This past year and a half, I have transformed my normal “habit” of working out, into an all out “commitment”. I’ve had high’s and low’s, but for some obsessive reason, I continue to push myself and explore new ways to challenge my body to it’s limit. If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know that I have done so, to the degree that I didn’t recognize when the “No pain, no gain” issue got out of hand, and I found myself with some serious injuries. I hope I have learned from that. I honestly don’t know. (Insert crooked smile)
For the most part, the people in my life appear to support my new commitment, and applaud my efforts to be stronger, healthier, and more fit. But there have been a few sideways glances, raised eyebrows, and full on: “What the Hell are you killing yourself for?” questions aimed at my sweating, heaving, self.
On the surface, all is moving ahead in what I assume is a normal progression. NOT that I have the patience for normal progression. I (of course) half expected after the past two and a half months of intensive training, that I should be able to complete an Ironman. So far, I am not exactly ready.
Case in point: Two weeks ago, I took the plunge (gotcha) and bought a wet suit so that I could start training in open water. Why, you might ask, would one need a wetsuit in August, just to go swimming? HAHAHHAHAHAHA, well, the sad truth is that in Oregon, believe it or not, our mountain fed rivers never really warm up. (And don’t even get me started with the temperatures of the Pacific Ocean! ) So there I was in The Athlete’s Lounge, stuck in a dressing room trying on wetsuits. Nobody had ever told me that this experience is like trying to put a Champagne cork back into a bottle. Seriously! I was making loud grunting noises. I was falling over, hitting the wall, breathing hard, and sweating like a pig, and it sounded like a porno movie was being filmed! At one point, I seriously considered giving up the sport of swimming, just to avoid having to try these sausage casings on! I got stuck in the legs twice and had to sit down just to catch my breath. That’s when I took this very flattering selfie:
I am sure the people that work there have to endure months of training so they can learn NOT to laugh, roll their eyes, and generally ignore all the newbies like me that come in all pumped up and “green” announcing to everyone that they “ARE TRAINING FOR A TRIATHLON.” Oh brother.
After an exhaustive session of profuse sweating, I finally bought the damned suit. The way my mind works is this: if I spend more money than I currently have laying around the floor, doing nothing, than I have to justify it big time to myself. I made promises in the car that day that no mortal human being could ever expect to keep! I guess I’m a cheep skate with my money and like many women my age, I don’t think I deserve to spend money on myself. (I’m working on that)
So back to my new sport-the Triathlon. It seems that if you really want to call yourself a triathlete, you HAVE to compete in open water. While that doesn’t sound so bad, consider how many times you have had the opportunity to really swim in open water. How about training? Year round? Nah! Pools are great for drills and off season, but in some areas, the minute the ice melts……Polar Bear Plunge
The time had come for me to get it done. There is a group swimmers that do an open water swim in the Clackamas River, about 4 miles from my house, every Wednesday evening. I had my newly purchased wetsuit and warm summer temperatures, so I had no excuse not to join them and see how I would do. I was a tad bit overwhelmed!
There are minutely visible buoys in the upper right corner of this photo. The first leg, you swim to an orange buoy. It is not visible to my naked eye when I am standing on the shore, securely crammed into my neoprene second skin. Time to get ‘er done. The first time, I wasn’t prepared for the panic. The claustrophobia. The: “Oh MY GOD, I can’t even see my hands underwater-it’s so murky.” sensation. Then there was the: “Shit!, people drown in this river all the time and what if a bloated body surfaces and bumps into me?” random thought. Suffice it to say, I survived. A little shaken, but I did it. I pretty much hyperventilated the entire 1000 yards, but I didn’t embarrass myself, or drown.
I went back a second time and it was much better. The third time, I was actually kind of cocky…..for about a minute. This time, I had already done a workout in the morning that consisted of a 20 mile bike ride and a 1 mile run. By the time 6:00pm came around, I was beat. But I went anyway, because it was Wednesday night, and I am a “triathlete!” It was a tough night. I was fatigued and sore from the workouts I had done this week, and I took a few breaks. I swam breaststroke for a while, floated on my back, cursed a little. (I enjoyed that part) BUT, I finished the swim! I didn’t panic or cry, which is a good thing.
As I cooled down with my new friends, I realized that a few months ago, there would have been no way I could have, or would have done this. But, today, I walk tall and proud. Tomorrow, I might not get out of bed, but that’s irrelevant. I wondered how it came to this and I decided it doesn’t matter. It came. I’m conquering. That’s it. Oh, yeah, and let me tell you. There is NOTHING like the badass feeling I have when I am strutting back to my car in my wetsuit!
So, how did it come to this? I have no idea and I don’t care. I’m just taking this journey one step, cycle, and stroke at a time. What new adventure are you trying? What would you like to try? Share your story. Thanks for visiting, and please subscribe to my blog.