The St. Patrick’s Day Swim Lesson

There’s crazy.

And then there’s swimming off the coast of Connecticut on St. Patrick’s Day.

It started with a bizarre notion that maybe, perhaps, with the mild winter we had… just maybe it would be warm enough.  Do you think?  Could it be?  I searched the databases of NOAA for ocean temperatures.  They came up right away!  That NEVER happens!  It was the first time I ever found water temps on NOAA.

45 degrees F.  (7 C, for my Canadian friends).

Just warm enough.  Couldn’t do less than that.

I was so excited!  45!  Warm enough to swim!  The lakes up here were all still frozen over.  My dreams of swimming in April weren’t melting into reality.  Can’t do less than 45, just can’t.  So I was ecstatic that the ocean was up to snuff for me!  Yes!

WAIT!  I stopped in my elation for a second as logic and sensibility dawned momentarily.

After all, there’s crazy… and then there’s swimming off the coast of CT… IN MARCH.

Okay, so I backed up and talked to a few people to be sure that I had their support.  Words like “Fun” and “Great” are always good to hear from people who love you.  And they will say it, but not at the expense of your well-being – this I firmly know.

“Be sure you have a warm up plan,” one of them cautioned me.

Here’s the part where my superhero friends come in.

…Can I tell you something?  Read more

Sir, Yes Sir!

This is a tribute to a young man that I know.  He is an accomplished athlete and a dear friend.  The only person who has swum with me in cold water, I have always held a special respect and love for him in my heart.  I am always captured and rendered still at his overcoming and at his character, and I hope that in my life – not just when I swim – that I can be so true.

Hold.  Fast.

That is what we will do.  Grip a Word with our bare hands, until they bleed with our overcoming of self as we make ourselves into the type of men who do not relinquish what Yahweh has given to us to do.  That is what we do.  We reach.  We hold.  And we hold fast.

You can taste your sweat and feel the pain of it.  Booming it’s echoing shell of a cry is your heart pleading, “Stop!  Stop!  Before I do!”

And when the waters subside and the sun burns with dawn and the moon has fled and the birds dare sing again – we often find ourselves on the other side.  Broken.  Bleeding.  Death haunting our forms but life burning in our eyes.  We find ourselves qualified.  Qualified to have our very dreams that we dreamt from the very, very beginning.  Read more

…Dance with Me?

   It is with gentle silence that my feet press me forward.  Fingertips outstretched, I hold them straight ahead, as if they were pointed to the stars and reaching toward dreams.  Don’t turn, don’t kick, don’t breathe.  For a moment.  Hold.  Stay.  Captive to the glide, an uncommon force of thrust and drag.  Feel the water?  Feel it move around you oh so softly.  Hush, don’t disturb her – let her go as she will, and make yourself as apologetic for your presence as you can.

  One arm toward the stars, the other drawn back and waiting its invitation.  Still.  Quiet.  Slowly.  Don’t kick.  Relax.  Relax.  Head down.  Chest pressed down.  Hold.  Relax.  Don’t kick.

    …Dance with Me? 

  Don’t make a sound.  How could you?  Sound is absent, dormant, sleeping here.  The one dance ever led with your elbow, let it lift your limp, relaxed arm toward the sky.  Don’t shrug your shoulder.  Don’t kick.  Relax.  Lift.  Effortlessly.

  Let your fingertips drag near the surface of the water.  Keep your head down.  Chest down.  Don’t kick.  Relax.  Wait.  Wait until they barely come to whisper in your ear… are you ready?  All they say is:

  Now.

  Just one kick, with a snap from your hip that finishes out your toes.  Let that propel you onto your other side.  Your fingers pointed to the stars can shift their gaze down.  Your wrist is high, your elbow high, and one straight pull anchors you, solidly, as your other hand finishes the whisper in your ear and in one fluid motion pulls you forward as it connects with the water again.

  Simultaneous.  Concurrent.  One. 

  And close your eyes… captive to the glide.  Feel the water?  Keep your head down.  Don’t kick.  Hold.  Stay.  Relax.  Effortlessly.  Slowly.

  That utterly exquisite blend of science and art, passion and precision, both feeling and thought and neither at the same time.  The perfect pursuit of such things and doing them with purity of heart is worship. 

  To sing You a song with my being that words cannot grasp…

  … fingertips to the stars.  Feel the water.  Keep your head down.  Relax.  Glide.  Slow.  One stroke at a time.  One stroke at a time.  See the bubbles sparkle like gemstones against your skin?  You are clothed in perfect evening attire.  I hear the silence, and she is music to my soul like a warm blanket of peace.  Hold.  Don’t kick. Don’t create turbulence.  It is not necessary.  Hush.  Quiet.

  Find it.  Find the technique here, in the slow.  Perfect it.  Work on it.  Slow.  One building block at a time.  One layer at a time.  Until you have a solid song that will sing you all the way to purpose!

  Hold.  Glide.  Relax.  Don’t kick.

  …Dance with me?

Fail vs. Epic Fail

  I got to the pool late on Saturday.  It had still been snowing on the mountain, and I was not about to be on time at the cost of my car… or my life… or especially the life of my dog.  So I took it slow.  And I was late.  Too late.

  No Master’s workout.  Fail.

  I decided to do my own workout, instead.  I had previously held myself faithfully to times around 1 minute 40/ 45 seconds per 100 yards.  Up to 6 miles!  I thought for sure doing another 5 miles or so today should be no problem.

  I was 6 100’s into it and I couldn’t make the time anymore.  I watched the clock perpetually chastise me as I fought and clawed my way through the caramel sludge of the pool water – willing myself to be faster and yet, still unable.  Really?!  I begged myself as the time slowly increased, a few seconds more and more.  I tried working harder, but to no avail.  I might have even been close to 1:50 or 1:55 by the end of that first mile. 

  Fail.

  Well… maybe I just need to warm up some more.  I did some more drilling and really worked on my coordination.  It dawned on me that I had completely reinvented my kick since that last 6 mile venture in 3 and a half hours.  Completely reinvented it!  I used to kick a lot more and a lot harder.  Now I’m way more efficient, but perhaps my body isn’t used to my kick yet… and especially not going fast for a while.  Maybe, I just need to… I don’t know.

  I decided to go for longer sets.  200s on 3:30.  Those will be good.  I know I can do that!  I know it!  But the clock told me a different story.  When I hit the wall, I usually have a good ten or fifteen seconds the first time to breathe and then go again.  By the ninth, I would be down to five.  This time and on the first set, I barely had two seconds before I had to push off from the wall, again.  Fail.

  I finished my second mile, dragging my emotional basket case along behind me.  I was working hard!  My heart rate was up!  I was not dawdling in my effort levels.  What the heck is wrong?  I can only take so much perpetual failure. 

  I knew that if I continued, I would feel bad every last length of my workout. 

  And I would fail. 

  I knew that if I quit, I would feel bad for stopping.

  And that would be an epic fail.

  I weighed my options.  Fail vs. Epic Fail.  In my calm acceptance that today was going to be a “fail” kind of day, I decided on a new course of action. 

  All right, so I couldn’t go fast… but I could still go as fast as I could!

  In the middle of my endurance training, I threw myself a curve ball and changed workouts.  I decided I would do my pure speed workout.  Shorter distances, harder work, sprint-able misery.  I had never introduced myself to working this hard or going this fast after already having swum a couple miles or more.  I was probably close to three miles (including my warmup) at this point.

  But I made myself do it.  Sprinting as hard as I could.  I was already miserable, why not add sprinting to that?  It didn’t occur to me to cut myself a break for having already swum 3 miles, and I was upset when my 50s were at 43, 44, and 45 seconds.  Every time I looked at the clock, I saw “Fail” in the red time stamp.  But that was okay.

  Some days, you’re the king of the world, and some days, you fail.  Part of training is to fail, to push yourself and push yourself to a newer expectation.  It doesn’t have to be a bad thing unless you let it be a bad thing.

  I finished my sprinting and did my cool down.  Rounding myself out to 4 miles, all in all.  When I pushed myself out of the pool, I heard a Voice in my spirit,

  “That’s my girl.”

  I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes.  Really?  Even on a day like “fail”?

  I could see His smile.  That one that says He’s proud.  Maybe today wasn’t about a clock or a timestamp or distance or anything.  Maybe it was just another fail vs. epic fail battle, quit vs. no quit.  Maybe it’s about a desire being great and a girl who just gets in the pool day after day, knowing that that is her path and walking on it no matter the result. 

Fat Head

If you are my friend on Facebook and you have not read my Note about being a Bosch, I should like to direct you to that Note at this time.

If you are not my friend on Facebook.

Okay, so my people (as in, we, the Bosch) are both German and Irish descendants.  Irish passion.  German ingenuity.  Irish temper.  German stubbornness.  Excellent qualities.

But this also means that we are barbarians in structure.  Bone structure, I mean.  We come from long lines of pillagers and fighters, warriors and farmers, and, basically, underdogs with brute strength.  We are our own army and we don’t let our numbers get in the way of our size.

So.  Barbarians in structure.

THIS MEANS WE HAVE LARGE HEADS.

(I put that in caps to get it through my thick skull.)  Read more

I’m an Optimist, not a Therapist… or a Medium

My shoulder had started to hurt… again.

When I first started training for my last two events, my shoulder would go through a phase of … discomfort.  It wouldn’t last very long, maybe a week or two.  Then the pain would subside, or maybe I just got used to it…?  Who knows!

So several weeks ago now, it started to hurt.  Not really so much during my swimming, but after it would definitely pulse with pain!  Tingling all down my arm would ensue, coupled with a feeling of swollen-ness or something.  The best part was that it would make sounds like Rice Krispies when I moved my shoulder around.  I really thought stuff was moving around in there!  Weird!

It was finally painful enough that I decided to see my doctor.  Well… first I asked a couple people if I should.  And they said I should.  So that was when I did.

I was a bit nervous.  Because I hate doctors.  No offense and not personally as individual people.  I just hate doctoral professions as a general rule.  I feel like they just do whatever they can to make me as uncomfortable as they possibly can… and then I have to pay them a bunch of money for it.

Okay.  So the doctor – in between running out of the room to throw up – checks me out and then sends me to get an x-ray and she writes me a prescription for some Physical Therapy.  Excellent.

So I go get the x-ray done, and it turns up nothing.  That was happy!  I was sure something was broken in there, the way it was talking at me.  I was glad that this was not the case and whatever is wrong is not with my bones.  Read more

No Quit

You know those days.  The ones where it’s just hard.  It’s just rough.  Everything you do is wrong.  Everything you try to do, you fail.  Nothing works right, nothing goes right.  You hurt.  You’re tired.  You’re miserable.  You’re frustrated.  You feel pathetic and ridiculous.  You wonder why you even try…

You know those days.  They are no strangers.  They knock on your door first thing in the morning with simple things.  Things like… slipping on your icy front steps or not having any coffee filters.  From there, they tumble into inefficiency and just being a step behind.  Escalation further continues with minute mistakes you might not otherwise recognize.  But they have built on an already upset foundation and from there, you are at their mercy.

On those days, I find my sound to be one of overcoming.  I find myself saying that I won’t give up.  I won’t quit.  I won’t stop.  Not now.  Not now.  I won’t stop.  To me, those days where I’m a moment behind and everything is piling up and my mind is racing and my body is hurting and tired – they are an invitation.  An invitation to be and to become.

Those days, I feel it out of necessity and out of certainty; I must swim.  I must.

The days you feel like quitting the most are when it is easiest to recognize and, thus, easiest to overcome the compulsion to give up.

You might not give up the dream.  You might not give up the goal.  Read more