Slow, Old, Fat Triathlete Goes back to Training…return of the boring BLOG

So it’s 0545 and I have meditated and done my stretches. Had a protein fruit smoothie for my 1st breakfast and I am leaving momentarily to do my swim practice. Potentially meeting my son Dallon and maybe being joined by DIL. I will be updating my levels of exercise and intake today as I move back on track for my October event.

I barely finished the 4-3-2-1 drill from before my hiatus. My muscles and my cardiovascular system have lost ground from the time off and I was getting leg cramps  and chest muscle pain. I managed four non-consecutive lengths freestyle, no laps without breaks. I am kind of dreading class tomorrow but showing up is half the battle.

It is almost noon and I have some housecleaning and  laundry on the docket for today. I am making Ratatouille from “eat vegan on $4 a day” by Ellen Jaffe Jones for dinner tonight and continuing the perfecting of organic Blueberry Muffins, my base recipe was Laurel’s Kitchen but I am wheat sensitive and so since its amazing texture is achieved through wheat germ….well I am tweeking it to be as awesome but less inflammatory to my gut and joints.

Anyway the real story for me this week involves three athletic and beautiful young women who train at the same pool I do and how the dramas in our heads are so NOT reality, and how I am learning to acknowledge and face my fear.

As I may have mentioned a couple times before, I am not athletic. I really am slow (I will actually time my 5K sometime this week and verify this for you), I am what the medical community calls “obese” although I prefer fluffy at 5’5″ and 222.2 lbs as of this morning, but I was near 250lbs when I started. I am also over 50 years old. I am just saying all this because for  many years I though that completing a triathlon really looked like a rush, but was not trying it , because I believed I couldn’t succeed and would look stupid even trying.

Part of my fear of athletic attempts is rooted in a lifetime of being picked last in school PE (until I got too “cool” to care about “those stupid Jocks” and almost failed HS because of skipping Gym. I had to take summer school PE my Junior year) I was the loner, the outsider; think Ally Sheedy in Breakfast Club without the family money. I had to be somewhat athletic to succeed in my military career. However, I joined the military when there were much fewer women. I was the first female in a brain dependent field and so as long as I wasn’t last in Physical Training, my less than mediocre performance was attributed to my gender and pretty much ignored.

A couple weeks into this new goal of completing a Triathlon, I had to face my fear of being ridiculed when some slightly intoxicated post-adolescent males had nothing better to do on a Friday night than taunt the overweight old lady trying to swim laps at the community pool. Still, their butt size focused humor was not a major challenge because there was nothing about them I admired.  I had no script in my head that said I was less than them, in fact if anything I shielded myself from the brunt of their cruelty feeling superior. The emotional embarrassment generated a few ego-centric tears in my car when I was done with that practice from the rather mean things they said but there was never any danger of me quitting my goal.

The first real threat to sticking with this goal came when two more ladies joined our class, both with prior swim experience. Dawn is able to swim circles around me and they were out swimming her. I reminded  myself that there would be hundreds of people swimming  A LOT better than me at the event I plan to enter in October. I chose to view these new training comrades as a chance to grow into not comparing myself to others when I swam while I just focus on doing my best. At least I still had the morning swims where the pool was mostly empty and I could just focus on my own improvement with no one to glaringly reflect my incompetence. My goal was still a go!

Then “THEY” showed up. Three times a week, women who looked like they had stepped right out of a sports magazine were swimming laps next to me in near perfect form. It was obvious they were just trying to improve their lap times, and that they were friends. They chatted among themselves, laughing, working hard but having a good time together. I was intimidated and jealous, or at least that part of me I call EEV (EvilEgoVoice) was. The script in my head started up at full speed….you know the script, or maybe you don’t, but I know it too well. This the script where someone else is laughing at you behind your back or someone thinks they are better than you, and somewhere in there is usually the statement “It’snot fair”, and often also the statement “I can’t do this because compared  to so and so I am just too something”. All last week I wrote those kind of dramas in my head. My morning practices were just hour long comparisons of my inadequate self to these ladies youth, strength and skill. I really wanted to just quit swimming and crawl back to my comfort zone.

In retrospect I can see that I was more susceptible to EEV because of the helplessness I felt in my dogs illness.  Loss of someone I love always shakes my comfort zone, and worse yet was not being able to control all her symptoms or explain to her what was happening. Today I am in that functional shocked relief state that comes after the death of someone you love who was suffering, and now thankfully is not.  I am not saying I am thinking any clearer, but apparently  EEV is less fed by this grief phase as I don’t feel her centripetal twirl .
Anyway, last week as I wrote and rewrote the script in my head, I was building a nice resentment towards these “Jockettes”. Thankfully, this past Monday,  I finally decided that I would actually talk to these women. It is much harder to resent, judge, etc people once I actually know them. So I introduced myself and said what I was training for, how long I had been doing it and where I had started. I asked them about themselves.
Guess what, They Are Awesome. The three women are training for their first Triathlon in August. The script had totally been only the fear and inadequacies in my own head. Today these three slim, fast Triathletes are my inspiration instead of the weapon with which I beat myself up. It was that simple, I faced my fear of them rejecting or laughing at me, took action by saying hello and the script in my head evaporated. It is inspiring to me to not only observe their form and speed but also to hear out of their mouths the same fears and desires to “just finish without looking like they are drowning”. Now I get to smile when I arrive and see them in the pool, not to mention their team leader printed off an amazing practice schedule for improving tri style swimming and brought it to me this morning.
I realize it could have gone differently when I spoke to them, but generally it doesn’t, especially when I remember it really is never truly about me, not the complements or the insults. The resentment I was building towards them had nothing to do with the reality of their kind and ebullient personalities. Potentially I could have been rude to them or standoffish when it was all my own fear and personal pain manifesting drama.  So that is my best lesson I take away from training this week. Face my fears and remember, it’s not about me!
I am pretty excited to meet new friends trying the same sport I am trying, equally excited to say it looks like Dawn and I have inspired my son Dallon to join in the “Tri” funfest as well.  As a final note I am a little surprised to see how much strength and endurance I have lost from taking about a ten day break from daily training. Since Noien’s first crisis in the night my eating and exercise have been spotty at best, so time to get back on track. Off to do my housework then hit the Gym for my 5K and stationary bike workout…..eating an apple (instead of chips) as I type, have had two protein shakes and coffee so time to make a salad, hope to drop below 220 this week and consistently complete 8 lengths (25 feet) each practice and have at least two of those be a consecutive lap.
Namaste friends and thanks for reading.