The Slow Lane. (IM Canada, etc.)
(Almost) Every Tuesday and Thursday, I swim with Matt Dixon and his Purple Patch crew. Practice starts promptly at 5:37am and the rules are simple: no excuses, don’t be a baby, and keep up with Angus. (I suppose these are self-imposed rules, but I think Matt would agree.)
To give you a visual, there are 5 lanes in the pool. Lane 1 is the fastest lane where pros and ex-D1 swimmers exist – a foreign place I hope to visit one day. Lane 5 is the slowest lane, with all speeds in between. For the past 6 months, I’ve survived in lane 4…. which is officially the “slow” lane. I’ve built a lot of character in that lane; I think I even built some friendships. But mostly, I’ve built this incredibly honest relationship with myself – with my improvements, my setbacks, my occasionally shitty attitude, and most importantly….my potential. Before I joined Matt’s practices, I had almost fully surrendered to the fact that I would never be a decent swimmer. I deeply believed improvement wasn’t a possibility and I would indefinitely suck. But I was delusional, and luckily, the slow lane kept me honest.
Every week, the slow lane reminded me that I had something to tap into - that there was progress to be made. But as I always remind myself, it doesn’t just happen to you. There is nothing to tap into if you stay stagnant. If you want to continue believing whatever story you’re telling yourself, then don’t get in the pool. But if you want to familiarize yourself with the truth – the struggle, the discomfort, the doubt, the pain, the gain – then get your ass in the slow lane and see what you’re made of.
So I did. And I continue to. Sometimes I’m in the medium lane, and sometimes Matt demotes me back down to the slow lane (because, well….I’m slow) but we’re in it. We’re doing it. Or as my dear friend Maxie McCoy says “we’re being it.”
All of this got me to the starting line at Ironman Canada back in July. I wanted revenge after a very disappointing race at IM Texas back in May. Canada was exactly what I needed, it was my breakthrough race. In short, it was a day of PRs: an overall best, my fastest swim and a run to be proud of. I qualified for Kona and was the fastest overall amateur on a tough day with brutally wet/cold conditions. And I have the slow lane to thank. Here are my times:
Swim – 1:15
Bike – 5:38
Run – 3:35
Total – 10:46
Chris had an amazing race in Whistler as well, (2nd amateur), so we both qualified for Kona. But before Kona, we had a lot of change coming our way. I had finally stopped working for a company I did not believe in, and on our way back from Whistler, I accepted a job at an amazing startup, Glassdoor. Then we adopted a puppy, Ridley. Then Chris accepted a job offer at an exciting investment firm, then we got married, and IT HAS BEEN A DREAM. It’s been crazy, and hectic and exhausting, but I guess that’s how we roll.
So here’s to racing Kona with my incredible husband, and if/when I feel the doubt creep in during the race, I’ll handle it more honestly and maturely - thanks to the slow lane.
Who is Caroline?
A Colorado native living in San Francisco. Running, riding, swimming, career pivoting....and putting most of it on record.