BRL Sports Nutriton- Tri Fuel

Let me start by saying that there is no one agreed upon nutritional drink for endurance athletes. This is problematic when you are training for a marathon swim, where you will be depending on your drink to fuel potentially 15+ hours of non-stop swimming.

After “renting” what I tried to drink after the first few hours of my English Channel crossing, I went back to the drawing board to find a mix I could use that wouldn’t make me sick, as well as have the perfect amount of calories, protein, salts, carbohydrates and sugars, for swims ahead.

Having spent some time studying human physiology at Smith College, I knew that a drink for a marathon swim would need to contain the following:

1. Enough calories to fuel the exercise and keep the athlete warm (if swimming in cold water)

2. Not have too many calories to the point that the body can’t digest it all, and thus the athlete becomes nauseous.

3. Have a small portion of protein to accelerate the muscle repair process. (Muscles breakdown during extensive exertion)

4.  Have some salt and sugar content to prevent “bonking” and cramps

5.  Have carbohydrates for quick burning energy

6. Able to be dissolved in 8 ounces of water. Due to keeping my “feeds” in the 15-45 second range, I can’t chug more than 8 ounces. I needed a product that would be able to be dissolved in a small amount of water to prevent clumps of undissolved powder.,..yuck.

I came across BRL Sports Nutrition about a year and a half before I was going to undertake a 120 mile swim down the Hudson River called 8 Bridges. BRL Sports has a product called Tri Fuel which is marketed as a 3 in 1 endurance and recovery drink. This immediately peaked my interest as most of the drinks I tried separated performance and recovery. 8 Bridges was a back to back 7 day event, where you have less than ~14-16 hours to recover before the next marathon swim.  It only made sense to start the rebuild during the performance.

In addition to the optimal amount of calories per serving 112 per 8 ounces, it includes branched chain amino acids (BCAA’s), carbohydrates, amino acids for recovery/endurance, an electrolyte complex, and an anti fatigue complex (vitamins C and E). It is 100% drug free and in compliance with the WADA, UCI, IOC, and NCAA.

When using this product I found that I not only felt sustained with improved endurance and lack of hunger and cramping while swimming, I also felt that my recovery time decreased as I was already reducing muscle breakdown while I was swimming. This is crucial. Recovery is key to get the best out of every workout and for a multi-day endurance event. If you don’t recover, you don’t swim your best the next day, and jeopardize your chance of finishing.  In addition, the electrolyte content eliminated my cramping (especially since I was swimming in direct summer sunlight),  and I was able to digest it with ease and experienced no “renting symptoms.” I felt sustained and never had feelings of muscle weakness or “hitting the wall.” Since I was able to drink it in 8 ounces of water, my feeds remained fast, which means more time gaining distance. It does have a bit of a chalky texture, but given the vast variety of benefits, it was very easy to get used to.  My biggest hope is for more flavors (although lemon lime is my favorite).

I’ve now been using Tri fuel for about 2 years, and I have been fully satisfied with my performance. I used Tri-Fuel for almost 40 hours during 7 days of competing it was my only nutritional beverage for the whole event (besides supplementing with water during between swims). I also use it every day for my training. I feel that just the time alone I have spent using Tri-Fuel as my nutrition for 8 Bridges speaks volumes about the products quality, and harmony with ones body.  I know what it was like to depend on a nutritional drink that fails you after 4 hours…it is not fun and can jeopardize all you’ve trained for come game day. I recommend Tri-Fuel as it has been tried and true for me, and my results have proved its success. If you are interested visit BRLSports.com and use family and friends promo code: paige20 for 20% off (I do not benefit if you use my promo code, it is just for a discount, not valid on any other site).

*I am not a nutritionist or health professional. Check with your doctor before using any new supplements.

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Sportsman of the Year 2016

Given the robust talent in the greater Boston area, I am honored and humbled to be chosen as the Eagle Tribune’s 2016 Sportsman of the Year.

The Eagle Tribune has been in my corner every step of the journey. I am grateful for the support and friendship that I have developed with them.

Check out the article here

Or by clicking on this link!

http://www.eagletribune.com/sports/local_sports/sportsman-of-the-year/article_86a18317-eaed-5134-bcd9-56f5ad4a609e.html

Thank you all for the continued positivity and love. It fuels me in a way I cannot describe. Special thanks to my mom, dad, and brother, as none of this would be possible without you.

Thank you Crimson Aquatics and Andy Cannon at NorthEast Rehabilitation for keeping me on my “110% game.” Thank you NYOW for putting on a world class marathon swimming event, 8 Bridges.

Thank you to my sponsors: GRRRL Clothing, Vermont Peanut Butter, BRL Sports Nutrition, Knuckleheads Apparel and VOMAX…you have taken my training and performance to the next level.

 

 

Featured in “The Andovers” Magazine

The Andovers: towns located in the North Shore of MA, which have a very rich history and legacy dating back to 1642. In addition to the historical landmarks, it is home to thriving multi-generation businesses and is concentrated with top and elite prep schools in the nation. My family has been lucky to call this area home for many generations, as my ancestors immigrated and resided in Andover. Being featured in their premier magazine is an incredible honor, given the robust talent and events that are in the area.

This article is written by Dave Dyer, who has been covering my story since pre- English Channel days. In addition to being an athlete himself, Dave is an excellent writer. He always asks questions that make me take a second to think about, and accurately conveys the points. It has been an honor and privilege talking to such a talented writer over the years. image1

This article documents my journey and highlights those who have played a fundamental role in my swimming and more importantly, my life. I am incredibly blessed.

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Smithie Mission Accomplished

To me it’s funny… you can spend hundreds of thousands of hours, millions of miles, and years of thinking about a goal, but in the end, it comes down to the 39, 11 or 9 hours that you are gritting it out in the inferno…can you get it done when its time to do your marathon swim.

This summer, the gritty “Smith College Marathon Swimming Fempire” was formed. This fempire was created spontaneously: Abby Bergman ’18 was training to swim the world renown Catalina Channel (20.1 miles), Eliza Cummings ’17 was training to swim the rare Plymouth to Provincetown swim (19.1 miles) and I, Paige Christie ‘15 was training to swim the 8 Bridges Hudson River Swim (120 miles). The order would take place as such: myself, “the Veteran”, going first with the 8 Bridges swim from June to July, Abby “the Open Water Enthusiast,” going second at the end of July, and Eliza, “The Shark Whisperer” going third in August. Abby and Eliza were both going for their first marathon swim, and I was testing my rebound abilities after my English Channel Swim in 2014. In addition, the three of us were serving as either support swimmer or mentor for each other’s swim. A chain of sisterly support.

The three of us celebrated in each other’s successes and were the sounding board for many of the uncertainties that come with marathon swimming. A month before my swim, a vintage plane went down in the Hudson, a week before Abby’s swim there was a massive sewage spill in the beaches just south of where her swim would finish, and Eliza’s swim had many shark sightings prior. You need a supportive network of strong-minded individuals to help get the best version of self out of each other. No doubt, the success that snowballed from each other’s training and marathon swims propelled each of us forward.

Now that the three of us have dried off from our respective swims I was able to ask some questions:

Why did you pick your specific swim?

Abby: I have wanted to cross the 20-mile Catalina Channel ever since I was 12 years old and read Swimming to Antarctica by Lynne Cox. Reading about other people working hard to achieve their goals inspired me to put in the effort to reach my goals. I will be swimming the English Channel in 2017 and I thought it would be a way to test myself by completing another portion of the Triple Crown, prior.

Eliza: I picked the 19.1-mile P2P because I wanted to do a marathon swim that was a comparable sort of distance to one of the Triple Crown swims but was more financially viable. I was looking primarily at the east coast for possible swims and David Barra (famed open water swimmer) actually was the one who recommended the P2P to me. It was the right distance and the kind of channel challenge that I wanted to undertake. Before my attempt only 7 people in the world had successfully completed the swim so I was also drawn to the P2P because it was a fresh, exciting challenge.

Paige: I live by the philosophy, if you going to do something, you might as well do it right and go for the highest standard…raise the bar. My first swim, the English Channel was and is considered the “Everest” of marathon swimming. After having done that, I thought, “lets go for the longest, most challenging swim out there and put myself to the maximum test.” Regardless of the outcome I wanted to leave the water having learned something about limits, support, and life.  Fast forward a year and I found myself becoming the 6th person to ever swim 8 Bridges, the longest marathon swim in the world, in one of the most historic rivers in the history of our nation.

Do you feel your time at Smith has prepared you for this kind of a challenge…a challenge that is beyond the Smith lecture halls and Dalton Pool?

Abby: Swimming with Coach Kim Bierwert has taught me that anything can be accomplished through hard work and passion. I really appreciate his belief in me and his support of my goals.

Eliza: I would not be the swimmer I am today without the guidance of Coach Kim and the support of the Smith College Swim & Dive team. As an incoming first year I was one of the weakest swimmers on the team but three years later I was able to accomplish something I never would have imagined being possible. The passion, hard work, and dedication of the athletes and coaches at Smith pushed me to become the swimmer I am today.

Paige: The Smith network is unmatched. The support I felt from Smithies past present and future was a huge motivator that symbolically poured the gasoline over the flame of my determination. To top it off, I had the support and wisdom from my 4-years under the guidance of Coach Bierwert, “the mastermind,” who is the epitome of a dedicated and inspiring coach.

What was the most challenging part of your swim?

Abby: There were two parts of my Catalina Crossing that were particularly difficult. At about 3 hours in I started to really feel the mental strain of swimming alone in the dark in the middle of the ocean. I started to think, how am I going to do this for 8 more hours, but I convinced myself to keep swimming. The other hard part came when I could see the shore but it didn’t seem to be getting any closer. By that point, my shoulders were aching but I knew I was so close to shore so I kept swimming.

Eliza: The first three hours of my swim were really tough because it was pitch black at the beginning and I didn’t realize that due to the position of the safety boat I was inhaling fumes. The fumes made me really sick. Once the sun rose and I figured out what was happening I had my kayaker reposition us away from the fumes. Quitting or getting out was never an option but the beginning was definitely tough.

Paige: There is nothing easy about swimming seven, 15-20 mile marathon swims for 7 consecutive days. The muscle breakdown, logistical preparations, emphasis on recovery, sunburn, and exhaustion that occur when one swims for 39 hours can be overwhelming…. and that’s not even talking about the courses, weather, winds and currents! Without my support system of my family, knowledge and positivity from my kayaker, alert and intelligent race directors, and the synergy from the other swimmers, this wouldn’t have been possible.

What advice would you give a future OW swimmer?

Abby: Don’t let doubts (your own or other people’s) get in the way of achieving your dreams.

Eliza: Do it! Open water swimming is not for the faint of heart but it is a challenging, rewarding, and exhilarating experience. It is incredible what you can accomplish when you dedicate yourself to a goal. The human body is resilient and it’s really your mind that you have to get on board, but once you have the mental toughness, you can do anything.

Paige: You know yourself best. Make sure you are clear on the “why” before you get started. That “why” will help power you through your most vulnerable times.

How did it feel to be a part of the “marathon swimming fempire”?

Abby: The support of other Smithies during my training was invaluable. To be able to talk to Paige and Eliza daily helped me to get through all the ups and downs of marathon training.

Eliza: The best part was the support, love, and empowerment you get when you are part of a team of strong women! Even though marathon swimming is an “individual sport” it takes a team and environment of positivity and guidance to pull off any of these swims, and that’s what Paige and Abby gave to me everyday. Overall, I am so proud of the nine individual swims, and the three records we accomplished as a marathon swimming fempire this summer.

Paige: Abby and Eliza reminded me of how exciting it can be to plan and train for a marathon swim. In life, it’s always more fun to be able to share in success with others. I am grateful they allowed me to be a part of their journeys and narratives. It further proved to me that Smithies run the world.

“Smith College educates women of promise for lives of distinction.” 

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The Third Smithie in the 2016 Marathon Swimming FEMPIRE starts Sunday!

With the Catalina Channel checked off for Abby Bergman (making her “officially” a marathon swimmer and crazy person), and the seven stages of the beautifully grueling 8 Bridges checked (for me, Paige)… we now have the third mama in our 2016 Marathon Swimming Fempire, Smith teammate, Eliza Cummings, going for her first marathon swim: Plymouth to Provincetown challenge this Sunday 8/7! I am so excited to watch her take on this challenge, and have been so amazed by her determination and outlook this entire process. Abby and I feel blessed to have Eliza as part of the marathon swimming trifecta this summer, and we know she will not disappoint this weekend.

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Eliza (top), Meri, Claire, and I before 2015 NEWMAC final relay 

With any marathon swim, the commitment that you need to make preparations, find funding, stay true to your training on a daily basis, keep a close eye on nutrition, as well as make sure you have a solid crew you can trust, is a huge job. And we haven’t even begun talking the task of getting in the water and swimming …

Eliza’s commitment to her swim was evident. She started training after the college season was over while at Smith, and while managing the rigorous academic load that Smith touts. Eliza maintained a positive outlook on training, as well as inspired those around her to push their limits. She was nominated and elected to be Co-Captain of the 2016-2017 Smith Swimming and Diving Season, which I am so excited and proud of. This speaks to her leadership, drive, and ability to make everyone feel welcomed.

Eliza is a natural student on any endeavor she takes on. During the P2P training process,  she asked me thoughtful questions, and always considered multiple outcomes and prepared for them. As a friend/mentor, it is greatly reassuring when you get the honor of working with someone like Eliza, because you know she takes her job seriously, and that the success mentality is there. I live by the mantra, champions always do more, and no doubt has Eliza become a champion during this training and will when she completes her swim.

I am so proud of what Eliza has set her mind to do. Her hard work, mental focus, “stay calm and positive” demeanor, and feisty spirit is, creates a formula for great success. This success will not only be in the water, but in life. I have no doubts Eliza will do big things. I am just excited to have had the opportunity to swim with her, and cheer her on!!!!!!!

Love you Eliza! GO BIG AND DIG DEEP. What you feel you need, you already possess.

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Eliza and I always keeping it real

 

 

 

Catalina Abby aka #CatalinAbby

My friend, Smith College teammate, and “self appointed sister”, Abby Bergman’s Catalina Channel attempt is this Sunday, July 24th overnight to July 25th. I have had the great pleasure of working with her there past few months as she has been preparing, training, and (soon to be) attempting this great feat.

11781773_10152969256150976_3043710916417440375_n.jpgWhen I asked Abby about how she feels pre-swim, she said she’s “ready and excited.” Abby says she’s ready because “I put in all the grueling training and I trust in my abilities.” She mentioned that she’s most excited to be able to take a moment while swimming Catalina, and realize the enormity of what she is doing, and simultaneously excited to complete the swim and have a moment to think, its over. (Spoiler alert from Paige…. it’s never truly over 🙂 )

 

I can honestly say Abby was an absolute pleasure to help mentor and be a support swimmer for. When I would offer her things to consider and plan, Abby would reply back with her multiple considerations and plans of action about the given topic…. basically a dream swimmer to work with. The number one lessons she feels she learned about herself during all this training is “to stay relaxed and approach any endeavor with confidence…in doing so, it will always work out”. In addition she learned that “approaching a goal without a specific outcome can actually help you focus. When I think, ‘I can do this, I will perform well and try to rank high,’ I end up performing my best.”

How does Abby feel about being newly labeled “ a marathon swimmer?” She says, “It’s all about the mindset. It feels good to get to be officially recognized after all this training…and hey, now I get to be part of this super secret club of crazy people.” I couldn’t agree more. She’s also incredibly grateful to her support crew, whom she say’s “I couldn’t do the swim without.”

Over these months I’ve seen that Abby does something every day to make herself better. This is hugely important not only in marathon swimming, but in life. She always thinks of all sides of an issue, and has a great sense of self. When combining these qualities with her workhorse work ethic, she is a force to be reckoned with, and one that will not disappoint this weekend.

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Fascial Stretch Therapy: A Recovery Technique!

During my training for 8 Bridges Hudson River Swim (120-mile Marathon Swim over 7 days), I incorporated Fascial Stretch Therapy (FST) into my recovery techniques. I was able to work with both Judy Malcolm before the event, and Meaghan Murphy (who recommended the practice to me) during the event. I had never done FST prior to this, but rather was familiar with other therapies like massage and gentle individual stretching. I wanted to demo FST pre-swim, to see how my body would react to it. Judy was very thorough in her explanations of what she was doing, and created a very relaxing environment. Everything she did, she made sure to check in with me and make sure it was something I found beneficial, not painful or “tweaky.” It was important to try FST pre-swim because it gave me a sense of how effective it would be for me during the actual event.

When doing an event that requires a heavy load of taxing mileage on the body via swimming, FST is incredibly useful. During my rest day after stage four of eight bridges, Meaghan came and worked with me using her expertise in both swimming and biomechanics to perform an FST session that was very effective in keeping me loose as well is ready to go for the next day. After stage four, I was experiencing some pain in the bicep and pec areas from the repetitive motion that is the swimming stroke. When you swim 7 marathon swims over one week eventually something will have an ache or pain. When I met with Meaghan she evaluated what areas were causing problems and created an effective FST session that allowed me to loosen the other muscles around the areas that had pain, which as a result relaxed and loosened the areas of concern, and allowed them to heal and rest. Meaghan never directly stretched the area of pain which was a relief to me because that would obviously be an uncomfortable experience which may further promote the problem.

Later that evening I noticed the pain lessening by at least 30-40% and then again In the morning even more so. The next day I was cautious when I entered the water, however I felt much stronger, and less tense/clenched than any of the stages before. I could apply more pressure during the grab portion of my stroke which I wasn’t able to do before. This was so important because that stage lasted 8 hours, and It would have been miserable if I had been experiencing the problems from the stages before.

Unlike massage or static stretching, where you worry about overdoing it and causing even more muscle breakdown and thus need more time for recovery, FST is dynamic, loosens and stretches the muscles in a way that cannot be achieved by doing independent stretching or just through massage. Allowing someone to move your limbs in a way that provides a gentle stretch is both relaxing and important. I was able to let Meaghan take over, and take my mind off having to do something active with my body. Meaghan wasn’t trying to increase my range of motion more than it’s ever been, she was trying to get it back to my personal baseline, which is an important distinction. In my experience, I needed quick recovery to perform back to back at my best. FST was the perfect recovery intervention along with rest and ice. Both Meaghan and Judy are fantastic and I would recommend FST to endurance athletes who are looking to stay loose between events.

Check them out:

Meaghan: http://www.Coachmegswim.com and http://www.stretchtrainachieve.com

Judy: http://www.perfect-fit-pilates.com