Finding Courage

I once came across this quote “Life is all about finding people who are your kind of crazy” – luckily enough, I found my kind of crazy people!

My kind of crazy people push me to (or off of) the edge of my limits and challenge me to dare cross (or jump off) that edge and erase any boundaries that I thought existed.  And that is exactly what happened last Sunday – 31st January, at the waters of Dungaree Beach, Subic Freeport.

Limits and boundaries
My friends know that I am NOT a water person – that water is NOT my comfort zone, and that the water is my waterloo.  Yes I took swimming as a PE course back in UP but I never gained that confidence of being in the water or in the open sea.  Let’s factor in my lovely and powerful imagination, of sharks swimming or suddenly appearing – and mind you, it does not matter what kind of a body of water it is – my mind can picture sharks magically appearing – even in the pool!  Cue background music: Jaws movie soundtrack.

Back to the open-water swim. I agreed to doing the event and swim the 1.5KM distance, after James promised that he’ll swim by my side.  Come registration, oh yes I found out I was registered not on the 1.5KM but the lovely 2.2KM distance.  All because Dolly needs the training and she can manage the distance.  Yes, my friends look out for me and make sure that limits are pushed.  Haha!

Saw Nemo while Finding Courage
The 2.2KM involved swimming three loops of 750 meters in open water.  It’s about 350m out, 50m wide and 350m back. Easy they said.  Yes, easy for them… “what-the-hell-was-I-thinking-signing-up-for-this-and-for-triathlon?” was what’s going through my mind when I saw the lines.  While Gail was giving me pointers, reminders and kept telling me to stay near line, my mind was going blank and there was a point where I was hoping to wake up from the “nightmare”.  She must’ve seen that blank and scared look in my eye so she kept telling me that I can do it and stay near the line.  And now all I can remember is that I just hugged her from behind and was like that until it was time for us to start.

I was the last to go in the water and once I plunged – OMG!!! I wanted to go back!!! Panic immediately set in and alarm bells went off – they were blaring loud! My left arm pierced the water and that was my cue to blow air, and nothing came out. Lifted my right arm and I went for air, and what air?! Nothing. Face down again in the water and there goes the instinct to breathe through my nose – BAD! Then my coach’s voice was in my head telling me to float on my back – so float I did and willed myself to relax.  I saw the lines and a voice told me to stop and hold on to it – but I refused knowing that if I did – I will just have more time to “entertain” the voices I didn’t want to hear, so I went face down in the water again.  It went on like that for a while – a few strokes and  then floated on my back – until I got tired, then remembered and shouted in my mind “I freaking trained for this! I am going to finish this swim!!!”  I flipped back into the water and stroke-by-stroke started to slice through it, forced myself to look at the corals, calmed myself when it got to the it’s-so-deep-I-can’t-see-the-bottom part, drove away all the negative thoughts in my head, said my prayers and just surrendered.  Before I knew it, there was a line intercepting me and what-do-you-know, I am at the bend!!!!! (and yes water was so deep now, but forced myself not to stop) I turned, kept on swimming – counted my strokes and then found myself on the next bend on to the swim-back part and finally saw the corals again, and then felt my left foot starting to cramp! And what do you do when you feel a cramp coming??? Relax the leg and foot – and keep swimming – and then I touched sand! Relief! Hahahaha!  Done with the 1st loop!!! Hydrated and yes, I took my time at the aid station – and before any negative thought came – I decided to plunge again.  This time – I was singing Kelly Clarkson’s “Breakaway” while in the water – and was rudely interrupted when I got kicked on the right eye pushing and dislodging my goggles  (ouch!). My thoughts: “Ouch, that hurts. Don’t stop, pull and fix your goggles.” And that’s what I did… while underwater.  A bit of water leaked in but well, I just kept swimming and lo and behold!  I caught up with the pack ahead of me – and felt so safe and secured when I saw that I was swimming alongside the other participants and an oh-so-familiar uniform (GHTT!).  Coming out of the water from the 2nd loop and going for my 3rd loop, I can’t stop myself from smiling – and thinking “I am in my freaking third loop!!!!!”  And then – probably because this is what I wanted to hear – I heard a voice shouting “Go Dolly!” That made me smile – and I remembered Mae L and our last conversation, then plunged in the water and went for my final loop.  Going for my 3rd I started chanting this in my head “strong arms, strong legs, smooth strokes” over-and-over again, I gained ground and overtook those ahead of me (my thoughts: yay! I won’t be the last to finish!).  My final thoughts before coming out of the water:

  • I can do this.  I’ve got exactly what it takes.
  • My desire is stronger than my fear.
  • Find courage
  • I won’t give up on myself. I won’t settle. I deserve the best… in everything.
  • I love myself and I won’t ever, ever quit on myself
  • Thank you for the love
  • I am not a quitter
  • Thank you LITA!!! (what would I tell the CLs had quit? Yikes)
  • The force is strong
  • No more “what ifs” for me
  • I am going to freaking finish this swim!!!!!!

And then there was sand! Weeeeeeee!!!!  And then I can’t explain the emotions running and I heard my friends shouting my name.  Ran into Gail’s arms who hugged me tightly.


Hahahaha! Yes, the tears came… a case of “I’m not going to cry, I’m not going to cry… Okay, I am crying.”



And then JV finished and there was more hugging and crying, before all the smiling 🙂



And I continue to live my life and choose love! 🙂



Photo credits: YellowCab Tri DIY, Bave, JV, Gail


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