Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Lane 3? Lane 2??

It was a beautiful morning, crisp temperatures in the low 50s. The pre-dawn sky was inky blue, dark with the promise of a vibrant sunrise. The clear air, with a slight wind, caused goosebumps to form on my forearm as I walked towards the pool.

It was a crisp, clear, calm, and slightly cool morning. And should have been relaxing.

And WOULD have been, had I been smart and remained in bed. Warm, dry and comfy under the covers. Instead, I found myself standing at the end of the pool deck, debating between Lane 2 or Lane 3.


Obviously not a question to tackle pre-coffee while shivering uncontrollably outside under the starts. It was so cold I couldn't feel my fingers. Which probably meant that precious blood was being diverted from the extremities to keep the important stuff warm.

My brain seemed to be working half time anyway. Not that its super speedy - but it seemed frozen at the thought of making a decision. Or being decisive.

Ever have those days??

Lane 2? Lane 3? Lane 2? Lane 3?

They both looked the same. The water was the same...

But those 5 seconds make all the difference. And I was sure that mid-set of whatever we were about to swim, I would realize how either smart or stupid my decision was. Was this a trick question? Seriously!

I just needed to HTFU and jump.

Lane 2? Lane 3??

Its at times like this, that I wish Jen was next to me. I knew she would say Lane 2. And then she would probably push me in the pool for good measure.

Lane 2 or Lane 3??

"You're still not in the water!" shouted Charisa, as she sprinted by me and dove in.

Clearly it was too early for me. And cold. 50 degrees sporting only a swimsuit is not fun. Trust me.

So I half dove, half jumped into lane 3. Easy, problem solved. And the water was WARM compared to the air temp. Yes - the perfect incentive to jump into the pool is freezing temperatures on deck. No more "easing in" for me.

Aaahhhhh - much warmer.

And then something funny happened.

At 6:13 I cruised into the wall, stopping to catch my breath and get the day's workout. I heard the coach mention something about 400s and 300s, and then a few more 200s. Quickly he announced the pre-set of 8 X 100 pull, paddles being optional.

And before I knew what I was doing, without thinking, with no pause for thought, I dunked under the lane lines, threw on my paddles and took off with the Lane 2 guys.

Oh. Bloody. Hell.

What had I just done?

What in the world was I thinking?

And then it occurred to me that I wasn't. I had pushed all rational thought aside, thrown caution into the wind, and decided to swim from my gut. It would remain to be seen if I could keep my gut intact half way through the main set. But the move seemed so natural, so effortless. No thought whatsoever. Almost like my body knew what it wanted. Only before on the deck, with my indecisive mambo of Lane 2 Lane 3? I had been letting my mind get in the way.

And that, my friends, was key.

Not only in swimming - but with triathlon, with life, jobs, family, friends - our bodies know what we want, what we need. Too often it is our head that prevents us from moving forward, from trying something new. It doesn't think we can, or it assumes that something will be too hard. When really, sometimes we just need to go with our gut instinct, turn off the brain, and push forward on autopilot.

And that's about all I remember from the rest of the swim. Well that, and that I was in major amounts of oxygen debt and pain. I made all the interval times, but I think I pulled a tricep in the process.

Suddenly we were on the last 100. ALL OUT. I was dimly aware that it was no longer dark, no more stars overhead. Holy Cow, when did the sun come up? I was so focused on the task at hand, so intent on not throwing up, that I missed the plethora of colors changing from dark to light.

Then, as quick as it began, it was over. As soon as blood flow and oxygen was registered in my system again, my brain turned back on and registered what had just happened.

Had I known before the workout what was in store, would I have ducked into Lane 2?

I don't know.

But the great thing, is that next time I won't have to think about it, won't have to debate the merits of one over the other. I'm sure that once I hit the water, my brain will click off, my body will shift to autopilot, and I'll swim wherever I feel is best.

And that sounds pretty good to me.

So next time at the pool, if you happen to see me standing on the edge of the deck, muttering under my breath, please do me a favor and push me in. I won't be mad, I promise. Because once I hit the water, I'll be going off of feel anyway. And that's a great thing.


Charisa said...

Awesome work in lane 2 this morning! You can definitely hang with those speedy guys - even if they should be in lane 1! And it was 40 degrees, not 50!! :)

Missy said...

OOOUUUCHHH, 40, 50 outssside, I'm such a baby...a baby with no outdoor pool, I guess. Very impressive though. I'm the worst about holding myself back for fear of getting run over!

Missy said...

OOOUUUCHHH, 40, 50 outssside, I'm such a baby...a baby with no outdoor pool, I guess. Very impressive though. I'm the worst about holding myself back for fear of getting run over!

Maijaleena said...

Way to duck into lane 2! Great job! Fear is a hard thing to get over. That is a big thing for me in workouts especially swimming. I hold back early in the workout if I know, or if I am scared that something is hard later on. When I get over that and just do what I need to do from the beginning of the workout is when I improve the most.

CAMI said...

You're amazing! Great job on the swim and just going with the feeling, letting go of the fears. Can you bottle that?!!?

Mer! said...

Wait, wait went to a 6:00 a.m. master' doesn't start til January..I am IMPRESSED!!! =0...I still can't get my butt up before 7:00 a.m. =0...I had a hard enough time with Ironman master's now I have like ZERO motivation. To swim, yes..master's....not yet =0..and there are other times I have to choose from. Must be my brain getting in the way =0.

SO GREAT TO finally meet you! It was really cool, I was thinking the whole, I'm really riding with Marit!!! So funny!

Would love to ride again soon, maybe during the week next week? This weekend is a bit "off" not sure about the 5K yet (and we're headed up to Orange County sunday morning)....ok stay tuned!!

Way to rock lane 2!

Damie said...

Hey girl. I hope you are doing great out west :) I am proud of you for lane 2! I jumped in a lane today with 2 faster swimmers and was thrilled to not get dropped. I wasn't as fast as them, but they didn't lose me either. Yea for us!

Bruce Stewart (施樸樂) (ブルース・スチュワート) said...

These days I have felt very cold swimming (pool temp is between 66 and 68). My times are quite a bit slower and I don't want to do flip turns in case I pass out halfway through them. I have had to cut my distance down to around 2,500 meters per swim. At home I generally feel weaker than in past months. At least from reading your article I realize there may be a reason for all this. Still, it is a great feeling to swim when it is cold. Maybe my mind is only partly functioning.