Thursday, May 31, 2012

WELCOME to our NEW Phazes Team!

It's a new Era for Phazes Fitness!  Phazes started in the spring of 2009 just doing outdoor bootcamps. We added The studio in Laverkin in the fall of that same year with just a few clients.  Michelle Ennis worked hard to build a reputation for Phazes fitness and it's mission and has seen some remarkable successes over the past few years.  When the studio across town opened up Desert Fitness became Phazes biggest (and friendliest) competition around.  Michelle, Tyann and Aimee had been talking for about a year about how to combine studios and still accommodate the amount of people, keep all their visions and priorities in line, and allow for the kind of time a young mom needs to dedicate to her growing family.  While it wouldn't work then, we are now in a place where it will work!

I know that Tyann and Aimee have made a tough choice to decide to "let Desert Fitness go".  But I want to reassure them and their clients that would follow these ladies to the ends of the earth - Desert Fitness is not going away - It's simply changing it's name and ownership while keeping the classes, the mission, and most importantly the amazing trainers!!

I respect deeply the work and effort Tyann and Aimee have put into making Desert fitness a Strong fitness studio and have only held them in high regards.  I have enjoyed the few times we have done combined events and partied hard together.  I respect the level of athleticism and competitive spirit as well as the level of expectation their trainers were held to.

 While ALL this will be respected and kept in place and brought into Phazes, I also want to reassure current Phazes Clients that have loved the atmosphere and no pressure of the Gold Circuit, loved the options of the 4 Phaze circuit and have loved having a place for them no matter their fitness level (or lack of it) we honor YOU! We hope you still feel that same spirit of welcoming here.  We will continue to offer the classes you have grown to love as well.

The combining of these 2 studios is a dream come true.  We now TRULY offer a fitness adventure for EVERY Phaze of life!  From Gold Circuit, to Bootcamps, to Zumba, to Turbo Kick, To strength classes, to Yoga for beginners or experienced, to our signature 4 Phaze circuit...  Our goal is to assist you in finding the right plan for your fitness adventure.  Truly this life is an adventure and your journey to better health is our passion!

Be Patient with us as we iron out all the wrinkles. We understand that all changes bring up issues that may not have been foreseen.  Or there might be some amount of  "discomfort" while we adjust to this new way of working together.  PLEASE e-mail your concerns and problems to right away so we can make sure we do our best to keep Phazes the best studio in town.

Welcome to the new Phazes!
 - Michelle Ennis (owner)

The Phazes Team -
Top: Leslie
Middle: Joy, Natalie B, Natalie M, Tyann, Monica, Heather
Bottom:Michelle, Peggy, Bethany, Aimee

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


Friday Morning we have a NEW CLASS SCHEDULE!  Pay close attention!  The link on, the side of the blog has the classes listed.  But I will give you a heads up here as well:

6:00-6:30am - 4 phaze Circuit (Mon-Fri)
6:30-7:00am - 4 phaze Circuit (Mon- Fri)
8:45-9:15am - GOLD Circuit (Mon- Fri)
9:15-10:15am - Monday - ZUMBA w/ Tyann
                      - Tuesday - Core/ Strength w/ Aimee
                      - Wednesday - Turbo kick w/ Heather
                      - Thursday - YOGA w/ Leslie
                     - Friday - ZUMBA w/Natalie
10:15-11:15am Monday - ZUMBA w/Michelle and Joy
                  Wednesday - ZUMBA w/Bethany
                  Friday - ZUMBA w/ Joy and Michelle
10:15-10:45am - Tue and Thu - 4 Phaze Circuit
10:45 - 11:15am - Tue and Thu  - 4 Phaze Circuit
11:15-11:45am - Mon - Thu - 4 Phaze Circuit 11:15am-12:15pm - Friday  - Beg. Yoga w/ Leslie

7:15-7:45pm - Tue, Wed, Thu - 4 Phaze Circuit
8:00-9:00pm -  Tue and Thu - ZUMBA w/ Michelle
                       Wed - ZUMBA w/ Natalie
Enjoy more classes - and more trainers!

Desert Fitness and Adagio punch passes will be honored at Phazes til the end of September.  Desert Memberships are good for the 30 days following the purchase date.

Special offer for June - Waive the Sign up fee if you get a 6 or 12 month membership with Phazes Before June 1st!  OR -  save 10% on prepaid membership plans for 6 and 12 month plans.

Come join us at the best fitness studio in town!


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Reality Check!

I have been on a big kick about doing everything in your power to fight the mainstream mindset of what determines beauty.  Looking at models and movie stars and their "perfect" bodies (or are they really perfect?)  So many movie stars and models actually fall into the category of Anorexia levels of BMI.  Is that really perfect?  Then because they have lost too much weight to fit into some mold they need to get Boob jobs to look "seductive".  Ribs removed, skin pulled and stretched, tummies tucked an suctioned, Breast implants.  AND THEN... in magazines they are photo shopped to look even "better than real life".  wrinkles removed and lines erased.  Have you ever seen a stretch mark on a model?  Of course not.  They exist of course,  but through the miracle of photoshop we are led to believe that a flawless body is achievable.  It isn't.  Not even enough plastic surgery can buy you that flawless body that you see on the big screen and in magazines.

Over a year ago a man told me that if I lost another 10 pounds I could look like this certain fitness model in a magazine he pointed to.   I have had other personal trainers tell me that they think they could help me lose my "last 5-10 pounds".  My big question... "why?"  This may make me unpopular as a trainer.  I mean isn't my job supposed to be to help people get perfect bodies? Not for me.  If I am an unpopular trainer because of this - so be it.  The reason I got into the fitness industy wasn't to help people get "perfect bodies"  It was to help people get healthy.  I can do more than I have ever been able to do.  I am happier than I have ever been in my life.  Those 10 pounds mean nothing to me!  

Healthy means - Mind, Spirit and Body.  If you are constantly trying for someone else's figure you will never have peace of mind.  Constant desire or coveting something that is not yours to have leads to depression.  Your body type may be different.  You might have big muscular legs and a ghetto booty.  Your breasts may sag after multiple children (push ups help by the way).  You may have stretch marks from growing quickly.  you may have rolls from rapid weight loss.  BUT... YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL!

Remember to set goals based on fitness results rather than what the scale says.  You may never ever be "satisfied" with how you look in the mirror.  I have spoken with anorexic women that still feel fat and don't like what they see in the mirror.  One of my favorite local Bootcamp trainers with a "perfect body"  - muscular, lean, strong and has a boob job... still feels inadequate and find flaws in her form.  Yet so many people covet after her seemingly "perfect form".  Your self esteem cannot be based on what your figure looks like.  We have been so bombarded with images of unattainable beauty that none of us will ever get that body portrayed to us.  SO... Get over it!

Get out and do stuff!  Get active and eat right not so you can attain the unattainable, but so you can do what you are capable of DOING! 

Proper fueling for your body = Better ability to function!  Better mood, better energy, better everything!  Weight loss is the bonus. 

Eat and exercise for your health not for some crazy body size.

Body project

I do beleieve being aware of the dangers associated with Extreme obesity is critical. BUT to balance it out... I also KNOW that there are very equal dangers of being obsessed about your weight.  Throw out the scale and try living your life to the fullest and take care of you by eating foods that fuel your body!

 - Michelle

Friday, May 18, 2012


With the new schedule starting in June our babysitting hours are changing at the Studio.  If you are interested in volunteering for babysitting in exchange for a membership - NOW is the time to contact Michelle and set that up. 
Current babysitters for Phazes and Desert Fitness get FIRST priority until May 25th.  After that anyone can sign up to take available babysitting spots.  There are evening hours and morning hours available. 

Morning Shifts to choose from are:
Monday - Friday 9:15-10:30am  or  10:30-11:45am  and Friday 11:45-12:15pm.  

Evening shifts to choose are:
 Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday 7:15-8:00pm or 7:45-8:00pm.

The shorter shifts only have one sitter since their are fewer kids for those short shifts.  The longer shifts have 2 sitters.
Call 435-680-4025 if interested or e-mail

Monday, May 14, 2012


Phazes is SO excited to welcome the Team from my favorite competitors - Desert Fitness!  Tyann Clark, Aimee Langston, Heather Stout, Natalie Madsen, Leslie Reeve, Bethany Gubler - have all been amazing trainers for Desert Fitness as well as friends.  It was inevitable that we would work together.  Past combined events we have done (ie: Zumba 80's night) have been awesome!  They bring a LOT of energy and intensity with them.

SO NOW... we have even more to choose from more instructors, different styles and more fun!

The class schedule is changing for Phazes to make room for more classes and doubling up on some of our favorites since our space is pretty small.  But we can do this.
More people = more fun!

Desert Fitness Clients (and Adagio Zumba clients) have until the end of September to use up their punch passes.  Current 6 and 12 month memberships are 10% off if prepaid or for monthly installments on those contracts - get the sign up fee waived if you sign up before June 30th 2012!

Welcome to Phazes!
 - Michelle Ennis and the Phazes Team

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Working out some issues...

It's Tuesday.  I have a cold.  I am a little PMS - ish and moody and "head achy".  I have spent some time today following my stats on my blog and noticed the high number of hits my site got after posting my experience from the Ironman on Saturday.  Over 1,000 in a day.  that's pretty big numbers for a small time blog like mine.  So I looked to see where they all were coming from and I found that some sweet person posted my article on another site where a bunch of people began criticizing me for my actions in the water.  I took it hard and have had a hard time today.  like I said - I am moodier than usual.  But anyway, I feel like the best way for me to deal with it is to write it out and explain a few things and maybe answer a few questions.  I think I may have overplayed some things and underplayed others.

Concern #1 - why would you do swim  support if you can't swim?
Answer -   Actually I can swim. I have done 2 sprint triathlons in open water in a lake in FREEZING Wyoming and came in last place in the water  But I can do it.  I remember doing that swim and thinking - I am strong I can conquer this.  I just choose not to go swimming often.  I do have a weird phobia of open deep water I am conquering.  I am not a fabulous swimmer - but I can survive a swim if I have to.  I can swim, I just need to do it in open water more often even though it scares the hell out of me.  sometimes I don't tell people what I am really capable of.  that was my bad. 

Concern #2 - Panic.  Someone said I had no right being out there if I panicked even just a little bit.
Answer - LOL!  That's funny.  I panicked briefly.  I think people need to know that these conditions we were in were not just rare - but NEVER occur in the Lake this event took place in.  I panicked for a few SECONDS and calmed right down when I remembered the rule to survival was to be calm.  I calmed down quickly and found my rhythm.  I played that down and should have let people know that were so concerned about me that I was fine.  I knew as long as I could tread water and keep my head up, I was good.  and really, I was.  Did I panic?  briefly.  In fact part of my panicking was thinking I couldn't swim. yes I can.  I came to that quickly.  If you read my blog entry it says I had thoughts go through my head fast in a manner of just a few seconds.  Did I calm down and get in control of myself quickly- yes and part of that was remembering that I was perfectly capable.  I neglected to write about that.   I wish people could have been in my head.  It was actually pretty good in there.  :)

Concern #3 - I put everyone's lives in danger by being on that water ill prepared.
Answer - Hardly anyone that volunteered for this Ironman swim support was prepared for what happened.  We live in a desert.  There are only Lakes here. - no oceans and no waves. and we do not go boating and paddling in rough waters around here.  No one was prepared.  only 3 paddlers of the 80 were able to stay on that water.  The only way we can prepare for something like this is to experience something like this.  So now I am ready for something like this.  Get me out on that water again!
I have assisted in numerous triathlons on that same lake.  NEVER have we EVER had that kind of wind.  It was crazy and only those in the water can really know what we went through.  I am now prepared for the next one.  And any captain of any swim support team out here would be pleased to have me on their team.

Concern #4 - what idiot goes out to do swim support without a life vest?
answer - yeah... I don't have an good answer for that.  no wait, I do...  :)  LOL!  as I think back I remember that the buoyancy in my wetsuit (which is super thick and bouyant by the way - Not a triathlete wetsuit) gave me an extra boost of confidence and helped me find my calm in the water.  it was actually working pretty good.  But yes, a life vest would have been even better.  Lesson learned.  But in reality... I was going to survive ok.  chill out. and yes - I will never do swim support without wearing a life vest ever again even though my wetsuit I had would have helped me to survive.

Concern #4 - Noone who isn't a skilled rescue worker that has done multiple open water rescues in waves should be doing swim support.
answer - LOL!  We live in a freaking desert!  We don't get waves!  This was not common!  I think the swim support did a great job for what we knew around here.  There were PLENTY of skilled swimmers on paddleboards as lifeguards.  My job was to help get people in need to a lifeguard or jetski.  My job description never asked if I could swim to them.  We kayak support do not swim to the people in need we paddle to them.  and I have assisted MANY people in need from my paddleboard without falling into the water.  If I have fallen into the water - the wind never has never whipped my board away from me til then.  (and the answer to that is to wear my leash that I have never needed to wear since I am not an ocean surfer and never needed a leash til then). 

Concern #5 - I put other people's lives in danger...
Answer - I saved 4 people's lives by helping them get to assistance and maybe more that held onto my board in a time of need as they calmed down and caught their breath or stretch out a cramp.  I am a strong paddler and did really well in those waves and crazy wind for quite some time.  When I was finally tossed  My rescue was actually quick and the paddler that came to my rescue quickly went to work on other swimmers.  The truth is that many kayakers needed rescued - not just me.  I was able to assist another exhausted Kayaker to stay afloat as we held onto each other after my rescue.  we helped each other and let the swim support do their job rescuing swimmers.  I did not endanger anyone's life. in fact I may have helped another Kayaker stay alive. and I did not take a swimmer's place on any rescue vessel we stayed in the water holding onto each other and allowed the other swim support to concentrate on the job at hand.

Concern #6 - was this criminal negligence?
Answer - I don't even know what that is.  I am just a caveman and a PE major that gets confused by big words.  :)  LOL. No seriously.   As part of a swim support team that has worked our asses off - no.  this was not negligence.  I can swim.  I calmed down.  and I was prepared for this event in normal conditions.  I had a buoyant wetsuit.  I had the legally required PFD on my board.  I was ready for this in normal circumstances and even a breeze that was expected.  I am someone that handles myself well in stressful situations.  I have rescued swimmers before.  I have worked many events as swim support before.  I am good at my job and will now be even better at it.  If my husband could paddle away knowing I was fine - so can the rest of those thinking they need to criticize me.  You can all just figuratively paddle away right now.

The weather was a circumstance that could not have been planned on, If they saw this coming the event would have been canceled. No one that was not in that water that day has any right to judge anyone of us that were there.  I helped loads of panicked swimmers calm down in that crazy water.
I was calm after 5 seconds of panic.  I can swim.  I did float in my wetsuit.  I rescued 4 people and assisted multiple others.  I have done many triathlons as swim support.  I even swam a triathlon in a freezing lake. I am strong. And I am good on my board as a rescue worker.

Now here's the most important part and probably the only thing that ever needed to be said:
Swim support consists of several layers
1 - Kayakers and paddlers  - there are about 60 of us.  our main job is to get in the thick of things and assist swimmers to get to better equipped life support if they need it.  mostly we are used as floating buoys to help them catch their breath.  and in most races that is all we really do out here.  we also get swimmers to someone in the other layers in swim support or signal for someone to come over and rescue a swimmer holding onto our vessel.  That is our job - that was my job. 
2 - Life guards - there were at least 20 or more of these guys are on their bellies on paddleboards with no life vest or paddle.  They are experienced swimmers and CPR and Lifeguard certified.  they paddle alongside the swimmers and paddlers and are ready to give life saving skills they have been trained in.  that is their job.  That wasn't my job.
3 - Jet skis -  There were a bunch of these (not sure exactly how many).  they have  a sled on the back to tow in a swimmer in danger.  most had 2 people working on them (I think all of them did).  one to drive and one that is lifeguard certified to assist a swimmer in danger .  these were incredibly effective in the rough water but dangerous among the swimmers with the fumes and such.  so typically kayakers and paddlers work together with the jet skiers to get a swimmer out of the thick of things before loading onto a jet ski and either be taken to a motor boat or to land.  (usually to a bigger boat).
4 - Motor boats  - we had a couple dozen of these on the water.  these are the serious guys.  equipped with Lifeguards, Divers and EMT's as needed.  They were ready to take on the serious stuff.  They had their eyes on the kayakers and paddlers and swimmers and watched and listened for the signal for swimmers in serious jeopardy.  again - you can't have these big boats among the swimmers.  They need to be out to the sides for the safety of the swimmers.

we were well equipped as a team.
the fact of the matter is 400 people were rescued  - there was no loss of life in really horrid conditions and this team did a damn good job and so did I.

There now I feel good enough, smart enough and a whole hell of a lot better about it all.  Phew...
I need a nap.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Swim Support - another story of the St. George Ironman from Michelle's point of view...

(edited for more detail to clear up a few inconsistencies 3 days after originally posted)

It looked like it was going to be a perfect Ironman race day.  Bill and I woke up at 3:30am to load up and head out to Sand Hollow Reservoir with our Kayaks and Paddleboards.  Had our regular meetings and split up into group.  There were roughly 60 kayakers/Paddleboarders.

Swim Support has several layers of help on the water
1 -Kayakers and SUP paddlers in the thick of the swimmers that usually act as floating bouys to get swimmers to help. Geared with Whistles and PFD's - This was my job. 
2 - Lifeguards amonsts the swimmers and paddlers on paddleboards to get in fast and quick to a swimmer in serious danger.
3 - Jet skis with sleds  to haul swimmers quickly to a boat.  They cannot hang out among the swimmers due to the danger of the fumes and machinery.
4 -  there were a couple dozen large rescue boats around the perimeter geared with divers, lifeguards and EMT's as needed.

We were well equipped to handle this race.

We had no idea we were about to experience the roughest swim in Ironman History.

At the early morning meeting we were told that several hundred were doing their first Ironman and to be ready for those that underestimate the swim.  It is the most dangerous portion of the race for those under prepared.  Our job as Paddle support was to be in the thick of the swimmers pretty much in the way if necessary and be with them to pick them up and signal for a jet ski or boat to take them.

We were told to expect mild wind about 9mph.  no sweat, I can do that.

I get into my wetsuit.  I normally wear just regular swim wear and a few layers to keep warm.  The wetsuit is new for me.  I have worn it a few times.  It's not a tri suit - it's thicker warmer and more buoyant.  It's kept me afloat many times in the water.  I don't even think about a life vest.  I've never done swim support without a life vest before. I have no idea why the thought didn't even cross my mind.  But Looking back now, I am very glad I made the decision to wear the wetsuit I never have worn doing swim support before.  Normally I am uncomfortable in it but extra warm and buoyant. However after this day - I will never make the mistake of neglecting to wear a life vest ever again. From now I on I will wear both.

The sun was rising beautifully, I am on the water on my paddleboard that the night before I was doing Yoga on the same board on the same lake in calm water.  I feel good about my skills on my board.  I have bragged often that I have never fallen off my board.  I paddle a minimum of 2 times a week on this same lake.  I have paddled into heavy winds trying to race my husband in a headwind.  I am good on my board.

I have assisted in many swim events as a either a kayaker or stand up paddler on this same lake.  The conditions never were more than just slightly breezy.  It's usually non-eventful and no more than just a nice day cheering the swimmers on and maybe pulling one or 2 people from the water and letting several catch their breath before going on.  In all the races I have done in the past I have only had to really rescue one swimmer that needed to be pulled from the water.  I am usually just a floating bouy for a swimmer to catch their breath.  Today was going to change all that for me.

Ironman St. George 2012 was about to go down in History as the most dangerous swim and the toughest ironman day in history.  But we had no idea it was coming.

 Before the race starts the music is going I'm standing and dancing on my board and enjoying the party.  The Ironman speaker system is pumping out some great tunes and the announcer is having a great time playing it up - good party!

 My husband and I are with the big group toward the starting line.  In fact the paddlers are asked to mark the starting line and push the swimmers into position between the starting buoys marking the correct place to start.  I happen to be the kind of person that takes my job seriously when we do swim support.  After the Pro racers take off, we were asked to keep the other athletes/swimmers behind the starting line, between the buoys and those that were warming up needed to do so in the proper areas as designated.  LOL!  yeah... try to tell them that.  I did.  While most of the athletes follow instructions and were in the proper starting area, there were a handful telling me to "chill out lady"  "it's not a big deal."    Sorry folks it is a big deal!  You are in a freaking Ironman race!  If you start out 20 meters in front of the starting line and you get out of the water 10 meters in front of someone in your division - yeah - you suck!  Follow the rules people - this is not a hippie race/free for all.  Swim support was given a job to do and that was to help enforce the rules the athletes signed a line and said they would follow.  Some guy swimming for his warm up way past the starting line (where he was not supposed to be warming up) was heading back toward the start  I was doing my job near the start line yelling at athletes to get back and inside the start lines.  when this swimmer is heading my way out of nowhere... I tried to quickly maneuver out of his way ... and I yelled at him to watch out.  He was in the thick of the Kayakers and he hits the side of my paddleboard with his head and goes under me flailing.  when he gets his head up he looks at me and holds up his hand in a gesture that says "  $%#@, lady, what the %^&#$"  He actually didn't say a word.  I yelled at him "Duude -sorry I tried tell you..."  I'm sure he blames me for any lack of success he may have encountered. 

I hear the announcer say "Remember athletes - the only thing you have control over today is your attitude..."
Then the race starts.  The weather is perfect there is only a slight breeze on the water and the swimmers are off...
The Ironman is a tough race.  One of the toughest events in the world.  The athletes swim 2.2 miles then get on their bikes and ride over 100 miles and then finish the race running a marathon.  I feel like I am in Pretty good shape - but I have never done any of these things on their own.  doing them back to back takes someone who is more than just "good shape"  it takes amazing strength, endurance and mental prowess.  It really is a test of mental toughness as much as physical skill.  No one should EVER sign up for an Ironman race without knowing first that they are in for one of the toughest days of their life.  They sign a waiver that says they are fully aware they could lose their life doing the Ironman.
Most first time Ironman athletes completely underestimate the difficulty of the swim.  As swim support we are warned that the biggest danger is not drowning - it is the adrenaline rush and panicking that is the most dangerous. A few hundred Yard from the starting line is the BUSIEST place for swim support - not nearly finished when you would think we would be pulling the most swimmers.  Nope it's at the start when their nerves are too dangerous to be able to complete the swim.

The athletes are allowed to hold onto swim support vessels as long as there is no forward motion.  We cannot paddle forward or they are disqualified.

The swimmers are off and the pros are way out in front and going strong and steady.  We are in the thick of the rest of the athletes - many never having done something like this in their life.  Swimmers are all over the place swimming in every direction.  We are correcting courses telling people to turn around and head the other way.  I had stop a few people actually swimming backward and tell them to go forward.  One woman that was swimming back toward the start line and struggling for breath I paddled over to her and asked if she was ok, told her she was going the wrong direction and she was bewildered.  "I don't know what's wrong with me, Swimming is MY event.  I am an amazing swimmer, I should be able to do this, what's wrong with me?"
Me: is this your first Ironman?
Her: yes.
Me: are you nervous?
Her: VERY! (and she laughs)
Me:  Your biggest danger is your fear, you need to calm down.  you have 2 more miles.  do you think you can continue for 2 more miles of this?
Her: yes I can
Me: I will be watching you.
Her: Ok, thanks
She takes some time holding onto my board to catch her breath, calm down and collect herself...and she heads off.

Then the wind slammed us!

 I am watching these swimmers really struggle as the wind picks up and produces swells one after another 4-5 feet high.  This is not the ocean, it's worse.  Waves in the ocean give you a break between them.  We were experiencing wind around 40 miles per hour.
Someone asked me if it would have been a benefit to have the wind pushing the swimmers forward and it must have been nice for them having the wind at their back as they swam that first leg.  The problem was they could not see the next swell coming their way over their heads as they gasped for air.  They also couldn't see in front of them to know where they were going. They were gulping water and struggling for breath.  So no, it was not easy.  This quickly become a dangerous situation that no one saw coming.
Boats were rocking and in danger of being capsized and we paddlers were being pushed around.

The paddlers were struggling as well as we fought the wind pushing us around and sometimes away from swimmers calling for help.  It took serious arm strength to paddle in hard to assist a swimmer.

 I felt a little nervous but I could handle this.  I am a strong paddler   I am a crappy swimmer though. I think that's what makes me a better paddler.  I am determined to stay on that board.  I have done a sprint triathlon before in a freezing lake in Wyoming where I came in last place off the water.  But I have this weird fear of deep open water I have been conquering and I have no desire to swim.  Staying afloat and strong is a huge priority for me.
This is a wind like nothing we have ever had on this lake.  I have been paddling on this lake often enough to know this was highly unusual.  "Must be the full moon" is the thought that goes through my head.

 As I would paddle in HARD to one swimmer after another checking on their status as they struggled to catch their breath between swells I would have to back paddle HARD to make sure the wind didn't push me forward as they held onto my board.  I was glad I had the strength and endurance to do this physically demanding job.

 I was glad I was able to help 4 swimmers get to a jetski.  I never have pulled that many swimmers out personally from the water.  I was Paddling  hard to maneuver in to assist another swimmer when "WHAM" I was off my board and hit in the head as my board flipped over me and I watched it get tossed away be the wind.  I was pummeled by a big swell.  CRAP!  My PFD (personal flotation device) was on the board not on me and it was gone with the board.  I was in the water with swimmers and now I needed rescued too.  Unlike the Ironman athletes I had NOT trained for any kind of swimming event. Since that one Sprint Triathlon I did in a Freezing Wyoming lake a few years ago.  although I could survive a swim, I am not confident in my swimming abilities.  These Ironmen were struggling, who was I to think I could swim if they were needing help.  I panicked.

  Thoughts raced through my head in seconds:
This event humbled me.  You can be sure next time I do swim support - I will be wearing that bulky ugly vest of mine.
 I was embarrassed that I had fallen off my board.  That was my first emotion.  Very quickly came the next feeling - Panic!  
 It's funny how fast thoughts can go through your head in a manner of seconds...
"I can't believe I was tossed off my board."
"people must think I am a fool"
"Shoot, I suck at swimming."
"I could drown"
"I can't catch my breathe"
all sorts of muddled panicking thoughts
"I can't swim, I can't swim, I can't swim...."
 "CRAP!  I am a lousy swimmer" 

These thoughts were quickly replaced by a calming thought.
"what's the first rule kids?  (I always ask my kids this when they are freaking out) 
I think about Hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy and how weird it is that that is the reference I thought of before my first aid and safety training.
"I can swim, I am buoyant, as long as I stay calm and keep my head up, I am good."
I am watching my board fly away in the wind.
"there goes my board... I wonder how much damage it's going to get."
"I hope my husband isn't pissed at my for losing his board."  
I wonder if I 'll be able to find it again.
I see 3 kayaks heading my way to rescue me - one of them is my husband.
"crap - they should be doing their job and rescuing swimmers - not me"

I had already been paddling hard and now I was swimming as hard as I could using all my power to try and get to the closest Kayak to me.  He is struggling against the wind and swells to get to me as well.
I try swimming while holding onto my paddle and someone's wetsuit swim cap they tossed I had picked up in the water.  It's not an effective way to swim and I am wasting my energy pushing through those waves holding that stuff.  The wind and waves are pummeling me.  I have no idea why I didn't let go of the swim cap.  I didn't even think about it for some reason.  That is kind of funny now that I look back.  I was worried about saving a stupid wet suit cap.  weird.
"I could die out here." 
 I don't think that as a panic, I think that as a reality.  I realize the best way to survive this is to stay calm with the knowledge that the reality of death is there if a calm state of mind isn't kept.  The thought that I could die was one that was actually - people in general could die in these conditions if they don't stay calm.  I knew it and I held myself together.

"stay calm, stay afloat."
Right then I regreat not having my life vest as additional flotation in the water. But I am glad to have my wetsuit in this cold water instead of my normal sweats and jacket I would have worn instead.

The kayaker closest to me throws me a PFD - a large foam square.  I grab it and hold on.

I just hope that my husband can forget about me and just do his job helping the swimmers.  One kayak is enough and Bill is not the closest to me.   I yell at my husband off in the distance. "I'M OK!" and I give him a thumbs up.  I knew once I had that floatie - I would be ok. I see him paddle away to assist someone else in the water and I feel a lot better. I am glad he trusts me enough to do what he is supposed to be doing and not trying to take care of me here.  I feel a weird kind of calm.

  I was now just fine.  I think... but maybe not...  not sure.  Still not a good place to be out there.  My rescuer  asks me to pull myself into his Kayak - something I have done numerous times before.  I try over and over but I can't seem to find the strength after all that paddling against the wind and then swimming for my life. my arm strength is spent.  I am again embarrassed because I know I can do this.
 He tells me to just hang onto his kayak while he maneuvers over to another kayaker that had been tossed over by the wind and swells.  It seemed like forever just holding on and pushing against the elements to get to the other kayaker in the water.  
We finally get to the other guy in the water and he is hanging onto his kayak for dear life.  He also can't pull himself back in and is exhausted from all that paddling against the wind.  My rescuer tells me to hang onto this man's kayak with him and see if we can assist each other back in while he paddles back out to help more swimmer, lifeguards and kayakers struggling in the water.   It's all we can do to hang onto each other across the Kayak and help keep each other up.  My arm strength Gone.  My husband kayaks over  in his 2 seater sea kayak and says, "Michelle I need your help. Climb into my kayak.  I need help paddling.  My arms are exhausted and I could use your help."  I  try to maneuver myself.  I can't.  I just can't.  I think about those swimmers and how badly they need our support out there.  "I can't Bill,  I am spent.  My strength is gone"  I feel absolutely guilty and awful that I am useless in the water.  Bill asks me if I will be OK.  "I'll be fine. Just go."
I continue to hang onto the other Kayaker's arm, hoping and praying for my husband that he can do his job and not worry about me.  I am scared more than I have ever been for all those swimmers.  I see kayakers all over getting ssed out of their boats.  I asked the guy (Jon) if he would mind if I prayed.  "please do..."  "Dear God, we, are scared.  Please help those swimmers out there. and also us and the other swim support - please bless us all with safety on this crazy water.  In Jesus name, amen."  "amen."  We decided to let the wind push us back to land while hanging onto each other.  It's a long way back and we are both in the cold water for quite a while.  "Jon" starts heaving over onto my side of the kayak.  His puke landing next to me in the water.  At first I am a little grossed out and then I laugh at the odd humor of it all.   I had been hoping to be hanging out in my swimsuit and relaxing on my board by now.  Instead I have Jon's puke drifting around me in the water as we cling to each other for dear life.  I am actually laughing and telling Jon "let it out my friend" in a sing song voice.  We are cold and exhausted and at the mercy of the wind and waves.

The air was filled with the sound of Kayakers and lifeguards blowing their whistles calling over help.  NEVER have heard that many emergency whistles being blown.  Kayaks were being swamped by swimmers that were panicking.  One kayaker said her vessel had 10 swimmers hanging onto it and she couldn't even paddle.  She was blowing her whistle over and over to try and get help when one swimmer panicked and tried to jump in her kayak with her - capsizing the boat and endangering everyone's lives.
After quite sometime hanging onto each other I finally feel like I have some strength returning to me and I pull myself into the kayak.  But the wind starts tossing me and using my body like a sail.  So I drop back into the water realizing that we are safer if I stay low and out of the wind.   Jon is just trying not to puke again. 

I'm not sure how much time passed before Jon and I drift into shore.  I see several  big boats and loads of kayaks and paddleboards all lining the beach.

We were not the only ones tossed. I am no longer embarrassed. I head to the sheriff's trailer to get warmed up and out of my cold clothes.  Other boaters and kayakers are there sharing their stories.  All of us are looking at the water and nervous about those swimmers.  We realize that the majority of swim support is no longer on the water.
This means that those 1700 swimmer (give or take) covering 2 miles of a tough swim only have a few kayaks a few jet skis and a few boats.  It's not good and there is NOTHING those of us on shore can do.  So we had a prayer.  There was a group of us in the trailer that decided to say a prayer that there would be no loss of life - a real possibility in these conditions. We asked God to watch over the swimmers for us since we no longer could.
There were tears shed by several swim support volunteers whose hearts were still on the water.  (I'll admit - I was one of the tear shedders).

I looked around the crowd of stranded swim support and we started sharing stories.

More similar stories are shared. We are hanging out by the south beach ramp and boats are bringing swimmers in by the dozens.  I have never witnessed anything like this before.  The swimmers are waiting to get on buses to take them back to the transition.  I see the woman that held onto my craft at the start.  I go over and hug her.  She gives me a big smile "I guess I wasn't ready for this after all."  I point to the crowd and say "me too!"  we laugh a little together.  Then I overhear some athletes say "THEY SHOULD CANCEL THIS!  THIS IS AWFUL!  NO ONE CAN SWIM IN THIS!"  He's angry and yelling.  So many athletes are being hauled away in buses - This has never happened.  400 athletes are pulled from the water - some of their own choice and some had no choice but were asked to get out.  Some are angry, some are grateful.  Some are just too exhausted to feel anything for now.

So many different emotions from all the athletes.  again the words of the announcer at the start come to mind. "remember the only thing you have any control over today is your attitude."  So true.

I look for my husband among the stranded paddlers, I can't find him anywhere.  I see really experienced kayakers that have been tumbled to shore.  But I don't see Bill anywhere or his kayak.  I realize my husband is one of a handful of kayaks left on the water.  I know his physical strength and his determined spirit is keeping him out there - not letting the wind beat him.

I  workout hard every day between bootcamp, weights, running and teaching fitness classes sometimes 4 in a day.  I have strength and stamina.   I am no wimp. But I am embarrassed that I couldn't do what I said I could do.  I am disappointed in myself for not doing what I said I would do.  I feel like I let people down that were counting on me to do what I said I could do.
I wonder if this is a little of what a Disqualified Ironman athlete feels?

I see 3 paddlers coming in - Walt a Professional boater/kayaker, Mike Caifa the leader of the whole Kayak support crew and amazing kayaking professional with loads of experience on the water, and then I see Bill.  I run to him and hug and kiss him.  I am impressed.  Out of 60 kayakers and paddlers I saw only 3 return safely to shore in their kayak after the race was over.  I find out later that 5 Kayakers of the 60 on the water were able to paddle through that wind storm and stay with those swimmers - Those paddlers are IRONMEN!

Bill share his story with me: He is a strong kayaker and a powerful man that loves to outdo the next guy in push up and pull up contests. On a normal Friday and Saturday afternoon you will find Bill paddling hard on this same water, testing his skill in speed as tries to beat his previous time circling the entire lake twice a week as a minimum.  He is used to a good hard paddling event. But the exhaustion of the day and pushing against this storm was too much.   After struggling with all his strength against that wind he came over to me and Ken holding onto that kayak in the water and asked me to climb in and help him out but I couldn't. After I told him to go do his job, he paddled back into that wind to do whatever he could.  He remembered a story in the  Scriptures that talked about a prophet of God that prayed for strength and was given the strength he needed.  So Bill prayed out loud to his Father in Heaven asking to be given strength knowing that he would be given what he was needed. With his Heavenly Father's help he was able to push against that wind in his monstrous Kayak while about 50 other Kayakers couldn't, some with many more years of experience on white water.

Approximately 1700 swimmers hit the water, 400 were pulled and 1300 made it around and swam the entire 2 miles in rough water.  wow! 

There were hundreds of prayers given that day.

I have since heard that it was a miracle no one died in that water.  That is true.  God watched over us and protected us that day.  BUT we also had some GREAT people working that risked their lives and did all they could to tow people out of the water that needed rescue.  Many of those GREAT people humbled themselves enough to ask for God to assist them and the others on the water.  Many boaters, divers and lifeguards did an amazing job pulling out a RECORD number of people in a tough windstorm I believe they/we did it with God's help - whether or not they all know it.

a Few days after the event another female kayaker and good friend (another Michelle) and I shared some time together to clear the guilt we felt for not being on that water til the end.  As we talked things through we realized that between the 2 of us we had saved a minimum of 10 lives.  I needed to remember that so that I no longer felt guilty for not being able to stay on my board and stay out there with everyone in need.

So the question: Why didn't they cancel the swim portion of the Ironman?

My personal view:
 This is the freaking Ironman.  Many of these athletes have traveled the globe to test their skill.  Many are used to swimming in the ocean and have trained in difficult waters.  Over 1000 swimmers made it through that swim.  What do you tell those  people that accomplished this.  Plus - how do you just cancel after the swim has started without having more chaos?   The weather was great when we started.  The swimmers are in the water and the support on top of the water in the way of the wind is having more difficulty than the swimmers are.  If you cancel the swim - you still have swimmers out there bobbing up and down waiting for rescue with very little support and they all have to make it back.  If they can swim it- they should swim it!

I hate swimming.
But I plan on open water swimming more this year and practicing pulling myself up in the water.
It scares the poop out of me.  (poop is Utah/Mormon slang for other words I could use there.) 
Would I do it again?  Absolutely!

Round 2!
After the swim....
Bill and I went home and took a LOOOOOONG nap. Then we prepped for a night at running aid station number one - next to the finish line.  we gathered up the kids, packed some food, blankets and water and headed out the door for our final round of Ironman volunteering.  I've never done this with all 5 of my kids.  We are signed up for 6-midnight.  Let's see if this works.

Awesome.  I love the excitement!  I see familiar faces from the water and found out that the Ironman officials allowed the hundreds pulled from the water to continue the race without their race chips. They will be able to cross the finish line but will not qualify for any awards.  I thought that was cool.

My kids, my husband and I were handing out water, coke, and wet sponges to runners as they jogged past.  The cutest thing was watching my 4 year old so eager to help holding the "Perform" cups (a drink kind of like Gatorade) and yelling out to the runners to take a drink.  Of course he's adorable - He's 4.  Runners would stop and take a drink from him and smile and tell him thanks.  He was beaming.  Later on that night he told me he wanted to go run too.  So I took his hand and we jogged about a block away.  I pretended that a sign on the road was the finish line and He and I cheered until he saw more runners go past us.  It was about 10:00pm so the runners were few and far between by now.  But my little boy was angry at me.  "That's not the real finish line! I want to run to the REAL finish line."
LOL!  I love that he was inspired by these athletes to want to cross a finish line.  So we start again.  I grab his hand and we run alongside another Ironman athlete that laughs as he says "I just got beat by a kid and his mom"  he was smiling, we were smiling.  We ran as close as we could to the finish line before we swerved off to the side and went to the stands to watch the other runners come in.  It was awesome!  All that cheering, all that emotion, all that relief and sweat and tears and laughter.  Man, I love this stuff.  I think I am a junkie.
Ferrell says "MOM, IT'S TOO LOUD! LET'S GO BACK!"


Throughout the run portion I have people telling me "Hi - wow, your everywhere."  Bill comes up to me and and says he almost gave a woman a pat on the butt til he realized it wasn't me.  People all over the place I have never met are saying HI like I should know them.  apparently there is another 30 something woman out there with bleached blonde hair and a pink faux hawk, wearing silver earrings, no make-up, and athletic build.  her name is Jamie.  we find each other.  I have a new facebook Buddy.  I recognize her from the running circuit as a woman that has kicked my butt in another race at some point.  and I remember thinking I liked her hair.  But it wasn't pink then.

Another friend running the Ironman stops by the aid station for some chicken broth and coke or something -  Ben Ford.  We start talking about the swim portion.  He wonders what the big deal was.  he was just fine.  Sure it was tough but not that bad and he did just fine and finished strong in the water.

Another runner comes by -I don't know him but he recognizes me from swim support and thanks me for being on the water that morning.  I walk with him a little way and we talk about the craziness of the water. He tells me someone died.  I feel sick to my stomache.  I am not surprised if that happened but I am angry that I couldn't have stopped that.  I tell my husband and he calls Mike Caifa and verifies that that was actually just a rumor.  All the athletes were accounted for.  some were missing for a while - just didn't check in when pulled from the water.  But they tracked everyone down and there were No lives lost on the water.  I count it as a miracle and the sickness in my stomache goes away.  I wish I could run after the other athlete and tell him.  But He is long gone by then.

My 14 year old son is all smiles as he works next to a cute girl handing out water.

My buddies show up with DRUMS!  YAY!  African drumming starts going and I can't sit still.  the party get started again.  The sun is down, the air is cooling and runners are exhausted.  then they hear the drum the Sanderson's brought and they start dancing past our aid station.  I dance with a few of them.  It's a party again.

11:30 - the last runner goes by but they have another 3 miles to go to the finish.  we are done.  I have kids asleep on the ground with pillows and blankets.

We get home after midnight.  What an amazing party.  I may not be one of the elite athletes doing the race.  But I most certainly enjoyed the day and am physically and emotionally exhausted when it it all over.  Today (Sunday) the day after - I can hardly talk and my elbow and legs are very sore.  But I am inspired, excited and motivated by the skill and determination I saw during Ironman.  What a day!