We have a saying in our family: You gotta show up at the trailhead. Essentially that means “showing up” is half the battle.
Before today, I hadn’t swum since December because I had an injury and was in PT. Then I got my Lynch Syndrome diagnosis (see previous post) and several weeks ago had a total hysterectomy (removal of the uterus and cervix) with bilaterial salpingo-oophorectomy (removal of the ovaries and fallopian tubes) to prevent cancer-development.
I’ve been walking as part of my surgery recovery, but am just up to 2.5 miles, and overall I’m terribly out of shape and still fatigue easily. And my swimming muscles are, well, kinda non-existent.
But one of my summer loves is open-water swimming at the reservoir. Swimming under the open sky feels so magical to me and I look forward to it every year.
Finally, my surgeon cleared me last week to swim. I was SO excited!
I wasn’t sure if I felt ready, though, but nevertheless packed my gear last night and decided to drive there and at least be in the environment and watch the other swimmers.
This morning I let myself wake up with the sun and was out the door with my gear at 6:15 a.m. and drove the 30 minutes to the reservoir.
I was still hesitant when I arrived, especially when I walked up to the water and saw rough chop. FYI, choppy water does not make for fun swimming because it’s exhausting when you head into the wind and have to roll your body enough each stroke so you don’t breathe into the waves and inhale reservoir water, and you have to arch higher with each forward arm stroke. It takes more energy.
I love, love, love swimming when the water is like glass and it feels calm, like I am slicing through stillness.
But this is what I had this morning for my first swim in six months: chop.
I thought to myself: “Well, I did what I said I was going to do. I showed up at the trailhead.” Everything else is cake. Do I go for it?
I did. Because I couldn’t resist the water. And I have to start somewhere, and nothing is perfect. Even water.
I swam maybe 200 or 250 meters into the wind (in normal years, I’ll swim 600-900 meters outbound), turning my head into the waves, spitting out water, stopping six times and sucking wind. But I made it to that second buoy and cross-stroked around it to head back to the beach, which looked so far away. I was with the wind now, though, and I told myself to relax into the water, into the stroke. Stop fighting the water. Breathe. Be.
And soon enough, the bottom of the reservoir appeared underneath me again. The beach. And I smiled as I exited the water, unzipping my wetsuit.
It was an ugly swim, for sure. But I did it.
I showed up.