swim for dear life

Thursday, August 21, 2014

What I love about triathlon: How you're constantly pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and doing things you never thought possible -- things that in a former life, you would've found ridiculous and even downright terrifying.

Case in point: Yesterday's Swim for Life event, a 2.25-mile swim across Lake Washington, from Medina Beach to Madison Park.

Water conditions at the start; the other side was even worse.

I took one look at that water and wanted to get back in the car and go home. I was so nervous that I started referring to the event as "Swim for Dear Life." And sending farewell text messages: Hello, I might drown this morning. Just want you to know I love you. Play good music at my funeral! 

I'm peeing myself.

But I forced myself to stay. And I got in that churning mess. And the chop was so bad that I kept getting pushed toward the 520 Bridge and couldn't swim straight. But oddly, I didn't panic. I just kept swimming. I rolled with the waves instead of trying to fight them. And it was fine. In fact, it even bordered on fun. 

Not that long ago, I was scared shitless of open water. I remember wanting to drop out of my first triathlon the second I got in the lake, and the only way I survived that swim was by backstroking. It took me 32:28 to swim half a mile.

Yesterday, while I was out there being thrown around by a force so much larger than me (we're talking wind, waves and whitecaps -- conditions so rough that one of my friends actually got seasick and puked mid-swim), I couldn't help thinking about how far I've come. I'm not a strong athlete -- on my best days, I'm a solid midpacker -- but there I was, doing something I never thought possible and actually enjoying it. I also thought about this year (seriously, you have a lot of time to ponder your life when you're swimming across Lake Washington) -- all the loss and sadness -- and honestly, no amount of rough water could ever compare to what I've already lived through.

I finished that swim. It ended up being 2.6 miles (I blame the waves for the extra distance). And it took me 1:48:03. That's .2 miles farther than the Ironman swim in much more difficult conditions and well within the Ironman cutoff time.


Don't ever tell yourself you can't do something. 


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