Saturday, May 25, 2013

Self-Doubt and Transformations - Part 2

Only 20 days until the Patriot Half (not that I'm counting or anything )

Again, I'd like to thank all those that have donated so far, both on my page and on behalf of our MMRF Race for Research Team - Cancer Sucks But You Rock Jeanie .  We had a great run in Boston on April 27th and raised over $ 2,000.00 for the MMRF with our team at that event.  Your support is vital to the research efforts to treat, and to one day, find a cure for Multiple Myeloma. Thank you!

Self-Doubt and Transformations - Part 2
"Where there is desire
There is gonna be a flame
Where there is a flame
Someone is bound to get burned
But just because it burns
Doesn't mean your gonna die
You've gotta get up and try try try"
Pink - Lyrics from Try
Sorry if I disappointed you, but I think if I kept writing in that last post, I would have lost you for good

So I was telling you about four important things that have influenced my desire  and given me the confidence to try and to complete the Patriot Half in June, despite all my concerns and history with self-doubt and the swim. The four things were Jeanie, a marathon, something Carol (my swim coach) proved to me,  and an event that happened at the beginning of April.

Since I have known Jeanie, she has run 3 marathons. I have always been amazed by marathon and ultra-marathon distance runners, but at the same time, never quite understood why someone would want to push their bodies to do something that doesn't seem natural to do. (I'm learning this is debatable based on what I have read, but nonetheless it doesn't seem normal )  She has always made running look so easy, so natural, like a gazelle. She had completed her first marathon, the Boston Marathon, with Suzi before I met her, but I was front and center, with a beer and pizza in hand,  when she completed her second, the Marine Corp Marathon in Providence in the early 90's. She didn't enter, or complete another marathon for almost 20 years later, when in October, 2011, less than one year after her stem cell transplant, she crossed the finish line at the Bay State Marathon. It was an amazing testament to her strength and drive, but unfortunately, it was not without a heavy price. She spent over 2 hours in a medical tent with serious issues related to dehydration and other medical concerns. I was scared, our family was scared, and she was shaken. It wouldn't come as a surprise that her thought of completing the 2012 Boston Marathon 5 months later was the furthest thing from our mind.
Just 15 months earlier, Jeanie had received her autologous stem cell transplant, on November 19, 2010, a procedure which completely wiped out her immune system and required her to start from zero. Zero energy, zero strength, zero immunity. At this time a walk around the ward left her exhausted.
Jeanie on the morning of her stem cell transplant

However, she was determined to complete it, to push aside all self-doubt, and overcome all of our( and her) fears.

Jeanie and Suzi Crossing the Finish Line of the 2012 Boston Marathon

And she did with her life long friend Suzi..
with no problems or issues..

on one of the hottest marathon days in history.
It was, in short, amazing.

Finding inspiration in her is no problem.  Her inspiration has been one the main drivers in helping me find the most in myself to overcome my fears and weaknesses.

So what did Carol prove to me that helped deliver the final boost in confidence? 

I have long known that you don't need to swim to float.  Anyone could do the "dead man" float ( OK, bad example ), or roll over and float on their back.  I knew this, I've known this, but the rest of my body never got the message.  For some reason, every time I'd swim, I'd swim like I was trying not to drown, rather than swimming to try to move forward.  I'm not sure what Carol saw, or if she was getting frustrated with me, but at the end of a short session at the end of March, she had me head to the deep end of the pool, hold my breath, straighten my body like a pencil, hold perfectly still, and ..bob.  Yes, hold my breath and bob..yes, up and down like a bobber at the end of a fish line.  And after a couple of tries ( yes, I sank the first time ), I was able to stay completely still, straight up and down, arch my head back, breath, and float.  Again, this wasn't new to me, or unexpected, but somewhere deep in the recesses of my subconscious, something clicked that hadn't before.  I'm not sure if there was a specific compartment of my brain labeled "you will sink" that had been cut off from every rational thought I had up to that point, but the memo was finally received.

How did I know?

During one of my next swim sessions,  I did 500m in the pool with no rest in 12:30. (remember, my 600 in 2011 was around..umm..18 minutes)  Again, for most swimmers this is half of warm-up with concrete blocks tied to their waist, but for me this was nothing but pure confidence.  Even today, I remember the last couple of lengths.  I was calm, relaxed, and completely comfortable with being in the water.  With this, I was able to move forward with confidence, and one of the following sessions, I was able to increase the distance to 1400m of drills with little to no rest. 

Finally, it had all clicked and I felt enormous relief.  I could complete the swim workouts my Tri coach provided me and was able to get my swimming between 4000 and 6000m a week shortly after.  After this, I know I would be able to complete the 1.2 mile swim.   I still had a lot to work on in the areas of breathing, kicking, and stroke control, but I could move forward in my training knowing that I had conquered self-doubt.  I had removed one of the barriers that would prevent me from completing the Patriot Half.

Now all I had to do was to make sure I could complete the 56 mile bike and the 13.1 mile run after.  For this, I am relying heaving on some good tri coaching, lots of technology, friends, and family.  Which, by coincidence, are some of the topics coming up in my next few blogs.

Thanks for checking in, and if you have a few dollars to help the MMRF help more patients like Jeanie to keep inspiring others, please donate on my page at .  You will be helping others like Jeanie with buying time to get to a cure, and 90% of every dollar you donate will go directly to research and other efforts to get them there!



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