Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Triathlon, Part IV

There’s a sign at the Y informing swimmers that the presence of feces in the pool constitutes something called “code brown”. I made the mistake of thinking about this too hard while swimming and laughed underwater, sending a shot of chlorinated liquid up my nostrils. Swimming has gotten easier over the past few months, but it’s still the hardest of the three sports that make up the mini-triathlon, now just fourteen days away. I can swim 10 laps without stopping, up from three when I started training. There’s 44 laps to a mile at my local YMCA pool, and the swimming portion of the race is 1/3 of a mile, or just under 15 laps. I’m not sure how this is going to work on race day, unless I just go really, really slowly.

I’ve definitely gotten into better shape; I have noticeable triceps now and I can’t stop touching them and showing them to people, but being in good shape is all relative. The first time I ran around Horner Park without stopping, the music in my head shifted from the theme to Chariots of Fire to the Rocky theme song as I rounded the corner to finish the last fifty yards to my house. Some boys sitting on the porch across the street started laughing, and I wasn’t sure why until one of them yelled:
"Joo wanna take a breather?" I pretended not to hear them and ran up my front steps like Rocky at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Once during Adult Lap Swim Time at the Y I stopped to ask the lifeguard how many laps make a mile because I’d forgotten. He couldn’t have been more than twenty years old, his straight brown hair hung down into his eyes, and the Beach Boys’ "Surfing USA" blasted from a portable radio next to his chair.
"How many laps make a mile?" I asked from the shallow end of the pool. He looked at me from his perch.
"What?" he asked over the music, a rescue tube hanging over his shoulder like a large, reddish sausage.
"How many laps make a mile?" I repeated, louder this time.
"Do you need help?" he asked.
"No," I said, the skirt of my bathing suit floating up to my waist in the water, did I really look that bad?

I haven’t lost any weight but my clothes are loose; I can pull my jeans off without unzipping them, which is a fun party trick. I thought I was ready for a new bathing suit - one without a skirt, but I just don’t have the confidence to flash my pale, meaty thighs to the world, powerful and muscular though they may be. Sometimes I feel like Bruce Banner’s half-creature, the thing he becomes just before turning into the Hulk, minus the shredding clothes and the rage. Sometimes people notice that there’s been a change in my appearance, and I’m always disappointed when they don’t.

Today I’m going to attempt all three parts of the triathlon, with breaks between them. Wish me luck.


Shelley said...

Awesome! Go Jess! If I lived nearer, I'd definitely have noticed/complimented you on the triceps... :)

j.cro said...

Good luck!
You probably already know this but I'll just remind you anyway - you weigh the same b/c muscle weighs more than fat - and isn't it awesome about how your clothes fit more loosely?!
Keep swimming, the more you do it the easier it gets.
You can sing the Dorey tune in your head while you're doing laps..."Just keep swimming, just keeping swimming"

Anonymous said...

I definitely noticed, but I'm shy about commenting.

PS You have inspired me to begin swimming. I will also be wearing a skirt.

JP said...

Thanks everybody!! I'll have to take some dramatic closeup black & white photos of my triceps, all oiled up and enhanced with contrasting shadows, and then post them to my blog.

j.cro - I figured that's what was going on (muscle being denser than fat), but it's still nice to see it in print. There's also been some talk about BMI measurements in the news lately, indicating that perhaps there are better ways to measure your fitness than using the height to weight ratio, which makes me happy. That Dorey song is awesome, I love Ellen!

Danny Wanny - I highly recommend the skirt suit; its suitable for poolside cocktail parties, comes in a variety of flattering styles and colors, and provides enough coverage to keep 'em guessing.

Midtagessen said...

Good for you a lap one way or is it up and of life's great mysteries.

MamaVee said...

I missed this one. and now I'm just stalking you. Almost there!

I love the image of the skirt floating up. I always wish I could do a swim event with a big plastic bathing cap- the kind with scallops cut out in plastic and a chin strap. Where do you find those puppies?