Monday, October 24, 2005

Like Swimming...

... first off, if you can spot the music reference of the title and you're in the Omaha area, you win a date with me.

Ok - I'm swimming over lunch break. I haven't worked out since my trip to Tucson. I did run the dogs early Saturday morning before I had to work. But, honestly, I've been a slug for about ten days. I know a good mind needs a good house to function properly, so I hopped in the pool to get a cardio workout going. I knew I wouldn't be able to do 30 laps, so I thought I'd do ten, then go back to work - ten's good - it's humble. It's admitting that you've been out of the game for awhile, so don't expect to return to marathon status (in my case, 10K status).

Exercise is supposed to reduce clutter and focus your mind. Hopefully, when you're running/lifting/biking/swimming/yogaing/spelunking, you stop worrying about stuff like whether or not to work a few extra hours after work, whether your insurance will cover those new glasses you bought to obtain that 'indie cool' look or that last heated phone call with your guilt-trip-giving mom and focus on the 'now' - that one more lap, that one more set, that one mile because that's all that exists now.

Of course, swimming has a debilitating effect on me. When I tire on the weights or a bike or the track - there's always something else to do. "screw it, I'm done anyway, onto the jump rope!" When you're swimming - you're out in the water. Alone. You're stuck. There's nowhere else to go but to the edge of the pool, where you have to pull yourself defeat. On a good day, all that exists in my mind is sort of a Buddhist calm - everything must be focused on achieving the goal of 30 laps (the arms move for a reason, the breath must be steady, the mind must not wander). Of course, most times it goes like today:

Lap 1 -
Good, good. Great pushoff. Arms and legs working well. It's like I never left. See, that's why it was good that I took so many days off. My body is healthy and rested. Exercise the body, but the mind needs exercising too - and sometimes, you need a day or two of video game playing and Harry Potter reading to achieve this goal.

Lap 2 -
Woah... not so good. I can usually hold my breath for two full 'circle' cycles for my arms. I'm starting to breathe after only one cycle. I hope I don't inhale the water through my nose. God, don't do this.
"1, 2, 3 if you wanna take a shot at me, well get in line!" (Sleater Kinney line) keeps going through my head.

Lap 4 -
Wait...wait. Is that punk ass in the next lane challenging me? He just jumped in and his pushoff sent him halfway across the pool. He DOES want to challenge me! Well, that's all fine in good for your first lap, but let's see how you are after three. I see him swim the other length of the pool and notice a but of a gut portruding. Good to see he's not as perfect as he thinks he is.

Lap 5 -
Good, good. Level playing field, he and I, at the same starting point. I pretend I'm not seeing him and go about my business. But he smokes me and makes it look effortless. God I'm old. I should have purchased some saline solution - my doctor said he would rather have me sleep in my contacts rather than run my contacts through the tap (I ONLY do this for emergencies).

Two laps later, I'm in the steam room. Not for the better. Just stewing.


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