Catharsis Through Unspoken Competition

To the dudes who swim at the YMCA:

There are a couple of things you should know about me.

First, I am highly competitive in non-competitive environments.

Second, for almost a decade, my brother’s swim coach tried to recruit me for his team because I am strong, relaxed, efficient and fast in the water. My answer was always “I’m a dancer,” but he made me an honorary member of the team anyway.

The name of the team was The Barracudas, and the thing about barracudas is that they aren’t very nice.

So guys, if you wait for me at the end of your lane and push off at the same time as me, I will race you. I will race you and I will race to win. But keep trying, sweet dudes, maybe next time you wont be beaten by a girl with only one functioning leg.

~JP

Cheap Thrills

Maybe I need to invite some friends over to help make my sessions on my trainer less boring… anyone? anyone?

…but don’t even think about using drumsticks on my Mavics.

Inspiration

A friend who I used to dance with in New York posted this on Facebook today. My meds make me weepy, and this had me blubbering.

“You’re going to have some ups and you’re going to have some downs. Most people give up on themselves easily. You know the human spirit is powerful. There’s nothing as powerful. It’s hard to kill the human spirit.”

“Anybody can feel good when they have their health and their bills are paid; they have happy relationships. Anybody can be positive then. Anybody can have a larger vision then. Anybody can have faith under those kinds of circumstances. The real challenge of growth mentally, emotionally, and spiritually comes when you get knocked down. It takes courage to act. Part of being hungry when you’ve been defeated, it takes courage to start over again…”

“I’m in control here. I’m not going to let this get me down. I’m not going to let this destroy me. I’m coming back. And I will be stronger and better because of it.”

Today’s Goal

My goal for today was simply to swim a mile. A mile is just under 1800 yards. The pool is 25 yards long. We can thus approximate one mile to be 36 laps (down and back). I got in and was on my way. However, I lost count on lap 7 (or was it 8? 9??? look at the pretty sparkles…) because I’m on drugs and mornings are hard.

Since counting to 36 proved to be too difficult a task, I timed myself. I could easily go down and back within a minute (please, pretty please, don’t judge this horrible time… yes, I’m talking about taking *a minute* to swim 50 yards. But, I can only kick with one leg and I can’t flip turn and push off the wall. I literally have to slow down as I get to the end of the pool, stop, turn around, and then push off with one leg…  ). So, I allowed myself a full minute for the lap and then I tread water in the deep end until the next quarter minute and then I’d go again. I did this for 55 minutes.

Growing up in a competitive environment, and having a personality that constantly seeks improvement toward self-perfection, I naturally look for my flaws so that I can improve upon them. This CRPS nonsense is teaching me (in a very cruel manner) that I can’t always fix my flaws. I am (slowly) learning to acknowledge mundane things I’d normally take for granted and count them as small “successes.”

So, here is a brief list of the things that made me feel proud of myself:

1) I overcame the guilt and humiliation of having to have my dad drive me to the pool,
2) I overcame the humiliation of marching my giant boot out to the pool deck,
3) I resisted the urge to race my neighbors,
4) I knew exactly how every kick with my right leg was going to feel (first the gunshot on the outside, then the baseball bat to the inside, then the chainsaw across the ankle) and I kept kicking anyway,
5) I reserved self-judgment for after my swim, and, oh yeah
6) ex post facto calculations showed that I swam well over a mile.

Goal: accomplished.

It’s Fun to Stay at the…

I’ve been dragging my heels through a million excuses for a very long time about joining the YMCA so I can swim laps year round.

Today, I finally sucked it up; I went in to finish the registration paperwork that I’d started a while ago. I hobbled up to the registration desk and explained that I had half completed membership paperwork on file.

The lady at the desk asked, “Are you part of a family plan?”

“Nope, just me,” I said.

She squinted and paused and said, “uhhm… can I ask your age?”

I told her. After a longer, squintier pause she said, “Oh. Hm. You look *much* younger. I thought you were asking to join the ‘young adult’ program.”

I smiled and said, “No, I just need the regular, middle-aged adult program.”

Road Ready?

I realized that my knee no longer slams into the top tube with every pedal. Or at all.

My foot still rotates outward at a pretty significant angle, but I have lost a significant amount of weight. I think it’s the weight loss that is to thank for the recent lack of bruising on my right knee.

And then it occurred to me: maybe the time to return to the road is drawing near… Who needs weight-bearing exercise anyway?