Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Channel RECAP

Hey team! Happy 2016!
Cheers over the Channel
I'm back in the US and the holidays have wound down, so I wanted to update you all on my channel adventure as we begin this New Year!

First of all, thank you so much for all of your support throughout my training and beyond. It could not have been done without all messages, phone calls, training buddies etc.  Also, THANK YOU so much for your donations for the National Alliance on Mental Illness-San Francisco! We were able to donate $2,000, which is incredible! So thank you, thank you, thank you.

I thought I would recap my swim a bit, for those of you who are interested and haven’t heard about it yet. But if you want the TL:DR version: it took me 10 hours 33mins and was the best swim of my life and thanks for supporting me!
The Crew
My swim took place on 9/7/2015. The few days leading up to the swim were pretty nerve wracking, especially while observing the fickle channel weather. I tried to keep myself in the dark regarding the weather because I knew that it would only make me nervous and was completely out of my control. But, my pilot Reg, pulled through and managed to secure me a great day. I slept pretty fitfully the night before my swim, but I had been resting a lot in the previous days so I wasn’t too worried. Upon waking up, I put my pre-swim playlist on and got down to business aka trying to trick my nervous tummy into eating breakfast and putting on my first layer of my sunscreen concoction. I also checked Facebook at 4:00am and had a friend request from Lynne Cox aka my idol and decided that was a SIGN of my future success. I arrived at the dock  in Dover around 4:45am. It was full with about 12 other swimmers and their crews, and even though it was too early to tell, it was obviously going to be a great day.
Dock Dance Party
Pre-swim vibez

Another swimmer and I chatted a bit, which helped to calm my nerves. Once we found Reg, my mom bid us farewell, we pushed away from the dock and headed towards Shakespeare Beach. I slathered on the rest of my sunscreen concoction, attached my lights to my suit/cap and got ready to shed my parka. Reg stopped offshore and I leapt off the boat to swim into shore.

Being that it was still dark, I pretty much face planted climbing out of the water. Plus the beach is pebbled, which is hard to walk up, plus I am not graceful on land. Once I cleared the water, Reg blew the horn and I fell back into the water to begin my swim.

Traditionally, the first hour or so is always the worst part of my swim; I never feel warmed up, my pace is erratic and quitting seems viable. But knowing that about myself, I can gather enough inertia to get myself past that initial rough patch. My channel swim was no exception, the first hour I ended up throwing up my breakfast, my breathing was off and I was trying really hard not to sneak peeks behind me at the coastline. (You see the cliffs of Dover forever, which is really psychologically brutal). But luckily, the sun began rising and I had an eye on a boat piloting another swimmer so I did my best to focus on catching up to the other boat (not that I was racing it…).

Somewhere in the middle of the Channel
After I stopped for my first feeding, I felt myself fall into place mentally. I decided that all I needed to focus on was keeping this food down for the next 30 mins. I had been worried that I threw up early on in my swim, because getting sick is one of the things that can derail a long swim. Once my second feeding rolled around, the sun was fully up and I hadn’t been sick again, so I was feeling good.

I kept focusing on the other boat that was slightly in front of me and figured that I could just keep chasing it all the way to France! I was super worried that if I didn’t swim fast enough that France might escape me (which was not happening again!!). Once I was in the middle of the channel, with neither shore in sight, it finally dawned on me that I was really swimming in the channel. And I actually started to have fun. That moment of joy really gave me a lot of energy, but then I had a near miss with a jellyfish, which renewed my focus. I naively had not brought any sort of remedy on the boat for stings, a fact which I realized mid-swim, so I decided that being stung wasn’t an option.

In fact, I can pretty much distill my swim into moments of joy, avoiding jellyfish and asking about my pace during feedings. A lot of people asked me what I thought about while I swam, and to be honest, I can’t remember. This was the first time that I have truly just been present during an athletic endeavor. I knew stuff like that happened to other people, but it had never happened to me before. The time just melted away and I just kept moving my arms towards France. I know that probably sounds really zen and annoying (or at least that’s what I thought about “being present”) but that’s what it was.

Approaching France, tryna beat the Lousie Jane
About a mile offshore, things got interesting. At this point, I was swimming near another swimmer, which was exciting and motivated me to finish first (I sometimes get really competitive and it always surprises me). The wind had picked up a bit, so the water was choppier and they told me I needed to pick it up.  I figured that sprinting this last mile would be easy since that’s what I did like every week in college, but I failed to account for the 9plus hours of swimming that I had just done.  So it didn’t feel that great, but France was like really in my face, which meant it was go time. At one point, I thought that they said that I was going to miss my landing, and freaked out a bit, because the end is always the most difficult.  But I willed myself to focus once again, because I certainly was not going to let it all unravel now! By the time they put the dinghy in the water, things were real choppy and I also could tell that I was going to be landing on boulders. Ray, the first mate, instructed me to follow him into shore, touch a rock and get into the dinghy.

Channel Crossed! 
I approached the rocks and even though Ray cautioned me that they were sharp, I decided that I was invincible and that I wanted to climb up on the rocks as far as possible. Well as you can guess, that turned out to be a terribly conceived idea. As I am being slammed against a barnacled boulder, I thought to myself “this is how people who know how to swim drown”.  So I got smart, touched the rock and got my ass outta there. I climbed into the dingy, bleeding from my rock adventure and watched myself zoom away from the finish line. Getting from the dinghy to the big boat was another feat of focus, and required a bit of coordination due to the chop. But after 10 hours and 33 mins of swimming, I found myself back on the boat as a newly minted channel swimmer.

Reg made me some tea and let me sleep in the cabin on the 3-hour trip back to England. He said I was fast like Chloe McCardel and should do a 3-way, to which I said thank you but no thanks. My mom greeted us at the dock and took us home for my requested meal of fish and chips. I took the first warm bath in over a month, and although it felt like my skin was going to burn off, it was pretty glorious.

Signing the Ceiling of the White Horse
My shoulder held up pretty well thanks to my bomb physical therapist, ibuprofen and the last minute decision to have the boat on my left side, but I was pretty cut up by my suit slash the rock adventure. Two-days post swim I met up my Channel swimmer friend Kerry in Dover. We did a cool down swim in the Harbor aka I doggie-paddled and I tried to make a swimming-like motion with my arms. Afterwards, we went to the White Horse pub to sign our names on the wall, next to generations of other swimmers. There was barely space left, but I managed to find a good spot and I ate more French fries (obviously).
I still have a hard time believing that I actually accomplished this goal, because I had been working towards this for about 8.5 years (counting the time before my first attempt in 2008). It’s strange to move on after such a long love affair, but I am excited to begin working towards other things.

The line
Thanks again to everyone who has been on my team. I’ve learned that no matter what you are doing, you’ve gotta have a team.  There are so many people that helped me along the way, so please do not take offense if you are not explicitly mentioned below*. First off, a special shout-out to my dad, Noah: thank you for the years of kayaking, crewing during my swims and for being my#1 fan. Thank you to my brothers Ezra and Jasper for their roles as my flawless crew/photographers. And to my mom, Martha: thank you for feeding me, listening to me cry/rant every time I lost hope and for keeping me on track. Thanks to all my friends for still being friends with me and thanks for being proud of me and bragging about me (Brusi & Madie). Thanks to people who brave the Bay with me (Katie, Maddy, Heather, Serena, Aly n Rachel).  Thanks to the ladies Dolores Huerta House for feeding me and supporting me during training. Also special shout-out to Grace, who kayaked next to me and helped me print all the t-shirts even though she was on vacation. Shout-out to lane 10 and the other Maddogs n ducks that I swam with. Thanks to Rick, who introduced me to open water swimming and tricked me into swimming the Tiburon mile for the food. And last but not least, so many thanks to my dear friend Leore, who was my pacer and training partner for my first attempt, without you I probably wouldn’t have made my first attempt.

Xo, Deelz

*If you do want to know why I specifically appreciate you, feel free to contact me and I will list the ways. 

Case closed

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Tracker link

I'm safely in the UK waiting for my day to go across the channel. Big love and big thanks to all of those that have sent money, written notes and given me good vibes.

I have limited wifi so many apologies if I am late on responding or sending you the thanks you deserve.

Here is a link to my tracker http://share.findmespot.com/shared/faces/viewspots.jsp?glId=0pmyeKoQIj8CAKtVQNLZ6q50j6NIAlyXu

We are thinking that Monday might be the big day!!

Xo Deelz

Monday, August 3, 2015

Deelz becomes famous bc of Claire Forrest

Happy monday people. Also happy august three days late.

Check out this nice article that my v. nice friend wrote about me. She is a killer writer AND a killer friend. What more could I ask for? Well I guess if she lived near me that would be nice. Enjoy :)

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Out here grindin'

This post is evidence that I am still out here grindin' away at my goals. I know that the internet silence has lasted for a little (okay long) while, but I am back with some tales to share and shit's about to get real.

At this point we are getting to the final countdown..and its getting rough. I have been struggling......mentally, physically, emotionally, you name it. I have never felt so many conflicting emotions about one thing before, so it has been difficult to stay on track, but I am still chuggin along. Cause I've got grit dammit. I swing between feelings of intense belief in myself and the desire to just quit.(Even though this damn swim has been on my mind for approx 6 years). Sometimes it feels like everything is going wrong and that "this isn't meant to be" and other times I can't imagine doing anything else. My shoulder hasn't been doing so hot this year, and recently a clumsy trip over my own feet made matters a lot worse. So between dealing with Kaiser and trying to maintain my acclimation while not swimming, I also have been holding onto my faith in myself and this goal by a tiny little thread. It's still there...but its delicate.

If you felt exhausted while reading this, then you kind of get what it is like to be in my own head. People ask me how I can swim for so long without getting bored, what I think about etc. The truth is I have a pretty strong internal dialog, which you may hear come out when I am really sassy (filtering myself can be difficult haha), that is present pretty much all the time. So it doesn't feel different to go from being on land to swimming all by myself, because my internal dialog is always going. I consider this dialog is a big strength of mine, but as with all superpowers, it can also be used for evil. When my mindset is positive and everything is jiving well I feel great and have fun...but as you can imagine if my mind is going the other way it can be hard to turn it around.

I did a lot of work in college to practice having a positive mindset while swimming and my coaches really taught me a lot, but if I've learned anything this year...its something that I have to constantly work on, like flossing (which I always promise that I will do better). Being positive is a practice that is surprisingly difficult to keep up when you are already feeling like you are struggling. And it doesnt matter where these struggles come from. A lot of things happen in life unexpectedly, and this year was no exception, from conflicts with roommates, and trouble at work to problems with coaches. I felt like I was drowning and I still do sometimes.

But I have been doing my best, and that is something that I have to hold onto. Maybe I could have done things differently at certain points, but that time has already past. I tend to be incredibly hard on myself for all sorts of things (like not blogging regularly, not swimming long enough, not being focused enough...you name it) and wish that I wasn't, but I think sometimes that voice that is hard on me, is the same voice that keeps me going. So I have been working on making my inner coach a little bit of a nicer person. This has required me to accept help and support, which is hard sometimes but also so necessary. I have been going to a counselor every week and working on my shit. It's really hard work. (Probably just as hard as swimming). And I have been leaning on friends and family, who are all incredible people that listen to me freak out and redirect my anxieties. Living with depression and anxiety is really hard, but it is a small part of who I am and will always be. This year I have been trying to live as true to myself as possible, which means not hiding my struggles in the deep abyss of my mind and instead sharing it with people who can help me work through it.

So even though I am freaking out a little (okay a lot) about my shoulder and how many miles I did or didn't swim this week and how little I have blogged etc, I have to remember that I am doing hard work to get myself across that channel. Training for long term events never really goes as planned (last time around I shattered my wrist a few months before), but I have got to keep adapting. At the end of the day, even though I have felt like my training has been a shitshow, as long as I have good weather I am definitely getting across, because I am way too stubborn not to finish. So y'all better get your weather vodoo on.

xo Deelz

Also if you are interested in where the title comes from listen to this song.

Friday, April 3, 2015

March Update in April

Start of the Fort Point->Pt. Bonita Swim

 March has come and gone really quickly! I have had several solid swims that are building my confidence and helped me to shed my second cap (silicone), so now I am just down to my trusty ol' yellow latex. As per channel rules I can only wear one cap, so I could technically just wear one silicone cap but those never have seemed to work for me, they tend to slip off of my head during swims longer than 1 hour, I think I sweat too much? and they give me headaches...so i dont they are not worth the extra bit of warmth.

On March 7, I did a RT (round-trip) Anita Rock Swim with the Sunrisers. It was designated as a "nutcracker" swim, named for its level of difficulty. I had done a 1 hr 55min swim in late February and followed pretty much the same course, so I felt pretty confident doing this swim. The leg out to Anita Rock took the bulk of the time about 50 mins as we were swimming against a fairly strong flood. Once we got to Anita Rock, I chugged some water mixed with a Gu powder. I like that particular mix because it isn't too sweet but still gives me lots of electrolytes. Drinking midway through gave me a nice burst of energy and started to power on back to the club. I made it back to the club in far less time, because I felt like I wanted to kick it up a little bit speed-wise. Once back inside Aquatic Park I decided to give myself a little cool down. Overall we were looking at about 1 hour and 43 mins in the water, which I was quite happy with.

The following weekend I had a chance to do another adventurous swim, this time taking place outside of Golden Gate Bridge. The plan is to swim from Fort Point in the eastward direction and ending up at Point Bonita.

We were greeted with a phenomenal sunrise and boarded the boat in the sunshine. The ride out to the gate was a bit bumpy, which meant that we might encounter some wind once we were outside the bridge. Once we jumped it seemed like it took forever to arrive at the bridge and make the right hand turn underneath the bridge. I knew that once I made that turn I would have to keep my head down and keep moving because it was going to get choppy. I didn't spend too much time gazing up at the bridge...but no matter how many times I have made a crossing underneath that bridge I am always in awe of its beauty. After getting past the bridge, I found myself at Pt. Bonita in far less time than I had imagined. I stayed in the water for another 45 mins just swimming and playing around in order to get some extra time in.

I now possess a shillelgh to use to hit mean seals. 
In honor of St. Paddy's Day, the club hosts a Coughlan beach swim where we all raced for the honor of winning the shillelagh. In case you dont know what a shillelagh is...i have attached a link to wikipedia for further information. Right before jump time a few of the guys at the club suggested that I join them for a roundtrip Coughlan swim. I decided it would be a nice way to warm up for the race portion and started off early in order to arrive in enough time to start with everyone else. Once I had already committed to this I had a brief moment of panic when I remembered that last time that I did a RT Coughlan I had a really rough swim. I got a headache from the cold and started panicking and basically lost it mentally halfway through the swim. I ended up finishing, but I really doubted myself and was really hard on myself afterwards. I have made a lot of mental progress since then, but it was a scary moment. A huge part of training for the channel is the mental component and this experience scared me because I felt like I wasn't where I should be and that I shouldn't have been having those struggles.  Someone once told me that people who are successful never ever doubt themselves. I have been thinking about that lately and realized that isn't always true. It's okay for me to question myself, and it will likely happen during bigger swims, but I have to get into the practice of hearing those thoughts and honoring my feelings (whatever they may be at the time) but not letting them hold me back. I want to be sure that I am always authentic with myself and I'm not gonna sugarcoat it. I believe that it is really important that people know that all athletes have doubts and moments or periods of struggle do not ultimately mean that you will not be a success in the end.

I ended up finishing the swim first overall, and had a quick time of 20:30, but i did a few cool down laps to get my time in the water up a bit. This swim restored some of my faith because I was able to do well during a swim that previously had given me a lot of trouble. So March meant a bunch of great swims but also meant that the Mindy Project had it's season finale..so although I am sad about that I am looking forward to a bunch of great swims in April including some Alcatraz time and some time south of the Bay bridge! Stay tuned for some updates on things that actually happened in April :)

Saturday, February 28, 2015

24 Hour Relay

As it turns out blogging is kind of hard....trying to be more consistent but really can't make any grand promises at this point. I won't leave you hanging when things get more exciting, but right now I am in a pretty solid rhythm of morning sunriser swims 2-3times a week alternated with 2 hour pool sessions. Things are starting to heat up though! Both the temperature of the water AND my training plans!

The hat that we all signed for Suzie

On February 7-8, 2015, I was part of a very *interesting* event. About 40 swimmers gathered together in Aquatic Park to participate in a 24 hour swimming relay. Think Relay for Life, except it was swimming in the SF Bay. This was the second year of the swim and it was organized by the passionate Suzie Dods.

So for 24 hours, one member of your team had to be in the water swimming. I was on a team with four other people: Alex, Cristian, Jon and Silvia and we named ourselves "Team Ronco-Five EZ payments" (after the tv infomercials, I cant quite remember how we ended up landing on that name). So once you were done, you tagged out one of your teammates and pretty much sprinted to the sauna.

I did my best to capture a photo of every hour, but sometimes it got a little messy when I was in the water. They are mostly just selfies of me eating pizza...which is not actually an ideal food to eat in between legs of a swimming relay, but damn was it good.

First wave of swimmers getting ready to enter the water

Let the games begin!




My mother and brother were kind enough to come support me with food and kayaking. In order to imagine what this event was like, just think of the longest swim meet that you have ever been to compressed into one day. Some wiser people, had practiced doing double or triple dips to prepare their bodies for the re-exposure. Although it hadn't occurred to me to try that, my body did great at responding to the repeated dips in the cold. After the swim was over on Sunday I found that I was actually quite warm, as it appeared that my body was preparing itself to re-enter the cold, which definitely gave me confidence moving forward. Overall it was completely exhilarating, but going to work on Monday sure was difficult.

THE TEAM: Alex, Silvia, Cristian, Me and Jon
A sneaky shot of me sleepin'

Here is a sweet video created by someone who is far more technologically advanced than I. Warning: it may make you feel sea sick...if you dont like wavy motions.