It has been a busy week, too busy. When a week you know is going to be busy also ends up starting with a night visit to the children’s hospital (thanks to son #2 swallowing an inch long wire that broke from his braces), well, let’s just say it is a week in which you find yourself counting down to Friday. For the record, the wire caused no harm, but Luke was very excited to see it in an x-ray… at midnight no less. Also for the record, my happy place is not the waiting room in CHEO.
Despite the craziness of the week (I do realize it is not over yet, but it is close!) I found myself enjoying two specific activities. Not surprisingly, one of those was running. Somewhat shockingly, the other was swimming.
On Tuesday I had my first swimming lesson in about 35 years. I put my head under water for the first time in about 20 years. I think the last time I actually went into a pool was when I did a mother/baby aquafit class with Evan, about 11 years ago. These stats should make it pretty obvious that swimming has been one of my least favourite activities for most of my life.
But recently I decided – perhaps in some fit of mid-life crisis? – to sign up for lessons. My boys had done four lessons with a private swimming program this summer and I was impressed with the progress they made. Having sat poolside at any number of their lessons in public pools, I did not once picture signing up for a lesson myself. Being in a noisy, chlorine filled pool, potentially running into my students and their families was not going to happen.
This time, as I watched the boys swim in a quiet, local hotel pool I suddenly started thinking that maybe it was time to step out of my comfort zone and try something I don’t like. You know, because it makes perfect sense to pay a lot of money to do something uncomfortable :). Before I lost my nerve, I emailed the Aqua Life Swim Academy asking about private lessons for myself. The owner, Stephanie, quickly responded, offering calming words that made me feel this was possible.
This past Tuesday I headed to my first lesson. To be truthful my stomach was in knots. I had a fear that I wouldn’t even get myself into the water. To clarify, not getting in would simply be a result of me HATING having to get into cold water. Yes, I consider pools to be cold water. I consider anything that isn’t a hot bath to be cold water. I had visions of me spending the entire lesson just trying to get into water above my waist. Thankfully I made it in with minimal fuss, and suddenly I remembered that sensation of floating and how relaxing it can be.
Stephanie put me through the paces of bobbing, floating and kicking and to my amazement I loved every minute. I specifically remember thinking at one point, as I smoothly kicked my way under water, that perhaps I wasn’t as bad at swimming as I thought. Maybe, just maybe, this is something I could at least become, well, average at? Who knows, maybe this will become “Blog for an Average Runner and Swimmer” one day. For the time being, all I know is I exited that pool feeling like a little kid who had just conquered a momentous task. In the change room I looked in the mirror and saw myself with puffy, goggle marked eyes and a grin ear to ear. I am finding myself looking forward to next Tuesday, curious to see what I can accomplish next time in the water.
As for my other happy moment, it was during today’s run. After work I ran a couple of km to some trails in the hopes of finding protection from the 50 km wind gusts we experienced all day. Once into the forest the weather was perfect. You could hear the wind in the tops of the trees but on ground level it was cool and calm. Within those woods I found myself running for no other reason than how happy it made me feel. I didn’t care about pace, I didn’t even think of how much I “should” be running, I just ran. In the end I did a very comfortable 10k, a combination of road running and trail running. It struck me how thankful I am that I’m in a place in my running where, after a tiring week, I can step out, run 10k and be happy. How lucky am I?