March 25, 2015 § Leave a comment


Finally.  FINALLY.  After 2 years of hardly anything, I’ve got a schedule happening for 2015.

So far it’s just water (I have some foot stuff going on, I’m going to go see a doctor about it soon, still hoping to sign up for a half or two in the fall, but for now no running.)


I realize this is backwards in terms of distance, going from the longest swim to the shortest, but what are you going to do.  Also, note that none of these are in the ocean (that’s really just coincidence.)

Time to start ramping up the yardage…

It’s been so long.  So happy to be back.

Lap Swim

March 10, 2015 § 4 Comments

IMG_20141113_113810this is not ‘nam.  there are rules.

You may have noticed the lack of running talk here.  I haven’t run in almost 2 months due to some foot issues.  So I’ve been spending more time in the pool.  This means a lot of time at lap swim.

I’ve been told that lap swimming can be intimidating for non-swimmers.  I assume it’s like the one time I decided to go on a ride with the local cycling club.  I was stressed and felt like I was in everybody’s way the entire ride.  That is why it only happened once.

I like to think that swimmers are not like that group of cyclists.  But that is not always the case (see: here).

Once, I swam for a team in the Czech Republic.


That is (a very pale) me and my Czech coach, Jura, at a meet in Vienna.  And for posterity’s sake, here is Jura in his coaching uniform:


But before Jura saw me swimming one day and invited me to join the local club team, I swam during lap swim at the local pool.  The pool was next to my apartment and was actually really awesome.


Lap swim at this pool, however, was not awesome. Couples would make out in the middle of the pool, people swam on whatever side the lane they wanted to, and sometimes the guards just wouldn’t put lane lines in and people would swim both the long and short length of the pool, like this:


Total chaos.  (That picture is actually WAY more orderly than the pool ever was, because without lane lines nobody was swimming in a straight line.)

Imagine it’s a beautiful day and you head out on a run.  But every time you pass a bush or a parked car someone jumps out in front of you.  That is exactly what it was like.  And after colliding head on into the supple belly of yet another scantily clad octogenarian for the umpteenth time, I would be like, “WHAT IS HAPPENING!  THIS ISN’T THAT COMPLICATED!  DOESN’T ANYONE HERE FOLLOW THE RULES?!?!?”

swimming-skewed-downold czech men: i swim where i want

So many days I left the pool knowing that the only reason my heart rate went up at all during my “workout” was because I was about to get homicidal.

But those days are behind me.  Now I swim at an absolutely gorgeous Olympic-sized pool, where there are rules posted in English and established lane lines and I can converse with people outside of a simple “Excuse me”.

1237408_589180961134440_251501823_omy current pool

And yet lap lane strife continues.  And not just between experienced swimmers and new swimmers.  I watch new swimmers butt heads with other new swimmers every day. Figuratively and literally.  Lap swim strife abounds.

Sharing a lane with other people is easy.  It really is.  Sharing with people who aren’t the same speed as you is totally doable.  You just have to know the rules.

SO!  For everyone’s sake…


First things first: Where to swim

  • Splitting a lane–When there are only two people in a lane, you can “split” the lane.  That means you just stay on one side of the black line, that is your side of the lane.  Simple.  No reason for any conflict.


  • Circle Swimming– This happens when there are more than 2 people in a lane.  As the picture at the top of this post depicts, it means you always stay to right.  Much like you would if you were driving (in the US).


Odds are, if it’s at all crowded, you’re going to have to circle.  Just the way it goes.  And in my experience, circle swimming is where things begin to go downhill.  So…

Next: 5 Basic Rules for Circle Swimming

  1. If the lanes are marked by speed (slow, medium, fast), do the best you can to be honest about where you belong compared to the other swimmers in that lane.
  2. Swim on the right side of the lane (as mentioned above)
  3. Pass on the left (as you would driving or cycling)
  4. Give people space. Don’t push off the wall right in front of someone else who is about to turn and start a new lap, and don’t push off the wall right behind someone who just started a new lap. Give a person 5 seconds at least before you push off behind them. Personal space. Recognize.
  5. Be aware of your lane mates.

Rule #5 is really what it all comes down to.  When your head is in the water it’s easy to be oblivious to everything else around you.  But lanes can get crowded, and not everyone swims at the same speed.  You’re sharing the space with varying ability levels and should act accordingly.  Which brings us to…


  • If someone is about to pass you in the middle of the lane, just stay calm and keep swimming straight and to the right and leave it up to them to get around you.  And don’t be an asshat and speed up and race them as they pass.
  • If someone is on your feet when you come into the wall, or if you notice someone is catching you, just stop on the wall, in the corner, and let them pass you there.  It’s a lot easier than passing in the middle of the pool.
  • If you are the person passing someone, make sure no one else is heading down the lane in the other direction.  Avoid collisions.


Pretty straightforward.

There are certain situations that are, in the long run, unavoidable at lap swim (the lady with the breaststroke kick that takes up the entire lane, the old dude who crosses over onto your side every time he breathes…)  That is the nature of the beast.  It’s always a craps shoot.   Which leads to….

My biggest piece of advice: when you head into lap swim, be prepared to be flexible.  Pool’s is empty?  Awesome!  Killer workout exactly as you have planned.  One of those days when everyone decides to go to the pool at exactly the same time and there are 8 people in each short course lane, at least two of which are old ladies that don’t want to get their hair wet?  That sucks.  Do your best.  And next time you might have 4 lanes to yourself.  You just never know.

Stick to the rules, apologize when you run into someone, forgive others for their trespasses, and keep things in perspective.  It’s just one swim.  Everything will be fine.

DSC01496the beginning of what i believe to be some sort of water polo practice in CZ.  and yes, those are fins and snorkeling masks.  i don’t know.

awesome square-headed swimming diagram via

The Endurance

March 5, 2015 § 3 Comments


I recently finished reading The Endurance.  I really need to stop whining about how cold our house is in the mornings.

A few years ago I started following a blogger who may have mentioned once or twice that Shackleton is her hero.  At the time I was like, pfft, explorer, whatever.  Then a few months ago my dad mentioned him and was like, no, seriously, that is a crazy story, it’s such a good book.  And I was looking for a book anyway.  So  I went online to check it out and ordered a used copy for one cent on Amazon Prime.


…and this hardcopy behemoth was delivered.  But turns out it is actually great, because the photos in there are incredible.


Basic synopsis: British explorer attempts to make the first land crossing of the Antarctic continent in 1914.  Not something I would have ever picked up on my own.

Legend has it that Shackleton placed this ad in the paper to find his crew:



Tim Ferris recently used this to advertise for a personal assistant (true story).  The book never mentioned it, and from what I’ve read elsewhere it sounds like there’s no proof that it ever existed. But it’s awesome to think that the crew was made up of people who would respond to that.

One of the remarkable things about this trip is that in addition to including a photographer, Frank Hurley, on the crew, Shackleton and a large number of the crew kept journals religiously.  Shackleton had struggled to scrape together the financing for the expedition and had sold exclusive story and film rights prior to his departure, so the trip was documented extensively.  When things were looking really, really bad, many continued to write.  Even when (SPOILER ALERT!) they had to abandon ship and had to leave behind everything except for emergency provisions, all of the journals and a sizable portion of Hurley’s negatives, as well as his basic photography equipment, were considered important enough to be saved.


Pretty awesome.  A few other takeaways:

First:  You (or at least, I) would assume that there would only be room for one expedition of this magnitude, with this amount of risk, in a lifetime.  But for Shackleton, and many crew members, this was their second, or third, or FOURTH trip to the south pole.  From England. On a boat.  In the early 1900s.  Following the expedition, a number of them went to fight in the war, then came back and went on even MORE arctic explorations, then finally settled down and led regular lives as pub owners or fishermen.  What.

Lesson 1: there is time to accomplish a lot of big things in life.  Don’t let the magnitude of something stop you from trying.

Second: (again, SPOILER ALERT!)  The expedition never even set foot on the continent, and yet their story is held up as one of the greatest, most amazing adventure/survival stories of all time. In a letter to his wife Shackleton wrote, “I have done it.  Damn the Admiralty…not a life lost and we have been through Hell.”

Lesson 2: “Success” redefines itself over time.  You never know what it will look like.

Third:  Shackleton was a badass and that was why his crew survived.  Not because he performed superhuman feats of strength, but because through subtle, everyday actions he conveyed a fortitude and unwavering faith in the crew’s collective ability to succeed, no matter how horrifically bleak the situation.  Caroline Alexander wrote:

“(Shackleton) would be remembered not so much for his own accomplishment….as for what he was capable of drawing out of others.  …  The mystique that Shackleton acquired as a leader may partly be attributed to the fact that he elicited from his men strength and endurance they had never imagined they possessed; he ennobled them.”

Lesson 3:  How you act really does effect others.  Stop complaining so much.

And seriously, the pictures.


Good read.  Great story.  Check it out.

400 IMasochism

February 24, 2015 § Leave a comment

IMG_20141113_113142 (2)

Yesterday was a little bit of a struggle day, mentally and physically.  I felt crappy.  I decided the best way to deal with it was to pile on a little more pain.  So I went to the pool and did a 400 IM.  Legally.  LONG COURSE.

I haven’t done that in over a decade (because why in god’s name would you).  It wasn’t pretty, but I didn’t cheat.  It was legal, two-hand touches and all.  Sometimes a little personal victory is all you need to lift you up.

Hurts so good.

Perhaps you can roll by yourself

February 14, 2015 § Leave a comment


Love does not consist of gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction.

~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Happy Valentines day.

pulled from the wonderful maria popova‘s piece on shel silverstein’s the missing piece meets the big o

Got Some Yoga in my Pocket

February 13, 2015 § 1 Comment


I’ve now had my Pocket Yoga app for a month.  Initially I tried to do it every morning, but work got so busy that even waking up at 5 didn’t give me enough time.  So morning yoga has only been happening occasionally.

That being said, a few learnings from the mornings that I have been able to squeeze in a little down dog:

  1. You can still injure yourself.  I used to think my injuries were the result of me not wanting to look stupid in front of the teacher and/or classmates.  Not so!  They can happen anywhere.  So be careful.
  2. You can still sweat. I was skeptical, but it’s true.  Just don’t cheat.
  3. Stretching in the morning feels incredible.  I can’t emphasize this enough.  It seems obvious, but somehow after years of doing serious cardio workouts before dawn and “stretching” before we started, I never fully grasped the ecstasy of it.  Now, if I can’t do a 30 minute session in the morning, I do 3 minutes of sun salutations.  It makes everything creak and groan and afterwards, feel amazing. Hasn’t replaced my coffee, but it’s a really wonderful way to wake up.  Seriously.  Try it.
  4. You look stupid doing it.  Duh.  I always look stupid doing yoga.  But that’s the joy of doing it AT HOME.  I did accidentally set up my yoga mat next to a mirror one time, maybe don’t do that.  (Even though I think the official stance by yoga pros is you are supposed to be near a mirror so you can work on your technique.  Or, in my case, “technique”.)
  5. It’s way better than I thought.  I’ve actually gotten much more out of this than I expected. If I find myself struggling to concentrate during the day, I’ll take 10 minutes with the app.  If you’re wavering on it, give it a try.  It’ll only cost you $3…and your dignity, should your friend walk in on you.  But it’s worth it.

photo: me perfecting my arrow in a grassy field.
did you even believe that for a second?  via

Text of the Day

February 10, 2015 § Leave a comment


There’s a guy asleep in a shopping cart in your driveway.  Do you know him?

-sent to a friend, from her neighbor

photo via


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