The beach, kayak rides and the chops

We were in the corner of South Jetty Road and Finger Jetty Road

Wednesday night, I took my family down to Utah Lake, where we spent some time at a nice beach area. I’d seen this place a couple of times on my last two swims and finally decided to venture to the south side of the marina.

On my way home, I knew that this could be an interesting trip. I’d been hit by a gust of wind, while commuting southbound on I-15, that pushed my truck to the east by about two feet and had to recover, quickly. So I knew that things at the GUL (we’re going tomake this stick) could be…exciting?

We packed the van and I secured my Equinox 10.4 kayak on top of our Toyota Sienna. I definitely prefer taking the ‘yak in the Tacoma, because I don’t have to lift the kayak above my head- I just sort of slide it from the tailgate, up to the roof of the truck and strap ‘er down. With the van, it’s a little more of a trick, because (for those of you who have been playing at home) I have been dealing with a broken hand. It’s mostly healed, but is tender, still.

So when we arrived at our designated place, the wind was really blowing. My wife was doubtful, but we piled out, anyway. We ate the sandwiches Wendy (my wife) made and concentrated on not letting the ziplock bags fly away.

I gave each of the girls a ride on the kayak. The wind turned out to be a blessing in two ways: First off, it made the kayak ride a LOT more fun for the girls. They like waves and going up and down on the water, so this was quite exciting (We stayed in the marina, so it wasn’t unmanageable.) Lucy can still fit down in the cockpit with me, but both Roxie and Reagan have to sort of go “crow’s nest” and sit on the deck with their feet inside of the kayak. It makes things a little unstable, but it’s probably more exciting for them, because they sway from left to right a little more than they would, lower to the water.

Ah, right…the second way the wind turned out to be a blessing- After we all got out and I’d strapped the kayak back down on the van, I noticed that everyone was starting to get either cold or a bit anxious to get out of the wind. So I jumped into the water for a quick swim.

The water was cold (I’d sort of had this inclination, since the girls and I were splashed quite a bit as we hit waves, etc., but water always feels different when you’re submerged in it.) I swam out toward the middle of the marina (there was hardly any traffic) with my Safe Swimmer’s Device.

Just like the last swim in Utah Lake, the waves were piling over my head. I swam against current for the first half of this swim, concentrating on spotting and keeping calm (even after a full year, I’m still a newbie in this open-water thing.) I should also note, that, I’ve located my greatest stumbling block in open water. It’s not the cold, current, waves- it’s my worry of boats. I am hypersensitive about this. I never swim consistently, because I’m constantly turning about to spot traffic. I think I’m justified in this worry, but also- I probably overdo it a bit.

I also remembered something from last year about choppy water- it’s exhausting. Swimming when waves are falling on you requires a bit of skill. It takes timing your breaths so that when you come up for air, you quickly make an adjustment of how far you must turn your head. The water levels are inconsistant (up and down with each wave), so you must get used to feeling your body rise and take that breath. When your body is down and waves are falling, you might have to wait a cycle for your air. Sometimes, the water is just flat out inconvenient. Since last year, I’ve learned to breathe on both sides of my body.

Here’s what it might look like: Right hand stroke, left hand stroke, right hand stroke and breathe on the right side- Left hand stroke, right hand stroke, left hand stroke and breath on the left side. These are nice, long (and slow) strokes. BUT if the waves are crashing down over me from the right-hand side, I might have to just opt for breathing on the left. You change with the water and circumstance. All of this will affect when you spot (and how often.)

When I finally turned around, the waves were behind me, so it was a fast trip back to shore (I should have mentioned that swimming out against waves is slow going.) I reached the shore and actually felt pretty good. My body felt better than it did before I got in the water. Not too many sports can provide that kind of feeling after a hard effort.

All in all, it was a nice trip to The Lake with my family. I hope that, over time, this becomes a favorite spot for us. I have some great memories of my parents taking us down to the Butte Creek, which was within a quarter mile of our home, growing up. There was a rock that we’d swim to and jump off of. I remember the water always being a little cold, but it was where I learned to swim and play in natural water (pools at friends homes would come later.) Hopefully my kids will get the sense that we live in an amazing place and have so many incredible natural resources to use and need to take care of them…

…but that’s another post.


The perks of swimming in Utah Lake

This is a photo I took with Photosynth. It takes panoramic photos with the iPhone. This is the area I'll swim in, next time I come to Utah Lake.

Tonight, after work, I drove down to my favorite hangout.  Anymore, the folks at the Utah Lake State Park in Provo just wave me through when they see me.  I am a regular.  I have arrived.

In this photo, if you look closely, you can actually see me aging in real time.

I parked my truck on the north peninsula and studied the water (There was no studying to be done- I was just stalling for time.)  After a nice conversation with an older couple from Canada, who shared my disdain for those who drive down dirt roads too fast, I slipped into the water and started swimming.

This swim was rather uneventful, except for the fact that I was faced with passing a buoy within only feet, with which I have a serious problem, which my online-open-water-swimmer-buddy, Josh, mentioned ribbingly, in yet another awesome post (plug.)

But while I was in the water, I started to think about how Josh’s group swims in

I'm the blue dot.

much clearer water.  What reasons are there for those of us, who swim in “lesser” conditions, to feel good about our training in such a nasty environment?  Here are a few that I have come up with:

1.  No one can see you change under the water.  You can’t even see yourself change under the water.  Heck- go naked.  No one will ever know- just you and millions of carp.

2.  If, for some reason, you “expire” while swimming, there is no horrifying body to discover.  No one- and I mean no one- will ever find you.

3.  If you drop your keys into the lake, just let ’em go, because man, they’re gone.  This one isn’t so much a perk, but a hack job on Jack Handy’s good name and 

My friend, Brett, told me that this is nothing more than a common "yellow-headed blackbird", perched atop this No Parking sign. I'm convinced that it's much, much more...

work.  (But seriously, the water is super-murky.  You’d have better luck finding your keys in a river of lava.)

4.  Let’s say you are a little constipated and also very thirsty while swimming in Utah Lake (this might happen more than you think.)  *gulp*  Solved!

5.  No other lake provides you with the opportunity to “become one” with a little sewage, Geneva Steel’s questionable past, and again- the carp.

But in all seriousness, Utah Lake is an undiscovered playground for those of us who are lucky enough to live so close to it.  And for those of you who can’t get past the “yuck factor”, there is good news- a few different sources claim that the lake has been safe to swim and recreate in, since 1972.

Look at it this way:  Tonight, while swimming, I inadvertently drank a large gulp of Utah Lake goodness.  This happens to me, from time to time (and I’ve been swimming in The Lake for over a year, now.)  So, follow this blog.  If I suddenly stop posting…

Memorial Day around Utah Lake


We started the day at the Cracker Barrel, because Denny’s just didn’t seem to fit the Memorial Day occasion.

After breakfast/lunch, we started on our journey. Today, we’d be exploring Utah Lake and driving the entire circumference of this 3rd largest lake (West of the ‘ssippi, of course.)

20120528-122243.jpgDuring our drive, we’d encounter complaints that we had to go to the bathroom, that we were cold, that we were hot, that we were hungry, that we wanted to swim in a pool, that there are fathers out there, right now, doing really cool things for their families on Memorial Day, but instead we get stuck with this guy- The Sludge Explorer.


But also, there were signs that my family really enjoyed themselves. For instance, at the end of the day, when we were pulling our frozen corpses from the chilly, snow melted water of Western Utah Lake, my children threw their arms around me and thanked me for taking them on such a fine outing and would I please take them home? Yes, I would, family. Yes, I would.




It seems appropriate that, while we did have a lot of fun on Memorial Day, we did keep in mind its purpose and do appreciate the many sacrifices that have been made by men and women who have- and do defend- the United States.  Thank you to all who have served this country!

The SLC Naked Foot 5K, or "Please, Pain- may I have some more?"

Me, not admitting I'm in excruciating pain (Used by permission of The Naked Foot 5K- Thanks!)

Yesterday, I was privileged to run a 9AM start time 5K!  That means I set my alarm for 7:30, not 6AM, which is not a fun time to wake up to on your day off.  Somebody was thinking of us 5K commuters.

I drove up to the SLC and quickly picked up my registration packet, threw the well-thought-out technical shirt that comes with the race into my truck (unspoken rule of running races- don’t wear the shirt until you’ve run the race…you gotta earn it) and pinned my bib # on my shirt.

I was surprised that most of the people lined up for the race donned running shoes.  There was a small amount of people who wore minimalist shoes- and even less who truly ran “naked.”  I was among them and I was nervous- I hadn’t run in a while and hadn’t run barefoot in a couple of months.  For those of you who don’t know- I broke my hand, wore a cast and felt that somehow I had an excuse to not run.  I was wrong, of course, but you know how that works (if you’re a runner.)

The race started and we all set in at a nice, slow pace.  I tried to just run easy, but also keep up with the majority of the pack.

Disclaimer: The following paragraph could easily be misunderstood.  I was passed by runners, much more often than I was able to pass runners, so this next paragraph should be read with an “excited” voice and not with a cocky tone.

Through the race, I found success passing other barefoot runners.  I’m not the fastest guy, but over the last Winter and Spring I’ve gained a callous from running on pavement, rocks, snow and ice and dirt trails.  So while many true barefooters (props, guys, by the way) winced and limped along, I comfortably passed on gravel and asphalt and then would look for the next barefooter in front of me.

Still with me, guys?

This was a fun race.  I can’t find the race results, so I’m not sure how well I did…but for a 37 year old barefooter, I think I did pretty well.

Epilogue:  My legs are killing me.  If you think your legs hurt after a normal, shod run, try running a race barefoot, when you’re not exactly trained.

Double Epilogue:  I’m sending the link of this post to the Naked Foot 5K website.  This might be a good time to flatter the race by mentioning that they put on a heck of a show.  Well done, guys.  Thanks for the good time and even more so- thanks to all of the runners who showed up and made it known to me that Barefoot Running in Utah is not dead…by a long stretch.

Triple Epilogue:  It’s Tuesday night and my legs are still killing me.  Message received, body.  Message received.

Dr Nathan removes an ingrown earring backing

Here's the back of her ear. It looks like there's no backing, right?

Tonight, Reagan started complaining that her ear was hurting her. Upon closer inspection, I found that her backing had slipped into her earlobe and become infected.

So I cleaned it. I worked at it and used q-tips and hot/warm water. Then we put on a horrible kids movie to distract her. As an earlobe surgeon, I found the movie to be dangerously raising my blood pressure, endangering the delicate procedure, as well as the patient.

I was finally able to push the backing back through Reagan’s sensitive earlobe and remove the earring.

Actually the backing had slipped inside her earlobe, which caused an infection, which caused pain, which caused Dr Nathan to work on the Sabbath.

Then I walked outside and put the bill for 230.00 in our mailbox. She’ll be working that off through the spring.20120527-183450.jpg

All better. Backing is out and she’s all Neosporin’d up.

A quick dip in the frigid, choppy, Utah Lake

Tonight, after taking the family to IHOP (yeah, I’m a big spender), we drove down to Utah Lake, where we drove out to the end of the north peninsula and parked.  I sort of knew that I was going to jump in, but was hesitant.  There was a cool wind and I was sort of chickening out.

But I got out and took my shirt off.  I was already a little cold.  A car was parking next to us.  A guy got out and asked if I was “really going to get in there?”  I said I was thinking about it.  He then asked if he could shoot me swimming for a photo contest for Utah Lake-related pictures.  I said “sure” and hopped into the rougher water on the north of the peninsula.  I had no choice.  My family was watching.  The photographer (Randyl Nielson is his name) was shooting.  Would you back out?

I crawled carefully over the rocks and into the cold water.  I was surprised at how far I had to crawl into the water in order to clear the rocks that build up that peninsula.  It seems like the south side (marina side) is easier to get into.

But as I started swimming, I realized that the water was more choppy than I’d estimated.  I swam as my body rose and fell with each wave.  Oxygen wasn’t always available when I’d turn for a pocket of air.  Sometimes my expected pocket was filled with a crashing wave.  So sometimes I had to wait for the next stroke cycle to get my needed air.  I was cold, my chest was constricting and I was a little nervous.  There is a lot of pressure to not drown when your family is watching you from the vehicle.

As I neared the buoy that tells boats to slow down, I could hear the chain in the water as it was jerked about by the wind and water.  I don’t know how to explain this, but I’ve always had a real fear of buoys.  I know it’s irrational, but nevertheless- this phobia exists.  Why does it freak me out?  Maybe because I know that, somewhere, that chain meets the lake floor.  Look, I know this is a little disjointed.  I’m going to try to explain this…

I’m scared of water- shallow water, deep water, murky and clear water.  Once I saw the show ‘Drain the Ocean’ and got creeped out.  I don’t really want to know what a lake or ocean looks like drained.  It’s like that feeling you get when you look into a empty swimming pool or a drained reservoir.  I just don’t like it.  If I’m in a lake, I panic if my feet ever touch the lake’s floor.  I want no part of the lake floor.

It’s a challenge every time I get in the water.  Fortunately, I love open water swimming enough that, I’ll take the challenge each time.  I’d rather swim in dangerous, scary, gross water, any day, than get in an overcrowded, cement-ridden pool.  Swim a lap, turn, swim a lap.  Not my thing.

As I crawled back onto the rocks to escape the cold and relentless waves of Utah Lake, I saw an older couple had joined in watching me face my fears.  Randyl and I got our contact information sorted out (he’ll send me some of those pictures) and we parted.

It was a short swim.  But it’s nights like these that help me to prepare for those mornings when triathlons are choppy, cold and challenging.  The more I do this, the more prepared I’ll be for open water situations.  Heck, maybe someday I’ll lose some of this open water fear.

*photos to come*

PR'ing at the Provo City Marathon

Pre-race confidence and smile(s.)

For about five days, I’ve been in a state of…evacuation.  I don’t know how else to say it politely.  I’ve been relegated to soup and water, because nothing else holds (and truthfully, neither does soup and water.)  I’m sure I lost 6-7 pounds this week.

A critical point of the matter was last night, when my buddy, Patrick, came to take refuge in my extra room, the Shark Tank (named for the Northern California hockey team which adorns the room.)  He lives in Salt Lake, so driving an hour at 4 in the morning wasn’t his first choice.  My wife relented.

We spent Saturday night getting our things ready, which comes almost second-hand, now.  Shorts- check.  Shirt with bib pinned- check.  Glide (don’t ask)- check.  Watches, iPhones charged- check.  There’s more, but the point is that it’s pretty easy to get ready, anymore.  There used to be a time when I’d stress and stress over a running race, the night before.

Triathlons are a whole ‘nother story, because there are no documented cases of complete preparedness among any of the athletes ranks.

Our stuff all ready, we watched some of The Matrix on TV and debated the virtues of reality, then finally decided that it was time to call it a day.

My alarm sounded at 4:45 AM on Saturday morning, so I headed out to the family room to wake Patrick and give him the bad news:  It was time to go run a 1/2 marathon.  I kissed my wife good-bye, who kindly reminded me that “you should not be doing this.”  She was right.  But sometimes it’s not about doing the right thing- it’s about being stupid.

Into the truck and down the street, we stopped at the gas station and picked up some fruit and gatorade, then drove on, down Center Street in Provo, until we arrived at the bus pick up.

After some witty discussion with our linemates regarding the wisdom of taking the last bus (you can sleep in), we eventually made our way up the stairs and into the back of the bus, where I had to sit on the floor.  Please keep in mind my “condition.”  As the bus vibrated up the mountain, past Vivian Park, I held on for dear life (this sentence is ambiguous on purpose.)

We finally made it to the top of the route and were dropped off, all 38 million of us, where a few small fires warmed us in near 45 below conditions.  I suppose that, in defense of the race, two fires could warm a large group of people.  There are recorded incidents where, for instance, a large corporation (like a Super Wal-Mart), on fire, could conceivable warm a large group of people.  But in this instance, we were dealing with what could have been mistaken for a misplaced coal or two, with huddling masses pushing and shoving for scraps of warmth.

But it was finally time to line up for the race, so we reluctantly lined up, all of us, near the pace marker that was about 30 minutes too fast for us.  It’s one of the most difficult times of a race to be honest with yourself.  Five minutes before a race, we are all optimists.

Miles 1-3:  This was mostly just a test to see if I could keep fluids inside my body on a voluntary basis.  I succeeded and deemed that moving on to mile 4 was an appropriate next step.  Also, I secretly decided to go for my goal- to beat a sub two hour time for the 1/2 marathon.  I was feeling lucky, punk.  Here’s how the rest of the race spilled out for me:

Miles 4-6:  I kept a fast pace (7:00-7:30 Minutes Per Mile), because when the mountain’s inertia offers you free forward momentum, you don’t turn that down (there is a limit to this that is only learned by experience.)  At one point, I lost two minutes in the Port O’ Potty, but fortunately, nothing tragic or shocking was experienced therein.

Miles 7-9:  These would be the last miles that I’d enjoy.  If I’d known that, I might have relished them more.  Instead, like an idiot, I looked forward to pwning 10-13.  At the end of mile 9, I’m alarmed to discover that if I’m really going to PR and end this race in under 2 hours, I’m going to have to pick it up and take less generous water and walking breaks.  This news breaks my heart.

Mile 10:  Brutal.  I didn’t hit The Wall, but I might have broken a metacarpal from bumping it.  I lost all energy.  It was fortunate that an aid station hit me up with a peanut butter packet.  While it almost made me sick, it did give me a bit of a kick for a half a mile or so (I’ll take what I can get at that point.)

Mile 11:  I can see the big, blue “Mile 13” arch where the race ends.  I hate it when I can see the end of a race more than two miles out.  Do you want to know how long it takes to cross a finish line that you can see for that long?  “Days” is the correct answer.  It takes days.


Mile 12:  My knees are buckling and I’m reconsidering my career in IT, my home investment, whether we should keep the cat and if folk rock is really where it’s at.  This is nothing new.  Toward the end of a race, I regard most decisions in my life to be a colossal mistake.  It’s not until I cross the finish line and get a drink that these feelings are dulled and I don’t feel at odds with EVERYTHING.

Mile 13:  When I hit mile 13, I’m good.  I can always run a tenth of a mile (Non runners: A half marathon is only 13.1 miles on the race website’s “Course Details.”  In real life a half marathon usually ends up being about 13.8 or more, for tax purposes.  I’m just sayin’.)

Final thoughts on the race:  I’m happy with the outcome of this race.  I met my goal of a sub two hour time with a chip time of 1:59:42.  I cut it pretty darn close, but a win is a win.  I owe my brother, Patrick, a little bit of thanks for my accomplishment.  Last week he introduced a song, called “Not your fault”, by Awolnation.  It was stuck in my head for most of the race.  At first it was really annoying that I couldn’t think of another song to replace it.  But after a while, it was the perfect cadence-setter.

One more thing:  In this race, I learned that, even if there are rules and mores that must be followed in society, if I am desperate enough, I will pick up an orange that I’ve dropped onto the asphalt, which I’ve already been eating and suck the marrow out of it until it’s dry- black dirt or not.