After months of preparation and anticipation I finally completed my first ever sprint triathlon. As I write this blog a day has passed. Yet, I’m still too overwhelmed to express my feelings. It’s hard to put my emotions into words. Nevertheless, I’m going to try.
There is so much to be said about setting a goal and accomplishing it. There is even more to be said about facing your fears. I am so fond of telling people to just do it afraid. I’ve always believed in that approach, but I now realize that it is so incredibly hard to do. I’ve faced my fears before, but none like this!
Prior to getting in the pool yesterday I thought I was going to be okay. I wasn’t prepared to swim in six feet of water, and I was terrified of doing so. I’ve been practicing in very shallow water. As long as my feet can touch the ground I’m good. Once they leave the ground for an extended period of time I freak out! It wasn’t until two weeks ago that I even tried to swim in more than six feet of water. The reason I thought I’d be okay on race day was because the pool started at four feet and increased to six feet as you swim the length. My rationale was I wouldn’t be in the deep for very long. I assumed I’d be able to swim through it, and maybe even use it to my advantage.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. Since I hadn’t mastered my ability to breathe, I couldn’t hold my breath long enough to make it from five feet to six feet of water without stopping. When I realized that, panic ensued. I have never been so scared in my life. My body was trembling and my eyes watered up with tears. The lifeguard literally had to jump in the water to help me. In that moment I knew my race was over. I thought, “This is it. He is definitely going to escort you out the pool.”
I didn’t expect him and the EMTs to give me a choice. When they asked me what I wanted to do, I immediately responded that I didn’t want to give up. I wanted to finish. From that point it became their mission to help me do that by any means necessary. The lifeguard even volunteered to stay in the pool with me for the duration of my swim. He vowed to stay by my side to assure me that I would not drown. He was prepared to save me. That comforted me.
As I swam the remaining laps, I became a bit more calm with every stroke. Eventually, I was at the last lap. I did it! I conquered the swimming portion. The sense of accomplishment I felt at that moment fueled me to the end.
The bike ride felt like a breeze compared to the swim. I was able to be fully present several times during the bike ride. I remember this awesome breeze on my face as I rode down hill. It was INCREDIBLE! I felt so free. I was so aware and present in that moment.
The last mile of the bike ride was the hardest because of the slight incline, but I was determined not to stop. I felt so empowered. I pushed through with every fiber of my being. I knew the run was next and it would be the final leg.
Even though the run was only two miles, it wasn’t flat. It was mostly inclines. It felt like the longest two miles of my life. I could not have completed that course without stopping if I had only been out for a run that day. It was hard.
Honestly, the difficulty of it did not matter to me. I just reminded myself that this was a freaking triathlon and it wasn’t meant to be easy. I was doing something that a lot of people can’t do. So, the fact that I was finishing last was the least of my concerns. My only objective was to finish. That was always my goal. I wasn’t trying to place. I just wanted to do my best. So far, I had done that.
Here’s the irony. All I wanted to do was finish. I didn’t want or expect any hoopla. But that’s exactly what I got. When I tell you the roars of cheers and applause I received when I crossed that finish line, you would have sworn I finished first! I literally heard them screaming for me before I even turned the last corner. I’ve never seen or experienced anything like that in my life. I was slightly embarrassed as I crossed the finish line. Not because I was last, but because of all the attention they were giving me. It was so humbling to me. I felt like a million bucks. Everyone from my friends, to the EMTs, the police and the firefighters personally congratulated me and gave me a hug.
This experience has truly taught me that it’s not about how you start your race or even how you run it, all that matters is that you finish.
Now that I’ve shared my journey with you, I’d love to hear an experience you’ve had with facing your fears and how it felt when you did it. Please leave a comment on my blog.