Monday 2 July 2012

What doesn't kill you....

The Iron is not for sissies!! That is for sure. In this multi-discipline race, everyone has his or her own strengths, weaknesses and fears. My strength happens to be the bike, my weakness is running, and my fear is the lake. A little more then a year ago I learned to swim the front crawl, but that is not at the core of my fear. I may not be fast, but I am strong in the water and I have the confidence to do the distance. So, like many other triathletes, and a great many people in general, I just feel uncomfortable in open water.

Last year when I decided to try triathlons, I sought help for this fear and I learned a few things. First, I uncovered a repressed memory through an EMDR session ( My debilitating fear of the lake came from being trapped under a moving boat, which I fell out of as it was docking. Being pinned under water with the sound of the propeller getting closer would be enough to keep almost anyone from ever going back into the lake.

The second thing I learned is that lots of people are afraid of open water. It makes sense. If everyone was fearless, there’s a pretty good chance that we, as a species, would have extinguished ourselves by now. Heroic, maybe, but not really practical.

When I went into the lake for the first time this training season, I thought I had my fears in check. I actually thought I had “conquered” them. It was pretty cocky of me, when I think about it. I just didn’t give my fears enough respect. It has been a few weeks since my panic attack, and I managed to revisit my therapist, a swim coach, my coach, and Canadian Tire. Armed with great advice and a $275 orange plastic Kayak, paddled valiantly alongside me by my daughter, I am happy to report that I have had six “event free” long lake swims. The kayak was my idea and the one I am most excited about. My 15-year-old daughter, Caitie, is now my training buddy and she and I could not be happier with a new way to spend time together.

I will never again take my fears for granted, I will simply acknowledge that they exist, and maneuver around, up or under them to get what I want. Thanks to my fears, I get a summer of memory-making with Caitie, and a newfound respect for the old saying, “what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger”.

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