Twas the morning before Henley Mile, when all thro the house, not a creature was stirring… apart from me as I couldn’t sleep, and the dogs because they got excited when I came downstairs, oh and the rabbits too, cos I fed them, seeing as I was up anyway.
It’s the big day tomorrow! I am hugely excited to be honest, excited at having made it through the process, excited at meeting my fellow #thisgirlcanswim team mates, and excited at having a lovely family day out in the sunshine. Being excited and positive about tomorrow, I can now look back and reflect on my journey so far.
I must say it hasn’t gone to plan, or been anything like I expected, but I appreciate it more so because of that. I have done my training, although not nearly as intensely as I had originally planned. I have done events before, and specifically a tough mudder a couple of years ago, where my plan was to train like a lunatic to personally get fit, be fit enough to get through the event, and also super fit enough to not be the old lady at the back holding my team up. That last thought, of holding my team back, was more than enough motivation for me to religiously train 6 times a week for over 3 months, I even took my exercise dvds on holiday. It was difficult to fit in, I just did an exercise dvd at home, but still, finding 1.5hrs every day (including time needed to stop sweating and shower) was difficult around work, children’s activities, dogs and every day life. But I did it, I enjoyed it and I loved the tough mudder event itself. And then what? Well you’ve guessed it, absolutely nothing. No motivation, no requirements, no training. That was 2 years ago.
We do need events, or targets to get us motivated, of course we do, it’s one of the reasons I entered Henley Mile. I thought I’d be down the pool 3 times a week, maybe chuck in a dvd or two every now and again, and I’d be super fit and ready to go. Not this time.
I found I could only swim a couple of times a week due to pool opening times and family/work commitments. I also noticed that anyone can leap around to an exercise dvd but not everyone can swim well and I clearly can’t swim well. I hated going to the pool, felt ridiculed by the people in the pool and seriously lost my confidence. And that wasn’t even the worst of it, because I still had to get in a lake which was by far my biggest fear! Things were not going to plan at all. I felt guilty that I wasn’t training like I should, worried that I’d let #thisgirlcanswim down because I obviously wasn’t the right person for the team, and ever more fearful of getting into open water.
Then something truly wonderful happened. I bit the bullet and actually got in a lake. Yes I couldn’t breathe to start with, and yes I freaked out a bit in the weeds, and yes I was the slowest person by a mile (pardon the pun 😉), but I LOVED it! And when I say loved it, I mean truly loved every single murky, weedy, wet, frightening, tranquil, peaceful, cooling, exhilarating and calming moment of it. It was a bit of an epiphany, and as cheesy as it sounds to say, I felt at one with my beautiful surroundings because as beautiful as my surroundings were, I hadn’t fully appreciated them until I was actually in the water, part of them, as opposed to being on the outside looking in. I hope that makes sense as it’s the best way I can think of to describe it. I can tell you, there was no-one more surprised by this than me! My husband still looks at me a little incredulously, as if I’m about to say “me in a lake?? just kidding!”, when I talk about it and certainly laughs at me and can’t quite believe that I’m keen to get up and swim at 6 o’clock in the morning!
So I’m not as fit as I planned to be (I haven’t been back to the pool since my first dip in the lake), but I have found something much more valuable – a new love for an activity that I will continue with, not just stop after the event, and one I can enjoy and share with friends and family forever. I have already persuaded our very reluctant son to come with me next weekend, and I truly believe he will love it too.
When I entered #thisgirlcanswim Henley Mile I had 3 personal goals: to swim with my daughter; to encourage my husband back in the pool; and to get myself fit and active. All three of these goals have been achieved and much more besides. Twice now I have found the power of being in a team hugely motivating and inspiring, even a long distance virtual one that has been #thisgirlcanswim. Thanks so much to Jacquie, Megan, Laura, Jo and Kate, and Juliet and Katia, for your friendship and motivation, I can’t wait to meet you all tomorrow.
It just goes to show that pushing yourself out of your comfort zone can reap huge benefits sometimes, so if you’re motivated enough to want to try something new or change something old, that’s indicator enough that you should just go for it. You never know what will happen, even if it doesn’t go to plan you will learn a lot and you may just find something amazing! See you tomorrow x