swimming

My body may feel crappy, but my heart is soaring…

“You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it.”

-Margaret Thatcher
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For a change today, I think I am going to start my update in the present and work back.  For starters, I feel like absolute poo today!  (I’m pretty sure it’s partly my own fault) Rather than wait until I’m feeling better to post (because who knows when I’ll have time again!) I figured I’d take advantage of my gift for multitasking and update you all today. You’re welcome!
I was already a little under the weather when I woke up on Saturday for my night shift (14+ hours of call with no rest for the weary!).  I had hoped that since I got my ass kicked slammed the rest of the week that the call gods would take pity on me, but no such luck.  Sunday I stayed awake just long enough to weigh in (139.2!) with the hubs (197.6!) and finish our Bingo Card Challenge… and then grab a really high calorie meal (Plan B Burger… YUM! I have no regrets btw).  I crashed for most of the day and then had to work another 13 hr shift again yesterday.
Needless to say, I was not in the spryest condition when I dragged myself out of bed at 4 AM this morning (On my day off!) to go to the pool.  Just because I didn’t suffer enough public embarrassment at my last round of Masters Swimming, I actually signed up AGAIN!  Yes, same pool troll.  What can I say?  She’s kind of grown on me.  Plus, I need all the help I can get with the swim and bike, so off to session one of Masters Swimming I went (at 4 o’clock in the freakin morning).
Because the morning coach (somehow, despite being nicer) usually has harder workouts, I was expecting to feel like I was about to drown for most of the class… like 59 out of 60 minutes.  I have not been as diligent with my independent swimming as I could have been, and I was afraid I was going to pay for it.  However, I was pleasantly surprised that I not only didn’t drown, but also kept up with one of the swimmers I have been admiring from afar (she’s always Imageswimming on my way to and from spin and makes it look so effortless… and no I don’t stalk her, it happens to be the view on the way!)
We only swam a little over a mile in that hour, which is less than what I have been doing on my own.  In general, I try to get up to 2000 m before I get out (in an effort to make that distance seem routine on race day… whenever that turns out to be). I was pleasantly surprised when we got out of the pool and I wasn’t even tired.  Whats more, while swimming I had no screaming lungs, no bright white light or tunnel vision, AND I was able to do whole 75’s and 100’s without stopping.  Okay, so it was only one 100 m, but it was still a big deal to me!
After my awesome swim, I decided to get some miles on the treadmill before our session with the trainer.  I logged another 6 miles at an average of 8:20 pace, which brought me to 56 miles for this month and over 100 miles for the year.  My run also felt pretty good… aside from the part where I accidentally hit the emergency stop lever and had to start over.
I did make an effort to have a protein shake between my swim and run.  Then I also added an amino acid mix to my water during the run and finished the whole bottle during the run.  In between my run and the workout with the trainer, I scarfed a quick granola/nut/protein bar.  Since I only had a banana before my swim (it was literally all I could choke down at that hour), I am pretty sure I was still low on fuel.  The workout with the trainer was with a kettlebell and consisted of 5 rounds of 15 reps of each of the following: swings, squat with row, figure-eight (I was horribly uncoordinated as these and have the bruises to prove it!), then regular squats and Russian twists holding the kettlebell.  The hubs sailed through his reps, but my kettlebell literally felt like it weighed 100 lbs.  I made it through all 5 rounds with short breaks between exercises to give my bad shoulder a break.  Once we finished, we predictably had to do the whole thing AGAIN.  This time I opted for a lighter 20 lb dumbbell which made things slightly more awkward but irritated my shoulder significantly less.  Following the second time through all 5 god-forsaken-rounds, we had to do 10 minutes on the stepper at a “fast” pace. We all know how much I love the stepper, so we will just leave it at that.
By the first time through I was running on fumes.  I struggle with my shoulder on the kettlebell stuff on a good day.  Trying to do a whole kettlebell workout after swimming and running was laughable at best.  By the time we finished the second go and did the stepper, I was only managing by sheer determination.  It took me a few minutes of rest to feel like myself enough to head to the car.  After showering I was mostly feeling hungry, but after breakfast I started to have GI issues.  I figured it was from pushing too hard without hydrating enough, however now that I am having shaking chills I’m just praying it’s not the flu.  (BTW shaking chills suck majorly… and makes it difficult to type).  1621819_590464874377485_9095596_nNow I know what  you are thinking “Silly girl! Why don’t you get some rest?” The thing is it’s a little difficult when you are a) uncomfortable, b) shaking uncontrollably (this is some skilled one handed typing going on btw), and c) can’t stay out of the bathroom for more than 10 minutes… come to think of it, I may have zofran hidden in there somewhere.  Besides, it ‘s going to take a a little more than some silly chills and gi upset to keep this girl out of commission.  A girl’s got a things to do and LOTS to be excited about. 😉
Speaking of which, the good news is that in the midst of all the chaos this week, I got a very exciting delivery from Swim Bike Mom!   I had mentioned to her that I was sorry I had purchased the kindle addition of her book instead of the hardcopy (you know, so I could cuddle it and curl up with it at night).  Well, in addition to being an inspiring athlete and writer, she is also super generous and sent me a paperback copy of her book!  How AWESOME is that!?!  Now I have my very own copy of the Triathlon Bible to carry with me everywhere I go. 😉
In the spirit of giving and paying it forward, I am planning a Triathlon for Every Woman giveaway (my personal gift to you), so that one of you lucky readers too can be awed and inspired by Swim Bike Mom as well!  Stay tuned for more details!

San Diego Bound!

“To move, to breathe, to fly, to float. To gain while you give.

To roam the roads of lands remote. To travel is to live.”

~ Hans Christian Andersen

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Good Morning Friends!

Today the hubs and I off off to San Diego for our first real vacation as a married couple!  Before we head off for the airport, I figured I’d give you a quick update on our Get Fit Challenge.  My last few weigh ins I have been hovering between 140.3 and 140.4, so I’m continuing to hold strong.  The hubs is also holding at 199 (and some change) and is ecstatic to be under 200.  Our challenge for the week consisted of completing 3 deck of card workouts.  

Here is what this evil challenge entailed:

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Okay it would not have been so bad, except our trainer (who happens to be the one thinking up these challenges), made the hubs and I substitute jumping squats and lunges for the regular ones…  Add in that I ran over 6 miles before we started and you can see why the leg one especially sucked.  It’s sad when jumping squats are the easiest part of a workout!  The hardest part was fitting in 3 extra cross training workouts into my already overly busy workout schedule. After all, there is only so much training you can do in a week when you only have 4 days to do it in!

Regardless of the suck, the hubs and I both completed this challenge in its entirety.  In addition to our challenge workouts, we also did our two sessions with the trainer, and I logged another 16 miles of running (that’s 73/500 miles) and swam 1.25 (all at once! go me!).  Not too bad considering I worked a full week and lost a day for traveling. 🙂

Since I have been making progress on my swimming and struggling with keeping track of what lap I’m on, I splurged and bought myself a Garmin Swim for my birthday. I also did finally set a goal of swimming 50 miles by the end of the year, which should be totally doable for me.  The nice thing about the Garmin Swim is it not only counts laps, but also gives you an efficiency score like a GOLF score.  Hopefully it will help me continue to improve now that I’m on my own and done with classes.  I have also been reading up on swimming and training recommendations. (Shocking, I know!)  In fact, my in flight book for today will be Triathlon For Every Woman by Swim Bike Mom.   BTW if you don’t read her blog, you probably should because she is awesome and totally inspiring.  She also has a Facebook page with her own brand of fitspo images. 

Since we will be on vacation in sunny San Diego, I am hoping to take advantage of the gorgeous weather and finally get some use out of my fancy new GPS watch. I will keep you all posted on how that goes. Of course the thing I am looking forward to most is just getting to spend time with the hubs. 🙂

That is all for now my loves!

Have a fantastic weekend!

 

Why I have the Best Husband Ever

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength,

while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”
-Lao Tzu 

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Before I get into details of why I have the best husband ever, I should probably update you all on how the Fitness Challenge is going.  Our last weigh in I came in at 140.3 lbs.  I have been pretty much hovering in a 2 lb swing between 140 and 142, and that is totally ok with me.   The hubs was down to 200.3, which is over 10 lbs down from where he started.  I am so proud of him! He has been super committed to getting fitter, and his dedication is paying off.  Not that I really thought he needed to lose weight, but if he is happy then I am happy.  Plus, he has been much more energetic and upbeat since he started eating better and working out more regularly which is a Imagetotal bonus for me!  🙂

Our challenge this week was to attend a session of boot camp.  Since I was working for every other session, Thursday was the day for me.  The hubs decided he would rather go together than on his own, so he came too.  The workout consisted of a lot of sprints (yuck!) with various other exercises mixed in (butt kicks, side shuffles, planks, calf raises, walking lunges, and wall sits…).  For some reason my legs were really fried, which sort of surprised me after not having done a leg work out in several days.  I chalked it up to doubling up on legs last week and not adequately recovering due to working so much and not sleeping enough.  We both made it through the workout without any issue; however, when I was still hurting the following day, I decided to take a rest day to try and combat all the soreness and general fatigue.  Despite the reprieve, my legs were still feeling tweaky the following morning.  That lead to a modified workout with the trainer, which was a total bummer… especially when Adam got to do the real workout.  I did at least get in some spin and time on the bike trainer though (I still hate the trainer btw).

That leads me to why my husband is so great.  I never imagined falling for someone who could be so quietly supportive.  Sure he’s not ever going to be the type of guy to show up with signs or a cowbell at a race, or shout his love for me to the masses.  However, he is the kind of guy who will run a race with me when I’m not sure I can finish it… even if he hasn’t trained and my pace is painfully slow for him.  He’s the type to come to the pool with me because he knows that swimming makes me anxious.  He’s the kind of guy who, when I bought him the fancy GPS he was drooling over for his bike, bought an extra mount for mine so I could use it too.  He also regularly goes out of his way to get me thoughtful gifts to encourage me to train, like the heart rate and cadence monitors (to go with the fancy GPS) so I can track my mileage on the aforementioned bike trainer.  That’s in addition to setting it up for me every time I want to use it because he knows I am too technology impaired to figure it out for myself.  He even goes out of his way to set my Imagebike up in the trainer (even though that I can actually handle myself) every time I use it just to let me know he cares… or maybe he’s afraid I’ll break it… jk

In all seriousness though, he has been beyond patient when it comes to anything to do with cycling- from the numerous trips to bike shops, to the agonizing over which bike to pick, to driving to Mass to get the bike I initially fell in love with, to making sure I had a flat repair kit and kick ass girlie water bottles.  Beyond that, he made a huge effort to find the most scenic and beginner friendly cycling routes in the area to help alleviate my fear of riding.  He even got me a Tough Chik chick gift card for Christmas so I could buy the bike apparel I’d been eyeing in an effort to encourage me to stick with it.

When it came to my birthday this year, he literally could not wait to give me the gift he picked out.  It’s still 9 days before my birthday, yet I am now the owner of a Garmin Forerunner GPS watch.  He was so excited to explain all the features.  I felt a little badly because I think he expected me to get as pumped as he was about it.  However, I will be the first to admit that I am not, by far, a gadget person.  I do use Runkeeper on my phone when I run, but I usually throw it in my hydration pack and use it mainly to track mileage.  I am not someone who ever had any interest in a GPS watch (other than maybe for swimming because I suck at counting laps); however, the hubs is a master at purchasing gifts.  He specifically picked one that pairs with my heart rate monitor, so I can get a more accurate measure of how many calories I burn and how hard I’m working.  I am sure I will be more excited about it once I get the hang of using it.  Luckily, I know a cute guy whose willing to help me figure it out. 😉

I know there are a lot of ladies out there who love when their men get them expensive jewelry or designer handbags, but I prefer a good pair of running shoes.  Lucky for me, I have a guy who gets it.  Just about every favorite piece of gear I’ve had from winter apparel to hiking boots and gadgets has been carefully selected by the man of my dreams.  The hubs has a special gift for getting me things I never thought I’d want or need yet now I can’t imagine living without.  More than that, he’s the type of person who put together a 10 hr playlist for my first 50K just to make my run suck a little less.  

When I was with my abuser, I was convinced that he would have done anything for me if I just asked… After the wedding fiasco, we all know just how wrong that was.  The hubs, on the other hand, truly would do anything for me.  He enjoys helping and finding ways to make me happy.  While I’m a firm believer that everyone deserves back what they are willing to put into a relationship, I’m not sure I ever thought I’d be lucky enough to find that person.  Now I feel blessed to know I have. 

My Most Recent Girl Crush

“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important

as what you become by achieving your goals.”
-Henry David Thoreau 

I love women.  No, not in a sexual way (no offense, you are all very attractive). Rather, in a NOTHING inspires me more than a woman kicking serious ass (hence my girl crush on The Everyday Warrior… go read her blog then you’ll understand) sort of way.  That is why I cannot help but be completely blown away by Diana Nyad.

At 64 she chased a dream that no one, not even her own team, believed she could achieve.  It was her self belief that carried her through when everyone else was certain she would fail (a true testament to how important self belief is!)  However, it’s not the fact that she achieved her goal that so deeply impressed me.  It was the fact that she FAILED 4 TIMES BEFORE SHE SUCCEEDED.  This, my friends, is a women after my own heart.  This is a woman who does not let obstacles stand in the way of her dreams: not strong currents, not weather, not jellyfish, or sharks… and certainly not failure.

Now that I have gotten into swimming, I have a true appreciation for just how hard and how much work it is.  I am completely mind blown that this woman was able to swim from Cuba to Florida without any rest, while in a protective suit that reduced her mobility no less.  It over took 3 days.  I can barely swim 100 meters without a break…in a pool…during the day…without a current.  This woman swam the span of an ocean night and day in one of the strongest currents on the planet.  I have nothing but the utmost respect and admiration for her.

Hats (or swim caps) off to Diana Nyad for being an Uber Badass to the nth degree!

Taking a Slow Day

“Slow down you’re doing fine 
You can’t be everything you want to be 
Before your time.” 
–Billy Joel

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Last night I worked the second shift.  I woke up after only 4 hours of sleep and headed to spin class despite still be exhausted and having a sore throat.  The thing is, this morning was Motown Morning and l LOVE the Thursday morning instructor.  I had already planned my whole day around this class, and I didn’t want to miss it.  The class was GREAT!  It was a Motown-Music-Spin-Sing-A-Long!  The actual singing part was a little difficult given the workout was rolling hills, and we were all out of breath.  Our instructor, on the other hand, who had given up her bike at the front to make room for another member in class, spent the entire class dancing, singing, and shouting out workout.

The thing I love about her classes is that she LOVES music and goes out of her way to pair the cadence of the ride with the beat of the Imagesongs so everything is timed perfectly.  She also clearly loves life.  I think that is why her class is so popular.  If you arrive only 10 minute early (YES early, not late…At 5:20 in the morning mind you!), you will be saddened to find no bikes available.  That is because her class is worth dragging yourself out of bed at 4 in the morning…in the dark…in the cold.

That is why I didn’t want to miss it.  Sure, going on 4 hours of sleep and no breakfast (because I didn’t feel well enough to eat it) were probably not a great idea.  I certainly wouldn’t recommend trying either.  However, class was A LOT of fun, and I survived without a problem.  I did make it a point not to push myself as hard as I might have otherwise.  Regardless, though, by the time I got home I felt like crap again…. which was a problem because I had to meet with the trainer at 9am. 

I thought about canceling, but since today was supposed to be upper body I figured I could just eat and muddle through it.  Unfortunately for me, it turned out to be core today… which sucked royally!  It was my own fault for mentioning at our last session that I was having low back pain and thought my core probably needed more work.  Since we did tons of plank work in that workout I really didn’t expect core again this week.  I was WRONG.  The good news is the hubs came along too, so I wasn’t suffering alone.  Plus, he was struggling even more than I was.  That made me feel slightly better, but it was still frustrating.

I had to take a minute and remind myself that I already did almost 22 miles of hills at spin already this morning… ON TOP OF all the running, spinning, and lifting (including core work) that I’ve already done this week.  Of course my legs (along with everything else!) felt like lead!  Of course I was struggling!  I had punished my body all week, and now I was expecting peak performance on 4 hours of sleep.  Yeah, it wasn’t happening.  I did finish the workout, but I had to take A LOT of breaks.  I wasn’t able to do any of the exercises for a full minute without pauses.  My quads were fried from spin.  My shoulders were still done from power cleans and core 2 days ago, and my entire body was in rebellion… so I went home and took a nap.  No run today.  In fact, I also skipped out on my swim this morning.

Instead of a rest day, I’m going to consider today a “slow day”: as in slow down and take a breath.  Sometimes I get so caught up in pursuing goals and becoming the best and fittest version of myself that I forget it’s okay not to go full tilt every second of every day.  While it is great to have aspirations, they shouldn’t consume my whole life.  Part of being the best version of me is finding balance.  Today I dragged myself out of bed to workout first thing this morning (the morning part is actually debatable).  The rest of the day I’ll spend chillaxin… or at least, I’ll do my best at it.  😉

New Year, New Adventures!

“Life is either a great adventure or nothing.”
Helen Keller 

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Recently, I have been a bad blogger.  I could blame the holidays, but the fact is that there are just a lot of things higher on my priority list than blogging right now. Not that blogging isn’t important to me or I don’t enjoy it, but spending time with my husband and family, getting in a good workout (or two…or three), and getting adequate sleep all rank higher on my list.  Sometimes it’s hard to juggle everything plus the full time job; unfortunately, that means frequently the blogging gets cut.  However, with the new year upon us I am going to making an effort at blogging more regularly… again 😉

One new exciting thing is with the start of 2014, I am now officially a Tough Chik.  For those of you unfamiliar with what Tough Chik is, you should check out their website.  I already have their Toughie long sleeve T-shirt, and I have to admit that I immediately wear it every time it comes out of the wash because it is just so darn comfy.  I am still waiting for my official gear to arrive, so stay tuned for that.  In the meantime, my hubs gave me a gift card for Christmas (I might have sent him a few links to items on my wish list…) which I am looking forward to spending.

In other news, I have done something I never thought I would do and joined a Weight Loss Challenge.  No, I am not worried about my weight.  The hubs is trying to lose 20-30 lbs (so he can attain the appropriate weight recommended for his dream bike); and I am being a supportive wife.  We joined the Challenge as a team, so that means for every pound I don’t lose he’ll have to work that much harder.  See, supportive! Given that he is uber competitive, I thought the Challenge would be good motivation for him.  Plus, it’s through our gym, so it’s convenient AND they give a new challenge every week to get extra points toward winning.  This week was our first challenge.  It was a pretty simple fitness test consisting of as many reps as possible in 1 min for push-ups (43), sit-ups (58), and air squats (63).  Then we had to run/walk for 12 min and cover as much mileage as we could (1.68 miles).  We also had our first weigh in today (142.4).

While I am not particularly concerned with needing to drop any weight, let’s face it: after the holidays we all feel fat and bloated.  We eat waaaayyyy more crap than we would normally, and our bodies rebel against us.  Not to mention that I for one am really prone to letting a workout slide around Christmas in favor of getting some last minute errands done.  Then once my routine is messed up, it all goes to hell.  I have already been redoubling my efforts to get back on track, but this fitness challenge will add a little extra push.  Plus, with the hubs motivated to get in shape, I won’t have to feel like I need to choose between spending time with him and working out.

As some added motivation to get into better shape, the hubs has been pushing to start a family.  Initially, I had told him I wanted to attempt a Half Ironman first.  However, now I am starting to realize that I have a more finite window for producing healthy offspring than I do for accomplishing all my fitness goals.  Since you are only supposed to maintain your current level of activity when pregnant, I figured it’s best to get my arse in the best shape possible NOW.  While I realize that fitness during pregnancy is a bit of a hot topic lately, I have always been taught (as a women and healthcare professional) that exercise during pregnancy is totally safe as long as the women is already conditioned for it.  Therefore, if I am in great shape prior to getting pregnant that means it should be ok to continue strength training, spinning, running, and swimming (in moderation).  Obviously, all that would be off in the event of a complicated pregnancy; but I am a firm believer that being a fit pregnant women is good for the baby and mom… not to mention the easier delivery/recovery.  Plus, if I am going to be a vessel for a baby, I want to be the healthiest possible vessel.  To me, that means eating healthy AND working out for as long as it’s safe to do so.

That’s about all the excitement I have to share for now.  I will keep you all posted on the Weight Loss Challenge and family expasion progress.  In the meantime, you can rest assured that I will continue to kill it in the gym.  I hope you all had a lovely holiday.

Much Love!

The Running Thriver

Never Give Up

“If you really believe in what you’re doing, work hard, take nothing personally

and if something blocks one route, find another. Never give up.”

-Laurie Notaro
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Remember back when I got kicked out of swim class?  Remember how I said I would make that coach eat her words?  Well not only did I get personally invited back to class, but I have NOW BEEN PROMOTED TO THE INTERMEDIATE LANE!  

In fact, I think I am the only person to get promoted a lane so far in the class.  As if that weren’t exciting (and terrifying!) enough, I also got singled out to demonstrate proper technique for the catch up drill.  This was possibly the most ironic moment to occur in class so far given I was kicked out for having the worst form in class.  lol  Regardless, the rest of the class was highly impressed on both accounts.

They keep telling me how great I look when I swim; however, I feel sort of like that person who lost tons of weight and still sees myself as fat.  No matter how many compliments I get from people on how great and effortless my swimming looks, I still feel like I am struggling and have no idea what I’m doing.  I am still terrified of not being able to breath every time I get in the water, and I still have anxiety before every class that I won’t be able to handle the workout.

swimminghurtsThe thing I continue to struggle with the most is being able to swim lap after lap without rest in between.  This is at least in part due to the fact that I swim as quickly as possible to get to the rest breaks. Now that I have graduated to Lane 2, however, there is no rest between laps.  Instead, we are doing  six 50’s at a time with 10 seconds in between if we’re lucky.  Then, immediately, it’s on to the next drill. Not to mention, there are now 100 meter drills which I am not quite able to do yet (I’m getting close though!)

The other big part of my problem is just being able to relax.  In the rare moments when I do relax in the water, swimming feels effortless.  On the other hand, during class I get so anxious that it is hard to keep my heart rate down, which creates more demand for oxygen, which makes my lungs burn, which makes me anxious… you get the idea…

I think the solution to both these problems is just to swim more- as in drag myself to the pool on my own and put in a closerthanyesterdaylot of time in the water.  After all, it’s gotten me this far.  Plus, I have a long way to go before I get swimming 1.2 miles continuously, so I could probably use al the practice I can get in.

In the meantime, at least I have another small victory to celebrate.  For me, it’s not about being the best swimmer in class or better than anyone else, it’s just about improving.  I am happy to be making progress, even if it’s not that noticeable to me.  My goal in signing up for swim class was to learn as much about swimming as I could, and I have definitely learned a lot from the instructor.  Despite all my anxiety about swimming, I can honestly call myself a swimmer now, and that means something to me. 🙂

 My point in sharing this with all of you is not to brag, but rather point out the value of persistence.  I could have very easily given up on swimming when I got kicked out of class, and no one would have faulted me for it.  After all, the swim instructor had told me to get a refund.  It doesn’t get more blunt than that!  The thing is that I am not at a point in my life where I no longer rely on other people to tell me what I am capable of because I know full well.  Was I a bad swimmer? Absolutely!  Was it hopeless? Absolutely not!

No person should ever allow someone else to crush his or her dreams.  If you want to be a swimmer, find a pool and swim. Want to be a runner, go running.  Want to be an actor, writer, stunt double, lion tamer?  Go do it!  Live your passion!  Don’t worry about other people’s approval.  You need to follow your bliss and do what makes you happy.  No one else in this world can tell you what that is.  You need to find it for yourself.  Besides, what good is someone else’s approval and adoration if you aren’t being authentic anyway?

Go chase your dreams, and never, never give up!

Short and Long Term Goals

“Anyone who thinks that they are too small to make a difference has never tried to fall asleep with a mosquito in the room.”
-Christine Todd Whitman

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For as long as I can remember, I have always wanted to help.  It didn’t matter who needed it or what it involved, I just wanted to be useful.  Maybe that is why I picked a career in medicine.  What better choice for an occupation than to take care of people all day who need it?  Yet, even spending my days taking care of other peoples needs and having the occasional opportunity to help save a life were not enough to calm the feeling of needing to do more to make a difference.

I have never been quite sure of what type of difference I’m supposed to be making in this word exactly, but what I do know is ImageI wake up every morning with a burning need to do more.  After the abuse, I channelled a lot of this energy into raising money and awareness for victims of domestic violence through CT-ALIVE and the Running for Color Purple Campaign.  While working with CT-ALIVE has given me an opportunity to do some good, I still feel like it’s not enough.  I don’t want to just raise money for victims of violence, I want to interact with them and give them hope.  More than that, I want to prevent women from becoming victims.  This has lead to me really evaluate what I want to do with this blog and my life.

I have the luxury with my current job of having 4 days off from work a week.  That gives me plenty of time to work with for accomplishing my other goals and dreams.  I know I want to make a difference in the world, and I specifically know I want to make a difference for victims of domestic violence.  What I need to workout is a game plan.  My work with CT-ALIVE and this blog have been a good start, but I think it’s time to branch out.  For starters, I have been putting more energy into my blogging and have recently begun putting myself out there.  I joined Team Tough Chik, which I am actually pretty excited about, and have also applied to be an ambassador for Fitfluential and RunKeeper.  I think all of these offer a great opportunity to get my message out there as well as get connected to companies I already utilize and believe in.

The other thing I am looking to accomplish is to put together a talk/program about dating and domestic violence that I can give at local colleges.  I met my abuser in college and knew nothing about domestic violence or the warning signs at the time.  If I can share my story and prevent young women from walking blindly into a dangerous situation, then I will have accomplished something truly fulfilling.  I think educating the masses about the myths and misconceptions of domestic violence is essential erasing the stigma of abuse and preventing more victims.  Abuse thrives in silence, and my goal is to Imageshine a spot light on it and open some dialogue.

Therefore, dating/domestic violence awareness talk has been added to my list of short term goals, along with improving my swimming and cycling, and training for a Half Ironman.  While these things may seem completely unrelated, for me, training and abuse are closely related.  After all, training for races is what made me feel empowered after abuse.  Gaining strength and endurance helped me build my confidence and feel safe again.  Plus, pushing myself through training and exercise while overcoming my past abuse is what I started this blog about in the first place.  Although at most times this blog is more about kicking ass than dealing with abuse, the history of abuse is part of who I am and what drives me to be a better, stronger, smarter woman.

If I am able to complete the Half Ironman, and someday a full Ironman, it will be at least in part due to the strength I’ve gained from my past experience with domestic violence.  It will also serve as a further example that anything is possible in life even after abuse.  My ultimate long term goal is to write a book about my experience with overcoming abuse.  I think finishing a full Ironman beforehand would make the message even more powerful… Not to say that if I never get to the point of doing an Ironman that I wouldn’t still write one, but wouldn’t it be awesome if I could?

In the meantime, I will get back to swim classes and spinning… and maybe writing a talk. 🙂

VINDICATION!

“Energy and persistence conquer all things.”
-Benjamin Franklin

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I am nothing is not persistent.  From the time I was a small child, there was no telling me I couldn’t do something.  Ever determined, I would simply redouble my efforts to find another way.  Once my heart was set on something, there was no redirecting me.  Perhaps this is why as an adult I own two bulldogs… It’s my appreciation for the obstinate.

ImageWhen I signed up for swim class, I was already determined to swim.  It was not just something I wanted to do, it was something I HAD to do.  It didn’t matter that I had anxiety and hyperventilated every time I put my face in the water.  Nor did it matter that I never learned to swim properly.  If I was going to take on a half ironman and potentially a full ironman, I was going to have to get the hang of it.  My goal was not just to learn to swim, but to swim well enough to survive 1.2 miles in open water.  This was my task, and I was going to find a way.

When I decided to join the YMCA and take swimming lessons, I was both excited and terrified.  I knew it would be a huge leap out of my comfort zone, but I was ready for the challenge.  I never imagined that the evening coach would be more intimidating than the water!  I was completely devastated when she kicked me out of class.  It was as if she had confirmed all of my worst fears about myself by pointing out I wasn’t good enough.  However, thanks to some tremendous personal growth over the past several years and a strong sense of self I was able to bounce back from the blow pretty quickly.  Instead of wasting another moment feeling badly about myself, I came up with a new game plan before I even left the parking lot… granted I was crying at the time, but never more resolute!

I was not about to let some coach who didn’t know the first thing about me tell me I wasn’t good enough.  I have a lot of experience with being underestimated.  I’m petite, soft spoken, and polite.  People frequently mistake the fact that I’m quite and reserved for a lack of confidence and self assurance.  However, I am NO PUSHOVER.  I know who I am and what I’m capable of, and this woman clearly did not.  All she saw was someone she thought was struggling to swim: a snap shot in time with no backstory.  I knew for a fact that I would make her eat those words.

I went to that pool and swam everyday after my first class, including the full workout the day she kicked me out and our session on the weekend.  I went to that pool on the days I had to work, days I got out late, and days when I was stuck in traffic and knew I’d only have 30 minutes to swim before the pool closed.  I went everyday for a week straight before I ended up at the pool while swim class was taking place.  They had already started when I arrived.  I wandered over to an open lane and started my usual drills and laps.  I was swimming for almost 45 minutes when I looked up and realized that the swim coach was waving excitedly at me with the entire group in the beginner lane.  Upon returning to the far end of the pool, they erupted into applause.  She had stopped them to watch me swim and they cheered for me enthusiastically.

I’d be a liar if I said I wasn’t surprised.  In fact, I was shocked.  That class is so intense, I didn’t expect anyone to notice I wasgreatestpleasure even there.  I figured I would fly under the radar per usual.  Their excitement gave me enough of a boost to swim longer than usual, and I was happy to at least enjoy the company of my new beginner lane friends in spirit.  I knew they were rooting for me.  Unlike the coach, they understood where I was coming from.  They struggled with the breathing the way I had, and looked anything other than graceful in the water the way I did.  There was no judgement in the beginner lane.  We were all terrified together, hoping not to be singled out by the coach or drown mid lap.  Our fear of the coach and the water had bonded us almost immediately.

I am fairly certain that seeing me “transformed” into someone who could swim full laps somewhat gracefully with my face in the water gave them hope that they could too.  After all, I was the worst swimmer in class according to the coach- the one who was so awful I was kicked out of class!  Now the same coach was having them watch my swimming to illustrate how much improvement I had made.  If a disaster like me could do it, of course they could!

After class, the girl I had talked most at our last class came running up to me in the locker room to tell me how thrilled she was for me.  “You look like you really know what you’re doing!” I think she was more excited for me than I was for myself.  She said she had asked the coach to show her how to rotary breath the way she had taught me.  The rest of women shared her surprise and enthusiasm. Even the woman from the more advanced groups offered me sincere congratulations on all the improvement I had made.  It was clear though, that it was the beginner group that was most elated, as this was a victory for all of us.  Score 1 for the slow lane!

Then upon exiting the locker room I heard the words I thought would never come “So are you coming back to class?”  It was the evening coach.  I replied that I wasn’t sure if my swimming was strong enough partially because I was still in shock at the suggestion.  She told me I should come to the next class to “See how it goes”.  I’m sure that she was patting herself on the back and taking full credit, which is actually fine by me.  I am just pleased to know it only took me 6 days to make her eat her words.  The same women who initially suggested I get remedial lessons and try swim classes again in January at the earliest was now personally inviting me to class and using my swimming as an example to other beginners.

Like I said, she had no idea who she was dealing with. 😉

You Don’t Belong Here

“Life is a series of experiences, each one of which makes us bigger, even though sometimes it is hard to realize this.  For the world was built to develop character, and we must learn that the setbacks and grieves which we endure help us in our marching onward.”

-Henry Ford 
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On Wednesday morning I had my very first swimming lesson, and I thought it went pretty well.  I was both nervous and excited about my second class Thursday night, so I made it a point to head out of work early and ensure I got there on time.  As it turned out, I got there a little early so I spent about 30 minutes swimming laps before class.  Well, I thought I was swimming laps, the women in the lane next to me (who, unfortunately for me, happened to be the night coach) thought they were more of an abomination and insult to the sport of swimming.

lifeisfullofThat is at least what I surmised when she pulled me aside before the class even started and suggested I get a refund.  It wasn’t really a suggestion.  She actually told me that they should have made sure I knew how to “rotary breath” before I signed up.  I suppose I could see her point, but her delivery really sucked.  Plus, I had been very honest about my skill level (ie. swimming to avoid drowning)  when I asked about swim classes.  The woman who signed me up was emphatic about this specific class, and told me that I would pick things up more quickly because the class was a mix of beginner and advanced swimmers.  She stressed that beginners were welcome.  This was reiterated by the morning coach who assured me I would not be the only person in class unfamiliar with swim caps, goggles, and lap swimming.  After hearing the same message repeated by the other swimmers, I was really starting to believe them.  “You’re in the right place” they kept telling me.

Now I found myself in my second swimming class being told not to return.  The message was loud and clear: YOU DON’T BELONG HERE!  She suggested I get remedial beginner classes; and then, when the tears started, she told me to come back this morning and she would spend some time with me.  It was really the LAST THING I was interested in doing, but I wasn’t about to give her the satisfaction of knowing how deeply I was wounded.

After the huge blow, she proceeded to give me instructions on the workout along with everyone else. YES– she had me stay for the workout after kicking me out!  The other people in the class were super friendly and supportive, which only made me more disappointed that I wasn’t allowed back.  I choked back the tears and sucked it up through each group of drills.  After it was over, I bawled my eyes out in the locker room.   The other women who were in the class did their best to make me feel better.  They told me that the night coach is really tough on everyone; and it was obvious during the session that she did a lot of yelling (…and that the majority of the class was afraid of her).  They encouraged me to stick with it and offered itsnotoverto help with my swimming.

As upset and disappointed as a was, I was more determined than ever.  I certainly was not going to let some biotch tell me I’m not good enough.  I had been swimming all of 2 days at that point, and had already made HUGE gains.  My swimming wasn’t pretty, but I wasn’t sinking either.  I was plowing out laps like it was my job.  I understand that the rotary breathing is important; however, I was clearly willing to practice on my own and told them I would get my husband to help me.  I didn’t agree with her decision to kick me out when there were clearly people in her class struggling more than I was.  I wasn’t the only person not keeping my face in the water, but for some reason I was the only one singled out.

This woman, obviously didn’t know who she was dealing with.  Back in high school I was cut from the track team repeatedly before they finally relented and let me on the team.  They ultimately had no choice because I kept showing up to practice regardless of whether I was on the team or not.  I thought about doing the same with her class, but it wasn’t exactly a friendly learning environment… Plus, I think she’d have a conniption.   In an odd way, the parallel to the start of my running career made me feel slightly better.  I wasn’t good enough for the track team my first time out, yet here I am a week away from my first 50K.  Maybe it’s a sign that the same will be true for swimming.  I won’t just get the hang of it, I’ll become passionate about it.  Granted, there aren’t a lot of coaches out there who admire passion over talent, but I have to say that it’s gotten me a lot further in life than talent ever has.

My point is, this isn’t the first time I have put myself out there to try something new only to have someone tell me I’m not good enough.  I’ve never let anyone else deter me, so I certainly wasn’t going to let this woman.  Instead, I decided I would spend time in the pool everyday, even if it meant after a 13+ hour shift, until I got the hang of the breathing.  It would be my personal F- you to this women for kicking me out.

So I did go and swim after work last night.  I went even though I got out late, got stuck in traffic, and knew I’d only have 30 struggleminutes at best before the pool would close.  I practiced the drills we did in class and tried my best to get comfortable with having my face in the water.  Then this morning I got up early and met Miss-You’re-Not-Good-Enough at the pool.  I had been absolutely dreading it, but it turned out she was much nicer (not nice, but significantly less bitchy) when not teaching a whole class.  It only took 15 minutes with her for me to get the hang of turning my shoulder and breathing properly.  She couldn’t get over how quickly I picked it up and how “beautiful” and “streamlined” I swam once I got it.  She even admitted she was impressed, though the look on her face said it all.  It was quite priceless, actually.

She didn’t invite me back to class, but at least now I know how to swim properly when I practice on my own.  I also have the card of the aquatics director (who tracked me down in the locker room when I was crying).  She told me to touch base with her and we would “work something out”.  I’m not sure if this means swimming with her or in a different class, but I’ll do whatever it takes to get it down.

When I first signed up for swim classes, I just wanted to learn to swim well enough to finish the half ironman.  However, now that I got kicked out of swim class, I’m determined to be the best swimmer I can be.  After spending time with numerous horrible coaches in high school and college and over 5 years with an abusive ex, I’m certainly not going to let one swim coach with a chip on her shoulder bring me down.  I think I have enough experience in dealing with self-esteem bashing jerks to be able to handle her.  In fact, I find that the best method is usually to make them eat their words, and I think I’m already well on my way to doing that. 🙂