Lighten Up On Yourself

I’ve been sick with a sinus infection for almost 2 weeks now and it’s driving me bonkers. It’s my second sinus infection in the last 6 weeks so basically I got over the first one and then a couple of weeks later got sick again. A co-worker showed up sick to work a couple of weeks ago so I may have gotten it for him (gee, thanks buddy) or I’m allergic to LA (which my best friend Maurice immediately responded with “move back”). Either way it has made swimming very difficult for me since the start of the year combined with having lost a lot of my endurance and strength from taking 2 weeks off over the holidays.

I had been feeling stronger with every stroke I was taking during the first few workout of the year and then this morning that all went to hell. I took an antihistamine when I got up this morning hoping that it’d help me from coughing while swimming and instead seemed to suck all the energy out of me. My times were sucking and I felt like I had an anchor strapped to me. At 1500 meters I tried switching to my old trustworthy backstroke and noticed that I was seriously dragging still and gave up after 100 meters of that. I felt more tired than I did after a 10 KM when healthy and in good swim shape. My lanemate Colin didn’t believe it when I told him that I was actually getting out of the water before him as that’s never happened before. I went home and drank two pots of tea, finished going through some photos, and watched an episode of “How I Met Your Mother.”

I’ve been berating myself lately on being behind on my “Go The Distance” schedule to complete my 1000 swim miles for the year. The FLOG isn’t exactly nice when it says that I need to “pick up the pace to achieve [my] goal this year.” Yeah no **** and thanks for the reminder like I didn’t know. I know they didn’t intend it to sound like it’s mocking you. I just see the delta between the “on pace” and my entered mileage getting bigger by the day. Okay, we’re 9 days into the year. I’ve been trying to calm myself down about it and yet it still nags at me a little.

On my way to work I was thinking about it still and feeling lame for being sick, skipping days, and being so far behind already from my “on pace” schedule 9 days into a year. Then the date “18 October 2010” popped into my head. That was the day that I went to bed with a strange tingling deep in my right hip that I’d never felt before. I remember all of it so vividly: waking up the next morning and not being able to shower because I couldn’t lift my right leg over the bathtub, the immense pain I felt anytime I tried to lift my right leg at all, having to leave work because I couldn’t sit at my desk, calling to make an appointment with Dr. Van Pelt @ St. Francis Memorial Hospital to find out WTF was happening to me, mixing percocet with wine and still feeling immense pain so calling my then-boyfriend to pick up Maker’s Mark on his way home (we were out anyway) so I could mix that with percocet instead, the then-worst pain I’ve ever felt trying to get me on a gurney so I could be injected with 50 mg of Demerol so I could lay down for the MRI, the staff having to lift me from the gurney to the MRI table and back again afterwards. Then there was 1 March 2011 when Dr. Michael Bellino at Stanford Hospital broke my pelvis for the first time. Most of the next couple of months were a bit of a blur due to high doses of painkillers and not being able to stay awake for more than a couple of hours. I distinctly remember to date THE worst pain I ever felt my first night at home and the oxycontin wore off just after midnight on 9 March 2011. I woke up screaming in pain as I finally felt exactly what it feels like to have a broken pelvis. I’ve never delayed getting a prescription filled after that no matter what. A good day for me then was a day that I didn’t throw up. Otherwise I was pretty much stuck in bed sort of watching Netflix movies and surfing the web (both get boring after awhile) and didn’t have enough energy to make it to my own living room with my walker. I’m pretty sure my weight dropped to somewhere around 100 pounds. Fast forward to 27 March 2012 when I had my pelvis broken for a second time to refurbish my left hip. It was easier having learned from the first experience and having my friend Kris on hand to nurse me during the day. I had an excellent surgeon, nurses, pain management team, physical therapist, and the great support of my friends both times.

So where does that leave me today and the whole point of that trip down surgeries-of-past lane? I have good days and bad days. I need to remind myself of that and stop berating myself for when I’ve got high expectations of myself and my body can’t keep up with my mind. Having gone through two pelvis surgeries, I have this desire to not waste my days and I feel like days that I don’t swim or exercise otherwise are wasted days and opportunities. I need to stop being so hard on myself. Swimming while I’m sick and weak isn’t going to help me achieve my long term goals. I’ll be able to pull off 10 KM, 12 KM, even 15 KM effortlessly when I’m strong and healthy. I’m not at that place right now. I easily tell other people “live to swim/ski/etc another day” when they have to abort a workout or swim and yet have trouble listening to myself. Taking a few days off to let myself get healthy again seems unimaginable since I focus too much on the short term goals (FLOG, getting back in shape) instead of the long term goals (open water races, total swim miles for 2014). Instead of thinking about how far I’ve come, I’ve been focused on my shortcomings in the last week. Glass half empty. I need to stop doing that. I really to switch my attitude to getting over this sinus infection and stop being so hard on myself as we’re just 9 days into the year. It’s like already saying that you’re losing a long distance endurance race 5 minutes into it. I’m going to instead try and take it one day at a time and try to lighten up on myself. I’ll get there. I almost thought I wasn’t going to make 500 miles last year having started that goal in mid-September and I was able to do it with time to spare. Taking a little time out now would enable me to come back stronger than ever and would be more beneficial than trying to swim half-assed and prolonging my sickness even more.

In other news, I decided yesterday to register for US Masters Swimming’s Level 1 & 2 Coaching Certification’s course next weekend being hosted at my home pool! I’ve been enabling other people to start swimming and offering to help them even though I’ve never done something like that before. I figure this way I would have more confidence and be more effective when push comes to shove of actually being there helping someone learn how to swim and/or improve their stroke. I’m excited and terrified at the same time as I’d never thought about taking an actual coaching course before and never even considered coaching. This could take me in a different direction that I didn’t think was imaginable. I’m curious to see where this may lead me though in my swimming career. =)

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