I've read some amazing Race reports. Like Skye who I met at a transition clinic in SugarHouse Park with BAM. You know what I liked about her report? She was describing the pace of the miles she expected to have and it was amazing to think of someone who plans their pace and is that FREAKING FAST. Plus she won. You should read it HERE. I don't always give my coach as much feedback as I should and I think her race report also showed me a sort of different mindset. A lot of the time I'm out there like- you know- not thinking about pace. and when I'm training I'm like- yeah but if my friends want to do a 3 hour bike ride on a different day then I'M GOING BIKING RIGHT?! I'm so impressed with their race reports. Really great athletes who WIN IRONMAN RACES NO BIG DEAL.
Let me start with why I started doing triathlons. I never wanted to do triathlon. I hate swimming. like hate. I dated a guy who did triathlon and I was like- yeah not happening. Then I started to think well maybe I could learn to swim and maybe I could do one ever. Then someone questioned my ability to do one and it was sort of like- oh yeah? well fine. I'm going to be better at them then you are.
this plan to be better quickly became- I am going to finish one without dying. then- I am going to get out of bed and do some training for this. I swam a lot. I got eczema. I got steroid cream but it didn't do a ton. I had a swim coach. I joined a triathlon team. I made myself talk to people. I got a triathlon coach. I signed up for Boise 70.3 before I really knew how to swim. I tweeted ironman and they recommended Tennessee but that was too soon and I wanted a certain date.
But the date was important to me so I wanted to do this ironman thing. Because I had a miscarriage once and it was close to my due date (OK a bit after) and I like to memorialize things. I think it's important to ritualize things in your life and events. I used to take rocks from the place where something significant happened in my life. I had a rock from when I got engaged and married and mission stuff and my divorce. I just carry rocks. It almost killed me one day when my kids took my rocks. Oh I'm sorry kids your crazy rock collecting mom needs you to step away from her divorce rock thank you very much.!!!!! I used all my mom zen to let the kids take the rocks. They lost the smooth pink one with the streak of white.
In other obsessive behavior news I was sort of working towards this ironman thing as well as I could. As a memorial. I took swimming lessons. I posted on Facebook about how hard it was. I cried a LOT. turns out some of us cry after we swim that's normal. I mean every time you could DROWN. someone once asked me what I was afraid about with swimming. THE DROWNING. Then they joked that you can't die in a wetsuit. Know what? that's incorrect. I don't want to call them liars but I mean- that's a lie. I heard once you could drown in a teaspoon of water and that one Playboy girl Holly wanted to drown herself in a bathtub so you tell me I can't drown in a lake with real living things? I don't want to hear that.
Do love the buoyancy of the wetsuit though.
Then John died.
I think I took it harder than I meant to. Or thought I would. Not that I ever expected it. I know no one really gets it because he was my ex husband so all the feelings are super complicated and mostly I distract myself by being incredibly stressed about money and learning stuff like he didn't have life insurance at work that you get when you commit suicide and blah blah I have a meeting with social security next month and a ton of people have supported my Gofundme which let me be home with my kids this month while I was a MESS that might have lost my job if I was at work. They don't like the not functioning at work- weird. Being home with my kids was actually one of the best things ever I miss them every day.
Getting the death certificate is like getting punched. Even though John was struggling and not always reliable with paying he was there. Them being gone changes everything. It's a hollow place. Also it's a nightmare when you sort of break and a financial nightmare. Still in the middle of the mental adjustment to that. His funeral was nice and the kids are devastated and so am I but sometimes I'm also nostalgic and sometimes I'm angry.
This did not go well with training for a half ironman. I got SLOW. like a ton slower. Felt like I was moving through mud most of the time. Lay in bed. Do workout. Post picture. Go back to bed. Eat too much. Take kids to the pool. Post a picture. Go to bed. Wake up in the middle of the night with kids. Repeat. I sort of mentally checked out of life for a bit and let myself get distracted. I (mostly) woke up and did my training plan. Still too many feelings to move normally.
My deep and abiding hatred of swimming did not lessen. I panicked in the open water. Like A LOT. The first time I tried I panicked then Kim helped me back to the shore and didn't go back in. I didn't want to ever go back in.
Then I knew if I was going to finish this race and I WAS I would have to really work at it. I practiced only 3 times in the open water after that and my coach gave me tools to help for when I panicked. I never wanted to be away from people when I was swimming. Like EVER. I thought with the time I would just make it in under the amount of time you have to finish the swim for a half ironman. DON'T TELL ME THAT'S SLOW I KNOW THAT. rode up to Boise with Suz. I had all my food planned and my stuff laid out and I got to see my adorable nephew and my sister. I found a mantra from Danielle telling me "I'm good at all of those things." I pictured myself finishing.
On the day of the race I woke up with super bad stomach pain. Like I was like- whoa I'm dying. Texted my friend Jeanie and she said it's nerves and I'm OK. Forced myself to eat in the morning. Bagel with peanut butter and a banana from Claire.
Forced myself to drink and I was glad my coach told me to make a food plan or I would have shown up to a half ironman on an empty stomach.
Took a fantastic looking selfie with my wristband that's part of it. Next time featuring makeup.
I got to the race and finished setting up my transition and met some AWESOME people. Many of whom had helped me with swimming. My age group was pretty much last so that wasn't my favorite. Put my wetsuit on over my bathing suit top and tri bottoms and three minutes before our time to get in the water I put on my silver swim cap and thought about how awesome this was going to be. I drank the water I was supposed to and I took a salted caramel gu before I got in. Like clockwork. Not too panicky. Less Stomach pain. My friend Robyn was there and she was super nice and Kristi whom I just met. Said hi to a bunch of swimmers in the water before we started.
Go. So many fast swimmers but that never really bothers me. I sort of like the rush because it carries you for a bit. I was doing the 20 strokes and then 5 seconds to calm down thing I practiced. Pushing the water like my friend Heather told me. I was rotating. My left eye goggle was leaking dammit I brought the wrong goggles.
Holy shit there is no hell like swimming over a mile. I mean I get it you sight you swim you sight you swim you get off track you swim back you keep swimming some girl is faster than you and she's doing backstroke you sight you swim. I was glad that my friend told me the number of buoys. That kept me from quitting after two. five yellow four orange five yellow. The water was the perfect temperature. I couldn't use my left eye but that also meant that I only had to panic a little bit about seeing mysterious sea creatures. You know what else? my calves didn't cramp and sometimes they do that when I swim. BAAM nutrition (that's the triathlon word for food) covered.
There was a guy that kept telling me I was getting off track. Apparently swimming away into the middle of nowhere isn't the goal of a race. We are triathletes and I was trying to be a mermaid for a bit- just going back to my home under the sea in the middle of the lake way away from the course no big deal. Thanks Kayak man. He wasn't as cute as the beautiful swimmer that told me I was off track in my first triathlon. Just saying.
When I finally got down to the five remaining yellow buoys I wanted to cry I was so freaking happy. ok I did cry but there was so much water Kayak man didn't notice. If he could have pretended it was hard to kayak as fast as I was swimming that would have been nice. I felt like I was swimming against a current and it would never end. I kept getting closer. I thought people were cheering me on. Then I finished.
There was a blonde woman wearing a jacket in 90 degree weather waiting for me. She was sorry I was 36 seconds too slow and they pulled my chip. I guess those people were telling me to stand the hell up and run. It had felt MUCH slower than any of my other open water swims. I didn't know if I should just keep going and finish the freaking race so I could get a medal. She told me I shouldn't continue I could get on the bus and it would take me back and she was sorry.
I started crying. I mean I don't know about you but when I swim a mile I cry at the end. Transition was pretty much broken down. There was a girl after me that was crying more and a guy who looked super fit. I got on the bus. I was grateful for my awesome sunglasses so the volunteers wouldn't see how sad I was. I decided not to get on the bike course since they told me not to twice but I sort of still felt like a quitter.
That was my first half ironman. I told my coach. I texted my sister even though I had no idea where I was and I just wanted to cry a lot- and eat ice cream.
I failed to finish. With all the things going on in my life I thought hey this will be a great memorial and it will show that I can still do hard things even with John dead.
That's not really what happened though.
I sort of wanted a do over so I could swim harder those last 5 buoys. I wanted a boyfriend so I could cuddle. I mean let's face it that's pretty fun when you feel bad. Not really thought because my ex husband just died and I never want to date right now. I wanted to hide and not see all my happy friends that made it and I didn't want them to hug me and I cry and really it's OK.
I finished the swim. which means I can swim 1.2 miles. I want to do another race. I never thought I would ever do a single race and I don't really enjoy swimming ever and I hate doing things that I'm bad at and having people see me doing them poorly but still I'm sort of in the group of people doing them I just don't always feel like I belong.
It was like huge closure when the race was over. Not the kind of closure where you are like- and then I conquered everything. More like the underwhelming kind of closure where it just moves on and you don't talk about it much. I still can't believe that I swam that far. I didn't get to bike or run and those were the things I was less worried about. I went over everything I did wrong and felt like I still needed to work out more that day. I did a lot of things wrong with training. I didn't track all my distances or enter my data. I signed up for a race too soon before I was ready with swimming. I wanted a date to happen even though I didn't know if it would work. I had the tools to finish but I didn't push as hard as I could have. I kept going when my life sort of told me to stop.
I don't regret any of those things. My race report is that I'm pretty sure I can do the SWIM part of one of these things within the allotted time next time. I think there will be a next time as well. I'm not a shiny professional triathlete I didn't even finish this race. I started though. My coach told me that a DNF is better than a did not start. I've never not finished a race before. I didn't want everyone to know I was even there.
The triumph over probability almost happened. I missed it by 36 seconds.
So I finished a half ironman swim almost on my due date. Maybe that's a fitting almostiversary.
I didn't pick up a rock.