Grateful for the Push.

I am deep into my training. Since starting at my new facility, I’ve kicked my training up about ten notches. I’m training seven days a week, often with two workouts a day and with a swim only on my recovery day. I’m loving swimming, especially the occasional high-five from Brendan. I’m biking on a trainer that measures my power and hitting numbers I didn’t expect from myself. And I’m running, mostly comfortably, on my previously injured calf. For the last couple of weeks, I’ve averaged fourteen hours of training a week. I’m feeling really lucky to be healthy and able to train as much as I am. Continue reading

Awesome Spring Break.

I don’t have kids, but the week felt like spring break even to me because so many were out of the office this week. I took Wednesday off and then learned late in the day that our office would close on Friday. That made for a super light week of work. The breather at work matched up nicely with my first week of training at the Austin Aquatics and Sports Academy. I managed nine workouts in five days, and I loved every minute of it. Here’s how it went: Continue reading

A Swimming High.

I joined a new swim/triathlon program last week. I’ve been going to Austin Aquatics and Sports Academy, a new facility that is working in conjunction with my existing training program, TriDot. Former Olympian and world record holder Brendan Hansen is one of the swim coaches. Just before this morning’s practice, he squeezed my arm and said, “You’re becoming one of my regulars.”  Oh my goodness. I just about fainted. Continue reading

0 for 2.

It’s official. I’m skipping the Cowtown Ultra this weekend. I ran five miles this morning and felt good for just over four of them. I saw the doctor again today, and he confirmed what I feared – there’s no way I can do 30 miles on my calf and foot right now. I missed the Austin Marathon a couple of weeks ago, so that makes me 0 for 2 on big races in 2015. This year is not going as planned. So what do I do? Melt down because I’m 41 and falling apart? Give up on my race plans for 2015 because this is all a big sign that it won’t go well for me? Or forge ahead, being hopeful and patient with my body? I’ve considered all of those options, and, as much as I’m tempted to pick (a) or (b), I’m going with (c). Continue reading

A Bit of a Funk.

Last you heard from me, I was psyching myself up for a Thursday long run. It didn’t happen that Thursday because a work project came up that kept me at the office late and required that I be back in the office early that Thursday morning, but I did get the long run done that Sunday with the help of my friends Jenny and Poppe. In fact, that weekend proved to be a run heavy weekend because Kerry and I ran 10 miles on Saturday and then I did 18 miles on Sunday. That set up a wonderful first week back training with Natasha and the TriDot program. And that energy continued through this past weekend. Even though I was in frigid Iowa Saturday through Monday, Dave and I managed to get to gyms where I could swim and run between visits with friends and family. But when I got home, my drive came to a crashing halt. For two days now, I’ve done nothing. Why? Continue reading

I Can See Clearly Now.

On Monday, I spent part of the Labor Day holiday at the pool. I needed to do a timed 800-meter swim, so I got myself to the pool at Lifetime Fitness south early in the morning. In the locker room, I pulled my cap and goggles out of the side zipper of my gym bag. I noticed that I had inadvertently grabbed two pairs of goggles – the one I’d been swimming with for years and the one I bought before Coeur d’Alene to have as a back up in case my goggles broke at the race. This is what they looked like:

Old

New

For the first time, I noticed how dingy the old ones looked. There are discolored and marred with bits of black in the frames around the eyes. They work just fine, but I decided to give the new pair a try for the swim.

I couldn’t believe how clear the water looked through the new pair. It felt like I had expanded vision. I could see in front of me and all around me. I didn’t feel a barrier between me and the water. I just felt in it, with nothing in my way. It felt amazing.

It also made me think about looking at the world through fresh eyes. I’ve had my heart broken in the last year, and that’s colored my view of so much. Am I worthwhile? What do I have to offer another? Is there anyone who will fight for me? Did I misjudge what I had? Did I believe in something when I shouldn’t have? Can I trust anyone? Should I trust anyone? Do I want to trust anyone?

Years ago, I was infatuated with someone who told me that I saw the world through rose-colored glasses, and I found that offensive. This past year, I’ve been looking at the world through this filter of sadness, pessimism and doubt. And it hasn’t been fun. I’d much rather be someone who sees the best in myself and others than someone who sees the worst. I’d much rather be the optimistic person I once was – the person I’ve seen glimpses of lately.

I loved getting in the water and seeing clearly the peace, calm and beauty of the water around me. Going forward, I’m swimming in the new pair each time I get in the pool. And as for my view of the world, I intend to wear my rose-colored glasses proudly. I’m sure I still have them somewhere.

Oh – and if you’re wondering how the timed 800-meter swim went? Well, it was awesome. I beat my last time by eleven seconds. And I know I’ve got even better in me…

Murky Waters.

Last night, I met Elizabeth at Deep Eddy for a swim. She’d really heard me earlier when I said that I missed my tradition of going for a swim and then having dinner at Magnolia, so when we were making plans to connect, she suggested it.

We got there right after work. The water was green and more cloudy than it had been the last time I was there. I think the last time was sometime in the spring of 2012, but honestly, I’m not sure. It’s been a long time. The water was also less cold than I remembered. I got in fairly comfortably and didn’t shake at all, even when I paused my swim for a few moments at a time. I also didn’t count laps or worry about doing a particular workout. I just swam.

At the pool, Elizabeth and I ran into a friend of a friend, someone I met last fall and really liked but hadn’t seen since. He ended up joining us for dinner, which was also really lovely. The three of us talked until almost 9:30.

I walked away from dinner with a worked out body, a happy belly, a warm heart, and the realization that I’m not stuck. For months, I’ve been waiting to see what choices someone else would make. I felt like my future was totally in the hands of another. That’s a pretty helpless place to be. In the meantime, I’ve been doing what I could to make the most of the time. I’ve been training, racing, simplifying my life, and trying to learn new things. In that helplessness, I’ve also been isolating myself and feeling unsure about my next steps. Would I have to figure things out from scratch again? Would everything fall back into place and work itself out? Well, it didn’t.

It’s not clear to me where I go from here, but I need to go somewhere. And last night, while I was swimming in the pool that felt so different, spending time with people I’m looking forward to getting to know better, and thinking about how rich my life is with friends and opportunities, I realized that my path may not be clear, but that’s okay. I can swim in murky waters just fine. And eventually, the murkiness will clear.

Back in the Pool.

In England and Germany, I ran almost every day. I didn’t run the day I landed, and I didn’t run the day we ventured to Heidelberg. But every other day, I ran, always in one beautiful park or another.

Coming home, it’s been nice to get some variety back in my training and, in particular, to get back in the pool. On Friday and then again today I swam outdoors at my gym. Today, I was fast. I did some sets of 300s, pushing hard for 100 in each set and hitting good numbers for me – 1:49, 1:48, 1:50 and 1:50. Two weeks ago, when I did a similar set, my times were 1:57, 1:53 and 1:56. I’m happy to see that I’m finding my feel in the water, but I know I still have lots of work to do.

Years ago, when I was swimming at the Courtyard at least five days a week as part of a Masters program, I got really fast. I was doing 10 100s on a 90 second interval. I remember doing that exact set on my birthday one year. It was tough, but I did it. Right now, I’m certain that I couldn’t hit even one 90 second 100. I’d love to see my times consistently drop down in the 1:40s and then maybe the 1:30s. I’m feeling ambitious.

But, for me, swimming isn’t necessarily about being fast. I love swimming and even swimming alone because I love the sound of the water. It’s not silence but it’s quiet and soothing. I’ve enjoyed times when I’ve had people to swim with and effectively race against. But I love a solo swim in a way that I don’t a solo run. I especially love swimming alone in the outdoors with the sun on my back under a blue, blue sky. It’s delightful.

Swimming also makes me a good kind of hungry. One of my favorite forgotten traditions is leaving work around 4:30 on a Friday afternoon, picking up someone whose company I enjoy, going to Deep Eddy for a swim, showering in its outdoor facility, and then having a big meal at Magnolia Cafe just up the road from the pool. I enjoyed everything about those nights – the cold of the water, the thrill of racing, the openness of the sky above me while I swam and again while I showered, the sweetness of the company, and the food that I ate with no guilt. I haven’t done that in quite some time, but I have good memories of those nights. Really good memories.

Deep Eddy was closed for a while, but it’s open again. I haven’t been back since it re-opened some time ago, but I’m going to have to go back soon. That’s another pool that I am ready to get back into.

Meeting Diana Nyad!

Every once in a while, the universe hands me a perfect moment. Meeting Diana Nyad after a SXSW screening of The Other Shore and sharing the experience with my friend Meredith, who I had no idea would be there, was just such a moment. 

See the movie when you can. So much in this movie about her quest to swim from Cuba to Florida spoke to me. At one point during the movie, she said, “It’s easy to do anything with heart. And when you lose heart, you can’t do anything.” Amen. I couldn’t agree more.
What a gift of an afternoon.