Monday, October 23, 2006

Like a Fish

I'm slowly plugging away at the swimming thing. I'm making small steps, but every little bit of progress leaves me so ridiculously proud of myself. A few weeks ago I turned up for my first lesson quivering with fear. It took three lessons to get my ears under the water. Lesleigh dropped my lessons down to 20 minutes, because I was nearly dying of cold by the end of 30. I spent one lesson holding onto the side of the pool kicking and getting my ears under. I followed that up with another session on my own, messing around with feeling comfortable under the water.

On Thursday the kickboard, the flotation device I had been dreading, arrived in my life. We marked out the length of the pool I could swim to without going out of my depth - a pitifully small distance. Then, with bravery born from a determination not to quit, I launched myself, face in the water, towards the end of the pool. I emerged at the other end grinning and laughing like a kid. A small boy bobbed and dived around me - just like a fish.

I was torn today between needing to practice before my lesson tomorrow and wanting to have a day at home with Hamish. The perfect compromise seemed to be a trip to the pool together, with a spa as the reward at the end. I did my obligatory couple of lengths of aqua jogging, then donned my lilac cap, pink goggles and ear plugs, grabbed the kick board and off I went. I can't say kickboarding completely gelled with me today. Getting my head deep enough to lift my torso was a challenge, and breathing often enough to avoid ending up gasping somehow eluded me. However I happily did my little laps up and down my 'safe' length of the pool for some time.

I was aware that I needed to be seen to have made progress, so I turned around, summonsed up all my courage, and kick-boarded my way to the ladder half-way down the pool. Well over my head I hugged the wall, and snatched at the ladder railing when I finally got there. I paused briefly, then, without giving myself time to think, launched myself off with one arm and kicked for home. The grin on my face at the other end nearly split my face...

A little more time kicking and immersing my head while holding onto the side of the pool, and I felt justified in calling it quits. A little while ago I wrote about longing for the peace that I imagined I would feel if I could suspend myself under water. Today I held my head under, held my breath, and there it was. Everything was quiet and calm. It was beautiful. How could I have lived a whole life without this?

Hamish had managed 10 lengths of the pool before stopping - a bit comedown from his former 1km distance, but a good start given his complete lack of physical activity over the last few years. We retreated to the spa, which we shared for a time with two big young German guys before they left and we had the space to ourselves.

I'm glad we've gotten to the 10 year point in our relationship on such a high. Things are really good with us right now, and with life in general. Now, all I need is for this knee to hold up for long enough to get me through the half marthon in November. I think if I can fend Duck off long enough to get away with not running this week I should be ok.

If I finish this half marathon I'm getting the Mako design on my greenstone tattooed onto my shoulderblade. By then I will have earned a permanent declaration of strength and determination. There, I've said it, and unlike my post declaring my intention to give up alcohol for a month, this one is something I'll actually go through with.


Sassafrassle said...

Go Pip! You're doing so awesomely with the swimming. Actually, you better watch out 'cos if you get too much more inspiring, you might find yourself the topic of one of my blog entries ;p

Catherine said...

Go you! I'm in awe of you for learning to swim - not that I can't, but that it's a long time since I've done anything way out of my comfort zone. My grandmother apparently learned to ride a bike in her forties. A good role model for me.
Now, how about saying "when I finish the half marathon" instead of "if I finish.."