puzzle pieces

Thursday, September 2, 2010


This morning before the day really got started, my sister and I decided to go out to the lake and try out wet suits. I need to swim in one for the Triathlon (YES! I did sign up!!!) on Monday, so I thought it would be a good idea to try the entire process out.

It was cold. So cold. I have never felt cold like that before on my legs and arms. I think I lost all nerve when my head had to go in to begin swimming along the buoy line.
It's approximately 750m from start to finish. But of course, after the swim I will then need to bike 20km, and run 5km to the finish line. And I think I will be very cold indeed after that swim!
Yes- only a Sprint Triathlon. There are farther distances for sure!
But this is my first one alone. No relay this time. No "just doing the bike segment".
This Tri is all mine....a goal I set a while back- to be completed by the end of September.

So.....the swim this morning. The cold swim.
My head went in, and I saw murky green. It took my breath away. Panic rose and all of a sudden my mind did it's own thing and raced off without me. Or rather...I got dragged along by my minds wild thoughts.
"I'm going to freeze in here!
How in the world am I to put my head down and front crawl 750m in this?!
What am I thinking. Hypothermia will set into my legs before I'm halfway.
I can hardly breathe because of the cold....add to that I'm gasping for air just to get through a regular swim"...
And so my thoughts ran.

Rewind about 2 years ago. My 10km race in the beautiful town of Canmore, Alberta.
I had only ran one other 10k race before- and that was with a friend of mine. This one...was on my own. I had no one to talk me through the next km. It was around the 8km mark and my body wanted to stop right there on the trail. I started to slow down, my feet dragging. Hardly hearing the spectators along the edge clapping and cheering, I started to think that "running was just not for me. It wasn't my sport. What was I thinking anyway??? I hyperventilated all through cross-country running in high school. I knew THEN i never liked running. What made me think I could run 10k - and without anyone along with me????""....my thoughts raced on yet again.
Suddenly from amidst the spectators and cheer people along the side, I heard a lady yelling. It was  as though she was reading my thoughts...or maybe she just noticed my lethargic state as I dragged by.
She looked at me, and her voice stood out from all the rest as I heard her yelling (in a not so nice voice...or so it seemed)..."IT'S ALL IN YOUR HEAD. COME ON! IT'S ALL IN YOUR HEAD!!"
Within seconds- it dawned on me what she was saying.

My head was draining me of all energy. Sure I was physically tired, but my mental state was in worse condition. I was letting my self get the better of me!
I knew within that moment I Could bring more to this run. I was my own worst enemy. I wasn't going to let my mind win this. I fought it...and I took off running for the last 2km without stopping, even sprinting as I went through the finish.
It was my best 10k time yet to date.

Now jump again to this morning.
My head was in that exact same state as during the run.
And sadly- I had no one yelling at me from the side.
It was me, (my sister was well ahead of me)...and my own dreadful thoughts.
I forgot the mantra..."It's All in Your Head"....that I had tried to hold on to over the last year or 2.
I left the lake saying " I will not be able to do this Triathlon.
Maybe I will just find someone to do the swim segment for me.
Maybe I haven't trained enough.
What AM i thinking...I'm not really great at sports anyways...I just like to think I am."

I have completely talked/thought myself out of this one.
I'm trying to remember it's all In my head.
Because most of it is.
Don't they say the battle is usually won in the mind?

Choosing to battle it is one thing....winning seems to be another for me.

As for right this moment...yes...I am still registered and will be attending the Triathlon on Monday morning.
I will do it.
And how I'm managing to stay put-  is to repeat that "It's all in my head"...over and over again. I'm doing it as I type.
I sure hope that it works.

 I do know one thing though...the water IS ACTUALLY THAT COLD!
THAT I know is a fact that is real.
And I'm wishing THAT part  was just all in my head......


Stevie said...

You can do it! You'll have so much adrenaline going through you on Monday that you won't even think about the cold.

The mental block is SO HARD to get past. I ran my first half marathon in June and had an awesome experience because I totally got out of my head and let all the cheers from the spectators wash over me. During my training, though, I had a much harder time. But no matter what, YOU CAN DO IT!

Can't wait to read your post once you've finished the triathlon :-)

Jo said...

You got this, girl. I used to lifeguard and would swim for an hour at a time. It was the best meditation that I have ever found. Just pull yourself into your own body, hear your breathe and keep it calm. You know you are strong enough and you know that in reality you will not freeze. Once you finish the swim, you will be totally stoked.

I've been doing TurboFire, which is a crazy super intense cardio kickboxing style workout. The trainer, Chalene, is always yelling "Good news! You're not tired!!" Oddly enough, it does work. It really is all in your head.

Good luck. I'll be thinking about you, and silently cheering you on.

Dailymile Leslie S said...

you absolutely CAN do this on Monday! I know all about the mental part, my mental demon is especially big on my run. I personally had my worst freak out moment 500 yards into a 600 yard swim, most terrifying moment of my life, pretty sure I was going to die in the pond. I learned to do diversion tactics to keep my mind occuppied and off of the distance... for me that is singing Christmas Carols in my head, 99 bottles of beer on the wall, etc.., I also make up "theme" words to the alphabet A is for Alberta, B Boston, etc. I also have a friend who has a rule, to swim 20 strokes then relax, it helps to chop up the distance. As for the cold, many people before they start bob their head under 3-4 times to help with that initial panic attack of the cold hitting their face. You will warm up pretty quickly once you start swimming, it usually takes me about 50 yards or so. You will dry off pretty quickly on the bike and then wish you were still wet to cool off a bit later. :)

You will do awesome, and I cannot wait to hear how it goes!

~*~ saskia ~*~ said...

Good good GOOD luck, Dawn. Sending lots and lots of positive energy your way. xxooxxoo

koralee said...

Good for you....I know you can do it...you inspire me my friend.

Oh how I hate cold!!! I am always cold and so that water would be the death of me.

{I guess this is one time you have to use mind over matter...xoxo}

Kenley said...

Thanks for sharing. I believe with the training that you have been posting on DM, etc., you will rock it. Just go and take a crack at it. And btw, for extra motivation you could listen to Marathontalk.com episode 30 were they discuss tris. http://www.marathontalk.com/archive/2010/8/4/episode-030-chrissie-wellington.html Very enjoyable and inspirational. They also have an interview with Chrissy Wellington. I don't swim or ride a bike, just run, so I can not totally relate to your post about the temps, but keep it up. Very impressing.

arika said...

go auntie dawn!