Sunday, November 30, 2008

TGIFe

I'm not fat enough.

I stared at B for a sec as if he'd called me the F-word then realized he meant he didn't have enough body fat to float.

Poor guy, that was his excuse for not swimming. Two years ago, I was explaining to a friend/co-worker that I'd signed up for Ironman Florida 2006 in order to motivate myself to learn to swim. Seriously, nothing less would have gotten me to do it and had that year not seen some of the roughest water conditions ever at an Ironman race, I might have checked that box and moved on to something else. Instead, one person died and I finished the 2.4 mile swim leg ~6 minutes too late.


You know the IM motto: Anything can happen.

Still, I accomplished 90% of what I set out to do in training and had the most memorable swim of (for) my life. And, I came back with more than a medal. The DNF gave me the desire to be a real triathlete. Up to then, I was content to survive swim segments and ride centuries just so I could run more marathons. Silly, I know!

But what B said got me thinking ... Many of the swimmers I saw at my pool did seem to have a lot of, let's say, built-in buoyancy. They made freestyle look so easy, gliding effortlessly down the lane while I splashed and struggled to go half as fast. How could it be that I could run for hours yet find swimming so difficult? What the heck am I missing? Maybe going on a bon-bon diet would help?

Then last year I began working with Karlyn Pipes-Nielsen. Karlyn was the first elite swimmer I'd ever met. What impressed me immediately, though, was her physique. She could have passed for an elite marathoner. And, she had small feet too, like me.

Hell, if she could float, most definitely, so could I. All body image issues I had went out the door.

Now I could work on the real issue: good technique or rather, lack thereof. No more envying or being intimidated by barrel chests, big butts and size 10+ double E wide feet. No more excuses. Just focus on what it takes to get my body through the water and this year, finally, I became a swimmer.

So now, after 3 years and 10 tris (6 half irons, 2 olys and 2 sprints), I feel poised to become the triathlete I've wanted to be. And to make things even sweeter, a wonderful blogging-for-coaching opportunity has come my way. Next year, I will tackle one of the most challenging iron races in the southeast, The Great Floridian. Then two weeks later, I'll head north to do Beach to Battleship, a cooler and much flatter course, just for grins.


I may not be bright but Thank God I'm Fat enough :-)

37 comments:

Sarah said...

Shirley - that's awesome!! I can't wait to follow your training for these really exciting races!! Woohoo!!!

Petraruns said...

WOW Shirley - what great goals! Impressive stuff..

Lisa Slow-n-Steady said...

May your iron dreams come true!

Molly said...

Wow, it's good to know someone else has that problem :) I don't have that natural built-in flotation either and it makes swimming a struggle. I only started swimming a year ago and just joined masters last month, so I hope to make as much progress as you did! I'll be doing my first IM next November, so I look forward to following your training!

Shannon said...

Might do B2B 1/2 next year, I'll be at the finish line cheering you on!

They should have had all the inaugural tri stuff worked out by then. :)

Viv said...

Great motivation races, Shirley!

I totally know what you mean about actually becoming a swimmer. For me swimming is just one of those necessary evils. I probably have the wrong mind set about it. I think I just get by my with my buoancy on all swims, hehehe! That and get me a good current and I am gone :-D

Looking forward to following your journey to these races and watch you exceed your expectations.

IM Able said...

I'm signing up for B2B, too! Looking forward to the swim (of course!) and the flat bike. The run? Well, check back with me in 6 months.

Loving the goals!

Arland said...

I can definitely see a full Ironman in your future. Your pretty much trained for it already. Good luck on achieving your goals.

Spokane Al said...

Regular people sign up for one IM event. Shirley signs up for two within a couple of weeks! I am looking forward to reading about your journey.

And if you need some extra pudge I have some I am willing to give you.

Stef said...

I am seriously considering the B2B Half (as I told you) so this is really exciting!

You can totally pull this off, it will be fun to watch!

RoadBunner said...

Congratulations!! I can't wait to hear all about it. And seriously...TWO of them?! If anyone can do it, you can!

Nancy Toby said...

Whoa! You go girl! I'll "see" you at registration tomorrow morning!! Yeah!!!

Irish Blue said...

So, is this the goal you mentioned on my blog when commenting? One you had been toying with for 2009? The suspense is killin me woman! LOL...

Wendy said...

Very exciting Shirley!!!

It really is technique in the swim that is the ticket! Adult swimmers come in all shapes and sizes -- of course elite swimmers rarely have pudge.

Cliff said...

Hmm swimming.

I hear you :) I just sink in the water with my iron hips (i call them that b/c they are so inflexible).


I heard B2B is a good race. You are a triathlete :).....now is time to become an Ironman :D

KodaFit said...

I tend to think of you more as being a 'phat' triathlete!!

Looking forward to following your training next year!

Bruce Stewart (施樸樂) (ブルース・スチュワート) said...

The test of floatation is more one of seeing how well you do when motionless in the water. Everyone encourages me to eat more, but I still float pretty well, especially in sea water. With a wetsuit on, floatation should not be an issue at all. However, you probably do need to be somewhat fatter to swim in colder water for long periods of time. Look at pictures of female Channel swimmers. And if you go to the North Pole on your travels, you apparently won't find any thin animals. The walrus, polar bear and everything else are big or else very furry (like the arctic fox).
It's now December. Have you been to swim outdoors at this time of year in Orlando? It may be cold, but it's a challenge, and in some ways a lot of fun, which is what it is all about.

Susan said...

Shirley, you are just a ray of sunshine! 'Nuff said!

Girl on Top said...

I have never been able to float. I think I just get scared of putting my head back and relaxing. :)

You're awesome!

X-Country2 said...

Go get 'em! Can't wait to follow along and read all about it.

Calyx Meredith said...

Woo hoo!!!!! I love the post title and I am so excited that I'll get to see you. (We'll definitely be volunteering if we can't figure out how to pay the entry fee before the race fills up!) Get on with your bad self!

Gotta Run said...

Just emailed you... so excited for you and your race picks. You have come a long way... keep rocking girl.

Smithposts said...

Oh Shirley, big butts are a body image issue themselves.

Exciting 2009 coming up for you! Look forward to following along on your journey!!

Steve Stenzel said...

Great goals!!!

sharon said...

If I can keep from hurting myself I'll join you at the Great Floridian. I'm up to 8 miles now on my long run! Whoo hoo!
Will you go slow enough to let me draft your skinny little butt on the swim? :)

TRI TO BE FUNNY said...

And we'll be following along with every swim, bike and run!

WADDLER26.2 said...

I'll see you at B2B. It will be my first full. I just learned to swim last year at age 51 and my coach has been awesome.

Kevin said...

Wow-thats great. I have no doubt you can do it. It seems like B2B is becoming the event of the year for bloggers

peter said...

Cool! A new objective! I'm sure you'll do great. Nice you gave your swim coach a shout out (you have mentioned her previously).

lizzie lee said...

YOU GIRL!! You are a permanent source of inspiration to me. I wish you the best..... Keep having that determination, it has taken you where you wanted to be!!!

sincere-lee
lizzie lee

Marathon Maritza said...

Wow, go Shirley!!!!

You are so inspirational and are going to do great and have a blast doing it!!!!

nylisa said...

Wow. That's the type of slow transformation I can look forward to... Unfortunately for me, I can float without even trying! hahaha!

RE: my training. I'm not exactly sure what else I can do but follow the schedules. This Sunday coincides with the first long 20, then next week is 12, then another 20, then 12, then 8... then the marathon itself. Given this time of year with work and freelance, I'd be hard-pressed to run during the week, so I focus on the weekends. I'm just hoping my body will "remember" what it feels like to do such a long distance all at once. I'm mentally prepared... It's just physically I'm a bit apprehensive about. Any tips?

Brent Buckner said...

You worked the limiters and now you get to collect - twice!

jen said...

Whoo hoo, awesome goals Shirley!! You're going to rock those races.

Jade Lady said...

Ah...you committed huh? Great!

skoshi said...

What a really nice post.
You are always such an inspiration to me.
I've done 6 half irons also, 3 oly's, and a plethora of sprints (due to the SW challenge series with the prize dangling at the end of each year), but I haven't done a marathon!
Best of luck and you know I'll see you at the other end of the year!

Duane said...

Very cool!