Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A Memorial Weekend Full of Memories ~

You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.
Eleanor Roosevelt

One of my greatest fears isn’t so much drowning in open water, but being attacked by the unknown “creatures” of the sea. 

I often have a repetitive dream of standing in front of my house, looking towards the east foothills and seeing a huge wave crashing over it.  Perhaps it’s the thought I have of California dropping off into the ocean one day?  But, when I see the wave coming toward me my fear isn't that of drowning, it’s the fear of all the creatures that live in the sea which will devour me before I have the chance to drown.  A bit morbid? Yes, but we all have fears.  
This past Saturday I spend my morning taking the plunge, into the ocean - literally. And although it wasn't spent "overcoming" my fear of the ocean creatures, I did come away with some added confidence from my 60 minutes in the 40 degree ocean water.  

Myself and a handful of my IronTeam buddies, all stepped into the cold Santa Cruz water for an open water swim.  Coach Jerald had agreed to be my swim buddy, and Jen seemed to already take me on as her own, being very attentive to me by assuring that I was okay, which made me feel even more safe.  And Coach Ron reminded me he would be in the kayak to my right during my swim.  Our goal was to swim from shore to the first buoy, and then to the 2nd and then back to the first.  The plan was to repeat this two times. 

I remember stepping into the water and my hands immediately began to burn because it was so cold.  At that point Ron offered his gloves to me which I graciously accepted.  Once everyone was in place (Jen in front of me, Ron to my right and Jerald behind/next to me) we were began swimming.  The ocean seemed so big and was very green.  From the start I was swimming in a zig zag line.  Coach Jerald immediately told me he wanted me to sight every 3 strokes, and this seemed to help.  I kept reminding myself what Fairan said about sighting and how to avoid sucking up water.  As I extended my left arm and pulled I took a quick glance up and it worked!  No water in the mouth and I was able to see what direction I needed to go.

Every now and then I stopped, took a breath and heard the encouragement of my coaches and team mates, "Good job Tyza. You are doing great!"  Those words kept me going, all the way to buoy #1.  Yes! I made it! We took a short pause and then it was off to buoy #2.  And again, I made it!  Once we reached that point, Coach Ron said, "Okay, let's go to the third one." No sooner than I said, "OK", about 30 feet away I saw a fin.  A LARGE fin! It was huge.  I said, "OMG, what is that?!" and Coach Ron replied, "Calm down.  It's just a sea lion and he's just curious.  I think he's mating."  I think it looked so large because they were intertwined with each other. 

After my 30 seconds of shock and freaking out, I was ready to keep going.  The next part of my swim was difficult.  I had scary images in my head and the water became dark, murky and brown.  For part of my swim, when I placed my face in the water, I closed my eyes, and then opened them when I breathed.  I did my best to clear my head, by thinking of my strokes, and counting (1....2....breath. )

My only sense of security in the wide ocean was knowing I was surrounded by my team. Stopping about 20 feet from the last buoy, I looked at it, and asked Jerald, "Is this good enough or do I have to go around it?"  That was a dumb question.  Like Coach Dan would say, "This is Iron Team, Not Wussy Team."  I paddled around it and was so happy to do so!  I made it, further than I had initially anticipated!  I gained so much confidence at that moment. 

It may have been a small step for some, but it was a huge leap for IronTy. 

After a mini celebration of about 30 seconds myself, Jerald, Jen, Camilo, Eugene and Ron began heading back.  The plan was to swim all the way back to the first buoy, swim back to the second buoy and then head into shore. 

On the swim back, I tried to stay close to Eugene and Camilo.  I tried to follow the bubbles.  By the time I got to the second buoy, not yet reaching the first, the water temperature seemed to drop and the toes on my left foot began going numb.  At that point I asked Coach Ron if it was okay that I head into shore after I reached the first buoy and not do the second lap.  He was more than okay with my decision.  As we all reached the first buoy I said I was heading into shore.  Camilo  headed in with me.  He was in a sleeveless wetsuit, and I know he must have been freezing!  The swim from the first buoy to shore seemed endless.  It felt like the tide was pulling me back rather than pushing me in, but it was all in my head.  Once I reached shore, and I stood, it took me a few minutes to gain my balance and that is when I was hit with the cold.  Trying to speak seemed difficult and I slurred my words. Listening to everyone else trying to talk was hilarious too.

Once the entire group reached shore, about 10 minutes after myself, Camilo and Susie came in, we quickly headed back to the cars to get warm.  Coach Ron was kind enough to bring 9 gallons of hot water which we all had the pleasure of pouring down each others wetsuits.  Hearing all the "Ooohs and Ahhhhs!" was an experience to remember!

Once warm, changed and dried, we all headed over to the wharf for some warm coffee and breakfast.  After filling our tummies it was back to the cars to say our goodbyes, at least until the next morning.

Ron, Anna, myself and my daughter decided to hit the Boardwalk for a Iron Team tradition - A ride on the BIG DIPPER!  Saaaay Cheeeese!!!

It was the perfect way to finish off a very difficult Saturday morning.  I left the Boardwalk with confidence, a full tummy, and a fantastic roller coaster ride to remember!  Heading home at about 1pm gave me just enough time to have dinner and pack up for the next day's brick workout!  A 7am roll out time from Edgewood and Canada, which meant getting up about 5:30am. 

Sunday's workout came quickly and before I knew it we were rolling.  Overall, my first brick workout (2 hours on the bike, 50 minutes of running x 2) went well.  Would I change anything?  Most definitely!  Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate. 

It was cold in the morning and I tend to find that when I'm cold I drink very little.  I didn't have a problem reminding myself to eat on the bike, but after my first two hour ride, looking at my water bottle, I  probably only consumed about 4 ounces.  Little did I realize the price I would pay later that day.

Other than failing to hydrate property, the remainder of the day went smooth for myself.  I felt pretty good on both runs with my legs feeling strong on both.

My overall times for my brick workouts:
Ride #1 - 2 hours - 28 miles
Run #1 - 50 minutes - 4.25 miles
Ride #2 - 2 hours - 24.75 miles
Run #2 - 50 minutes - 4.75 miles

Immediately after the brick I was sure to fuel on some homemade pasta, chocolate milk and a recovery drink.  It wasn't until after I got home and later in the evening that I began experiencing symptoms of dehydration; nausea, headache, feeling hot but chilled, and weak.  I didn't do well hydrating myself with fluid on the bike because of the cooler temperatures.  I really need to be  smarter about that and figure out a way to remind myself to sip on fluid.  Something I will plan on discussing with my coaches (one of the great benefits of training with a team.)
In recap, I wouldn't necessary say I "overcame" my fear of the ocean or open water swimming, but I did take a huge step and gained confidence that I am stronger than some  of the fears I've allowed to occupy my mind.  I also realized that I still need a lot of practice on staying hydrated on my long workout days.  Now is the time for these things to occur, before my big event!  Each training session, I learn something new and I have a great support system in place with IronTeam.  With their help I will reach my goal; to become an IRONMAN!
Don't forget to visit my site and make a donation!!  Thank you everyone! ♥