Yesterday I swam half a mile in a lake.
Well, sort of. More like panicked way across and back.
I’m doing the Franklin Lakes/Wyckoff Triathlon next weekend for the second time. I had trouble with the open water swim last year, so I thought that Jen (college roomie) and I would get an open water swim in this year before the race as practice.
This looks so nice and peaceful, right?
I was sort of nervous, so I tried to do some deep breathing exercises before getting in the water.
There were three different races: a 2.4-mile, 1.2 and .5 mile option. The 2.4-milers went first and then the 1.2-milers were off. Both of those groups were doing 1.2 mile loops; the crazies were doing two 1.2 mile loops. The group doing the .5 mile swim swam in a much smaller area.
Just a nice, calm lake, right?
The race dude counted us down – 2 minutes to go, 1 minute to go, 30 seconds to go, 10 seconds to go…and GO!
I started off running into the water with everyone, but I was already freaking out inside. As people started putting their heads in and swimming, I started freaking out. OMG. WHAT am I doing!? I had no specific fears – it wasn’t that I was afraid of drowning, or not being able to see, or not being able to make the distance. Nope, I was just terrified.
I watched as everyone swam off, and I stood there, frozen. I saw someone else who hadn’t yet started either, and was thrilled to see someone else who was afraid like me.
I contemplated bailing. Maybe I couldn’t really do this. But then this quote popped into my head. If I think I can’t do it, I’m only going to psyche myself out. So, I need to psyche myself into doing this. I tried to change my perspective and tell myself I could do it, and it gave me some power to start swimming.
But the second I put my face in the water, I freaked again, but I made myself just keep going. I tried to ignore my fear and just push forward, but I succumbed again and flipped over to my back to do the backstroke and hopefully let my shallow breathing and high heart rate calm down. Once I felt a bit calmer and flipped over, I saw a rescue boat.
“Ma’am, are you okay?” some fresh-faced little lifeguard asked. While I was tempted to yell back “don’t call me ma’am!” I told him I was okay…although this was the second point in the race I contemplated bailing.
I inched forward, doing some freestyle, some doggie paddle and some backstroke. FINALLY, I reached the buoys. I had a hard time hearing the directions as we began, so I’d thought that we were swimming to the buoy and just turning around. Nope, like last year, we were swimming out, across to another buoy and then back in. Once again, as I reached the first buoy, I started panicking again. It felt SO far. I saw another rescue boat, and again contemplated bailing. My breathing was still shallow despite my best efforts to swim slowly and breathe evenly.
FINALLY I reached the second buoy and headed back for land. THANK GOD. I knew I was going to make it, and I knew I was going to finish, and the swimming became much easier, though my breathing was still shallow. I tried to speed up to make up for lost time, but then realized I really just wanted to finish and I didn’t need to be putting any more pressure on myself. I finally was able to touch the bottom, stood up and ran in and across the timing mat.
We finished! And goggles are hot. I finished in a tortoiselike 26:21, which also put me 13/13 for my age group, 86/93 for the whole race, and 38/43 for all women. But hey, I wasn’t last!
So…swimmers/triathletes. Please please please tell me your best don’t-freak-out-on-the-swim secrets. Speaking of swimming, Victoria swam across the freaking Chesapeake Bay today. NBD. That sounds so absolutely terrifying.