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masochist

Winter Swimming is for Masochists

I’ve never doubted that I’m a masochist. Between being a gymnast, going to law school, getting 14 piercings, and now being a triathlete, I’ve put a lot of time and money into torturing myself for fun.

Winter swimming is definitely in the category of being an act of masochism.

This is my pool – steam coming off the water at 6am.

I live in the desert. Compared to the rest of the U.S., it usually doesn’t get that cold here in the winter. As a result, my blood has thinned since I lived in the Pacific Northwest. When it gets cold here, I feel extra cold. When I walk my dog on these chilly mornings, I’m bundled in running tights, jeans, socks, long sleeves, a sweatshirt, and a hat. I don’t wear that many layers to the pool, instead opting for sweatpants, a long sleeve shirt, sweatshirt, and a hat over my swim suit, and only flip flops on my feet.

When it’s 45 degrees outside, going to the outdoor pool is chilly experience. When the temperature is in the low 30s, it’s almost painful. It’s basically a reverse polar plunge to strip off my outer layers and jump in the water.

Recently, I went to the pool when it was 36 degrees outside. As I waited for the staff to open the door at 6am, I shot a quick video to send to my coach:

It’s 36 degrees outside.

I’m wearing flip flops.

My lips are blue.

I’m going swimming.

Fuck you, David.

Don’t worry it’s not offensive. My coach has a not-so-secret goal of making his athletes curse his name. I enjoy the challenge of training, so it’s rare that he gets me to curse. I’m sure a giant grin spread across his face when he saw this. (Every masochist needs a sadist.)

Coach David and Athlete, Post Swim at the Atlantic Ocean (July 2018)

The pool itself is heated, but it’s not hot. Typically, when it’s this cold, it takes about a lap before I can fully feel my hands and get used to the temperature. The other day, a fellow masochistic swimmer jumped in the water before me.

“Is it warm?” I asked.

“It’s refreshing,” he responded.

That means “No.” I put on my goggles and jumped in, submerging my whole body. When I resurfaced, I looked him and said, “It’s infuriating.”

By the time I finished my first two laps, the water felt fine, but the experience of getting to that level of comfort shows how much we really want to be there.

Of course, getting out of the pool is the reverse experience – going from the comfortable heated water back onto the freezing cold pool deck, this time soaking wet. I stay outside only long enough to step into my flip flop, throw my towel around myself, and head inside to the family bathroom.

In the summer, when I get out of the water, I pull on my short over my wet bathing suit and sit on my towel to drive home. That is not happening in the winter. I want to get out of that wet swim suit and dry as soon as possible. I usually peel of my swim suit and throw it across the room to the sink before toweling off and pulling on my warm sweats. I wrap my wet suit in my towel and drive home with the heat blowing through the vents.

Why do I go swimming outside in the winter (besides being a masochist)? I’m training for my first Half Ironman, and training doesn’t take a day off because it’s cold. Seeing consistent improvement in my time and technique makes it all worth it.

Day 53/90 – No Cavities!

Day 53 of the 90 Days of Awesome is in the bank! What made today awesome? No cavities at the dentist!

This cheesy smile is here to stay! Photo with Heather Lynn Herr at Ignite Phoenix by Devon Christopher Adams (Used with permission).

This cheesy smile is here to stay! Photo with Heather Lynn Herr at Ignite Phoenix by Devon Christopher Adams (Used with permission).

Let me start by saying that, even though I’m a self-proclaimed masochist, going to the dentist is not fun for me. But my hygienist is as good as they come and she makes the process as fast and painless as possible. She gave me a good report on my teeth but she also suggested I get a Waterpik to keep my gums healthy and prevent bone loss as I get older.

My dentist has no idea that I have an eating disorder. Dentists are often the first ones to notice a problem in people who purge because they notice enamel loss. It’s always nerve wracking to go to the dentist because I always wonder if they’re going to figure it out. Part of having this illness is managing the side effects, so I’m really diligent about taking good care of my teeth. I breathed a small sigh of relief when the dentist popped over to look at my mouth and x-rays and said, “Everything looks good.”

My hygienist did some deep cleaning which was a little painful, but I remembered one of the calming techniques I learned when I was in my piercing phase. One time when I was getting three piercings, I didn’t have any friends with me to hold my hand. (I was as the piercing parlor on a whim.) I gripped the edge of the table instead and the piercer looked at me and said something like, “That’s not going to work. Just breathe and accept the pain.” It’s a simple thought and it absolutely worked. Since then, that phrase has gotten me through all of my piercings, tattoos, and now dental work.

While I was being worked on I noted the serendipity of the timing of my dental appointment. I will be modeling this weekend and now I’ll have extra white teeth for the occasion!

In case you missed it: Day 52 of the 90 Days of Awesome – Lunch with Marc!

 

Marathon Training Week 8 Recap – Running Hurts!

Looking for Answers? by David Bergin Photography (Creative Commons License)

Looking for Answers? by David Bergin Photography (Creative Commons License)

Week Eight of following Hal Hidgon’s training program has been about managing pain.  This week I was scheduled to run a half marathon on Sunday and I was bummed that I couldn’t find a local race. It’s much less painful to run with the fanfare of a race around and it’s nice to have people cheering for you along the way. In case you wondered if it matters that you’re on the sidelines – it makes a huge difference. Here’s how last week’s training went.

Monday:  I didn’t have a workout scheduled for Monday but I was preparing to lead a 4-mile hike in Papago Park as part of a continuing legal education lecture on Friday. I wanted to make sure I knew where I was going, we went out and walked the route.

Tuesday: I’m not sure I’m going to keep hitting the gym for my Tuesday run. I was annoyed to see that both treadmills weren’t working when I got in there this week so I did my 4.5 miles on the elliptical again – in 31 minutes. I kept myself entertained by listening to three episodes of The #AskGaryVee Show podcast. The only benefits of working out in the gym is I tend to get my miles done faster and I can periodically glance over at my reflection in the mirror to check out my slowly increasing muscle tone.

After my “run,” I cranked out my first 100 push-ups of the week – 5 sets of 20. I’m thinking I’ll but up to 4 sets of 25 by Week 10 and might try to push myself to increase my push-ups to 300/week from 200.

Wednesday:  My hip and feet hurt getting out of bed this morning. Determined not to let that stop me, I headed out on my usual 6.5-mile run. The pain let up after the first mile and returned around mile 4 when I was going up the hill for the second time.

I went to the Injury Clinic at Runner’s Den to get my hip looked at. Matt from Endurance Rehab is always so helpful and super knowledgeable. He poked and prodded at me, had me walk and run a few steps (and said my gait looked good so thanks to Eric my physical therapist for fixing my running form).  He said I don’t have hip problem but a glute problem. He suggested I heat my muscle before I run and roll it on my foam roller afterwards.

Hanging out with my heating pad wrapped around my hip and butt is easy. Working it on the foam roller hurts like a bitch – it’s like self-inflicted deep tissue massage. It helps but geez it’s painful in the process. I’m glad I’m a masochist, but I much prefer to have someone inflict this type of pain rather than having to do it myself.

Thursday: This was my first run where I put heat on my hip and glute before heading out to run 4.5 miles. It helped a lot. Right now my 4.5-mile run has me turning around in the middle of the Mill Avenue Bridge. Something about that seems incomplete. I’m looking forward to my training program bumping me up to 5 miles on Thursday so I can run the whole length.

When I got back, I finished my push-ups for the week: 4 sets of 21 and 1 set of 16. I like seeing veins in my arms when I do them.

Friday: No official training today but I had my 4-mile hike. It was a nice mostly-flat walk.

Saturday: My training program says to run a half marathon on Sunday so I got today off. I’m really bummed that there wasn’t a half-marathon race in my area this weekend.  The race environment is so much more fun, and strangers cheer for you.

Sunday:  I ran a half marathon by myself today. I let myself wake up a little more than usual, had a bagel and a banana for fuel, and put in my contacts so I could enjoy my surroundings more. Despite these allowances, this was a pretty painful run. My feet and right glute hurt from step one. My shins started hurting around mile 4. By mile 8 it seemed like everything from the knee down hurt on both sides. Around mile 10 I had to pick up the pace a bit to cross the street before the light changed. Based on the reaction from the car that was waiting at the intersection, I think I actually grunted. (Sexy I know.) The last mile was pretty brutal. But it got done and that’s what mattered. I finished in about 2:15. Hat tips to Scott Mantz and Alicia Malone of Profiles and the Dr. Drew Podcast for keeping me entertained.

After my last half marathon, I booked a two-hour massage the next day. The only thing I have scheduled after this run is several sessions with my foam roller and work.

Weekly Totals:
Running:  28.6 miles
Hiking: 8 miles
Push-ups:  200 push-ups