Tri’ing To Overcome A Fear
Sometimes it’s quite acceptable to let time pass and allow yourself to be comfortable for a little while. There’s nothing wrong with kicking back a bit and enjoying where you’re at, appreciating how far you’ve come, and not beating yourself up about constantly striving to reach new goals and milestones. I have to remind myself of this from time to time.
But there also come points in your life when it’s time to get off your butt, face real fears and fight your way to a truly landmark achievement.
One of the most enormous personal challenges in my life begins today. I can’t swim. I know how to swim (and have had more than a couple friends try to assure me of this), but I can’t. Being largely left-brained, the technical process makes complete sense to me. But [what I suppose might be defined as] a fear of water keeps me from engaging in said process for more than about 25 yards. On a good day.
For most of my life, I have let myself be scared by the warning “don’t go near the water- you can drown,” rather than “learn to swim- it could save your life.”
I have yet to be able to cross the length of the lap pool at the gym more than one time without having to rest and get psyched up for the next go at it. And my last visit yielded a whopping zero passes straight across without a stop- usually caused by water in my mouth or a stupid mental freak-out. Sinking underwater and practicing exhaling through my nose doesn’t occur more than three or four times before my heart rate goes through the roof.
So how to force myself to overcome this? I recently joined my buddy Steve in registering for the sprint distance of the Portland Triathlon, which takes place on August 21st . . . exactly two months from today. And not even remotely close to prepared. Am I an idiot? Yes, yes I am.
Along with the [totally doable] biking and running, the sprint tri requires swimming 750 meters open water in the Willamette River.
750 meters ~ 820 yards ~ 33 times across the gym’s pool
I don’t intend to be the slightest bit competitive in August’s race, but I do fully intend to dive in, survive and finish. To that end, I have two months to go from being able to cross 1 time to being able to do it 33 times. Nonstop.
And, when I say I have to, I mean I have to. It’s time. In my travels, I want to enjoy all of the activities that the gained swimming skills will allow. I want to feel confident that I can indeed save my life (or another person’s) if the need should arise. And, more importantly, it’s time to slay this dragon that’s kept me cornered and fearful, once and for all.
My plan? Well, I don’t totally have one. But starting today, I’m committed to spending at least an hour every day possible in the pool. Right now, getting comfortable being in the water, under the water, is first priority. I’ve had a couple of lessons in the past and will make a point of getting a few more along the way to that sprint.
Would you care to help? Please?
• Keep on me and hold me accountable. Tweet me, Facebook me, email me, call me, text me- whatever it takes. I want and need this to happen . . . but I’m scared as hell. I need a hundred ruthless coaches leaning over my shoulder, breathing down my neck and screaming at me every morning.
• Post a comment below and tell me about one of the toughest personal challenges you’ve ever faced. Or, one that you still need to.
And, lest I forget to say it in the midst of your
shouting coaching: thank you, thank you, thank you!
(photo by jayhem)