swim bike run

Pregnant or Just Crazy?

“Have i gone mad?

I’m afraid so, but let me tell you something, the best people usually are.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland



For the record, this may be the only thing I accomplish today (other than my leg workout with the trainer, vacuuming, and napping).  It’s a far cry from my grandiose plans for the day: workout with the trainer, swim, bike, run, clean the house, fit in time with the husband and the family, and of course establish a plan for Thriver World Domination world peace…  Instead I came back from the gym at 9 am and curled back into bed.  At noon I ate lunch and dragged myself to the couch.  It was truly a sad display.  For the umpteenth time in the past 3 weeks, I am too dizzy and nauseated to function… let alone change the world.  Unlike the past few weeks, today I was too dizzy to even stand up straight- just sitting still the room spins.  It pretty much sucks.  


Which leads me to why I am going crazy…

For the past several weeks, I have been crampy, bloated, having random bouts of nausea and dizziness (primarily in the morning or if I wait too long to eat), extreme fatigue (ie. sleeping half the day), and heartburn … wtf is up with that? I’ve NEVER had heartburn in my life!  Did I mention I am also 2 weeks late?

So I took a pregnancy test… twice… several days apart.  They were both negative.  That means either a) It’s too early for a cheap test to read positive or b) I am totally going crazy because I have been having pregnancy symptoms for a solid 3 weeks…  It’s also possible that I have some other weird medical ailment like a brain tumor causing my symptoms, but that’s far less likely than the first two, right?

This morning at the gym, I was really making the trainer nervous because he could see how hard I was struggling to keep the room in focus.  Yesterday after swim class I was so dizzy and lightheaded I thought I was going to pass out on my way out and was terrified to drive home.  The nausea alone has become so bad that one of my coworkers wrote me a prescription for zofran yesterday.  Today my mother showed up with sea bands and medication for vertigo.  

Of course I still feel like crap.  If I am not pregnant, then I think I am legitimately going crazy.  I know I’m not over training because I have been taking rest days and if anything scaled back some.  I also have been eating more and staying hydrated.  I feel like if it was my body adjusting to being off birth control then this would have started months ago.  So basically pregnant and crazy are the only two viable options left in my mind.  My mother wants we to have a blood test drawn, but my new insurance sucks and I don’t want my PCP to think I’m a lunatic if it’s negative.

In the meantime, I am super frustrated about being incapacitated so frequently.  I am not someone who gets sick frequently.  I’m also not someone who can handle doing nothing or skipping workouts (I know, another shocking admission!).  I am used to living life a million miles and hour and getting nine hundred tasks accomplished a day.  This is so beyond unacceptable in my book.  I have things to do people!  This world isn’t going to just save itself!

Maybe with all my newfound time on the couch I can at least get started on that book… 

PS. I got promoted a lane in swim class again… primarily due to the fact that we were crammed into 2 lanes instead of 3 or 4.  On the bright side, I survived! Take that Mystery Illness!


That Makes Sense

“Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.”

Albert Einstein



“That makes sense”… words you will likely never hear in regards to the way I go about training.. or life. lol  For example, as you all know, I recently decided to sign up for another ultra.  I then proceeded not to run a single mile all week (not that different from my previous ultra training actually… Do as I say, not as I do!).  In reality, I had a very good reason for this.  I was still feeling sick, and for some reason running was the only type of exercise that made me feel worse.  I made up for the lack of on foot miles with extra swimming; but the point is that most people do not sign up for an ultra when home sick and then swim instead of run to train… I did also spin. 😉

On that note, I did get back to the pool this week (Yea!!!!) and more than doubled the mileage I usually get in.  I was extra motivated because Coach M (now that we get along, I am going to try to stop referring to her as the pool troll… though I didn’t mean it so much in terms of personality as in the gatekeeper none-shall-pass sense) demoted me back to the beginner lane at my first evening class.  I not only found this somewhat deflating but also physically uncomfortable.  The water was absolutely FREEZING!  In the “C” lane they take tons of breaks, and I am now conditioned to swim for over a mile with minimal breaks.  With the water being so cold, all I wanted to do was keep moving.  In fact, I got yelled at for swimming too fast… something about it not being a race…  In reality, I was just trying to keep warm.  So after a very unsatisfying less-than-a-mile swim, I was determined to prove to myself that I could keep up with at least the intermediate lane.  

ImageLuckily for me, Coach M was giving away the workout sheets after class. I grabbed a copy and headed back to the pool after spin class yesterday. I looked at the beginner and intermediate workouts and decided to just go for the full monty.  At first I was a little nervous because the workout called for a few 300’s and the furtherest I had gone without a break was only 100m.  Ultimately, I figured I could split the 300’s up if I needed to.  The beginning of the workout was a little rough because Coach M just happened to be there, and we ended up in the same lane together.  I could feel her eyes judging me, and it made it hard to relax, hence hard to breathe, and hard to swim.  In reality, she was having issues of her own due to back spasms and probably barely noticed me… then again it is Coach M so she might have been mutli-tasking…

Anyway, I not only made it through her whole advanced workout, but I did it in an hour!  That was even with all the people interrupting me because the pool was super crowded and everyone was feeling chatty.  (I had missed to memo for social hour on the pool schedule apparently!)  Even more exciting, I did the 300’s without needing breaks AND I did all my intervals in the recommended timespans, or at least very close (2:00 for 200 and 1:00 for 100).  It was definitely an eye opener to how much better my endurance has gotten.  I also noticed I am getting much more relaxed in the water! (Victory dance!)  Image

It’s interesting now that I have been through one cycle of Masters Swim and gotten comfortable in the water to see all the new swimmers trying to learn.  I guess I had never noticed until recently how many adults at the pool are learning from scratch like I did.  I supposed I was to preoccupied with trying not to drown before to pay attention to anyone else.  Now I can spot them easily.  They have that familiar look on terror on their faces as they balance on the ledge unsure if they’ll make it back to the other end.  I usually reassure them that I also could barely swim a few months ago and it does get easier.  I don’t think they believe me.  I can’t blame them. I don’t think I would either.  It’s hard to imagine when your lungs are on fire and every muscle is screaming that it will EVER get easier.  Drowning seems the far more likely scenario.

Meanwhile, the people who were there when I first was learning cannot seem to believe the difference.  Since I have no concept of what is a difficult or long workout for a swimmer, I have no idea if I am doing well or not.  I know that I am improving, and that’s about it.  Judging by their shocked reactions, I guess I am doing better than I imagined… or they all just need to practice more.  The one person who does not seem to have noticed how much progress I’ve made is Coach M.  However, in her defense the woman has seen my initial attempts at drowning, so I can understand her hesitation about wanting to move me up the ranks.  

In the meantime, I have decided that I am just going to work at getting so good that she will be unable to ignore my progress.  

Makes sense, right?


Confessions of a Newbie Swimmer

“Swimming is a confusing sport, because sometimes you do it for fun, and other times you do it to not die. And when I’m swimming, sometimes I’m not sure which one it is.”

-Demetri Martin

Some people (ok A LOT of people) say that swimming is the most dangerous part of triathlon.  While it’s true that people who die during triathlon generally do so in the swim, I’m not really sure whether this is because swimming is more dangerous or just because it comes first.  Personally, I’d consider myself far more likely to kill or maim myself during the cycling portion… though I could also see where drowning myself might seem a good alternative to the bike

ImageAnyway, my point is that swimming can be a pretty scary part of triathlon training, especially for people like me who are just learning.  That is why I thought it would be very kind and gracious of me to impart to all the other newbie swimmers everything I’ve learned thus far about the leg of triathlon (statistically) most likely to kill you.  

If you are anything like me, your initial visits to the pool have had you filled with anxiety and dread.  Being unable to breath comfortably during physical activity is not a particularly good time… especially when you are first learning to swim- with no concept of timing your breath or lung capacity to speak of.  What I would recommend in this scenario is to find a swim instructor who is more terrifying than the water.  Faced with the prospect of getting yelled at or publicly humiliated, the water doesn’t actually seem that bad.  However, if this option doesn’t appeal to you, you can also try having a more experienced swimmer or trusted friend come with you for moral support while you get the hang of things.  I would recommend picking someone not prone to mocking or teasing as the sight of you attempting not to drown in a public setting may be too much for even a good friend to resist.

Another method I found useful as a total newb was to inform the lifeguard on duty that I had no idea what I was doing was a new swimmer.  He would direct to me to a lane with a friendly swimmer, and then I would proceed to let EVERYONE the people swimming around me also know that I was new to swimming and welcome to feedback.  This was helpful in a few ways. First, by alerting the life guard and other swimmers that I was new, I let them know I was receptive to advice not only on my swimming, but also the pool etiquette.  In general, people were happy to assist in this capacity.  It also gave the lifeguard a heads up to keep an eye on me and make sure I didn’t drown.

Another tip I would recommend is to take lessons.  If you are really self conscious or don’t know how to swim at all, start with a private lesson.  If you already know how to rotary breath but could use a refresher, consider a program like Masters Swim.  I signed up for Masters Swim not knowing how to swim properly based on some bad advice from a YMCA staff member… much to the displeasure of the night coach.  In the end it turned out ok, but my introduction to swimming likely would have been a better experience had I started with the basics.

swimfamilyThat being said, I cannot speak enough about the benefits of swimming in a group like the Masters Swim program.  I find that my swimming anxiety is dramatically reduced if I am swimming in a class compared to when I am alone.  I also swim better.  I think this is partly because I have other people to pace off and partly because I don’t have time to think about what I’m doing.  Plus, it is a great opportunity to get constructive feedback on how to swim more efficiently and learn drills to improve my stroke.  I can honestly say I have picked up something new in every class, and it has made me significantly more confident about swimming on my own.

Besides that, there is a lot of value in the moral support of other newbie swimmers… especially when you bond closely over being terrified of both swimming and the coach (…mostly the coach).  Before I ever looked forward to swimming, I looked forward to seeing my swim family… including the coach.  She turned out not to be so bad once we got the hang of things and got to know her.. though she is still terrifying.

Having spent the past several months consistently swimming there are also actually a few things I’ve learned for myself.  For starters, regardless of how much I improve, there are still a lot of days I get in the pool and feel like I am drowning more than swimming for most of my workout.  I try to remind myself that every swim can’t be a great swim the same as every run won’t be a great run.  When I have a crappy day in the pool, I find focusing on my form and going slow helps.  I have also discovered that when I am tired and winded it not only helps to slow down,swimwall but also to kick less and really work on finishing my stroke and rotating my shoulders.  The more I push off on the last part of my stroke, the faster I tend to go- surprisingly regardless of how fast or swim or kick.

Back when I first started swimming, I would only go as far as the edge of the shallow end (and inhale about half the pool in the process).  Then with practice I could do the full 25 meters.  I thought it was HUGE progress when I started doing full laps, and now I’ve worked my way up to swimming 100m intervals.  The thing about swimming is if I am consistent, I find I steadily improve.  In the beginning it was by leaps and bounds every time I got in the water.  Now it’s more subtle changes, but I am still continually making progress.

Most triathletes I talk to HATE LOATHE the swim and dread doing it; however, I have actually learned to love swimming.  I have finally gotten to a point where I enjoy it more than I get anxiety about it.  In fact, after a few days out of the water I start to actually miss it. gasp!  It’s a nice break from the pounding and impact that come from running and cross training with the same mental alt-control-delete.

To the people still struggling, I’d say try and stick with it.  If you do it consistently, you will find it gets a lot easier.  You may even grow to like it.  Trust me, if I can get the hang of it than anyone can.  Now if only I could learn to love the cycling… Or find an indoor tri with a spin bike. 😉