A fish out of water…

This year which started with so much promise swimming and otherwise is turning into a year of loss.  My parents, both are not doing well.  The friends I use to be able to count on more than two hands have dwindled to 1 or 2.  My home Bay Swimming club has pretty much stated ‘we like the money you pay for dues but you aren’t one of us because you don’t live here.’  My home swim region just said the same thing.   

Who knew that living local was such a deal breaker in this world?  Especially in an age of instant news, information, communication and gratification; the world is not really as big as it used to be with modern communication and data services or so one would think.   Apparently I am mistaken or very much ill informed.

I moved 4 years ago because I thought I would have a solid place, a dream job with limited travel, a home and a future all equaling more training and swimming, time with a partner and settled. 

I thought that I would be able to hold on to my old friends, family and life while creating a second base of operations.  I didn’t realize or refused to acknowledge that people are really very temporary fragile connections that blow away much like a spider web in the wind and rain.   Every other connection is even more tenuous.   

This year I’m on the road every week for at least 6 days, temporary help for the latest bidder.  There doesn’t look to be an end to this situation.  I laughed, a very sad laugh when I heard Sawyer Brown’s ‘Six Days on the Road’ on the radio.  No, I’m not a trucker but I still very much understood the sentiment behind the song.

I am very seldom at the place I reside which is only a rental again.  I seem to live out of hotels most of the time.  My dogs are spending all their time with a caretaker and I seem to be the parent with limited weekend visitation rights.  I guess it is good that the visits aren’t supervised also.

I have scratched many more swims than I have participated in this summer due to this schedule.  I’m so very wary of entering swims because I just can’t afford to throw away the money on unused entry fees.  So I always wait until the last minute and decide, not the most economical way to go. 

A couple of times I have gotten home so late that to drive to the swim, then participate and drive back would put me awake for well over 30 hours at a time.  I’m willing to swim that tired but I’m not willing to take any chances behind the wheel of my truck where someone else would pay a huge price.      

It has been a year of injury and illness, backs, hips, knees, viruses, ulcer, asthma, shoulder issues, and just plain exhaustion.  It seems that everything is falling apart at the same time but there is no time to really heal anything.  I have taken to traveling with ice packs in checked baggage for temporary relief to injury while on the road.  The question becomes where do I need them the most or first? 

Now as I ponder a swim that is abroad, I have great trepidation that that part of my life is over also.  Is this the last adventure that I will participate in? 

 Am I traveling over there too find that another family and set of friends are ‘local only?’  Again, do I care too much for people who are more ambivalent about my friendship?  Are people really that easily replaceable and interchangeable?  I just miss my life or what I thought it was.  This new one sucks.

So I struggle to get ready for the 9 mile swim this month and the 10.5 next month and worry. 

What do I do for a crew this month, do I need it?  How will I get all the work done and justify an evening away for the pre-race dinner much less the couple of days for the 10.5?   

For the overseas trip; will I find myself as lonely during those few days as I do every day at home? 

I try to force myself to work on healing my shoulder so it will manage both swims.  All the while knowing that if I can’t, come September it will be time to let a surgeon fix it.  If that is the future will any chance of swimming for adventure and challenge vanish?  And the low voice that says ‘why do you continue to do it’ comes in treacherous and clear just to further unhinge things. 

I have found myself thinking maybe I’m not who I thought.  Maybe swimming isn’t me.  Maybe I am destined to just move around, making contact but nothing lasting.  Maybe I just don’t get it people are actually replaceable in all instances.  Maybe there really is no such concept as home.

Then I pay attention to the lyrics in my ears:

Holding Up the Sky

 I found myself between two places neither of them home

I could not recognize the faces

I've never felt so alone

I found myself between two choices to settle or to run

All my life I've heard the voices

This time mine’s the only one....the only one


I wanna feel what the wind feels like

I wanna go that high and feel no fear except being down here

Holding up the sky.....holding up the sky

Life astounds us in an instant

Changing all we know

Blink just once and then you've missed it

All you can do is watch it it go

You wanna feel what the wind feels like

You wanna go that high and have no fear except being down here

Holding up the sky......holding up the sky

I found myself between two lifetimes

The sunset and the dawn

I reached out and took the lifeline offered up to me

between here and and gone

We want to feel what the wind feels like

We wanna go that high and feel no fear except being down here

Holding up the sky...........holding up the sky

I wanna feel what the wind feel like

I wanna go that high and feel no fear except being down here

Holding up the sky......holding up the sky

The lyrics of this song resonate with where I am today and the crisis of faith that I’m having with myself right now.  It managed to quiet the noise for awhile, so I will go try and figure my life again while listening. 


A swim with no one waiting for a call...

Last week I swam an open water swim, first one in a couple of years.  

I got out and then remembered that no one was waiting for my call.  

Not my Mom, whom I bought my first cell phone because she wanted to know when I got out of the water and usually there were few phones.  

Not my Dad, whom wouldn't travel with me domestic or abroad but always was waiting for my call.  

Mom and Dad are having rough times and don't have time to worry about me.  It was very strange that no one was waiting for a call.

It became very apparent it is a lonely new world these days...'solo' swims has taken on a new meaning.

More on the Adventure later when my mood picks up.

Rough week

I was supposed to swim a race this weekend but couldn't pick up my pups if I did.  I bailed on the 21 minute swim for the 12 hours with the pups.  I also was supposed to go to World's this weekend but work, new client, etc have conspired against me.  So it is back to the drawing board for now.  A summer ahead and what to do?  I want to swim but need to find those that are financially balanced.

Loch Lomond is out because I can't find a boat, Swim the Suck is filled up along with a lot of the other big swims....but I do have my BLDSA card for this year.

I also did get a USAT card this year so that opens up a few more events, but can I get them to switch the length of the run and the swim?  Probably no,t but I can crawl to the finish if need be....

Oh well it is back to the drawing board to figure out what to do... anyone with ideas, ping me or leave a message please.

My Grams....

Except for the fact that I swam today, this post had nothing to do with swimming.  

Grams has been on my mind a lot lately, she was an amazing lady.  No matter what I had done good or bad when I went to her house there was coke or hot cocoa and 'applesauce raisin cake.'  My Grams was one of those women that 'a pinch here and a dash there' were all she put in on any recipe card and for most of her recipes are not documented.  I was looking for an applesauce raisin cake recipe because that is the one I associate with her.  As I said no matter what, that was in the air when I visited.  

I finally found this one and it looks a lot like hers smelled (Yes I can translate between the two).  


  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups applesauce
  • 2 cups raisins


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9x13 inch pan. Mix together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the applesauce. Fold in the and raisins. Pour batter into prepared pan.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool.

So I'm going to try it and I will let you know if it is my Grams recipe minus of course the 'love' that she made it with.....

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    On theSitting on the Dock of the Bay - Otis Redding
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So tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent….

I’m a very lapsed Catholic which means we have differences of understanding.  I’m feeling not at odds with family but there are difficulties so maybe I will participate in my own way to honor my Grams which I do a couple of times a year.  She was such a good Irish Catholic with pagan tendencies. I try and make Church on Good Friday as well as Easter and Christmas each year.  Being raised Catholic, fish sticks, tuna sandwiches and salmon are regular Friday meals even if the Pope says you don’t have too. 

I’m not into giving things up right now, at my age you can run out of things to deny yourself or you don’t want to use it as a way to beat yourself up or both. 

I’m looking at it as 40 days of taking care of myself, body, mind and spirit.  I’m not totally sure what it will all mean but I do know recommitting to healthy eating, proper rest, exercise and hoping to lower the stress levels with some meditation are in the future for a 40 day experiment. 

So what I have figured out is: There will be long dog walks and dog loving sessions, lots of swimming and I’m going to join the team for the 40 days.  There will be gentle stretching until I can venture out into my other cross training activities such as weights, running and Aikido.  I also want to add in rock climbing, I’ve done it before and it has been good for all areas I’m trying to reach, body, mind and spirit.  Getting more serious about training and swimming is taking care of myself as long as I have fun doing it. 

I’ve been missing my creative outlets so there is some art or at least crocheting in the next 40 days.  I want to finish my Mother’s afghan and start my Dad’s blanket.   I haven’t crocheted since I moved but I was really enjoying it even if I’m not good at it.  There is also a shop that has a drop-in crochet and knitting group, that may help my ‘socialization’ or lack thereof that I’m concerned about.  There are also weekend art classes that I may take one or two of.  I would like to find a place to ‘throw clay’ also, it is fully satisfying when it hits the table with a resounding smack.  I’m not going to be able to do all of this but I would like to do some of it and have a plan on next steps at the end of 40 days. 

I have some new cookbooks on Vegan cooking and want to replace a couple of meals a week with vegan entrees and more that are vegetarian to go with my fish on Fridays.  So I love to cook combining the two works very well.   

It will be a interesting experiment even knowing that things can change in a minute.....


Concept of being good….

As a concept it is great but putting it into practice, not so much.   It meant another weekend of working out in a pool and skipping the meets.  I got the girls groomed on Saturday and swam while they were being ‘beautified.’  Even though I broke up the drive to and from the groomers to 45 minutes each leg, a total of 3 hours in the car took its toll on my back.  Swam to ease it on Saturday and made sure ice was my best friend.  The beautiful clean dogs were worth it. 

Today I spent time watching a world Judo tournament on  It helped me not get upset at the hospital when they dicked me around for 10 hours while I was trying to check on my Dad.  But I wanted to be on the mat so badly.  So while I enjoyed it, it was a perverse activity on one level.   

Finally I lost it and got tired of ‘being held captive’ by hospital.  I went to the Y, paid my Aikido dues even though it will be a few weeks until I can work out on the mat.  I swam in the pool instead.  I know what a boring post but ‘being good’ is a pain and not all that interesting.  The Senseis (Instructors) at Aikido were more than happy to adjust the workouts to my needs as my back gets stronger which make me know I have chosen the right Dojo.  I can’t this week but will see what the Chiropractor says if the rate of recovery stays stable during this week.  But I'm at the right Dojo to help me recover and not re-injure.

The pool was set up for 50 Meters, so 2 less turns open turns per 100 and ‘I love meters!’  Need I say more? 

It was a good workout with quick times for steady 100s with open turns and ‘no kicking’ (being good again…).  Times were about 1:15 each 100 on a 1:30 base with open turns, these were not supposed to be fast 100s but they turned out not to be slow. 

Also as an added benefit, there was an Adult Synchronized Swimming work out tonight.  It was great seeing these ladies around my age working on the moves.   They were trying so hard and their very young coach was encouraging and gentle.  It made my heart burst a little.  I love these little surprises that life has when you open your eyes to them.

So the concept of ‘being good’ is hard but I’m taking it day by day, and icing session by icing session…  It is working as I work on that elusive concept of ‘patience.’

So off to ice the back again..... and sleep. Night all.

Music for this post


Recovering from a Back Injury…

So I’m in the second week of recovering from a lower back injury.  You would think it would just chill after a few days but it has been ‘slow’ OK replace that with ‘Laura needs to look up patience in the dictionary.’  Actually though I feel it has been slow, it has been a steady decrease in pain and increase in movement and flexibility.  While I’m not going to be running any miles in the next few weeks, I have been able to increase the amount of stretching and dry land exercises as well as add backstroke and one-arm fly to the pool workouts.  I’m not really ready to put flip turns or regular fly in the regime quite yet and here is why. 

It did get me thinking about how long has it been since I was pain-free… 

For that answer I had to go back to before my first injury in 2006; also to when I injured my back the first time in 2007; before the Achilles injury that helped me put on a ton of weight which didn’t help my back either; to before I started my quasi-nomadic lifestyle of the last few years.... 

I realized that ‘normal’ for me has become being in pain about 25% of the time with spurts of extreme pain 100% of the time.  The 'normal' pain is about the size of a golf ball in my back, not the softball that resides when my back flares up like last week, but maybe that is not acceptable any more.  It was an interesting discovery to find I had taken this pain for granted.  Maybe it is time to see what are options open? 

So I had a talk with the Chiropractor and asked him if we could decrease the percentage of time I hurt and the number of the pain I feel?  The results are with the weight loss I have accomplished and the swimming, yoga, pilates, weights and dryland, we can decrease it at least to low single digits and into low numbers when it does act up, think 1-2 not 8.5 

As an athlete and especially with the last few years of injury after injury I had started to believe that this type of pain was normal.  A light went on, injury pain is not normal.  OK, everyone can say it ‘DUH.’  Yes sore muscles, tired muscles, draggin' rear, etc… that is all normal but injury pain is not.  I would never let another athlete believe it was so why am I willing to ‘buy the bridge’ myself?  I’m not.  So I’m not only on a quest to train while recovering but to also change this nasty little piece of what feels normal. 

I want to train hard but injury pain free.


My Dad......

I haven’t always had the greatest relationship with my Dad.  For many years it felt like it was based more on competition than anything else.  When I started to run in Junior High, he started to train… I would love to be able to write that my Dad has seen me swim in the last 20 years but that hasn’t happened nor will it at this point in time.  He hasn’t been to a race or swim be it local, national or abroad.  I have never figured out why. 

But there are little memories that make my Dad, my Dad.  These are the ones I cherish.   I was hospitalized at age 10 for pulling my muscles in my stomach during a race and he would bring me boysenberry shakes.  Dad and I both love our berries with strawberry ice cream (with real strawberries) being a favorite of both of us.  When I had my thyroid removed at 15 my Dad again brought boysenberry shakes.  When the doctor asked me if I wanted to be discharged early, it was my Dad that was there and took me home.  It felt like we were sneaking into a movie or something.  We share a love of science fiction books and martial arts movies. When I moved from swimming to competing in Judo, my Dad took me to a few tournaments.  I think because it was different but it was cool.

After I went back to swimming and after every long swim, it was my Dad I called first, from Tampa to Loch Lomond, from Tampa to Manhattan, from Lake Tahoe to the Channel.   I always call my Dad because he asks me to so he knows I lived.  I don’t know what who I will call now and in the future and that is a pain beyond my ability to vocalize it. 

Speaking of talking with my Dad, it was my Dad that had the talk with me before I left for England and the Channel.  He called me into his room and sat me down.  His words were:

 “Laura, you will make it or you won’t but make sure you leave everything you have in the water.  Come back knowing that you gave it your all France or bust. I'm proud of you but give it your all” 

That was the only time I remember him saying he was proud of me even though I had felt it before and I hadn’t even swam yet.  He gave me the knowledge at that time that even if I failed, he would still love me.  And after the Channel, it was my Dad I called on the boat…..    

I’m living each day knowing I’m a little closer to saying a final goodbye to my Dad and still I wonder who I’m going to call next time…..


A little humble pie….

Just when I thought it was going to be smooth sailing because all injuries were behind me, it hits.  My lower back gets injured during a run with the dogs.  Sunday was just thankfulness that I wasn’t traveling this week and a desperate search for a Chiropractor because I knew it wasn’t good.  Monday wasn’t much better but I did find a Chiropractor who would see me on Tues. 

Now for the double whammy, my insurance which covers Chiropractor, really doesn’t because they won’t cover the X-rays, any therapy, and only 12 visits.  If you use those 12 visits during the time you are paying your annual deductible then you are out of luck.  Got to love the ways Insurance finds not to pay for much. 

But what does an MD give me over a Chiropractor, higher bills, pain pills and muscle relaxants which just mask the pain but not much else.  So I will pay for the Chiropractor because I feel that I will be back swimming full force sooner with a number of adjustments and it is the smart move for me.

Now for the biggest adjustment, my training will have to be modified for a while.  I can swim but he said ‘no kicking’ <insert snicker here>.  I’m a long distance swimmer, we barely move our legs.  But no weights, running, Aikido for a few weeks until we have some results.

So it is time to concentrate on ‘form over function’ and make sure the changes in my stroke are giving me the results I want which is no shoulder pain.  That my new stroke is strong, long and sustainable.  So swimming is in as long as I’m smart about it.  Short walks, etc. are in, as is stretching and ice.  So I can modify my training a little and use the time wisely, it will be smart training this February.


Just a quick swim and a lesson.

Yesterday I went for a lunch time swim because the document I was writing wasn’t taking form.  It was part writer’s block' and part ‘I don’t want to do this.’  I did a quick 2 miles which may be the shortest swim I’ve had in about a month. 

I have been really working on body rotation to ease the shoulder strain.  The more I rotate the less chance that I catch my left shoulder on the recovery.  My issue isn’t with the pull but on the recovery part of the stroke. 

I was so good through the January Jam and then yesterday’s first lap, I reverted to my old stroke and found instant pain.  I think sometimes I just am so hard headed I have to try behaviors I know won’t work again just to make sure.  The painful stroke lasted less than a lap and I was back to what works for a quick two miles.

I hope I’m that fast backing out of other behaviors I’m trying to shed because we all know this isn’t just a pool thing.  I do believe for me, changing behaviors always means trying the old one that didn’t work but if I can stop quickly I can get back on the new track and out of the old rut.

And yes, I got back to that document and am making progress.

  • Current Music
    Gary Allan - Get Off On the Pain
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