Last Friday evening I popped into my local tri shop to pick up a new pair of goggles. The store was busy and I noticed that a packet pick up table was set up near the front door. A gentleman asked if I had come in to pick up my number and when I let him know that I hadn’t, he immediately launched into a lighthearted sales pitch about why I should sign up for a run/swim/run race that would take place the next morning. He didn’t give up easily, but eventually he gave me a way out of the conversation by letting me know that I could think about it and sign up race morning. Relieved to have an exit strategy, I said thank you then took a race flyer and left.
I am a good swimmer, but I was scared about the 1k ocean swim. I’ve only done one real swim so far this summer and it was in the bay without waves…or a current. I had a serious internal struggle about whether I was feeling the good kind of fear that motivates us to do things outside our comfort zone or whether this was the “come on, Kristin, don’t be an idiot” kind of fear.
In the end, I showed up at the race on Saturday morning and I am so glad that I did. The Allen Stone Braveheart race began at Neptune’s Park at 31st street in Virginia Beach. The event benefited the Navy Seal Foundation and the morning started with a ceremony honoring Seals who have been killed since September 11th, 2001. Participants ran south from 31st street on the beach for one kilometer then we hopped in the water and swam back up to 32nd street. We laced up and then ran a 5k on boardwalk.
While I haven’t been swimming much this summer, I’ve been running consistently. Deep down I knew that my body was ready for this race.
There are a lot of reasons to train – to race, to build endurance and strength, to find breath and movement. But in the end, the reason that I train is to find readiness and the ability to say “yes” — yes to a spontaneous race day, yes to holding steady in the heat, yes to climbing whatever hill life delivers next.
We run in preparation and we train clinging to the hope of finding strength and endurance when we need it. Sometimes we draw on that strength in response to loss or defeat or hurt. But every now and then, we draw on that strength and find the ability to say yes to a new challenge and so we hop in the water and we start swimming.