Monday, September 02, 2013

Yesterday Andrew and I completed our third open water swim race this summer. The previous two, July in Salobrena, and August in Motril, were 1500 and 1600 meters respectively. We presumed this would be about the same, and instead according to our trainers gps, it was 2250m!

With all the usual pre race nerves, we made our way down to La Herradura, one of my favorite beaches. If I could have a beach house in Spain, it would be there. The water is crystal clear, the beach super relaxed, lots of great little chiringuitos (beach restaurants) and lots of happy vibes.

There were about 200 of us competing, lots of young people this time with lots of nervous energy. All of the sudden they called us all together, and BLEEEEHHHHHHHHHHHHH, we were off.

I probably sprinted too much in the beginning, and that was revealed to me as I kept going and going and going and going, and about halfway through I realized this race was a LOT LOT LOT longer than we had anticapated. It was a zig zag course, and even thought I enjoyed seeing all the fish that were below, my mouth had started to taste like leather. I swallowed water at least three times, one with good proper coughs and burning in my nose and eyes.

About halfway through, fighting waves, wind, queasy seasick stomach, I was ready to stop and call for the Red Cross boat. So easy, give up, try another day. But two things happened. First, I remembered my team, and how I have watched so many of them want to give up, and yet they have collapsed over the finish line. They are such an inspiration. I thought, for the pride of the team, Triatomix, I must finish, even if I"m the last woman over the line. I kept going.

As I turned at the last big red buoy, my legs and arms went to automatic, and I was able to think instead of just swim. My mind drifted and I remembered the verse in the Bible that says.

Let us Run (or swim) the race set before us,Looking forward to Jesus, the FINISHER of our faith, who for the Joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and now sits next to God.

Renewed by this thought, I swam the last part, got out of the water, and collapsed over the finish line. Before I got there, I heard Andrew's loud booming voice yelling JAMIE~! and I knew I was almost there. He helped me over the finish line, handed in my chip and grabbing the bag of water and apple I needed and helped me away from the crowd.

Sitting on the beach, all my friends kept saying BUT JAMIE DO YOU REALIZE WHAT YOU DID????????????? I was really upset, as it was 16 minutes longer than I had anticipated  but it was 750 meters longer of a race. I have NEVER swum that far, alone or in a race, and I did and do feel accomplished.

But what made it better, was to have an older man, I didn't know, find me on the beach as I sat there in utter exhaustion (I gave it my all this time) and shake my hand, tears in his eyes. He didn't say anything, even as I said, Thank you in English (there are lots of expats that live down there). Just walked away.

Two days previous, I was out on the bike with Andrew, Liz and Juli in a rare quiet moment of just the four of us. I stopped to pee and afterwards, my side and groin contracted in pain. Yet another kidney stone (I live with chronic kidney issues, my thorn in the flesh). I collapsed in pain, and barely could move. As the pain passed, I managed to get on my bike and slowly go home. But, I made it. I finished the 45 km bike ride. Having had this happen just less than 48 hours before the longest swim race, I realized today, how blessed I was, even as frustrating as it was, to finish. I thank the Lord for reminding me He is the first Finisher, and how looking to Him, we too can finish.

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