If you haven’t already read or heard— I am training to race Ironman WI on September 8th of this year. 

Why? I value my faith, honesty, integrity, and growth. This journey will help me connect deeper to myself and God through daily quiet time training, as well as gritting out raw challenges. I hope to inspire people to do the same.

Last week I decided to make a micro goal to spice up my training journey a bit. For the first time in my many years as a triathlete, I set the goal to swim 10,000 meters per week until the end of April. 

Why? Because I can.

Now, before you roll your eyes at this seemingly arrogant declaration, please let me unpack it a bit.

As I mentioned last week, I am aware of my many personal evolutions as a woman. (Missed that message? It’s a quick one— you can catch up here) While my foundational worth and values have remained the same, my roles and self-awareness have most definitely changed.

I find it easy to recall the differences through pictures, many with training or race backdrops. As a triathlete, part of this reflection includes my relationship with swimming. 

Like much of our lives, my personal swim journey has been filled with bumps in the road… or maybe I should say waves in the water. When I started in 2007, I thought I could swim laps, before quickly realizing that I was incredibly inefficient and had no idea how to build swim endurance. I signed up for master’s swimming and cried before each session. But I kept showing up. I learned how to (imperfectly) swim, and awkwardly laughed and side stroked my way for most of my first triathlon. Later that summer, I was filled with awe and gratitude when I completed a half ironman swim. And again the next year when I swim 2.4 miles in Lake Monona for my first Ironman WI.

Over the years, I have had several different swim coaches in many Master’s Swim sessions. I have swam with some phenomenal swimmers, beginner to veteran triathletes, and those who swim simply for fitness. I have taken private lessons. I have had training seasons where I focused heavily on the swim and others where I did just enough to get by. One summer, I had the honor of swimming across all of the Madison lakes with an amazing woman to bring awareness to metastatic breast cancer. 

I have had good swims and awful swims. I swam in a Texas pond filled with prairie dog poop (I obviously didn’t know this at the time!). I swam in scary cold water in Utah. I swam in a local “lake” and came out with what resembled a dirt goatee. 

I have swam in big waves, and in calm waters. I coach my athletes on swimming, but I refer to the experts when it comes to teaching people how to swim, or those needing to break stubborn technique barriers.

I could go on and on… but I think it’s time to get to the point. 

As a coach and athlete, I know the swim is an important part of long distance triathlon. I know that fitness and efficiency may not mean that I, or my athletes, will swim like a mermaid. And we may put a lot of work in at the pool to see pretty minimal drops in time. But, readiness for the swim also greatly impact the bike and run on race day. 

Honestly, even with this knowledge, in the past I have treated the swim mostly as something I do to get it done. While I enjoy the act of swimming, I don’t enjoy having my head under water for an hour or longer three to four times a week to train. I am also aware of some inefficiencies in my stroke that I am addressing, so I am also doing so much thinking and counting with my head under water. I almost constantly wrestle with wanting to be done with the workout from the first stroke.

So, did I make the 10K goal to increase my athletic capability in the water?

The short answer is not really. While I sincerely hope it is a by-product of my continued technique, speed, and endurance work, this is not the specific WHY for this goal. 

After some honest soul-searching, the reason is truly as simple as: because I can.

I want to speak and live out the truth of this season of my life. I have the time, and I yearn to surrender to it when I am training, rather than constantly wrestling with talking myself out of it. I honestly know I have left a lot on the table lately when it comes to my investment in swimming. I want to honor my why, and keep exploring how all of this is God-honoring. And, I love erecting little challenges along the way that keep me interested and focused. 

I hope you don’t get too caught up in the swimming part of this message. I also hope you don’t adopt an attitude of, “I can’t do anything that takes that much time.” We are living different lives with unique interests, responsibilities, and priorities. What I do hope you do is fee empowered to make a small change that honors your goals, values, and overall health and well-being… simply because you can. Take some time for honest reflection. What can you spend your time doing that can honor a goal a little more deeply? Where can you honestly confront those dark places around it? Who do you have around you that supports you?

Take one more little step today. Because YOU can.