January 26, 2006

The Pool Of Relaxation

Morning Workout
RUN (treadmill)
Heart Rate Zone: 10 x 3 minutes at Steady State Threshold (Zone 4, baby)

1500 yards
Main Set: Was supposed to be 5 x 200 yards + 5 x 100 yards. It actually was 4 x 200y + 1 x 100y

Random Comments: I could feel myself impr
oving on the run this morning. I could actually feel myself getting faster. Imagine that. Imagine laying there on the ground, your chin resting lazily in your hands as you try to watch the grass grow. And then imagine that all of the sudden you actually see it sprout up a wee bit. Imagine your surprise. I sprouted today. I saw it. I felt it. I am triathlete, watch me sprout.

Now that I resigned from my job, I'm trying to ease back on the stress throttle of my life. What with all the work I am still doing though, it ain't that easy. But as I always say, Life is a matter of inches. So I'm taking baby steps in the stress easing department. I don't want to say I'm cannonballing into the pool of relaxation, but I've stuck my toes in to test the waters and I'm wading around a bit. Relaxation, I'd say, is swooshing around somewhere at about ankle height.

Take my workout schedule for instance. For the past few months I'd wake up at 5:30 or 6 in the morning and be working out by no later than 6:30am. For the past couple of post-resignation days, I've really let it all hang loose. Get this... I'm now waking up at 6:00 and starting my workouts by 7. I know, I know... I'm crazy. Well, that's the way I roll. So get used to it.

Being at the YMCA a half hour later than usual really adds a new dimension to the workout experience. A very interesting one. Take this morning, for instance. I get to the gym and immediately hop on the treadmill. Well, maybe not exactly "hop", but more like "slowly, cautiously and carefully stepped on" the treadmill. Don't want to hurt myself, after all. The treadmills at the YMCA overlook the pool. So when I started my run I was looking down at all of the regulars I tend to swim with. There aren't many. Most are in the 30-40 year old range and are fairly serious swimmers - and I use that term very loosely. I don't mean serious as in Olympic quality serious. Or even serious as in fast and fancy free. No no, there's none of that at the YMCA. Instead I mean serious as in they make it a point to swim fairly regularly and usually are working out in the pool for at least 30-45 minutes. That's about as serious as you get at the Y.

So I'm running on the treadmill gazing down at these folks doing laps in the pool and I notice that there are only about 5 or 6 people in there. That's about the norm when I swim in the morning. I usually get my own lane. I love having my own lane. It's more peaceful that way. It's nice.

About a half hour later I finish my run, head into the locker room, change into my swimsuit and go on down to the pool. Well, when I get to poolside, I gaze across the lanes to notice that somehow, sometime between when I went into the locker room and when I came out of it, there was a mass influx of people. All of the sudden there are two people crowding every lane and a couple others standing on the side waiting for a spot to open up. How did this happen, I wondered. And then I remembered it was the same thing two days ago. Apparently the 8am swim time is quite popular. Apparently a half hour makes all the difference.

So I patiently sit at the edge of the pool waiting for somebody to finish their workout and empty part of a lane for me. A few minutes later, it happens. Mrs. Old Lady With The Shower Cap On finishes mussing around in the slow lane and waddles out of the pool. That's my cue. I scamper across the wet tiles and shimmy into the slow lane before anybody else notices it's free. Whew. I made it. I quickly start my workout, sharing the lane with Ms Middle-Age Asian Kickboard Queen.

So I'm going back and forth, following my schedule and everything is great. Warm-up of 100s, followed by sprints of 50s and onto the main set of 200s. Five sets of 200s and five sets of 100s, that's the main workout today. And I'm picking off these 200s like fish in a barrel. They are going so quickly, it's practically effortless (actually, it was quite effortful - I mean, it hurts like hell - but it goes by really quickly regardless). I finish one. Then two. Three. And four. And I'm halfway through my fifth when all of the sudden I see Mrs Jabba The Hut's Grandmother plop into our lane and start swimming (if you can call that swimming, which is arguable).

Now let me explain pool etiquette to you. When you have two people in a lane it's easy, you each swim on your own sides. If a third person wants to share the lane, it is their responsibility to let the other two know and request that everybody swim in circles instead of side-by-side. By just jumping into a lane and swimming without letting the other two people know, that's just a recipe for disaster. Eventually one person is going to swim head-on into another. And that hurts. A lot. I've seen it happen before and it's not fun. There's usually blood involved. And oftentimes concussions. I don't recommend it.

Yet somehow Mrs Gramma Hut decides it's time for her to swim, so dang-gummit nothing is going to stop her. I pass her by in shock and as I'm swimming I say, under the water, "What the hell is she doing?!" I get to the end of the lane and stop. The lifeguard is standing there. I look up at the lifeguard and say, "What the hell is she doing?!" The lifeguard looks down at me and, with a shrug of the shoulders and a semi-roll of the eyes, clearly has no clue herself. "I don't know what she's doing," the lifeguard says. "But those people are coming in too." She points to her right. I follow the direction of her finger across the room and to the stairs where, suddenly, my motivation drowns in the three foot pool. Coming down the stairs - creeping down the stairs - moving painfully slow down the stairs - is a mass of geriatrics. A stampede of really old, really decrepit cattle. What the....!?! This is ridiculous. Are they bussing them in now? Can this really be happening to me? I look out the window fully expecting to see a Greyhound parked on the street with an "Old People Inside" sign painted on the side. There is nothing. I look back at the mass descending the stairs. And then I look back at the lifeguard. There is fear in my eyes. There is apology in hers.

"You should probably move to this lane," the lifeguard says apologetically, pointing to the lane labeled "Fast." I look at the three people already in the lane and quickly calculate their average age to be somewhere in the ballpark of 126. Two of them are jogging in the water. The third looks like he is drowning.

"Umm, that's not going to work for me." I glance around at the other lanes. They are all packed with three or four people per lane. Moreso, it is filled entirely with old people. Everybody is old. Way old. Not 65 years old old. I mean O-L-D old. There are shower-caps bobbing, and breast strokes stroking, and water joggers jogging and.... I suddenly feel like I've been transported to the set of Cocoon.

I'm scared.

"I'm almost down with my workout anyway," I say. "I think I'll just leave."
I vault myself out of the pool, skittle across the tile floor, grab my towel and shimmy the hell out of Dodge before some anti-Fountain of Youth malady wraps it's tentacles around my youthfulness.

I mean, I said I want to relax. I didn't say anything about retirement.

It's settled, tomorrow I'm setting the alarm for 5:30.