Tuesday, October 28, 2008

That's what cousins are for

So I've been having a tough time training for the triathlon I've pledged to do next year. As I mentioned, I'm not a very good swimmer.

I taught myself to swim, and not very well. My entire life I've been swimming with my face sticking out of the water and sort of moving my arms around in a part dog-paddle, part freestyle type of thing. It's not very effective or efficient.

Knowing my swimming wasn't up to snuff for a swim of any serious length, I signed up for a 20-week adult stroke clinic at the YMCA. It took exactly three lessons for panic to set in. Not only don't I have nearly the endurance I need, but my lack of form was actually alarming. During that lesson, I realized I don't really like putting my face in the water. Trying to will myself to keep my head in the water, I swallowed it or sucked it in through my nose several times and had to stop and grab the edge of the pool while I sputtered and coughed. My instructor criticized me for being too tense and hurried. Really? Ya think?

This is bad, I thought. Very, very bad. What the hell was I thinking agreeing to this?

And then the doubt: I can't do this. I'm going to need to get pulled from the water. I won't be able to finish.

I left that lesson in a state of depression and angst. I slept that night with the taste of chlorine still in my mouth and dreamed of being unable to breathe; of sinking slowly into deep, dark water.

Lesson four did not go much better. I started posting my weekly anxiety on my Facebook page, where my cousin Laryssa, who works for a sportswear company, saw it. She sent me a link and a blog post from Linsey Corbin. Linsey is a professional triathlete. She recently set a new personal record and finished fifth - the fastest American - in the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii. She is, in a word, awesome.

She has become my new hero. My inspiration. My muse. I've read her blog and looked at her photos and, while I have no desire to compete at the level she does, reading about her has given me a much-needed boost.

With renewed gusto, I decided to focus solely on swimming for a while. In the last two weeks, I've gone to the pool seven times. And you know what? It's getting easier. I still have a ton of work to do, but I actually feel like I'm going to be able to do it. It won't be easy. But I can do it. I will do it.

Despite that, I had kind of a bad swim today. I'm fighting a cold and I have a stiff neck (I know, I know. Bitch whine, bitch). I had to rest a lot and I found myself once again struggling to maintain my rhythm with the breathing. I left there feeling sort of meh.

Then the mail came. And there was a big envelope from my cousin. So I opened it. And this is what was inside:

My inspiration

How AWESOME is that?

Rys -thank you, thank you. I don't think I can even tell you how much this means to me. This picture is going in a very prominent place in my bedroom so I can see it everyday. I will treasure it and when I cross that finish line sometime next year, I will have you and Linsey to thank for it.

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Blogger Pink & Green Mama said...

Fabulous! I am so proud of you for sticking with this difficult goal. I suck at swimming and would never be able to do something like this, I am in awe of you. You go girl!

10:45 PM  
Anonymous Shelley said...

Awesome job Kim.

9:28 AM  
Blogger Jennifer H said...

You're amazing, and I hope you keep going!

Getting that photo must have been such a boost - what a great story (how awesome is your cousin?).

12:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I always felt like I was drowning when I tried to swim. Taking in water always brought back memories of almost drowning at Uncle Teddy's lake house when I was very young. Since I was trying to learn so I could have fun with everyone who was swimming, I finally decided it was no fun, had never been fun and would never be fun, so I walked away from the pool after my third lesson.

Ironically, I love everything else related to water: boats, floats, water beds. But I still face away from the shower head to keep water from hitting my face.

Congrats, niece.

Aunt Rys's mom

5:33 PM  
Anonymous Kimmylyn said...

I cannot wait to see how proud you are of yourself for completing this.. you will do it..and you will kick butt and take names..

now I need to go stalk you on FB.. :)

12:21 PM  
Blogger Chris Curtin said...

I never put it together that you and Ris (when did she start with 'Rys' anyway?) were related.

Congrats on the swimming and good luck with the training!

6:02 PM  

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