Posts Tagged With: overcoming fear

This Time I’ll Be Bullet Proof

I’ve had so many thoughts running through my head lately, about marathons, about me running marathons, about running Boston, about running goals, and everything in between. I’ve struggled, for years, with putting the right words down to express how I feel, and I think I’ve finally come up with the right words in the right order. Here goes.

Back in 2009, I decided that I was going to run another marathon to try and qualify for Boston. Several years, mistakes, and marathons later, I was able to do that. When I went to Boston in 2014 to run the greatest marathon in the world, I was humbled, scared, yet confident in my training.

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I also felt (and still do) unworthy, that my time was not considered “fast” by so many fast people (I really shouldn’t read comments on Facebook, some people are just vile), that I didn’t really deserve to be considered one of the “elite” runners. Hey, some people call my fastest race pace “hobby jogging”, so you can’t blame me when I say that, plus, I’ve never quite felt I fit in to any group, let alone “fast runners” or especially “elite”. That’s just how I feel.

When the Boston 2014 race blew up from dehydration and BAD effects from salt depletion, and I finished in just under 5 hours, over an hour slower than I was trained for and expecting, I was absolutely devastated. DEVASTATED.

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Trying not to throw up.

I put hundreds of hours, thousands of dollars, and poured my heart and soul into that race. As my race report was appropriately named, that day was the best of times, the worst of times. I had the worst race of my life at the best race in the world. It hurt. It stung. And yet, the criticism went on. “Be happy you finished.” “It was a marathon, so be happy.” “You ran Boston. Feel lucky.” “Stop complaining, you got a medal.” “You’re just inexperienced.” Sigh.

I guess you could say it was backlash for feeling bad that my race went awry. It was painful to hear, but it was impossible to just “let it go”. Endurance runners have to be somewhat OCD about their lives, or they would never be endurance runners. You have to have order, planning, and a lot of discipline to do what we do, right? So how can I, someone who put years of blood, sweat, and tears into ONE race, just let it go and be happy? It doesn’t work that way. But on the other side of it, of course I was happy, of course I felt lucky, of course I was completely thrilled to wear my Boston jacket and medal.

But it was a failure for me. (Wait, don’t stop reading. I can see you roll your eyes.) And on my quest for redemption, I’ve failed many more times. And I’m scared of that failure again, when I run Boston in just a few more weeks. I’m scared of not meeting my goals, of having a bad race, of having to walk, of not remembering the last miles, of feeling like complete garbage when I’m done, of crying on the ground next to the port-a-jons because I felt so horrible. THAT is what I’m afraid of. It’s not failure, per se, as running a marathon can never be construed as a failure, in any way, shape, or form. No, no matter what, if you complete 26.2 miles, you, my friend, are never a failure.

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This training cycle leading up to Boston has not been met with as much gusto as it did in 2014. I had plantar all winter and wasn’t running at all, I didn’t start any tempo or speed work until February, and now I’m managing shin splints from starting speed work suddenly, not gradually. So here comes the voices in my head, no matter how strong my long runs and tempo work has been, no matter what I know, deep down, about my abilities, no matter what anyone tells me, I’m scared. I’m scared of failure, I’m scared of not having a strong race, I’m scared of working so DAMN hard and having a race result that doesn’t show ME. I’m scared of other people thinking I’m not worthy of Wayne and Garth’s praise, I’m scared of letting other people down. I’m scared of letting myself down. Again.

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Feeling defeated after Redemption Attempt #1

But listen, I’m also arming myself with a pretty thick vest. Because I know I can push myself to success, my version of success. I know deep down as far into my heart and soul I can get, that I’m a badass. I’m strong. And I know I’m going to be a lot smarter, those “failure” races taught me that. Listening to people tell me how to feel has given me some pretty thick armor as well.

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So don’t tell me to “just have fun” in Boston. Don’t tell me that “being there is enough”. Don’t tell me that.  That’s not my goal of The 2017 Boston Marathon. I already know I’m going to have fun and I’m lucky and honored and beyond excited to be there with the best of the best. I know it.  Don’t tell me the hard work is already done so the result doesn’t matter. Remember? I’m an endurance athlete. I worked my ass off for years to get there. I sacrificed a LOT to get back to Boston. Of COURSE it matters! This race is my redemption. My goal is to run strong. My goal is to run the entire race.  Do I have a time goal? Sure I do. (It’s 3:44:59, by the way and notice, it’s not a PR time.) But I’m not naive enough to think I shouldn’t be flexible when it comes to that piece. Lord knows what can happen during an endurance race. Eye roll. So instead of telling me anything else, just tell me “good luck”, “kick some ass”, “redemption is yours”, “kill it” or “get your race”. Or give me a fist bump.

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My goal is to be free of the monkey on my back that has been sitting there since 2014, to be free of doubts, to get my best race at the best race in the world. THAT is my goal. Freedom. Redemption. It’s so much more than time. It’s a feeling. So no, I’m not caught up in a time, I’m not worried about another BQ (that would be the icing), I’m not worried about having fun (because hell yeah, I sure am!!!) what I am worried about is repeating the epic blow up in 2014. That’s it.

BUT. This time, I’m armed with three years of experience, not just running, but Ironman experience too. This time, I have a detailed plan. This time, I KNOW, beyond a shadow of a doubt, I’m very capable of meeting my goal. This time, I don’t give a crap what anyone thinks of me (Ok, I’m working on this). This time, I’m ready to attack. And this time, I’ll be bulletproof.

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Categories: anything is possible, being epic, Boston Marathon, follow your dreams, learning from failure, marathon, marathon training, qualifying for boston marathon, quintiles wrightsville beach marathon, running, training for marathon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Turning Fear Into Determination

It’s taper time, bitches, and do you know what that means? It means I’ll have more time to get the shit done that I neglected because I was too busy doing my workouts until noon, showering and stuffing my face until 1:00, then staring at the wall going “buh buh buh” until my first kid gets home at 2:45, then spending the rest of the night stuffing THEIR faces and making them do their homework and go to practice and get ready for the next day while also reminding them that no, they cannot spend an hour in the jon as to avoid emptying the dishwasher because conveniently, it’s time to go to practice/school.

For instance, take today. I got up, got my kids to school at 7:45, hopped on my bike and rode 40 minutes, messed around with my dumb cadence sensor who just wants to be free but will not because I’m going to zip tie that MFer until it cannot breathe and fall off my bike. I then did strength, showered, ate, drank coffee, cancelled my NatureBox subscription, emailed all my Stride parents, picked up more crap from Saturday’s event that I just left laying around, posted a few things on Facebook, researched how to tighten my shoe cleat on my bike pedal, put on makeup AND curled my hair (this is a big one), worked on my new “About” page that I’ve been “working on” for months now but can’t seem to finish, packed up and took a load of crap to Goodwill, picked up my book on hold at the library, came home and it’s not even noon. Can you say “hollah”? I mean, really. It’s not like every day had a huge long workout, but when they shorten up, I can certainly feel it.

Anyway, while I taper down for my first triathlon on the 25th, I MUST reflect on the last year and smile. Hell, I need to do a little dance!  I swam the “Mott’s Channel Swim”, which is almost the same course as my triathlon course at exactly the same tide as my triathlon tide, so it was picture perfect practice for my triathlon.  Saturday was my first swim race, and a year ago, I had only been “swimming” for a few weeks. It’s crazy to think that a year later, I was swimming  over a mile in the channel, without a current push, with about 100 other people, and I would really enjoy myself. And I mark Saturday as the day that my fear of swimming, my fear of not making my cutoff for the swim in the tri, my fear of failing at the tri would turn into determination.  It’s about time.

My view on the way to my run/swim.

My view on the way to my run/swim.

Saturday morning started off like Friday – it was absolutely gorgeous. I had six miles to run, so I decided to get a good parking space at the swim race start, and I took off for my run from there. I was hesitant to get my pace miles in because of my *(^% shin splints, but I got two miles in at 7:40 and the others at 8:15-8:30.  I would have done three at pick up pace, but I misread my workout and only did the two. It was probably good for my splints. I saw some people I knew along the way, saw the ocean, and knew it would be a good day for a swim – sunny, warm, slight breeze, NOT windy. I wasn’t nervous at this point, so I was hopeful that I would remain calm.

After my run, I went to wish my coach and swim race director a happy birthday, got my timing chip, and chatted with some of my buddies. I was doing the “Mott’s Channel Swim” which was a mere 1.3 miles, but there were others doing the “Swim the Loop” which was a 3.5 mile swim that ended against the current.  Yikes.  No nerves yet. I got my post-race bag ready, dropped it off, made sure I had my swim cap and goggles, and ate my two pieces of bread with peanut butter as I waited for the trolley to come take us to the start.  I ended up sitting by someone I knew and a few I didn’t know but got to know as we waited to head out. It was fun! Some of us were concerned the warm weather (in the upper 70’s or lower 80’s at finish) would make us too warm for wetsuits but I wanted to practice my “real” tri experience as close to what the tri actually will be, so I had mine on.  When we got to the start, music was playing, and I wondered how it would be to swim with about 100 other people, which is something I’ve never done. Obviously the crowd would thin out significantly, but I just didn’t know what to expect. Gulp. Then the nerves hit. Big ones. Big raging ones with nausea.

The only thing that went through my mind to do was go to the person with whom I’ve done the most open water swimming with, the person who has ALWAYS told me that I could do it, to not worry, and that it’ll be ok – my friend Stacey.  I only met her on July 4th, but I’m so glad that I did!! I have complained and moaned and groaned about my swimming ability, and she has always been so positive to me, and it all came around on Saturday. I found her and was met with a hug and a “You’ll rock this race”. That’s all I really needed, and then we talked course strategy. Thanks, Stacey! I knew I needed to veer to the left to catch any current that would take me right, and I knew that I needed to try and hug the marsh to the left. The part that I DIDN’T do was REALLY study the details of the course. Sure, you look at it and seems easy and like a straight shot until you get out there and realize you can’t see the finish because there’s docks and buildings and boats and water weeds. More on that later.  The National Anthem was played, and we were about to head into the water for the mass start at 10:00 am.

Swim course for the Mott's Channel Swim. Looks simple and easy right? Yeah, that's because you're waaaaay up high and can see everything.

Swim course for the Mott’s Channel Swim. Looks simple and easy right? Yeah, that’s because you’re waaaaay up high and can see everything.

When we crossed the mat to get into the water, I was still a little nervous, and I honestly couldn’t believe I was about to embark on my first swim race. Me?! Swimming?! Crazy!!! The water was pretty cool, not yet COLD, but cool, so I was glad I had my wetsuit on. Picture it: 100 swimmers happily chatting, sun shining, beautiful view, and pretty calm waters. It was go time. I started close behind Stacey so I could keep an eye on where she was going, and the horn sounded. We were off.

There’s really nothing like the sound of 100 swimmers all in the water at the same time. I have always enjoyed the sound, and here it was again. And this time I was one of them. I usually get songs in my head or count strokes or just watch the docks pass by when I swim. This time, I was concentrating on sighting and knowing where I was and where I wanted to be. It seemed pretty easy in the beginning, probably because I’m familiar with the course. I waited until I reached the first buoy to check my Garmin, just to see where I was. Hmmm, not too bad! I didn’t look at the time, because it was really irrelevant at that point. I remember thinking, “Hey, I’m crossing the channel. I’m almost across the channel. I crossed the fricken channel!”. I did check a few times to see if there were other swimmers behind me, and I was actually glad there were. Just a few lingered, but I wasn’t last.

The water got slightly more choppy as we progressed, and my goggles fogged up. I had to stop to check my bearings and clear my sight, then I started back again. Since I hadn’t had a day off in eight days, my body was pretty tired, but I felt good and strong. My coach even said “let’s have you swim on some tired legs”, which they were. In a good way. I watched my distance progress, and at .6, I was happy to be half way. Then it dawned on me that the race was, in fact, 1.3 miles, not 1.2. Dur dee dur.  Oh well, just keep on swimming!  I’m not sure how far into the course we were, but I remember passing a buoy and thinking we needed to head right to the finish. I swam that way for a bit, was confused because there wasn’t another bright orange buoy to sight to, so I stopped to verify I was going in the right direction.  Good thing I did, because I was NOT going in the right direction. Oopsy! I corrected myself and headed towards the other swimmers.

 

Oops! This still cracks me up. Lesson learned to REALLY check the race course before you swim because it's not like a running race!!

Oops! My Garmin map. This still cracks me up. Lesson learned to REALLY check the race course before you swim because it’s not like a running race where you’re following people!!

I was still feeling good, staying focused, and I made sure I knew where I was from this point on. And the funniest and most ironic part for me was that I was having FUN!  I didn’t care how fast I was going, I didn’t care that I made a mistake, and I honestly didn’t care if I was last as long as the support people didn’t harass me, which I knew they wouldn’t. THIS is why I wanted to do triathlons! THIS feeling – the FUN, the excitement, the thought of doing something new.  And I liked it. (Did I just hear my husband groan and hide the credit card?)

I knew I was getting closer to the finish when I could hear the announcer. I checked my Garmin and knew that I would end up swimming farther than 1.3, but again, I didn’t care (and what was I going to do, stop, hold my Garmin up and say “Hey, I’ve done 1.3, so hellooooo, I’m DONE!”? No, just like any distance, Garmins are Garmins and with my little “detour” I very well probably did swim some extra. I was trying to find the finish line as I was pretty damn confused, and finally it became clear AFTER the stupid boat moved away from blocking my view of it.

When the finish line came into sight and I had just a little left to go, things changed. I saw some swimmers behind me, and my competitiveness came out. No way in hells bells was I going to let someone pass me now, so for the first time probably EVER in the history of me open water swimming EVER, I tried to swim fast. I lengthened my stroke, pulled harder, kicked harder, and I made it to the finish as fast as I could. In front of the other swimmers.

We had to climb a ladder onto the dock to well, get out of the water, but to also cross the timing mat. I stopped my Garmin on just over 47 minutes.  47 freaking minutes! Can you say insta-tears?????? Holy hell, Gary was so right, I had been freaking out about this half iron swim for NOTHIN’!!!! I F*****G DID IT!!!!!!! And I swam a bonus .09 miles with a total of 1.39. If I can do THAT, then what the hell have I been whining about making the cutoff in the swim in 90 minutes with less swim to finish?  Yes, Gary, you were so right!!! Cue the “told you so” dance!

THAT is when it happened. THAT is when my fear disappeared, and determination slowly took over. It probably started happening the minute the swim started, but when I was done, I had such a feeling of……of…..happiness. I set my mind to it, I did the work, and I did it.

I  was wobbly right out of the water, not vertigo as some swimmers have, but I think it was simply “tired body syndrome”, which became “I want a damn beer syndrome”, which became “this was awesome syndrome”. I recommend that one for anyone 🙂

After the Mott's Channel Swim.

After the Mott’s Channel Swim.

I found the results and saw that, with my 2:00 wetsuit penalty, I finished 82nd of 98 swimmers. If I took out my penalty, I would gain 5-10 spots, but still, I finished, so my place is irrelevant.  It simply didn’t and doesn’t matter to me. We hung out for quite a while, drank some beers, ate lunch, and watched as the 3.5 mile swimmers came in, many of them against a very strong current. They were inspiring, that’s for sure!

So now, as I taper, as I get my race plan in place, make my lists, get my race head on straight, I know that I’m determined to tackle any obstacles that come my way come race day. I know that I can do it, that I can overcome, and that I can finish my race strong and smart on October 25th. Saturday was the day my fear turned into determination.

My Garmin's path of the race. Pretty close to my race plan minus the teeny little oopsie in there.

My Garmin’s path of the race. Pretty close to my race plan minus the teeny little oopsie in there.

 

View of the finish overlooking the course.

View of the finish overlooking the course.

 

Categories: beach 2 battleship triathlon, half iron distance, iron distance, marathon, open water swimming, swimming, training for half iron distance, training for marathon, training for triathlon, triathlon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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