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Friday, May 30, 2008

Please Check Your Ego at the Door

Today's first round of humiliation began at the sporting goods store where I went to purchase a swimsuit. Standing in front of the racks of Speedos, TYRs, and Nikes, I figured that because I'm a 6 in most other garments, I'd likely be a 6 in a swimsuit, so I gathered several together and trotted off to the dressing room.

Well. I could stuff myself into them, I can say that much, but I felt like I was an encased sausage. Generally, I have a pretty inflated sense of appearance, and running has only boosted my confidence in my physical appearance, but all of that physical self-assurance went out the window as I stared at my thunder thighs and rolls of back fat shoved into those suits. Clearly, a 6 was not the right size. Back to the racks I went.

8's were better, but the suit I finally settled on was a 10. Now, I am not saying that a 10 is a big size, because it's not, but to start two sizes smaller and work my way up was a bit demoralizing; however, I did feel pretty satisfied with my final selection: a brown and pink TYR. It's super cute, and you know what its best feature is? It's reversible! So, one way it's brown with pink piping, and the other way, it's pink with brown piping. I know that's a stupid thing to focus on, but anything to keep my mind off the cottage cheese that is my ass was valuable today.

So, I also picked up a pair of TYR goggles (pink too!), and I felt satisfied that I was ready for swimming. When I got home, I changed and headed over to the pool, visions of me cutting through the water like a knife through butter filling my head.

Here's the pool. Not real big, as I mentioned before. I measured it today (with the Garmin -- dorky, I know, but it was the best way I could think of to do it, but trust me, at one point I thought of bringing Jerry's measuring tape with me) and it's 30 feet in length. So, I was thinking: "Sheesh, this pool is really ridiculous to do laps in. I'm gonna be spending half my time turning around." But, when you have a "free" (read: $4,000 a year in association fees) pool at your disposal, you take advantage of it, no matter the size.

I hopped in and was pleasantly surprised to find the water to be the perfect temperature: cool and refreshing, but not cold. I popped on my goggles and readied myself for the virgin voyage of Speedboat Jess. Look at me: All that ego-deflation in the fitting room had melted away and I'm brimming with confidence! But then I started to swim. And I discovered that I suck.

I started off with the front crawl and quickly remembered why that stroke has always been my arch enemy: I have a hard time getting the hang of the breathing. I know what I'm supposed to do: I'm supposed to breathe in, stick my face in the water and blow out through my nose as I stoke, and then every two or three strokes, tilt my head to the side and breathe in again. Except what I start doing is holding my breath while my face is in the water and then I'm choking and gasping for air when I tilt and breathe.

Two laps in, I give myself a time out. Clearly, I need to position myself against the wall and practice my breathing a bit (flashbacks to being five in swim lessons). I do this for a few minutes and when I think I have reminded myself appropriately, I head back into another lap and promptly forget all I have just reminded myself of. One problem, I quickly realize, is that I'm trying to go to fast, and the result is that I'm kind of flailing from one side of the pool to the other, frantically trying to breathe. So, I take another break and give myself a few deep breaths, and then try to take things slower. This is better, but I am still getting tired fast and I still feel like I can't breathe.

I time out for another break, take a drink of water (from a water bottle, not the pool, sillies), and then decide to swim a few laps alternating between the breast stroke and the back stroke, both of which are less arduous and require less of the breathing synchronization. My breast stroke is decent (although, I always feel as though my right leg is trying to do its own thing), and I rock the back stroke -- I feel like I could swim to Europe with the back stroke, as long as there weren't any walls to slam into (my one fear with the back stroke is that I won't feel the wall and I'll bash my head into it).

After several laps of those, I feel pretty tuckered out, but decide that before I get out of the pool, I'm doing one more back and forth of the front crawl, dammit. This time, I really try to focus on slowing down and getting the breathing right, and on the lap down the pool, I do a decent job of this; but then on the way back, I start sputtering and choking again. In the end, I felt drained, my arms were like jelly, and I felt pretty disappointed. All that floating with a beer in one hand did not prepare me for this one. single. bit. As I walked, dripping, across the lawn back to my condo, I felt like I never wanted to see another pool in my life, and if I tasted chlorine again, I was gonna slap someone. But then as I showered away the pool chemicals, I thought: "No. You can do this. It's just gonna take practice. Like running. That wasn't easy at first either when you started that 3 years ago; remember the cotton shorts and the chaffing and the huffing and puffing and begging for death? This is like that too, except in alarmingly-tight-Lycra."

So, I'll be back to swallow more pool water. And I'll improve. Or drown. Hopefully, the former.

28 comments:

Wes said...

Very nice... Why do means suits only come in 4 sizes? Small, medium, large, and tent? LOL!! Building endurance in the pool has a way of humbling even old veteran runners (read, those of us that can run fo eva), but in the end, it will do more to enhance your running endurance than any other form of cross training. You have fun!!!

Marathoner in Training said...

That is humbling. One sure way to assure that you do not drink the water, is remember that the neighbors kid peed in the pool.

Kevin said...

Wow 30 feet...10 yards...that would mean a whole lotta laps.

Good first swim. Just keep doing it and it will get easier

Christine said...

haha thats awesome! i LOVE swimming post. Being a swimmer my whole life...its funny to watch people begin swimming. I'm sure cyclists can prob do the same with me since I just began cycling. I often fall over on the pavement when I'm clipped in trying to stop. Good luck! YOu will improve a lot with practice!

aham23 said...

swimming is so hard. nice work. later.

Erin said...

The suits you tried on all run small compared to normal clothing and Target brand suits. I had the same demoralizing experience last year thinking there was no way I was such a huge size. They are also super supportive and extra lycra-ie to hold you in and make you fast! It will get easier but if you talk about shaving body hair to speed up your time I am going to slap some sense into you. I do see you purchasing a nose plug and skull cap before long if you take it seriously. God help us all!

Kim said...

haha aw well im sorry to hear about your lap swimming experience, but at least you look good sputtering and coughing all over the pool!

Mrs. K said...

Don't know how I came here but enjoyed reading- listen- I live in south florida and swim with master's group (if you're 18+ you're a master)- go to the swim hall of fame- they will work with your stroke, teach you new tricks and do wonders for your swimming workout. And it's very cheap too :)

J~Mom said...

The thing about swimming is that if you are consistent at it you can build volume really fast. Much faster then running, I think. I started swimming (first time for triathlons) in April 07 and did my first tri six months later. The first time I went to the pool I could not get down the lane one time without stopping to catch my breath. If you do it twice a week for 3-4 weeks you will see some huge improvement.

J~Mom said...

PS I never thought of measuring the pool length with my Garmin...genius!!

P.O.M. said...

That suit looks really cute. You'll be a super swimmer by the end of summer for sure.

Marcy said...

Don't feel bad homie! All swimsuit makers need a good lesson in vanity sizing. I'm sure I would've been an 18.

Good for you on the swim! The only thing I know how to do is the doggy paddle :P

D10 said...

As always an entertaining post! Keep with the swimming and you will get better. Once you get the basics down you will be fine.

L*I*S*A said...

I know you'll get the hang of the swimming thang in no time. Pretty soon you'll come to MI and teach me the ways of the water.

AddictedToEndorphins said...

I took swimming as a Pkin this year at University and I SUCKED! And then I kept swimming, and went nice and slow, and now I can swim (or could, like in January I could) haha!
Just keep that 'can do' attitude and you'll be great:) Good luck

Crystal said...

Lovin the pink goggles, you accessorize quite well. Most people really don't realize how much of a cardio workout swimming can be, especially when you're still working on your skills. Keep working at it and you will be swimming laps like a madwoman.

kelsalynn said...

You crack me up...nice pics!

I bought the exact same bathing suit just recently except the blue/red one. TYR and reversible! very cool! 2 suits in one!

Good luck w/ your swimming...it will get easier, just keep working at it.

Firefly's Running said...

Gotta love the pics!

Mary Gee said...

You look super cute and that is the important thing. The breathing will come later. Cuteness comes first.

keith said...

It took me a while to get the hang of swimming again, too. Every time I left the pool it was about two inches shallower because that is how much water I swallowed.

You'll get the hang of it...stick with it. Good attitude!

sRod said...

All I have to say: I had to take a swim test in college for a sailing class. I failed it three times becasue of the laps.

TriGirl Thea said...

Oh yeah...I'm right there with you...

I think I imagine because I can run...and running is OFFICIALLY the hardest form of training known to mankind...well save for handstands of course....that I ought to be able to push out 400m/yds no problem at all. And everytime I feel shocked when I get to 100 and need a break.

I reckon its the chlorine...it saps our superpowers like kryptonite.

runner26 said...

I had a very similar problem the first time I tried (real)swimming (as a soph in HS at tryouts for the swim team). I was holding my breath, choking on water, and pretty exhausted after one lap. One thing that helped is I would take a breath every stroke. And I'd slow down my strokes, concentrating on form and all that jazz. It really helped. I got much better And I found a rhythm (eventually), so freestyle was much more comfortable. Best of luck!

Non-Runner Nancy said...

Nice job having a go at the pool. Your post was hilarious. Good work!

ws said...

can we trade swim lessons for dog training? maybe the boys can have a play date soon - George is done with his boosters next month.

Aimee said...

I was lifeguard and swim instructor for a better part of 8 years. Tips - you may want them you may not.
Do practice your breathing/stroke. It will help to not to tire you out so much. A good way to remember it is (and this was for the lil kids) Talk to the fishes (breathing out in the water), and listening to the fishes (taking a breath). NEVER take your head out of the water! Just easy fluid turns. Now a way to slow down - don't use your legs. It will help with your breathing. Also the stopping on the side of the pool is good as well.

As for running I'm currently working on it. Never did it before till bout 6 months back, and it is a whole new thing for me! 10 times harder in my book then swimming, but I think it all comes down to what we know.
Good luck, it will get easier!

Running To Stand Still said...

What is with those suits?? Seriously? I remember going with my neice who is 5'3" an athlete (runner in college) about 115 pounds. She is a 0/1 in clothes and we were getting her 6's and 8's in those suits.

It isn't easy. I used to swim more but stopped over the years. I will get back to it one day!! Keep on trying.

Viv said...

Swimming ehhh. That is just how i feel about it.

You have to be the cutest in goggles ever. Seriously, I have seen a lot of people in goggles and you are totally pulling them off!