Exactly a year ago today on February 15, 2020, a 62-year old retired Marine, George Hood, broke the Guinness World Record for the longest plank hold at 8 hours, 15 minutes, and 15 seconds.

This post is for George. Badass!

How did he do it?  Dedication to fitness for sure… but also Mindset Coaching.  

Many of you know I use mindset coaching in my own life to stretch my comfort zone and push the limits with my athletic endeavors, but I also coach mindset training in my business to help my clients overcome obstacles and take on new goals.  Hands down, it works.

George used visualization techniques to distract his mind and focus his thoughts away from his bleeding elbows.

(You’ll notice at 1:20 into this video, his mindset coach, Renae Cobley, walks over to him… most likely giving him a pep talk. You gotta love this stuff!)

But I’m sure he also distracted his mind with some good music, so I created a Spotify Plank Hold Playlist.

I’ve been fine-tuning this playlist for several years now, and I’m beyond excited to finally share it with you guys today, on this very special anniversary day!

I’ve selected 15 motivating songs, each one in order increasing in length by 1 minute.  If you make it all the way to the end of Jimi Hendrix’s Voodoo Chile, then you’ve hit a 15-minute plank hold. (and please let me know when you do!)

How to Use this Playlist: Press Play and Plank.

Start with the first song. (Don’t worry if you’re not at 1 minute yet.) Anytime you need a break, put your knees to the floor, count to 5 or 7, then back up to plank.  Log that as “one knee break”.  When you can get through the entire song with no knee breaks, it’s time to bump up to the next song on the list.  Some songs are going to have lots of knee breaks and that’s okay.  Log them, and then set a goal to reduce the number of breaks the next day.

The important thing is to let the music distract you. Close your eyes, focus on the guitar, or the drums, or the lyrics… whatever your brain decides in that moment to move its attention to. When the song ends, open your eyes… you’re done! No clock watching or timers… just some really good music to keep your brain occupied.

Do this every day… and don’t give up!  Although George was already quite fit when he started on his plank hold journey, his first attempt was only a 5-minute plank.  How did he get to over 8 hours? He worked at it every day for 6 months until he was able to go for over an hour… and then just kept going.

Last summer I went on a month-long vacation and decided it was time to use those four weeks to take my plank hold from just a few minutes, to over 10 minutes.  I used this playlist to achieve that goal. That was a productive vacation!

You’ve heard it before, it takes 21 days to make or break a habit. I am a firm believer in using Habit Trackers. I have one for you here:

Log the song and number of breaks.  Your log will look something like this: (Yeah, I got hung up on track 8, LA Woman.)

And surprise!! I threw in a final challenge, a super long track from the 2112 Rush album. (A song so long it takes up the entire first side of the album.) Definitely let me know if you make it through that.

I’d love to hear from you! Let me know what you think and how your progress is coming along.

Peace, Kate

Sometimes I hear a song, and I know I need to craft a workout around it.  This is one of those workouts!

The track is After Hours by The Weeknd.  It’s a 6-minute song, and when I first heard it I knew right away it had to be paired with some circular movements to get you into a nice rhythm.  I chose Around the World’s and Figure 8’s.  (Yeah, you start listening to music differently when you swing kettlebells.) 

Here’s how it looks to music: (check out my hummingbird friend at :35 in!)

Then, once you’re in a good groove after the first 2 minutes, we’re going to keep the pace going and move straight into the Reverse Lunges.

I use songs as timers… so turn it up and no stopping till the song’s over.

Here’s a video of the Reverse Lunge.

Here’s what your new circuit looks like

1 minute: Around the Worlds (both directions)

1 minute: Low Figure 8’s (both directions)

2 minutes: Reverse Lunges (alternating right and left side)

1 minute: Low Figure 8’s (both directions)

1 minute: Around the Worlds (both directions)

Listen for when the beat switches up a bit (about 2 minutes in) and this is when you’ll add in the Kettlebell Reverse Lunge.  Basically you clean the kettlebell to your shoulder and then step back into a reverse lunge.  (The clean was in last weeks post). Make sure you “tap” your knee to the floor in the lunge, maintaining good upper-body posture as you go through the movement.

Do the circuit twice for a 12 minute workout… and let me know if you’re not sweating it out yet…

Stay Strong,

Kate

p.s… I do take song suggestions… just let me know, and I’ll build a workout around it. 🙂

 

This is not an April Fools joke.  You read that right.  I’ve created a circuit using dumbbells.  Yes, desperate times call for desperate measures.  Stores are closed and kettlebells are on backorder, so we are making do.

Rogue Rubber Hex Dumbbells

I’ve selected a few good movements that will adapt well to a dumbbell.

The first video illustrates the Sumo Squat and Sumo Deadlift, using a kettelbell:

In the next video, I’m demonstrating the Kettlebell Clean & Press:

Finally, I’ve modified all these movements a bit for dumbbells:

Here are the movements.  You’ll recognize the first three from previous workouts last week, and the next 3 are brand new this week:

Torso Twists
Suitcase Swings
Around the Worlds
Clean & Press
Sumo Deadlift (with 1 heavy dumbbell)
Sumo Squats (with 1 heavy dumbbell)

Here’s your circuit workout:

25 Torso twists
10 Suitcase swings (right)
10 Suitcase swings (left)
12 Sumo Deadlifts
10 Clean and Press (right)
10 Clean and Press (left)
12 Sumo Squats
10 Suitcase swings (right)
10 Suitcase swings (left)
25 Around the Worlds

Repeat 2 or 3x… each circuit should take you about 5 minutes with a little 60 second rest between sets.  With some good music you’ll have a blast: a few Daft Punk tracks from their album Random Access Memories is a great place to start.

Stay Strong!

-Kate

 

 

 

IMG_7603

It’s Monday. (I think).  My gym has been closed for two weeks now and I’m watching everyone get super creative with their home workouts.  People are using whatever equipment they have around and turning their living rooms into workout rooms.

I love it!

I joined the fun and started posting a series of “Lockdown Workouts” and YouTube videos using my collection of kettlebells.

Since then, I’ve gotten a lot of questions asking if it was possible to substitute a dumbbell, and how the workout would change, and if it would be as effective.

My short answer? Yes and No.  Yes, you can substitute a dumbbell, but most movements will need to be adjusted for the lack of a “handle”, and overall my answer would be: No, you will not get the same results from a dumbbell as you would a kettlebell. …and here’s why:

The key differentiator is this: The kettlebell’s center of mass extends beyond the hand, whereas the weight of a dumbbell is in line with your hand.  Because of this, it becomes essential to swing the kettlebell, and not just lift it. This swinging movement is why we love kettlebells!

WP_20130515_005

If you’re used to lifting dumbbells, then you know it’s pretty easy to isolate a single muscle, for example: the bicep curl.  But try that same movement holding the handle of a kettlebell, and you’ll find it’s much harder because the weight is offset.  You’re now faced with a new challenge of trying to move something that’s not only heavy, but where the bulk of the weight is suspended out from your body.

The design of the kettlebell forces you to use your whole body to move it, especially your core.  It often engages your stabilizer muscles.  Quite often, the movements are ballistic, meaning “the object is propelled through the air”!  You wouldn’t do this with a dumbbell… but you absolutely would with a kettlebell.  And you’d have a ton of fun doing it too.

(In fact, one of my favorite exercises is the “Catch and Release”… where I throw it up it the air and catch it again! Watch that here.)

When you’re working out with essentially a cannonball with a handle on it, the shape of the kettlebell necessitates ballistic and swinging movements which offer a multitude of fitness results.   Sure, both kettlebells and dumbbells can increase strength and muscle size, but only kettlebells can be used to perform a series of ballistic exercises that, if done properly, will dramatically increase one’s cardiovascular strength and fast-twitch explosive power.

Additionally, training with kettlebells forces the athlete’s body to recruit and trigger fast twitch muscle fibers and will condition the body to excel at high intensity/shorter duration activities. (see my blog post about Fast Twitch vs. Slow Twitch muscles here

So rather than just isolating a single muscle with a dumbbell, a kettlebell uses all your muscles in a single, smooth, dynamic motion.  You engage your entire body at once.  This is why, rep per rep, kettlebells will give you a much better workout!

In conclusion… what’s the biggest difference?

Dumbbell:  excellent for isolating muscles

Kettlebell: excellent for engaging the entire body…giving you:

Increased Cardiovascular Conditioning
Total-Body Strength
Improved Stability and Flexibility

But for those of you still waiting on your kettlebell to arrive, I have some good news: I’m currently designing a Lockdown Workout using a dumbbell, which will be “in kettlebell style”.  We’re using what we have until we can get the good stuff… kind of a theme these days.

Stay tuned… and Stay Strong!

Kate

I promised to circle back on the Figure 8’s, and do a better explanation of adding a “hold” into the movement.

Once you’ve got the basic Figure 8 rhythm down (staying in the low position) practice switching directions and try to maintain a nice easy flow.

Music helps.  Try “Bad Guy” by Billie Eilish.  3:14 of constant movement.

The next step is to add a “hold” at the top.  After you’ve done 3 minutes in the low position and gotten a good hang of the vibe, now it’s time to bring the kettlebell up to your shoulder.  One important note: There’s only one direction in which it is possible to do this.  The bell has to be coming around from the back on the outside of your leg.

Here’s my video with a little demonstration:

 

Also, for more photos… here’s a previous post from the beach:

https://kettlebellhell.wordpress.com/2010/04/13/kettlebells-on-the-beach/

(Yikes, just realized that was 10 years ago!!  Well, now we know what my hair will look like if I can’t get a haircut soon…)

Keep Swinging and Stay Strong!

-Kate

 

 

Lockdown Workout 3: Halos

Posted: March 22, 2020 in Uncategorized

I’m going to stay with the circular motion from my last post and add one more rotation movement to the set.  This one is called the Halo.

In my video you’ll find a couple good warm-ups to the exercise, and then a demonstration of the Halo.  This is where your lighter kettlebells will come in handy.  If you only have a beast of a bell, you can use a dumbbell.  Just position both hands in an underhanded position at one end of the weight.

This is a fantastic shoulder workout… especially for you swimmers out there!

One note: It’s important to warm up first, because we tend to store a lot of stress in our shoulders and traps without really realizing it.  (Anyone stressed out there?)  So instead of jumping right into this one, definitely spend some time using a bar (or broomstick) to do some shoulder and neck stretches first.

Your new workout looks like this:

3 rounds, starting at the top:

20 Halos, switch directions, add 20 more

20 Around the Worlds, switch directions, add 20 more

20 Low Figure 8’s, switch directions, add 20 more

Tomorrow we’ll spend a little more time dissecting the Figure 8 to Hold move… I realized I was a bit quick with that one yesterday, so we’ll dig into it a bit more.

Let me know how it’s going!

Stay Strong!

-Kate

IMG_9244

…but do NOT lick the kettlebells!

Two more fun exercises you can do in the yard or park… or wherever you are allowed to go these days.

I’ve made a fun video demonstrating the Around the World’s and Figure 8’s.  You are going to LOVE these 2 movements!  Go ahead and lose yourself in the vibe of the songs, and get a good workout in a short 10 minutes.

Added bonus, today’s workout picks 2 great songs from the Spotify playlist titled “covid-19: love lockdown”.  (Side note:  I found this playlist when I was feeling sad for my daughter, who was having an amazing year in high school (friends, dance team, solid grades, a new boyfriend… etc., etc.) and then it all hit the fan 10 days ago when we were told that Seattle schools were closing for 2 weeks… which turned to 6… which turned to “who knows!”.

I can’t stop contrasting this year for her with my own high school experience… and how differently this is all shaking out.

But I digress… here’s the significance of these songs:

Song #1: I chose “Around the World” by Daft Punk, because… we’re doing Around the World’s with the kettlebell! (and who doesn’t love Daft Punk?!)  Plus, it’s a 7 minute song, which is brutally awesome for this movement. (Yeah, your abs will thank me later.)

Song #2: I chose “Kiss Me Thru The Phone” by Soulja Boy & Sammie… because… I think we all need to be kissing a lot of people through the phone right now!

Here’s the video:

I got a bit carried away with my soundtrack and video editing, which is why it’s almost midnight… but here’s what I’m thinking for this workout:

Start with Around the Worlds for the first song (7 minutes, 10 seconds).  Take a break around the 3 minute mark if you need to, then carry on.  Go straight into the next song for 3 minutes and 13 seconds, this will take you through the figure 8’s.

Remember to switch directions!  Pause and go the opposite direction every 30-45 seconds.  In the video you’ll notice that I’m using a stabilization pad in the beginning to stand on for the Around the Worlds.  This adds an extra boost to the knees (I tore my ACL’s and I’m always looking for ways to strengthen the surrounding tendons)… and it’s great for targeting your overall core.  

The other thing you’ll notice in the video is that when I switch to the figure 8’s, I mix it up a bit to add a “hold” at the top.  I would start this movement with just the “low” figure 8, going both directions… and then as you get that movement down, swing it up to add the hold at the top.  (you’re basically catching the kettlebell with the palm of your hand, then throwing it back out again with your palm.)  This is a dynamic all around great exercise for your whole body.

Have fun, and let me know what you think!

Stay Strong,

Kate

 

 

 

 

 

Gyms are closed and we’re taking our workout to the backyard today.

I’ve got a great “first day” workout for you that you can do in your yard, or even inside if you can’t leave your house today.  Nothing too strenuous, we’re going to ramp up easy, which means not starting with the tradition kettlebell swing.  The two-handed swing is a basic move (it’s the one everyone thinks of when they think of Kettlebells!) but it’s not a great place to start if you’re new to kettlebells.  If your form is off, you could tweak your lower back, so we’ll ease into that movement with some solid instruction from a very special guest trainer… coming soon!

What I’d like to show you now are three movements you can do with either a kettlebell or a dumbbell… or even a 5-lb bag of sugar if that’s all you’ve got!  (Rumor has it stores are selling out of kettlebells, so we may need to improvise.)

Torso Twist: choose a weight you can do 20 twists with.

Suitcase Swing: 10 reps/both sides

Russian Twist: again, choose a weight you can do 20 twists with.

Repeat 3 times.  Think 2 minutes per set, rest :30 between each set.  This sequence should take less than 10 minutes.

My first video demonstrates the Suitcase Swing and the Torso Twist.

My next video demonstrates the Russian Twist.

Reach out with questions or comments… would love to hear what you guys are using!

Stay Strong,

Kate

 

Hi all,

Welcome back to the days of swinging kettlebells in my yard!  We are social-distancing here in Seattle (a term I know you’re already sick of) so it’s time to dust off your kettlebells if you have some… or start building your collection!

Here’s a little video to help with that:

 

Also, here’s an old blog post on the conversions that may help you out in the store:

https://kettlebellhell.wordpress.com/2011/08/31/kettlebell-conversions-kg-to-lbs/

See you tomorrow with my first workout…

Stay Strong!

Kate

This is a great reference as you start buying a few kettlebells, most of them are in kilograms.

Cast Iron Strength

Ever wonder how much weight you’re swinging?

Here’s a conversion chart from kilograms to pounds:

2 kg (4.4 lbs.)

4 kg (8.8 lbs.)

6 kg (13.2 lbs.)

8 kg (17.6 lbs.)

10 kg (22 lbs.)

12 kg (26.4 lbs.)

14 kg (30.8 lbs.)

16 kg (35.2 lbs.)

18 kg (39.6 lbs.)

20 kg (44 lbs.)

22 kg (48.4 lbs.)

24 kg (52.8 lbs.)

26 kg (57.2 lbs.)

28 kg (61.6 lbs.)

32 kg (70.4 lbs.)

36 kg (79.2 lbs.)

View original post

 

“Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.”
                                                                                                    – Babe Ruth

No question… We’re in the game.

Okay, I used a baseball quote and a futbol title. We’re Americans swimming the English Channel and it will all make sense in a few paragraphs.  Let’s just roll with it, shall we?

Curtis and I both knew we needed to go back to Dover and try again for France.  But there’s a danger in doing something so epic again.  Although our unfinished business (our strike out) was a constant reminder to get back in the game, we both knew it was going to be different and, on some level, I think that scared us a little.

There’s a whole field of neuroscience behind how we recall our positive & negative experiences and how those memories impact our decisions.  Our attempt 2 years ago was both disappointing and extraordinary all at once.  “Let’s just relive the extraordinary bits!” we would say, half serious.

It’s in our nature to want to re-experience what was fabulous, but there’s an emotional risk to that.  Memories can be selective; Our minds retrieve bits and pieces from before, and we create a narrative for next time that is often unattainable.

If you’ve read my last post, then you know we were thinking we’d go back to Dover and win a bunch of money in the casino again, we’d go back to the same pub, meet more friends, eat dinner in that little Italian restaurant with the really good wine list… etc., etc.

But “again” is different, and it’s taken me awhile to realize that “different” is exactly how it needed to be this time.

Puke and Swim:

Picking team members for a Channel relay is serious business.  If one team member goes down (either physically or mentally) they bring the whole team down.  There are no second chances.  You get one shot at crossing the Channel and that’s it.  This was a big deal for me.  It’s a huge investment of time and money, and years of training, and you get one swim window, one day to go, and one chance to make it across.  Choose wisely!

My recommendation is to find people with a strong constitution who will persevere under pressure.  If you know people who will cancel plans over a hangnail & a headache, those are not your people.

Fortunately, we found each other.  Looking back, I have to laugh, because how many people do you know who would think “Puke & Swim” is a perfectly acceptable motto and wouldn’t mind having that shouted at them from the boat as they were battling ocean swells and jellies? I love these guys!  They were all completely on-board with the madness and willing to do what it takes to get the job done.  I am so grateful for this team of Puget Sound Swimmers!

HeidiSwim005

From left to right: Randy, Curtis, Heidi and me photographed at our final training swim on Vashon Island before heading to Dover.

 

4 Days in Folkestone

Our swim window opened on the Spring Tide from July 11th-19th.  We had a “slot 1”, meaning that we’d be the first to go when the weather shaped up, so we were all optimistic that we could go quickly.  However, it was also possible that we could be waiting around for 10 days looking for ways to entertain ourselves like last time.  But this time was different.

We arrived in London on Monday morning, July 9th, and by noon that day I had already received an email from Michael Oram, our pilot.  He said the weather predictions were looking good in the Channel and was wondering if my team and I had arrived in Dover yet.  I started to realize that this might not be a repeat of “10 days in Dover”.  I sat down and read his message again and my heart leapt a little.  The weather in the Channel was looking GOOD!

With no time for fancy lunches in Chelsea, we hopped a train out of London and headed for the coast.  We decided to stay just south of Dover in a small town called Folkestone.  (okay, new train stop too!) This whole trip was off to a very different start and I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it.  We could be looking at “4 days in Folkestone” and then we’re done. This is what I mean about expectations and trying to recreate a previous experience.  Everything was feeling very different right from the start.  No shopping in Chelsea, no trips to France for dinner, no storms at sea, no “10 days in Dover” … What’s going on here??

Long story short, we only had time for 2 cloudy-morning swims by the Folkestone Harbour Arm.

IMG_0653

The photo above was taken just in front of the famous Folkestone Triennial Bell,
shown here:

2011_AK_Dolven_big-624x308

Just a cool bit of info on this bell… It’s a very large 16th-century tenor bell that used to hang in the Scraptoft Church in Leicestershire.  It was evidently removed for not being in tune with the others. (naughty bell.)

Currently, it is suspended from a steel cable strung between two 20m high steel beams, placed 30m apart.  A fine place to meet for a swim!

Anyhow, I digress!  We got… THE PHONE CALL!

The weather looked good, we’re going out Thursday morning, July 12th. Be at the Dover Marina by 5:30am and “we’ll have a nice daylight swim!” (to quote Michael).

And now to quote Heidi: “Squeeeeeee” !

Our little house in Folkestone was full of anticipation and excitement.  Curtis cooked spaghetti Bolognese. (This man has never let me down when it comes to food!)  We’re all old school, so we carbo-loaded to our heart’s content the night before our swim.

The World Cup

Before I fast-forward to 5:30am, I need to tell you about a little soccer game.

Wednesday night was the World Cup Semi-Final, England vs. Croatia, which brought a fortuitous serendipity to our Channel relay.  (I can write that now, looking back… but let me assure you, we did not think that at the time!)

Looking out from the windows of the house we rented, we could watch as the town prepared for a massive outdoor party.  “What the hell is going on??”  This place was about to erupt the night before our swim!  Don’t they know??  We’re swimming the English Channel tomorrow!

They were setting up an enormous TV screen and speakers down by the harbour and the crowds were already starting to gather.  Honestly, all I was thinking was “How the hell am I going to sleep through all this craziness?”

Our 4am wake-up call meant that I needed to go to bed around 9pm, and this party was going to be in full force by then.  Win or lose, we were in England, and this town was about to go nuts.

I made a plan.

I rarely do this, but I’m going to give a big shout-out to Bose Noise-Cancelling Headphones.

Best. Ever. Invention.

Just pop in a fresh battery, flip the switch, and then… “whoosh” … I was launched into near-silence.  I couldn’t even hear the seagulls (and that’s saying something).  Sleep was assured!

July 12th, 2018

The taxis arrived at 5am to take us to the Dover Marina.  In a death-defying, no-speed-limits-here, why-didn’t-I-fasten-my-seat-belt, super-fast drive, we arrived early and waited for our pilot, Michael Oram to bring around his boat Gallivant.  Curtis searched for a Starbucks, but sadly, the marina did not have a single coffee shop.  (Someone could make a ton of money with a little coffee cart during swim season… just sayin’).

IMG_0667

A Quiet Marina: 5:15am, July 12, 2018

After an unsuccessful coffee-hunt, we discovered that we were actually going out with Michael’s son, Lance, on his boat Sea Satin (Lance, I suspect, might have drawn the short straw after the game the night before).

After quickly alerting our friends and family to the boat change to get the trackers straight, we met our pilot and crew.  The serendipity I mentioned earlier was about to become crystal clear.  We met our observer on the dock, who was the sweetest woman you’ve ever met.  Then we met our pilot Lance and his crew of Jon, Paul, and Jason.  It didn’t take long to appreciate the combined years of expertise on the boat.  They were all professional, on-point, and serious about the task ahead.  Yet, they balanced all that with a charming and personable familiarity.  There wasn’t a shred of doubt that we were in the best of hands.

After a recap of the rules, we motored out of the Dover marina towards the beach that would be our official starting point.

Shakespeare Beach

Sea Satin made it’s way to Shakespeare Beach just before 7am for the start of the relay.  Lance brought his boat around as close to the shore as he could, and then as the rules state, the first swimmer (me!) has to jump off the boat:

(there I go, no fancy dive or anything, just a plunge!)

IMG_9920_Moment

Next, I have to swim to shore:

IMG_9920.3_Moment

Then, I have to walk up on the beach so that “my big toe is not touching the water” (per the rules) and wave my arms around like a nutter. (okay, nobody told me to do that.  Just excited, I guess!)

IMG_9920.1_Moment

At this point, Lance blows the horn on the boat and that’s the signal to start swimming!  I’m off…

IMG_9920.2_Moment

Our swim began at exactly 6:56am and my first hour had begun.

Attention spans are short.  I’m going to leave this here and figure out how to make the next 17 ½ hours interesting!  (and hopefully dig up some more photos in the meantime.)

Peace,

Kate

10 (Awesome) Days in Dover

Posted: August 7, 2018 in Swimming

I promised I would start by recounting July 12th, 2018 on Shakespeare Beach in this post, but that’s proving to be somewhat difficult.  There’s way too much backstory, and nothing will make much sense until I can provide more details from 2016.  (and honestly, this is the funny part… so you won’t want to miss this!)

I first need to introduce my partner in crime… my sidekick…my wingman… Mr. Swimmer Extraordinaire… Curtis Vredenburg!!

HeidiSwim028

Curtis is my best friend and teammate who shares my last name as his first name, so I guess it’s understandable that everyone we meet is super confused about our relationship. Most people see us and think that we could be married, but somehow we laugh way too much when we’re together, so then they’re left wondering what’s up.  Fact is, we travel extremely well together and fortunately our husbands don’t seem to mind.

HeidiSwim024

Curtis is the one who got me into this whole mess to begin with, so it’s important that I explain a few things.  We met ages ago when our kids were in a little half-day preschool together.  I spotted Curtis (new dad) standing alone across the playground as I was busy trying to navigate my way through groups of chatty new moms talking about breast feeding.  People have a way of finding each other in this life, and so you could say that we found each other that day.

In fact, you could say we saved each other that day.  We’ve been best friends ever since.

One evening, somewhere in 2014, Curtis and I were discussing the impending approach of his 50th birthday over a very nice bottle of Bordeaux.  He said he wanted to do something BIG.  Several glasses of wine later (or was that bottles?) we landed on swimming the English Channel.  “Why not? That’s BIG!”  “No reason. Let’s do it!”

It was as simple as that. Curtis turned 50 the summer of 2016, so that was the year we needed to make this happen.

Long story short, we found Trent Grimsey.  A tall, handsome Australian swimmer who holds the world record for the fastest channel swim at 6 hours and 55 minutes, completed on September 8th, 2012. (unheard of, and still unbroken!!) Turns out, after a bit of research, Trent had a gig where he would take one relay team across the English Channel every year.  Not only that, but he would swim with the team. (Um… Epic!!)  And not only that, but the team would get 6 months of customized training drills from Trent leading up to the relay.  And, if that weren’t enough, he provides personal coaching in the Dover harbour whilst in England awaiting your swim.

Dream. Come. True.

Condensing an even longer story, Curtis and I both managed to get on Trent’s team. We got serious about our swimming, trained year-round in the chilly Puget Sound for the next 24 months, and finally made our way to London in July 2016.  We wandered around with our suitcases and decided to spend our first night in the very fancy neighbourhood of Chelsea (as one does).  We recovered from our jet lag by drinking wine for lunch, going shopping and eating in the finest restaurants. (in that order).

13668954_10209085427905387_7895310485837347788_n

Whilst in Chelsea

The next morning, after eating a “Big English Breakfast”, we took the train to Dover and it was time to get down to business.  We met Trent on the beach for an evening swim before dinner.  This was our first introduction to the Dover Harbour.  “Crikey!”  Trent would say… “It’s COLD!”  We had a few laughs, met some other Channel swimmers on the beach, and Curtis and I tried to keep up with the legend himself.

13900360_10209097684171786_5693968372041414721_n

Meeting Trent Grimsey at the Dover Harbour

Afterwards, over dinner, we decided we would meet every morning at 7am in the pissing rain for swim drills in the harbour. (whose idea was that??)  But it was time to get tough and get serious.  (BTW, no wetsuits allowed in Dover.  1 swimsuit, 1 cap, and 1 pair of goggles. That’s it.)  Leave a towel on the beach and hope that it’s not completely soaked by the time you’re done.  Okay, we’re ready for this!

However, that evening Trent got a call from our pilot, and the news was not good.  The weather forecast called for high winds and rain for the foreseeable future.

In fact, the forecast was so bad that our pilot could say with 100% certainty that no boats would be going out for the next 2-3 days, so we needed to find a way to entertain ourselves.

Okay.  Deep breath.

This was a “good news/bad news” situation for us.  On one hand, our 8-day window was ticking away, but on the other hand we had the luxury of time to relive our fun in Chelsea!

“Really??” you’re thinking, “That’s where you’re going with this story?”

Here’s the deal: we kept to our 7am swims drills every morning, but Curtis would often remind me with an elbow nudge that “a lovely French meal is only 21 miles away!”  So one night we popped over to France for dinner.  Yup, just popped over to France (as one does).

IMG_E9697

Dinner in France

On other days we roamed around Dover, got our nails done, went shopping, and cooked amazing lunches in our apartment, and then took leisurely afternoon naps.  Life was good.

One evening we got lucky and won a ton of money in a casino and then promptly met a bunch of new friends, including a homeless man and his dog.  That ended well for everyone, including the dog. (The butcher down the street got a handful of our casino winnings in exchange for a sack full of freshly cut dog bones.)

IMG_9774 (002)

We won big!

Some nights after dinner we would join our new mates for a pint or two at the local pub. (Okay, full disclosure… our new mates were the bartenders.)

13892386_1169034293138877_3840745195034731512_n

Our new friends in Dover

On another night we cheered on a local channel swimmer who was singing songs he wrote in a quaint little venue.  By the way, update on Tony:  He just “smashed it”, as they say, and completed his solo swim across the Channel (just yesterday!) in 17 hours and 13 minutes.  Talk about a Rock Star!!!

img_9739-002.jpg

Our new friend Tony

Fact is, Dover was growing on us.  We amused ourselves as the days ticked by, waiting for a break in the weather.

If you’ve already read my previous blog post, then you know how it all ended.  We swam the Channel at the tail end of our window, but not to France.  In the end, I would say that we both remained positive and upbeat, and we had a great experience swimming north and south in the Channel with Trent and our other teammates.

IMG_9746

On the “Optimist” with pilot Paul Foreman

The White Cliffs of Dover are truly stunning when seen from the water at sunrise.  I have memories of the sun glistening off the rocky coast and lighting up the cliffs, as if they were on fire. The timeless beauty of the scene will take your breath away.

IMG_9832 (002).JPG

Sunrise on the Channel

I remember leaning over the rail of the boat as Trent flashes us a smile from the water.  I capture that moment on camera.

IMG_9827 (002)

Trent Grimsey, enjoying life!

Our 10 days in Dover had been good to us.  Of course, the weather wasn’t what we had hoped for, and we definitely struggled with feelings of disappointment from time to time, but overall we were in good spirits.

The hardest day was the day I left Dover.  It was the day after our swim window closed.  I’d picked up a few pebbles from the harbour earlier in the day and put them in my pocket, and then my family and I boarded the ferry to France to make our way to Normandy.  While on the ferry I walked outside to look at the water.  It was the first beautiful, calm day I’d seen all week, and the water was like glass.

I reached for the small pebbles in my pocket and this was the first day I cried.  I mean really cried.  I realized that I had been playing the cheerleader role for 10 days, trying to keep the team positive, and it finally caught up with me.  This was my tough day.  I felt like diving in and swimming to France right off that ferry.

The disappointment of not making it to France would creep into my thoughts when I least expected it.  Unfinished business has a way of keeping you up at night.  My family and I had traveled to Normandy for a relaxing vacation, but after several nights of tossing and turning, I knew I had a decision to make.  Securing a boat and a pilot is typically 2 years out and time was wasting.

Often when trying to decide on something important, I use the Jeff Bezos method of decision making called “Regret Minimization”.  (you can Google it)

Simply ask yourself 2 questions:

“Will I regret doing it?” or “Will I regret not doing it?”

And there’s your answer.

I also had Warren Miller in my head: “If you don’t do it this year, you’ll be one year older when you do!”  At this rate, I thought, I was looking down the road at being 2 years older, so I felt multiple pressures of time, aging and regret minimization.

The answer was clear.  I needed to make another go for France.  Not knowing where to start, I looked up Trent Grimesy’s pilot, Michael Oram with the CS&PF (Channel Swimming and Piloting Federation).  Trent set his world record with Mike, and I needed some good juju for my second attempt, so I decided that Mike was my juju.

That night, just less than a week after our Channel swim, I sent Mike an email inquiring about open slots for the 2018 season.  (I did not know yet if this was going to be a solo attempt or another relay, but my main goal was to reserve a boat.)

The good news is, I locked in dates securing a 9-day swim window on a Spring Tide, slot 1, from July 11-19th, 2018.

I was thrilled, but it was still 2 years away, which seemed like an eternity.

“What do I do now?” I asked.

“Train and Save” said Mike. “Train and Save.”

More to come…

Peace,

Kate

5506f7c0798a5432518609544464b7bd

Whatever I thought I knew about swimming the English Channel, I was wrong.

I’ve been looking at a piece of paper for the last 2 years that says I’m a bad ass.  Okay, I’m lying, it doesn’t say that.  It’s an official certificate from the Channel Swimming Academy that certifies my English Channel relay from 2 years ago.  My team of 5 went from St. Margarets Bay to Broadstairs and back to St. Margarets Bay.  We swam north and south, following the beautiful white cliffs of Dover the whole time.

26 miles in 9 hours on August 7th 2016.

I hung this certificate over my computer in my office so I could catch a glimpse, retrieve a memory, or think about one challenge as I tackle another.  I love this piece of paper, it has motivated me many times to ‘keep on keeping on’.

Certificate

Storms in the mid-channel that year prevented us from swimming across to France.  We spent 10 days in Dover waiting around for the weather to change, but our pilot was hesitant.  With no foreseeable break in the weather, our only option was to go home with nothing, or swim up the coast to Broadstairs and back.  The team was from Australia and the US, and we had all traveled a long way not to swim.  We chose Broadstairs.  At 1:33am Dover time, the first swimmer jumped into dark waters of the Channel and we were off.

The rest of the story is my second book, coming soon.  But the moral is: Stay positive and never, ever give up!

Flash forward to July 2018, I found myself on an airplane headed for Dover again.  Yes, swimming the Channel is addicting.  Okay, I’m lying again.  (Not about the addiction part. Swimming the Channel is highly addicting, just ask anyone who’s done it.)  But I did not just “happen” to find myself on an airplane.  No, I have been planning this since I woke up from my long 18-hour sleep after my first relay 2 years ago!

I took all my experience from my first relay with me this year on the boat, along with 24 more months of year-round open-water training and drills, but it could not have prepared me for what was about to happen.  As challenging as my first relay was, looking back, it was a walk in the park compared to crossing the Channel.  I can honestly say that nothing compares to swimming across the busiest shipping channel in the world and trying to find solid ground on the other side just after midnight.

It’s hard to know where to start, so perhaps I’ll start at the end.  WE MADE IT!!

It’s unbelievable, really.

42 miles and 17 ½ hours later, we landed.

37030223_10215399409390978_1191970127491366912_n

Our gift from our pilot, Lance Oram

Let me first say that it’s not like landing on your favourite beach in the US.  (you see what I did there with the “u”?)  Anyhow, the French don’t leave the light on for you.  This is the Cap Griz-Nez.  (translation: Cape Grey Nose).  It’s rocky and rural, and evidently uninhabited by anyone with electricity.  After consulting with everyone on the boat that night, we suspect that the entire French coastline had a single 40-watt bulb flickering in the distance.  It’s pitch black, there’s one tiny lighthouse on the cape, and maybe a lone house somewhere south of the Cap Griz-Nez with a small candle in the window… oh wait, it just blew out.  Where the hell is France???  No really… I mean “Where the hell is France??”  I was told to swim strong for 30 minutes and I’d be touching French rocks.  Well, that didn’t happen.

My fifth leg of the swim was my hardest leg.  I jumped in the water at exactly 10:56pm and sprinted hard, but the in-shore waters of France are unforgiving.  They smack you in the face from the right, so you try and breathe left. Then they smack you in face on your left, so you’re doomed either way and end up swallowing a bunch of salt water.  But you’re sprinting, so there’s no stopping to cough.  “Puke & Swim” was our motto… and so it goes.  I was told to exert every last ounce of energy within me to battle the swift and changing tide.  “Dig deep, swim strong, give it your all and sprint hard for 30 minutes!  You can do this!”

“Yes, I can do this” I thought. “I’ve got this.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Game Face.  (part quiet meditation and part panic)

But this tide will sweep you off the coast so fast, just when you think you’re nearly there, a swimmer can get pushed past the Cap to somewhere up north.  Somewhere where it gets increasingly more difficult to recover and get to shore.  This was our moment right now, and I had 30 minutes.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I’m going in: 10:56pm

I battled the waves in a full-on sprint mode, my mind racing with a million thoughts: “Surely it’s been 30 minutes by now?  Where is everyone? Why am I not feeling little grains of sand under my fingernails yet? I’m sure I’m close to shore? Is it shallow yet?  Am I on the sandbar? These feel like breakers crashing over my head… I can’t see anything, where am I? Was that a jellyfish?  Shit, yes it was.  Wait, how many jellies are out here? Why am I not on shore yet?  How long has it been?  I should be scraping my knees on the rocks.  Did I pack Band-Aids? I should have eaten more food. I’m so confused. Am I going to die out here?  Did I pay my life insurance bill last month? What if my glow stick falls off in the waves, would they ever find me in these dark waters? Why did I only wear one glow stick? That was stupid, this is no time to be thrifty.  Why am I not getting any hand signals?  Oh right, I can’t see anything out here!!  …and where the HELL is France?”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Somewhere near Cap Griz-Nez

Ahh, this was quite unlike the first 16 hours of our swim.  Occasionally I would think to myself, “Who’s idea was this anyway?” Oh yes, it was mine.

Finally the horn on the boat sounded.  People were yelling stuff at me.  “Did I make it?? Had I arrived in France??  Where’s the champagne?”

“Get on the boat!!” they yelled.  “The little boat?  Why would I get on the little boat?” I was so confused and disoriented.  The waves had knocked my brain around for an hour, I had no idea what was happening.  “No, get on the big boat, Randy’s in!!”  Randy’s in?  What happened to 30 minutes and you’ll be in France?  Wait, what?

“Hurry!!” they all yelled.  And then it clicked.   I had swum my hour.  I was done.  Channel relay rules give you only 5 minutes to transition.  I needed to get to the boat, and fast!  One final push, one final climb up the ladder and my part was over.  My fifth leg was the most exhilarating swim of my life.  It was also the most challenging, the most fun, the most jellies, the most painful, the most confusing, and the wildest ride of my life!  And I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Randy getting in for his 5th leg to take us to France!

Randy got in just before midnight, and took us to shore sometime around 12:25am, for an official time of 17 hours and 29 minutes.  While on French soil, Randy grabbed a few rocks from the shore for all of us to bring home.  (Pockets? He shoved them in his budgy smuggler!)

I look at those French rocks every day, as I plan our return trip to Dover in 2020.  Yes, it’s addicting.

This was, without a doubt, the most challenging thing I have ever done, and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

HeidiSwim005

From left to right: Randy, Curtis, Heidi and me photographed at our final training swim on Vashon Island before heading to Dover.

I had the best team and will love these guys forever.  Without Randy, Curtis and Heidi, there is no way I would have made it to France.  They are all dedicated open-water/cold-water swimmers who will get the job done every time.  I have the utmost respect for them, and I am so fortunate to have had them on my team.

IMG_9919 (2).jpg

Sea Satin.  (affectionately referred to as Sea Satan!)

We also got lucky to have the best pilot and crew.  Besides expertly navigating a Spring tide on a grey day in a busy Channel, Lance Oram and his crew on the Sea Satin encouraged us, took photos, reminded us to put the kettle on, and they even let me scavenge dinner leftovers off their plates.  (Yup, you could say that makes us all friends now!)

Looking back, there are a number of things I would do differently next time, but that’s a post for another day.  There’s much more to say.  In fact, I’m sure there’s a book here somewhere!  But because I’ve started at the end, I will have to go back to the beginning where it all started on Shakespeare Beach in my next post.

Thanks for following our journey!

Peace out,

Kate

p.s. Thanks to Jon Miell for all the excellent photos!  Very much appreciated.

Time Flies…

Posted: November 1, 2016 in Uncategorized

5506f7c0798a5432518609544464b7bd

It’s been 3 months since I landed in Dover, and now looking back I’m not sure where summer went. My 10 Days in Dover were Epic. I have so much to share with everyone, which is the hardest part about sitting down to write.

Where do I begin to tell you about August 2016? For over 2 years I had been preparing to swim the English Channel, and it always seemed so far away. Then, before I knew it, I was on a flight from Vancouver Canada to London England, and then on a train headed to Dover Priory station.

Let’s start there… stay tuned!

My mother-in-law is British, and sometimes she says things that sound so perfectly British with her accent, that her words will linger with me for days. For example, not too long ago when I was stuffing myself with BBQ ribs she had something perfectly brilliant to say:

ribs

Picture this… there I was, with sloppy fingers and mounds of messy, used napkins all around me. (not her good linen ones, fortunately!)  Finally, I patted my big belly and said I couldn’t eat another bite.

My mother-in-law took one long look at me, shook her head, and said: “Kate. You’ve got to swim with the body you’ve got, and stop this nonsense!”

“This nonsense” being the over-eating I was doing to try to gain weight.

She was right.  And I knew it.  I was not going to tackle the English Channel by stuffing myself with BBQ ribs. (but they were delicious!)

From my previous “donut” post, you will remember how I was tracking my weight-gaining progress. (I’ve added July here.)

January: 130 lbs.
February: 132
March:133
April:135
May: 136
June: 137
July: 139

I’m nearly at my goal of 140 and I’m happy about that, but I quickly realized that there was no way I could eat my way to becoming shiver-proof.  I still get goosebumps, and I still shiver, and so I’m stuck with this body I’ve got.

What I needed to do was figure out this “cold-water acclimatization thing.”  So I picked up The Chanel Swimming Manual by Geoff Cox, and read it again.  and again.  with a highlighter.  I was determined to figure this out.

Probably the most important drill I did was straight from the Manual (page 102, taken from the Channel Swimming Academy, Acclimatisation Brief).  The drill involves going through 3 acclimatisation cycles, getting in and out of very cold water three times over a period of 5-8 hours, with a 30-40 minute swim each time, and warming up for about 1-2 hours each time out.  (no warm showers either… just a towel and warm clothes to mimic being on a fishing boat, not a yacht.)

It’s true, your body will not want to go back in the water, but you must force yourself to do it.  The book says you will be pissed off.  The book was right. But do it anyway.

Moral of the story?  Hard work pays off, and it’s important to be grateful for what you have. My body allows me to do many things that I enjoy, both in & out of the water, and I am fortunate for all the experiences I’ve had.

Now it’s time for dinner… 🙂

Peace,
Kate

13466166_10208772515564073_99686668893486674_n

The body is capable of so much more than we think.  I’ve been obsessed with how I’m going to get my body ready to swim in 60 degree water with no wetsuit.  I’ve read lots of books and researched many acclimatization techniques.  But today, a week out from the start of my swim window for the English Channel relay, I’ve circled all the way back around to what I knew from the start.  The mind-body connection is strong.

Yes, it’s important to do the cold water drills.  But equally important to recognize the roll the mind plays in all of this.  Every time I think about the risk of getting hypothermia during a cold water swim, I think to myself, “I’m not going out like that. That’s not me. No way.”  I don’t even take that thought into my subconscious brain.  I reject it immediately, and I say it out loud if I have to, “Absolutely NOT!”

One of the greatest sources of strength we have is to tap into the unlimited reservoir of imagery.  A technique used by the top athletes in the world, when we visualize the feeling we want, our body responds.

Start by visualizing exactly what you expect from your body, from start to finish.  If you can recall an event from your past when you had strength and success, tap into that. It’s as if you’re saying to your brain, “Forget what you know, trust this feeling I’m sending you.”

Funny thing is, as I begin this process, sometimes a sneaky smile rolls across my face because it feels like I’m up to no good.  (It’s that smile you get when you’re about to go skinny dipping in someone else’s pool!)  It feels like I’m about to do something clandestine, because I  know the secret code or something.  But this is the secret code!!

When we allow our mind to tell our body what we expect from it, our body will respond.

13770470_10208981296822175_2493848215813009690_n

Today I sunbathe, absorbing the warm rays of the sun deep into my skin.  I capture this moment, and save it for later when I will need it for a training swim.  Like tomorrow… when I jump in Puget Sound for a sub-60F swim.

So now that I have a plan for tomorrow… it’s probably time to tackle the jellyfish.  I need to figure out a way to minimize my “freak-out” response.  As always…I’m open to your suggestions! 🙂

Peace Out,
Kate

 

My Daily Donut Diet

Posted: June 20, 2016 in Uncategorized

My “Daily Donut Diet” is over. The gluttony had to end.

13343044_10208601586209647_1408362498158954443_n

Here’s the deal: I’m still on my quest to gain a few extra pounds of “seal fat” before my English Channel swim in August, but the sugary carbohydrate treats have not been serving me well, and I’m looking for new ideas.

Before you roll your eyes, let me put this out there… I’ve heard all the “poor baby can’t gain weight” comments.  But just as people struggle to lose weight, the opposite is true too. The body likes a comfortable plateau.

To be honest, my inability to gain weight has been difficult for me, and I’ve had some pretty shitty days.  As passionate as I am about open-water swimming, I’ve had days when I struggled to get my head in the game. I found myself questioning my passion (and competence) for cold-water swimming.  Questioning the very sport I love!  What!??  Yes, I’ve had bad days where I wanted to throw in the towel altogether and leave my sport.  On one very bad day, I screamed at my training partner that I never wanted to see the lake again. Then I swam a shitty 1/4 mile and went home. (shivering all the way).  Training like that will not get me across the English Channel.

Attitude is everything… and while it’s true that I’ve been on a diet that most would envy, I was struggling to gain weight and my attitude was not improving.  I was on the “eat anything and everything you want” diet, but I made myself ill in the process.  My energy levels suffered, my moods suffered… and my workouts suffered.  Surprise!  (well, maybe not)

13235442_10208506224505664_8822802009109269470_o

On a side note: The Southern Banana Pudding ice cream is pretty amazing!

But even if you do have a very good reason for needing to put on weight (such as, to prevent a trip to the ER with hypothermia!) it just doesn’t add up.  Or, as my father likes to say, “It doesn’t compute.”  You simply cannot eat junk food and expect to perform well as an athlete.

It’s the same rule I use for mixing cocktails: “Good in, Good out”.  Food is the same way, and I honestly don’t know why I thought it would be any different.

Just for fun… here’s an idea of how painfully slow my weight gaining has been since the start of this year:

January: 130 lbs.
February: 132
March:133
April:135
May: 136
June: 137

Problem is, I feel like most of that gain has been muscle weight.  I’ve been consistently chasing new PR’s powerlifting in the gym with my trainer.  (This year I broke 200 lbs on my deadlift and got to a 160 back squat.)  Those are both much heavier than last year…so I know there is muscle weight in there.

But where’s my SEAL FAT… and how do I get it??  A few more pounds over the next few weeks would definitely help my cold water tolerance in the “No-Wetsuit” zone!

Okay, I’m off to eat to some pasta and an avocado now and maybe I’ll double-up on some protein powder… but I’d love to hear your ideas!

 

Peace,
Kate

 

image009

On Memorial Day, I have committed to match my power with my purpose:  This August, I will be swimming the English Channel on a 5-person relay team from England to France.  Afterward, I will be touring the beaches of Normandy to show my respect.  It is my wish today, Memorial Day, to honor those who braved these same waters before me on D-Day, June 6, 1944.

It is with much thought and consideration that I have chosen the Navy SEAL Foundation as my charity for my English Channel swim.

The History: Elite Special Forces (Underwater Naval Combat Demolition Teams and ultimately those who became known as the U.S. Navy SEAL’s) were the first men to be sent into enemy territory on a stealth nighttime mission.  It was their job to prep the beaches of Normandy to ensure the success of the landing forces.  With a casualty rate of over 50%, it was the single deadliest day in Naval Special Warfare history, but their bravery and fortitude contributed to the liberation of Western Europe from Nazi control.

My Story: Many have asked me why I have identified with the Navy SEAL’s and chosen the Foundation for my charity.  It’s really about fortitude for me.

Long-distance open water swimming is a unique mix of hard work and meditation, wrapped in an odd cocoon of sensory deprivation.  To be alone with your thoughts can send your mind to strange places.  Add to that ocean swells, currents, and the various aquatic life one might encounter along the way, mental fortitude is essential.  Even harmless seaweed can shock a swimmer into a panic attack if the conditions are right.

When my mind starts to wander off into dangerous territory, my tactic has always been to visualize myself as a stealth Navy SEAL.  It works every time.

I don’t really remember when I started imagining myself as a Navy SEAL, but I just know that it works for me.  I know my strokes get more powerful as I begin to visualize.  I can feel my mind take on the imagery and my body begins to respond with strength, fortitude and perseverance.  Just the other week when I was swimming in Puget Sound, I was going for a personal record with no wetsuit.  The water temperature was 51F/10C, and the air wasn’t much warmer.  It was gray and cloudy that morning and I needed to get 45 minutes in the water.   At about 30 minutes in, I started to slow down from the intense cold.  I had lost feeling in my fingers and my feet, and my mind was going to that panicky place.  Just then I heard what I thought was my friend shouting: “You’re a Navy SEAL!!”  My brain took that in, I smiled inside and calmly said to myself: “Yes I am.”

I persevered for the whole 45 minutes, achieving my PR.  As we were drying off I thanked her for saying that.  She laughed and said “Oh, I didn’t say that!  I saw you slowing down and I shouted “How do you FEEL???”

All I can say is, the mind plays tricks on you in the water.  I heard what I needed to hear. And it worked!

I have a tremendous amount of respect for what it takes to become a Navy SEAL.  From my little part of the world, as I train in Lake Washington and Puget Sound to prepare for the English Channel, this is my salute to you on Memorial Day.

6eacb10ea990b251d146a208e83baba6
By the way, if you’re still reading, and you’re interested in supporting the Navy SEAL Foundation, I’ve started a Crowdrise page here:

Six years ago this past March I started writing Kettlebellhell.  Throughout that time, I’ve had months where I’ve been busy blogging about the power of kettlebells, and then I’ve had months (sadly) with no posts at all.

For all my kettlebell fanatics, I just want you to know that I’m still crazy about kettlebells. However, for the next few months I’ll be blogging about my next adventure: In August 2016 I’ll be swimming the English Channel on a relay team.  Along with my coach, Trent Grimsey, there will be 3 Australians and 2 Americans on my team, and we will be swimming from England to France through the busiest shipping channel in the world.

I hope you will hang in there with me during this epic journey!  I will need all the support I can get.  Kettlebells are still an important part of my workout and I’m certain I wouldn’t have reached this point without them.  Kettlebells continue to give me a level of fitness confidence that allows me to say “YES” to a new challenge.  (I’ve blogged about this before, so I know you know what I’m talking about!)  With kettlebells, we just say “Yes, I’m ready!”

I know my strength will get me through the choppy seas… but I need to get to work on the other 90%… mental fortitude.

Stay with me!

Peace,
Kate

Skinny Bitch Acclimatizes

Posted: May 23, 2016 in Uncategorized

They told me it couldn’t be done, and that was motivation enough.

I’m doing this.

11218953_10206373515029260_2114523411177449749_n

In 10 weeks I’ll be swimming the English Channel with 4 teammates in a relay event. Today, I’m on a mission to prove that by taking the proper steps towards cold-water acclimatization, the skinny bitch can acclimatize!

The thing is, I’ve been “the skinny one” all my life.  I’m in the 99 percentile for body fat, meaning I’m classified as having “Essential Fat Only” at 12%.  This is not helpful for open water swimming events.

2 years ago when I announced I was going to swim the English Channel (which is often considered a swimmers ‘Mount Everest’) many people responded with disbelief.

“You’re waaaayyyy to thin” they would say, “gain some weight… eat more donuts.”

“Don’t you know you’re not allowed to wear a wetsuit when you swim the Channel?!”

“Yes. I know.”

“When are you going to lose the wetsuit?!” they would ask persistently.

“Soon.” I replied.

This year, on March 15th, I lost my wetsuit.  Well, I didn’t actually lose it.  I ceremoniously washed my entire collection of wetsuits with my special neoprene soap, I hung them all to dry, and then I said goodbye and packed them away in the depths of my basement closet. That was a tough day.  I love my gear.

I’ve been acclimatizing ever since.

As someone with “essential fat only”, I’ve chosen a sport that requires me to swim in cold water without a wetsuit.  I’ve already experienced stage 1 and stage 2 hypothermia, and I’ve been dangerously close to stage 3.  So it’s time to fatten up.

I’m keeping a fitness log, a food diary, swimming logs, temperature notes… you name it. It’s all very interesting really.  And just when you thought it would be easy to pack on a few pounds… it’s actually not.

Now if you’re reading this and you’ve ever been told “No way!”, then stick with me through these next 10 weeks of my journey.  I’m going to take you through the highs and the lows of training for something that seems unattainable.  And we’ll see if it is.

Peace Out,
Kate