Swimming Lessons

Sunset at my pool - well...the pool I swim at.

A few interesting things happened to me in the pool today during Saturday Masters Swim practice. For the first 3200 meters, I was annoyed at myself for having NOT eaten anything before working out. It was one of those mornings – where hitting the snooze button just never seems to help. And I finally rolled out of bed 16 minutes before practice officially began, having decided that an extra measly few minutes of sleep was worth not eating something. Anything.

However…for the final MAX EFFORT 2 X 200 – I was grateful that I NOTHING was in my system. Throwing up has never been fun – but to do so in front of a pool filled with your friends, Masters mates, and coaches – well, that would have been mortifying.

Second – I’ve noticed that I have a weird relationship with the lane I currently swim in and the lane that I used to swim in. The people are great – but this is not about them. It’s about me. Even though my current lane works off a base pace five seconds slower than my old lane, and I could probably make the set and complete the workout in my old lane….. But I’m scared of digging that deep. I don’t want to do something if I can’t commit to actually doing it, and I know myself well enough to know that when the proverbial shit hits the fan during the workout (as it always will at some point), I will work my ass off to a) make the set and b) stay in the draft as long as possible.

This is terrifying to. Not from a discomfort, or pushing-yourself standpoint…I’ve always been great at dealing with the pain from workouts – infact I welcome it…. But it’s terrifying from a health perspective. I dug myself into a huge hole before racing Ironman Hawaii – and I’m 100% convinced that my lupus was the result of that. I was so sick, and for a very very long time after Kona….culminating in my Pulmonary Embolism and lupus diagnosis. That was less than a year ago (and when N was deployed) – I guess I’m still scarred from that experience (as most people would be).  I KNOW what it feels like to work to the best of one’s ability – over and over (and over) again – and in my current state, I’m afraid of digging so deep that I can’t get out (health-wise).

The jury is still out on that one.

(But I have to admit – it IS sort of liberating just swimming because I want to be there, not because I have to get ready for XYZ). This is a new stage in my life where if I get to do the things I want to do – then AWESOME. I’ll still work as hard as I can, but my life – athletic life (can we really call it that) – is so different from where it used to be. Honestly… if I could do it all over again, I wish my Racing Self from a few years ago, could know the things I know now…. life would have been a lot more enjoyable.)

But that’s what everyone says, right?

And third – after the workout, a fellow swimmer who I haven’t seen for a long time asked me how I was doing. I replied with my standard, “Great – hanging in there….only swimming a few times a week if I’m feeling okay, haven’t been in the pool as much as I probably could be…”

It’s my standard response, actually. I don’t know how to explain (in a short time period) all that has happened. And really, I don’t want to make people feel sorry/badly/fill-in-the-blank for me. The fact of the matter – is that I have lupus and it affects me on a daily basis…between the not-so-serious stuff like fatigue and skin redness – through the serious stuff like arthritis, blood clotting, and my ability to stay healthy. And – do people really want to hear about that?

In a single word: no.

So – instead of explaining about my health, my standard approach is just to respond with (what amounts to) – a justification for my absence… Haven’t made it…. should be swimming more…just getting back into it….

My friend just looked at me and replied, “No…I just wanted to know how YOU were, not about swimming – just YOU.”

I was taken aback. It’s the first time someone (at the pool) has ever told me that. I looked at her and replied again, “I’m good – tired today, but good. And actually, I sort of like the May Grey that has settled over us. Reminds me of home.”

I guess my “aha” moment, was when I realized that in effort to not explain my illness to friends and teammates – that I make excuses for why they havne’t seen me at the pool. And that, really, there is nothing that I need to justify. I guess I’ve become so sensitive about who I am today vs who I was when I used to race – that I automatically try to explain myself….and sure – some people (naturally) wonder why I don’t swim in my old lane, or where I’ve been…. But I should also remember – that some people just want to know how I’m doing.

No justification necessary.


And finally – this picture of Joel McHale from “The Soup” always makes me laugh. Clearly, he’s not a fan of “Real Housewives”. Yes, this picture is dated, but the expression on his face is priceless. I feel this way every time I watch the show – but like a train-wreck…. I know I shouldn’t, but I can’t look away. And that’s something, insofar as the “Housewives” are concerned, that I don’t need to justify.

Yes Joel, I agree.


6 thoughts on “Swimming Lessons

  1. Marit, gosh I feel like I am the girl who still gets to race and train… yet I’ve had to learn similar lessons (not as harsh as you lessons). I too am afraid to go to that hurt place, not that I can’t and that I won’t embrace it but because it has a tendency to put me in such a deep hole I don’t know how many times I can get out of it. I’ve spent my week sleeping LOTS and not working out much. Heck i haven’t even made it to the pool since last Sunday nor have I been on my bike. Not because I don’t want to, more so because I have a hard time getting myself out of bed. Truthfully I don’t know WHY I am still struggling after my race in China last year, but I am. I have for the most part stopped apologizing for my lack of consistency, but part of me is still trying to convince myself that it’s okay.

    Hug to you!! 🙂

  2. Hey You! Its your 45 year young friend who sometimes knows too much about what can happen orthopedically when you push too hard. And many of us are cursed and blessed with that ability to push thru and past and into a new “pain” zone. Pain is so subjective and i totally support your stepping back and asking WHY? And Also just embracing the ” I am here bc i love to swim, and not to HAVE to bust my gut everytime!”
    Keep enjoying what you love to do:) at the end of the day it doesnt matter what lane you are in.

  3. Hi,
    Good to see your new blog, thanks for sending the link.

    I will try and visit you often.

    By the way I totally understand standard resposes.

    I often say I am ok when of course I am not really so but do not want to get into every detail of how I am.

    Sometimes I want to get away from it and not constantly talk about my ms.

    It has taken away so much that I do not want it to take everything.

    I guess you feel like that too.

    Keep enjoying all you can.

    ps I did learn after some time in bed that constantly saying I am ok kept people at a distance which made me lonely/isolated so try now to be more personal.
    pps I think I shall use the standard response theme for my post today.

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