February 12, 2017 by Soo Ee
I must have been a bunch of nerves this morning. Of all the things I could have forgotten, I forgot to bring my googles to a swimming event. It was like going for a running event without running shoes.
I discovered what I forgot when I did a last minute item check before I headed for the race village. My thoughts about swimming in the open water without my googles were far and beyond imagination horror.
Good thing I had a dumping ground for a car boot. I dug in deep and found the pair of googles from a long time ago.
I had no idea what to expect from the race. I hadn’t gone to read up on anything because I had been too busy of late.
I became the monkey who sees and the monkey who followed what she saw. the see-do turned out useful. I saw how people arranged their items for the run after the swim – towels, googles, socks in shoes, bib belt, fuel of all kinds, water bottles. Everyone arranged their items in a sacred ritual. I said a prayer for my stars to be aligned one more time but I knew I was the only one who could make this work. The one who was going to get into the water, swim the course and run to complete. There was no turning back now.
Be strong and finish strong.
It was easy to lose focus in the water the moment you realise you are not exactly in control of your surrounding. I started out okay. I was doing my strokes and counting like in training. I was breathing like I was taught to. The temperature of the water did not shock my system during the warm up swim. But when people around me started knocking into me, pushing passed me, I started to focus on them instead of my swim. The distraction created thoughts which were unnecessary. I was thinking too much. I did not want to be too far from the buoy line. My left strokes were dragging. I was in open water. I was not going to finish the swim course.
After the first half of the course, we had to get out of the water and back in to finish the second half. I was pissed with myself and I told my brain to shut up with the negative thoughts. The solution was not to think of anything but to swim. I started to count my kicks and strokes. I refocused and came out with a plan to stay still whenever someone came too close for comfort. I told myself to wait for them to pass me before continuing.
That was my refocus cue word – Wait. I focused on my breathes instead of the other factors I could not control. It helped. My breathes were regulated and my strokes were smooth and I was gliding to the end of the course.
What I learnt:
1. Best solution in face of a problem is to keep calm and think. If I had panicked, I might not have thought to search the dumping ground boot for the googles or give up the swim.
2. It is always easier to give up the fight and walk away. Don’t do that. The regret after feels like crap. Stay with grit.
3. The prize at the end is most often guaranteed to be better than anything you can describe in words. Stay and fight.
4. Have a little faith. You can do all the trainings in the world but if you don’t trust yourself to get through the crap, no one else and nothing else can help you do it.
5. Be keen to experience all new things. If you don’t like it the first time, give it two more chances. I have no particular love for swimming but after today, I realise that I actually enjoyed the swim and the run, despite my initial apprehensions!