Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Jump

"Do one thing everyday that scares you." –Eleanor Roosevelt

Well, Eleanor, today I did a pretty big thing!

Scuba-Diver-01 The good news: I love the water.  I got scuba diving certified when I was 14 because I HAD to know what was under the surface and in high school I worked as a junior aquarist at a large regional zoo and it was arguably the coolest job on the planet.  Under water is like being home for me.  The silence the beauty of seeing something that so few get to see, well, it’s as close to a religious experience as I can express.  Being surrounded by water, managing water chemistry, cleaning tanks, feeding sharks… it truly got NO cooler than that.  I grew up with dreams of being in oceanography or marine biology, read every book I could get my hands on about marine life and even painted my bedroom to resemble the bottom of the ocean floor when I was young. 

The bad news:  I can’t swim.  Okay, that’s not technically true.  I can swim.  I won’t drown or anything and the water doesn’t scare me.  My water treading skills are epic and I am totally at ease in the water.  I can float and paddle around no big deal.  What I can’t do is stroke swim very well.  By “very well” I mean, I haven’t had a lesson since I was probably four.  I get around and I do fine.  Breast stroke works for me pretty well when I need to get somewhere with any sense of urgency and I do actually recall my swimming teacher calling out “chicken, star, tree” to remind my four-year-old self how to do the breast stroke properly.  In fact, I’m probably a step above arm floaties during lessons and I’ve been okay with that…. until now. 

The reality: I am in a triathlon on May 22nd which involves a 750 m swim.  Hmmm.  I don’t think that my doggy paddle is going to600-triathlon get the job done.  I have to be ready and I have a little over 100 days to get there.  And did I mention that I am also eyeing the Wisconsin Ironman in September 2012 which has a 2 MILE swim.  So, I guess that means I need to get this figured out.  I’m afraid of this challenge if I am brutally honest.  Not afraid of drowning, although I have heard of athletes getting kicked in the head during these things so I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled.  I’m afraid of not excelling. 

I decided to do a triathlon because, well, I am a big fan of big challenges and the fact that I can’t stroke swim very well and the race requires that really met that criteria for me.  I don’t think I’ve readily identified a “comfort zone” for myself and so I am always looking for ways to push the boundaries.  I wouldn’t call myself an adrenaline junky per say… you won’t ever see me parachuting out of a plane or bungee jumping off a bridge.  No, my fix comes in the form of challenges faced and overcome in the endurance arena.  So, today marked the start of my journey.  I was at the pool for about 30 minutes.  I did okay.  My feet were cramping like crazy, the water was a bit cold, but I got the mechanics, now I just need to practice.  I have so far to go.

So, in 114 days I’ll put on my wetsuit and get in the lake and SWIM 750 meters properly and without stopping (and hopefully pretty fast too).   My amazingly supportive friend Casey is going to get me there – she’s a great swimmer and she’s my coach!  Tonight, looking down the lane with her by my side, I started to feel lighter and more optimistic!

The jump is so frightening between where I am and where I want to be....but I’m going to jump anyway…