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)

 

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)

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)

 

 

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)

 

 

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)

 

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)