Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Facing My Ghost

“Each of us must confront our own fears, must come face to face with them.  How we handle our fears will determine where we go with the rest of our lives.  To experience adventure or to be limited by the fear of it.”  Judy Blume

On Sunday, May 5th, I will be returning to Lake Monticello (Charlottesville) to participate in the Monticelloman Olympic triathlon.  The first time I attempted to compete in this race, things did not go well.  I DNF’d.  I didn’t make it past the 1500 meter open water swim portion of the race.  I lost valuable time from panicking in the water and did not make the 50 minute time cut-off.  I was pulled out of the water and brought to shore.  I was embarrassed, angry and inconsolable.  

Over the next couple of days after the race, I considered quitting triathlon.  I honestly thought I was not good enough to be a triathlete.  I didn’t want to face my husband, coaches, especially my swim coach, teammates and tri friends.  I felt I had let everyone down.  All I wanted to do was mope around and have the ultimate pity party.  Fortunately for me the same people that I thought I had let down, were the same ones that were there to lift me up.  After numerous pep talks and learning I was not the first person to DNF (imagine that), I decided to continue my journey. 

My journey so far has had more ups than downs.  I have completed several tris, including a half Ironman, but I’m still haunted by my DNF at Monticelloman.  The raw emotions that I felt that day still linger.  I feel like I cannot fully celebrate my accomplishments as a triathlete because of that blemish on my race record.  I am compelled to attempt this race again, but I am afraid.  I’m afraid of not completing the swim in time and failing again.  I’m afraid my swimming-induced panic attacks will get the best of me.  I’m afraid that my best will not be good enough. 

But even though I am afraid, it will not stop me from towing the line with the other triathletes on May 5th.  I have to face my ghost, Lake Monticello.  No longer can allow this phantom to haunt me and keep me from reaching my full racing potential.  I can swim 1500 meters in less than 50 minutes.  I know how to manage my panic attacks so I am still able to compete.  My best is now better than my best from last year.  I can be my own ghost buster.

Fear is a part of life.  Either you can face it and learn something about yourself or you can flee from it and possibly miss out on some of the greatest moments of your life.  I choose to face my fear and propel myself forward.  Because even though I’m afraid, I’m a fighter.  Fighters don’t run from fear, we meet it face on.  So Lake Monticello, here I come.  Ready to fight.        


  1. Thank you for sharing this. I am and will be rooting for you. I'm taking on swimming and though I'm nowhere near a 1500 meter swim ability (yet) I am facing the same fears and fighting. With faith and action, we are conquerors. You will do your thing, no doubt. Kudos to you for not giving up and for prevailing in the face of adversity. You are an inspiration. Oh, and CONGRATULATIONS, in advance!- Osita

    1. Thank you so much for the encouragement Osita. The race went better than expected for me.

  2. You will conquer Lake Monticello...after all Monticello simple means "little hill" in in essence, the lake is really not that big :) You just have to put the pieces is a poem you can read tonight as you prepare:

    Invictus by William Earnest Henley

    Out of the night that covers me,
    Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
    I thank whatever gods may be
    For my unconquerable soul.

    In the fell clutch of circumstance
    I have not winced nor cried aloud.
    Under the bludgeonings of chance
    My head is bloody, but unbowed.

    Beyond this place of wrath and tears
    Looms but the Horror of the shade,
    And yet the menace of the years
    Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

    It matters not how strait the gate,
    How charged with punishments the scroll.
    I am the master of my fate:
    I am the captain of my soul.

    1. Thank you! I read the poem several times the night before your race. And you were right, the lake was not really that big.