Friday, June 8, 2012

Swimming with Susan

I earned my Splash and Dash shirt this year. Despite my alter ego, Susan. She can suck it!
I have an alter ego brewing lately, and I'm not sure how to handle her. Her name is "Susan." She is not the tongue-in-cheek jokester who searches for the perfect breakfast burrito, drinks wine, makes fun of people in running skirts, or has the no-big-deal attitude. "Susan" is all of the negative self-talk, the stomach aches, the muscle soreness, and the reason I just want to stay in bed.

I've been putting in about 3 hours of pool time per week over the past month or so. My training plans calls for one 75 minute pool swim per week, which is no problem. There is no way I'll be swimming for over an hour during a race - unless "Susan" has her way. Tonight I did Threshold Racing's Splash and Dash #1 in the Steven's Creek Reservoir: swim a mile, run 3 miles (no bike). This is the event that almost screwed me up mentally last year, and I often refer to it as "Dashin' but not a lot of splashin'." You can read the account here.

The gist of last year's race is this: Open water is scary. I freaked out. I didn't do the swim. I tried to vindicate myself by doing the run anyway.

I'm not typically a person who thinks, "Oh my God, I can't do this," but open water swimming brings this to the surface. Tonight I was ready to conquer Splash and Dash no matter what. Physically, I'm ready (albeit slow), but mentally it's still a different game. The crazy thing is - I've done these swims before. I did Napa tri in April, and the water temperature was 54 degrees, and I did fine. Tonight, I even convinced myself that I didn't need a wetsuit because the water was a balmy 74 degrees. Suzanne knew she could do it, but Susan had other plans. . .

I wasn't nervous until the start horn blew. Then came back that terrible feeling of fear, negative self talk, and wanting to quit. The first 15 minutes was miserable - I was definitely on the verge of a panic attack. My heart was pounding out of my chest. I must have looked out to the first buoy 100 times. The lifeguard on his surfboard looked at me like I shouldn't even be in the water. Everyone had passed me, and the men were easing past me on their second lap. So many negative thoughts - it was almost like the worst parts of my life flashing before my eyes: I thought I might have a heart attack, or just quit, or that people would be disappointed with me, and everyone is better than me, or why do I even try. These had to be supplemented with positive thoughts like: I'm not going to die, I've done this before, no one even cares if I come in last, who gives a shit if I'm slow, I only learned to swim last summer. . .  etc. etc.

Around the first corner I started to feel a little better, but Susan was still lurking there for the entire swim, and it didn't feel very good. Again I am reminded of how much work I have to do in the next couple of months. This is literally testing the waters of my abilities, and I just need to work though it.

Whereby Susan and Suzanne share their Splash and Dash experiences:

Susan: Omg, I'm going to die. Am I breathing even? Where am I going? There the buoy. . . it's so far out there still. I'm going to turn around now. No one will even remember me. That lifeguard is looking at me thinking, "Why did they even let her register for this race? I'm probably going to have to pull her from the water. Ugh." Is that the men lapping me already? I've only been in the water for 10 minutes! Ok well maybe I can just make it around the next corner and finish half of the race. I mean, I'm only doing this for training anyway. It's not a big deal. But then I'll be disqualified. My stomach hurts, I'm getting a headache. I shouldn't have eaten such a big lunch today. Could I DRINK anymore water? Yuck. The sun is in my eyes! UGH!

Suzanne: This is totally normal. You are just freaking out a little bit, but this will pass in a few minutes. Are you breathing? Yes. Are you pulling with your arms? Yes. Are you kicking. Yes? Well the lifeguard is over there so at least I'm going the right way. Doesn't the water feel nice over your skin? I am now one with nature, just pulling and breathing - it should be very relaxing. If that person is in your way, just get out of the way, or think about the stroke and I'll speed up a bit. Pull. Pull. Kick. Kick. Breath as much as possible without sucking down water. That is probably why your stomach hurts. This is nothing you haven't done before - an hour of exercise is no big deal, and there is a run afterwards! No one will pass you on the run, and besides, this is only training.

It's interesting how Susan is all in 1st person, and Suzanne is not. That's the negative self-talk. Susan is just such a dominant force. She almost brought me down for sure. But, I (Suzanne) did finish my first Splash and Dash last night. It wasn't my best showing, but it takes a bad day to have a really really good day sometime very soon.

Look who's the Mermaids Triathlon tomorrow! (NOT Susan.) Susan can leave her ass at home.

No comments:

Post a Comment