I can sum up my feelings prior to the start of my first-ever tri in two words: irrational fear.

Are the three sports in a triathlon -1.  getting sick, 2. crying and 3. running away?  Because that’s what it felt like leading up to my first triathlon.

Let me fill you in.  But where do I begin?

As most of you know I was SO freaking nervous leading up to race weekend.  And man, let’s just say my nerves did not subside once I got to Chicago.  Actually they escalated and were at an all time high.  They were so bad that I was physically making myself sick.  My anxiety was compounded every time I saw the water.

Let me walk you through the nerves and the tears.  Yes, there were tears.  Many, many tears.

We got to downtown Chicago late Saturday morning.  We checked into our hotel, had a quick-lunch and then headed to the expo and the mandatory course talk.  It’s at the course talk the first tears emerged.  Just seeing photos of the water and thinking ahead to the race were troublesome for me.  I few tears escaped.  I tried to be cool and brush away the stray tears before anyone noticed, but I’m guessing Jolene and Brian noticed.

After we left the expo Brian and I went to rack our bikes in transition and walking along the water to and from transition sent me over the edge for the first time that weekend.  The water was so choppy – I was not expecting it to be so rough.  Brian had been assuring me for months that because we were swimming in a harbor that the water would be calm.  The water was not calm and neither was I.

OMG!  What was I going to do?  I couldn’t swim in that water!  This seemed like just as good of a time as any to cry once again!

The afternoon slowly slid into the evening and my nerves slid into an uncomfortable bout of nausea.  Yep, I was making myself ill.  Literally.

By the end of the night I was truly sick to my stomach.  I just wanted to lie in the fetal position until the waters of Lake Michigan turned into the calm waters of the YMCA pool.  But knowing that was extremely unlikely, I decided to take some Pepto and go to bed.

And then the next thing you know it’s Race Day!

Oh lord I was sick to my stomach.

I was trying to compare my feelings on this particular day to the morning of my ultra and while I was nervous and anxious for both, the feelings and worries were completely different.  Before my ultra I was overwhelmed at the magnitude of having to run 50 miles.  I had never run that far and I didn’t know if I could complete the task.  I was worried about the physical aspect of the adventure – how I’d feel, if there would  be pain, etc.  But before the tri, I didn’t have those type of worries and concerns.  It was not a concern for the physical act of swimming, it was fear.  Athentic and irrational fear.  Keyword is irrational.  I knew it wasn’t rational, yet I couldn’t do anything about it.  I just had to go with it.

As I stared out my hotel window and looked at Buckingham Fountain, Grant Park and Lake Michigan I willed both my nerves and the waters to be calm.

2017-08-27 05.35.07

Race Morning. Willing myself and the waters of Lake Michigan to be calm.

We left the hotel to start our day.  As we were walking I was doing “okay”, and “okay” can be left up to interpretation at this point.  We headed to transition to finish getting ready before it closed.  It wasn’t until we left transition – when I saw the sailboats in the marina rocking back and forth – that I panicked.  And no, Brian saying it wasn’t too bad and that the wind will be at my back did nothing to ease my mind.  I was now officially “in my head” and I wasn’t leaving anytime soon.  And prior to a race, being in my head is NEVER a good place to be.

As we left transition, we walked along the water to meet up with my sister Jolene.  We were going to meet up and then we’d find a place to chill and wait for our waves.  At this point I had over an hour and a half before my start time and Brian had about an hour.  As we walked along the water, I got more and more sick.  And the tears came.  At first there were two or three stray tears that rolled down my cheek.  And then those two or three turned to twenty or thirty.  I was trying to keep it together, but it wasn’t working.  As I walked, I brushed more and more tears aside.

And then I saw Jolene and my friend Jody – who I wasn’t expecting to see – and who was in costume and really rockin’ “Race Day”.  Literally.  They were literally rocking out – they were channeling their inner Run DMC – with Jody in costume and all, they had a blow up boom box, gold chains and were playing “It’s Tricky” for me (It’s Tricky was my 2017 inaugural triathlon theme).

When I saw them, I could no longer hold it together.  I lost it.  I cried uncontrollably and I couldn’t stop.  I wanted to.  But I couldn’t.

I was crying for so many reasons I understood and for many that I didn’t.  I was completely taken off guard by my crying and more shockingly, by my lack of ability to stop crying!  Eventually I brought my cry down to a more manageable slow stream of tears.  Once my crying slowed to a trickle, I was finally able to say hi to Jody and appreciate her and Jolene’s efforts to rock Race Day for me! It was impressive.

But as impressive as it was, I still couldn’t find “happy”.  I was stuck smack dab in the middle of fear and happy was nowhere to be found.

tricky

Notice the uncomfortable and forced smile? I had just stopped crying and was not very happy.

We found a place to pop a squat and we watched more waves go off.  And as we watched, much to my horror, I saw many people get pulled out of the water.  Out of all the years I’ve been heading to Chicago for this event to watch Brian, NEVER ONCE have we seen anyone get pulled out of the water.  This day we saw the jet ski zoom in to help many swimmers, we saw lifeguards jump in from the break wall to help swimmers and we saw others swimmers flagging down help for their fellow participants.

What.  The.  Fuck.

Seriously, what the fuck?  Really, of all the days to have this happen, it was happening right before I had to get in the water???!! That’s not good timing!

As I watched other people swim I was filled with so much dread and fear.  I was also pissed.  I was pissed that I had worked so hard to learn how to swim a 1/2 mile and I was going to have to get into crappy, swell-filled water and I was going to have a horrible swim.  I didn’t want to panic, stop, gasp for breath but I knew it was going to be inevitable.  And that pissed me off.

 

It came time for Brian to head into his corral.  Once Brian left I decided to start putting my wet-suit on and get ready.  I had plenty of time, but I also had plenty of nervous energy and just sitting and waiting wasn’t cutting it any longer, I needed to do something – so putting on my wet-suit was a good distraction.

2017-08-27 09.32.05

Once I got my wet-suit on, I was able to see Brian for a few seconds as he swam past.  It wasn’t long after he was out of sight, that I decided to go and get into my corral.  Again, I had nothing else to do but be nervous, so I figured the act of getting ready and getting in the corral was another good distraction.

walk

As I was standing in my corral I was still watching the other swimmers go off in their waves and I was watching more swimmers struggle.  While I could have looked elsewhere, I found myself drawn to the water.  I felt a strong attraction – I had to watch.  I was a bit transfixed by it.  I felt as if looking away would cause me to be less prepared for what was about to happen.

While I was in the corral and moving closer and closer to my start time, I wasn’t as sick as I had been earlier in the day and I was no longer crying.  I wasn’t calm and I wasn’t freaked.  I was numb.  There was no turning back and backing out, so the only way to get through this was to get in the water and swim.  So that was what I was prepared to do.

It was just about go time.

Move forward.

Wave 48 is next up.

Now it’s our time.

Wave 48 enters the water.

I was among the last in the water.

Treading water.

Looking at the swim out – 1/2 mile ahead of me.

Treading water.

Numb.

It’s about to happen.

Treading water.

Numb.

Horn blows.

Everyone starts to swim.

Everyone except for me.

I didn’t freeze or panic, it was a strategic decision to hold back and let everyone get ahead of me.  My coach told me to count to 10 and then start swimming.

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

Go!

I didn’t make it to 10, I was too anxious and had to start swimming.

As I started swimming, I was just thinking about moving.  Moving forward.  Just do what I’ve trained for… stroke, kick and breathe.

Move forward.

Oh oh.

My heart rate was starting to accelerate.

My breathing was labored.

Oh shit, panic… here we come.

At this point I started having a hard and forceful conversation… with myself!  I kid you not, I had a major internal dialogue – actually it was more like an internal fight -happening.

“Don’t fucking panic.  Just calm down”.  ~Me

“Fuck you, you know telling me to calm down doesn’t work, it actually has the exact opposite effect, so thank you for fucking with me and making things worse.” ~Also Me

“Well, you better get control or do something because you’ve gone about 10 yards and it’s going to be a really long and difficult fucking swim if you can’t settle your ass down.” ~Me

“Seriously, shut the fuck up, I’m trying.” ~Also me

“You’re doing fine, so just fucking settle down.  Just swim.  Don’t think.  Just swim.” ~Me

“Good lord, shut the fuck up, I beg of you.” ~Also Me

“Not until you calm down.” ~Me

“Fine, I’m calm.  I’m swimming.  Are you happy?” ~Also Me

“Well, well, well…. look who’s stopped panicking.  You’re welcome!” ~Me

“Holy crap, I am swimming.  Oh.  My.  God.  I’m swimming.” ~Also Me

“I think I deserve a thank you for calming you down.” ~Me

“Fuck off and go away, I’ve got me some swimming to do!” ~Also Me

So much to my surprise, I had managed to calm down and swim.  I wouldn’t say it was easy, but I was doing it.  Stroke, stroke, breathe.  Repeat.

Autopilot.

Numb.

Just swim.

I sighted about every 8 strokes.  How do I know it was every 8 strokes?  Because I counted.  I needed the distraction.  And I also started running through my rather large and extended family and started naming my aunts and cousins.  I needed to think of something to keep my mind occupied.  I tried to do this between counting my strokes.  I couldn’t give up on counting because I desperately needed to stop and sight more often than not, as I typically swim off course.  And this race was no exception.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 Sight

Alice, Bernice, Corrine, Donnie Sight

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 Sight

Linda, Barb, Jeff, Kathy Sight

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 Sight

At some point, I think it was after the half way mark, and may even have been closer to the 2/3 mark when I realized I was doing it and I was surviving.  I was swimming.  Holy shit I was swimming.

Whenever I stopped to sight (and yes, I know I’m not actually supposed to stop and sight, but I haven’t mastered moving and sighting at the same time!) and brought my head out of the water I could hear Jolene and Jody as they were following along on shore. It was just after I realized, “holy shit – I’m swimming”, that I heard them so I knew they were near.  This is when I lifted my head out of the water, I looked to shore and I yelled… “I’M SWIMMING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

I hadn’t planned on shouting the obvious for all to hear.  It was spontaneous and authentic.  At that moment my fear had turned to glee and I wanted to scream it from the rooftops.  Or at least shout it from sea level!

 

Jolene told me later that at that moment, a weight was lifted from her shoulders.  She knew I’d be fine and I’d get out of the water and finish my swim.

And finish I did.

I got out of the water with a sense of relief.  I was so happy, yet I felt like I couldn’t truly enjoy my accomplishment because I had 2 more sports to do before I could really enjoy my achievement.

out2017-08-27 10.12.38out2

Crap…. no time to celebrate – time to get to transition and figure out how the hell to ride on Lake Shore Drive with thousands of other bikers.

Until next time,

Gotta Run (and swim and bike)

**Stay Tuned for Part 2 of my Chicago Triathlon Recap

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I’ll forego the story, give me boring

Panic.

Full panic.

Near hyperventilation panic.

What am I talking about?  I’m talking about my open water swim on Saturday. Let’s just say, it did not go well.

We went to a new body of water because I wanted to try new water so I don’t get too comfortable with the conditions I had been swimming in at the quarry.  I also wanted to try working on my transitions and doing a bike ride and run after the swim and that required us to go to Bayshore for the swim because it’s easiest to bike and run from there.

The water was not calm.  Well, let me rephrase that, it looked perfectly calm to the naked eye but once you were in the water, you realized it wasn’t calm.  Well at least not calm to me.

I was freaking out in such a tiny bit of movement that it was ridiculous.  The winds caused a bit of a current and some tiny swells but to me I swear on my life – it felt like the swells of a tsunami.  I had never swam with currents or ripples.  And I did not handle it well. Not only was I getting seasick from the motion, but I couldn’t get in a rhythm, I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t do anything right.

Many, many things did not go right with my swim.  I probably stopped and panicked every 10-15 feet.  Needless to say stopping every 10-15 feet is not a very efficient and quick way to complete a 1/2 mile swim.

The worst part was that once I panicked I couldn’t calm myself down.  My heart rate was so elevated and my breathing was accelerated.  I tried so hard to slow my breathing because it’s impossible to swim in that condition.  Also, I have a history of hyperventilating when struggling (I’ve hyperventilated on more long runs than I’d like to admit) during events and I knew I was close to that happening.  So trying to not hyperventilate while trying to calm down, all while treading water does not make for a very fun swim.

At one point I said to Brian, “I need to get out”.  And he said okay, let’s get out.  He said we can just go to the shore and stop swimming compared to going back to where we started.  But as soon as I said, “I need to get out” and Brian said “okay”, that I realized I couldn’t stop.  I knew if I didn’t finish my last open water swim, the mental effects of it would really be devastating to my confidence.  Besides I’m #toostubburntoquit!

So I kept swimming.  I kept stopping and panicking.  I kept swallowing water.  I kept trying.

Eventually I finished.  I hated every fricken second of it and it was way worse than when Brian and Nicole ganged up on my to give me the “group swim” experience.

I guess I’m glad I experienced it, because I sure wouldn’t have wanted to experience that for the first time on race day.  I am just bummed my last open water swim was so bad.  I wanted to go into the event feeling confident and instead all I can think about is “how bad it can be”.

I just hope for PERFECT weather and conditions next Sunday.  I’ve worked so hard to learn to swim and swim 1/2 mile.  I just want to be able to swim and not have to worry about other people banging into me or fighting against current or ripples.  All of those things will make me stop and I may or may not panic.  Lord knows I’m slow enough in the water, I don’t need to waste any more time stopping.  And I really don’t want to have to hang on to the lifeguards.  I know I can swim the whole thing without stopping or hanging on to the lifeguards so I just hope conditions are right so I prove that I can do it.

I want my first tri to be uneventful and calm. I don’t want some crazy story to tell after – I know shocking – because I’m always up for a good story!  But not this time.  Give me an uneventful, no drama filled day that is almost boring. Is that too much to ask?

Until next time,

Gotta run (and swim and bike)

 

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)