Swimming, biking and running – Oh my!

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.

UGH!


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!)

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)

2017 or 2018

I have four months to go until the Chicago Triathlon and I’m still a long way from being able to swim.  While I have made progress, I still have a long way to go.  Let’s actually break down all that I have yet to do in the water:

  • Learn the timing of when to breathe and stroke
  • Drop the flippers
  • Swim properly without feeling like I’m sinking
  • Swim properly for more than one length
  • Swim properly for half a mile (this is the biggie!)
  • Swim in open water  (this too is a big deal!)
  • Get used to waves, algae, and general muck that comes along with swimming in the open water  (oh yeah, this is a really big deal too)
  • Learn how to be comfortable swimming “in the dark”, or not being able to see the bottom of the pool (yep, big deal!)
  • Swim nonstop and be able to tread water if I need to stop (you guessed it, this is a big deal)
  • Get going again if I stop without pushing off from the pool wall, instead from treading water (may not sound like it, but it’s a big deal)
  • Get good enough to do everything listed above AND be able to do it when getting kicked, swam into and in general, getting knocked around in the water by other swimmers (this is the mother load of big deals!)

That’s a lot to do in 4 months.

I’m seriously starting to contemplate – not dropping out and quitting, but instead – deferring until next year.  I absolutely want to do a triathlon and I want to do it correctly (not doing the backstroke, etc.) so I’m not giving up, I’m just being realistic.  I must have a hard and honest conversation with myself – and my trainer – about if I can truly do one in four months.

I have come along way, and I’m super proud of myself.  I mean I literally would not put my head in the water.  I spent much of my first few swim lessons just trying to convince myself to dunk my head.  So I see the progress I made and I want to continue to make progress, but can I make enough progress in four months to do a tri?

And here’s something else I’ve thought a lot about.  If I do manage to get to a point where I am able to gut out the swim.  Which gutting out a swim scares the death out of me, it’s not like gutting out a run because I won’t die if I stop running.  I will die if I stop swimming.  But if I gut out a swim and manage to do it with whatever scary ass swim strokes I can muster, how much will I like it?  I’m to the point where I’m worried that if I do it and if I do it half-ass that it will be a miserable experience that I’ll never want to do again.  I’ve seen people who can actually swim (unlike me, who can’t swim and need to learn) get kicked and swam over in a tri and that scared the bejesus out of them and it affects their desire and willingness to get back in the water and try a triathlon again.  And they could swim!  I don’t want to get in the water and hate it.  I don’t want to be scared to death.  I don’t want to muddle through.  I want to do it and do it with confidence (as much confidence as possible, I mean it is swimming after all) and enjoy it.  I want to be proud of myself for training and kicking butt.  I don’t want to come out of the water shaky or scared because I got tired, got kicked, couldn’t breathe and just doggy paddled to a life guard.  This scenario is real and could happen.  And getting bumped or swam into is almost certainly going to happen.  Right now I could NOT handle it.  I couldn’t.

So instead of trying to do something I’m just not ready for now – do I defer and give myself more time? I’m not going to quit and give up.  But is it smarter to keep trying even though I have a lot to learn in four months or to defer and give myself the time needed to do everything I need to do, to truly feel comfortable in the water?

If I defer, I know I’d feel badly and feel like I failed.  It will take all my might and will power to say, I didn’t quit/fail… I’m just taking more time to learn to swim.  I mean I’m doing EVERYTHING possible to learn to swim.  I really am.  I have done everything asked of me and I go to the pool over and over again.  But I might have been too optimistic thinking I could go from fearing water to competing in a tri in a less than a year.

Doing a triathlon is on my bucket list and once something is on that list – it’s going to happen.  I promise you that!  But I don’t want to do just one triathlon and cross it off my list.  If that was the case, then I may just doggy paddle my way through this tri.  No, I want to do it with the proper freestyle stroke AND I want to do more than one.  I’m not learning to swim just to swim 1/2 mile and then be done.  Brian didn’t build me a kick ass tri bike just to do one and then be done.  I’m not reading up on triathlon tips to do one and then be done.  I want to keep doing them, I want to add them into my list of events that I can do and look forward to doing.  I want to be able to truly do triathlons and once I can comfortably do them – who knows what’s possible or what may end up on my bucket list.

So, I’m going to give myself one more month until I make a decision whether or not I need to defer until 2018.  At the end of May, I’ll reassess where I’m at and how much, if any, progress I made in those 30 days.

So the next 30 days are really important. I either have to make a lot of progress or get comfortable with the phrase, “I’m deferring to 2018”.

Until next time,

Gotta run (or swim)

P.S. As inspiration (or possibly to torture myself) I was looking at pictures from Brian’s Ironman.  Here are a few pictures from the swim start.  It’s the calm before the storm (I mean start) and then the white caps created by the swimmers.  Such an unbelievably cool experience to watch and so inspirational.

 

Holy Hell I Hate Swimming

Long time, no blog entry.  Let me get you caught up.

I took 2016 off from any serious training because after completing the Fall 50 Solo in 2015, I needed the break.  But I decided to get back on the wagon and sign up for an event in 2017 that would challenge me – something new that I could train for and something that would keep me motivated.  I chose the Chicago Triathlon.  Big mistake.  Big.  Huge.

The reason it’s such a mistake – one simple reason it’s such a huge fucking mistake… I can’t swim!

But I have a plan, I will take swim lessons, I will get advice from my trainer and I will train and do it.  I have 9 months to do it – easy peazy!  That’s my plan.  Sounds easy enough.  Well today I got smacked in the face with reality and that reality was my first swim lesson.

Let me set the stage for you on my skill level when it comes to swimming.  I can float, but that’s about it.  I don’t put my face under the water and I can’t breathe.  I actually flunked swimming lessons as a kid.  Twice! For a reason, unknown to me – I have an extreme fear with putting my face under the water.  Well, I guess my fear isn’t too unknown – it stems from the fact that I can’t breathe underwater.  Simple – mystery solved.  There’s nothing natural about being underwater.  And because I prefer to breathe – and being underwater hampers that – I’m not a fan of putting my face in the water.  Simple enough.

And after my first swim lesson this morning, I realized that I have a lot more work to do to learn how to swim in a triathlon than what my 7 sessions will get me.  I may be taking lessons all the way from now until August.  I don’t think I can overstate how uncomfortable I am with all of this.  But let me try…

I’ve been nervous about this first swim lesson for weeks – basically since I signed up for them.  But the last few days I’ve been particularly on edge.  Last night I had a pit in my stomach and was just edgy all night and I had a bad feeling and I couldn’t figure out why.  I was restless and just in an overall funk.  Half way through my evening, I finally figured out my bad feeling and the cause of my funk – it was my upcoming swim lesson the next morning that was putting me on edge.  I was just dreading it and I was trying to suppress those feelings, but obviously I wasn’t doing a very good job.  Even though I had peppered Brian with a barrage of questions about, “what do I wear”, “do I need a towel”, “where is the entrance”, “do I need flip-flops” and a variety of other questions, I still didn’t feel ready.

The anxiety I had about the lesson carried through in my restless sleep.  Or should I say my lack of sleep?  I tossed, turned and watched the clock.  Yep, I was in full-on anxiety mode.  And mind you, this is how I feel about a swim lesson… in a pool… with an instructor… in the shallow end… Can you imagine what I’ll be like on race day in the open water?  Dear lord I can’t even think about that.

I got up this morning and I got ready to head to the Y.  I stalled as long as I could and I finally couldn’t delay the inevitable any longer, so I made my way to the Y.  Once at the Y, and once I was in the locker room, a locker room I’ve been in hundreds of times before – it somehow felt new and different.  I wasn’t putting on my workout clothes to lift weights or do spin.  Instead I was awkwardly standing around in a swimsuit.  My swimsuit is a tri swimsuit – so not as naked feeling as a regular athletic suit but yet still WAY too uncomfortable.  I don’t do spandex and I sure as hell don’t do spandex in public – and now here I was doing both.  Fricken fabulous!

I made my way to the pool – which after being a Y member for over 11 years, I’ve never ever used or been near the pool – other than on the other side of the glass as an observer.  I walked into the pool area and I just stood there.  I didn’t know where my instructor was and I didn’t have a comfort level about what I should do next.  I was like a deer in headlights; dazed, confused, out-of-place and hoping like hell I wasn’t going to die!

After I met my instructor Abbey and we exchanged pleasantries, I could no longer put this off – it was time to get into the pool and get started.

And before I tell you how my lesson went, I have to tell you some of the thoughts I had in my head.  I joked about having to start from the beginning with blowing bubbles and slowly putting my face in the water.  But in my mind, I was hoping that the older, more mature person who has taken on other athletic endeavors that I never thought I’d be able to do would suddenly be comfortable in the water and would kick ass.  I envisioned being able to pick it up easier this time and just rocking it.  I thought I’d be singing from the rooftops… “look at me, I’m swimming, I’m swimming”, in my best What About Bob spoof.

Well, that didn’t happen.

Abbey wanted to start me off easy by having me put my head under water and exhaling through my nose.  Little did she know that this wasn’t easy for me.  Nothing about putting my face under water is easy.  But after what felt like an eternity of me waiting and hesitating, and trying to keep the full on panic at bay, I finally did it, I ducked under and exhaled through my nose.

I did it!

And I hated it!  I hated the sensation.  And if that’s what I had to do as a kid, no wonder I stopped doing it and I flunked my lessons.  That sucks!

But I did it a few more times.  I was pretty proud of myself and almost felt like doing my “What About Bob” yell and sing out… “I’m swimming”.  Except for the fact that I wasn’t swimming.  I was standing in 3-feet of water exhaling!

Next Abbey wanted to see me kick.  So she got me a kick board and I kicked.  She was impressed with my kicking.  I wasn’t.  I know I can kick.  My head was above water… anything with my head above water is easy!  I did 3 lengths of the pool with the kick board.  And I have to say, even after all my running, after all my spin and even after the stair machine and elliptical, I could still feel my legs yelling at me saying, “what the hell?”  I was surprised at how tough it was.  And I wasn’t even going fast.  I even asked Abbey… how come I’m not going very fast, is there a trick to this?  To which she replied…. “kick faster”.  Huh!?  Well, there you have it.  Honest answer, I liked it!

Next Abbey wanted to introduce the breast stroke into my lesson.  I instantly thought… “why?”  I can’t put my face in the water… why am I actually doing strokes?  But I did it.  I did one lap with my face above water.  Abbey was impressed.  She apparently thought I didn’t have any skills, but I can “move” in the water, I just can’t swim.

Next Abbey wanted me to try the breast stroke and incorporate exhaling through my mouth.

And. This. Is. Where. Things. Went. South.

I’m not going to bore you with the minute-by-minute derailing of my lesson, but let’s just say the exhaling didn’t go well.  I tried doing it through my mouth like she asked.  Then I tried my nose and then I tried both.  Nope, I wasn’t doing it and I was starting to panic.  So I asked her if I could use the kick board so I don’t have to worry about my stroke.  I used the kick board and I was doing a length of the pool and Abbey was very encouraging.  But that’s when I fessed up, I told her I’m not exhaling, I’m faking it.  “What?”, she asked.   “I think I’m cheating, I don’t think I’m actually exhaling,” I told her.  She looked dumbfounded.  She could see the bubbles, how could I be faking??!!  I told her that I don’t know how to explain it, but I don’t think I’m doing it right, I think I’m cheating.  To which she again said, “I don’t think you can cheat”. No, really… I’m cheating.  Not on purpose… but I am cheating.  I said to her, “you know how you can blow out a candle but you’re not really exhaling your breathe… that’s what I’m doing.  I’m not exhaling, I’m simply blowing.”

Well, that stumped her!  And after thinking more about it, she understood.  Then we stood at the edge of the pool while she tried to think of an exercise to help me.  Nope, she had nothing.  We looked at each other blankly.  New territory for both of us.

Finally I suggested ditching the kick board and just hanging onto the side and practicing exhaling through my mouth (compared to my nose like I did earlier).  She thought this was a good idea.  I thought this was a good idea, until I had to do it.  I froze.  Even though it was my idea, I didn’t like it.  And then the panic set it.  I was able to force myself to try it a few times and it didn’t go well.  I was panicky, I swallowed way too much water and in general was hating every second of it.  Why oh why can’t I fucking exhale under water?!?!?!?

I sat there, looking at the clock, willing time to move faster so my lesson would be done.  It was the slowest 10 minutes of my life.

Needless to say when the clock struck 6 am, I was done.  I was not going to go a minute past 6 am.  I wanted out of that pool.

So, I thanked Abbey and I said I’d see her next week.  I went into the locker room, changed and headed home.  The ride home, while only 1.5 miles seemed to last an eternity.  That 1.5 miles gave me more than enough time to curse myself for signing up for a Tri, convince myself I will never be able to swim and in general de-motivate myself to the point where I want to drop out of the event.  By the time I got home, I had myself convinced I was going to drop out.  I was going to find something else to do and train for and chalk it up to the fact that some people just aren’t meant to swim.

But now that some time has passed, I’m not ready to throw in the towel – at least not now.  I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to swim, but I’m not ready to give up yet.  I want to finish all my lessons and I also think I need to rally the troops.  They say it takes a village to raise a child, well I say it will take a village to make Marla swim.  I have some friends that are strong swimmers and if they are willing, I’m going to enlist them to help me too.  Hell, anyone that has some advice can help me… I’m open to suggestions.  If anyone has any tricks or tips on how to breathe and /or exhale, please let me know.  I’m open to suggestions.  Because I really would like to do the Tri and I’d prefer to not panic and drown while doing it.  Call me crazy, but yes… I prefer not to drown!

Until next time,

Gotta Run (or swim)