I have found it surprisingly easy to over-share personal information here on my website – for instance, just take a look at the picture of me in my tri-suit; that is not a picture any female really wants to share of herself with the world. But for some reason I have embraced the honesty of the blog and I’m trying to show my triathlon training how it really is – hard, ugly, confusing, laughable and occasionally successful.
In real life though, I am actually like most human beings and quite insecure and over-sensitive in many respects. Normally I actively avoid dragging other people into my meaningless life wherever possible because I assume (and hope) that no-one cares what I am doing.
Which means that I am not really used to my friends or acquaintances knowing every little detail of things that are happening in my world. And therefore I am not used to people being able to step in and help without me asking them.
So hopefully this explains why one of the scariest things about my triathlon journey has been learning to accept help without feeling guilty. Since signing up for the Bribie Island Triathlon and commencing learning to swim, bike and run, I have been touched by the number of people who take time to ask me about my progress. So many people have offered to share their knowledge and experience with me. I try to make a joke about the fact that I don’t take instructions well or that I want to bop my teachers on the nose, but I guess the reality is that the whole time someone is helping me out I want to yell ‘look, it’s OK, you don’t have to pretend to care about me!’ and basically I feel quite awkward.
I am learning to accept their kindness, and I am grateful for this lesson as well as the help. I really need the help.
With that said, sometimes I get given far too much information for the level I am at. I don’t know if some people read or listen to my struggles so far and think that I am overstating them somehow and I’m not as bad as I say. For the record, if you are thinking of lending me your book on how professional swimmers can develop gills in their necks to enable them to breathe underwater, please leave it at home. I am still stuck on Level 1.2 – how not to drown in the first 3 metres of swimming without a float.
On the other hand, maybe I’m just not making it clear enough – in which case let’s be clear, I really suck at triathlon. No joke. I have a long road ahead of me.
One of the worst offenders is Shane, who as previously stated, is useless with words. I could stand in a spotlight for 10 minutes on a dark stage and deliver a moving soliloquy on the futility of preparing myself physically for triathlon when I cannot possibly know whether I will mentally be able to withstand the challenge, with dramatic music playing in the background and tears slipping down my cheeks…
And his response will be: Yeah mate you’ll be right.
I honestly don’t know if he doesn’t care or if he steadfastly believes that I am going to be amazing at this crap no matter what hot air spouts out of my mouth. Possibly a mixture of both?
And so it was that I found myself lamenting my continued swimming troubles to him last week, explaining in detail the swallowing of water versus inhaling and choking on water, and describing the different head turns I’d tried in a blow-by-blow account of the electrocutions I’d suffered that morning.
To which Shane responded ‘Are you breathing out your nose?’
And I pointed out that I have my trusty nose clip on when swimming these days because when I first started this challenge I realised that the feeling of water rushing up my nose each time I turned my head was giving me a heart attack, so obviously no I am not breathing through my nose, I have to breathe in and out through my mouth.
To which Shane responded ‘Well that’s stupid, you need to take your nose clip off like a real swimmer.’ With no further explanation or evidence or advice or words of wisdom.
Dear reader, I stuck my fingers up at him and stormed off, because I had literally JUST EXPLAINED why I could not take my nose clip off, so what kind of help was this exactly??
The next morning in the pool I was determined to prove that Shane knows next to nothing about swimming. After doing a very impressive 12 lengths of freestyle with Felicity the Float and my head looking straight down instead of ahead, I decided to remove my nose clip and try a few more lengths.
I pushed off from the wall and starting swimming along, breathing out of my nose and in through my mouth. I made it about 25 metres and started to drown. I stopped and looked around smugly. If only Shane could see me now, I thought.
Being half way along the pool, I continued on instead of turning back and made it to the other side fairly comfortably. I turned around and swam back again.
And the difference in comfort was astounding. Weeks ago, before buying my noseclip, the feeling of having all my orifices underwater was terrifying. Using a nose clip had been the only way I’d managed to improve my confidence in the water so that I could do whole lengths (with Felicity the float) without drowning. However, as I successfully swam that second length without the nose clip, I realised that I have become accustomed to the water and my confidence has grown enough that I am no longer frightened of it going up my nose. In fact, it felt a lot more comfortable to have my nose un-pinched and available to be used for breathing if I needed it – and as a result I was much more relaxed swimming that second length than I had been all morning.
I tried a couple more lengths and accepted that yes, Shane was right. I wasn’t swimming any better or any worse. I had to accept that the nose clip had done its job – it had been essential for learning to cope with the water getting on (and in) my face. But after a few weeks of practice, it was time to remove the crutch and try to act like a real swimmer.
So if anyone wants a nose clip, I have one for you, you lucky thing. Leave a comment below.