Thursday, March 2, 2017

Little Fish

It’s been just over two months since we moved to Denver, and I’m starting to settle in. I’m confident I won’t get lost driving to work in the morning (although if it’s snowing, I might still cry when I get there). I have a favorite running route and bike route. I know the times that the rec center pool is available for lap swimming. I even have new friends to do some of this stuff with! Although a comfort zone is developing, I’m still learning something new every day. The benefit is that when everything is new and different, it becomes easier to do things that scare you.

In San Antonio, I had great excuses for not swimming Masters. It costs extra to join. The gym that has a Masters program isn’t close to where I live. The times don’t work with my schedule. But mostly, I’m scared that it will be too hard. When we joined the local rec center here, I was excited and nervous to see that they have a Masters program. I talked with my coach and she encouraged me to go. Guess what – I loved it! During that first session on a Saturday morning, as my arms turned to noodles, I watched in awe as the guys in the fast lane raced by. Maybe I can be in that lane one day…

Every Thursday morning's "chance at greatness" happens here. 
A couple of months later, I’m hooked. I have Masters on the schedule once a week, and I look forward to it like nothing else. The competition and camaraderie in the pool are making me a better swimmer. The on-deck coaching is invaluable. For these reasons, I’m happy to be up before 5 on Thursday mornings to get in the pool.

Trent is eager to find every bike route in the Denver Metro area, and the best way to do that has been to join a cycling club! We are now proud, card-carrying members of the Rocky Mountain Cycling Club, a group of roadies who love to ride for hours up mountains. Each time I’ve ridden with them, I’m the weakest one in the group. But each time we ride, I feel myself getting stronger, and maybe they get ahead of me a little less each time. I have to work hard to keep up. My desire to stay with the group on weekend rides leads me to work just that much harder on trainer rides during the week. Pushing myself during those long weekend rides to try not to get dropped is helping me build mental toughness that I know will pay dividends on race day.

Our first ride with the RMCC.
Same story with running – on the one group run that Trent and I did, I was the last one to finish. But it was a great experience, and I'll be back again for the next one if they'll have me. Every time we run trails I face the fears of tripping, falling, walking, giving up. All of this is making me stronger.

This new experience has had its challenges. Of course there's the altitude: it's been a learning experience finding a new normal at 5280 feet. My heart rate is coming around, but sometimes when my legs just feel dead, I still can't tell if it's because of the altitude, because I'm tired, or because I didn't fuel right. It's frustrating. Nutrition and hydration have been a problem too - in cold weather, it's easy to put off drinking water. I keep choosing not to eat because it's hard to get to food in your pocket with thick gloves on. Then it's too late and you've dug yourself into a hole and ruined the ride or run. I'm learning every day.

Last weekend's group run - we'll definitely be back.
Although it can be discouraging to feel like I’m back at square one, to be in a place where everyone is better than me, it’s also a total recharge to be the Little Fish in a Big Sea. Remember what it was like when you were just getting started, to think, I just did that! I can do that! What else can I do? It’s motivating to feel like a newbie, to feel like the possibilities are endless.

This move was the shot in the arm that I needed when I was feeling a little bit stuck. If you’re like me, and you need an excuse to break the cycle of excuses, you don’t even have to move away from home. Just take a step or two outside of your comfort zone. Try swimming Masters. Ride with someone who’s faster than you. Run with a group that you don’t usually run with. Be the Little Fish. I promise it’s worth it.