So am I in this thing or not?

Last night I went swimming at the Y for the first time in over two months. It’s times like these that make me think—even more than usual—that I really need my head examined if I’m going to continue with triathlon.

Actually, that statement is no surprise to me or to anyone that knows me—swimming is not my strong suit. It’s tough, it’s tiring, I hate getting water up my nose and, frankly, I don’t really know how to do it properly. The last and only time I ever took swim lessons, I was still in elementary school.

If I’d ever get off my butt and just go get some swim coaching, I know that things would begin to dramatically improve. As it is, each time I even think of going to the pool for a workout, I get kinda depressed. This then carries over into thoughts about “what exactly am I trying to prove with this triathlon thing” and “why don’t I just go to the gym or take up climbing or something less demanding”? But I know the real reasons—I want to be an athlete, develop a great, healthy body and prove that I can do it. I want to join that unique little club of triathletes, even if I’ll never do an Ironman and may never place in a race at all, much less win. I also like the feel (and the scenery) of being with my fellow racers out on the course and in the transition pens—it makes me feel extra vital and I’ve come to really enjoy the feeling of my own physicality.

So as I once again go through my self-doubt bout before an upcoming race, I have to truly decide if I want to continue. I have to decide what other things I want to give up to do what’s necessary to be “in the game”. I’m at the point where I’ve got to think seriously about ponying up a chunk of cash for a real tri bike, since my heavily modified road bike is getting towards the end of its useful life for what I’m putting it through. No, I don’t need titanium or carbon fiber, but I’d really like bar-end shifters (which I can’t put on my current ride without a lot of extra cash to basically redo the entire drive train).

But back to swimming. Sometimes I think that being in the water for the first leg of the race is a sort of phobia for me. But to set the record straight, the only real fear I have in racing triathlon is not of drowning, but of wiping out at speed on my bike. The mental picture of me hitting the pavement with nothing but my racing brief, a singlet and required helmet on is not a pretty one…

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