My first year of running back in 2007 I pounded the pavement no matter what the conditions. Ice, rain, snow, you name it I was out in it. After that first year I became a wimp. What happened? I didn’t want to go outside in the elements. At the same time we didn’t have the finances to afford a treadmill. Needless to say my second winter running season didn’t go too well. The following year David was hired by the local school district, which allowed us to use the school’s newer fitness center with weights, treadmills, ellipticals, bikes, etc. Since then we have free use of the fitness center whenever we like. It’s like belonging to a gym, but not. With the exception of weekdays after school and early mornings on Saturday chances are we have the gym to ourselves. It’s actually pretty nice. Although I am not a fan of using a treadmill, it’s still nice to have the option. This winter season I’d like to work on getting back out running in the elements again. Even though it’s tougher I actually enjoy it more. It’s great to have access to the school’s fitness facilities, unfortunately even though the school has a pool we do not have free access to using it. Bummer.
When I signed up for my first triathlon last winter for the summer of 2011 I didn’t have access to a pool. I patiently waited for Lake Erie to warm up, ordered a wetsuit, and then used Lake Erie as my “swimming pool”. Say what? Yes, I did all of my triathlon training swims as open water swims. No following a black line for me. I’ll admit this was an undertaking for me. I had some anxiety to get over. The meshing of water and sand, the cold water, and the history of having anxiety the last time I swam 8+ years ago. I’m grateful to say that the anxiety passed and I looked forward to my training swims in the lake. Even as winter approaches I still find myself checking out the lake conditions and saying, “Today would be a good day to swim.” That’s when reality sets in and I realize I would probably suffer from hypothermia if I attempted a open water swim in Lake Erie at it’s present temperature.
So what am I to do now that I can’t swim in the lake?? This is my first winter after catching the “triathlon bug”. With that, it’s obvious that I need to make some changes to my winter training schedule. For the past several months I came to the realization that I need to join a gym of some sort that had a pool. Locally we do not have much to choose from. It’s either the YMCA or….the YMCA. Yep, that’s it. Thankfully it’s affordable. I have no reason that I’ve put off joining other than just not getting off of my butt. That all changed this morning.
I woke up knowing that today was a “run day” on my schedule. I just didn’t feel like running. I thought, “Well I could always making it a bike trainer day.” But honestly, I didn’t feel like doing that either. That’s when I figured it was time to join the Y. I needed a change in my routine and I needed to gain access to a pool sooner than later. That’s when my anxiety set in. I’ve never gone through the process of joining a gym/pool. What do I do? Will they judge me? It’s been 3 months since I swam. I haven’t swum in a pool in years. Needless to say I felt like Bella Cullen on her wedding night (sorry for the Twilight reference, but those of you who are fans will understand). I did a quick shave, including my bikini line (which I’m sure I’ll be regretting later….). I took several long stares into the bathroom mirror. I finally packed my bag and jumped in my car. I made it a block away before I realized I forgot my cap and goggles. What was wrong with me?? I’m Heidi. I’m adventurous. Situations don’t intimidate me.
I gave myself a quick pep talk and it was all good. I walked into the Y, filled out paperwork, asked questions in confidence, paid my fees, and made my way to the locker room and then out to the pool. Thankfully a lane was open and the water temperature was decent. I secured my cap and goggles and off I went. My anxiety? Gone. I once again had the peace I experienced in Lake Erie this past summer. It’s no wonder I was like a fish when I was a kid. I love to swim.
So where did all of my anxiety come from? Number 1, although I’m adventurous, certain situations where I feel I may be judged cause me issue. Number 2 the anxiety issue I had while swimming laps 8+ years ago. My guess is I was out of shape, overdid it, and freaked out. This one time experience set me off. I think it’s safe to say any swimming anxiety I had is now gone.
I did 200m x 15 with 15-second breaks in between. Although I know there’s room for improvement (when is there not?), I was content with where I stand, especially considering the circumstances.
What made it even better? When I got out of the pool I looked over to see a fellow swimmer wearing a Rev3 cap. Rock on! I couldn’t help but smile and have a little hop in my step. I am so excited to be back swimming again and look forward to the progress I’ll make this winter.