The first open water swim I ever signed up for was the 2010 Alcatraz Sharkfest. At the time I signed up for the swim I had never swum more than a half a mile and that was roughly 25 years earlier. By signing up for the swim (late in 2009), I hoped that it would serve to motivate me to actually train and really accomplish my goal of losing weight and getting into shape.
Some 7 months of training later the day of the swim arrived. I along with some 800 others marched down to two ferries in our wetsuits and headed out to Alcatraz. Unfortunately it was one of those days where the San Francisco fog lay like a blanket over the bay, and we could not see Alcatraz let alone the end of the swim (Aquatic Park). The Alcatraz swim was cancelled and we all headed back to Aquatic Park for a make up swim.
I remember at the time initially feeling terribly cheated; I’d spent all this time swimming in pools and doing laps of Aquatic Park for this event and now it was all to be just a quick race around one of the piers. I didn’t even bother doing that swim, I’d spent enough time swimming in Aquatic Park the past couple of months it just didn’t seem like a fitting climax to the journey I’d been on.
Eventually though the realization dawned – I was 25lbs lighter, and had gained the ability to swim a couple of miles freestyle. The whole point of signing up for the swim had really been to achieve this destination, this improved self. What’s more I had enjoyed the process – I’d found something that I could continue to do hopefully the rest of my life that would improve my health and fitness, and it was fun
I still use the trick of signing up for longer swims to push myself, to make myself get in the pool or the bay on those days when I just don’t feel like it. The end goals are still important to me, but I make sure to remember that I actual enjoy the journey along the way.