Well, I’m swimming.
How’s that for a surprise? I’m guessing it’s 3 words you probably never thought you’d read!
I’m not swimming well and I’m not swimming far. But I am swimming.
One day it just happened. I’ve even done 3 open water swims. I have my husband swimming next to me and I have a life buoy around my waist, but I’m swimming! I’ve even been in open water, and water where I can’t touch the bottom. And that’s in part to the magical wet suit I’m borrowing. Man, that thing is buoyant and I LOVE it. Long live the wet suit!
While I have done open water swims, I can’t go more than 20 yards without freaking myself out and popping out of the water. I can’t seem to break through the mental hurdle that comes with swimming anything longer than a pool length. It’s very frustrating.
And my lack of swimming endurance is also very frustrating. I just ran a half marathon on Sunday, yet when I got in the pool on Monday, I could barely swim one length of the pool. I complained about this to my Trainer and he said, he’s been there. Apparently cardio strength in biking or running doesn’t translate into swimming cardio strength. Great! The one thing I thought I had going for me (cardio endurance) is now shot to hell. So I have to start from scratch and start building cardio strength in the water.
My Coach, is still having me practice drills in the pool twice a week, but the other two days I need to work on my endurance. One day I have to do laps with rest breaks. The other day I have to do laps with continuous movement. He doesn’t care what strokes I do but I need to keep moving. I can do the backstroke, side stroke or a crazy doggie paddle, if need be – he doesn’t care – he just wants forward movement. This will not only help me gain endurance, but will also help me feel more secure on race day – knowing if I get fatigued I can flip over to the backstroke until I can lower my heart rate.
My Coach has also been talking to me about the fact that I only breathe to my right and what will happen if I’ve got another swimmer next to me splashing me or if waves are coming at me. He’s trying to get me ready for the “what ifs” that come with a triathlon. I’m extremely grateful that he’s talking me through these scenarios, but it’s also scaring the crap out of me. I can’t even swim longer than 20 yards and now I have to worry about someone taking away my ability to breathe because they are splashing water in my face. He also mentioned, “what if you get hit”?
What if I get hit?!?! WHAT?!?!??!
I’m seriously not ready for these conversations yet. Even though I’ve been having them with myself for months, the fact that my Coach is now bringing them up makes me realize that we are getting closer to race day, that not only could these things happen, but that they most likely will happen and that THIS SHIT IS REAL!
I am terrified to swim a .5 mile in calm, open water with no one around. I don’t know how to swim .5 mile in choppy water, with people around who are splashing me, hitting me or swimming over the top of me. I want to vomit just thinking about that. And even though I plan to start my swim at the back of my pack, I know the wave that starts after me will catch me and swim over me and I’m actually guessing more than one wave of swimmers will catch me, probably 2 or 3 of them. How the hell do I survive? When I’m not a confident and am not a strong swimmer, how do you get okay with getting hit in the water? I am getting sick to my stomach just thinking about it.
Because I’ve made progress swimming and have officially decided that there will not be a deferment this year, I figured I should actually get on my tri bike and get some miles in on Freddie.
OH HOLY HELL….
If you want to see something comical, you need to watch me on my tri bike. Who knew biking in the aero position would be so fricken hard? I CAN NOT bike in a straight line. And it’s not just that I can’t bike in a straight line, I make sharp, unexpected and sudden swerves to the left or right for no apparent reason. I can’t seem to transition from my aero bars to the regular handle bar position without almost wiping out. The first time I road Freddie outside, Brian was with me and at one point he said, “just stop before you wipe out and hurt yourself”.
And speaking of hurting myself, I’m not even going to get into the fact that I was on a training ride yesterday and I was three miles away from my car (I went biking after work so I had my bike on my car and went biking on a nearby paved trail) when the tornado sirens starting blaring. Let’s just say that was the 3 fastest miles I think I will ever ride in my life. When I got to my car I had a hard time getting my bike on the rack because of the strong winds and when I a tree branch snapped and landed 20 yards behind me… I couldn’t help but think of the irony of the fact that I had just watched The Wizard of Oz two nights earlier.
So long story short, I need to work on my biking and I need to believe the weather reports when they say there’s a chance of storms!
So I’ve talked about my swimming and my biking – all that remains is running.
Brian and I did a marathon this past Sunday as a 2-person relay. It was fricken hot. Too hot for me. I’m not warm weather runner and I haven’t been heat acclimated this year so I was not looking forward to the run. Add in the fact that I’m still having problems with my sciatica pain, and I really wasn’t looking forward to the run.
Thankfully my hip pain was manageable, during my run, but what wasn’t manageable was the heat. I was overheating and it came on quickly. I was going downhill and fast. When I saw Brian at mile 4 (yes, I overheated in 4 miles. Actually it happened in two miles – I guess overheating rapidly is just one of my few gifts) I called an audible and asked him if he could be ready to run at mile 6, the first relay exchange. Thankfully he said yes and he took over for me. Our original plan was for me to run legs 1 and 2 back to back and run 13.1 before passing the baton to Brian. But I knew I wouldn’t make it.
I’m happy to report that breaking up my run and instead of doing two legs back to back, that running legs 1 and 3 saved me. I had an hour to cool down in the AC of my car, I got a lot of fluids in me and most importantly I ran the 3rd leg into a headwind and that helped cool me down.
A trick I learned while training for my ultra two years ago was to wet towels and freeze them and use them to cool down with while on the run. Brian had given me one towel during leg 1, I used a second towel while I was resting during Brian’s leg and I had one more towel waiting for me during my final leg. Brian was ready and waiting for me with the last frozen towel when I had 3 miles left to run. But a few miles earlier a marathoner had started chatting with me a bit and I felt too guilty having a nice frozen towel when I only had 3 miles left to run and he had 9. I gave him my towel instead of keeping it for myself and I think I made his day! I can’t tell you have many times he thanked me and how he said it was a godsend! He even thanked Brian when he saw Brian at the next relay exchange. So I felt I did my good running deed for the day! 🙂
So, that’s where I stand with my swimming, biking and running.
I have a lot to do in 2.5 months but I’m going to keep trucking along the best I can, and hopefully I can find a suitable level of comfort with all that I yet need to do and learn. As my Coach said to me on Wednesday, “you are head strong enough that I know you’ll find a way to figure it out and make it work”.
Never have truer words been spoken.
Until next time,
Gotta run (or bike and swim!)