Sunday, February 10, 2008

Twelve Year Old Me

I've been going to this awesome triathlon swimming clinic thingy my buddy Rob is running out at Oberlin College. It's been a lot of fun, although I haven't been as regular as I would like. But, I'm getting out there and seeing some of my tri buds and getting a real tough workout in, which is good stuff.

And the best part?

It's totally working.

Somehow, on only swimming once every 2 weeks, I'm getting faster. This makes me get excited to think what I could actually do when life settles down a bit and I can get to the pool more than once every 2 weeks.

How much is it working?

So much that I've actually been pretty shocked when I've been hitting the wall for most of the sets. From 50s, to 100s, and all the way up to 1000 yards. I'm like..."huh?" And, "really?"

Okay. We'll go with it.

But last week in the pool I thought of something, as I hit the wall for another set of 50s. I hit the split I needed to, and it was pleasantly hard...I was out of breath and had to really move the arms as I saw the black line rising up the wall. Rob asked me, "How'd those go?" I should have said good. Great even.

But I replied, "....okay."


"Yeah, okay..." I said. "I mean, I hit it, but I just remembered what I did when I was 12 years old."

He laughed and assured me that his twelve years old times were also a wee bit faster than today. And this coming from a guy who's freakishly fast.

For some reason, I thought about this on the whole ride home. I remembered what it's like to be in a swim meet. I haven't had one of those in a long time, but I still remember this one in particular. The one where I set my PR. The 50 free. In North Olmsted, Ohio, in a sort of crappy indoor complex. Those of you who are swimmers know what I mean here as I describe the sound of a 50 yard freestyle sprint. It's the quiet sound of your arms moving in water followed by a brief interlude of absolute screaming as you turn your head for a breath.

By the looks of this one, I could tell it was going to be close. My coach was screaming and I could see my teammates yelling at the top of their lungs. You can never make out any just hear this mumbled roar. So I kicked it into the highest gear I could.

And I beat her. By barely a half a stroke.

That was Twelve Year Old Me. Shortly thereafter, I stopped swimming year 'round. I made the cheerleading squad (I know...don't laugh), decided I really wanted to be a fastpitch softball pitcher, set my sights on first chair flute, and went onto high school. Eventually, boys actually talked to me. Times got slower as I wasn't able to give swimming my all, as they usually do.

And then I was done.

(For a while.)

Now, Thirty Year Old Me swims in a pool with triathlon friends and tries to bring down my times as best I can on an every-other-week-swim schedule. There are bills to pay, diapers to change, and work to be done. There's no coach screaming for me to outkick the girl next to me.

But once you hear those sort of always hear those sounds.

And I think what I've come to realize is that I am in triathlon because of Twelve Year Old Me.

Because, whenever I come to the wall after a hard set, I can sort of see her in the lane next to me. She's already at the wall. She's even smirking a little bit.

I don't know if I'll ever catch her. But her presence helps drive me.

I don't really get too into the age-group awards thing anymore, and that's probably a result of me not having much of a chance to place in age-group anymore unless it's a short distance race with not many people in it.

But I do get into beating Twelve Year Old Me.

I just wanna wipe that smirk off her face.

She doesn't know a lot of things. She doesn't know that Thirty Year Old Me has seen a lot more than she has and done a lot more, nor does she really care for that matter. She doesn't know how Twenty Nine Year Old Me trained for an Ironman for a year while performing a delicate balancing act with my career, friends, family, and relationships. She doesn't care about all that, because she can still beat me.

I can race her knowing these things. Understanding that, although she might beat me to the wall, there's a lot more that I've gotten to see and do by being a few seconds behind her.

She has no idea what 18 Week Pregnant Me did when I ran a 5K faster than she'd be able to do.

(She hates running, you see.)

She also doesn't know that 18 Week Postpartum Me is able to run 10 miles at a pace faster than Twenty Nine Year Old Me was able to do during Ironman training.

All she cares about is that she's at the wall faster than me. So she bobs there with her swim cap and her royal blue summer swim team suit that's faded a bit, with her event written on her hand in a black sharpie. And I'll let her go, because I know that I wouldn't trade those few seconds for the world.

But the idea that I might even be able to come close to her again is pretty exciting. And the understanding that I could absolutely annihilate her in anything over a 50 freestyle is also pretty cool. But she doesn't want to race that, you see.

When she mouthed off at practice, she was always getting threatened to be doing the 200 IM or 100 fly or some other event that would have been horrible horrible horrible for her. She only wants to do what she's good at.

And Thirty Year Old Me has done a lot more, mostly way out of my comfort zone. So I'll let her have this one little victory.

(For now.)


Ange said...

Thank you for those thoughts....oh the memories of those screams as you take a breath. I remember it well too. I too still swim and try to beat my younger self....but as you said, we are stronger and wiser now. And the babies...:) You are handling your new life with baby beautifully. I'm very impressed. You'll rock this summer!

JenC said...

I swam at CSU yesterday and there was a swim meet going on. The kids had stuff written on their hands and now I know why. I can totally picture what you did as a kid.

Maybe you'll catch her and maybe you won't, but I think your perspective about all your other accomplishments is right-on.

Now, if I could only get faster as a result of Rob's class. In time, right?

triguyjt said...

great post.. I loved how you worked in the whole "12 year old me" versus the 30 year old me.
excellent writing. your school kids are pretty lucky.

my best friend was a hardcore swimmer up through high school. I remember watching those

I, now, can't even come close ..

B Bop said...

If twelve year old TriSaraTops were to take off the swim cap and goggles and take a moment to let the competitiveness go....maybe have a beer, ur, glass of milk with you....I think she'd be proud of all the accomplishments, and deservingly so.

Brian said...

you had people screaming for you? I swam the 500 in hs and people were so bored I could see them sleeping by the time I was done.

Tri-Thomps said...

Nice post. I was at a swim meet with my 11 year old daughter this last weekend. Her 50 yard free time is much faster than mine. But, I catch her by the time we get to 200 yards. I'll ask her tonight what she hears while she's swimming during meets.

Next weekend is her last meet for this session and she gets to swim...the 100 yd butterfly!