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  • Writer's pictureKatie Palavecino

letting go

It doesn't happen overnight my friends.

I started swimming at the age of 5. My family moved to Ledgewood where I started summer league swimming. Summer swim team memories are my fondest. It is here where I made my closest friends. Those short 6 weeks every summer felt like my whole childhood. When I was in 9th grade my high school started a swim team. I was in. I then started year round swim team. Since my high school did not have a pool, we had limited pool time at the local community college. It was still a lot of fun. I did not want it to end so when I started school at Ohio University I walked onto the D1 swim team. I got DESTROYED...mentally, physically, you name it. I told myself this had to end sometime so I quit before my sophomore year. I kept my cardio up just hitting the gym but I could not go into a natatorium without an overwhelming feeling of EXHAUSTION and I just wanted to crawl in a hole and take a nap or throw up.

I then started grad school at Penn State. A professor/friend knew I had a swim background and urged me to come and swim laps with him. mmmmm I was unsure. But with enough pressure I found myself at the Penn State beautiful outdoor facility. I continued to swim for my workout a couple times a week, while running or hitting the gym on the other days. Then I joined masters and a few times a week went to everyday. I was back in love with swimming...and this time felt so much more on my own terms.

In 2003 I moved to DC when I landed my first real job. I continued swimming everyday, checking out each and every pool/masters group in the NOVA/DC area. I maybe started to feel a little bored with swimming EVERY DAY, so when I kept meeting triathletes that urged me to try the sport...I finally decided to buy a bike. I did my 1st triathlon in 2004 and was sold. Since 2004 I have not stopped racing...through multiple injuries, 2 pregnancies, etc...I kept it going.

I was feeling amazing after qualifying for 70.3 Worlds at 70.3 Atlantic City in 2016. I had been working with Endorphin Fitness for a few years and was really starting to reach my goals. My race at 70.3 Worlds 2017 was less than amazing. I just felt tired. I don't know how else to explain it. I enjoyed training and being fit but the thought of racing just felt completely sucked all my energy out. The swim felt unusually uncomfortable. During the bike I told myself after this...NO MORE..I gradually saw my power getting lower and lower and I had no energy. I did not want to ride again after this. I told myself I would stop after the bike...especially if I saw Matias and the kids (who were on their way to Chatty from DC). I did not see them in transition so told myself ok do one loop (course was two 10K loops). I saw them somewhere towards the middle of the 1st loop. I told Matias I wanted to quit I was done. He told me YOU CAN NOT...YOU WILL REGRET IT!...You got this. It was ugly but I finished.

After that I was ready to be done with racing. Keeping to my fitness lifestyle I got more into barre and swimming. Then my freak rollerblading accident happened. So I guess racing WAS really done for a bit! After what felt like a break...and fully recovered in 2019 I decided I would get back to it. A few local sprints where I had minimal motivation. The fact that Leo was doing the kids races kept me going. The main goal for the year being USAT Nationals, which were held in Cleveland, OH (my hometown!) last year and this I obviously could not pass this one up. I was excited to race with Matias as it had been awhile. But in the back of my head that same EXHAUSTION kept creeping in. Gearing up for the race and doing all the pre-race logistics I just felt more and more tired. That blah exhausted feeling. Why couldn't I shake this. I just couldn't get serious. That morning Matias was so seriously this guy was going to rip it up (and he DID!). I on the other hand just wanted coffee. Being the last wave did not help my mood. I watched athletes as they prepared and headed down to the start. Everyone seemed so FRESH. I watched Sherpas supporting their athletes (OH how I longed to be them). I made my way to the start when it was time. All the ladies were warming up. I waded in the water. It felt refreshing. They called a delay. Everyone warmed up some more. I got out of the water and stood on the beach alone and looked out into the water just trying to shove my negative thoughts aside. Finally it was go time. Swimming felt good. Then onto the bike. I had zero energy. Watching the athletes already on the run course made me feel looked miserable. I really did not have it in me...not in my heart. About 5 miles in the road just felt bike started to shake. Maybe I had a flat? gosh HOPEFULLY! ha. I looked but could not tell so I stopped. Game over.

I am a swimmer and I will always be. I am a triathlete and I will always be. It will always be there. But racing needs to stop for TBD. For me this fitness thing is not a is a lifestyle...I will keep crushing dreams in some form or other. For now I got some Peloton goals. And...just. keep. swimming. That is where the magic happens...

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