Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Triathlon Triumph?

Well, not exactly, but I went for my second swimming session last night, and it was somewhat better then my previous excursion.

I have to say here, hand on heart, actually I didn't want to go, as last time was so humiliating, I wasn't really sure I wanted a repeat performance. Plus the kids were all being fractious, nos 3&4 particularly so as they are knackered. This is a result of staying up too late to watch Dr Who, and then having nightmares. What to do? What to do? I could of course put them to bed early on Saturday night, so they miss it, but I'm not sure I can cope with the fall out. No 3 is so desperate to watch it, and then spends most of the time on my lap with her face pressed firmly towards my shoulder. But not watch Dr Who? Not on your nelly...

I have to say I can't blame her really. This series of Dr Who is turning out to be even better then the last, and I soooo love David Tennant. He does soulful and vulnerable turning into hard steel when required so very well. The ultimate TV hero methinks... I have a feeling one or two of my male leads might well end up modelled on him. Although I do have a slight problem with Dr Who turning into a bit of a love rat, even if he doesn't mean to be. Much as I liked Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker as a child, I don't think I saw them as romantic lead material...

But I digress. As a result of all this Dr Who watching nos3&4 have demanded their big sisters keep them company in bed on Saturday nights to stave of nightmares. All that happens is everyone stays up too late, so I have banned them doing this during the week. Net result, last night as I was leaving the house, no4 was wailing her head off, and no 3 was holding tight to her duvet staring grimly at the ceiling and saying in the pathetic tones she knows so well how to adopt, I'll try to be brave...

Spouse meanwhile was outside fixing screws to our trailer, so was oblivious to the chaos indoors. I toyed with calling it quits and not going at all. After all, as my beloved said to me, no one's making you do this... No one but me that is. And I am insanely competitive, and want to swim properly. And the only way to do that is to endure the humiliation.

So it was a nice surprise to discover that the humilation was somewhat less this time around. For a start I met a mum whose daughter is in the same year as no1. She's run the marathon four times and beat me hands down last year, so I know she's much fitter then I am. However, she told me that she is really rubbish at this swimming malarkey. And while she looked pretty good to me, I did discover that once I got going properly I was catching her up, so I might be rubbish too, but not as slow at swimming perhaps as at running. (Well a girl can dream.... the other woman in the pool looked majorly competent to me and she hasn't progressed out of the beginner's lane yet because she claims the second lane is too fast. Yikes... doubt I'll ever get there!)

Not only that, but in a schadenfreude kind of way I was pleased to discover that the only bloke in the beginner's lane was also much worse then I was. So I might be crap, but there is someone behind me. I suppose sport in that sense is like a metaphor for life. There will always be both better, and worse then you... And as we used to tell each other when I was at school. Aim for the stars and you might hit a tree. Aim for the tree and you'll hit the ground.


After my last bungled attempt at swimming crawl, I wasn't looking forward to ploughing up and down the pool on my side again. But luckily this time the instructor took pity on me and after two lengths of that, I was allowed to go for Superman, where I get to stick one arm out and have the other by my side. I did two wobbly lengths of this, then another two somewhat better, and then it was on to one arm stretched out like Superman, and bringing the other up to my ear and down into the water. This I found somewhat tricky at first. Having all the spatial awareness of a gnat, I kept getting muddled up. I was meant to start off, face out of the water, with one arm stretched out, and the other at my side. As I turned my face into the water, my elbow was meant to come up to my ear, and then I was supposed to sweep my arm downwards and back to my side, ready for one I lifted my head out of the water. For the first half a length I was lifting my elbow up, as my head was out of the water, and putting it down as I went into it, which resulted in me swallowing half the pool. But eventually I got the hang of it.


So then I progressed on to using both arms in half a stroke, which was miraculously much easier, and I powered my way up the pool in a triumphant style (especially as it was at this point that I realised I was faster then my friend). My triumph was shortlived, however when I completed my second length, only to be told that I was lifting my head up out of the water, instead of rolling it from one side to the other. Do it again, was the instruction (which I suspect I will come to dread), so I did. This time, I kept my head in the water, and managed to get it right. The main problem I was having now was the breathing. My instructor had told me earlier that I should let the breath out in the water before coming up for air. This worked okish when all I had to do was swim on one side, but factor in using both arms, and remembering which side I breathed on last, and I was all over the shop. As I said, spatial awareness isn't my thing.

However, I evidently managed well enough to get onto the next bit, which was called catch up, and involved starting with one arm out straight, bringing the other one down, touching it and lifting the first arm up and out of the water, before bringing it down to touch the first one again. This took me another four lengths to master, but I eventually go the hang of it, though every now and then I lost the rhythm, swallowed buckets of water and had to stop.

For our final torture, the instructor had the three women at the end of the pool, from where we had to kick off and float as far as we could. The first attempt for all of us was pretty pathetic. After a few seconds you start to list to one side, and then have to do an undignified scramble to the poolside before you drown. However, after being taught the trick of slightly widening your arms to balance you, this was much easier. And to my utter amazement I went further then the other two. I knew all those years of mucking about and practising floating in the pool as a child weren't wasted...

Then it was onto our last two lengths. This time I had to do a one two three motion with my arms, bringing them up from waist, to just below my shoulder and then over my arm. I managed two lengths of this, not stopping, but was absolutely knackered at the end.

Still. It was easier then last time, and I felt I had achieved something. If only to fill my sinuses with water (I spent a very uncomfortable night with a blocked nose as a result) - but you can't have everything.

As we got out of the pool the conversation turned to the other two parts of tri - biking and running. My instructor apparently running a run-bike-run session on Wednesdays, which sounds really scary. And judging by the way the conversation ran, my pathetic 8-speed bike which is already eight years old won't be up to the challenge. I would obviously like to have a go at that, but Wednesdays is Brownie night, so that's out for a few years yet. Hmm, maybe this triathlon thing will take a little longer to achieve then I thought....


****NEWS FLASH****
Yesterday I sent the marathon book to press. I should I hope have a proof to check by next week. And then all being well, copies a week or so afterwards. I'll keep you posted...

2 comments:

Lisa said...

I give you all the credit in the world! While I can at least avoid drowning, I am quite certain I would be a fool in a lap pool!

Go girl!!

Jane Henry said...

Thanks Lisa. Am sure all this humiliation good for the soul or something... Spouse thinks I'm barking!
Jane