For some reason, I'm scared to sign up. Do I want to drive all the way over to SeaTac to swim with strangers? What if I'm pulled again? There is something about the Park-to-Park, and the Greenlake Open Water Swim (GLOWS) that are familiar, are family. There are people there who love me. Who know I may be slow but that I'm strong. Do I really want to swim with people who don't believe in me?
I think my confidence is still shaken from the Whidbey Island swim. Especially the idea that I didn't know how bad off I was. Although I admit that is a possibility, based on how I felt later in the day (neither cold nor tired) I have a hard time believing it is the "truth."
The first ever OWS that I did was GLOWS in 2007. Here is an excerpt from my race report (note, that I swam this without a wetsuit):
There were about 50 people doing the half-mile and I started near the back. The chop was still strong from all the swimmers and a stiff wind, and I was getting a face full of water every time I turned my head to breathe. It was so cold that I was hyperventilating, my heart was racing. I switched to breaststroke to see if I could catch my breath. Then to sidestroke, facing away from the waves, so I wasn’t being hit in the face. The other swimmers around me (back of the pack) were struggling in the waves as well. I heard one call a lifeguard over to take her back to shore. Another took her wetsuit off and dropped it with a guard. I pushed on, panting, and wondering how I could relax and breathe.
It occurred to me that I might have to drop. I wasn’t sure what to do to breathe. I slowed down. I switched strokes (trying everything but back stroke) I still couldn’t get my heart to stop racing or my breath to slow. I was taking in large amounts of water. I was quite sure I wasn’t going to do my tri in 3 weeks, not if the swim is going to be like this. I knew, that I could do this swim if I could relax, but I couldn’t get my body to relax. The green tents of the finish looked so far away.
At one point I was the second to last swimmer. I heard three guards talking to each other- I’ll take this one, you take that one, you go on ahead with the pack. Great. I had my own guard. I took on more water, coughing. The guard asked me if I was ok. I told him I was fine, and kept moving forward. I’ve had this kind of “death march” feeling in a race before. My goal was to just keep moving as I fought to relax. I couldn’t figure out how to catch my breath and still swim forward.
About half way across the lake I started to relax. Somehow, I got my rhythm. I was able to switch between crawl and breast. I gave into the experience, and swam. The swim became fun. I started passing other swimmers. The green tents at the finish started coming closer. I could hear my mom’s voice yelling for me, and the cheers of other swimmers and spectators. I saw the swimmer in front of me stand, marked the spot and swam for it. Then I stood, legs shaking, and ran for the finish.
The conditions were bad, and I panicked, but pushed through it and finished in 22:xx (it's a short half mile). My head knows I can do it. My heart continues to doubt.
I'm still undecided about the "Last Gasp." My Saturday plans are not yet finalized, so I'm not sure I can make it. But I wish I were more excited. More able to say "I can do this." I'm not sure where my confidence has gone or why I need others to believe in my to be able to believe in myself.