Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Embracing Fear

I almost put this post off for another day. I'm tired from today's personal training and being too wired to sleep after swimming last night, I'm still stuffy and my nose burns from accidentally getting pool water up it. It's too important though and the longer I wait, the more I forget.

Let me back up. I had to miss my usual Sunday swim class this past weekend. I let my teacher know and she offered to let me attend one of her others, which I thought was super nice. The only one I could make was last night from 7-830pm at the other pool. The scary pool! I normally swim at the more recreational 25yd pool, but this was at the 50m competition pool.

Now I'm thinking:

  • will I be able to leave work on time and make it there/miss traffic
  • finding a space in the limited parking area should be fun
  • about finding the door to the darn pool! (which happened to be in the attached non-pool-looking building)
  • about finding my way around
  • oh holy crap that's a big pool!
  • oh holy crap these swimmers are fast!
  • oh holy crap there are only 3 non-group/open showers?
  • whereeee is my teaaaacherrrr?
  • sizing up my new class (and freaking myself out because the first group of swimmers were actually at a masters swim meet)

I get nervous about the silliest things! Nothing bad happened! My teacher is awesome and my classmates were really friendly and welcoming. It was an even harder workout than my class normally does because most of the people in the class were at my ability or above. We didn't need to stop as much for direction and did longer drill sets. I felt great when I finished.

Then I ended up being a bit deflated. 

I stopped to ask my teacher if there was much of a difference between her regular freestyle class and her triathlon freestyle class. There really wasn't much difference other than some thought put into conserving your legs for the bike and run. I mentioned that I'm signed up for my first tri and another two girls piped in to ask what one I was doing and what the swim was. It's a 1/2 mile open water ocean swim. This DID make me nervous at first, but only because I had no yardstick to gauge how long swimming a half mile would feel. Now that's I've done a 1/4 mile and more on my own, with a decent time and only medium effort, I feel fine. It's 5 months away and I'm taking a swim class and have a pool membership. 

Well, one of girls was like, "you should do a freshwater or pool tri first. I thought I was really comfortable in the ocean and I flipped out during my first tri. It was even at a beach I grew up on but I wasn't prepared for the mass of other swimmers or the chop. I grew up on a boat." Of course you did! Haha. I mentioned that there is a special novice wave so that we have space and won't be swum over, but that didn't seem to matter. I mentioned that I'm very comfortable in, really, any kind of water (and I had what, in hindsight, was a scary experience in Hawaii without losing my cool) and can't remember NOT being able to swim, but that also didn't matter. I ended up thanking them for the advice and leaving it at that. My teacher was mostly trying to help me be in the most comfortable position possible and the girls were just trying to help, but it got to me a little bit.

It chewed at my brain while I was showering (and listening to the master's swimmers whine about the "swim lessons" taking up two of their lanes. Really? I'm registered for a class through the school. Your unaffiliated club rents the space. REALLY?!). It rattled around while I got dressed. By the time I picked up my husband it was really bugging me, so I texted the friend who inspired and pushed me to register in the first place. Seriously, my BA friend. I wouldn't be doing any of this if you didn't encourage me! I told her the brief version of what happened and she said exactly what I thought she would. I'd be fine (and also made me laugh). The thought I shared with her was,

What if I decide to just not be afraid?

Sounds silly, but it's pretty simple. I imagine myself standing in the sand at the edge of the ocean this August, feeling a cocktail of nerves, adrenaline and excitement. I'll feel a bit bittersweet, because once I start I will no longer be anticipating my first triathlon. I'll have a moment of self doubt where I realize that I can no longer dream of having a strong performance (when I should be happy to just complete it), because soon the writing will be on the wall. 

I will not be afraid.

I will feel the fear creep up from my stomach into my throat, but I'll push it down. I'll remind myself that there is absolutely no way I will be unable to finish the swim. I will fight and I will remind myself of this for 1/2 a mile until I reach the sand on the other side, but I refuse to be afraid. I will not acknowledge it.

That list at the top where I run down my thoughts? That's the beginning of fear. It stopped me from being a runner for a few years until I wanted it more than I was afraid. It stopped me from doing many things that were out of my comfort zone. Just don't think about it too much. Find what you want to do. Find out how to do it. Put yourself in motion. I decided to write this post now because I started thinking about how different things are at the moment. I swim? I take lessons? I go to a pool on my own and split a lane with strangers? In many aspects of my life I've had to just stop thinking about it and jump in. I refuse to be the cautious observer. The best part is that every time you do this, it makes the next time easier.

My friend's response to my thought about deciding not being afraid?

That's when it gets fun!

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