Ever get a wild hair idea that won’t work its way out of your head?
In my case, I spent a short while today perusing the Connecticut racing calendar at HiTek Racing. I’ll post the way-long list of stuff I’m interested in later, when I’ve got time to look up races. But the idea that kept springing out at me as something I’d love to do was an Olympic Distance triathlon. What with the Turin games wrapping up last night with the best of all possible endings – a full out sprint to the line taken by an Italian underdog! Almost as satisfying on XC Skis as it is on bikes. Even if they were skating, which looks as unnatural to me (being raised on classical XC) as me riding a bike looks to the dog.
Olympic Distance is, in my mind, a lot like a half-marathon. Long enough to be interesting, but short enough not to leave a duffer like me broken and begging for mercy. 24 miles on the bike – hour, hour and a half depending on terrain. A 10K? After a marathon, even after a slack winter, 6 miles is a fun distance, and do-able even after an hour on the bike.
But the mile in the water – pshew. Swimming and me just don’t get along. Likely because I haven’t had any coaching, and am not likely to get any soon. I’d love to, but don’t want to sacrifice anything to get it. Yep, I’m darned to a future of mediocrity in sport, but that’s how I like it. If I can excel as a dad, and do better than most at the office(s), sport is an outlet, not a focus. (I’d rather spend the energy re-learning the piano. Not that there’s much progress there, either. But tonight is about triumph, not bleh, so disregard most of this paragraph)
Up early for work – had a deadline today. Plus, I’m playin’ sailor tomorrow, freeing up Drill Sunday and getting some training (What kind of training? NAAAAVY Training, Sir!), so I’m trying to cram five days of real job into four days of the week. Worked a bunch on Sunday, so I’m sort of ahead. So, no running prior to work. Plus, it’s C-C-C-C-Canada C-C-C-C-Cold today, and blustery, so it was easy to say “Hey, I’m too busy to run” at lunch. And all day, the mile swim for an Oly Tri kept nagging at the back of my mind.
Way back at my first tri, the swim about killed me. Since then, I’ve had a healthy respect for swimming. So the prospect of doing a mile in open water, even 3 months from now, is kind of daunting. About 3, I figured that I should go ahead and give it a shot – head to the Y, and go ahead and see if I could touch the wall 80 times without stopping. If I could do that, I figure I’ve got enough time to work out the kinks and work up to knocking out a mile in open water.
Got home late, finished the boy’s bath. Guilted myself into reading to the older boy past his bedtime, even though it was a book fueling his current obsession with kittens. Sometimes I worry that he’s going to get beat up in school. But then I think back, and realize that sometimes there’s advantages to living in your own world. Worked for me.
So, it’s 8:15. Pool closes at 9:30. Part of me says “Hey, just stay home, relax, watch 24.” Then the other part of me says “Jack Bauer wouldn’t be able to single-handedly save the world every year if he sat on his butt in front of the tube.”
So, in my part to keep the world safe for democracy, I bundled up against the cold invading from the north and headed to the Y.
Jumped in the pool. Swam to the far end. “79”, I thought. Back to the shallow. “78”. First 10 were good.
Chuckled as I though “Hey, future Bill – if you’re really me, what number am I thinking of?”
“SIXTY-NINE, DUDE!” (Cue out-of tune guitar)
That got me all the way down to 60. From 60 to 50, I tried to do bilateral breathing. Pshew. Need much more practice on that. Not smooth at all.
Next laugh was at 42. Forty-Two. Yep, gained an entirely new perspective on the meaning of life tonight, staring at the black tiles ticking past, and counting flip-turns. Wonder what Marvin would have thought about flip-turns.
By 40, I knew I was going to make it. And immediately flubbed the flip-turn at 39. On any other night, I would have stopped for a breather. But I didn’t.
30-20 was another bilateral breathing. Much better this time.
The last 20? Flew by. I’d like to think I accelerated until the very end. In any case, it felt great. Stretching, kicking, breathing. One whole nautical mile in between 35 and 40 minutes.
I think I can do an Oly. Just need to find one, now.
Post-Script – In the locker room, the guy who’d been in the lane next to me says “Hey, you did at least one really long set.”
“Yeah”, I said. “I wanted to see if I could do a mile.”
“Wow. That’s nuts.”
We talked swimming for a while. He’s the really tall guy who goes about twice as far per stroke as I do. He doesn’t bike, and thinks runners are nuts. (He’s right, but it’s not a bad thing).