The big weeks of training arrived during these two weeks. I signed up for Mighty Mac Training Camp, which took place on the beautiful shore of Lake Michigan near Saugatuck July 18 and 19. The swim event director, Jim “The Shark” Dreyer, has some beautiful property along Lake Michigan and set up this whole camp for us to attend, which was so generous and awesome. All of the people I met that attended the camp were very cool. My friend Ross from Minnesota was even in the Mitten, and so he came down for the Saturday long swim day on his way back home (not really on his way, but!…). In “Minnesota nice” fashion, he brought me a Minnesota Master’s swim cap (complete with inadvertently inappropriate image) and his favorite paleo snack bar! It was very awesome to connect with people in person, and makes me look forward to the swim in September.
The goal when we got out in the water on Saturday was to swim as much as we could/ as much as we cared to do. A storm had blown through and there was one headed in later. So after hearing a little from Jim and introducing the team (medical and support from Tim and Dave, who helped us ALL weekend!, as well as Katrina, who is our swimmer liasion/all things Mighty Mac :)), we got started. We had a half mile course along shore, which was “uphill” one way and “downhill” on the way back (I forget who christened it that, but it was true). The downhill would make you forget you were tired and you would head back out for another mile lap, only to remember how tired your shoulders were the last time you made the trip. I made it my intended 5 miles, and enjoyed some company from Jeannette the first 4 miles. That was good because we were a little on our own. I cramped badly at 2.25 miles in the calves, and that was when it hit me that I could very well drown out there. I panicked a little, but rolled to my back to try to stretch out the cramp. My electrolytes fueling strategy that had been working for me in my previous training was definitely not working during this swim. I guzzled extra Gatorade to try to ward it off, and actually my calves felt better by the last mile than they did during miles 3 and 4. It took a few days for that tightness to go away. Tim, the paramedic, mentioned that cramping was actually generally an overuse thing than a lack of electrolytes. I wonder if this is something a little NKT could fix.
Anyhow, Jim took time to evaluate our strokes, and his feedback to me was super positive overall, with a few corrections that came as no surprise. I swim with my head too “high” in the water and let my lower body sink a little as a result. (Or, as one coach told me, I swim like a speed boat rides). I know this, but I have a level of anxiety about putting my head down farther, as if it somehow blocks me from seeing what’s ahead (it does). I worry about running into things with my head, rightfully so, as I ran into someone about mile 3.5 while I was trying to swim with my head in a more neutral position. I am working with trying to adjust it, but it definitely comes at a sacrifice for comfort and sighting in the water.
I holed up in a hotel on Saturday night while a storm blew through and apparently missed some of the cool stories Jim and the other guys had to share over the fire. I’m glad I didn’t really think that I was going to camp. Stories are no trade for a warm shower and a cozy bed!
Sunday was beautiful morning after the storm, and we headed out to Oval Beach in Saugatuck for more training. That morning we ran up dunes and down stairs, did pushups, planks, and crawls along the way up and down. It was fun and a good chance to talk some more about training with others who were doing the same event I am. So far, I haven’t talked to a lot of people in my situation, so normalizing it by comparing training plans was great.
After getting all sandy doing “turtle crawls” (Me: “I am getting sand in my mouth!”/ Scott: “Then you’re doing it wrong!”), we tried to wash off in order to get out wet suits on. The objective was to be tired before we jumped in the water again. I felt surprisingly good that morning despite the 5 mile swim the day before, after which I had hurt in all.the.places.
We headed for the pier, almost a mile away, with the intention to swim back afterward. I think I stuck pretty closely to the 2 miles, while I know a couple of others were closer to 2.5 or more miles! (It is actually hard to swim straight without the little black lines, LOL) While we swam, crawled, and then rested, Jim entertained us all weekend with his stories of swims that he had done, and if you ever get a chance to talk with him or meet him, you should— his stories are hilarious! He has swam all the Great Lakes, pulled 2 tons of bricks across Lake St. Clair to raise money for Habitat, and bunch of other amazing swims.
I came home exhausted, and that didn’t wear off the rest of the week. So I took it easy last week, feeling pretty confident after my weekend out on Lake Michigan. I am super excited to hit the home stretch of training and conquer the Straits on Labor Day!
Monday 7.13- 2 miles swim, Trout Lake
Tuesday 7.14 Squats, Deadlifts
Wednesday 7.15- rest (kayaked!)
Thursday 7.16- Bench
Friday 7.17 – Squats, Deadlifts
SAturday 7.18- 5 mile swim, Lake Michigan
Sunday, 7.19- run/hike/strength stuff, 2 mile swim, Lake Michigan
Monday 7.20- rest
Tuesday 7.21- squats, deadlifts
Wednesday 7.22- run, 45 minutes
Thursday 7.23- bench
Friday 7.24- squats, deadlifts
Saturday 7.25- 1.5 hour road ride, Cuyahoga Valley National Park (Fun! Hills!)
Sunday 7.26 – unplanned rest day