WALKING (AND WALKING, AND WALKING) BALTIMORE

Quebec City was fabulous, but it was time to turn my thoughts back to swimming and our purpose for heading to Baltimore Maryland:  U.S. Masters Swimming Summer National Championship.

By the time we arrived at the University of Maryland for my races, my legs were completely shot from all the walking we had done in Quebec.  It was well worth it, though!

Knowing we had time on the back end to see Baltimore, our time at Nationals was spent either at the pool or lounging back at the hotel in College Park.  A previous post  was about the competition:  https://elaineiakstravels.wordpress.com/2014/08/21/redemption/

Saving our sightseeing in Baltimore for after Nationals was a smart move, since we love to walk, and our day in Baltimore lasted eleven hours– most of it walking!

Our day was to begin at Lexington Market, but just a few blocks away was a very interesting cemetery, according to Anna Lea Matysek from the USMS offices.  It is where Edgar Allan Poe was buried, and she urged us to have a look.  As it turned out, it was as interesting as promised, and quite photogenic as well.

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“When in Rome, do as the Romans do” as the saying goes.  When in Maryland, eat crab cakes.  Next up?  Crab cakes at Faidley’s in Lexington Market.

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After our lunch and stroll through Lexington Market, we headed down to Fell’s Point, the historic waterfront district of Baltimore dating back to 1763. We left our rental car in Fell’s Point and followed the waterfront into downtown Baltimore on foot.  It was a wonderful walk with plenty of interesting things to see and photograph along the way. (There were some cheesey ones, too!)

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City planners did a wonderful job with the downtown waterfront of Baltimore.  It is pedestrian friendly, but for those who wish to ride instead, there is a free bus that covers the downtown area.

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Being avid walkers, we opted to walk the entire waterfront from Fell’s Point to the American Visionary Art Museum, stopping along the way for a quick lunch and plenty of photos.

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The interior of Barnes & Noble was unlike any store I had ever seen!

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Although the museum was closed the day we were in Baltimore, Anna Lea was emphatic we stop there to at least see the museum’s exterior.  That was a first.  Aren’t the exhibits at a museum INSIDE?  As you can see in the next several shots, there was plenty to see OUTSIDE of the museum!

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We were so fortunate to have perfect weather for our day in Baltimore.  The sun was shining bright, and as we headed back to Fell’s Point for dinner, it turned to a lovely golden light.

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To see additional photos of Baltimore, please visit: http://www.ExquisiteCards.Fototime.com

MONTREAL, CANADA (BETTER LATE THAN NEVER!)

Where has the time gone? So much has happened since visiting Montreal and competing in the FINA Masters Swimming World Championships in early August! After World’s, we visited Quebec City for a few days of sightseeing and then flew back to the States to compete in the U.S. Masters Swimming National Championships. Next, it was time to gear back up to compete in the Southside Seals Pentathlon on September 13 where I competed in my first Ironman. Nothing like racing a 400 Individual Medley, 200 Freestyle, 200 Breaststroke, 200 Backstroke, and 200 Butterfly (saving the hardest for last) in just over two hours! Then, on September 19, I raced a full slate in the Georgia Senior Golden Olympics so I could qualify for Nationals that will take place in the Twin Cities in July 2015. My race times were slow; however, competition was light, so I ended up with two gold and three silver medals.

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Our travels are still on my mind as wonderful memories, though, so I thought I would share some of them with you.

Back in Montreal, Day 2 of competition at World’s didn’t include any of my race events, so it was a day off for me. Most swimmers would choose to relax and stay off their feet given that opportunity; however, we wanted to see Montreal and it was important to me to make this an enjoyable trip for Bruce as well.

Our day off from the pool started with a Metro ride to the Marche Jean-Talon, a wonderful market that was so much more than just produce stalls. It was an experience.

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Most of the remainder of the day was spent exploring the streets of Old Montreal where it felt like being back in France. From the architecture dating back to the 1600’s to the horse-drawn carriages, it was hard to believe we were still in North America. The gas lamps, flower baskets, sidewalk cafes and French-speaking locals gave Old Montreal even more of a French feel to transport me back in my mind to France.

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Riding the Metro trains around Montreal was an efficient way to see the city, and swimmers were given a free 9-day pass to see the sights. Family members were sold passes at an excellent discount, so Bruce and I took advantage of it throughout our nine-day visit. The condo we rented through http://www.homeaway.com was located downtown just a couple of blocks from a Metro station, so it was very convenient. Since the Parc Jean-Drapeau Aquatic Complex was located at one of the Metro stops, we used Metro for getting to and from the pool each day of competition.

Everywhere we went around the city, we saw other swimmers and their families wearing their World Championships credentials around their necks. It was to be
expected given the 9,000 athletes in town for the five Masters aquatic events, including swimming, open water swimming, synchronized swimming, diving, and water polo.

What I didn’t expect, though, was to run into my own teammate on a crowded train during our day away from the pool sightseeing! On our way back to the condo, we were just about to board a train when I noticed that some of the cars were more packed than others. We made a quick decision to run up ahead to board a less-crowded train, and there was Ed Saltzman, Georgia Masters team relay coordinator, standing at the car door with a grin on his face. Ed had all of the team’s t-shirts with him, so he quickly dug through his backpack trying to locate mine. Wait! “What station are you getting off at, Ed?” When we realized we were hopping off at the same one, we breathed a sigh of relief and took care of business in the station instead. What a fun way to end our first day of sightseeing in Montreal!

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The view from our condo in downtown Montreal.

 

NO WALLS, NO BLACK LINES, AND NO LANE LINES- WOOHOO!

Ever since tackling my first open water race at the 2012 Georgia Games Open Water Meet, I’ve been hooked on racing in open water. Although it’s not as challenging as swimming in real open water like I used to swim in as a kid back in California, it’s still a greater challenge than racing in a pool. After all, the pool provides the security of lane lines separating each swimmer, and the visibility is perfect. Just follow the black line!

At Lake Allatoona, all I could see was my own arm out in front of me. Beyond my fingertips, I couldn’t see anything, including the bottom. At an estimated 84 degrees, the water was also much warmer than the cool 78 of a competition pool.

Seeing the buoys was also a challenge, because there were some blind curves of the land separating the 1K buoys from the 3K buoys which meant waiting until I swam around the point before sighting the next buoys I needed to turn around before heading back towards the finish line. Besides, it was so humid this morning that my goggles fogged up even after preparing them with anti-fog spray!

Don’t mistake these as complaints, though, because I couldn’t have been happier than when I was racing those 3K and 1K races today. As a matter of fact, as I was running up to the finish line of the 1K race, I said to myself, “Oh, bummer! This is about to end and I don’t want it to be over!”

I was truly in my element today and very happy with the results! Coming in at :49.35, I took about 12 minutes off my 2012 3K time. According to Rob Copeland who set the buoys, he said the two courses were accurate 3K’s. (Last year, everybody came in much slower, and Rob admitted the 3K course was longer than a 3K. At 1:17 for my 2013 3K time, I would have to agree!).

Although I was pleased with my 1K swim as well, I believe I came in slightly slower than 2012, but much faster than 2013. I’m not sure of my time today, because I saw the clock several seconds after I crossed the line. It was at about 20 minutes, but I’ll have to check the official results when they get posted.

Today’s fun was capped off with two silver medals to show for my efforts! The 3K gold medalist beat me by about three minutes, so I know I couldn’t have won. In the 1K, you can see from this photo that I didn’t lose by much. Pam McClure (in front) beat me by a relatively small margin; however, she swam the 1K fresh having passed on the 3K.

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My buddy, Mark Rogers did great today. He beat me in both the 3K and 1K, and he earned a silver and gold!

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One surprise today was running into a member of Sun City Peachtree’s Board of Directors, Ted Turner. As it turns out, he also won a silver medal in the 3K, but I happily beat him by around five minutes. 🙂

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The following photos show the conclusion of the 3K race:

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What a blast! Can I go back and do it again? Oh well, it’s time to turn my focus back to the pool to finish preparing for the 2014 FINA Masters Swimming World Championships in Montreal, Canada. After I finish on August 8, we’ll head to Quebec City for a few days before flying to Maryland for the 2014 USMS Summer Nationals at the University of Maryland.

In between competing and sight seeing, I plan to write when time permits. Stay tuned for more blog posts to come! (If you don’t see any posts before our return, they will be posted shortly thereafter!)

EDIT: Times are posted, and I came in 33rd overall of the 81 men and women who competed in the 3K race. In my age group, I came in 2nd of 7 women, and my time was 0:49:35.49. I also beat out 20 of the 33 women who were in younger age groups.

In the 1K, I came in 21st out of 69 swimmers, and I beat out 13 of the 22 younger women. My 0:20:13.39 time was four seconds out of first, but 2nd place of six women in my age group.