... my journey from ballerina to triathlete

Monday, December 31, 2012

Falling- The Laziness Problem


What a fool I was. In response to my overabundant excitement, day three was a succession of horrible failures.

The first of these was my last minute decision to buy my swim cap and goggles at Walmart rather than a sporting goods store solely because I didn't feel like dealing with the downtown traffic. Apparently although I have decided that completing a triathlon is within my capability, driving for fifteen minutes would be utterly impossible. And while wiser voices told me that goggles costing $2.79 were probably not of the utmost quality, I couldn't resist the prospect of spending so little money. True, the nose piece looked a little longer than normal, but there were no sizes listed so they must be adjustable. Or maybe I was imagining things and they were totally normal.
They wouldn't make goggles that didn't work, I rationalized. Maybe all the other goggle companies are just overcharging. I am just being a smart consumer!

Continuing in my shockingly lazy decision-making process I decided to go to the same park that I had been running at and to swim at Waikiki Beach right across the street, both of which are just minutes from my house, rather than driving across town to Ala Moana Beach Park which offers water which is not only deeper and calmer but marked for length with buoys specifically to assist swimmers. I told myself this was because the waters would be less crowded, but if I am being completely honest with myself I think it had more to do with the crowd at Ala Moana being composed of experienced and intimidating swimmers who, at least in my imagination's image of the afternoon, would no doubt laugh hysterically and heckle me out of the water.

Unfortunately, my imagination's image of the afternoon was hopelessly inaccurate no matter where I went. Excited to run after yesterday's exuberant showing, it took only seconds to realize that yesterday was a fluke, and I should never have allowed it to bolster my confidence. Replacing the light, strong feeling in my legs was a heaviness that I could hardly fight against and my lungs felt tight and stiff. Within minutes I was struggling to breathe and willing my legs forward through sheer willpower. Being in decent shape, it baffles me how difficult running is for me. I swear some people's bodies are just born to run, others can train them to the point where it is moderately enjoyable, and others, like me, will be up against a fight no matter how they train. I was determined to finish, however, and ran the 1.8 miles without stopping to walk.

Limping across the street toward the beach, I consoled myself with the fact that I had in my possession a brand new swim cap and goggles and could cool my aching legs in the ocean. I may not be a great runner (or even a mediocre one) but certainly I could swim! I had chosen the least busy portion of the beach in order to minimize the number of people watching me try to get my bearings in the water, but I quickly realized that this stretch of ocean had no beach. In fact, the only way to get to the water was by jumping off a six foot wall onto jagged rocks covered in slippery algae and black crabs the size of my fist. Reminding myself that the people walking by were only tourists and if I embarrassed myself it didn't really matter because I would never see them again, I swallowed my pride and used my arms to lower myself as far over the wall as I could before dropping the rest of the way onto the rocks. Miraculously, I did not fall face first onto the reef. Instead, I stepped gingerly into the water, dodging coral and slippery rocks and looking in vain for sand to walk on, before giving up and flopping into the water like some sort of awkward sea cow.

As soon as I went underwater I realized that my $2.79 Walmart goggles were a huge mistake. Made for people with eyes on the sides of their heads, like rabbits, they immediately filled with water. In addition, my swim cap failed to keep water out of my ears, which immediately felt odd and uncomfortable. The water was so shallow that my hands repeatedly scraped the reef, and within moments I was gasping for air and swallowing water. I managed a swim of about 25 meters before giving up and dragging myself to shore, thoroughly embarrassed. How had it slipped my mind that besides swimming lessons when I was six years old, I had no idea how to perform a proper stroke?

As I stomped dejectedly back to my car, I pondered the lessons learned today:
1. I need to study swim strokes.
2. Each step forward must be taken with a grain of salt, knowing that good days and bad days will always have to coexist.
3. Don't be cheap when it comes to equipment. You may not need the most expensive gear, but if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
4. Don't be lazy and take shortcuts. Just don't. It never works out. Instead, you end up floundering around in knee-deep water, covered in reef scrapes.

Live and learn. Tomorrow, certainly, will be better.

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