Jaws Can Bite Me

This starts with a weird dream and a confession. The night after I swam in Marsh Creek Lake for a training swim I had dream about a mechanical shark in a large tank the size of a baseball stadium. The water filled all of the space from the ground, where I stood and watched, to the top of the bleachers. A diver swam in the tank with the shark, attempting to feed it a mechanical dolphin because robot sharks gotta eat. When the shark missed the dolphin, it broke the glass. Water flooded the observation room, but I wasn’t scared because I could swim. That’s just what I did at the training swim and at Tri AC last weekend: I owned the swim. The robotic shark of my nightmares from the movie, Jaws, no longer held me in its, well, jaws.

At the beginning of Tri AC, rain pelted the bikes in transition, dousing the dry towels and running shoes. Triathletes topped with cap and goggles shivered while waiting for the swim start, delayed fifteen minutes due to the storm overhead. I looked down at my watch and ran it through a practice triathlon by hitting the interval button. Cathy looked at me and asked if I was nervous. Nope. Not this time.

When it was my turn, I jumped off the dock like a lifeguard going to rescue a drowning swimmer, keeping my head above water to prevent my cap and goggles from flying off at the swim start. As my feet left the platform, I heard Cathy say, “I have to turn on my watch!”

I looked back at the dock and said, “I gotta go! Mine is on.” And then I swam. I swam so fast that I passed four or five groups of swimmers rounding the buoys during the .9 miles. I flew through that swim, relaxed and confident for the first time ever. Salt water waves had no affect on me; I coughed out any water that I accidentally swallowed and pressed on. I got this.

I hit my watch in transition and hopped on my bike. Last year’s pace was too easy, so I went two miles an hour faster on average just to see how I felt. That felt good, so then I bumped it up another mile per hour and held it. I actually passed some people on the bike, and I could have gone faster–this was all new territory for me.

During the run, I ran a bit quicker than I usually do in training, but I wanted to enjoy the run and the Atlantic City Boardwalk, which is exactly what I did. Could I have pushed it harder? Sure. But, I didn’t. I now know that I can do the Atlantic City Half Ironman in September after this race.

And best of all? I left my fears of Jaws in my wake.