Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Daily Epiphanies--what a day!

Today was a good day. It was hectic and crazy but enlightening. I learned a lot. What else can you ask of a day?

Epiphany #1:
Lab was crazy and hectic. I'm busy, all of a sudden, and felt like I couldn't get enough done. I'm not used to working with mice. It's planning, planning, and more planning for weeks. Then, waiting, waiting, waiting for months. Then, everything is ready at once. That's how it goes. I'm getting used to being my own boss, and it's hard because I want to push myself to the max all the time. I realized today that if I used a similar approach to working in lab that I do to training for triathlon, I would probably be more productive and have a lot more fun. Instead of forcing myself all the time, I need to accept when things are slow and pace myself when things get hectic. It's like an Ironman; I need to pace myself to avoid burnout. It's a good philosophy, I think. I just have to put it into practice. Once I realized that, I got excited again. I'm excited about my work. That's a good thing. I can't wait to wake up tomorrow and get into lab. I haven't felt that way in awhile, and it's great to have that again.

Epiphany #2:
More like a "note to self"
Do NOT get a deep tissue massage and then rush to a master's swim workout. I got a deliciously painful massage and felt like rubber; afterwhich, I derilously jump into the 50m pool at the JCC (purified by ozone, not chlorine--how luxurious) for my first (yes, first) master's swim workout with the tri club AND my first master's swim workout in about 2 years. Oops.

Epiphany #3
I got off to a bad start with the swim workout. After our warm-up, we were instructed to swim 100 repeats with 10 seconds rest. I looked around for the clock since I had taken off my watch.
Innocently, I ask, "Where's the clock?"
The instructor looks at me questioningly, and replies, "You don't need a clock."
I look at her, confused, and reply, "How are we supposed to rest for 10 seconds?"
Sarcastically, she snaps, "I think you can manage to count to 10."
Argh! What a bitch! That was my first instinct. As I began my laps, it was all I could do to not let it bother me. I realized I had gone 50m, the whole time thinking,
"That was totally uncalled for. How dare she talk to me that way. I'm new. I don't know. I was just asking a question. What a bitch. I hate her. This sucks. I guess this is not for me. I'm never coming back. I'll have to look for another Master's class. That really sucks because this one is so tri specific...." And so on. The 2nd 50m I tried to take control.
This time I was thinking,
"You're getting distracted. Think about your stroke. It doesn't matter. You're letting it get to you. Put it out of your head." That took a LOT of effort. About the 3rd 100m, I got a lot better. This time I thought,
"Maybe it was a bad first impression. That happens all the time. Maybe she was kidding and it came out wrong. Maybe I should just give her a chance. Just focus on the workout. Even if she is a bitch, I can just pretend it came out wrong, and I'll never know the difference."
Even if I had been focusing on the wrong thing, at least I can work things out in my head while I swim! The lesson? Don't let people get in the way of your workout, especially if it's little things, and even if it's the instructor. Let it roll off your shoulders (like a duck). Best of all? Pretend like they didn't mean it. Maybe they didn't! Haven't you had days where you snapped and said something that came out all wrong? Thinking like that totally diffused the bomb of rage inside me. Yes, I know I'm moody and emotional and easily set off. The trick is how to control it.

Epiphany #3
(related to #2)
I began the main workout, which was a set of sprints that changed every 25 meters with very little rest. Very quickly, I was exhausted. At a rest, I tried to start up a conversation with another girl in my lane, who was also resting:
"Whew! I'm not used to these sprints. They're pretty tough."
"Hope you don't do sprints (triathlons) then."
"Yeah, but for sprints you swim like 500 meters. That's a lot longer then 50 meters."
She shrugged and replied, "I guess. But still..."
I felt completely deflated. Like I just couldn't do the workout. Plus, I realized it was 4x as long as I had originally thought. After a pregnant pause I looked at her and said, "Of course I do sprints. I'm still a beginner." For some reason, that completely diffused the situation. I made it clear I wasn't going to compete with her. I demonstrated that I was confident in where I was and enjoyed being a beginner. If she swam on a swim team and was a great swimmer, good for her. I wasn't going to let her opinion matter. I am where I am.

Epiphany #4
(also related to 2 & 3).
However, at this point, I was feeling pretty crappy. I was tired and hurting, and my muscles weren't cooperating, feeling like rubber after my massage. Psychologically, I felt this small (holding fingers close together). I wanted to throw in the towel and call it a night. Then, this older, very nice girl, who had been observing the whole thing, spoke up and made my whole day:
"Just do what you can. Don't worry about it. Set your own pace."
This was the epiphany. It gave me back control. Of course! Set my own pace. Do what I can. That was my mantra the rest of the workout. My arms felt like spaghetti, and I had to slow down considerably. But I was floating on air. Plus, I finally found a pace I could sustain in order to complete the seemingly impossible workout. No one else mattered. Only me. This is for me. I've never had so much fun. I felt like I could go all night.

After that, I ended up meeting a few really nice people, some of who I've seen at previous workouts. They all asked me what other workouts I was planning on doing this week so we could all coordinate. So cool! Workout buddies! The girl who gave me such encouraging words congratulated me on doing such a good job on my swim workout. I was so grateful. Plus, she offered to be my swim buddy at future open water swims!!!

Overall Take-Home Message:
I guess I learned that there are always going to be people who make you feel bad and people who make you feel good everywhere you go. That gives me a choice. I choose not to avoid the people who make me feel crappy and surround myself with the people who make me feel good. Seems simple in theory, huh?

At the end, I had to jump from the pool and race home to catch the season finale of Gray's Anatomy. That show is SO awesome. (I cried when the dog died.)

Summary of Swim Workout:
Warm-Up 500m Free
4x100m with 10 s rest
4x400 of the following:
25 m sprint free head up (like you do at the beginning of an open-water swim race)
25 m race pace
25 m sprint head down
25 m race pace
rest 20 s each 400
(modification for normal people like me to make it easier--rest 30 s after each 100; P.S. I only did 3x400 before I ran out of time)
50m sprint relays (2 teams of 2)
race 25 m--tag teammate (or rest 30 sec)
race 50m--tag/rest
race 50m--tag/rest
race 25m
Total Distance: about 2600m
Time: about 1.5h


Habeela said...

This is a great post! I love it! As for the bitch...maybe she did mean it but it doesn't matter because in my philosophy, what people say to you says more about them than it does about you. So maybe she did mean it...it's gotta suck being a bitch!

The beauty of this philosophy is that if it's about her and not you, it doesn't matter what you said, she chose to be a bitch. Her problem...not yours.

bunnygirl said...

Sounds like you learned as much about yourself as you did about swimming! We have more control over how we feel today than we realize-- thanks for the much-needed reminder!

Tammy said...

It's great to have a job you are passionate about! I'm right there with ya.

I had to laugh at #3. Those same kind of thoughts go round and round in my head and destroy my swim workouts. I'm so mad at the gym I go to now that I haven't swam in over a week. How dumb is that?? sigh.

punky said...

awesome, don't you love it when you have pseudo-spiritual days like that? I've been having daily epiphanies as well ... i went for a run on the beach yesterday and it was a great workout for my quads...

Anonymous said...

Awesome masters workout... not sure how they set it up but at ours, we just have lanes and people gravitate towards the lane where people are going at a certain pace. We all rotate counter-clockwise or split depending on the number of people in the lane. It's really fun. People may be too tired to be chatty, but in over a year, everyone's been really nice/helpful. No pace clock... hmmmm I think a lot of the coaches, advanced swimmers (the bitchy(?)one) forget that we all didn't grow up swimming in HS and college :-(