Are you following me?
Good. Because I was caught doing something that I don’t normally do.
And unfortunately, this happened to me today.
Sigh. This needs some explaining.
This afternoon I headed over to one of two fitness centers located in the apartment complex where we live. It’s nothing to write home about, however it has all the devices, weights, mats, and contraptions that I need to accomplish my functional strength work (Can’t have functional strength without “fun” now – can we?).
I really enjoy my new functional strength routine. For the past year or so, I’ve been lifting the same weights, doing the same old same old same old 3 X 20. Same old (did I say that?). Except on taper or testing weeks, then (big pause….) I got to lift 3 X 15.
Twice. (Always Monday and Friday – except for race weeks, then it was only Monday)
But I love my new functional program. I get to use a wide variety of weights, bust out the bands, work on some balance, and use (even better!) tri-specific muscles. Alas, no longer will I have the upper body of a shot putter. Well, that’s my hope anyways. (Give it a few weeks and I’ll start to notice a difference!).
And dare I say it – I can already fell the difference….
Wonder of wonders!
Or perhaps its all the IM, swim stroke drills, and oodles upon oodles of butterfly that I’m swimming (well – not exactly swimming/flying… butterflopping right now, but I’m sure that one of these days my new stroke will come along just beautifully. In the meantime, I’ll work my tail off and flop down the pool to the best of my ability!). Regardless of this, my back and shoulders and even my core – have all begun to look a little different.
Lest I say, they’re actually becoming a little more defined??? (said very quietly, so no one will hear).
For the first half of my gym session, there was one other individual at the gym with me. Up to my usual antics, I nearly killed myself trying to lower the bench from the shoulder press position to the bench press position (admittedly, I’m not that good with numerical descriptions, but I’ll give it a go: lower the bench from a 90 degree angle to a 180. Cappish? Good).
After successfully (or so I though) lowering the darned thing, I eagerly put my body weight on one side, my 25-pound dumbbell in tow – all in attempt to begin my bent-over rows. The minute – the exact second – my knee with ALL my weight hit the bench, the effing thing made a creaking noise, and suddenly dropped about 6 inches.
I let out a “Whoop!” and then turned bright red. My voice resonated loudly against the mirrored walls. Thank goodness my bladder was empty!
My male companion nearly fell out of his seat laughing, and then promptly offered to fix it for me. (What a Gentleman!) I was mortified, but tried to make some lame joke. (Never was very good with the comebacks….)
I was still beet red when he left a few minutes later.
But finally, I was alone. Aaaahhhhh. If I tripped over a dumbbell, there would be no witnesses. Then again, stuff like that never happens to me when no one is around. Only when the room is occupied by others do I make an idiot out of myself.
I had just completed my planks, and was feeling really great about my workout. Terrifying-collapsing-bench aside, I was doing a-okay. I could see my reflection in the floor-to-ceiling mirrors on 3 of the 4 walls, and I thought I looked pretty darned spiffy (who doesn’t in old running shoes, shorts, and a new marathon shirt? Ha!).
I picked up my weights in attempt to start my lateral raises, and then it hit me.
A very un-Marit-like idea.
Something I have done only once in my life. (Last summer, it was 95 degrees with 85 percent humidity….)
Something I never do.
Something that when my coach suggested I do it for last weekend’s race, I secretly blanched.
While my back may be toned, have the upper body of a football/shot putter, and legs of a runner, I have never had really great abs. They just don’t run in my family. Genetically, I didn’t get the “great ab” genes. Big Sigh. Try as hard as I might, my core resembles Santa’s “bowl full of jelly” more than that of an elite athlete. I never never NEVER run without a shirt on – because I don’t have the confidence. Perhaps its because I used to weight a lot more, was heavier while growing up. Maybe I’ve always been hyper-aware of my “tummy” flab (that Nate claims to love).
When Jen suggested that I race in just a sports bra, I nearly bust a gut laughing (but kept it in). Even though my stomach isn’t all that bad now, I’m still a bit sensitive about it.
But my confidence is growing….
So today (BIG BREATH), when totally alone, in the middle of the early afternoon (when most normal people are at work), in Gym #2 of our apartment complex, I looked at my reflection in the mirror, and thought it would be kinda neat to see my back muscles reflected in the mirror across the room.
I have never EVER EVER done this before, but figured it would be interesting to see how the muscles move, how they look, AND I could actually check my form and posture under my three-sizes-too-large race shirt.
Exactly 5 seconds after taking off my shirt and re-starting my lateral raises, 2 people walked in to the gym.
They were evidently a couple, as they had been happily chattering away as they entered the room. Upon seeing my figure, huffing and puffing away in the corner, wearing ONLY a sports bra and running shorts, all conversation ceased.
Zip Zero Zilch.
They looked. They stared. And then they saw me looking at them, and quickly looked away.
I was absolutely mortified. But, like the “good athlete” I am, I finished my lateral raises.
I slowly walked my weights to the corner rack, sucking in my stomach, doing my best to keep my abs taunt and tight… and then the following thoughts raced through my mind:
OHMYGOD! NOW I AM IN THE GYM WEARING ONLY A SPORTS BRA AND NOT DOING ANY EXERCISES! WHAT THE BLODDY EFFING HELL AM I SUPPOSED TO DO NOW? DO I STOP AND PUT ON MY SHIRT? DO I KEEP GOING LIKE THIS IS NORMAL? WHAT WHAT WHAT??? O BLOODY HELL. BLODDY EFFING HELL. WHAT HAVE I DONE? I WILL NEVER TAKE OFF MY SHIRT AGAIN – NEVER! DO YOU HEAR ME? I AM DONE – FINISHED – FINITO. JUST GET ME THROUGH THIS MOMENT, AND I WILL DO ANYTHING ANYTHING! MY STOMACH LOOKS LIKE IT BELONGS TO SANTA AND I’M STUCK IN A GYM WITH TWO OTHER MOTIFIED PEOPLE WHO ARE FORCED TO LOOK AT MY STOMACH. IF I SUCK IT IN ANY LONGER I WILL EXPLODE. BLODDY EFFING HELL!!!
Thankfully, everything was internalized. Except my face was very red.
I bent over; pretend to look at my functional strength workout sheet. I made a few scribbles next to the numbers, but was really only stalling for time. My mind raced, as I contemplated the various option.
1) Put my shirt back on. But that would show my two new friends that I was self-conscious about myself in the first place, and the stubborn part of me didn’t want to give in.
2) Put my shirt back on and apologize profusely, explaining that it was really “warm” in the room, and that this wasn’t “normal” behavior on my part
3) Admit that my stomach was not as great as my back, crack a few jokes, and throw on my shirt.
4) Run out of the room in shame, throwing on my shirt in the process
5) Pretend like this was “normal” for me – can’t you tell, I do this ALL the time? I’m a triathlete, yeah. So there! I do this because I’m hard core and training for my first Ironman… If you’ve got a problem with it, you can leave!
Unfortunately for them (and me) – I choose option #5. And they didn’t leave.
So there I was, for another 15 minutes (squat jumps and all! ohmygod ohmygod ohmygod) stuck at the gym without my shirt on. I know I was being stubborn, but I was too embarrassed to reach for my top. So I pretended that everything was fine, that this was normal. And perhaps (but I’ll never be sure) – perhaps they bought it. I kept going back to the episode of Seinfeld where George lied to his dead fiancée’s parents about owning a house in the Hamptons...
(Spoiler Alert: They called him on it, and he decided to drive them out to the Hamptons to see his (imaginary) house. Both sides knew that he was lying about it, but none decided to call the other’s bluff. The dead fiancée’s parents didn’t like George, and knew full well that he didn’t own a house. Yet he was intent on pretending that he did all the way up to the very end after he drove them up TO the Hamptons, and they admitted that they knew he didn’t own a Hampton Home. Are ya still with me?)
I kept waiting for my two new friends to call me out. Call my bluff.
But they never did.
And the more I worked out, the more I got used to myself lifting weights in the warm room wearing only a sports bra, and the easier it seemed. In all reality, I didn’t look that bad – and honestly, I’ve always been my own worst critic, being able to pick out every flaw, every error.
It was actually quite, er, liberating…
But I still put my shirt back on before I hopped on the elliptical for my cool down.
Today, I learned something knew. I learned what it’s like to face one of my deepest fears, my own uncertainty, and prevail through. Working out in just a sports bra was pretty darned neat. Would I do it again? – Perhaps… I’ll have to wait and see.
You never know when the mood will hit.
After all, summertime in Pensacola gets really hot, unbearable, and ugly. The temp is well above 80 and dew points are nearly as high before 6 am. So if you see me at some point this summer, minus a tee shirt, wearing a big grin and colorful sports bra, and running to my heart’s content, be happy for me. I’m facing my fear and pressing on. And I hope you do the same too, whatever those fears may be.
Now sharks… Sharks and open water are a different matter all together…