Sunday, March 1, 2015

Fear Not: How One Incident Sparks Many Big Goals

Since I was in elementary school I have feared being held under the water for too long, people getting to close to me in the pool or river, staying under the water for too long, and generally speaking, drowning. Hence the water skiing...I've got my life jacket on, I'm on my own back behind the boat, and all I have to worry about are the large salmon or steelhead that want my toes or some other boat running over me, but even in that situation at least I wouldn't drown. Much better situation on my end, really.

The Fear
But seriously...It started when I was younger when I got caught under a blow up mattress that was in our little 5 foot pool in which my friends were sitting on top of. We use to think it was so cool to swim from one edge of the pool to another, all while being under the mattress. Well, it just so happened that when I tried to come up out of the water, the weight of the mattress and the bodies on top of it pushed me back under the water. I was trapped for what seemed like eternity, but was definitely less than that (obviously). That whole fear of being held under the water for too long, people grabbing me in the water, etc....ya, just don't do that and we will all have a great day.

That fear that I needed to overcome:
swimming with my head in the water without panicking.

The Goal
So after having back trouble, having to give up most Crossfit movements for the time being, and finding other ways to exercise I slowly got back into running. I told myself I would never do a marathon again. Been there done that, I had enough of all that running. I crossed off Hood to Coast last year, so that wasn't on my horizon. Climbing St. Helens, check. I managed to squeeze in a Crossfit competition before that part of my life came to a hault. What was I suppose to do next?

I've mentioned it before...I don't make New Year's resolutions. I LOVE monthly goals though. It's more rewarding to accomplish something every month plus you benefit from the small goals turning out to be long standing habits. So I decided it was time to get in the pool and swim. And not just play around in the pool, but learn to lap swim, the various strokes, and of all things....overcome this breath-holding to improve my freestyle swimming. Trust me, it sounds silly but there have been numerous times I've had to stop in the middle of the lane because I panicked! I come up gasping for air because, clearly, I had no idea how to manage my breathing while swimming. And then it brings me back to  memories from my early days, which results in me just doing the breast stroke with my head above water. I'm pretty sure the lifeguards thought I was nuts for the first month and a half because that is literally all I did! In fact, I'd put my hair in a big bun on the top of my head and it would rarely even get wet for the entire swim.

But the goal to swim, as I said above, wasn't just going to stop there. The big challenge would not just be overcoming my fear and improving my swimming abilities, but why not make it an extra challenge? How could I not when each year I set out to do a little something new, a little something different, and of course, nothing less than a big challenge. So I've been on this journey to train for a half ironman....absolutely idiotic, I know. I figured out a long time ago that I've always been the all or nothing type. Plus, if I hated the regular triathlon events then I'd never bother with anything more. And on top of all that, how else was I suppose to use up my free time while we wait for the adoption to take place? So here I am, doing something so retarded yet totally out of my comfort zone (ps-I hate biking for long periods of time on top of the swimming issue I've got). The catch to this all is that I haven't been able to sign up for an actual race because we don't know details on the adoption I will train for the unknown and pray that it will work out in the end!

Stats for a half ironman:
1.2 mile swim
56 mile bike
13.1 run

My other goals and the key to success....don't drown, don't fall off the bike, and don't walk!
It may take me 8 hours, but I'm in it for the long haul!

And not to mention...there's nothing better to all this than the views, the early and late training runs/rides, and all the roads I will have traveled on by the time this is all said and done.

The Training
Let's just say I give so much props to all those individuals who train all the time for things like this. My question to them is 'Why?' Seriously, I can't quite catch on to the time it takes to get to the pool to do all the swimming, to later in the afternoon biking for 2-3 hours, and on some days throw in some weight lifting/CF workout. All this training takes up most of a day! And people do this while working full time jobs?! Throw in something like kids or some other hobby or activity and I actually don't even understand how it's possible.

I've been fortunate to be able to do all these workouts on my days off, but there have been weeks where I don't workout 2 of the days they want me to or only fit in half of what I was suppose to do. Someone tell me their secret other than getting up way before work and staying up late because I don't want to hear that.

And this whole 'fear not' stems from the incident when I was younger. Between the fear I've had to keep my head under water for a length of time and my back pain, I think I was destined to end up in the pool. Someone was telling's time to learn, it's time to face those scary moments, it's time for you to challenge your body in another athletic arena, and it's time for you to "fear not." So that's what I'm doing: I'm swimming without fear, learning to bike without fear (or boredom), & running without fear (and dreaming of the day I don't have to go to the bathroom mid-run...but I'll keep wishing!).

Current Standings
I've been swimming for two months now. Majority of the two months were spent breast stroking with my head above water up until the last few weeks. I actually got myself a swim cap, goggles, and a new swimsuit (yes, I look quite official). And believe it or not, I met an 80+ year old woman who has been giving me tips along the way and who has helped me get the 'every other' breathing technique down! I'll be the first to admit, it doesn't feel pretty but I am definitely doing it! I've got a long ways to go if I plan on freestyle swimming majority of the race because I sure have to take more breaks in the pool when I freestyle versus breaststroking. If nothing else, I can at least say I have faced that fear and I'd even take it as far to say that I've overcome this fear!

And not to cool (and awkward) do I look? ;-)

What is your fear? How can you not only overcome it, but encourage yourself to challenge it?
Find a way. Fear not. Go for it.

the new fearless swimmer and improved breath holder