My husband and friend tried to kill me

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time,

Gotta run (and swim and bike)

 

 

 

 

 

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)