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That was then…this is now.

July 7, 2016

My “fake it until I make it”  has gotten me all the way over to the UK where I’ve begun acclimation and preparation for July 10 – 18th North Channel tide dates.  I’m not sure the faking it anymore is going to hold up.  OK really I was using this method to help with my anxiety and depression versus my actual physical fitness.  Now that I’m here, I’m quite terrified of the days to come.

For the past 6 years, I’ve used a tested and I’d say pretty successful training regimen.  Due to the bulging discs in my back, that regimen was no longer sustainable.  I couldn’t put in the miles of swimming or the hours of cross training that I used to do.  What I found is that if I tried to accomplish that schedule, is that I would have a pretty major setback in spinal nerve pain and be literally flat on my back for days.  My coach and trainer adjusted for this new normal.  I began more quality over quantity swimming and very focused strength training on my body.  While this has seen me through the past few months, I stand on the edge of what I know to be one of the most (if not the most) challenging marathon swims in the world and I am starting from a new place.  (SIDE NOTE 1:  I’m beginning to realize just how insane I am to decide to do the BIGGEST swim after an injury instead of starting easier.  Go big or go home I guess.  Too late to change focus now.  North Channel stats:  21+ miles, below 55 degree water, one swimsuit, one cap, and one pair of goggles, no stopping or support once you start).

I sort of feel like I did years ago when I returned to the pool after a 6 year hiatus.  All of my mental measurements were from when I was in college.  I definitely wasn’t that college swimmer anymore even though my mind thought that I was.  I was out of shape, heavier and much slower.  Plus there was more of life to juggle and balance.  I would say that it took a good year or two to accept that as a 30 year old swimmer I couldn’t compare myself to my 20 year old swimmer.  It is very similar now, except I’m not exactly sure what I look like now as a swimmer coming back from an injury.  What is the new NOW?  And will the now training help me succeed in the sport I love.

What I get to do while I acclimate here in Northern Ireland is wait.  You may remember that I have to wait for a good weather day to even be able to swim, so there is a chance that the weather won’t cooperate between the 10th-18th.  This means no swim.  Yep months of training and mental preparation and I could just have a very successful trip of waiting in Northern Ireland. (SIDE NOTE 2:  While I can do some sight-seeing, I tend to lay low, rest and work remotely waiting for the weather.  I’d hate to expend all my energy playing around to get the call that the swim is a go in 8 hours.)  (SIDE NOTE 3:  No word yet on the date of the swim.  All the pilot says is that the weather this weekend is crap and extended forecast is too unpredictable.)

As I think about this possibility of not swimming, my stomach turns to butterflies.  I wish that I had a crystal ball that would tell me the outcome:  would the weather cooperate, would I have a good swim, would I succeed?  All questions that I have to wait to have answered and in the words of Inigo Montoya “I hate waiting.”  And then there is the flip side that if I get the call that the swim is on…how will it all go and am I ready to jump into the water.   ARRRRRGGGGHHHHHHH!

My therapist asked why I have put so much pressure on this swim.  In my modification of his advice “You’ve failed before and it didn’t mean that you couldn’t be a marathon swimmer, why if you fail this time would it be different?”  Ok, he probably didn’t say failed, but then this may prove why I have a therapist in the first place J  For me this swim represents whether I’ve still got “it.”  And it will help me understand what is the new “it.”  I know I’m not as fast as I used to be and that could be that I’ve only been back training since November and I’m still 30 pounds too heavy.  I guess my fear is that IF I’m not successful that the reason will be that my back/spine gives out thus making me have to take another step back and re-evaluate.  I know my mom would say “it doesn’t do any good to deal in what ifs, just take the day has it comes do your best and then we will see.”

So that is sort of my mantra “A safe, relaxed swim and then we will see.”  If I can stay focused on that, keep breathing and not fall down the rabbit hole of crazy, maybe just maybe I’ll be ok with the new now.


2 Responses to “That was then…this is now.”

  1. Tom Macy says:

    I know you will succeed even if you do not swim. The fact of you coming back from an injury and are waiting to swim is success. Good luck! I love you


  2. Kristy says:

    Thinking of you Michelle. I hope you get a clear tide window to set your new normal and test what is yet to be. Prayers for safe passage and your health. Good Luck!

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