So I was thinking earlier tonight about my new swimming thing. It sorta reminds me about when I started out running. After years of watching the Chicago Marathon and cheering on runners at the far western edge of the route at Damen/Adams, I turned my "I should do that" to "I'm GONNA do that!"
I haven't swam (swum? Why does that word look wrong) in years--decades even. And even when I did, I've never had formal lessons. So I'm quite sure my form is terrible. I haven't quite gotten the nerve to keep my head totally under water. My breathing is wretched, and I'm out of breath with almost every lap. I have no goggles, so my eyes are kinda sore at night. My swimsuit is nothing special. (Still cost too much but that's another story.)
It reminds me of my first year of training in 2006**** when I'd run every run at the same pace: 2 miles? All out! 13 miles? "Balls to the wall," as Lou would say, when i met her the following summer. I'd wear cotton shirts even on long runs. I'd chafe and shrug it off. It didn't occur to me that wearing two sports bras was absurd (because there couldn't be good supporting ones out there?) I bought running shoes because they were cute, never mind functionality and fit. I never considered long run nutrition (energy gels) until being offered some on the course of a 10-mile trail run. "Wait what? People "eat" while running? This sport is for me!"
But seriously, it was 'for me' because there was something magical about it just being me and my sheer will to move from here to there, and suddenly I'd run 10 miles. It was for me because it was that little bit of time when there wasn't a toddler climbing all over me and a screaming baby looking for more milk. (Seriously? How much milk can one baby need???)
And i get that same feeling of solitude in the pool. It's all me. Its my two arms and legs that are gonna get me from one end of the lane to the other. As experience has taught me in running, I wonder now if I'm breaking every rule out there in that pool? But I don't care, and instead i embrace the naiveté.
Maybe I'll look back fondly to this time when a little grit and a bold attitude was enough to get me through 20 laps...when the goal was merely to finish and not about finish times and pace and PRs (personal records.) Just get yourself wet and sort out the details later. Maybe there's a whole set of "performance" stuff I'll be into later, like worrying about hydration and electrolytes and transition times and gear (wetsuits, anyone? Damn triathletes!) As it stands now, I've already gotten better, faster. Less out of breath. Less embarrassed--I even had to share a lane the last few times.
Who the hell was that chick who'd run a few 5Ks here and there to say "I'm gonna run a marathon!"
She's the same chick who's hopping into the pool. And loving every minute of it.
****total side note: in 2006 I ended up not running the marathon. My little Zoe wasn't even 1 yet, and the pressures of nursing, running and not knowing what I was doing while "training" alone all came crashing down on me during a soggy 16-mile run when a wave hit me along the lakefront path. I decided that I wasn't ready for the marathon. It's a silly notion to me now. Those kind of runs are the ones that build character, they're not "season-Enders." But had I not done that, I wouldn't have trained with Chicago Endurance Sports in 2007 and wouldn't have met Lou and Meg.
And while running and swimming are like two different languages, there are some lessons that carry over with no translation needed.
Just go. Keep moving forward. One foot (hand?) in front of the other. The power of boldly saying "I can!"
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