Friday, January 13, 2012

Not Cool at All

Right before a 1.5 mile open water swim. July 2011.
I had to get into the water today. Not the tub or the shower. I had to get into the 6-lane pool at the Y.

This caused me a lot of anxiety.  A lot. I had a wee bit of a breakdown, and texted my coach to tell her I just couldn't do it. I just couldn't go to the pool.

And it wasn't because I don't like to swim. Or that I'm afraid of water. It's because I'm fairly certain that I've developed a sensitivity (not an allergy -- that's something different) to chlorine. I had a lot of workouts last year in the pool that I couldn't finish because of nausea and dizziness. We all kind of decided that I needed better nutrition before my swims (in other words, I needed to eat something). Eventually, it warmed up and we left the pool for the open water and the dizziness/nausea issues were no longer a hot topic. 

But today, all of those dizzy swims came back to me and the idea of getting sick in the water loomed large. 

I dressed in my swimsuit this morning at 8:30 am, even though the pool wouldn't open for lap swim until 10:15. I have this philosophy that if the swimsuit is on, the swim will happen (Build it and they will come. Wear it and you will swim). But all I could do was sit in my living room and panic about what was going to happen once I was face first in that giant pool of toxins.

While waiting for the return text from the coach, I decide that if I didn't attempt the swim, I'd be miserable. The next text I get from her reads, "just go and get in the water -- even if you don't swim, just get in the water -- that will be a 'win' today."

So I went to the Y.

I texted her once I was in the locker room -- to let her know that I was in the locker room -- then I shut the locker and headed to the pool.

At the pool's edge, I had tears in my eyes while I put on my swim cap and defogged my goggles (which still had grains of sand in them, just so you know how long it's been since I've been in the water): I'm tearing up because there is no doubt in my mind that I'm going to be pukey. There is no doubt that what I'm about to do will hurt and make me dizzy and pukey and ruin the rest of my day. And possibly my weekend. And very likely, my entire life.

But I've gotten this far, so I get in.  

I didn't even take the time to get adjusted to the water temp -- once my feet hit the floor of the pool, I dove forward and started to swim. Or, I did something that was like swimming: I propelled myself forward. By the end of the first length and into the return trip to my starting point, I was swimming. 

"Good," I think to myself. "I remember how."

I called that my warm up lap (big fat joke: one lap in this pool is a lousy 50 yards; my warm ups (from the coach) are usually 600 - 800 yards of swimming/kicking/pulling and/or drills) and hit the start button of my lap counter.

I swam 17 continuous laps -- a half-mile -- in just over 19 minutes. My lap counter said I averaged 1:08 per lap, which is about 18 seconds slower than I was over the summer, but I can fix that if the chemicals don't kill me. I am overjoyed that I had the strength to bang out a half-mile for my first swim in more than five months.  

I had started feeling some mild nausea around lap 13. By lap 15, I got excited and swallowed and snorted some water, so my nose was actually burning.  My eyes felt irritated too, even though I had my goggles on securely (so securely, in fact, that 45 minutes after I got out of the pool, I still had goggle indentations on my face).  As soon as I completed lap 17, I stopped the counter and got out of the pool.

Wobbly, and a little light-headed, I made it up the stairs and into the locker room.  First thing I did -- still dripping wet -- was text my coach to let her know what I had accomplished and how I felt. I sneezed about three times while I texted her.

She texted back to ask if I swallowed water. 

"Sure." I responded. "I swallowed a bit. I snorted some." (Oh! If I had a dollar!)

Next text:  "I want you to get nose plugs."

My text back: "Jesus Christ. Are you serious? How about one really big shoe? Or some headgear?"

Her text: "LOL. I'm serious. Part of your problem is that you're inhaling water...blah, blah, blah." 

Nose clips cost about $3.00.  This will be one of the least expensive purchases I've ever made for Triathlon (which is an actual line item in our household budget).  

But what is the real cost? My fucking pride. In addition to being the slow, thrashing swimmer amidst a gaggle of capable swimmers, I also get to be the most 'special' looking one of them all. 

Because I also wear ear plugs.  Under the swim cap. Which is under the goggles. 

I'm 'this close' to using a snorkle and those damn water gloves the geriatrics wear in the aquacize class.  Maybe I should just go full-out fucktard and buy some arm floaties, too.


I need a new hobby. Why can't the first event of triathlon be competitive eating? or knitting? or cursing?  

This was a terrible week to stop drinking.


  1. "Full-out Fucktard"

    Seriously, it's been 3 hours since I read that and it's still making me laugh.

    I believe I've seen triathlons on TV where there's tons of cool, athletic looking people rockin' the nose plugs - unfortunately the only people I've seen at the local pool wearing them are the ones that have their trunks hiked up under their armpits and wear AquaSocks and floaties.

    I feel for ya.


  2. Any week is a bad week to give up drinking.

    Also, what Dlae said. I shall work the phrase "Full-out fucktard" into as many conversations as possible this week. Lovely.

  3. You will gain ... and lose ... friends faster than you can imagine.

    It'll probably even out though...:)