Thursday, November 12, 2009

Every work out can't be good, can it?

In high school I had a near drowning incident when I was on a trip with my youth group.
We headed to the Indiana Dunes to hang out with several other youth groups.
The Dunes are beautiful beaches that are along Lake Michigan.
We were there hanging out for the day and playing at the beach.
There was a sand bar way out in the lake. A bunch of us swam out there with a volleyball and decided it was a great place to play a game of water polo. We were all very competitive and I always was proud of myself that I could keep up with the guys. This day was no exception. I grabbed the ball and was about to make my move when I let go of the ball. Two guys, one a teenager, one a leader went after the ball. What they didn't realize is that I was underneath them. When they went for the ball I got pushed under the water. They were wrestling for the ball and I was trying to get up. I remember being on my back looking up and just seeing a stomach in my face. I was swallowing water and punching the guys stomach. It was very scary and I remember thinking this was it. Finally, someone pulled me up. I remember nothing else. It may have only been seconds, but it felt like a long time and it is something that has stuck with me for the rest of my life.

I still swam after that, but never with my face in the water. That's why when I realize just how far I've come with swimming I am amazed. I started a Masters Swim class this fall. It's been almost 12 weeks. The first class I had some panic type moments, hyperventilating, and shed some tears. I didn't think I could ever do it, but I did and I am doing it. On my own I have been practicing flip turns. That is where you get to the wall and to keep going you do a somersault and kick off the wall. I have a hard time with the breathing aspect of it. A few weeks ago my swimming coach had us doing them in our class and it was hard, but I was really proud of myself because I was doing it. There was one point where I did it and ran out of breath while I was way under water. I could not get up fast enough, when I surfaced I could not breathe and was a little bit disorientated. I'm not really sure what I did, but the next thing I know the lifeguard was at my side of the pool asking me if I was ok. I was and even did a few more flip turns in that work out, but I was a little, no a lot more, nervous than I had ever been before. I hate the feeling of not being able to breathe and it brings up a lot of the same feelings that day I was under the water not sure if I was going to be ok.

Yesterday, I had my swim class again. We had another flip turn drill. I hadn't practiced them since the last class we did them. I would get to the wall yesterday and just freeze. I would do my somersault and then just come straight up and not push off the wall. It was a total mental block for me. I was just having visions of the stomach in my face and me not being able to breathe. It was hard. I wanted to go home. I didn't like the feelings I was having. I wanted to do this, but just couldn't overcome the fear and feelings of panic. Even with these feelings I kept trying. I did a couple, but would pop up right away. My coach was giving me advice saying I was too close to the wall and that I needed to take a breath farther back and then go into the turn. I just can't do it. I know I will run out of breath. I know I will panic. Just writing about all of this has my heart racing.

This affected the rest of my workout. After this we did some sprint work and I was so out of breath. Having trouble, not at all wanting to be there. I told my coach I was going home. That was it. I couldn't deal with it anymore. I just didn't want to face it at all. She basically told me I would never forgive myself if I went home in the middle of a work out. She told me to just take my time, regroup, do what I needed to do, but to finish my work out. My friend Bill asked me how I was doing. Told him I wanted to go home. He told me I could do it and that it is just one work out out of how many that were yet to come? He told me I could do it and he was very encouraging. I looked at him and said, "Every work out can't be good, can it? He said no and swam away.

I don't like what happened. I don't like that I had some panic mixed with tears yesterday. I don't like that I almost quit. I don't like any of it, but what I like is that I was able to regroup, focus, and do what I needed to do to finish my work out. I do not know how long it will take to get over this fear that stems from my high school incident, but I am slowly doing it. I am doing flip turns. I am putting my face in the water. I am swimming more than I ever realized I could. I am going to succeed and I am not going to let my mind games win. I am a new athlete that has overcome so much already and will overcome this as well. I have a ton of work outs left in my life. I will have great work outs, I will have not so great work outs. What is important is that I keep working out. I will never quit and I will never be that person I used to be.

P.S. I have a question for all you triathlon types out there. If there is no flip turns in Ironman why do I even need to learn and do them? I know it will build up my speed and yardage, but just wondering are they really necessary?

1 comment:

Bob Mitera said...

Because holding your breath and being calm underwater and without air is part of swimming training.

This is something you will need to be more comfortable with as an Ironman start is a fist fight, wrestling and water polo match while swimming.

You are still learning. Give yourself time to learn. You are learning and growing very quickly.

Proud to be your coach.

Coach Bob