Success is 5% strategy, 95% mindset. On race day it’s 100% mindset!
Boy, did I need to dig deep to complete Lake Coniston end to end swim (5.2 miles)!
I’ve never swam further than a mile in open water before. I trained hard and knew I was physically strong enough.
What I didn’t know….
On race day, it’s 100% mindset!
In the first 500 metres panic set in as the swimmers in my group (the yellow hats) swam away from me and I was left alone in the river:
- What was I thinking, I’ll never finish this?
- I’m not like those swimmers, they’re professionals!
- I should have started with a 1K for my first event!
- I’m in this water all alone now!
- I’ve got 5 miles to go, there’s no way.
- I’ll be asked to exit as I won’t finish within the cut off time.
- I can’t breath!!
- Lorna, you’re a mindset coach for f***s sake, you’ve got this!
- You make a decision and you do it!
- You’ve got this!
- Get your rhythm and swim.
- Focus your mind and do it!
I took a breath and tugged my wet suit up away from my closing throat, it filled with cold river water creating some space. I set off slowly, counting my strokes. One, two, one, two, one, two. Focusing on the rhythm had a calming effect. Head down, swimming properly, it wasn’t long before I caught up with a couple of yellow hats, regaining a bit of confidence. A period of calm swimming as the sun warmed the river and I looked down at the beautiful yellow plants. I’m loving this.
I reached 1.5 mile and smiled. I’ve got this!
The sun disappeared and I was suddenly getting thrown around like a leaf in the wind. It felt like I was going nowhere. When I turned my head to breath a wave would slosh into my mouth.
- Oh god I can’t do this for another 3 miles.
- Just keep swimming Lorna!
At some point it calmed again and I’m steady away.
Suddenly I felt a surge behind me, realising in horror that the next group of swimmers (faster purple hats), had caught me up and were swimming past me effortlessly. I tried not to panic.
- It’s your race Lorna, do your thing, let them do theirs.
- Let these purple capped dolphins pass and do your thing.
In no time they passed and they’d left a gift! As I watched their beautiful swimming technique, I reminded myself that I’m a good swimmer and for some reason I’d left my technique on the riverbank. I put my head down and started feeling the water, pulling it back and gliding through. Another period of enjoyment before the waves brewed.
It’s just another part of the challenge, keep going. Keep pressing on.
With 1.5 mile to go I was totally confident.
I stopped at the feed boat for an energy drink. Sipped it and threw up a little. Oh no! I feel really sick.
I carried on gingerly, feeling nauseous. My mind racing.
- What is this?
- It must be sea sickness
- I’m not stopping!
- Shall I go faster and get it over with asap?
I tried speeding up, but it made the sickness worse. I started feeling cold. It wasn’t cold, there where people swimming without wetsuits.
- Come on Lorna, less than a mile now.
I really wanted to head into the last mile pushing my endurance, adding speed, but it wasn’t happening. I started retching and had to stop to vomit three times. So sorry for anyone behind me,
I can see the finish and I grit my teeth and swim burning the last of my physical and mental strength.
I try to smile for my photo and say thank you for the medal, but I’m worried I’m going to throw up all over the staff. I see my family, cheering, faces of pride. They hug me. I’m shivering and emotional. I need to sit, lay down, warm up, throw up….
Mark peels off my wetsuit and I hug my dry robe to my chest, shivering uncontrollably. I can’t hang around. Within minutes I’m in the car, heated seats, water and flapjacks in hands. I can barely eat, but I know I must. I nibble half a sweat oat bar, forcing it down.
All through the race I was thinking, never again. Why do we do this to ourselves? I’ve completed my goal to do an open water swim, I can tick it off my list and move on.
Within 2 hours, I’ve signed up for the next one. And I am 100% doing Coniston 2023! I know you now Coniston! Next year I’m giving you my all!