Monday, December 1, 2008

A FRESH START — GASPING ALLOWED

"When a person trains once, nothing happens. When a person forces himself to do a thing a hundred or a thousand times, then he certainly has developed in more ways than physical. Is it raining? That doesn't matter. Am I tired? That doesn't matter, either. Then willpower will be no problem." — Emil Zatopek

Monday marked the start of my second season of triathlon. Last season was all about survival. Don't drown, don't crash and don't blow out the knee. This season is going to be different. I'm a veteran now. Experienced. Seasoned. Time to get serious.

Last season, at Lavaman and at Honu, I felt like I needed another month's worth of training to be ready for each of those races. This season I want to be prepared. To do that I'm going to have to face a couple of deep-seated fears that I have been avoiding.

First, I'm afraid of over-training. So much so that last year I undertrained. Lesson learned. This year I'm pushing my body to the limit. Train until it hurts then push through it. That's easily said I know. I'll see how hard it will be to actually do.

My second fear, which I just recently realized is going to be hard to overcome. I have a very real fear of water. More to the point, drowning. I'm not sure if I had a near-drowning experience when I was little or what, but while learning to swim over the past year I have come face to face with terror in the water.

The first time I experienced this was during Masters 101 when coach Steve had us swim a couple of lengths doing the back stroke. The moment I flipped over onto my back and pushed off the wall, my heart began to race. By the time I was halfway across the pool, I was nearly panicking and I didn't even know why. I had never been afraid of the water before but for some reason I was certain I was drowning. It was like an old memory was surfacing, warning me to get out of the water.

When I find something I'm afraid of I usually stare it down and work through it, which is what I did with swimming on my back. after a few dozen laps I finally accepted the fact that I was not drowning, repressed whatever memory was lurking and have since incorporated the backstroke into my training.

So I thought that had ended my fear of water, but last weekend's Peaman 1.2 mile swim opened my eyes to another part of that same fear. As I was swimming along, I was really trying to push myself to go hard verses just grabbing onto someone's feet who was going at a comfortable pace for me (something that I did all last season). I kept catching myself slowing down, conserving energy. So I would speed up. Then it hit me. That same sick, panicky feeling I had felt in the pool. I realized that I'm afraid that if I get too tired while swimming I'll drown, so I shut down.

I'm going to face that fear: My mission for now is to get tired in the pool. I've seen other swimmers end an interval and come up gasping for air because they pushed themselves so hard. I want to be able to push myself that hard in water. Just like I do on the bike. And like I hope I will on the run.

I want to hit that wall gasping, chest heaving, lungs burning, muscles screaming and be at peace with it. So here's to gasping, not because you're drowning, but because you are digging deep and making it hurt. Like someone once said, "It's a dream until you write it down, then it's a goal." So that's my goal.

3 comments:

Bruce Stewart (施樸樂) (ブルース・スチュワート) said...

People do drown, and I've unfortunately seen it happen. In the pool try to swim where the lifeguard is looking and in the ocean stay close to shore unlike swimming with a responsible buddy who is watching out for you. The stresses of life can lead to heart/circulation complications and you never know what kinds of sea creatures you may meet. In master's swimming there is usually no lifeguard watching you and unless the others are watching you it is hard to expect the coach to. That is why we sign all kinds of waivers of liability. By all means swim hard, but have some kind of safety net ready.

debbie said...

Hi Randy, I was just reading your post and trying to remember if you ever had a traumatic experience in water. I also cannot think of any.You always seemed to be pretty comfortable splashing around when we were playing in the rivers. Your friend Bruce is right about drownings. Please be careful. I know Karen will always be there to watch you. But, only you know when you have pushed yourself too hard. I am really proud of how discilplined you are. Keep going strong but please be careful, love ya

BreeWee said...

This is one of you most cool posts ever!! LOVE it randy! For sure buddy, write down your goals and go get em'!

AS for that swimming, keep at it! YOU are doing wonderful...

Okay then, at masters I am going to be checkin on you and I better see you working hard! :)

Year 2 is the coolest year, if was one of my favorites, you are so much better than the previous year yet have so much to still learn!

Have a GREAT weekend!

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