Sunday, July 30, 2017

Adventures in Failure

One of my favorite sayings: 
"Fate whispers to the warrior, 'You can not withstand the storm'. 
The warrior whispers back, 'I am the storm.'"
Today I thought the storm was greater, it was with the help of friends that I realized being the storm happens on many different levels

Understand that by definition I still failed at achieving my goal. I was unsuccessful in what I set out to do this morning. I set out to swim 17 miles, from Navarre Beach to Pensacola Beach along the shore in the sound. Patrick, my husband kayaking beside me. The plan was in place, the tides were in our favor, drinks were frozen, food was packed, all was good to go... but in the night while we rested the winds dipped down and began to stir the sky and the seas. We started our day seeing first light peek through the clouds with the breeze unfortunately kicking the flags straight out, in the wrong direction. 

He puts up with a lot!!! :)
We continued to gear up, packing the kayak and dousing in sunscreen. The original plan was to head out at 6am; we were slightly behind waiting on the sun to get up a little more since the clouds were blocking. We also had to gather everyone since Juana's was a bigger area and we didn't nail down a specific meeting spot. Just looking a the water both Patrick and I knew this was a long shot in today's conditions. As I hit the water a few friends went out first. Patrick stayed back near shore to help a friend with his kayak that had flipped and filled with water. As he gave me the okay signal and told me he would catch up I headed out. I passed a few of the other swimmers and a kayaker, then pushed to a friend leading. As we rounded the first dock we were out of the protection of the cove. The waves started to crash over the top of us as we swam. 

As we headed past the docks the wind and waves picked up. We were being pushed toward shore, backwards. I hit the first mile over 40 minutes, not being on track with time. Patrick was back with me shortly after this point and knew what we were facing. Just after the mile mark we passed another outcropped dock. After this dock the waves now slammed us, lifting and dropping with no pattern. Patrick and I paused for a moment after the second mile we were again approaching a small jutting sand bar, as we paused we drifted backwards faster than we had been moving forward. The waves were white capping all around us. We turned around seeing only one kayak/swimmer team and like us they were struggling in the conditions. My timing for the mile was far off at this point, not only making the efforts of distances a challenge but time would not be in our favor.  The decision had to be made, we would turn around. 

My heart sunk. It was the right choice, my brain knew that. I suppose my heart had two miles of swimming back to accept it. 

We turned grabbing the next group and letting them know we would be turning back. Patrick sent notice to those waiting at other check points that we wouldn't be making it to them today. Each notification he announced to me made my heart sunk further.  I was disappointed and feared having disappointed others.  And this was just for fun. 

As we headed back to our starting point we noticed there was no one else in the water. But Patrick noticed the vehicle of one fellow swimmer heading down the road. I figured they were headed home, but noticed quickly they kicked the van in to reverse and headed toward where we were. We swam in toward the shore and in a moment my day changed again. 

A friend of ours stood there on the shore waving a palm frond to signal us. This made me laugh, but it was when she ran out in to the water to hug all of us. She knew I was frustrated, pretty sure everyone knew, but she smiled and cheered and told of their teams adventure. They had been taking on water as the waves crashed over their sit-in kayak. The waves continued to crash into them till the kayak was just short of sunk. Upon reaching shore they stashed the kayak, rinsed off (after asking a homeowner) and headed on foot, running back to the start point. They encountered the other group, who picked them and the kayak up. Then here they stood waving palm fronds at us- oh what an adventure they had, but even more humorous is if you think about the events from the perspective of the homeowner who was just out the watch the storms roll in. Still makes me laugh. My heart lifted a little. 

As we headed back in I intended that my day swimming was done. Time had passed and I reminded myself this was all for fun (some people we're proving it was fun). When we got back not only were we greeted by those who had first accompanied us in to the water (who left their breakfast to run out) but also those from further check points meet us at the shoreline. They traveled down to be a support which was lifting and much needed. But then I noticed goggles and caps in their hands, "We are going swimming, right." I had to laugh. Here I was done swimming, it was over, I was out of the washing machine, but the storm within them said it wasn't over.  

For the second time I dawned my cap and pushed out from shore (the same shore) to swim into the once again building waves. The group was going to the first dock about 300 yards out... at first. Then there was mention of a full mile, so we swam out a half mile to a sail boat,  then four of us decided, well I don't think I decided but I "had" to go, on a mile out and a mile back. We fought the wind and waves for the remaining portion of the mile out then fought the current and the push of the wind for the mile returning. 

As the storm of wind and waves surrounded us I realized that the storm inside all of us is greater that the storm of fate around us.  Today there was only 6.5 miles of open water swimming put in the books next to the scratched out 17. It was an adventure in failure filled with laughs, struggles, supports, and friendships.  

Thank you to everyone who swam, kayaked, laughed, and believed. You are each amazing and I am thankful to have you as a part of this little adventure. The storm rages on. We will conquer another day. 



  1. Sorry it was cut short. I really enjoyed reading this even though the swim was cut short it was a really good read. The next time you "Go For It" I want to be a part of it.

  2. Thanks for sharing your adventure with us :) I love reading your blogs. You two are such a inspiration on so many levels. To me failure is not getting to the starting area. Life is what happens when our plans don't go as planned. Till next time Stephanie