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Monday, October 12, 2015

Bucket list? Mid-life crisis? Nope, a reverse mortgage on my body....

Greetings,

Sorry for the silence.  I was busy losing weight.  Yep.  Got back from the UK after some nice swims in Dover harbor followed by an outstanding wedding in France.  Very happy to have such great friends.  Now that I am back, I wanted to post a few ideas over the next few weeks - ideas that remain stuck in my head and need to come out lest I forget them and move onto other ideas.  So here goes....Idea #1 for this series....Reverse Mortgaging my Body.

Reverse Mortgage:  Huh?

In the US, we have this (relatively) new way of keeping your head financially above water when you retire.  The banks encourage seniors to reverse mortgage their homes.  Instead of paying for your house, the bank pays you monthly installments to eventually own your house.  The trick is to start your reverse mortgage in time so that by the time you expire, you no longer need your house and you have collected every payment from the bank.  Timing becomes a key determinant for the payoff.

Reverse mortgaging my body

I realize I have only so many years to be vital.  Between sickness, accidents, and such, I figure I can remain active until I am in my early 70's.  Some of my friends are very active well beyond their 70's.  My dad, for instance, ran a 5K this past weekend at youthful age of 79 even though he battles pancreatic cancer and just underwent another round of chemotherapy a few months ago.  There are many exceptions but a conservative estimate of early 70's at least gives me some idea of my time left to wear this body out.

Every year and perhaps even more frequent than yearly, I plan to pay myself in installments of adventure.  Those adventures - both big and small - help me live my life as much as possible.  I enjoy the outdoors and aim to do whatever I can to enjoy life to the fullest.  So, when asked if I am checking off my bucket list, my new reply is...."no, I am taking advantage of my body's reverse mortgage."  Every adventure is a great payment.  Come join me.

If I spend my energy now enduring all sorts of fun adventures, I can retire from adventure in my mid-70's and take up a musical instrument, learn a foreign language, or read even more books than I already consume.  Heck, I might even enjoy golf.  Nah.....

Thanks for following.  Will post something else shortly.  I have some exciting news about next summer.  Should be a huge withdrawal from my body's reverse mortgage.  Stay tuned.....

Friday, September 18, 2015

Objectives are journeys...not destinations

Greetings friends, family, and co-conspirators of adventure,

I am back and settled into a routine after my English Channel attempt.  Well, the truth is that it was no attempt at all.  Mother Nature decided it was not my time.  Luck played more of a role in this objective than I figured but I still feel satisfied with the outcome.  Did I want to swim the Channel?  You bet.  Was I disappointed in not being able to swim?  Yes, to a degree.  I met some fantastic people, learned a good bit about the swim conditions, and picked up some excellent tips for future marathon swims.  The journey, in other words, made the outcome tolerable. 

A quote - misattributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson - sums up my thoughts on this objective.  Everything in life is a journey if you choose to adopt that perspective.  Each objective, goal, or striving I identify and seek presents me with opportunities to see the world, meet great people, and learn from the experience.  Learning is the main reason why I want to climb, swim, and sail to exotic locations for long periods.  I learn about myself along the way.  The English Channel taught me something I didn't anticipate - I enjoy the journey often more than the destination.  

Given that I was unable to even attempt the swim, I still feel fortunate.  Why?  I have learned more in that one week in Dover than I could learn in any book or during any swim.  The marathon swimmers both taught me and entertained me.  They welcomed me and my family with open arms.  I feel completely indebted to them and intend to repay them in kind.  From the first step onto Dover beach, I knew I was with my kind of people - the ones who extend a hand without knowing you.  They were warm and friendly from the start.

So, what is next?  I am busily organizing a triple crown attempt for next summer.  The marathon swimming triple crown consists of the English Channel, Catalina Channel, and the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim (or MIMS as most swimmers call it).  Here are a few articles to let you know what goes into a triple crown attempt:

1.  ESPN (of all web destinations) has an excellent summary of the three events - complete with some details not found in most other sources.  

2.  A list of all swimmers who completed the triple crown gives you a good idea about how rare the feat is today.  Sure, there are 119 people on the list (as of Sept. 16th, 2015) but that ranks as rare in the world of endurance challenges.  

3.  What can be worn during the swims?  I get that question all the time - well, at least frequently over the past few months.  Here are some (un)official rules that govern some events.  All events in the triple crown abide by them.  

So there you have it!  I am busily organizing these swims for next summer.  My aim is to complete the triple crown after I climb Denali with my friend Dave Williams (aka Mr. Sea2Summit7).  More updates on my swims to follow.  Oh, I will also post about my Denali plans shortly.  Stay tuned....

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Its official!

No swim for this tide.  Sorry to get your hopes up with that title.  Neil just gave me a ring and the weather just refused to cooperate.  The swim is off.  

I really appreciate all the support and look forward to my return.  When?  Not sure.  Guaranteed I will be back and might even return sooner than later.  If anyone out there knows how to register for the MIMS and Catalina Island swims, I would appreciate some tips.  Next year might be more exciting that this year...without earthquakes and avalanches.

Expect pictures from the wedding.  Thanks again for following along.

Two more opportunities to swim....and the outlook is not looking favorable

Hey all.  I just got off the phone with Neil (my pilot) and he gave me the run down for the upcoming days.  Today is bad.  The winds and waves are not favorable today - at least not this morning.  Later today may work out but it doesn't look promising.  Tomorrow, the forecast is about the same as today.  No sense stressing about it.  I plan to go for a swim this morning, retire to our favorite restaurant for a bite to eat and then chat with Neil to see if the conditions change.  Maybe afterwards I squeeze in a nap to make today perfect.  

Don't worry about my mental state.  I am in good shape and look forward to this and other adventures.  The aim here is to make the most of what I have available.  How many times do I get to swim in Dover harbor?  Not many.  Off I go!  See you shortly with any updates.  See below?  I'm smiling....sort of.  OK, off to swim.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Coming down to the wire - 2 days left to squeeze in a swim

Title says it all.  I am down to two more mornings (and one afternoon) and tomorrow morning doesn't look promising.  Just got off the phone with my pilot boat captain - Neil Streeter - and he gave me the go-ahead to enjoy a pint tonight.  The morning does not look good.  I trust him completely.  We just ran out of luck so far.  Monday was a dream day and the days following turned sour for us.  Oh well.  I have two more chances - tomorrow afternoon and Friday morning.  Fingers crossed that something works out.  I remain hopeful even if the odds are shifting out of my favor.  On the bright side, I get to see my friends Sam and Alex in just two days.  That reunion will be special.  

The swimming in Dover harbor was simply amazing today - just as it had been the previous days.  Reflecting on my time in Dover and the training proceeding my trip, I have a few things I learned.  First, I am fit and ready to swim on three months training post climbing in Nepal.  I think any more time preparing might have lead me to burn out.  Also, gaining the extra weight helped a ton because I can tolerate the cold(er) water without any ill effects.  Second, marathon swimmers are an awesome group.  I cannot believe there are so many nice people who do one sport.  If we all took a few tips from the folks here in Dover, my LOST friends in Oakville, Ontario Canada, and the countless English Channel swimmers I met along the way, the world would be a nicer place with less hate and more love.  I cannot express in words how grateful I am for all the support and kindness shown to me and my family over the past 5 months.  Thank you all.  

Here are a few pictures from today just so you can see the harbor with a bit of a breeze filling in.  Looks rather calm, eh?  Well, the winds were really building and I doubt it would be much fun out in the channel.  I snapped these photos late this afternoon well past my early (11am) swim in the harbor.  During my swim this morning, I felt the chop that is commonly referred to as the washing machine.  It was a blast!  I can't wait to bob about in the channel for the real swim.  OK, without further delay, here are some pictures....
A great view from the swimmer's beach in Dover harbor.

There I am...smiling while waiting my turn.
Today's choppy conditions gave me a good taste of what might be in store for me while crossing the channel.  Hopefully I get that chance this year.  If not, I am already thinking about what lies ahead for me.  Perhaps Manhattan Island Marathon Swim (MIMS) followed by Catalina Island Marathon swim and another shot at the English Channel.  Hey, now that is an idea!  A triple crown in one year.  Kat would prefer I not return to Everest this year just to give us all a break.  I agree with her; I need a break and so does she.  We were just talking about this idea during dinner tonight.  She seemed somewhat psyched about this challenge.  So, what do you think?  I know my friends in San Diego would lend a hand for Catalina Island.  Swimming around Manhattan might be a little creepy.  

OK, more thoughts on that challenge soon.  Time for bed and then another morning dip in the harbor.  Fingers crossed I get a chance to swim the channel this year.  Expect another update shortly.

Thanks for following along.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Been about 6 days here in Dover and here is where we stand....(or swim)

Greetings,

I am laying down in our awesome room nestled deep in the heart of the Churchill Guest House.  It is breezy today and I feel completely comfortable after my morning dip in Dover harbor followed by another outstanding meal at Il Rustico.   Each day - save for one - I swam in the harbor for at least an hour and then enjoyed a leisurely day of naps and meals.  We are ready as a crew to tackle this swim but the wind and waves seem to have different plans.  As we wait, I wanted to give you a brief update.  Below are some pictures from the past few days.  As you can see, we are enjoying ourselves.

A view up Castle Street - the street that amazingly enough heads up to the castle.  Go figure.

One of our early meals at Il Rustico.  I believe we ate there every day so far.  If you find a winner, stick with it.

Dover Harbor - the place where all the channel swimmers come to get accustomed to the water (wind, waves, and temperature).

Hey, I know that guy.  I am relaxing today because I thought I might swim the next day.  No use tiring myself out.  Kat swam for the family.

There she is...Kat swimming in one of those seal costumes.  

...and she was playing the part of seal very well.  Here, Sean is lending a hand and helping Kat and her new friend out of the water.  Actually, he just offered them their shoes so they wouldn't have to walk upon the tough rocks with cold feet.


I have no idea if I will get off for my swim.  The beauty is that I remain optimistic and relatively care-free.  It has been an outstanding event so far even though I remain uncertain.  The people here are wonderful.  I met the King of the Channel (aka Kevin Murphy - the Honorable Secretary of the English Channel Swimming & Piloting Federation) along with many swimmers - both old and young (well, relatively young and certainly young at heart).  Also, my family and I have become fast friends with the proprietors of our B&B (Alastair, Betty and Alex Dimech); they are gracious hosts and tell outstanding stories - some that will crack you up for years to come.  If you have any interest or ever watched Fawlty Towers, then you must come and spend time chatting with them.  They are wonderful people who love to laugh and have stories that will remind you of Basil Fawlty - all good stories.

At any rate, I am just biding my time.  I hope to be able to swim before I head off to Sam and Alex's wedding.  The swims in Dover harbor have been magical but they don't satisfy my yearning to swim to France.  If the swim doesn't materialize, I will return to Dover in the near future to give it a real go.  Yes, these setbacks can be expensive and irritating but if Mother Nature forces my hand to abort, then I must and return I shall....soon.  Everest will be 3 times (I hope no more) - fingers crossed the channel does not take that many tries.

Stay tuned for more updates shortly.  Tomorrow is another day but the weather looks foul.  Perhaps I get out on Thursday.  Don't know yet.  I think I'll take a nap.   Thanks for following along.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

My heart goes aflutter...and we're off!

Hey all,

The day has come when I head off to the UK to swim (and then celebrate with my friends Sam and Alex during their wedding...and afterwards).  I have looked forward to this day for many months but now it is a reality.  What made it even more real was that my pilot boat Captain Neil Streeter tried calling me during one of my meetings today.  My phone went wonky so I was unable to answer it but his call alerted me to the fact that this swim is on!  I just got off the phone with him and he thought I was in Dover already.  Too bad.  The weather is prime for a dip in the Channel.  If I were there now, I would be swimming this evening.  Alas, I am not.  

I'm now free from meetings for a bit and can focus on this update.  From this point forward (well, actually after I hit submit), I won't have much to report other than I intend to swim in Dover harbor during the days when I will not be swimming to France.  Once my swim is over, we might head up to London for whatever time Mother Nature allows.  My focus now?  The swim.  

I am so excited right now I could run around the block like a madman but I shall not.  Instead, I will remain dignified and pester my family with my nervous energy.   Yes, my heart went aflutter.   I thought the call was a go for me immediately.  Once I get the real call, I will have Kat email the blog to indicate the start.  Be sure once you get the email to check out the SUVA tracking on the Channel Swimming & Piloting Federation webpage (see previous post).  

Thank you everyone for making this adventure a blast.  I have a few people to thank now while I am thinking about how much I prepared over the past few months.  First, thanks to my wife and son for putting up with another adventure.  Without them, I would not be able to do these things with as much passion and purpose.  Next, I owe a huge thank you to all the swimmers and coaches who supported me every step of the way.  These include:

  1. my awesome coach at GMU (Cheryl Ward) who emphasized good stroke mechanics and positive attitudes throughout my training.  Cheryl gives us great workouts that never repeat.  Yep, I cannot recall even a set that was a repeat from years ago.  She keeps the workouts fun, challenging, and productive.  I wouldn't be in the shape I am without her help.
  2. my GMUP lane mates (Elaina Moy, Paul Grecco, Stuart Booth, Bob Hansen, Stu Williams, William Sax, Betsy Geddes, Katie Cosgrove, Katie Layton, and many others I might not remember at the moment but will include as they come to me) who always push me and put up with me through every practice.  
  3. the L.O.S.T. group who selflessly put aside their own training to help out a complete stranger.  In particular, I am deeply indebted to Madhu Nagaraja, Loren King, Rob Kent, Mark Bintley, Mike Morton, Lynn De Lathouwer-Rodgers, Christine Hui, and Ross Shepherd who either swam with me or helped setup my qualifying swim.  When I return from the UK, the first road-trip I intend to take is up to swim with the LOSTies for their Saturday morning swim.  Oh, and one other thing.  Christine and Ross came out to swim while they were training for what sounds like one of the most incredible races.  Please support them on Sept. 7th by following them at the following website:  http://www.otilloswimrun.se/live/  I am sure they will crush this race.  Read about the race, cheer them on, and then toast them for a job well done.
  4. the L4 swim group who put up with us wayward souls from the GMUP masters team.  Every August, our pool shuts down and we are left homeless.  For some, that month off provides a great opportunity to rest up and recover from 11 months of swim training.  Timing of the shutdown, however, was not ideal for me.  I had to find another place to swim and Sandy Veatch - along with the rest of the L4 group - offered me challenging workouts with a fun atmosphere.  Thanks everyone for welcoming me again for another month.  
  5. Sam Chappatte and his pal Toby Davis for setting this whole endeavor in motion.  I guess I owe the two of them the most thanks (or scorn) for getting me onboard with team SUVA.  Just to show you how this worked out, on April 29th, 2015, while we were still in Kathmandu, Sam introduced me to Toby via email.  He said...

Hi Toby
Thanks for your messages of support buddy. Looking forward to seeing you soon
Our climbing buddy Patrick, cced, is keen to swim the channel just before the wedding
Can you set up a call to give him some advice or email? Maybe you want to do it together?
The rest was history.  Toby noticed an open slot on SUVA and I grabbed it.  Without Sam or Toby's help, I doubt I would be swimming this week.   


All of these people - and others including my family and friends - made this opportunity and preparation possible.  I was really tired after the Nepal trip and figured this summer would be one filled with beer and chips; instead, I swam.  For that change, I am indebted to you all.

Off we go!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Three days and counting....

Greetings,

I hope this update finds you all well.  The past few weeks were extremely busy with work, climbing, and travel.  Sorry to stop the updates but something had to give and I figured I would give everyone a little break before I bombarded you with updates.  We are heading out late Wednesday night for Dover, England.  I am in great swimming shape.  My body withstood a huge training effort so far and I am now just resting these final few days - with a little swimming thrown in to keep me fresh.  There is nothing more I can do to prepare myself other than rest while I await a long day on the water.  If all goes well, I will be able to swim during my tide.  The weather doesn't look terribly promising but forecasting errors increase the further we move out from the date of interest.  Right now, we are almost 5 days away from the beginning of my tide (Sept 4th).  Cross your fingers and hope for good weather, smooth waters, and a nice tail wind pushing me towards France.

During the next week, I will post updates on the blog.  Kathy will post a definitive update when I start my swim.  She will post on the blog so be sure to follow along here.  The best place to follow my track is on the Channel Swimming & Piloting Federation's website.  They post live tracking on this page.  The ship's name is Suva just in case you wanted to know the specific boat to track.  We will be sure to post as much information as possible.  Due to the nature of the swim, there is no way to give you much notice.  I may have little to no notice before I swim so your alert may be more relaxing than mine.  In the meantime, sit back, relax, and hope for the best.

I promise no earthquakes or avalanches for this adventure.  Thanks to my brother-in-law (Kevin McGovern) for providing me with a little bit of humor prior to this adventure.  Here it is for you all to enjoy....


Three days and counting.  See you tomorrow for more updates.  Time to pack.

Monday, August 3, 2015

More on Everest 2015

Greetings,

While my focus remains squarely on the English Channel these days, I keep getting more new information on Everest 2015.  Here are two tidbits to keep you entertained for a bit.

1.  Wired magazine has a new feature article on Global Rescue and our climb.  Please read the article and be sure to comment on whatever you see fit to discuss.  Here is the link: 

 http://www.wired.com/2015/08/search-and-rescue-for-sale/

2.  I just received a note from Dan Mazur about our permit fees from 2015.  Apparently, the Nepal Ministry of Tourism (and other things) will honor our permits.  Here is Dan's message:

Dear Everest Nepal 2015 Team member,
I hope you are well and had a good July. Thank you so much for joining us for the Spring 2015 Everest Summit Climb.
Soon I will be returning to Kathmandu to lead our Autumn expeditions in Nepal which will be reopening following the terrible events this spring. Pease follow our updates at www.SummitClimbNews.com
Regarding your participation during 2015, Firstly we would like to apologise for the difficulties that were caused when the earthquake of 7.9 magnitude occurred.
The earthquake triggered an avalanche which wiped out Everest basecamp; subsequently 18 people were killed at Basecamp and overall 8000 people were killed in Nepal. Our condolences go out to all involved. As you are aware this lead to the subsequent Nepal Ministry of Tourism's closure of the mountain to all expeditions. 
Now we write to you with good news: The Nepal Ministry of Tourism has said they will offer a free permit to those people whose trip was cancelled due to the earthquake.

Well, there you have it.  Time to head to the pool.

Friday, July 17, 2015

The routine of feeding while swimming the English Channel

As promised, I intend to provide all the details I learned over the past few months about how to eat while swimming...in the EC.  There are many subtleties that require a bit elaboration.  I begin with what to eat and then venture toward how to eat it, and then when to eat.  Here goes....

What to eat

Everyone has different tastes.  I learned that fact while climbing over the years.  Also, many years ago when I competed in triathlons, I learned that I could eat almost anything at any time without having too many stomach problems.  As I grew older, I learned that my tastes changed and I could bear to eat certain things but I didn't like them too much.  So taste preference and tolerance play a role in what to eat.  There are some physiological demands, however, that trump taste and tolerance.  They are....

1.  Carbohydrates are needed to replenish burned energy
2.  Electrolytes are NOT needed in salt water because with every breath comes a little bit of salt - enough to satisfy any electrolyte replacement
3.  Proteins can help with short-term endurance and long-term recovery but few people can tolerate them while exercising - I tolerate them just fine.
4.  Fluid replacement is an essential part of refueling and must be combined with the fuel (i.e., Carbs and Protein) to sustain the physical effort over the long haul.

These four points lead me to try different concoctions.  The most promising one to date is Generate UCAN plain Superstarch.  Here is the can I purchased:

My fuel of choice.
This stuff tastes like cornstarch and flour kinda loosely suspended in water.  At first, I hated it.  I couldn't imagine drinking this sludge for hours at a time.  It almost looked like talc when I first opened it up.  Yeesh!  I was not ready for it nor did I find it terribly appetizing.  But just as I mentioned earlier, I tolerate just about anything and soon imagined the drink as an ear of corn that just tasted a little off - not bad off, just off.  Here, take a peek inside the container to see for yourself.  Talc....

Superstarch...from inside the container.  Looks like talc.  Blech...
My first experiment with the Superstarch was in the pool at GMU.  I tolerated the strange consistency and taste well enough to get me through the 3-hour practice.  The only downside was that I had some really bad heartburn.  I can take care of that with my little friend "the purple pill."  More on that point in subsequent posts.  

What I will eat consists largely of this talcum powder stuff mixed with plain water.  I might have a little whey protein mixed in with the Superstarch but I have yet to experiment with that combination.  Perhaps after a few swims, I will have a better idea of how well plain whey protein mixes with this stuff.  For now, I'm 100% focused on carbs.  Superstarch addresses the four points above and meets my taste and tolerance just fine.

How to eat

There is a wealth of knowledge across the internet concerning how to eat.  The one common factor is time and the easiest way to rapidly ingest calories is through a fluid and not a food that requires chewing.  I will drink my calories.  How will I get these drinks?  From a feeding stick, how else?  Several folks posted "HOW TO's" for making your own feeding sticks.  I found this one the most informative and by far the most practical.  

By placing my drinks in the cup and extending the arm toward me, I can grab the bottle, drink as quickly as possible, and then chuck it back into the boat.  Bottle?  I didn't say anything previously about a bottle.  What bottle you ask?  Well, that has yet to be determined.  Right now, I think a simple, small squeeze bottle may work best.  I experimented with Hydrapak SoftFlask 250 during my 6-hour qualifying swim.  

The SF250 squeeze bottle - very easy to use but a little flimsy.
That container worked well for that swim but they are expensive and may not stand up to repeated tosses back into the boat.  In retrospect, I think that the effort to get the fluids out of the SF 250 bottle often reduced my interest in taking the entire portion.  A standard squeeze water bottle might be easier to use and more durable.  I was thinking that a Gatorade squeeze bottle might suffice - plus they are much cheaper than these fancy bottles.  An even cheaper option if the water conditions permit is a standard 8-ounce plastic cup (200 ml).  Trent Grimsey set his record crossing the EC by feeding with cups.  I thought his routine was very effective and required the least sophisticated equipment.  Once I try some more options out, I will update the "how to eat" section with my choice.



When to eat

Just like what to eat, when to eat garners a great deal of attention in the marathon swimming world.  I tried several plans including once every 30 minutes, once every 20, and then once every 15 minutes.  The real problem is that longer times between feeds means that each feeding session is dear and needs to be large enough to hold me over until the next feed.  The 30-minute option requires me to consume about 300 calories per feed to maintain the expected 600 kcal/hour caloric expenditures during the swim.  Contrast that with every 15 minutes where I can consume just 150 calories to maintain that rate.  The more feeds per hour, the more my swim gets interrupted and the longer the swim takes.  It seems like a delicate balance but here are the factors that influence my feeding schedule.

1.  Total calories needed (more feeds might be better to ensure full refueling)
2.  Breaks in the monotony (more feeds break up the swim more often and may keep me focused between feeds - also something to look forward to while swimming)
3.  Stomach emptying (more feeds decrease the total volume in my stomach at any single point)
4.  Time demands (fewer feeds means less time stopping and more time swimming toward France)
5.  Thermoregulation (fewer feeds means less time stopping - see above - and less time to get cold from not expending energy)
6.  Fluctuating caloric demands (adjusting the feed timing allows me to refuel based upon needs rather than merely by time)

The last point is the one I think makes the most sense.  When I start my swim, I intend to have a full stomach - or at least I intend to be sate with at least 500 kcal consumed before I head off.  That initial caloric boost means that the demands on my body will be lower earlier in the swim compared to later.  If I refuel according to my needs (i.e., eat more when the pace quickens or the tides, waves, winds adversely affect my pacing and stroke), I will be able to refuel when necessary.  Eating only when necessary, however, places a huge burden on my team.  I will only do that if they are willing to adapt the feeding to the conditions.  Perhaps a bit more experimenting with them might be a good plan.  

My initial plan is to refuel every 30 minutes because I know I can tolerate that for at least 3 hours.  As I continue on my swim, I would prefer to have more frequent feeds - perhaps every 20 minutes but no more frequent.  I am cognizant of the time demands while feeding and figure I can eat to my heart's content when I finish.  Consuming what I need when I need it matters more for now; any excessive feeding will only lengthen my swim and keep me exposed to the cold waters of the EC longer.  

Some of that excess is under my control.  How?  By practicing eating quickly.  Many EC swimmers aim to have their feed times as short as 10 seconds but certainly under 20 seconds.  Consider this point carefully....if I feed every 30 minutes and each feed takes 20 second then every 1.5 hours adds a minute to my swim time.  That doesn't seem like much time but those minutes can mean the difference between catching a favorable tide/current and missing it.  I heard from more than one EC veteran about the horrors of sitting in one place for hours as the tide shifted against the swimmer.  Fewer feeds and more efficient feeding routines minimize those horrors.  I continue to sort out these details and will update the blog as I get a more refined method.

Additional thoughts

My friend Madhu (read his blog to see what a real marathon swimmer does for fun) keeps reminding me that a flexible plan that changes throughout the swim is more common than the inflexible plan.  I need to keep that in mind and stay relaxed...perhaps focused on my swimming technique and leave the feeding details to my all-star crew.  Madhu also told me about his routine where he washed his mouth out with plain water, consumed his refueling concoction, and then rinsed again with diluted mouthwash.  He reasoned that the residual starch left in his mouth created an involuntary action of casually drinking some salt water.  I can attest to that involuntary action.  In many instances after I eat a little in the pool, lake, or ocean, I often find myself consuming just a tad bit of the water as I breath.  Once my mouth is rinsed of the residual, however, I go back to my usual habit of expelling most of the pool, lake, or ocean water.  I hope to try Madhu's 3-bottle approach soon.

Up next...

Thanks for following along with my adventure.  Planning for the outing is just as exciting as doing it.  As promised, my next post covers my cold water acclimatization device.  I have pictures and diagrams for those who wish to recreate my invention so stay tuned for some engineering marvels.  Following that post, I intend to introduce you to my crew.  Yep, my family gets full exposure in a week.  Stay tuned for more adventure news.  Thanks again for following.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

A great 10K swim - one where I learned a ton

I just returned from a fantastic weekend in Long Island, NY.  Last Friday (July 10th), I pushed off from Fairfax, VA toward Long Island after a quick swim with my friends at the Old Keene Mill pool.  I felt really sluggish and tired in the warm pool water and wondered if this weekend would be any different.  The week's practices were getting harder and harder - perhaps because I am really starting to tire out from the repeated 32km weeks of training.  Regardless, I headed off with great hopes that this swim would teach me something about my feeding.

Friday day and night were fun and relatively uneventful.  The drive up to Long Island went by quickly because for some odd reason, everyone decided to stay off the road.  I never saw I-95 (our highway up the east coast of the US) so empty.  No complaints here, just happy that I could get up to NY in about 4 and a 1/2 hours.  I stopped by my aunt's house, picked her up and headed to my other aunt's house with her.  We had a great time for a few hours but then the drive and early wake-up started to weigh heavily on my eyes; it was time for bed.  Off to bed at 9pm and I slept like a log until 6:30am on Saturday - race day.

Race Day

I drove from Port Washington, NY (where my aunts live) to the south shore ports for the Fire Island ferries.  The race organizer setup a special 9:30am ferry for us swimmers.  
Waiting for the ferry - trying to avoid the sun as best I could
The pre-race setup was extremely well organized.  The ferry ride took us to Atlantique - a small beach area within easy reach (25 min ferry ride) of the Bay Shore Ferry Terminal.  
The first level on the ferry where I stayed out of the sun.
Once the ferry got us to our destination, we walked to the Atlantic Ocean side of the island - roughly a 300m walk along a nice paved pathway.  
The path between the ferry terminal and the beach.  It was a nice walk.
The race organizers had tents setup and quickly handed out the timing devices and marked those who were not marked prior to hopping on the ferry.  All of this took minutes instead of the often laborious hour-long registration that most events put us through.  I was quite impressed.  

Pre-race Preparation

I managed to jump in the water and warm-up for about 10 minutes prior to the mandatory pre-race meeting.  The meeting was quick and informative.  We learned that the course would head west from the start and parallel the shoreline for 2.5 km where we would turn around and head back.  The 10 km swimmers would swim 2 loops around the 5 km course leaving all buoys to the left.  I felt confident that the swim would go well because the conditions were simply perfect.  There was no wind at the start and the swell was negligible.  According to surfline.com, the waves were .5 to 1 foot; I think they exaggerated.  If they were 2 inches, I would be shocked.  So I felt great and was ready to swim.

Feed testing...whoops!

One slight problem with my preparation was that I packed food in bottles to be handed to me at the 2.5 km places.  Unfortunately, the paddlers would not be able to provide feeds in specific locations so I needed to either carry my own food (not practical) or abandon the feed tests.  I chose the latter.  Most if not all the 10 km swimmers had the same restrictions so I had to think quickly about how to tailor my swim to the restricted food intake.  The race director said there would be plenty of water provided on the course but no food unless we had our own.  I was down for a new test.  My new feed test was how well would I do for about 3 hours with only water.  A new test!  Turn lemons into lemonade.

Let the race begin

I started the race kicking only slightly to keep my feet up and not drag too much behind.  My rationale was to conserve energy for the first half and then see how I would perform for the second half after the conservative first-half.  I began the swim at a deliberate pace that put me well-behind the leaders who seemed to start out at about my 100m pace.  My focus remained solid and steadfast on a slow, deliberate pace.  The conditions allowed me to easily breathe throughout the first 2.5 km leg and I felt extremely relaxed.  

When I turned around and headed east, the waves kicked up a bit and the tide turned against us.  I felt the going a bit more difficult on the return and noted that for my second loop.  When I swam back, I started thinking about the salt water sloshing around in my stomach and wondered if it would make me sick.  So far, so good.  I felt very relaxed but as I neared the 5 km turn-around, I started to feel a little bothered by the choppy conditions.  Bothered might be an over-statement.  My feet felt like bricks because I stopped kicking to preserve as much energy as possible for the second half.  When I reached the turn-around mark, I noticed the first 5 km swimmer come up alongside me and pass me like I was sitting still.  That feeling is not one I like but it was good for me to realize that I only gave up 10 minutes to the fastest 5 km swimmer even without kicking.  I was refreshed and ready to start kicking.

Second loop comeback

The second loop started with an expectation that I would drink a little water to relieve a little cramping in my feet.  Salt water tends to make me dehyrdated rather quickly but this time around it seemed to take much longer than usual.  My mouth wasn't affected like it usually is with the salt water swishing about as I grabbed each breath.  I swigged about 10 ounces of fresh water and started my leg with my usual kick and immediately felt the difference in my body position.  Before, I felt sluggish and low in the water where now I felt like I was on top of the water and surging with each stroke.  I felt great!

Slowly but steadily I raced up to the swimmers in front and I started to pass them.  There were only 10 km swimmers now ahead of me and a few lingering 5 km swimmers but they would be done before I reached the finish.  I passed one swimmer after another and started feeling better and better with each stroke.  To keep my mind busy, I focused on my stroke and all the tips my friend Stu and my coach Cheryl reminded me of during swim practices.  I felt faster and stronger as I went along.  The beach flew by and in no time, I rounded the 2.5 km mark to head back to the finish.  

The first return trip I felt extremely sluggish and slow going against the tide and slight chop; this second return trip was entirely different.  I was on course, rarely wavering from a straight line track toward the finish.  Each time I looked up, I saw another cap ahead and then the cap was behind me.  I gained more energy by passing them and continued to kick hard and really focus on my stroke.  Beating people was not my aim; I just wanted to test how I would feel after 7.5-9km without eating.  At this point, I had an answer - I felt great.  I kept surging ahead with each stroke and felt so confident I could catch the last remaining swimmer in my sights but then the final buoys came up to us and the first-place swimmer turned just ahead of me and finished right in front.  

What a race!  I felt great and felt confident that a proper feeding schedule would enable me to hold a strong pace for much longer than 10km.  It was a wonderful lesson and one I shall not forget soon.  Pacing withing my energy level limits is important.  


A great trophy with a cool towel backdrop.
Post-race thoughts

I really enjoyed myself at the race and met some fantastic people.  If you are a swimmer, please consider attending next year's Fire Island Open Water swim.  I hope to get some of the LOST swimmers down and my GMU teammates up to fill up the 10 km race.  Expect a big showing next year guys.  Thanks to the Open Water Swimming Long Island group for putting on a fantastic race on a beautiful beach.  Rest assured I will be back again to enjoy the water and company of my new friends.  Thanks to the OWS group and the volunteers for creating a wonderful event.  See you next year.

My next post focuses on my feeding routine.  Oh, and I will have a full post following that one on my cold water immersion machine.  Stay tuned.




Friday, July 3, 2015

It is official...my paperwork is complete but more training needed

Greetings,

In my last post, I promised to send more updates about my qualifying swim.  The reason for the delay was simple - I didn't know if my swim would actually count.  Why?  The temperatures wavered between 59F and 63F and the qualifying instructions specifically mandate a 6-hour swim in 61F (16C) water or colder.  The truth of the matter is that the water was cold and certainly as cold as 61F throughout the day.  Unfortunately for me, the bright sunshine kept the top layer a little warmer and even warmed it up throughout my swim.   One foot beneath the surface and the water quickly dropped by a few degrees.  I mentioned that point in my letter to the secretary (Kevin Murphy) of the CS&PF and he accepted my swim.  So, it is official, I am now done with my paperwork.  Here are a few great pictures that document my steady progress toward the EC:

First, the email I received after submitting my paperwork.  I was overjoyed to read this...to say the least.



Next, I saw the confirmation that all my paperwork was in order.  My registration - as it says on the bottom line - is complete!



Lastly, here is what I looked like after the swim.  Note the "butt paint" amply applied to my upper body?


Patrick (L) and Mark Bintley (R) just after the 6-hour swim.  Mark stayed in the water for the last 20 minutes and we chatted to pass the time.  Not swimming during that time made for a really cold exit.  Photo courtesy of Madhu Nagaraja.

The post would not be complete without acknowledging the folks behind my success.  Many thanks to the LOST swimmers Madhu Nagaraja, Loren King, Mark Bintley, Suman Joseph, Mike Morton, Rob Kent, Ross Shepherd, Rick Born, Lynn and Christine for coming out to swim with me on Friday and Saturday.  I also want to thank my wife Kathy for paddling all day alongside and putting up with my requests for food, drink, and direction.  She was a real trooper.  Kathy also hopped in the water - fully enclosed in a triathlon wetsuit - and swam alongside me while Patrick (my son) paddled the kayak.   So Patrick was also a great support.  He put up with hours of monotony and only one hour of kayaking.  I hope that the EC is not boring for him.  He won't have WiFi or any modern luxuries to keep him busy.  Oh yeah, he'll be supporting me.  The lack of WiFi might be a blessing for me.

With respect to the LOST swimmers....

Madhu and his wife Suman opened up their home to me and my family.  They hosted us prior to the swim, made sure we were setup and prepared to enter the lake in a safe way.  I cannot say enough about their support other than to sum it up as simply fantastic.  Madhu continues to offer me great support through email exchanges.  He has been and will continue to be instrumental in my channel swim success.  Thank you Mahdu.

During the swim, Madhu, Loren, Mark, Ross, Lynn and Christine each swam with me for a few hours.  My first three hours were solo.  Kathy paddled alongside for the first two and then swapped out the kayak for her wetsuit while Patrick jumped aboard the kayak and paddled alongside.  After her hour, she reboarded the kayak for the final 3 hours.  The LOST swimmers rotated in and out to keep me sufficiently challenged.  Mahdu orchestrated most of their participation.  It really was an awesome day thanks to the entire team effort.

Rob put together a really nice piece on the day after my swim.  You can read his bit here.  I am a LOST swimmer for life!  These folks are great.  Can't wait to go back up to Oakville, ON in the next few weeks to swim with them again.  If you are ever in the area on a Saturday morning, join them for a dip.  They are the most hospitable group I ever encountered.  To say I feel fortunate to find them and swim with them is an understatement of a lifetime. 

Below is a great picture from the day after.  Only two non-wetsuit swimmers (captured in the photo) that day and one still has butt paint on from the day before.  Yep, I'm the pasty white guy whose feet are too sensitive for the rocky beach.  Thanks again everyone for the wonderful experience.


Rob Kent wrote: "28 swimmers and 61F/15C .... and some HUGE waves!!!  Nice."  Yes, it was a nice day to be out on the lake.

With my paperwork complete, I intend to hone in on the crucial elements of the swim - fitness, feeding, and feeling good in the water.  Next weekend, I plan to swim a 10K event in Fire Island, NY.  If you are in the area and want to come out to enjoy the water, drink a beer afterwards, or just meet up for a nice day on the beach, feel free to do so.  The swim starts mid-morning on July 11th, 2015.  Here is a the flyer for more details:



Expect more updates soon.  Thanks for following along.



Saturday, June 27, 2015

Qualifying swim.....done

More details later.  Just wanted to thank my wife, son, GMUP swim mates, the LOST swimmers, and all of you who supported and continue to support me throughout the years.  I'm beat and ready for a good night's rest.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Last second thoughts before my 6-hour cold water qualifying swim

Greetings,

I sit here in my kitchen, thinking about what to write before we head off for Oakville, Ontario.  Funny enough, I am at a loss for words.  The past few weeks went very well for training.  I feel great.  My only concern was that the water might not be cold enough (61 degrees F or colder) to count as my qualifying swim.  Those concerns are gone.  Now, I hope that I don't get swept away by the cold winds that appear to be coming to the area.  Yes, the water will be cold enough and the conditions will be an excellent simulation for some of the worst conditions the EC has to offer - short of jellyfish, saltwater, and hurricanes.  Here is the forecast for this weekend:  cold (low to mid 60's air and upper 50's in the water), wet (85% chance of rain on Saturday), and windy (10 mph in the morning building to 25 mph by the time I finish).  Not bad.  I am really excited.  We push off early tomorrow morning so I need to get to bed.  The weather may press me into service on Friday night instead of waiting for Saturday.  Now that would be exciting!  The folks at LOST have been nothing short of amazing.  More on them later with pictures.

Wish us luck!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

EC training going well: Huge hurdle coming up

Greetings,

I sit here in my comfortably air-conditioned house while it is 90 degrees F outside and muggy like a swamp.  My comfort also comes from knowing that over the past 4 weeks, I logged more than 32km each week in swimming and I am slowly getting faster and fatter (started at 173 lbs and now tip the scales at 184 lbs).  When I first returned from Nepal, I could barely make Cheryl's workout sets. Who is Cheryl you ask?  Cheryl Ward is my coach, friend, and adventure supporter.  She rocks!  So how am I doing with Cheryl's workouts now?  I make the intervals now and seem to get stronger throughout the workout.  Not sure I would have been able to do that on my own.  Thanks Cheryl.  So, mission accomplished in the training department or at least on a mission and keeping my eye on the prize.  

The boat that will pilot me across the EC.  You can track it throughout the season here.
The huge hurdle that lies ahead is my last hurdle before I can really focus on the EC swim - my 6-hour cold water qualifying swim.  Yep, the EC has a qualifying swim.  Unlike Everest where anyone can throw their hat into the ring (provided you have the cash), the folks at the Channel Swimming Association require swimmers to go through a physical examination, pay a nonrefundable deposit, and submit evidence of competency for swimming long distances in cold water.  The best evidence is to actually swim long distances in cold water.  So this Friday, my family and I push off for the cold shores of Lake Ontario where I will complete my 6-hour swim in 61 degree F water (or colder as it may be later this week).  I plan to complete my swim with the support of my family and the gracious folks of LOST (Lake Ontario Swim Team).  More on them in a bit.  For now, I am focused and ready to swim.  The biggest trial for this swim will be sorting out my feeding schedule and working with my crack team of family members to keep me on track.

An extra layer of insulation

Getting fat and fast is important for the EC but no swim is complete without adding a nice buffer to stave off chafing.  I read a ton about what to use and finally came up with the solution.  Butt paint!  Kathy and I used to call this stuff butt paint because we used it all the time on our son when he was in diapers.  Now, I use it for swimming or at least will when I start my open-water sessions.  Here it is...butt paint:


I plan to smear this stuff all over me before the swim and try to keep it off my goggles.  Wish me luck on that last part.

The LOST swimmers


A couple weeks ago - perhaps now many weeks - I was searching for a place to swim a long distance in the open water.  I knew I needed to complete my qualifying swim, I just didn't know where.  My criteria were simple.  First, I wanted to swim in a body of water that was cold because the rules stipulate that I must complete my qualifying swim in 61 degree F or colder water.  Second, that body of water had to be free of real objective dangers such as hungry sharks, boat traffic, and drunk people fishing or jet skiing.  The latter of those three probably represent the greatest threat to any open-water swimmer.  Third, I needed the body of water to be relatively close to my VA home.  We all traveled a fair bit this year and with our upcoming trips, we wanted to be able to drive and keep the hassles to a minimum.  Finally, I didn't care if the water were salt or fresh water although I preferred salt water just so I could practice a bit more in an environment similar to the EC. 

These four criteria set me up for a long search up and down the eastern shores of the US.  Obviously, the ocean would be ideal but probably not easily accessible without violating one of my stipulations above.  I found the only cold waters of the North Atlantic within an easy drive were probably a bit too busy for a 6-hour swim.  One website - swimmingholes.org - provided a good start where I could search all around the US to find a suitable body of water.  Narragansett Bay seemed to fit all my needs but the weather and the water temperature didn't seem to be terribly predictable - at least not from the data I found on the internet.  Next, I started looking at lakes.  

Yes!  Lakes should be a good alternative because many nearby (+/- 8 hour drive) were really cold and supported open-water swimming.  First, I looked at Seneca Lake.  That lake seemed like a perfect fit.  The water would be cold - perhaps not cold enough in some spots and really cold in others.  I thought I found my match.  Then, after a little more searching, I figured it might be best to find a lake where open-water swimmers already practice.  That search lead me to the LOST page.  I immediately contacted the president (Rob Kent) and manager (Miguel Vadillo) via email.  They both responded within minutes of sending out the message.  I was extremely relieved to hear that they were enthusiastic about my training and supportive for my qualifying swim.  They knew a fair bit about the EC and the requirements to qualify; I knew I found a great match.  So, I am off to swim with them this coming weekend.  Kathy and Patrick will kayak (I presume) alongside me while I swim, eat, and enjoy the cold waters of Lake Ontario.  

The LOST group starts their swims on Saturday mornings from Oakville, Ontario.  We plan to drive up on Friday and spend the evening in Oakville so we can get a little bit more sleep than if we stayed with family in Buffalo.  After the swim, we will drive down to Buffalo where I will warm up, drink a ton of beer with my brother-in-law (named Pat too - how could he be a bad guy, eh?), and eat enough Buffalo wings to support a mid-sized Irish village.  

Wish us luck.  OK, off for my daily Sunday double.  8km today, 8km tomorrow, and then I get to taper off a little to rest up for the big day.  Expect more on my complete training shortly but no graphs or anything like that for this training adventure.  I do have a ton of stories to tell.  Stay tuned.

Thanks for following.


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Training for the EC: Some insights I gained from the experts

I'm not new to swimming nor am I a novice open-water swimmer.  The English Channel, however, is novel territory for me for several reasons.  Here they are in no particular order:

The EC is a long, cold swim.  Most of my open-water swimming came in triathlons years ago and my yearly pilgrimage to La Jolla Cove to swim among the seals.  I love being in the open water unconstrained by pool walls and lane lines.  Sure, I enjoy a pool swim but the open-water is where I really enjoy swimming.  What makes the EC different than most of my previous swims is that it is colder or at least somewhat colder than what I have experienced.  My brother and I went diving and swimming in 56 degree Maine water (an all-day outing one day) and experienced real hypothermia.  We turned on the heater in 104F weather afterwards and still shivered.  Combine the temperature in the Channel (65F expected in early September for my swim) along with the length of the swim (approximately 19 Nm, 21 miles, or 32 Km as the crow flies) and we have a nice recipe for hypothermia.  That direct distance is never the distance most people swim.  Instead, we must swim where the water allows.  The really fast swimmers (not me) swim an almost direct path between Dover, England and Cap Gris Nez, France.  Thus, the temperature and time in that cold water creates a novel experience.

The swim takes place alongside a boat.  Never before have I swum next to a boat - not even a kayak.  I can envision a nice position alongside the boat where my navigation skills may not be as important as my skills to avoid hitting the boat.  Those two are different.  In navigation, the swimmer must periodically look up to sight something either on land or on the water - a point that serves the swimmer as a goal.  When a swimmer looks up, that action leads to the hips sinking and a general slowdown.  Thus, looking up slows down the swimmer.  Avoiding the boat, on the other hand, merely requires the swimmer to pay attention to the boat and avoid it.   Most pool swimmers get familiar with this side-to-side action because lane lines restrict our motion.  The boat may merely serve as a single lane line but one that would be bad to hit; lane lines give a little but the boat does not move simply because we brush up against it.  So, not only is this a long, cold swim but it is one that takes place alongside a boat.  There is more....

The EC swim requires us to eat while swimming.  We all eat and most of us are pretty accomplished at eating.  When we were kids, we were warned never to go into the water right after eating.  So what do we do when we swim the EC?  We eat while we swim.  No waiting, no breaks, no mercy.  We simply need to eat while swimming and deal with the adversity that comes with eating while swimming.  Imagine grabbing some food while you are in mid-stroke, throwing it in your mouth, chewing (if necessary) and swallowing the mouthful all the while you keep your stroke going.  Now, imagine a little salt water creeping into that mouthful and you get a pretty good idea about eating while swimming in the EC.  Things don't go as smoothly as a typical picnic nor are they even remotely as smooth as poolside dining.  We simply need to eat to keep our bodies nourished.  Remember I said that the EC is a cold swim?  Well, that cold burns up a ton of calories - more so than even swimming.  Temperature regulation is the more calorically expensive activity our bodies engage in on a daily basis.  The greater the difference between the external and internal temperatures, the more the body must heat itself.  Heating comes from burning fuel (and exercising muscles) and that fuel needs replacement throughout the swim.  We eat to replace and ward off the potential for "bonking" (the rated G type of bonking) while out in the open water.  Eat to swim and swim to eat.  

The speed-distance tradeoff is critical to success.  As I mentioned above, the EC is a long, cold swim.  The length, however, is dictated by the speed of the swimmer.  Faster swimmers swim a shorter overall distance compared to slower swimmers.  Here is the route between Dover and Cap Gris Nez:


From point-to-point, the swim is roughly 20 miles (32km).  Faster swimmers swim close to that 20 mile route while slower swimmers can swim anywhere from 1 to even 10 miles (!!!!) more than the actual point-to-point route.  Amazing, eh?  I hope to swim the EC in about 11 hours or so and would be overjoyed if I only added one extra mile.  The current, waves, and wind dictate the extra distance and the track the swimmer swims between the points.  A nasty combination of those three could make for a long outing.  Not sure I could envision myself in those waters for 18 hours so I am training my rear off now to have a comfortable margin or error.

Enough for now.  I gotta get back to work and training.  Expect another update soon that provides some detail about my training regime.  Thanks for following.....

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Everything is possible

Want to get inspired?  Follow those who inspire you.  Trent Grimsey inspired me with his 2012 swim of the English Channel.  Watch this video to see if he inspires you.



No, I don't expect to set any records.  My aim is to finish.  I want to enjoy a few glasses of wine afterwards with my family and friends and see my friends Sam and Alex again in France.  

Are you inspired yet?  More about my preparation later.  Get inspired...nothing is impossible.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

A new beginning - follow me while I prepare to swim the English Channel

Greetings,

Today is a somewhat bittersweet occasion - the date I was scheduled to fly back home from Kathmandu.  I don't sit here remorsefully recounting what could have been.  Instead, I remain thankful for all the support you all offered me while I was away.  The people who really need our support are the people of Nepal; they continue to suffer under poor conditions and recurring tragedies - both natural and man-made.  I urge you to support those organizations that use their contributions to directly support the people and not line the pockets of already well-off administrators.  You can find some good charities by visiting Charity Navigator.

I put Everest in my rearview mirror for now and focus on my next adventure - swimming the English Channel (EC).  Please come back to read more about the planning and preparation of this event.  My current schedule is to fly to the UK in early September (2015) where I will wait until my time comes up to start the swim.  The time is flying by and I am swimming and lifting like crazy.  I plan to post a few updates this week so everyone knows what goes into a swim like the EC.  

Hope this update finds you well and gives you something positive to think about after this year's tragedy in Nepal.  Thanks for following along with my adventures.

Cheers,

Patrick
Climbing and now swimming on purpose

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Home at last....

While you read this post, click on the link below to enjoy the song that goes along with my mental meanderings.  Youtube rocks!


Life is great.  My family, friends, students, and (some, heh heh) colleagues are happy I am back safely.  Feeling nothing but gratitude to all of you who wished me well on my adventure.  Sometimes, adversity is the best teacher for what makes our lives meaningful.  You all bring tremendous meaning to my life.  I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.  

The past few days went by quickly because I am still on Nepal time - asleep at 2pm and awake at 1am.  It takes me at least one day for every hour of change.  Darn strong circadian rhythm makes travel more difficult.  On the plus side, I slept 10 hours on the 13-hour flight home and followed it up with 12 more hours in my own bed.  Wow!  Talk about luxury.  Another plus is that I get to catch up with email, sports, and cooking (french toast this morning for the family).  I have a lot of catching up to do.

After climbs, I like to reintegrate into society slowly.  How I do that varies but recently - over the past 5-7 years - I found house projects help me most.  Over the years, I built a 2-story addition, renovated my basement, re-roofed our house, and various other projects that occupied at least a month of my attention before I could settle down to write manuscripts and grant proposals again.  This year is no exception.  Kat and I decided to add a deck to our backyard - just outside our new bedroom (started after Everest 2014).  

Before....

Not quite after but will post pictures when done.

A few more climbs may result in overbuilding our property and running out of grass for our dogs.  Nah, that will never happen, right Kat?

I transferred pictures from my camera and hope to have them formatted or at least display ready by Friday morning.  Once I get that step done, I will send out a note to all so you can view them online.  If you are not in the Fairfax, VA area or cannot make it here by pub time, do not worry.  I will post a full presentation on the pictures shortly.  We have the technology...

Finally, I just found a great picture of my home.  Home at last!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Come on out and enjoy a pint with me and my family....

We plan to be at the pub (downstairs @ the Auld Shebeen) at 4pm this Friday until they kick us out.  Come on out and enjoy a few pints.  Below is a link to an evite.  Please RSVP so we can get a good headcount on the event.  

Click this link ---> http://evite.me/WCrtx79Fje

I have a ton of pictures and plenty of stories to tell.  You may come with questions, comments, criticisms, or just a thirst.  I welcome all.  Bring your family and friends; Mick, Dominic, and the rest of the staff welcome the business and I welcome the company.  

Thanks again for all your support.