom: 

 

And how great is this miserable statue near the city center?!

 

 

Love the street art. 

  

Driving to a geyser tomorrow. Woohoo!  By the way, have I mentioned how I won’t miss the smell of sulfur in the water? Bleh. Night!