Friday, December 16, 2011

Finding My Inner Fish

I am a Pisces.  I LOVE the water!  I enjoy listening to the waves crash against the surf at Virginia Beach.  Watching the James River meander through the city relaxes me.  Swimming in the water that I love so much....that’s a different story.

As a kid I learned how to survival swim.  I could swim well enough to play in the pool and at Water Country USA without drowning, but that’s about it.  Survival swimming also meant I learned how to swim with my head above the water.  Survival swimming is not something you want to do during a triathlon.  It is inefficient and will cause you to tire out very quickly.

Once I got it into my head that I was going to do a sprint triathlon, I knew I had to learn how to swim correctly.  I became a community member at my local YMCA and began taking swimming lessons.  Each lesson was a struggle.  I couldn’t swim 25 meters without stopping several times.  Instead of embracing the water I fought it, or in my mind it fought me.  My swim instructor kept telling me how great I was doing, but I wasn’t hearing it.  I left feeling defeated after every lesson, vowing not to return.

I couldn’t figure out for the life of me why learning how to swim freestyle was so difficult for me.  I was a Pisces for goodness sake’s!  I am supposed to take to the water like the fish that I am supposed to be!  Every time I got into the water I would become tense.  My breathing would speed up and my heart would race.  During a training session in which I was sharing a lane with several people, I stepped into the corner of the lane and just cried since I was so overwhelmed.  Fortunately for me the other swimmers were very understanding and coaxed me out of the corner.

Even though I struggled to learn how to swim freestyle and had wanted to quit more times than I could count, I knew I had to keep going.  First, I was determined to do my first triathlon.  Secondly, I did not want to be like so many African-Americans that could not swim.  According to a 2010 survey done by USA Swimming, almost 70% of African-American children surveyed could barely or not swim at all.  And I am going to assume if the children can’t swim, most likely their parents can’t either. 

As stated in my first post, the swim for my triathlon was rough.  I had a panic attack before I entered the pool.  I didn’t even swim half of the distance.  My only goal was to get to the wall by any means necessary.  After that race I didn’t get back into the pool for almost 2 months.
After my 2 month hiatus, I decided to get back into the swing of things.  My first time back into the pool went better than anticipated.  I didn’t tense nor have an anxiety attack.  I got in the pool and swam.  I can’t say I was fully relaxed, but I was ok.  It appeared that the break had done me some good.
The Sunday after Thanksgiving I had a major breakthrough while swimming with some of my TRIgirl teammates.  A bunch of us had met at the Y to do our own swim session.  Our coached session had been canceled for the holiday.  While doing a drill it occurred to me why I was fighting the water and tensing up so much.  I was not trusting myself!  I did not trust that I could properly execute what I had learned.  So as I swam I talked to myself.  I kept reminding myself that I was not going to drown, that I could swim, but if there was an issue I could tread water.  And if things go really bad, I could always yell for the lifeguard.  That day I started to enjoy swimming.
Here it is December and I can honestly say I enjoy swimming.  I look forward to my swim workouts.  Don’t get me wrong, I still have my moments.  Sometimes I doubt my ability and have to talk my way through my workout.  Other times I am frustrated because I still get easily winded when I swim and my endurance is not where I want it to be.  But all in all I know I have found my inner fish.  No longer do I consider myself Flipper on Crack when I swim.
I am a Pisces.  I am a fish.  The water is my playground.       

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Fitting it All In

The most difficult aspect of training for a tri for me is time management.  It is imperative that I follow my training schedule as close as possible, but at the same time I must be flexible.  It is too easy for training to take over my life.  The first tri I did, my primary goal was to finish.  Now, I want to compete.  To compete I have to put in the time, but I have to keep things in perspective.  I am very fortunate that I have a very supportive husband who understands how important my training is to me.  He also understands "happy wife, happy life." : - )  Seriously, I really don't know how I would manage everything if my husband was not such a team player.  My only household chores are cooking  and taking the recycling and trash to the curb.  Mr. Adams takes care everything else.  Lucky me!

I do the majority of my workouts at the crack of dawn.  By doing so ensures that my workouts are completed, but it also gives me the rest of the day to juggle everything else that is going on in my life.  I have learned how to say no, but everyone once in a while something unexpected will come up, and my day is bursting at the seams.  On those days I become the ultimate multi-tasker.  It may mean cooking dinner at 5 am while I workout or working on a project while on a conference call.  Either way I usually get it done.

I am so amazed by those triathletes that are parents.  They are the ultimate multi-taskers.  I can't imagine having to manage someone else's day as well as my own .  Kudos to them!

Sometimes I do get overwhelmed, but on those days I take a deep breath and make a to do list.  As I complete each task I become more calm.  And once the to do list is complete, I have a sense of accomplishment.

At the end of the day the most important thing to me is my marriage.  I periodically check-in with Mr. Adams to make sure I am being the attentive wife that I need to be.  Usually I am on point, but every once in a while I falter.  When that occurs I re-evaluate how I am utilizing my time and make the necessary adjustments.  I never want Mr. Adams to feel neglected or unappreciated.  He means the world to me.

Training for a tri and having a life are possible, but it's all about having a good support system and knowing how to utilize your time.  Now what can I fit in before I go to bed?!


Saturday, November 26, 2011

Here I Go!

Welcome to my blog!  First and foremost THANK YOU for taking the time out of your busy day to read my little blog.  I hope at least one person that reads this blog will be inspired enough to try a tri or some other endurance sport.  I want everyone to experience the feeling of empowerment of completing an endurance event.  There is NOTHING like it! 

This blog will primarily focus on my pursuit of completing my first 1/2 IronMan triathlon in September of 2012, but on the way I will throw in some random topics.  Such topics will include my decision to stop relaxing my hair and transitioning to natural hair, if the Dallas Cowboys are going to the playoffs, and anything else that may pop in my head. 

I will end this post with my race report of my first and only tri that I posted on my Facebook page.  It was written with raw emotion, so who knows what kind of grammatical errors you may find.  Please bare in mind that I just wanted to share with as many people as possible what I had accomplished.  Until next time....

Today was the most physically challenging thing that I have ever done...and it almost didn't happen. I was fine before the race until it was almost time for me to get into the pool. I had a meltdown...ugly cry and all. Fortunately I had my teammates around me and they helped to calm me down. Furthermore, seeing the sea of pink around me was so encouraging. I got in the pool and just focused on getting to the wall each time. It wasn't pretty...I swam, ran, and doggy-paddled. My husband was able to get on the pool deck and cheer me on. At the end of the pool I could not find the strength to pool myself out of the pool. Fortunately two of the volunteers helped me, but I scraped up my legs and knees to the point I had blood running down my legs. 

I run down to transition to put on my socks, shoes, and helmet and I am off....or so I thought. I get to the mount line and get on my bike. My legs feel like rubber and I fall...hard. I get up and get back on my bike. I soon realize my seat is very crooked. I have to jump off my bike and try to fix my saddle to no avail. A spectator sees me in trouble and fixes my saddle for me. So now I am finally off! I used the first mile of the 11 mile bike ride to get some fluids in me and to get my mind right. After that first mile I was finally able to get into beastmode....and I cranked those last 10 miles (some very hilly) out. 

Once done with the bike it was time for my 5k. By then it was extremely hot and my mind and body were battling. And unknowingly to me my husband did not see me come back in from the bike, so he became concerned, got in his car, and started looking for me. Fortunatley he saw one of my friends who told him I was running. During the run I had some cramping and I was just exhausted, but I kept putting one foot in front of the other. Throughout this race I became a Gangster moment I was singing "God is Great" and praying, the next I was cursing so I could attack a hill...I know, that is so sad, but I am going to keep it real. I walked briefly through the two waterstops and right before the monster hill at the end of race. Going up the hill I got realll gansta, but I was struggling. At the top of hill was my husband. When I saw him I started to cry. I told him I had nothing left. He told me to dig deep and that I could finish. By then I saw the finish line, and with the little strength I had I sprinted for the last 100 meters.

I feel so empowered right now! I know I can do ALL things through Christ. I am so thankful for everyone that has supported and encouraged me. I am so glad to be a TRIgirl - those are some of the most awesome ladies that I know. I am so thankful for my husband. He has gone above and beyond during my training. Honestly, I can't truly put into words what I am feeling right now. I just can't......
I don't know my time, but at this point I really don't care...well maybe a little : - ) But seriously, I am just so glad and thankful that I finished. Thanks to everyone for being on this ride with me.