“Because I can.”

I checked off a bucket list item on Labour Day Monday morning.  I swam with the Triathlon Club of Burlington (TCoB), in their annual Pier to Pier swim.  This swim is 2.8km, across Lake Ontario, from the Burlington lift bridge pier to Burlington’s downtown pier.

Usually on Labour Day Monday, you can find me in my happy place, along the Lake Ontario shoreline, on a long solo run to clear my mind and get myself mentally prepped for the upcoming school year.  With a teacher husband and two school-aged children, Labour Day is like my New Year; a fresh start, new goals, big dreams.  And every year, I’ve noticed the TCoB crew climbing out of the water with big smiles and high fives, and sunshine on a glassy lake only adds to the appeal.  Always up for a challenge, I wanted in on the fun, so a little over a week ago, I signed myself up.


2.8km looks really far from this finish-line vantage point; that red circle is the lighthouse where we jumped in.

IMG_9438My husband thought I was crazy; 2.8km and I haven’t swum a stroke in almost a decade.  In fact, I’ve never even put on a wetsuit before, and I didn’t have time to test my borrowed suit out before yesterday’s event, so it was a jump-in-and-hope-for-the-best situation.  But, I used to be a lifeguard, and a decade ago I did a handful of triathlons, including a 1.9km swim in my 2007 half-Ironman.  So while I haven’t swum in many years, I hoped my previous experience, swim technique, and fitness could carry me through.

Monday morning at 7:15am, two of my girlfriends met me at home, and the three of us trekked down to the pier.  They were rookies too, although one is a regular lap-swimmer and one had just come off a great triathlon season.   They gave me tips on getting into my wetsuit (a workout in itself!), BodyGlide advice, and how to loop my zipper string.  I was woefully underprepared, and felt like I should personally introduce myself to the kayak support boats.  Deep down though, I knew that sheer determination (stubbornness?) would get me across the water.

It did.

I finished in 58:36, just under the one-hour mark that my obsessive Google calculations of “open water swim times” told me I could do.  And while I don’t plan on adding swim training to my schedule, I truly enjoyed the experience.  I enjoyed the nerves, the challenge, the friends and family, the sunshine, the sense of accomplishment, and the gratitude that I am physically able to do things like this.

“Why would you want to do that?” someone asked me.  “Because I can.” And oh how I love a challenge.

In fact, this just may become a new tradition.


Do it Anyway

I am a competitive person, and I was faced with a big challenge this past weekend: a half-marathon ROW.  Yes, you read that right… 21.1km on an erg.

You see, the Crossfit Games took place last weekend in California, and competitors were surprised with this endurance challenge two days before their three-day competition was to begin.  The buzz around my gym soon changed from ‘wasn’t that workout announcement crazy?’ to ‘do you want to give that a try?’.  Seven of us took the bait.

The calm before the storm...

The calm before the storm.

I signed myself up last Thursday morning for Sunday’s morning’s event.  That meant I had three full days to think about things.  And worry about things.  And worry, I did.

I worried about being undertrained.  I worried about not being able to finish.  I worried about what people would think if I quit.  I worried about the pain.  I worried about the blisters my hands would get.  I worried about the mental stamina this would require.  My worry brewed from lying just under the surface to full-on bubbling over on Saturday night- I packed and re-packed my gym bag three times, I set two alarms, and I paced footprints into the carpet in my hall.  Then this conversation happened:

  • Husband:  Why are you so nervous?
  • Me:  I’m nervous about tomorrow.  What if I don’t finish?  What will people think?
  • Husband: Who cares?  At least you tried.

Huh.  That’s true, and that pretty much sums it up.  At least I tried.  After all, if you don’t push your limits, then you’ll never know what those limits are.

I was scared, I felt pressure, I feared judgement, and I did it anyway.  The thing is, pressure is a perceived emotion.  And so is judgement.  You can only feel pressure if you perceive it that way, and you can only feel judgement if you allow it.

Don’t perceive it that way.  Don’t allow it.

Do it anyway.

Evidence! Not sure why the date says August 22- I can assure you I will not be doing this again on August 22!

Not sure why the date says Aug 22-
I can assure you I will not be doing this again on Aug 22!

This Thing Called ‘The Open’

Maybe you’ve heard of the Crossfit Open.  Maybe you haven’t.  But I want to inspire you, I want to motivate you, I want to raise your spirits.  So let me tell you about this thing called ‘The Open’.

crossfit-logo-games-blackThe Crossfit Open is a worldwide competition in which 130 000 Crossfitters have registered, paid their $20, and are completing one workout per week for five weeks (we just finished week 3), as dictated by Crossfit Headquarters.  Competitors submit their scores to an online leaderboard and the fun begins.  Top-scoring competitors will advance to their respective Regional competitions, with the ultimate  goal being to qualify for the Crossfit Games, the ‘Olympics of Crossfit’, in California in July.

Although I’ve been Crossfitting for three years, this is the first time I’ve entered the Open, as I’ve always been very pregnant or newly post-partum in year’s past.  And as an average Crossfitter, I will definitely not advance to Regionals.  But a funny thing has happened along the way.  I have gotten really into it.  No, I mean really into it.  I’ve bookmarked the Crossfit Games leaderboard on my computer, I watch elite competitor’s video submissions, I get nervous on Tuesdays for Wednesday’s workout announcement, and I check the scores of people I know and names I recognize.

It’s shown me what I’m physically capable of.

It’s shown me what I’m mentally capable of.

It’s made me feel like part of a team, through accountability, support, and friendship.

It’s made me feel pride in myself and confidence in my abilities.

It’s made me strong, healthy, inspired, and hopeful.

It’s made me cry, it’s made me laugh, it’s made me scared, it’s made me excited.

It’s broken me down and built me right back up.

But this post is not about the Crossfit Open.  This post is about challenging yourself.  This post is about stepping outside of your comfort zone.  This post is about changing the impossible to the possible.  So challenge yourself.  Step outside of your comfort zone.  Change the possibilities.  And see what happens.