It Bears Repeating

It was pyramid day at the pool.  100; 200; 300; 400; 300; 200; 100 and I had to work pace.  I had to be consistent in the first three and pick up pace in the last four.  I started the first 100 meters too fast.  I thought I’d built enough of a buffer to replicate it for the 200 and 300, But I was wrong.  Way wrong.  

I struggle with pacing In the water, trying to find a rhythm despite the interruption every 25 meters by a wall which throws me off.  Especially when I’m establishing a pace.  There’s a lot of ‘hurry up; no slow down; wait a minute speed up a little bit; pull from your lats and quit pulling from your arms; stop pulling up on your stroke, your hand’s leaving the water too soon,’ that fills my head in that 25 meters of space between walls. And every time I hit a wall, I inventory all the adjustments that need to be made with the subsequent push off and the next 25 meters. 

I made a speed adjustment in the 200.  But not enough.  I pulled back a little more in the 300 and was able to establish a replicatable rhythm propelling me at a consistent pace for the full interval.

Right, left, I grabbed for the wall simultaneously turning to look at the large digital clock at the other end of the pool.  I’d finished right where I needed to. 

”You’re a really strong swimmer,” a man yelled at me from the tiled bench that ran along a quarter of the wall over two lanes away.  

“Thank you!”   I watched the red numbers ticking off the remaining time in my short thirty second rest interval.

”I mean it takes some real endurance to swim like that for that long.  Are you training for something?”

Watching the huge digital, red numbers ticking past my 30 second rest interval out of the corner of my eye, I silently told myself to be kind, going over on a rest interval isn’t going to derail anything.  “Yes, I have a half-Ironman and a full-Ironman coming up this summer.”


Oops, not everyone knows your triathlon lingo, I mentally chided myself. “yes sir, I have two races this summer.  One I have to swim 1.2 miles, the other I have to swim 2.4 miles.   So I’ve got a lot of work to do to build up endurance.” 

”Well, you’re doing a great job.  Good strong swimmer, and you’ve got great stamina.” 

Truth be told, when compared to most triathletes, I’m a slow swimmer.  I’ve gained speed up over the years, but I’ve still yet to maintain less than a two minute/100 yard pace in the water during a race.  Despite my improvements over the last five years, there’s still so much work to be done.

But when I take a healthy step back and assess my efforts through the eye of a non-triathlete.  Perhaps through the eyes of some random guy who happened to be in the pool area late one Thursday night, I’m pretty dadgum impressive! 

Our measuring sticks are our own accomplishments, our goals.  Yet as triathletes, we are a part of a very small community of, people who have the health, the stamina, the fiscal resources and the time to train and race three completely different disciplines.  If I were to guess, my uneducated guess would be that our tribe of three-sporters is less than 1% of the global population.  Which theoretically means, even though I haven’t been able to break the two-minute mark in swim during a race (I’ve done it in practice, but never sustained it in a race), I’m still an elite athlete when set into the ‘bigger picture.’

I’ve written on it before, but it bears repeating.  Even on your slowest, most lackadaisical day, you’re still better than any rock star.  Frustrated about missing the mark, not executing as you were supposed to, even though you gave it all you got?  **shrug** It’s okay, when placed in perspective, you’re still an elite athlete!  Better than 99% of the current living breathing population of this, the third rock from the sun.