|I'm not out there. =(|
I got myself worked up about these races, I admit. I had another hyperventilating fit in the pool a few weeks ago and it didn’t sit right with me. I told myself, if you’re not doing fast 100 repeats, you won’t hyperventilate, so there’s nothing to worry about. I had one mild panic attack during my first lake swim of the season, but that’s not out of the ordinary, and the second one went fine. I also told myself, you’ve swum in a lake twice already this season and have done this race three times before, so there’s nothing to worry about.
The night before and morning of were both relatively uneventful. Gathering all my stuff was fine, getting up early to make coffee and eat a sweet potato was fine, the drive was fine. I was a bit nervous but not more than usual before a race. My husband came with me and we chit-chatted on the way there. At the race setup, we ran into a friend and shared gossip as we got body marked.
I got into the water to warm up and I just. Could. Not. Get. Comfortable. I had anxiety through the roof. I freaked out whenever I swam out to deep water, and had to immediately swim back. I couldn’t get my face wet. I couldn’t get into a breathing rhythm. I was gasping for air. “WHAT IS GOING ON?” I thought. I got out of the water and tried to take deep breaths. It wasn’t working.
The horn went off and everyone started swimming. I waited a few seconds for the water to clear and started after the group. I was terrified and the waves splashing in my face made things worse. I started gasping for breath again. I got maybe 200 yards out and waved for a paddleboarder. A guy came over and started talking to me as I hung on for dear life. He tried to ask me questions about myself to get me to calm down, and it did make me feel better. I was frustrated and embarrassed, and told him I've done the race before, hoping he wouldn't think I was just some newb who was in over her head (literally). I rested a bit and tried swimming again, but as soon as I got splashed in the face my breath left me again. I rested on the paddleboard for a few more seconds before deciding to call it. The boarder tried to cheer me up by telling me my stroke looked good and that at least I had come out to give it a shot. I thanked him but headed in, defeated.
My husband was surprised to see me. I was sure everyone on shore would have realized I was heading in and giving each other knowing looks — "That girl obviously couldn't hack it." I sat down and composed myself for a bit and my husband tried to reassure me. As soon as I calmed down, I felt surprisingly fine. Disappointed, but fine. I felt like it just wasn't my day. I gathered my stuff and put on a shirt on, mostly to cover my race numbers. We considered leaving, but our friend was doing the Aquathlon after the mile, and we decided to stay and cheer. I could have tried to do the second race, but I decided I didn't want to tempt fate twice in one day, and took the DNS. But cheering on the racers as they ran, swam, and ran again put me in better spirits.
My mood has been all over the place these last four days. I'm mad because I feel I've wasted all this time swim training. I'm frustrated because I KNOW I can do the race — I've done it three times! I'm concerned that I have some kind of underlying health or anxiety issue that is just now manifesting as swim panic. But, part of me is at peace — if I was going to DNF/DNS a race, this was the one. It was cheap, and the money went to a good cause. And overall, it was still an enjoyable morning and we had fun catching up with and cheering on an old friend. So it wasn't a total loss.
I don't know if I want to get back in the pool any time soon. I'm also reconsidering doing a tri later this season. Maybe if I did a race with a wetsuit swim I wouldn't have the same anxiety... but I don't know if I want to take that chance just to DNF again. So I think I'm going to take a break for a while and concentrate on running and strength training. I'm still going to swim and bike, but I think I'm going to think of them as cross-training for a while.
Maybe I'll go a week, realize I'm being ridiculous, and get back in the pool. Maybe I'll decide I never want to do another tri. I don't know. What I do know is that this is a hobby and hobbies should be fun. Panic attacks in the water aren't fun. So it's time to regroup, think about what I want, and move on from there.