Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Hardest Swim and Bike Yet. On Facing Fears and Trying the New: We CAN Do Hard and Scary Things.

Magical night at the lake after my hardest bike and swim yet! See that beach over there on the other side of the lake?  Not a big deal to some, but a huge deal to me to swim there and back!  

I'm convinced more than ever in these truths:
  • We can do hard things!  
  • Life is so much about what we imagine. It doesn't just happen TO us...we play a part in dreaming it up and deciding how it unfolds.  
  • There are limitless possibilities for our lives.
  • If we are too scared to try something we feel pulled to do, it pays to muster up the courage to just. do. it!  
  • We all start somewhere.  Start where YOU are.  
  • Talent, ability, fitness, education, experience...yes, these all make a difference when it comes to doing something well.  But HARD WORK pays off beyond all of these.  Hard work and belief in ourselves and knowing that we can ALWAYS learn and try something new!  
If you would have asked me a few years back if I could see myself even considering a triathlon, I would have answered rather indifferently.  I had no desire, really.  Yes, I've had fleeting pulls or thought I would try one on a whim but I've never followed through.  And if you asked me what I thought about open water swims and road biking up mountains and in traffic, I would have said nope!  No way.  Not my bag baby.  At the time, I was focused mostly on running and other goals.  However, there was a part of me that was also held back by the fear of the unknown.  

Mid 2012 marks a time in my life where my world was filled with many changes (some shared and much not).  Some of the biggest happenings of 2012-2014 involved facing some pretty big and deep rooted fears and ideas in this head of mine. There were times I had to fight hard for myself and what mattered most to me.  Times I didn't know what to do. And times I had the choice to either surrender to what was hurting me or fight back and face fears like I had never done before. It's still weird to me how the same two years were not only some of the hardest with the biggest personal work but also some of the most exciting, beautiful, and adventurous.  I know, this is all so vague but the point is:  Hard things make us stronger.  Facing fears teaches us that we are stronger than we ever imagined.  Beauty, purpose, and joy are there on the other side when we believe in ourselves enough to get there.  I'm thankful for these years and this work...I was shaped and grown in ways I never expected. I'm thankful that when life threw me these curveballs that rocked my world and dug at my deepest roots, I could see the vision for what I wanted most in my life with my family, the people that mean more to me than anything else.     I wouldn't trade any of it for the world.  I wouldn't go back either.  

I know, I'm talking about two different topics here:  Some deep, personal life stuff and then swimming and biking adventures!  But believe it or not, the two are connected very much so!  What we learn about our life when we accomplish new feats as an athlete, most certainly carry over to our every day life.  When we push through a difficult race or workout... when we challenge ourselves to get out there and do something that scares us... these lessons come back to guide us in our LIVING!  Likewise, when we push through difficult life experiences that might have otherwise changed us entirely, broken us, or pushed us off course of our best path-- when we fight for what we want most in life--the strength and lessons that come from this help us as athletes.  

For the longest time, I've had huge fears of road biking on roads we share with traffic.  Those bike lanes just aren't wide enough!! And people aren't always alert while driving.  I'm the same with running...get me away from traffic please!  I'm still a little timid here.  However, after getting in a few road rides, I'm feeling more and more confident.  And just this weekend, as my family was preparing to head up to Elk Lake, I decided to ride my bike from our house as far towards the lake as I could until they caught up with me.  I told myself:  TRUST.  Be Brave.  And I did!  

My ride involved lots of traffic!  Especially since it was a hot hot weekend where cars were heading for the Cascade Lakes in caravans!  Then add the roundabouts to get to the main road...these are tricky for a beginner.  For those of you that don't know much about Bend, many of the main roads here on the west side of town have roundabouts instead of stop signs.  This can make this newbie road biker kind of nervous.  The good thing is that Bend is VERY bike friendly and there are bike lanes almost everywhere.  

Once I cycled the four or so miles to Century Drive, all I had to do was head UP and out towards Mt. Bachelor.  People ride this route all the time!  In fact, it is the route for the olympic triathlon I'll be doing soon.  Might as well practice, right?  Elk Lake is 24 miles (a lot of climb) once I got onto the Century Dr roundabout.  Century Dr turns into the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway where yes, yes, there are some amazing views.  However, this makes riding up slightly scarier for me since it would be only natural for people in cars to want to look over at the views and not the road.  Back to thinking positively.  People ride this all the time.  Yes.  So, I did too!   

I made it a good 14 miles (not a long bike ride in itself but with the up hill, it made for a good workout) before my husband and kids pulled up in the van to take me the rest of the way.  By then my legs were jello from the work in so much uphill riding.  My crotch was entirely numb as well.  A numb crotch is really only good for one thing: Childbirth.  Otherwise, I like having normal feeling, thank you.  Note to self: get a new gender-friendly bike seat.  It was so sweet to see my kids jump out and cheer for me as I approached and transitioned into my running shoes to run a bit on tired legs.  "Go Mommy!! You can do it!"  Ah, this makes my heart smile just typing.  

I didn't run long after my ride.  Just enough to get a feel for what it was like to jump off a bike after a hard effort and get my legs moving in a different way.  In fact, I haven't been running a ton lately in general and I MISS it!  I'd like to fit something in today in between carting kids around to swim and play.  

Once we got to Elk Lake, I thought I might get in the water a bit and test the wetsuit, goggle, swim cap combo while fitting in a few strokes.  I had no plans of actually swimming my longest and most difficult swim of my life!  But once I got in the water and looked across the lake to the beach on the other side, I wanting nothing more than to make it all the way there and back.  I'm not sure what I was thinking entirely but I went for it!  For the sake of time (my kids are up now and we have to dash out for swim lessons), I'm switching to bulleted swim points:
  • I'm not the strongest swimmer but I'm not a bad swimmer either.
  • I'd like to be able to breathe on both sides like I do with pool swimming but in open water, one side is the best I have right now in order to get the air I need.  
  • Wetsuits make me feel safe since they add buoyancy.  
  • There was nobody out on the lake when I was swimming.  This was a little scary for me at times!
  • When I was turning around to come back, I realized the water was rough and small waves were coming towards me. This made it much harder to swim.  I started to panic just a bit at the thought of making it all the way back and being out there alone (NOT smart of me...I know!) but backstroke and float definitely is a blessing when it comes to resting!!  
  • Right as I was starting to panic, I looked up and there was my Knight in Shining Armor:  My husband on a paddle board coming out to support me!  Oh, THANK GOODNESS!  From there on , I was SOLID! With him by my side, I can do anything!  
  • I made it!  There and back...from the Lodge at Elk Lake to Sunset Beach (actually right before..I didn't go up to the beach).  I have no idea how far that is but you can see some of it from my picture at the top of this post.  

My messy happy endorphin self after swimming a lake and biking up a mountain!  

Beautiful night for mudpies.

Can't wait to do some laps in this pool!  For now, I'll enjoy watching my kids swim.  

I'm cutting this post off here.  No wrap up paragraph....just enough time to run upstairs, throw a suit on, get three kids breakfast and out the door for a sweet summer day!

Happy Tuesday,

Mostly on Instagram with my blog these days with pictures and long captions.  :) 


  1. wow! sounds absolutely intense! you go girl, get it!

    1. Thanks Olivia. Not really that intense...just new to me! :)

  2. That entire first paragraph...the indifference and fear towards a triathlon... I feel like that is me now...those could be my words... I just started running in 2012, so right now I'm still focused on that... but who knows, maybe in a few years.... And then your next paragraphs about difficult times and personal growth... I identify with all of it. Happy to have found your blog and that you are writing again... inspired:)

    1. Hi there. Thank you. 2012...wow, so glad you found running! Isn't it life changing?

  3. Nice recap of your experience and life...I've been lurking on your blog for a long time, and I miss your posts! I'm looking forward to see how this this training goes!

    1. Hi Wendy. Thank you so much. Good to hear from you.

  4. You are the SHIT sunshine! Proud of you. So inspired by you and all you're doing here! And I want to climb right into your blog and grab you and hug you in this picture! Really one of my very favorite "capture exactly how I imagine Amanda always" pictures!!

    1. Ha! I love you my friend. I love that you love this picture so much...I love it too...not because I look my best or because it's the perfect photo for a blog post...because it is so real ...real joy! Messy, happy, satisfied, and loving life. Yes, this is often how I look when I'm with you. :)

  5. Holy cow lady! Great job, I am so impressed you are doing a tri, I am still in the it is not on my radar stage.

    That is a great picture of you, you are glowing :)

    1. Thanks Christy. I wouldn't be doing it if it weren't for my friend Corie to help tell me what to do in the transitions!

  6. Glad things are going so well! You've done so much these past few years...it's wonderful to read you're really finding your groove :)

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