Swim, Triathlon

Swimming in Humble Pie

Camp Day 4

I did not sleep well and my inner demon was telling me to just stay in bed when the alarm went off.  I mean, it was just a swim in the lake again.  I was already there a few days ago.  Who would miss me?  What could coach possibly do if I just made some excuse and didn’t show up.  Ugh.  I didn’t come all this way and pay money to travel to bag out on the last day.  That was the recap of what was probably a 10 minute back and forth with myself.  I got up and got myself moving.   

I got to the parking lot where we meet and carpool into the park and Amy, the girl I picked up in the rain the day before, asked if she could ride in with me.  Of course I said yes and we headed in.  I was dreading this day.  I was not sure what coach had in store for me and panic was setting in before my toes even got wet.  He had me off to the side as he split the others up and prescribed what he wanted them to do.  Today is the day, I thought.  I either can get this right or I am done with this crap.  If he can’t fix this, then forget it.  He told me to go where I could stand and swim from one marker to the other.  I told him that was like 4 times the longest I had done properly.  He said I could stop and stand when I needed to, but to go as far as I could.  I surprised myself when I went half way before I could not properly catch my breath.  I kept trying over and over.  A couple times I was off course and very frustrated. 

Coach called me out of the water for a chat.  He asked me what was up.  Trying my best to hold back tears I said that I was just so frustrated because I know I am not going to drown.  I know there is no danger and I know that I should just keep the strokes going but my body gets to a certain point and just freaks out.  He told me that I was way too hard on myself.  He asked if I freaked out sooner or later than I used to.  I said later, way later. “Then be happy with your progress and stop being so damn hard on yourself for what’s left.”  Jerk.  He told me to go to the deep water, facing the far buoy that everyone else swims to and to swim towards it for just five strokes and then stop and turn around and look at him.  I went out and realized I was not sure if one arm was a stroke or both counted as a stroke so to be safe I counted both as a single stroke.  Knowing it was just kept me relaxed.  I turned around and he had me swim back to him.  He said that it was like 10 or more strokes and I explained what my logic was and he just laughed.  He said now I needed to head out into the deep until I couldn’t and freaked out.  I did and the entire time I was trying to keep calm.  I started to feel the build and told myself to just do three more, just do three more.  I finally couldn’t take it anymore and felt like I could not breath and popped up.  I realized that I was like half way to the far buoy!  That was awesome and terrifying at the same time.  I was super proud but a little freaked out about getting back.  I struggled a little more on the way back than on the way out but made it.  I did that again and got even farther.  When I got back to shore, an athlete that could not swim due to injury told me that when I was heading out there he asked coach how I was doing.  His response was “it kills me because she has great technique and is a really good swimmer!”  I am having a hard time with thinking that I really have good technique, though I have been told that a few times.  I still think he’s paying people to say these things and make him look good.  Part of me wishes I would have pushed even harder, but maybe I am being hard on myself again.  I really think I could have gotten there if I could wrap my brain around it.  The fact that I am even saying I think I could have is a big improvement I guess. 

Almost made it!

On the way out, a seasoned ironman named Dennis told me that it was really nice meeting me at camp and he was glad that I came.  I thanked him and said it was really nice meeting him as well.  He went on to tell me that he didn’t think I realized how much my being there impacted people.  Me?  I asked.  Yes!  He said that the fear was all over my face, and he watched time after time as I kept trying to get over it.  He said that he was inspired by my courage, and that he would never have had the courage when he was new to come to something like this.  He said many of them felt that way.  I thanked him again and held back tears as I thought about the fact that I could inspire someone that could do so many amazing things.  A second camper, a badass named Erin, said something similar to me and that she was proud of me.   It was very humbling, and a good reminder that everything is relative.  Here I was in awe of what they were doing out there and meanwhile they were inspired by what I was doing.  To have people that were strangers just days ago tell you how proud they are of you and how they believe in you feels amazing.   

Bike, Run, Swim, Triathlon

Pool Pressure and Humble Pie

Camp Day 2

The alarm went off and I was so not ready.  I had to be at the pool at 6:00 am, and I was a good 30 minute drive away, so I got up at 4 (you know why, I don’t need to keep talking about my business).  I did all my morning stuff and headed out.  I was pretty terrified of the pool swim because I have seen videos of other camps and I haven’t been really pushing myself in the pool lately.  A little part of me felt more confident than I would have because of all those nice comments the day before about my stroke not being as horrible as I thought it was. 

We got assigned specific lanes and coach asked who there had never circle swum.  I raised my hand and his comment was “BOOOOO!”  He explained that the first person goes off and then X seconds later the next person, etc.  He explained you cannot stop at the other end since someone is coming up right behind you.  Great.  I always pause when I turn around, I mean I really like stealing that extra second of rest and extra breath!  He told us to swim 300 to warm up.  I said, “May I use the pool buoy?  I have never gone that long without it.”  His response was “No, there’s a first time for everything.”  Jerk.   

We got going, with 5 seconds between each person taking off and I actually didn’t do half bad!  He ended up giving me the buoy towards the end because he could see I was huffing a bit.  I was happy to see that at least I was not the only one.  I said to one of the girls that the pool felt really long to me and she asked about it because she thought that too.  Turned out it is 25 meters, not the 25 yards I am used to.  Not a huge difference, but longer just the same.  On our next set of laps, I kept hitting the feet of the lady in front of me with my hands  and slowing down.  He ended up making us swap spots.  Could it be?  I am not the last swimmer?!!!  That was pretty cool and gave me a nice boost. 

Once we were done with the main pool workout, he split us into groups that contained fast and slow people and were doing a relay.  Oh lordy, here it goes.  I don’t like to try to go fast but I did my best.  I had two different people comment on how good my stroke was.  Were these people paid off by coach to blow smoke up my butt or what?!   

Prepping for circle swims

We left the pool and headed to breakfast.  We had about two hours to order, eat and finish up to head to the Natchez Trace for our hill bike workout.  I figured that was enough time to digest.  I had what was called the 18 wheeler.  Oh yeah, it earned it’s name.  It was scrambled eggs, bacon, potatoes and french toast baby!  I ate every bite and felt like I still had room to go.  After chatting with some of the other campers and hanging a bit, it was time to go.  I stood up and thought, oh man, maybe that was not a good idea. 

We got to the trace and I had to pee really bad.  I was let down when I found out there was no bathroom…. Other than the woods.  Dang, I should have brought my tinkle bell.  Oh well, me and three other girls made our way into the dense treescape and did our thang.  

We were split into groups and told what to do.  My group was supposed to go down this 2+ mile hill and then back up it twice.  Once we were done with that, we were to go the other way, to the steep hill and do that one twice.  I was actually feeling a little confident.  I like what is called big gear work, which is just fancy for a gear that is harder to pedal in.  I like it more than when I am pedaling fast.  I hadn’t considered two things in this confidence equation.  First, the down hills and second, these were real hills, not overpasses like in FL!  I started down to the first turn around and was totally terrified!  I was going 25 miles per hour down a curvy hill!  I immediately began to start braking, which didn’t seem to be having the effect I expected.  It got to the point of where my hand was cramping I was trying to squeeze so hard!  I finally made it to the bottom and was excited for the uphill part. 

Beautiful Natchez Trace

I started the climb, which looked relatively even and not super steep, I switched gears to make it a little easier to pedal and huffed away.  I switched gears again to make it a little easier to pedal.  I did that a few more times until I realized I was completely out of gears!  I was dying!  My legs were on fire and my heart was beating out of my chest!  I finally got to the top where we turn around to head back downhill again and I almost threw up.  My heart rate was super high and I felt like my head was going to explode.  I was doing everything I could not to see the 18 wheeler again. 

A few minutes later as I was holding in my puke and trying to get my heartrate down, coach rode up beside and said “what are you doing?”  I told him I was trying not to toss my cookies and needed to get my heart rate back down before trying again.  I said, “I’m sorry.  I am just not sure I can do this.”  His response was “Don’t be sorry, you can do this.  And sometimes breakfast just needs to come back out.” He rode off and I thought, Jerk.  I took another minute to compose myself and headed back down.  I was ready for the shame of having to get off the bike and walk it back up if I had to, but I also realized that I was so confident and gung ho that I really tried to do it too fast on the way up.  I headed back down, death grip intact on the brakes, but I did let it up here and there when it wasn’t so curvy. 

I started the climb and this time, I did not change gears until my legs absolutely could not take it any more in the gear I was in.  I went very slowly and made the climb as stead as I could.  I made it back up to the top and was super thrilled and humbled.  I watched the others going by like maniacs on the downhill and rocking the ups like the rock stars they are.  Coach told me to continue that hill, over and over.  So, that’s what I did for what seemed like forever.  Then, it was time to run.  I wish I could say the run went well.  It was blistering hot and my legs were jelly after that ride.  Thankfully, we didn’t have to run the same hill, but it was definitely hilly enough to hurt.  Most of us walked in between rather we wanted to or not.  It wasn’t a very long run, so that was good and I knew that once it was over I would be eating and showering, two of my favorite things lately. 

We all talked about the plan for the next day and headed out.  Part of me wanted to get Burger King again but I knew that this time I really needed to shower before eating, but I also knew that I would not want to move after I showered so I opted for another old favorite… Jimmy Johns.  Thankfully there was one on the way home.  I picked it up and headed in for a shower and shoveled that sub in my face so fast it was probably dangerous.  Dangerous but delicious.  I realized that if I stayed there, I would probably fall asleep (it was 4pm) and that may not be a good idea.  I decided to explore the local shops including my favorite REI.  I found a really awesome bike shop and actually got a new pair of shorts.  I got a text that some folks were meeting up for pizza for dinner at 5:30.  It was about 3:30 when I had lunch but figured I could fit some pizza in and socializing would be good for me.  Ugh 

I headed over to meet up with the folks that were getting pizza, including coach.  It was very different than I expected.  Yes, a lot of the talk was about triathlon, but there was a lot more about where we were from, our families, etc.  It was reinforced how lucky I am that my boys support my crazy adventures.  I heard nightmare stories of family members being against their loved ones participating.  I was a little worried it might go late, but we were done by 7 and I headed back to the room to get everything ready for the next day.  The long ride and run day.  Why am I here again?