Tonight, I took down my Wall of Shame.
It might take me but a minute to get to the point of why I did it, so hang in there with me.
See, the Wall of Shame consisted mostly of missed swims. I will ride my bike 'til next Tuesday, or put my running shoes on any time of day and jump on the treamill or hit the path. But I hate swimming. Hate it, hate it.
I hate it because I am not good at it. I hate it because everytime I get in that freezing water, I worry that I am not fast enough, or my stroke is not effecient enough, or that my butt is not toned enough and it makes my bathing suit creep up the crack.
I hate it because it shows me all my imperfections.
And I put so much pressure on myself to be perfect.
I dreaded today's swim. It's freezing here, I didn't want to get back in my car, the gym would be packed...all the reasons I usually use to talk myself out of it. But at some point, I sucked it up, grabbed my bag and my little swim workout index card and went.
When I got there, all lanes were taken. And we all know how much I hate sharing a lane. I almost turned around and went back to the locker room, but a nice woman invited me into hers, so I took it.
As I kicked off my flip flops, I looked at my card, trying to remember all the different drills. But then, standing on the pool side, something clicked. Maybe it was my coach's voice that told me yesterday that missing a workout is not the end of the world, or maybe it was just my own voice, telling me that, hey, making it here today is a victory in itself.
Whatever it was, I slipped the card back into my swim bag. And I just jumped in. No lollygagging on the edge, flopping my legs in the water, fighting with myself about "Oh, it's too cold" or "Oh, I don't want to be here." I just jumped in.
And I swam.
I didn't count the laps, and I didn't look at the clock. Somewhere in the span of about one minute, I decided that I was going to swim how I felt, and that I had to just "be okay" with it.
So I did. I just swam.
There were some lengths that were hard, when I truly felt like I was sinking. This time though, instead of berating myself with "You've been doing this for HOW long and you still suck?!" I just tucked my head down and kept trying. As I swam, I would think about my stroke, and instead of trying to make it perfect, I just tried to do better.
And then there were the laps that were easy, and I glided. My elbows were high, my hips rotated, my catch was smooth. And I didn't take those laps for granted, or expect that the next ones should be as easy. I took each lap for itself - maybe it would be good, and maybe it would not.
But I stopped trying to be perfect. I started trying to be better.
Better to my body by not pushing through a long swim when I knew I was still weak, and better to my mind for even having the strength to show up.
And then I stopped when I felt like it. I stopped when I didn't want to swim anymore.
I am sure I didn't make the total yardage that was on my schedule, but I actually didn't care. I didn't care because I didn't see my "imperfect" swim as a sign of weakness. I actually saw it as taking care of myself.
Crazy - when I got out of the pool, time didn't stop, the world didn't crumble, I didn't collapse.
The world did not, in fact, end because the swim, and I, were less-than-perfect.
I know I am tough at this point. I know that I have mentally and physically battled through some really grueling workouts, and that I am not a quitter. I have run for 90 minutes with blisters bleeding through my shoes. I have run in sub zero weather and pouring rain. I have pedaled through trainer rides for hours on end and saddle sores of unimaginable proportions. I have done mind numbing treadmill runs. I have woken up at 430am to go to the pool or run or ride.
I just saw this shortened workout as a sign that I know when to say when, for my health and my sanity.
And I started to accept that not being the best swimmer is okay. That for today, for right now, just plain swimming is good enough.
So I took down the Wall of Shame because there is no shame in missing a workout. There's no shame in shortening it when you just need a break. There's no shame in being human, and sometimes letting life get in the way. And there is no shame in not being perfect.
Ironman training sure is teaching me a lot about myself.