Swimming for Fitness

iannnnn / Pixabay

iannnnn / Pixabay

For the first time in way too many months, I went back to my solo workouts at the pool yesterday morning.  I’ve been going to Team Fight swim practice for a few weeks, but hadn’t jumped back into my solo workouts yet.  I was supposed to start last week, but the stupid sore throat kept me home.  I figured swimming probably wasn’t the best thing for me.

Swimming is an insane workout.  I really need to do more of it year round, not just during triathlon season.  It can be tough to get myself to the pool, but man do I feel wobbly after a swim.  It’s easy to get in a good workout in an hour or so.  Today, my shoulder muscles are actually sore to the touch.  It’s an awesome feeling.

I’m definitely one of the youngest people swimming in the morning (after the swim teams leave), and I’m really impressed at the fitness level of some of the older people.  There are definitely people in there 70’s and 80’s at the pool swimming who look awesome!  I want to be those old ladies.  It’s pretty adorable because they all know each other and are catching up on all the gossip in the locker room after their workouts.

There’s also the guy who swims in nude colored swim trunks, which always causes a horrified double take.  It’s not a good look.  But when you’re old, you can do what you want.

I’ll admit, it’s much easier to drag myself to the pool in the mornings in the spring and summer.  Winter mornings are so very dark and so very cold.  But here’s hoping.


Current Events

This was a crazy weekend.  I went on a 17 mile bike ride with Kristin and realized just how terribly out of shape I have gotten.  Well, out of biking shape, anyway.  And I was going to write about it, but having just spent the last few hours reading the news (I’m writing this on Sunday afternoon from my backyard), it just seems wrong.

At first, the big news of the weekend seemed to be the Bruce Jenner interview.  I watched it, and I have to say, it was very well done.  Very respectful, very different from a lot of the other news reports about transgendered people.  I think it’s brave that he’s coming out with his story, and yes, I know, he’s coming from a place of great privilege where he has the money and resources to do all of this, but hey, it’s a step in the right direction, right?  I’m sure the Kardashian money-making machine will somehow spin it to benefit them, but for now, let’s focus on the positive.

Then there was the earthquake in Nepal.  The reports as I’m typing are saying over 2400 dead and 5900 injured.  I’m sure those numbers will have grown by the time this publishes Monday morning.  Chrissy writes beautifully about her visit last year to Nepal and our reactions to disasters that happen far away.  It was sad to wake up this morning and find that the big headlines were last night’s Correspondent’s Dinner and the jokes that the President made.  Sure, we need to share the good news with the bad, but did that have to be the top headline?

I saw this blurb in the NY Times:

The government announced that schools would remain closed for at least five days and it pleaded with government workers to help in local rescue efforts in place of their usual jobs.

And I couldn’t help but think about what that might mean if something tragic happened here and our government announced something similar.  I don’t talk about my job here except to say that I’m a government worker, but I’m going to add another detail – my job is not the sort that would be in any way important in the days following a major national disaster.  I should maybe learn some skills that would enable me to help in such a situation.

I’ve been reading about the climbers that are still trapped on Everest and how they’re being rescued and thinking about how scary that must be, and then realizing how lucky those people are to even have a shot at being rescued.

It’s a weird world we live in.

You are too kind

Thank you all for your kind words on Monday’s post.  It was just something that I needed to get out there, maybe more for myself than for anyone else.  Either way, it felt good to have it said and now I’m back to thinking I’m awesome.

Well, actually right now, I’m sick.  AGAIN.  I know a lot of people get sick right after a big race, but I seem to be getting sick around a week after a big race.  Does that make sense?  Either way, I actually sucked it up and went to the doctor and basically, I have a viral sore throat.  No strep, so no need for antibiotics.  I’m just supposed to rest, drink lots of fluids, and take Advil.  I’m actually okay with this, but I’m ready to get back on the training wagon.  Apparently, a ten mile run doesn’t qualify as rest though.

I’m going a bit stir crazy, to be honest.  I’ve been teleworking so as to not spread this illness to my coworkers, and I’m completely disappointed to be missing Take Your Children to Work Day.  Kids love me.  We’re on the same wavelength.  But while we like to send kids home with souvenirs, perhaps a virus isn’t the best souvenir to share.

Anyone have any great sore throat remedies?  Someone suggested Jack Daniels and honey.  That sounds pretty strong, but I might try it just the same.  It might be delicious, after all!

A brain dump about pace and time and inferiority

I’ve been playing around with this post for nearly a week now, not exactly sure what I’m writing or where it’s going.  So I’m just going to do a brain dump and leave it at that.

I’ve had a pretty good trend with my running as of late.  I’ve had some major improvements and some amazing races.  Last weekend, I had a blast running with Betsy during the Cherry Blossom Almost Ten Miler and we kept up a really solid pace.

But emotionally, my slow pace is just getting to me.  I’ve gotten so much faster over the past few months thanks to a coach who is pushing me just the right amount, but the harder I work, the more I notice that I’m still one of the slow ones, and it bothers me.  It doesn’t make me want to quit, but it’s not been good for my motivation either.

This is tough to put out there because I am such a big fan of the slower runners and the slower triathletes.  I have friends who are faster than me and I have friends who are slower than me, and I couldn’t care less about their finish times.  I’m so proud of everyone who gets out there.  Your finish time doesn’t matter.  It shouldn’t matter.  And yet suddenly, I’m finding that my finish times do matter to me.

I’m not sure what it is.  I am a proud Galloway runner.  I run/walk.  And yet so many times, I hear “Come on, stop walking!”  Or “With time, you’ll end up running longer and longer intervals and won’t need to walk anymore.”  As if there’s something wrong with my run/walk.  It’s gotten a lot of people out there, and honestly, I wouldn’t be able to run if I weren’t running intervals.

I was chatting with someone from a local triathlon group at the Cherry Blossom expo, and I asked about the time limit.  “Oh, you’ll be fine.  No one ever gets cut, and if they do, they deserved it.”  As I chatted with this guy more, I realized how down he was on the slower triathletes.  Another woman walked up to chat with us and commented that she was an Athena, and felt the need to say “I’m faster than I look.”  As if there’s something wrong with being a larger woman in triathlon.  (Note, this woman was not what I would call large.  She was tall with broad shoulders that made her look like a scary good swimmer though.)

As I was dumping this all on my coach, she made a good point.  I do have a physical limitation that will always keep me slower, and it’s tough because that limitation is invisible.  I always downplay my heart rate issues, because they’re not that big of a deal in the whole scheme of things.  I can still do everything I want to do, just maybe not at the level I want to.  In short, my heart rate likes to skyrocket when I workout.  If I push too hard during that one minute run interval, my heart rate easily reaches over 185.  I do my best to keep it under 185, and have my Garmin set to alert me when it hits that point.  I usually try to keep my heart rate in the upper 170’s.

(Note that the common equation for recommended heart rate during exercise puts me at under 160.  So this is still a higher heart rate than many people are working at.)

The problem is that when my (or your) heart rate gets too high, your heart isn’t pumping efficiently.  I’m not an expert in biology by any means, but from what I understand, the chambers don’t have time to fill completely.  Ultimately, this just means that my body won’t be able to keep up the pace I’ve set and I will naturally slow down.  But if I push this limit too much, I feel awful after my run.  It can’t be good for me.  Before I was diagnosed, I caught a stomach bug and just couldn’t bounce back.  I was exhausted all the time and really not in a good place physically.  I think it was all related to completely running down my body.  I never want to be in that position again.

But just writing this out makes it feel like an excuse.  Like I have to explain why I’m so slow.  It shouldn’t matter to me or anyone!  Maybe it’s just frustration because I am working so hard and I’m realizing that I will never be fast.  My fastest 10 mile race was around a 1:50.  Pretty slow.  And I remember feeling awful afterwards.  But I don’t know that I’ll ever get back to that.

You know what?  It sucks.  It sucks to have this limitation.  It sucks to know that no matter how hard I work, I will never be fast.  It sucks to hear people saying “Oh, a 5:30 marathon?  That’s nothing to brag about,” and knowing that I will never run a 5:30 marathon.  Yes, I’m getting faster, but physically, there’s a limit for me.  And I don’t like it.

I guess I don’t have to like it though.  I just have to accept it.

Of course, I’m glad to know why I was feeling so wrecked after my races.  Who knows what kind of damage I would have done to my body if I had kept it up.  More likely, I would have given up completely.  I would have never even thought about doing triathlons.

Admittedly, I’m in pretty good shape right now thanks to all my training.  My legs look fabulous, to the point where I’m actually excited to show them off in cute summer skirts.  And while I haven’t taken measurements or gotten on the scale, I feel pretty confident in how I look. My body is far from perfect, but right now, I just don’t care.  So not only am I seeing improvement in my running, but my self confidence has increased and my legs look amazing.

I’d love to be able to come up with some great lesson here.  Something about not worrying about other people and just doing your thing.  And I guess that’s true.  But maybe this is also about how sometimes the doubts creep in and you just need to accept them sometimes and know that you don’t always have to be positive.  But you do have to keep going.

I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth

So I sort of fell off the face of the earth after Monday’s race recap. I think I may have been social media-ed out after this weekend.

Actually, life just got insane.  Lots of extra stuff going on at work, trying to squeeze in training where I could.  It was busy.  I’m hoping for a nice, relaxing weekend.  With some nice, easy training.  I’m not complaining – it’s been an awesome week.  Lots of problem solving at the office (problems not of my making, so I come out of the situation looking gooooood).  But it’s all exhausting.

I actually do have a bigger blog post brewing after Coach had to talk me off the ledge last week.  But that’s going to take some time to get written up.  Maybe after I actually get some sleep.

Part of my plan last night was to sleep.  Around 3:00, I just wanted to put my head down at my desk and nap.  Sadly, not an option, plus I’d probably end up talking in my sleep and telling my coworkers my deepest, darkest secrets.  But I had swim practice.  I wasn’t going to go.  Then I was.  Then I wasn’t. But then I realized that I needed to go.  I have a triathlon in less than a month.  I also needed the workout.  I joked that I might just grab a raft and float down the lanes, but I knew I needed to show up.

And I’m glad I did.  Thankfully, it wasn’t a sprint workout, so it was lots of long, easy distance.  That’s great practice and good for a body and brain that are a little worn out.  So I just need to remember this feeling.  Sure, sleep would have felt good, but showing up felt even better.