I have four months to go until the Chicago Triathlon and I’m still a long way from being able to swim. While I have made progress, I still have a long way to go. Let’s actually break down all that I have yet to do in the water:
- Learn the timing of when to breathe and stroke
- Drop the flippers
- Swim properly without feeling like I’m sinking
- Swim properly for more than one length
- Swim properly for half a mile (this is the biggie!)
- Swim in open water (this too is a big deal!)
- Get used to waves, algae, and general muck that comes along with swimming in the open water (oh yeah, this is a really big deal too)
- Learn how to be comfortable swimming “in the dark”, or not being able to see the bottom of the pool (yep, big deal!)
- Swim nonstop and be able to tread water if I need to stop (you guessed it, this is a big deal)
- Get going again if I stop without pushing off from the pool wall, instead from treading water (may not sound like it, but it’s a big deal)
- Get good enough to do everything listed above AND be able to do it when getting kicked, swam into and in general, getting knocked around in the water by other swimmers (this is the mother load of big deals!)
That’s a lot to do in 4 months.
I’m seriously starting to contemplate – not dropping out and quitting, but instead – deferring until next year. I absolutely want to do a triathlon and I want to do it correctly (not doing the backstroke, etc.) so I’m not giving up, I’m just being realistic. I must have a hard and honest conversation with myself – and my trainer – about if I can truly do one in four months.
I have come along way, and I’m super proud of myself. I mean I literally would not put my head in the water. I spent much of my first few swim lessons just trying to convince myself to dunk my head. So I see the progress I made and I want to continue to make progress, but can I make enough progress in four months to do a tri?
And here’s something else I’ve thought a lot about. If I do manage to get to a point where I am able to gut out the swim. Which gutting out a swim scares the death out of me, it’s not like gutting out a run because I won’t die if I stop running. I will die if I stop swimming. But if I gut out a swim and manage to do it with whatever scary ass swim strokes I can muster, how much will I like it? I’m to the point where I’m worried that if I do it and if I do it half-ass that it will be a miserable experience that I’ll never want to do again. I’ve seen people who can actually swim (unlike me, who can’t swim and need to learn) get kicked and swam over in a tri and that scared the bejesus out of them and it affects their desire and willingness to get back in the water and try a triathlon again. And they could swim! I don’t want to get in the water and hate it. I don’t want to be scared to death. I don’t want to muddle through. I want to do it and do it with confidence (as much confidence as possible, I mean it is swimming after all) and enjoy it. I want to be proud of myself for training and kicking butt. I don’t want to come out of the water shaky or scared because I got tired, got kicked, couldn’t breathe and just doggy paddled to a life guard. This scenario is real and could happen. And getting bumped or swam into is almost certainly going to happen. Right now I could NOT handle it. I couldn’t.
So instead of trying to do something I’m just not ready for now – do I defer and give myself more time? I’m not going to quit and give up. But is it smarter to keep trying even though I have a lot to learn in four months or to defer and give myself the time needed to do everything I need to do, to truly feel comfortable in the water?
If I defer, I know I’d feel badly and feel like I failed. It will take all my might and will power to say, I didn’t quit/fail… I’m just taking more time to learn to swim. I mean I’m doing EVERYTHING possible to learn to swim. I really am. I have done everything asked of me and I go to the pool over and over again. But I might have been too optimistic thinking I could go from fearing water to competing in a tri in a less than a year.
Doing a triathlon is on my bucket list and once something is on that list – it’s going to happen. I promise you that! But I don’t want to do just one triathlon and cross it off my list. If that was the case, then I may just doggy paddle my way through this tri. No, I want to do it with the proper freestyle stroke AND I want to do more than one. I’m not learning to swim just to swim 1/2 mile and then be done. Brian didn’t build me a kick ass tri bike just to do one and then be done. I’m not reading up on triathlon tips to do one and then be done. I want to keep doing them, I want to add them into my list of events that I can do and look forward to doing. I want to be able to truly do triathlons and once I can comfortably do them – who knows what’s possible or what may end up on my bucket list.
So, I’m going to give myself one more month until I make a decision whether or not I need to defer until 2018. At the end of May, I’ll reassess where I’m at and how much, if any, progress I made in those 30 days.
So the next 30 days are really important. I either have to make a lot of progress or get comfortable with the phrase, “I’m deferring to 2018”.
Until next time,
Gotta run (or swim)
P.S. As inspiration (or possibly to torture myself) I was looking at pictures from Brian’s Ironman. Here are a few pictures from the swim start. It’s the calm before the storm (I mean start) and then the white caps created by the swimmers. Such an unbelievably cool experience to watch and so inspirational.