I wanted to share a personal story of mine. I raced Vineman’s Half Ironman Aquabike in July. I was so excited for this race! Knowing that I was done after the bike portion would allow me to ride my hardest for the 56 miles and not have to worry about saving my legs for the run. Although I am a strong, fast swimmer, I was a little apprehensive because it was the first time I started with men. When the gun went off and I took my first stroke, I felt it…the infamous washer machine. I have heard people describe it but never had the experience in all my races.
At first I was a goner. Mentally I thought I was going to drown, and physically I thought my heart was going to explode. As I continued to try and swim through it, my head was racing with the most terrible, negative thoughts: “I can’t do this”, “There goes my good time”, “I should just quit”, “ I am going to disappoint everyone”…and yes, it went on. Despite these negative thoughts, I started to see them as just opinions and began to give myself new ones: “just breathe”, “take it easy, “one stroke at a time”. I made myself a deal, “take the first 1000 meters or so and calm down, slow my heart rate down, get my groove back, and once I make that turn at the last buoy kick it into high gear and the race is on! Those baby steps helped me calm down so I could actually race and complete my goal of finishing. Not only did I finish but I placed first in my age division. I wanted to share this not to brag, but relay the message that it’s in those scary and most intense moments where we get to grow and develop ourselves into people or athletes that we don’t know ourselves to be yet. Remember our thoughts don’t define us. Stay present to your goals and continue to align yourself to be in action and you will get there.