Archive for June 12, 2009
Thursdays are long days for me. I teach two classes before 8 a.m., work at my day job until 5:30, then teach another class at 6:30 p.m. So the last thing I wanted to do last night was strap on a bathing suit and goggles and get in a pool.
But I did. Because my first triathlon ever is happening in 45 days. And I’m not ready.
I’m a mediocre swimmer at best. I’m slow. My form is bad. I never really understood how the breathing works in freestyle, so I rely on the breaststroke — which, as my former-swim-team-captain sister recently pointed out, is “the least efficient way to swim.” Did I mention that I use noseplugs?
So you can imagine how out of my element I am in the pool. But does that stop me? Heck no. Last night, I was determined to swim the distance that I’ll have to do on the day of the race. (It’s 1500 meters – almost a mile – followed by a 40-kilometer bike ride – almost 25 miles – and a 10-kilometer run – a little more than six miles.) I had no idea how long it would take me, and I was very glad that I was the only person in the pool. The fewer witnesses to my splashing and flailing, the better. The teenage lifeguard seemed intensely disinterested in what I did as long as I didn’t sink to the bottom of the pool.
I did the math and figured out that I’d need to travel the length of the 25-meter pool 60 times to reach my goal. To get an accurate idea of the time, I’d have to go without stopping. And to approximate at least one of the conditions of the triathlon swim route, which takes place in the Hudson River, I’d have to refrain from pushing off the sides at each end. (There’s nothing to push off of in the river!)
I slogged through. At times, it felt like I was barely moving. But I thought back to when I first started running, when getting to the end of my block took all of my effort. Back then, I never would’ve even thought that I’d ever be able to run for hours. But I can now. I didn’t get to where I am through talent or genetics or coaching. I got here because I just kept at it. With that in mind, I made like Finding Nemo’s Dory and just kept swimming.
I finished in about 44 minutes. I felt like rubber and weaved a little as I came out of the pool, but I finished. The lifeguard, whose name I have learned is Eric, looked up from his book (yeah, I know) and smiled as he said, “Good job.”
Get used to it, Eric. You and I are going to be spending a lot more time together, because I’ve got 45 days to go.
Are you a swimmer with tips/tricks/motivation to share? Are you a landlubber who’d never be as dumb as me? Post a comment and let us hear it!