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SWIM  I get this  email in early October:  SwimVacation needs to fill their December trip to the British Virgin Islands and  they’re offering a discount to alums as incentive.  My husband  and I went  on a short SwimVacation trip to a lake in Maine a few years back (see old blog post) thus the email in my in-box.  Lucky us!  We had been  talking about  doing SwimVacation BVI someday, but the trip isn’t cheap so we were dragging our feet and saving some money.  On a lark, I brought up the possibility of signing up – hey, discount!  To my surprise and glee, he said “sure, let’s go”.  So we did.  And here are some pictures to prove it.

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SwimVacation BVI in a nutshell:  get to Village Cay Marina at the designated meeting time, dinghy ride to the Promenade (our trimaran home for the week), stow shoes – barefoot for a whole week ! – settle in, swim at least twice a day *every day*  in beautiful places among the islands, eat (and drink, if so inclined), make new swimmy friends…  As their logo says, “Swim. Relax. Repeat.”  Sun and 80 degree Caribbean water?  In December?  Yes, please.

Check out the SV blog  to see how  it looks  and book your next trip to BVI!  Or Hawaii.  Or Turkey (new trip).  I might write more specifics about the trip in a future blog, but if you want details before then, feel free to ask in a comment.

BIKE  nothing to report.  I haven’t been on my road bike for a while now – just spin classes ().  I plan to try out a computrainer class in January.  I’m scared.  And we’re doing a run afterward.  It just might kill me.  Wish me luck.

RUN  this is  starting to be a more common  category for me:  I’ve been doing more of it (stupid peer pressure).  I did a 5k fun run on Thanksgiving and broke a 9 min/mile pace!  Nothing like the fear of getting lost to make me go faster – I had to keep the people ahead of me in sight.  Cuteness overload warning:  mini pig in a santa suit at the end of the run.

READ  I went through a brief period of bad books, but seem to have come out the other side.  Phew!  I just ready Jojo Moyes’ The Ship of Brides and loved it.  I really like her books.  Now I’m diving into The Art of Hearing Heartbeats, by Jan-Philip Sendker.

and… EAT!  SwimVacation meant I didn’t cook or bake for a week (the food was great, by the way), but I couldn’t resist making  a  chocolate whiskey cake when we got home.

cw cake use for blog

Chocolate Whiskey Cake

I’ll blame our birthdays (mine and my husband’s).   Can’t have birthdays without cake.  I think it’s illegal.


And then this happened, too, ’cause, why not?!


Cranberry Apple Cake


Now what?  The race season is over – and has been, for me, for a couple months already.  My husband and I went on a VBT cycling trip to Croatia in mid-September – it was fantastic.

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And now it’s Fall in New England.  There’s still outdoor riding to be done, but it’s definitely getting colder, and I’m not sure how many layers it’s worth putting on! – especially when my feet turn a funny shade of yellow and/or purple, even with shoe covers!  So spin classes and gym classes here I come.  I’m still trying to venture out of my comfort zone (once in a while) so this might be the year I try a step class.  I just hope there’s enough room around me so when I go the wrong way I don’t take anybody out like I almost did in cardiokicks (not pretty) a couple weeks ago.  And there’s always the pool.

SWIM:  trying to get to the pool 3-4 times per week.  That’s the goal, anyway.  Sometimes it’s only 2xweek.  I didn’t swim much while on vacation, so I’m just starting up again.  I do ~2000-3000 yds each time – more often 2k than 3k!  Here’s a fun swim workout I did today.

BIKE:  hoping for a few more rides outside before heading indoors to spin class hell.

READ:  The Shell Collector:  Stories, by Anthony Doerr was a really nice collection.  Where’d You Go Bernadette, by Maria Semple, was a fun quick read.  I’m into Claire Messud right now.  I read The Woman Upstairs – wow what well-described rage!, and I just started The Emperor’s Children.  I really like her writing.  I’m looking forward to reading Survival Lessons, by Alice Hoffman, one of my favorite authors.

and eat! I haven’t been that inspired lately.  But I did manage to make jam bars and peanut butter squares (yum), and vegan banana biscuits (from Julie Hasson’s Vegan Diner) recently.


A Day at the Races,  Ironman Lake Placid.

My friend and tri team director, Kristi, raced in Ironman Lake Placid this past weekend so a few of us from Team EnVision went to cheer her on.  I had never been to, or even considered going to, a race of this magnitude prior to meeting Kristi.  I had no idea what to expect.

Navajo Lodge, Lake Placid, NY

Navajo Lodge, Lake Placid, NY

Kristi had rented a house – a big house – in Upper Jay, NY, and invited family and friends to give her logistical and moral support for the couple days before, during, and after the big day.  Wise decision.  She had time to make the 5-hour drive to Lake Placid, settle in, have a couple days to relax (?!) (there was tubing practically right outside the door!), take in the super-charged atmosphere, and deal with the logistics of the race.

And wow, talk about logistics.  2700 athletes, 3000 volunteers, and who knows how many friends and family members, all descending upon a rather small town in upstate NY.  Picture 1970s Tyrolean ski chalet-themed kitch and you’ve got Lake Placid.  I thought it was kind of cute, but the town has definitely seen better days.

Members of our group had been arriving since Thursday, We (4 of us) got to the Navajo Lodge late Saturday afternoon in time for a nice pre-race dinner with Kristi, her parents, girlfriend, and friends.  All of us were ready to cheer her on through the race the next day.  All together, there were 11 of us + a very well-behaved baby.  By Saturday evening all of the details, big and small, had been attended to.  Gear had been dropped off including 2 “special needs” bags full of race-day nutrition and things that might be needed during the race. These bags were available to participants on the course:  one bag at the end of the first bike loop and the other at around mile 11 on the run.  A far cry from the tris I do where I only need a water bottle and maybe a Gu in addition to my swim/bike/run stuff.

run special needs bags

run special needs bags

I can’t believe how calm Kristi appeared.  Everything was in place.  She had done the work – and more work – throughout the previous 9-10 months.  Up early to train, eating well, figuring out what worked and didn’t work for multi-hour bike rides and runs, inviting friends to keep her company on all or parts of her workouts.  Focus, clarity, dedication.  Through all sorts of weather, and personal ups and downs, she put in quality effort and rarely complained.  The day was finally here and she was ready.  I guess there’s a calm that comes from knowing you’ve done everything you should have and could have, and you just have to see how it will play out on that one day where it all has to come together.

Race Day

Kristi heading out

Kristi heading out

Kristi was up and out by around 4:15am.  I was going in a car leaving at 5.  Another car of supporters was heading over a little later, say 6:30, and the final part of the entourage left the Lodge by 8 or so.  Parking, while not a total nightmare, could have been better marked.  We parked on a side street rather than in a specified lot, since there weren’t any signs for the lots…  Maybe it was because we were so early.  At any rate, the town was already crawling with people.  We had our team tent set up where we could hang out and watch the swim (from a little distance), and see the cyclists pass twice and runners pass 4 times.  Perfect.  Kristi knew where the tent was and could expect to see us at certain times during the race.  AND, since the weather was calling for rain, we had shelter.

Swim start

Lining up for swim start

The pros went off at 6:20am followed by the age-groupers at 6:40.  The rolling start was new this year:  participants self-seeded based on estimated swim time.  I think it made for a much safer, and probably quicker, swim although the purists grumbled about tradition.  I don’t know.  If fewer swimmers suffer concussions and avoid drowning by toning down the melée, is that a bad thing?

napping and waiting

napping and waiting

Our day, as spectators, was largely spent hanging out at the tent, napping, estimating the times Kristi would pass by, and cheering everybody on. Cowbells clanging!  The Team EnVision tent was one in a long row of team tents so it was a very busy place.

Between Kristi’s bike loops I had time to get in the water and swim the course.  The coolest thing about the swim is the permanent cable marking the route.  Just follow the golden thread for 1.2 miles.  And, if you’re doing the race, do it again.  Once was enough for me – I had more cheering to do!

13:34.26 after the event started (official time: 13:27.47), Kristi ran down the chute to hear those very important hard-won words:  “Kristi, you are an Ironman!”

We (partner, family, friends, and teammates) couldn’t be more proud of her.

Kristi finishing IMLP

She did it!

Winter is finally making its presence known here in New England.  Gone are the days of swimming at Walden Pond, then going for a ride in the surrounding suburbs of Concord, Carlisle, Lincoln, Weston, etc., maybe following that up with a run… Oh, wait, that “run” part never really happens.  Well, maybe once in a while.  So now that I’m in the pool and either at a spin class or on my trainer (HA! that’s a lie, my trainer isn’t even set up yet), I’m thinking back to happier, warmer, swimming times: most notably in Greece and the British Virgin Islands.  And Maine.

Leverick Bay, British Gorda

Leverick Bay. Home base for SwimTrek BVI

Until a few years ago, I never knew swimming trips even existed.  I had heard of organized multisport vacations and bike vacations, of course, and learn-to-swim instructional trips, but nothing for those of us who just want to SWIM.  And then I stumbled across  SwimTrek.  Someone had written in to a swim magazine asking about sun protection because she was going on a SwimTrek.  I HAD to know what she was talking about.  A year or so later, I found myself in the British Virgin Islands.  Here’s a link to the article I wrote about my experience for
Soon after that trip my husband became proficient at distance swimming (he was jealous after I got back from BVI and felt he was missing out on swimming across Walden!), and we did a SwimTrek to Greece.  Incredible.

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This past summer, we spent 4 days on a lake in Maine with SwimVacation, another excellent swim tour company.  SwimVacation also offers a trip to BVI and just added Hawaii to their roster!

Maine Lakes SwimVacation

Taconnet on Great Pond. SwimVacation Maine

A nice thing about these trips is that they’re very welcoming.  A base level of fitness is important to get the most out of the trip, but you don’t have to be a competitive swimmer – the swims are NOT races.  It’s great if you can make the distances, but from what I’ve seen, there’s always a boat nearby for anybody who gets tired and needs, or just wants, a ride.

Ahh, maybe I can daydream winter away while I save up for my next swimming adventure – I’m thinking Croatia.

Read:  still working my way through Singing Boy.  I will either finish it or fling it soon.

Eat:  I tried Frugal Feeding’s Vegetable Mash.  It’s really good – even with my misreading of the recipe (!) – but I’m still not crazy about parsnips. FF’s pictures are amazing!  Next up:  carrot and coriander fritters.

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