Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Joy of Being Small-Breasted

Notice joy is singular. Here it is: when you break a bra strap after swim practice and have to go straight to work, you can simply go braless. I'm feeling quite free today, thankyouverymuch. And also wearing a thick coat.

*warmup: 500, 200, 100

*400 free, 4 x 25's stroke
300 free, 4 x 50's one lap stroke
200 free, 4 x 75's one lap stroke
100 free, 4 x 100's one lap stroke

*3 x 50's free descending, 2 x 25's stroke
repeat 4x

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

I Swim Around

The other day in the locker room, Rebecca said something I am stealing right here and now. She mentioned that while she's been faithful to her husband for decades and doesn't have much to say about sleeping around...she certainly swims around. This was in reference to her lane swapping. Rebecca is known for mixing it up and throwing routine to the wind - hopping over to lane 5 or 2 or even 1 once in a while to experience different paces and people. I am not known for that. Not at all. In fact, I prefer to never move even one lane left or right to lanes 1B or 2B, even when 2A is overcrowded. I like my lane and I'm sticking to it. Sorry Tim.

I do however, love the term "swim around" for a different reason. I, too, have been monogamous with a husband for decades. It's the best - he's the best. I wouldn't change it for the world (really). But that doesn't mean it's not fun to exercise with a warm pool full of attractive others.

What?

Don't tell me you don't notice we're surrounded by hot and generally high powered swimmerbodies clad only in very small pieces of cloth. Through the years we've swum and panted with Olympians, models, billionaires, politicians and just plain beautiful people. We then generally go shower with them. (Yup it's just a fact that the ladies look good enough for me to notice as well - I am proud to shower with each and every one of you strong women!)

So sure, it's a joy to share the same space with beautiful bodies, and swimming with them is a lot less risky than sleeping with them. But I'm not just being sleazy here. I honestly think that swimming has shown me the beauty of every single body type. I love that we are all bold enough to walk out onto the deck in a swimsuit. I love that I've grown to appreciate thick shoulder muscles more than a slim waist. And I love that in the pool and in the locker room, we don't talk about diets or looking good, even though we do look good, dammit.

*warmup: not sure, followed the leader

add fins for:

*600, 300, 150
*400, 200, 100
*200, 100, 50

*100 free, 50 kick/scull, 25 underwater
repeat 4x

Monday, February 27, 2012

Goodbye Heidi


The CaringBridge update for Saturday, February 25 - the day Heidi died - is titled "Heidi is free". I cannot imagine a more appropriate title. As I wrote after visiting her a few weeks ago, it was clear to all of us who saw her since her November stroke that Heidi was quite literally trapped inside her body. She knew who was visiting her, cried tears of joy and sorrow upon seeing and hearing and touching things she loved, and simply could no longer survive without 24/7 care and feeding from others. Knowing there was never any hope for change, she chose to go. I can't predict what I would actually do in her situation, but I'd like to think I'd be brave enough to make the same exact choice.

This morning Janet was at the pool, getting in a swim, as Heidi would have encouraged her to do. I did not know yet that Heidi was gone when I saw Janet in the locker room before practice and gave her a big hug. She said they were "hanging in there" and I assumed she meant Heidi as well. I then led Janet through warm up. She smiled at a joke I made and told me I could use some anti-fog for my goggles, which I could. Then Tim asked me to move over due to crowding and I watched her body pass by mine in silence from the next lane over, over and over and over.

It wasn't until I was showered and getting dressed that Marianne mentioned Heidi was gone. It took me by surprise, although I knew it was coming - we all did. Heidi had gone home about a week earlier, to stop being fed through a tube and to die peacefully at home. I thought of her a lot this past week, especially when I was swimming. I didn't know how long it would take for her to go, nor how painful it would be. But the CaringBridge website tells the story of her peacefulness once home, and her obvious unwavering commitment to her decision. Whatever she was feeling inside, she gave her family, and all of us, an amazing gift by being steadfast in her wishes. I can only imagine how hard it would be to let someone you love go the way the Renner family did with Heidi, and I think they are all a perfect picture of true bravery. How much harder would it have been if Heidi hadn't been strongly committed to her decision? If she had seemed unsure or afraid of where she was headed? Unbearable, I am sure.

I want to thank them all again for allowing us to witness their heroic journey to deliver Heidi to freedom in a most amazing and inspiring way.

And though I know Janet will probably be returning to Hawaii soon and recapturing her own life, I hope today's workout is not the last I share with her.

*warmup: 2 x 200's, 2 x 150's, 2 x 100's (second swim in each pair with last 50 stroke)

add pull gear for:

*6 x 175's, 6 x 125's, 6 x 75's

remove pull gear for:

*4 x 100's, 4 x 50's stroke, 4 x 25's fast

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Old but not Cold


Here's where I've been swimming the past week. This is the "performance pool", just after the single pair of lane lines were pulled out. Not bad eh? I love club life. And I love coming home. Yes, it was 83 degrees in West Palm Beach (and the pool was 85), and I had full access to the club buffet after a swim, but I love our February killer workouts, and my lax 3,000 yards done at 9am didn't compare to times like this morning: get up at 4, swim at 6, pound out 4,000 tough yards while trying to chase Lanshin in fins. NOW, I need a lounge chair.

*warm up: 400, 2 x 200, 3 x 50

add fins and paddles for 4 x 600's

fin option for 6 x 100's descending

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Cold Time


This image is really unrelated to the entire following post, although I was able to wrap "time" into the title. Clever no? Anyhoo, I had to put it up because it will be my only unpaid modeling gig ever. And of course because you can get these awesome watches at an insane price on JITC today. Okay, so now on to the "cold" portion of the post.

It's cold. And Louise asked me to blog about cold this morning in the locker room. Ask and you shall receive. Here is my morning cold story. The 30 degree temperature is not bad on the walk from the house to the car. Generally I've got gloves on, and a swim parka over my jammies. Taking a seat in the car is a bit tougher as the leather has been chilling for about 12 hours, but with the seat warmer cranked up to high my back side is quite happy by the time I pull into the Burgess parking lot - just in time for me to exit the car and freeze my ass off again. It gets a bit tougher on the walk into the locker room, as I leave my gloves in the car and have to walk about 50 yards in flip flops with exposed extremities. There is a minimal bit of relief when I enter the building. And because the heater is on, the cold factor is still "okay" as I shove on a mildly wet suit in the locker room. It quickly becomes "not okay" when I walk out onto the pool deck clad only in that damp suit to await Tim's instructions. The feet go numb to varying degrees depending on how far I've undershot the start of practice (there is NO CHANCE I'm jumping in before Tim comes out as I've been scowled at too many times for being in before a lifeguard is present, and there is equally no chance I'm wearing my parka out onto the deck as I would then never take it off). Once it the water, assuming we have no heater issues, all is well (especially when we do repeat 500's like this morning - yippieeee!). But, here's what is "beyond not okay". Two words: cold showers. A few more words: cold showers this morning after swimming 5,000 yards thinking about my upcoming hot shower.

I'm at work now, and though my fingers have de-numbed (I literally had trouble holding my coffee on the way here), I know that I will never quite warm up until tonight when I take a hot bath. How's that for cold, Louise?

*warm up:
2 x 250 with last 50 stroke
4 x 125 with last 25 kick

*main set:
5 x 500's descending

*last set:
6 x 50's drill to free

*post workout:
stay in for 1,000 more

*post post workout:
scream through a cold shower

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Cupcakesex


For those of you who noticed I wasn't swimming at my normal pace this morning (I know, people really keep tabs on that and are always looking at my splits. Not.), this was sadly not due to a hot Valentine-inspired late night of sex. It was instead due something much more illicit. Last night I ate two large and very delicious cupcakes that Noah brought home for me as a "gift". Yes, I loved them. But no, much like having a steamy affair with another man, I shouldn't have conjugated with these cupcakes. It was too much - and I felt terrible after I was done with them. During the act? Great stuff. One had a scoop of extra sugary cookie dough on top they called frosting. On top of that was a mini chocolate chip cookie. And beneath it all was cup sized cake that tasted like barely cooked chocolate chip cookie dough. The other one was basically an incredibly fresh Ding Dong. More sinful than sex? Yes, sadly, I think actually they were. Well, at least more sinful than sex with my own husband.

*warmup:
200 free, 150 stroke, 100 kick, 200 free, 50 fast free (or something like that - frankly I didn't hear the warm up and was just following the leader on this one).

*main set - add pool gear for:
3 x 150s descending, 200 easy, 100 hard
4 x 100s descending, 200 easy, 100 hard
5 x 50s descending, 200 easy, 100 hard

*final set - no gear for:
600 done as free/stroke, free/kick, free/fast

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Too Much Awesome


Aren't they? This is what awaits me every morning when I return from the pool. No, they aren't always wearing matching shirts. And let's be honest, they don't always present me with homemade cards that tell me they love me (see below - what more could a mom want for Valentine's Day than a gangsta inspired note ("You're da best"?)). But, they are always awesome, even when, well, they aren't.



*warm up:
300
250
200

*main set:
75 fast free, 75 easy free, 50 fast stroke, 75 easy free, 25 fast kick, 75 easy free
75 fast free, 100 easy free, 50 fast stroke, 100 easy free, 25 fast kick, 100 easy free
75 fast free, 125 easy free, 50 fast stroke, 125 easy free, 25 fast kick, 125 easy free
75 fast free, 150 easy free, 50 fast stroke, 150 easy free, 25 fast kick, 150 easy free

*last set
25 fast, 25 easy
25 fast, 50 easy
25 fast, 75 easy
25 fast, 100 easy
25 fast, 125 easy

Friday, February 10, 2012

A Less Beautiful Post about Lane Etiquette

Having recently addressed the unspoken rules of the locker room, it is now officially time to tackle the fundamentals of swimming with other people (again all in good fun, though this is a tad more serious I have to admit). Sure, I get it, some of you assume there are no rules - that swimming with others is just like lap swimming alone, except that there's someone next to you whom you can count on to remember the set. No bueno. There are rules (at least according to me). And you should know them. Here are six of them. I think there are many, many more so leave a comment with what I've forgotten!

1. Brush your teeth before practice. Duh.

2. Don't swim up on the person in front of you, especially if it's me. If you want to swim faster than me, go before me. If you want to swim behind me, stay far enough behind me so that you aren't drafting off of me, and more importantly, so that you NEVER EVER touch my toes. If you do, I will probably kick you.

3. Please avoid pushing off the wall directly into the center of the lane. Seriously, it's messed up that I even have to say this, but I do.

4. Do not pull on the lane lines unless you are a 6 and under swimmer. I don't think any of us fall in that category.

5. Let's say the set is an IM set, but you say "fuck it I'm doing freestyle". Great. But do not do either of the following: A) lead and change the interval because there is too much rest for a free set (it's not a free set FYI), or B) slot yourself in and run up on my toes because you are going faster (freestyle is faster than IM FYI). See #2 above.

6. Here comes my favorite etiquette breach. If you choose not to listen to the set, or jump in late, do NOT repeatedly ask me what we are doing. Put your head down and follow and eventually I'll fill you in. But if I've just worked my ass off on repeat 200's and have 10 seconds of rest between and you ask me to recount the entire set during the few seconds I have for oxygen, I will ignore you.

As for today's set (which I happened to listen to, and have a hard time grasping - so yah, I get it, sometimes you have to ask):

*warmup:
5 x 150's - free, stroke alternate by swim

*add fins for:
100 flutter kick
75 dolphin kick
50 fast kick
25 underwater
Repeat 3x

*add pull gear for:
50 DPS, 50 breath control
100 fast
75 DPS, 75 breath control
150 fast
100 DPS, 75 breath control
200 fast

*go naked for:
10 x 75's
1, 5, 10 stroke
#9 all out sprint

100 easy.

Monday, February 6, 2012

For Heidi


I was nervous about visiting Heidi. I remembered her as an always upbeat, caring person who lit up the locker room at 5:45am and made me glad I had gotten out of bed. I knew she took great trips, and lived actively. I knew how happy she was about her son's marriage. Beyond that, I figured I didn't know her very well. I never saw her outside of Burgess, and I consider her a teammate and acquaintance, more than a dear friend. That said, thanks to the environment Tim has created, we teammates at Burgess definitely feel like a part of something bigger - a family, a support system, something. But as Sunday drew near, I considered the fact that I felt a chest cold arriving, and that I would have to depart from my children (who I see too little during the week) for hours to go visit her in San Leandro. I wondered what I would say to her and around her. I wondered if she'd even care to see me. And I almost didn't go.

I will forever be glad that I went. And I encourage every one of you to visit her as well.

Nancy, Clara, Lanshin and I entered the low-slung Kaiser care center and were immediately met by Heidi and Janet, on their way outside. Heidi's eyes were wide open, and the emotion she felt upon seeing us was clear. A tear ran down her face and she cried out for a moment. I don't think I've ever experienced a more meaningful greeting in my life. I can't explain it, but a huge simultaneous rush of joy and sharp sting of pain hit me. There are so many things I do every day that mean so little to anyone around me. This visit, it was clear, was going to mean a lot to all of us. Thanks to Nancy who had thought ahead and asked Tim for pieces of the old lane lines, we had a unique necklace for Heidi. If you look in the photo above you'll see the lane line necklace. She loved it. We apologized that there were no diamonds.

Janet led us into the courtyard and we sat, in the 70 degree February sun, and took turns holding Heidi's hand. When it was my turn, I asked if we could take some pictures, and if I could write about her on the blog. Heidi squeezed my hand so hard I could barely stand it, and nodded her head yes when Janet asked pointedly if we could take the photo. She looked at me for a long time, and responded with her thumb to rub my hand, whenever I rubbed hers. That simple movement of her finger as she stared at me let me know that she was in there, she was enjoying this visit, and she could hear us tell her we were swimming for her, living for her, missing her smile. Aside from holding my newborn children, holding Heidi's hand was the most intimate human moment I've ever experienced. I am blessed that she gave that to me, and I will carry it with me forever.



Nancy came through in yet another way yesterday with an amazing slideshow she had made, of all of you. She had photos of Tim, Anna, Marianne, Kathleen, Adam, Gary, Judy, and so many others from the recent relay Saturday morning, and she had fitted these photos to Jack Johnson tunes. At the end of our visit, we sat and showed her the slideshow, as you can see below. Heidi was fully engaged throughout the five or so minutes it took, and Nancy even noticed she was following beat of the music. Heidi's mom and dad were with us at that point, and they sat in front of Heidi, watching her watch the video. Her mom said afterwards that she had stayed where she was, in front of Heidi, so that she could enjoy studying her face in such a focused state, see her concentrating and enjoying what she was viewing. Clearly it brought her joy to watch. Nancy, you gave an amazing gift to Heidi's parents and to Heidi, in creating that video.



Finally, before leaving the center, Janet took us to Heidi's room, where we hung nine 8x10 photos of the team that Nancy had printed out, on the ceiling above Heidi's bed. She is in bed most of the time of course, and now she is looking up at your smiling, wet faces, feeling just a little closer, hopefully, to the pool. While we were in the room without Heidi, Janet finally shed a few tears - breaking her unbelievably upbeat demeanor. She talked about how hard this process was, and about much she'd learned from and about Heidi through this entire process; how magically she treated her son, her students, her friends and family, and everyone she encountered. She talked about Heidi's strength throughout her life, and ability to endure pain and struggle through various situations without a complaint, and with a smile in tact. She told us how much pain Heidi was in now, and we were stunned at how infrequently she cried out. And as I listened to this devoted, amazing sister reflect on Heidi I realized that I did know her. I know Heidi because Heidi is one of those rare people who treats everyone in her life with kindness, and an unmeasurable sense of optimism and respect. She treated me that way, and I was just a teammate passing in the locker room, in the dark cold pre-dawn. She touched my life long before my visit yesterday, and what she has shown all of us about how to live will be in our lives forever.

Equally important was, I think, the impression Janet made on me. I feel less able to express quite yet how much I respect and admire her and her entire family for the way they are caring for Heidi. Someone is with Heidi 24 x 7, and her sisters and parents have had "pajama parties" with Heidi, organized visits, done a majority of the nursing (feeding, changing, monitoring, advocating), and most importantly, have continued to smile and talk with Heidi about life. Heidi may not be taking trips right now (though Janet said she thought she might break her out and go for a car ride soon), but she is still living as actively as she can, thanks to her family. They are living through this; through whatever is to come. Actively and together. Exactly, I believe, as Heidi would want. As I would want.

To all of you, Heidi and Janet and the entire family...you are amazing. Thank you for letting us in to your lives.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Chlorine Tears

I never know what exactly I'm going to think about when I get in the pool. February - month of long sets that reach into the depths of my neck muscles - is generally best for long deep thinking, so I look forward to what those repeat 500's will bring up in my psyche. Lots of folks claim to cry during massage or yoga. Not me. I cry while swimming. It's a fact, not a choice I've made, but were it a choice it would be a smart one, if I do say so myself. I'm already wet and underwater. If I cry, who will see my tears?

Over the years I've screamed underwater, and sobbed (as much sobbing as one can do while also trying to keep one's breath regulated during high heart rate sets), over callous remarks made by friends, perceived mistreatment by co-workers, frustration with business, colicky children, and pure lack of sleep. My friendships are deep and infinitely important to me, and so I feel any bumps along the road like personal injuries. My company is my third baby in many ways, and so I feel frustrations there like injuries to my children. And hell, everyone needs sleep. As "tough" as these things feel when I am going through them, I am lucky beyond measure that these are the things I have to cry about. And I am blessed that I found swimming as a way to process them.

Today I thought about this coming Sunday. On Sunday a few of us are planning to visit Heidi. Heidi, who was always present at 5:45am workouts, and who always told me how much she loved reading this blog. Heidi, who swam and swam and swam and traveled and enjoyed life on an uber active scale. Heidi, who suffered a massive stroke and is now unable to speak or swallow much less swim. I look forward to being there for her, to being present with my teammates and allowing her to listen to us talk about the pool and people that surround it. But I know that I will have some tears to cry for Heidi during my swim on Monday morning. I am preparing for them already.

*warmup:
500 free, 100 kick, 100 stroke

*main set:
500, 100
400, 100, 75
300, 100, 75, 50
200, 100, 75, 50, 25

*end set:
8 x 75s
fast easy fast, easy fast easy, all easy repeat.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

February!!!

100 because Tim was out and ready for us early birds, before warm up.

*warm up:
200
2 x 150
3 x 100
4 x 50

*main set:
300, 75, 50, 25
repeat 3x

*last set:
totally can't remember, but it was 850 yards total.
must be the fish tacos i just ate.
can't wait for tomorrow!