I took Tuesday off from all activity and I felt good this morning when I woke up to swim before work. I figured I would cruise over to the pool at 5:00 AM, swim 500-1000 meters and be on my way. WRONG! First of all, I get to the pool and I find out the obvious…..it is freakin dark outside at 5:00. I mean the pool has lights under the water line to illuminate the pool, but above water is pretty dark in the pool area. The moon and a few dim lights are all that are on. I am not afraid of the dark, but the pool sort of looked like something out of a horror movie. All it needed was some mist rising from the surface and a dead body floating face down and it would have been perfect. Second, I am the only person there. Well, actually there was a lifeguard on the opposite side of the pool. At least I thought the shadowy figure sitting in a pool chair across from me was the lifeguard. Could have been the dead body from the movie set. But there were no other swimmers to be found. I guess “O-Dark-30” isn’t a popular time to swim. Third, the water was a bit cold. I know, I know this one is a bit wimpy, but outdoor pools at that hour, even in Guam, are much cooler than they are in the middle of the afternoon. I got used to it, but it took me a few minutes. Reminded me of jumping into Hampton Beach in New Hampshire when I was a kid. Fourth (yes, I am still going), the lanes in the pool were facing a different direction. Every time I have gone swimming there the lanes are set up going the width of the pool (25 meters). Well, apparently the morning rules are that the lanes be set up along the long axis of the pool (50 meters). I realize an extra 25 meters should not be that big of a deal, but when you are a novice swimmer like me every meter counts when you are looking for a wall to hang onto. So, all of this was going against me before I even started. I was now going to be swimming laps twice as far as usual, in a horror movie pool scene, in North Atlantic water temperatures with nobody around for miles to save me if I drowned (unless the dead body in the pool chair was in fact a lifeguard…..to dark to confirm). It’ not good when your heart rate is 100 bpm BEFORE you start your cardio workout. But there I was, in the pool, goggles on, because dammit I have a triathlon to train for!
I take off on lap 1 and I realize a few strokes in that the lighted water beneath me is very clear. I mean I could read a newspaper off the bottom of the pool, that’s how clear it was. Then, when I bring my head out of the water to breathe, it is pitch black, like I cannot see anything. Then back into the pool where it is lit like a light bulb…..and so on. My biggest problem came about halfway through my first lap….around 25 meters. It was there that the pool went from about 5 feet deep to about 20 feet. Just fell off. Now, I have swam in the deep end of this pool several times during the day and have known how deep the pool is. It hasn’t fazed me. But today, seeing that crystal clear pool bottom WAAAAAY down there, it sort of freaked me out. I suddenly came to the realization that this death pool was pretty damn deep and I was not the best swimmer in the world. I started swimming faster to get to the wall, which for some reason was 25 meters further away than I was used to. I finally got to the wall, completely out of breath, and turned back to head to the shallow end. I started back and was now sure that something bad was going to happen. Either the boogie man was going to jump into the pool and get me or the bottom of the pool was going to start sucking me into the abyss beneath me. I certainly didn’t want to be sucked down to Challender Deep and the lifeguard/boogie man still hadn’t shown any signs of life, so I was in all out panic mode. My arms were a little heavy from the 50 meter sprint I had just completed, my heart was now beating in “scared sh!tless” mode, my body was still a little cold and suddenly the triathlon training didn’t seem like such a good idea. I completed the 100 meters, and even rattled off another 25 meters before stopping and standing in the shallow end and walking out. Epic Fail.
Not sure how I will be able to handle the open waters of the ocean. Sure it will be daylight and there will be other people around, and the water will be a little warmer, but, with my goggles on I’ll be able to see the ocean floor and all the fish! I have heard that the course is along a coral reef and it does drop off to 20-30 feet at the farthest point out. I don’t want to see that. I mean if I am scuba diving with an oxygen tank sure, but not when I am swimming. I need to get over this fear. I know I need to get back in the water. A good friend and triathlete told me today about an area at the beach where I can swim in the ocean and it isn’t very deep. There are fishes there and a little chop so I can get used to it. There are walls there to swim beside in case panic sets in again. He used that area to get over his initial anxiety and I think Zinnia and I are going to head there this weekend…….during the day!…..to check it out.
Bike tomorrow. It can’t get much worse than today.

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