A fortnight of exercising

19 Jan Running track

After the Reading Half Marathon workshop, I was determined to start my training for this year’s races. I still need to sort out a proper half marathon training schedule, but at least I’m making a move in the right direction.

I’ve been out running with Sarah for the past two Wednesdays. We did just over 5km the first week and 6.5km this week. I’m starting to feel a bit more comfortable again, but I definitely need to start doing some speedwork.

Running track

Photo by Austris Augusts on Unsplash

I’ve also been out running with Rachel and Felix, then on Saturday I took part in Southampton parkrun, so I ran three times in a week for the first time in a long time. I found parkrun really challenging, partly because of my fitness levels, but also because it was so busy. I had M in her buggy, so it was really hard for me to pass slower runners. I started off with Inez who was doing her 100th parkrun, but I couldn’t run alongside her, so I slowed down a bit. Then Linda and her baby caught up with me, so we had a lovely chatty run. There are a lot of stressful things going on for me at the moment, so I’m really enjoying the chance to clear my head either by running on my own or by chatting to friends whilst running. I also loved seeing Tuba Libres at parkrun, there to celebrate Laura’s 250th parkrun.

Southampton parkrun Jan 13 2018

Of course the other big challenge that I’m training for is Swimathon. I’m so excited to be an ambassador again this year – check out my profile. Last week I swam with Stuart on Monday. My arms were aching in the first few hundred metres, but  kept going and managed 1000m. I would have swum more, but I didn’t have enough time. Then this week, I swam on Tuesday and did 1200m. I’m determined to keep building up my strength, speed and distance until I’m back to comfortably doing 2km in an hour… by which  stage I should be ready to start my proper training programme.

Swimmers doing front crawl during Swimathon

Swimmers doing front crawl during Swimathon

I’ve been cycling to work (as usual), but I don’t have any cycling challenges at the moment, which is probably just as well as I’m still getting to grips with balancing work, training and family life.

I’ve also been doing a lot of gardening as it’s finally a bit drier. I spent 2.5 hours raking my garden two weeks ago and last week I spent another 2.5 hours raking. I would have continued with the theme, but there’s no room left in my garden waste bin and it’s wet and cold here. Hopefully, I’ll manage to do some more gardening next week.

Have you got a detailed training schedule for this year?

 

 

Monday Morning Motivation – Skid Row Marathon

15 Jan Skid Row Marathon

I recently saw this trailer and was really inspired by it. I hope that I’ll get a chance to see to see this film.

When a criminal court judge starts a running club on LA’s notorious skid row and begins training a motley group of addicts and criminals to run marathons, lives begin to change.

SKID ROW MARATHON follows four runners as they rise from the mean streets of LA to run marathons around the world, fighting the pull of homelessness and addiction at every turn.

Their story is one of hope, friendship, and dignity.


One of the defendants whom Judge Mitchell sentenced to prison approached him after his release. He asked the Judge to visit him at the Midnight Mission homeless shelter where he was living. After the visit, the Judge decided to start a running club. He thought that if he could get few of these men and women into shape and run marathons, the benefits would cross over into their personal lives. He promises those who stick with the program and stay clean, a free trip to run in an international marathon.

The Judge, who suffers from a painful spinal condition, has been told by his doctors to stop running. He chooses to ignore their advice. He needs the club and the balance it provides in his life. It gives him the opportunity to change the world in a way that he can’t in his own courtroom.

http://skidrowmarathon.com/

Training day for Reading Half Marathon

13 Jan Reading Half training day run

Last Saturday morning, I missed another parkrun… but for good reason. I was off to Reading to take part in a training day in preparation for Reading Half Marathon. I wondered whether I’d be able to fit in a parkrun as there is one nearby, but unfortunately, it was cancelled on Saturday, so I didn’t need to worry about being late to the training day.

I arrived fairly early, so there was plenty of time to meet others who were a mix of newbies, experienced runners and bloggers. I ended up sitting next to Anna, the fab blogger behind Anna The Apple. I also met Tess from The Fit Bits and Katie & Kate from These Girls Do.

Whilst we were waiting for others to arrive we saw a montage of images from previous races. My favourite images were ones of a group of friends who had dressed up as Mario Cart characters. I’ve never properly done a race in fancy dress – I ran a parkrun in a Minions outfit, but I was wearing a running t-shirt and shorts, so I don’t think that really counts. Have you ever raced in fancy dress?

The first activity of the day was a workout with Francesca and Chloe, the Townsend Twins.

The workout was high energy and the twins were so much fun. I also loved their outfits and had to do a bit of online stalking to find out where there leggings were from (Bellum Active – starlight leggings)… if anyone has a bit of spare cash and wants to buy me a present for my birthday next month…

I’ve really not done enough exercise in the last few months, so I was a bit nervous about the workout, but it turned out to be a lot of fun (although I was seriously stiff on Sunday AND Monday!) The music was great and the Townsend Twins explained everything really well. If I learnt anything that I could take into my own fitness career, it was that smiling and being enthusiastic is really important… and that I need to duplicate myself so that one of us can talk and the other can demonstrate!

We did a good mix of exercises, including skaters, squats, jump squats and walking lunges.

We then had a quick refreshment break (water, lucozade and bananas).

 

It was then straight into a pacing workshop with Ali Galbraith, who leads the pacers at a number of events, including Reading Half. I’ve taken notes on all of Ali’s talk as I found it really helpful…

Good training runs lead to great pacing days:

  • Set realistic goals
  • Try to not move the goal posts
  • Practice your pace in training runs
  • You will have good days and bad days – roll with the punches
  • See long training runs as mini race days

I’m really bad at accepting that runs don’t always go to plan. I rarely cut runs short and I never do more than my plan says, so maybe I need to be more flexible.

The necessities of a great pacer

  • Good quality watch
  • Gear you can trust
  • Solid knowledge of the race
  • The ability to adapt

I’ve now got a fantastic watch and I’ll probably wear my favourite black shorts. I need to check out the route of Reading Half as I think it’s changed since I last ran it.

Pre-race preparation

  • Fuel intake – what shall I eat and drink?
  • Route planning
  • Race planning – what will I need?
  • Weather preparation

This was one of my favourite parts of Ali’s talk. When I last ran Reading Half, I tried to fuel up with a vanilla Gu, but it was too thick and my friend threw it in the gutter because she thought I was taking too long and I didn’t have time to waste. Ali said that when he is running he uses Ella’s Kitchen baby food pouches (with Spaghetti Bolognese being a favourite) and Mars bars. I don’t think I could eat something that requires that much chewing when I’m running!

The perfect race morning

  • Review your pre race preparation
  • Get to the race village nice and early
  • Warm up properly using that time to visualise the race
  • Get to your starting pen with plenty of time
  • Never lose a smile

I don’t like being stressed on race day, but I have to admit that even though I arrive early I don’t always do a proper warm up.

Race break down

  • Why break down a race?
  • How I break down a race:
    • Miles 1-3
    • Miles 3-11
    • Miles 11-13.1

Breaking down a race into segments is a good mental strategy – it’s something that I do already.

Miles 1-3

  • Holding back the adrenaline
  • Don’t weave
  • Be prepared for a slower pace
  • Just concentrate on you and getting to mile 3
  • Treat it similar to your warm up in training runs

Last time I ran this race, I definitely wasted time and energy by weaving around people. This time I aim to get myself into the right start pen to and take off at a steady pace. Starting too fast is one of my worst habits. At Gosport Half a few years back, I challenged myself not to look at my watch for the first three miles. I didn’t quite manage it, but it was helpful as it stopped me getting into a panic about going too fast or too slow.

Miles 3-11

  • Ask yourself some questions:
    • How am I feeling?
    • What is my fuel intake?
    • Do I need to slow down?
  • Join a group and interact
  • Settle into your race pace
  • Be prepared for things to get tough

I definitely think that running with others who are going at your pace helps. When I got my half marathon PB, I ran with a friend. We were both running faster than we had ever managed before, but we stuck with each other, which gave us both a mental boost.

Miles 11-13.1

  • Break down into bitesize pieces
  • If you’re looking for a PB, now is the time to start pushing the pace
  • Mental toughness is key in these final miles
  • Treat it as the party bus home

This bit always begins at mile 10 for me as then I repeat my mantra: “parkrun to go!”

After Ali’s talk there was time for a Q&A session before we went out for a warm up and a  5km run.

After a few stretches, we split into two groups. The faster group were going to go at 9-9:30 minute miles. I thought that should be OK as I can usually run parkrun at that pace with a buggy. However, I’ve really not run much since before Christmas, so I found it really hard going… also we started at a slightly quicker pace. I definitely think I needed to start more slowly and build up.

© Anna Smith-James

© Anna Smith-James

My stretch goal for Reading Half is 1:49:59, but I would be happy with anything under 1:52:19. At the moment, I think I’d be amazed if I could finish in under 2 hours, but I know that I was able to make a lot of progress in a short period of time last year, so as long as I’m focused, I should get there.

After another short refreshment break, it was on to the physio and injury prevention workshop, led by Jim Adkins from Berkshire Physiotherapy.

This was another interactive session with a combination of questions, answers, information and activity.

We learned how to warm up properly to help avoid injuries. We did lots of calf stretches, before we did some equipment work.

A common misconception is that running is a cheap sport as there is very little that is required. However, when you speak to someone who has become addicted to running they will explain that they have spent a fortune on the right shoes, socks, clothes, sports watch, other gadgets, nutrition and race entry fees. They may also have spent money on items such as foam rollers, massage balls and resistance bands. Jim introduced us to an innovative piece of equipment that I’ve never tried before…

A paper plate!

The aim of the paper plates was to place one under each foot and then do a bridge and slide your feet in and out. It’s much harder than it sounds and really works your core.

The most interesting stretch that I learnt was the ‘slump stretch’. I tried it out with my work colleagues who’ve renamed it as the bored sulky teenager stretch. It involved sitting on a firm surface with room to swing my legs. I had to slump my lumbar spine (chin to chest) and place my hands behind my back, before swinging alternate legs with my foot flexed. This exercise should ‘floss’ your sciatic nerve, which can help to relieve hamstring tightness.

Overall, this was such a helpful day that has made me feel ready to start tackling my training plan.

If you haven’t already signed up for Reading Half, why not enter now?

If you want to treat yourself, there’s a VIP package, which includes a range of ‘extras’.

There’s also the chance to enter the January competition if you sign up before January 31st.

Bubble, bubble, breathe – Swimathon 2018

12 Jan Swimathon 2018 logo

I’m so excited to be an ambassador for Swimathon 2018. I had a great time last year and it really pushed me to get back in the pool after having M. I had big plans for swimming more when I went back to work, but as M has been ill for most of the last 4 months, that didn’t really work out. She’s now seeming better, so I’m hoping to take her to the pool with me this weekend. She’s not really swimming yet, but who knows, maybe she’ll be ready to take part in the 400m challenge next year!

Last year I entered the 5km challenge, but that was a lot to take on, so I’ve entered the 2.5km Swimathon challenge this year. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to improve my speed this year. I want to do a 2.5km time trial as soon as possible, so that I know what time I’ve got to beat. 2.5km is 100 lengths, so it will still be hard work! By concentrating on a shorter distance than last year, I’ll be able to focus a bit more on my technique rather than just focusing on getting the distance in.

There are venues all over the country that are taking part in Swimathon. I’ve decided to swim at David Lloyd at Ringwood because I can do my swim there on a Friday morning. I no longer work on Fridays, so it will help to keep my weekend free so that I can spend more time with M.

If you’d like to join me, there’s a 50% discount until 21st January, so what are you waiting for?!

Did you know that Swimathon is the world’s biggest annual fundraising swim? So far it has raised £48 million which has benefitted 36 charities. It really doesn’t matter what your age or swimming ability is, there’s a challenge for everyone, including a new 400m event this year.

My motivation for taking part in this event is two-fold. Firstly, I need an event that will push me to get in the pool and train. I enjoy swimming, but as I’m so time-pressed that unless I have a reason to be in the pool, it is sometimes squeezed out of my schedule. Secondly, the charities associated with Swimathon (Marie Curie and Cancer Research) are ones that are meaningful for me as my father died of oesophageal cancer nearly 16 years ago.

 

I got in my first swim of 2018 yesterday. I could only fit in half an hour, which was a bit frustrating. I had hoped that I would be able to swim for an hour and that I would be able to see how far I could swim in that time. I managed to swim 1000m. I could tell that I haven’t swum for a while as it felt like so much hard work. My speed has definitely dropped and my arms were tired by 200m. If I can maintain yesterday’s pace then 2.5km will take me 90 minutes; if I were at my best, I know that I could do it in an hour, so that is my goal.

First swim of 2018

Have you entered Swimathon? Which distance?

Taking a risk in 2018

10 Jan Fitness instructor course materials

It’s that time of year when people are thinking about their hopes and dreams for the year ahead. Even if you don’t believe in making New Year’s Resolutions, chances are you’ve been thinking about how you might want your year to go and have perhaps been thinking about making some changes. Maybe 2018 will be the year when you take a risk and try something new.

At the end of 2017, I qualified as a fitness instructor and am looking at pursuing a secondary career in sport (alongside my day job). It would be great to do it full time, but I love my current job and it feels like too much of a risk for me at this stage in my life.

Fitness instructor course materials

I thought it would be appropriate to have a look at some of the athletes who have made risky career movies (often with a significant pay decrease).


View Interactive Version
(via SBO.net).

     

    • Victoria Pendleton, a multiple track sprint Olympic and World Champion between 1989 to 2012, wandering into horse riding, cashing up to £200,000 per race.
    • Adam Gemili found his fame on the football pitch until 2012 when he transferred from the field to the Athletics track, representing Team GB in the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
    • In 2009, the All Blacks centre Sonny Bill Williams started leaning more towards heavyweight boxing, successfully winning all seven of his competitive fights, while still actively playing on the rugby field.
    • Rebecca Romero, silver medallist for rowing in the 2006 Olympics, became the first-ever British woman to compete in two sports at the Olympics Games, when she decided to make the move to cycling. She went on to take home the gold for individual pursuit in the 2008 Beijing Olympics
    • Martina Hingis, 5 Grand Slam single title-winner, took a break from the professional tennis world at just 22 to compete in equestrian competitions. She later returned to the court in 2005.

    Other sporting heavyweights have decided to downsize when making a move, proving how the pay cheque isn’t always the deciding influence. Michael Jordan, six-time NBA champion and five-time NBA MVP, decided to take a break from the basketball lime-light in 1993 and move into baseball, despite lowering his earnings to $850 a month plus $16 daily meal allowances. He made a comeback to basketball in 1995, but has since retired.

    After retiring from cricket, Adam Hollioake transferred to MMA fighting in 2012, leaving behind his average salary of £50,000 a year and claiming no earnings to date in his new career.

    From Jordan’s slam-dunks to home runs, Sonny Bill’s tries to knockouts or Martina’s backswing to jump combinations, check out the full infographic here from SBO.net to see which other careers sporting stars have attempted.

    Are you thinking of trying something new in 2018?

    Monday Morning Motivation: San Diego Splash Sisters

    8 Jan San Diego Splash Sisters

    There aren’t many sports teams with seemingly as low entry requirements as the San Diego Splash Sisters: “If you can stand up and move your legs, you’re welcome.” However, when you realise that this hoops squad consists of over 80s, then that definitely limits the number of potential players.

    I was completely inspired by these fantastic women and hope you are too.

     

    Returning to my favourite (and fastest) ever race

    5 Jan Reading Half training morning
    I am so excited to have been selected as a Blogger Ambassador for Reading Half Marathon. The race takes place on Sunday 18th March, 2018. 
    I first ran Reading Half in 2012 and was thrilled to achieve a PB of nearly 25 minutes, finishing the race in 1:52:19. I’m fairly confident that I could have smashed that time last year, but my training has suffered, so it will be interesting to see how it goes this year. I absolutely loved running Reading Half in 2012, but I’ve never returned as I’ve been afraid that it wouldn’t live up to my expectations. I still don’t really know how I did so well in 2012 – I sometimes wonder whether it was down to the bottle of Lucozade that I drank before the start of the race!
    Reading Half 2012

    With team-mates from Lordshill Road Runners after Reading Half Marathon 2012

    Some of the things that I enjoyed about the race were the enthusiastic crowds who turned out to support the runners, the music along the course and the finish inside the Madejski Stadium. I also enjoyed running with my training partner, Irene.
    After being ill over Christmas, I’ve not been running as much as usual at all, so I’m keen to get back to training. Tomorrow, I’m attending a Training Morning in Reading.
    Reading Half training morning
      The morning will start with a workout led by the Townsend Twins, who will also be leading the warm up on race day. I’m still thinking about studying to become a Personal Trainer, so I’ll be seeing whether I can pick up any tips as well as having some fun!
      Next up will be a seminar on pace management led by Ali Galbraithe. I’ve run as a pacer for several events, and it’s a role that I’ve enjoyed, but it’s much easier to run at a consistent pace when you’re within your comfort zone. I’ll be keen to learn how to improve my pacing and maybe even how to go for that elusive negative split.
      After a group run, Berkshire Physio will be leading a cool down and giving an injury prevention talk. I’ve been neglecting my stretches recently, so this might push me into taking more care of myself.
      Overall, I’m so excited about this opportunity. I’ll do my best to take loads of photos and will be reporting back on what I’ve learnt.

       Have you thought about signing up for Reading Half? There’s a competition to win some great kit for anyone who enters during January, so what are you waiting for?!

      Image

      Monday Morning Motivation: Flat out

      25 Dec This Girl Can photo

      Now the kids are flat out, so am I

      Monday Morning Motivation: I will what I want

      18 Dec Gisele Bündchen for Under Armour - I WILL WHAT I WANT

      It’s a very short Monday Morning Motivation this week…

      Supermodel Gisele Bundchen knows what it means to live under the microscope, amongst the noise of contradicting opinions. But will beats noise. Watch Gisele face real-time commentary now at: http://willbeatsnoise.com/

      What do you think?

       

      Monday Morning Motivation: Schuyler Bailar

      11 Dec Schuyler Bailar

      Schuyler Bailar’s story is inspirational – he gave up the opportunity to be an Olympic medalist to be true to himself. He was recruited to Harvard as a female, but has found peace after transitioning to male. I hope that over the next few years he achieves success in all areas of his life.

      In 2016, the International Olympic Committee ruled that transgender athletes could compete without undergoing surgery. This policy made history in the sports world, welcoming a new generation of athletes into the Olympic family.

      Schuyler Bailar is an athlete on the men’s swimming and diving team at Harvard University. This is his story.

      Schuyler: I’ve just always loved being underwater.

      Schuyler: When I jump in, the water’s always cold, and it kind of shocks my system into, like, being quiet for a second. Sometimes I just kind of stay underwater for like a second too long, and it’s always that kind of moment of, “This is the only thing I’m supposed to be doing right now. This is the only place I need to be.” That brings me a lot of peace, I think, that I don’t have in my daily life.

      Baltimore, Maryland

      Terry Hong, Schuyler’s mother: OK, who wants tea?

      Schuler and Gregor Bailar, Schuyler’s father: Tea, I want tea. I’ll have some, please.

      Terry: OK.

      Gregor: What kind of tea?

      Terry: It’s green tea.

      Schuyler: That’s when you took my braids out, right?

      Terry: That was in West Virginia.

      Gregor: Schuyler’s swimming started in the bathtub.

      Terry: He was just always so comfortable in the water, and before he learned to walk he was swimming on his own.

      Video footage: Go Schuyler!

      Schuyler: I don’t know if I’ve ever thought of myself as a talented swimmer. When I was younger, I wasn’t very good. There were a lot of people who were bigger and stronger than me, but I’ve always worked hard.

      Schuyler on video, age 12: This is my bird Chico. I’m Schuyler, this is Jinwon…

      Gregor: Schuyler was a tomboy. He was much more comfortable in cargo pants and a T-shirt than anything else.

      Schuyler: People handed me skirts, and I would throw on basketball shorts. Or, like, people handed me the word “girl”, and I would hand them back “tomboy”. It wasn’t like I thought about it a whole lot, until it became a thing that people said, “Oh, like Schuyler’s different,” or, “Schuyler doesn’t do other things other girls do,” and then it became conscious to me because I was like, “If I do these things, people are going to see me as a boy. OK, I’m going to keep doing them.”

      Schuyler: When I was younger and my coach told me I could be good, and my mom and I were watching the Olympics that same year, I watched all of the women swimmers at that point, and their chests were really flat, and this was the point where my breasts had started growing, and I remember being like, “Mom, how come they don’t have any boobs?” and Mom was like, “Well, when you exercise that hard, like a lot of female Olympians don’t have boobs, because they don’t have enough fat in their body,” and I was like, “Oh, my God. This is incredible!”

      Schuyler: At that point, that was a huge fear of mine because I knew that my body was about to be kind of taken from me in a way that I didn’t want it to, and so there was definitely a huge point in my thought process where I was like, “OK, I’m going to be good at swimming.”

      Gregor: Schuyler’s swimming career kind of took off in high school… and he started breaking records both in the local area as well as at the national level on a relay team.

      Schuyler: I think when I was younger I was intent on doing things because I liked them, but I got lost in high school, and started just doing things because I wanted to do well in them.

      Gregor: Schuyler broke his back the summer before his junior year, and junior year is recruiting year for swimming, and so it was actually quite emotional.

      Schuyler: Up until that point, I had used swimming as my everything. It was my release. It was my pleasure. It was my social life. It was my motivation. It was my… my day. It was definitely a way to block everything else out. Breaking my back broke me. I fell so far into depression, eventually an eating disorder, um, and a lot of it was because I didn’t have another way to release anything, and I didn’t know how to deal with my own feelings. I had never had to sit down and really think about who I was or what I wanted out of the world. I didn’t have any words to explain why I felt so uncomfortable with my body, and the biggest thing was that I did have everything I needed. I was doing really well in school. I had just gotten recruited to swim at Harvard, and I had gotten accepted into Harvard. I had made the National Age Group record. I was swimming fast, and I was like, “What is wrong with me?”

      Gregor: There was no gender discussion, by the way, at that time. It was just all about, um, getting to know who he was and getting to fix some of these issues, and we found a facility that seemed to be a match with that.

      Terry: He graduated, and then the day after, we went to Florida where we took Schuyler into the facility where he would spend 131 days, and he did a lot of really difficult work there and… started the process of becoming whole.

      Schuyler: At treatment you’re not allowed to do any behaviours. They keep a very close watch on you, so I literally had zero ways to cope, and had to talk about my feelings, and had to talk about how I felt and my identity, and that was the first place that I was finally able to say that I was transgender.

      Schuyler on video, aged 18: Hey, guys. Um, so I’m Schuyler. I’m about to start my physical transition. Um, FTM, female to male. Er, and I thought that it would be good to document it.

      Schuyler: It took me another year until I told most of my friends, and asked them to call me male pronouns, and refer to me as a boy, and kind of solidify the idea of like, “Oh, this has actually always been me, and I’m not actually, you know, changing myself. I’m just presenting the truest part of myself.”

      Schuyler on video, aged 18: I’m going to be swimming next year in college. Um, so that makes it complicated because I want to transition as soon as possible, but you can’t swim competitively and take hormones. So what I’m gonna do… ..er, is get top surgery. So I…

      Schuyler: When I was allowed to have top surgery, it was probably one of the best days of my life.

      Schuyler on video, aged 18: You kind of see that, you know, they’re there. I hate that.

      Surgeon: Let’s take a look in the mirror, OK? So, big difference.

      Schuyler: Yeah.

      Surgeon: You can see…

      Schuyler: I thought that it was going to be me transitioning, and being true to being trans, or me being true to me being a swimmer, and that was really hard because I thought, you know, “Both of these are me.”

      Terry: It was an agonising decision for Schuyler to consider giving up everything he had worked for his whole life, in terms of his swimming. It was really hard to realise, “Oh, I’m not maybe going to be this champion swimmer that I thought I was going to be, that everyone told me I was going to be.”

      Coach Kevin, Harvard Men’s Swimming and Diving: I first heard of Schuyler through Stephanie Morawski. She’s our women’s head coach of swimming and diving. Stephanie and I had been talking about Schuyler, and some of the issues that Schuyler had outside of swimming. Once we got to a point where Schuyler was thinking of transitioning from female to male, Steph kept me in the loop as far as that was concerned. I did work to educate myself as far as NCAA rules. We found out that it was perfectly acceptable for Schuyler to compete for Harvard Men’s Swimming and Diving. I had conversations with the young men on the team, and everybody was open to the idea.

      Schuyler: The men’s coach was like, “Well, if Schuyler identifies as male, and I have a men’s team, and he wants to swim, why doesn’t he swim for me?” But I almost said no because I was so scared of the possibility of losing everything, because, yeah, I’d be able to swim, but I would transition, and my body would be different, and I would lose all of my accolades as a female athlete, and all the potential I had as a female athlete. That was really scary to me because I had worked really hard to be successful at swimming. At that point, I decided, “OK, I’ve got to take this risk. I’ve got to try to be myself because maybe that will make me happy.”

      Coach: On your mark, go!

      Coach: You’re doing a better job not slowing down in your turns, but let’s get a bit wider in the foot placement for both you guys.

      Coach: Schuyler is one of the most determined athletes I’ve ever met in my life.

      Schuyler: Hey, Matt, will you start me?

      Coach: Not only as a swimmer but, more importantly, he’s an exceptional human being and a really good team-mate. The grit and determination that he’s shown is remarkable, and it’s helped me not only become a better coach, but a better parent and hopefully a better educator at Harvard.

      Coach: Your best swimmers have that feeling that this is something they can’t live without, and I think Schuyler can’t live without being in the water.

      Schuyler: Five years ago, swimming meant 100%, unequivocally, everything to me. I think over time, I’ve learned to have a bit more balance than that. My family has never shown me a lack of love, and that has been what’s kind of kept me alive. When I ended up biting the bullet and telling my very conservative Korean grandma, she said, “Schuyler, you can be a son. You can be a brother. You can be a husband. You can be a boy, a man, but Korean daughters take care of their mothers, and now your mom doesn’t have any daughters so you have to take care of your mother and your parents,” and I was like, “OK. I can definitely do that.” I have those words – take care of your parents – tattooed on my side, under my scar, next to my heart in my grandmother’s handwriting. She wrote it for me for the tattoo, and she was very excited about it. “Thank you for taking this eternal vow for your parents.”

      Terry: I don’t remember the Baltimore harbour like this.

      Gregor: Let’s get a picture over here.

      Schuyler: Picture?

      Gregor: Of us three.

      Schuyler: Got it.

      Gregor: OK, let’s keep walking.

      Terry: Let’s keep walking.

      Gregor: Keep walking before we freeze.

      Schuyler: When I came out as trans, and when I decided to swim for the men’s team, I told people around me, my coaches, my parents, my friends, that I was going to be open about it. When I was younger, I had no role models or people to look up to and say, “Oh, I can do this.”

      National Association of Independent Schools Congress

      Schuyler: I love motivational speaking because I’m really invested in sharing my story, and sharing the possibility for this kind of happiness and this kind of peace with yourself, especially with something so complicated as being transgender, but also so simple as just wanting to be happy.

      Administrator: Hello.

      Host: Yeah, um, Schuyler Bailar. He’s a speaker.

      Host: In so many ways, Schuyler’s story represents the stories of the remarkable young people whom we all teach on our campuses, but his story has a unique distinction. As the first openly transgender athlete to compete in any sport on an NCAA division one team, he has been willing to share his story globally. His willingness to share his insights are why we are so pleased he is with us today, and I ask you to join me in welcoming Schuyler Bailar.

      Schuyler: Thank you so much, everybody. I’m so happy to be here. I’ve spoken at high schools and middle schools, elementary schools, and colleges, but I’ve never actually spoken with just administrators before so this is really cool. Allowing me to be myself at every step of the way from my coaches, my teachers, my parents, has saved my life, and it’s why I’m here today. I want to just take you back to when I was a kid. I was always a water baby. I’ve swum since the time I could walk.

      Schuyler: Swimming has been the hugest part of my life since before I can remember, and being true to myself as a trans person is also hugely important to me. When I used to interact with somebody, it was always, “Who are they going to think I am?” And now I just walk into the room, and I’m just myself. If I can be naked in a Speedo and expose my trans-ness to everybody, you can do your thing too.

      The Guardian: Schuyler Bailar, Harvard’s transgender swim star: ‘I’m really proud of who I am’