This past weekend, I headed about 4 hours north of where I live to do some camping, outdoor activities, and a race in Northern Wisconsin.
As you probably know from other newsletters, most of the races that I do are strictly one discipline - biking - but this weekend was an exception to this. It was an off-road triathlon - whitewater paddling, mountain biking, and a trail run.
I really hesitated in signing up for this race because as much as I LOVE ADVENTURE, I am NOT a whitewater fan. In fact, I am pretty terrified of it.
I think my fear around this stems from having a childhood friend die in a whitewater accident a couple years after we graduated from school because I grew up on water and never had a problem with it until then.
My friends had been laying the pressure on pretty heavy the last couple years to join them at this event that they attend every year.
So I went...realizing that I was heading to do something I had intense fear around.
The day before the race, we did a practice run on the kayaking section so we could get an idea of the best lines to take through the rapids.
I REALLY did not want to join, but everyone else was doing it and I was going to have to do it the next day in the race anyway.
So I went....
The paddle started out on a pretty smooth area of the river. It was late afternoon and the sun had an amazing orange/yellow glow on the changing forest leaves that lined the water.
I really wish I had a camera with me because it was picturesque.
However, I soon forgot about that because we came up on the first of four sections of rapids. And the smile on my face turned to one of terror.
I could feel my heart in my throat and my nerves were all on high alert!
That first section had a couple of boulders and some little drops but overall, it wasn't too bad. Luckily, we had a big enough group that I just tried to mirror what everyone else was doing. It gave me enough practice to get into a groove with my paddling in those sections.
When we got to the second section, I could tell that it had a lot rougher water. And in my efforts to control the boat, I didn't see the path that everyone in front of me took.
I incorrectly thought that everyone had crossed from the right to the left side, which is what we had done in the first section. So I did that.
That's also where the rapids were their roughest and in my efforts to cross them, I got hung up on a rock and before I even knew what had happened, I flipped upside down.
If you've ever seen a whitewater kayak, there's a neoprene cover called a "spray skirt" over the opening to keep water in. So when you flip, you have to find the cord to take it off and get out.
It took a couple tries but I found it and swam out into the rapids. And as this happened, my shoe came off and began floating down the river with my paddle!
I was a little banged up from the rocks and shaken. Some of my friends coached me on getting the water out of the kayak while other retrieved the items I lost when I flipped.
Because, I wasn't done. I still had to kayak the rest of the river in order to get back to our cars.
And the rest of the run down the river went without incident.
The cool thing was that other than a couple bruises, I was totally fine. I had just walked away from my first whitewater kayaking roll - something I was pretty freaking scared of - fine.
Afterwards, I realized that it was far less scary than I had imagined in my mind. And the day after, when I paddled that same section in the race, it felt SO much less scary than it had the day before.
In fact, I had a freaking BLAST the second time through.
The next day, I got through the race without incident...and you know what? I won my age group and took 3rd overall.
Talk about exceeding my own expectations after feeling the fear and doing it anyway!
This is just like everything in life.
There are a ton of things that cause us fear in our lives - they are usually things that are unknown, likely because we have never done them.
For you, it could be....
Trying a new activity.
Finally starting that business that you've been dreaming about.
Being more visible in your business.
Traveling somewhere solo for the very first time.
Whatever it is, if you have fear around them, there's a good chance that a story or experience from your past is creeping up and causing you to "keep you safe".
But really, it's not keeping you safe at all.
It's keeping you small.
It's keeping you from experiencing something new, something that could add so much excitement and joy in your life.
It's keeping you from your dreams.
Fear isn't a bad thing...it usually tells us we're on the right track.
The problem with fear is that when it creeps up, many people give in to the fear and don't do the thing that they are scared of.
That doesn't have to be your story. I say, feel the fear and do it anyway.
If anything, you'll have a good story to tell afterwards. And you'll likely surprise yourself at how much you actually enjoy it and do well at it like I did.
Life's short. Feel the fear and do it anyway so you can live the life of your dreams!
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