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Mom Post – An explorer, chiggers, eagles, thunderstorms, crappies–ahhh Minnesota

June 24, 2008

Dear Everyone,

I’m Michelle’s mom and am trying to help lighten my daugther’s load.  Plus, I get the opportunity to share my side of the story!

Michelle has not posted recently because she has been focusing on putting one arm in front of another and training hard for the Manhatten Island swim that is only 10 days away.  Yikes!  So, let me update you now on the latest adventures in which I have been engaged with Michelle.

All of May and June when the snow melted, Michelle swam in Hagg Lake.  So far the water has been cold enough for a good workout.  As she has mentioned before, swimming with someone helps her pace herself and helps pass the time while training for the upcoming events.  Tim continues to be her swimming buddy, and she appreciates the company.  I appreciate that my daughter isn’t out there alone like she was last year. 

This weekend Michelle and I did her training in Minnesota where all of her family lives.  She had the honor of meeting Ann Bancroft, the North and South Pole explorer, at the home of my friend on Thursday morning.   I listened as Michelle and Anne talked about possibilities and BIG goals.  Ann understands the rigors of attempting physical and mental tasks that test the limits of one’s abilities.   She also understands how some can think extreme athletes are a little crazy to have such physically strenuous goals.  Ann’s training regimen is equally physically taxing as swimming for hours in very cold water–she pulls tractor tires around her yard to strengthen herself for pulling a sled full of the supplies she needs for such for a polar expedition.   Michelle indicated that pulling tractor tires around the ground is not something she has to experience for herself.  Ann is an amazing woman who took a great deal of time for my daughter.  Michelle has already mentioned that she learned a great deal about those niggling things that have to be done in order to successfully take on the great physical challenges that seem impossible.  It was a true honor to meet Ann. 

Michelle swam 4.5 hours on Thursday and 3 hours on Friday in Lake Koronis in central Minnesota.  Although the spring has been very cold in Minnesota, I am pleased to report that the course of normal events is still on track in the great north.  The chiggars made their annual debut during Michelle’s training swims.  Michelle looks a little like she has chicken pox across her face, neck, back and places that are not on public display.  Those little buggers itch!

Thursday’s afternoon swim was more difficult than she hoped it would be.  Perhaps Michelle might have been stressed about giving her first big speech in Minnesota to the Minnesota Association of Secondary School Administrators.  While she enjoys speaking to new groups and it was especially fun to be in front of most of the principals and assistant principals of the high and middle schools in Minnesota, it is a little stressful mixed with very exciting.  The speech on Friday morning was a success and I was proud to have heard her speak.  The swim Friday afternoon proved to be more relaxing and interesting. 

The chiggars were still there but so were eagles(2) and eaglets(2), white pelicans, a very big something under the water, and a Minnesota thunderstorm.  All provided unique experiences.  I am supposed to kayak at exactly the right location next to Michelle.  I am not as good at maintaining that exact location as Michelle would like at times which leads to the normal mother-daughter exchanges about who is doing what well.  Enough of that.

Not to be a quitter, I donned my hat and slathered myself with sunscreen and dragged the kayak to the water.  We set out in the afternoon because of the morning speech.  The day was beautiful–replete with big fluffy clouds in a blue sky.  Michelle swam across the lake and headed for the first of three small islands.  The plan was to swim around them and then back across the lake. 

Only those in or from the midwest understand how a few puffy clouds can join together to become a quickly moving thunderstorm.  Michelle and I did well in the wind and rain part of the storm, but when it began to thunder and lightning, it was time to head for the shore and sit it out.  Well sitting it out involved being right under an eagle’s nest.  Neither of us have ever been so close to eagles before.  Those eaglets were big and the mom and pop even bigger.  All looked menacingly at us.  Michelle, the naturalist, told me that my job was to beat away the big birds if they decided that there was an efficiency in attacking her rather than wasting their time on small fish.  They didn’t attack and it was good to see them up close. 

Seeing some very, very large moving something under the lake water was not so good.  Michelle’s head, arms and feet all emerged from the water at the same moment when she saw a big shadow in the water.  All she could think about and related was the story of the marathon swimmer that was attacked by a crazed otter.  No attack.  Only chiggers…and you never see them until it is way too late.  Later the family consensus was that Michelle was swimming over a very, very large carp.   I told her to keep swimming in truely mother supportive way.

Saturday Michelle didn’t swim but was close to the water– she fished with her nephew, Matthew’s, tiger pole.  She caught 8 fish on one worm.  Is that a record?  It was good to see her laugh and forget about swimming for a little while as Matthew (almost 5) and Jacob (7) and Alex (9) and she caught crappies (it is NOT a long “A” sound) from the shore.

The Manhatten Island swim is rapidly approaching and I find myself alternately excited and anxious for Michelle.  (I think she feels similarly)  I know she will do well, but once a parent always a parent.  I worry.  Since I was on the Viking Princess when she crossed the channel,  I know how much positive energy your comments brought all of us.  I am hoping that those of you that follow this commentary will send support on July 5th and before.  Those comments that I placed on the white board and hung over the side of the boat and that Michelle read supported her in many ways.  I don’t think I ever got to say thank you for that.

On the 5th I will be trying to post updates throughout the race for those interested.  Thanks to all of you who send your good wishes. 

I hope to post again before the race. 

 – Mom Macy (aka Kathleen)








2 Responses to “Mom Post – An explorer, chiggers, eagles, thunderstorms, crappies–ahhh Minnesota”

  1. Sarah says:

    Mom Macy,

    Thanks for posting and being such a good Mom to your daughter. I used to work with Michelle at Nike but now I live in Connecticut.

    I thought that I would be able to come to Manhattan July 5 to cheer Michelle on. Unfortunately, on May 23 I broke a vertebra in my back. I’m healing well but don’t think I have the stamina to trek around Manhattan all day. I’m disappointed but want to send my support to Michelle.

    I’ll be watching the website and sending encouraging emails.

    Tell Michelle that as I begin gentle weight training and do bicup curls with 2 lb weights, I’ll be thinking of her putting one arm in front of the other.

    All my best,


  2. kristy says:

    sent michelle a note today wishing lots of success and of course to ‘stay right’ (i read the swim path description)…have fun kathleen and enjoy the time in the city…we’ll be thinking of you both this weekend!

    safe travels to you both, looking forward to hearing how the race went!

    take care,
    kristy edds

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