It’s important to me that my blog isn’t all rainbows and sunshine.
Far too often I read blogs that are nothing but dancing unicorns and it’s easy to find yourself falsely comparing your life to these seemingly perfect lives. But in reality, the blogger just chooses not to post their struggles, thus creating a fake perception of reality.
I don’t want my blog to be pathetic rants or any sort of pity party, but I do want it to be an honest reflection of my athletic endeavors – the good, the bad, and the ugly. I think it’s important for anyone who is reading about my journey to know that it is not seamless. I also know that my “struggles” pale in comparison to serious hardships, but they are still part of the process and I want to be honest with you guys and myself. Plus, putting it down in writing is my version of therapy.
This morning I went back to the open water, dragging my mom along for the ride as she was in town for mother’s day. Last week, I made small progress in the open water by staying in the lane lines and only swimming short distances at a time. Sticking with my motto of “baby steps,” I decided that I would once again swim before the rest of the group arrived and swim the longer swim lanes (150 meters each way), but not outside of the lane lines.
I zipped up my wetsuit, moaned “Mooooooooom!” when she insisted on snapping photos, and was anxious to see what today would have in store. I made my way out to the swim lanes with the intention of not necessarily getting a workout in, but rather working on my open water comfort. I once again spent some time blowing bubbles in the water before starting the swim and trying to get comfortable.
This is the “my wetsuit is choking me” look.
I started swimming and felt good; same feeling as last week and thought I was making progress. But as I got into the 100 meter marker of each lap, my heart would start to race. The water got deeper, a little foggier, different plants underneath, and even my first fish sighting. My mental freak out makes absolutely no sense as there is no reason for it. I would flap around for a few more meters until I reached the end and had to take two minutes at the end of each lap just to calm down.
Absolutely nothing went wrong except for my mind doubting everything. I thought I was done with doubt?! Apparently not because once again my wetsuit was seemingly “choking me and trying to kill me” and the negative thoughts of, “Why am I doing this? My triathlon next week is going to be an embarrassing disaster. I can swim in the pool just fine, but I am deplorable in the open water. Just give up. I can’t F-ing swim. I hate this. Why is this happening?!” raced through my head. It was pathetic.
I promised myself I would do eight laps (1,200 meters) and the good news is that I did it. I don’t even want to tell you how long it took me. As I walked way out of the water, I made my way past the group and tried to avoid any eye contact or conversation with anyone. This was the same time that my mom and aunt came back from their run around the neighboring trails and met me at my stuff. Still avoiding eye contact, they asked how it was and I just replied, “Fine.” and nervously gathered my stuff.
I stripped my wetsuit off stupidly back down in the water, my coach came to tell me there was a shower, and I forced a smile and loaned out my swim cap to a fellow swimmer. As I made my way to the shower, my mom and aunt followed me to a hidden corner, away from the view of everyone else and I lost it.
For the first time in Ironman training I cried.
I cried because I felt like a failure at something that should be easy. Something that I know takes time, but I should at least be able to swim the swim lanes. My self-esteem plummeted.
In perfect timing, my mom and aunt were there to do the things that moms do best: comfort me.
I know that I’m far too hard on myself and that things like this will take time. They assured me that come November I will look back at this and laugh, but I just have to keep at it. I know they’re right, but for a confirmed type-A, it’s a hard pill to swallow.
Am I back to my “I can do anything!” mentality? Not at the moment. But it’s almost as if it was supposed to happen today, Mother’s Day, when my mom was in town and it was her first glimpse of my training. I got knocked down and she was there to pick me back up. Love you, mom.
Tomorrow, we try again.