Saturday, July 14, 2012

Tri-ing to Get Over It

I've spent a lot of time over the last 5 or 6 years working on becoming a runner - when my back is cooperating, that is. This summer I finally got a new, lighter, more efficient bicycle and have been cruising around the city and occasionally commuting the 10 miles to my office. Its been so fun that I've started to let the idea of completing a triathalon into my head. Maybe even just a sprint-tri to start - which cuts the usual distances of a full tri down to more manageable distances for us everyday amateur athletes.

The "Full Tri" or "Ironman Tri" is a little bit ridiculous. It consists of a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride topped off by a quick MARATHON run. Yeah. 26.2. You know, that thing that some people make a life goal to just complete on its own.

So, right. I'm not doing an Ironman.

But a Standard distance Tri? That's considered to be a .93 mile swim, a 25 mile ride and a 6.2 mile run. 25 mile ride and a 6.2 mile run? Can do.

A Sprint Tri? This almost sounds FUN! Its a half mile swim, 12 miles on a bike and a 5k (3.1 mile) run.  I could do that right now!

Except, wait...whats the third part that makes it a Tri? Oh, right. A swim.

I definitely know how to swim. I grew up with a pool in my yard, spent all my summers growing up in a lake at camp, and from time to time as an adult have done a little boating and floating in the water. For some reason I find myself really uncomfortable with the idea of swimming. Almost afraid, actually. The fear made me really start thinking about this. What the heck am I afraid of?

Swimming would be awesome for my back. It would be a great way to build some cardio for those long runs. I have a super nice pool at my gym that is practically demanding I stop by and throw down some laps. And, vainly, I feel like swimming does mad-awesome stuff for one's figure.

But I don't want to. Or, I'm afraid to. The more I think about it, the more I wonder if its a control issue. The water is frightening because it is encompassing. It is in charge. Its a competitor and it takes away the control I have over my own body and breath. I would need to learn to breath when the water allows me, and control my sense of panic when my face is underwater. To be totally alone in the water.

When I look to what I've learned in yoga, I start to think of taking up swimming as an important challenge. In my yoga practice, the breath is the focus and each asana exists to challenge my control of the breath. Isn't swimming just one more challenge for the breath to confront? Isn't is a worthy opponent?

What seemingly simply activity makes you feel out of control?

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