JLO's Blog: Jennifer versus the jellyfish

One of the coolest things we've discovered about Jennifer Lopez as she trains for her first triathlon (which she's doing to raise money for Childrens Hospital Los Angeles) is how willing she's been to step—and swim and bike and run!—out of her comfort zone to reach her goal. "I never swam in my life before training!" Jennifer told SELF. "But I love a challenge." Recently, she faced one of her biggest yet: swimming in a choppy ocean teeming with jellyfish.

SELF editor-in-chief Lucy Danziger met with Jennifer and her trainer Gunnar Peterson for the swim workout at Jones Beach, on Long Island, New York. It was a beautiful day, except the beach was littered with what looked like saline breast implants—dead jellyfish—a warning that the brown, stinging versions could meet the pair in the water. But feeling determined, Jennifer and Lucy suited up and hit the waves. Jennifer, looking like the sexiest Bond girl in her wetsuit, swam like a pro for about three minutes. Then both she and Lucy headed to shore.

"I was really scared of those jellyfish, I'm not going to lie," she said. "I know I had on a wetsuit, but they made me nervous. I kept thinking, Don't look down! I was worrying with every stroke, and it made me breathe heavier. I felt my whole body get nervous. I couldn't relax and work on my stroke.

"I also got really tired. The water was kicking me a lot, and I got panicky. The roughness of it made me feel a little out of control. I couldn't breathe like I normally do because I was panicking—not terribly, but I didn't feel right. I told myself to relax, that it was fine, but I felt so anxious. So I was like, you know, let's just go in."

Who can blame her? But after talking it out on the beach and coating their hands and feet in Vaseline to protect against a possible sting, the pair (with Gunnar, sans wetsuit, in a show of solidarity) got back in briefly to leave the session on a high note, rather than feeling freaked out and beaten by the water.

"I didn't want to get back in. I even got stung on my wrist. I know there probably won't be jellyfish in the Pacific during the race [in Malibu], and that the water will be calmer. But I have to be ready just in case it's like that. I want to feel confident. I'm in good shape, I've got good stamina and I've been training. Mentally, I have to get my head in the right spot."

She's on her way; we were blown away that she even got back in the water. Jennifer could have packed up her bag and gone home. But she didn't. And the day was not a complete loss. It's tempting to take the easy way out, yet sometimes pushing past your comfort zone and facing your fears is what makes experiences that much more rewarding, whether you're competing in your first triathlon or starting a new workout routine.

Keep checking back to read more about Jennifer's triathlon training progress and charity initiatives.

September 10, 2008

Hey guys, please don't forget to donate anything you can below.

Please help Jen, and the women and children she is trying to help by donating money for Jen's triathlon run. All proceeds go to the CHLA mentioned above.
Please click image blow to donate, any amount helps.

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