A few weeks ago, I chose to sign up for the "Rumpus in Bumpass" sprint triathlon (I know - it's a great name). I did it knowing that I haven't done an open water swim since August of 2008 - that's a long time ago for me - Little Miss Open Water Freak Out. I also knew that Lake Anna might be a little chilly in April.
I figured...what the heck?...I need to get in the open water sooner or later.
I arrived at the race site (the same place where the Giant Acorn triathlon - another great name - is held) with sweet Rick by my side. I surveyed the swim situation. I knew logically that I should have no issues swimming 750 meters. And yet...those old fears started sneaking back into my head. I asked Rick nervously, "Do you think those buoys are placed in the wrong place? They seem kinda far to me." He reassured me that I would be fine. His quote, "You've done it before, you can do it again." Right.
I made sure to get in the water and swim around prior to the start. Wow - that's cold water! Luckily, I adapted to it quickly (the beauty of a wetsuit). Okay, a few deep breaths..and I started to calm down. The first swim wave made their way to the start (the young lads, that is). In 12 minutes I would be off with the purple caps. Yikes! But wait...what is this? Why are they delaying the race?
Oh no...I spy an ambulance making its way to the start. It seems that someone in the first wave was having lots of trouble, so they had to pull him out.
Gulp. I'm nervous now.
Once things settle down, the rest of the waves go off without incident. Before I know it, it's my turn to swim over to the first buoy (it's an in-water start). The horn blows...and I start to swim. Sort of.
I'm swimming along slowly...not totally into this experience. I suddenly stop. That first buoy looks so far away...I could still turn around and head back to shore. That seems like a great choice. The smartest choice I could ever make, actually. I start to picture Sunday morning breakfast...eggs, coffee, the Sunday paper. Seriously, what am I doing in this lake?
Cue my tougher conscience: Well...I'm doing a triathlon - a triathlon that I CHOSE to do. I think I may have even said to anyone listening (which by now was the wave behind me), "Get going. Stop being a baby."
And so, I start swimming forward. Granted, I'm sure my stroke is in complete disarray at this point. But, I make it to the first buoy. I can hear someone near me making small panicked, whimpering sounds - and yelling at anyone who swam near her. I must get away from this situation. So off I went in the search of next buoys.
Finally, I have calmed down and start to swim like a somewhat normal human being. But, I'm having lots of trouble sighting. Is that a buoy or...no, it's not. Hmmm...it finally dawns on me in the middle of the swim. Perhaps prescription goggles would help me see where I'm going. I wear them to drive, watch TV, teach, ride my bike and run. Why has it taken me so long to realize they might help with open water, too? Who knows.
Finally, after way too much time, I finish the swim. I take a moment to regroup in transition. This was not at all how I envisioned my swim would go. But, I just have to let my disappointment and anger with myself go. I choose to smile, shake it off, and head off to the mount line.
And who is there to cheer me on? Rick, of course. Thanks honey - I needed a little smile at that moment.
The rest of the race went fine and dandy. In fact, I loved that race - spazz swim and all. Can't wait to do another one. Crazy, huh?