Sunday, July 15, 2007
I TRI'D and I MADE IT!!
A big pat on the back to myself for completing the Echo Tri yesterday! What a RUSH! 1/2 mile swim, 13 mile bike and 3.3 mile run. Dan was so awesome to get up with me at 5 am so he could drive me to Echo Lake and cheer me on. Having him with me was a HUGE support!
The Echo crew was awesome, getting 1,000 people organized, registered, marked and ready to go on time. We had incremental starts that went very smoothly and I was getting pretty excited waiting my turn. I was excited for my first real open-water swim. I am a pretty confident swimmer but knew swimming in the lake would be more of a challenge. The water was the perfect temperature!
When I jumped in the water I was surprised when my hearted started pounding so hard I couldn't swim efficiently. I couldn't hold my breath long enough to take three strokes and found that when I did turn my head to breathe I swallowed a lot of water!! Pretty soon I was dog-paddling and I had barely started the race!! Aaah!! It felt like I would never make it to the first buoy (out of three!) The rational side of me was trying to talk me through... I'm not scared of the water, I'm a strong swimmer, I should be just fine! But I couldn't get control of my rapid, panicked breathing. I realized it would take me an eternity to get through the swim if I had to dog-paddle the whole time!! I flipped over and started the back stroke. Finally I could breathe! I flipped over and tried to swim again and realized that while back stroking I'd basically swam perpendicular to the group and now needed to swim back to get in the right direction again! Again I was breathing too rapidly to efficiently swim. Ellen Degeneres as Dory in "Finding Nemo" sing-songed into my head... "Just Keep Swimming, Just Keep Swimming."
I recognized the heart-pounding, rapid breathing, panic symptoms from what I had felt many a time last year as PTA President --anxiety. I was rational enough to know that I'm a strong person and I shouldn't be feeling this way, but unfortunately I was completely unable to control the anxiety. I had to start thinking through my options. 1) Quit. -- I knew I didn't want to quit. Last year I made it through tough times and I knew I could make it through this time. Quitting was not an option. 2) Figure out what was freaking me out. When I could see the buoy in front of me and see where I was going, I felt calmer. 3) I needed to get control of my breathing. I resigned myself to backstroking until I was calm.
By the time I got to the first buoy, I felt better. I rounded the buoy and was able to swim on my front, but I never was able to hold my breath long enough to swim three strokes before breathing. I tried using faith... "I know the buoy is in front of me. I don't have to see it to know it's there. I can swim towards it because I know it's in front of me." "Nope, not working. I've got to see that orange buoy. Where's that buoy?!" So I suffered through with a combo of breathe side, breathe other side, look up front to find the buoy. Breathe side, breathe other side, where's the dang buoy?!!!! I've got to get myself out of this freakin' lake!!!!
And suddenly I was at the end, I could stand and walk and I was done. Dan was there along with good friends from our ward, all cheering for me and making me feel like a million bucks!
I walked to the transition sight (yes, next time I'll try to run to the transistion area), and danced around trying to get my wetsuit off. I finally got my arms out and speedily dried off my feet, put on my socks and biking shoes and then realized I hadn't pulled my wetsuit off my legs!!! Fortunately it was a shorty so the leg holes were wide enough to get over my shoes. I put on chapstick (actually my favorite lip moisturizer, Burt's Bees), sunglasses and helmet and grabbed my bike and again... walked... down the long bike aisle and back through the other aisle until we were able to mount and ride.
The ride was awesome. The hills were all gradual and easy. It felt great to be able to breathe again! I even passed a few folks racing on mountain bikes (sorry guys--been there, done that--not easy to go fast on those big tires). I didn't really want to drink any water--too many bad memories of inhaling all that lake water.
After the ride (45 min. -- way faster than I expected!) I got ready to run. This was what I was most afraid of since I started the Spring only being able to run 6 min., walk 2 min., run 6, walk 2, etc. The previous Wednesday was the first time I'd gone a full 3.3 miles! So I started nice and slow knowing I just wanted to finish without walking.
The best part of the whole race was everyone on the sidelines cheering you on! Dan, The Cliffords and complete strangers all excited for you, all wanting you to do your best. It reminded me so much of life that I became emotional. Because sometimes we forget that there are people cheering for you in life. We can't always hear them. They don't always know we're doing something hard. But if they did, they would be standing by our side offering water, smiling, shouting encouragement and giving you high 5's as you passed.
When I hit Mile 1 I couldn't believe it had already been a mile. That was a good sign. We turned around half-way and I knew I was feeling good enough to make it the rest of the way back. As I neared the finish, there were the Cliffords again shouting at the top of their lungs, "You're almost there!! Dan's at the end!!" I crossed the finish line where they announced my name on the loudspeaker for all to hear that I had finished the Echo Tri! At the front of the crowd there was my husband cheering the loudest! And I felt so great! I had made it! To me, this was just like arriving in heaven.