Every year I like to do something new. I want to make sure I “do” something special and not just “go” someplace special. Don’t get me wrong, if money were endless, I’d go everywhere and see everything. But sadly it’s not, so instead of getting hung up on going places, I want to make sure I experience life, do things and don’t just view things.
When it comes to doing things it doesn’t matter what it is, as long as it’s something I haven’t done before. It could be fun, athletic or entertaining. In the past some of my new “things” have been trying my hand at stand up paddle boarding, kayaking and mountain biking. I’ve also done a skydiving simulator, ran various distances and did obstacle races as well as a stair climb.
My new thing for 2017 was doing my very first triathlon. And more importantly my new thing was learning to swim. As I’m reflecting on that journey, I’m truly amazed I did it. The depth of my fear of swimming was a deep one. It was many decades long, was completely irrational but completely real. Crying uncontrollably at the sight of the water at the start of my tri should help you gauge the level of my fear and discomfort.
When people talk about getting outside of your comfort zone, learning to swim was definitely outside of my comfort zone. It was so far away from my comfort zone that you would have needed NASA to track and find it’s location. And not that all of my new things have to be this big and scary, it just so happened that 2017’s was big and was scary. And honestly, I couldn’t be more proud of myself. It’s hard to say that, but it’s true. I am proud of myself!
I truly cannot believe I learned how to swim. I started my journey to learn how to swim in November of 2016 and couldn’t swim until June 2017 and my tri was in August of 2017. Nine months of emotionally putting myself in some of the most uncomfortable situations I’ve ever been in. This took some serious dedication as well as a lot of stubbornness. And while training and running an ultra wasn’t easy and it was also emotionally draining, I never thought I would die, which I did often as I tried to learn to swim. And I didn’t have a fear with running as I did with swimming.
And also let’s not forget that while I was trying to learn to swim, I also had to master biking. Which I did ONLY after crashing and getting the worst case of poison ivy AND hives humanly possible. But did I quit, no. Even though it would have been really easy to do so at this time. Instead I waited until my poison ivy stopped oozing and then I got back in the pool.
After learning to swim in the pool, I headed out to the open water. Which brought its own set of challenges. Sighting – or in my case – not being able to sight, swells and other swimmers all made open water swimming extra tough. But did I quit? No. Did I cry? Well of course!
Yes, many of my new things have made me cry. I’ve cried on the side of the road during some horrible training runs. And I have cried while standing in water not wanting to put my face in it. In my case it’s not… “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”; instead it’s “what makes you cry will make you stronger”. And stronger I am. Not physically but definitely emotionally. All thanks to my “new” thing in 2017.
I’m not sure what 2018’s new thing will be. I am doing an Olympic distance tri next year, that will be new. But besides that… what new thing will I do? I have no idea, but I anxiously look forward to figuring it out. This time I just hope there’s not as much crying involved!
Until next time and until next year,