Today is a bit of a different post, a bit more personal than my other wellness posts so far. I wanted to share with you the empowering lesson I learned over the weekend of endurance, willpower and how amazing our bodies are.
On Saturday, I swam my first open water race. It was the most nerve wrecking thing I’ve done in a very long time. I like pushing myself, but deciding to jump into a lake of dark green water with hundreds of other people and swim 1.5km, it’s a bit crazy!
6 months ago, I would have laughed at the thought of ever doing anything like this, but when things in life feel stuck, setting crazy goals can be one of the best motivations to get the rest of your life back on track as well.
Stepping into the water on Saturday my whole chest contracted and everything told me to turn around and walk back up that bank. But something stronger kept me in the water. I’d been swimming for about 4 months, 2 of those 4 I’ve been doing a pretty intense swimming training program. So, when my body screamed GET OUT, my head and heart were saying YOU’VE WORKED SO HARD FOR THIS, YOU CAN DO IT!
So I did, I started the race… and it was terrible!
It was just water splashing everywhere, dark green filthy water, not nice and clean like in the pool at the gym. The water was also not still and calm like in the pool, it was choppy with waves and a current that makes you feel like you’re just not getting anywhere (you definitely are but it really does not feel like it).
To make matters worse 3 meters in the stupid chip thing you have to wrap around your ankle with a thin piece of Velcro fell off my ankle. Luckily, I was quick enough to grab it before it got lost in the green water and foam from all the swimmers. It also, however, ment I had to swim with it in my hand the whole 1.5km! This influenced my freestyle swim and I ended up swimming breaststroke for basically 1.4km of the race.
Anyone who’s done any kind of long distance or endurance race will be well acquainted with that moment when the question pops in to say hi: “Why the hell am I doing this to myself?”
Maybe it’s a coping mechanism. Maybe it’s a way to keep our bodies from going into shock from what we’re really doing to them. Maybe both. But we all ask this question and I think we all come to the same conclusion after asking ourselves the 100th time…
Because I can!
When I just finished the race, I felt like crap. 38 minutes later, muscles on fire, chest tight, but I had done it! I had just swum my personal longest consecutive time, in a dam and I didn’t stop. Despite being more tired than I’ve ever been in a race, despite getting some water in my one eye (which by the way is still extremely sore), despite the waves and the current that very nearly broke my spirit after the first 500 meters. Despite all of that, I finished. I’d worked so hard for this and I finished it in not a bad time for a first timer.
Despite being intensely tired as I write this, I also haven’t felt this accomplished in a very long time. I felt something of this when I finished my Masters, when everything finally came together with our DIY wedding, but really, I cannot remember the last time I felt this unconditionally proud of myself.
Things happen in life and along the way we lose our confidence in ourselves, we feel stuck and we stop being proud of ourselves because what are we really achieving. But in 1.5km I regained some of that confidence and love for myself.
Our bodies truly are amazing! It will never let us down as long as we nourish and love and train it properly. My non-swimmer body carried me through those waters, never stopping, with not one injury, just a little stiffness (which I also actually feel pretty proud of). I am amazed by how long my body held out for me, how obedient and yet powerful it was.
I am confident again of the power of a challenge and what a difference it can make in your life. Maybe I’ll fail again at something else tomorrow, but on Saturday I got a medal for believing in myself and not stopping, to say thank you to my body and how it carried me.
On Saturday, I proved to myself how I can do anything I put my mind to. No matter the waves, no matter the current that makes me feel like I’m not getting anywhere, no matter the distance that never seems to get closer. This race will also come to an end and I will finish it strong. It’s fine if I rest, but I will not stop, and it’s fine if I scream and cry, but I will not give up. Bring on the next leg of this 1.5km of life swimming I am in, cause I know I can do this!