“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.