Grandma’s List of 57 in 52: #’s 3 and 4

#1: Skydiving. Phew!

#2: Pole Dance Classes – 6 in all… ongoing.  Whoa!

Now for #’s 3 and 4 on Grandma’s List of 57 in 52:

#3: Mastering the Flip Turn (this one in a swimming pool… the other one on the pole!)

#4: Train for a 10k – (6.2 mile run)

Eh.  Okay.  Not as exhilarating and daring and romantic and sensual as skydiving and pole dancing, but when I set out to complete my List of “57 Things to do in 52 Weeks”… starting on my 57th birthday, I knew that these two endeavors just had to be on the list somewhere.  But it wasn’t until last night when I was reading the blog post of a very dear blogging friend of mine, Rhonda at Mimi’s Toes, that I knew it was time.  Rhonda got me thinking about trying things.  Whatever those things may be.  Sometimes big things and sometimes small things.

And that brings me to flip turns and 10k’s.  Now, these things may seem small to someone who knows how to do them, but to me they are big things. Very big.

Why?  First, the flip turn, because I have never mastered the flip turn. I look like a centenarian hippopotamus when I attempt a flip turn.  Picture this.  I approach the wall but I can’t see the wall because I can’t see.  But then consider that I must remember to begin that flip about a body length away from the wall. That’s when the hippo in me surfaces.  I tuck.  I roll into what is supposed to be a little ball.  But it’s not a ball.  It’s a butt. My butt stays flailing just above the surface of the water for endless minutes in slow motion… looking like an old broken-down hippo who can’t even muster the strength to emerge from the mud… because I am not close enough to the wall to connect it with my feet.   I’ve tried.  And I’ve failed.  I’ve tried.  And failed. I know all about the “approach the wall and begin your turn about a body length from the wall” instructions. Yep.  Sounds easy enough.  Except for the hippo butt thing, of course…

The art of the flip turn has been lost on me.  Both Audrey and Jane were competitive swimmers and they tried to teach me.  It didn’t work.  I tried to teach myself.  It didn’t work.  Last summer, when I was training for my sprint triathlon and swimming laps became necessary, I still could not figure the flip turn.  Flailing hippo butt was the best I could do so I gave up and pushed off the walls with my hands.  But now I am going to take on the flip turn challenge as #3 on my List… and I have solicited the patience of my 8-year old granddaughter, Taylor, who is a very talented swimmer, to teach me the art and magic of the flip turn.  (Will include photos!)

So move over hippo ‘cuz I’m ready for the fl-hippo.  My technique may look more like a centenarian hippo, but if I can get my body to tuck, roll and propel without that buoyant butt thing… I’ll be happy to cross #3 off my list.  Little things are sometimes big things that we’ve submerged under the mud for such a long time that we might’ve given up.  Yes?

And #4.  A little over year ago, I thought that finishing a 5k would be next to impossible for me.  I had never, ever run… but I had watched my children compete in IronMan and sprint triathlon competitions and run half-marathons and marathons, 5k’s, 10 k’s and 10-milers.  Then my grandchildren began to compete in running and swimming competitions and even kids’ sprint triathlons.  So one year ago, I set a goal for myself to compete in a 5k.  Just one 5k. I bought a pair of running sneakers, opened my front door… and ran.  I ran around the block.  I built endurance to run twice around the block.  Then I ventured farther.  And farther.  Until on October 26, 2008 I ran my fist 5k with my daughter-in-law Nicole at my side for moral support … the East Providence Firefighters Freaky 5k… and my time was 36.24.  I felt like I had conquered the world.  Since then, I have run five 5k’s, taking off minutes each time I run.  My latest 5k was the CVS 5k in downtown Providence last month, where I ran a 28:44.  If anyone had told me a year ago that I would take 8 minutes off my time, I would not have believed it.  Sometime last spring, I challenged myself to train for a sprint triathlon… and I registered for the July Falmouth Sprint Tri on Cape Cod.  That’s when I began to swim 3 days per week and never master the flip turn.  I dug out my old bike and cycled 8 – 10 miles each time I went out.  And I continued running.  I was frightened senseless about this triathlon… a 1/3 mile ocean swim, 9 mile bike ride and 5k, but I followed the training schedule inch by inch.  On one of the most beautiful mornings that July could ever bring to Massachusetts, I competed.  I finished.  And I beat my projected time by almost an hour.  My husband, my children and my grandchildren were there to cheer me on… and I was on top of the world.  I  was on top of the world that day.

But something happened on my 57th birthday.  I began to think the impossible again.  Could I run a 10k…  6.2 miles?  Hell, yeah.  If I allow myself the chance.  If I challenge myself.  If I train.  If I put it on my List of 57 in 52.  So this afternoon I went online and I found the 26th Annual Christmas Run… on December 13th… in Newport, RI.  Yes, it will be winter in New England.  Yes, it will most likely be frigid.  Yes, it will be a big challenge.  Yes, I am ready to face the challenge.  I printed the Hal Higdon Training for Your First 10k this afternoon and I will begin training tomorrow.

Flip Turn, here I come.  10k, here I come.  Pole Dancing, here I continue. Because there is no failure except in no longer trying.

Thanks Rhonda for helping me with #’s 3 and 4!

Grandma’s List of 57 in 52: #’s 3 and 4 was last modified: July 26th, 2017 by Sharon Couto
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  1. I too love Rhonda. She is a sweetheart like you. I know you can do both of these. You are helping to inspire me. I am training for my first 5k next month. I’m a little afraid because of my ankle, but I can do it. It just might not be in a great time. You are so right in that there is no failure except in no longer trying. We “older” mamas can show those young kids a thing or two about determination!

  2. Wow, I feel so honored that something I did, like putting up a post, inspired someone. You never cease to amaze me. I agree with Bacardi Mama that us older folks will show the younger folks what we are made of! Can’t wait to hear and see your next 2 goals. You rock!

  3. The best part of a frigid run will surely be the need to have a beer or two at the end to warm up. And also, to rehydrate yourself, because I hear that’s important!;)

  4. You are so awesome Sharon! Here I am only in my 30’s and I HAVE given up. I don’t try any more. Your posts are very inspiring, but this flu bug has me down…way down, and right now I can’t see past the next hour or so. Keep the stories coming. Maybe someday I can grow up and be like you 🙂

Grandma’s List of 57 in 52: #’s 3 and 4 was last modified: July 26th, 2017 by Sharon Couto