The Day I Almost Quit & Died

I had been training for a reverse sprint triathlon for many months leading up to the race. Early morning running workouts followed by cycling or swimming in the afternoon was the norm. All for this short race; 5k Run, 15mile Bike, 1/4 mile swim.

The day began at five o’clock in the morning. My training partner and I checked in early before the rush of competitors came in. As we set everything up, I am amazed by the amount of money some people spend on bikes and accessories. Half an hour before the race we took a warmup up jog. I was so pumped up. I had been jamming out to some DMX on my iPod just like I did in high school before a wrestling match.

Before I knew it, we were at the starting line.

Bang! The gun shot went off and the race began.

During the run, I wanted to set a good pace. I figured If I got a good start, I would be able to hold that pace and stay in the top 25 percentile for the rest of the race. After all, it was only three miles.

What I failed to consider was that I had taken two Powergels before the race. The problem with that was that I didn’t take into effect what the caffeine would do to my heart rate. During my previous training sessions I would keep my heart rate steady at 160 bpm or 80% of my max heart rate, but during the race, my HR was peaking at 185 bpm! My performance was dropping fast. I muscled my way to the transition area. I’ve never been happier to bike 15 miles.

The best way to guarantee a loss is to quit. Morgan Freeman

The bike was my most confident portion of the race. Though my split times dropped during the run, I knew my strong legs would help me make up some time. Many of the people that passed me on the run I eventually caught up to. I felt good. That was until I caught a major cramp on both of my calves. I’ve never felt anything like it. I shifted the pressure of the pedals onto my heels. This made it bearable enough to complete the cycling portion.

As I came off the bike into the swim fear began to set in. Days before the race it rained continuously because of a tropical storm that passed through. The ocean was still feeling the effects. The waves were FIVE feet high, and the current was pushing hard. As soon as I got in the ocean, I knew I was going to fight for every inch toward the finish line.

As soon as I got into the water, I was getting hit, grabbed, or poked by another swimmer. I had swallowed more ocean water during that swim than I did in my entire life put together. To top it all I couldn’t see anything from the ocean water that had gotten into my goggles. I wanted to quit but I had to keep swing, or at least stay afloat if I didn’t want to I’d drown and die.

I feared for my life.I was too far away from shore to completely stop what I was doing. I tried every technique I knew, freestyle, sidestroke, breaststroke, doggy-paddle. I honestly didn’t think I was going to finish. Flashes of my death crossed my mind in what seemed like an eternity but realistically more like a few minutes.

“If you quit ONCE it becomes a habit.Never quit”  Michael Jordan

In a last ditch effort, I yelled for help. The lifeguard came to my side and let me hang onto his kayak. I had two options he said. The lifeguard could bring me back to shore and be disqualified, or I could continue without assistance.

I couldn’t believe this was happening to me. I’ve never quit anything in my life, but I was so afraid of drowning that I had to think about this seriously while the athletes passed me.

My thought process was If I quit now its was only going to make quitting easier when something else in my life gets hard. 

I decided to continue with the race and swim to the finish line.

For the next 10 minutes, every emotion went through my body. I was mad for not practicing ocean swimming more. I was fearful that if I drowned nobody would see me sink. Then when I made it to shore, I was so happy that I didn’t have to swim any longer. I got to shore and kissed the sand as if it was my first contact with the Gulf of Mexico.

I will never forget that day as long as I live. Quitting could have made everything so much easier for me that day. It would have immediately taken away all my pain and anguish. I wouldn’t have had to put myself through that experience. They still would have given me a medal for participating.

I’m glad I didn’t.


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