Weaknesses Aren’t Stopsigns

I am not a strong swimmer. I grew up in the water, mostly lakes, in Oklahoma. I was comfortable in the water, but almost always had a life jacket on because my favorite things growing up were wake-boarding and really just hanging out near the water. The last week of high school, a really good friend at the time asked if I wanted to do a triathlon with him. Even though I had a childhood dream of doing an Ironman, I had never really contemplated what it would take to get from Point A to Point B in order to actually complete one. But I said yes. Partly because I am bad at saying no, and partly because I love all things sports.

The first “practice” we had together, I confessed that I didn’t really know how to swim. (After he laughed at me,) I spent much of the first day learning how to breathe correctly and well, not drown. Thankfully we had signed up for a “Super Sprint” triathlon (the shortest distance in the tri world), and the swim was only a 500m pool swim. I had a great time, but was still borderline terrified of the swim segment, and really just couldn’t wait to run. I was told that I all but threw my bike when I was done out of sheer excitement to start running!

Fast forward 8 years and now I am truly training for my Ironman. I have done multiple sprint and Olympic distance triathlons, and one 70.3 Half Ironman in preparation so far (not to mention that very first Super Sprint). But still I am not a strong swimmer.

Yesterday’s swim session was in Lake Erie. Conditions were pretty good, if you’re talking to a confident swimmer: 80 degrees, 12mph winds. There was a beach advisory noted for my location, but the green flag was still flying. Plus, the beach I typically swim at is within a break wall. Easy right?

Well, I am not a confident swimmer. I drove up and immediately wondered why the flag was green. Maybe the guards didn’t see the whitecaps. Maybe they’d change it by the time I got in the water. Maybe they’d change it by the time I got finished swimming.

They didn’t.

I realized as I called it quits for the day that the water wasn’t that strong. I just am not that strong either. At first, that made me feel pretty disappointed in myself. I mean, here I am years into training, swimming regularly, and still don’t feel confident.

Even still, the one month countdown is on, and in about 30 days, I’ll be an Ironman.

The more I thought about it, though, the more I realized that I don’t have anything to be disappointed in. It is so easy to think that because I am not very good at something, that means I can’t do it. I am not a strong swimmer. I’m not even a very strong cyclist. But I am going to be an Ironman. And that is powerful.

Don’t let weaknesses stop you.

Get fired up! What is something that you’ve been telling yourself you can’t do because you aren’t very good at it? Embrace your weaknesses this week, and enjoy it anyway.

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