When I was a soldier, I could do 72 pushups in two minutes. That was over 33 years ago. Today? Not half that number. Most people would have trouble knocking out 10, but I am confident that most anyone who can do 5 pushups, can do 100. That’s my goal: 100 pushups in three minutes.
It may take a while to get there, but I know what it’s like to have a goal and slowly work toward it. If you had asked me eight years ago if I would consider racing in an Ironman, I would have dismissed the idea. But here I am, three Ironman races later. How did I get here? By believing I could.
I don’t know how long it will take to build up to 100 pushups. It shouldn’t take too long, because I believe I can do it.
Recently, two teenagers were attacked by a shark, or two different sharks, at a beach near me. In fact, it made national news. I believe one lost an limb or part of a limb. Both were taken to the hospital. Several hours before the incident, I went for a swim in the ocean at Topsail Beach near Surf City, NC (60 miles to the North). However, my wife and other beach goers that morning claimed to have seen a shark near the location where I was swimming. Here’s the thing I’m trying to say: She saw the shark and told me about it BEFORE I went swimming.
So if there’s a shark in the water, why would I go into its territory knowing full well that I could be mistaken for a piece of food?
Isn’t Fear Supposed to Protect Us?
Why didn’t I fear it? Probably because there were several other people out there already. Or maybe it was because I naively thought that it would know I meant it no harm. Crazy, right? Then four hours later, on a beach 60 miles to the South, two kids get maimed by sharks. They had no intention of harming a shark, yet they were attacked. Then, as if my sanity were in question, the following Monday, Mike and I went swimming in Bank’s Channel. We even talked about the shark events before getting into the water. Now I know I’m crazy!
I’m a student of science… sort of. I studied statistics and I understand that probabilities can be informative and helpful: Especially if they already agree with my preconceived notions :-). I bring this up because I want to enter the Malibu Triathlon in Malibu California. But my wife (the other LG) doesn’t want me to do it, because she’s afraid that I’ll get attacked by a shark. I can’t blame her. On the other hand, there’s a greater probability that I’ll get killed by a vending machine than by a shark. At least that’s what several web sites say. All you have to do is Google “shark vs. vending machine.” Of course, that’s all a bunch of crap because the numbers are averaged over entire populations which include people who can’t possibly be attacked by a shark but are very likely to get angry at a vending machine and knock it around until it falls on them. This might include people who live in the middle of the country and may see the ocean three times in their lives. If the entire U.S. population lived within 100 miles of coastline, I’m sure shark incidents would be more prevalent than vending machine incidents. Also, the population density would be very uncomfortable and Canadians would stream across the unchecked boarders. Don’t get me wrong, I love Canada.
So I’m left with the question, “Should I be more cautious about swimming in the ocean or even the channel?” I don’t know how to answer that. But I am confident that I would be safe in the Malibu Triathlon only because I want to do that race really, REALLY badly.
This isn’t so much about triathlon or endurance sports or an active lifestyle. It’s more about my frustration as a body in front of the camera. I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO SAY. TriRiot is scripted… sort of . When I’m talking like the guy who thinks he’s an expert but really isn’t, that’s scripted. Usually, the stuff outside the studio isn’t scripted.
When I’m driving in my car to work (40 minutes of quality windshield time), I talk to myself and the words just roll out like a hunchback doing somersaults. But, in front of the camera my mind goes blank and I sound like that attorney from the movie, “My Cousin Vinny.”
Here’s a YouTube clip of that scene in case you don’t remember him.
Yeah. Funny stuff. In fact, you might want to watch more of that than finish reading this blog post.
Forget I wrote that. Just keep reading.
It’s OK to Think. Just Don’t Overthink (for too long)
My point, if there’s one to be had here, is that I get in my own way. When I overthink things, I tend to lock up and perform poorly. The same goes for my racing and training. Just this morning I was swimming along in Banks Channel. It was a beautiful morning, my stroke felt good, the water was calm… it was a scene right out of a Halmark movie. About halfway through the swim, I started thinking about something I had heard the night before. It had to do with the importance of getting the leading arm stretched way out in front and becoming more hydrodynamic. I started thinking about my body position and trying to stretch out as much as possible. Right then my swim slowed to a crawl and I felt awkward. I couldn’t get out of that feeling and back into Halmark for the rest of the swim.
So here’s the real point: I’m not concerned, because I know it will work itself out and I’ll be better than before. Same with talking to the camera. It’s just how things work. We may be good at something, but to get better, we have to see ourselves differently which may cause a lot of frustration. And we have to keep practicing. Coming out the other side of that frustration is what is called growth. Believe me. I’m a doctor. (Don’t ask me for prescription drugs or tell me about your hemorrhoids, because I’m not THAT kind of doctor)
Before I explain about my Power Tap… what’s up with “up?” As in “acting up.” We all know what it means to “act up,” right? What’s the opposite? Acting down? Gotta love the English language, even when it defies common sense. But what’s common sense, really? Nevermind. This is not a philosophy lecture. Sorry.
So my Power Tap was acting strange last week. Power Tap is a brand of power meter on my bike. It measures how much energy I produce in watts or joules. It suddenly stopped displaying my watts the other day while I was spinning in my house.
I plan my workouts by that thing. It’s my coach when coach Sami isn’t hovering over me telling me what to do. I felt lost. I didn’t know what to do. How was I going to attain my target of 200 watts for 5 minutes if I had no measurement of watts?
I didn’t know what to do, so I just kept pedaling: aimlessly pedaling. For some time there was no focus in that workout and only the sound of the wheel spinning against the tension spindle. But, after a little while, my legs started to talk to me. It wasn’t obvious at first, because they speak a different language. After several attempts of trying to get my attention, I heard them say I was going to slow. Then my knees spoke up and said I was mashing the pedals, to which the feet agreed. My stomach was no help. It just kept asking for solid food. It was starting to get noisy with all that conversation. I realized that I had trained so much over the last eight years that my body knew what to do. All I had to do was listen to it.
I don’t know what kind of power I put out in that workout, but one thing is for sure. I felt like I had a great workout. Is it possible that we can listen to our bodies and know what to do rather than rely solely on numbers? I’ve always thought so, and this workout just reinforced that idea.
I have a video that touches this subject. It’s based on a Tweet that I read by the well-known triathlon coach, Brett Sutton. Click here for that video.
Each year during the summer, my friends and I swim in the channel that runs along the town of Wrightsville Beach. We do this about once or twice a week. Some years we swim more often and some years less. In addition to the channel, we usually swim a day each week at the YMCA.
This year, however, has been different. Ever since the big fire at the
Wilmington Family YMCA, I have only been swimming twice. Both times were in competition, which means my swim strength has suffered.
So I was really really glad to get into the open water this morning. There’s nothing quite like starting your day swimming in the open water with friends and watching the sun rise. Nick, Terry, DJ and I started out about 6:30am and finished around 7:00am. It was just what I needed. And we weren’t the only ones out there. Several groups were enjoying it as much as we were. Even Coach Sami had a group in the channel.
Even though humans are terrestrial beings, there’s something about swimming in the open water that is so natural and rejuvenating.