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Facing My Fears

Posted Apr 28 2009 1:41pm
I'm realizing now that doing this triathlon is all about facing my fears and testing my limits. Some of my fears have been easily overcome while others are taking a greater measure of determination. It'll come as no surprise that the open water swim is my biggest challenge and clearly not one easily managed. Even though I've been out in the lake 5-6 times now, and I've swum around the buoys once, I am still uncomfortable in the water a lot of the time. The littlest thing startles me. A weed drifts past my face, a fish swims under me, a rolling wave surprises me when I take a breath, even a person swimming by can frighten me. It makes me so mad. It's all in my stupid head. I can swim, and I can float if I get tired. Rocks and weeds and weird crap on the bottom of the lake, and fish, and even deep water can't hurt me. So stop fretting about it already! Nevertheless, I continue to obsess about it and I try to manage and control every aspect. This is also stupid, I know. I won't be able to control things on race day other than to feel as confident as I can, stay to the back and one side, and just keep moving forward. Go slow, stay calm, move forward. Don't try to swim too fast because the physical feelings from exertion mimic the feelings of panic. I need to keep my mind off panic.

So why does a person like me even bother to do try to do a race like this when it causes such obvious discomfort? I'm actually not too sure about that. Maybe I figure that if I just did it, I would prove to myself that I can. I think that the greater the challenge, the greater the reward. It's easy to do something that doesn't frighten you. It's much more satisfying to conquer something that was hard work. I've quoted Randy Pausch before - "Roadblocks are there to test your commitment to your goals." (Note: Just learned that Randy passed away today, Friday, July 25, 2008. So sad. Here's a link to his famous lecture. )

Right now my biggest fear is that I'll panic in the swim and end up quitting before I start. I mean, I won't really quit, but if I go into full panic attack mode, they might drag me out. And oh how depressing that would be to have done all this work and never even get past the first event. And of course, thinking about panicking can cause you to panic. It can be a vicious circle. So I won't do it. I think I've learned enough coping mechanisms to talk myself out of the panic feeling in many other situations. I need to be confident that they will apply in the swim as well. And for anyone reading this and just shaking their head, I realize that there is no logic in it.

So - here's what I've been doing to attack this fear head on.

1. Get in the lake as often as possible. Every day if I can, swim along shore if I'm alone. The more frequently I do it, the easier it gets.

2. Take every opportunity to swim out over my head with Carmelle or anyone else who offers to come with me.

3. Swim in as many different venues as I can so I can get used to strange surroundings. I will swim at Tugboat Beach this week, in Osoyoos Lake next week, in Kalamalka lake the week after.

4. Focus on my breath and repeat positive affirmations while I swim. I do bilateral breathing so my strokes are usually in 3's. I was trying this out the other day and although it was kind of stupid, it kept me focussed and positive. "Weeds are just plants", "Keep on moving", "Rocks can't hurt me", "Fish are cute", "I can do this", "Keep on moving", "This is fun", "I'm doing great". LOL, ok so maybe you need to have a couple of beer to appreciate my positive focus because it looks pretty stupid when it's all written down. Too bad I can't take a microphone under water, it'd make a funny podcast don't you think? Anyway, it's working for me so I'll keep doing it.

5. WARM UP FIRST!!!! I find I need to swim at least 200m before I can get into a steady swimming rhythm, but once I have swum about 300-400m, I feel like I could just keep going without stopping at all. But if I go straight into the water and expect to swim 750m right away, I get bagged, start gasping for breath, and need to stop with my feet touching bottom a few times. I am hoping to be able to get in at least 100m of swimming before the race but in case that doesn't work out for me, I need to have a back up plan. The next couple of times I go swimming, I'm going to try swimming really slowly for the first 200m and see if I can incorporate my warm up into my swim so I don't feel the need to touch down with my feet. Then hopefully, I can build up speed as I go. I'm pretty sure I'll be able to swim fast the last 200m or so. And look at the positives - there will be more space at the bike racks when I get there! :)


Mid-July Training Update


All in all, I think my summer training is going well and according to plan. I'm actually doing a little more than I had planned mainly because I bike additional easy rides with Erik sometimes, and I throw in an extra swim whenever I can so I can get over my lake swimming fear. I don't swim hard so I figure if I can get out in the lake every day, I should. It's still like a rest/recovery day.

The Shins (And I don't mean the band)

Ongoing issues, good days and bad. Recovery from the 8k race was slow and inconsistent. One day they felt fine, the next day, they hurt. I went for physio last Monday and he stripped them and then did IMS acupuncture, which was fairly painful. My shins were tender for the next couple of days so I took a rest day on Tuesday, then did bike hill repeats on Wednesday. I felt good and strong on the bike and even had a PR on Gordon Hill on the way home, even after climbing Knox 4 times! Thursday, I swam with Carmelle, which was more or less a rest day I guess. Friday, I did a hard brick and felt awesome! I ran 3km after a 15km hilly ride and tried running faster. Did 5:45 min per km which was excellent for me! Saturday and Sunday my shins were tender again. I was supposed to do an easy run on Sunday but postponed it because of tenderness. Saturday I swam and did a really easy ride and on Sunday we did a long medium intensity ride. Today I did my long run, 9k, my longest to date, and felt great. It was pretty hot because I wanted to sleep in and didn't start running until 10:30am, but I coped pretty well with the heat. This afternoon, I was back for physio and he stripped my shins again, did more acupuncture, and he expressed concern with my low back hip which has always given me grief. Not surprisingly, he thinks there is a connection between my right hip pain and my shin pain, so I have some core work to do before I go back in two weeks.

I've been looking into trying out the Zensah Calf Sleeve which is a compression sleeve made especially for calf pain and/or shin splints. You can wear them during a run, or for recovery. The PT was interested in them as well although they are not available in Canada. I did track down a few websites that sell them online but the shipping is as as much as the sleeve ($20 each). Anyway, I'm going to see if I can possibly find a friend in Washington State who could buy them and mail them to me. We'll see.

The Hundred Pushup Challenge and the lesser known, but equally important, Tummy Tan Challenge.

Did I mention Erik and I have joined the Hundred Pushup Challenge? It's a kind of fun way to get some sadly lacking upper body work happening. I'm into week 2 now and hope I can keep it up. One of my buddies on twitter showed us the link and now quite a few people have joined in the challenge.

The Tummy Tan Challenge is not a public challenge. :) I FINALLY bought a two-piece swim suit and found that although I think I can get away with wearing it in public, my poor midriff is sadly lacking in the tan department. In fact, it has not seen the sun for over 25 years. Seeing as how I hate lying in the sun, doing nothing, I needed some way to force myself to get the job done. So my goal is lie in the sun for 15 minutes each side, over the noon hour every day, until my midriff is as brown as my back and shoulders. I know can do it!

Diet - my eating has been good. Not too worried about trying to lose weight but mostly trying to eat healthfully. Whole grain bread, lean chicken (and beef once in awhile), more fish, TONS of veggies, 4-5 pieces of fruit every day, a handful of nuts every day, red wine, and dark chocolate. I'm actually down to 119 lbs now. Yee haw!

Tri Wear


I still don't know what I'm going to wear for the triathlon yet. I tried biking sockless last week and had no problem, but I got blisters on both feet when I ran sockless. So, forget that idea. Carmelle says to wear my swim suit and pull on tri shorts over top after the swim. I've been in to try on tri outfits several times but always leave in frustration. The shorts are too short and the tops are too tight. Both accentuate the few little rolls I still have left and make me look fatter than I really am. I guess I am too vain, lol...
Yesterday I tried wearing a comfortable biking tank top and my oldest biking shorts which have a thinner chamois and that felt pretty good, even when wet. Someday this week, I'll wear my swimsuit to the LBS and try on some tri shorts to see how that feels. I wore my swim suit under my capris once on my way to the pool and swore never to do that again because the elastic chafed so bad. I'm not sure how Carmelle gets around that one. I don't think Body Glide would help.

Oh and my transitions times are pretty fast. I can run up to the beach, get my wetsuit off and my shoes, helmet, and glasses on in less than 1 minute. I'll have further to run at the Apple though so I figure on 2 full minutes for T1. My T2 time is less than 1 minute.

So that's my ever-so-wordy train of thought for the evening. Thanks for reading if you got this far!
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