Getting off the ground

In June, I was pulled three miles into the Great Chesapeake Bay 4.4-mile sea swim for dehydration and heat exhaustion. I was upset. I wondered if I made the right decision to enter a sea race with minimal salt water training. By entering, was I reaching for the stars and the three miles I completed was grabbing a handful of clouds? Or did signing up for the event overestimate my abilities and set me up for failure? Five months later, I finally have my answer.
It all started in July 2013 with the premiere of The Amazing Race Canada, a reality TV show in which teams of two race across Canada (and the world), completing physical and mental challenges. My sister, Anna, loves the show and has been telling me to apply for years. This year, I finally agreed. And so the following events unfolded:

22 November 2015

10pm – Anna realises that The Amazing Race Canada season four application, which has been open for ten weeks, is closing at midnight the following day. She calls me. No answer.

23 November 2015

10am – I talk to Anna and agree to apply. We think the best teammate will be my university friend, Rebecca, who lives 1.5 hours away and does not own a phone.
10:05am – I email Rebecca, asking her to call me ASAP.
2pm – Having now checked my email for Rebecca’s response a dozen times, I text Rebecca’s husband, Andrew, asking him to connect us.
2:10pm – Andrew called Rebecca’s brother, Matthew. Matthew calls Rebecca’s childhood best friend, Lola Jean. Rebecca calls me from Lola Jean’s farm in Acton, Ontario. We make plans to meet at my parents’ house in Toronto to film our application video.
2:20pm – Rebecca and I book the next buses to Toronto.
8pm – Rebecca and I both arrive in Toronto after dealing with a forgotten wallet (Rebecca) and delayed bus (me).
8:30pm – Rebecca and I film the first take of our application video. I’m so flustered that I introduce myself as Rebecca.
8:40pm – We film a second take. I remember my own name this time.
8:50pm – We film a third take. We’ve already become stiff.
9pm – Rebecca works on our written application. I search the videos for funny and engaging clips.
10pm – Rebecca and I look over each other’s work.
10:30pm – I upload the videos to my computer. It’s painfully slow.
11pm – The videos are finally uploaded. We cut them to isolate the good clips.
11:30pm – I download a video joining program to string the clips together.
11:40pm – We download our final video. It says “Free Trial” across our faces.
11:41pm – I pay for the full video joining program.
11:50pm – We download the final video (again). It doesn’t say “Free Trial” but it also has no sound.
11:55pm – Unable to fix the video, we film a webcam application directly onto the Amazing Race website (speaking quietly so as not to wake my mother).
11:59pm – Press send.
11:59pm = The Amazing Race Canada website crashes.

24 November 2015

12:00am – I refresh the Amazing Race website. It reads “Season four applications are now closed. Thank you for your interest.”
12:01am – I email The Amazing Race Canada, reporting the crashed website and asking to submit our application on-line.
12:02am – I receive a response saying that I shouldn’t have waited until literally the last minute to submit my application.

Needless to say, it was a frustrating night. But as I lay awake at 2am, cursing my bus for being late, the video joiner program for producing a silent movie, the Amazing Race website for crashing, and myself for not managing my time better, I realised that I learned something from it all – I’d rather try and fail than never try at all.
Hoping to be on The Amazing Race Canada was reaching for the stars. Failing to submit an application wasn’t even grabbing a handful of clouds. But at least I jumped off the ground. And sometimes that’s the best you can do.
So I finally have my answer. Entering the Great Chesapeake Bay Swim wasn’t a mistake. I made it three miles – I grabbed a handful of clouds! Hopefully next year I’ll make it to the stars. But even if I don’t, I’ll get off the ground.
This blog is a continuation of A Handful of Clouds from June 2015.

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