August 13, 2019

Tales from my Box – Just F*cking Jump

text by Sara Gross

At the race briefing the day before SwimRun USA last summer, in the Casco Bay Islands, Maine, we were told that the first swim started with an optional 15 ft. jump off a ferry pier.  In my mind’s eye I was ALL IN. I imagined myself running and jumping off the edge of the pier into joyful free fall without a care in the world.

Reality was a little different.

The run to the first swim, and hence the pier, was about 2 miles. SwimRun is a partner event and my partner was pro triathlete and If We Were Riding podcast co-host, Kelly O’Mara. All I remember about those 2 miles is thinking “If she is going to run this fast, I’m screwed.”  As we approached the pier, it was clear that no one was jumping off the 15ft dock, and most people were either heading down the ramp – so not jumping at all – or towards the more reasonable 12ft dock.  Kelly and I followed to the latter.

And then we congratulate ourselves for all the sacrifices made, and all the amazing life skills we are teaching ourselves about being organized and prepared and committed to our goals. And yet, somehow when faced with a jump off a pier, I was decidedly unprepared.

A few things raced through my head before we jumped like “what if I lose my googles?” “Is the water cold?” And “Holy crap this is higher than I thought”.

Instead of the blissful free fall I imagined, we executed what could only be described as a tense-bodied and tentative drop accompanied by a high pitched squeal— from me, not Kelly, to be clear.  Once in the water, we quickly regrouped – it was cold, btw – and started the first swim as planned. And as I took the first strokes, I felt a mild sense of regret.

 

@createdbyaaronp

As triathletes, we spend so much of our time preparing. We prepare our bodies physically and mentally for events that take anywhere from 1 to 17 hours. We prepare our minds, we prepare through training, eating, sleeping. We check boxes and chop wood and line up ducks in such a way that we feel confident we can execute on race day.

And then we congratulate ourselves for all the sacrifices made, and all the amazing life skills we are teaching ourselves about being organized and prepared and committed to our goals. And yet, somehow when faced with a jump off a pier, I was decidedly unprepared.

I’ve thought about this on and off over the last year, how sometimes it’s good to be ultra-prepared, and sometimes you just have to jump.

As I’m building my business, I’ve been hanging out with other entrepreneurs and one thing I notice about most of them – they are really good at thinking on their feet. Because some decisions need to be made in real time, and sometimes a snap judgment can make or break a lucrative business deal.

And perhaps most importantly, accept that failure is perhaps the best outcome of all because it will lead to the greatest number of lessons learned.

A friend of mine had a good chance at making the Olympic Games in Triathlon a few years back. She came out of the water with the main chase pack and was in a good position on the bike during the qualifying race. The course was hilly and had lots of twists and turns. She was floating near the back of the group, made a poor gear choice coming out of one of the corners and BOOM, she was off the back and never caught up. And while she had spent hours in training on the technical aspects of pack riding, somehow, in the moment, one bad choice led to the disappointment of a lifetime – missing the Olympic Games.

And all this leaves me wondering if there is something I can do to prepare myself for those moments. The moments when I just have to jump and trust. And the only thing I’ve come up with is to try jumping off real and figurative piers more frequently. To practice the art of making good decisions in the middle of free fall. To trust that all my preparation will help me keep my goggles in place and deal with the cold water when it inevitably rushes into my wetsuit. And perhaps most importantly, accept that failure is perhaps the best outcome of all because it will lead to the greatest number of lessons learned.

I’d like to think that if I went back to the Casco Bay SwimRun now, I would be less affected by what other people are doing, less worried about controlling my environment, and just f*cking jump.

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“Tales from my Box” is a weekly column by Live Feisty Media founder, Sara Gross. Here you will find stories from Sara’s CrossFit box or triathlon, or sports in general. Alternatively, you may find vagina news or other experiences related to being a woman.  

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