It’s no exaggeration to say that last weekend’s open swim REALLY FREAKED ME OUT. It had me to the point where I was seriously questioning this whole triathlon idea. I was in Doubtville, big time.

So this week I have been treading a fine line between trying to take care of myself psychologically and emotionally while still trying to prepare myself physically.  After tiptoeing into little Lake Temescal on Monday, I gratefully took a rest day on Monday. I needed to rest my psyche.

Tuesday we were supposed to go back in the pool. I was a little perplexed by this but I am an obedient athlete so I did what the coach said, which was:

 I just wanted to make a plug to continue to do your pool workouts, even as we transition to practicing open water. You *really* must continue to get in the pool and do the full workouts, as it will help your stroke and will help you get in more distance. (When you are not used to open water, you often just do less than you need to). Practicing out there is awesome and great, but don’t neglect the the pool!

Hmm okay. So we went back to the pool. Oh my goodness. It was so warm! and clean! and clear and well lit! The lines were so straight and visible! It was like plunging back into the arms of my mother. On one hand, it felt wonderful. On the other hand, I was on the verge of a little tantrum the whole time, saying, “But open water doesn’t feel like this! It’s not faiiiiiiiiiiiiiiir!” I was upset about all the weeks of training, when I’d been feeling so much more comfortable and then BAM! I can’t swim five strokes without having an attack. I felt like I’d been duped, tricked by the pool and that all I had done was build up false confidence. So I swam in the pool, and it felt good, but inside I was feeling dubious still.

The next day was hill repeats. I did the steeeeeeeeeep hill right near my house. I got it over with as quick as I could. Enough said.

Thursday I was tired. I looked at the next 4 days’ workout and got kind of overwhelmed. We were supposed to do a one hour 11-15 mile bike ride followed by a 20 minute run. I came home from work to get my bike and I was soooooooo tired. SO TIRED. I took a little nap. I really could not fathom doing this workout, let alone doing it alone. But we were having house guests so it was a “now or never” situation. I went down to the Estuary Bay Trail where Juniorette was practicing crew. Going along the water where she was rowing brightened me up immediately. I knew that she was in one of those boats and it just made me feel happy.

I took the same path that Mr. McBody and I did the first day I got on a bike in a gazillion years. I went all the way to the end and was like, WOW that was a long ride! But my BikeMeter app said it was only 3 miles. Oh man. So I got back on and just did major loops all around the Bay Trail. Finally I got back to the boathouse and it was at 11 miles! Part of me felt like a super wimp because I had just rode on a pancake flat trail with no traffic, but part of me was like, it’s OK, you kept your butt on the seat for an hour.

I realized it had taken me an hour to ride 11 miles. Which means I was averaging 11 miles per hour. Which is insanely slow. Then I did some more math and realized if I doubled that to the distance of the bike portion of the Olympic tri, then, um, yes, 22 miles would take TWO HOURS. Then I mentally added in the swim and the run and I had the extremely sinking feeling of realizing that this race could very well take me FIVE HOURS. Oh. My. God.

Okay, I can’t think about that now. If it takes me five hours, so be it. I just want to finish. But that was a sad little reality check.

Now it’s today. OPEN WATER SWIM. (cue “Jaws” soundtrack) Part of me was anxious and part of me just wanted to get back IN again, this time in the Bay, and see what was going to happen. I was feeling bolstered by my Lake Temescal swim and my pool swim.

First there was awful traffic. Then I got lost. Finally I got to the beach and there were 3 team buddies there. I wriggled into my wetsuit and jumped in. Man! Cold. For just a minute though. It wasn’t so bad.

We started swimming parallel to the beach, in not-so-deep water, just to get the feel of it. Suddenly it felt verrrrrry different. For one, I felt SUPER buoyant. Yay salt water! Yay rubber wetsuit! It was almost like wearing a life preserver, I felt so floaty. THEN it was that salt water taste. It’s not yummy, but for me it was… childhood.

Miami Beach. Every summer since I was a baby. My father and mother and grandmother swimming with me back and forth. I didn’t mind the salt.

I just relaxed. I could feel my father with me. I just swam and swam. The breathing was easy. I went in a straight line. No hyperventilating. No fear. I just swam.


first dip in the ocean with my dad