I just wrapped up a master’s swim class at my local YMCA. I signed up for it because, when I get in the water, I’m euphoric. I feel energized, at peace and almost at home. I’m not claiming to be aquatic but if you know anything about the 7 chakra centers of the body, mine is definitely associated with water.
I signed up for this class somewhat on a whim, partly because a new friend I made, who happens to be into triathlons (along with her very fit husband and their two young, future triathletic boys) encouraged me to sign up too. That should have been my first clue to run fast in the opposite direction but the truth is, secretly (OK, well not now that I’m blogging about it), I’ve wanted to do a sprint triathlon since 2005.
In December 2006, eight months after I gave birth to my first child, I thought I was ready to commit. My plan was to find one nearby, start training in the winter and be ready by the time the event came up in the summer. Along the way of course, I’d loose the baby fat and get in tip-top form. Guess what, I didn’t do it.
My excuse then was that I was new to the area, had too many responsibilities with a new job, new baby and my husband in business school PLUS, I had no one to train with (I’m a pathetically social creature). So I kept fantasizing about doing a triathlon but ultimately did nothing about it. Then I got pregnant again.
Now that my second child is two, I figure it’s time. A few years ago, my cousin, let’s call her Calliope, whom I adore and admire, got in to marathons, then triathlons, then Iron Women. At her Colorado wedding in the fall of 2009, she told me if I wanted to do a triathlon, she’d do one with me. I could even pick the event and she’d fly out so we could do it together.
You’d think that would have been the ultimate motivator for me but it wasn’t. What I really wanted/needed was someone to train with, to help motivate me and keep me on track. Basically to kick my ass into gear and make me quit my avoidance techniques.
So let’s get back to this swim class for a minute. The coach, we’ll call her Lavinia (since that’s her name), is Romanian. Though she never once got into the pool with us, it was clear that she was an expert swimmer. I’d even heard rumors she was a former Olympian but she didn’t offer this information to our class.
Tonight, I finally approached her and asked about her background. It turns out that she is the former coach for the Israeli National Olympic Swim Team, the Venezuelan Team AND her native Romanian Team. Did I mention my class was at the local Y?
I’ve been swimming my whole life. For as long as I can remember. I’ve never been on a swim team and I’ve never swum competitively but I’ve always done it and enjoyed it. Somewhere along the way I must have been taught the various strokes because somehow I know them all (OK, maybe not the butterfly but really, who the hell is masochistic enough to need that stroke in their survival kit anyway!?). What I didn’t realize is that I didn’t do any of the strokes well. I was like a cardiovascular surgeon with 20/100 vision performing capillary surgery without glasses on.
My swim class met once a week for nine weeks and over that time Lavinia deconstructed our strokes and put them back together again, all the while staying perfectly dry, beside us. By the second class, I was swimming freestyle in a way that felt altogether more efficient and effective. By the end of the sixth class, I was swimming the same stroke longer and better. One-third of the way into tonight’s final class, I swam 850 meters (17 laps or 1/2 mile) in 20 minutes plus a 200 meter warm up. I was exhausted but elated.
Unfortunately, I missed the penultimate class last week, otherwise I would have known that tonight’s class was the “Triathlon Transition” class: 20 minute swim, 20 minute bike ride, 20 minute run. I wish I had known because now my interest is really peaked.
I feel ready and capable of doing the swimming portion; in fact, the local pond I swim at is having an open, non-competitive swim this weekend and I plan to do it. Over Memorial Day, I cajoled my family (well, really just my DH, since we’re the pack animals for our two half-pint, non-peddlers) to bike the entire Cape Cod Canal (all 14 miles) with me. The running piece, well, that’s my weak link I guess but did I mention I have two young kids?
My triathlete friend from the Y just registered for an all-women sprint this fall. She’s encouraging me to do it too. It’s only a 1/4 mi swim, 10 mi bike ride and 3.4 mi run, surely, if I have a few drinks, I can get myself registered…right? Now if only I can talk my cousin into joining me…
What do you think? Have you ever set your mind on something yet managed to avoid it like the Bubonic Plague? Do you think I should go for it in September or cheer my friend on and start training this Fall?