Colds, Curses and Capes

This week started off pretty well.  I’ve been trying to make sure I immediately identify whenever I am starting to doubt myself and turn that thought into a single actionable item that can change it.  For example, I realized that based on the conditions in the ocean at the time of the triathlon, I could be swimming either north or south bound.  That poses a problem for me because as much as I cannot turn left, I only breathe to my left when swimming.  Swimming in the ocean includes waves and well, if those waves are on my left, I won’t be able to breathe in that direction.  I started to do my internal freak out but as soon as I realized it, I replaced those thoughts with one actionable item.  In my next swim set, I will breathe to my right for at least half the set.  As bad as it may be, as unbalanced as I will be and look, I will do that to help me start breathing to that side in case I need to.  Negative thought squashed by positive action.  I love it!  Great start.

Tuesday I woke up feeling really lousy.  I didn’t sleep well and had a sore throat, not good.  I knew that after work I had committed to attend a Special Compass training session and I didn’t want to miss it.  I decided not to train in the morning and save my energy.  I took a ton of vitamin c and headed to work.  I felt ok as the day went on and by the evening I was tired but my spirits were high that I would kick this cold’s butt and be on my merry way.  I attended the Special Compass training session where we learned how to properly run with the larger running wheelchairs.  The training was very helpful.  I’ve only pushed once, but plan to attend as many events as I can.  I got my team shirt and it was great seeing Jessika, Rey, Darren, Michael, Jim and all the new folks I met.  I even met Sandy, the president of the Fort Lauderdale Triathlon Team, which I have now become a member of.  Good end to the day for sure!

Again, sleep wasn’t great and I felt really lousy when I woke up on Wednesday.  I was frustrated and tried to weigh out my options.  I could train or I could rest.  Training would make me feel good that morning, but rest might help me feel better the rest of the week.  I knew I had the 5k Saturday so I told myself to let go of the expectations and just take it easy a few days.  I knew I would not lose any fitness, but could certainly cause issues if I over did it.  I kinda felt like I was over training the week before.  Guess I was right because now I had a full blown cold. <>

Saturday’s race was for Kids in Distress and was called the Hero 5k.  Everyone is encouraged to wear their best super hero costume or accessories.  We purchased capes and masks directly from the organization to donate more.  Darin was Captain American, D2 was Spiderman and I was Superman.  I politely declined the glaring pink Supergirl stuff.  I don’t really do pink and neither does the real Supergirl, but I digress.  While I joined the Special Compass team for the run, they had more power buddies than needed so I was excited to run the race at whatever pace I thought I could sustain.

It was pretty chilly out (for Florida), about 50-55 degrees.  Dare I dream that today would be the day I break the 30 minute 5k curse?  No, dare not, I thought.  We lined up right at the front, a first for me, so that the team was featured in the photos.  When the start horn rang out, I headed off at a pretty good pace, comfortable enough but something I also knew was faster than my previous starts.  Cooler weather is fantastic for running.  Some of my best times have been on cool days, especially living in South Florida where it’s almost always warm and humid.  I was passed by many racers and while part of me wanted to speed up because I was feeling good, I wanted this run to be about how I was feeling about my own performance, and not about what other people were doing.  That was a first for me too.  I settled in and just kept going.  I checked my pace and that messed me up a bit, I think.  I saw that I was running under a nine minute mile.  My brain immediately went into disaster mode.  That’s way too fast for me, I am going to burn up, I thought.  I started to slow way down and told myself it probably would not be the day I would break the curse, so just take it easy.  Then I realized what I was doing and snapped out of it.  I pushed my speed back up a bit, but not quite to under nine minutes this time to ensure that I didn’t burn out either.

I began passing some of the folks that passed me earlier.  I decided not to look at the mile marker clocks.  I turned away so I didn’t know where I was in time.  I wanted to just push myself at a pace I could sustain and see what the result was.  There was a kid, maybe about D2’s age, that was totally killing it.  He was about ten feet ahead of me when his cape went flying off and landed in the grass.  He didn’t notice, so as I got close to it, I veered over and grabbed it.  He realized it was gone a moment later and I told him I had it and handed it to him.  He thanked me and I smiled.  Two seconds later, I thought “oh crap, what if going over and getting that cape cost me my time?!”  Then I thought, well that’s what super heroes do and I am dawning the S today, and chuckled to myself.

On the third and final mile I was feeling pretty good, so I started to increase my pace a bit.  I started to ache a little in my leg, and those thoughts of just walking for a couple seconds, or the last half mile started to creep in.  I mean I did still have a little cold, so why not just take it easy?  I pictured myself slapping myself in the face.  Wake up and suck it up buttercup!  I needed that virtual slap.  I maintained my pace.  As I came around for the last tenth of a mile or so I could see the clock.……  “OMG, I am going to do this!”, I thought.  Sure enough, I crossed the finish line at 29:35.  The weather was perfect for running, the course was flat and I was feeling good, dare I say even confident.  The stars aligned and I finally broke the curse!….. Or maybe it was the cape!

While that was amazing, and truly something I have been waiting for, it wasn’t even the best part.  I really enjoyed the run, I enjoyed the internal banter and the fact that the positive side won.   I am getting better at defeating those negative thoughts and that helps me see how much all the training is paying off.  I never really gave myself credit for being physically fitter.  I never allowed that to give me any confidence whatsoever.  And while I know that the same exact race on a different day could lend a different result, on this day, I did it.  I accomplished one of my big goals for 2017 and it’s still January!  That doesn’t make me any more prepared for the tri in March, but for the first time, I am actually excited for it.  I am starting to feel the fun again.  I didn’t beat myself up (too much) for the missed training and I was able to enjoy myself again.  That was the best part, and who knows what the next few months will bring.


Fear and Loathing of Las Olas

The other day Facebook was kind enough to remind me that I was now only two months from the Las Olas triathlon.   I went about my day without giving it too much thought.  Then, as if to say “um, not the reaction you should have had,” there was another post.  The new post was a video of the race map.  As I watched it, a lump grew in my throat.  My adorable kid began to watch over my shoulder and asked what it was.  When I told him it was the race course, he exclaimed “that’s crazy!”  Well, I have two months….Two months can sound like a lot depending on what you are talking about.  For me, two months sounds way too close for comfort.  Two months is eight weeks.  if I am lucky, I could maybe get in three swims per week.  So far, I haven’t been lucky.  Here’s the link if you would like to view it.  It’s the second one that says “international”:

I share with you now the crazy internal dialog I have.  I tried to think positive.  Let’s break this down.  First, the swim.  Ok, it will be wetsuit legal and wet suit means more buoyancy.  That’s good.  It’s in the ocean, so while not clear like the pool, a lot better than the green and black abyss of the lake I’ve had to swim in.  Yeah, that is good too.  Then, as usual, I turned to the dark side.  The negative thoughts started to creep in.  The distance is almost three times what I have done in the past.  It’s not like I even did the first distance well to begin with.  The ocean has waves, and waves make breathing more challenging.  I’m doomed!

I tried to turn my thoughts to the bike.  The bike’s not so bad.  I have ridden more than twenty miles before.  I’ve been training.  Yeah, I can do the bike.  If I survive the swim.  Stop.  Don’t go there.  We are focusing on the bike right now.  Well, I am not fast but I can cover the distance.  What if I don’t make the time cut off?  What if I wreck?  The bike route extends way beyond my family can see.  There are some bridges to cross, those are hard too.  What if I get a flat?  I haven’t practiced that.  It’s been a long time since I did more than twenty miles on the actual road.  I’ve been in the comfort of my house on a trainer more than out in the world.  Crap, I was hoping the bike thoughts would cheer me up.

Maybe I should go backwards and start with the run….I love to run.  Running makes me happy.  I’m not fast but I can push myself on the run.  I’ll crush the run, yeah!  Well, hopefully.  I mean, I have done brick work but never after cycling twenty miles on the open road.  I usually work out early in the morning.  What if it’s really hot?  What if I’m totally gassed?  Man, this is not going well.  I was beginning to talk myself into a downward spiral.  I starting thinking of ways out.  Maybe I can call the race people and ask if I can change to just the duathlon.  Maybe I can call and get my race entry changed from the Olympic to the Sprint distance.  Maybe I can just let go of the entry fee and call it a loss.  I decided to stop thinking altogether.  I felt like I was suffocating myself with negativity.

I’m a big believer in things happening for a reason.  I decided to take Hera for a walk and listen to a podcast.  On the podcast there was a professional triathlete that made it to the big time and failed miserably.  Her life was triathlon.  She trained daily, ate right and absolutely pushed herself to the max.  Everything on paper would have lead to her winning it all, but she failed.  She failed her family, her coach and herself.  She fell into a depression and thought that it was all over.  Then she met a coach that completely turned her world upside down.  The coach told her that she was not to set any goals other than what she was doing in that moment.  She was not to work on anything else until she enjoyed what she was doing.  She started her training, hesitant but so low that she was willing to try anything.  They didn’t plan any races for her.  She wasn’t sure when the next time she would compete would be.  A weight had immediately been lifted off her shoulders.  There was no pressure.  No race on the books, and no competition to compare herself to.  She started to really enjoy her training.  She didn’t see any of her numbers,  and before long she was outperforming her old self.  When it came time to race, she had no expectations.  Sure enough, as I am sure you have already figured out, she totally killed it!  I don’t remember the details, but I do remember that she beat anything she had done in the past, and her competition by a long shot.

Her story was inspirational, yes, but the thing that stuck with me is what she said after that.  She said that while she lost that major race, the thing that hurt the most was that she lost the joy of the sport.  She hadn’t looked forward to training, she was there out of obligation.  That stuck with me because I enjoy training, but I have been absolutely dreading this event.  It’s like I can’t wait to get it over with so I can move on.  I had such a miserable time last time that I figured it could and would happen again.  I am creating a self fulfilling prophecy of sorts.  If I loathe the event, if I assume that I will fail miserably, then it won’t be as disappointing when I do just that.  After listening to that podcast, I made a decision to change my outlook.  I am trying to not picture everything that could possibly go wrong.  I am trying to relieve myself of the pressures I put on myself.  Most of all, I am going to try to accept and let go of the fear.  I want to do my best and I know that at the end of the day no matter what happens, my family will be proud.  I should be proud too, because I know that fear or not, fail or not, I will have given it everything I have that day and I want so badly to enjoy it while I do.