On Mental Toughness: TRI, DON'T QUIT

Lightbulb moment of the week: "The more I do it, the less I'll dread it and the less I dread it, the more I'll do it!"- Me on "fear"

The rainy, gray day I met at the pier for our practice swim. And ps. the swim is from where I was standing, down past the end of that pier, then around a buoy to the left, for a while, then back to shore.
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Yesterday I learned that it doesn't matter what level or age you are.

You can still panic.

Like the lady standing next to me just after making a second trip out and around the buoys. Yes, that ripped lady, at least 15 years older than me with a 1/2 Ironman under her belt, even she fell victim to panic. 

Yesterday it was raining. It was a practice in the water where we'll be swimming for the St. Anthony's Triathlon next weekend. Before the swim, I kept my cool. I turned my emotions off. I didn't think about the fact that I was cold or that there was seaweed and dead fish along the beach. I didn't think about anything, except, "Can I do this?"

Usually the voice answers back, "Yes." Yesterday it was wishywashy and intimidated and defeated-sounding and it said, "I don't know."  I ignored it.

I got into the water and started "practice" swimming and then the voice was back again sending that inevitable question to enter my mind. "WHAT THE HELL am I doing???????"

The voice proceeds to tell me I'm crazy. It wonders why I am subjecting myself to this lunacy. And it tells me to flag down the nearest kayak to pluck me out of the water so we can just go home already.

But I kept going. I stopped a couple of times, I got used to the water, I bobbed, I flipped on my back, I caught my breath, I kept moving for the most part. I was one of the very last out of the water. We were going in again.

This time we all ran into the water, like we will on race day. The voice was back again. I couldn't ever shake the panic for the entire swim, and again I stopped a few times. I made it around the buoys and went back to shore. We were done.

I only swam about half of what we'll be swimming next week.

Which means that if I don't get my head on straight, I'm toast.

There were a few people like me, like Ironlady, whose nerves got the better of them. And I put my goggles on to stop myself from crying in front of the 99 other triathletes at the practice swim.

What is this? Is it fear? Is it the depth? Is it seeing the length of the swim spread out before me that overwhelms me? Is it the feeling of not being in control, like I am on land? Was it the murk? Because you all know how I feel about the murk...and there was a degree of murk going on.

And if I can't figure out what it is, how will I fix it?

When I was leaving, I thought to myself, the only solution is to do it more. Because the more I do it, the less I'll dread it and the less I dread it, the more I'll do it!

Funny how that works, isn't it?


This week I'm calling it "Tri, Don't Quit" week and I'm filling up my blog with my motivations to get me through Sunday.

And also, I'm going to be making some mental and physical changes this week and from here on out. Like for instance:

  • I'm going on a beer and wine FAST. Unfortunately  That doesn't mean quickly drinking beer and wine. It means no drinking. Until the weekend of June 6th. Which is the weekend of the Team In Training half marathon and I'm only drinking after the race, not before. Which will be very difficult because I'll be with sisters from the Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans, and well, we like to have our fun. But I see not drinking as a training state of mind. It's like shaving my head. Only without the clippers. And the bald head.
  • Working on my inner voice, making her a positive inner voice (maybe even giving her a name. Suggestions welcome. And we can't call her "bitch" cause remember, it's actually me.) And just so you know, as I typed the word "name," just now, what came out on the computer first was "man" as in "giving her a 'man'" which was either a total Freudian slip or a mild case of dyslexia. (Maybe she's trying to tell me something here...) But I will not give her permission to speak unless she's going to say something nice. Or she goes in time out. I may even make her say, "Permission to speak, Ma'am!"
  • I'm going to schedule and log my workouts on actual paper, in a notebook. Instead of just logging the times on Daily Mile. Which has been helpful, but only partial. I need to dig a little deeper here.
  • I'm going to have clearer goals for swimming, for instance, 1 or 2 swim workouts in the ocean per week and only one in the pool and that's for intervals. I need to do swim intervals. They've improved my running immensely, the swim coach I spoke to today said the same goes for swimming. So more ocean swimming. Because the more I do it, the less I'll dread it and the less I dread it, the more I'll do it! See how that works?

I'm going to write down all the snippets of all I read and hear that will help me stay positive through this week and put it here. I hope I don't bore you too much. But I gotta stay focused. And that's what this week's Monday Project is about, coincidentally, so you can join the fun this week! (The link goes live around 1pm EST so come back here to check it out.) All words of wisdom welcome here.
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