So I did it. After all the hard work, training, anxiety, practice and even a last minute sinus infection I made it! I completed my goal and swam the Great Salt Lake Open Marathon Swim.
It was definitely the most difficult race I have done so far both physically and mentally. They almost had to cancel the race because of wind storms that had come in but luckily they abated enough in the morning to allow us to go forward. Nevertheless, it made for choppy ocean-like conditions. To make matters worse it was too windy to put out the normal course buoys. These are helpful during the race because you can measure your progress more easily than looking at the finish line. You have more to sight off and it is mentally more encouraging to know ‘I’ve done a 1/4 mile or 1/2 mile.
With no buoys I had to press forward and there were more than one occasion where I wondered if I could do it. At one point I did some back stroke just to relax a little and not feel so stressed. It helped (I think the kayakers thought I was crazy when I did that!). I stayed close to the kayakers and that was helpful because they had a better vantage point to the finish line. Plus, they were very encouraging. (I need all the encouragement I can get in the water).
When I was 1/3rd of the way through I developed a strategy that helped me get through the race. I figured I could do 100 strokes at a time and that would make the race seem smaller, kind of mini-goals. Plus, the counting gave me something else to think about besides ‘wow, this water is salty.’ or ‘how come that finish line isn’t getting any closer?’. After the 100 strokes I did a little bit of breaststroke just to use my legs more and feel like I was sighting better, shake things up a bit. Then I rested for 20 seconds. I’m not saying this is the fastest strategy but on this day with this race it worked.
I always learn something from these swims that I take away for my life and that’s my take away this time- you don’t have to conquer the obstacle in one mass endeavor, that feels too daunting. However, if you can divide it up into manageable portions you can accomplish just about anything.
This week I got a blessing from an elder in my church and it said ‘if I have faith I will swim well and my swim will be an example to others’. When you are out in those storms it’s hard to have faith in yourself, in the hours practiced, in the time spent mentally and physically preparing, but is that not the essence of faith. It is believing in something that you haven’t seen, like crossing the finish line. If I could believe, I could keep swimming, and I MADE IT!
Here I am at the finish line:
Thanks so much for all your support and love. I feel overwhelmed. Thanks to all my swim friends for helping me and becoming some of my most dear friends. Thanks to my family and other friends for all your love and support. Thanks to my trainers and coaches for your guidance and help. Thanks to Josh and Gordon and everyone else who gave so much to make the swim happen. Most importantly thanks to God and Jesus Christ who carry me through all challenges and believe in any goal I set. I am so grateful.