June 14, 2015
Victoria Ironman (Sprint Distance)
MY very first open water (lake) swim race. What a doozy to start with. Over 1600 athletes overall and over 150 sprint distance athletes! Wow! The sheer numbers was staggering.
I've struggled with water my whole life, I've been terrified of open water and swimming in the pool was a struggle to.
A little over a month ago I had a massive panic attack in a pool swim triathlon. There was no real reason for it other than panic. The picture below taken by a friend (Peter Dunwoody) caught me mid panic. Not my proudest moment, but the photo brought it all up close and personal so to speak. I realized I needed to get this handled, some way, some how.
I started this open water season with a swim with my coach (Lindsey Millar) in the very lake the June 14th race would take place in. Much to my dismay there were weeds! The swim went off ok, I got over the weeds and had a fairly solid swim.
Then I did several lake swims with Tri Stars at Thetis lake. Some went better than others but I did manage to make it around the first island and have some fairly confident swims.
This time last year I quit the lake swims. I had tried and tried to overcome the panic but left each swim in tears, body tense and it took me days to relax and recover from them. Trying to overcome something you've been afraid of your whole life is hard, exhausting and time consuming work. The constant stress got to me and I quit the swims.
June 14th, I was calm the morning of the race.
Connie Dunwoody caught this picture of me right before the swim. I felt fairly calm, in reality I was ready. There was no reason I couldn't do this. Other than fear.
The start horn blows and 150 plus swimmers head out into the water.
And I wait.
Coach Lindsey's advice was to let the pack leave, count to 10 then go. I did just that.
See that swimmer standing in the wetsuit in the bottom left? That's me. This picture still makes me giggle and cry all at the same time. I swam through all that!
I headed out, slow and steady. I knew that I needed to remain calm and collected. I promptly ran into a swimmer breast stroking. I re grouped looked up and thought "just slow and steady will get you through". I stuck my head back in the water, paid MUCH more attention to what was going on around me and swam around and past other swimmers. If you had asked me a year ago if I'd like a lake swim I'd have said "HELL NO". But it was ok, even likeable. In the lake you can get away from or around other swimmers. I could pick a path and just keep swimming.
As I rounded the first bouy I could hear loud cheering. One of the Tri Stars coaches (Kelli) was in a support kayak cheering. For me! Head back in water, just keep swimming.
I did just that. One swim, with a few minimal breast strokes to position myself, but one continual swim.
BEST DAY EVER!
As I came into shore I cannot put into words how that felt. Proud, excited, joyful so many emotions. I had finally done what I really never truly knew I could do.
First face I recognized as I ran down the chute was my Mom.
Then I saw Lindsey (my coach), then Carolyn (Tristars owner and coach). I heard Tanya (training partner, who took the photo above) cheering me on. I had finally done it!
Over a year of hard work, struggle, tears, more struggle, more tears, success and failure lead to this very day. I would not trade any of it. It was 100% the most amazing day. I still look at the pictures and giggle thinking "I did THAT!"
So many people helped me through this. Tri stars coaches Bob, Connie, Mandy helped those early days in the teach pool. Jan and Del, more tri stars coaches in the lap pool.
My husband who listened and supported when I whined and wailed and moaned. He never wavered and always supported.
My training buddies Tanya and Connie. Without them, I'm not sure I'd have ever stuck this out. The laughs, support and friendship is truly something that made this journey easier.
My coach. Lindsey. Integral. This has changed my life. It's made me stronger, confident and helped me to believe in myself. When I felt like I couldn't do it she'd hear me out and remind me "I'll never ask you to do something I don't think you can do. I did the workouts, stuck to the plan even when I felt like I couldn't. I'll be damned, she was right! Do the work, trust in the training and you can do it!
Crossing that finish line. What a truly amazing day! One I will never, ever forget.