I’m a little more optimistic – for now!

I had a session in the pool this morning with Coach Craig and man, it’s just what I needed.  And seriously, he is the best Coach for me and my need to “know” and my tendency to over think EVERYTHING.  Here are a few highlights from today’s time in the pool.

  • During my warm up lap with just the pool buoys, he stopped me and told me my first length was almost perfect.
    • Why oh why don’t they allow pool buoys in a triathlon?  I could rock it if I didn’t have to worry about the whole breathing and stroke thing!
  • When I put on my flippers to show him that I can breathe to the side (I could not do this or use my arms the last time we had a session) and I can “kind of-sort of” stroke, he said that I was doing more right than I realized.
  • Craig knows me well enough to know I over think things and he is one of a few people who call me on my bullshit.  And he literally called bullshit today.  I kid you not.  I was saying something, I can’t remember what, but I’m sure I was criticizing something I was doing when he looked right at me and said… “BULLSHIT”.  Actually he said it a couple of times.  After the shock of him literally calling bullshit wore off, I actually chuckled because it was just too funny and because I knew he was right.
    • I still can’t believe he LITERALLY called bullshit.
  • He keeps telling me my body position in the water is spot on.
    • Which I quickly replied, “that’s only because I’m using ‘aids’, such as flippers or the pool buoys”.  Now that I think about it, this may be when he called bullshit! 🙂
  • He had me do a drill where I keep one arm in front of me and I just stroke with the other hand and practice “stabbing” the water on entry.  This went okay.  Thankfully he didn’t make me do it to the left, only the right side – which is the side I breathe on.  Even though he said he’s going to make me breathe on both sides, he said right now he’s going to play to my strengths and what I do well before doing hard stuff, like breathing to the left.
    • Really, I think all of this is hard!  But I will be grateful for this window of time when I don’t have to breathe to my left.
  • As I was doing the drill with my left arm in front the whole time and only stroking with my right arm, I said that these drills (and one more he had me do with both arms in front) are what I feel is messing up my rhythm because I don’t know when to move each arm in coordination with the other.
    • Basically he said my rhythm isn’t as bad as I think it is and that I’m really much better than I realized.  And this is when I called bullshit.  Silently of course because I wouldn’t dare say it out loud!
  • At one point Craig had me do a lap in the pool (same one arm drill) because he was watching for something specific.  When I finished he proceeded to explain to me – in great detail – what he was watching for, how I did, how it should be and why it’s important.
    • He knows I need to know the “why”.  He even acknowledged that he doesn’t tell most people the details because they don’t need to know the “why” like I do.  But I can’t learn unless I know the “why” behind what I’m doing.
  • After one lap where I was given specific instructions on what to do, Craig said that I did exactly what I was supposed to be doing and that this is the time where I could drop the mic.
    • Huh?
    • Seriously, huh?
    • Did Craig just do a “mic drop” on me?  Classic!
    • Never, ever would I have thought someone would do a mic drop for me in regards to swimming.  But hell, I’ll take it!
  • We talked a lot – if you didn’t already notice – about the fact that I have good body position (which I said I don’t when I drop the aids and he doesn’t like to hear that) but he did say that a few times he caught me trying to “run” in the pool compared to kick.  I said I didn’t realize I was doing it, but it doesn’t surprise me because the flippers are long/heavy and awkward.
    • He suggests I buy shorter flippers online.  I think I’ll do this because not only will it help me from trying to “run” but it should be less of an aid than long flippers.
  • Speaking of my kicking, he said I am kicking too fast and that because I’m learning to swim for a tri, I need to conserve my legs.  He made me do a few laps and really concentrate on slowing down my kick.
    • This was extremely awkward.  I feel kicking is the only thing that’s keeping me afloat and that slowing that down will not be good for my desire to not sink!  But I was able to do a few lengths slow enough that he was satisfied.  But he said that it will definitely be something he will have me continue to work on.
  • The reason I need to know the “why” behind everything I do, not only because that’s the way I learn (always has been and always will be – I have the personality tests to prove it) but I also have a tendency to be skeptical of things.  So until I know “why”, I oftentimes don’t believe it.  And not that I don’t believe Craig (or whomever), it’s just that I feel it doesn’t pertain to me.  So when Craig was saying I need to slow down my kicking, I was skeptical and I figured, “well, he doesn’t realize that it won’t work for me to slow down my kicking… I’m not like other people, I need to kick fast to stay afloat”.  But just as I was having internal skeptical thoughts, he said… “your heart rate is elevated after one length and it’s because you are kicking too fast.  You’re a runner and your tendency is to just go-go-go-, but that doesn’t work in swimming and you’re getting winded”.
    • This was my most recent “aha” moment.  I for the life of me couldn’t figure out why I was out of breath from doing one single length in the pool.  I couldn’t understand how I could go for a 10 mile run, yet be fricken out of breath in the pool after 25 yards!?  Well, now I know.  And apparently there is something to this whole slowing down my kick thing because when he had me practice it, I was less out of breath at the end of each length.
  • At one point we were talking about my body position (yes, we talked about it a lot – I think he was trying to keep me from getting frustrated by focusing on what I’m doing well) and my kicking and how I feel I do when I take off the flippers.  I said my body sinks and my arms are so slow that I don’t think stroking alone can keep me afloat.  He looked at me skeptically so I had to admit that I had someone video tape me and when I watched the video, I……. am………. very……….. slow……….. seriously………… so…………. slow…………. and…………meticulous.
    • He just shook his head.  I don’t think he knew what to say at that point about me watching myself on video.
  • During one of my laps, Craig told me that I had done pretty good but he could tell that I got “tense” during it but that I corrected it and got out of the situation – which was good.  I was shocked that he could tell that.  I mean, I was under water, so how did he know?
    • He said that I have a “tell” (like in poker) that he has picked up on and he can tell when I’m stressed or tense in the water.  I SO desperately want to know what my tell is.  But I didn’t even ask him what it was because I knew he wouldn’t tell me.  He knew, that If I knew, that I’d focus too much on that, and not what I should be doing.
  • And speaking of focusing on what I need to be doing, Craig asked me a question about arm placement after one of my laps and I said, “I couldn’t tell”.  Which is really the truth, I really can’t feel much or tell what I’m doing – I don’t know how people can tell what they are doing under water.  It’s all so uncomfortable and happens so quickly, that I honestly have no idea what I’m doing most of the time.
    • I told him that I have SO much to think about while swimming.  I feel I can’t really be smooth for fluid (which is his goal for me) because nothing is fluid about having to think about a million different things:  butt up, kick from your hips, feet at the surface, slow down my kick, look down, rotate, thumb along my side, elbow up, soft wrist, stab the water…. oh yeah, let’s not forget about BREATHING!.
  • After a lap where he said I did well, I said I didn’t think I did well because I got a lot of water in my mouth.  He said that it’s a timing thing and will get better.
    • Later when I was comparing myself to other swimmers and was questioning something he said to me, he said, “well, they don’t get a lot of water in their mouths”.
    • Damn, that one came back to bite me in the ass.  But it was a good call on his part!
  • As the session was almost done and when he was talking about what he’s going to suggest for drills, etc. he also said, “no more video self-analysis without my prior consent”.
    • HA!
  • After Craig told me I couldn’t watch myself swim in videos any more, he said…. “do you know what your biggest hurdle is right now and what you need to work on the most?”  I shook my head no.  He then pointed to his head.  He said, you need to work on this.  “Does this surprise you?”, he asked.  “NOPE!”, was my reply.  I’ve always been in my own head too much.  Running, swimming, work… anything.  Mental hurdles – not physical – are always the hardest for me to conquer.  And good lord Craig, if he can help me with the mental hurdles associated with swimming, he will be a miracle worker.  He will be able to charge extra for being a psychologist!

As we were leaving the pool area Craig said that I am doing a lot right and that I need to focus on that.  He still thinks I’m on track and I shouldn’t be frustrated (no, I did not tell him about my questioning about whether or not to defer, I figured it didn’t pay to tell him at this point).  So if Craig hasn’t given up on me yet, then I guess I can’t give up on myself yet either.

Until next time,

Gotta run (or swim)

It’s tricky

Highlights and lowlights from my early morning session with my trainer.

  • When I mentioned that I really don’t enjoy getting up at the crack of dawn to get in a pool he reminded me that it will be worth it.  He said, just like when I finished the Fall 50, I forgot all about the work that went into training and I just enjoyed the accomplishment.
    • Uhm, no!  I have NEVER forgotten the work that went into the Fall 50.  That shit is burned into my memory.  Just this past weekend someone asked me about the whole experience.  I said I loved the day, it was better than expected.  Training sucked and was harder and more time-consuming than I could imagine.  It sucked!
  • Craig reinforced that I’m not doing as badly as I think I am and that I am doing a lot of things correctly.
    • But I had to come clean and I said that I honestly don’t care if my kicks are good or that my hips don’t sink like other people’s’ because if I can’t learn to breathe, nothing else will matter.  If I can’t breathe in the water, I won’t have the opportunity to do the rest.
  • He had me do a few laps while using only one pool buoy and this makes it extremely difficult to stay high enough in the water to breathe forward.  When I told him that I also said it feels like I’m drowning.  To which he said, he wants me to practice with less “help/assistance” to get closer to actual swimming.  I looked at him and said, “so you’re trying to drown me?”
    • Interesting tactic, simulate drowning.  I’m pretty sure I have this one down.  Feel like I’m going to drown.  Check!
  • I did a few laps while he watched my body positioning.  When we were done he asked me, “Where were your feet?”  Me:  “At the surface?” “Where were your hips?”  Me:  “At the surface?”
    • I didn’t answer him as much as I guessed and I hoped I got my answers correctly.  Since he didn’t look too disappointed in me, I figured I got my answers correct!
    • But in all seriousness, I told him that I have no idea where my body, feet or arms are at any given time.  I can’t feel them in the water.  I just can’t.  Am I really supposed to be able to feel the difference?
  • He wanted me to do the backstroke to get aware of my arm positioning and feel my dorsal muscle propel me through the water.
    • “Huh?  My what muscle?!”  He obviously could tell by the look on my face that I had no desire to do that and I was just going to do the backstroke like normal.  That’s when he busted me and said, “I don’t want you to get to the end of the pool and have you tell me you didn’t feel anything.  If you aren’t doing it right and aren’t feeling it, you have to stop, adjust and start over.”
    • Huh?
    • When I finished my lap I told him I couldn’t tell if I felt my dorsal muscle (and yes I had to google dorsal muscle to make sure this was the muscle in my back I was supposed to be using) or if I was just feeling the water rush past my back.  Now it was his turn to look at me and go, “Huh?”
  • I finally got a chance to do a drill while trying to turn my head to breathe.  I have to hang on to the kick board with one hand and my open hand just sits gently on top.  When it’s time to exhale I’m supposed to rotate slightly to the side where my open hand is and lift my hand off of the board and breathe.  Easy enough, right?  Wrong!
    • Lifting my arm and trying to rotate slightly was one of the more awkward and uncomfortable things I’ve done in the pool.  And I’ve done a lot of awkward and uncomfortable things while trying to learn to swim.  I absolutely could not do it.  What I did do was swallow a lot of water.  A LOT! This drill lead me to drink more water than probably anything else I’ve done so far.
    • I took water in both my nose and my mouth.  I’m not exaggerating when I say it was like gulping water and there was so much I couldn’t even spit it out so my best option was to just swallow.  The swallowing mouthfuls of water as unpleasant as it was, was not nearly as bad as it going down my nose.  Fun times at 5:30am!

The biggest thing that came from today’s lesson is both a highlight and a low light.  Craig, trying to reassure me, said that I’m farther along than so many people.  To which I said, “yeah, but are they trying to just learn to swim or swim in a triathlon… because I have to learn to swim and do a tri”.  And his reply… “yeah, that will be tricky.”

HUH!?!?

SERIOUSLY, HUH?!?!?

What the fuck does, “yeah, that will be tricky” mean?  He followed it up with, “I’m looking at the Marla from March, not the Marla months from now.  We’ll re-evaluate things later when we get closer.”

HUH?!?!

I have no idea what that means.  Is he trying to say that there’s a possibility that he recommends I pull out of the event?  Is he trying to say that based on how I’m swimming in August, he’ll give me a race strategy to “go wide and away from everyone and aim for the life guards”.  Is he trying to say that I should only do the backstroke?  Or is he trying to say I should stick to running?

WTH?!

And while I know Craig well enough to know he didn’t mean “yeah, it’s tricky” as anything negative (I’ll have to ask him what he meant, otherwise I will end up obsessing over this forever) and it’s probably in regards to a race day strategy, I can’t help but take it negatively.  It’s like when you try to give someone a compliment and say that you’ve never seen them look so nice but all they hear is, “apparently you look like shit the rest of the time!”  This is what I heard when I heard, “tricky”.  I heard, “Marla you look like shit”.  Brian can attest to the fact that once something is burned into my brain, it’s my only focus.   And now I’m focused.

So as I mentioned in my last post, during the Fall 50 I couldn’t help but focus on proving people wrong.  Well guess what, I’m about to prove that swimming the tri isn’t going to be tricky.

I just found my fuel and it’s tricky!

 

Until next time,

Gotta run (or swim)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plain and simple, doubt sucks

I was talking with some folks this weekend about what races they are participating in and they asked me the same.  I said I will do some half marathons but I haven’t decided on which ones.  But other than some unnamed halfs – which I’m not concerned with – my focus is on the triathlon I signed up for.  When people hear that I’m doing a tri, they don’t think much of it, much like I don’t think twice about Brian signing up for a sprint tri, he can do those in his sleep.  It’s more fun than work for him.  But then I tell people it’s my first tri and then they look a little more intrigued.  But when I tell them it’s not only my first tri, but that I don’t know how to swim, well let’s just say the conversation changes quickly.  I don’t think you can truly appreciate the look of surprise mixed with horror and confusion with a bit of “wtf” thrown in for good measure when people find out I signed up for a tri and that I can’t swim.

The folks I was talking to know me as a runner and most of them know I did an ultra, so they incorrectly assume I have athletic ability – which I don’t – I’m just stubborn and that’s why I have been able to complete marathons and an ultra.  Stubbornness won’t necessarily get me to the end of the swim like it will a marathon.  Finishing a swim will actually take some skill and athletic ability and this scares me a bit.  Okay, it scares me a lot.  I can’t simply rely on my pigheadedness to stay afloat.  If it were that easy, I’d have nothing to worry about.

As I was talking to these folks, some seemed genuinely concerned about my ability to complete a tri because I don’t know how to swim.  Normally this doubt would fuel my desire to prove them wrong – as it had for my ultra.  I still remember a conversation years before I did the Fall 50, where I talked about wanting to do it and a good friend and Brian both raised doubts as to my ability to do it.  They didn’t come out and say it, but the way they talked about how hard it was and how the conversation kept coming back to “it’s not as easy as you think” (which I NEVER thought it would be easy) meant they were in their own way warning me against trying it.  That conversation, among many others, fueled many of my long training runs.  I was going to do it and I was going to prove them and every doubter wrong!

The doubt I encountered on Saturday didn’t fuel my rage, instead it gave fuel to my own doubt.  I was left thinking, “what if I can’t do it?”  “What if I can’t learn to swim and swim well enough to do it while possibly getting kicked in choppy open water”.  So I was left feeling a little blue, until the end of the night. As we were all saying our goodbyes, a woman who I’ve only known for about 6 months came over to me to say goodbye, she hugged me and whispered in my ear, “you’re going to swim!”

OMG – THANK YOU!  Man did I need that.

That simple gesture was not only sweet, but it got my butt off the couch on Sunday when I absolutely did not want to go to the Y to workout and I absolutely did not want to get in the pool.  But I did.  And it’s because… I’m going to swim!

Until next time,

Gotta run (or swim)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coach Craig to the rescue

Today was the day shit got real in regards to my training for the Tri.  I met with Coach Craig this morning.  He’s the trainer I worked with for the Fall 50.  He knows me and knows how to work with my issues.  And when I say issues, I mean my mental hurdles, not physical ones, but he obviously knows my physical limitations too.  But for me, I need someone who can help me get out of my own head.  I feel like meeting up with Coach Craig is like the Cavalry coming to the rescue.  If he can’t save me from drowning, then oh lord, I’m in trouble.

I’m not going to recap the entire 1-hour session (omg, he had me do so much stuff and I thought the damn thing would never end – 60 minutes in the pool is way too long) but I’ll give you some of the highlights.

  • I actually did worse breathing today during my first two test-laps than I had done the previous 1.5 weeks.  I was so bummed, because I wanted to impress Craig, but I had to stop a few times to breathe because I freaked out.  Ugh.
  • But Craig said he was actually impressed and that I was farther along than he thought.
  • He had a check list of things he was watching for and grading me on when I did my test laps.  He wouldn’t show me the list because he knew I’d focus on the items he was watching for compared to just being natural. Which I would have done.  And it’s an example of how he knows me so well!
  • Craig was impressed with my kicking.  He said runners almost always kick incorrectly and kick from their knees (which is what I thought I was doing) but he said I kick from my hip (which is correct).  He actually graded me a B+ in kicking and he said most people he works with he grades a D.  So here’s to being above the curve on this one!
  • Apparently when I’m floating, my arm placement out in front of me is spot on.  I can’t really get too excited about this because I’m holding a kick board.  But both Craig and Brian said that my straight arms in front of me while I do that isn’t normal and most people have bent elbows.  I chalk this up to my old cheerleading days.  I had many years of “straight arms” drilled into my head.  Some things I apparently just don’t forget.
  • Craig also said my flexibility is helping me more than I realize.  He said I have a better range of motion in my shoulders than most people and this too is good and will be pretty important when I start doing strokes.  Craig said, “you are extremely flexible… for someone your age…” and then I didn’t hear what he said after that because I was too focused on the fact that he implied that I’m old.  Oh man Craig, you could have just stopped at “extremely flexible”, did you really need to throw in the “for your age” comment? And yes, this is what women hear when you say something like that – so men, be warned!   I think I will grade you an F for that one!
  • He had me do laps without the kick board and instead use two individual handheld little floaty things.  I’m sure they have a name but I don’t know what it is.  They don’t provide as much support as a kick board – which was the point – so it was definitely harder.
  • But it wasn’t as hard as when he took away all floating devices from me and just had me float and kick with my arms in front of me.  I didn’t get very far before I stopped because I felt like I was sinking.  He assured me I wasn’t sinking.  I said, “well, I sure feel like I’m sinking”.
  • So I did it again and again I stopped.  He told me that I’m not sinking.  But I think the reason I felt like I was sinking is because I didn’t have the kick board to keep me “higher” on the surface of the water and in turn I couldn’t get my head out of the water enough to breathe.  So instead of getting a nice inhale I gulped and then I swallowed water.  And then I stopped and told him I was sinking and he said I wasn’t.  See the pattern??  Thankfully we didn’t do too many of those.
  • He had me do a few lengths on my back.  Again he said he was impressed at my kick and my straight arms (except when my arms go into the water – which I still keep straight, but apparently is a big no-no).  He thought I was really strong on my back.  Which I said, “of course, because it’s the only thing I’d do as a kid because I wouldn’t put my face in the water!
  • He had me do some drills kicking against the wall, some with flippers and some without.
  • I had to do some bobs in the water, just breathing in and out.
  • He also ended the session with the both of us looking into a mirror and he was showing me the arm stroke movements he wants me to practice.

He’s going to send me a list of drills I need to work on, which I guess is good but I still don’t have the breathing down.  I feel like I need to learn that first.  Honestly I couldn’t care less if my elbow is bent in the water or if I’m kicking correctly – if I can’t breathe.  If I can’t breathe, I’ll never have the opportunity to work on the other issues.  I was going to tell him this but I figured I’d try not to be negative during my first session.  I’ll wait until the second one for that! 🙂

But I’m guessing he knows my negativity and self-doubt are coming.  As I said earlier, he knows me.  At one point during the session he said to me, “I’m going to explain to you what to do next, then I’m going to explain why it’s important and then you’re going to soak it all in like a sponge, go home and think about it and over-analyze it”!  Ha!  I actually laughed out loud.  Some people might have been offended by that comment – but not me.  He nailed!  That is exactly what I do and exactly what I will do!   But I have to trust he knows what he’s doing.  Not only does he do this for a living but he helped me cross the Fall 50 finish line and there were definitely times I didn’t think that was possible.

So here’s hoping he can work his magic again because if Craig can’t make me a swimmer – than no one can!

Until next time,

Gotta run (or swim)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why do I do it?

I had the most random and unexpected compliment yesterday.  I had an appointment with my Nurse Practitioner who I’ve been seeing for probably 15+ years.  So while I’ve seen her a long time, we only see each other once a year, so it’s not like we have this big deep relationship.  But she does know that I’m a runner and whether she remembered or read it in my chart, she also knows I not only run but have done multiple marathons and completed an ultra the last time I saw her.  She asked what I had planned for 2017 and I said that I’ve really scaled back on my running and I don’t have any major endurance events planned.  I added that I planned on doing a triathlon this year and she gave me only a half-enthusiastic response (like a tri was small potatoes compared to an ultra).  That is until I told her that I don’t know how to swim.  This intrigued her.   She spun around on her little wheeled stool and wanted to know more (thankfully I was not up in stirrups at this point!).  She could not believe I am taking on this endeavor considering I don’t know how to swim.  She thought it was just amazing.  Her enthusiasm took me by surprise and I must have looked it because she went on to explain. She said she sees young women every day with no goals, no enthusiasm and no desire to try – try anything.  She said it’s sad.  She thinks I’m an inspiration. She even said that whatever is motivating me to try new things, the drive to set a goal and do what needs to be done in order to reach that goal is what makes a person successful at life.

Wow, a success at life!  That’s a heavy conversation to be having in a medical gown, but please go on!

She said that no matter what the outcome of my trying to learn to swim or how the tri goes, she said that she’s proud of me and she wishes me luck.

Again, wow!  All of this from a lady I see once a year!

She asked me where the drive comes from and what it is that makes me want to tackle new goals and challenges.  I didn’t have an answer for her but I really wanted to find an answer for myself.  So I’ve been thinking about nothing else since she asked me.  And while there isn’t one clear-cut, easy answer I do have some thoughts as to where my drive comes from.

I have to give some credit to my parents. And while they never did anything like what I’m doing, they passed on some qualities that make me who I am and the person that signs up for an ultra even though I’m not a very good runner or the person who signs up for a tri even though she can’t swim.  My stubbornness to not quit came from my mom, and I don’t say stubborn as a negative.  I’m definitely my mother’s daughter when it comes to that.  Being stubborn is the only thing that got me across many finish lines and it’s what helped my mom raise 7 kids.  Stubbornness is a good thing – my husband may not think so – but I do!

I got my dad’s drive.  He was a self-employed farmer and he did what was needed in order to get the job done.  No excuses, just do it.  So once I sign up for something I will do what it takes to reach my goal (thanks dad), i.e. training, lessons, practice, early morning workouts, etc. and even if it gets tough and I want to quit, I won’t – because I’m stubborn (thanks mom).

But why even sign up for a race or take on a new challenge?  When I was asked what in me made me want to sign up for these things and to push myself like this… it really got me to wonder the same thing.  I think a lot of my desire to try to challenges and set new goals is that I’m extremely aware that life is short.  And I want to make the most of the one I have.

I want to try new things and have adventures.  I always say I want to live not for “things” but instead for “experiences”.  And while a lot of really cool experiences and adventures that I want to embark on cost money – these really don’t.  Okay yes, there are entry fees and gear, etc.  But it’s not the same as saving up to go on a European vacation.  Brian and I aren’t wealthy and we work extremely hard for our money and it takes time to save for some of the big things we want to do and see.  But signing up for events and working towards those goals are more short-term goals that I can control and have nothing to do with money.   It’s a way to make sure I experience life, not from a couch doing nothing more than binge watching Netflix (but I do enjoy the occasional binge weekend) but instead in the “thick of it”.

And lord knows I wasn’t always like this.  I spent most of my twenties and even a portion of my early thirties on the couch.  Probably because it’s hard to go for a run when you’re hung over!  But thankfully that was a phase and once I grew up, I grew out of it.  (Sort of!)  I enjoy setting goals.  I enjoy working towards them.  I enjoy reaching those goals and getting that sense of accomplishment.  I was talking to a friend who is currently training for his first marathon and I was telling him that it’s the feeling of accomplishment that makes you come back for more.  It’s addicting.

Maybe that’s what the young women who have no drive are missing.  They need that sense of accomplishment that will push them to try again.  Maybe all they need is to set one goal and once they achieve it – no matter what it is – they too will be hooked.  They will realize to live life is to experience life.  Not from a comfortable spot on the sidelines, but instead by being part of the game.

Until next time,

Gotta run (or swim)

 

 

A little road time, a little pool time and a lot of swearing

Here’s my update on my training this past weekend.

Run:

Saturday’s run was my first run in the double digits in 9 months.  How pathetic.  But I just haven’t had it in me to run and when I do, it was short and sweet.  But I’m trying to get some half marathons under my belt this year and I need to get my butt in gear.

The route we ran included a lot of old residential neighborhoods that had crappy snow-covered and icy roads.  The sidewalks were pretty clear of snow but the sidewalks are unbelievably uneven due to tree roots and uneven settling.  So my options were to take my chances on the snowy/icy roads or the uneven sidewalks.  I decided to go with the uneven sidewalk.  That was not the right decision.

Four miles into my ten-mile run I tripped on the uneven sidewalk.  I’m a foot shuffler so I barely pick my feet up off the ground when I run and this makes uneven sidewalks very difficult to run.  And  because I was out of practice with this type of running condition, it didn’t take me long to fall victim to the hazards that were waiting for me.

Even though I run so slow, it’s amazing the velocity I can pick up while launching myself forward at the pavement head first.  I started my fall at the beginning of a single-lane driveway.  I someone managed to traverse the whole lane in two giant steps.  Normally my little baby shuffle would probably have required about 6 steps before I got to the other side.  But when you’re trying to catch yourself, it’s amazing what the human body will do.

On the other side of the driveway from where my fall started was a patch of snow and I remember thinking, as this was all happening in extreme slow motion in my mind, that if I could somehow make it to the snow bank it would brace my fall much nicer than if I went down hard on the cement.

In my haze to land on the soft snow, I failed to factor in the other danger lurking ahead in the snow bank.  A big solid, wooden fence post – with a very sharp corner.  My forehead was on a direct collision path for this sharp corner and I didn’t even realize it.  Because I was more concerned with breaking my fall and hoping to land in the snow, the post was never on my radar.

After I took my two giant steps across the driveway I ended up landing in the snow just shy of the post.  I probably came within an inch or two from landing head first into the pole.  I didn’t realize it, but according to Brian – who saw it all go down and couldn’t believe how lucky I was that I missed the post – said I ducked away from the post at the last second.  Which is good because it probably kept me from knocking myself unconscious.

Needless to say this shook me up a bit.  But after a minute or two of re-assessing the situation and making sure I didn’t hurt anything more than my ego, I started running again.

And that’s when I realized I did hurt something more than my ego.  My two giant steps – which is not normal for my little legs – caused a pretty good hamstring pull.  And it was on my right leg, the one that I’ve already been concerned about because of my sciatic pain that’s been causing me all kinds of problems.

Well, great – another 6 miles on crappy roads with a pulled hamstring – this should be just fricken peachy!  Nice way to jump back into double digits.

I managed to finish the run without doing any more damage to myself.  But the pulled hamstring is still pretty tender.  I skipped my run on Sunday and decided to cross train instead because I knew there was no way I could do even a short run without being in a lot of pain.

I’m so pissed.  I haven’t been able to run on this leg all year without being in pain and now I have to go and add to it?!?  I’ve been trying to make it better – and with one fall – I made it that much worse.

Because my leg is so bad right now, I’m holding off on signing up for spring half marathons.  I just have no idea if I’ll be injury free enough to take on a half in spring and I don’t want to sign up and then feel obligated to do it, even if my leg is still bad.  I have a two-person marathon relay on the docket for June.  So I’m aiming for that race, other than that, I’m not sure what spring races I will do.  This damn leg is holding me back!

Swim:

As I mentioned I cross trained on Sunday, I did the elliptical and the bike at the Y.  And after those activities, it was time to get in the pool again.

My goal for my pool time was to learn to start breathing to the side and turning my head to breathe compared to picking it up in front.  I had been doing so well the past 5 times in the pool with breathing and doing laps that I thought it was time to take it to the next step.  Side breathing.  Or as other people call it… breathing correctly!

I did one or two laps breathing forward and then it was time to start turning my  head.  I  knew I wasn’t at a point where I could actually move and do this so I decided to start by hanging onto the side of the pool and just breathe and turn.  Breathe and turn.  Breathe and turn.  I had watched a few how-to videos on YouTube and they made it look so easy.  In reality, it’s not.  And instead of breathe and turn, it was more like breathe, turn and then stop and swallow all the water I just took in.  Breathe, turn, stop, swallow, swear and whimper.

Man, how can it be so different?  I mean the concept should be the same, right?  Breathe in and then breathe out.  Breathe in again and then breathe out again.  But nope, that’s now how it worked for me.  I was getting water in my nose, I was swallowing a crap load of water and in general the sensation of turning my head to the side was making me a bit dizzy.

UGH!

I tried not to quit right away.  I gave it the ol’ college try.  I even tried breathing – unsuccessfully – from both the right and left side.  Brian suggested that since I’m just starting out, it may not be a bad idea to try to get comfortable breathing from both sides.  And while I can tell that I’m definitely more comfortable doing it to my right – which is my dominant side – I figured since I’m not doing it correctly anyway – why not do it incorrectly from the left as well as the right.

I think I stayed in the pool for another 5 or 10 minutes before calling it quits.  I was pretty disappointed as I got out of the pool.  I had been hoping it would go better and would be easier than it was.  I felt like I had made such good progress the past week and I guess I just got cocky and was assuming I’d be able to do this too.

Oh well, one step – or breath – at a time I guess.  And while the step may be a limp due to a pulled hamstring and sciatic pain and my breath may include swallowing more water than I should… I can’t say I’m not trying!

Until next time,

Gotta run (or swim)