When I nervously jumped into the water, I did not feel confident and, as I looked down the length of the river, wondered how I would complete the long swim and reach the finish line. I knew I had not spent enough time at the pool training and I hadn't spent any time swimming in open water. When the gun went off, I started swimming, but soon got nervous and looked up. When I looked up, I lost my rhythm and started treading water, too nervous to duck my head into the water and keep going. This was exacerbated by the fact that I had to "sight," that is, look up and make sure I was headed in the the right direction since I didn't have lane lines and pool walls to guide me. Again and again, I swam, sighted, treaded water, panicked and started swimming again. It seemed that everyone in my heat finished and swimmers from other heats started to pass me too. As I swam, I berated myself for my lack of training and for my sense of panic. I also worried about my twin, faithfully watching from the shore, who was surely wondering where I was. I thought about quitting the race, but knew I had to keep going. Finally, I made it, finishing 5 minutes slower that I had the year before. My sister and my friends didn't care that I was slow, they were just happy to see me. The cheered and yelled my name and I realized that it didn't matter how slow I was, but that I was still in the race. I tore off the wetsuit, biked 25 miles, ran a quick 10k and, exhausted, made it to the finish line.
Now, years since the triathlon, finishing that swim has served me in many ways. I've realized that when I don't want to do something that has to get done, I know to push myself to to the start and jump in. I may pause and look around every once in a while, but then I duck my head and keep going. When I'm procrastinating for too long, I remind myself that I can't finish what I don't start. Once I start, the momentum will eventually propel me forward. The relief of completing a distasteful task greatly outweighs the "fun" had in delaying it.
On days that the "momotony" of daily chores--sweeping, washing, laundry, wiping, teaching--gets to be too much. The days where I really want to crawl back into bed and take a 5-day-nap, I remind myself that if I can dive into a moving, rolling river with hundreds of people and successfully swim 1500 meters of it, I can certainly take a breath, duck my head and just keep going. So I do, over and over again.