Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task. ~William James

Monday, August 23, 2010

Done for the Week: My Heart's Desire

A big week.  One I have been building toward for the last few months.  The road has been long, and twisting, and--like the bike portion of the triathlon, had a pretty steep hill toward the end.  But I reached the goal I have been working to believe in since last fall.  The rest of the stuff on this list is pretty much gravy.

Done List--Week of Aug. 16-22

  1. Finished Week 14 of revised 14-week Sprint Triathlon training plan--0 weeks to go!
  2. Attended last Open Water Swim Clinic
  3. Completed gear assembly and preparation
  4. Finished Sprint Triathlon
  5. Finished Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair, by Pablo Neruda
  6. Continued significant support to transitioning nonprofit organization
  7. Attended fund-raiser for same
  8. Worked my two part-time jobs
  9. Published 5 blog posts
  10. Meditated 4 times
  11. Wrote 5 Gratitude Journal entries
  12. Wrote 3 Morning Pages
  13. Continued cleaning campaign
  14. Attended 1 yoga class
  15. Went out with my husband for Happy Hour; continued reading aloud Elizabeth George's In the Presence of the Enemy; saw Eat, Pray, Love together in my post-race stupor
  16. Called my Mom
  17. Paid some overdue health bills

So, did I mention I finished the triathlon?  You may recall that preparing for and completing the triathlon has been my focus goal for the last several weeks--thus highlighted in green above.  And because finishing the race is also my most important accomplishment of the last week, item #4 on the list above also appears in red, with apologies for the Christmasy colors in conjunction with the fireworks graphic, resulting in a bit of a holiday discord.

Before the triathlon, on Saturday, I wrote the following list of goals for the race:

Making it to the first swim platform
Enjoying some part of each segment
Being good to myself
Positive self-talk
Noticing the beautiful day
Feeling good about and for all the participants
Giving myself credit for the effort
Managing my fear compassionately

My life doesn't usually go this way--at least not of late--but I graced with reaching all of them--and with exceeding them beyond my wildest dreams.  That is not to say that I set any land speed records.  In fact, I came in 1351st in a field of 1500, 17th of 25 in my age group.  But I had expected the 1/2 mile swim, 12 mile bike, and 3 mile run to take me around 2 hours and 45 minutes, including "transitions,"--the periods between the swim and the bike, and the bike and the run.  My "stretch" goal was to finish under 2-1/2 hours.  My actual time was 2:08!

The biggest surprise was the swim.  I had been dreading the open water swim ever since learning how many triathletes experience panic attacks during the swim.  I am a veteran of panic attacks, and try assiduously to avoid them, and, as I learned to say as a Catholic child, "the occasion of. . ." not sin, but panic attacks.  I had decided to rely on a swim angel, provided in this beginner-friendly race venue, specifically for women who are nervous about the open water.  So when my wave entered the water, I was paired with a woman who pledged to see me across the lake--along with another nervous swimmer.  Two nail-biters to each angel.

The woman who shared my angel got into trouble early on.  As she struggled, becoming more and more panicky, I treaded water, and even reversed course, to stay with her and our angel.  Part of the time, I was providing moral support to my fellow triathlete.  Finally, as the minutes ticked by and I made no progress across the lake, which was my only access to the rest of the race, I decided to swim on my own.  I learned later that the other woman was eventually transported out of the water by boat, and could not complete the race.  I was the lucky one.  I made it to the other side of the lake, even with the lost time, in less time than I had been able to swim the distance in a pool.  I stopped at none of the six platforms, though I did nearly swim into one.

I am sore and tired today, but crossing that finish line was everything I had imagined it to be when I first thought of trying to do it--one year ago, when watching my daughter complete her first triathlon.  There are few things in my life that have been as satisfying as doing that race.  And so I'll wear the numbers that were body-marked on my arms until they wear off, and the medal that all finishers receive until I'm ready to take it off.  

Next week's focus goal?  Figure out how to use the energy from this achievement.

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