As I go through my final long swim before heading to the Key West, I summon up the last 3 months of training. My coach Haley Chura turned me into a stronger swimmer. I learned so much and had so much fun swimming. I will miss these long swims as switch back to bike and run later on. 3 long distance swims: 4, 6 and 7 miles of looping around local Lake Alatoona cove at Red Top mountain. This all came together only with the help of people around me: amazing athletes I got inspired by, supported by, people who believed in me, made the training swims fun, people sharing the same passions as I do.
“Most self discovery happens during the toughest moments.
It breaks one down and requires you to dig deeper.
When I’m lying on the pavement at mile 80 and it’s 100 degrees out,
what motivates me to get up and finish the race?
That is the self-discovery that occurs.
You get a glimpse of your soul at times and see what really makes you tick.
You go deeper in finding out what’s possible and what one can achieve.”
– What motivated you to sign up for this swim? – asks a friend
– I’m a long distance runner, – I’m saying, explaining about the 50 mile run at Destin in Feb 2015, the 50K runs and 2 Ironmen events in 2014. – so for 2015 I wanted a worthy challenge in swimming that would make me want to learn how to swim better.
But that’s not it.
The question gets stuck in my mind for a good portion of the long swim.
What I was always lured by in long distance events is – the way my mind works with the long distance.
– Oh, you run this much / train this much, good way to stay fit! – I hear sometimes
I smile when I hear this. It stopped being about sport as such long time ago. Maybe it never was about sport for me to start with.
Be it a long run or long bike ride or long swim: the long time out there clarifies my thoughts, filters out unnecessary noise, highlights what actually matters. Eventually the long distance approach impacts my life overall. The endurance required to go through the long distance multisport events is extrapolated to all areas of life later on and helps to handle – anything.
At times it almost comes down to the funny observation: that the higher my IT work demands are – the harder I train, trying to shake off the complexity of the virtual reality I work with by the simplicity of it.
Yes, there were times when my long runs helped to balance out the complexity of my personal domain
My 4,5 hours swim today was like meditation in a cool shadowed place. I knew I was watched over with the most positive wishes for my swim by my kayaker. So I allowed myself to stay in a positive happy place for 4,5 hours. I could think of work, life, could have simple thoughts only for the first couple of hours. Then was just working on the even effort distribution for the long swim, with occasional sprints, a short chat with my kayaker, food, gels… Making it simple.
When I immersed I met Shawna : there is nothing like being welcomed by a friend after a long time out there!!!
But together with that positive impression all the world came down on me: everything was – too much!
The light was too much. The noise of people chatter at the beach was too much. The colors and shapes – trees, picnic table, bags, the movements of people, dog jumping around, birds flying – was too much. I again almost forgot how to speak, how to set words together into a sentence on any language, Russian or English.
And the only thing that started bringing me back to normal was – a simple touch on shoulder. A human gesture gently shaking me out of the underwater world of silence, simplicity, weightlessness and colorless depth of the lake.
What actually motivates me for these long distance events is this:
- sensations. Their mixture in sport and in life. The effort it takes
- Clarity of mind allowing it to be ready to get back to work.