I took the plunge! Most of my friends thought I was crazy (at times I wondered myself), my parents said they were glad I didn’t tell them before hand so they didn’t have to worry, and the cold nearly did me in, but I can now say that I did it. In fact, you can check it out here – I’m the one in the burnt orange Texas t-shirt and green shorts.
The Polar Plunge is a fundraiser for the Special Olympics. People who sign up for the challenge raise money for Special Olympics and on Saturday February 20th, we all met at the beach and at 3pm made a mad dash down the beach into the water. Lots of people were dressed in costumes (there was a costume contest earlier in the day), some had on very skimpy bathing suits, some were in shorts and t-shirts…I even saw one girl in a ball gown complete with gloves and a tiara. All in all approximately 200 people took the plunge for this great cause.
I had a great time. I didn’t decide to participate until the week before and by Wednesday still needed to raise my $50. Gayle mentioned that we were headed to our Wii Bowling league at Front Street Brewery that night and I could ask everyone there for a dollar or so and probably get most of what I needed. So, that night I talked to almost everyone there and people were extremely generous. Most people I talked to gave me $1, some gave more, and those that didn’t were people who were participating themselves or had sponsored another plunger (I just had to get that word in here somewhere!). So, I want to throw out a huge thanks to all my Wii bowling buddies for their support. Special thanks go to Joan & Mike Loch, Dawn Bugni, and Helen Rittersporn for their support as well! My biggest thanks, however, go to Gayle who is super willing to put up with all my weird activities and is always there to cheer, take pictures, and make sure I am safe and happy! I owe her more than I will ever be able to repay.
The day of the plunge was nice and sunny, the temperature was in the 60′s. Due to the freakish 6 inches of snow we received a week earlier, the water temperature was a balmy 41 degrees. When the time came, I ran with everyone else down the the water and headed in. I got about waist deep and could no longer breathe. I turned around to come back in, able to say that I got in, but disappointed that I didn’t reach my goal. You see, I told everyone who sponsored me that I would get my head wet. So, as I headed back to shore, I realized that I had to finish, had to go all the way. I turned around again and dove under. To say it was cold is an understatement. I tried to hurry back to the beach, but was having a hard time moving. Before I got out, I tripped and fell. There were moments when I thought I might need assistance. Gayle said she thought so too and was getting ready to come in after me. But I made it, wrapped up in a towel, and got into some dry clothes shortly. If you had asked me then whether I’d be back next year, I probably would have said no. Today the answer is different….I will be back plunging again next year, and hope to have a group of people willing to go with me.
I’ve been thinking about how participating in the Polar Plunge relates to my triathlon training. I think they have a lot in common. Both involve pushing your body to extreme limits. Both involve the mental toughness to complete something when your body is begging you to stop. I hope that proving to myself that I could complete my goal and turn around to dive under water when all I wanted was to get out, get dry and get warm will help me in my training. I need to keep that feeling of accomplishment in the face of extreme conditions as I train and race. I can do it, even when I think I can’t. And I’m excited to prove it!