Wednesday, January 16, 2013

It's not that I can't...

Wednesdays are a swim night, and I have a bad habit of not looking at my workout, in detail, until shortly before heading out.  In some ways, it's just as well.  Particularly on Wednesdays.  There has been a lot of sculling in my Wednesday swims.  Sculling and me: well, let's just say we have a love/hate relationship.  I recognize it's purpose, but I'm just not good at it.  And I go so sloooooow.

So, when I looked at my workout card before heading out, I wasn't surprised to see sculling.  But then I saw something else: breaststroke.  Breaststroke?  Um, breaststroke?  Breaststroke.

See, I don't know how to do breaststroke.  My last attempt at it was probably about 2.5 years ago, in the second adult swim lesson I took.  I was very very focused on learning front crawl, and soaked in as much of that as I could.  I also practiced it on my own time.

But breaststroke?  I just didn't have the inclination to put any extra work into it.  When I did whip kick, I don't think I moved at all.  And, I could not seem to coordinate the legs and arms to work together.  In fact, I quite clearly remember the instructor laughing at one of my attempts at breaststroke.  Seriously.  Don't feel bad for me; My feelings weren't hurt.  I was laughing too.

The thing is, swimming is not a skill that has come to me naturally.  I have worked very very hard to get the feel and technique of front crawl.  I remember having to stop three times in my attempts to just swim a single length.  Once upon a time, I'd only swim in the wall lane, for fear of drowning.  I spent countless hours initially, and later on, focused on getting it right.  I still have lots of room for improvement, but I'm confident in my ability to swim front crawl.

But breaststroke?  Let's just say, it doesn't come to me naturally either.  Worse yet, I haven't put any time into learning it.

I am a firm disbeliever in the use of "I can't."  Generally speaking, I can do whatever I decide to.  There are plenty of things in my life that I choose not to do, but it doesn't mean I can't.  It just means that I don't.  There are also many skills which I don't have.  Some of those you could apply a "yet" to.  Others I'm never going to learn.  Life is all about choice, after all.  You can't do everything.

I am going to learn how to do breaststroke - eventually.  It's on the bucket list.

When it came up in my swim, I made an attempt at it.

And I think I moved backwards.

It was only 25m of breast at a time, mixed in with some front crawl and kick.  I stopped at the wall, and watched the person in the lane next to me do it for a minute.  Then I tried to replicate it.

I almost drowned.

I did not do even one full length of it.  I'd try it for maybe 10 strokes, then swim the remaining 80% of the distance to the wall.  I was sharing a lane, and I was afraid the people I was sharing with would pass me, then lap me 3 or 4 times before I finished.

I did not come anywhere close to success with breaststroke, and to be honest, I think it did very little to benefit my swim on this evening, but oddly enough, I found another benefit to it.

Less then three years ago, this is how I felt doing front crawl.  Being put back into that position of floundering is a reminder of where I was and where I've gotten to.  Sure, I'm still going to flounder sometimes (maybe when I have to scull?), but the point is, I'm a different person.  I'm a person that knows I can learn that skill or any other skill I choose to learn.

I spent most of my life saying I can't swim.  Now I can.

It's not that I can't do breaststroke.  It is just one of those things that I haven't learned how to do  - yet.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

The doomed run gone right

On the schedule yesterday was my long run.  I slacked off a little over Christmas week, and in coming back, I usually find the long run the toughest to get back into the groove for.

There was no question that I was doing it though.  The only question was where.  I've been something of a weather wimp lately, and with a track at my work and a treadmill in my basement, it's been easy to avoid winter on my runs.  I don't even hate the "dreadmill" or track.  I can usually find my groove on them, so there's not too much discouragement in getting on them.

Having said that, when I considered a treadmill run, it held no appeal for me.  Likewise with the track.  Outside?  I didn't really feel like it either, but it was more appealing and if I wanted to get back in gear, it was going to have to happen.  And there was really no excuse in the weather.  It was about -4C (25F), which for a Canadian girl is practically balmy.  Calm, with minimal wind (which is rare here), and sunny.

Getting out the door proved to be a challenge though.  My husband did a run first (on the treadmill), so I waited until he was done.  He took longer then I expected.  Then when I prepared to go, I couldn't seem to find anything.  My running tights?  Hat?  Gloves?  Heart rate monitor?  Etc...  Everything seemed to be in my black hole of clutter.

The run just seemed to have everything against it.

Finally I managed to get out the door.  A good hour and a half later then planned.  No heart rate monitor and a different hat then planned, but reasonably well equipped.  I walked down to the river - about a 2 minute walk.  Then I started to run.  Slowly at first.

No matter how long I've been running for, I always get that urge to walk in the first 10 minutes.  Yesterday was no exception.  At best that first 10 minutes was mediocre.  I expect that though.  While that blah feeling could signal something later in a run, at the start, it's simply the hump I have to get over.  If anything, I was expecting that hump to be bigger then usual.

Then I reached my first turn around point.  I was along my zen run path, a favourite section.  And things just clicked.  I was in the zone.  The perfect rhythm.  Past the hump and flying along.  One of those perfect runs, in the sunshine and snow.

Runs like this are why I run.  Races are awesome, but let's be honest, most of us average one race a month - at most.  But when every run holds this possibility, it's worth it.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Why Blog?

The last few days, I've been spending a fair bit of time in thought, formulating my plan going forward.  Reflecting on where I've come from.  I've taken some pretty big steps in the last couple years, and I have ambitious plans for 2013.

One thing that I've been considering is: what is the place my blog has in my journey?

I've realized something.  My blog is very important to me.  The most important part of it is simply getting my thoughts out of my head and down on paper (or really onto the computer screen.)  Without it, those thoughts and words can endlessly swirl around in my head.

It's more then that too.  It's part of my social network.  I've made real friendships on this blog.  Some people I've met in person.  There are others that I have never seen in real life, but still consider real friends.  When I'm having a rough time, I get encouragement, and when I'm flying high, I get congratulations.

It's public accountability.  When I set goals for myself and put it in my blog, it's an announcement to everyone what I'm planning.  I link to my blog on facebook and my email signature.  So, while not everyone reads it, everyone can if they choose to.

Blogging is something you have to do for yourself.  If it's just about the "audience", it comes across as fake.  Sure, I've had some posts that get laughs, but there's others that were the most in need of being written that get far less attention.  And that's okay, because while I like the attention, that's not why I do it.

My blog is a record of where I've been.  I love that I can look back at it and know the actual day I started to run.  Remember what it was like walking into that very first swimming lesson; how terrified I was just going into the deep end of the pool.  I can see the good and the bad.  The elation at finishing my first 5K over 2 years ago, and the effort to complete my first half ironman last summer.

My blog has helped change me, and it has recorded that change.  Writing is something that is in me and is a part of me.  So, that's the other need it fills: the need to write.

My blogging volume has dropped, and I'm feeling a bit out of touch with the blogging community right now.  I feel like there's so much going on with my world that I don't even know where to start, but I am starting back.  Expect one of my updates in point form in the next couple days.

Because this is a part of me.