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What Are You Afraid Of?

September 29, 2006

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No, Miss Fit is not a personal trainer passing herself off as a therapist. But the more I work helping people get healthy and in shape, the more I see how their fears can hold them back. Some are afraid of falling off a bike. Others are afraid of being seen in the gym being out of shape (even when I assure them our local gyms are NOT the Vertical Club).

I, too, was once afraid of falling of a bike. Afraid of getting hit in the face with a ball (I wore glasses). Afraid of not being good enough. My fears kept me thinking I wasn’t athletic for the first 25 years of my life. Something that’s hard for those who know me now to imagine. (I admit it, I was a band nerd.)

Instead of the norm of growing older and getting more fearful, to be healthier and live longer we should confront our fears and overcome them. Like my new friend Isabel did upon turning 50. Rather than comfort herself with a few drinks and reminiscences, to celebrate her milestone Isabel gave herself a challenge—to complete a Triathlon, in spite of the fact that she could neither ride a bike nor swim. Read her story (after the jump) and I hope you’ll get inspired to challenge yourself. If you have your own story, please share it with us.

Miss Fit, also known as Eve Hartman, is a National Academy of Sports Medicine certified personal trainer who gladly makes house calls (even for those who are afraid to be seen in a gym) and loves to get people outside road cycling (to help you overcome your fear of falling). For more information, please call 914-588-0591 or visit www.cyclicaltraining.com.

Isabel’s Story

JAN. 2006: As I approached my 50th birthday, I realized the best way to celebrate was to set a goal and try to accomplish it. A friend mentioned the Danskin Women’s Triathlon benefiting breast cancer in Sandy Hook, New Jersey. I decided that if I learned both how to swim and how to ride a bike I could do the race. I had no idea how much work was awaiting me but I was determined. The race is set for Sept. 17.

When I was a kid, I fell from a bike and never touched it again. But here I am almost 50, going to the store with my 15-year-old son and buying a mountain bike. With great patience, he took me to his high school parking lot and began teaching me how to ride. It was scary. He came with me a few times and after that I was on my own.

MAY 2006: I joined Eve’s bike group and rented a road bike…but it was too soon for me. What was I thinking?? I couldn’t even balance on my own bike. Down the hill I went not once but twice…it was embarrassing and painful. I went home and cried, ready to give up but then Eve called and made me feel better. I called the friend who motivated me to ride the bike and he asked me if I broke any bones. When I said no, he said that the ride was a success. Swimming was another ordeal. I had not been in swimming in a pool for more than 20 years. Anyway, if I wanted to do the triathlon, I had to swim, so I joined a beginner swimming class on Saturday mornings at the local middle school. On Tuesday and Thursday nights, there is no instructor, just practice doing laps. I was there every night possible. I became friends with a wonderful young woman, Julia who had breast cancer a few years ago and she was my inspiration.

JULY 2006: I continued training on my own, swimming a few times a week and riding my bike in the school parking lot. Eight weeks before the triathlon, I joined the Danskin Bergen County Training team. Riding the bike in the park and swimming in a lake was not easy but I survived. The first open water practice in the ocean was a disaster—it was cold, the ocean was not friendly that day, the waves were bigger than ever and I had a panic attack in the middle of the ocean. My coach Diana helped me get back to shore and again I was ready to give up. The next day, I bought a wetsuit -what a great investment. I knew it would give me some buoyancy and also keep me warm. Diana’s daily emails kept me motivated.

SEPT. 2006: I get to Sandy Hook at 5:30 AM with my two kids. It’s dark and cool (thank God for my wetsuit!) with hundreds of cars trying to park, every one carrying a bike. I get to the transition area where everybody is setting up bikes, all different kinds, even other mountain bikes (I’m happy…I’m not the only one!). The wetsuit keeps me warm, I’m in wave number 3, starting at 7:10 AM (I just want the swimming to be over!) and I decide I want an angel (a volunteer) to swim along side me so I can do backstroke. Megan swims next to me and my heart rate is higher than ever—I’m exhausted after 5 minutes but she keeps talking to me and after a few minutes I pass the last buoy and I can reach the bottom. What a relief and I think to myself the worst is over—I don’t EVER have to do this again. I run to the transition area, take my wetsuit off, grab my bike and slowly I realize that the bike ride is probably the easiest of the three parts. I can’t believe just six months ago I could NOT ride a bike. I’m careful because I want to finish without any accidents. The bike ride is over, my heart rate’s still high and I don’t think I can run, so I just start walking, then slowly begin to run.

After 2 hours and 25 minutes, I cross the finish line. What a great, amazing feeling. Only then do I realize how much I want to do another triathlon. And NOW I can train for a full year.



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