So I was at the pool recently (where else would I be?) and as I was standing in the shallow end, panting between hard sets, wishing I was getting a root canal or passing a kidney stone instead of swimming, I noticed the swimmer in the lane next to me. Clearly not in hard-core athlete shape, clearly not a mechanically trained swimmer, she was going SLOW. As I struggled to catch my breath, I thought about how nice it would be to just swim, SLOWLY, without focusing on all the cadence/catchup/finger-drag/rotation/plane/bunny foo foo/smergifiller crap that I have to try and focus on while at the same time swimming at speeds like Jaws is tracking me down.
A few minutes later, she was done and politely asked if she can cross my lane while I’m waiting for the clock (yes, that magic clock at the Y. You know it – the one that changes speed depending on whether you are resting between sets [when it is much faster] or when you have to swim for a certain time period [when it just drags]. Same clocks they had in elementary school). So I mumbled something like “take your time – I don’t want to do another set anyway. ” She must have sensed my dedication to something I clearly was not enjoying, the exhausted look of disgust on my face, and also my ridiculous collection of stuff (pull buoy, kickboard, written workout in a zip-lock baggie, water bottle) because she asked, with a smile, “Are you training for something?” I, of course, am embarrassed by how slow and out of shape I am, so simply said “yeah” while frowning with that “I’m an idiot” expression on my face. (I generally try not to mention Ironman because, well, most people think I’m a moron for even attempting this, and sometimes I agree with them. )
Without missing a beat, she smiled and says “I’m training for Ironman. I’m doing the swim in Syracuse as part of a team.” Still smiling, she turned and headed out of the pool. And I realized: she’s REALLY happy to be training for something that looks to me like will be REALLY hard for her. And here I am, miserable, training for something the I’m REALLY lucky to able to train for. I’ve got the family support, job flexibility, finances (almost) and the potential to be an Ironman, and I’m actually bitching about it! What is wrong with me? (Don’t answer that).
To have the luxury to train for anything that is not directly related to survival is a privilege. One of life’s bonuses. Something few people can do (if they actually want to – different story there). So, from now I’m, I’m going to smile and be grateful for (and during) the rest of my workouts. Because I get to try and be an Ironman!