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!

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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)

 

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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)