Wednesday 25 July 2012

Shut up're freaking me out!

We have an emotional side and an analytical side of our brain. Both are very important in different ways. They talk, yell, scream and at times, completely ignore each other. There are days I wish I had complete control. I can't tell you how much easier it would be if I was in the driver seat with all the crap that goes on in my head.

It is a little over four weeks to my event (I am no longer calling it a race. That just freaks me out). More and more, I find myself telling the emotional side of my brain to calm down. My right hemisphere is randomly sending butterflies to my belly throughout the day.  My left side yells back, reprimanding its right counterpart for wasting precious energy. If I am like this now, how am I going to control my emotions on race.... oops…event day?

I recently planned a vacation for Drew and I. We leave in three days. A glorious seven days away from reality, a cycling trip through Cape Breton’s Cabot Trail. I thought my coach would have an issue with this last minute decision, but he was actually thrilled. He said it would be good for me mentally. I guess he has coached a few first-time Ironman basket-cases in his time.

I hope I will be able to distract my right brain, if only for a week. My left says I am ready – I have trained hard and I am feeling great. My lake swims are still full of anxiety, but that is only when I am on dry land. Once I am in the water I am actually fine now... I have come a long way. My biking is super strong. I have never loved the bike more than I do now, and I really can't wait to ride the route in Louisville.

My marathon run will be interesting. I have never been stronger than I am now, but I am still a new runner and my brain and body knows it. So the Kentucky heat and the lack of experience will make this event a challenge... but a challenge the left side says I am ready for. This will be my first marathon run and it will be something I will cherish, no matter how hard it will be to complete (says the right side of course).

So I am working on my head right now. My injury-free, mega strong body is there, but parts of my brain are beginning to fixate a little. Time to focus a little training on the mental part of this game.

Monday 2 July 2012

What doesn't kill you....

The Iron is not for sissies!! That is for sure. In this multi-discipline race, everyone has his or her own strengths, weaknesses and fears. My strength happens to be the bike, my weakness is running, and my fear is the lake. A little more then a year ago I learned to swim the front crawl, but that is not at the core of my fear. I may not be fast, but I am strong in the water and I have the confidence to do the distance. So, like many other triathletes, and a great many people in general, I just feel uncomfortable in open water.

Last year when I decided to try triathlons, I sought help for this fear and I learned a few things. First, I uncovered a repressed memory through an EMDR session ( My debilitating fear of the lake came from being trapped under a moving boat, which I fell out of as it was docking. Being pinned under water with the sound of the propeller getting closer would be enough to keep almost anyone from ever going back into the lake.

The second thing I learned is that lots of people are afraid of open water. It makes sense. If everyone was fearless, there’s a pretty good chance that we, as a species, would have extinguished ourselves by now. Heroic, maybe, but not really practical.

When I went into the lake for the first time this training season, I thought I had my fears in check. I actually thought I had “conquered” them. It was pretty cocky of me, when I think about it. I just didn’t give my fears enough respect. It has been a few weeks since my panic attack, and I managed to revisit my therapist, a swim coach, my coach, and Canadian Tire. Armed with great advice and a $275 orange plastic Kayak, paddled valiantly alongside me by my daughter, I am happy to report that I have had six “event free” long lake swims. The kayak was my idea and the one I am most excited about. My 15-year-old daughter, Caitie, is now my training buddy and she and I could not be happier with a new way to spend time together.

I will never again take my fears for granted, I will simply acknowledge that they exist, and maneuver around, up or under them to get what I want. Thanks to my fears, I get a summer of memory-making with Caitie, and a newfound respect for the old saying, “what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger”.