Monday, June 06, 2011

When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get......Singing???

I'd like to say that this weekend's lake swim was wonderful, beautiful, peaceful, and fun. The sun was shining (after weeks of hideous rain, that alone should've made rainbows come out my ears), the lake was smooth, and I had eight of the funnest people in the world to swim with. I wish I could say I enjoyed myself, but I can't.

Even after twenty-five years of triathlons and open-water swimming, I can still have a day in the water that leaves me feeling panicked, exhausted, cold, and gasping for breath. I can honestly say that this was one of the toughest swims I've ever done.

And I really didn't expect that. Not at all.

Maybe it was the fact that the water was super cold. Like take-your-breath-away cold. Maybe it was that my bad arm was achey from Thursday's karate practice where we did a lot of joint locks. Maybe it was the fact that I ran out of iron pills and forgot to buy any more so my anemia has been creeping up on me. Maybe it was all that. But I flailed, I gasped, and for an hour of swimming I fought that panicky TURN AROUND NOW brain directive.

So how did I get myself through it? By singing cheesy Turn-of-the-(19th)-century songs. I grew up in a family that had an old-fashioned Melodrama theatre in a touristy Gold Rush town. So I know all the words to Daisy, Daisy, 5'2" Eyes of Blue, or I'm Looking Over A Four-Leafed Clover by heart. I can sing harmony on Down By The Old Mill Stream, or dance the Charleston to Dark Town Strutter's Ball. I pulled them all out of my head and more as the minutes scrolled by and one arm after another followed each other into the water, and I told myself in my head not to panic every time I breathed and it didn't seem like I was getting enough air.

I've never been so relieved to stand on the shore. Most of the time, I love the water so much you practically have to drag me away, but this time was different. In sports, we all face moments like this. Times when we really just want to lie down and quit. We all have to reach deep inside for some mental reserves to make it through. But that's when you know you're really an athlete, when you face the fire and keep on going.

Here's hoping the next lake swim will have me singing a different tune!


Annette@(running)In the Right Direction said...

Sorry you had such a crappy swim...i guess its inevitable. I actually have a question for you as an experienced tri girl. I am doing my first tri in July and want to purchase a wetsuit. I am going to get it from zappos with my creditcard points. What do you think of this suit? Do you know anything about it?
2XU R:1 Race Wetsuit

Trail Smitten Mom said...

Enjoyed this post! I like your distraction technique. I have yet to do any open water swimming. I am a surfer & since don't get cold in the ocean, I thought I'd be fine in most lakes too. I'm beginning to wonder though after hearing story after story about people getting cold and panicky.

Laurel said...

I love the honesty and authenticity of your post. Since Saturday I've been beating myself up a bit for not doing better out there but now I'm going to give those thought the heave-ho and get down to the business of focusing on the next time instead... and brush up on my show tunes, too. :)

Robin said...

Annette, that's a great suit. But the thing that matters most in a wetsuit is fit. The best wetsuit in the world won't work if it's so tight it restricts your movement, or so loose that water gets in. So make sure if you order it online that you try it on and make sure it fits snugly, but that you have range of motion. You can see the photo of all of us standing in our wetsuits to see how tight they're supposed to fit. Good luck!

cherelli said...

Nice work Robin - at least it's one of those "tough" swims that you survived and can draw on for the future. How long til your Crater Lake swim now?