Dreams….we all have them. They fuel our existence, they let us ponder on a brighter future, and the path to realize them fills our lives with excitement, fulfillment and growth. I want to share a story with you from an experience I had where I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to realize a dream of mine… It was back in 2006 and I was entered to race in Ironman Arizona which was being held in Tempe near Phoenix.
I found myself at the race start treading water with 2,300 other people in Tempe Town Lake. 2,300 hundred other people! Now, I don’t know if any of you have participated in or witnessed a triathlon mass swim start with 2,300 people…but I can tell you one thing…it isn’t pretty! To try and help you visualize what I am talking about…imagine a massive piranha feeding frenzy! It is one large mass of arms and legs flailing about…folks getting kicked in the head, goggles getting knocked off…the first 10 minutes are a bit scary to say the least!
Alright, so here I am at the start of the race right after the cannon went off… I had always been a good swimmer and had not expected any problems…well as it turns out…I started having a panic attack. I began to hyperventilate and have a lot of anxiety and felt an urgent need to try to swim over to the side of the lake. So after a terrifying handful of minutes of trying to keep my head above water and working my way sideways through a tangled mass of swimmers I got over to the side. First thing I did was take some deep breaths…and then I tried to make sense of what just happened. I was confused, scared and anxious all at the same time. Confused as to why it had happened and scared that I might not be able to continue and finish the race and accomplish my year long goal….luckily for me the deep breathing exercises really helped my anxiety begin to pass. After a few more minutes of relaxing, I then made my way back out into the water and proceeded to complete the swim portion.
For a moment though…I didn’t know if I would be able to….My whole Ironman dream that I trained for, visualized and made sacrifices in my life for a whole year almost didn’t happen. I can tell you that the feeling of triumph, relief, happiness, joy and fulfillment felt even sweeter when I crossed the finish line 13 hours later after the terrifying start to my day… I felt like I knew how I was going to reach the finish line that day, but life as it sometimes does…threw a wrench in my works with the panic attack. I had to re focus and allow things to unfold a bit differently than I had originally planned. I still accomplished my goal because I held that intention…but I just had to be open to take a different road to get there.
You are no different….