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

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)

 

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)