Past, Present and Future

Reflections on my first tri and wondering what the future holds.  Here we go:

Crossing the Chicago Sprint Triathlon finish line was both exciting and a let down.  Let me explain.

Exciting because I did it.

Let down because a LOT of people do sprint tris – even kids.

I wanted to shout my accomplishment from the rooftops, yet I know the physical act of completing a sprint tri isn’t shout-worthy.  Granted overcoming my fear of swimming and learning how to swim a 1/2 mile is, but that’s too long to shout from the rooftops! 🙂

I have one friend, that whenever he sees me asks me how I’m doing swimming and when I give him an update he’s always very supportive.  He makes a special point to ask, “do you stop and appreciate what you are doing?”  And most often than not, the answer is no.  And for that reason, I’m left in a weird spot emotionally.  I am excited for what I’ve done, yet I can’t always appreciate the magnitude of it.  Instead I focus on the fact that even kids can swim.  So while I did something pretty cool – it’s not like it’s some great feat.  Actually it’s something I should have been able to do decades ago.  So unlike running marathons or even running 50 miles – those are feats that not a lot of people can do – it’s weird to get excited about doing something most people can do – swimming.

I know I’m overly critical and hard on myself and I need to appreciate how hard I worked – because I really did work hard.  But I want to do more – bigger, badder and better.  I want to challenge myself again – because apparently I need a good challenge to distract myself from this crazy thing called life.  And that’s why I have already signed up for the 2018 Chicago Tri – and here’s the kicker – I signed up for the Olympic Distance.  Woot!  I figure if I can go from not being able to put my head under water and crying at the sight of the harbor, to swimming a 1/2 mile; the jump from swimming a 1/2 mile to 1 mile won’t be as hard.  At least I hope not.  So next year I will be doing a 1 mile swim, a 25 mile bike and a 10k.  I think that should be a pretty good challenge for year two!

Here are other random thoughts on my training, my first tri and what lies ahead.

  • I enjoyed the variety tri training provided.  Now I know why Brian always liked it so much – keeps the boredom at bay (somewhat).
  • I realized that I equate the difficulty of my training by how much I sweat.  I would do 30 minutes in the pool and feel like I didn’t work out, so then I’d do another 30 minutes of cardio and sometimes strength training too.  When I would bike, I too felt like I wasn’t getting a good workout in because I didn’t sweat.  The built-in breeze provided by the wind during biking kept me relatively dry, even on hot summer days.  But when I got off the bike and did a short 1-mile run, I would be a sweaty mess and I felt that 10 minute run was a better workout than 60 minutes on the bike.  Ridiculous I know.  But apparently in my mind, sweat = a good workout.
  • I hate to admit it, and I NEVER thought I’d EVER say it – but I kind of miss swimming.  Yikes!!  Did I really just say that?  I got back in the pool Tuesday night and it felt good and it felt more normal than not.
  • I need to learn how to bi-lateral breathe and as I swam the other night and thought about trying to breathe the opposite of what I’ve been doing, it gave me major anxiety.  I know I have to learn sooner, rather than later so it doesn’t get even more awkward and uncomfortable.  But honestly, I don’t even know where to start.  It seems so unnatural as if I were writing with my opposite hand and writing from right to left!
  • I also have to work on my biking.  It amazes me how hard it is to get up even baby hills.  I just have to find a way to put these big ol’ thighs of mine to good use and get up those damn hills!  Anyone have better tips or pointers than Brian’s advice… “I don’t know, just do it”.  I’m looking for advice on what gear to be, how often to shift or do I need to not shift at all?  Should I be in a higher gear and power through or lower gear and spin?  Anything helpful would be appreciated.
  • When swimming – especially during the tri itself – it’s almost impossible to take in your surroundings.  You can’t focus on other athletes, you can’t soak in the scenery, the atmosphere and “buzz” of the event are non-existent in the water.  It’s very dull and mundane.  It’s hard to appreciate the experience of it all from the perspective of the swim.  Jolene had asked me about the race and when I was talking about it, I was talking more about the bike than the swim – even though the swim was the bigger hurdle for me.  But the reason I couldn’t talk much about the swim is because it’s such a confined part of the total experience.  It’s hard to elaborate on things when all you do is see dark water, then you see the horizon, then dark water, then the horizon.  Maybe the occasional seaweed or other swimmers, but that’s about the extent of the experience.  And for someone like me that thrives on the full experience, – swimming is hard both mentally and physically.
  • If you want some indication as to how bad my emotional state was race morning, both Brian and Jolene (I found out later) thought I might not get in the water.  Brian’s literally seen me at my worst when it comes to events – he’s seen me hyperventilate and cry on the side of a road during a hot 6-hour run, he’s been with me when I hit the wall at mile 6 of a marathon and I wanted to fake faint to get out of running and he’s seen me before the Fall 50 when I was just numb at the thought of having to run 50 miles and I told him “I don’t want to do this”.  Same with Jolene, she’s been at most of my marathons and saw me sweat it out before the start of the Fall 50.  They know I’m too stubborn to quit – and yet they thought it was a possibility that I do just that.  I had no idea I was that bad!
  • And here’s the funny part about them thinking I may not make it into the water – it never occurred to me to NOT do it.  Never.  I didn’t want it to suck and I was scared.  But I was going to do it.  Even at the Fall 50, when I said I didn’t want to do it… I didn’t say that about the tri.
  • I’m glad my first tri was Chicago – it’s the countries largest tri, so if I can manage the logistics of it out of the gate – the smaller, local ones I want to do next year should hopefully be a piece of cake.
  • But because Chicago was my first and all that come after will always be compared to my first – I hope the local ones don’t disappoint.  I mean there aren’t many in Wisconsin that can compete with the scenery of the Lake Michigan harbor, the Chicago Skyline and city landmarks.
  • A co-worker asked me if I am in love with tris.  I said no.  It’s too early to be in love with them.  I can’t say I love something that freaked me out to the point where I cried uncontrollably in front of friends, family and strangers.  But will I come to love it?  Maybe.  But maybe not.  I don’t think I have to love it to do it.  I have to love the challenge – not necessarily the sport.
  • And since we’re on the topic of challenges – I can’t tell you how many people have predicted I’ll do an Ironman and/or asked me when I’m signing up.  I’d be lying if I said the challenge wasn’t intriguing.  But I’d also be lying if I said I’m up for it.  I’m not at least not now, and I’m smart enough to admit it.  Probably not for a long, long time.  Let’s not forget that up until 3 months ago, I couldn’t swim longer than 1 lap in the pool.  As of now, I wouldn’t even make it out of the water before the Ironman cutoff – I’m too slow.  And I’d be damned if I would go through training and not even make it onto the bike.  And then there’s the bike… I could NEVER get up the hills of an Ironman course. NEVER.   And it would also be pretty difficult to gut through a marathon after a 112 mile bike ride when I have no desire to run longer than 3 miles right now.  I’d have to get my running mojo back before being able to tack on a marathon at the end of 2 other sports.

BUT as we all know – never say never.  So who knows what the future holds.  I’m not getting any younger and the body doesn’t bounce back from overuse and sports injuries as easily as it did years ago (wait, did I ever bounce back easily?).  So deciding to go for it – may not be a choice in the future.  But if my body holds up and if my mental game can rise to the challenge, who knows.  You all know I thrive on challenges.  I eventually cry, make myself sick, have an emotional breakdown and feel like jumping off a ledge from them too… but I thrive off of them before and after all the other bad stuff.  So god willing, if I stay healthy, if my job and other lifestyle choices I’ve made stay status quo – who knows.  I can’t say never.  Because we all know that saying never will eventually come back to bite you in the ass.  So while I’m not saying never, I’m not saying yes either.  I’m saying…. I have a lot of work to do before next year’s Olympic tri and for now, that’s what I’ll be concentrating on.

Until next time,

Gotta run (or swim and bike)

 

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1 done, 2 sports to go

Part Two of My Triathlon Debut:

As I got out of the water I was a mix of emotions.  Part of me said it’s no big deal… I’ve actually swam 1/2 mile before so it’s not like swimming the distance was a big deal.  But what was a big deal was going from crying uncontrollably earlier in the morning to getting out of the water, unscathed.  I did it and I did it without drama.  And by that I mean, no gasping for breath, no getting knocked around by other swimmers, no hanging on to lifeguard boats.

swim

What’s weird about tris – but it’s the nature of the sport – is that you can’t celebrate mini accomplishments along the way.  I would have loved to have been able to chill and relish the fact that I didn’t die in Lake Michigan, but I couldn’t.  I had to get to transition to get on my bike.  I actually found this “must-keep-going-must-do-the-next-sport” feeling really odd.  I hadn’t thought much about it – I had thought about transition and the logistics of making it all work – but I never thought about how I’d feel.  I was a bit let down by the fact that to me – the hardest part was over with, yet I didn’t get to truly enjoy it because I had to keep going.  On the other hand, I also remember being aware of the fact that “this is what tris are all about” – I had to suck it up buttercup and get going.

I ran the 1/4 mile to transition and once inside the barricades, I stepped off to the side on a patch of grass to take off my wet-suit.  I got it off relatively easy and then I picked up my stuff and ran to my rack and bike.  Thankfully I had no problems getting to my rack or my bike, I had a pretty good visual cue – a pine tree – to help with my sighting.

I tossed my wet-suit over the rack, put on my socks and shoes, grabbed my race belt and threw that on too.  Brian had told me not to put my belt on until the run, but I chose to put it on during the bike because I was worried I’d forget it otherwise.  I don’t clip into my pedals so I don’t have to change shoes, which is where a lot of people keep their race belt so they remember to put it on before the run.  But all I had to do was take off my helmet and throw on my hat, so I didn’t trust myself to remember it, being a newbie and all.  So I put my race belt on, buckled my helmet and threw my glasses on top of my helmet and I was off.  I thought I did okay in transition for being a rookie.  I didn’t break any speed barriers, but I didn’t dilly dally either.

As I mounted my bike I heard people shouting something.  I wasn’t sure what they were shouting or to whom.  Eventually I figured out they were shouting at me telling me my glasses were on my helmet – which I knew and is where I wanted them.  The sun wasn’t too bad at this time so I didn’t want them on, but I wanted to have them with me in case I needed them.  But as they were all so persistent in their shouting, I figured it must have been against regulations to have anything “loose” that could fly off while on the bike.  So I grabbed my glasses and put them on.  I later asked Brian about this and he said there is no such rule.  He thinks the people were just trying to be helpful by telling me my glasses were on my helmet – in case I had forgotten them there.  While I appreciate the sentiment behind their shouting, it all kind of freaked me out.  When participating in a tri for the first time, getting shouted at by strangers is not very comfortable.

But you know what was comfortable?  Climbing the first hill – right after mounting my bike.  The course takes riders up the on-ramp and it’s basically right after we mount our bikes, so no time to get warmed up or to get in a low gear.  BUT thanks to all the times I accompanied Brian to his mandatory course talks in the past, I remembered the tip that they gave to make sure your bike is in a low gear in order to make that first climb.  The course lecture we attended this year, didn’t mention that little tip and I think the folks around me paid for it.  I passed probably 4-5 people in the first 50 yards and it was awesome.  And it was just the start of the fun that was about to happen for the next 15 miles.

I had never biked with a group before.  And I’ve only actually biked with one other person a handful of times and it was usually Brian and he’d ride behind me as not to freak me out by being alongside of me.  I was more than a bit anxious to ride with hundreds, maybe even thousands of other riders.  I was scared to get too close to anyone and I was definitely worried about the drafting rules in triathlons.  I figured it would be just my luck to get a penalty or get DQ’d for something as stupid as drafting, especially since I don’t really even get what it entails. And yes, I know what drafting is in theory – but do I know what it looks like in practice and could I guarantee I wouldn’t do it – nope!?  So if I drafted it would have been by accident.

So the only sure-fire way to not get penalized for drafting was to just pass everyone.  Simple enough.

I was peddling along and anytime I got even remotely close to someone I figured I needed to hurry up and pass so I didn’t have to worry about drafting.

aero

It didn’t take long to realize that passing people was fun!  I spent the first few miles zooming by people and I was loving it.  But I figured it wouldn’t last long.  In my mind I figured I was passing all of the slow folks and eventually I’d catch up to the people way faster than me and then the fun would be done.  But that wasn’t the case.  A few more miles and many more people passed.  And in full transparency, I was passing a lot of people on mountain bikes.  But still… I was passing and that’s all that counts.  Plus I was passing a lot of relay people or people way younger than me – so mountain bike or not – they had the upper hand.

I was wearing my Garmin, so I was able to glance at my mile splits and when I saw how fast I was biking, I was pretty excited.  It was about a minute per mile faster than any of my training rides.  But I didn’t get too excited because the bike course is an out-and-back and the wind was at my bike on the way out.  I figured once I hit the turn around my times would skyrocket.  But they stayed pretty low.  I did increase my times, but I was still doing much better than I had on my training rides.

bike

But it’s not like I didn’t get past.  It was around mile 10ish when I really noticed I started getting passed by some people kicking ass.  I wasn’t passed by my fellow back of the packers, instead it was by the triathletes that did the “triple”.  Doing a “triple” is when a person competes in the super sprint on Saturday, then they did the Olympic distance event first thing Sunday morning and when they were done with that, they got back in the water and did it all over again in the Sprint distance.  And contrary to what people may think, this didn’t make them super tired.  No, they were super competitive.  Anyone good enough to do a triple is good enough to catch me and pass me even though they were 5 waves behind me.  I knew they were triples because they were the ones riding $7,000 bikes and were zooming past me as if I was standing still.  I actually heard most of them coming before I even saw them.  Most of them had disk tires and they make a distinct sound in the wind.

And even though I was now getting past by people who started 5 waves later than me, I wasn’t upset.  It was actually fun to watch them bike past.  They bike so effortlessly, unlike my biking, you have to give them all the respect and props they deserve.  Also at this point, I was just enjoying myself too much to care.

And yes, I was actually enjoying myself.  I was biking better than I could have imagined, I was passing people, I wasn’t losing control of my bike while in aero position and I was able to enjoy my surroundings. I made a conscious effort to soak it all in and enjoy the experience.  I saw the ferris wheel on Navy Pier, I saw the skyline, I saw both the Hancock and the Sears Tower (no I will not call it the Willis) in the distance.  It was a beautiful day for a bike ride and I was enjoying it.  And then it started raining.  Not heavy, but enough to notice.  And much to my surprise, I didn’t freak out, I actually thought about how lucky I was that it was going to be raining for my run.  I LOVE running in the rain and I thought the triathlon gods had finally thrown me a bone and given me some favorable conditions.  Unfortunately the rain didn’t stick around for my run, but it was fun while it did last.

After completing my 15 miles on the bike, I got back to transition, did my dismount – and yes the mounting and dismounting were a concern of mine – and I think I did okay.  I didn’t fall or get in anyone else’s way, so I consider that a victory.

Back in transition I racked my bike, took off my helmet, threw my hair into a running hat, sucked down an energy gel and I was off to the run course.

Holy balls, two out of the three are done.  Just one short 5k and I’d be crossing the finish line.  I can do 3.1 miles in my sleep.  This will be a cake walk.

Or so I thought.

When you don’t actually do any runs longer than 1 mile leading up to the tri and when you push your legs too hard on the bike because you’re passing people and it’s fun… you have no juice left in your legs for the run.

Running, the one sport I could do, was going to be a struggle. That just figures!

Run, run, run.

Man my legs feel like concrete.

This sucks.

Oh yes it did.  I had a bit of the typical “lead” feeling that all triathletes have after getting off of the bike.  But that wasn’t my main concern, it was the fact that my legs were just so damn tired from biking.

Ugh.

But just keep putting one foot in front of the other. It’s only 3.1 miles for gods sake – even in pain, I can do that.

So on I went.

I thought it was a simple out and back run course so I thought we’d be turning around at the 1.5 mile mark.  This was not the case.  Instead we turned around closer to the 2 mile mark.  And we all know how well I do when I don’t know where I am?!?!  Anxiety about not turning around started to set in and even though I tried to tell myself that it was no big deal and that the longer I run “out” the shorter the run back “in” would be.  But I still wasn’t a happy camper.  I was completely thrilled when I hit the turn around mark.

I didn’t think about much while on the run.  Other than how crappy my legs felt of course!  Like on the bike, I tried to take it all in.  I tried to appreciate the scenery and all the people.  I also tried to appreciate the fact that it was only a 5K and nothing more!

run

As I made the last turn and was about to enter the finisher’s shoot, I could see the finish line in the distance.  I was just moments away from crossing the finish line and from crossing off a MAJOR item off of my bucket list?

 

finish

What would I feel as I crossed the finish line?  What do I feel now after having over a week to reflect on my accomplishment?  And what’s next?  Well, you’ll have to stay tuned to find out.

Until next time,

Gotta run (or bike and swim)

 

 

I can sum up my feelings prior to the start of my first-ever tri in two words: irrational fear.

Are the three sports in a triathlon -1.  getting sick, 2. crying and 3. running away?  Because that’s what it felt like leading up to my first triathlon.

Let me fill you in.  But where do I begin?

As most of you know I was SO freaking nervous leading up to race weekend.  And man, let’s just say my nerves did not subside once I got to Chicago.  Actually they escalated and were at an all time high.  They were so bad that I was physically making myself sick.  My anxiety was compounded every time I saw the water.

Let me walk you through the nerves and the tears.  Yes, there were tears.  Many, many tears.

We got to downtown Chicago late Saturday morning.  We checked into our hotel, had a quick-lunch and then headed to the expo and the mandatory course talk.  It’s at the course talk the first tears emerged.  Just seeing photos of the water and thinking ahead to the race were troublesome for me.  I few tears escaped.  I tried to be cool and brush away the stray tears before anyone noticed, but I’m guessing Jolene and Brian noticed.

After we left the expo Brian and I went to rack our bikes in transition and walking along the water to and from transition sent me over the edge for the first time that weekend.  The water was so choppy – I was not expecting it to be so rough.  Brian had been assuring me for months that because we were swimming in a harbor that the water would be calm.  The water was not calm and neither was I.

OMG!  What was I going to do?  I couldn’t swim in that water!  This seemed like just as good of a time as any to cry once again!

The afternoon slowly slid into the evening and my nerves slid into an uncomfortable bout of nausea.  Yep, I was making myself ill.  Literally.

By the end of the night I was truly sick to my stomach.  I just wanted to lie in the fetal position until the waters of Lake Michigan turned into the calm waters of the YMCA pool.  But knowing that was extremely unlikely, I decided to take some Pepto and go to bed.

And then the next thing you know it’s Race Day!

Oh lord I was sick to my stomach.

I was trying to compare my feelings on this particular day to the morning of my ultra and while I was nervous and anxious for both, the feelings and worries were completely different.  Before my ultra I was overwhelmed at the magnitude of having to run 50 miles.  I had never run that far and I didn’t know if I could complete the task.  I was worried about the physical aspect of the adventure – how I’d feel, if there would  be pain, etc.  But before the tri, I didn’t have those type of worries and concerns.  It was not a concern for the physical act of swimming, it was fear.  Athentic and irrational fear.  Keyword is irrational.  I knew it wasn’t rational, yet I couldn’t do anything about it.  I just had to go with it.

As I stared out my hotel window and looked at Buckingham Fountain, Grant Park and Lake Michigan I willed both my nerves and the waters to be calm.

2017-08-27 05.35.07

Race Morning. Willing myself and the waters of Lake Michigan to be calm.

We left the hotel to start our day.  As we were walking I was doing “okay”, and “okay” can be left up to interpretation at this point.  We headed to transition to finish getting ready before it closed.  It wasn’t until we left transition – when I saw the sailboats in the marina rocking back and forth – that I panicked.  And no, Brian saying it wasn’t too bad and that the wind will be at my back did nothing to ease my mind.  I was now officially “in my head” and I wasn’t leaving anytime soon.  And prior to a race, being in my head is NEVER a good place to be.

As we left transition, we walked along the water to meet up with my sister Jolene.  We were going to meet up and then we’d find a place to chill and wait for our waves.  At this point I had over an hour and a half before my start time and Brian had about an hour.  As we walked along the water, I got more and more sick.  And the tears came.  At first there were two or three stray tears that rolled down my cheek.  And then those two or three turned to twenty or thirty.  I was trying to keep it together, but it wasn’t working.  As I walked, I brushed more and more tears aside.

And then I saw Jolene and my friend Jody – who I wasn’t expecting to see – and who was in costume and really rockin’ “Race Day”.  Literally.  They were literally rocking out – they were channeling their inner Run DMC – with Jody in costume and all, they had a blow up boom box, gold chains and were playing “It’s Tricky” for me (It’s Tricky was my 2017 inaugural triathlon theme).

When I saw them, I could no longer hold it together.  I lost it.  I cried uncontrollably and I couldn’t stop.  I wanted to.  But I couldn’t.

I was crying for so many reasons I understood and for many that I didn’t.  I was completely taken off guard by my crying and more shockingly, by my lack of ability to stop crying!  Eventually I brought my cry down to a more manageable slow stream of tears.  Once my crying slowed to a trickle, I was finally able to say hi to Jody and appreciate her and Jolene’s efforts to rock Race Day for me! It was impressive.

But as impressive as it was, I still couldn’t find “happy”.  I was stuck smack dab in the middle of fear and happy was nowhere to be found.

tricky

Notice the uncomfortable and forced smile? I had just stopped crying and was not very happy.

We found a place to pop a squat and we watched more waves go off.  And as we watched, much to my horror, I saw many people get pulled out of the water.  Out of all the years I’ve been heading to Chicago for this event to watch Brian, NEVER ONCE have we seen anyone get pulled out of the water.  This day we saw the jet ski zoom in to help many swimmers, we saw lifeguards jump in from the break wall to help swimmers and we saw others swimmers flagging down help for their fellow participants.

What.  The.  Fuck.

Seriously, what the fuck?  Really, of all the days to have this happen, it was happening right before I had to get in the water???!! That’s not good timing!

As I watched other people swim I was filled with so much dread and fear.  I was also pissed.  I was pissed that I had worked so hard to learn how to swim a 1/2 mile and I was going to have to get into crappy, swell-filled water and I was going to have a horrible swim.  I didn’t want to panic, stop, gasp for breath but I knew it was going to be inevitable.  And that pissed me off.

 

It came time for Brian to head into his corral.  Once Brian left I decided to start putting my wet-suit on and get ready.  I had plenty of time, but I also had plenty of nervous energy and just sitting and waiting wasn’t cutting it any longer, I needed to do something – so putting on my wet-suit was a good distraction.

2017-08-27 09.32.05

Once I got my wet-suit on, I was able to see Brian for a few seconds as he swam past.  It wasn’t long after he was out of sight, that I decided to go and get into my corral.  Again, I had nothing else to do but be nervous, so I figured the act of getting ready and getting in the corral was another good distraction.

walk

As I was standing in my corral I was still watching the other swimmers go off in their waves and I was watching more swimmers struggle.  While I could have looked elsewhere, I found myself drawn to the water.  I felt a strong attraction – I had to watch.  I was a bit transfixed by it.  I felt as if looking away would cause me to be less prepared for what was about to happen.

While I was in the corral and moving closer and closer to my start time, I wasn’t as sick as I had been earlier in the day and I was no longer crying.  I wasn’t calm and I wasn’t freaked.  I was numb.  There was no turning back and backing out, so the only way to get through this was to get in the water and swim.  So that was what I was prepared to do.

It was just about go time.

Move forward.

Wave 48 is next up.

Now it’s our time.

Wave 48 enters the water.

I was among the last in the water.

Treading water.

Looking at the swim out – 1/2 mile ahead of me.

Treading water.

Numb.

It’s about to happen.

Treading water.

Numb.

Horn blows.

Everyone starts to swim.

Everyone except for me.

I didn’t freeze or panic, it was a strategic decision to hold back and let everyone get ahead of me.  My coach told me to count to 10 and then start swimming.

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

Go!

I didn’t make it to 10, I was too anxious and had to start swimming.

As I started swimming, I was just thinking about moving.  Moving forward.  Just do what I’ve trained for… stroke, kick and breathe.

Move forward.

Oh oh.

My heart rate was starting to accelerate.

My breathing was labored.

Oh shit, panic… here we come.

At this point I started having a hard and forceful conversation… with myself!  I kid you not, I had a major internal dialogue – actually it was more like an internal fight -happening.

“Don’t fucking panic.  Just calm down”.  ~Me

“Fuck you, you know telling me to calm down doesn’t work, it actually has the exact opposite effect, so thank you for fucking with me and making things worse.” ~Also Me

“Well, you better get control or do something because you’ve gone about 10 yards and it’s going to be a really long and difficult fucking swim if you can’t settle your ass down.” ~Me

“Seriously, shut the fuck up, I’m trying.” ~Also me

“You’re doing fine, so just fucking settle down.  Just swim.  Don’t think.  Just swim.” ~Me

“Good lord, shut the fuck up, I beg of you.” ~Also Me

“Not until you calm down.” ~Me

“Fine, I’m calm.  I’m swimming.  Are you happy?” ~Also Me

“Well, well, well…. look who’s stopped panicking.  You’re welcome!” ~Me

“Holy crap, I am swimming.  Oh.  My.  God.  I’m swimming.” ~Also Me

“I think I deserve a thank you for calming you down.” ~Me

“Fuck off and go away, I’ve got me some swimming to do!” ~Also Me

So much to my surprise, I had managed to calm down and swim.  I wouldn’t say it was easy, but I was doing it.  Stroke, stroke, breathe.  Repeat.

Autopilot.

Numb.

Just swim.

I sighted about every 8 strokes.  How do I know it was every 8 strokes?  Because I counted.  I needed the distraction.  And I also started running through my rather large and extended family and started naming my aunts and cousins.  I needed to think of something to keep my mind occupied.  I tried to do this between counting my strokes.  I couldn’t give up on counting because I desperately needed to stop and sight more often than not, as I typically swim off course.  And this race was no exception.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 Sight

Alice, Bernice, Corrine, Donnie Sight

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 Sight

Linda, Barb, Jeff, Kathy Sight

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 Sight

At some point, I think it was after the half way mark, and may even have been closer to the 2/3 mark when I realized I was doing it and I was surviving.  I was swimming.  Holy shit I was swimming.

Whenever I stopped to sight (and yes, I know I’m not actually supposed to stop and sight, but I haven’t mastered moving and sighting at the same time!) and brought my head out of the water I could hear Jolene and Jody as they were following along on shore. It was just after I realized, “holy shit – I’m swimming”, that I heard them so I knew they were near.  This is when I lifted my head out of the water, I looked to shore and I yelled… “I’M SWIMMING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

I hadn’t planned on shouting the obvious for all to hear.  It was spontaneous and authentic.  At that moment my fear had turned to glee and I wanted to scream it from the rooftops.  Or at least shout it from sea level!

 

Jolene told me later that at that moment, a weight was lifted from her shoulders.  She knew I’d be fine and I’d get out of the water and finish my swim.

And finish I did.

I got out of the water with a sense of relief.  I was so happy, yet I felt like I couldn’t truly enjoy my accomplishment because I had 2 more sports to do before I could really enjoy my achievement.

out2017-08-27 10.12.38out2

Crap…. no time to celebrate – time to get to transition and figure out how the hell to ride on Lake Shore Drive with thousands of other bikers.

Until next time,

Gotta Run (and swim and bike)

**Stay Tuned for Part 2 of my Chicago Triathlon Recap

 

 

 

 

 

 

I didn’t die

I know some of you are anxiously awaiting my Chicago Triathlon recap, but it will most likely take a few days to write it – so stay tuned.

But for those of you that are curious – just know that I finished and I did well! I’ll just say it was a HUGE rollercoaster of emotions.  I was fighting against my internal demons and had to deal with a handful of physical ailments I manifested because of my emotions.  It was a long and crazy couple of days.

Here are a few photos to leave you with until I have time to recap all the craziness – and by craziness I mean my bouts of crying or near vomiting!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Until next time,

Gotta run (or swim and bike – just because I can)

It’s going to be a long 2 days

The tri is about 44 hours away and I want to vomit.

I didn’t sleep last night and I’m literally sick to my stomach.

And I know it’s all ridiculous, I mean it’s not even a total of 20 miles.  I should be able to do 20 miles in my sleep.  It’s just that .5 of that total is in the water and another 15 is on a bike.  I don’t do water and bikes.

What the hell was I think?

Gotta run (gotta take care of the vomit in my mouth)

Here we go – all or nothing

This will be my last post before the Chicago Triathlon.  I’m hoping when I write my next post I will be a triathlete!

Wow, a triathlete.  It’s crazy to think I may actually be a triathlete in a few days.  When people say, “never say never”, I’m pretty sure they were talking about this endeavour.

I swore on all things holy that I would NEVER be a triathlete.  I knew I would never participate in a triathlon because the issues that I would have had to overcome to participate in one were numerous and insurmountable to me.  And 95% of those issues revolved around swimming (and the rest involved the fricken outfit!).

I have had an issue with swimming and water since I was a child.  I took, and flunked, swimming lessons as a kid and from there my anxiety with water only increased.  I’ve tried to be “okay” with water for certain activities and I tried not to let my fear hold me back from doing things like kayaking or going in the water while on tropical vacations.  I’d go kayaking but I’d have a life vest on and I’d panic and want to stop the moment the kayak rocked even the slightest bit due to a ripple in the water.  I’ve gone in the water of a Cenote in Mexico, but I basically went in and then promptly got out because it wasn’t fun for me.  I instead stood on dry land and watched Brian jump from cliffs.  There was another vacation where Brian got to play on a waterfall (and he also fell down it – but that’s another story) and I again, watched from dry land and took pictures.  The thought of getting my face wet or going under water was too much for me and I had to watch from the sidelines.

Same is true with triathlons. A few years ago a large group of my friends all competed in the same triathlon and wanted me to join them.  Instead I cheered them on and played event photographer.  It was never in my realm of possibilities to swim and participate in a tri.  The thought was absurd to me and them asking me was laughable. I actually did laugh when they asked me if I wanted to join them and followed my laughter up with a quick, “fuck no”.

If I had to think of all the things that I would have said would never happen in my life – competing in a triathlon/learning how to swim would be at the top of the list, just behind growing 8 inches, losing 50 pounds and becoming a super model!

Not only did I not enjoy water and know how to swim, I had no desire to change my lack of enthusiasm for what I used to call “liquid hell”.  It never occurred to me to try to learn how to swim, especially at my age.  But about two or three years ago, I had the idea of doing a triathlon start swirling around in my head.  And I just couldn’t shake it.  And then once the challenge became real, I had no choice but to learn how to swim.

Learning how to swim is one of the hardest things I have ever done in my entire life.  It’s bigger than just learning to perform a physical task.  It’s taking a true, deep and lifelong fear and trying to shut it the hell up!  And when we talk about fear, let’s not mistake it with my fear of mice or the fear some people have for spiders.  I don’t like mice and they creep me out, but I know a mouse will not kill me.  When I started this journey, I couldn’t say the same thing for water.  The fear of dying was (and still is) real.

So while I’m not sure what’s going to happen on Sunday, I’m sure you all will get a good story from however my day turns out.  I just checked the weather forecast and the winds are more brisk than I’d like and I may be swimming in rippled water. Yikes! And while I won’t like it and I may likely panic, I at least will be in the water trying and doing.  I will no longer be on the sidelines, watching comfortably from land.  I won’t be comfortable, I’ll most likely be scared and freaked out, but as they say, if your challenge doesn’t scare you – it’s not big enough!

Well, this one is fucking huge!

Until next time, when I’ll hopefully be a triathlete…

Gotta run, bike and swim!

 

 

 

I’ll forego the story, give me boring

Panic.

Full panic.

Near hyperventilation panic.

What am I talking about?  I’m talking about my open water swim on Saturday. Let’s just say, it did not go well.

We went to a new body of water because I wanted to try new water so I don’t get too comfortable with the conditions I had been swimming in at the quarry.  I also wanted to try working on my transitions and doing a bike ride and run after the swim and that required us to go to Bayshore for the swim because it’s easiest to bike and run from there.

The water was not calm.  Well, let me rephrase that, it looked perfectly calm to the naked eye but once you were in the water, you realized it wasn’t calm.  Well at least not calm to me.

I was freaking out in such a tiny bit of movement that it was ridiculous.  The winds caused a bit of a current and some tiny swells but to me I swear on my life – it felt like the swells of a tsunami.  I had never swam with currents or ripples.  And I did not handle it well. Not only was I getting seasick from the motion, but I couldn’t get in a rhythm, I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t do anything right.

Many, many things did not go right with my swim.  I probably stopped and panicked every 10-15 feet.  Needless to say stopping every 10-15 feet is not a very efficient and quick way to complete a 1/2 mile swim.

The worst part was that once I panicked I couldn’t calm myself down.  My heart rate was so elevated and my breathing was accelerated.  I tried so hard to slow my breathing because it’s impossible to swim in that condition.  Also, I have a history of hyperventilating when struggling (I’ve hyperventilated on more long runs than I’d like to admit) during events and I knew I was close to that happening.  So trying to not hyperventilate while trying to calm down, all while treading water does not make for a very fun swim.

At one point I said to Brian, “I need to get out”.  And he said okay, let’s get out.  He said we can just go to the shore and stop swimming compared to going back to where we started.  But as soon as I said, “I need to get out” and Brian said “okay”, that I realized I couldn’t stop.  I knew if I didn’t finish my last open water swim, the mental effects of it would really be devastating to my confidence.  Besides I’m #toostubburntoquit!

So I kept swimming.  I kept stopping and panicking.  I kept swallowing water.  I kept trying.

Eventually I finished.  I hated every fricken second of it and it was way worse than when Brian and Nicole ganged up on my to give me the “group swim” experience.

I guess I’m glad I experienced it, because I sure wouldn’t have wanted to experience that for the first time on race day.  I am just bummed my last open water swim was so bad.  I wanted to go into the event feeling confident and instead all I can think about is “how bad it can be”.

I just hope for PERFECT weather and conditions next Sunday.  I’ve worked so hard to learn to swim and swim 1/2 mile.  I just want to be able to swim and not have to worry about other people banging into me or fighting against current or ripples.  All of those things will make me stop and I may or may not panic.  Lord knows I’m slow enough in the water, I don’t need to waste any more time stopping.  And I really don’t want to have to hang on to the lifeguards.  I know I can swim the whole thing without stopping or hanging on to the lifeguards so I just hope conditions are right so I prove that I can do it.

I want my first tri to be uneventful and calm. I don’t want some crazy story to tell after – I know shocking – because I’m always up for a good story!  But not this time.  Give me an uneventful, no drama filled day that is almost boring. Is that too much to ask?

Until next time,

Gotta run (and swim and bike)

 

PSA for new swimmers

Here’s a Public Service Announcement for any newbies out there – if you just learned how to swim in June, don’t go swimming with a lake full of Ironman or Ironman-in-training athletes.  Trust me, it does nothing for your self-esteem or confidence.

Let’s back up to my last open water swim, when I swam with Nicole and Brian (both Ironman athletes) and they swam circles around me.  Literally.  They literally swam circles around me to get me used to the activity that I’ll encounter on race day.  And yes I was very aware that they swam past me effortlessly and at such a high-speed that you would have thought I was anchored in place.  If I wasn’t so scared I was going to drown, I would have been very bummed at how slow I was swimming and how much harder it was for me than it was for them.  So my being scared actually helped me not have time to feel completely bad about myself!

And last night I went swimming in a lake where a bunch of folks were doing their own open water swims. EVERYONE in the lake was either already an Ironman or will be one shortly.  And then there was me.

Besides Stosh and Brian, who were doing shorter swims – the others all swam close to 2.5 miles.  Everyone swam effortlessly, quickly and confidently.  Except me, that is.  I went about 1/3 of a mile and I tried to do my own sighting which means I stopped and flailed every 5 to 10 strokes as I tried to figure out how off course I was swimming.  There is nothing graceful or effortless about my swimming and my sighting!  Then there was the issue with my goggles fogging and my swim cap coming off.  I stopped to try to fix them both but only made the situation worse.  Grace and ease were not my friends last night – not that they ever were as it pertains to athletics, but it was very apparent last night.

After fussing with my goggles and swim cap, I limped (not sure what the correct metaphor is for swimming, but you get my point) the rest of the way to shore and I called it a night.  I sat and watched everyone complete their training swims and I was so unbelievably envious of them all.  And while I know they’ve all been swimming longer than me and have put the time and the hard work into getting where they are, I just can’t help but want to not struggle at everything I do.  I have some friends (actually it seems like most of my friends kick ass) who are just athletic and gifted at whatever it is they do.  I, on the other hand, am not.  But seriously, at some point – can’t I be good at something!?!?  At some point I have to find something I’m good at and I’m not always be the “slow friend”.  You know the one, the one you don’t want to go on a training run or training ride (or now a training swim) with because they hold you back.  Yep, that’s me.  I’m the slow friend.   But then again, if I wasn’t I guess I’d have to change the name of my blog to something else!

But here’s hoping I can find a rhythm and not embarrass myself by coming in dead last and being the last one out of the water at the tri.  Because based on my swimming ability last night with the others, it’s a definite possibility!

(Side note:  How many fricken people can I know who are, or soon will be, an Ironman!?!?!?  I have some freakishly talented friends because I don’t think it’s normal to know this many people who have done something so epic!)

Until next time,

Gotta run (or swim or bike)

My husband and friend tried to kill me

The Chicago Tri is 13 days away and I had my first group, open water swim this past Saturday.  And by group I mean I swam with Brian and my friend Nicole.  Nicole competed in Ironman last year and is an EXTREMELY strong swimmer.  So it was nice to get in the water with her to get some tips and pointers.  I had wanted to get in the water with more people than just Brian for some time, but it’s so hard to coordinate schedules.  But I had wanted to do it because I wanted to get a more realistic feel for swimming in a group – and while two people doesn’t necessarily constitute a group, trust me, I got the full “group swim” experience thanks to those two.

Let’s just say my first group swim was terrifying. I hated every single minute of it, but it’s what I needed to prepare for the triathlon.  Nicole, unlike Brian, who’s my husband and who can’t tell me what to do unless he wants “the look” that all wives are capable of when their husbands piss them off, kicked my butt.  Nicole, being the friend she is – the one who calls me on my shit – was the perfect one to do a group swim with because she wouldn’t let me off the hook.

First, she said I had to take the lead swimming and that I was going to be responsible for sighting, which typically doesn’t happen when I swim with Brian.  And when I say it doesn’t typically happen with Brian, I mean it’s NEVER happened with Brian.  I let him take the lead and sight.  I figure I have enough to worry about just trying to swim, I don’t need the extra pressure of trying to sight too.  I always make Brian swim to my right so I can see him and then when I can no longer see him, I stop – pop out of the water – realize I swam off course and then readjust.  So this time Nicole was making me take the lead.  Let’s just say we did not hit the mark I was given.  But I did practice sighting.  But I really shouldn’t call it sighting as much as I should call it, stopping all momentum as I pick my whole body out of the water to look around and then completely readjust where I am swimming.  As I explained to Brian and Nicole at one point when they were asking me, what landmark I was going to use to keep me on course and I said, “the dock”… but I told them part of my problem with sighting is…. I can “see” the dock from here and from over there and from way over there – so while I’m seeing it and sighting it, I’m still swimming off course, because I can still “see it”.  I just take a really curvy way to get there.  But I was not too concerned about not being able to sight well  because I soon realized sighting was the least of my concerns.

Besides having to do my own sighting, I was also supposed to do my best to treat the swim as the real thing, that included reacting or not reacting to “other swimmers”.

The first time Nicole came up from behind me and bumped into me while swimming, I stopped, panicked and looked at her like “what the fuck!?” (I may actually have said it too – I can’t truly remember).  She said, that I need to get used to it because that’s going to happen.  And then I panicked some more.  She asked me what I’m going to do if that happens on race day and I said, I’ll stop and let everyone go around me or get away from me!  Well, apparently that’s not a real plan.  I thought so, but Brian and Nicole did not.  So when Nicole told me I had to deal with it because it was going to happen on race day, I truly wanted to quit.  And while I fought back the vomit, a tear or two may have escaped.  I was truly panicking on the inside and wasn’t doing too good of a job hiding it on the outside either.  Let’s not forget that I’ve only been swimming for two months!  Having people bump into me while swimming is such a fear inducing act, it’s almost indescribable.

But if that’s going to happen, it’s going to happen so I had to keep swimming.

Long story short, I spent the entire 1/2 mile swim having Nicole and Brian throw everything at me.  They swam right next to me so I couldn’t complete my stroke, they bumped me, they cut in front of me, they swam right behind me so I’d kick them, they kicked water at me, they swam in front and then promptly stopped in front of me so I’d have to swim around them, etc.  I’m not going to lie, it was HORRIBLE.  And besides feeling panicked, I was also just so pissed.  I wanted to just be able to swim and not have to deal with all of this.  Swimming (and now sighting) is hard enough for me, why couldn’t they just let me be and let me swim????

But I know why, because on race day, the other swimmers aren’t going to just “let me be”!

And this is what I have an issue with.  As I was talking to them about it later, I don’t understand why swimming into other people is acceptable.  I mean, I don’t run into other people.  When running, even in the most crowded spaces, runners do everything they can to NOT run into another person.  And we certainly don’t bang into each other, rub tires or throw another biker off course.  Why isn’t it the same with swimming?  Brian and Nicole said it’s because you can’t see while swimming.  But I can see!!!  I saw them in front of me, I saw them alongside of me.  I could see!!!

So, while I hated every single, fricken stroke of the swim – I’m so unbelievably happy that I experienced it.  I’m going swimming with Nicole again later this week, and while the thought of having her run me over while swimming makes me a bit sick to my stomach, I know in the long run – I’ll be better off because of it.  It’s just definitely not something I could ever look forward to.  But it is good practice.  Which makes me think, that all coaches and blogs talk about making sure that triathletes get out of the pool and do enough open water swims to prepare for race day.  And while that’s true I think the biggest miscue by the experts is not making people do group swims.  And I don’t mean group swims where everyone spreads out nicely and goes about their business, I mean group swims where your husband and friend deliberately try to scare and drown you!  Okay, maybe they weren’t trying to drown me, but it felt like it at the time.

So to any newbies out there that may be reading this blog, make sure you have a spouse and friend that love you enough to try to drown you!  You’ll thank them for it!

Until next time,

Gotta run (and swim and bike)

 

 

 

 

 

Be careful what you wish for

I vividly remember standing in the starting corral of the Chicago Marathon alone, even though it was my 8th marathon, it was the first one I was running solo – without Brian.  I remember standing there a bit anxious because I was running solo and because even though it was my 8th marathon, it’s still 26.2 miles and that’s nothing to take casually.  I was standing there listening to all the newbies around  me.  Oh my gosh, the range of emotions they had; excited, nervous, anxious, giddy, scared, worried.  Most of them couldn’t contain themselves and while they were nervous, they were also so freaking excited.  The first time starting a marathon – and more importantly – the first time finishing a marathon is one of the best feelings a person can have.  As I was eavesdropping on the conversations around me, I realized I didn’t have the same level of excitement and I missed it.  I wanted to feel those “first time” butterflies again.  While I was happy it was my 8th marathon and that I was somewhat seasoned and I knew I could handle whatever the day threw at me, I was more than a bit envious of those around me.  I wanted to be excited again.

I share this flashback because my first sprint triathlon is in 16 days.  I not only have the nervous energy and butterflies of a newbie, I also have the terror!  What the hell was I thinking when I said I wanted to be a newbie again?  Being new is terrifying!  And in a sport where there’s a real chance of dying (because let’s not forget I just learned how to swim in June!), it’s not making me feel excited about the fact that I don’t know what I’m doing – it’s convincing me that something horrible will go wrong.

And the difference between being new at running vs. triathlons is the fact that I have to “pack” for race day.  And no, I’m not talking about packing and laying out my stuff the night before a marathon, I’m talking about packing for the actual event.  I have to bring stuff with me.  You don’t have to do this for a marathon!  The most you have to do is maybe bring along a throw away shirt and some energy gels.  Other than that, you’re good to go.  And if anyone has ever traveled with me, or even just went someplace overnight with me, I  OVER PACK!  Hell, my gym bag right now has no less than 4 different shirts in it because I’m just never sure which one I’ll want to wear.  I cannot believe I picked a sport to participate in that requires me to not only pack – but pack lightly.  That to me is an oxymoron.  And it wouldn’t be such a horrible thing to pack, if I felt as if I could bring a few “extras” with me, but there isn’t room for anything extra, the space in transition is extremely tight.

And that brings me to another concern I have – I have personal space issues and the thought of being crammed into transition in such close proximity to strangers just leaves me very anxious.

And speaking of transition, there are about 9,000 triathletes that compete in the Chicago Tri – so that’s A LOT of bikes and people and very little space.  And besides being right on top of one another, there’s the issue with actually being able to spot and find your bike in transition.  And while I know people say to pay attention to what row you are in and find a landmark, etc. – that truly means nothing to me because it won’t help.  I lose my car in the parking lot of stores or other venues ALL THE TIME.  I kid you not.  I actually worry about myself sometimes because I’m amazed at how quickly I can forget where I parked.  My husband is used to it – but yet it still amazes him.  He constantly asks, “how can you not remember, it’s been 10 minutes?!”  I have to park in the same row at the Y or else I can’t find my car.  If there are open spots, close to the building but in a different row, I’ll forego those spots to park in the back of the row that I “must” park in.  I wish I was kidding.  So I’ve basically come to the realization that I will absolutely not be able to find my row and my bike.  It will be the Seinfeld episode where the gang couldn’t find their car in a parking ramp.  That will be me trying to find my bike in transition.

Let’s get back to the packing part of my anxiety.  Let’s talk about the things I need to think about and/or pack that just pertain to my head/hair!  Most people have to think about bringing a helmet and maybe a hat/visor for the run. They don’t have to worry about a swim cap because the Tri will provide that.  Well, people don’t have to worry about it, unless you are me.  As I was practicing with some of Brian’s old Chicago Tri swim caps I quickly and painfully realized I have too much hair to use the triathlon supplied cap.  It pulls my hair out and it hurts like hell getting it on and hurts just as badly pulling it off.  And it doesn’t stretch the way I need it to and it’s just bad.  Bad. Bad. Bad. I purchased and have been using silicone caps (compared to latex caps most use) specifically designed for long hair.  So what I’ve been doing lately during my open water swims is using two caps – I use my long hair-silicone cap and then put the cheap latex cap over it.  I  do this just to get used to wearing two caps, because it does take some getting used to – it’s really tight.  I thought I was squeezing out my brains the first time I did it.

And beyond just having to worry about my extra swim cap, I have to worry about hair ties.  And not only do I need to make sure I have a hair tie during the swim, I will need extra because I’m not sure how I’ll wear my hair during the bike and run.  So I typically have extra ties on my wrist, but during my open water swim practice, I realized that they fly off when I’m trying to pull off my wetsuit, never to be seen again. UGH!  So I will have to stash some extras on my bike or with my running watch.  But again, something Brian doesn’t have to think about.

I will throw my hair into a bun on the top of my head for the swim.  But as I mentioned I don’t know how I’m wearing my hair during the bike and run.   I have some ideas but I haven’t settled on which one will be the easiest to do in a tight transition area.  I was going to throw a bondi band on and have “loose” hair while biking.  I wanted to have a band on to keep the sweat out of my eyes, but if I do that, I don’t know what to do for the run.  I can easily take the band off and throw on a running cap for the run, expect as you are already aware – I have a lot of hair and when it’s really hot, I like to run in a visor instead of a hat to keep from overheating.  But I can’t put my hair in a high pony for a visor while in transition.  It takes up too much time.  So that leads me back to thinking I’ll just throw on a running cap for the run and deal with the heat because it’s only 3 miles.  Then I was thinking if I do that, should I just put the cap on right out of the water and wear it under my helmet?  It looks a bit funny but it may work.  But it will be hot to have both a cap and helmet on. Ugh, decisions, decisions.

And there are way too many reasons why I can’t keep the band on while running.  There’s also way – way – way too many reason why I must have my hair in a bun on the top of my head for the swim.  I’ve tried a few other ways to wear my hair, and nothing else worked.  So I’m going with what I know and that’s a “shark fin” bun.  But because of my hair issues, I have to pack extra swim caps, multiple hair ties, bands, visors and running caps.  Oh yeah, and my helmet.  Definitely more than what Brian has to think about.

I’m going to spare you the boring details on what I’m wearing on the bike and the run.  I had NO – NO – NO desire to wear spandex in front of people.  But lord help me, I may end up wearing an actual tri outfit, spandex shorts and all.  It makes me kind of sick to think about my chubby thighs, saddle bags and love handles being on display for all to see in their jiggly glory, but I just don’t think I can throw an extra pair of shorts on over the top of the spandex like I had wanted to do originally. I haven’t ruled it out – but we’ll see.

Needless to say, I have so much to yet think about and/or pack for race day that Brian can’t fully understand (i.e. I got my race day top in the mail and then I asked Brian, “what the hell do I do about a bra?  I need to wear a sports bra (and all of my favorites have some padding in them) and it’s going to be wet coming out of the water – how long is it going to take to dry and will I chafe?”  To which Brian replied… you have padding in your sports bra!?!”) and isn’t really very helpful!  I’ve reached out to two of my female friends who not only have done tris in the past, but are training for Ironman this year – I figured they could lend me a few tips/pointers.  And while I’ve been getting tips from friends, reading blogs, and articles – I still feel that no matter what I do – I won’t be prepared and I will forget something.  But as my friend Jamie, soon to be Ironman Jamie, said “try not to let anything get to you…. biggest thing to try and do… stay CALM.”

So, that’s what I’m going to try to do.  Stay calm and not let anything bother me.  I have to remember back to 2014 when I was standing in the corral at the Chicago Marathon and how I wanted to be a “newbie” again and I how I wanted to have butterflies and excitement again.  As they say… be careful what you wish for!

Until next time,

Gotta run (and swim and bike)

Can I taper if I didn’t actually train?

I saw a Facebook post from the Chicago Triathlon asking if everyone is ready to start tapering.

Uh?!

I guess it is about that time.  But considering I never actually started “training”, I never thought about tapering.  I’ve been too busy learning how not to drown and trying to limit the number of times I fall off of my bike (and get poison ivy) that I never actually started a training schedule.

I sure hope that doesn’t come to bite me in the ass.

But considering the way this whole thing has been going –  aka:  not actually being able to swim until 2 months ago, crashing my bike and getting poison ivy AND hives and dealing with shin splints on my runs – I don’t really know when I would have been able to slip in real and actual training into my schedule.

Lord help me because – I, the girl who lives by schedules, routines and plans – didn’t follow a plan for my first triathlon.  This could be really interesting.

Oh well, this whole thing has been a comedy of errors from the start so why do things the right way now?  Screw the taper…. I’m going full force right up to race day.  Which really just means I’ll continue to try to not drown or fall of my bike!

Until next time,

Gotta run (and swim and bike)

 

One month and beyond

My very first tri is one month from today and I am a mix of emotions.  I’m excited and terrified at the same time.  And while it may sound similar to how I feel leading up to most of my marathons, it’s completely different.

I haven’t had this completely “new” feeling for some time.  The newness of a tri is kind of exciting.  I’ve missed it.  But on the flip side, my OCD and anxiety also appreciate knowing what the hell is going on.  So too much “newness” is not good and it’s kind of freaking me out.

Here’s a laundry list of things I don’t know.  In no particular order and by no means is it a comprehensive list:

I don’t know how to rack my bike, I don’t know how to get out of my wetsuit quick and easily, I don’t know how to put my shoes and helmet on and head off for the bike, I don’t know how to bike with others and don’t even get me started on the fact that I don’t know how to take in fluids or nutrition while biking.  I don’t now how to find my empty rack in transition, I don’t know how to run with a running belt on and I don’t know what my legs will feel like at mile 3 of the run.

Yikes!

And I obviously left out all there is that I don’t know about swimming.  I don’t know how long it will take me to get into my wetsuit in my wave.  I don’t know how to get my swim cap on without looking in a mirror, I don’t know how to put on the second swim cap I’m required to wear from the event that absolutely pulls my hair and is too small so I need to put my silicone cap on first, and then the cheap latex cap.  I don’t know how to get in the water with others, to swim with others and in general, not panic and sabotage my entire race.  I actually have to stop thinking of all that I don’t know and all that I will experience in the water on race day because it’s freaking me out and I’m getting really anxious just typing this.

But on the flip side, I’m excited to learn.  I’m excited to have a new challenge.  I’m excited to embark on something I swore I would NEVER do.  I told anyone that had ever asked me if I’d do a triathlon that I would NEVER do one. EVER. NEVER EVER!  NEVER EVER! NEVER EVER!

Yet here I am, one month out from my first triathlon.

A co-worker asked me yesterday what’s next.  I said that I need to start AND finish this tri before I can think about what’s next.  But that wasn’t exactly truthful.  I have been thinking about what’s next and it might be more tris.

I had always hoped I’d get my marathon mojo back after doing an ultra in 2015 but as of now, I still don’t have it back.  I just don’t have the drive in me.  That’s not to say it won’t ever come back, as they say – distance makes the heart grow fonder.  Maybe the more time away from marathoning, the more I’ll miss it.  But a part of me says it’s gone and maybe gone for good. While there are still a few marathons I’d like to cross off my bucket list, starting with the Marine Corp. Marathon, I’ve done most of the other biggies.  I’ve had the pleasure of running some incredible races in incredible cities.  I’ve run in all weather conditions.  I’ve had good races and I’ve had bad.  I’ve run 10 marathons and 1 ultra and while a lot of people do more than that, I’m not sure if I will.  My body has done nothing but pound the pavement for thousands and thousands of miles.  Training for the ultra, and doing nothing but run for 8-12 hours per weekend, gets a little old.  I’ve been there, done that.  And right now, I have no desire to do it again.

My husband has always enjoyed triathlons because he enjoys the variety that comes with training for a 3-sport event.  For the first time ever, I understand that feeling.

Training for a triathlon has kept me extremely busy, yet rarely bored.  When I get a bit too bored in the pool, I head outside for a bike ride.  When I’m tired of biking, I hop off and go for a run.  This is very different compared to just running.  Running and running and running.

And there’s so much to learn and achieve with triathlons.  Because I just learned how to swim, there’s much more that I can and want to achieve in the water.  I need to learn how to swim in rough waters, I need to learn how to bi-lateral breathe and I need to get faster and more efficient.

I’d like to get stronger, faster and better on the bike too.  I cannot get up fricken hills on my bike.  God gave me these monster thighs for a reason, and if it’s not to propel my own body weight up a small incline – than what the hell are they good for?  So I’d really like to learn how to bike up hills because these thighs aren’t getting any smaller, so I might as well make them work.

I’d also like to get faster and I’d really just like to get comfortable on my bike.  Both figuratively and literally.  Dear god my lady parts hurt when riding a bike.  I swear I must be doing something wrong because I don’t understand how females can bike with this much discomfort – so achieving some level of physical comfort would be nice.  And of course, I’d like to feel comfortable on my bike and not always feel like I’m about to crash.  I guess that goes hand-in-hand with wanting to learn how to bike in a straight line!  Which is also on my to-do list.

And I’m starting out with a sprint tri.  But there are many other distances in the triathlon family.  Will a longer and harder distance be in my future?  Maybe.  Maybe not.

But having the option to think about it and think about the “what if” that comes along with competing in triathlons is pretty exciting.  I feel I’ve achieved a lot in my running career and I think it would be fun to see what I can achieve in the world of triathlons and see where these can take me.

But I digress and need to get back to present day.  I need to keep working hard the next month and do all I can to put me in a position to successfully complete the Chicago Triathlon because a lot hinges on this first tri.  If it sucks, I’m not sure I’ll have it in me to go on.  But then again, as a co-worker pointed out – I’ve had some really bad marathons (first marathon was “okay” but yet painful because I was dealing with knee pain, my second marathon was HORRIBLE because I hit the wall at mile 6 – mile 6 people – that sucks! – and in my third marathon, I hyperventilated twice and strangers wanted to call medics… fun times!) but I kept going.  I went on to have some incredible marathons and a most incredible ultra.  So is having a bad first tri a deal breaker for me, maybe not.  But it sure would make it easier to continue if it went well.  And as I just pointed out with how my first few marathons went, I think I’m due for having a good introduction to a sport.  I also think the crap that I went through learning how to swim should entitle me to a perfect, smooth and uneventful race day.

But then again, if history repeats itself, having a bad race day experience won’t necessarily deter me from trying again. Because after all, we all know that I’m too stubborn to quit!

Until Next time,

Gotta run, bike and swim!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inspiring? Who me?

Two people in the past 5 days told me that I’m an inspiration.

Huh.

Really?

Me?

I’m an inspiration?

I’m not saying this as an, “awe, shucks, you’re too kind – I’m not an inspiration”, while secretly thinking… “hell yeah, I am”!  And these folks aren’t good friends where they would have said it to try and make me feel good.  I’d call them acquaintances and I really only interact with them through social.

I’ve been called a lot of things over the years, some good and some bad.  I’ve gotten compliments – usually about my hair; some people think I have good hair – but I’ve never been complimented by being called an inspiration.  And I think that is probably one of the nicest compliments I could ever receive.  I don’t take being an inspiration lightly, because I know how much I value those who inspire me.

I don’t have kids, so it’s not like I’m inspiring my kids to do anything  I don’t even have a big blog fan base (but I do love the fans I have!!), so it’s not like I am blogging to inspire others.

When I started blogging, and sharing my training updates on social, I did it first to keep my family in the loop and to also, on occasion, give someone a good chuckle,  I mean come on, you can’t tell me you haven’t been following the Great Poison Ivy Outbreak of 2017 and haven’t chuckled to yourself and thought, “better her than me!”

I blog and share my journey because it’s fun for me and I hope it’s somewhat fun for you. But I never, ever, expected it to be inspiring.

As I always say, I have NO athletic ability and the only reason I am able to run marathons or complete an ultra is because I’m basically just too damn stubborn to quit.  To me that doesn’t make for an inspiring story…. but I guess to some it does.

I’ve watched marathons, ultras, triathlons and Ironmans and I’ve been so inspired I’ve been brought to tears.  I’ve signed up for more than one race as I was coming off an “inspiration high” from watching someone else do something incredible.  And I’ve been known to share videos, pictures and posts of strangers doing incredible things just to feel a bit more motivated.

But I never thought I’d be on the other side of this story.  I never thought I’d personally help motivate people.  I never thought someone would actually take up running because of me.  I never thought I’d get people inspired to try something new or go for it.

I’ve been really surprised at how my journey into triathlons has been received.  I’ve had a lot of people tell me they can’t believe I’m learning how to swim and how incredible they think that it is and how they give me credit for conquering my fears.  (And FEAR it is!)  People who I never realized were following along on my quest to learn how to swim, have been secretly cheering for me.  It’s pretty cool to not only know I have their support (I believe everyone’s positive energy and positive thoughts help!) but that it’s gone the next step and I’m helping inspire them.

There may be some of you out there where this is old hat.  Like I said, as a parent, I think you inspire your kids all of the time.  Or as an athlete, if you’re repeatedly kicking butt and/or winning…. that inspires so many people.  But I don’t have offspring looking up to me and I don’t win.  I don’t even have a good “comeback” story to help inspire others.  I’m at the back of the pack and I have no delusion I’ll ever be any place but the back.  Each race I run, my time gets a little slower and I’m pretty sure the letters “PR” are gone for good.  But that’s okay, because what the past few days have thought me is that you don’t need to cross the finish line first to inspire people.  Sometimes the best stories and the most inspiration aren’t coming from those upfront.  I guess the view-from-the-back-of-the-pack can be filled with inspiration too!

Who knew!?

Until next time,

Gotta run (and swim and bike)

 

I am swimming

I am swimming.

Three little words I NEVER thought I’d say.  Truly.  I never thought I’d say those three words.

I got in the pool yesterday and I swam, unaided, for 18 mother-fucking laps!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  That’s half a mile for those that don’t know pool lap conversions!

Half a mile is the distance I have to swim in my triathlon.  HOT DAMN!

As I type this, the true magnitude of swimming a half a mile hasn’t really sunk in.  Part of me says, “no biggie, it’s just another workout at the Y.”  But the other part of me says, “FUCK YEAH, I ROCK!!!!!!!!!!”

Swimming the 18 laps felt really good.  I didn’t struggle, I felt I was in a rhythm, my breathing was pretty good and I felt comfortable.  I didn’t intend to swim 18 laps.  My goal is always to do 9, or 1/4 mile.  But once I got going and it felt good, I just kept swimming.

So while I’m nowhere near a confident swimmer and I still have a long way to go because I need to get “okay” with swimming in choppy, open water with other people… at least I finally made some decent progress and I’ve been able to cover the distance I need to swim.

And to think, just over a month ago I was thinking about deferring because I couldn’t swim one lap.  Wow, a lot can happen in a few short weeks.

Until next time,

Gotta run (or swim a 1/2 mile!)

 

P.S.  For those keeping tabs on my poison ivy, here’s the update.  I also have hives.  Yep, that’s right, I have hives ON TOP OF MY POISON IVY!  It turns out I am allergic to the oral steroid they gave me to fight the poison ivy.  So now I’m off of all meds and I just have to gut it out.

AND, if poison ivy and hives wasn’t bad enough, last night as I was sitting outside I got a few mosquito bites.  Yep, I have now completed the trifecta of itching… poison ivy, hives and mosquito bites.  I can’t make this shit up!

The Great Ivy Outbreak of 2017

Seriously, I can’t make this shit up.

If you saw my last post you know that I contracted poison ivy.  But what you may not know is that it’s gone from a few little outbreaks to the MOST WICKED CASE OF POISON IVY EVER!!!!!!!!

I am COVERED.  Literally covered from head to toe.  I had one blister near my eye and another on my ear and I have them as low as my ankles.

I’ve been “oozing” for a week.  Most of the blisters have since dried up (THANK YOU JESUS) but the rash isn’t going away.  I either have a systemic case of poison ivy that developed and actually traveled from the inside of my body and is causing the rash on my stomach, sides and back, or I’m allergic to the medication.  Not sure what’s going on, but I do know is that this is absolute bullshit.

I can’t sleep at night and I pretty much want to scratch my body raw.

I did manage to get back on my bike yesterday and go for a ride.  It was my first ride since learning that I crashed into poison ivy and since I realized my bike had the ivy oil on it and got me re-infected.  I was VERY skittish on the bike and I’m obscenely aware of all possible places poison ivy could be lurking.

When is this whole triathlon training thing going to start getting easier?!  I think I’ve paid my dues.  I’m ready for it to be smooth sailing from here to the tri.

Until next time,

Gotta run (and stay out of the ivy)

 

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These pictures aren’t even the “worst” of it.  😦

Cross another first off of the list

So remember when this happened?

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Well, now this happened.

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Yep, I went ahead and got myself a nice case of poison ivy!  I got it when I crashed in the ditch.  And to think I thought I was lucky landing on the weeds because it helped break my fall.  Little did I know the weeds were poisonous.

Seriously, how do I manage to do this shit?  I grew up in the country on a farm and never once had poison “anything” on my body.  I played in fields, ditches and woods most of my adolescence and I never got anything worse than bug bites.  Now as an adult, while tri training, I get poison ivy?!?!!  Seriously!

And yes, of course I’ve itched it and it’s spread.  And to some not very appropriate places.  I’ll leave it at that, no need to elaborate!

So until next time,

Gotta run (and stay out of the poisonous weeds!)

 

My first “official” swim – thanks to Garmin

Any runner knows that if you run and you don’t record it on your Garmin, it didn’t really happen.  Well if the same is true for swimming, I just got my first “official” swim in yesterday.

Brian and I went for an open water swim and he had his Garmin on (mine isn’t water proof or made to track swimming because when I bought it, I thought never in a MILLION years I would need that functionality — little did I know!) and recorded our swim.

It wasn’t pretty, wasn’t fast and it wasn’t in a straight line either.  (Yes, there’s a pattern forming here of me not being able to go from point A to point B in a straight line – if you don’t know what I’m talking about – read my previous post.) But at least it’s official!

So while I may not look it while I’m actually swimming – I’m official and legit because I’ve got the Garmin data to prove it!

Until next time,

Gotta run (or bike or swim)

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Man down!

So this happened on my training ride yesterday.

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When I said I can’t bike in a straight line, I meant it!

So far this whole triathlon training thing is not going as smoothly as I had hoped.  Basically it’s kicking my ass.

I think I need to stick to running!

Until next time,

Gotta run (or bike and swim)

 

Swimming, biking and running – Oh my!

Well, I’m swimming.

How’s that for a surprise?  I’m guessing it’s 3 words you probably never thought you’d read!

I’m not swimming well and I’m not swimming far.  But I am swimming.

One day it just happened.  I’ve even done 3 open water swims.  I have my husband swimming next to me and I have a life buoy around my waist, but I’m swimming!  I’ve even been in open water, and water where I can’t touch the bottom.  And that’s in part to the magical wet suit I’m borrowing.  Man, that thing is buoyant and I LOVE it.  Long live the wet suit!

While I have done open water swims, I can’t go more than 20 yards without freaking myself out and popping out of the water.  I can’t seem to break through the mental hurdle that comes with swimming anything longer than a pool length.  It’s very frustrating.

And my lack of swimming endurance is also very frustrating.  I just ran a half marathon on Sunday, yet when I got in the pool on Monday, I could barely swim one length of the pool.  I complained about this to my Trainer and he said, he’s been there.  Apparently cardio strength in biking or running doesn’t translate into swimming cardio strength.  Great!  The one thing I thought I had going for me (cardio endurance) is now shot to hell.  So I have to start from scratch and start building cardio strength in the water.

My Coach, is still having me practice drills in the pool twice a week, but the other two days I  need to work on my endurance.  One day I have to do laps with rest breaks.  The other day I have to do laps with continuous movement.  He doesn’t care what strokes I do but I need to keep moving.  I can do the backstroke, side stroke or a crazy doggie paddle, if need be – he doesn’t care – he just wants forward movement.  This will not only help me gain endurance, but will also help me feel more secure on race day – knowing if I get fatigued I can flip over to the backstroke until I can lower my heart rate.

My Coach has also been talking to me about the fact that I only breathe to my right and what will happen if I’ve got another swimmer next to me splashing me or if waves are coming at me.  He’s trying to get me ready for the “what ifs” that come with a triathlon.  I’m extremely grateful that he’s talking me through these scenarios, but it’s also scaring the crap out of me.  I can’t even swim longer than 20 yards and now I have to worry about someone taking away my ability to breathe because they are splashing water in my face.  He also mentioned, “what if you get hit”?

What if I get hit?!?!  WHAT?!?!??!

I’m seriously not ready for these conversations yet.  Even though I’ve been having them with myself for months, the fact that my Coach is now bringing them up makes me realize that we are getting closer to race day, that not only could these things happen, but that they most likely will happen and that THIS SHIT IS REAL!

I am terrified to swim a .5 mile in calm, open water with no one around.  I don’t know how to swim .5 mile in choppy water, with people around who are splashing me, hitting me or swimming over the top of me. I want to vomit just thinking about that.  And even though I plan to start my swim at the back of my pack, I know the wave that starts after me will catch me and swim over me and I’m actually guessing more than one wave of swimmers will catch me, probably 2 or 3 of them.  How the hell do I survive?  When I’m not a confident and am not a strong swimmer, how do you get okay with getting hit in the water?  I am getting sick to my stomach just thinking about it.

UGH!


Because I’ve made progress swimming and have officially decided that there will not be a deferment this year, I figured I should actually get on my tri bike and get some miles in on Freddie.

OH HOLY HELL….

If you want to see something comical, you need to watch me on my tri bike.  Who knew biking in the aero position would be so fricken hard?  I CAN NOT bike in a straight line.  And it’s not just that I can’t bike in a straight line, I make sharp, unexpected and sudden swerves to the left or right for no apparent reason.  I can’t seem to transition from my aero bars to the regular handle bar position without almost wiping out.  The first time I road Freddie outside, Brian was with me and at one point he said, “just stop before you wipe out and hurt yourself”.

And speaking of hurting myself, I’m not even going to get into the fact that I was on a training ride yesterday and I was three miles away from my car (I went biking after work so I had my bike on my car and went biking on a nearby paved trail) when the tornado sirens starting blaring.  Let’s just say that was the 3 fastest miles I think I will ever ride in my life.  When I got to my car I had a hard time getting my bike on the rack because of the strong winds and when I a tree branch snapped and landed 20 yards behind me… I couldn’t help but think of the irony of the fact that I had just watched The Wizard of Oz two nights earlier.

So long story short, I need to work on my biking and I need to believe the weather reports when they say there’s a chance of storms!


So I’ve talked about my swimming and my biking – all that remains is running.

Brian and I did a marathon this past Sunday as a 2-person relay.  It was fricken hot.  Too hot for me.  I’m not warm weather runner and I haven’t been heat acclimated this year so I was not looking forward to the run.  Add in the fact that I’m still having problems with my sciatica pain, and I really wasn’t looking forward to the run.

Thankfully my hip pain was manageable, during my run, but what wasn’t manageable was the heat.  I was overheating and it came on quickly.  I was going downhill and fast.  When I saw Brian at mile 4 (yes, I overheated in 4 miles.  Actually it happened in two miles – I guess overheating rapidly is just one of my few gifts) I called an audible and asked him if he could be ready to run at mile 6, the first relay exchange.  Thankfully he said yes and he took over for me.  Our original plan was for me to run legs 1 and 2 back to back and run 13.1 before passing the baton to Brian.  But I knew I wouldn’t make it.

I’m happy to report that breaking up my run and instead of doing two legs back to back, that running legs 1 and 3 saved me.  I had an hour to cool down in the AC of my car, I got a lot of fluids in me and most importantly I ran the 3rd leg into a headwind and that helped cool me down.

A trick I learned while training for my ultra two years ago was to wet towels and freeze them and use them to cool down with while on the run.  Brian had given me one towel during leg 1, I used a second towel while I was resting during Brian’s leg and I had one more towel waiting for me during my final leg.  Brian was ready and waiting for me with the last frozen towel when I had 3 miles left to run.  But a few miles earlier a marathoner had started chatting with me a bit and I felt too guilty having a nice frozen towel when I only had 3 miles left to run and he had 9.  I gave him my towel instead of keeping it for myself and I think I made his day!  I can’t tell you have many times he thanked me and how he said it was a godsend!  He even thanked Brian when he saw Brian at the next relay exchange.  So I felt I did my good running deed for the day! 🙂

So, that’s where I stand with my swimming, biking and running.

I have a lot to do in 2.5 months but I’m going to keep trucking along the best I can, and hopefully I can find a suitable level of comfort with all that I yet need to do and learn.  As my Coach said to me on Wednesday, “you are head strong enough that I know you’ll find a way to figure it out and make it work”.

Never have truer words been spoken.

Until next time,

Gotta run (or bike and swim!)

Progress in the face of a deferment

I realize it’s been awhile since I’ve updated you on my progress.  And that’s because there wasn’t any progress to discuss.  In fact I was getting pretty frustrated and depressed.

Last week I had a session with my trainer and he once again said I was doing better than I realized.  However, that did not make me feel better.  I ended up having a long conversation with him later that same day and I told him that I’m very frustrated and while I can see how far I’ve come, I just fear I have too far yet to go.  Considering when I started this journey I couldn’t put my face under the water – I could appreciate the improvements I’ve made.  But I felt I still had too much ahead of me.  I was scared I wasn’t going to be ready in time.  I told him that the fear of dying is real.  I truly feel like I could die.  That’s not something I’m making up to make my blog post sound more interesting, it’s something I think about constantly.  He said that he remembers having “I can’t do it” conversations with me for the Fall 50 and that he wanted me to remember how well that turned out.  To which I said to him, “I may have wanted to die while training for the Fall 50, but I never really thought I was going to die”.  Again, swimming is SO MUCH DIFFERENT than anything else I’ve ever tried to do.

I went home and told Brian about my conversation I had with my Coach and he agreed with Craig.  He also told me that I have to keep trying and see how it goes.  I tried explaining to him all the “things” I still needed to learn/conquer by the end of August and how I felt I didn’t have enough time.  To which he replied…. “you’re looking for someone to tell you that you shouldn’t do it and that you should defer, no one is going to tell you that. You are the only person who can make that decision, no one else will”.

I don’t know why that revelation bothered me so much, but it did.  And it’s probably because it was accurate.  I wanted Coach Craig to tell me I wasn’t going to be ready and that I should defer.  Or have Brian tell me that there’s still too much to learn and I’d be better off waiting until next year.  If someone else told me, then I’d be able to look at myself in the mirror and feel like I wasn’t copping out.  I could tell everyone.. “well, my coach said I wasn’t going to be ready – so I better follow his advice”.  It’s a way for me to push accountability onto someone else.  Because I don’t quit… I needed someone else to tell me to do it. Then I wouldn’t be quitting, I’d be listening to the advice of my Coach or my husband.

Fuck.

That was last week.  As I said, I was feeling pretty low.

But this is a new week and I’m happy to report I’ve made progress.  BIG progress!

When I got in the pool on Tuesday I was able to go 8 lengths (or 4 laps) completely un-aided.  No buoys and no flippers.  I was JOYOUS!  I rested a long time in between each length, but I at least did it.  The most I had done previously was 4 lengths or 2 laps.  And those were horrible, I felt like I was sinking I was panicky and I just powered through the lengths but it wasn’t pretty.  But on Tuesday, I felt “okay”.  I won’t say I was comfortable, because that’s an adjective that I may never use to describe me and swimming.  But I didn’t feel like I was sinking (for the most part) and was swimming with decent technique.

But as I may have already mentioned, whenever I have a breakthrough like this, my next time in the pool is usually disastrous and I slip back 5 steps.  BUT I’m thrilled to report when I got in the pool Wednesday evening, not only did I not slip backwards but I did 12 lengths/6 laps!  Holy balls, how did I do that?!?!  I took long breaks in between each length because my heart rate was elevated, but I did it.  Woot Woot Fuckers!  I rested and alternated between recovering for :60 and recovering for :30.  So it took me a long time to complete the 12 lengths, but hey at least I did it.  And let me just repeat… Woot Woot Fuckers!

And then despite my desire to sleep in this morning I got my butt out of bed and hit the Y again nice and early.  I actually walked through the doors at 4:58am, too damn early!  But it was totally worth it because I did 12 lengths/6 laps AGAIN!  That’s right people – in the words of one Miss Brittany Spears…. oops, I did it again!  AND I was able to reduce some of my rest breaks.  Instead of alternating between a 60 second and a 30 second rest break, I did all 30s!  So talk about 36 hours of progress!  I’m hoping this means that I’ve turned another corner.  If I can truly keep doing lengths without flippers and can work on reducing my rest breaks, I may have a shot of doing this!!

And since no one will give me permission to defer and as one of my co-workers told me today… “you’re too stubborn to NOT do this”, my only option is to keep at it and keep making progress.

Until next time,

Gotta run (or swim)

Side note:  I’m doing my first open water swim this weekend.  Lord help me.  If nothing else, it should make for an interesting blog post!

I’m a little more optimistic – for now!

I had a session in the pool this morning with Coach Craig and man, it’s just what I needed.  And seriously, he is the best Coach for me and my need to “know” and my tendency to over think EVERYTHING.  Here are a few highlights from today’s time in the pool.

  • During my warm up lap with just the pool buoys, he stopped me and told me my first length was almost perfect.
    • Why oh why don’t they allow pool buoys in a triathlon?  I could rock it if I didn’t have to worry about the whole breathing and stroke thing!
  • When I put on my flippers to show him that I can breathe to the side (I could not do this or use my arms the last time we had a session) and I can “kind of-sort of” stroke, he said that I was doing more right than I realized.
  • Craig knows me well enough to know I over think things and he is one of a few people who call me on my bullshit.  And he literally called bullshit today.  I kid you not.  I was saying something, I can’t remember what, but I’m sure I was criticizing something I was doing when he looked right at me and said… “BULLSHIT”.  Actually he said it a couple of times.  After the shock of him literally calling bullshit wore off, I actually chuckled because it was just too funny and because I knew he was right.
    • I still can’t believe he LITERALLY called bullshit.
  • He keeps telling me my body position in the water is spot on.
    • Which I quickly replied, “that’s only because I’m using ‘aids’, such as flippers or the pool buoys”.  Now that I think about it, this may be when he called bullshit! 🙂
  • He had me do a drill where I keep one arm in front of me and I just stroke with the other hand and practice “stabbing” the water on entry.  This went okay.  Thankfully he didn’t make me do it to the left, only the right side – which is the side I breathe on.  Even though he said he’s going to make me breathe on both sides, he said right now he’s going to play to my strengths and what I do well before doing hard stuff, like breathing to the left.
    • Really, I think all of this is hard!  But I will be grateful for this window of time when I don’t have to breathe to my left.
  • As I was doing the drill with my left arm in front the whole time and only stroking with my right arm, I said that these drills (and one more he had me do with both arms in front) are what I feel is messing up my rhythm because I don’t know when to move each arm in coordination with the other.
    • Basically he said my rhythm isn’t as bad as I think it is and that I’m really much better than I realized.  And this is when I called bullshit.  Silently of course because I wouldn’t dare say it out loud!
  • At one point Craig had me do a lap in the pool (same one arm drill) because he was watching for something specific.  When I finished he proceeded to explain to me – in great detail – what he was watching for, how I did, how it should be and why it’s important.
    • He knows I need to know the “why”.  He even acknowledged that he doesn’t tell most people the details because they don’t need to know the “why” like I do.  But I can’t learn unless I know the “why” behind what I’m doing.
  • After one lap where I was given specific instructions on what to do, Craig said that I did exactly what I was supposed to be doing and that this is the time where I could drop the mic.
    • Huh?
    • Seriously, huh?
    • Did Craig just do a “mic drop” on me?  Classic!
    • Never, ever would I have thought someone would do a mic drop for me in regards to swimming.  But hell, I’ll take it!
  • We talked a lot – if you didn’t already notice – about the fact that I have good body position (which I said I don’t when I drop the aids and he doesn’t like to hear that) but he did say that a few times he caught me trying to “run” in the pool compared to kick.  I said I didn’t realize I was doing it, but it doesn’t surprise me because the flippers are long/heavy and awkward.
    • He suggests I buy shorter flippers online.  I think I’ll do this because not only will it help me from trying to “run” but it should be less of an aid than long flippers.
  • Speaking of my kicking, he said I am kicking too fast and that because I’m learning to swim for a tri, I need to conserve my legs.  He made me do a few laps and really concentrate on slowing down my kick.
    • This was extremely awkward.  I feel kicking is the only thing that’s keeping me afloat and that slowing that down will not be good for my desire to not sink!  But I was able to do a few lengths slow enough that he was satisfied.  But he said that it will definitely be something he will have me continue to work on.
  • The reason I need to know the “why” behind everything I do, not only because that’s the way I learn (always has been and always will be – I have the personality tests to prove it) but I also have a tendency to be skeptical of things.  So until I know “why”, I oftentimes don’t believe it.  And not that I don’t believe Craig (or whomever), it’s just that I feel it doesn’t pertain to me.  So when Craig was saying I need to slow down my kicking, I was skeptical and I figured, “well, he doesn’t realize that it won’t work for me to slow down my kicking… I’m not like other people, I need to kick fast to stay afloat”.  But just as I was having internal skeptical thoughts, he said… “your heart rate is elevated after one length and it’s because you are kicking too fast.  You’re a runner and your tendency is to just go-go-go-, but that doesn’t work in swimming and you’re getting winded”.
    • This was my most recent “aha” moment.  I for the life of me couldn’t figure out why I was out of breath from doing one single length in the pool.  I couldn’t understand how I could go for a 10 mile run, yet be fricken out of breath in the pool after 25 yards!?  Well, now I know.  And apparently there is something to this whole slowing down my kick thing because when he had me practice it, I was less out of breath at the end of each length.
  • At one point we were talking about my body position (yes, we talked about it a lot – I think he was trying to keep me from getting frustrated by focusing on what I’m doing well) and my kicking and how I feel I do when I take off the flippers.  I said my body sinks and my arms are so slow that I don’t think stroking alone can keep me afloat.  He looked at me skeptically so I had to admit that I had someone video tape me and when I watched the video, I……. am………. very……….. slow……….. seriously………… so…………. slow…………. and…………meticulous.
    • He just shook his head.  I don’t think he knew what to say at that point about me watching myself on video.
  • During one of my laps, Craig told me that I had done pretty good but he could tell that I got “tense” during it but that I corrected it and got out of the situation – which was good.  I was shocked that he could tell that.  I mean, I was under water, so how did he know?
    • He said that I have a “tell” (like in poker) that he has picked up on and he can tell when I’m stressed or tense in the water.  I SO desperately want to know what my tell is.  But I didn’t even ask him what it was because I knew he wouldn’t tell me.  He knew, that If I knew, that I’d focus too much on that, and not what I should be doing.
  • And speaking of focusing on what I need to be doing, Craig asked me a question about arm placement after one of my laps and I said, “I couldn’t tell”.  Which is really the truth, I really can’t feel much or tell what I’m doing – I don’t know how people can tell what they are doing under water.  It’s all so uncomfortable and happens so quickly, that I honestly have no idea what I’m doing most of the time.
    • I told him that I have SO much to think about while swimming.  I feel I can’t really be smooth for fluid (which is his goal for me) because nothing is fluid about having to think about a million different things:  butt up, kick from your hips, feet at the surface, slow down my kick, look down, rotate, thumb along my side, elbow up, soft wrist, stab the water…. oh yeah, let’s not forget about BREATHING!.
  • After a lap where he said I did well, I said I didn’t think I did well because I got a lot of water in my mouth.  He said that it’s a timing thing and will get better.
    • Later when I was comparing myself to other swimmers and was questioning something he said to me, he said, “well, they don’t get a lot of water in their mouths”.
    • Damn, that one came back to bite me in the ass.  But it was a good call on his part!
  • As the session was almost done and when he was talking about what he’s going to suggest for drills, etc. he also said, “no more video self-analysis without my prior consent”.
    • HA!
  • After Craig told me I couldn’t watch myself swim in videos any more, he said…. “do you know what your biggest hurdle is right now and what you need to work on the most?”  I shook my head no.  He then pointed to his head.  He said, you need to work on this.  “Does this surprise you?”, he asked.  “NOPE!”, was my reply.  I’ve always been in my own head too much.  Running, swimming, work… anything.  Mental hurdles – not physical – are always the hardest for me to conquer.  And good lord Craig, if he can help me with the mental hurdles associated with swimming, he will be a miracle worker.  He will be able to charge extra for being a psychologist!

As we were leaving the pool area Craig said that I am doing a lot right and that I need to focus on that.  He still thinks I’m on track and I shouldn’t be frustrated (no, I did not tell him about my questioning about whether or not to defer, I figured it didn’t pay to tell him at this point).  So if Craig hasn’t given up on me yet, then I guess I can’t give up on myself yet either.

Until next time,

Gotta run (or swim)

2017 or 2018

I have four months to go until the Chicago Triathlon and I’m still a long way from being able to swim.  While I have made progress, I still have a long way to go.  Let’s actually break down all that I have yet to do in the water:

  • Learn the timing of when to breathe and stroke
  • Drop the flippers
  • Swim properly without feeling like I’m sinking
  • Swim properly for more than one length
  • Swim properly for half a mile (this is the biggie!)
  • Swim in open water  (this too is a big deal!)
  • Get used to waves, algae, and general muck that comes along with swimming in the open water  (oh yeah, this is a really big deal too)
  • Learn how to be comfortable swimming “in the dark”, or not being able to see the bottom of the pool (yep, big deal!)
  • Swim nonstop and be able to tread water if I need to stop (you guessed it, this is a big deal)
  • Get going again if I stop without pushing off from the pool wall, instead from treading water (may not sound like it, but it’s a big deal)
  • Get good enough to do everything listed above AND be able to do it when getting kicked, swam into and in general, getting knocked around in the water by other swimmers (this is the mother load of big deals!)

That’s a lot to do in 4 months.

I’m seriously starting to contemplate – not dropping out and quitting, but instead – deferring until next year.  I absolutely want to do a triathlon and I want to do it correctly (not doing the backstroke, etc.) so I’m not giving up, I’m just being realistic.  I must have a hard and honest conversation with myself – and my trainer – about if I can truly do one in four months.

I have come along way, and I’m super proud of myself.  I mean I literally would not put my head in the water.  I spent much of my first few swim lessons just trying to convince myself to dunk my head.  So I see the progress I made and I want to continue to make progress, but can I make enough progress in four months to do a tri?

And here’s something else I’ve thought a lot about.  If I do manage to get to a point where I am able to gut out the swim.  Which gutting out a swim scares the death out of me, it’s not like gutting out a run because I won’t die if I stop running.  I will die if I stop swimming.  But if I gut out a swim and manage to do it with whatever scary ass swim strokes I can muster, how much will I like it?  I’m to the point where I’m worried that if I do it and if I do it half-ass that it will be a miserable experience that I’ll never want to do again.  I’ve seen people who can actually swim (unlike me, who can’t swim and need to learn) get kicked and swam over in a tri and that scared the bejesus out of them and it affects their desire and willingness to get back in the water and try a triathlon again.  And they could swim!  I don’t want to get in the water and hate it.  I don’t want to be scared to death.  I don’t want to muddle through.  I want to do it and do it with confidence (as much confidence as possible, I mean it is swimming after all) and enjoy it.  I want to be proud of myself for training and kicking butt.  I don’t want to come out of the water shaky or scared because I got tired, got kicked, couldn’t breathe and just doggy paddled to a life guard.  This scenario is real and could happen.  And getting bumped or swam into is almost certainly going to happen.  Right now I could NOT handle it.  I couldn’t.

So instead of trying to do something I’m just not ready for now – do I defer and give myself more time? I’m not going to quit and give up.  But is it smarter to keep trying even though I have a lot to learn in four months or to defer and give myself the time needed to do everything I need to do, to truly feel comfortable in the water?

If I defer, I know I’d feel badly and feel like I failed.  It will take all my might and will power to say, I didn’t quit/fail… I’m just taking more time to learn to swim.  I mean I’m doing EVERYTHING possible to learn to swim.  I really am.  I have done everything asked of me and I go to the pool over and over again.  But I might have been too optimistic thinking I could go from fearing water to competing in a tri in a less than a year.

Doing a triathlon is on my bucket list and once something is on that list – it’s going to happen.  I promise you that!  But I don’t want to do just one triathlon and cross it off my list.  If that was the case, then I may just doggy paddle my way through this tri.  No, I want to do it with the proper freestyle stroke AND I want to do more than one.  I’m not learning to swim just to swim 1/2 mile and then be done.  Brian didn’t build me a kick ass tri bike just to do one and then be done.  I’m not reading up on triathlon tips to do one and then be done.  I want to keep doing them, I want to add them into my list of events that I can do and look forward to doing.  I want to be able to truly do triathlons and once I can comfortably do them – who knows what’s possible or what may end up on my bucket list.

So, I’m going to give myself one more month until I make a decision whether or not I need to defer until 2018.  At the end of May, I’ll reassess where I’m at and how much, if any, progress I made in those 30 days.

So the next 30 days are really important. I either have to make a lot of progress or get comfortable with the phrase, “I’m deferring to 2018”.

Until next time,

Gotta run (or swim)

P.S. As inspiration (or possibly to torture myself) I was looking at pictures from Brian’s Ironman.  Here are a few pictures from the swim start.  It’s the calm before the storm (I mean start) and then the white caps created by the swimmers.  Such an unbelievably cool experience to watch and so inspirational.

 

Only 35 1/2 lengths to go

Since my breakthrough last Friday morning when I was actually able to swim, breathe and stroke, I’ve gone to the pool 5 more times, including twice yesterday! That’s right, I’ve started two-a-days bitches!  Okay, that sounded more hard-core than it really was. But hey, I have to try to give myself a boost when I can because this whole swimming thing has been really demoralizing, so if pretending that going to the pool twice in one day is card core, than dammit let me pretend!

In my time in the pool since Friday, I have gotten pretty good at swimming and breathing while using flippers.  I’m super pumped about that.  It’s a HUGE breakthrough.  Huge.  Huge.  Huge.  And the fact that I’ve been able to maintain that skill, has me pretty geeked, hence the visit to the pool twice yesterday.

However, once I ditch the flippers that’s when things go downhill.  Quickly.

I just can’t maintain my stroke and breathing.  I can swim (omg, did I just type, “I can swim”?, who would have thought?!?!) about a half a length and that’s it.  Then I have to stop because I’m taking in too much water.  But why?  What’s happening at that time that makes me fall to pieces?  Am I going to slow to keep myself afloat? Why can’t I breathe properly?  Am I too tired?  Am I out of shape and can’t make it more than a half a length? Am I out of breath?  Am I really sinking, drowning and about to die a horrible death – which is the way it feels?

Brian thinks it’s not that I’m out of shape or going to slow or anything else, he thinks it’s that I’m not calm.  He said swimming is all about getting into a rhythm and staying calm.  And lord knows I’m anything BUT calm.  Calm has never been by specialty.

But how do you practice being calm, especially while in the fricken water and trying not to drown?!?!  It’s not like Brian can give me drills to work on that teach “calm”.  Oh sure there’s yoga and meditation that help a person learn to be calm, but that’s completely different from trying not to panic while swimming.  Oh yeah, and I’m also trying to concentrate on all the things Craig told me to, like…. kick from the hips, keep my feet at the top of the water, head down, elbow over wrist, push the water, blah, blah, blah.  That’s a lot of freaking shit in my head that’s not helping me stay calm.

I’m hoping the more I do it, the more calm I become.  I mean everything else just “clicked” for no apparent reason and I had no idea it was going to happen and click when it did.  So I’m really hoping calmness clicks for me too.  Because as of now, I can only go .5 lengths of the pool which means only 35.5 lengths shy of the 1/2 mile swim I need to do in August.  Just a tad shy!

Here’s hoping.

Until next time,

Gotta run (or swim)

Am I swimming?

This morning was my first time back in the pool in over a week because I had gone on a short vacation.  And unlike running while on vacation, it’s not as easy to get a swim workout in while out-of-town.  My only “water” options were the incredibly wavy Atlantic Ocean or the lazy river pool at the hotel.  Neither, getting wiped out by the undercurrents of the ocean or getting run over by a suburban family on their tubes in the pool, appealed to me,  so I thought it best to skip trying to swim while I was away.

Brian and I went to the pool this morning and got started around 5:15 am.  A big shout out to Brian for getting up with me, as he is NOT a morning person.  But I knew I wouldn’t be very productive on my own and I needed the additional support to get me out the door.  Plus, Brian’s been really helpful in showing me some additional drills to do while in the pool, so his coaching would be helpful after my mini-hiatus.

After a few laps of “front breathing” with the kick board and two pool buoys, it was time to try my hand at breathing to the side again.  I had been trying it before I went on vacation and had varying degrees of success.  I figured it would take a while to get back in the swing of things again, but I couldn’t stall any longer, and it was now time to turn my head and breathe (not to be confused with the gentlemen’s turn your head and cough routine!).

I did a few lengths holding onto the kick board with one hand and then when it’s time to breathe, instead of lifting my head up in front of me, I bring my arm back to my side and I rotate slightly and then breathe on the side.  I executed it fine once or twice and then I’d get anxious and swallow water.  But for the most part, it was going “okay”.  But I wanted to try more.

Why I got so ambitious so early in the morning, I’m not sure, but I ditched the kick board and proceeded to move (not swim, I was simply moving in the water) in the water trying to actually use my flippers on feet and my arms – no kick board or pool buoys.  I managed to do a few SLOPPY strokes… but I did it!  It was far from pretty.  But it had all the elements I needed to work on.  I wasn’t using any flotation devices to help (other than flippers), I was kicking, I was breathing to the side and I was using my arms.  Hot damn!  I did this a few more lengths before I decided to up the ante one more time.  So I dropped the flippers.

Okay, here goes nothing…

I wasn’t using any flotation devices to help, I was kicking without flippers, I was breathing to the side and I was using my arms.  OMG! OMG! OMG!

I made it only about 3/4 length of the pool.  But I made it!!

Let’s recap this for a second and let it sink in….

  • I wasn’t using any flotation devices to help
  • I was kicking without flippers
  • I was breathing to the side
  • I was using my arms.

By George, I think they call that swimming!  And trust me, I wasn’t sure because I had to ask Brian.

After getting done with a less-than-pretty length in the pool (and yes I did have to stop half-way), I looked at Brian and I asked, “Am I swimming?!?!”

I tried it a few more lengths and I didn’t do so well.  It’s so much harder without flippers on.  I feel like I’m sinking.  And when I feel like I’m sinking, I feel like I’m drowning.  And when I feel like I’m drowning, I panic.  And that’s never good.  I swallow water and I cough a lot.  Actually this morning it was so bad that I caught the attention of the lifeguards. One actually came over to me and asked if I was okay and if she could bring me a cup of water.  Which was basically her way of saying, “what the hell are you doing, you’re not drowning on my watch!”

My sinking/drowning panic came from not going fast enough to truly propel myself through the water and to float on top of the water.  I’ve been going so slow to learn (when using the help of floatation devices) and I’m also now so focused on my arms (and my breathing, and my leg placement and a million other things people have tried to teach me) that I am used to going slow to try to do it correctly.  But going slow means sinking.  So I could no longer go slow and instead I needed to increase my speed.  I tried so hard to kick as fast as I could to stay afloat.  I swear I was like a cartoon character, just spinning my little legs.  Screen Shot 2017-04-07 at 11.21.52 AM

After a lap of “so-so” progress (and yes, this is the lap where the lifeguard offered me water) I decided not to push it and to stop while I was ahead.  Because so-so progress is better than no progress.  And while I have a LONG way to go, right now I’m going to try to be positive (which is super tough for me) and not think about how far I have to go, but instead think about how far I come.  And god dammit, I’ve come a long fricken way!

Screen Shot 2017-04-07 at 11.39.57 AM

This poster is from the Fall 50, but it seems appropriate today!

Until next time,

Gotta run (or swim)

 

I want to ride my bicycle!

As some of you know, Brian built me a tri bike.  It looks awesome.  How it handles on the open road, that I still don’t know.  I’ve been on it a few times on the trainer in the basement, and in those times I’ve had issues with the cable breaking and the chain slipping.  Not a good sign.  But Brian assures me that I have to ride it a few times before he can make final adjustments.  Hhhmmm…. sounds legit.  Or it sounds like a line of bullshit.  I waver between the two scenarios depending on my mood!

But before I take it outside on its maiden voyage, I need to name it.  Much like how it’s bad luck not to name a ship, bikes must be named too.  (Okay, I just made up the part about it being bad luck, but I seriously need all the good juju as possible so I’m naming it, “just in case” it is similar to a boat and it really is bad luck.)

 

I had been toying with the name Black Betty.  Black Betty is a cool, tough bitch.  She’s the tattooed girl at the bar playing pool and doing shots of whiskey.  She’s not to be messed with.  She.  Will.  Cut. You.  Black Betty is intimidating.  And while I’d like to think me and my bike can pull off being Black Betty, I’m nowhere near that tough.  I can barely bike in a straight line and I keep telling Brian my back hurts when I bend over to reach the handles bars (seriously, why can’t you raise them up?).  I am very slow and very unsure.  So basically, Black Betty is a pipe dream.  Maybe if I ever get good at this whole Tri thing and ever get another bike, it can be Black Betty, but right now – Black Betty is out.

So after eliminating Black Betty, I gave it some more thought.  I can’t imagine how parents name their kids because I’m having a helluva time naming a bike.  But after much thought and many ideas, ladies and gentlemen I’d like to introduce you to, drum roll please…..

 

 

 

**FREDDIE**

While Black Betty is the town bad ass, Freddie is the neighborhood nice guy.  You see him and you smile because he’s always just slightly “off”.  You see Freddie in a bar and he’s the guy who may or may not be alone, but he’s always content and never lonely.  He’ll make you scratch your head with some off-the-wall story about something that happened to him and you’ll think…  “Freddieeeeeee!”

Freddie is the guy that when he’s trying to pretend he’s serious and wants respect will go by Fred.  But no matter how many times he calls himself Fred, he’ll always be Freddie to his friends.  Freddie is the goofy friend who is always up for a road trip with friends and may or may not sleep in your car instead of paying for a hotel room.  Why?  Because he’s Freddie – of course

But oh lord, if shit’s hitting the fan, don’t you know I’ll whip out a Fredrick, just to remind him whose boss.  When I call him Fredrick, he knows he’s in trouble.

So please welcome Freddie into the family!  Long live Freddie!

Until next time,

Gotta run (or swim or bike)

 

17522703_10211943458878857_4865890582920155463_n.jpg

And from one Freddie to another – Enjoy!

Swimming update

The Chicago Triathlon is five months away, five months from yesterday to be exact.

I still can’t swim and I’ve been at it for four months.

In fact, sometimes I think I’m getting worse.  I swear I almost drowned myself yesterday in the pool.   And I’m not exaggerating.  And yes it’s possible to almost drown yourself in the pool!

Probably the biggest “omg, what if this happens in the open water” panic/freak out mode I’ve ever had, happened yesterday.

Yep, that’s how my week started off; just freaking peachy!  Hope your week is better than mine!

Until next time,

Gotta run (or swim)

 

 

Things I don’t understand-volume 72

**Warning this post may contain higher levels of adult language, nudity, stupidity and may not be suitable for audiences of all ages.  It may also be deemed offensive by those who see themselves participate in the behaviors I discuss.  If you find yourself in the situation in which I’m describing, seriously stop your behavior right now.  Just stop.  But also please explain it to me first.**

Things I don’t understand_volume 72_YMCA edition:

In no particular order:

  • The Y has men’s, women’s and family locker rooms as well as lockers in the main corridor to use.  I don’t understand why people insist on bringing their duffel bags into the fitness center with them?  I don’t care how carefully you try to tuck it under the weight bench, it doesn’t belong there.  Lock the stupid thing up!  Do you have a spare kidney in there waiting for organ donation?  If not, what’s so fricken important about your gym bag that you need it within 5 feet of you at all times?  You see that EVERYONE else puts their stuff in a locker, so why don’t you?
  • And speaking of lockers… ladies, I know it can sometimes be crowded in the locker room and finding appropriate space is difficult.  But seriously, I don’t understand why you’d ever pick the locker RIGHT next to me.  It’s not like all the other lockers are used.  There are others open.  So why do you feel the need to cozy up to me? I know I have personal space issues, but beyond that, even if I didn’t have personal space issues, it just makes sense to give us both more space.  Here’s a little spacing tip for you, just like approaching a bank of bathroom stalls, when there are multiple options open, you never choose the locker or the stall RIGHT next to someone else.  Leave at least a one locker/stall buffer.  Please and thank you!
  • And since we are talking about locker rooms, can someone explain to me the fucking need to get naked and stay naked?  I truly don’t understand this one.  I understand that I have less self-confidence than the average person, for example, I’m the girl who commits a major fashion faux pas by wearing shorts over her running tights because I don’t want people to see my jiggling ass in spandex.  And I know that there are women out there that have way more self-confidence than me or most of society and I’m slightly envious.  So when you get completely naked (compared to trying to be modest and change in stages so you quickly throw a tech bra and shirt on while you still have your jeans on) and want to take your time to get dressed, like Bobby Brown once said, that’s your prerogative.  But and here’s the butt (pun intended) why do you stay naked?  I don’t understand the need to be completely naked and apply lotion to your entire body?  How dehydrated did your skin get in the last 60 minutes?!?!?!  Also, I don’t understand why you’d actually fucking talk to me when you’re naked and oh my fucking eyes, why would you then proceed to bend over?  Where am I supposed to look?  How do I divert my eyes to the ceiling tiles without insulting you?  But seriously?  And for all you naked mirror women out there, what exactly are you looking at?  Can’t you do that in the privacy of your own home?  Because with you standing in the mirror naked, I’ve now got a full frontal as well as a good image of your ass.  Put some clothes on or step away from the mirror.
  • And speaking of nipples – guys when you cut your shirts into a muscle shirt from the 80s you look like a tool.  And for the guys who’ve taken the scissors to the extreme and cut their shirts to the point where I can now see you nipples, you’ve gone too far.  Put the scissors down and walk away slowly.  Embrace the sides of your shirts and the sleeves.  We get it, you’ve got muscles, I can figure that out without having to actually see them.  And I really don’t need your nipples looking at me while we stand across from each other on the universal weight machine. I don’t understand it.
  • And now that we’re talking about weight machines.  There’s a fine line between resting between sets and just fucking sitting there. I understand how, in a fitness center FULL of people, you can just sit on the machine.  I don’t know if you’re scrolling through your phone looking for a new song, if you’re checking Facebook or answering an email and I don’t care.  Just get off the fucking machine and do it somewhere else.
  • The Y opens weekdays at 5:00am.  I don’t understand when I arrive at 5:00am how there are already people in the Y working out and sweating?  What time did you get there?  Don’t you feel a bit badly for making the staff feel guilty and have to open early?  Same goes for the people who are still on the cardio machines 5 minutes before the Y closes.  I know you want to finish your workout but have some respect for the people who are working.  You may want to finish your workout but they want to go home.  Be respectful of their time.
  • Much like people who talk on their cellphones loudly in airports, I don’t understand people who talk on their phones while at the Y .  I get that sometimes a call may be important, but if it’s important shouldn’t it be important enough to step off of the elliptical and excuse yourself to a more private area?  And if it’s not important, stay off your damn phone.  When I have my ear buds in and can still hear you when you are 2 machines away, you’re too loud!  Get off your phone and get on with your workout.

And if any of my readers see themselves in the situations I describe above, I apologize.  I don’t mean to offend you and by no means do I claim to be perfect.  To prove the point, here are a few things that I do at the Y that probably annoy others.

  • I shed.  A lot!  Curly hair, sheds.  I can’t help it and there’s nothing I can do about it.  But what does this mean for my fellow gym rats?  It means that I inadvertently leave a trail of long, red curly hair in my wake.  And it means you’ve probably at some point had it attach itself to you and weave its way into your clothes.  I swear my hair ends up EVERYWHERE.  It’s part of the reason I’m a law-abiding citizen.  I can’t commit a crime because I leave DNA behind wherever I go!
  • I stare.  I don’t mean to stare but most times I’m so intrigued, disgusted or even in awe of something I see others do that I can’t help but watch, it helps pass the time while on the bike.  The people I’m watching don’t notice, but other Y goers may see me staring down a friend of theirs. It’s a bad habit – I know.  But it is entertaining!
  • I read the communal magazines while working out on the cardio machines.  And I know that’s what they are for, but I can’t help but think it’s kind of gross.  We are supposed to wipe down our machines after we are done and basically rid it of our DNA (except my hair – of course) for the next user.  That means we wipe our sweat off of it so it’s no longer gross.  But how do you wipe down a magazine?  Paper is not really meant to be wiped down with disinfectants, but trust, me I’ve tried.  I really have.  I’ve tried wiping down some pages and then realized it was just stupid so I no longer do it.  And because of it, I probably have passed along sweat filled pages of People Magazine.  Sorry!  But I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see if Brad and Jen really had a reunion after Braneglina broke up!

So, as you can see, I’m definitely not perfect.  But I hope a few loose strands of hair is less toxic to fellow Y’ers than bent over naked talking!

Until next time,

Gotta run (or swim)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How not to feel like a badass

Morning quiz.

Q:  What’s the problem with trying to learn to swim?  (And yes, it’s a trick question because there are numerous things wrong with trying to learn to swim!)

A:  There’s just no way to feel like a badass.  None.  Zero.  Zilch.

Let me explain.

Monday I went for a run and I was doing a hill workout.  I was on my last hill, the one that has a .5 mile slow incline that just sucks the energy right out of me.  I was chugging up the hill when one of my favorite badass songs came on my iPod.  It’s one of my go-to “rally” songs for when I need to dig deep.  It’s a total kick ass female empowerment song and that song got me up that hill feeling like a total badass. I didn’t feel tired, I felt like a tough bitch.  Running at times, can make you feel like you can kick ass and take names.

Now let’s get off that hill for a moment and get in the pool with me.

There is simply no way to feel like a badass in the pool in my pastel, multi-colored swim cap (and yes I know I didn’t have to buy the pastel cap, but it was cheap and apparently so am I), and let’s not forget I look like a cone head in my pastel, multi-colored  swim cap.  My sensible tri swim suit – which also has pink and purple on it.  And again, I know I didn’t have to buy the one with pink and purple piping but as mentioned earlier, it was the cheapest and as I’m still new to this sport, I don’t want to spend too much money before I know if this tri will be my one and only or if I fall in love and keep participating in them.

So here I am, sensible tri suit with pink and purple piping, pastel, multi-colored swim cap fashioned nicely on the top of my head a’la Jane Curtin – Saturday Night Live circa 1977 and my Mr. Magoo goggles.  Not necessarily a picture of badass-ness.

And let’s now add in my kick board and pool buoys.  Just fricken take away my badass card and revoke my membership to the club, because the kick board and pool buoys are just one step away from fricken floaties – which I would totally have worn 3 months ago when I was starting out.

And just when you think it can’t get any worse, imagine me with my sensible tri suit with pink and purple piping, pastel, multi-colored swim cap fashioned nicely on the top of my head a’la Jane Curtin – Saturday Night Live circa 1977, my Mr. Magoo goggles, kick board and pool buoys and factor in my stopping to cough and spit out water mid-lap.

Nope, not a badass.

Thankfully a triathlon is three sports because it will take me the other two to redeem myself from my utter lack of badass-ness when I get out of the water!

Until next time,

Gotta run (or swim)

It’s tricky

Highlights and lowlights from my early morning session with my trainer.

  • When I mentioned that I really don’t enjoy getting up at the crack of dawn to get in a pool he reminded me that it will be worth it.  He said, just like when I finished the Fall 50, I forgot all about the work that went into training and I just enjoyed the accomplishment.
    • Uhm, no!  I have NEVER forgotten the work that went into the Fall 50.  That shit is burned into my memory.  Just this past weekend someone asked me about the whole experience.  I said I loved the day, it was better than expected.  Training sucked and was harder and more time-consuming than I could imagine.  It sucked!
  • Craig reinforced that I’m not doing as badly as I think I am and that I am doing a lot of things correctly.
    • But I had to come clean and I said that I honestly don’t care if my kicks are good or that my hips don’t sink like other people’s’ because if I can’t learn to breathe, nothing else will matter.  If I can’t breathe in the water, I won’t have the opportunity to do the rest.
  • He had me do a few laps while using only one pool buoy and this makes it extremely difficult to stay high enough in the water to breathe forward.  When I told him that I also said it feels like I’m drowning.  To which he said, he wants me to practice with less “help/assistance” to get closer to actual swimming.  I looked at him and said, “so you’re trying to drown me?”
    • Interesting tactic, simulate drowning.  I’m pretty sure I have this one down.  Feel like I’m going to drown.  Check!
  • I did a few laps while he watched my body positioning.  When we were done he asked me, “Where were your feet?”  Me:  “At the surface?” “Where were your hips?”  Me:  “At the surface?”
    • I didn’t answer him as much as I guessed and I hoped I got my answers correctly.  Since he didn’t look too disappointed in me, I figured I got my answers correct!
    • But in all seriousness, I told him that I have no idea where my body, feet or arms are at any given time.  I can’t feel them in the water.  I just can’t.  Am I really supposed to be able to feel the difference?
  • He wanted me to do the backstroke to get aware of my arm positioning and feel my dorsal muscle propel me through the water.
    • “Huh?  My what muscle?!”  He obviously could tell by the look on my face that I had no desire to do that and I was just going to do the backstroke like normal.  That’s when he busted me and said, “I don’t want you to get to the end of the pool and have you tell me you didn’t feel anything.  If you aren’t doing it right and aren’t feeling it, you have to stop, adjust and start over.”
    • Huh?
    • When I finished my lap I told him I couldn’t tell if I felt my dorsal muscle (and yes I had to google dorsal muscle to make sure this was the muscle in my back I was supposed to be using) or if I was just feeling the water rush past my back.  Now it was his turn to look at me and go, “Huh?”
  • I finally got a chance to do a drill while trying to turn my head to breathe.  I have to hang on to the kick board with one hand and my open hand just sits gently on top.  When it’s time to exhale I’m supposed to rotate slightly to the side where my open hand is and lift my hand off of the board and breathe.  Easy enough, right?  Wrong!
    • Lifting my arm and trying to rotate slightly was one of the more awkward and uncomfortable things I’ve done in the pool.  And I’ve done a lot of awkward and uncomfortable things while trying to learn to swim.  I absolutely could not do it.  What I did do was swallow a lot of water.  A LOT! This drill lead me to drink more water than probably anything else I’ve done so far.
    • I took water in both my nose and my mouth.  I’m not exaggerating when I say it was like gulping water and there was so much I couldn’t even spit it out so my best option was to just swallow.  The swallowing mouthfuls of water as unpleasant as it was, was not nearly as bad as it going down my nose.  Fun times at 5:30am!

The biggest thing that came from today’s lesson is both a highlight and a low light.  Craig, trying to reassure me, said that I’m farther along than so many people.  To which I said, “yeah, but are they trying to just learn to swim or swim in a triathlon… because I have to learn to swim and do a tri”.  And his reply… “yeah, that will be tricky.”

HUH!?!?

SERIOUSLY, HUH?!?!?

What the fuck does, “yeah, that will be tricky” mean?  He followed it up with, “I’m looking at the Marla from March, not the Marla months from now.  We’ll re-evaluate things later when we get closer.”

HUH?!?!

I have no idea what that means.  Is he trying to say that there’s a possibility that he recommends I pull out of the event?  Is he trying to say that based on how I’m swimming in August, he’ll give me a race strategy to “go wide and away from everyone and aim for the life guards”.  Is he trying to say that I should only do the backstroke?  Or is he trying to say I should stick to running?

WTH?!

And while I know Craig well enough to know he didn’t mean “yeah, it’s tricky” as anything negative (I’ll have to ask him what he meant, otherwise I will end up obsessing over this forever) and it’s probably in regards to a race day strategy, I can’t help but take it negatively.  It’s like when you try to give someone a compliment and say that you’ve never seen them look so nice but all they hear is, “apparently you look like shit the rest of the time!”  This is what I heard when I heard, “tricky”.  I heard, “Marla you look like shit”.  Brian can attest to the fact that once something is burned into my brain, it’s my only focus.   And now I’m focused.

So as I mentioned in my last post, during the Fall 50 I couldn’t help but focus on proving people wrong.  Well guess what, I’m about to prove that swimming the tri isn’t going to be tricky.

I just found my fuel and it’s tricky!

 

Until next time,

Gotta run (or swim)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plain and simple, doubt sucks

I was talking with some folks this weekend about what races they are participating in and they asked me the same.  I said I will do some half marathons but I haven’t decided on which ones.  But other than some unnamed halfs – which I’m not concerned with – my focus is on the triathlon I signed up for.  When people hear that I’m doing a tri, they don’t think much of it, much like I don’t think twice about Brian signing up for a sprint tri, he can do those in his sleep.  It’s more fun than work for him.  But then I tell people it’s my first tri and then they look a little more intrigued.  But when I tell them it’s not only my first tri, but that I don’t know how to swim, well let’s just say the conversation changes quickly.  I don’t think you can truly appreciate the look of surprise mixed with horror and confusion with a bit of “wtf” thrown in for good measure when people find out I signed up for a tri and that I can’t swim.

The folks I was talking to know me as a runner and most of them know I did an ultra, so they incorrectly assume I have athletic ability – which I don’t – I’m just stubborn and that’s why I have been able to complete marathons and an ultra.  Stubbornness won’t necessarily get me to the end of the swim like it will a marathon.  Finishing a swim will actually take some skill and athletic ability and this scares me a bit.  Okay, it scares me a lot.  I can’t simply rely on my pigheadedness to stay afloat.  If it were that easy, I’d have nothing to worry about.

As I was talking to these folks, some seemed genuinely concerned about my ability to complete a tri because I don’t know how to swim.  Normally this doubt would fuel my desire to prove them wrong – as it had for my ultra.  I still remember a conversation years before I did the Fall 50, where I talked about wanting to do it and a good friend and Brian both raised doubts as to my ability to do it.  They didn’t come out and say it, but the way they talked about how hard it was and how the conversation kept coming back to “it’s not as easy as you think” (which I NEVER thought it would be easy) meant they were in their own way warning me against trying it.  That conversation, among many others, fueled many of my long training runs.  I was going to do it and I was going to prove them and every doubter wrong!

The doubt I encountered on Saturday didn’t fuel my rage, instead it gave fuel to my own doubt.  I was left thinking, “what if I can’t do it?”  “What if I can’t learn to swim and swim well enough to do it while possibly getting kicked in choppy open water”.  So I was left feeling a little blue, until the end of the night. As we were all saying our goodbyes, a woman who I’ve only known for about 6 months came over to me to say goodbye, she hugged me and whispered in my ear, “you’re going to swim!”

OMG – THANK YOU!  Man did I need that.

That simple gesture was not only sweet, but it got my butt off the couch on Sunday when I absolutely did not want to go to the Y to workout and I absolutely did not want to get in the pool.  But I did.  And it’s because… I’m going to swim!

Until next time,

Gotta run (or swim)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coach Craig to the rescue

Today was the day shit got real in regards to my training for the Tri.  I met with Coach Craig this morning.  He’s the trainer I worked with for the Fall 50.  He knows me and knows how to work with my issues.  And when I say issues, I mean my mental hurdles, not physical ones, but he obviously knows my physical limitations too.  But for me, I need someone who can help me get out of my own head.  I feel like meeting up with Coach Craig is like the Cavalry coming to the rescue.  If he can’t save me from drowning, then oh lord, I’m in trouble.

I’m not going to recap the entire 1-hour session (omg, he had me do so much stuff and I thought the damn thing would never end – 60 minutes in the pool is way too long) but I’ll give you some of the highlights.

  • I actually did worse breathing today during my first two test-laps than I had done the previous 1.5 weeks.  I was so bummed, because I wanted to impress Craig, but I had to stop a few times to breathe because I freaked out.  Ugh.
  • But Craig said he was actually impressed and that I was farther along than he thought.
  • He had a check list of things he was watching for and grading me on when I did my test laps.  He wouldn’t show me the list because he knew I’d focus on the items he was watching for compared to just being natural. Which I would have done.  And it’s an example of how he knows me so well!
  • Craig was impressed with my kicking.  He said runners almost always kick incorrectly and kick from their knees (which is what I thought I was doing) but he said I kick from my hip (which is correct).  He actually graded me a B+ in kicking and he said most people he works with he grades a D.  So here’s to being above the curve on this one!
  • Apparently when I’m floating, my arm placement out in front of me is spot on.  I can’t really get too excited about this because I’m holding a kick board.  But both Craig and Brian said that my straight arms in front of me while I do that isn’t normal and most people have bent elbows.  I chalk this up to my old cheerleading days.  I had many years of “straight arms” drilled into my head.  Some things I apparently just don’t forget.
  • Craig also said my flexibility is helping me more than I realize.  He said I have a better range of motion in my shoulders than most people and this too is good and will be pretty important when I start doing strokes.  Craig said, “you are extremely flexible… for someone your age…” and then I didn’t hear what he said after that because I was too focused on the fact that he implied that I’m old.  Oh man Craig, you could have just stopped at “extremely flexible”, did you really need to throw in the “for your age” comment? And yes, this is what women hear when you say something like that – so men, be warned!   I think I will grade you an F for that one!
  • He had me do laps without the kick board and instead use two individual handheld little floaty things.  I’m sure they have a name but I don’t know what it is.  They don’t provide as much support as a kick board – which was the point – so it was definitely harder.
  • But it wasn’t as hard as when he took away all floating devices from me and just had me float and kick with my arms in front of me.  I didn’t get very far before I stopped because I felt like I was sinking.  He assured me I wasn’t sinking.  I said, “well, I sure feel like I’m sinking”.
  • So I did it again and again I stopped.  He told me that I’m not sinking.  But I think the reason I felt like I was sinking is because I didn’t have the kick board to keep me “higher” on the surface of the water and in turn I couldn’t get my head out of the water enough to breathe.  So instead of getting a nice inhale I gulped and then I swallowed water.  And then I stopped and told him I was sinking and he said I wasn’t.  See the pattern??  Thankfully we didn’t do too many of those.
  • He had me do a few lengths on my back.  Again he said he was impressed at my kick and my straight arms (except when my arms go into the water – which I still keep straight, but apparently is a big no-no).  He thought I was really strong on my back.  Which I said, “of course, because it’s the only thing I’d do as a kid because I wouldn’t put my face in the water!
  • He had me do some drills kicking against the wall, some with flippers and some without.
  • I had to do some bobs in the water, just breathing in and out.
  • He also ended the session with the both of us looking into a mirror and he was showing me the arm stroke movements he wants me to practice.

He’s going to send me a list of drills I need to work on, which I guess is good but I still don’t have the breathing down.  I feel like I need to learn that first.  Honestly I couldn’t care less if my elbow is bent in the water or if I’m kicking correctly – if I can’t breathe.  If I can’t breathe, I’ll never have the opportunity to work on the other issues.  I was going to tell him this but I figured I’d try not to be negative during my first session.  I’ll wait until the second one for that! 🙂

But I’m guessing he knows my negativity and self-doubt are coming.  As I said earlier, he knows me.  At one point during the session he said to me, “I’m going to explain to you what to do next, then I’m going to explain why it’s important and then you’re going to soak it all in like a sponge, go home and think about it and over-analyze it”!  Ha!  I actually laughed out loud.  Some people might have been offended by that comment – but not me.  He nailed!  That is exactly what I do and exactly what I will do!   But I have to trust he knows what he’s doing.  Not only does he do this for a living but he helped me cross the Fall 50 finish line and there were definitely times I didn’t think that was possible.

So here’s hoping he can work his magic again because if Craig can’t make me a swimmer – than no one can!

Until next time,

Gotta run (or swim)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why do I do it?

I had the most random and unexpected compliment yesterday.  I had an appointment with my Nurse Practitioner who I’ve been seeing for probably 15+ years.  So while I’ve seen her a long time, we only see each other once a year, so it’s not like we have this big deep relationship.  But she does know that I’m a runner and whether she remembered or read it in my chart, she also knows I not only run but have done multiple marathons and completed an ultra the last time I saw her.  She asked what I had planned for 2017 and I said that I’ve really scaled back on my running and I don’t have any major endurance events planned.  I added that I planned on doing a triathlon this year and she gave me only a half-enthusiastic response (like a tri was small potatoes compared to an ultra).  That is until I told her that I don’t know how to swim.  This intrigued her.   She spun around on her little wheeled stool and wanted to know more (thankfully I was not up in stirrups at this point!).  She could not believe I am taking on this endeavor considering I don’t know how to swim.  She thought it was just amazing.  Her enthusiasm took me by surprise and I must have looked it because she went on to explain. She said she sees young women every day with no goals, no enthusiasm and no desire to try – try anything.  She said it’s sad.  She thinks I’m an inspiration. She even said that whatever is motivating me to try new things, the drive to set a goal and do what needs to be done in order to reach that goal is what makes a person successful at life.

Wow, a success at life!  That’s a heavy conversation to be having in a medical gown, but please go on!

She said that no matter what the outcome of my trying to learn to swim or how the tri goes, she said that she’s proud of me and she wishes me luck.

Again, wow!  All of this from a lady I see once a year!

She asked me where the drive comes from and what it is that makes me want to tackle new goals and challenges.  I didn’t have an answer for her but I really wanted to find an answer for myself.  So I’ve been thinking about nothing else since she asked me.  And while there isn’t one clear-cut, easy answer I do have some thoughts as to where my drive comes from.

I have to give some credit to my parents. And while they never did anything like what I’m doing, they passed on some qualities that make me who I am and the person that signs up for an ultra even though I’m not a very good runner or the person who signs up for a tri even though she can’t swim.  My stubbornness to not quit came from my mom, and I don’t say stubborn as a negative.  I’m definitely my mother’s daughter when it comes to that.  Being stubborn is the only thing that got me across many finish lines and it’s what helped my mom raise 7 kids.  Stubbornness is a good thing – my husband may not think so – but I do!

I got my dad’s drive.  He was a self-employed farmer and he did what was needed in order to get the job done.  No excuses, just do it.  So once I sign up for something I will do what it takes to reach my goal (thanks dad), i.e. training, lessons, practice, early morning workouts, etc. and even if it gets tough and I want to quit, I won’t – because I’m stubborn (thanks mom).

But why even sign up for a race or take on a new challenge?  When I was asked what in me made me want to sign up for these things and to push myself like this… it really got me to wonder the same thing.  I think a lot of my desire to try to challenges and set new goals is that I’m extremely aware that life is short.  And I want to make the most of the one I have.

I want to try new things and have adventures.  I always say I want to live not for “things” but instead for “experiences”.  And while a lot of really cool experiences and adventures that I want to embark on cost money – these really don’t.  Okay yes, there are entry fees and gear, etc.  But it’s not the same as saving up to go on a European vacation.  Brian and I aren’t wealthy and we work extremely hard for our money and it takes time to save for some of the big things we want to do and see.  But signing up for events and working towards those goals are more short-term goals that I can control and have nothing to do with money.   It’s a way to make sure I experience life, not from a couch doing nothing more than binge watching Netflix (but I do enjoy the occasional binge weekend) but instead in the “thick of it”.

And lord knows I wasn’t always like this.  I spent most of my twenties and even a portion of my early thirties on the couch.  Probably because it’s hard to go for a run when you’re hung over!  But thankfully that was a phase and once I grew up, I grew out of it.  (Sort of!)  I enjoy setting goals.  I enjoy working towards them.  I enjoy reaching those goals and getting that sense of accomplishment.  I was talking to a friend who is currently training for his first marathon and I was telling him that it’s the feeling of accomplishment that makes you come back for more.  It’s addicting.

Maybe that’s what the young women who have no drive are missing.  They need that sense of accomplishment that will push them to try again.  Maybe all they need is to set one goal and once they achieve it – no matter what it is – they too will be hooked.  They will realize to live life is to experience life.  Not from a comfortable spot on the sidelines, but instead by being part of the game.

Until next time,

Gotta run (or swim)

 

 

A little road time, a little pool time and a lot of swearing

Here’s my update on my training this past weekend.

Run:

Saturday’s run was my first run in the double digits in 9 months.  How pathetic.  But I just haven’t had it in me to run and when I do, it was short and sweet.  But I’m trying to get some half marathons under my belt this year and I need to get my butt in gear.

The route we ran included a lot of old residential neighborhoods that had crappy snow-covered and icy roads.  The sidewalks were pretty clear of snow but the sidewalks are unbelievably uneven due to tree roots and uneven settling.  So my options were to take my chances on the snowy/icy roads or the uneven sidewalks.  I decided to go with the uneven sidewalk.  That was not the right decision.

Four miles into my ten-mile run I tripped on the uneven sidewalk.  I’m a foot shuffler so I barely pick my feet up off the ground when I run and this makes uneven sidewalks very difficult to run.  And  because I was out of practice with this type of running condition, it didn’t take me long to fall victim to the hazards that were waiting for me.

Even though I run so slow, it’s amazing the velocity I can pick up while launching myself forward at the pavement head first.  I started my fall at the beginning of a single-lane driveway.  I someone managed to traverse the whole lane in two giant steps.  Normally my little baby shuffle would probably have required about 6 steps before I got to the other side.  But when you’re trying to catch yourself, it’s amazing what the human body will do.

On the other side of the driveway from where my fall started was a patch of snow and I remember thinking, as this was all happening in extreme slow motion in my mind, that if I could somehow make it to the snow bank it would brace my fall much nicer than if I went down hard on the cement.

In my haze to land on the soft snow, I failed to factor in the other danger lurking ahead in the snow bank.  A big solid, wooden fence post – with a very sharp corner.  My forehead was on a direct collision path for this sharp corner and I didn’t even realize it.  Because I was more concerned with breaking my fall and hoping to land in the snow, the post was never on my radar.

After I took my two giant steps across the driveway I ended up landing in the snow just shy of the post.  I probably came within an inch or two from landing head first into the pole.  I didn’t realize it, but according to Brian – who saw it all go down and couldn’t believe how lucky I was that I missed the post – said I ducked away from the post at the last second.  Which is good because it probably kept me from knocking myself unconscious.

Needless to say this shook me up a bit.  But after a minute or two of re-assessing the situation and making sure I didn’t hurt anything more than my ego, I started running again.

And that’s when I realized I did hurt something more than my ego.  My two giant steps – which is not normal for my little legs – caused a pretty good hamstring pull.  And it was on my right leg, the one that I’ve already been concerned about because of my sciatic pain that’s been causing me all kinds of problems.

Well, great – another 6 miles on crappy roads with a pulled hamstring – this should be just fricken peachy!  Nice way to jump back into double digits.

I managed to finish the run without doing any more damage to myself.  But the pulled hamstring is still pretty tender.  I skipped my run on Sunday and decided to cross train instead because I knew there was no way I could do even a short run without being in a lot of pain.

I’m so pissed.  I haven’t been able to run on this leg all year without being in pain and now I have to go and add to it?!?  I’ve been trying to make it better – and with one fall – I made it that much worse.

Because my leg is so bad right now, I’m holding off on signing up for spring half marathons.  I just have no idea if I’ll be injury free enough to take on a half in spring and I don’t want to sign up and then feel obligated to do it, even if my leg is still bad.  I have a two-person marathon relay on the docket for June.  So I’m aiming for that race, other than that, I’m not sure what spring races I will do.  This damn leg is holding me back!

Swim:

As I mentioned I cross trained on Sunday, I did the elliptical and the bike at the Y.  And after those activities, it was time to get in the pool again.

My goal for my pool time was to learn to start breathing to the side and turning my head to breathe compared to picking it up in front.  I had been doing so well the past 5 times in the pool with breathing and doing laps that I thought it was time to take it to the next step.  Side breathing.  Or as other people call it… breathing correctly!

I did one or two laps breathing forward and then it was time to start turning my  head.  I  knew I wasn’t at a point where I could actually move and do this so I decided to start by hanging onto the side of the pool and just breathe and turn.  Breathe and turn.  Breathe and turn.  I had watched a few how-to videos on YouTube and they made it look so easy.  In reality, it’s not.  And instead of breathe and turn, it was more like breathe, turn and then stop and swallow all the water I just took in.  Breathe, turn, stop, swallow, swear and whimper.

Man, how can it be so different?  I mean the concept should be the same, right?  Breathe in and then breathe out.  Breathe in again and then breathe out again.  But nope, that’s now how it worked for me.  I was getting water in my nose, I was swallowing a crap load of water and in general the sensation of turning my head to the side was making me a bit dizzy.

UGH!

I tried not to quit right away.  I gave it the ol’ college try.  I even tried breathing – unsuccessfully – from both the right and left side.  Brian suggested that since I’m just starting out, it may not be a bad idea to try to get comfortable breathing from both sides.  And while I can tell that I’m definitely more comfortable doing it to my right – which is my dominant side – I figured since I’m not doing it correctly anyway – why not do it incorrectly from the left as well as the right.

I think I stayed in the pool for another 5 or 10 minutes before calling it quits.  I was pretty disappointed as I got out of the pool.  I had been hoping it would go better and would be easier than it was.  I felt like I had made such good progress the past week and I guess I just got cocky and was assuming I’d be able to do this too.

Oh well, one step – or breath – at a time I guess.  And while the step may be a limp due to a pulled hamstring and sciatic pain and my breath may include swallowing more water than I should… I can’t say I’m not trying!

Until next time,

Gotta run (or swim)

A day of many positive firsts in the pool.

I went to the pool yesterday and it was a day of many firsts.  I’m so excited to tell you.

  • The first, “first” was the fact that I was actually looking forward to getting in the pool.  My mini-victory on Sunday gave me the needed excitement to want to get back in the pool to see if I could do it again.
  • My second “first” was that I went in the pool yesterday afternoon.  As I mentioned in earlier posts, I try really hard to avoid a full pool and I try to go in the early mornings or on weekends, later in the day.  I was hoping I could get in the pool with only a few people around because it was 4:15 in the afternoon and I figured everyone would be at work.  Well, that wasn’t the case.  And I have to ask, why the hell weren’t all those people – other swimmers and parents of the children in the pool – at work?
  • I got out of work early, went for a run and then planned on getting in the pool for a bit.  I’ve never had the ambition to get into the pool after an afternoon workout.  It took a lot of willpower to not change my mind after my run.  I guess it was a good idea that I parked at the Y and did my out-and-back run from there.  It would have been really lame of me to actually go to the Y and not go in – so I went it!
  • Well, I did go into the Y, that was good, but I almost didn’t get into the pool.  As I just mentioned, the pool was full.  And you know I’m not ready to share a swim lane with someone.  Plus I don’t know the etiquette for asking someone to join them in their lane.  It seems a bit too forward for me at this time.  So what’s a girl to do when all the lanes are full?  I stalled.  I took my time in locker room.  Then when I couldn’t stall in there any longer, I went out by the pool and hovered near the edge of the pool looking for some indication as to whether or not any of the swimmers would be leaving any time soon.  I couldn’t get a good read on it and I didn’t want to share a lane so I went into the sauna instead.  This too was a first for me.  I don’t like or understand saunas.  Why the hell does anyone want to voluntarily overheat and sweat?  I try my damnedest to not do either of those activities, so to purposefully sit in a small suffocating room, just makes no sense to me.  But that’s how desperate I was to waste time and stall.
  • I was in the sauna, hating every minute of it – yet trying to look like I enjoyed it so the other people in there didn’t get overly concerned as to what the hell I was doing in there.  I was feeling hot, sweaty and light-headed (and yes, this all happened in less than 5 minutes) as I was trying to figure out what my next move was going to be if no one left the pool.  I was contemplating just changing out of my swim gear and going back home.  But what a colossal waste of my time, so that was going to be my last resort.  It was at that time that I had a flashback to college.  I used to drive to campus and if I couldn’t find a parking spot I would drive back home and skip class.  This happened a lot.  Brian and my other roommate came to expect it from me.  When I would show back up at our house after only a few minutes they both knew I couldn’t find a parking spot!  They both thought it was odd that I’d take the time and make the effort to go to campus, simply to leave.  And while it seems odd now all these years later – it felt natural at the time.  But just as I was contemplating leaving the Y without getting in the pool, I saw someone get out of pool. Hot damn!  I sprang out of the sauna and grabbed the one open swim lane before anyone else could claim it.
  • For those that don’t go into lap pools, the water is a bit cool.  Not cold, but the first dip in can sometimes be a bit chilly.  Let’s just say it’s more than chilly when you just got out of the damn sauna.  That was fricken cold!
  • I did one quick backstroke lap to warm up (literally) and then I was ready to start my “breathing” laps.
  • And here is the biggest and most exciting first that I experienced yesterday… I DID 9 LAPS NONSTOP!!!!  Holy Crap!  I actually breathed for 9 mother fucking laps!  HOT DAMN!  I can’t even tell you how exciting it was.  And how it pushed me out of my comfort zone in more ways than one.
  • I was out of my comfort zone for not only doing 9 laps but for doing over half of them while sharing the lane with a stranger!  Eek!  My fear came true, someone else wanted to do laps while I was in the pool and I must have looked like the easiest target so he asked to share my lane.  While I nodded approvingly that “sure, you can join me in my lane”, I was really screaming NOOOOO – GO AWAY!  I’M A NEWBIE AND I NEED TO BE ALONE!  But of course, that was my inner monologue only and before I knew it, the guy jumped into my lane with me and was off and swimming.
  • I was very concerned about sharing a lane with this stranger for many reasons, but mainly because I can’t swim in a straight line.  I can’t bike in a straight line and I really can’t swim in a straight line either.  So I became very aware of my surroundings and made a point of staying glued to my right side of the lane.  And as I was focused on making sure I didn’t drift into the stranger, much to my surprise I had gone a couple of laps and I was breathing!  And I wasn’t even thinking about it, which was even more surprising.  HOLY SHIT!  I was breathing and not thinking about it.
  • But then of course when I realized I had been breathing and not thinking about it, I started thinking about it.  Son. Of. A. Bitch.  That didn’t last long!
  • Another first that I experienced and was completely unprepared for were the waves and splashing that sharing a lane caused.  I had never swam that close to someone so I had no idea how one person swimming next to you could cause so much turbulence.  But it was really good practice for me.  I got a lot of water in my mouth, I got splashed, I got rocked by waves and I kept going.  This too got me pretty jazzed.  I was shocked that it didn’t freak me out.
  • And while I was doing okay in my half of the swim lane, I didn’t plan to stay in the pool very long.  However, I wanted to do at least 5 laps; the number of laps I did on Sunday.  But once I got to 5, I decided I should do 6 laps – do at least one more lap than I previously did.  Keep improving, right!?  Once I completed my 6th lap I figured I’d do one more – just because.  But then after I was done with 7 laps I realized I was still doing okay and I was only two laps away from doing 9 laps.  And 9 laps was a quarter-mile and a quarter-mile was half of what I need to do for the tri.  Since I was so close to a 1/4 mile, I had to go for it.
  • So I did two more laps for a grand total of 9 mother fucking laps!  This was an epic first for me.  My cone head, oversized goggles and kick board just kicked ass for 9 non-stop laps.

After 9 laps, I decided to quit while I was ahead so I excitedly got out of the pool. I left the Y and I called Brian immediately to tell him the news.  He unfortunately didn’t answer his phone so I left him an overly excited message.  I’ve never been excited about swimming and I’ve never given Brian a positive update on my progress – another first!

Until next time,

Gotta run (or swim)

 

I want to do this!

Omg. Omg. Omg.  I did it.  I breathed in the pool yesterday!!!!!!!

Here’s what happened.

After being in the pool on Wednesday, I was feeling pretty low.  Really, really low.  I was damn near ready to throw in the towel.  As I was telling friends, my inability to breathe is such an incredibly horrible feeling.  I mean people’s worst fears often times involve not being able to breathe, and here I am trying to learn to do so, and not succeeding.  Time and time again, I try to breathe and I can’t.  So it’s like I’m realizing my worst fear over and over again.  No wonder I hate getting in the pool.  It’s horrible.  It’s the worst feeling in the world.

But thanks to my nagging friend Nicole I decided to get in the pool again on Saturday and give it another shot.  And I call Nicole a nagging friend not as an insult, but as the true friend that she is.  She’s one of the few friends that has known me long enough to know my quirks and emotional/mental hangups, is willing to call me on my bullshit, slap the excuses out of my head and hold me accountable.  And I love her for it!  Everyone needs a friend like her.  And the reason Nicole knows my hangups so well is that we are very similar.  Not in regards to swimming – actually we are polar opposite when it comes to swimming.  She is a stellar swimmer who had a collegiate swimming scholarship offered to her!  No, we are similar in our how we think and feel.  I know her issues and she knows mine and we aren’t afraid to call bullshit on each other.

So I went to the pool with my husband on Saturday and when I got into the pool, he suggested I try to shorten my breathing a bit because he said when he tried to swim as I had described to him the way I was trying to swim, based on what the instructor told me, he too was popping up out of the water and unable to breathe.  So, I tried to shorten my breathing a bit.  While I wasn’t fully succeeding and breathing, it was better than Wednesday.  I still couldn’t make it a full length of the pool, but I was getting closer.  So I felt okay with my effort.

I sent Nicole a text after I got out of the pool and I told her how I did and that it went okay.  To which she quickly congratulated me and then followed it up with, “so what’s your frequency plan for the next week, when are you getting back in the pool?”  Ugh! Damn, you Nicole for holding me accountable!!!  But I know better than to mess with Nicole, she won’t leave me alone until she knows I’m getting in the pool 3-4 times a week – which is what she recommended (yet I was doing only once or twice on a good week).  So I told Nicole I’d go again on Sunday.  Crap… I totally didn’t want to go on Sunday.

Sunday rolls around and I do my regular workout at the Y and now it’s time to head into the pool.  And of course the pool area was jammed packed.  The activity pool is filled with kids and their parents and 3 out of 4 swim lanes in the lap pool were already occupied.  I knew I had to hurry up and get that last remaining swim lane because I really didn’t want to have to share a lane with someone and I didn’t want to tell Nicole I didn’t get in the pool!

Besides not being able to swim, I have issues with almost every aspect of swimming.  I hate wearing a suit, so I actually wear a “tri suit” that is long spandex shorts and a racer tank top.  So right off the bat I look different from everyone else in the pool.  Then I have the whole swim cap thing.  I have a lot of hair.  It’s long and it’s thick and it doesn’t fit nicely under a swim cap.  I put my hair in a bun and try to fit my cap on over it best I can.  But I look like a cone head.  Seriously, I do.  The “cone” seems to get bigger and bigger.  It’s actually so big that it pulls the cap off of my head.  I’m constantly readjusting my swim cap because it keeps coming off because I can’t seem to fit it over the bun/cone.  And then there’s the goggles I wear.  I have a really sensitive eye area and the traditional swim goggles leave HORRIBLE marks around my eyes.  All goggles leave some marks, but nothing like what I had.  When my husband saw the marks left by the goggles he literally gasped out loud and followed up his gasp with… “we need to get you new goggles”.  So the goggles I now wear  don’t just sit on my eye sockets, they are much larger and cover more of my face.  They look more like snorkeling goggles – but they aren’t.  But needless to say I’m pretty self-conscious about them.  Them along with my non-traditional swim suit and my huge cone head… I just exude confidence as I head into the pool (sarcasm inserted here).  But I head in with my kick board nonetheless.  Yep, I’m a really pretty sight.

Seriously, I wanted to die.  I couldn’t have felt more uncomfortable if I tried.

I started off with doing a few laps of the back stroke.  I was telling myself I was warming up, but really I was just procrastinating.  I was delaying flipping over onto my stomach to try to breathe.  Again, as I mentioned earlier, it’s such a horrible feeling not being able to breathe so I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.

But beyond just worrying about how I looked and not breathing, I was also worried about having to share a lane with someone else if another person wanted to use the lap pool.  And I figured if I was only doing the backstroke, I would be an easy person to share a lane with – and I didn’t want to share.  So my need to have my personal space won out over my stalling and I decide to get the kick board and practice breathing.

I did one length of the pool and it went okay.

Huh?!  WTH?

I did the final length of the pool and completed the first lap.  And again, it went okay.

Huh?!  What’s going on?  I don’t understand this phenomenon.  The ability to go for more than 10 feet without stopping?!  It’s weird, unusual and completely foreign to me.

I waited – like a kid afraid to scare the stray kitten.  I didn’t want to rush doing another length of the pool in case my first lap was a fluke.  I waited because I didn’t want to burst my bubble and I knew I surely couldn’t do it twice.  It was just a matter of time before I tried again and I failed.  So I was once again stalling.

But here goes nothing… I swam the length of the pool.

And I did it.  I made it the whole way.

I stopped at the end of the pool before swimming back to catch my breath but also out of shock.  I couldn’t believe I made length number three!

Okay, here I go, length number four coming up.

Oh dear god, I made it!

Four lengths or two laps!!  OMG!

I decided to keep the momentum going.  I rested for less than 15 seconds and I went again.  This time when I got to the end of the pool, I didn’t rest, I came right back.  When I finished that lap, I went again.  And again.

OH. MY. GOD.  I JUST WENT 5 LAPS!  AND THE LAST 3 LAPS, I DIDN’T STOP AND I WAS ABLE TO BREATHE!!

I was giddy.  I still am!

I was daring myself to go again but I was running late and I also didn’t want to push my luck.  So I got out of the pool after having completed 5 laps with the kick board and with breathing.  I went back to the locker room having had the biggest breakthrough since I started  It was huge and what I needed.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m still not “swimming”.  Hell, I can’t even turn my head to the side or drop the kick board.  But I’m breathing.  At least for one day.  I did it!  I now have a bit more confidence to get back into the pool – oversized goggles, cone head and all!  I now want to try again.  I want to master breathing and then I want to move on to the next step.  I finally had a “win” in the pool.  It’s not much for other people – but for me – I finally felt like I hadn’t wasted 3 months of my life.  I had a tiny glimmer of hope given to me.  Now instead of wanting to quit, I want to get back in the pool.

I want to do this.  I want to swim!

Until next time,

Gotta run (or swim)

 

Swim lessons are done and I still can’t swim

I’m done with my paid swim lessons.  Today was supposed to be my last paid lesson but the instructor didn’t show up – AGAIN!  Yes, this is par for the course with the way my lessons have gone.
Unfortunately I still can’t swim.  I made absolutely no progress in 3 months.  I had a “mini” breakthrough a few weeks ago when the instructor and I figured out I was holding my breath as I put my face in the water.  I have been working hard the past few weeks to make sure not to do that and to exhale as soon as I’m done inhaling.  But my problem now is that I can’t seem to exhale properly.  I can’t even get a half a length (using the kick board) inhaling and exhaling before I pop up out of the water in a mini freak out because my exhaling isn’t right.  I can’t seem to get comfortable under water and I’ve tried everything.  I don’t think it’s psychological (well, not entirely), I think it’s physical.  Brian thought I might not be exhaling enough and that I still had carbon dioxide in my lungs and that’s what was making me come up for air.  So then I’d try to exhale fully (or what I thought was fully) and it still didn’t work.  I tried counting underwater to make sure I was taking my time and exhaling slowly (and to try to give myself something to think about besides the fact that I’m underwater), I tried exhaling short and fast, I tried doing it naturally – or what I thought was naturally, and nothing works.  I pop up and need to breathe.
So with that being said, does anyone have any ideas?  Any thoughts, tricks or suggestions?  I need someone to help figure out what I’m doing wrong underwater and help me correct/fix it.  I feel I’m coming to a make or break time and I need to round this corner.  I’m BEYOND FRUSTRATED and DEMOTIVATED.  I feel if I can’t crack this soon, I won’t have the motivation to keep trying.  So I need to figure this out before I throw in the swim towel – pun intended!
Help!
Until next time,
Gotta run (or swim)

Trying to swim isn’t all I do

I’ve done nothing but post about swimming lately, you probably think I gave up all other workouts – but that’s certainly not the case.  In fact, I’ve slowly been getting back into running.  In case you forgot, I really fell off the wagon the 2nd half of 2016.  The effects of training for an ultra in 2015 finally caught up with me and I wanted to do anything but run.

I’m once again running.  Not a lot, but I am running.  I still don’t have the same drive and motivation I did pre-Fall 50 solo, but that may have as much to do with the weather as it does my lack of motivation.  I truly dislike running in winter.  The darkness and icy/snowy conditions make me want to stay indoors.  And since I refuse to run on a treadmill, that means if I don’t run outside, I don’t run at all.

I’ve been going to the weekly training runs on Saturday mornings.  So far I’ve run the marathon training routes (compared to the half marathon routes), even though I don’t plan on running a marathon.  But I have to admit, just last week I started to get the itch to do another marathon.  It’s my 10-year anniversary since running my first marathon in 2007 and that really has me jazzed about running one this year.  But what doesn’t have me jazzed is training.  Even though I’m running again, I’m not sure if I’m ready to tackle the training required to run a marathon.  I’m still feeling a bit too lazy to commit to that.  But I will keep running the marathon training routes for a few more weeks and then I’ll reassess.  If I get more motivated and if I’m feeling good, maybe I’ll go for it.

Speaking of feeling good, my right leg is not feeling good.  It’s actually giving me a lot of problems.  I’ve got a whole bunch of crap going on with my leg.  I think part of my pain stems from my back, which is pinching nerves.  When that happens I alter my gait and then a whole new host of issues arise.  I have sciatic nerve pain, I have a pulled hamstring, I have hip pain, I have IT and knee pain and I have a serious case of restless leg going on too.  And yes, this is all in my right leg.  The restless leg, or if you’re a Seinfeld fan you probably know it as “jimmy leg”, is so unbelievably distracting.  I can’t sleep, I can’t sit and I just want to cut my leg off.  While I’m not exactly sure what triggered all of this now, I do know that it’s all still a by-product of Fall 50 training.  These are almost exactly the same issues I had during ultra training.  But then I accepted it because my body was going through a hell and a lot of stress.  But now? Why now?  I’m barely logging any miles.  So why am I already dealing with so many issues? Perhaps I’m just that lucky!

I sure hope the pain and issues subside.  I also hope my motivation continues to come back.  I’d really like to enjoy running again.  Here’s hoping!

Until next time,

Gotta run

Why are you holding your breath?

“Why are you holding your breath?”

What a small and simple question, that would inadvertently lead to such a big breakthrough.

Before my swim instructor could start me on drills this morning, I wanted to talk to her about my inability to breathe while swimming.  I went to the pool over the weekend and I didn’t have very good results.  I explained to her that I am just not getting enough air and I don’t know how to breathe correctly.  After about 5 minutes of me freaking out about not breathing properly she decided to scrap her original lesson/drills and instead she told me that today we were just going to focus on breathing  And she would even let me use the kick board. Love me some kick board action!

After a few unsuccessful laps in the pool and after I stopped mid-length to catch my breath – and I was using a kick board and wasn’t even incorporating in any arm strokes – she looked at me and said, “why are you holding your breath?”

Huh?

I didn’t know I was holding my breath?

When she explained to me and showed me what I was doing, I realized… “oh sure, that is what I do.  I guess I didn’t realize I was actually holding my breath”.

What I was doing was trying to quickly take a gulp of air, then I’d hold my breath until I got comfortably under the water and then I’d blow it out.  I wasn’t breathing.  I was inhaling.  I was holding my breath.  And then I was blowing.  Which in retrospect makes total sense because that’s what I’ve been doing my whole life whenever I attempted to swim.  So I’m not sure why I thought I was doing it differently now.  (But also…. why the hell did it take her 7 lessons to figure out I’m holding my breath!?!?!?)

She explained to me how I should be starting to exhale on my way back into the water, not once I’m in the water.

So I tried it.

And oh my god, it worked!  I was SO MUCH MORE COMFORTABLE.  I didn’t have nearly as much panic as I did every other single time going under water.  It felt more natural and it was definitely easier.

I was – I am – so freaking excited!  I spent the rest of the lesson just trying to breathe correctly and exhale on my way into the water.  It didn’t always go smoothly and I still swallowed water, coughed, panicked and stopped, but it wasn’t the same type of swallowing, coughing and panicking!

I feel today I made real progress.  I now know what it’s supposed to feel like and I have something to truly practice now when I go on my own.  It’s going to take time because after I realized what I was doing wrong, I still caught myself holding my breath out of habit.  But at least something positive has come from 2 months of swimming lessons.   Yay!

Until next time,

Gotta run (or swim)

 

 

No training wheels for me

Son of a bitch.  My instructor took away the kick board today.  Holy hell, what was she thinking?!

Well, if I wasn’t fully awake when I jumped into the pool pre-dawn, I sure woke up quickly when she said, “no kick board”.  Again I must say… son of a bitch.

Man, that sucked.

The biggest thing she had me practice was keeping my head under the water for a longer period of time to fully exhale, coming back up to take one breath and then going back under.  I did okay with exhaling, but I didn’t do so well with only taking one breath (and don’t even ask me about my arms, my form went to hell and I really lost all control of my arms. They were flailing around just trying to keep me afloat.  It wasn’t pretty.  At one point she told me I’m putting my arm straight up in the air as I’m bringing it out of the water.  I said, “is that good, am I supposed to be doing that”.  “NO” – was her reply.  Oh!).  I think I only managed to do it properly twice and then on my second time coming out of the water to take a breath I was really panicky and out of breath.  I stopped mid-length of the pool a lot because I couldn’t get comfortable with doing this.  But she assured me I did okay.  And that I am improving.  She even said that I swam today.  I really don’t think I swam, I think I just moved forward without drowning, but hell if she says I swam, I won’t argue.  Except that I will.  I really didn’t swim!

But what I did that was impressive and new for me… I wore my swim cap and goggles.  It’s the first time putting on the swim cap (other than when I did it as a joke last summer to see if my massive amount of hair would fit under a swim cap) and goggles.  And I have to say the goggles hurt like hell.  She kept telling me they were supposed to be that tight, but they fricken hurt.  Just seemed like a tad too much pain for just being swim goggles. But as I sat there in my goggles and swim cap, I figured I looked ridiculous considering I can’t swim.  But much like how I was when I first started running… fake it ’til you make it.  If I can’t swim, I might as well look like I can!

I plan on going swimming Friday morning before work.  My instructor gave me a few drills to work on, including what I did this morning.  But she told me not to do it too many times.  To which I replied, “yeah, I’d probably drown” and she answered… “yeah, and then you’d have to get rescued by the lifeguards and that’s no fun and it would be embrassing”.

Hhmmm… not sure if my snarky attitude is wearing off on her  or if she really agrees that I’d drown!  Either way, I’m glad I got the okay not to have to do too many of those drills.  They were not good.  Or should I say, I was not good at doing them? Either way, it’s back in the pool 5am Friday.  What a way to start the weekend!

Until next time,

Gotta Run (gotta swim)

Need some positive progress before it’s too late

I’ve never wanted to quit something so badly as I do trying to learn to swim. I’m so unbelievably frustrated, I have not made progress – which is causing my frustration – and I just have so far to go before August.

I went to the Y this morning even though I didn’t have a lesson and I wasn’t meeting a friend.  I realize that I need to get into the pool more and practice outside of my actual lesson time.  I got into the pool at 5:05 (so early!) and I had wanted to start practicing and doing drills right away but I didn’t have the confidence right out of the gate.  I instead did 9 laps of the backstroke.  I thought getting comfortable in the water and just swimming some sort of distance is better than nothing.  So I did my .25 mile on my back with no real concern.

When I finished my 1/4 mile backstroke I stood in the pool trying to psyche myself up to do some freestyle drills.  I figured I didn’t get up at 4am to do the backstroke!

I did one lap with the kick board.  I didn’t do as many strokes as I would have liked, but I did at least two during each length of the pool.

And then I stood in the pool some more trying to psyche myself up to do more without the kick board.

If anyone was watching me, they probably thought I was crazy.  Little did they know the internal fight that was going on in my head at that time.  I wanted to do a few lengths without the kick board.  But I also DID NOT want to do a few lengths without the kick board.  And that’s when my inner Sybil (and if any of my readers are too young to know who Sybil is, good lord… google it!) took over.  I was having an internal discussion between the person who wanted to swim more and the one who didn’t.  Actually it wasn’t a discussion as much as it was a fight.  Do you have any idea how hard it is to talk yourself into doing something you absolutely hate?  Not something just hard, but hate.  Something that could ultimately kill you if you don’t do it right?  That is the worst feeling in the world, trying to get the mojo to do something so dreaded.

I was stalling.  But nonetheless the fight inside my head continued.

When you fight against yourself you always win, but you also lose.

Which side do you think won the fight?  Did I do some laps without the kick board or did I just back float it and go home?

Well, if anyone followed my blog during Fall 50 training, you’ll know I’m extremely stubborn, some would say too stubborn to quit.

So if you said I did some laps without the kick board, you’d be right.  I did 2 laps – 4 lengths.  And it was not good.  I did get a couple of semi-decent strokes in during those 2 laps, but it wasn’t pretty.  I actually got more choking and panic during the laps than I did strokes.  I flipped over and did the backstroke too, which I saw as a defeat at the time.  But now I guess I can see some positive from that.  When I started to panic/sink, instead of stopping and standing up, I rolled over and kept swimming.  Which I guess is good considering I can’t stop and stand during the Tri.  But I still felt pretty discouraged that I couldn’t at least just float on my front until I was ready to do the strokes.  Son of a…

As I got out of the pool and headed to the locker room, I was so upset with how I did.  The guy swimming laps next to me all morning made it look so easy.  I truly can’t comprehend how people can do it so effortlessly and why I just can’t pick it up?  What the hell is with me?  Why is it so hard?  Seriously, I need to know?  Are some people just incapable of swimming?

I’m ready to quit, I really am.  I don’t feel that I can make enough progress to be able to swim a 1/2 mile by August.  It just seems impossible to me.  It seems as improbable as me making the WNBA as 5’3″, middle-aged chick with no ball handling skills.  If someone said, “just keep trying, you’ll get it”, I know it’s bullshit.  No, no I won’t ever sink the game winner 3-pointer at the buzzer.  It’s just not going to happen.

That’s how I feel about swimming.  How do I know it will actually happen?  How do I tell the difference between realistic and just dreaming?  I really don’t want to set my sights on being a professional ball player if the reality says – no!  Same with swimming – is the reality that I’m just not going to learn to swim?

I don’t know.

I don’t want to throw in the towel yet.  Actually I do, but I won’t.  But when is it time to cut my losses and focus on a different challenge?

But since I’m not ready to call it quits yet, I’m in search of some motivation.  I read the book The Long Run, a book about a NY Firefighter who was run over by a bus as he was training for a triathlon.  His story and journey back will inspire even the person with the most hardened heart.  I need to reread his book.  Because if he didn’t stop, how the hell can I stop?  (But ironically enough I can’t seem to find the book… maybe it’s a sign I should stop. Ha!)  I need some Matt Long inspiration and I need it now!

Until next time,

Gotta Run (or swim)

 

 

Dang, girl

When you see a look of panic in the eyes of a co-worker, followed by the phrase, “dang, girl”, you know the trajectory you’re on to be able to swim a half mile by August is not necessarily on track.

A co-worker who knows I’m taking swim lessons stopped by to ask how my lesson was yesterday and when I told him – and I didn’t embellish for the sake of a good story – he was at first encouraging.  But then by the end of the conversation his encouragement turned more towards  a “what did you get yourself into” vibe.  I definitely surprised him when talking about my lesson, I mentioned I swallowed more water, choked more and panicked more  and definitely didn’t do as well as I did two weeks ago.  His eyes got pretty big when I said I swallow water and choke pretty regularly.  I don’t think he realized when I said I can’t swim, that means… I CAN NOT SWIM!  It’s not like I can swim but need a refresher.  Or that I can swim but want to go faster.  Nope, I can not swim!

And then he asked how far I need to swim for the tri and he asked how many laps that is in the pool.  I told him it’s 36 lengths/18 laps.  And that’s when I got the shock and panicked look and the “dang, girl!”  Quickly followed by the, “you better hurry up, you’ve got a lot to do by August”.

Yes, yes I do.

Until next time,

Gotta run (or swim)

One step forward and two strokes back

Here’s a quick recap of how my triathlon training has been going.

Running:

I’ve finally started running again.  While my motivation to actually get out the door hasn’t always been stellar, I’ve gotten out the door more in the first 10 days of 2017 than I did the entire last quarter of 2016.  I really did not run much in 2016.  I checked my total miles that I ran in 2016 and it was the lowest amount I have ever run.  Even lower than when I first started running.  Man, I fell off the running wagon last year and I fell off hard.  Here’s hoping I can climb back on and stay on!

Biking:

I had been attending a spin class at the end of 2016 but I haven’t done spin class in 2017 because my work schedule has changed.  And while I’m not a fan of spin, it’s a good workout.  I’ve done a lot of biking on my own at the Y, but it’s not the same intensity as if I’m in class.  I blame it on the reality TV that I watch while biking on my own!  I must find a spin class that fits my schedule and stick to it.

Swimming:

I had to cancel my lesson last week because of my work schedule so when I got in the pool this morning it was the first time in two weeks.  I felt like I had taken a couple of steps backwards from where I was two weeks ago.  I didn’t do all the drills as well as I did last time.  I definitely panicked, stopped and choked more today than my last lesson.  So needless to say I’m pretty bummed.  I realized that I need to get in the pool on my own time and practice these drills on my own if I really want to improve.  I won’t ever make real progress if I am only in the pool for 30 minutes once a week or in some cases, once every two weeks.  But the thought of going into the pool on my own, not during a lesson, just makes me so super apprehensive.  I truly have no desire to do it.  But I need to.  But I don’t want to.  But I really need to.  But I really don’t want to.  But I have to go.  But I don’t want to go.  This is pretty much the same internal conversation I have had the last year when it came to running…   I don’t want to run.  But I have to run.  I don’t want to run.  But I have to run.

Also, and here’s another little swimming tidbit that you’ll enjoy.  I think I made myself seasick while doing the backstroke this morning.  When I finished my backstroke lap and stood up I felt really dizzy and fuzzy.  A bit nauseous too.  Even as I type this, I feel a bit sick.  You know the feeling you get when you get off of an amusement park ride and your head is wonky and your stomach isn’t feeling great?  I’m not sure what caused it.  If it was having my ears in the water and possibly having it throw off my inner equilibrium.  Maybe it was from just staring up at the ceiling and not being able to focus on a horizon.  Or maybe it was the subtle movement created by the guy swimming laps next to me.  Either way, I need to get this figured out.

And really, it’s not as if I didn’t have enough to worry about with this whole learning to swim thing… but now I have to worry about making myself seasick?!  Really!?

That’s just great!

Until next time,

Gotta run (or swim)

 

 

One stroke, two stroke, three stroke, cough

One more early morning swim lesson, one step closer to being able to swim!

I have to say, I’m doing stuff in the water that I NEVER thought I’d be doing.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m still not swimming freestyle, but I’m making progress.  My instructor said that I’m getting more comfortable in the water.  The first thing she had me do today was 10 “bobs”, where I go under and exhale and come back up.  Sounds simple enough, but to me this was a big deal.  And still is a big deal.  I had to  psyche myself up to do it, but I did it and I felt okay doing it.  Progress!

After my bobs, I had to do a lap holding the kick board and just kicking.  This was my warm up.  After that she had me jump right back into where we left off last week, which was the one-armed freestyle stroke including putting my face in the water and exhaling.  Yikes!  Nothing like easing back into things after the holidays!  I mean, it wasn’t even 5:20 in the morning and she’s having me get right back on that horse.  I didn’t really even have a chance to think about it; which is probably good for me.

I did a few one-armed laps and I did okay, nothing great, but definitely okay (for me!).

And then the shit got real!

Abbie wanted me to do a full stroke.  Actually in my mind it seemed more like a stroke and a half.  So for my non-swimmer readers, what I had to do was (with my face under the water – this can’t be forgotten!), with both of my arms outstretched in front of me and hanging on to the kick board, I had to bring my right arm down into the water, back by my side, up in the air and back to the kick board and then I had to do the left arm the same way AND THEN I HAD TO DO THE RIGHT ARM AGAIN!!!  H.O.L.Y. S.H.I.T.

I actually sat in the water silent (which is hard for me) and stunned when she told me what she wanted me to do.  I truly couldn’t wrap my tiny brain around what she was asking me to do.  I physically didn’t know how to do it.  While it seems logical and natural because we’ve all seem swimmers do it millions of times, there was nothing logical or natural about it for ME!  I had to have her show me how to do it – twice!

And I have to process things and understand them before I can do them.  So while I was trying to process this task I realized my, blow-the-air-out-of-my-lungs-quickly-so-I-turn-my-head-to-breath technique I had been doing during my one-armed drill wasn’t going to work for me.  I couldn’t exhale quickly because I couldn’t turn my head for 3 strokes (2 on the right arm and 1 on the left) and if I couldn’t turn my head I would basically run out of air and panic.  So I realized very quickly that the trick to the success on this step would be for me NOT TO PANIC, but instead to take my time and exhale slowly so I wouldn’t run out of air before it was time to come up and take a breath.  The whole, not-panic-thing, is much easier said than done.  Yikes!

But I had to do it… here goes nothing….

Floating.  Holding on to kick board.  Face in water. Right arm. Left arm. Right arm. Turn my head and breathe.

Holy fuck I did it!!!!!!!!!  I did it.

It wasn’t pretty and I kind of rushed it.  BUT I DID IT!

When I got done with my lap, she wanted me to do another. This time I had to do two in row.  AAHH!!  Are you kidding me?!?!  That is 6 arms strokes and two breaths!  AAAAHHHH.

But I did it!  Again, it wasn’t pretty.  And I took a longer “break” between strokes 1 and 2 than I should have, but I did it.

And then the shit got real.  AGAIN!

This whole two-arm stroke thing is HUGE for me and I thought I’d be concentrating on doing more of that for the rest of the lesson.  But apparently Abbie had other ideas.

You know what she did next?  She took away my kick board!  Abbie, you descendent of Satan… how dare you take away my kick board!

You know what happens when a person who can’t swim doesn’t have a kick board to help?  They sink!  I kid you not.  I was sinking like a fricken rock.  So much for progress!

Abbie had me float with my arms out stretched in front of me and then she wanted me to try to do a few strokes.  But you have to remember, that as I move the 25 yards of the pool, I don’t do strokes the whole time.  I do 1 or 2 and the rest of the time I am either freaking out, recovering from freaking out, trying to calm my breathing, etc.  So when you’re not actually doing a stroke and your arms are out in front of you and your head is above water and all you really have to help power you forward are your tired legs, you have a tendency to sink.

And then survival mode kicks in and you just try to do anything to stay afloat.  At this point all bets were off and all the tasks Abbie gave me to do were thrown out the window.  Abbie wanted me to do a one-armed stroke and then swim on my side for a bit.  But this is what actually happened.

Arms out stretched – I start to sink.  So I kick harder to stay afloat.  Not doing well, but I’m determined to keep my nose above water as not to drown before the New Year.  Kick. Kick. Kick.

Dear lord, this is hard.

Kick. Kick. Kick.

My nose is just barely above water.

Crap, I forgot I have to try to do a stroke.

I put my face under the water and try to exhale.

But I’m already so tired from trying to keep my head above water that my form is not good.  I don’t exhale and turn my head as much as I put my face under the water and I do “something” that may or may not include exhaling, then bring my face above water, I forget all about going on my side, I also don’t have my arms outstretched because this doesn’t keep me afloat and instead I do some weird sort of half-freestyle/half-doggie-paddle-stroke as I swallow a crap load of water and then I cough and choke it all up.

I try my best not to stop swimming but I realize things aren’t going well. So I stop in the middle of the pool and I cough it out.

Well that sucked!

And I’m not to the edge of the pool so I have to keep going.  Shit.

So I repeat this again.  Seriously, the whole damn thing.  The floating, the sinking, the nose above water, the panicky face in the water, the half-ass exhale, the coming up, the swallowing water, the coughing and choking.  Fun times!

And I had to do one more lap like this.  This girl is a sadist.  I think it’s her way of getting back at me for scheduling my lesson at 5:15 in the morning!

At one point as I was trying to survive – I can’t say I was swimming – because I was literally just trying to survive at this point and in my one-armed stroke/doggie paddle madness, I actually used both arms and did a full stroke!  Completely by accident.  I was just “flailing” trying not to sink and both my right arm and left arm happened to go up and over (and no my face was not under water at this time – it was positioned nicely above water enjoying free flowing oxygen!!!).  While Abbie was excited and said, “your body wants to do it and wants to swim”.  In reality my body wasn’t trying to swim, it was self-preservation and my body’s way to survive and to keep from drowning.

But maybe that’s it.  Maybe somewhere deep, deep, deep in the recesses of my subconscious, I already know how to swim.  Maybe the key to swimming is simple – do whatever it takes to ensure self-preservation and survival.

Sounds simple enough.

So here’s to self-preservation and doing what it takes to survive!

Until next time,

Gotta Run (or swim)

 

OMG, it wasn’t horrible!

I had another swim lesson this morning and I have to say – it wasn’t horrible!

I made MAJOR improvements today.  My instructor had me floating with the kick board in front of me and then I had to put my face in the water and exhale and simultaneously bring my arm back to my side.  Part of the actual stroke.  When my arm was to my side I was then to turn my head to the side and breathe.  I could hang out in this side position as long as I was comfortable and when I was ready to put my face in the water again, I had to bring my arm from my side, up and over my head and into the water again.  You know… kind of like I was actually swimming!

I did this drill for most of the lesson.  It was not easy and yes I freaked out often, swallowed way too much water, gagged and in general sucked.  But other times, I didn’t suck!  Other times, I actually exhaled under water, brought my hand back and turned my head to the side!!!!  This may seem like nothing to you, but to me this simple act was EVERYTHING.  I have never ever done it before.  At one time my instructor told me she wanted me to do 2 laps without stopping (aka, no freaking out and stopping to stand and catch my breath, which I was doing often) AND she wanted me to do two strokes in a row.  And me being goal oriented and wanting to make sure I did the two strokes, I did them right off the bat so I could get them out-of-the-way.  But after I was done with my two strokes I started choking.  BUT I didn’t stop.  But I did slow down enough to make sure those counted as my two strokes in a row!  And when she said yes, the pressure was off.  Whew.  I did the 4 lengths/2 laps without stopping.  I didn’t do the breathing the whole time, a lot of the time I just floated with the arm at my side and my head turned, but that’s okay.  I had to get comfortable doing that too.  One time, in the middle of the lap I didn’t breathe correctly and I swallowed water and started gagging and my instinct was to stop but I didn’t!  I kept going.  Abbie, my instructor, said that was her favorite part of my whole lesson. She could tell I was struggling and about to freak out but I corrected myself and kept going.  That’s HUGE.  Seriously… that is HUGE for me.

What I did today seems really small when I type it out, but it really isn’t small in my world.  I didn’t run a marathon or set a PR, but I made HUGE strides today by continuously putting my face in the water.  I tried breathing.  I didn’t always do it right, but I tried.  And even when I was freaking out, I kept going.  That’s huge.

I think I just got my early Christmas gift… the mini-self encouragement needed to keep going and try again!

Until next time,

Gotta run (and swim)

 

Not a great way to start my day

So far this learning to swim thing is just down right sucky. Sucky, yes that’s the word I chose.  I was going to use a curse laden, run-on-sentence to describe it but I thought I’d spare you fine folks all the expletives this early in the morning.

Let me tell you about my swim lesson this morning.  Let me paint the picture for you:

  • Since my other lessons haven’t gone well, I wasn’t too enthused for this one.
  • Last night I mentioned to my husband that I was DREADING my early morning lesson.  DREADING.
  • My alarm went off at 4:15am.
  • It’s minus 7 degrees outside.
  • I have a busy day and can’t work out today so my only activity will be my early morning swim lesson.
  • I drag my cold and tired (and crabby, yes it’s been a crappy week and I’ve been crabby) ass to the Y and I head to the swimming pool.
  • All swim lanes are full.
  • I don’t see my instructor, but I have 5 minutes until my lessons is supposed to start.  so I wait.
  • And I wait.
  • And I wait.
  • My instructor is a no-show.  A fucking no-show!
  • When I realize that even if she does actually show up, it will be too late to get my lesson in and finished by 6:00am, which is when I need to be done so I can get home and get ready for work.
  • I leave the pool area, I get dressed and I go back home.
  • My workout at the Y this morning consisted of me getting undressed and redressed.  Fun times.
  • Swim lesson #2 from the paid instructor – – NON EXISTENT!

Let me just say, I’m livid!  L.I.V.I.D!

And this, may I add, is after this instructor cancelled my lesson last week.  She said she had to study for exams.  Yet when I went to the Y and saw her boss, her boss said she couldn’t make the lesson because she was home sick.  HHHmmmm… thanks for lying to either me or your boss.

What a colossal waste of my time.  I couldn’t stick around and swim on my own like I did last week because all the lanes were full.  I don’t have the confidence or proper pool etiquette to know how to ask someone to share a lane.  Plus I really didn’t want to share a lane with people who can swim and were trying to do laps.  Me and my little floaty kick board wouldn’t have been appreciated by these folks.

I also couldn’t get my usual fitness center workout in either because I didn’t have any workout clothes or tennis shoes along. I had my fricken swim suit on – that’s it!

So yeah,  needless to say, I’m not jiving on swimming.  Or in this mornings case, the lack of swimming!

Until next time,

Gotta run (or swim – MAYBE!)

 

 

It’s too early to be frustrated, but I am

I’m frustrated.  And yes, I know it’s insane to be frustrated because it’s only been 8 days, but yet I am frustrated.  Here’s the reason why, there is no middle ground with learning to breathe in the water – you either do it, or you don’t.  It’s not like running where you can run for a short distance or run slowly and eventually you work your way up to a lot of fast miles.  It’s not the same with breathing, it’s all or nothing!

And I know I should be happy with the small accomplishments I’ve made.  Hell, the fact that I’ve been in the pool, 4 out of the past 8 days is crazy!  Today my swim lesson was cancelled yet I got out of a nice warm bed at 4:30am and went to the Y and practiced on my own.  I “moved” in the water for .5 miles nonstop!  Woot!  That is the distance the swim portion of my triathlon is, so that’s my benchmark for distance while training.  I did a 1/4 mile on my front only kicking while I hung on to the kick board.  Then I flipped over for the final 1/4 mile for my “panic/safety” stroke.

And what did I learn during my solo time in the pool?  I learned I still can’t breathe!  I tried.  I tried blowing bubbles while on the kick board.  I did “okay” for the first few laps and then I stopped.  I realized I was really laboring in my breathing and I decided to just concentrate on my kicking and not try to breathe.  I also learned that swimming on my back makes me a bit seasick.  Seriously!  I was SHOCKED!  And this is in a pool… with no waves… not even another person in the lap pool with me.  Just me.  And I was making myself seasick.  Yikes!  What the hell am I going to do when I am in open water?  Do I need to take Dramamine?!  Seriously, do I?

I also realized that it takes  A LONG time to swim a 1/2 mile.  It took me almost 40 minutes. For comparison sake, an Ironman competitor needs to swim a 1/2 in about 26 minutes in order to make the cutoff time.  (Brian swims the Chicago Tri 1/2 swim in 16+ minutes.) So yes, I’m slow!  But that’s okay, that’s not what bothers me, what bothers me is my lack of being able to breathe.

I know I have to stop being so hard on myself and thinking about the negatives – but hello, do you not know me at all?  That’s what I do!  But seriously, it’s really discouraging when I haven’t made any progress at the most important thing I need to learn.  And as I said earlier, it’s all or nothing.  I realized it’s much easier to learn to run, bike, do yoga… basically everything else.  Because you can actually run without being good at it.  You can bike without being able to conquer hills.  You can do yoga without being a master yogi and being able to do the scorpion during your first few lessons.  But when you are trying to learn to breathe in the water – you are either doing it or you’re not.  So I don’t get to see progress being made.  I remember when I trained for my first marathon, each “extra” mile that I ran that made that days training run my longest run ever – was something I looked forward to.  It was huge.  That was a tangible accomplishment.  When I went for my first hilly bike ride and I actually got up the hill, that was progress.  That was a victory.  I could end the workout that day knowing I did good!  I accomplished something!

But what do I do when I make NO progress on breathing?  How do I stay motivated? Because honestly, it’s only been 4 times in the pool, but I’m already super unmotivated.

People need rewards and need to feel like they have accomplished something and made progress.  When no progress is being made,  I’m afraid the only other thing that will get made in the future is a lot of excuses.  A lot of excuses to stay in bed and skip those pool workouts!

And trust me, I don’t need any more excuses to stay in bed during Wisconsin winters!

Until next time,

Gotta run (swim)