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When the spirit is willing

It started when I realized I had booked an appointment for myself during the time I planned my first real training workout for a triathlon I plan to enter in June. The excuses started coming.

Just don't go today. You can start tomorrow. This is important. It's work.

I didn't want to start tomorrow. I rescheduled my appointment, and after work, drove to Albuquerque to a public pool. On the drive, it continued.

I don't want to go. I'm tired. My stomach doesn't feel great.

I'm on the freeway, I'm driving. I'm going. I get to the pool, and the parking lot is packed. I go inside, and the locker room is packed.

Ugh. I should just go home. It's so crowded.

I change into my swimsuit and head to the pool. There's a pretty large group of people starting a water aerobics class. I get into the adjacent lane and start my workout. On deck today is a 300-meter warm-up, followed by a timed 400-meter swim, a short rest, then a timed 200-meter swim, followed by a 300-meter cool down. The warm-up went fine. I start my timed 400-meter swim. This is meant to be the benchmark for this event as I start to train. It's eight laps of the pool, and my instructions are to do it as fast as I can. I start swimming. The first few laps, no problem. Then, as I'm swimming back, I notice that the lane dividers have been unhooked, and are swirled in front of me like blue and white snakes in the water. I dip under one and keep swimming.

This sucks! How am I supposed to get a good baseline time now? I should quit.

I keep swimming. The pool dividers are pulled out as I swim, and the lanes are now gone. The water aerobics group drifts into what was formerly the lane I was swimming in. “Coming through!” I sputter as I keep trying to swim those eight laps as fast as possible. I bump into people and I'm pretty sure I touched some old guy's butt.

Why would they remove the lane dividers when people are using them? Why won't these water aerobics people just skooch over a little bit? Will this timed trial have any meaning? Ugh. I want to get out.

I keep swimming. The water aerobics people move farther and farther until they are taking up all of the space that was formerly my lane. The music is so loud it hurts my ears, Tom Petty's “I Won't Back Down.” The water aerobics people stood their ground, and they did not back down. I look at the timed trial and it says I've gone 600 and some yards. I haven't. I've got a setting wrong on my fitness tracker.

Worst workout ever! I want to quit. I want to get out.

I've now decided that I'll wait the group out for the 200-meter timed trial. I stay in the other end of the pool, swimming, treading water as hard and fast as I can. The water aerobics class is supposed to be an hour, but the young instigator is energetic and gung ho and keeps them at it. I'm down at the other end of the pool still. Realizing that this class is not going to end in time for me to implement my new plan.

Just stop. Get out. It's done. You worked out. My stomach hurts. I have heartburn from those tamales. The water is cold. The music is loud and it sucks.

I keep swimming. At this point it's a battle of wills—with myself. I've decided I'll do this “hard treading water” for an hour, since it looks like the water aerobics gang will never clear out. Around and around the pool I go, in between bouts of treading water as hard as I can. Every time I think about getting out I swim back into deeper water, farther away from the ladder out. After an hour of that, I allow myself to call it a night. It was the best I could salvage out of what was intended to be an all-out workout.

Still, this was a great workout! I was in the pool for an hour and a half. I'm now enjoying that feeling you get when you move your muscles around a lot. That feeling you had when you were a kid and swam all day, and when night rolled around you knew you were going to sleep great. Remember how that sleep felt?

I'm enjoying the feeling of following through, and of showing up for myself.

I'm really enjoying the feeling of not letting that little voice that wants to quit win the day.


I don't actually know if I can swim 400 meters (a quarter of a mile), then jump on a bike and ride 12.4 miles, and then run 3.1 miles, all one right after the other. Although I have been losing weight steadily for 15 months, I'm still over 200 pounds. It feels impossible, a very daunting goal I've set for myself. But for a long time, doing a triathlon was an idea I couldn't shake, crazy as it seemed. I plan to give it my best shot on June 13 in Santa Rosa, in the City of Lakes Triathlon.

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