My Personal Web Log
If Glory waits at the finish; Anxiety and Anticipation are with you at the start. Once the horn sounds, the action begins. Ready for Action!
by Margaret Powell on Sun, Sep 17, 2017 @ 5:14 AM
The Unsung Kayaker
I'm just going to warn you all upfront, I am not going to be fast. I'm probably saying this to prepare myself more than warn others. I started out training with the goal of being faster this year than last, but my reality is that for me to go farther, I have to slow down. It's a long haul.
Perhaps I owe the advanced warning to my kayaker since he will be wedged into a fiberglass tube for 3+ hours.
It means a lot to me that my brother agreed to kayak. He's done this before. He was the boat man for a marathon swimmer (before that was a thing) named Tom Clancy (same name as the author but different person) who attempted the length of Ocean City and the Straits of Gibraltar. Clancy swam across the Chesapeake Bay several times including one outing that traversed the Bay three times. He also had one trip that ended prematurely in the middle of the night at the Gibson Island causeway.
So, I actually have professional support.
Through my eyes, my brother is a reserved, somewhat quiet, even stoic man. He's not a young man, after all, he is my older brother and I am not a young woman. Yet, at 6'2", a former football player build, and a calm reserve, he has presence.
I have seen him stop an altercation between drunk football fans merely with a downcast glance from his full stature. He suffers the knowledge of the world's cruelties having followed the atrocities and ugliness of global conflict including service in two wars, sent in as a civilian to advise and be the adult in the room when direction was needed.
In balance, I have seen his face express a deep, soulful, palpable love when holding his dozing young children in his arms and mouthing the words "this is pretty great."
I am the youngest of my siblings. He is the oldest, which means we grew up in different households. I recall as adults comparing notes about the differences between being the first one to break in the parents and the last one to straggle along years later. Funny memories like the way I have always known our mom to be a really good cook while my brother remembers when she was awful. He was there for the learning-by-doing stage that comes with imbalanced seasoning and burnt edges or worse.
After graduating from college, my brother returned to our parent's home and had to tolerate the obnoxiousness that only a teenaged little sister could deliver. He did his best to get us back by taking up the violin and having the nerve to practice, a lot. (I have to acknowledge that these days he is a pretty good violin player when he has time to play).
Today, he has his own family obligations including an endless list of home projects that seem to accumulate faster than are completed. Time in the kayak is time away from them.
On Sunday, my brother will be my even-keeled guide around the course, five times - slow, steady and comforting.
by Margaret Powell on Sat, Sep 16, 2017 @ 9:44 PM
Final Equipment Check
There is always something that feels just not quite right.
Swimming may not have a lot of equipment, but what it does have is close and personal latex head covers, suction-cup eye covers and neoprene skins. Multiply that over a few hours, things get ...problematic.
My wetsuit fits a little more snug than last year. Hmm, what's up with that?!? My fix is to cut the neck a little more to keep the chest tightening panic at bay. Though, this year, the bigger issue is the goggles. So far, I hate them all. If they fit, they fog. If they stay clear, they hurt. I've narrowed it down to the ones I'm going to use. I chose fog over pain and bought some new anti-fog super spit spray to compensate. If my equipment fails on swim day, well then, I may have less equipment at the finish than at the start.
by Margaret Powell on Sun, Sep 10, 2017 @ 2:53 PM
There's a Storm Brewing
It has been more than a week of worry for our friends and family in Texas. We are lucky to have all accounted for as safe, though no doubt with much rebuilding ahead. I lived in Houston for Tropical Storm Alison. The comparisons to Harvey ended with day 1. My own private storm hit alongside Super Storm Sandy.
In 2012, Sandy made landfall near Kingston, Jamaica on Oct 24 as I boarded a plane to St. Louis for a work meeting. In my head, I had news and waited for calls with appointment schedules.
It'd been a busy summer. A lot of work travel and a few personal endeavors. At home, my husband and I spent a couple weeks installing hardwood floors in our entire upstairs - lots of maneuvering and heavy lifting, the occasional missed nail-strike, strings of the poetic profanity that accompanies moments of frustration. It turned out beautiful. Climbing stairs with stacks of wood flooring served as my training routine for the Grand Canyon trek that followed - South Kaibab trail down to Phantom Ranch, back up the Bright Angel Trail, in two days, through what turned out to be record heat in the Canyon. (That is an adventure story of another type for another time.)
Come late July, I had my turn with the travel crud that everyone seemed to have and that for a stretch made the office sound like a TB ward. By Fall, we were all trading chest colds for seasonal allergies and back to business as usual.
When I boarded the plane to St. Louis, I still had the pesky cough that until the day before had merely been lingering because it can take three months for a respiratory infection cough to go away or quite possibly it could have been whooping cough which was making a resurgence. No, unfortunately the CT scan showed more. It was a mass, a large mass, bigger than my fist.
I excused myself from the meeting when my phone rang. My biopsy appointment was Oct 26 as Sandy moved across the Bahamas.
We filled the post-test weekend with surreal distraction. We had a wonderful, silly dinner with friends not mentioning anything about what we did and did not know or what we could not fathom.
In the wee morning hours of Oct 28, I walked out into the show of force that Sandy hinted to Maryland as it stayed off shore bound for its NJ target to unleash havoc and destruction. It was warm and windy. It felt of restrained energy and completely out of control.
That week I waited for results. Waited and waited and waited and couldn't do anything. Up the coast, power was out. Communications down. Shipments delayed. Superstorm Sandy dissipated on November 2 and my phone rang with a preliminary diagnosis: Lymphoma, very aggressive. My storm had begun.
by Margaret Powell on Mon, Sep 04, 2017 @ 1:18 PM
The Latest Training Challenge
Yesterday, the real challenge of training was to just plain stay in the water for the long swim when there was hot chocolate and puppy snuggling to enjoy at home on a rainy day. Today, I am sore and have noodle arms.
by Margaret Powell on Sun, Sep 03, 2017 @ 9:01 PM
Anyone who knows me knows I am not a morning person. I adapt to an early world, but I am not naturally tuned to it. Which is why I'm so pleased with myself this week for getting my butt out of bed before work to go swim.
I don't know if morning people deal with the same degree of mental justification and bed suction that I feel when the alarm goes off. If you do, I applaud the skill or ability to overcome. Me, I've had an uncomfortable early morning relationship for years.
I started going to morning swim workouts during the school year when I was about 11 years old. I'm certain I was the only one in my elementary school class up well before the dawn, doused in a chlorine routine and eating cereal out of a to go pack before school began. I walked by myself through the moonlight and parking lots to the local indoor swim center. Even through tired, little kid eyes, I have vivid recollections. It was a mix of confidence in knowing where I was supposed to be and the fear of venturing into an otherwise unprotected world. I felt little, but empowered; fretful with a safe base in sight.
I remember vivid pieces about swimming morning workouts as a young 'un. The 6-lane, 25-yard pool seemed enormous; an open sea with mid-line lane marks depths below. The main drain looked HUGE like at any moment a great white shark could break through without warning. In the deep end I would have to flip and head to shallower water as fast as possible in anticipation of an inevitable attack. I guess I may have been influenced by too many Jaws viewings at a young age, but who knows, maybe that helped my training effort.
When I was a little older, I joined a swim club a few towns over following those ahead of me who made the move to a heavier caliber program. The training schedule increased and the early mornings were earlier and more frequent. Morning workout days started at 4:15 AM and lasted for years.
I caught rides with teammates' parents and teammates who could drive. Mornings started with the shrill alarm clock chime, the sudden harsh bright light by which to brush my teeth, bundling up and waiting for the car horn to sound to head to the pool. My memories are laced with the smells of chilled air, cigar smoke and peanut butter toast.
Then at sixteen I could drive myself.
There was no time in between morning workout and school to go home. The school day was packed up the night before and slipped into in the swim club locker room. There were the occasional and predictable gaffs of forgotten homework and underwear left out of the day's outfit. McDonald's was breakfast sustenance - cheap, bulk food at a stop between the pool and school. I finished up assignments over pancakes. I fielded the shocked reactions of diners who walked into the restroom not expecting to see a young woman drying her hair with the bathroom hand-dryer.
I must have been a weird sight at school - reeking of chlorine, carrying a big coffee in the high school hallway so long before Starbucks was a concept let alone a lifestyle. I did homework in the class before it was due. I skipped class to go sleep in my car. I left campus to restock with grocery provisions so I could refuel before returning to the pool after the day at school. There was plenty of high school level trouble to get into, plenty, and I was intrigued by that opportunity, but just way too tired to pursue it, at least most of it. (See Mom, I could have gotten into even MORE trouble ;-)) Most of the time, I opted for pursuit of food and a quick nap before the workouts that occurred every evening during the week.
My days rounded out back home for dinner at times losing my patience with the time necessary for a pot pie to cook and starting dinner with the chocolate cake that was left on the counter. Homework, maybe sneaking a little TV and then sleep until the shrill chime of the next day sounded.
Nowadays, I still find that alarm chime hateful and I'm still very good at convincing myself that I should sleep a little longer rather than get up to workout even though I planned it all out the night before. However, this week, I stuck to it. I will try it again next week!
by Margaret Powell on Sat, Aug 26, 2017 @ 2:31 PM
Compliments of Health Unlimited Aquatic Center:
by Margaret Powell on Sat, Aug 26, 2017 @ 2:27 PM
By My Side
I have been remiss. After my 2016 swim, I had to turn to other life endeavors that took me away from sharing the results of the day and from finishing a few unshared thoughts. My apologies for leaving things unfinished. I'll try to make up for it a little by opening with an end.
First ... I'll cut to the highlights of the day almost a year past. I swam. I finished the full five miles. It was long, but the conditions were excellent. The predicted thunderstorms held off and the weather was nice for the fourth year running. The water temp was pleasant and, amazingly, ALL the jellyfish had left town! The currents and chop changed up as I swam around the island, but really, no complaints. Well, wait, I had one complaint for the day ... the five mile swim was 40 minutes late starting adding a lifetime of anticipation even if the reasons were legit. The starting horn sounded at 7:25AM...
Rollin', rollin', rollin', keep those doggies rolling, rollin', rollin', rollin', RAWHIDE!
Well that's weird. Where did that song come from?
Rollin rollin rollin
Though the streams are swollen
Keep them doggies rolling
Move em on (head em up)
Head em up (move em up)
Move em on (head em up)
I haven't heard that song in years. But that's how it goes when you have three hours dedicated to stream of consciousness.
Swimming is one of those rather solitary activities. Time devoted to filling your ears with water or headphones and staring through water, just you and your thoughts stroke after stroke. Yet, on event day, I found it unavoidable to think about those by my side, in particular because quite literally, I had someone by my side. My brother paddled alongside for the full five miles, the full three hours. He kept me hydrated, fueled and swimming relatively straight. I can't emphasize enough how important the directional assistance was. Left to my own sense of things, I may still be swimming. He coached and encouraged. He reassured me. It is an easy trust.
There I was, swimming with ten other five-milers, 103 three-milers, 253 one-milers, all of us swimming for a cause, supported by those generous with their time and their wallets.
It was a great day. The Baltimore swim events raised more than $550, 000 for cancer research. Thanks for all the support over the past years. Here's to many more good years to come. XO.
by Margaret Powell on Sun, Aug 13, 2017 @ 10:46 PM