Thursday, August 24, 2017

I Am Actually Proud

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I don't say that often. That I am proud.

I don't even know if I've ever said it but not really meant it. It feels like just saying "I'm Proud" is so cocky... and pretentious.

(Well THERE'S a sad, small glimpse into my confidence, psyche and upbringing. But anyway...)

I'm often proud of the people in my family. It's a pride I feel FOR them, and a happiness I feel for their accomplishments.

This time, I'm actually proud of ME. And it feels strange to type it. I don't know that I've even said it aloud. Maybe to The Hubs, but that's even doubtful.

This past weekend I competed in my second sprint triathlon. It's my third triathlon this year, (well, EVER) but the first one was a "short" distance. The sprint is longer and consists of a 750m swim, a 20km bike ride, and then a 5km run. Like, all at once. On the same day. Back to back. Moving non stop. (Who chooses to do this shit you ask? I dunno, seriously.)

Me and The Hubs had talked about triathlons in 2016. He signed up for an Olympic (Standard) distance lake race in the fall of 2017. I had (breathlessly, slowly, poorly) completed the Whistler Mudderella course in fall 2016 when other ladies there were talking about triathlon. It seemed interesting - the sports involved were far less likely to cause surprise injuries or rib sprains or torn quad muscles like the obstacle race bullshit always ended with me.

Me + FUN, not-typical physical exertion/race = FAIL




Source (I think, I'm not sure, I fucking hate Pinterest and its pop ups....)


The seed was planted, but I knew that I wasn't fit enough. Or strong enough mentally. I had finally put my butt back on a bike for the first time in TWO LITERAL DECADES in spring of 2016 and the idea of 20km seemed like a distant dream. It was the first bike I'd ever used with hand brakes! Then I was extremely ill with a chest infection for October, followed by a solid month of virus in our household for December.

The idea of completing something that seemed so massive just seemed impossible. Those around me (not The Hubs) were quick to tell me it would be stupid, that I do things like that and get hurt, that I couldn't do it. And so I believed that. I decided I wasn't capable.


And with all my aches and pains and health problems, I went on a run on vacation in January. And my stomach pain temporarily subsided. I felt so sluggish, out of shape, and pathetically slow compared to the patient (and not even REMOTELY out-of-breath) Hubs, but I did it. In the sun. There were walk breaks, but it was the only time on vacation when my stomach didn't feel terrible.

So we went for two more runs. And for a fleeting moment, I felt STRONG when I was running up an incline. It was quick, but it was an incredible feeling.

And so, that began my training.

Spin classes in the pouring Vancouver rain, running around an indoor track, and swimming. Oh dear lord the swimming. I still so totally and completely SUCK at swimming, but even there I've made leaps and bounds.

I have very vivid memories of beginning to drown in a pool as a child. My mom couldn't swim so couldn't jump in to save me. I remember it all so clearly. And it's never left me.

So I learned to swim with my head above the water at all times. My front crawl (or freestyle?) was like that of a lifeguard, where I keep my face up and out of the water the entire time. It was exhausting. The back half of my body is angled down, and basically acts like a dickish anchor, impolitely slowing me the f*ck down no matter how hard I swim.

The short triathlon was hard. It was a 50m long pool and I took long breaks at the end of each lap. I still need breaks now after every 25m. Yup, every.single.frikkin.one. But I'm doing it still. I swim the 25m in about 29-31 seconds consistently. Any slower and I seem to sink. Can't really go much faster. But I need a break at the end of the lap because I'm not breathing properly.

In April I finally forced myself to learn to swim with my face in the water, properly(ish), and it was AND CONTINUES to be wholly terrifying. No exaggeration, the entire swim is a full blown panic attack for me, every time.


This liquid is going to swallow me. (Source)


But I'm not giving up, motherfuckers. Nope.
Yippy kai ay.
I have no idea how that is actually supposed to be written and I'm too bloody lazy to google it.

So I completed this sprint triathlon. My swim was slow. And I have to put myself in a slow bracket because my overall time IS around 26 minutes. But my laps are fast so I'm gurgling and looking for the swimmers in my lane that are actual NORMAL swimmers who don't freak the fuck out and breathe normally but just swim more slowly. I have to haul ass and then rest at the wall. It's not ideal but that is where I need to be. I'm eating feet and then passing if I can, just so I don't sink, and even though I tell my lane mates my weird system, I'm sure I'm annoying them. But that is how it is, and I do all I can to stay out of the way.

I got my bike, and went for it.

I had completed a 55km bike race in July where shit went sideways for a multitude of reasons, and I thought I was having a stroke. Turns out it was a migraine with aura, which took most of my vision away for the last 5km of the race. I was worried that it would be another exercise induced deal at the triathlon, and was prepared to stop and leave the race if I had to.

This was the first race where I was able to pull and drink from my water bottle, and grab chews from my jersey WHILE CYCLING. Laugh if you want, but this was a big deal for me. Before I was too forward/arm heavy and would appear to be suffering from spontaneous electrocution on my bike before fantastically crashing to the ground because I'd tip sideways. I did end up stopping for water for a minute or two at the turnaround point aid station because the Gatorade I had was tasting slightly like ass and bad breath. Mmmmmmm.

It felt like I was moving much slower than my May race, but it turns out I actually went quite a bit faster. I didn't know until I was done. And that was on my hybrid bike. I still really want a proper road bike and clip-in cycling shoes. But baby steps for now.

Then, the run. I suck at running, but I have been trying to keep at it. I'm not the fastest, and my post-baby bladder sometimes likes to just fuck with me and decide I need an ISTA-PEE, regardless of my surroundings or proximity to an ACTUAL TOILET. But, I digress.

Actual photo of me on my last training run. (Source)


This run had hills. One really big one. And I HATE running up hills. I had to take a few walk breaks and figured I shouldn't be in the race. It felt like the opposite of those slopes on vacation. I stopped for water. I couldn't maintain my pace, and felt like I had blown it.

Then I forced myself up the last hill and in another half kilometre, I was done.

I looked at my watch - I had shaved 14 minutes off of my time from three months prior.

I thought I made an error on my watch. But I hadn't.
I actually started to cry a little. I hadn't passed Hubs based on our swim start times (before he had always passed me once or twice which was the motivation I needed to keep strong). I didn't know anyone else, had almost not signed up because I was literally so scared of the swim, afraid that I wouldn't be able to finish, worried that I'd be a joke to those who enjoy seeing me fail. I didn't sleep the night before. My already constant-in-every day anxiety was so insane. I hadn't been able to train as much due to illness, heat, air quality and scheduling with Baby D.

And I crossed that finish line STRONG. I was scared, but I was brave goddammit.
And I can say, for the first time in a very, very long time, that I am proud.

And that's a big deal.


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