NOTE from 2021: When I noticed my blog was getting hacked in February of 2020 I did some quick fixes and somehow all of my draft posts from the previous 16 years ended up assigned to that month. This is one of those posts. I used the context to “guess” when I actually wrote it so if anything about this publication date seems off to future me…I wanted this note here to explain possible errors.
We all are well-versed in the Kim Is Terrified Of Swimming And Biking part of triathlon training, right? There was the time I almost puked going to my first group bike ride, and the time I almost puked before the swim portion of my first triathlon. But, I feel like – even though the horse is dead – I could still beat it a few more times. Just to make sure I really get my point across.
SO! The first time I ever swam in open water was at my last triathlon. It was scary, more because of the bodies all around me than because of the open water. But still – SCARY. I’ve been in one man-made pond since, but that’s it until yesterday’s scheduled open-water training swim. We were supposed to go with our training group to a local lake to brave some open-water swimming. Considering this class had the pre-requisite of being able to swim 400m non-stop freestyle, and I can only do 50m non-stop freestyle, I was terrified I was going to embarrass myself.
NOW! At the last open-water triathlon I swam 400m without stopping. It just wasn’t freestyle. It was a little sidestroke, a little breast stroke, and a little floating on my back and kicking with my legs. But still – I can’t do freestyle for that long without losing my breath so I got there TERRIBLY anxious about that fact. I didn’t want to embarrass myself and I didn’t want to embarrass my husband who is a coach of the class.
Needless to say, when I got in the water my nerves were a little fried and my emotions a little raw.
We were doing a 100m one-way swim, and then we were swimming back. A 200m warmup. I got started and I was doing okay but I started losing my breath and getting upset and anxious which is totally NOT what you should do when you’re swimming. I wasn’t sighting correctly so I kept getting off course and I just kept seeing the coaches up ahead, including my husband, and imagining them shaking their heads and thinking, “This girl should NOT be here.”
When I was looking ahead at the buoy, I could see people standing and waiting. This stressed me out a bit because I felt like they were all laughing at me. However, as I got closer I saw that they had started swimming back again. But, I was totally out of breath and anxious and freaked out when I got to the buoy so I stood a bit to catch my breath before I started out again. And that’s when someone said something along the lines of “No standing up, your feet don’t need to touch the ground, head in the water, Kim.” And as SOON as the coach said that, my husband swam off.
Now, in that incredibly raw/anxious/stressed moment I interpreted that to my husband being SO embarrassed by another coach having to reprimand me, that he swam off.
And can you guess what I did? I started crying. While swimming, I was basically sobbing in my goggles. Oddly enough, the trip back went much faster. But still…me…sobbing the entire time.
When we got back they made us get out o the water because they heard thunder. I walked around a bit trying to compose myself. As we packed up and got ready to head home, several coaches asked me how I did, how I felt – and I could barely answer them because the tears were RIGHT THERE under the surface wanting to get out. Donnie could tell something was wrong but I didn’t want to talk about it until we got back in the car and I was away from other people.
So, we got back i;n the car and I started SOBBING again. I mean, I cried the entire 45-mintue ride home. Donnie reassured me a million times he didn’t even hear the coach say that. And of course – I don’t blame the coach – they shouldn’t have to use kid gloves on grownups. I know that it was all in my head, but knowing that doesn’t help the anxiety or the emotions in that moment. I’m still really raw thinking about it because I just feel so lame and inadequate. Logically? I tell myself, “You’ve run mutliple marathons and 50Ks and even one 43-mile jaunt last Spring. GET OVER YOURSELF.” But, man. It’s just so hard.