June 30th=Rest Day

Hello friends!

4 days down 3 to go!!! Logging in about 66.3 miles in the Hudson River thus far!

Tomorrow, June 30th is a rest day, but I will be back on Friday for Stage 5! (I am so excited because one of my favorite people/twin, incredibly decorated marathon swimmer, inspiration, and Smithie 2020, Charlotte Samuels will be swimming too)!

There will be a more comprehensive post on the details of each day when I have time after 8 Bridges, but it has been an incredible and transformative experience thus far. The water, scenery, and sheer distance is incredible and majestic. To think we have such a beautiful and swimmable resource so close to home is mind blowing.

The swimmers/kayakers I have met and the event camaraderie is truly remarkable. So many individuals from so many walks of life. Wow. I am taking it all in and loving every minute.

I am so grateful for this experience, the opportunity to swim, Margrethe, the Hudson River, and my supportive family,friends and sponsors. I see all the messages and try my best to respond to all of them because they truly warm my heart.

Mom, Dad, Cam…I couldn’t do this without you. Love you.

 

Track My Progress

TOMORROW: STAGE 1: SPLASH TIME 8:20-8:42
8 bridges

I wanted to make sure you all have the available tracker link so you can see the day-to-day progress as I make my way down the 120 miles of the Hudson River!
You can access the tracker at the link below (it will show all the swimmers in the water at once….about 20 each day). All you have to do is find my name when it loads on Sunday (the first day of swimming): It should be a blank web page before Sunday.
During the swim my dad will be on the water, helping as a volunteer, but not directly next to me in a boat. He will be on a boat overseeing all the swimmers. I have a FABULOUS kayaker Margarethe who will be by my side the whole time. My mom and brother will be following in their car, trying to find some good observatory spots. The tracker is connected to my cell phone, which will be in Margarethe’s possession. So since Margarethe is next to me, it should give my track….however, if Margarethe has to paddle away from me for whatever reason (get more feeds etc), it may show some discrepancies. Also, some people may be racing each stage….since I am doing all 7, I will likely be in the middle to back of the pack. Finishing is the goal!
In the meantime, if you want more information on the swim, the morning start times, which bridges Ill be swimming to and the distances, check out the event website:
I will be keeping my blog up to date: www.theenglishchannelgrind.wordpress.com
I will also be checking email messages periodically if you want to reach me!
Thank you so all the love, support, positivity and prayers. I have a lot of time to reflect doing these long swims, and you all are always in my thoughts. It makes a huge difference. i feel incredibly blessed.

Final Preparations

As we round the final 3 days before GO TIME, final preparations have been put in place.

-Checking the weather and water temps for the 7-days of the swim

-Figuring out logistics- where to meet for the start, where to meet for the finish

-Solidifying my week nutritional plan (what works for breakfast, pre swim, post swim, and dinner)

-Solidifying my week during-swim nutritional plan- which alternations of drinks/food to use and when

-Practicing chugging water every 30 minutes to simulate feeds (and making sure I am used to taking in 8 ounces in a short period of time).

-Making sure I packed everything I need, from anti-inflammatory supplements to vaseline, to food I’m familiar with, to swim suits, extra caps, goggles, earplugs etc.

-Having group meetings to make sure everyone is clear what their roles are

-Keeping in touch with my sponsors

-Making sure I am maintaining the 10 lbs I have had to gain for this swim (for insulation as well as a calorie reserve). As well as making sure I stick with the same nutritional plan that I have been for the past month (protein, carbs, healthy fats, no heavy sugars, no alcohol).

-Meeting with my PT Andy Cannon from Northeast Rehab to keep my body loose, rested, and aligned.

-Thanking the many people who have helped me on this journey…and in life!

This week it has been crucial to not try anything new. Sometimes something as silly as using a new shampoo could cause an allergic reaction, which would be incredibly inconvenient. Or even something like deciding to go bowling with friends can cause excess strain from new muscle movement. So needless to say, I’ve been keeping it very low key, very basic.

In addition, I’ve been in contact with the event directors: Rondi Davies and David Barra, who have been so dedicated and helpful answering all my questions. I can’t even imagine putting on an event of this magnitude, but they somehow do, and I can only be amazed at their abilities. They are awesome, I’m so grateful for them.

The mental component is crucial this week. It’s important to keep a positive outlook, remind yourself of what you’ve done to get to this point, and be grateful for such an incredible opportunity to challenge and test myself. When it comes down to it, I have nothing to loose. I have an incredible and historic opportunity in front of me and I’m training because I’ve been given the opportunity, not because I have to do it. You have to enjoy the ride. All the twists and turns. Doing these swims doesn’t make you a “good” or “bad” person, its something I enjoy doing and I’m excited for it!!!! I’ll be bringing some Boston into the Hudson River.

As my Coach Kim Bierwert told me, “swim with the water, relax and have fun”!

Live Feed Tracking!

I recently found out that there will be a way to get live feed tracking during the swim! I will be sure to post the links once they are made available!

Now you all can be in the Hudson River with me! Thank you for the support!

The Similarities Between Pregnancy and Marathon Swimming

Disclaimer: I am NOT nor have I ever been pregnant. I figured this was an important clarification.

I’ve been asked many times what preparing, training, doing, and recovering from a marathon swim is like? As I began to think about it, my best analogy was a pregnancy…. or what I imagine a pregnancy to be like. I’ve verified my experiences with some of the mothers I babysit for…along with my own mama!

First off, after you begin training for a marathon swim you start to notice bodily changes. Your arms, shoulders, and neck get bigger. The clothing you once wore, doesn’t quite fit as well as it used to. You get pretty tired and generally feel rather uncomfortable from being constantly sore. You get much more hungry than you ever previously were, but when you get the food, you have a hard time finishing it. You start craving food you haven’t craved in a long time. In addition, if you eat at the wrong time (before a long swim) it may only be a meal you rented.

Then the questions begin: You start imagining what you think the swim will be like. What qualities or characteristics will it have? Will you be equipped to handle it? Will you be a “good” marathon swimmer? Did you do enough reading on it? Have you talked to others who have been through it successfully? …You start hearing horror stories of it being done unsuccessfully.

It’s not before long that you start having vivid dreams about experiencing the swim. You’re swimming in the wrong direction and realize it halfway… you’re swimming and your hands keep breaking through ice…. you wake up in mild panic, but relieved that it isn’t real. You use these dreams as ways to improve your training so these situations are not reality.

You start to buy some products that you never thought you’d need, or need quite so much of…. Vaseline, check, body glide anti-chaffing stick, check, ibuprofen, check, muscle therapy gel, check.

Then its time for the “labor.” You show up for your swim and are patted down by officials, asked questions for cognitive baseline data, and given final words of encouragement. You have a select group of people you trust with you to share in the moment. You wouldn’t want just anyone around for this…haha.

You start swimming. You don’t know how long this will take…. you’ve heard dream stories of great currents, which resulted fast swims, but you’ve also heard horror stories of near 24-hour bouts of extreme effort. You try to stay in your own zone being mentally prepared for whatever happens.

Some people get emotional due to exhaustion. Others stay in the consistent mental zone. Either way hallucinations typically happen.

Once you see the finish, your mind narrows and all you want to do is get to the damn end! You’ll do whatever you have to at this point.

On your final strokes you are incredibly happy. As you finish the endorphins are unreal. You can barely hobble, and can’t move your arms.  You try to talk but your words don’t quite make sense.You’re still very swollen and have some battle scars.

Days go by and you reflect on the experience. People reach out to you full of joy, positivity and excitement. Over time the experience becomes a little more warped in your memory.

It’s almost as if you forgot the pains of the labor….

And before you know it, you’re on to your second one!

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How’s The Grind Going?…and other FAQs

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How is the 8 Bridges 120 miles of the Hudson different then the English Channel swim?

First: the distance. The English Channel was 20-30 miles (as the crow flies 21 miles, but you are swimming in place fighting a current for a period of time). The Hudson is 120 miles. The Hudson River does have a favorable current. But, although it’s a river, it is not entirely downstream. Each day’s marathon swim begins with the ebb tide at one bridge and ends at the next. There is a bit of urgency to make the current so you don’t get pushed the wrong way.

Second:  the body of water. The English Channel was an open body of water; the biggest shipping lane in the world. While swimming in the Channel there were many instances where I didn’t see land anywhere…you felt like you were stranded in the middle of the ocean going 2-3 miles an hour. The Hudson River, while wide, has land on both sides. This land consists of some of the most historic sights in America. In addition, we get to swim by the Statue of Liberty on July 3rd or 4th….dream come true.

Third: specific start and stop dates. Unlike the Channel where I had to wait 12 days for a good time to start, the 8 Bridges Hudson River swim is very specific. It is 7 days (with 2 built in days for potential electrical storms and high wind). On June 26th I start.

Fourth: fellow swimmers! During this swim, there are about 20 swimmers every stage. Not every swimmer is doing all 7 stages (only a few of us crazies) but there will be people in the water around me. We all have our own kayaker, and are all aiming to complete each stage.

Is the 8 Bridges Hudson River Swim the longest swim in the world? 

Yes, at 120 miles it is the worlds longest marathon swim. (Florida to Cuba was 110 miles)

Is the Hudson River Clean? 

Part of the mission of the swim is to raise awareness that the Hudson River is clean and enjoyable. The water quality is monitored by Riverkeeper. While I love a challenge, I would never subject myself to something that wasn’t safe for my health or the health of others.

Have you swam in a river before?

Yes! My 6 hour cold water qualifying swim for my English Channel crossing was completed in the CT River!

What is one of the biggest challenges of the swim?

Recovery. Unlike other marathon swims where you are done after 20 miles. This swim consists of recovering day after day to complete the 120 miles. Proper recovery means getting the nutritional values you need, stretching, sleep, massage, and mentally being ready for 20 miles of swimming every day for 7 days.

What do you wear?

8 Bridges 120 mile Hudson River Swim follows Marathon Swimming Rules: no wetsuit, no water mp3s, no touching anyone, no getting out,  one swim cap, no flippers etc. It’s purely you and your swimming ability.

Will you have family on the water with you?

For most stages, no. My mum and brother will be trailing in their car, and my dad will be on the “mother boat” which will be around the swimmers but not directly next to me.

What is your training philosophy?

You can’t study like a B student and expect to get A’s. What this means is that you need to align yourself and your training to the specific demands of the swim. For example, rather than train in the pool every day, I do open water swims. I do back to back 2-6 hour swims because my event is a back to back kind of swim. I train with the worlds best kayaker (my brother Cameron) because I will be following a kayaker during my own swim.I watch videos of past individuals competing in the 8 Bridges swim to mentally prepare myself for the sights, logistics and atmosphere I will be in. (WARNING: I did this before my channel swim and the first video I clicked was a very dramatic failed attempt (luckily it didn’t really phase me and I took it as an educational moment)….but just be careful what you click on if you get easily scared).

You now are sponsored…..Are you still going to law school? 

Yes. I have been accepted to law school! While I am blessed with this unique opportunity to be able to follow my childhood dream and go pro in swimming with sponsors, I have professional legal career goals too….my sponsors have made achieving these goals financially doable.