Showering in South Africa

I would go a few steps beyond refreshing when describing my showering experience at our first apartment in Cape Town. We’ve only been here 5 days and each time I shower I have to have no pre-meditated ideas before turning on the water or I may not be able to brave it!

The size of the shower is great! The water pressure is actually fantastic! The glass
doors, tiled walls and floor, and sheetrock ceiling are clean. The shower door is easy
to open and close. There is no shower curtain, which I am certain Rob is thrilled
about! He hates shower curtains. The showerhead does not drip when turned off and there are no holes in the ceiling that leak water each time it rains or snow melts, which are VERY nice changes from our most recent one-bedroom apartment, that we loved, but had some quirks of its own, in the avenues in Salt Lake City. :}
But, I definitely think twice about conditioning my hair every time I shower, because I can’t say I look forward to soaking my head with water, which, when it saturates my hairs down to the roots, feels like it penetrates beyond my skull into my brain, sending a sensation that instantly takes me back to my teenage years and the so-called “solar-powered” showers at girls camp‚Ķsolar powered, in Oregon?? What does that even mean?? Or the water that use to blast out of the hose in the summer
time when I would play outside of our Oregon home as a kid. The water temperature in both memories has the ability to inspire goose bumps all over my body, even the meaty bits, at first thought!

Who knew that to have a warm shower in South Africa “heat” had to be specified on the list of amenities?! Hah! I am the lucky one who got to figure this little gem out by being the first to “jump in the shower” and no doubt I was jumping all over that shower! ūüėČ

The next time you take a shower in America, just remember to be thankful that you can take as long and as hot of a shower as you desire, never thinking twice about taking that second step to condition your hair, a luxury that I may have taken for granted throughout my life. How blessed we are in America, but in spite of the cold showers, I am grateful to have clean water to shower and am not any less excitedabout this new journey we have begun in South Africa. Sometimes you have to choose to give up a little to gain a lot in return. 

We moved…… to South Africa!

Last Friday was my last day at 3form and Monday was Rob’s last day at Stryde…we quit our jobs, sold what we could, filled the back of a sprinter van with the rest and stored it in Mom and Dad Spangenberg’s storage unit, packed our bags, and boarded a plane! Rob accepted an internship with a company in Cape Town, so we are moving to South Africa!! 🇿🇦 

Right now we plan on being there for 3 1/2 months, because that is the duration of the internship, but if he gets offered a job and we love it there we may stay a while longer! We’re filled with all kinds of emotion as we embark on this journey into uncharted territory! We feel so good about this opportunity and are thrilled to see what other doors it may open for us, especially career wise and opportunities to share the gospel. 

Scattering Sunshine :)

I had a thought today I wanted to put down on paper…

We can’t do everything for everybody,
but, we can do something for somebody!

I sometimes get overwhelmed with all of the things I think about and want to do for people to show them I care. Today this thought came to my mind and it filled me with joy, because it reminded me that we don’t have to do everything, but if we do something, even one small thing, for somebody, we will have made a difference in that person’s life. We can scatter bits of sunshine in the lives of others every single day in small and simple ways. I love that!

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Scooterin’ Around Sintra

The jet lag was hitting us hardcore on day two in Lisbon. We’d planned to get up early to enjoy a full day in Sintra, which is about an hour train ride from Lisbon, but we were barely waking up and staggering out of bed around 10:30. We didn’t leave the Airbnb until almost noon. We grabbed breakfast at a bakery near the train station and ate on the way.

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Lisbon, Portugal - train station

We missed the train direct to Sintra so we had to change trains in Benfica. We had heard Sintra was a great place to rent a scooter to get around to all of the surrounding sights. We took that advice and rented a scooter for the day for about 40 euros. Fantastic decision! We were able to get around much faster on a scooter than by taking the shuttles, and didn’t have trouble finding parking with our little vehicle. Saved us a lot of time! I highly recommend renting a scooter if you visit Sintra.

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Sintra scooter

Sintra Scooter

Many of the places we wanted to see closed between 5:00 and 7:00pm, so it didn’t give us much time. We made it to the Palacio Nacional de Pena and Qunita da Regaleira, but the Moorish Castle (Castle of the Moors) closed just as we go there. We were bummed that it closed but we did get to see the castle from afar and it looked incredibly solid, literally carved out of the tip of a mountain. Amazing.

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Parque E Palacio Pena

Palacio Nacional de Pena

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Palacio Nacional de Pena

Sintra

We were so impressed by the Initiation well at Quinta da Regaleria, once used as an underground well. This well is must see in Sintra!

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Qunita da Regaleira - Initiation Well - Sintra, Portugal

Sintra

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Sintra

Sintra, Portugal

Qunita da Regaleira

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Sintra, Portugal

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We loved everything about Sintra; especially riding around on a scooter! It was definitely the quickest way to get around and the most scenic.  Just before we got on the train to head back to Lisbon at the end of the night, we were starving because we hadn’t eaten much since breakfast. Rob found this little restaurant on Yelp called Kebabish that served schwarmas that had great reviews and wasn’t too far from the train station. These were truly some of the best shwarmas we’ve ever had. Great place for lunch or dinner, and prices were very reasonable. We left there very happy! Yum! :)

Lisbon’s Little Secret… Pasteis de Nata

The next day we left Madrid and flew to Lisbon, Portugal via Iberia Airlines. We quickly learned that the proper name is Lisboa. We fell in love with the brightly colored buildings, the historical architecture, and the food!

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Se de Lisboa - Lisbon Cathedral

Lisbon, Portugal

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Lisbon, Portugal

Trolley - Lisbon, Portugal

When in Portugal you have to try “pasteis de nata” which means egg tart in English. They are a small, flaky, sweet tart with a rich yellow custard filling. We found this tiny tiny bakery called¬†Manteigaria¬†in Lisbon that literally only makes pasteis de natas all day everyday – and dang does it show! They are pros! In the back of their narrow two-butt kitchen, the glass walls allow people to watch as three pastry chefs roll and re-roll, fill, and bake these delicate tarts. We were only in Lisbon for two days and we walked or took the trolley 🚋 ¬† back to this little pasty shop three times, and Rob bought four¬†to-go on our last visit! We were literally went like 3 miles out of our way to get these on the way to the airport… I thought they were delicious, but he had a new found love! ‚̧ԳŹ ¬†If he even heard the words pasteis de nata, his face lit up and he suddenly had a bounce to his step – It was adorable! 😊 ¬† I know how to make my husband happy…learn how to make pasteis de nata like they do in Portugal! Egg tart everyday = happy husband! :)

Egg Tarts - Lisbon

Egg tart

Pasteis de Nata

Egg Tarts - Lisbon, Portugal

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While we were in Europe and Northern Africa, I also fell in love with the doors. Each door is so unique and fun! Love love love them! We will have a gorgeous front door when we build a house someday :)

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Sand sculpture Lisbon

Lisbon, Portugal

 

Lisbon is a charming city. We had a wonderful time! If¬†If you ever find yourself in Lisbon, egg tarts are a must try! Can’t wait to go back!

Travel Bug!

In 2016 we did a little bit of traveling and each time we take a trip it just propels our desire to see more of the world! We’ve got the travel bug! Back in August of 2015 we bought tickets to go to the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, but after learning about the Zika virus and really thinking about its potential affect on our health, we decided to choose another destination for our summer trip.  It was a very difficult decision and we were pretty sad at first, but we felt it was what was best for us so we did not waffle. We researched 6 different countries, finally deciding on Portugal and Morocco. We booked plane tickets to Madrid, Spain on June 29th!

There were so many things we wanted to do in both countries we figured the only way we could see and do all that we wanted to do in the limited time frame we had was to schedule ourselves out the wazoo… and boy we were booked solid for those 16 days!

Our tentative itinerary for the trip looked like this:
August 13 – Arrive in Porto, Portugal around 2:00pm
Spend day/evening in Porto
August 14 – Spend half day in Porto
Take train to Lisbon 2pm-7pm
Sleep in Lisbon
August 15 – Spend day in Lisbon/sleep in Lisbon Air bnb
August 16 – Take train to Sintra: 1 1/2 hour ride
Spend day in Sintra/Take train to Lagos
Sleep in Lagos, Portugal
August 17 – Spend day & night in Lagos
August 18 – Spend 1/2 day in Lagos/Take Train back to Lisbon
Fly from Lisbon to Tangier, Morocco (Arrive at 11:30pm)
Taxi to Tangier; Sleep in Tangier
August 19 – Take bus to Chefchaouen (2.5 hour bus ride)
Spend day in Chefchaouen
Take bus to Bridge of the Gods (need 6 hours there)
Sleep in Chefchaouen
August 20 – Take bus to Fes/Sleep in Fes
August 21 – Spend day in Fes? Bus/Taxi to Volubilis (Roman ruins)
August 22 – Desert tour? 2 days
August 23 – Desert tour – Sleep in Sahara Desert
August 24-25 – Marrakech/Sleep in Marrakech
August 26 – Fly to Madrid/Sleep in Madrid
August 27 – Madrid LDS Temple – Appt. @ 10:00am
Spend day in Madrid
August 28 – Sleep @ Madrid Airport – Fly out @ 3:15am

We flew out of Salt Lake City, UT on August 13; arriving at our boarding gate around 5:40am. We were suppose to fly Salt Lake to San Francisco – San Francisco to Dallas Fort Worth, TX – Dallas to Madrid, Spain – Madrid to Porto, Portugal…

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In Dallas we boarded the plane and sat on the runway for 2 hours while we waited for a lightening storm to pass. Rob and I literally watched a full movie while we waited. I said a silent prayer, and hoped we would take off soon. Minutes after I finished my prayer the pilot announced that we had been cleared for take-off! Wahoo!

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Rob surprised me and flew us business class on all three of our flights — my very first time flying first/business class and holy smokes did they spoil us! We’re talking hot towels, warm nuts, fruit, orange juice, cheesy omelettes w/red potato wedges and sausage, cinnamon rolls, biscuits, hot fudge sundaes, and a whole bunch of other tasty treats… pampering to the MAX! I probably gained 5 pounds during the course of our flights, but boy everything was delicious! Every bite was worth it!

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When we landed in Madrid, since our flight leaving Dallas was delayed 2 hours, we ended up missing our flight to Porto, Portugal. That was a big bummer because there were no other flights to Porto that we could afford that night and if we didn’t fly to Porto until the next day (Sunday) we would have only had a few hours there. We had already booked a place to stay in Lisbon for Sunday night, so we decided to stay in Madrid for the night and fly to Lisbon the next day. We booked a flight from Madrid to Lisbon on Iberia for Sunday morning.

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We sat in the airport for over two hours waiting for hosts to respond to our Air bnb requests and finally booked an instant book… or so we thought. We took a bus to Lavapies, where we would be staying for the night and then ended up waiting for another hour and a half at a nearby, not so pretty, park with a few trees and benches, because the instant book person took that long to respond to our request. We were both hot and  exhausted. I fell asleep on the park bench while we waited. Rob was less than thrilled.

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A nice Peruvian man let us into our room to drop off our bags and then walked us down the street and bought us drinks and asked us to wait another hour while he cleaned the room. I got a water and Rob got a Coke. Lots of sitting and waiting today. And we learned that in Spain they really do take siestas (naps) daily from about 2-5 and so everything is closed during that time. They even post signs on restaurants saying they are on vacation.

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The room was very hot. No air conditioning and it was mid-August so we were pretty much sweating everywhere we went. That night we went out in search of a place to eat and walked past a bunch of people covered in colored chalk. We walked the direction they were coming from and found a huge concert going on in another nearby park. The music was very entertaining and it was fun to watch the people having such a great time throwing chalk! I loved it!

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We found a small restaurant not far from our Air bnb and ordered a few different “tapas” for dinner. We ordered water to drink, and forgot to ask for it “on tap” so we ended up paying for a glass bottle of water, which wasn’t enough for the two of us in our fatigued state. Water is not complementary in Europe, unless you ask for it “on tap”.

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We left the restaurant hungry, but it was so late and we were so exhausted we didn’t care to look for anything else.  It was extremely hot when we returned to our little un-air conditioned room. We crawled the ladder up into our loft bed and fell asleep within seconds. The time change is going to kill us, but we made it to Europe! Rob’s first time in Europe!

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31st Birthday Surprise!

Friday night, two days before my birthday, Rob and I were sitting in our living room relaxing for the night. I was taking my time eating a filet of tilapia after trying to figure out what to eat for the longest time. As I took my last bite, Rob slid a piece of paper across the table to me. There was a hand-written note on the paper that read:

“Want to go get some Guyemon? Maybe a little hot-tubing? -Hubs”

I re-read the words again and then looked at Rob with a puzzled face. Guyemon is a sushi restaurant that we both love in Las Vegas and I had no idea where he could be planning to go hot tubbing in Salt Lake… so I was super confused. He motioned for me to flip the paper over and on the other side was a plane ticket to Las Vegas! The flight was literally leaving in 45 minutes! I was in shocl! I had no idea he was planning to go anywhere for my birthday, because we we were going to be leaving to Europe/Northern Africa the following weekend so we had talked about doing something fun and low key together in Salt Lake for my birthday. That little sneak! He was so calm and collected the whole time leading up to surprising me with the ticket too. I suspected nothing! He didn’t rush me to finish my dinner or anything, even though we had a flight to catch. He is so dang good at planning trips and surprising me with things.

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I asked him if I needed to pack anything for the night, but he said not to worry. I didn’t even know how many nights we were staying or where we were staying. Clueless. We dropped the car off at Rob’s work and an Uber came to pick us up. When the Uber arrived, Rob pulled two suitcases out of the back of the car. He had both of our bags packed for the trip. I looked at him, still somewhat in disbelief, as he gave me half a smile knowing he had successfully launched the birthday weekend surprise. I was thrilled! We made it just in time for our flight and we were off!

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Rob had even pre-booked a rental car! When we got to Vegas we picked up the car and started driving. I asked a few questions, but I could tell he was not going to be sharing any information at that point. This was top secret. I was told to relax and enjoy, so I just sat and watched as we drove further and further away from the strip. I am not a huge fan of Vegas, as Rob knows, because of the filth, stink, scantily clad women, and other things that Vegas represents, so I was happy to see that we were staying far away from all of that.

After about 45 minutes of driving we pulled into the parking lot of a large Hotel, the driveway lined with tall, beautifully lit palm trees. I thought we were lost and just flipping around to get back on the road. I was stunned to learn that this was our hotel for the next two nights. I felt like a princess getting the royal treatment!

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The next morning Rob said that the hotel was right next to Lake Las Vegas and they offered free kayaking with our stay. Again, I was blown away! A few weeks before my birthday my Rob had asked me what I wanted to do for my birthday and I had told him I’d love to eat a big cinnamon roll for breakfast, maybe get sushi for dinner, and go kayaking someplace. But I truly thought kayaking was out¬†because of expense and difficulty of trying to transport a kayak to a body of water anywhere near us with our little Ford Focus. So my adorable husband truly blew the very simple hopes I had for my birthday out of the water with his thoughtful and incredible creative planning. At this point I was feeling totally spoiled; undeserving really.

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Rob likes the view from back here… glad I can still catch his attention in my older age ūüėČ

We spent the morning out on the lake kayaking. In the afternoon we swam, went out to lunch. In the evening we went out to Guyemon, an amazing sushi restaurant. The first time Rob took me there he said “You’ve probably never had real sushi before. THIS is REAL sushi!” It is an all you can eat sushi bar. You can order as mush as you want, but you only get 1 hour to eat. ¬†If you don’t eat everything you ordered in your hour time limit, you are charged for whatever you don’t eat. They have desserts too – fried ice cream, various sorbets, and mochi. Yum!

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Rob was completely stuffed after dinner, but I still had room for dessert… always do! :) For dessert we had gelato at a place called Gelatology. It is a little shop that the Spangenbergs found on one of their many trips to Las Vegas. Their flavors are extremely interesting. The owner is not shy about giving out samples. He gives everyone a sample of every flavor, without even having to ask. If we ever open a gelato shop, that is exactly how I would do it! None of this being stingy about giving out samples.

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August 7th, my birthday, Sunday morning, we walked down and watched the sun set over the lake; one of the other things I had suggested we do for my birthday. It was a lovely beginning to a wonderful day.

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We attended sacrament meeting at a nearby church, enjoyed a delicious breakfast together, and went out to see the Hoover Dam. The dam was spectacular! It is ENORMOUS! I was in awe of its magnitude and ingenuity. It was blasting hot, like hot enough that you could fry eggs on the sidewalk! And the wind was blowing all crazy. It was awesome!

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Just before heading to the airport we stopped by the Las Vegas temple. We spent time walking on the grounds and admiring the beautiful details of this sacred structure. It was the perfect ending to an incredible Sabbath day and 31st birthday.

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I know my hubby is not a huge fan of me talking about him, especially when it comes to me sharing how sweet and selfless he is, but I can’t help but say a few things about him and what this trip meant to me. I use to be worried that I wouldn’t find someone with everything I was looking for in a man, because I had set my expectations for myself high, so I fully believed it was fair of me to look for someone who shared those same high standards and high expectations as well. That was before I met my Rob. Over the last 2 years that I have known him, everything I had hoped for and more has come to reality in him. What an amazing man he is and the sweetest, most-thoughtful husband I could ever ask for. He is better than any man I could have dreamed of. He is not perfect, but he is perfect for me and he makes me the happiest girl in the world. He lights up my life :)

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DONE36

Olympic Triathlon: Training Part II

Week 6
By this point in training¬†Rob and I were both pretty worn out and had a lot going on, so the plan to swim 3 times that week didn’t happen. I ran once during the week and went to a Crossfit class but I was achy and painfully sore through my hips and gluteus medius for a day and a half after the run. I definitely over did¬†it at Crossfit, having done over 300 air squats. Other than that those two days, not much training happened that week.

Week 7
I was pretty worried about going swimming this week; afraid to face the reality that I might have lost my gains over the last 6 weeks. Tuesday afternoon, after an early morning, a decent amount of driving, and a long day of wedding festivities, we had planned to go swimming. Rob and I were both tired, did not feel like going swimming for an hour, but I told him I knew I needed to go. Instead of going home, we drove straight to the Salt Lake Rec Center from the wedding luncheon in Provo. When we got there Rob realized he had forgotten his swim bag. I could tell how tired he was, and I told him it was not a big deal, he didn’t need to swim with me. He didn’t fight me on it too much, so I know he was pretty worn out. He didn’t want to leave so he hung out and slept on the grass while I swam.

My plan was to swim about 1300 meters in the outdoor pool, which is 50 meters one length of the pool; so down and back 100 meters. In other words I was planning on swimming 26 laps. I swam 6 laps in one lane and then got kicked out of my lane by a guy I think was a swim coach for a high school team. He didn’t say much, but he must have noticed my swim cap, because he tapped me on the head with a paddle board and then as I lifted my head from the water and looked up at him he asked me if I knew Lindsey Spangenberg. The swim cap I was wearing was one TJ had given me and it had¬†the words “Captain Spangenberg” printed in white lettering along the side of the black cap. I said, “yes she is my sister-in-law.” He seemed to lose interest in me at that point, realizing that I was not a legendary Spangenberg swimmer. He told me they were going to be using the lane, not giving me any option to stay. I was a little bit frustrated that I had to stop, because this was going to be my first 1300 meters without stopping, but I got over it pretty quick and found a different lane to share with another swimmer.

I got in and began swimming again. It was nice and sunny outside. My goggles don’t have any tint to them, just clear, so each time I would lift my head to take a breath I would close my eyes because the sun was so bright. This is when I realized I don’t swim very straight, because I kept running into the lane lines when I would take a breath. Pretty sure that is what the bruise just above my right elbow was from. I didn’t want to buy tinted goggles, because I was worried about them being too hard to see out of in open water. I wanted to have the best visibility I could get, so clear goggles seemed like the best option to me when I bought them. If I keep swimming for exercise after the race, I might want to get some tinted goggles.

I was sharing a lane with only one other person when I got in to swim, but as I kept swimming two other women joined our lane. One of them was just using a kick¬†board to go¬†up and down the lane and wasn’t moving very quickly. I was swimming along and didn’t realize she was just up ahead of me, got too close to her, and got kicked in the face. It wasn’t too bad, but was a wake up call for me that I would need to pay more attention to those around me during the race so I didn’t get kicked in the face! Lesson learned.

Somewhere along the way I decided I wanted to swim further than the 1300 meters and rounded it off at 1500 meters for the day. I didn’t feel very fast, and hadn’t paid too much attention to the time, but felt really good when I finished. I was really happy about that! When I got out to the car to share my success story with Rob, he wasn’t there. He had gone in to try to watch me swim, but was a little too late and I was already done at that point.

The next morning I got up before 6, got dressed, and ate a piece of peanut butter toast on my way to the rec center. I didn’t waste any time in the locker room. I got in the pool about 6:17. My goal was to swim a full mile without stopping. When I began, I thought that 66 lengths (25 yards per length) was a full mile but as I was swimming, and counting my laps, as I neared close to 60 laps, I noticed a sign on the wall directly in front of my lane that read: 1 mile = 72 laps. I looked at the time and began to swim faster and faster. The water felt great. I was in total control of my breathing. My strokes felt strong and consistent as I plowed through the water. Initially I wasn’t shooting for any specific time, but as I got closer and closer to finishing that mile, I peered up at the clock and challenged myself to finish before the clock read 7:00 on the dot.

I continued to swim, feeling comfortable with my breathing and stroke rate, not panting for breath; moving steadily through the water. I swam hard; harder than I ever have before. I wanted that mile before 7:00. When I got to the end of the pool, finishing lap 72, I touched the concrete and looked up at the clock. When I saw 6:59:17 on the clock my heart took flight! I had done it! I had swam a full mile without stopping for the first time in my life, and I had finished it in under 43 minutes! Dang I felt good! My first mile felt fantastic! I climbed out of the pool feeling ¬†hot and extremely thirsty for the first time since we started training. That is when I knew the training was paying off, and I was getting faster! I couldn’t wipe the grin off my face all the way home. Couldn’t wait to tell my incredibly attractive coach at home that his little womanator swam a mile in less than 43 minutes!

When I got home and told him how the swim had gone he got so excited! He was so proud of his dedicated little wifey waking up so early and swimming her little heart out. :)

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After my two long swims this week, I felt comfortable with the swim portion of the race and thought I should spend some time getting comfortable on my borrowed bike and getting a feel for the transition between the bike and the run. Thursday night Rob was working late so I decided I would bike from home and go for time, not worrying about distance. I figured the 24.8 mile bike would take me about 2 or so hours, so I planned to spend just over an hour on the bike and then to go for about a 3 mile run afterwards. That would be about half of each of the race distances in both the bike and the run.

I was sleepy when I got home from work, and contemplated taking a nap and then getting out on my bike, but I pushed myself to get changed and forego the nap. Good thing too. It was about 6:30 when I began to ride. The sun was still up but there was a light breeze, perfect weather for riding! I rode straight up B Street to 11th Avenue. B Street is a pretty steady incline all the way up to 11th, other than the semi-flat intersections where the roads cross. After I made it to 11th, I rode down Bonneville Boulevard to the entrance of City Creek Canyon. I was planning to ride up City Creek Canyon, Rob’s suggestion, but when I got there I found out that the canyon is closed to bikes on even days. I quickly re-routed and headed back along Bonneville Blvd. towards the Capitol building.

I rode up Capitol Blvd. to the gated community, which was about a mile, came back down, and circled back around halfway down Bonneville Blvd. I turned off on Freedom Trail that lead down to Memory Grove. It was so beautiful through that area. I remember running up Freedom Trail many times when I was training for Ragnar a few years ago, and it was my nemesis. My friend and I would run it after work, so early evening, during the late spring. Typically these runs would be on days that I had also done Crossfit at work during lunch, so by the time we set out to run I was already pooped. Each run up that trail felt so long and I felt heavy, sluggish, and out of breath every time…and riding my bike down this trail I felt like I was saying, “take that you rotten trail, I beat you!” I was flying down that trail on my bike!

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When I got back from my ride, I felt great! I had ridden for just under an hour. I quickly parked my bike in the house, drank a little bit of water, took off my helmet, locked the house, stuffed the key on my person, and then took off on my run. I took the same route I had ridden my bike on, but just shortened it some. My legs didn’t feel too bad at first, but after that long up hill to 11th Ave., my legs were heavy and I had a side ache the rest of the run. I think the side ache was from the nutrition I was drinking while I was biking. My stomach wasn’t use to it.

I was happy that the next mile and a half or so were mainly downhill with some flats, and there was only one decent climb towards the end of the run. I slowly jogged up the hill along 2nd Avenue and made my way back to our house. I timed my run on Strava, just to help me get a sense of my pace for those couple miles. I wanted to see how much slower I was running after biking for that hour. I made my way up B Street finishing the loop, and looked at my phone to see my time and pace. I had run about 3.3 miles in just under 30 minutes. I was happy with that time! I am hoping to finish the run during the triathlon in about an hour, and this pace would get me finishing the run in just under an hour. When I got home I felt worked; like I just got my butt kicked at the gym, but at the same time I was pumped that I had just finished my first bike/run transition too! A little late in the game, but at least I got it done and I had a great time biking.

Physical Therapy
I also forgot to mention that a few weeks into my training, I started seeing a physical therapist for overall fatigue that I have been experiencing for about eight months or so, and some aggravating hip pains and shooting pains in my legs, lower back, and hips. The pains in my back and hips especially seem to flare up near the end of a 3 mile run and then they will usually ache for a day or so afterwards. The physical therapist thinks that the pain in my hips and glutes are possibly from an issue with one of the disks in my lower back. He could feel that there was some inflammation near the lower part of my spine as he would press on my back. Inflammation is usually a sign that your body is trying to protect something that is broken or damaged. It was very tender and sometimes painful when he would press in certain areas. When he first started working on my body (week 1 and 2 of meeting with him) he said that my hips were out of alignment; my right hip slightly higher than my left. So he pulled on my feet/legs to try to even them out. Then each week he would have me stand facing away from him with my feet only a few inches apart and he would look at my hips to see if they had shifted at all or were still in alignment. The last two weeks of therapy, he said that my alignment was looking much better and my hips were staying level.

My physical therapist’s name was Dave Moss and his intern was Mary Grow. His assistant’s name is Steve. They work at Salt Lake Hand and Ortho. I met with Dave about twice a week over the course of 6 weeks for an hour each session. He and his assistants would have me do the same exercises each week. Most of the exercises were to strengthen my core and my lateral plane. He said that my frontal plane was very strong, but my lateral plane was pretty weak in comparison, just because lateral movements aren’t as common for us to do, so those areas are routinely under-worked. ¬†He also gave me an at home program with 6 exercises/stretches to do twice a day everyday. I was really faithful at doing them at least once a day everyday for the first 4 weeks or so, but I got busier and more tired as training went on, so regrettably I was only doing them a few times a week when I remembered.

I was the physical therapist for 10 sessions; 9 before my race and 1 time the week after. ¬†The feelings of fatigue I have been experiencing were happening at least a few times a month for the past better part of a year, but with the physical therapy, both at the office and the at-home program, reducing my running to no more than 3 miles per run, and only doing body weight movements (no olympic lifting or other lifting with weight), I am starting to notice a difference with the overall fatigue. I am feeling fatigued much less frequently and that is a huge blessing! The hip, back, glute, and fatigue issues are not completely gone, but at least now it hasn’t just been me being a wannie about nothing. Even though we are not totally certain what the issue is, at least he has narrowed it down to something in my lower back and I have some strategies to make it less painful.

On my last day of PT, I brought homemade milk chocolate gelato with chocolate curls that Rob and I had stuffed into a Ben & Jerry’s¬†container for Dave and Steve. They were equally surprised and giddy at the same time. They got some spoons and began to eat it in the middle of the office. Dave said, “this is going to be gone today!” I think they kind of liked it. :)

Week 8
July 4, 2016: Second Open Water Swim
The final week of training I had planned to only swim once or twice, nothing hard, to conserve my energy for the race. Rob’s cousin Josh swims and organizes a lot of open water swim races and swimming for fun. He had invited me to come out to Jordanelle Reservoir Monday morning to swim with him and a few others. He said they usually swim about 1 mile. I thought it would be prefect practice for me a few days before the race, because it would give me a chance to boost my confidence in my ability to swim a long distance in open water.

I showed up a few minutes before 6. I wasn’t feeling too nervous, but a little bit. I was mainly only concerned about the water temperature, because I don’t do well in super cold water. Josh had said the water was suppose to be about 68 degrees. That didn’t sound too cold to me, but it was also 6:00 in the am, and it was pretty windy. Josh said the others were already swimming so just the two of us would be swimming together. As we walked out to the water I told him I am pretty slow and he didn’t have to stay with me, but he reassured me that he was there for fun and wanted to stay with me. That was really reassuring and made me feel more comfortable right away know that he was going to stay with me.

We made a plan to swim out to the first orange buoy and then we would swim along the white buoys to the end and back, which would be about a mile. Josh told me that the initial getting in the water is his least favorite part, mine too, but getting in the water wasn’t bad at all. The body parts out of the water were actually way colder then the body parts in the water.

We got in and began to swim. The water was pretty choppy. I was swimming freestyle for the first several strokes, but the waves were just big enough that each time I would lift my head to get a breath water cover my nose and mouth, so I couldn’t get a breath. I started coughing and my heart began to racing. I was panting. I slowly side stroked the rest of the way¬†out to the buoy so I could keep my head out of the water and try to slow my breathing down. I still felt completely rational mentally, but I couldn’t get my breathing to slow down. My body was freaking out inside. Josh was waiting for me out at the buoy. I was kind of embarrassed, and felt bad that he was waiting, but he was so kind and reassured me that I was fine and could wear his flotation belt just for security. I tied the belt around my waist and we began to swim again. I swam side stroke again, because I only breathe on the right side when I swim freestyle, and the waves were coming from that direction, so instead of fighting the waves, I just decided to swim side stroke until I could calm my heart and breathing down. I tried to focus on the gorgeous sun rising in the distance, but my goggles were pretty fogged up and my heart was racing so I wasn’t really able to enjoy it until I got out of the water.

We swam slowly from buoy to buoy. We swam maybe quarter of a mile and I was still panicking inside and couldn’t calm get¬†myself to calm down inside for some reason. After about 4 buoys I told Josh I thought that was far enough and we could head back. I swam breast stroke between the last two buoys and then side stroked to the dock. I felt kind of embarrassed about what had happened. I have never had terrible experiences in water or been afraid of the water, so I would never have anticipated feeling this way. I don’t know if it was the waves, the wind, the dark water, the depth, or a combination of all of them, but it totally unexpected. I was so grateful Josh was there and that he¬†was so patient with me. He never made me feel dumb, even though I was a little bit embarrassed. He even shared an experience he had had a few years ago at this same reservoir, having a panic attack in the water, even though he had been swimming open water for years. That made me feel a little better knowing that I was not alone and that it has happened to other people too; even experienced swimmers.

We got out of the water and talked for a little bit, but I started shaking because I was so cold so we parted ways. As I drove the 45 minutes back to Salt Lake, I was feeling really discouraged, fighting tears the whole way home. ¬†When I got home I crawled into bed, hoping not to wake Rob, but he woke up as soon as I got into bed. He asked me how it was and that was when the water works started. I told him all about the swim and the panic attack. He was so sweet and helped comfort me and helped me recognize what I had accomplished instead of focusing on what I felt I had failed on. I’d gotten up early on a holiday, 4:50 am, driven almost an hour to a reservoir. Gotten in the water at 6:00 am and spent almost an hour in the water. So even though the swim hadn’t gone anything like what I had hoped for, I had gone and done it, and I didn’t quit. When I panicked, I didn’t immediately get out and go home. I stayed in the water and I swam! That was success, no matter how small. Progress is progress, no matter how small! I was especially grateful for Rob and Josh that day.

The rest of the day I was pretty anxious thinking about my race coming up in 4 days. I was just worried that what had happened that morning might happen again during the race. Even though I was nervous, I knew I needed to get back in open water before the race on Saturday. I needed to get comfortable in the water again. So Rob and I decided to go to Echo Reservoir on Tuesday night to go for a little swim!

July 5, 2016: Third Open Water Swim
Tuesday after we work, after replacing our car battery in the Auto Zone parking lot (we were dripping with sweat). We were ready for a nice cool swim! We headed to Echo reservoir, which is about a 45 minute drive from Salt Lake. We drove around the lake to get familiar with the area.  It was a beautiful area, with lots of red rock and trees. We found an area to park, changed, I said a silent prayer in my mind, and we walked down to the lake. I was a little nervous as I was getting changed, not sure what would happen out in the water, but I was not about ready to let one scary experience stop me from doing what I had been training so hard for the last 2 months.

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I waded into the water and waited for Rob to get the gumption to get in with me, but he was really cold. I told him he really didn’t have to swim with me if he didn’t want to and could just wait on the shore. I could see his wheels turning, debating whether or not he really wanted to get in the water. I waited another minute or two and then dove in and started swimming! I didn’t want to stand and debate any longer, I wanted to get out there and get comfortable swimming again!

I swam out to the first buoy and treaded water for a few minutes, feeling pretty good. Visibility in the water was 2-3 feet, and I couldn’t see or touch the bottom so I am guessing it was pretty deep. The elevation at the reservoir is about 5560 feet, which is about 1330 feet higher than Salt Lake. The water was a little choppy, about as choppy as Jordanelle on Monday, but less windy.¬†I wasn’t as nervous once I got in the water as I thought I would be. I could hear Rob letting out little sounds of discomfort as he made his way deeper and deeper into the water. I was trying not to laugh at him too hard, but it was pretty hilarious. He eventually made it in all the way into the water and swam out to me. I thought the water temperature was so nice and refreshing!

I could see another buoy not too far and thought it would be good for me to swim back and forth between the buoys, kind of using them as a safety net. And so that I could see that I was getting somewhere, unlike when I was swimming along the shore at Utah Lake and felt like I was swimming in place the whole time. That was not awesome :}

Rob and I spent about an hour swimming back and forth between the two buoys, treading water, and training myself to stay calm even when the waves came and got in my nose and month. We had fun and just enjoyed swimming together. Rob was cold the whole time, even while we swam. Poor guy. As we swam back to shore, I felt a sense of pride in myself for having the courage to get back out in the water and swim. I was grateful to have Rob there with me. He was the most awesome supporter and swim coach I could have asked for!

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Just keep swimming swimming swimming :)

Olympic Triathlon: Training Part I

July 9, 2016
Today I competed in my first triathlon! I signed up about 2 months ago the week after watching TJ, Rob’s brother, compete in an half IRONMAN in St. George. I was inspired as I watched each individual fight through personal challenges, overcoming physical fatigue and exhaustion, perverse weather conditions, and mechanical problems to complete the course. I wanted to know what that felt like. I wanted to be apart of something like that. I wanted to compete in something that was more than just running or weightlifting. I signed up for a sprint triathlon back in the winter of 2014, but while I was training I sprained my ankle and wasn’t able to compete. I had only competed in running and Crossfit events since college. I thought it would a nice change to train for swimming and biking.

When I signed up for Echo, I had exactly 8 weeks to train. I knew that the swimming was going to be my biggest challenge, because I am not a strong swimmer. I had never trained for or competed in any swimming  race, and had never swam distance in open water. Luckily I have a husband who was a swimmer growing up and offered to coach me in swimming through my training.

The first day we began swimming, Rob and TJ capped me with a swim cap (I might add, it was my first time ever wearing a swim cap). I learned that swim caps are one size fits all… which I don’t think ever works, “one size fits all”, but the cap TJ let me borrow seemed to fit just fine. We got in the water and Rob and T had me swim a few laps, about 50 yards down and back a few times so they could watch and observe. Rob later admitted that I was terrible that first day. I was not shocked by his evaluation. I knew I needed a LOT of work in the swimming department, which was why I determined to swim 3 days a week every week until the triathlon. I only missed one week during the 8 weeks of training.

Rob found a 6 week program on-line for how to get an amateur/beginner swimming a mile in 6 weeks and we followed that schedule each week. I would do the same swim workout each day, 3 days a week. Then the next week Rob would give me a new workout to do. For example, one of the first weeks my workout each day looked something like this:

400 yards x 2 with 12 breaths in-between each 400
100 yards x 4 with 10 breaths in-between each 100
50 yards x 4 with 8 breaths in-between each 50
100 yard cool down

The first few weeks I was pretty uncomfortable in the water; trying to learn how to breath every other stroke while attempting to maintain consistent strokes and some kind of rhythm between my arms and legs. Rob was trying to help me with my form at the same time, so while I was swimming I felt like I was having to focus on 10 different things at the same time. Such as, exhaling immediately when I put my head in the water, kicking my feet at a constant pace (which pace did not have to match my arm strokes, a very difficult concept for me to put into motion being a dancer and doing everything with rhythm unintentionally). Stroking my arms at a consistent pace and not panicking when I need to adjust my breaths, keeping my fingers together and pulling my arms through the water to propel myself forward (not just letting my arms kind of slowly drift through the water). Also inhaling for a breath immediately when my mouth came out of the water but not gasping for air, keeping my breathing controlled and not panicky when I increased my stroke rate, breathing to the side by barley tilting my head to the side each third stroke, etc.

I felt very frustrated some days, because I didn’t feel I was making much progress. As Rob watched me, he usually found more things for me to work on. It was good for him to correct me, because I couldn’t get better if I didn’t know what I was doing wrong, but some days I felt so discouraged, even felt like I was getting worse a few times.

As we continued to swim, and I mean we, because Rob swam with me almost every week over the course of those 8 weeks, after about 5 weeks we started to see real progress in my swimming. At that point we were up to swimming 1000 yards without a break. It was time for an open water swim! We decided we would kill two birds with one stone by going to Utah Lake and swimming there, checking another Utah State Park off our list!

Week 5
June 18, 2016 – First Open Water Swim: Utah Lake
It was a beautiful day. We arrived around 3:00pm. It was kind of busy but we found a great spot for me to swim that was in the no wake zone. There were no other swimmers in that area. The water was nice and warm so I had no trouble getting right in. I had to walk about 150 feet from the shore to get to an area that was deep enough to swim and it still was really shallow. The water was pretty dirty. Visibility was only about 6″, so I couldn’t even see my hands or much of my arms in the water with each stroke.

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As I swam, Rob walked along the shore to keep an eye on me. In the water I had no concept of time or distance. Rob had pointed out what I thought was a bus in the distance as a point of reference, which I learned afterwards was actually just a building. But it was so far away, as I swam I couldn’t tell if I was getting closer or further away. I kept looking up to the shore to look at Rob as a reference, but since he was also moving as I moved, it felt like I was getting nowhere.

After I had been swimming for what felt like quite a while, fighting a little bit of a current, and not swimming very straight because of limited visibility, I felt really frustrated and finally stood up and yelled to Rob, “am I getting anywhere?!” He yelled back in the affirmative, “yeah look behind you at how far you’ve come!” I looked back and could see that the jetty was a little ways back, but it didn’t look very far. He said I had been swimming for about 45 minutes. I was pleasantly surprised and frustrated at the same time, because I figured there was no way I could have gone anywhere close to 3/4 or 1 mile, but I had¬†to have gone a decent distance if I had been swimming for 45 minutes.

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We decided to have me swim for 48 minutes, for no good reason. When the 48 minutes was up I stood up and walked towards Rob. The water was only about 3 feet deep I am guessing, because I kept scooping up dirt off the bottom of the lake throughout the swim. I felt good, but realized that open water swimming presents a few more challenges to swimming than pool swimming. It was challenging in ways that I hadn’t really thought about. Pool swimming and open water are very different.

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That little black thing that looks like a bird in the water is me swimming. :)

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The gnats were really bad near the water at the lake. Rob was getting eaten alive walking along the shore watching me swim, so he cleverly tucked my shirt up into his glasses to cover his ears and neck.

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I was glad I had the experience and it made me more confident in my ability to swim open water, but also made me realize that I may be doing more breast stroke and side stroke during the race to keep my head above water. You have to look where you are going when you’re in a lake so you don’t start swimming in the wrong direction and waste a bunch of energy going off course. Rob and I estimated the distance of my swim to be about 2/3 of a mile, based on Google maps. I was happy with it, even though it was a little less than I wanted to swim. I felt accomplished having successfully swam in open water for 48 minutes and getting out of the water feeling good, not exhausted or defeated. Success!

Moonflower Canyon

When we were in Southern Utah for Memorial Day weekend, we thought about going to Arches National Park. We knew it was suppose to be extremely busy, given it was a holiday weekend, but since we were so close by, we thought we would drive by the entrance and check it out before we made our decision.

As we got closer to the entrance, we could see cars lined up for probably over a mile; one of the lanes on the freeway had been marked off with cones to funnel the chaos that had come from all over the world to visit this beautiful national park. That alone made our decision very easy, no thanks, maybe next time Arches!

Rob just kept on driving and we passed the park and drove right into Moab. He and some of his family had been to a little canyon in Moab that they did some climbing in a few years back and he wanted to take me there, so that is how we ended up at Moonflower Canyon.

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There was a narrow crack between these two huge rock faces that was  with logs about 4-5 inches in diameter in a zigzag formation.  It was a little adventure playground!

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Rob and Covina's Adventures