Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Writing when I should be working

I’m sitting at my desk watching a guy abseiling down the side of the Axa Building. In a parallel world I think it would be fun to work as a high-rise window washer. A few months ago a seagull left a huge mess on the window right in front of my workmate’s desk. She was so repulsed she left the curtain down for weeks. When the window washer finally arrived she stuck a Post-It note on the glass to thank him. The stuff was so ingrained that he had to get out a scraper to attack it, but they gave each other a merry thumbs-up when he’d finished, and everyone cheered. Working in a public service job you sometimes have to take your amusement where you can get it …

I had my third swimming lesson last night, and things went a little awry at first. For a start a power surge had thrown out the heating, leaving the water a little cooler than I would have liked. I’d also had a big session with Duck that morning doing 14kmph sprints on the treadmill, followed by an upper-body and core workout, so I was extremely tired. The pool was busier than I was used to, with swim squads back in action, and I was all rugged up in ear plugs and goggles, so was feeling a bit uncomfortable. I got in the water to do my usual aqua jogging, and somehow I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t breathe, and I couldn’t float, and I ended up clutching onto the side of the pool again in a panic.

Thankfully Lesleigh is very patient. After a little while getting familiar with the water again she got me to put on some flippers and got me to kick while holding on to the side of the pool. I put my face lower and lower in the water, until eventually the momentous occasion arrived and I put my ears under. Only my ears, not my entire head, but with water coming in as far as the ear plugs, even that was a big thing. I was seriously weirded out, but I managed to stay calm.

After 20 minutes we called it a day, as my teeth were chattering so hard I thought they might break and my whole body was shaking. The walk around the pool to the spa seemed to take forever, and it took a while for me to thaw out again. Thankfully I had the spa to myself for most of the time, so was able to stretch out and immerse myself.

The whole logistics of learning to swim are a little more complicated for me than I’d realised. For a start, I hadn’t thought about having to learn in a pool that was over my head for most of its length. Plus I’m so utterly unfamiliar with being in the water that I need to spend some time simply hanging out, getting used to having my head under and getting to the point where I feel comfortable. I need to stop freaking out every time my ears get near the wet stuff. I want to get to the point where, if I do go under unexpectedly, I don’t end up having a panic attack.

However it did occur to me last night that I can’t remember ever actually failing at anything I have set my mind to achieving. Nothing has ever been so hard for me that I haven’t managed it at the end, and sometimes I end up being quite good at it. I never thought of myself as an athlete-type until I started running, and now it’s a huge component of my identity. So I have to believe, as far as swimming goes, that I can do this.

I got up early this morning and ran a quick 30 minutes around the Bays, my last before the half-marathon on Sunday. I got the stitch again after 20 minutes. It could have been because I hadn’t waited long enough after eating breakfast. I had a little can of creamed rice, which was also heavier than my normal pre-run cereal. It could also have been dehydration – not drinking anything that morning. However I also wonder how much this cramp is simply a psychological, pre-race nerves thing.

I don’t know that I’m a taper kind of person. Although physically my body’s enjoying the chance to recover, mentally as soon as I stop running the high mileage something in my head loses confidence in my ability to do it. Seriously though, it was only a week and a half ago that I ran over 20km. My fitness can’t have dropped off that quickly …

In other things-that-have-been-bugging-me news, I’m still losing weight. Things are sagging damn it! I’m going to have to have a serious talk to my doctor about my Thyroxin medication. I’m now four kilos lighter than my previous goal weight. I’m not exactly skeletal yet, and I still have a healthy BMI, but it is a little concerning that I’m eating plenty and still dropping.

Thanks as well to everyone who responded to my txt last night after I left the pool. It was really encouraging to get such a great response. I’m lucky to have friends who are truly supportive of my attempts to deal with this swimming thing, and to get over the fear that I’ve held onto for so long.


Catherine said...

My daughter kept losing weight like that, but she has stopped now - at the low end of normal BMI but at least not underweight. though she isn't exercising like you do. You probably need to eat more than the average person with all that running (this is an observation, not motherly advice). Hope it works out for you

Pip said...

I appreciate the motherly advice! I'm trying to make sure I eat enough, but it's a lot of work eating this much!