Last night was a truly tough swim. Maybe one of the toughest we've had (when I say we I really mean me and maybe my lane mate, Chris. I shouldn't speak for her though). Anyway, being a "race" week, I thought maybe I would have to swim only 45min but I should've known better. I'm in IM training which means it's time to put on the big girl panties and make no excuses. As I woke up sore and cursing Grace (our swim coach), I had a really good "a-ha" moment.
As much as it hurts to admit it, I am not Janet Evans. I think you can ask my family and they'll remember I loved watching her in the Olympics. She was my hero at the time and I wanted to be just like her (for at least 16 days). For those of you who don't know who she is b/c you're either too young or don't care about swimming, she was only the best US distance swimmer. She set world records in the 400, 800 & 1500 meter swims. Her record for the 800 was set in 1989 and it took 19 years for someone to break it. 19 YEARS. By the way, it took someone 18 years to break her record in the 400m event. Basically, Janet Evans was an animal.
Janet Evans, Badass
There was a good stretch of time over the summer where I was constantly frustrated with my swim. I would look at everyone around me and feel that everyone was improving EXCEPT me. I was constantly comparing myself to others and of course, never measuring up. I would try to push myself in the water but was mistaking kicking harder for going faster...it just didn't work like that. My coach, Gena, reminded me that I had come a long, long way but that just as I was improving, so was everyone else. Focus on what I needed to focus on and don't worry about what everyone else is doing. Those words of wisdom worked and carried me through the remainder of 2010.
2011 started and as training got back to a normal pattern, I found those familiar feelings of frustration creeping back in and had to remind myself almost daily that I was doing better. I've taken 4 minutes of my 300 time. FOUR MINUTES. That is something to be happy about. Who cares that there are still a lot of people way faster than me. I improved and I did it mostly on my own (but of course with the help of coaches telling me what to fix and teammates constantly encouraging me). As I thought about it more & more, it seemed silly to me that I was so caught up in comparing myself to others and not improving as quickly. I'm not trying to win IMTX. I'm trying to find a way to swim faster, more efficiently so I have energy to get me through the rest of my 16 or 17 hour day.
Waking up this morning, I was thinking about the soreness I was feeling in my shoulders, legs, back or anywhere else I used a muscle. A main set of 20x100 at a pretty solid pace was punishing but so, so fun. FUN?!? Say what? Yes, more than anything, I had a ball last night. Chris & I pushed each other, encouraged each other, gave direction (slow down) and then shared a pretty half-ass high 5 at the end as neither of us had much left to raise our arms. That's what this is all about. Doing the hard work and having FUN with it. Sure, the frustrating times will come & go but what's important is how I handle it. If I'm constantly focused on getting better, I will be my own worst enemy. But if I focus on the fun and what I'm doing right, those improvements may just rear their pretty little heads again.
Me & Luke having FUN post-race
I won't be setting any 19 year old records and that is A-OK. I'm learning lots of good lessons and truly enjoying what I'm doing. I don't think I can ask for much more than that!