Taking the blinders off…

It wasn’t until the days following my Cook Strait swim that I realized just how focused I had become in the months, weeks and days, leading up to the completion of my goal. For 4-5 months I was essentially a racehorse with blinders on.... around the “track” I raced – 6 days per week. I was so intensely focused on racing towards my goal that I was unable to let my eyes, my focus, wander. I didn’t dare.

I followed my training regiment to the letter. I trusted in “The Plan,” satisfied in knowing that everything I have ever achieved in my life has come with hard work and sacrifice. Surrounded by the love and support of my family and friends, I dialed in the “ballerina discipline.” The countless hours spent swimming in the pool and San Francisco Bay paid off.

Every weekday morning my alarm would sound at 4:45am. And, while at times I was tired from a previous workout (often the night before), I always woke up. Not even once tempted to just turn the alarm off and sleep in. No, I wouldn’t dare. Two swim workouts before work, followed by another workout in the evening.  It was exhausting, but I loved the focus. I loved waking up everyday and having a purpose.

Time seemed sped up, as if someone had hit the fast forward button on the TV remote. A part of me hated to see the time pass and wanted desperately for it to slow and allow me even the briefest of opportunities to savor countless training moments. Training moments filled with a mixture of difficult setbacks and glorious milestones. But another part of me knew nothing other than operating with blinders on.  I was terrified of losing focus.

Because that’s all I know; that’s how I’ve ALWAYS operated ahead of any goal that’s ever meant something to me. And, if I don’t have that feeling – that wound up stressed out feeling - I question my commitment to that goal. “I’m not trying hard enough… I’m just not applying myself…. I’m not following The Plan… I’m not working hard enough, and this means I’ll fail.” You get the idea so I’ll spare you the rest of my monologue.

So… A few months ago I took my blinders off.  Still armed with The Plan, and still waking up at 4:45am to train in a pool and the SF Bay, I decided it was time to try and relax and see how it felt. And, better yet, see how my body would respond. Would I still be able to achieve my goals if I were not wound up? I wanted to see. And so, with that, this little racehorse took off her bridle, blinders and saddle, left the track and ventured off into the beautiful green pasture.

And, what I experienced as I frolicked around in the “green pasture” made my heart sing…

Big Sur

Swimming at Big Sur -- June 2012 

Gold Lake

Swimming at Gold Lake, CA -- June 2012 

Kim Kirby

London, UK