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.