Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A bridge not so far

The 'Triathlon by the Sea' event comes highly recommended for first time triers. When the 2009 event was announced a few days ago, I signed up. I can run a bit, but I can't ride a bike and I can't swim in open water. So what makes me think I can do a triathlon?
I believe that once you set your mind to something, acquire the necessary skills - it's a done deal. Naturally this formula does not take into account the psychoses of the mind. I learnt to swim at school but was never really any good at it. I finally learnt to swim properly rather late in life, but have an overwhelming fear of deep water. Even at the swimming pool, I can only swim in the lane alongside the wall, and every now and again, for no apparent reason I suddenly grab onto the side, with a pounding heart. Swimming in open water is a bridge so far that I feel panic-stricken just thinking about it. This I will deal with later in the year, when I do my second triathlon, and the swim is in the sea.
Right now, I can cope with the idea of swimming in a pool. If I can improve my technique and swim faster, this will increase my confidence and undoubtedly lessen my fear of deep water. I am convinced that a strong technique is the key to keeping my mind in check. After all, is fear anything else than the inability to climb the mountain in front of you. I know it sounds cliched, but I like what Lasse Viren once said "Dream barriers look very high until someone climbs them. They are not barriers anymore."
So I think for this first triathlon, my barrier to climb is learning how to ride a bike. I've had a few attempts, and that has taught me that the key to success is BALANCE. It took me a while to work out that perhaps technique is secondary (perhaps?!), but confidence on a bike comes from the ability to balance yourself and the bike. Maybe this explains why I was so rubbish at skiing!
I have been doing some balance-improving exercises. I don't know if they work or not, but I see this as yet another small step in this journey. As soon as it stops snowing I shall go for a few lessons and try riding outdoors. So I guess my bike riding and swimming journeys are going to feature prominently over the next few months. One thing I do know: I will ride a bike by 17th May, as I am determined to do this triathlon. What a joy it will be to finally say, I too am a triathlete.

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