I was talking with some folks this weekend about what races they are participating in and they asked me the same. I said I will do some half marathons but I haven’t decided on which ones. But other than some unnamed halfs – which I’m not concerned with – my focus is on the triathlon I signed up for. When people hear that I’m doing a tri, they don’t think much of it, much like I don’t think twice about Brian signing up for a sprint tri, he can do those in his sleep. It’s more fun than work for him. But then I tell people it’s my first tri and then they look a little more intrigued. But when I tell them it’s not only my first tri, but that I don’t know how to swim, well let’s just say the conversation changes quickly. I don’t think you can truly appreciate the look of surprise mixed with horror and confusion with a bit of “wtf” thrown in for good measure when people find out I signed up for a tri and that I can’t swim.
The folks I was talking to know me as a runner and most of them know I did an ultra, so they incorrectly assume I have athletic ability – which I don’t – I’m just stubborn and that’s why I have been able to complete marathons and an ultra. Stubbornness won’t necessarily get me to the end of the swim like it will a marathon. Finishing a swim will actually take some skill and athletic ability and this scares me a bit. Okay, it scares me a lot. I can’t simply rely on my pigheadedness to stay afloat. If it were that easy, I’d have nothing to worry about.
As I was talking to these folks, some seemed genuinely concerned about my ability to complete a tri because I don’t know how to swim. Normally this doubt would fuel my desire to prove them wrong – as it had for my ultra. I still remember a conversation years before I did the Fall 50, where I talked about wanting to do it and a good friend and Brian both raised doubts as to my ability to do it. They didn’t come out and say it, but the way they talked about how hard it was and how the conversation kept coming back to “it’s not as easy as you think” (which I NEVER thought it would be easy) meant they were in their own way warning me against trying it. That conversation, among many others, fueled many of my long training runs. I was going to do it and I was going to prove them and every doubter wrong!
The doubt I encountered on Saturday didn’t fuel my rage, instead it gave fuel to my own doubt. I was left thinking, “what if I can’t do it?” “What if I can’t learn to swim and swim well enough to do it while possibly getting kicked in choppy open water”. So I was left feeling a little blue, until the end of the night. As we were all saying our goodbyes, a woman who I’ve only known for about 6 months came over to me to say goodbye, she hugged me and whispered in my ear, “you’re going to swim!”
OMG – THANK YOU! Man did I need that.
That simple gesture was not only sweet, but it got my butt off the couch on Sunday when I absolutely did not want to go to the Y to workout and I absolutely did not want to get in the pool. But I did. And it’s because… I’m going to swim!
Until next time,
Gotta run (or swim)