After competing in triathlons for 9 years, I decided it was time to try something different. In the back of my mind I had always had this idea that I would try to swim the English Channel some day. Now, after almost 2 years of distance swimming training, that day is almost here!
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Rest and Confidence
Well today I did exactly as I had planned. I rested. When you are used to exercising most days, often twice a day, making yourself rest can actually be hard. You feel like you should be doing something to get stronger, faster, etc and that you are being lazy. Back when I did a lot of biking, my legs would actually feel like they needed to go. As if they craved the exertion. But over time I have learned to make myself rest. It helps rebuild muscles and prevent injuries from over-training.
So in that spirit, I did a lot of reading. I sat in the sun behind the property in an old wooden chair looking out over the sheep pasture. It was very peaceful and quiet. Just the sort of thing an introvert prefers. I dressed lightly so that I felt a bit cool but that was intentional. Anything to help my body get used to the cold is helpful.
And I ate a lot today. Also intentional. Still trying to put on as much weight as I can until the last minute. I think I have actually lost a little since I have been here only because when I finish the harbor swims and get warmed up I have missed lunch. I snack on food in the room but it’s not like what I was able to get in me at home with the constant protein/high calorie shakes and frequent meals. For all of the conveniences of this place, there’s no refrigerator in the room so I can’t keep milk for the shakes. But with no swim today I was able to down a lot of food and drink.
But the highlight of my day was a back massage. I was a little sore, really more tight in the shoulders and back from the harbor swims so the massage was just the trick. I think that is the second one I have ever had in my life but I figured if it worked for Dara Torres it wouldn’t hurt me any!
One thing Dara also had was a sports psychologist. I think I could use one of those too. It is interesting to watch how my confidence level goes up and down…usually in direct proportion to my proximity to the cold channel. Seriously. Sitting in my room or even fairly soon after a cold swim my confidence in my ability to get across goes up tremendously. Your messages of support help tons plus all the reasons I want to do this for myself. But when I’m in that darn cold water, I feel like quitting 5 times each second. I win the battle with one second and here comes another one where I have to make the same decision. Stay in or get out. I can’t even think positive thoughts because my body is screaming “get out!!!” over and over every second. I guess that why not so many people sign up to do this huh? The other thing that is challenging and affects my confidence is the waves. I am getting used to them in the harbor but fear they will be much bigger in the channel. If they are coming at me instead of from the sides or back that is going to be challenge enough without the cold. When I did my first (and only) Ironman distance triathlon, I didn’t doubt for a second that I would finish. I had never run a marathon before but for some reason I was just sure I would finish. Maybe because I have had a taste of how hard this will be I just have a healthy respect for it. That kind of wisdom might come with age too. Anyway, in spite of all that I have said about confidence, right now I am feeling pretty good about it. Then again, I’m sitting in my room. ;-)
The “picture of the day” above is of a pub in downtown Dover known as The White Horse. It was closed as I was walking by so I didn’t get to go into it. The significance of The White Horse is that this is where people who make it across the channel sign their names on the wall and have a pint to celebrate. If you zoom in close, you can see the writing on the walls through the bottom floor windows. I really hope I get to experience that tradition.
Posted by Allan at 12:35 PM