It was a perfect day for tri-training… blue sky, calm water, motivating friends, old and new. Meghan came along today to meet the group (I think she’s hooked on this tri thing for sure!). We got there super early, because we both had to leave around 10:30, so we decided to get our bike in first, swim with the group, then head out.

We got to Ft. Desoto at around 8am. The humidity was SO low, that the temps actually seemed a tad bit cooler. We jumped on our bikes and rolled away.

Our 10 mile jaunts seem to get easier and easier each week and today was no exception!

We finished just in time to meet the rest of the group for the (dreaded) open water swim. Deb, Lindsey and Deb’s husband Gene (the Olympic swimming hopeful!) met us in the parking lot and off we went. Of course, my jellyfish legs barely carried me to the shore. I wasn’t used to biking THEN swimming, but I couldn’t avoid it. My first tri was LESS than a month away, so every second in the open water was vital.

The water was pretty calm, and the tide was low, which was a nice surprise. (low tide=shallow water… hello my friend!) We slapped on our gear, set the goal and off we went. Well, I immediately realized how unbelievably DARK the water was that morning. It was overcast too, which made things even worse.

Dark water makes for not such a happy swimmer.

I immediately freaked out (I’m good at that), and started the erratic breathing crap, and the rest, as you know, is history.

I wasn’t even in deep water, but the disorientation (and dark shark shaped shadows) get the best of me every time. Luckily, I had the support of the group there to baby-step me through the first 200yds (pathetic!). The next 100yds Lindsey swam with me and it wasn’t as bad. I worked on keeping my legs moving, and making sure to not touch the sand (not even 1 little tippy toe… rats!).

The second 100yds on the way back, Deb and Gene has this bright idea (right) to do a diagonal swim into the deep, then back to the shore (fools!). Suddenly I noticed Lindsey follow them out to her own death, then Meghan, who was still standing beside me, gets it in her head that she’d like to get eaten too and somehow twists my arm into following her out to the restaurant.

After a 3 minute hem and haw session, and 1 minute of begging Lindsey (who is now in Mexico) not to move from the spot she’s in, I suddenly found myself swimming, with Meghan, out to the deep. I kept my face out of the water the ENTIRE time, making sure I was actually swimming towards Lindsey and not towards my impending doom. I didn’t think about how much darker the water was getting, and I didn’t even think any dangling thoughts. I just swam. Before I knew it, I was treading water next to Lindsey and Meghan, still alive, with all limbs still attached.

Success! (finally!)

After lots of kudos and praise, we headed back to shore. Still keeping my head up and out of the water (allllll the way back) I made it back to the shallow water (yes!).

We climbed onto the beach, re-hydrated and did it again. This time, we went straight out into the horizon. And this time, I didn’t hesitate. I just swam.

Meghan pulled ahead with Deb, and Lindsey stayed by me and we swam out to catch up to the others. I STILL didn’t put my face in the water. I was too scared to even look. I just focused on moving and getting to Meghan and Deb. I was relieved to see that after a short amount of time, we were just a few feet from them.

I had done it, again! Deep water, kiss it!

Out of the corner of my teacher eye, I saw Lindsey motion to the ladies to go deeper. Luckily, teacher mode is usually ALWAYS on and I spotted this sly attempt to get me to go out further. (Brat!) All that laughing made me take in a big ol’ gulp of seawater, but I survived, once again, and found myself treading water with the ladies, laughing it up and enjoying the whole experience (no, no drugs or alcohol were used in the making of this open water swim).

Once we caught our breath, we decided to head back to shore. Well, I certainly wasn’t going to be the last one out there, so I threw my face in the water (yes, really) and high tailed it back to shore. You know, I must have been in some delusional, black out state of mind, because I don’t even remember seeing anything, or even thinking about dark shadows. I just (deliriously) did it! Before I knew it, we were back on shore, and I was prouder than ever of my first deep water swim.

We started chatting about upcoming tris, and I started talking about Siesta Key and how I’d hope I’d be ready for that race. Then they started talking about how difficult of a race that is for someone’s first tri, and how Meghan and I should think about doing the Tarpon tri with them next Saturday. I didn’t think there was ANY chance of me doing a tri within a WEEK, but somehow Meghan and I found ourselves registered for the race within hours.

If we weren’t all crazy we’d all go insane.

So here I am. Less than a week from my first triathlon. I know it will be better doing it with friends, I know I can do the bike distance (13 miles) and a 5k is no problem. Maybe if I throw myself in “swim for my life” mode, I’ll be OK. At the very least I’ll have Lindsey and Meghan in my swim wave, since we’re all the same age. Maybe I can secretly tie a rope to one of them and they can just pull me through the water.

I’ll need to check the rules and see where “ropes” are mentioned.

I’m definitely in shock (still), and hopefully by Wednesday I’ll be in “excited” mode. I ordered a tri belt that should be delivered by Thursday, and I’ll be heading to Fred Howard park this week to check things out and pick up my race packet.

If you’d like to come out and cheer me on, I’ll post the spectator information soon! I’m not sure what the rules for guests are just yet, but I’ve sent out a few emails and I’ll post as soon as I know.

Until then… here’s hoping for no sleepless nights!


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