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Failure: Swim Challenge Edition

Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm --- Winston Churchill.

I discovered this quote searching for a way to combat my loss of motivation this week. It is the first time this year that I have waivered in my journey to “reinvent myself”. The enthusiasm, I failed to carry over from yet another failure was eating me alive. That failure initially in my eyes was losing another swim challenge.

Heading into the off season portion of my training the last week of November, I knew I needed a jumpstart to get my butt in the water, because we all agreed my swim needed a massive overhaul. So I called up my boy Paul, who also needed a jumpstart, and challenged him to a swimming competition. It took A LOT of convincing, but he agreed to a 3-week competition to take place Dec 1 – Dec 21. The rules were simple; all he had to do was swim half the distance I did in the water. IF he did, he won.

The first two days of the competition we swam the exact same distance. Waking up the morning of the 3rd I remember being mad at him. My anger came because I thought this was going to be easier than Paul was making it. The first two weeks Paul and I stayed relatively even and we agreed that we would be honest with each other about the distance we swam, no funny business.

Rolling into the final week, I thought this was going to be where I separated myself from him. Every day he rose to the occasion. As a result, I just got more and more hungry to make him suffer. The deciding day, however, came 4 days before the actual end. My home pool was closed because of chlorine levels, so they sent me to another pool. That pool was a meter pool. I remember the entire time I swam thinking; this is going to win me the challenge.

Well hindsight is 20/20 and it ended up being my demise. The evening of the 21st, Paul had a choice; either swim above or below it. I lost the first swim challenge. I was mad, I threw everything I had at him. I swam over 100K in those 3 weeks, the most I had ever done, and yet I lost. I was also extremely proud of Paul. He tenacity each and every day brought the best out of me, but most importantly himself.

Well our little rivalry lead JB to think of a different way to bring this challenge to the entire Mind Right Endurance (MRE) group. The rules (a basic overview): swim as much as you can for the entire month of January, but time was going to be recorded, not distance. At the end of the month he would arrange us bracket style for head to head until we had a champion. I didn’t like this initially. I had just got out of a challenge with Paul and I just wanted to swim. He told me I didn’t have a choice, so suck it up buttercup.

Through January I swam very consistently. My goal was to swim 120K and let it be what it was. The challenge (to me) was about the brackets not about January. I just needed to make it to the playoffs in my mind. I was right and I completed that goal.

Making into the playoffs, I decided to be aggressive. I was riding a high and felt really good in the water. My goal was to swim a 50K week. I knew that if I lost, it was going to take a major effort from my competitor. Mid-week the distances were released (remember this was a time challenge). I knew instantly I was losing. I was beside myself, but I knew swimming over my goal wasn’t going to lead to long term success.

Fast forward to this past Sunday. I completed my 50k goal, it hurt and at points I got tired of being in the water. Yet, I was proud of myself, it’s not every day that I get to do something I have never done before. That pride though didn’t last long. As the results were announced I felt instantly deflated as I found out I lost again. Honestly, in my gut I knew I was going to. I had a break point and had a long term view, but that didn’t help the sting one bit.

Which leads me to yesterday. The loss drove me insane and I was beating myself up pretty bad because of it. I hate to lose and, to a point, my self-worth is tied to winning (something I am still working on). My tribe tried, unsuccessfully, to pull me out, so, I Googled failure. I knew there was a lesson in this, I just had to find it.

The Winston Churchill quote brought me out of this slump. Instantly, I felt better. I know failure is not bad, but this quote gave me the perspective to push through the negativity and regain that motivation to attack the day. So remember to enthusiastically chase your dreams, dare to make mistakes and don’t let failure put out your flame. Instead let it ignite you to new heights and climb mountains you never dreamed you could.

Keep Grinding,