The Expedition: Newport, Vermont, USA to Magog, Quebec, Canada
Date: September 10th, 2011
Plan, Prepare, now time to Pack, a mission in itself
A Sleepless Night…..Time to get my head in the right place
Thursday night and I can’t sleep tonight, I toss and I turn, ” this can’t be good that I am not sleeping the night before my big swim”, I think to myself, so many thoughts swirling around my head, negative thoughts about cold lake water and cold night air, positive thoughts of me emerging from Lake Memphremagog in Canada after traversing the lake, the thoughts all swirl together like I have tossed them into the washing machine and pushed the spin cycle button, I am not resting easy and I am not relaxed.
I have been resting my body all week as part of my taper for tomorrow’s swim, I have been looking forward to this, what I didn’t bargin for was that while my body rested my mind would be on high alert, it is in fact on over drive, I can feel my heart rate elevated….” I’ve got to quiet my mind”, I think to myself , ” noticing is the first step”, I think as I formulate a plan, ” right, time to relax, long slow breaths, slow everything down, your heart doesn’t need to race right now, it is time to relax, doesn’t matter if you are not sleeping just rest your eyes…… relax your body, relax your mind”, by the time I have finished my pep talk I have drifted off to sleep, next thing I know the darkness is lifting, ” YES, it is morning”, I think as I wake, I am aware of a shift in my body and my mind, there are no more negative thoughts just this……I am going to DO IT, I am EXCITED and I can’t wait to SWIM!
Mental Preparation….CHECK, I am ready to go with this firmly stamped in my head:
My mind can conceive it, and my head can believe it, I know I can achieve it.
Time to pack….Time to get my gear in the right place
The Crew Bags
9:00-11:30 am, this the time dedicated to packing up for tonight’s swim, I start with the 2 crew bags, we have one kayak which Deb and Jeff will share, each of them will take turns kayaking beside me for 2 hours at a time until the swim is concluded. My plan is to pack a bag for each of them, in each bag is…
a spare set of goggles, spare earplugs, a spare cap, a stop watch, a whistle, and emergency blanket, advil, 3 feed cups of 2 x maxim, 1 feed cup of potato bomb, one thermos of hot water, one 237 ml bottle of water and one a cup of 4-5 Jelly Babies, also the rubber duck for Deb’s bag and my miniature Mini Mouse for Jeff’s bag, both make me smile when I swim.
The Feed Bin
The Feed Bin is a big plastic container that is home base for the crew bags, this has all the supplies to refill the crew bags after they return from their 2 hour kayak stint, in the Feed Bin is…..
3 Litres of 2X Maxim, this is a Maxim concentrate, 150 mls goes in my feed cup and just before my feed the crew adds 150 mls of hot water from the thermos giving me hot feeds to help combat the cold.
3 Litres of Cold Water, 10 237 ml bottles of water, 3 bananas, 2 bags of Jell Babies, I bag of York Peppermint Patties, Ginger Nuts and Mint Chocolate. There is also tea, coffee and hot chocolate for the crew.
The Gear Bags
Now there is the gear bags, one for the end of the swim containing my favourite Swimming Hole towel (I take it to all my swims),also sweatpants, fleece hoodie, T Shirt, Fleece top, my favourite Merino hat from Ireland, dish soap and my grease rag to scrub off the grease with, a peanut butter sandwich and some bars. A second gear bag to go on the boat, this is what would be used to wrap me up if I get out, I start packing it with more of my favourite things, then I stop and take the gear out,” I am not putting my favourite stuff on the boat, I have not intention of being on the boat”, and with that I focus again only on getting out at the other end of the lake… NO BOAT RIDING FOR ME TONIGHT, there I declared it!
Phew, finally the last bag to pack, this one is the bag I will have at my feet when we are driving to the lake, inside…..500mls of Maxim, I plan to down this 15 minutes before the start of the swim, 2 bottles of water, 3 hard boiled eggs, 1 Ham & Avocado sandwich, Almonds, my swim goggles, ear plugs, swim cap, light stick, and grease.
Packing Complete….time to fuel with lunch then nap
Packing takes longer than I think, 12:30 pm rolls around and I sit down to lunch, a ham sandwich and some eggs, a bottle of Gatorade and then off to bed. I rest for an hour and a half, before I know it I hear the school bus grind to a halt at the end of the driveway, Heidi and Soeren are home from school, they bound up the stairs, burst open the bedroom door and sprawl onto the bed like they have just cleared a record high jump at the Olympics, it is fun, we chat and giggle and with a wosh they are off downstairs ready for Jeff, my husband to drive them to Burlington, where the kids will be staying with their grand parents for the weekend,it is a 50 minute drive.
Next up for me 30 minutes of Yoga, then back for another nap, out of bed by 6pm and into my battle clothes…..black TYR bathing suit, sun lotion applied, sweat pants on, T shirt on, hair tied back…I am ready to go, now I WAIT!
I wait and I wait, it is getting late and Jeff is still not back yet from Burlington, 6:00pm, 6:15pm, 6:30pm, “how is he going to manage being up all night tonight?”, I ask myself, he left for work at 5:00am this morning and has been on the run ever since, just as I am pondering the thought I hear his car pull in the driveway, he made it, we pack up the car with all the gear and kayak, then settle down inside for 1 hour, just enough time for a steak dinner, cooked by Jeff and my Potato Bomb brew of sweet potato, banana and orange juice to be blended up into a smoothie.
I suck the 2 steaks down and rub my swollen belly, I have an extra 8 pounds of fat stored in my body which I have collected over the last year or so, 20 months ago my % body fat was 13.46%, this week it is 18.70%, I sprawl on the couch, there is just 40 minutes to go until our departure time of 8:00pm.
Support from Down Under……
The phone rings, on answering I hear a bright cherry voice on the other end of the line, it’s Dad, calling from New Zealand, thousands of miles away, yet so close to my heart, ” Hi Charlotte, how are you?”, he asks, ” I’m great, you’re lucky you caught me I’m close to heading out the door”, I reply, ” where are you headed?”, he asks, ” well Jeff and I are off to Canada tonight”, I reply again, ” Oh your swim, how far is it?”, Dad asks, ” 26 miles Dad, we start at midnight”, I reply matter of factly. ” 26 miles Holy Moly, why that is such a long, Holy @$##”, Dad chatters like a machine gun firing bullets, just for a few seconds and then he very shrewdly slows his speech and says ” Aww no worries Charlotte, 26 miles, no problem, it is JUST IN ONE END AND OUT THE OTHER, no problem, KBO, KBO, KBO” ( This stands for keep buggaring on)
Well I get the giggles, what a clever fellow my father is, a quick recovery and he has swung this swim into the mega positive, we chat a bit more, say our goodbyes and with that Jeff and I pick up our final bits and bobs and are in the car to meet the rest of our crew, Deb and Cynthia, it is 8:10pm…….for us the night is young.
8:30pm we meet Deb and Cynthia, the four of us are a tight fit with the kayak and all our gear but we make it into the car and we are off under the moonlight, what a night, it has an erie feel to it with lashings of adventure. Cynthia was not present at our crew meeting earlier in the week, we only got the OK to bring a crew member a few days ago, I feel lucky to have 2 kayakers and a crew member….. ” time to fill you in”, I say to Cynthia, we go over the map, the way-points loaded in the GPS and the feeds, ” Cynthia the plan is for you to be boat crew, in charge of refilling the crew bags with feeds, supporting Deb and Jeff and watching me in the water”, we talk over more details, Cynthia, Deb and Jeff were all crew during my 16 mile 2 way crossing of Lake Champlain last month, we are a good team, I feel grateful to have this team with me tonight.” One more thing to talk about Cynthia, Deb, Jeff and I have gone over this already but it is important”, I want to make sure on this one, here it is……
” You are my crew, you know me in the water, my stroke count, my communication, my signs of Hypothermia, only YOU make the decision to pull me out, do not let someone who does not know me make the call to pull me from the water, if my stroke count abruptly drops, if I repeatedly swim away from the boat when asked to swim in, if my eyes are closed, if I am disorientated, for example I don’t recognise you, if my shoulders are blue, make the call YOUR DONE and I will get out or you pull me out. Be sure to watch me closely, if you see signs like clawed hands, sluggish swimming, give me the pickup signal, there is a good chance I may be able to make some progresse and avoid a premature YOUR DONE. If I am cognitive enough to say, ” I want to get in the boat, I am tired and cold, tell me to SHUT UP AND SWIM”
Finally I tell the team some things that I know are uplifting to me, a smile, an upbeat tone of voice, mileage benchmarks, when I cross the border to Canada, when I am half way, 16 miles, 5 miles to go, 4 miles to go, anything I can visualise from my training swims, just one lap of blueberry island, that’s 30 minutes, I can swim that, I know I can, small manageable steps, we can do this together.
Finally I quieten down and think about what song to sing tonight, an unusual mix emerges….
~ I can see clearly now the rain has gone, I can see all obstacles melt away….
~ You picked a fine time to leave me Lucielle, by Kenny Rodgers
~ Telephone, by Lady GaGa
and of course….10 green bottles hanging on the wall
With that we pull into to Newport, Vermont, 10pm we arrive at the Gateway Center our launch location, we roll out of the car and are welcomed by a strong North wind blowing down the lake….it is a head wind, the lake is jostling in protest with 3-4 foot waves, it feels spooky out.Still to Come……..
- Clearing Canadian Customs before we swim
- Hearing our support boat assignments, where are to have 2 swimmers per support boat
- Finding out our swimmers pods, we are planning to swim in small groups
- Applying grease and downing 500mls of Maxim my Carbo drink with electrolytes
Will things all go to plan for me and my crew? I’ll keep you posted, coming up next, a curve ball before the swim starts.
” It is never safe to look into the future with eyes of fear”