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July 7, 1999
a year ago
2 years ago

Going Swimming

Couldn't sleep all that well last night. Tossed and turned and thought too much about the exercise stuff. Got up fairly early, got everything in the bag that I got with my brace, and then we went to work. John was cool, made sure that I ate breakfast and made sure that I had enough to drink for the morning. I'm fairly sure that helped.

Had meetings morning and afternoon, but talked with the tech writer about the test, and I didn't have everything ready, so I just called off the afternoon meeting. No point having a meeting that wasn't going to do anything. Probably have to reschedule anyway as the marketing dood's schedule changed.

Work went.

A conversation with Mark went as well, that confused me, upset me, some, but also gave me a reality check. Felt a bit like a hockey check, but probably more useful in the long run. It's always better to know. It's weird, but with just about everyone else and on anything else I'm fairly sane, or at least seem to be, have been for years, in fact, but with him and about him and Jenn, I sometimes just feel like I'm totally off my rocker nuts. Given that they classified Nick as bockers-nuts, maybe it's not just me. I don't like the feeling.

Jenny, at the last minute, during lunch, invited me to use one of her bikes. She had two at work, so lent me her mountain bike. We had a really funny time, for a bit, trying to get me into toe clips. I *just* fit into her biking shoes, and then tried the toe clip stuff and had an awful time of it, so finally ran back upstairs, got my sneakers, ran back down and Jenny was laughing, "I knew it was you, you're going to be exhausted before we even get there!!" I laughed. It was just two miles...

So we went.

She led as she knew the way, and we went along the bike paths that thread through all of Boulder. I had been thinking, intellectually, that two miles was doable on foot. I could just walk the whole way if I wanted to. As it turned out it was pretty long in terms of 'feeling' time as well as the actual length. Even on the bikes it took a good ten minutes to get there, and it was really hot out, as well. Hot enough that I was glad that I was breezing through on a bike rather than sweating in my brace. With the bike I left all my showering stuff back at work and all the stuff that I'd brought for walking with a brace stayed there as well. Just a towel, wallet, hat, sunglasses and my shoes.

The ride was really cool. It was all along a path by the Boulder Creek. There are long-established trees by the long-established creek, so much of the ride is under shade, by water. So I could hear the creek as I rode and that was a reassuring sound. I concentrated entirely on riding, so much that I forgot about everything other than chasing slender Jenny through the shaded twilight of the path. She was obviously staying slower for me, and occassionally talking with me, asking questions, commenting about the path, where it was where it was going, how it was connected, what we were passing by. She has a 150 mile ride this coming weekend, and is pretty nervous about it, though she's done it before the training this year's been interrurpted by the triathlon. She's human, too, for all that she's so capable in so many ways, it's kinda comforting. And, yeah, I'll call biking Jennifer Jenny and swimming Jennifer Jennifer just to keep them straight while I talk about 'em. Jenn is Mark's wife, who has nothing to do with all this atheletic stuff. All this rolled into one!

We got to the pool and Jenny forgot her wallet, so I paid for both of us. It wasn't a stretch by any means of the imagination, and we rolled the bikes through the locker room and parked them by some tables. Jennifer saw us, said, "Hi!" and waved me over only to tell me that I really needed to take off my shoes if I was going to swim. That was pretty funny. I said I should probably rinse down from the ride, but Jennifer scoffed and waved me into the pool. Jenny still had to change, so ducked back into the locker room to do so.

I got into the pool. In the double-wide slow lane, so folks would have plenty of passing space, and then I started swimming. It's been about two decades since I've swum laps. I've gone wading about in lakes, followed Fezzik in one other lake, bobbed about in the ocean, paddled about in streams, and snokled a little in Mexico and Hawaii. But I haven't really *swum* just for the sake of doing distance and getting it really right, it's always been for some reason other than the perfection of the motion of swimming. The pool is a 50 meter pool, a fairly long one. My Australian crawl only lasted about half the length of the pool and I swapped to a breast stroke, my breath coming so fast and hard I thought I'd breath water when my head went down a bit for the strokes. But I made it to the end of the length.

Okay. Given that it's been that long, my main goal was just to get into the water, and one length would have been proof enough to me that I'd gone *swimming*. Anything more was gravy, and once in the water I felt good enough to stand, panting on the far end until my breathing came back to me, and then I swam back. Again, about half way through my crawl ended in breaststroke then side stroke when I wasn't keeping my head above water well enough. Then I felt the bottom of the pool and I just walked and then dog paddled to the near end. I made it, stood there fighting for my breath again, thinking, well, that wasn't *so* bad. Breath returned, I started out again. The arms were starting to burn, legs were still doing pretty well, but the worst part was the breathing. Half the 'breathing' was underwater, the other half above when I was doing the crawl. I started doing breaststroke again, so that I could have my head above water and just breath as fast as I liked. The problem then was that the far wall was further away than I thought my arms or my breath could do.

I paniced.

Flailed a bit. Then got really stern with myself and started monitoring breathing, monitoring each motion, getting them just going right and stepping on the panic and just going. Breath, stroke kick kick stroke, breath, stroke kick... Coordinating them and trying, really hard to get the breathing back out of panic mode. Nothing like a bit of panic to get one motivated.

I know how to swim. I really do. Mom and Dad made sure of it when I was a kid, gave me more lessons in swimming than I knew what to do with, every summer, like clockwork, I was in the pool and paddling about. And I think all that training kicked in because I made it to the other side, gasping and coughing and breathing so fast it seemed almost comical. I tucked myself in the corner that people can pass, and just breathed, a lot.

Then I pushed out to do it again. Some people are probably wondering, at this point, what the hell I was thinking if I just nearly drowned myself. It's just fear, you know? And I figured that after a few lengths, I would figure it out, that I paniced, in part, because I didn't go as far as I could have with the crawl, which is much faster than the other strokes. And if I rested enough at the end, that the breathing wouldn't give out. Finally, going the other way, I thought that the floor of the pool came up near the end, so that even if I paniced, I could just stand up. I made it the whole way, it wasn't nearly as bad.

It also turned out that the end that I was panicing over was shallow as well, or at least only 5 feet deep, not much more than that. I wouldn't have drowned, at all, I would have hit the bottom of the pool and just stood there, shaking and embarrassed to be on the bottom. The next two lengths were actually easier than any of the four before, mostly because I got more confident of sustaining a crawl for longer distances. I just mentally pushed when I normally would have stopped, and just kept going, and it worked. My shoulders got more and more sore and by the time I was done with the third lap, my left shoulder felt like I'd pulled it. So, panting, I got out of the pool and soaked up the sunshine happily.

The water had cooled me off completely, and the sunshine now felt pretty good. I dried off with my towel, put myself together, and since I knew how to get back and Jenny both wanted to swim more and to shower there at the pool, I told her I'd ride back myself.

It was easy enough. Especially after getting out there, and my wallet and towel fit in the water bottle rack just fine. So I got back, showered, and got to my desk to work through the afternoon. Slogged through things, talked with Cera extensively, then on the ride home talked with John a lot. Couldn't get my brain off Jenn and Mark and stuff. Which wasn't all that good a thing.

I made a shrimp etouffe for dinner, with a nice big blob of white rice in the middle and it was spicy enough to be interesting, and the shrimp really tasted good in it. Big, juicy, and near-crunchy fresh shrimp cooked in that spicy sauce. Yum. That was good, and we watched some more of From the Earth to the Moon.

Sleep, for all that I was completely exhausted and aching from the swim, was really hard to catch. Too much on my mind, I guess.

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