Thursday, January 24, 2013

Podium Princess

Last year Rebeka swam in a gala and achieved first place.  She stood on that podium in the number 1 spot and grinned happily as they put the medal around her neck.  The top breast stroker from 6 schools and she came first.  Swimming is extremely competitive as the top 4 of each grade are the only ones who make it to the galas.   With +- 200 kids in her grade I remind both my girls it’s an achievement to be in the team.  (Poor Sofie not as strong so hardly makes the galas)   On the way home I asked her how it felt and if those 30 seconds were worth the hard work and effort that swimming training requires.   Definitely says my daughter all re motivated and ready to get back in the pool.
As you know I have my friend Agatha anxiety part of my life.    The usual stress situations make me more anxious.   New situations, trying new things, pushing myself.   One would then assume to avoid the heart racey panicky feeling and skip the triggers and choose the calm path and the easy way.    Nope, not me.   Although not naturally sporty or fit, my Agatha means exercise is a non-negotiable in my life.   Unfortunately my chronic back pain means running isn’t a good option for me and neither is cycling which I am anyway also unable to do.   Despite not qualifying for 2 out of the 3 requirements of a triathlon, I have decided I want to do a mini one before I hit 45.    What’s that you say?  In 10 years time?    Nope, in just 3 years’ time I want to manage a short 5 km run and a +- 15 km cycle and whatever the swim is.    Clearly I cannot just enter one right now but I have found 2 strong partners to do my cycling and running and I will be the swimmer.     Although not pro by any means, my love of the water means I am a pretty confident swimmer.      For this particular xterra triathlon I am required to swim 1500m in a dam.  Only teensy prob is I have only swam 1,250 in the gym pool with desperate breaks clutching on the side as I catch my breath.  That’s 50 lengths.     Not being entirely foolish I joined a friend who is swimming the same event and we drove up to beautiful Grabouw to join her friend.  I was nervous the whole day.  I kept on thinking about those 2 super fit guys who had heart attacks while swimming in the half iron man which is 1900m.    My new medication for my dystonia makes my already low BP even lower.    Agatha was going bos and I was wandering why I do this to myself.  Push myself beyond my comfort zone.  To a new unfamiliar place that doesn’t feel known or safe.  The need to challenge myself and grow.     

So off I went and managed the swim despite a few stops to do breast stroke or float a while.   My lungs were burning and my heart was racing but when I finished I had my imaginary podium moment.   I had done it, I can do it.  Not well or fast but I can swim 1500 meters in an open dam and I have the possibility of improving.   I am a Podium Princess!  It’s not the applause I need or the approval of others.  I am happy with no audience.  It’s the sense of achievement of doing something I didn’t know I could.  I had the same awesome rushy feeling that I had after I finished my last exam last year.    At that point I didn’t even know my results but just the satisfaction of finishing something.  Following through and not giving up.  It was even better than when I got my actual results and aced 5 of the 6 subjects.

This year its 8 subjects and my long swim.  It’s also hopefully starting to run if my hip and back can tolerate it.  I am goal driven.  I need that rush, the fun side of Agatha.    I love the psyche of mind-over-matter.  I used to do max 40 lengths at the gym, exactly 1km.   This year I do 50 and make myself not break before I finish the first 20.  This morning I decided to do a swim down from yesterday and managed to push myself to do the full 40 without a break.  Impossible thought just 2 months ago, 2 days ago in fact.   I would like to do a fake pose holding up an imaginary trophy but sadly I cannot lift my over used arms):     Yay for endorphins and goals and life above the comfort zone where the real action starts!!