Tag Archives: pool

Blue Sky, Sun & Water Made It Better

I woke up yesterday morning and felt OK.  Nothing remarkable about the morning.   For the past few days or so, off-and-on, I’ve been pretty emotional and feeling blah.  The void from losing Noah feels a lot stronger and bigger these days.  So I’ll take feeling just OK.  I started the day with eating breakfast, tackling some work and reading the news.  I planned to hit the pool by mid-morning to swim my assigned 3000 yards.  Last weekend I sought some advice from my coach about my swims (among other areas).  I was starting to grow anxious about not making decent enough progress with my times.  Since hearing back from him, I’ve been looking forward to swimming with his guidance in my head.

But yesterday I struggled to go to the pool.  I don’t know exactly why.  I didn’t feel like it was my spirit talking to me; like I needed a break or something.  Most likely, I think, it was simply becoming one of those days -whatever that means.

Packing my gym bag was an effort.  I painstakingly gathered my goggles, sunscreen, swim cap, chocolate milk, Clif shots, Nuun tablets, water bottle and change of clothes.  Every few minutes I’d pause, take in a deep breath and think about NOT going.  But then I’d continue to get ready.  I forced myself to go through the motions.  “Just get in the water and start swimming,” I kept telling myself.  “If the pool is the slightest bit crowded though, that’s a sign I shouldn’t swim today.”

The pool had only one other swimmer in it.  I had my own lane; it wasn’t the middle lane but a good one.  I guess that’s a sign too.  Slowly I placed my stuff at the end of the pool.  I stretched.  I rarely do this before swimming.  I was stalling.  And then I sat down on the edge and placed my legs in the water.  I started the timer on my Garmin and pushed myself in.

When I swim laps I breathe every three or five strokes to alternate sides.  With the first breath I took I naturally looked up at the sky.  All I saw was blue above me and when I placed my face back in the water I noticed sunlight shining, almost dancing, in the water.  I immediately felt better.  Not great, not bad and not just ok.  This swim was not even close to being a great pool workout.  But the blue sky, sun and even the water gave me some peace and comfort.

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From 27 Strokes down to 20 within 30 Minutes!

I haven’t had a lot of time to write because I’ve been traveling these days.

This morning Pete spent 30 minutes helping me with my swim.  I plan to write more about this and other aspects of my training while traveling next week.  In the meantime I just want to say — no, announce! –  that thanks to Pete, I improved my Distance Per Stroke (DPS) significantly.  Before today I swam about 27 strokes per pool length.  During my session with Pete, I cut this down by 7!  Woo hoo!

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What a Difference a Week Makes!

With my six mile run today I completed my first training week using Pete’s online coaching plan.  It may sound a little funny but already I feel very different.  I’ll go ahead and acknowledge the placebo effect is probably at play.   Something along the lines of “oh wow I’m now doing something different so I must experience a change.”  Placebo effect or not, I’m not sure it matters.  The fact that I feel different is good enough for me.

I wrote in my last post that I rarely did a full cardio segment and a complete strength training session back-to-back.  Well a few days after writing that post I pulled out my training plan for Nation’s (which I created myself).  I have a correction to make:  I did in fact do such workouts (also known as two-a-days) early in my training and quite often. I can blame bad memory for thinking two-a-days are new to me but I think there’s something more to it.  For some reason I felt my two-a-days this past week were…well different.  They were much longer and more intense than what I did for Nation’s.  Also, I’m sure since Pete planned them they’re better structured than what I put together.  And there’s the placebo effect.

During this past week’s training sessions I felt solid.  I did struggle some on the bike, specifically with keeping my RPMs and heart rate at the desired levels.  Also the last five miles of my 30 mile ride yesterday was by no means easy.  (And as mentioned before I did have to push it a bit with the weights.)  However I felt pretty good right to the end.  Don’t get me wrong, I definitely worked hard this week but I never felt like I couldn’t finish.  I do realize Pete’s current focus is on base building so I anticipate my workouts becoming much more difficult very soon.

Anyway back to this difference – or really differences.  What are these differences, you ask?  I feel like I’ve taken my training up a level already and I feel more confident.  I think I was a little anxious about not being able to follow Pete’s plan.  Well I did and while I experienced some challenging moments, I completed each session strongly.   I feel more focused.  A lot of this has to do with the need to keep track of my drills during each workout.  But also I’m zeroing in on my very specific goals which are to successfully complete Hawaii 70.3 and improve my splits at Nationals.  With each successful workout my body moves closer to being ready to compete.

I do feel one other major difference but I don’t think Pete’s plan has anything to do with it; I think it’s just a coincidence…or perhaps not.

Over the past week my connection with Noah became much deeper and different.  Outside of training, I think of Noah a lot. Sometimes he’s in-and-out of my mind very quickly and other times I spend quite a bit of time thinking and recalling vivid images of him in my head.  When I train though I believe how I think of him is different from this.

Last May I began feeling a very deep connection with Noah as I became much more aware and grateful that my heart could easily handle my endurance training and I could process the oxygen needed during these workouts.   When I feel or see (on my heart rate monitor) my heart rate climbing and hitting 60-85% effort, it’s almost as if I’m raising it for him.  When I feel my breathing becoming labored, I think of the ventilators he was on and I feel as though I’m breathing extra hard for him.  And it’s the stark and unfair contrast between what I and any other healthy body can do seamlessly with what Noah struggled with all of the time.  It’s this appreciation combined with sadness and a little bit of bitterness (yes still) that helps me dig deeper to find that determination and power to push myself harder, faster and longer.

During my workouts this past week though I’ve started feeling a different kind of deep connection to my son.  I now feel his presence almost constantly and this feeling is definitely different than my “non-training day-to-day” thoughts of him.  During my training, talking to or thinking of Noah is like second nature now.  It’s like at some other level I’m having a constant dialog with him as I swim, run and bike.  I’d like to think he and I’ve gotten used to training together, and our routine has him with me all of the time.  I’ve been thinking about how best to describe this and I’ve come up with “endurance consciousness.”

I continue to push myself to achieve 60-85% of my maximum heart rate (depending on the drill) and reach that labored breathing because there’s that connection I still have with him.  But now I have another one.  I’m so grateful for both.


On a somewhat separate note, please pause for a moment to pray for or send positive thoughts to the parents of a little Heterotaxy boy named William.  After fighting super hard, he became an angel last Thursday.

It’s probably no surprise to you that I spent my first mile on my run today thinking of William and his parents.  I found myself welling up a bit when I thought about what his parents are experiencing right now.  Nobody should have to deal with losing a child.

Noah now has another friend in heaven.  God bless you, William.

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Update on the Ankle

Thanks to a cancelation, I was able to change my orthopedic appointment to today.  The doctor gave me the OK to resume training.  He added I’ll probably feel some discomfort until the ankle heals completely which may take another four weeks.

I’m so relieved and thankful I can exercise again.  (I stopped swimming after last weekend because my ankle felt pretty sore on Monday.  I thought I may have irritated it in the pool.)  For the past 12 days, as much as I tried to maintain a positive attitude, I could feel myself becoming increasingly lethargic and down as each day passed.  I hated that I couldn’t workout.  And not knowing when I could return to the gym or if I’ll be ready for Hawaii 70.3 made me feel even worse.

After my appointment I headed straight to the gym.  I didn’t push myself too hard because I definitely feel some pain still.  Also, I need to spend time strengthening my ankle.  So I worked out on an elliptical machine for a bit.

About 1/3 of the way into my session I began feeling good.  I know I’m going to sound a little on the crazy side but it was magical.  As my heart rate increased and I began to sweat, my attitude improved significantly.  For the first time since the accident I felt like I could seriously think about training for my races again.


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Back in the Pool

MLH and I haven’t done anything big for New Year’s Eve (NYE) since 2003.  We spent last  NYE with Noah in the CICU.  So, for me this weekend is just like any normal weekend; well as normal as we’ve been able to get since Noah died.  I know our lives will never return to our old normal but I’m not sure if we’ve found our new normal yet.

You may have heard about Ben Breedlove by now.  Sadly I just learned about him when he passed away.  His Youtube videos have been circulating quite a bit within the congenital heart defect (CHD) community.  His description of the vision/dream he experienced when his heart and breathing stopped for three minutes comforted me some.  What Ben describes in his Part 2 video sounds beautiful.  I hope Noah felt something similar as he passed way.  But it was the eulogy Ben’s sister, Ally, gave that really helped me yesterday and today.  She tells everyone Ben wasn’t sure he’s glad he came back.  Where he went during the last time he cheated death seemed so peaceful.  I now wonder if Noah is glad he’s in heaven and not down here with me and MLH.

Yesterday I started swimming for the first time since October.  In the pool I felt the tenderness of my injured ankle.  I also began to feel a stronger sense of awareness with my body and thoughts.  I had not experienced this since training for Nation’s.  I remembered the first time I pushed myself during a pool workout causing my heart rate to increase drastically and my breathing to become labored.  It was early May.  At that time I realized my high heart rate and need for oxygen connected me to Noah on a deeply meaningful level.  Heterotaxy Syndrome always impacts the heart, (which is why I’m now somewhat connected to the CHD community).  Noah’s heart had to work really hard while he was alive.  Just drinking a small amount of milk out of a bottle shot his heart rate up to the same level one hits after climbing a set of stairs.  He was so tired after such a short feeding.

I admit swimming is not my favorite discipline.  However, as I thought about Ben and reconnected with Noah in the pool I realized I actually like swimming once I’m in the water.  It’s everything leading up to getting in the pool that bothers me:  worrying about the number of people who will be in the pool with me, sharing a lane with someone who swims all over the place, (especially given my current injury) and the jolt I feel from initially hitting the cold water.

Thank you, Ben Breedlove, for the comfort you’ve given me.  I hope you meet my son up there. Thank you, Ally, for sharing the conversation you had with Ben.  May you and your family begin to heal.  And as always, thank you, beautiful Noah, for helping me once again with my training.

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