Barrier to Entry

We were a week from Nick racing in Galveston 70.3, and  I was putting together a list things to bring as an official race spectator (and volunteer and sherpa).  All was well, until the coach sent me a text that Monday saying, “Btw, Emily…bring your wetsuit.”  WHAT?!  I’m not racing!  I, cleverly responded, “Wetsuit won’t fit in my bag.”  This is true.  I am not planning on checking a bag for the trip, so it’s necessary to pack light.  I was prepared to bring running shoes, but not a wetsuit.  Within seconds Nick offered, “I can fit it in my bike bag!”  Of course you can.  What a way to save the day.  Thanks, hubby!

I was nervous about my next OWS.  I didn’t want to swim, I wanted to spectate and volunteer and sherpa and just enjoy our mini vacation.

While attending the athlete briefing with Nick and his brother, we were told there would be no swimming allowed in the bay.  (I can tell you, I wasn’t disappointed to hear this).  Any athlete found swimming would be immediately disqualified from the race.  (No objection from me).  Then the Race Director offered those who were wanting to get in the water could go a few miles up the road and swim there.  (Ugh, I thought he was on my side).  We left the briefing and went to lunch.

As luck would have it, we ate across the street from where the Race Director told us swimming was allowed.  I looked out the window the entire lunch watching the waves crash into the shore.  There was no way.  No way I could do this, not in these conditions.  I was going to tell my coach the tides were too rough for me to swim.  As I stared at the waves, I realized no one else was swimming.  There was not a single person in the water or on the beach.  It hadn’t been my brain exaggerating the scenery, it truly was rough waters outside.  Relief swept over me.

Galveston Beach


On the way home, I felt like I had dodged a bullet.  I got out of my OWS.  Then reality set in… Even though I escaped the swim last weekend, I still have to get in the open water at some point.  I can’t continue to hope for rough tides.  Soon there will be no more excuses.

Swimming is my barrier to entry.  It’s what caused my DNF at both Steelhead and Austin last year.  It’s a complete mind game for me.  I have no problems swimming in the pool.  Nick and I were discussing my swim anxiety the other day.  He said, “After Steelhead, I thought you would have no problems swimming in open water.”  The waves were really rough that day, and I finished the swim.  When I see the open water, I have flashbacks of that swim.  I remember struggling the second half, telling myself to keep going; while the next swim wave caught up to me and trampled over me.  A few minutes later, another swim wave was on it’s way; and I was still there – like a target floating in the water, just waiting to be trampled.  I recall getting sick so close to the finish, and how I knew regardless of whether or not I continued, I had already lost – I didn’t make the cutoff time.

I swam countless hours in the pool.  I hired a swim coach.  I’ve done drill after drill after drill.  I’ve improved my form.  I’ve gotten faster.  I’ve become more confident in the water.  Without a doubt, I can make the cutoff time.  Earlier this week, I had a gentleman tell me, “I enjoy watching you swim.  You seem to glide through the water.”  This was a huge compliment for me.  When I started swimming, I was flailing around in the water, trying to stay afloat and make it to the other end of the pool.

So, I’ll just keep swimming.  I’ll keep doing drills.  I’ll continue to get faster and stronger and more confident in the water.  And next race, I’ll get in and prove to myself it’s not that hard.  I have nothing to worry about.  It’s just a simple swim…in the open water.

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