Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Ups and Downs of Cotton Row

I woke up in full-on intestinal distress.  Not a good way to start a race day.  I decided to push past the discomfort and give it my best shot.

I really do love Cotton Row.  The air practically vibrates with excitement!  Last year I was unbelievably nervous...this year I was just nauseated which completely helped hold my nerves at bay.  The other thing that helped was meeting up with my FCA Endurance Huddle group for a pre-race prayer.  Unfortunately I didn't take the time to warm up.  Announcements take about 15 minutes at this race which is the only down-side to it in my opinion...however part of their routine is playing taps in memory of all the soldiers who have helped keep this country free, so it's not a big down-side, just something I need to keep in mind for next year.

My master plan for the race was to go it alone so I could run my own race.  The draw-back to that strategy is not having anyone to talk to, or to talk to me...but that's also the advantage as well.  For some reason when I run with someone I can't seem to run my very strongest race (even if that "someone" is just the nag in my head).  I spent a good bit of the race running from "her".  Within the first mile I thought I should maybe just step off to the side and go back to the start line.  My stomach was rolling.  Instead I decided to push through until I saw my sweet husband (at about mile 2).  Thankfully by the time I saw him I was feeling a bit better.

Dwayne positions himself at the bottom of the start of the toughest section of the course.  There's a short incline, a turn that leads to another short incline, which leads to a long slow incline...which leads to the HILL.  Up, up, up, and up.  All that would be bad enough, but on top of all that it's HOT...and my stomach was giving me some internal ups and downs right along with my thoughts.

A while back I did hill repeats on THE hill...and did quite well.  I ran a mile easy warm-up then up and down that hill twice (or maybe three times?).  This experience was running through my mind along with Dwayne's voice telling me to keep running up that hill and to recover at the top knowing the whole next mile is a fast easy decline.  As I rounded the corner I could hear the Rocky theme playing, but it wasn't actually registering because I began to focus only on my breathing and my stride--short quick steps, up on my toes, breathe, drive the elbows back, lean at the ankles....  About a third or quarter of the way up the hill I decided to walk the rest of the way.  When I go to the top, I took a deep breath and started running again.

If there was one section of the race I could change, it would be the next mile.  I remember last year when I hit this section I completely let loose and had the best mile of the year much less the race.  Looking back I think I could have pushed harder, but at the time I felt like it was all I could do to keep running.  I kept telling myself to pick up the pace to the point I no longer wanted to talk.  The only think was since I was running alone, I didn't really have a proper gauge.  I do remember seeing Dwayne at mile five and not really being able to say anything to him and being so energized by his smile and words of encouragement, "Lori and Lisa are JUST ahead of you--you can catch them--GO!!"  I wondered if he was serious, or just trying to give me fuel to pick up the pace.

As I reached mile six, there he was again!!!  I knew I was pushing the line to make my goal of finishing in under an hour, but I didn't know just how close I was.  He yelled at me that I was going to make it if I PUSHED (that's the way I remember it anyway).  I had intentionally not looked at my watch, hoping to simply run as hard as I could by feel.  As I ran under the first banner, with my eyes focused on the finish line (the second banner), I saw the clock showing 1:00:XX.  I momentarily paused until I remembered that wasn't my running time because I started a good ways back and the race was chip timed....so I kicked in my sprint.

The down side was TWENTY FOUR SECONDS (chip time, forty seconds gun time) OVER my goal.  Dang it.  If only...woulda' coulda' shoulda'-didn't.   But you know what?  The up-side is about an 18 minute PR!  Cotton Row is the only 10K I've ever done.   Last year I ran it in 1:18:23.  I came in 86/100 in my age group and 1920/2048 over all.  This year I cam in 39/111 AG and 930/1878 OA.  Not a bad improvement for a year, huh??

I can say I'm happy.  I think maybe for the first time I'm happy about my performance in a race!!  That's not to say I'm not saying there are some things I could have done differently, but I did a lot of what was right--and THAT is the best of the upside!!

Thanks for stopping in!  Come again soon!
:D

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Petrol, Natural Gas, Hydrogen, Ethanol...Food?

I bought a new-to-me car back in October.  It had a turbo engine in it.  The manual specified premium gas and pure synthetic oil.  One month, and less than 1,000 miles later, that turbo engine had to be replaced.  We were told the previous owners used inferior gas and oil in the car which caused sludge in the engine.  I'm no car expert, so I have no idea if that's the real reason the engine went kaput or not...but it makes sense to me.  Every engine, mechanical or living, requires proper fuel to run efficiently.  If I were to feed my cat fish food, he might not live long.  If I were to put cat food in my lawn mower's gas tank, it wouldn't start.


Knowing this, I can't understand why I would go to the pool yesterday at 11:30 and think I could swim a ridiculously hard-for-me workout having eaten only half a banana in the previous 17 hours.  Can you say BONK??  No wonder I was exhausted.  No wonder I couldn't finish much less finish strong.  No wonder I battled a headache the rest of the day.

Our bodies need fuel...more than that, they need PROPER fuel...to operate optimally.  Just like my car's engine was made to function with a certain octane gas and viscosity level of oil, my body was designed to perform at its best on certain kinds of food.  And, just like my car and my husband's car require different kinds of fuel, so too do our bodies.

I'm not a doctor and I haven't yet learned the why behind the what...but I'll tell you what:  You MUST listen to your own body and learn its needs in order to determine what fuel will keep you in top working order.  Yes...there are guidelines out there (eat carbs before exercise and a mix of protein and carbs afterwards) but beyond that you can not simply follow a plan developed for someone else's "machine".

I found out about a year ago my body has an immune response to a list of foods.  I hesitate to call what happens an "allergic response" because most people think that means anaphylactic shock.  My body's responses to the various foods on that list range from sinus issues, to intestinal distress, to a subtle shortness of breath, to joint pain and inflammation.   When my diet is clean, I feel, and I am able to function, MUCH better.  When my taste buds' desires override my long term focus for overall health and wellness...my body pays a price for about a week.  LONG after the memory of the delicacy has died, I continue to feel the effects of putting inferior fuel into my engine.

If you intend to drive a race car, you better be prepared to learn how to drive it, to learn how to maintain it, and to learn the proper way to fuel it...or you better be prepared to park it in the garage.  In that regard, keeping in mind no one can give you specifics on exactly what will work best for YOU, here are some tips that might help:

First and foremost-pay attention to your body.  I have a terrible "connect-the-dots" type brain.  I'm one of those people who continue to do the same things expecting different results.  One of the best ways to pay attention is to keep a detailed diary that includes what and when you eat and how you feel.  Food intolerances can last for up to a week after the food is eaten, so although a reaction might be immediate (instant headache every time you eat tomatoes), and it may take a few days to manifest, if you keep a diary you should notice patterns.  This process has always overwhelmed me because it requires diligence I haven't been able to muster.  ((I said it was one of the best ways, not the easiest.))

Be willing to try different things and keep an open mind.  I have found my body seems to be happiest when I eat mostly fruits and veggies.  Pork sits like a brick in my stomach whereas I tolerate fish easier.  I need to eat before I exercise whereas some of my friends must run on an empty stomach to avoid intestinal distress.  There are no cookie-cutter answers.

Lastly...be patient.  Remember, it's a process.  For people who have been life-long students of their own body, training and fueling can seem effortless.  Observant people will recognize what works/doesn't work much faster than someone like me.  Be kind to yourself as you learn to understand the language your body is speaking.

Thanks for stopping in...come again soon.
:D

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

I Stunk...No, I Did Okay...Well, I Finished...NO--I DID WELL!!!

I wish I could write a race recap within a few moments after I cross the finish line.  Although I can think of plenty of races I mentally battered myself through the course, striking the whip on everything from my pace to my form to my lack of training, I can't remember a time when I wasn't completely ELATED after the finish (even if only for the fact the mental self abuse would abate for the particular race I found myself at the end).  Usually, in the few moments between crossing the finish line and catching my breath again, I am truly happy with my performance.  I can't think of a time I didn't want to go back out and do it all over again.  But, give it half an hour and the nag in my head finds her voice again.  If I'm really lucky, it might take a few days, but I have "always" found myself going fisticuffs with HER.

I know I've written about her many times...and have said (over and over) I will not allow her to have a place on the panel of speakers in my head...and yet here I am again, trying to write about the race and having a hard time.  So...I'm going to write one little paragraph from her perspective, and then send her off to play with matches!!

You were not prepared.  Plain and simple.  If you would learn to swim in open water you might not have had to breast stroke a third of a mile.  And...how hard is it really to run all the way from the water to the transition?  It's a RACE for crying out loud, not a Sunday stroll through the park.  I think your 90 year old grandma could bike faster than you did at times...and she wouldn't have fallen at dismount-what a complete DORK-BUTT.  And, really??  You let a girl with a broken foot beat you by TEN MINUTES.  You should have at least tried to run off and leave her instead of cowering back and telling her to go ahead.  Are you that much of a chicken you can't even fight for a win??  It was a RACE.  You set a pathetic goal, to finish in the top half.  Naturally you could make that, half the people out there could make that....


You know, it's kind of funny...I think this is the first time I can say I don't think I believe any of that!!!  (Well, other than the being unprepared part...more on that later.)

So...let me tell you about the race (Iron Girl)!!

I was terrified.  My main "fear" was actually not of drowning, but that the water would be really cold.  I know, it's silly.  But I HATE cold water.  It makes me shiver and I can't stop.  I feared I would get in the water, not stop shaking and not be able to swim.  They had an age group start with my group being split into two groups because there were 255 40-44 year olds!!  I was in the fifth group to start so I had been watching many women splashing around out there, and many women finished long before I got in the water.  As my time drew near I told my husband I couldn't do it!  I think if we hadn't traveled to Atlanta to do the race I might have just stepped out of the crowd and slunk home--at least that's the way I felt at that moment!  I very nearly had a full-on panic attack just thinking about going into the cold water, not to mention trying to swim with all those women, in LAKE water.  He gave me a pep-talk and pointed me toward the gaggle.

Mercifully just before my group's gun went off, two of my friends (broken-foot Sarah and another training buddy) came up to give me a much-needed boost of confidence.  When I stepped into the water...to my great pleasure it was WARM!!  I should have known it would be with an air temp of 51 and a water temp of 70...but, hey, fear is usually irrational!  I ran out as far as I needed to start swimming.  The last thought that ran through my head before my face hit the water:  "this is going to be GREAT!!!"  Two strokes later, after I was kicked in the side, and had lake water splashed right in my open, supposed-to-be-breathing-in-air mouth, I decided I was wrong!!  About the time I settled into a nice breast stroke rhythm a woman behind me started screaming, "I'm going to drown!!!"

Now...I'm not proud of this, but my first thought was, "Hey, I know I'm going to beat her at least!"  I considered just "swimming" off as fast as my breast stroke could carry me, but I noticed none of the kayaks seemed to have heard her calls for help.  I knew I shouldn't get to close to her because I knew if she was really panicked she'd pull me under. I, along with several other ladies, told her to stay calm (she was NOT drowning, her head was over the water), and started yelling our heads off for help.  My poor husband knew I was in the middle of all those screaming ladies, and knew just how upset I had been, and prayed it was not me needing the lifeguard.

I tried a few times to just SWIM, but I never could get more than a few strokes before I went back to my fail-safe.  Hey, at least I was making forward progress, and I wasn't on my back this time!!  I finished the third mile swim in 17:50 (205/255 in my age group)

When I came out of the water, I did actually start out running.  My husband got a good series of photos with me passing two other ladies...but from the water to the transition area was all up-hill, a sandy, hot asphalt hill.  Maybe I could walk across scorching hot pavement when I was younger, but I literally get blisters doing that now.  (No, it was not that hot, but can you say tender feet?  That's me.)  I did manage to sort of walk/jog to my bike, but (other than right out of the water) no one would mistake what I was doing for "running"!

T1 wasn't as fast as Frank Maples, but since the run was first in that one I didn't have to put socks on.  And, this time I had to wipe my feet just a bit.  (Although when I took my socks off after the race they were full of sand, so I didn't get much off.)  I downed a Gu and thought I'd drink water once I got out on the course-that was a mistake.  Not only did I not have enough water, I have a hard time drinking and riding.   T1 time:  4:08 (60/255--I don't guess that's too bad considering I didn't RUN!)

From the mount line, the bike course went straight down hill with a sharp right turn at the bottom.  There were WAY too many gals there trying to baby it--gripping their brakes and easing into the turn.  Once I got past them I felt like I was flying!  I passed quite a few of those women who beat me down in the water...until we started hitting hills.  Here is a link to the the bike course map...take a look at the elevation profile.  (I would post the map here if I could figure out how to do it!)  Anyway...I wish I had worn my Garmin so I could know just how fast crazy is because I was certainly going crazy fast down some of those hills.  Unfortunately for me, I can't couldn't at that time go crazy fast up them.  I didn't get off the bike and walk up any hills (unlike quite a few others who took that option).

I had a packet of Gu taped to my bike, but I just didn't ever really know when to take it, and I didn't have a lot of water (poor planning on my part) with me so I didn't ever use it.  I could feel my energy level dropping about mile 15 or so.   I knew the dismount line was at the top of the hill I came down after mounting...and I powered up it pretty quick.  However, when I stopped the bike and unclipped my right foot, I fell left!  I finished the bike in 1:18:33 (123/255).

I felt a little discombobulated in T2.  I had fallen.  I think I had not had enough water, and could have used some fuel for sure.  I got out of there in 2:57 (132/255).  As I was running out of transition, I bumped into someone...low and behold it was SARAH.  I think that's when I hit an all-race low.  I realized she was competing with a broken foot, and was beating me by TEN MINUTES, and wasn't even really breathing hard.  I was toast.  I wanted to tell her I was going to have to leave her behind, but the truth was, I didn't think I had it in me at all.  I'd like to say I was just being nice, staying with her, being as how she was gimpy and all...but really I think she helped keep me going.  She said she was going to tell everyone she walked, and I told her there was NO WAY I was going to go along with that because not only would she and I have the same run time, but there was no way I was going to have people see she beat me by TEN MINUTES and walked the run part to boot!!

The run felt like it was up hill both ways.  It was hot.  I was tired.  The biggest hurdle I was up against was my mind.  I couldn't get over the fact Sarah didn't even sound like she was breathing hard.  She was talking to me the whole time-telling me about a half in October.  I kept thinking, "how does she have the energy to talk??"  At the same time, I knew I didn't want to try any harder and STILL have her beat the snot out of me.  As we neared the hill up to the finish, I told her to go ahead and finish strong.  She grabbed my hand and said we'd cross together.  As soon as I could see the finish line, I kicked in my sprint.

Let me say...I think I have a KILLER finish sprint. I don't know if it's because I hold too much in reserve, or if I just have better fast-twitch muscles than slow-twitch.  Whatever the case may be, I can kick it at the line.  I heard the announcer calling out finishers' first and last names....and I was wondering what he was going to do with my name (DeBardelaben is NOT an easy name to sound out!).  Thankfully my daughter caught it on video because it was pretty darn funny....

video


((By the way...the mats you see us crossing are not the finish line...that's when I kicked in the sprint...))

I finished the run in 28:33 (96/255).  Overall I finished 437/1008 and 120/255 in my age group.  The truth is, I did well.  This was my first "real" tri (Frank Maples is a reverse, and much shorter) and my first ever open water swim.  Sure, I want to do better, and I'm training hard to be able to do better...but I can honestly say I am proud of myself!!!  I am.  I really am.  If you told me a year ago this was going to happen, I'd have laughed in your face!  Me, swim a third of a mile in a lake...bike 18 miles...run three miles with a pace right at 9:30??  Yet, here I am.  Not only that, here I am just a couple of weeks later training harder than I ever have in my life for an Olympic distance tri in August!!

Yes, I did well.  No...I did GREAT!!!

Thanks for stopping in.  Come again soon!!  :D

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Girl With the Broken Foot

First, let me say very quickly--I'm NOT the girl with the broken foot.

Side story...most of you know I have another blog Journey to the Hood which is about the Hood to Coast team I have the privilege of being a part of.  I'm not the only author for this blog, Carrie Wilson (a team mate/friend) is one as well.  The first (and as yet the only) post Carrie wrote, titled "Five Weeks Without Running!" was about the fact she had just been released from doctor's care from a stress fracture in her foot.  Now...when a post is written on that blog, I have it automatically sent to my Face Book page and the Dixie Daredevil page.  It is also emailed to anyone who has subscribed (including my mother).  Can you see where this is going??  My mother, along with several of my friends, believed I was the girl with the broken foot!!    ....and no, she is not the girl with the broken foot THIS story is about, I just thought it was ironic.

So, if it's not me, and it's not Carrie, maybe you're wondering who it is.  Or, maybe you're wondering why I'm writing about her.  Allow me to explain.

Several girls from Huntsville went over to Atlanta this weekend to participate in the Athleta Iron Girl Sprint Tri.  ANOTHER of my Dixie Daredevil teammates, Sarah Coleman, and I were among them.  Alas, Sarah is the girl.  About a week ago Sarah got the unfortunate news what she believed to have been plantar faciitis was a stress fracture.  She received this news only after it progressed into a full on broken bone.  You might think she opted out of the sold out race she registered for pre-injury.  You might think she went to cheer on her friends and collect her tshirt and swag bag.  You might even go so far to think she went ahead and participated in the 587 yard open water swim for practice.

You'd be right...but one thing led to another.  She decided the night before she would swim, and bike...and then walk the "run" in her fancy boot.  However, as I was leaving T2 I bumped into someone and realized immediately Sarah was not only NOT walking in her boot...she was BEATING ME by about 10 minutes (because she started about 10 minutes after me) and here we were running together!!

Fleeting hopes of her needing to slow down quickly vanished as I reminded myself just how competitive she really is...and as I started to fade myself.  As we neared the middle of the first hill I decided I "needed" a quick breather and walked a bit.  I told her she could keep going and to not let me slow her down.  She was gracious enough to tell me I was speeding her up, but seriously, the only reason she was even still on the course was that BROKEN FOOT of hers.

As we turned to go up the last hill that led to the finish line, I was about to walk (because I thought I just couldn't make it up that thing)...she grabbed my hand and told me to come on!!  When we got to the top of the hill, and the end was in sight, I showed my thanks by attempting to give her a race for the finish.  But...even with a BROKEN FOOT she held me stride for stride and we crossed over together.  I can't wait to see those finish line shots!

Sarah is a hardcore Rock Star.  I was mentally whimpering over some cramps...I can't imagine the pain she must have been in.  She kept saying she had never hurt that bad at the end of a race, and yet, she powered through it.  How embarrassing... beaten by the girl with the broken foot!!  It could have been worse, she could have been wearing her boot!! 

Thanks for stopping in; come again soon!  (Photos and a longer recap to come.)
:D

Sunday, May 8, 2011

More of What's Good vs. Less of What's Bad

For most of my life my strategy for doing anything better has been to identify what I'm doing WRONG and DO IT RIGHT.  Sounds good, doesn't it.  After all...it's what's wrong that keeps someone from living up to their potential, right??  If I made a 95 on a test, then I would look at the questions I missed in order to figure out how to do them right "next time".

As I'm writing I'm remembering when I was a little girl.  My parents divorced; my mother remarried.  I used to think all the time about what I would do in my next life.  "The next time I get to be a little girl I'm going to keep living in my old town and keep going to my old school and keep taking dance classes."  Silly, right?  It took me several years to realize you only get this one life.  I think that's when I began to anticipate mistakes and agonize over decisions.  If I only had one chance to make a right decision, I better not make a mistake because there would be no "next time" to correct it.  My focus was not on making a good decision, it was on not making the wrong one.

When I met my (current) husband, slowly my mindset began to change.  He and I had (and still have) many discussions about this very thing.  I slowly released the agony I would have over making decisions (well, for the most part).

However, the natural tendency for my mind to gravitate toward the negative, toward what's wrong, remained.  This is the tendency that would cause me to mentally scream at myself on a run for slowing down, or GASP walking.  This is the tendency that's responsible for pointing out all the ways I failed to live up to a goal or expectations.  This is the tendency which will not allow me to be happy with any given outcome because there's always room for improvement--meaning there are always ways in which I failed at any given task...All under the guise of helping me do better "next time".

When I was married to my first husband, he was "between jobs" when I was working full time.  I asked him one day if he could clean the house while I was gone to work.  When I came home I found a little pile of dust/dirt on the front porch (we had all hard wood floors, this was obviously from him sweeping the house).  My first thought wasn't, "oh look, he must have swept the house!!"...it was, "why couldn't he have swept this off the porch??"  When I went in the front door he was standing proudly in the middle of the room holding a remote to a car he'd been playing with in our freshly cleaned house.  He quickly picked up the car and put it on a chair.  My first thought as I surveyed the "spotless" house was not, "WOW--he really did a great job cleaning the house!!" ...it was "why couldn't he have just put that car up??"  Worse than just thinking it...I looked at my proud husband who had worked hard to please me, doing the very thing I had asked him to do, and allowed my thoughts to spew out of my mouth like venom.  I vividly remember the air coming out of his sails.  At the time I thought I was being helpful!  I only wanted to show him how to do better "next time".

Imagine your best friend having a PR in a race and having your first thoughts (and words) to him/her be, "you know you could have shaved off a whole minute if you had only just....."  If you're like me, you would NEVER say that to, or probably even think that about, anyone else.  Do you have those thoughts about yourself??  I know I have.  It's like, "yeah, yeah, that was a PR, but it could have been even better if only..."

I'm not so much a glass half empty kind of gal, but I'm also not a glass half full thinker either.  I've been more of a "the glass could be/could have been FULL, if only THESE THINGS were changed/different."  (If you hadn't spilled it/drank it/stopped filling it/filled it too fast and let it overflow so fast you lost some of what you had; if the glass were smaller; if you would just add some filler-ice or golf balls work nicely....)

I have slowly been working on changing my thought pattern from identifying what's wrong and looking for ways to change to just working on doing what's right.  Doing more of what's right and working on doing those things better.  There's a very subtle difference.

Let me give you a scenario, one I've stolen from a dear friend's blog post, The Smoke Out of '98 (great story by the way, you should read it).  A little girl has been running around the neighborhood with the boys all her life, and can beat all the kids her age.  Her parents take her to a one mile race.  She runs as fast as her little legs will carry her but is passed by quite a few kids in the end.  As she runs across the finish line....
Old me as her mother:  WOW, you almost beat those kids.  They were older than you because I put you in the wrong race by accident, but you almost beat them!!  If you had just started out a little slower and build up speed instead of running so hard in the beginning--you could have BEAT those big kids!!  You're so good!!!
The me I'm trying to become wants to respond more like her own parents did:  "...my daddy grabbed me up and said, "Way to go get 'em, Tiger!!  Speedy Gonzales!!"  I'd never seen that cartoon; to my knowledge, it was his original name for me.  I was THE Speedy Gonzales.  I ran fast and made Dad proud of me, and Mom too, because she said, "Good job, honey!" ((her: "Those kids were so...fast!")) "We put you in the wrong race, honey."  
Can you see the difference??  They were proud of what she had done RIGHT, not telling her how she could have done better.  Again, it's a subtle difference, but I think it returns big dividends.


Thanks for stopping in; come again soon!  I fill up your glass with lemonade! :D

Friday, May 6, 2011

Swimming Without Shorts

I think I should have lived when swimwear looked like this! (The woman in front was a REBEL-look how much leg she's showing!!) 

I have been swimming with swim shorts for YEARS. In fact, it's probably been over 10 years.....well, except one brief period of time between my last divorce and remarriage, when I got brave enough (okay, thin enough) to wear my bikini without them (far, far away from my home town where no one would see me!).  I have a permanent tan line several inches down my thigh as prove my upper legs haven't seen sun in many years.  (When I wore the bikini it was the beginning of the season and I tanned in a bed beforehand to even out my color.)

Wednesday, I took them off!!

I'd like to say I stripped the shorts thanks to newfound confidence or because I made some sense of peace with my body.  That would be a lie.  The truth is I forgot them when I went to the pool.  The only choice I had was to go home or swim without them.  I reasoned with myself, had a mini panic attack and decided to swim sans shorts.  My pep-talk included the belief there wouldn't be many people there because the power has been out for a week and it was the first day back to the pool...which was correct.

The thing is, I have no doubt I draw more attention to myself with them than without.  NO ONE wears swim shorts at the pool-even the guys (they wear little Speedos or super tight lycra).  The situation reminds me of when I was a teenager on vacation in France.  My French "sister" along with every other man, woman and child went topless at the pool, allowing the sun to kiss what God gave them.  Not me.  I just couldn't do it.  I couldn't stand the thought of exposing myself in that way.  My friend tried to reason with me that I would be the stand out if I didn't; I would cause more people to look at me if I didn't elect to fit in.  I didn't care, I just couldn't do it.  And now, I'm sure more people notice "that woman who wears the black swim shorts" than would ever give a second glance to my shorts-tanned, stretch-marked, fat-to-me thunder thighs while at the same time buttless midsection.

Even knowing all that, I've been wearing them since I started going to the pool back in July (wow...10 months).  I have believed I would feel more self conscious without them than I do with them.

Yesterday I went without them by accident...but today I made the choice to do it!!  I put my shorts in my bag, looked at them, took a deep breath, removed them and quickly ran out the door before I lost my nerve!!  In my haste I forgot my towel!!  While I may have become brave enough to swim without shorts, I'm still not going to prance around the locker room in all my naked glory.  My modesty (...okay, I'll call it what it is....the hatred I have for my body) cost me some time having to come home to shower, but I have to take one step at a time.  Going without my trunks feels like a giant leap...subjecting anyone other than my husband or my doctor to my nakedness will have to wait.  (...subjecting myself to the idea of subjecting anyone else is more like it...)

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Side note for anyone not acquainted with locker rooms...it's my understanding it's common practice for female athletes to confidently walk around as if in the privacy of their own home and there are more than a few ladies who are perfectly at home in their own skin that swim in the mornings.  The dressing rooms are on one side of the locker room, the showers on the other.  You're "supposed" to take your shower, dry off kind of in the middle area then dress on the other side.  I think this keeps the dressing areas dry.  Usually I will put my clothes in the shower area and do everything in that area.  It's a pain because it's not that big...but that's where I'm at.  On the days I don't shower at the pool (most days) I just dry off and change a dressing stall and mentally apologize to anyone who doesn't like that it's wet.  (Most likely the stall I use is dry before anyone else needs it, which is how I justify my "modesty".)  Maybe one of these days I won't care.  I think I'm a baby step closer swimming without my shorts.

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:D