What was I thinking? There I was on the internet signing up and paying my $100 registration fee for a triathlon in April. Yikes! “I have never done this before,” I muttered to myself. “The last time I swam any distance in a pool was an uneventful year on the swim team in junior high school. Oh, but I got the swimming merit badge in Boy Scouts at Shaver Lake,” my brain argued back, “but that was decades ago,” I countered. “And running? I haven’t run a mile in years, let alone the distance required for this event,” I continued. “Now riding a bike, I can do that! That’s my saving grace because I ride each week, but that’s only one of the events,” I thought. Ever had this wrestle in your head when faced with a difficult challenge or worthwhile goal?
Moments later, my inbox chimed and I was viewing my confirmation email saying I was now signed up and “good to go,” but I was still questioning my readiness wondering, “Can I do this?” We can be our own worst enemies, can’t we?
How did this all begin? Back in early December I was riding my bike with my good friend, Tory Stephen. I think we were on the Santa Ana River Trail somewhere between Corona and Huntington Beach on our way to the coast. Along the ride, Tory is explaining how he has competed in several of these smaller Sprint Triathlons and that I should try it. Now, I am a person who loves a challenge and has a competitive spirit. I am also a budding entrepreneur and so risk is my best friend, but I must admit this was testing my “you can do it” spirit. The thought of whether I could do this or not was playing in my head, so in a moment of faith and maybe even desperation I signed up that day. I will explain the desperation feeling a bit later. Tory then sent me a “swim focused” 16-week work out plan and encouraged me to get started.
For years, in the back of my mind, I have always wanted to participate in a triathlon. I have even thought about doing an Iron Man someday which is at the top of craziness. By the way, an Iron Man is a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride and then a 26.2-mile marathon. Can you imagine? Maybe 3-4 years down the road, but for now I had signed up for a Sprint triathlon which is a silly fraction of an Iron Man distance.
Now if you are a bit older like myself, cruising through your mid-life years, maybe you’ve had this feeling. The potential pain of regret has been entering my subconscious more frequently than I care to admit. Meaning, I have been having the impression, “what if I get too old and then I can’t do this or that? What if I blow out a knee or develop back trouble or just lose the motivation? What if I let this opportunity pass by and then am never able to experience something I’ve always wanted to do or be? What if my fear and apprehension get the best of me and I just quietly surrender, only to anchor the pain of regret in my heart for the rest of my life?”
Does this sound familiar? Do you know the feeling? Well, you are in good company!
Now let me digress… One of my big goals this year was to start a personal blog, a goal lingering on my bucket list for a few years. With ground work laid in 2017, this year would be the time to launch. With years of experience in guiding and leading others both in my public and private life, my desire to pay it forward is a deep passion of mine. And so happily just a week ago, my personal blog went live with my first post! It was entitled, “Bah Hum Bug to New Year’s Resolutions!” Then, the thought came to me, “why not share my experience of what I am learning in preparing for this triathlon?”
Now, you don’t have to sign up for a triathlon to tune in, but you may feel genuinely stuck in some area of your life, and you just can’t get traction. Our fears, our apprehensions, our lack of faith or our lapse in personal belief can cause us to hesitate and thereby we can immobilize ourselves. When I was a young missionary in the Philippines 35+ years ago, I memorized a quote from an unknown author which reads,
“On the Plaines of Hesitation lie the bleaching bones of countless millions who on the dawn of victory sat down to rest and while resting died.”
What a profound statement as our hesitation and resulting indecision can often poison our personal achievements. This is true… If you are like me, I have felt that powerless weight holding me back in my life only to push through it and finally accomplish the feat to admit, “that wasn’t that hard…why was I wasting so much time questioning myself?” Oh, I could write a book on this boomerang self-talk, but the key is to move forward, to exercise faith and to just get started.
So, whether it’s a weight loss goal, a new exercise program, an addiction to break, a scary new job or career, a physical move to a distant city, a relationship struggle or some other sort of significant event in your life, I hope to say something helpful in my future posts, encouraging you to move forward to higher ground.
Back to getting ready for my triathlon. I promptly changed my gym membership in late December to a location where I could practice swimming in a pool. I ordered a pair of swim goggles and readied a dusty small backpack with work-out gear. You see, over a year ago my personal trainer took off six weeks for a hip replacement and I took off 18 months. I know, pathetic! In the process, I put on nearly 25 lbs. I have felt rather defeated, but I really am a very disciplined person, but somewhere this past year I lost my mojo. I even traveled to the tailor forced to let out several pairs of suit pants to accommodate my burgeoning mid-section. Paying the bill at the tailor and the clerk’s smirk behind the counter screamed “Loser!” in my head. That was not a fun day!
Well, I have gotten started and have been back in the gym for just a few weeks. My first time in the pool I tried to swim freestyle and after one lap I was so out of breath I literally had to stop to gain my composure, uncontrollably panting in the water. Of course, I couldn’t help but notice the other swimmers in adjacent lanes effortlessly gliding by. “This is going to be much more difficult than I thought,” I mused.
The Sprint’s swim distance is ½ mile, 2,640 feet. One pool lap at my gym is about 25 yards which would mean I need to be prepared to swim about 35 laps, but in open lake water at probably 50 degrees, because the race is scheduled for Lake Perris, CA in the Spring. At the end of that 1st swim session still trying to catch my breath, I couldn’t stop thinking, “how in heaven’s name am I going to do this?”
And then the sage wisdom of a phrase that I learned years ago came to mind. It was, “Commitment to continuity develops emotional stability.” More on that saving nugget in my next post!
Come join me on this wonderful adventure!