Friday, October 16, 2009

Tri Harder

So. After 8 weeks rest, here is where we stand; I can finally put my pants on while standing up. Trust me, this is a big deal and a good milestone in my recovery. It means the fracture is healing and I can start doing some light strength training and cardio. I can also walk long distances without pain, and I can make it through light resistance exercises without muscle spasming. I'm ready to go, which is good, because after 8 weeks of no training, I'm feeling like I need to send myself to fat camp. No running, but I can bike and I can swim, which means I can try my hand at triathlon training.

Everyone says the running leg of the triathlon is the hardest, so the rest of the training should be easy for me to pick up. It'll be a breeze! Well, after tonight I can tell you with certainty that everyone is a liar, because tonight was my first swim class.

I can swim, but by swim I mean lazy breast strokes on a waveless Aegean sea interspersed with lots of floating on my back, contemplating clouds. Or maybe some light body surfing followed by sun downer margaritas on a Mexican beach. I'm pretty good at not drowning, but I am the most candy-ass swimmer you are likely to meet.

My class is part of a series designed to get people ready for triathlon swimming. There are 3 pool based, 9 week levels that build you up from your stroke, to endurance, and then speed work. The final class offered is an open water swimming class, which really should be called 'Advanced Non-Drowning'. I can't even let myself think about that class right now, because after trying two lengths of the pool, I realized...I have absolutely NO idea how to do a freestyle stroke correctly. I am one of the worst swimmers in the class. Which is exactly where I want to be, because that makes it easier to harness my shoshin and truly get down to the business of becoming a good swimmer. After 8 weeks off, I am weak and have no cardiovascular endurance. I don't know at what point in the stroke to breathe, I can't even remember the correct rhythm and body position for more than a few strokes at a time. Awesome! I have no preconceived notions, no bad habits to unlearn, and I'm completely open to being taught. Beginner's Mind is like always coming to a lesson with the mind as an empty vessel; you can accept more of the teaching if your cup is not already full, so stop thinking you know it all, and maybe you'll learn more.

I am sucking so much water and struggling so violently through my pool lengths, maintaining my shoshin is not a problem. Whatever you have to teach, I will gladly take. My ego is taking a back seat on this one. What my body is having trouble accepting is that this is damn hard for me, and I'm going to have to suck a lot more water, and suffer through a lot more pool lengths before I get good at this. My lungs hurt, I'm panting, and there isn't the effortless joy that I get from running. I don't feel like I'm gliding along, I feel like I need to stop every few strokes, lean on the rope, and quietly die. I tried my best to rally, and towards the end of the lesson, I was doing a little better. I pushed myself to not hang back out of fear or laziness, and be the first in my lane to go out and do my laps. By the last set of out & backs, I was getting the stroke rhythm down, and I wasn't so afraid to breathe.

I still need to work on being more comfortable with my head in the water for most of the stroke, and not pull up so much for the inhale. Unfortunately, I will be out of town next Friday and will have to miss class, but I'm going to work on my cardio fitness for the next two weeks, and hopefully sneak into a pool somewhere for a little more practice.

The Comeback...its not building a wall, its making a brick.