Three Steps to Overcome Obstacles (My Iron Girl Story)

“When you venture outside your comfort zone, wherever the starting point may be, it’s a big deal.” Chris Guillebeau’s  The Art of Non-Conformity

This is so true for me and swimming.  You see, I never took swim lessons. Oh, wait, I am lying. I took a few lessons when I was in grade school and pretty much learned the doggie paddle and how to do the dead man’s float. Other than that I had no idea what freestyle meant. Or if someone would say, “do 3 100’s” I would have a blank stare of “what the hell do you mean?  How many laps is that?”

So at 38 years old I decided to do a triathlon. All the girl’s in my power building class at the gym were doing it, so I would too. Except that I didn’t know how to swim.

2008 Tri
2008 Iron Girl Tri with Stephenie and Robin

For some reason I thought it would be easy.  How hard is it to swim for 1/2 a mile?  In a dark dirty lake where you can’t see the bottom?  No prob.

I guess I thought competing in a tri would be doable since I could run pretty fast and riding a bike, well, don’t they say you can never forget how to do that?  So swimming would be easy too. I was SO wrong.

Swimming is a sport of skill and finesse. I didn’t have these qualities. At all.  I would practice by doing a lap with my head completely out of the water with my arms flailing from side to side. I would be completely out of breath by the time I got to the wall.

There were times when I felt embarrassed  when someone in the next lane would smoke me.  Everyday I thought of giving up.

It was time for the race, and I was scared.  How am I going to make it across that lake? I tell you, I used the bathroom at least half a dozen times that morning. The gun went off and so did I. I remember telling myself, “I can do this. You are doing this.”  Since I got Kate a t-shirt that said, “My Mom’s an Iron Girl” I had to finish this race. I can’t give her a lie.

And I did finish the race. I never felt so relieved! AND proud and empowered. I am an Iron Girl.

In a few weeks, I will be participating in the Athleta Iron Girl Triathlon again.  This time I am not scared.  I am anticipating the thrill of crossing that finish line.

Iron Girl Carrie Kristen
Iron Girl Practice Swim/Run with Carrie and  Kristen
2011 Iron Girl Dress Rehearsal with Em, Carleen, and Kristen

So how did I overcome my obstacle?  Here are the real-life steps I took to accomplish my bucket list goal:

1.  Evaluate the situation or problem.

* Is it technical in nature and a skill you can learn?
* Or is it mindset-related, like the fear of failure?
* Is it unique or something that happens to many?

I realized that a lot of swimming is technical.  So I joined a Masters Swim class to get help with technique and drills.  Even though I was in the slow lane, I kept at it every week because I knew if I didn’t I had a good chance of holding on to the rescue canoe.

2.  Evaluate yourself.

Do you have the skills necessary to overcome this obstacle?

Is your mindset development far enough along to deal with this issue?

I had to get real with myself– honestly!  I had to really look at myself and decide if I had the strength and energy to finish the race.

There’s no shame in admitting that you need help, but there’s no sense in bringing others into the picture if you have all the skills necessary to get through it.

3.  Get help from an expert.

In addition to the Masters Swim class, I hired a coach for a few lessons.  She worked on my stroke and breathing.  If it wasn’t for her, my head would have never got submerged under water.  She even taught me how to put my swim cap on correctly. Sure this was an investment. Usually hiring an expert is expensive, but it is truly worth it.

Thanks for listening to my Iron Girl story.   I didn’t get into the fear and competition parts  like I wanted to so I will save that for another post.:)

Tell me about a time when you overcame the odds.  How did you persevere?  What steps did you take?

12 Comments on “Three Steps to Overcome Obstacles (My Iron Girl Story)”

  1. You are an inspiration to me. And I don’t know if I’ve ever truly expressed how much I appreciated your support last year. You helped me overcome my nerves of doing Iron Girl for the first time. And now this year, I can’t wait!

    1. Car, we are going to have such a great time! I was so honored to be with you last year for your first one…and this year, we will crush it!

  2. What a fantastic story Lisa!!! I didn’t know u started as such a non-swimmer!!! Sometimes I feel like my entire existence is a challenge…I can swim but my MS is a constant obstacle…I just keep moving! Thanks for all ur support in every way!

    1. Thanks so so much, Kath! I thought I mentioned I never had that swim team thang. I admire you so much for all you do and accomplish. I think about you all the time, knowing that your MS is an obstacle for you. You have my heart, girl.

    1. Thanks my love! AND I am going to hike that mountain with you, too! I hope to visit you after all our trips. xo

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