All [I] Need is Just a Little Patience

goals, running, races, triathlon, training

I mentioned last week that I was seriously considering running the Freak 50k at Run Woodstock instead of the Hippie Half. I ran sixteen miles and planned out two more long runs and figured it would not be pretty, but I could get it done. I still stand by that. I know I could get it done. But I do not want to just get it done. I want to get it done well.

I had a plan. I wanted to do a mini-triathlon in Coldwater, Michigan as a replacement for the sprint triathlon I had planned for late September. I thought very seriously about training for something more, a marathon or a 50k. But then decided against it. Running has been going so well. I did not want to jump the gun. I wanted to have patience.

Patience involved going shorter instead of going longer. Rather than find some later fall marathon or 50k, I found Michigan’s Holiday series trio of races (schedule permitting — but you know I want that magic mug!) – a Halloween 10k, a Turkey Trot 5k, and a Christmas 5k. Rather than focus on endurance, which I know I have, I wanted to focus on speed. It would be a literal change of pace.

Then the possibility of this 50k came up. It isn’t like visions of grandeur popped in my mind, but as I said, I have been wanting to be an ultramarathoner since I graduated college. This is a life goal, like finishing my Ph.D. or writing a book. The temptation to put a “checkmark” next to it is strong.

But honestly, as I told Bruno, it would not be the same. I do not just want to run an ultra. I want the process of training specifically for an ultra too. I want to think about the training and hard work I put in while running. I do not want to break the ultimate running commandment: respect the distance. I don’t want to blow up at mile twenty and have to walk the last eleven miles. I do not want to injure myself. I want to do this right.

So, I picked out a 10k plan. I have a time goal (more on that later). I’ll do my first triathlon in a little less then two weeks. Then, I’ll run the Woodstock half and have a good time listening to classic rock. I will celebrate that I have been able to run this year. I will have gratitude instead of trying to push it.

I will eventually run an ultramarathon. Maybe the next year. Maybe the year after. They are not going anywhere. I’ll take it slow. It will work itself out fine. All I need is just a little patience.

xo, Ali

 

Monday Miles (100th post!) : August 6 – 12, 2018

blogging, crossfit, cycling, monday miles, races, running, training

Today is my 100th post! When I started this blog back in February, I wanted something to add to my day that was not just graduate school related. Don’t get me wrong. I love graduate school. I love Rousseau and political theory, but I wanted something else to add to the day that would help bring the stress down and to help me remember I’m not only a student. In return, it has added some more fun to my day that is not just mindlessly scrolling the internet (so guilty).

It is strange how much has changed in one hundred posts. Back then I was working on my third chapter of my dissertation. Now I am working on my final chapter, chapter five. Then, I had not ran a race in two years. In the time I have been writing this blog, I have raced four. Then, no CrossFit, just on and off lifting. Now, I have been doing CrossFit for three and a half months. When my brother saw me yesterday (for the first time since January), his first words were, “Jeez! Triceps!” (Excuse me, while my ego explodes.) In the day to day, when I do not think progress anywhere is being made, it is nice to look back and see that actually a lot has happened. I’ve accomplished a lot in these one hundred posts. Who knows where I’ll be in the next one hundred?

So, yes, to the main purpose of this post: this week of training.

8/6/18 : Yoga with Adriene: Yoga for Tired Legs. Romwod. I was still exhausted from Saturday. I just wanted to focus on stretching and getting my hamstrings feeling better.

8/7/18 : Morning – Leg shake out. Bike 30 minutes. This was so slow. 4.8 miles. Yoga with Adriene for Cyclists. Afternoon – CrossFit. Back squats. Find eight rep max, every three minutes for five rounds. Round 1 – 65 lbs.; 2 – 85 lbs.; 3 – 95 lbs.; 4 – 105 lbs.; 5 – 110 lbs. I fought hard those last eight reps. Keep in my mind my last 1-rep-max was I think 123 pounds, so it is probably higher now? I love back squats. Front squats – every two minutes for five sets, three front squats with one thruster. Round 1 – 43 lbs.; 2 – 53 lbs.; 3 – 63 lbs.; 4 – 73 lbs.; 5 – 78 lbs. I like these too. My wrists hurt a little bit after, but I was told that would go away as I gained more forearm strength. Romwod.

8/8/18 : The impromptu sixteen-miler. Good lord. This may have not been the best decision, but I’m glad I did it. My legs were already tired and I did more than I thought possible in three hours. I’m most likely not going to run that 50k, but I’m looking at a possible race later in the fall. More on that later though.

8/9/18 : I could do no more than Romwod.

8/10/18 : Romwod again.

8/11/18 : CrossFit. Also, known as the work out where I’m pretty sure Bruno and I got lapped. This was a partner wod and Bruno is a little further ahead in his ability to do pull-ups than I am, so this was kind of a mess in trying to do everything synchronized. Still, it ended up being a good work-out. Here is what I managed in a little under 20 minutes: 4x 10 ring-rows, 200 meter run. 3x 17 jumping pull-ups, 200m run. It was ugly, but it still happened. Romwod.

8/12/18 : Rest. Sweet rest. Bruno rolled my legs out and that is about all we did. Glorious.

Totals : 16 miles ran, 4.8 miles cycled, 2 hours CrossFit. Pretty good for a recovery-ish week.

xo, Ali

 

 

 

 

 

 

Favorite Things : August 3-10, 2018

favorite things

We’ve made it to another weekend. However in the words of the Dowager Countess on Downton Abbey, what is a weekend? This week did not start out the most productive, so plans for Saturday and Sunday mainly involve dissertating and finishing up my syllabus for class. I’d like to get in a swim and bike ride at some point. My brother and his girlfriend are coming up on Sunday to have lunch with us before they had to the Nascar race. The summer is ending quickly. Much too quickly.

And so, without further ado, here are this week’s favorite things.

I thought making a camping reservation was kind of a pain. This looks like it will help.

I’m not sure if I have posted this before, but always a good reminder. In other words, HTFU.

What a woman training for a 100-miler eats in a day.

For those, like myself, who feel like they don’t really have outdoor experience. It’s all relative.

Rejection always leads to something better.

“Back then, I wrote all day, getting up at five. By this time, I rise scratchy at six or twitch in bed until seven. I drink coffee before I pick up a pen. I look through the newspaper. I try to write all morning, but exhaustion shuts me down by ten o’clock. I dictate a letter. I nap. I rise to a lunch of crackers and peanut butter, followed by further exhaustion. At night I watch baseball on television, and between innings run through the New York Times Book Review. I roll over all night. Breakfast. Coffee.”

Seven hundred words on writing and age.

I must make these cookies.

xo, Ali

 

 

 

 

 

Impromptu Sixteen Mile Run

goals, running, training

One of the friends who ran the half-marathon with us wants to run the 50k at Run Woodstock. In fact, from what his wife told Bruno yesterday at CrossFit, it sounds like he will probably do it. Which, of course, made me want to do it. Not to race it, of course. I have not trained for that, but only to complete. I’m on the fence about it all.

Yesterday we went out for a three hour run. I told him that if we were going to do this, time on our feet would be most important. The race is five weeks away. Both of us are reasonably fit people although probably have not put in the mileage to finish a 50k well. I’m placing my faith right now in Jason Koop who says only six hours of training for three weeks is required to finish a 50k. Finish. The plan for the three hour run was to run four miles, then walk five minutes. This was based on the actual race where aid stations are approximately four miles apart. We went on the hilliest country road I knew and took off.

I felt fine, although my legs were tired, until the last twenty minutes. Everything hit me: the half-marathon I raced on Saturday, the 110 pounds I back-squatted the previous day, and general graduate school stress. I gutted it out, running/walking 16.1 miles in three hours. 1 loop for the race.

I feel ok today although the most I will be doing is a short bike ride later this afternoon and a lot of stretching, if anything. I still have not decided if I will switch from the half-marathon to the 50k. It feels bold, like who am I to do that? I have not really trained for that. But then again, as my mom put it, if I keep my expectations in check, go very slow (even slower than yesterday’s 16 mile run), I might be ok. I’m not sure. I have no doubt in my mind that I could finish. My fear is more about who am I to just do this, to just try it, to just see. I respect the miles. I respect the distance. I expect to be humbled. I expect to hurt.

The ultimate decision will rest on how well I recover from yesterday. My right hamstring bothered me, but my right hamstring is always bothering me. I feel stiff, but mostly fine. I did not feel like my energy was gutted like I hit a brick wall. I took a nap later in the day, but that was several hours after the run. Last night I fell asleep sure that I would email and ask if I could change races. This morning I wonder if I’m out of my mind.

I will say this. Even if I do not end up running the 50k, I discovered myself much stronger than I thought. I have not run sixteen miles in three years. If you would have asked me last week if I could run sixteen miles, I would have said no, even though I have been half-marathon capable since March. I don’t even think I would have thought myself capable of that at the beginning of this year. Even if I end up (probably responsibly) deciding not to run the 50k, I surprised and impressed myself yesterday. I can do more.

xo, Ali

Outdoors People

daily life

Growing up I always thought some people were outside people, some people were inside people. I disliked outside activities. I did not like sports (although I did love swimming). I did not like camping. I did not like fishing. My dad was a dairy farmer, so spending time outside was inevitable, but what I really wanted to do was be inside, preferably with a book. I think Nietzsche makes a joke about pasty intellectuals (if he didn’t, it sounds like something he would say).

I suppose that changed when I started running. I began doing all my runs on an indoor track at my college rec center. When my runs became longer than three miles, I started doing them on the treadmill. It was not until I went home that summer, deprived of rec center and treadmill, that I began running outside. At this point, the most I was running was maybe three or four miles at a time. That year, I trained for a half, so this thesis-writing college senior was forced outdoors. The treadmill became the dreadmill. I now train outside in the rain and in the freezing cold (hello, Michigan winters). Only storms and ice keep me inside.

I suppose this transitioned into other areas. Instead of reading at my desk, I started bringing my books outside on the front porch. Little things, but a big difference from my former self who could only be tempted into spending time outside if beer was involved.

I read Scott Jurek’s Eat and Run and while I remained far away from the ability to run an ultra, most ultra and trail runners seemed to be outdoors enthusiasts. I read Cheryl Strayed’s Wild and Jennifer Pharr Davis’s Becoming Odyssa: Adventures on the Appalachian Trail. I caught the bug. I wanted to go on my own adventure. Of course, I have no idea what I’m doing (still don’t), so we asked for basic camping equipment for Christmas and we took a wilderness survival class in the spring in the hopes that someday we will go on our own backpacking or remote camping trip.

But first, baby steps. I’ve gone camping before, but never on purpose. I went with my parents. I think the last time before this past weekend was a trip with my mom and step-dad to Wolverine, Michigan. I remember liking it, but it was not anything I would do on my own. So, this weekend was a “new” experience in its own way.

We went to a state park, so nothing super out remote or out there. Putting up the tent took us longer than the box said, but no meltdowns occurred. We learned that we may not be completely hopeless at this outdoors thing. I made sandwiches and s’mores over the fire. We were kept awake by loud bugs. I was bit up by mosquitos all over my feet, the only place where I forgot to spray off. Aside for the half-marathon, we did not really do anything exciting. Our legs were tired, so we just sat around and talked and not talked. We walked to the lake and cooled our legs off. Bruno practiced floating and swimming. I posted occasionally on Instagram, but because service was spotty, I mainly stayed off my phone.

Bruno said on the way home that he did not think about his dissertation the entire weekend. He told me it was the most relaxed he had felt in a long time. I felt similarly and was actually sad to come home on Sunday. I did not really want to get back to it. Usually periods of not doing anything, even shorter periods like a weekend, make me anxious, desperate for structure and the grind. Monday is my favorite time of year. Not this time.

So we’re back. It is baby step number one for what will someday be a longer trip. I’m not sure either of us expected that we would end up being the couple that does outdoors things, but now Bruno wanting to learn how to fish and I’m looking into a snowshoe race in January. I do not think the “call of the wild” is going away. We’ll keep making baby steps until we are officially really outdoors people.*

xo, Ali

*I’ll admit it. I feel a bit like a poser. I can’t even read a map, but man, I am so excited to learn.

Race Report : The Legend Trail Half-Marathon in Laingsburg, Michigan (August 4, 2018)

races, running

This race report begins with a first. As a couple, we decided to make our first camping trip together at Sleepy Hollow State Park, the location of the trail race. We received a tent and other camping equipment for Christmas, so had been planning all year to use it, but had yet to find the perfect time. This race seemed to be it. So on Friday (procrastinating as usual) we grocery shopped, packed our things, and with a few trips back to the house to grab things we forgot, we eventually made our way to Laingsburg and Sleepy Hollow.

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Bruno shows off our domain.

We eventually managed to set up our tent (we didn’t practice at home). Then we walked over to registration and received our shirts and bibs for the race. I will say this. It was super convenient, maybe only a nice eight minute walk from our campsite. We finished setting up, Bruno bought some wood, and I started making dinner: Turkey and swiss sandwiches cooked over the fire and mashed sweet potatoes. Nothing fancy. I was more concerned about making sure I got plenty of carbs, thus the sweet potatoes.

Our human neighbors were initially noisy, but nothing obnoxious though. By ten pm everything was mostly quiet. It was perfect. The bugs were a different story. Loud. Obnoxious. I wished for them to be eaten by some wild predator. I put earplugs in and eventually fell asleep.

We woke up at 6:30ish. This was one of the best parts of staying in the campsite. After a few 4am wake ups with long drives to races, it was nice to just be there. Bruno made coffee and oatmeal for breakfast. We walked over the starting line around 7:40 and met up with some friends. It was all pretty relaxed, no rushing around, and no problems. I was grateful. I am grateful.

And now, the race. They announced the waves and I could actually hear the paces. This was nice, because the last few I could not hear the paces and I think in Trail-half started further back than I should have and ended up stuck in back-ups a lot the time. This did not happen to me once during the entire Legend race.

I had a plan. I was going to start around 10:30/mile pace and speed up. I did not expect to be able to run under 10 minute pace, because I ran 11:11 at Trail-half and I think over 10 minute pace for the Dirty Duo. I tried to think conservatively. It didn’t work.

My first mile was ten minutes. I tried to get myself to slow down, but couldn’t. I felt good. But I also know that you can’t judge a mile by the first run. So I decided to see if I could keep the pace for the next 3-4 miles and evaluate pace from there. I maintained the pace. It felt perfect. Hard enough to question whether I could hold it, but easy enough that I felt good. I didn’t feel like I was working too hard or was going to burn out. The fourth mile was the hilliest and I easily maintained the pace. I was excited. I began to speed up only a little bit, ten seconds per mile faster. I passed Bruno. Then I passed our friend Mike.

The next several miles flew by. I did not listen to any music, but focused on pace. Aside for my last mile, my fastest mile was mile seven at 9:42 minutes. I tripped several times and fell hard only once. I was ok, but with my ego a little bruised, I hopped back up. Another runner asked if I was ok and I responded, “I’m just so happy to be out here.” I continued to run just fine. Nothing was sore. Everything was going perfect. Until mile nine.

My legs began to get a little tired. I told myself to just ignore it. Around this point I think we started leaving the woods and head out into some grassy areas. It was hot and I struggled during these points only to be able to pick it back up once we ran back into the woods. Mile 9 was a little over ten minutes, mile 10 a little slower, mile 11 even slower, and by mile 12 I admit I was beginning to phone it in.

Here were my excuses: I already am beating my goal time. I already am running faster than I had planned on running, even at this slower pace. I probably already earned myself at least a third place age group award (I researched the paces for age groupers last year and yeah, an age group award was one of my goals). I already (probably) hit all of my “A” goals, so what did it matter anymore?

At this point, with about a mile left my friend Mike caught up with me. I credit him for my strong finish. I cannot remember what he said, but it something along the lines of let’s finish this thing. My pace jumped up. Faster and faster. We ran together for about a half mile, maybe a little more. Then he sped off. I kept the pace, but tried to increase a little bit more, a little bit more. I could not see the finish line so I was afraid of sprinting off and not being able to finish strong.

When I saw it, I bolted. I sprinted in. My last mile was around 9 minute pace. It was my fastest mile and it hurt the worst. As I said, left to my own devices I probably would have ran it at around 10:20 until Mike caught up with me. Shame is powerful, people. Very powerful.

My time was 2:09:10, averaging 9:57 pace. I was shocked. I was expecting and planned for 2:15. That was my race goal and it was almost six minutes faster than what I thought I was capable of doing. My time was only one minute slower than my road half-marathon PR. It was twenty minutes faster than my time at Trail-half marathon, but that could be because that trail was harder (at least in my opinion). I could have cried. I picked up my medal and my huge beer glass for finishing the Serious Series.

Bruno finished a couple minutes after me. I did not have time to regroup after finishing to cheer him in. All of us in our group agreed the race went fine until miles eight and nine. Around then, most of us started struggling. We stood around as they started announcing overall and age group awards. When they began announcing 25-29 women, I was first. I was surprised, but pumped. I love the little age group mason jars.

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Tired and sweaty, but very happy.

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We did it!

Finishing this Series was one of my main 2018 goals. I remember signing up for it and being scared that it would not happen. I was scared that I would get injured. I was scared something would come up and I would not have the nerve for it. I get it. I follow a lot of runners who mainly do ultramarathons or marathons. I’m not fast. I want to do long, but I’m not sure if I am ready for it yet. At the beginning of this year, I was not sure if I really was a “runner” anymore. I had not raced in years. Now I’ve done three races. I’ve not only finished them, but I have finished them well. I have one more trail half on the calendar. I’m still hoping to do a triathlon. I feel like a runner again. I feel like an athlete. I feel strong. These races went better than I could have ever expected when I signed up for them back in January. I’m so grateful.

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Next up: RunWoodstock trail half-marathon. This will be a return to Hell – Hell, Michigan that is. I’m not sure how much I will train for it as I am planning on it being a fun camping weekend with a race rather than a race weekend with camping.

xo, Ali

Monday Miles : July 30 – August 5, 2018

crossfit, cycling, lifting, monday miles, races, running, training

Two days after the Legend trail half-marathon, I am still completely shot. The CrossFit work out today features running (and burpees) and I played around with going, but decided against it. Don’t be stupid, I keep telling myself, rest, recover. So, I’ll put on some Yoga with Adriene and do some graduate student things and some cleaning things. I think I’ll have to ease into this week instead of going full steam ahead.

I’ll share the details of my final race in the Serious Series tomorrow, but for now all I can say is that I’m hella sore and hella happy.

Here are this past week’s work outs:

7/30/18 : REST.

7/31/18 : Run. Easy four miles. 11:09/mile. Stayed under 152 bpm heart rate.

8/1/18 : Bike. 8.2 miles. 36 minutes. 13.7 mph. CrossFit. Strength – push press. Build to max 3-rep weight in seven minutes. I built up to 73 lbs. WOD: 5 rounds for time – 5 pull-ups (banded), 10 push-press, 50 single-unders. For the first round of push-presses, I was not sure what I was going to be able to do, so I played it safe and kept the bar. 33 lbs. As soon as I picked it up, I knew it was too easy, so rushed to add some two 10 lbs. to the bar — so sets 2-5 I did 53 lbs. At one point during my single-unders my coach said, “Jump a little higher.” As soon as I did that, the single-unders turned into double-unders. I was happy about that! I could only manage four, but that is four more than I was able to do before. Time: 14 minutes 40 seconds. Romwod.

8/2/18 : Run. 3 miles. This was just supposed to be whatever feels good. That happened to be 9:16 paced miles in the hot, hot sun. This run was immediately followed up with CrossFit. 5x 500m row sprints. Stay within 15 seconds for each sprint. Times: 2:02, 2:04, 2:09, 2:08, 2:08. Holy hell. Ouch. Here I am humbled again by CrossFit. No big deal I thought when I saw this work out. No big deal when I started my first set. 150m it was a big deal. I was on fire. Pure will was what it took me to finish some of those sets. I cannot imagine sitting on that thing for four hours doing a marathon. Also, here is where I point out another fun fact: the female winner of the marathon row, Margaux Alvarez, for the games had faster 500m splits then I did for my sprints with 3 minute breaks. Romwod.

8/3/18 : Yoga with Adriene for Hamstrings.

8/4/18 : Run Legend 13.1 Trail Half-marathon. I am so happy with this race. It was the perfect end to the serious series and the perfect weekend.

8/5/18 : Rest. Much deserved rest.

Totals : 20 miles run, 8.2 miles cycled, 2 hours CrossFit.

A damn good week. Now to more rest and recovery!

xo, Ali

 

Favorite Things : July 28 – August 3, 2018

favorite things

We are heading to Sleepy Hollow State Park today to go camping. I’ve gone camping before, but with parents. This will be the first time I’ve planned a camping trip myself. Wish us luck! I’m sure that we will forget something important even though I’ve checked and double-checked through searches on google “what to bring on a camping trip” and “meal plans for weekend camping trip.” It is sure to be an adventure.

Tomorrow morning I run the last race in the Serious Series. Crazy, right? It does not seem that long ago back in early January I had only two goals for myself for 2018: finish the Serious Series and finish my dissertation. It is looking like both will happen. I have some goals for this race, but I know how the trails are so I’m holding on loosely.

And so, without further ado, here are this week’s favorite things:

If Sex and the City had a 2018 season.

As always, sometimes the best advice is to show up.

Someday I’ll have an AirStream, but for now I’ll look at these beautiful Airbnb airstreams.

I’ve seen it compared with the scrunchie, but I am pro-hair claw and so glad it is back.

Supposedly healthy things you should stop doing.

I study French a couple times a week and while I can read it fairly decently, I speak like a barbarian (if I can speak it at all). I found this article on learning French so good. It is long, but worth it.

Speaking of French, I’m excited for this new story by Papa which takes place in (of course) Paris.

Alessandra Pichelli’s 90 minutes of hell.

Have a great weekend!

xo, Ali

 

 

Alessandra Pichelli on that Rower

crossfit

Yesterday marked the beginning of the 2018 CrossFit Games. I’m not a big sports fanatic. I don’t have a football or baseball team (I come from a Bengals and Reds family). I cheer for the Cavaliers out of affection for all the Cleveland people I knew in undergrad. But I don’t really think about it much. That said, we (Bruno and myself) are avidly watching the CrossFit Games this year. I’m not cheering for anyone in particular, because I love them all. However, I might love someone a teensy more today than I did yesterday.

Beginning of the day yesterday I had never heard of Alessandra Pichelli. Even before we started CrossFit, Bruno and I used to watch the games documentaries on Netflix just because it is inspiring. So I knew the big names. I knew Katrin. I knew Annie. I knew Tia. (Full disclosure: I do not really follow the males. Same with running. I’m not sure why that is.) Pichelli I had never heard of until they showed her suffering on the rowing machine last night.

The last event for day one was to row a marathon. Athletes had a four hour time cap and none of the usual tools (like headphones and your own music) to get through an incredibly mentally and physically taxing event. We had the event on as background, but for an event that seemed dull, we were glued to the television.

When they showed Pichelli she was rowing with one hand. The commentators were questioning whether she would be able to finish within four hours. She was cramping in her legs and her arms. I have tried to find pictures, but I can tell you this. She looked in agony.

But she just kept going. Later they showed her back to using two arms, still in pain, but looking better. Pichelli was the last female to finish, but watching her fight to finish was the best part of the games yesterday. I mean, how do you continue when your body is telling you to stop? How do just keep going on when you know you have so much left to go? When there is nothing to take your mind from what is going on? The amount of mental strength she showed was more courageous, more impressive, and more inspirational than the women that seemed to have a much easier go of it.

3:34:22.00 and no quit in @alessandrapichelli. #MarathonRow

A post shared by The CrossFit Games (@crossfitgames) on

 

Sometimes the way to success is to grit it out and just not quit, whether that is in a marathon row, an actual marathon, or even, dissertation writing and graduate school. I cannot count how many times in the last five years I also “cramped” up, didn’t think I could do it, and would just try to do whatever I could to have some forward progress. In whatever form, we’ve all been there and will be there again.

And the next time I reach that point, I’ll think of Alessandra Pichelli on that rower.

xo, Ali

Pond of Certainty

daily life, swimming, triathlon

This past weekend was a our first visit to my mom and step-dad’s new house. It is a beautiful red home out in the country. It feels more like a vacation lake house than a place where people day to day live. The part of the house I was most excited for was that it has a pond.

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Sun shining, hearts full, eyes squinting. 

Bruno does not know how to swim, so Saturday we hung around the “beach” area. I tried to explain (badly) to Bruno how to float and once he was able to do that, kicking, using his arms. By the end of the session he could do a free strokes free-style and a few strokes backstroke. It was not pretty, but I was proud of him and I think he was surprised at himself. He described swimming as “teleportation” because he would close his eyes (no goggles) and find himself in a different place.

After, I planned to do a swim workout in the pond. I did not know how long (meters or yards) it would be. The plan was to set a timer and focus on trying to swim continuously. No big deal.

Unlike Bruno, I have goggles. For me swimming is not like teleportation. I can open my eyes and see where I am going. And I could not see. The pond is clean, but it is still a pond. It is murky. There are plants to swim through. And then, when I made it to the middle of the pond, I could not see to the bottom. First, I thought “how eerie” and then I panicked. Work out abandoned.

It was not until the drive back to Michigan that I even told Bruno I became scared. And truly, I still don’t understand. I used to do this all the time.

I started training for a triathlon to work on fear. At that time, it was my fear of cycling. But it seems that I have been presented with another fear to work on, one that does not quite have a name. I don’t think I am scared of swimming in ponds or lakes. The pond plants do not bother me. I like the fish. I suspect it is more fear of the unknown, looking down and not being able to see, looking to the side and only seeing more murk.

Next year, I have no idea where we will live or where I will work. This is it. The last year I will describe myself officially as a “graduate student” (in life, “student” will always apply).  I cannot see. I only see murk. And as I mention, this causes a lot of anxiety.

I told Bruno yesterday that I just want certainty. I like knowing, planning, and the assurance of “if this, then that.” I get it. Nobody’s life is really like that. Still,  I think when I was swimming and looked down and saw only the “unknown” in my small family pond, I was fed up with it. I could not handle just one more thing of not knowing.

It will take baby-steps (or strokes?) to try to get comfortable with being uncomfortable again in the pond, just as I’m trying to be comfortable, excited even, about not knowing what will happen next year. At the very least, I am certain I will get there, wherever “there” may be.

xo, Ali