For the past 13.5 months, there has been a brutal game of tug-of-war between my right leg and my willful determination.
The rope: my inner voice.
Woven with fatigue, agony, medication, and doubt, the voice generally sides with the pain. But today, there was a change.
Swimming is still the only tolerable form of exercise, and yet it is still unrelentingly painful.
To combat the continual jolts of pain in my leg, each lap normally consists of a fierce focus on every stroke, counting kicks and pulls and breaths, mixed with cursing and grunting through entire length of the pool.
At the end of the pool, at the turn around, my pace invariably slows where it once accelerated. My mind curses about my missing flip-turn, about not being able to push off the wall, and there’s usually something about my “effing leg” thrown in for good measure.
In between sets, I diligently recount the laps and begrudgingly count the remaining sets. My darling, profane, angry little inner voice loves to pepper my methodical thoughts with lots of f-bombs and can’ts before I say a little prayer, close my eyes and wince as I start off again.
But today, something happened. I was on the downside of my 2000 yd swim practice with 2×100 left before 4×50 before my cool down. The second fifty of the final hundred started with the usual “AAANNNHHH… OH GOD…”
What came next was a complete shock.
A tiny, soft-spoken thought: “just keep going.”
I’d love to say that the tiny voice stopped the screaming in my head or helped me transcend the pain or became an encouraging coach for what remained of my session. It didn’t.
However, it was the first sign that my old determined self might still influence my inner voice. It gave me the smallest flicker of hope that my determination might actually prevail.