1 Comment

Swim Around Charleston

In 2010, Ben and I took a trip to Charleston, SC for my friend Rachel’s wedding.



Prior to the wedding, we walked around downtown Charleston and took in some views of the river.

DSCN0084 DSCN0087

Never did I imagine that I would swim in that water, alongside that pathway and right past that military ship.

Sometime time around early Spring I decided that I wanted to do the 4th annual Swim Around Charleston, a 12 mile swim from Mt. Pleasant to Charleston in the Cooper River and Ashley River. I knew some people who swam the event last year and just couldn’t make 2013 happen due to scheduling. I started off this year training pretty well, but with the addition of marathon training, teaching swim lessons, work.. and sleep… I definitely slacked on the training the last 5-6 weeks. No one else in my group was up for the swim the year and my kayaker friend backed out last minute, so I came close to deferring my entry until next year. But, alas, I decided to suck it up and make the trip on my own.

right to left

right to left

Saturday, the day before the race, we had a pre-race meeting. I woke up so sick that morning (thanks to Ben for giving me his cold) and drove the four hours to Charleston. I someone managed to sit through the meeting, though all I wanted to do was lay myself on the floor and sleep. After the meeting, I grabbed food to-go and ate dinner in my hotel room. I was in bed by 8pm. So much for enjoying the city.

I woke up Sunday feeling much better and ready to swim, but terrified. I don’t think I’ve ever had so much anxiety over a swim. Maybe it was the distance, maybe it was the fact that I knew I was low on energy from being sick, but I think it was just the concept of jumping into a new body of water. I know the St. Johns River – I know the way the water feels, I know the current, I know every single bridge and dock. I feel safe knowing everything. The Cooper and Ashley Rivers were completely unknown to me.

Getting Ready

Because of the tides, our race didn’t start until noon. A shuttle took us from the hotel to the start around 10:15am. I met some wonderful people on the bus who chatted my ear off about other swims they’ve done, which helped me forget about my anxiety for a bit. When we got there, everyone immediately lathered up with sunscreen and grease while I just chilled and watched the water. We had plenty of time to kill. Eventually, I found my assigned volunteer kayaker, Leslie. This was Leslie’s third time volunteering; she was confident and knew what she was doing/where she was going… this was such a huge help for me. I handed Leslie my drinks, snacks and extra caps/goggles (changed both mid swim – goggles wouldn’t sit right and cap ripped when I readjusted) then lined up with everyone else for the start.



And Go

This was an in-water start, so we were checked off as we jumped off the dock and waited in the water until the horn went off exactly at 12:00pm. The start was a little chaotic because I was trying to get off the feet of two women (later nicknamed by Leslie as “the twins”) and not lose my kayaker at the same time. Within 20 minutes, the group had spread out and we were already under the 1st of 5 bridges.

I felt great the first two hours. I forced myself into feeds that I didn’t really want to take at 12:30pm and 1:15pm. I had been warned over and over again about staying hydrated, so I tried my best to stay on schedule. I took my 3rd feed at 2:00pm, still feeling pretty decent. There was lots to look at – Charleston is beautiful from the water. We had a nice current pushing us forward and I had made it past the 1st check point 20 minutes ahead of the cut-off. Then, we turned the corner and hit he wind. The wind… the head wind that stayed with us on and off for pretty much the remainder of the swim. The wind made the water pretty choppy –  more choppy than any year before, per my kayaker. Due to chop, boat traffic and bridges, my next feed wasn’t until almost 3:00pm. By then, I started to get a little tired. When I say “tired” I usually just mean my arms.. at some point, they just don’t want to rotate anymore. I learned something during this swim though: if you’re thinking of taking a feed “soon”, just go ahead and take it now. You don’t know what conditions “soon” might bring and you might have to push the planned feed back further than preferred.



The Wall

That “I don’t want to rotate anymore” feeling came a little too early at 4:00pm. I had stopped for  3:30 feed and again at 4:00pm and told my kayaker I was done. She chuckled at me and moved me along for another 30 minutes. I gave a big heaping sigh at 4:30’s feed, but Leslie pointed out that “pink cap and the twins” (people who had been behind me for a while now) were still behind me and “paddle board guy” was not too far ahead. I was thankful for the entertaining nicknames and the reminder that I wasn’t the only one out there. I pushed it along to 5:00pm and caught up to paddle board guy (swimmer who had a paddler and a boat instead of a kayak escort.. what was that all about?). I thought maybe I had a surge of energy upon catching him, but it only lasted 10 minutes. With the final bridge in sight, I literally didn’t think I could continue. Each stroke burned, my arms were heavy and even my fingers tingled. My muscles were shredded and there was no racing anyone to the finish. I stopped a lot (non swimmers take note: when stopping you may not hang on to anything, you must tread). Paddle board guy had been swimming further out in the channel, so he had a nice current pushing him.. I chose to remain closer to the shore and he ended up pushing ahead. I didn’t care.. I just wanted that damn dock to appear. It felt like a complete “joke’s on you! haha!” situation where someone kept pushing the marina further and further away from me. How could I have the bridge/marina in sight for this long and not be there yet?


Pruned to the Extreme

Finally, balloons appeared and I was yards away from the finish dock. In somewhat of a haze, I very (and I mean VERY) slowly moved one arm at a time until I was told my chip had registered (by the way, my sticker-chip wouldn’t stick to my silicone cap so I had to shove it in my suit.. awesome). Done. So incredibly done. Finished in 5 hours and 53 minutes, just under the 6 hour cut-off (the three people behind me made it as well). My kayaker then towed me back to the boat ramp where I could exit the swim.


And it’s Done

Here is where my only real complaints about the race come in: since I was one of the last ones finished, there were not many people left at the marina. My kayaker and I had to pull her yak out of the water by ourselves after using our arms for almost six hours; there should’ve been help. The massage people were closing up shop and refused to help out the last few swimmers and the only food available was some fruit and cookies (maybe there had been more earlier on, I’m not sure).. more carbs would’ve been appreciated. With that being said, the race was incredibly organized, well run and very safe (important). At one point in time, there was a rogue boater coming at us full-speed. The Coast Guard went chasing after him, blaring their sirens and ordered the boat to maintain no-wake to protect the swimmers. It was great knowing the Coast Guard and local authorities were on the lookout the entire swim. Additionally, everyone I met was incredibly nice! The water was so clean and clear; it was beautiful.

Will I do this again? Probably not as a solo swimmer, but that’s just because I’m not committed to the training right now. I’m in for next year as a relay though, if anyone is interested!


— Race photos courtesy of http://www.swimaroundcharleston.com


2013 Year in Review



We rang in the New Year quietly at home and just a few days later I was off  to run Ragnar: Miami to Key West

Chuck Norris Never Ragnar'd

Chuck Norris Never Ragnar’d

I opted out of February’s Donna this year due to my hip, but we still made it out to cheer



For Spring Break, Alex came to visit!



And T:E Girls partied at One Spark


And rocked it out at the gym


In April, Ben and I hopped on a plane to spend a few days in Santa Barbara and Malibu for my cousin’s wedding



Malibu Beach

Malibu Beach



In May, we started enjoying Florida’s beautiful beaches again

Date Night

Date Night

By June, I was back in the open water

Duval Ocean Swimmers

Duval Ocean Swimmers

And finally able to run again by July (see: #hipsaga2012)

July 4th 5k

July 4th 5k

CROME (formally known as Timed Exercise) also took to the beach this summer



Midway through July we ran away for a week on the Allure of the Seas with my family for my dad’s 60th birthday

Docked at Labadee, Haiti

Docked at Labadee, Haiti

Cozumel, Mexico

Cozumel, Mexico


Come August, I swam my second Hammer Head 2.5 Mile Ocean Marathon and place 2nd in my age group

Running to the finish

Running to the finish

And Hannah came to visit before shipping off to college :)

So proud of this girl

So proud of this girl

In September I joined JumpingFish for Up The River – Downtown – a 10k/6mi river swim escorted by 45 kayakers/boaters!


Source: Jacksonville.com



Soon after I spent a weekend in NYC with friends. We ate cupcakes, ran through Central Park and celebrated Lindsay’s upcoming wedding

nyc nyc2

October brought several events including my second Siesta Key 5k Swim with a 4th place finish

Siesta Key 5k Ocean Swim with DOS

Siesta Key 5k Ocean Swim with DOS

My 30th Birthday



My first GORUCK

Damn good heart if you ask me

Damn good heart if you ask me

One Team

One Team

A trip to Virginia with Ben for Sarah’s wedding

Sarah and Andrew :)

Sarah and Andrew :)

Rainy Day

Rainy Day

And my fastest 5k ever!



In November I traveled home for Lindsay’s wedding and to see some of my favorite people



And on Thanksgiving morning I ran the Subaru 13.1 in 35 degree temps (Florida?!?) – this race was iconic for me because it was the first 13.1 after all my hip issues. I wasn’t sure I’d ever be able to run the distance again. I ran it thanks to my wonderful PRS group.. I even PR’d by a minute :)



Before we knew it, it was December and time for my second GORUCK.

GORUCK Light Class #153 - Jacksonville Beach

GORUCK Light Class #153 – Jacksonville Beach

I also ran a painfully difficult soft-sand beach 5k, but had a ton of fun AND placed!

Patrons of the Heart Beach 5k

Patrons of the Heart Beach 5k

The next day (Sunday 12/22/13), Ben and I went to the beach, like any other Sunday. It was incredibly warm and beautiful for just three days before Christmas.. but that’s Florida for you.

Little did I know...

Little did I know…

Little did I know that I’d walk to the water with my boyfriend and walk back up the beach with my fiancé :)



The next couple of days included engagement excitement and Christmas

Christmas Eve Shenanigans

Christmas Eve Shenanigans

We rang in the New Year with a simple dinner and home before midnight (noticing a NYE theme here..)

Bye-Bye 2013

Bye-Bye 2013

And started 2014 with friends at an extremely rainy Gator Bowl

We managed to have fun anyway :)

Mid field, 6 rows back – can’t complain

It was seriously an exciting year and we have so much to look forward to in 2014! My calendar is already filled with a trips to Atlanta/Blue Ridge, Islamorada for venue shopping, a one-week south Caribbean cruise with friends, Lake Tahoe for a wedding, Portugal/England with Ben as well as things like the Wolfson’s 55 relay, Gate River Run, Hammerhead Ocean Marathon, Siesta Key 5k swim, many 5ks and fall running :)

One last thing

While it’s important to focus on the good in life, I had one very sad event this year. On 12/1/13 my sweet Alley girl went missing. We have absolutely no idea how she got out of the house and we don’t understand why we didn’t see her lounging around in the sun within two days. She has literally up and vanished. My loving girl is 14 years old and I worry about her every single day – she’s been my devoted snuggle friend for over 11 years. My heart is broken and I just wish she’d find her way home.

Love this pretty girl

Love this pretty girl

The silver lining in this tragedy, is that while trying to find Alley, we rescued an 8 month-old feral kitten. We weren’t sure what to do with her at first, because she was a bit insane (which earned her the name “Ninja”). But she’s pushed our way into our hearts and our home, so we think she’s here to stay.

Not such a ninja anymore

Not such a ninja anymore

All we have to do is convince Savannah

She's still undecided

She’s still undecided

Leave a comment


In case you missed it, this month I participated in Up the River Downtown. It was such a phenomenal event that came together perfectly. As cheesy as it sounds, I felt so alive the entire swim. We’ve spent the last few days talking about incredible plans for next year. And then, today, Diego’s video came out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=N6PHkm7zs-Y

Diego brought his GoPro with him during the swim. I didn’t think much of the camera while we were out there, but watching the video has inspired me all over again. I want to do more. I spent the day thinking about some of the things I’ve considered doing lately and now I really want to do them. Some things I’m already working toward… but 2014, I’m looking at you, kid.

On My Way

1) Sub 30 5k. I want to break 30 in a 5k. I am so close to this goal.. it’s right around the corner. I’m running on the track once a week and I’ve been feeling great. I need to run throughout the rest of the week, which I promise to do… soon. And then I just need to find a 5k when I’m actually in town. (December 2013 edit: I did it! 29:33 at the Evergreen Pumpkin Run) (February 2014 edit: Love to Run 5k 28:59!)

2) GORUCK. I saw an ad for GORUCK a while back in some magazine somewhere. I didn’t think much of it. Then, I saw someone with a shirt, which inspired me to search the website. The final push was seeing photos pop up on facebook. I visited the website again, found the next available date for a GORUCK Light (December) and registered. Rucksack, bricks, gloves and hydration purchased, and I’m on my way. Even better – an October date opened up, so I get to check this one off my list even sooner than expected. Then do it again in December with a good friend :) (December 2013 edit: DONE and DONE because I actually did an October and December event)

I’m Coming For You

1) Thirteen point one. I want to run a half marathon again. I went through #hipsaga2012 last year where I dealt with a bunch of fancy medical terms for torn tendons in my hips. I stopped all running for what felt like years, did a bunch of rehab and strengthened my core. Part of me feels like running this distance is out of the question, simply because of the training. Part of me feels I can do it if I do right. Am I motivated enough? Maybe. Some days I still feel a little pain/tension, some days I don’t. We’ll see. (December 2013 edit: DONE! Subaru 13.1 and even with a 1 minute PR) (October 2014 edit: 26.2 training and completed 1st 20 mile run. It’s happening. Savannah 26.2)

2) Swim Around Charleston. I wanted to do this 12 mile swim last year and couldn’t find the time. This year, I have an obligatory trip to NYC. I really want to do this next year. The relay is an option, but I want to do it on my own. I’ll need a support boat with a crew member (any volunteers?) and I’ll need to swim more than I did this summer.. but swimming distance has never been much of a problem. Just the idea of this swim is SO exciting. I really hope I can make this happen. (October 2014 edit: DONE! 12 solo miles in the Cooper and Ashley Rivers in 5 hours and 53 minutes and SO EXCITED!)


And that’s all for now. I’m hoping for a cruise in March/April and have a trip to Portugal planned for late summer/early Fall… but I can’t exactly call those aspirations, can I? (October 2014 edit: these happened too :) )


Up the River Downtown – 6 Miles in the St. Johns River


I love this city.

Really.. I’ve liked it for quite a while now… but lately, I just love it. I remember having a conversation with my mom about Jax shortly after I moved here. I complained that I felt like something was missing and this just wasn’t the city for me. We concluded that Jacksonville was missing heart, missing a center. That conversation today would be the exact opposite. This city as heart. It has soul. It has a community – and I love it. I just needed to find it all.


Today, I participated in an incredible community event… a first timer. Up the River Downtown was intended to be a river advocacy swim with a few swimmers and a few crew members. We swim in the river all the time and wanted to do something a “little bigger” to show everyone that our waterways should used for recreation. Our river is not dead and should not be ignored. We are so lucky in Jacksonville to have both the ocean AND the river. We also decided to raise money for the local Special Olympics Swimmers, because, well, they’re pretty darn awesome.


Well, our “little bigger” turned into the largest in-and-on-the-water event in the St. Johns River. We had 10 swimmers, I’m guessing 15-20 crew members (SJRK boat, pontoon, SUP), two dragon boats (about 20 people each), and the Jacksonville Fire Association’s boat with fire fighters (who had a water spout going at some point). We all started at Jacksonville University with the plan of swimming about 6 miles down to the Riverside Arts Market.


We knew we were having a bunch of people joining us at the nearest public boat ramp, Arlington Boat Ramp. As the days grew nearer, we expected quite a few people.. we started calling it the “flotilla”. We did NOT expect forty-eight kayaks to join us. As we passed the boat ramp, we took a hydration stop. It was incredible looking around at all the people surrounding us in the river. Usually, we just have 2-3 kayaks. At one point during the swim, I took the opportunity to turn around and look behind me… it was such a beautiful sight. I really wish I had a camera (Diego had his GoPro.. hopefully a link to the video will be coming soon!) I’d like to send out a huge thank you to the volunteer flotilla – thank you for joining us and thank you for staying behind us, and allowing only the crew kaykers to remain up front; this kept the swimmers safe. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

9/17/13 EDIT: Diego’s video has been posted! https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=N6PHkm7zs-Y

Photo taken by Jacksonville.com

Photo taken by Bruce Lipsky @ Jacksonville.com

Source: Jacksonville.com


The swim was incredible.. from Jacksonville University, past the Arlington Boat Ramp, past Exchange Island, under the Matthews Bridge, Under the Hart Bridge, under the Main Street Bridge, Under the Acosta Bridge, under the railroad tracks and to the Fuller Warren Bridge/Riverside Arts Market. A little over six miles. The water was warm (88 degrees) and a little choppy between near the Hart Bride (as usual) and yes, there was algae (light speckles, not much more than we have seen in the past)… but we could not have asked for a more perfect day.



Thank you to Megan for being our social media person (pretty last minute) – you were amazing. Thank you to the hundreds of people who met us at RAM. Thank you to my little swimmers who came to watch me swim :) And thank you, thank you to everyone who donated under my name/sponsored my swim – the Special Olympics Swimmers thank you too. Thank you to my wonderful boyfriend for getting Honda to be my official sponsor :)


Photo by Megan on behalf of JumpingFish


Photo by Megan on behalf of JumpingFish





Roger - leader of the pack, my crew kayaker & keeper of my water/snacks! <3

Roger – leader of the pack, my crew kayaker & keeper of my water/snacks! <3


2013 Hammer Head Ocean Marathon – Race Recap

Happy open water anniversary! This race in 2012 was my first open water race as an adult, so this year marks my one year anniversary. Every year they offer a 1.25 mile option and a 2.5 mile option. I choose the 2.5 mile option… obviously!

6am felt especially dark this morning.. maybe just because it was a Saturday and 6am should never be seen on a Saturday. As any swimmer is able to do, I was in my suit and out the door by 6:10am. Before heading to packet pickup, I stepped out onto the sand to watch the sun start to rise.

So lucky to live here

So lucky to live here

Pic courtesy of Candice

Pic courtesy of Candice

Packet pickup was super easy. No markings this year, which is like sweet sorrow. I don’t exactly love the permanent marker on my body for days, but it’s also something that you earn and lets others know you competed. The shirts look the same as last year, which is fine. I was disappointed with the caps, though. The caps are clearly recycled from other events.. some people even had caps that said 2003 on them. Really. This is the 8th year for this event; by now they should have someone funding caps that at east have the name of the race on them.


What I do love about this race is that it’s local; it’s great to hang out pre-race and catch up with some people I haven’t seen in a while. Our Duval Ocean Swimmers (DOS) group all found each other pretty easily. Two school busses drove us south to the start line (start area.. can’t exactly say there was a start line). I remember having a somewhat unexpected start last year and this year was even worse. Upon arriving at the beach, half the swimmers hopped in the water to warm up… which kind of makes me chuckle, because there was no way anyone could possibly have time to properly warm up. You’re racing 2.5 miles and you’re going to warm up by swimming 100 yards? Whatever helps their psyche, I guess.  Anyway, suddenly a bunch of people started yelling for everyone to get out of the water because we were going to start soon… and a few seconds later everyone was yelling while running back into the water to start. No megaphone, no countdown, no gun start…. just hey, wanna go? Ok sure. It’s ok, though.

I was pretty happy with my entry this year as compared to last year. I’m much better prepared now to deal with the crowd (not getting kicked in the face or ribs) and handling the incoming waves. I made it out and around the buoy pretty easily and started my 2.5 mile swim north. I stayed with Jim and John for about the first mile and then lost John.. still had sight of Jim, though he stayed pretty shallow and I stayed pretty deep. Thankfully for the rest of us (and bad for him), he opted to wear his white DOS cap instead of the race’s green cap – he stood out very easily. Around the time that I lost John, though, I started to zone out and I think I forgot I was supposed to be racing. We reached the 1.25 mile buoy (halfway mark), I looked at my watch, saw 39 minutes and thought, “Oh… shit.” Too slow. I wasn’t sure I had the mindset to pick up the pace, but then I saw Jim….. :)

Jim was pretty far in front of me, but I had my mark. When I was a competitive distance swimmer in school, I survived by finding my mark and hunting them down.. or finding my mark and pulling one more black line ahead of them every flip turn. Finding Jim was the kick I needed, especially when I realized we still had at least 25 minutes until the last buoy. I could catch him in 25 minutes. So, I put my head down, stopped sight breathing (time waster) and went on my hunt. It did take about 20 minutes for me to finally reach him, and thankfully he didn’t put up much of a fight. I blew past Jim, found Vedad just before the last buoy and raced home. Sorry Jim ;)

I had total sea legs when I finally hit the sand and had to walk a few steps before picking it up to run to the finish. Candice snapped a pretty good photo… I almost look like a runner!

Running to the finish

Running to the finish

I finished in 1:19:38, which left me second in my age group. I was 12 minutes behind first place, but 7 minutes ahead of third place. Keep in mind this is a small race. We stood around for a while, watching everyone else come in. We cheered for our friends who won their age groups, took a team pic, ate some bananas, etc,



And then it came…. the storm we’d been avoiding all morning. Honestly, the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. Rain came, we headed out for breakfast and then home for a nap!

Pic courtesy of Jim

Pic courtesy of Jim

…..it’s now the next day, and all the little zaps and stings I felt during the race have proven to be sea lice. I really hate sea lice. Where’s my cortisone? *itch* *scratch* *cry*

Next Up

Up the River Downtown on September 7th. JumpingFish has organized a 10k swim from Jacksonville University to the Riverside Arts Market/Fuller Warren Bridge. We’re swimming under 5 bridges with close to 30 kayakers, St. Johns River Keeper’s boat, the Firefighter Association’s boat, dragon boats, SUPs and plenty of land support. Come out to RAM just before noon to watch us arrive at the docks. It’s sure to be a great event! In addition to raising awareness for our river, we are raising money for Special Olympics – the goal is to send their best swimmers to Nationals. If you’d like to donate a few bucks, you can do so here: http://events.jumpingfish.net/sponsor/


Happy Swimming!

Leave a comment

Going the Distance

I have been a complete slacker in the water this year and it’s about to catch up with me. I’ve been loyal to T:E and I’m running once, maybe twice a week (listen, it’s hot, I’m busy and I’m worried about pushing my hip too far)… but swimming? Oops.

Last year I had a YMCA membership and did a decent job with weekday swims, but I don’t have a membership there anymore because of T:E, so I’ve only been in the water on SUNDAYS. Yep, once a week. Jacksonville is a funny place when it comes to public pools. In south Florida and in Tallahassee, it was easy to find inexpensive, outdoor, public pools. My options in Jacksonville? Brooks YMCA (indoor, crowded, expensive and a little on the gross side) or UNF (indoor, parking’s a pain, and lane space can be limited with all the other activities going on). I really despise indoor pools, especially in the summer. I very recently learned that some of the local high schools let you swim for free, outdoors, but the ones close to me don’t have a pool and driving time puts a major dent in my workout time…. and time is seriously lacking in my schedule.

I’m thankful for my Sunday swims with Duval Ocean Swimmers. We’re swimming our usual 1.1 or 2.2, depending on the current, every week. It’s just not enough for what I really want to do with swimming.. I can tell it’s not enough by a) the way I feel on the way back of the 2.2 and b) how difficult it is to keep up with people I could coast with last summer.

DOS 8-3-13

DOS 8/3/13 – Hannah came to visit!

Like I said, it’s all about to catch up with me.

Hammerhead Ocean Swim 2.5 Mile

I’ve committed to the Hammerhead Ocean Swim 2.5 mile option next Saturday, August 17th at Jax Beach. We meet at the lifeguard station and are bussed south to the start (either 1.5 o 2.5 miles); we then swim North with the current and finish back at the lifeguard station. Last year, it felt like the longest swim every because it’s just a straight swim north. I’m ready to swim 2.5 miles no problem; not sure I’m ready to race 2.5 miles, though.

Up the River – Downtown 10k

Three weeks later, I’m joining our JumpingFish crew for the annual Up the River event. This year, we’re swimming 10k (yes, 6.2 miles) from Jacksonville University own to the Fuller Warren Bridge/Riverside Arts Market. We are swimming under five bridges: Matthews, Hart, Main Street, Acosta and touching right at Fuller Warren. Joining us will be kayakers, paddle boarders, dragon boats and the St. Johns River Keeper flagship. We’re not only advocating for our river, but raising money for the local Special Olympics swimmers. If you’d like to donate, you can do so here (even just $5 is awesome): http://events.jumpingfish.net/sponsor/ Please choose Stephanie, obviously ;)

Up the River Sponsorship

Up the River Sponsorship

I’m super excited for this swim. I’ve swum under all the bridges except the Matthews, so I’m happy to check this one off the list. I’m excited about the fantastic group of swimmers will be in the water and I’m even excited about the distance. Thankfully, this is not a race, just a group swim. I know I can handle 10k in the water, but I’ve never done this distance open water and I haven’t done this distance, period, since I swam competitively (ah hem…12 years ago). Everyone and anyone is welcome to head out to the Riverside Arts Market to watch us come into the docks. There will be a big announcement on the main stage and some media present. I don’t know our exact launch time yet, so I don’t know our arrival time yet. But you can follow me on Twitter and I’ll post the info as soon as I can. I’m assuming it will be somewhere around 12:00/1:00.

Siesta Key 5k

And finally, October 5th I return to Siesta Key for the 11th Annual Daiquiri Deck Tropical Splash Open Water Swim. I could have chosen the 1 mile, I could have chosen the 1.5k, but of course I’m in the 5k. It’s the day before my 30th birthday and will literally be my last swim in my 20s. Might as well go out with a bang, right? Again, the distance is no issue.. but racing the distance is a different story. This race is also full of USA competitive swimmers.. aka KIDS.. who kicked my ass last year. This race is totally worth it, though. I’ve traveled the world and Siesta Key is seriously one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen. Last year, we took a boat out to a sand bar party and watched the sun set. I can’t wait to do it again.

Course Map

Course Map

Last Year

Race Start – Last Year

It is what it is for this year. I’m looking forward to all three swims and going to take what I can get. My dilemma really sits with 2014. The number one road block is swim lessons. I love teaching lessons, but really need to scale back next summer if I want to train more and race more. I also need to commit to a pool.. just suck it up, pay the membership and swim. I need to balance T:E with swimming and somehow fit running in there too. If only I could commit to 4:45am wakeup calls. Ha. Did that for too many years.

Happy swimming!


Leave a comment

Lucky Girl

Sometimes there are certain situations, experiences or views that make you take a step back and realize how lucky and thankful you are. Today, it was a view. This view:

Jacksonville Beach

Jacksonville Beach

Overall, I’ve been feeling pretty lucky the last few months, but this morning the feeling was overwhelming. I ended up arriving at Jax Beach a little early for my group swim, so I walked out on the sand to check the surf. For whatever reason, I took a moment to just stare out into the distance and acknowledge my happiness :)

Lucky Athlete

I have a really fun and supportive ocean swim group, Duval Ocean Swimmers (DOS). We swim every Sunday at 9:00am from the Jax Beach pier. Because of them, I’ve found my love for swimming again. They get me up and moving on the weekends, have introduced me to open water racing and have challenged me to try things I never even contemplated – like swimming in the St. Johns River.


Some of our Duval Ocean Swimmers

2.2 Mile River Swim Launch Pad

2.2 Mile River Swim Launching Point

Roger, St. Johns River Keeper, as our yak leader at the end of 2.2

Roger, St. Johns River Keeper, as our yak leader at the end of 2.2

I’m in the best physical shape of my life, mostly thanks to Timed Exercise (I think I’m even in better shape than when I swam competitively as a USA Swimmer). I’m proud of my commitment to the program, which is only possible because of the entertaining trainers and the fabulous friends I have made there. T:E, much like DOS, has helped me do things I never thought I could do – like Pull-ups! Or power cleans with a press.


“Girls can’t do pushups…”


Slow release.. note to self: widen grip


Round 6 of 8 reps..?

I’m also running again. I’m running without any hip pain, which is exciting. Although I do feel a little burn afterward, immediate icing seems to do the trick. The most exciting part about running is that I’m running faster than I have since running track 8th/9th grade. I’ve been focusing on shorter distances with improved speed versus long distance running. This morning, I ran an 8:47 mile after my 2.2 mile ocean swim. Insert big, goofy smile here! I probably have T:E to thank for this, too.

I’m eating better. My idea of healthy a year ago and my idea of healthy today are completely different. While not perfect (I will always have a serious sweet tooth), I’ve completely changed my diet. Meat, veggies and fruit are my staples; dairy and grain are primarily gone from my regular menu. I really do see a change and I love it.

Lucky Professional

I have such a rewarding profession. Every day I witness little miracles, like a child saying his or her first word.. or putting a three word phrase together for the first time. My favorite day is cochlear implant activation day: seeing the look on a child’s face the first time he/she hears a sound, seeing the look on the parents’ faces.. this is the day they have been waiting for. The most recent reward came in the form of a kiddo telling me she loves her “Cochlear EARplant” followed by statements like, “This thing really works!” and “Did you know that the iPhone button makes a SOUND when you push it!?!?” She also turned to her name when called from a distance; something should could never do with just her hearing aids. While I work hard and often stress about the long hours and endless paperwork, I technically get to play for a living. I color, paint, play games and play with toys. Who could complain about that?

I also work for an incredible company. This September will make 5 years at the children’s clinic and I am so grateful that life directed me here. I have the best coworkers, an amazing boss and I work under a fantastic (and hilarious) surgeon. And, really, who else hires SUPERHEROS to wash the windows??

Window Washing Day

Window Washing Day

On Fridays and Saturdays, I teach swim lessons. Teaching swim lessons helps keep me in touch with my number one passion: coaching. Oh, if only I had the time to coach for a competitive team again. I’d say coaching is the only thing missing from my life right now. I’ve filled that void a bit by creating a small, team-like group Saturday mornings. These kids are absolutely a-mazing. They are strong little swimmers who work hard and keep me laughing. It’s such a blast :) Even my two year-olds impressed me this week… many of them can do things in the water that the average adult can’t do – like roll over to float!

Lucky Friend

I have such great friends in my life – near and far. I wish I kept in more frequent contact with those who are far away (actually with those who are close by too… ah hem… Stacey), but it’s such a good feeling when I do see them and connect as though we see each other every day. Locally, I know some of the most extraordinary people. I’ve surrounded myself with athletes and people who focus on supporting each other. Every day I’m impressed with their successes and grateful when they support mine. They set goals and achieve goals, try new things and motivate me to be better every day. Thank you to all the positively wonderful people in my life.

Lucky Girlfriend

Insert sappy paragraph about my wonderful boyfriend here. But really, I’m grateful to have found someone who supports me in everything I do. He supports my profession, my swim lessons, my open water swimming, my running, my weight lifting… you name it. He even supports my eating habits… except when he lovingly buys me cheesecake ;) I love that we are an active couple and can workout together, either at T:E, running, cycling, long walks, etc. He works incredibly long hours and rarely has a day off, but always finds time to make it to things that are important to me… whether that be escorting me as my date to a party (even when he doesn’t know anyone), waiting for me at the finish line of a half marathon (in 20 degree weather) or pulling my teammates out of the water at the docks/finish line of my river swims (in 90 degree weather). This year, he sacrificed pretty much all of his vacation time to spend with my family on two big trips (albeit awesome trips: LA/Santa Barbara and cruising on Allure of the Seas) ;) Most incredibly, he manages to listen to me when I talk.. and I talk a lot. He might just be pretending to be interested, but if so, he does a good job!



So there you have it. Add in the fact that I have a pretty awesome family and my happy little life is summed up in a blog post. I want for very little and am thankful for every day that I have. What can I say? Life is good. Someone I know often sarcastically states, “Oh, I’m living the dream.” I can say without any sarcasm… I AM living the dream.

But I wouldn’t mind a winning lottery ticket :)

1 Comment

Been a While

I’ve been feeling like I want to write a post, but don’t have anything to write about. Then I took a look at my calendar and felt overwhelmed with events.. and I realized.. I have tons to write about. Maybe nothing earth shattering, but they will do for now. Also, I have an entire pile of clothes that need to be ironed… but, no.

So, let’s see here. “Winter” and spring seemed to last forever here in Florida this year. Typically, I would’ve been able to begin swim lessons the first weekend of April. Instead, I waited until after our California trip because the air and water temperatures were just too cold. Even though that first weekend of lessons had warm weather, the water was freezing. Thankfully, once summer decided to appear, it appeared in full force. It’s officially HOT and so is the pool.

I spent Memorial Weekend in Marco Island at the annual FLASHA conference. We stayed at the Marco Island Marriott, which is absolutely gorgeous. I can’t even begin to explain how beautiful the grounds are. Actually, all of Marco Island is beautiful. It’s definitely one of my favorite places in Florida.

Marco Island Sunset

Marco Island Sunset

June was here before I knew it, and it was time to suck it up and hop back in the ocean. Last year, I was so incredibly excited for open water swimming. Although I’m still excited this year, the novelty has worn off a bit and sleeping in Sunday mornings is enticing. I also think that my commitment to Timed Exercise makes it difficult to choose swimming over the gym… if only the two weren’t at the exact same time on Sundays. And… if only we hadn’t seen this two weeks ago:



Yes, while walking back from our north-bound swim, we spotted a half-eaten (from the belly down) shark. Insert mild panic attack here.

I’m seeing a beach theme here as my next pics are from a random, Thursday night date night complete with custard on the beach:

Date Night

Date Night



I’d say he’s a keeper. Also on the keeper list are my incredible TE ladies.. although they keep me up way past my bed time ;)



And, of course, I dearly love my Duval Ocean Swimmers. We had 21 swimmers come out this morning and 10 of us swam a round trip. Just a few of us:

Swim Art, Courtesy of Jim

Swim Art, Courtesy of Jim

Looking Ahead

Looking ahead my calendar is full of markings and notes. In July, we’re hopping on Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas for eight days with my family for my dad’s 60th birthday (and yes, while counting down for this cruise, we’re already looking to plan a March 2014 cruise with friends). August is actually kind of quiet aside from lots of river and ocean swims.

On September 7th I have the 2013 Up the River event, where we will swim 10k from Jacksonville University to the Fuller Warren Bridge (Riverside Arts Market). This event is the main motivator behind my getting up every Sunday morning. I’m really looking forward to it :)


At the end of September, I’m headed to NYC for a friend’s bachelorette party. In October, I have to decide whether I want to swim Siesta Key again or run the 1st race of the Tri 2B Tuff series. I was really motivated to run these three half marathons this year.. but I had SO much fun at Siesta Key with my DOS team last year. Both events are on October 5th… one day before my 30th, yes, 30th, birthday. Which one is a better way to say goodbye to my 20s? Decisions, decisions. Soon after, Ben and I are off to Virginia for his sister’s wedding.

November comes with Lindsay’s wedding and Thanksgiving, and December will be right around the corner with Christmas (destination TBD) and the new year. I know it’s only June, but 2014 seems so close, already. Where does time go? I guess life is good if time is flying by :)

Time for that ironing I guess… just for a bit. Then, it’s date night <3

1 Comment

2012 Year in Review

I suppose I should’ve written this a few days ago, before we actually entered 2013, but I didn’t get the urge until today. 2012 was a pretty great year and I wanted to reminisce a bit. So let’s get to it…

Ben and I rang in the New Year together.

And Ben celebrated his 30th Birthday – A surprise party that I’m convinced he knew about.

Bens 30

Then, I ran a half marathon in 20 degree weather with a bum hip.


And ran 13.1 again two weeks later in Disney with Lindsay.


We went on an eight day cruise with some friends.

And I successfully completed my first rock climbing experiece.

I also stood on Maho Beach in St. Maarten.


We took a lot of pictures.

DSCN1585 DSCN1482 DSCN1560

In April, we hosted a murder mystery party.


And Ben stole everyone’s money when they weren’t looking.


Some people were a little too good at this ;)

DSCN1768 DSCN1761

We had a good time :)


Swimming season started and I taught 20 lessons a week for 20 weeks. I also swam in the Atlantic Ocean.

7-1-12 swim1

And the St. Johns River.

IMGP3104 IMGP3116

And I raced a 5k in the Gulf of Mexico (Siesta Key, FL) with some really great people and new friends.

086 DSCN0120 DSCN0125

We went on [another] cruise with more friends.


And took more silly photos.


I had a birthday.


Then went to New York for a big exam, which I passed :)


In November, I visited grandma for a few days, went wedding dress shopping for Lindsay, spent Thanksgiving with Ben and then headed to Tallahassee for FSU vs. UF with Hannah and Megan.

hannah november


In December, Anthony and Eric (friends from high school) came to Jacksonville for The Big Ticket.


And I visited family in the mountains.


Finally, we had a nice, quiet NYE at home (after an early evening with some friends).

I began 2013 with one heck of a workout at Timed Exercise, which I finished with two and a half minutes to spare.

Layout 1


A pretty good 2012, if you ask me!

1 Comment

Siesta Key 5k Ocean Swim – Race Recap

I first heard about this race from Jim (www.jumpingfish.net) months ago; he kept bragging about how this is one of his favorite races because the location is absolutely beautiful. A few weeks ago, a fellow swimmer posted the race registration on facebook. I was hesitant to go because it was on my birthday and I had lots of other trips this Fall; but then I figured, what better way to spend my birthday than on a beautiful beach?

Siesta Key is located near Sarasota (SW Florida), about a four-hour drive from Jacksonville. I learned that it is an especially unique location because the sand is actually made of quartz, thanks to a moving glacier thousands of years ago. The beautiful, white sandy beaches is what lands Siesta Key “Top 5 most beautiful beaches” almost every year. I drove down Friday morning with two other swimmers and had one of the busiest days ever: 4 hour drive, pit stop at Salt Springs, Amrit Yoga Institute/Ashram, I drove a boat, ate dinner under a tiki hut and watched the sun set from a sand bar.


My Friday explorers.. after dinner

Middle of the ocean

Our very own, personal sand bar


Saturday morning we were up at 5am (yay, happy birthday, right?) and at the beach by 6:15. Everything was fantastically organized. The event was hosted by the Sarasota YMCA Sharks Masters Swimming and was sanctioned by both USA Swimming and U.S. Swimming Masters. Despite there being hundreds of people, lines were short and I was marked, had my ankle chip, cap, and shirt all before sunrise. 1k swimmers started close to check-in and 2.5k and 5k swimmers had to walk a bit to the start (beach walk during sunrise? ok!)

The 1k swimmers started first and a few were already heading to the finish line before my group even started. It was fun cheering them in as we heard the “30 seconds” warning for our start. The gun went off and everyone ran into the water. I’m still working on my starts; it’s definitely a weakness (as well as finishes). My goal, though, was to just swim and have fun. I’ve never swum this distance and didn’t know what to expect out of myself. I certainly haven’t trained much the last few weeks. Surprisingly, I felt great the entire time. Aside from the fact that I could feel small jelly stings/nemanocytes the entire race (and knowing that I’d end up with major sea lice.. which I did), it was an excellent race.

Course Map

Duval Ocean Swimmers represent

Side note: since this race was sanctioned by USA Swimming and USMS, there were an incredible number of “young fish” out there. The 2.5k swimmers started a few minutes after the 5k swimmers.. and by the time I hit the 3rd buoy, I already had some young 2.5k teenagers flying by me. I had another rush of them around the 1/2 point (1/2 way for me, finish for them). Holy fast children!

As I ran up the beach for my finish, the 2.5k swimmers plus two teammates who creamed me in the 5k were there, cheering. I had time to turn around to cheer for two others finishing closely behind me. I can’t repeat enough how excellent this race was! I guess my only complaint is the post-race food.. it was pretty lame :(

We grabbed our medals and stinky swim suits (ew.. why does the Gulf water smell like dead fish?) and headed home. My car riders and I stopped at the Ringling Brothers Museum/Grounds before heading home.

Additionally: My birthday weekend started with the most amazing meal/date night with my hunny at iii Forks complete with roses and gifts. It ended with dinner, football and friends. Our football/birthday dinner celebration was the perfect night until I got home just in time to watch FSU completely screw up their entire season.. but we’re not going to discuss that.. just my awesome birthday weekend :)