A triathlon Facebook group that I am a member of has a “Workout of the Day” thread and the woman who starts each thread begins with some words of wisdom or things to consider.  Today it was:

Fear has been addressed more times than I can count, but it still haunts us so I’ll address it again. It real and the mist powerful force on the planet. Fear starts wars, nuclear threats, panic, chaos and pandemonium. My sister in law is petrified of clowns. Lots of people are. Do clowns pose a threat to them? No. But the fear is real. We may think “How irrational and absurd!” That doesn’t make it any less real for them. IMHO, there is no such thing as an irrational fear. If it holds you back, its a genuine fear and begs overcoming. The first step to overcoming a fear is addressing it. Only then can you move forward. Don’t ever stop doing that! Time waits for no man. Face your fears. Even when everyone laughs at them. True friends will hold your hand and face them with you. Be brave. Be strong.

That made me think of my own fears.  While yes, I did have problems with the open water swims this year, I was not afraid of the water. It wasn’t a fear of some physical thing.  So what was/is it?  What holds me back and makes me perform less than I know I can? What makes me pull out of challenges at the last minute?  I could have broken the 30 minute mark on my 5K a few months ago but I was afraid to try.  I was afraid to embrace the pain and the suck and put myself all out there and then fail.  I was afraid of people (or myself) saying “see? I knew you couldn’t do it!”  In my messed up head, it is better to not even try than to attempt something, fail, and have everyone know that I failed.  (And “fail” can mean anything from being unable to perform at all to performing less than I think I can or, worse yet, less than someone that I think I should be able to pace. I cannot tell you how many times I have had someone that I think I should be able to hang with pull away and then I immediately begin to flounder.  So messed up!) The thought that I might succeed rarely crosses my mind.  Totally irrational, yet there it is. 

As I am mentally preparing for Nation’s in 10 days, a big race with a lot of high caliber athletes, I am determined not to let this fear get the best of me. I will not let their presence hinder my performance.  I will focus solely on my own race. I will not see a racer and think “oh, if that person beats me than I might as well quit!”.  I will push myself to put it all on the line and do the best to my ability.  Yes, I will likely be passed a gazillion times, I will likely have at least one thing go bizarrely wrong, I may have some “incident” on the bike (the bike course is a little nutty!), I might even come in “Dead F-ing Last”, but I am not going to let those fears keep me from giving it my all.  At the end of the day, I want to cross that last timing mat and know that that was my race and my best. 



The Hard Push

For a very long time, I have carried around arbitrary numbers that would prove when I am a “real” athlete.  A kind of litmus test.  Mostly, there were just things that I thought I would never be able to do and would therefore continue to prove what a joke I am.  One is breaking a 30 minute 5K (3.1 miles) run.  Another is swimming over a mile.  The third is completing a century bike ride (100 miles). 

I am very proud to say that I complete two of these this weekend! 

On Saturday, I was feeling grumpy for backing out of the insanely tough Spartan Super in Virginia (crawling up a black diamond ski slope, in deep mud and rain, under barbed wire…) so I decided to push myself in other ways, as recompense. I started with an hour long boot camp class which featured a billion variations of burpees and a ton of squats.  I then went directly to a spin class which featured a ton of hills. Finally, LR and I attended our tae kwon do class (where I finally was approved for my belt-level fitness requirement.  About time!)  To say my legs were toast was a bit of an understatement.  I spent the rest of the day rolling and wrapping and icing. 

The Stick, a Voodoo band, and two lacrosse balls taped together
The Stick, a Voodoo band, and two lacrosse balls taped together

Sunday, I was a bit stiff but wanted to get a run in.  Our neighborhood is pretty hilly and, as usual, I started out way too fast (9:10).  I was still feeling decent so I decided to push a bit harder.  I slowed down at mile 2 for the monster hills (10:00) but then decided to see if I could break 30 minutes.  And I did!  By 12 seconds 🙂 

There it is!
There it is!

I also scared a few old ladies that I passed on the last mile.  I was huffing and puffing to beat the band!  Two things that I noticed – I have lost most of my shuffle and I’ve stopped kicking my ankles.  I also wasn’t completely empty when I finished. Quite a few shockers there!

I spent the late morning repeating my rehab treatment and I took Little Runner to the pool for some cannonball action.

His first time off the diving board
His first time off the diving board

I then loaded up the car and made the long trek out to Pasadena, MD (between Annapolis and Baltimore) for open water swim practice.  We did a lot of drills and some straight swimming and, before I knew it, my watch was showing that we had swum 1.37 miles!  With no freak-outs!  In fact, I actually forgot to panic even when I was hit by an unexpected wave from a passing boat. 

Don't sight on cargo ships :)
Don’t sight on cargo ships 🙂

Today, I can hardly walk from the muscle soreness (my foot is okay but everything else is screaming bloody murder) but I am very glad that I pushed hard and just let my body do its thing rather than imposing my own limits of “oh, I could never do x”.  It may be awhile before I hit my century ride and I have set new speed/distance goals, but I know that I will get there in time.  And maybe I feel a touch more like a “real” athlete today. 

Keep working until you are ready to finish your story.
Keep working until you are ready to finish your story.

Needing a “win”

I’ll be honest, I’ve had a really tough year, training-wise.  I’ve had to defer two big races and wound  up pulling out of my last triathlon mid-swim.  I’ve been getting my ass handed to me weekly in roller derby training.  I have been battling a lot of nagging injuries. It’s just been a tough season to swallow.

After the Montclair Tri breakdown, I cried and pouted and then decided to fix what I could.  I have spent almost every weekend since then driving way the heck out to the Chesapeake Bay so I could do open water training with a group.  I have been working hard and seeing progress but I was still worried about my upcoming experience at Nation’s Triathlon.  When I learned about the HarborFest event, I knew I had to do it!  750 m, with support, in the Potomac. Perfect training opportunity.

It was originally schedule for last weekend but was rescheduled due to the potential of bad weather.  Of course, the weather didn’t happen and that just left me feeling nervous for another week!

I arrived around 7:20, signed in, picked up my shirt, and proceeded to try to figure out the course.  They were offering a 5K (!), 2.4 mile, 1.2 mile, and 750 meter option.  Unfortunately, the buoys were not quite set so none of it made sense until just before we started. 

Can’t get any calmer than this!

We began in waves, with the longest distances going first.  There was about 10 minutes between waves so I had quite a bit of time before my wave began.  It was a water start but we had to enter from a pier.  I was worried about jumping in so I took the weenie route and climbed down the ladder.  I was not alone and I am not sorry I did it!  The water was 82 degrees but it still took a minute for me to acclimate.  I did some bobs with deep exhales under water, per my swim instructor’s advice and that helped.  Before I knew it, we were off! 

The course was a right angle triangle with the pier and the shore making two sides.  I did okay sighting on the shore going out and even across the hypotenuse but was way, way off along the pier. I have no idea why it was so hard!  Oh, maybe it’s because that is where the weeds were the thickest and I was constantly stopping to scrape them off!  Seriously, that was some junky water!  I saw two snails floating on the water that were the size of a peach and I somehow managed to cut my thumb on something!  Gross!

Maybe I was too distracted, sighting off the Ferris wheel.

I had absolutely no freak-outs during the swim.  I had to cough once because I felt like I was getting choked up like last time but I didn’t stop.  Honestly, this wasn’t as heavily supported as I thought it would be.  There were just a few kayaks and they were for rescue only, no breaks.  If I had known that going in, I might have canceled.  As it was, I’m thankful I didn’t need to use them.  I just focused on moving from buoy to buoy and then it was over!

When I exited, I saw that the elapsed time since the first wave start was 48 minutes. I don’t know what time I entered but, if the scheduled ten minute waves were accurate, then I swam it in 18 minutes.  I am more than happy with that!  Heck, even if it turns out to be 28 minutes, I’m still happy because my main focus was just completing the swim. 

At the end, I did not feel overly tired or queasy.  If someone said, “okay, now go and ride for 16 miles”, I would have been okay with it!

I desperately needed a “win” on my books – something where I trained hard and then performed as expected – and this definitely fit that need!  There is still more work to do before next month but I am not positive that I can finish my race!

BFF: Badass Fitness Friend

When Thick2Thin put out a call for their new ambassador program, I jumped right on it!  I really love the message they promote – the tag line on the webpage says it all “Because where you start doesn’t matter, it’s where you’re going that does” – and the fit of the clothes.

I was first introduced to T2T via my own Badass Fitness Friend who bought me a couple of tanks for my runniversary.  I then had to add to my collection 🙂

They saw me through a tough 17.75K race with a bad hip

Cat not included

And through a mental block of roller derby practice

Suck It Up Buttercup!
Suck It Up Buttercup!

And the capris stay up, even when bogged down with Spartan mud!

Saggy pants would have been a problem!
Saggy pants would have been a problem!

Yes, I am definitely a fan and now I am part of the BFF (Badass Fitness Friend) program!  I can offer my friends and readers a sweet 10% discount on all of the T2T merchandise!  Just use code VAJP14 when you check out.  I am in no way being reimbursed for my opinions or for purchases made with the code.  I’m just sharing a product that I love and helping you save a little coin in the process (race entries are expensive! Save where you can!)