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I remember clear as day the first run I attempted (if you can even call it a run) after Rowen was born. I ran, shuffled, but mostly walked my way through a mile. Shuffle shuffle shuffle, walk. Shuffle shuffle shuffle, walk. Usually shuffling when the cars drove by or I passed a neighbor, haha. It took me about 15 minutes to finish a mile that day. I came home, walked in the house, and layed down on the floor. Rich took one look at me, red faced and gasping for breath, and hesitantly said “soooo…how did it go?” I’m not sure if I even replied to him, as I jumped off the floor, ran into the bathroom, and puked my guts out.
Welcome to running.
If it wasn’t for the left over 15 lbs of baby weight, I probably would have sworn off running forever, it was that horrible. Thank goodness for baby fat. Because now, four and a half years later, I still giggle when I think of that day, and marvel at how far I’ve come. Even if I go weeks without a run, it has still never felt that miserable, difficult, or nearly impossible. Some days, weeks, and months are easier than others, but I always remember the difficulty of that day.
I also remember, clear as day, my first real attempt at swimming with the intent of training for a triathlon. As I swam from one end of the pool to the other (a mere 25 yards) I prayed that the sleepy looking student lifeguard was actually paying somewhat attention to me flailing my way across the pool, and wouldn’t take too long to spot me on the bottom. I really was convinced I wasn’t going to make it, and I stood up to gasp for breath as soon as I hit the shallow end, a good 4 or 5 yards from the end of the pool.
Welcome to swimming.
I was an athlete, but this swimming thing was (still is) incredibly humbling. It took me weeks to get up to swimming 100 consecutive yards, and I still struggled to swim an entire 300 yards at my very first triathlon months later.
It’s been a year and a half since that day, and I’m sorry to say, I can probably count on both hands…OK both hands and both feet, how many pool sessions I’ve accumulated since. Not too many.
But with this looming 70.3 and a renewed sense of “I want to accomplish this…BAD!” , I got my butt into the pool on Monday. 100 yards at a time. Again and again. While swimming in the pool was CERTAINLY easier than swimming in the gator pond (even with the summer camp kids splashing around), I still struggled. And I still thought to myself “this SUCKS.”
When out of no where came an obvious epiphany (otherwise known as a “DUH” moment): Heather-you are never going to get better if you don’t get over this fear of pushing yourself in the water.
Let me explain (and I’m sure some of you can relate): I’m not SCARED of the water. Quite the opposite, I LOVE the water. I spent years surfing before the boys were born. Before that, I spent years splashing and diving into lakes and rivers in Vermont. But there is something about controlled lap swimming that makes me wildly uncomfortable. Feeling out of breath, but not being able to breathe when you want to, because of this whole stroke/breathing technique, makes my anxiety levels creep. I’m still kicking my 7 year old self for downright REFUSING swimming lessons when my parents signed my little sister up. Of course at the time, I was certain I would be a professional backup dancer for, you know, New Kids on the Block or something. Never an aspiring triathlete.
So, on Monday, after 6 X 100 yards, I told Hope we were going to do 200 yards. I know, big jump. Don’t roll your eyes at me, we all start somewhere. I survived…and then told Hope “this time…300 yards”. Look at me, slowly building some guppy gills. Somewhere around 250, I realized “hey, this isn’t so bad after all” and ended up swimming 400 yards without stopping. 400 yards, something last year seemed IMPOSSIBLE to me just over a year ago, was now something I could do after going many, many months without swimming at all. I couldn’t help but think to myself, will there be a day when 1,000 yards comes as easily to me as running a mile? Will there be a day, when swimming 1 mile is like running 10? An effort, sure, but nothing to dread?
Here’s hoping. For now the key seems to be FLIPPING RELAX ALREADY, HEATHER!! When I relax, the breathing comes more natural. And if I can learn to relax in the pool, maybe I’ll have half a chance of surviving this:
Triathletes: how long did it take you to become more comfortable in the water? Were you always a swimmer, or are there more of you out there, just like me, who can assure me that this too shall pass?