Cross another first off of the list

So remember when this happened?

IMG_8576

Well, now this happened.

IMG_8643

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)

image

Man down!

So this happened on my training ride yesterday.

IMG_8576

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)

 

Swim lesson #2 in the books

I had swim lesson number two this morning.  It went better.  Kind of.

My friend Jamie, who is a strong swimmer and who has previously taught kids to swim, helped me today.  She was extremely patient and supportive.  And I liked the fact that the first thing she had me do was find my “safe space”.  Basically she taught me a simple back stroke that I should practice that will be my default safety space if I’m ever swimming and I panic.  If I panic, I should flip over, float and do the “arms, chicken, plane” stroke. (I think that’s what she called it.)  This is a very easy and simple stroke, even more so than the one where my arms are windmills.  I can do this stroke without worrying about hitting other triathletes or even without worrying about balancing.  It will let me catch my breath and focus, all while keeping my head out of the water.  Smart!  Jamie definitely knows what I need.

She next had me do the side stroke.  She said this is a good stroke to learn that somewhat mimics the freestyle but yet I can do it with my head above water.  Well, she can do it with her head above water, mine was dangerously close to going under.  I asked her why my head was half in the water and hers wasn’t and she said because I’m not strong enough at it yet.  Huh!? Well, there you go.  Good to know.

As I was doing the side stroke and trying my hardest not to let me head dip under, I realized it was really hard and I was super tired.  And I swear, we only did like two lengths of the pool.  And while I know I’m not in “swimming” shape, I really couldn’t believe how hard it was.  Then after talking to Jamie a bit more about it, I realized I was making it way harder on myself because of keeping my hands flat as they are going through the water, I was basically using them as a mini “snow plow” instead and in essence, doubling my effort.  So as I tried to keep my arms and hands as she said, I could definitely tell the difference but holy cow, it’s not at all natural.  In fact, doing it properly was super hard and took a ton of concentration. I think I got two strokes in the correct way before I defaulted back to “snow plow”.  While snow plow (yes, I just made this up, but I’m going with it) is harder because of the resistance it was a bit easier mentally.  So that’s something I need to work on and can go back and do on my own.

I asked her to watch me do the breast stroke because I like that one better than the side stroke.  And that’s when I had to fess up and let her in on my crazy breast stroke, one legged kick.  The proper kick for the breast stroke is basically the “frog” kick.  If you can picture the way a frog kicks when its in the water, that’s what my legs should be doing.  What they are actually doing is completely NOT the frog kick.  Actually my left leg kind of sort of does a half frog kick and the right leg just hangs out.  When Jamie saw my kick, she actually laughed.  And no matter how hard I tried to correct it and do the proper, two-legged frog kick, I couldn’t get it.  It’s as awkward and unnatural as my trying to pat my head with one hand while the other does circles on my stomach.  Not happening.

So what I learned today was that my “snow plow” and “one legged frog kick” were probably created as coping mechanisms to keep me from drowning as a kid.  Because I don’t put my head under water and never learned how to swim, I just made shit up.  I did what I had to do to stay afloat.  When not drowning is your only goal, you never really learn proper hand placement or kicks.

So not only do I have to learn how to breath, I now have to un-learn bad form and technique in order to relearn it correctly.  Fabulous!

After more laps back and forth with various strokes, I wanted to try breathing again.  So I had her try to help me with that.  She gave me some more pointers, which I do actually think make me a “bit” more comfortable putting my head under water, but I still can’t breathe.  But I did put my head under water quite a few times this morning, which was super good for me.  She only busted me once for stalling!

But while I still can’t breathe, or should I say exhale under water, today I really felt I made some progress with just putting my face under the water.  Which is HUGE progress.

But as Jamie and I were talking about how to breathe, I realized that not only will I have to unlearn bad technique and form, but I’m going to have to unlearn how to breathe.  When I run, bike or do yoga, I take long, slow deep breaths.  When I’m stressed I also do the deep breathing thing to “reset”.  But as Jamie pointed out, swimming is shorter and quicker breaths.  The exact opposite of what’s natural for me.  This has me pretty concerned.  I don’t know how easily it’s going to be to relearn how to breathe.  Deep breaths are so natural to me and help me so much in other workouts or in de-stressing that I actually don’t want to stop.  But I’m going to have to find some hybrid breathing pattern that works for swimming but isn’t counter to the breathing in all other aspects of my life.

This should be interesting.  Yikes.

I left my lesson with Jamie more at ease and feeling much better than my first lesson with Abbey.  I think Jamie is a great teacher and I definitely have a lot more to learn from her.  And because she’s the mom of twin boys, she’s very patient and is used to explaining things so a 6 year-old can understand it.  Which is my comprehension level for swimming.  That works well!

Tomorrow night I have swim lesson #3, this time with Nicole.  Nicole is a close friend, strong swimmer and also a great teacher.  She had the patience to take myself – a self proclaimed math idiot – from an F in Statistics in college to an A!  She has the ability to speak my language and explain things in a way that I understand.  So I’m extremely excited (okay, that’s a lie, I’m not excited about swimming) to get in the pool with her.  I think she will have great tips and tricks to help me too.  Just like Jamie, I think she’ll be able to help ease me into this whole swimming thing and help me feel a bit more comfortable in water.  Which won’t be easy.

So here’s hoping!

Until next time,

Gotta Run (swim)

 

Holy Hell I Hate Swimming

Long time, no blog entry.  Let me get you caught up.

I took 2016 off from any serious training because after completing the Fall 50 Solo in 2015, I needed the break.  But I decided to get back on the wagon and sign up for an event in 2017 that would challenge me – something new that I could train for and something that would keep me motivated.  I chose the Chicago Triathlon.  Big mistake.  Big.  Huge.

The reason it’s such a mistake – one simple reason it’s such a huge fucking mistake… I can’t swim!

But I have a plan, I will take swim lessons, I will get advice from my trainer and I will train and do it.  I have 9 months to do it – easy peazy!  That’s my plan.  Sounds easy enough.  Well today I got smacked in the face with reality and that reality was my first swim lesson.

Let me set the stage for you on my skill level when it comes to swimming.  I can float, but that’s about it.  I don’t put my face under the water and I can’t breathe.  I actually flunked swimming lessons as a kid.  Twice! For a reason, unknown to me – I have an extreme fear with putting my face under the water.  Well, I guess my fear isn’t too unknown – it stems from the fact that I can’t breathe underwater.  Simple – mystery solved.  There’s nothing natural about being underwater.  And because I prefer to breathe – and being underwater hampers that – I’m not a fan of putting my face in the water.  Simple enough.

And after my first swim lesson this morning, I realized that I have a lot more work to do to learn how to swim in a triathlon than what my 7 sessions will get me.  I may be taking lessons all the way from now until August.  I don’t think I can overstate how uncomfortable I am with all of this.  But let me try…

I’ve been nervous about this first swim lesson for weeks – basically since I signed up for them.  But the last few days I’ve been particularly on edge.  Last night I had a pit in my stomach and was just edgy all night and I had a bad feeling and I couldn’t figure out why.  I was restless and just in an overall funk.  Half way through my evening, I finally figured out my bad feeling and the cause of my funk – it was my upcoming swim lesson the next morning that was putting me on edge.  I was just dreading it and I was trying to suppress those feelings, but obviously I wasn’t doing a very good job.  Even though I had peppered Brian with a barrage of questions about, “what do I wear”, “do I need a towel”, “where is the entrance”, “do I need flip-flops” and a variety of other questions, I still didn’t feel ready.

The anxiety I had about the lesson carried through in my restless sleep.  Or should I say my lack of sleep?  I tossed, turned and watched the clock.  Yep, I was in full-on anxiety mode.  And mind you, this is how I feel about a swim lesson… in a pool… with an instructor… in the shallow end… Can you imagine what I’ll be like on race day in the open water?  Dear lord I can’t even think about that.

I got up this morning and I got ready to head to the Y.  I stalled as long as I could and I finally couldn’t delay the inevitable any longer, so I made my way to the Y.  Once at the Y, and once I was in the locker room, a locker room I’ve been in hundreds of times before – it somehow felt new and different.  I wasn’t putting on my workout clothes to lift weights or do spin.  Instead I was awkwardly standing around in a swimsuit.  My swimsuit is a tri swimsuit – so not as naked feeling as a regular athletic suit but yet still WAY too uncomfortable.  I don’t do spandex and I sure as hell don’t do spandex in public – and now here I was doing both.  Fricken fabulous!

I made my way to the pool – which after being a Y member for over 11 years, I’ve never ever used or been near the pool – other than on the other side of the glass as an observer.  I walked into the pool area and I just stood there.  I didn’t know where my instructor was and I didn’t have a comfort level about what I should do next.  I was like a deer in headlights; dazed, confused, out-of-place and hoping like hell I wasn’t going to die!

After I met my instructor Abbey and we exchanged pleasantries, I could no longer put this off – it was time to get into the pool and get started.

And before I tell you how my lesson went, I have to tell you some of the thoughts I had in my head.  I joked about having to start from the beginning with blowing bubbles and slowly putting my face in the water.  But in my mind, I was hoping that the older, more mature person who has taken on other athletic endeavors that I never thought I’d be able to do would suddenly be comfortable in the water and would kick ass.  I envisioned being able to pick it up easier this time and just rocking it.  I thought I’d be singing from the rooftops… “look at me, I’m swimming, I’m swimming”, in my best What About Bob spoof.

Well, that didn’t happen.

Abbey wanted to start me off easy by having me put my head under water and exhaling through my nose.  Little did she know that this wasn’t easy for me.  Nothing about putting my face under water is easy.  But after what felt like an eternity of me waiting and hesitating, and trying to keep the full on panic at bay, I finally did it, I ducked under and exhaled through my nose.

I did it!

And I hated it!  I hated the sensation.  And if that’s what I had to do as a kid, no wonder I stopped doing it and I flunked my lessons.  That sucks!

But I did it a few more times.  I was pretty proud of myself and almost felt like doing my “What About Bob” yell and sing out… “I’m swimming”.  Except for the fact that I wasn’t swimming.  I was standing in 3-feet of water exhaling!

Next Abbey wanted to see me kick.  So she got me a kick board and I kicked.  She was impressed with my kicking.  I wasn’t.  I know I can kick.  My head was above water… anything with my head above water is easy!  I did 3 lengths of the pool with the kick board.  And I have to say, even after all my running, after all my spin and even after the stair machine and elliptical, I could still feel my legs yelling at me saying, “what the hell?”  I was surprised at how tough it was.  And I wasn’t even going fast.  I even asked Abbey… how come I’m not going very fast, is there a trick to this?  To which she replied…. “kick faster”.  Huh!?  Well, there you have it.  Honest answer, I liked it!

Next Abbey wanted to introduce the breast stroke into my lesson.  I instantly thought… “why?”  I can’t put my face in the water… why am I actually doing strokes?  But I did it.  I did one lap with my face above water.  Abbey was impressed.  She apparently thought I didn’t have any skills, but I can “move” in the water, I just can’t swim.

Next Abbey wanted me to try the breast stroke and incorporate exhaling through my mouth.

And. This. Is. Where. Things. Went. South.

I’m not going to bore you with the minute-by-minute derailing of my lesson, but let’s just say the exhaling didn’t go well.  I tried doing it through my mouth like she asked.  Then I tried my nose and then I tried both.  Nope, I wasn’t doing it and I was starting to panic.  So I asked her if I could use the kick board so I don’t have to worry about my stroke.  I used the kick board and I was doing a length of the pool and Abbey was very encouraging.  But that’s when I fessed up, I told her I’m not exhaling, I’m faking it.  “What?”, she asked.   “I think I’m cheating, I don’t think I’m actually exhaling,” I told her.  She looked dumbfounded.  She could see the bubbles, how could I be faking??!!  I told her that I don’t know how to explain it, but I don’t think I’m doing it right, I think I’m cheating.  To which she again said, “I don’t think you can cheat”. No, really… I’m cheating.  Not on purpose… but I am cheating.  I said to her, “you know how you can blow out a candle but you’re not really exhaling your breathe… that’s what I’m doing.  I’m not exhaling, I’m simply blowing.”

Well, that stumped her!  And after thinking more about it, she understood.  Then we stood at the edge of the pool while she tried to think of an exercise to help me.  Nope, she had nothing.  We looked at each other blankly.  New territory for both of us.

Finally I suggested ditching the kick board and just hanging onto the side and practicing exhaling through my mouth (compared to my nose like I did earlier).  She thought this was a good idea.  I thought this was a good idea, until I had to do it.  I froze.  Even though it was my idea, I didn’t like it.  And then the panic set it.  I was able to force myself to try it a few times and it didn’t go well.  I was panicky, I swallowed way too much water and in general was hating every second of it.  Why oh why can’t I fucking exhale under water?!?!?!?

I sat there, looking at the clock, willing time to move faster so my lesson would be done.  It was the slowest 10 minutes of my life.

Needless to say when the clock struck 6 am, I was done.  I was not going to go a minute past 6 am.  I wanted out of that pool.

So, I thanked Abbey and I said I’d see her next week.  I went into the locker room, changed and headed home.  The ride home, while only 1.5 miles seemed to last an eternity.  That 1.5 miles gave me more than enough time to curse myself for signing up for a Tri, convince myself I will never be able to swim and in general de-motivate myself to the point where I want to drop out of the event.  By the time I got home, I had myself convinced I was going to drop out.  I was going to find something else to do and train for and chalk it up to the fact that some people just aren’t meant to swim.

But now that some time has passed, I’m not ready to throw in the towel – at least not now.  I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to swim, but I’m not ready to give up yet.  I want to finish all my lessons and I also think I need to rally the troops.  They say it takes a village to raise a child, well I say it will take a village to make Marla swim.  I have some friends that are strong swimmers and if they are willing, I’m going to enlist them to help me too.  Hell, anyone that has some advice can help me… I’m open to suggestions.  If anyone has any tricks or tips on how to breathe and /or exhale, please let me know.  I’m open to suggestions.  Because I really would like to do the Tri and I’d prefer to not panic and drown while doing it.  Call me crazy, but yes… I prefer not to drown!

Until next time,

Gotta Run (or swim)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next steps on my path to new adventures

As you may recall, I have a few new races in my sights for 2017 and beyond- specifically a Spartan Race and a Sprint Tri.  The first step for my prep for the Spartan is to build up a tolerance for burpees.  I just recently started working burpees into my workouts but I never concentrated on hitting a particular number of them, but since the penalty for not completing a Spartan obstacle is 30 burpees, I figured I better at least be able to do 30 burpees. So last night the first exercise I did in my routine was burpees – 30 of them to be exact.  And yes, by number 24 I was hunched over, hands on my knees and gasping for breath like a person who has never exercised before.  I squeaked out the remaining 6 burpees but I literally thought I was going to fall over when I tried to jump.  And by jump I really mean get my feet the minimum distance off the ground as  allowed.  I am not even sure if you could have seen space between my feet and the ground but I swear to you – I jumped.  I really did.  It may not have looked like it, but I with all my will – jumped.

And then I slumped.

Good god, 30 burpees damn near killed me.  Holy crap.  I can not fathom doing that again.  Much less over and over and over again – which could happen in a Spartan.  Seriously, it’s so much harder than you’d think.  I do interval/tabata workouts and I’m working on more high intensity training so I’ve been elevating my heart rate more than I did when I did distance running, which means I didn’t think I was completely out of shape.  But holy balls – the level of difficulty of doing 30 shocked me.  SHOCKED ME.  And humbled me.

So before I can worry about carrying a 50 pound log up a ski hill, I apparently need to work on the basics and master the ability to do 30 burpees.  So step one –  Burpees.  Step two – 5o pound log.  But because I have – in my mind – more work to be done before I can try a Spartan, I’m going to focus 2017 on my other goal – a triathlon.

So that brings me to the sprint tri that I want to do.  I reached out to my Coach – you know the one who got me to the Fall 50 finish line in one piece both mentally and physically – to get his opinion on my desire to do a Tri and my lack of ability to swim.  I’m not going to go into the details with you, but the short version of our conversation is that he thinks it’s doable and a good idea.  He likes the thought of me taking on a challenge that is something other than just running.  I told him the triathlon I want to sign up for is in August of 2017 but that I’d need to sign up this coming October and I was wondering if one year is enough time for me to be ready.  The short answer – yes! So step one – take swim lessons.  Step two – don’t drown.

I’m scared to death of the thought of signing up for the tri so early, but as my coach said, it gives me a goal and from there I have to do what needs to be done to reach that goal.  Just like the Fall 50 – he said that I set the goal and worked many months to achieve the goal and it will be the same with this.  But he said this will hurt less than the Fall 50.  Hey, I’m all for that!

So here’s to taking the first step.  And I anxiously await step two – not drowning!

Until next time,

Gotta run

 

 

 

New Goals Await Me

I’m excited and I haven’t been excited for a long time.  And the reason for my excitement you may be wondering?  Well, I’m setting my sights on a few new goals.  Once I did the Fall 50 solo last year, I’m been struggling for a goal that would keep me motivated.  And as my lack of running in 2016 has shown, I can’t find a running goal to keep me on track.  I’m burnt out from running and it’s a bit of, “been there, done that”.  I mean, I conquered a 50 mile race, I think I’m due for a break.

My new goals:

  • Spartan Race
  • Sprint Triathlon

While these may not seem like overly complex or tough goals for some, to me they are a bit like climbing Mount Everest.  Well, at least the sprint tri is.

The Spartan Race – one of the tough ones – not the “easier” ones that are too similar to a Warrior Dash – that requires a person to carry a 50 pound log up a hill has gotten me so jazzed.  The workouts leading up to it would be intense.  But I would dig that challenge and the change up it would bring.  The thought of doing more “bootcamp” style workouts and really trying to increase my upper body strength would be such a refreshing change from running for 6-8 hours at a crack!  I love the idea of working on my endurance – but only up to 13/14 miles – and getting stronger too.  And the mental and physical strength that it takes to compete some of these Spartan Races is just the challenge I’m looking for.

And while I can’t imagine carrying a 50 pound log up a ski hill, the thought of putting my face in the water to participate in a triathlon is even more mind boggling.  And here’s a dirty little secret for you… it’s because I can’t swim.  Nope, I can’t swim.  I can float.  I can probably doggie paddle long enough for someone to throw me a life fest if my boat was sinking.  Maybe.  But swim a length of the pool?  Forget about it. No way in hell.

I have such anxiety about swimming and putting my face in the water that just typing this is making me break out in a rash.  I took swim lessons as a kid, I believe I was 5 years old.  And I flunked.  So I took the class again.  And I flunked again.  I took the class a few more times until the instructor felt bad for me because I was the older kid in with the younger kids so she passed me just to get me out of class.  Seriously.

And while I have an intense negative emotional reaction to putting my face in the water.  I have an even greater negative emotional reaction to wearing a swim suit (something other than board shorts and a sensible tankini) AND to putting my hair in a swim cap.  Neither one is a pretty look.  I have big thighs that don’t fit nicely into a swim suit.  And I have A LOT of hair that does not fit nicely in a swim cap.  I am just not made for swim attire!

So, with all of this anxiety, why in the world would I want to do a tri?  It’s exactly for these reasons that I want to do it. I want another challenge that scares me.  Something that seems unattainable – like learning how to swim and being okay in a swim suit – that I can work towards attaining.  Something that is hard both mentally and physically.  Something that scares the crap out of me.  And a triathlon is just that type of challenge.  And the fact that – like training for a Spartan – the training would require me to do more than just run, has gotten me jazzed.  I’d have to train in 3 sports for the tri and do a wide variety of workouts for a Spartan Race and this helps relieve the running fatigue that I am still experiencing.  The workouts will be challenging, different and something other than running.  Sounds perfect to me.  I feel like I may finally be getting my mojo back.  And I haven’t seen my mojo in almost a year!

So I’m not sure which challenge I’ll tackle in 2017, either one will be exciting.  And no matter which challenge comes first, you can sure as hell believe a plethora of foul-mouthed and temperamental blog posts will come with it.  You’re welcome!

Until next time,

Gotta Run

 

Summer of no training

Labor Day is next weekend and that means summer is almost over and more importantly that means my #SummerOfNoTraining is almost over with too.  I did not set out to have a training free summer, actually just the opposite.  In February I had signed up for a fall marathon to keep me motivated and to keep me training.  I knew I’d need all the help I could get to keep running so I thought I fall marathon would do the trick.  Not so much.

I backed out of the marathon when I discovered that no matter how much I willed myself to go for a run, I just didn’t want to.  I wanted to do anything but run.  I haven’t exactly been sitting on the couch binge watching Netflix – but I have done that too.  I still workout.  I just don’t run.  Every once in a while I will go for a run but it’s nothing more than 3 miles and I dread it the whole time leading up to hitting the pavement and I’m pretty miserable the whole time I’m running too.  I would much rather bike, strength train, do yoga, go kayaking – anything but run.

I am just so burnt out.  This is my first summer in 5 years that I haven’t been training for a fall event.  And after training for the Fall 50 – solo last year, I simply need a break.

So what have I been doing if I haven’t been running?  Well, the answer is everything and nothing.  I’ve tried my hand at stand up paddle boarding, kayaking, mountain biking.  I’ve gone on a few distance bike rides, gotten back into yoga and set up my own circuit training stations on my deck, complete with TRX, kettle bells and resistance bands.

I’ve also slept in and skipped workouts completely.  I’ve sipped coffee on the deck and I have aimlessly walked the farmer’s market in search of the perfect bouquet of flowers.  I’ve gone to concerts, I’ve gone to Packers games and I’ve gone to happy hour.  All things I haven’t been able to do in the past 5 years.

And I have to say, I’ve been loving every latte laden second of it!  Now I know what the rest of you do with your summers while I’ve been carb loading, doing intervals, hill training and spending hours and hours and hours on long runs on weekends.  Who knew summer could be so fricken fabulous!?  And so fattening?  Good lord, how do people drink lattes, craft beer and eat 3 meals a day without logging 50-70 miles a week?  How do you keep the weight off?  Please tell me, I need to know because I have not been able to figure it out on my own.  And my tight pants are a testament to the fact that I’ve been failing miserably at it.

So, what is in store for me now that my #SummerOfNoTraining is coming to an end?  I’m not sure.  I have a busy fall, and none of it includes running or training.  But after my crazy busy fall is done and winter hits, then what?  Will I get the running bug again?  Or am I done?  Will I miss it or will I continue to dread it?  I hope I’m not done with running forever.  I hope I start to miss it soon.  But as of now, I don’t.  I don’t miss it a bit.  So while I hope to see you again in the future – running my dear friend – but for now, I’m enjoying my other less demanding friends I’ve made over the summer.  And to that I say, see you around!

Until next time,

Gotta (do anything – but) run!

 

 

 

5 months since the Fall 50 – where am I now?

Today is the 5-month anniversary of the Fall 50.  Are you wondering what I’ve been up to in the past 5 months and what I have in store for the future?  Well, pull up a chair and let me fill you in…

The last 5 months emotionally has been one helluva roller coaster.  November just flew.  I had a brand new event I was working in Maryland in November that took most of my attention for the month.  This event went really well so between my giddiness over having completed the Fall 50 and pulling off an extremely successful Maryland event, November had me riding high!

The rest of 2015 went pretty quickly.  The holidays always go so quickly and there’s so much activity that there’s never a lack of something to do or something to preoccupy me.

And then January hit.  I hate winter and I hate the post-holiday doldrums.  Add to this the fact that I was no longer running a bazillion miles a week and the increased caloric intake that comes with the holidays and I was fat, bored, lazy and cranky.  Good times!

February I climbed the John Hancock in Chicago. It was supposed to be a nice distraction and a new workout for me to focus on, since I scaled back and wasn’t running.  It did give a good workout, but it didn’t fill the void and it didn’t take any weight off.

It’s now March, I’m still fat and cranky, and I have since went back on my vow to take this year off and I have signed up for a fall marathon.  I need the discipline, I need the endorphins and I just need to get back at it.  While I LOVED not having to worry about getting training runs in during the peak winter months, I realized I didn’t like how easy it was to make an excuse NOT to run.  While I haven’t stopped working out, I still workout 5-6 times a week, I wasn’t running much.  I would go two weeks and only get one run in, and that wasn’t ever a long run.  I just worked my way back up to running double-digit miles.  Yep, my long runs are now at 10 miles.  Seriously, how sad is that?  It’s amazing how quickly a person can lose their running fitness.  I thought all the working out and cross training I was doing would help my endurance stick around, but no such luck.

So, while I’m not running crazy miles now, I am running around like crazy.  My side jobs really keep me busy – and I picked up one more side job since I last wrote a post – and I’m on the edge and I may very well lose my mind real soon.  I have some home projects and an incredible vacation planned that I need to pay for, so that helps me focus when I want to scream and/or cry.  Which is another reason I need to get back to running.  While it’s so, so, so fricken hard to take 1-5 hours on a Saturday to get a long run in, I realize how much that time helps me refocus, get centered and stay sane.  While I run, I don’t think about work, I don’t think about my side jobs, I don’t think about my schedule.  I think about running.  And that mental break is priceless.

And while postpartum, baby blues is a real thing, so too is post-event, Fall 50 blues!  The emotional roller coaster that was the Fall 50 training and day-of, was fricken intense.  Then add into it the post event high which was followed by a void.  A big, huge void.  Holy balls, how does a person deal with that?  I can’t even fathom how a professional athlete or Olympian handles it.  I truly can’t.  Maybe they are more emotionally balanced than I am.  Or maybe they go through it too but they just never speak about it like I am.  But man, the struggle is real my friend.  I’m actually still dealing with it.  I believe my hormones and my body are all out of whack from training and it’s still trying to adjust and get back to normal.  And in doing so, my hormones and emotions are RAW!  Yes, I know what you’re thinking… my husband is a saint.  True.  But he’s a Saint that also needs to sleep with one eye open, because I can’t be held responsible for my actions until I start marathon training again!

So, that’s the short version of how the past 5 months have gone for me.

What have you been up to since October?  Miss my posts?  Hopefully once I start training again in late spring/early summer I’ll have some interesting antidotes to share with you all again.  Or maybe not.  Maybe I’ll go postal before then and I’ll be writing “The View from Cell Block B” blog instead!

Until then,

Gotta Run!

 

What do I do with myself?

I’m struggling.  And the struggle is real, my friends.  This is not my normal struggle that involves fitting in training, figuring out how to run in the heat or finding a solution to a nagging injury.  Actually it’s just the opposite, I’m struggling with not running.  More specifically, not having a goal.

A lot of people go through a mini-depression after a big race or event.  The build up, excitement and constant dedication and discipline required to hit a goal is gone – just like that – it’s over.  Once the event is done, you get to ride a high for a while but eventually that high is gone.  People stop asking about it, you can no longer brag about it and everything goes back to normal.  Except things aren’t normal for the runner because their normal consisted of working out 25 hours a week, another 5 hours a week were dedicated to prepping for the workouts and add in 3 hours for chiropractor appointments and other miscellaneous things and a constant 24/7 focus on the end goal.  Seriously… 24/7.  And after the event, that focus is gone.  And in its place is a void.  A big gaping void.

At first the void is filled with blogging about the event, flipping through pictures and retelling the epic stories from the event.  Then comes a bit of relaxation.  The act of doing nothing or not having to go anywhere is a welcome change and it’s embraced.  Then your time is occupied by projects, projects that have been neglected for the past year while training took priority. But once the stories have all been told, the relaxation gets boring and projects are done, then the depression sets in.

Watching friends set goals and get their plans together to hit those goals is so exciting.  I was so looking forward to being a spectator this year and cheering on my friends from the sidelines.  But instead of embracing my year off, I’m antsy and jealous.

I realized I need that carrot at the end of the stick dangling in front of me to help motivate me.  Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t become a couch potato, I’m still working out.  But without an end goal driving me, I feel lost.  I feel aimless.

What the hell?

Why, oh why am I lost and aimless?  It doesn’t make sense.  I’m still working out, I will still take part in events, I still have more than enough work/and jobs to fill my time, so what is it?  What am I missing?

Is it the high of the “never-been”?  The new goal, the thing that seems unattainable… is that what’s pushing me?  Has upping the ante all these years pushed me to become “one of those people”?  Is the need for newer, bigger, badder what motivates me and makes me tick?

Lord I hope not.

But I think so.

I think the past 10 marathons – some incredibly icon marathons – followed by an epic ultra has led me to become a bit of an endurance junkie.  Granted of all the junkies there are – I’m thinking an endurance junkie is the best junkie to be!

But what happens when I can’t keep going bigger and badder?  What becomes of me?  Will this feeling of being lost and being without an identity eventually pass?

And more importantly, what will I blog about if I don’t have a goal race to train for? What will be become of my followers – all 20 of you – if I don’t post any updates for a year?!

Hmmmm….

Until next time,

Gotta run

Oh wait, actually I don’t have to run!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My new favorite f-word – FINISHER!

This gallery contains 35 photos.

This is the fifth and last installment in my Fall 50 Journey.  If you are new to this blog, I’d suggest you go back and read the other Fall 50 entries to understand where I’m at, both physically and mentally! And with that said, let’s get back into it… +++++ Holy crap, this is it… […]

Miles 5 – 30; I’ve come so far, but have so far yet to go

An innocent wave from some elderly gentlemen, a selfie with my crew and a reminder on my wrist to breathe gave me a brand new attitude.

What reminder on my wrist to breathe you may be asking.  Well, a friend had given me a bracelet, and while according to the message that came with it, the exact meaning wasn’t exactly about breathing, I loosely translated it to mean just that.  To me, it was a reminder to breathe – both literally and figuratively.  I wore it on race day for that exact reason.  I had looked down on that bracelet often in those first few miles, I rubbed its charm and I took a deep breath and reminded myself to breathe.  Enjoy this.  This is a once in a lifetime event because I sure as hell don’t want to do this again.  So if I’m only going to do this once, I might as well enjoy it!

The green bracelet in the middle is the one I wore on race day!

The green bracelet in the middle is the one I wore on race day!

So with this new attitude, I knew I was going to enjoy the Fall 50 for as long as I could and if I hit the wall, if my bathroom issues caused me to stop or if my shin splints made me walk, well I was damn well going to enjoy the run until those things happened.

The next few miles flew by in a whirl.  And when I say “few miles”, I mean the next 20 to 25 miles!  Here are random thoughts, observations and interesting tidbits from miles 1-30.

I couldn’t believe how hard it was raining. At times the rain could only be described as a “downpour”.  I remember thinking how some of my friends would NOT have liked to run in these conditions.  And I also thought about how many relay runners – some who fall into the “casual runner” group – must absolutely hate the weather.  And yes, that made me smile and enjoy the rain that much more.  The harder it rained, the more miserable the relay runners were and the happier I became.  I’m nasty like that!

All of the small towns I ran through during the beginning half of the Fall 50 felt very familiar and “safe”.  Because I had not gotten to the point where I could fully relax and just run and I was still very much on edge, the familiarity of running through the streets that I had so many times on training runs made me feel safe.  It was a bit of familiarity that I had, that not many other runners would have, so I felt like I had a secret no one else had.

I had my initial crew with me from the start – Brian, Jolene, Jill, Ty, Stosh, Sarah, Ted and Jamie – but not long after the start did others start showing up.  Carol, Jason and Heather, the Stenzels all showed up in the first 16 miles.  I heard later that Jason and Heather had actually been with the group one of two stops before I noticed them.  And the only reason I noticed them when I did, was because Jason finally called out to me.  There was always so much stimulation at each stop plus I had things I needed to take care:replenishing my fuel, eating, putting on BioFreeze, reading the signs, trying to look pretty for the cameras, etc.  I had a lot to do in a very little time!

Pretty early in the race the Rock the Route Theme surfaced and it was a stroll down memory lane and it would eventually play out to show the transition from my non-running days up to the Fall 50.  It showed my past marathons with a “MASH” type pole and all!  It was pretty impressive

IMG_2566 IMG_2614 solo

I don’t remember exactly at what mile the first relay runner caught up to me but I do remember it being earlier than I had expected.  Especially because the relay teams that started at 8am, one hour after the solo start time, were the slowest of the relay teams.  But I told myself that just because collectively the relay team was considering among the slowest, it doesn’t mean that the first runner who caught me wasn’t the fastest one on the team.

After the first relay runner caught me, I knew the rest of the day would be different.  I was pretty much on my own – just me and my crew – up to this point but with the addition of the relay runners now on the course and passing me, it was going to get more crowded and I’d have to “share” my experience with them, so to speak.  I was a bit indifferent to them showing up.  I knew they’d help distract me at times by having someone to focus on, but yet I wasn’t willing to share my course!

In the past when I was part of a relay team and I would pass a solo runner I ALWAYS congratulated them and offered them words of encouragement.  And when I ran shotgun with my friends when they ran solo, I knew they got TONS of encouragement from relay runners.  So even though I had to share the roads with the relay runners I was anxiously awaiting all the kudos about to come my way!

I did get encouragement from some relay runners, but I’m not going to lie, I didn’t get as many as I had expected.  I was bummed.  Well, actually depending on the circumstance or the person running past me, I was down right pissed.  And yes, I absolutely did call them a pussy when they didn’t acknowledge me as a solo.  And yes, I did say it out loud.  But it was never loud enough to be heard. I’m bold and cranky when I run, but not that bold or cranky… yet!  And while it may sound petty and childish, it made me feel better in the moment and anything to make myself feel better while running 50 miles is okay!

I had plenty of time to think about why some pussies, I mean relay runners, were running past without giving a shout out to a solo runner and I could only think it was because of the weather and how miserable they were.  Or maybe it was because they were so self-fricken-absorbed in their piddly 10 miles they had to run that they couldn’t even fathom the balls it took to run 50 miles.  And quite honestly they were all embarrassed that I had bigger balls than them!  Pussies! And yes, you’d be correct in your assessment of the situation if you said I was still a bit upset by the lack of acknowledgement from relay runners.

While a lot of relay runners ran past without giving me props, the ones who did were awesome!  I actually got two hugs.  While running.  That’s not easy.  But yes, I had two different women run up to me, ask if I was solo and when I said yes, hugged me and gave me props for being solo.  I had a few “wow, you’re amazing” shout outs and a lot of general “nice job, solo”.  At one point I had a relay runner pass me, and acknowledge me and then she got some cheers from spectators on the side of the road and instead of taking their cheers she passed them on to me.  She actually said to them, “forget about me, she’s (and she pointed back to me) running solo… cheer for her.”  That was pretty cool.

relay runners and me

Sharing the road with relay runners.

With almost 500 relay teams (most teams had 5 people per team) you can imagine how packed the relay exchange stations are, especially the ones during the first half of the race before everyone gets too spread out.  If you don’t know what I mean when I say relay exchange, it’s a point on the course where relay team members – all of them – wait for their one teammate that is currently running.  Then when that one runner shows up, they hand off the timing chip to the runner who is next up.  Relay exchanges are chaotic and loud.  There are often teams on both sides of the exchange point so if you are running through the exchange – like a solo runner would – and you do not stop, you run through a sea of people.  I believe it was the 3rd exchange point that had just a crazy amount of people and it was loud, cramped and AWESOME.  I literally felt like a rock star.  I had people on both sides of me and they all realized I was a solo and when they did they cheered and they cheered loud.  I got a lot of props and shout outs and I got a chill throughout my body that just didn’t seem real.  This, I thought, I could get used to!

And I did actually experience it at a few more relay exchange points to various degrees.  One exchange point was pretty crowded and loud and I was getting a few cheers but then suddenly I got… “oh my god, Marla” and then I few more feet and I heard, “Go Marla” and then shortly after that I heard… “yay Marla”.  No, my crew wasn’t waiting for me at the exchange point, I just happened to know a few relay runners at that exchange point.  And lucky for me, they all saw me coming and not only cheered for me but got their friends to cheer too.  That was cool.  Personalized shout outs are even better!

And speaking of personalized shout outs, some spectators who knew Brian must have recognized me from Brian’s FB posts because they too gave me personal shout outs when they’d see me on the course.  Granted, I was confused at first about who these people were, but in reality, I didn’t care.  It gave me something to think about and that’s not a bad thing.  Plus, whether I knew them or I didn’t, I’ll never turn down a personal shout out!

I was doing a good job of staying hydrated and taking in fuel.  I had started early and was mixing it up often.  Because I was drinking so much I was also peeing a lot.  A used porta potties, the RV and sometimes I just peed behind the RV because it was quicker. I was doing a good job eating too.  I was eating a bit of everything that I had brought   – the rice balls (which weren’t staying together because Brian made them the night before and not me…. apparently Brian’s rice ball making skills aren’t up to par with mine), the rice wraps, the turkey and pretzels as well as the Doritos.  I even had a few animal crackers even though I didn’t ever like them during training.  But I made sure to bring them along… just in case.  And sure enough, for a reason I can’t explain, at one stop that’s what I wanted.  That’s the only thing that appealed to me at that time.  Brian was the person who knew my fuel needs inside and out.  So it took me by surprise when other people were at-the-ready with my fuel.  And not that it takes a rocket scientist to hold out a bag of Doritos for me, but it was kind of cool to see some other friends helping with my fuel needs.

I had anticipated needing salt tablets but because of the rain, I wasn’t really too concerned with losing too much salt in my sweat.  But I did take them once just to be safe.  I also took Imodium because I could finally feel my stomach start to rumble.  And while I had carried some capsules along with me, I realized when I went to get them out of my pocket that the rain had dissolved them into a mushy white powder.  I tried to scrape the remnants of the capsules out of my pocket to salvage what I could but when I realized I would be seeing my crew soon and that I had some more tablets in the RV, I decided to wait.

At one point the rain did stop and the sun came out.  I even asked for my sunglasses.  I didn’t actually get around to wearing the sunglasses because it once again started raining.

Besides the rain, it was a bit breezy too.  Actually some people would call it down right windy.  I noticed the wind at the beginning when I was running under trees because the wind coupled with the rain that was on the trees made for more mini downpours.  If you’ve never been rained on by the rain that comes from trees, consider yourself lucky.  It can actually be pretty hard rain, which on this day, it was.

The wind was also noticeable at points when I’d glance at the water and there were mini white caps on the Bay.  That doesn’t happen too often.  I knew it was supposed to be windy and it did have me concerned because I not only didn’t want to run into a headwind the entire day, but I also didn’t want the wind to make the rain that much colder.  But thankfully I didn’t really have a problem with either of those factors.  If you’re a football fan, you’ll know that some running backs that are good at running in sloppy conditions are called “mudders” – well I must be the equivalent of a mudder when it comes to running.  I do not have a problem with crappy, rainy, windy conditions.  Bring it on – I say!

e_Se6TAcvSSIdzqr__sAcfBHD9p5q6zfNJ4cfC3Qt_o

I know I mention the rain often and that’s because it really was a huge part of the day.  It affected so much of the day and it also rained more than it didn’t.  At one point Brian told me that he looked at the radar and that all the rain should be out of the area and it should be done raining by 1 o’clock.  At some point later than 1 o’clock, I asked Brian… “hey, I thought you said it was supposed to stop raining?”

During one heavy point in the rain, I looked off into the distance and I thought the sky looked particularly dark, the kind of dark that would show, not rain, but a storm.  I was both horrified and numb to that fact.  I remember my heart sinking a bit with the “what if” scenario of a storm rolling in.  But I quickly pushed that out of my mind because that was the one scenario I wasn’t ready for and I couldn’t even comprehend what would happen if lightning struck in the area.  Lightning is the one weather pattern that will cancel a race and I KNEW that even if the race got cancelled I was going to finish this damn race.  Not finishing wasn’t an option. Side Note:  Apparently I was right in my assessment of the possibility of a storm because I found out later from my crew that there was indeed a storm in the forecast.  Thankfully it never materialized.

Up through the first half of the race I had done a pretty good job of sticking to my run/walk strategy: run 10 minutes, walk 1 minute and walk all hills.  I was feeling pretty good.  My run/walk strategy was going well and I was fueling properly.  So far – so good.

I was now approaching Peninsula State Park and I knew I needed someone to bike with me through the park because cars and crew are discouraged from going through the park.  And while I had a whole gang of people willing to bike alongside of me, I elected to have Brian bike with me.  He biked with me through every training run so he knew exactly what I’d want and when.  If I had a problem while in Pen Park, he’d know how to handle it.  He’d know to leave me alone and not bother me.  I didn’t want to have to chit-chat at this point and/or explain to anyone else what I wanted or needed, so it was best that Brian be my wingman through the park.  Plus this gave the crew a bit of a break because it would be 8 miles before they’d see me again.

I had a friend who had a real problem mentally running through the park when he ran it solo.  I had run the park enough during training that I wasn’t concerned with the mental fatigue that the park can cause.  But what I didn’t expect was how a small change in the route actually could have a big effect on my mental psyche.  At one part while running through the park, the route gets off of the road and takes us on a soft trail but I never ran the trail during my training runs because it was never marked and Brian and I didn’t know where it was, so I only ran the road.  This messed with me a bit on race day because I didn’t know exactly where I was or how far into the park I was either. And then when I finally got back onto the road, I couldn’t get my bearings.  I was so mad at myself for letting this happen.

Thankfully I saw some relay friends while I was in the park and that helped ease the mental anxiety that was starting to set in.  I saw some at an exchange point and then some more caught me and chatted with me before running ahead.  This helped keep the anxiety from really setting in and by the time I got back to a point where I knew where I was in the park, I was almost back to normal.

And just when I realized I knew where we were and I had figured that we had about another mile – give or take – until we were out of the park, I saw up ahead a big green “figure”.  It was far enough away that I had no idea what it was.  As I got a bit closer I could tell it was a person in a costume.  And the minute I realized it was a person in a costume, I knew that costumed person was there for me and no one else!  And I also knew that if a person, in what kind of looked like a big sumo/clown costume, was over a mile into the park – it could only be one person inside of that costume and that would be Sarah.

Yep, it was Sarah.  As I got closer, I saw Sarah in this crazy green clown costume, even though she was claiming she was a leprechaun.  Oh my.  I had no words.  I not only didn’t expect anyone a mile into the park, but I surely didn’t expect anyone waiting for me a mile into the park in a leprechaun/clown costume.  Holding her big red shoes and all!

Sarah couldn’t just stay in the park in her costume all day, so to get out of the park she ran behind me and when Brian left to bike ahead and get more fuel – she ran alongside of me.  Again, I say… oh my.  What others must have thought when they saw her.  What people must have thought when they saw us running together!

clown

Not everyday a person gets to run alongside of a leprechaun.

As I was coming out of Peninsula State Park I was planning on changing my shoes, not because the rain-soaked them – which it did – but because I was running on old shoes and I knew it would not be good for my knees to run the entire 50 on old, worn out shoes.  I had packed a lot of extra shoes but I told my crew that I had wanted to change my shoes to the fuchsia colored shoes.  When I ran up to them, I saw a pair of running shoes waiting patiently for me under an umbrella.  I remember thinking that keeping them dry under an umbrella was clever.  I had been wet for so long that it didn’t even occur to me to keep things dry.  I had lost hope of having anything dry, long ago, so the fact that they were keeping my shoes dry was a nice touch.  However, it was the wrong pair of shoes.   The shoes they had waiting for me were black.  Hmmm… well that’s interesting I thought.  But I will cut the crew some slack because there was a “bit” of fuchsia on the shoes, but for the most part…. they were black.  Thankfully they were able to find the shoes I wanted and Sarah is a fast enough runner that even though I kept running she was able to catch up to me with my requested shoes and a new pair of socks.  I found a bench on the sidewalk and sat down and changed my shoes.  I tried to do this as quickly as possible because I wasn’t even at the half way point in the race and the last thing I wanted to do was get comfortable sitting down!

IMG_2947

Nope, not fuchsia.

As I was running out of Peninsula State Park I focused on what was next:  changing my shoes, getting through Fish Creek, and getting through some upcoming miles that can be mentally challenging.  I was focused.  Well, that focus wavered when I saw Ty.  Actually I saw Ty – Circa 1987.  Ty was in a blond mullet wig, cut off jean shorts and an Ozzy Osbourne concert t-shirt.  I knew Ty in 1987 and I actually remember that VERY t-shirt.  Oh man, seeing Ty in all of his 1987 glory just cracked me up.  And again, what did others around me think of what they were seeing.  Because don’t forget when I spotted Ty I was still running with Sarah in her clown/leprechaun costume.  It’s not too often you have a runner flanked by a leprechaun and an 80s rocker.  Oh man.  I’m smiling again just thinking about it.  It was seriously a sight!

UjRkC8eVQ2TjCXqIH-pzmPh3Q7ZxBK4r-1YQf7HHx9khigh five

Running through Fish Creek took a lot of bobbing and weaving because the streets are very narrow and the route actually takes the runners up on to the sidewalk that we now have to share with the tourists.  And Brian was following me on the bike.  And Sarah was chasing after me with my shoes.  —  No wonder the sidewalks were so crowded… just me and my crew alone took up a lot of space.

After leaving Fish Creek there’s a bit of a climb and then the route flattens out at the top.  It’s wooded and pretty.  I made a special effort to look around and try to enjoy the scenery.  I looked at the aging tennis court that I ran past many times during training and wonder when the last time anyone played on it.  I looked at the stone ledge running along the front of a few of the properties and wondered how old it really was and couldn’t help but think it reminded me a bit of the stone fencing I had seen all over Ireland.  I tried to peek through the trees that were losing their leaves to see if I could see any more of the homes hidden behind them.  I knew I had to keep my mind focused on the good, because I was reaching the half way point and I knew it was only going to get harder from here.  The longer I could keep the mental fatigue away, the better chance I had at not hitting the wall.

A few more miles and I was at the Half-Way Buffet, which don’t let the name mislead you, it’s actually at mile 28.  Thankfully because of my training runs, I knew this going into the race.  If I had not known it ahead of time, it would have fucked with my head.  Something as simple as having an exchange point called “half-way” and not actually being “half-way” would have just wrecked me.  I would have looked for it for 3 miles and in those 3 miles anxiety would have set in and it’s something I may not have recovered from.   Seriously, that’s the kind of stuff that makes me LOSE it!  Again, I’m so happy I trained on the course and knew the ins and the outs!

My friend Jody heads up the Half-Way Buffet and she was waiting for me as I ran in.  Because this is a relay exchange point, it’s really chaotic and busy.  Also, this is the largest exchange point from a fuel/support perspective.  This stop offers soup and other goodies that the other exchange points do not.  This made for an extra level of chaos.  I knew I wanted to have a bit of the soup because I thought the warm broth would hit the spot, but I couldn’t find where to go.  The solo runners had our own tent but I couldn’t spot it because of all the relay runners; thankfully Jody directed me where to go.  I got some soup and took a few spoonfuls before ditching it because it was so freaking hot.  And while I was warned it was hot, I couldn’t have waited there long enough for it to cool down to a reasonable temperature to consume.  It actually burnt my mouth and I could feel the “burn” all day.  Now that’s hot fricken soup.  And it’s too bad because I was really looking forward to it too.  I’m curious if any of the other solo runners had a similar incident?  I hope not.

After a quick photo-op, I was back on my way.  I knew my crew had gone up ahead to try to avoid the chaos at this stop so I was very surprised to see Carol driving away from the exchange point and going in – what I thought was the wrong direction.  I even told her I thought she was going in the wrong direction only to have the volunteers shout at me… “no she’s not, they all  have to go that way.”  Ouch!  That volunteer was obviously not having a good day.  And based on the look on Carol’s face and the look on the volunteer’s face, this wasn’t the first time that the volunteer had to turn someone around and make them go the other direction.  But considering Carol was now separated from the rest of the crew, I figured this was not a good sign for her because she didn’t know where she was going.  I was wondering how she was going to find the rest of the crew.  I felt badly, but then I realized there was nothing I could do about it and that I had to get back to running.

After the Half-Way Buffet (that’s not really half way) there’s a stretch of road that is out in the country and without any spectators or tourists and while normally that would have bothered me, it didn’t.  I actually like the next few miles because I was familiar with it and it gave me a chance to reset, breathe and get ready for the hard part – the next 20 miles.

And as much as I liked the next few miles after the Half-Way Buffet, I don’t like the miles just after those.  I know… hard to keep up with what I like and don’t like!  I knew that after these few miles, miles 28-30 (the ones that I liked), I was going to be heading to the ones that always mess with me mentally.  Instantly a bit of anxiety crept in and I knew it was only a matter of time before a full-blown anxiety attack hit me and I knew I could not let this happen.

The next time I met up with my crew, as the anxiety was creeping in, I decided I needed someone to run with me and I needed it now. This was a few miles before I had wanted anyone to run with me.  But as my Coach said, “on race day I have the prerogative to change my mind”.  And I did.  Unfortunately I caught everyone off guard with my request and no one was ready to run with me yet, that is except for Sarah.  Thankfully Sarah was still in her running clothes and she was willing and able to jump in immediately.

And just like that, I had now begun the part of the race where I was going to have my friends run with me.  This was exciting and scary.  I was just hoping that it would work.  I was still very nervous about the last 20 miles and I so desperately wanted my plan to have my friends run a mile at a time with me to work.

Would it?

Stay tuned!

Until Next time,

Gotta Run

 

#toostubborntoquit #doepicshit

 

 

 

 

 

And we’re off! (Fall 50 – Part 3)

As I took my first few steps of the Fall 50, I found myself running with a different level of self-awareness than I ever had before.  It was like I was running, but yet it didn’t feel like running, it was different.  It was as if I was running without breathing.  Do you ever catch yourself holding your breath with anticipation and you didn’t even realize you’ve been holding your breath until you finally breathe in again?  It was a bit like that.  My body was reacting in anticipation – it was a bit of a fight or flight situation.  I was on autopilot and was determined to just put one foot in front of the other and just keep going until I couldn’t.  I was hyper aware of my surroundings, yet I was in my own little world and nothing was registering.  The world was moving in slow motion but yet things were happening too fast for me to even comprehend what was going on.

The first quarter-mile was very surreal.  I was in a “holy shit, it started, what am I going to do now?” mental state, but physically my body knew what to do.  It needed to run.  And so I ran.

I was trying to run as normal as possible yet I was very aware of what the other solo runners were doing.  It didn’t take long for them – with a faster pace- to separate themselves from me.  There were one or two other back-of-packers with me, but it didn’t take long for even those folks to pass me too.  But I couldn’t think about this, I had to run my race and that meant running my pace and sticking to my plan.  I had a walk to run ratio that I needed to stick to as well as my plan to walk all hills.  This plan was going to keep my legs as fresh as possible for as long as possible.

It had rained all morning and despite it raining pretty hard at times, I ditched my jacket the first time I saw Brian.  I knew the rain was going to have a negative impact on most runners that day, but it didn’t faze me.  I actually like running in the rain.  I don’t enjoy running in the cold rain, but so far I wasn’t cold and was actually starting to overheat, so I ditched my jacket to make sure I didn’t warm up and kill my day early on because I overheated.

jacket 2jacket

I was coming up to mile 1 and to my great delight and amazement, I did not need to make a pit stop after my first mile.  And this NEVER happens.  I must always do a mile warm up (even before marathons or even if I’m only running 3 miles total) to “take care of business”.  It’s just what my body demands and it’s been that way for years and years of running.  I must always have a bathroom at the end of my first mile – always.  Except today.  Also to my incredible astonishment, my shin splints did not kick in yet.  I was confused about why neither of these physical hardships had reared their ugly heads yet.  But I knew they would.  They always do.  So I asked my crew to move down the road a half a mile to wait for me.  I couldn’t understand why I didn’t need the bathroom after mile 1, but I knew it would not be long before I did need it and I didn’t want them too far away when my GI issues finally kicked in.

So I came to mile 1.5 and I still didn’t need to use the bathroom.  And my shin splints still didn’t kick in.

WTH?

WTH?!

This photo is literally me in the “WTH” moment! I couldn’t believe I still didn’t need to stop.

What was going on?  I should have been happy with the current, non-issue-running that I was doing, but it just didn’t seem possible, so I couldn’t even enjoy it.  I was just so confused, especially as it pertains to the GI distress.  Where was it?  It happens as predictably as the sun setting every night and rising again the next morning.

I was 1.5 miles in and I didn’t have shin splints and didn’t need to use the bathroom – I guess I’ll just send me crew a half a mile down the road to wait for me at the 2.0 mile marker.  I know I’ll need the bathroom for sure by mile 2.0.

As I came running up to my crew at mile 2, much to my surprise as well as my crew’s surprise, I did not need to make a pit stop.  And my shin splints had not yet acted up.  Hhhmmm… what’s going on?  I now was thankful for the 2 mile reprieve but was waiting for the inevitable shoe to drop.  I was just hoping that because it was taking so long to kick in, that it wouldn’t be that much worse, when it did finally cause me issues.

Once again, I sent my crew up ahead to wait for me.  Since I didn’t have any real rumblings and I didn’t feel any distress coming on, I somewhat apprehensively told the crew to go to mile 3.  I wasn’t believing what was happening, but I was going to roll with it.

Mile 3 came and went and I did not need to stop.

Unreal.

running

 

 

 

 

rain rain 2

And just as my GI issues had not surfaced up to this point, neither had my shin splints.  I couldn’t wrap my head around these first few miles, it was not at all what was anticipated.  And I did not know if I should be thankful or fearful for what was yet to come.

Before I continue with my mile-by-mile, play-by-play I need to take you back to a short conversation I had with Jolene the day before.  As we were driving the Fall 50 course, I mentioned to Jolene that on the route, there is an old-fashioned gas-service station.  Every single time I ran past that service station during my training runs there would be a small group of elderly gentlemen sitting inside.  I’d see them sitting on their old and uncomfortable chairs having coffee in the early morning-  every Saturday.  I mentioned it to Jolene because I found it both odd and yet endearing.  They were obviously locals because tourists would not have coffee at a service station compared to the many quaint coffee shops down the street.  And it was every Saturday.  Every Saturday as I ran past I’d look oddly in the window at them and wonder what they were doing and they peered back out at me wondering the same thing.  This conversation with Jolene was completely innocent and random and meant nothing to me.  That is until I ran past this service station during the Fall 50.

Somewhere around mile 4 I ran past the service station, just as I had many times before.  And as I looked in the big bay window, I again saw the gentlemen inside having coffee.  But this time, I decided to wave and to my delight all of them waved back.

We’ve all heard stories from runners and athletes, about how an inspirational poster or some random words of encouragement from a stranger got them over the hump.  Why these random acts of encouragement work for the athletes at that time, can’t be explained.  There was some connection between the stranger and the runner that only the athlete understood at that time and 99.9% of the time the stranger has no idea the effect they had on this person.

The random, simple and pureness of the wave from these grandfather-type men flipped a switch in me that day.  I got a smile on my face and a peacefulness came over me that I can’t explain.  I finally felt myself exhale and breathe for the first time that day.

Instantly my entire attitude changed and in turn my entire race strategy had changed.  I was no longer going to worry and freak out about what may come.  I was going to have fun.  And there’s no better time to start than now.

As I ran up to my crew around mile 5, despite the pouring rain, I requested a runner/crew selfie.

 

selfie

And just like that, with an innocent wave to a few strangers in a service station and a wet and soggy selfie with my crew – my Fall 50 race took a turn.  Who knew what possibilities lay ahead for the rest of race, but I was now excited to find out.

Until next time,

Gotta run

#TooStubbornToQuit #DoEpicShit

Stay tuned for part 4.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fall 50 – Race Morning (Part 2)

Oh my god. Oh my god. Oh my god.

It’s race day.

What the fuck am I going to do??!!

+++++

Yep, those are the thoughts running through my head when I woke up the morning of the Fall 50.  I wasn’t excited or giddy, I was terrified.  I was soon going to be exposed as a fraud.  I had talked up and posted about my training for so long, but talking about it wasn’t going to be enough to get me to the finish line.  And now I had my friends and family in town to cheer me on and I had even more people back home following along via social media, and they would all soon know I wasn’t capable of running 50 miles.  I was doomed.  What was I going to do?

My head was spinning.  I knew I had to get up and get ready but yet I didn’t want to get out of bed.  The longer I went on with this charade the worse it was going to be.  I felt like I had to get out of this.  But how?  In my second marathon, when I had hit the wall, I had wanted to fake faint to get out of running (I didn’t, but I wanted to).  I knew I had to do something similar to get out of this.  But what was going to get me out of running?  Everyone came to Door County for me.  It’s not like I could just back out and have my friends and family stick around and cheer for Brian.  It was just me.  I was going to be the one embarrassed and ridiculed when I couldn’t finish.  What do I do?

Can I pretend to be sick?

Can I pretend to be hurt?

Can I just say I don’t want to do it?

Fuck.

No. I can’t do any of these things.

Dammit.

Time to get up, get ready and face the music.

+++++

But before I got out of bed I checked my phone.  As I had laid in bed trying to find a way to get out of running I heard my phone dinging, which indicated I had received text messages.  The first was from my sister Carol and came at 4:28am, followed by Sue at 5:12am.  They were both wishing me well.  This made me sick to my stomach.  Well wishes were coming in, but I didn’t feel I deserved them.  They made me both happy and filled with dread at the same time.  I knew it was just the beginning, beginning of something I couldn’t stop or turn back.

I was now up and in my pre-race routine.  Getting dressed, hydrating, eating, stretching, etc.  That’s when I got another text message from my brother Todd.  His text message , “Good Luck today! So proud of your dedication!  So proud of you!  Mom and Dad would also be proud, you know they will be on the route with you today!  So now go do some epic shit!!!”  Yep, that came in at 5:41am and was the first time I cried on race morning.  I had to read the message quickly and I couldn’t reread it because I wasn’t capable of handling it at that time. (Actually, writing this post was the first time I had enough distance from the event to go back to reread this text and it made me cry AGAIN!)

text

Fuck.

I can’t do this.

More stretching. More hydrating, bathroom breaks between my hydrating and stretching as well as packing.  We had to check out of the hotel before the race so I had to pack up all of my things.  But I also had to pack it in such a way so that anything I would need during the run would be easily accessible to my crew.

95iSSDyiYqsroS-0MPk8n7JIQzU0B8ydBDMud-FFCTI

And since I couldn’t find a way to get out of running, I now had to get serious about getting ready for the day-long run.  This meant my typical pre-run stretching turned to stretches for my shin splints.  I was doing all the stretches that were supposed to be good for shin splints – but none of them actually helped end the pain during training – so I could at least say, “I tried”.  Maybe shin splints were going to be what caused me to drop out of the Fall 50. But good lord, shin splints always kick in early when I run, always during my first mile.  Will I really drop out that early?  Will I really have this big of a build up and not even make it 5 miles into the race?

Besides worrying about my shin splints, I was also worried about my bathroom situation. While Brian had rented an RV to ride alongside of me for medical reasons and so I could have access to a bathroom if need be, I still was dreading the thought of having to stop and use it over and over during my 50 miles (or 5 miles if my shin splints didn’t go away).  During one of my 8-hour runs, I had stopped for the bathroom 17 times.  Yes, you read that correctly, 17 times.  Just imagine how many times I’d have to stop during a 12-13 hour run?  How embarrassing this was all going to be!

Wow, how did this all go so wrong?

As Brian was loading out our belongings and packing them in the RV, I few of my friends stopped by the room to wish me luck and/or declare it, “Race Day!”  Every bit of encouragement made my heart sink a bit more and made the tears flow.  While on one hand I was eating up the encouragement and well-wishes, I also wanted it to stop and I wanted to become anonymous.  Anonymity would allow me to blend into the corner, get lost and then maybe no one would notice if I didn’t finish the race.

When everything was loaded into the RV and before leaving the motel, I snuggled up to Brian, tears coming down my cheeks and I whispered…. “I don’t want to do this”.  When I finally wiped away all of my tears, it was time to go.

brian motel (2)

“I don’t want to do this.”

We loaded into the RV and were set to drive the 7 minutes to the start.  That was the longest 7-minute drive of my life.  It included encouragement from friends and family, music, a poster and of course… more tears.  Stosh played “Best Day of My Life”, which to me is the song that best encompasses Brian’s Ironman and his incredible journey.  But this morning, that song made me want to throw up.  I wanted to be inspired by that song, but instead it brought me to tears.  I was not going to have that glory that Brian had and I sure as hell wasn’t going to have the Best Day of My Life.

bus (2)

At this point, I don’t feel like it’s the “Best Day of My Life”

+++++

When we arrived at the start line it was raining.  It was dark, cold, windy, rainy – gloomy; and it matched my mood perfectly! Thankfully I saw a lot of other people I knew at the start.  I chatted with relay runner friends, a friend who was also a solo runner and some friends who were there just as spectators.  This constant contact and socializing helped me a ton. And the many photo ops helped to take my mind off of what was to come. It helped to distract me from the inevitable – the fact that I had no way out and that I was indeed going to have to start running.

After some more time waiting in the rain, it was time for me to line up at the start line.

start 3

The National Anthem was sung.

The starting pistol was shot.

And I was off.

I was running.

But for how long?

 

 

Until Next Time,

Gotta Run

#toostubborntoquit #doepicshit

 

Stayed tuned for Part 3 of my Fall 50 journey.

 

 

 

 

 

A brand new level of anxiety – otherwise known as the final days before the Fall 50

The taper leading up to the Fall 50 was tough. And while a lot of people go through doubts and ups and downs during the taper, this was different. This was a full-blown war on not only my emotions but also my body. As I’ve already mentioned in another post, emotionally I was a wreck. The roller coaster of emotions I was on was one helluva ride…. up and down, up and down. And physically I too was going on a ride. Every little twinge or ache had me doing an internal scream that could rival any horror queen’s scream. But while I was worried about my body not holding up, my Needle PT, Massage Therapist and Chiropractor all said I was ready. But their support wasn’t enough to calm my nerves, not when I still had shin splints. My shin splints had been getting worse throughout training and were becoming more debilitating. This was no longer just a nuisance, this was full-blown pain that was capable of stopping me dead in my tracks. I couldn’t run through the pain and nothing I did seemed to help it go away. My very last run before the Fall 50 was on the Wednesday prior to the race and I was supposed to do an easy 3-mile run. That “easy” 3-mile run was one of the worst I’ve ever run. The shin splints were so bad I walked over half of the 3 miles. Here I am, a person who is supposed to be getting ready for an epic 50 mile run and I can’t even do 3 fricken miles. This was not good! Needless to say that horrible 3-mile run was not the last run and impression I wanted to have seared in my head leading into the Fall 50. To put it mildly, it freaked me the fuck out and RUINED any chance I had at being able to muster some confidence heading into the weekend. And to clarify, the Wednesday, 3-mile run with shin splints was not my only bad run heading into the Fall 50. Shin splints had caused almost all the October training runs and a lot in September also, to be quite painful too. I knew I was in for trouble when I was in my taper phase and was recovering for the big day, and the mileage I was running was less than I had run in months and months and yet my shin splints were not only not getting better, they were getting worse.

Beyond a few workouts the week of the race, I was also trying to get everything packed and planned as best I could. I hate packing. Even for a nice vacation, I simply hate packing. Probably because I’m such a huge over-packer and even though I over-pack, I still usually forget something. But in the case of the Fall 50, I couldn’t forget anything.  And while I had to pack multiple clothing options, options for when something chaffed or rubbed the wrong way, I also had to have alternative clothing options for the f’d up weather that was predicted – the pressure to make sure I had everything was intense. Basically the weather for race day was “everything and the kitchen sink” . The meteorologists sure didn’t have to go out on a limb to predict any one specific weather pattern, instead they just predicted them all. How the hell do you pack for that? AND, let’s not forget my run was going to take me all day, which means it would be cool in the morning, then get warmer and then cool down again (plus I’d need items for after the run too).  So I literally started packing on Monday and didn’t finish until Friday.

It will surprise no one when I tell you I obsessed about everything that last week. And this obsession made it damn near impossible to concentrate on anything else, especially my job. Thankfully I left work early on Thursday and had vacation on Friday because I was no longer capable of thinking about work. Friday morning rolled around and I wasn’t as nervous as I had anticipated. Don’t get me wrong, I wanted to puke and I had more than one freak out moment, but yet I was somewhat calm. My family and friends that saw me on Friday may have a different take, but in my opinion I was doing better than I had expected.

So it was Friday morning, I was packed and ready to head to Door County.

Heading to Door County with me was Brian, Jolene, Ty and Jill. Having other people along made a big difference in helping to keep my internal anxiety from becoming external. We went to packet pick up and saw some more friends. Packet pick up for the Fall 50 is a small, somewhat mellow ordeal compared to large marathons. But because I had friends who were working at the packet pick up, it helped to make it a bit more exciting.

solo

Packet pick up!

When I was at packet pick up, I made a conscious effort to look around the room and take it in.  I also made a point to look at the other runners.  I could not believe I was looking around the room and I was a solo runner. I was standing in a room full of people, some relay runners and some solo runners and I was one of those solo runners.  I was “that” person.  I was “that” runner.  I don’t think I can adequately tell you how it felt to be “that” runner.  I was going big.  I had stepped up, set a goal, trained for it and I was less than 24 hours away from the start of this epic race.  But how did I get here?  I still don’t consider myself a runner.  And I sure as hell knew the other runners in the room didn’t look at me and think… “oh yeah, she’s a “solo”.  It was surreal to think I was a solo, even if I didn’t look the part or really feel any different. The internal turmoil between thinking, “I’m solo… I’m kind of a big deal” and “I’m such a poser, I don’t belong here” was just making my head spin.  While I secretly wanted a big beam of light to come down from the sky and follow me around to proclaim that I was a solo runner, I also didn’t want people to know I was solo because I didn’t want them to laugh and say… “good luck with that”! I couldn’t decide if I was a big deal or not.  The bi-polar aspect of the day was driving me insane.

After picking up my packet we then headed up north to our hotel. I asked Brian to drive the Fall 50 course so I could see it one last time before I had to run it. It was a beautiful fall day in Wisconsin and the course was so beautiful with its fall colors. I tried so hard to appreciate the beauty and take in all the little things. I knew running the Fall 50 wasn’t going to be easy so I was going to have to do all I could to make it tolerable, and that included enjoying the beauty of Door County in fall – and taking it in the day before the run was going to help me remember the beauty and recall it on race day.  But driving the course, you get a new appreciation for just how far 50 miles is and how long it will take you to run it when it seemed to take forever to drive it.

Once I got to the motel, I started to lay out all of my clothes and accessories and prepare for race morning.  By this time my stomach was doing flips and I simply wanted to die.  Laying out my stuff is an organized process, which my mind needed, but it didn’t help calm my nerves. It only raised my anxiety.  It meant the race was getting closer.  And this I just could not fathom.

9pF7Jsx0Mivw8e4sUdSEOva6OjKaEdtQbrlrEVlAusI,om2t-51_mwGmbqvOtj8EZhi_8oKxbyh2f5YmYgcgAGw

Now is probably a good time to let you in on a nasty little secret… the reason my anxiety was off the charts was because I didn’t know if I was going to finish the race.  And while I always joke about being too stubborn to quit, and while I knew I wasn’t going to quit – I still didn’t know if I’d finish the race.  This sounds strange, but let me elaborate.  A trick coaches talk about to get you ready for a race and to help calm nerves is to make you envision the race.  See yourself start, see yourself tick off the miles and see yourself finish.  I have used that trick many times in the past.  But this time it was different.  This time I couldn’t see myself finishing.  I had thought about the Fall 50 for months and months and have envisioned myself running the race hundreds of times, but I could not see myself finishing.  I didn’t know how this race was going to end.  But if I couldn’t see myself finishing, that could only mean one thing – something happened that made me stop and not finish.

The pit at the bottom of my stomach was huge and I was on the verge of getting sick.  But time marches on and it was soon time for dinner.

We went to a nearby restaurant for my pre-race meal which was nice.  I had chicken, rice, a baked potato and a beer.  Not necessarily the most traditional carb-loading meal, but it’s the meal I had before my 38-mile run and that went pretty well, so I didn’t want to change anything and decided to order the same meal.

f325xKZBBqYdTFx-2CiV_1KRN6StKfVhA8F4hIZcTkk

Pre-race dinner.

After dinner it was back to the motel.  I spent a short time hanging with my friends but then I said goodnight and headed back to my room to get some sleep.  Well, I was hoping to get some sleep, but instead I just laid there worried, scared, sick and nervous.   And while one part of me wanted to fall asleep, the other half of me didn’t want to because that just meant when I woke up in the morning, it would be race day.  And I wasn’t ready for race day.  I couldn’t run 50 miles so I didn’t want that day to come.  I could hear my friends laughing through the thin motel room walls, and I so desperately wished I was in their room having fun, instead of being alone in my room trying hard not to cry.

Oh who am I kidding, by this point, I had cried and I had cried often.  And the tears were real.  And they were all coming from a place of fear – fear that I wouldn’t finish.

So as I was trying to fall asleep, I was also trying to picture myself finishing the Fall 50.  But I couldn’t.  I just couldn’t see how the race would end.  How my day would end.  How it would all end….

Until next time…

Gotta Run

#TooStubburnToQuit #DoEpicShit

++++++++++++++

Stay tuned for my next post which starts bright and early on race morning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well, I’m “half” ready

Last week Friday I had my final appointment with my needling therapist and she found very few trigger spots in my legs to work on.  As I left her office, she said my legs were looking good! Yesterday I had my last massage before the race and while I said my hamstrings were tight, my massage therapist, didn’t find many knots to work on.  And today I had my final chiropractor appointment and he too, said he didn’t find much that he needed to correct.  So as my massage therapist said, my body is ready… now my mind just needs to believe it!

If only it were that easy.  But hey, right now… I’m just happy my body is ready.  Hopefully sometime before 7am, Saturday morning, my mind will catch up with my body and start to believe it too!

Until next time,

Gotta run

#toostubborntoquit #doepicshit

If you’re going through tough times, keep on going

A few weeks ago my coach asked me what I’m going to do to get through the Fall 50.  He was specifically asking me how I plan to pull myself through the day if it’s tough or if I’m having a bad day.  I told him, “I don’t know, I guess I’ll just keep going”.  What I didn’t tell him, was that I knew exactly what I’ll do, it’s what I do for every hard race or training run.  I tell myself that this is just physical discomfort and that it’s so minor to other things I’ve been through in life.  I’ve lost jobs and I’ve lost both of my parents… those are things that are truly hard.  And if I found a way to get through that pain, then a simple run, wouldn’t be enough to take me down.

Getting through the Fall 50 has been on my mind nonstop since I started tapering.  It’s really going to happen and I really will have to get through the pain.  This is what keeps me up at night and what preoccupies my time.  I wish I could enjoy the taper and enjoy what I’ve accomplished so far during my training, but the damn taper demons make that damn near impossible.

So while I am trying hard not to vomit today from nerves (seriously, I feel like I could puke), I have to remind myself…. I’ve gotten through much worse things.  This is a simple walk in the park, albeit a 50-mile walk, but a walk/run nonetheless.   It’s nothing compared to things I’ve dealt with in the past.  So while Saturday may be tough at times, I just have to remember… I’m tougher!  And this time I at least get a poster or two to help me through!

Until next time,

Gotta run

#toostubborntoquit #doepicshit

Getting super nervous, and I’ve still got over a week to wait

I’m happy to announce, I’ve cycled through a crap load of emotions in the last 24+ hours and I’m in a better mood now. About 4 hours ahead of schedule too!

While I’m so unbelievably nervous – to an extent that goes beyond the nervousness I’ve ever felt for any other event/race – I’m also getting excited.  I want the Fall 50 to hurry up and arrive because I can’t sit here and think about it any longer.  In the words of Nike… I want to “just do it”.

I’ve also come to terms with finishing after the cutoff time – kind of.  I know I’m going to finish after the cutoff and I’ve always known that, so be it.
And while I had originally thought that if I’m not going to make the cutoff, that I want to miss the cutoff by a lot.  I mean, my motto has always been… go big or go home!  So let’s miss the cutoff by a lot!!  My reasoning for wanting to miss it by a lot is that If I miss the cutoff by 10, 20 or 30 minutes, I would second guess the whole damn run and wish I didn’t stop to eat or wish I hadn’t changed my shoes or wonder if I could have made it if I didn’t stop for photos or high-five my friends.  Well, screw that.  I want to high-five my friends and I definitely want to stop for the occasional photo op.  I want to have fun doing the Fall 50.  Well, as much fun as I can have while running 50 miles.  But I’m not going to change who I am, or what I do because of a stupid cutoff time.  Besides, if I do finish close to the 11 hour mark, that means I had a good run and a good day!  That’s exactly what I DO want.  So to wish anything else is just silly.

So bring on the Fall 50.  Let’s do this already!

Until next time,

Gotta run

#toostubborntoquit  #doepicshit