Saturday, July 28, 2012

This is going to be harder than I thought

Last night I watched some of the opening pageantry for the Olympic Games. It made me conscious of my own athletic ambitions, delusions and dreams. Which, in turn, made me hyper-conscious of how long it has been since I wrote about any of them. All of which forced me to acknowledge "THE REASON WHY" I have been so long absent from this blog. I feel like I have written some checks with my mouth that my ass did not cash. I have come to the conclusion that this road that I am on is going to be a harder one than I had thought. I had previously set some benchmarks - I have failed to meet them. It doesn't mean that I throw up my hands and walk away shouting "hell with it - can't be done - I don't have it in me". What it does mean is that THIS IS GOING TO BE HARDER THAN I THOUGHT.

Two weeks ago I had the honor of swimming in the US Masters Swimming Summer National Long Course Swimming Meet. I was witness to some incredible and inspired athletic performances. I saw competitors ranging in ages from 19 to 89 set both world and national records.

I wish that I had been one of those record setters. I wasn't though. I had told myself a story a few months back that I would be "not too far" off from those record setters. I was really far off from them. To be fair, I have been training to be a super-hero since February. I started out as an obese 40+ smoker. Five months later I am doing a triathlon or two per month and swimming in Masters Nationals. Not too bad. I have done pretty well - just not where I told myself I should be though.

This Sunday (29 July) I am swimming in Arizona's Grand Canyon State Games. Next week I swim in the Arizona Long Course Masters Championships. The very next weekend is the Flagstaff Mountain Man Olympic Triathlon. The next weekend is the second in a series of three Arizona Open Water Championships. After that comes the Fire on the Mountain 50 mile mtn bike race. Then the Xterra Off-road triathlon. Quite a mouthful of events over the next nine weeks. Quite a series of meets and races. I am truly blessed to be able to do this. Suspend the "wows" though... it is not as impressive as it sounds. I would be a liar though if I said that I was kicking ass and taking names. I am finishing. I am not dead-last. But, I am not as fast or fit as I was 25 years ago. I guess this is going to be harder than I thought.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

on my way to swim in Micheal Phelps' wake

Tomorrow I step up onto the starting blocks in Omaha, Nebraska to swim 100 meters of butterfly. I am in Omaha for the US Old People National Swimming Championships. Competitors from all over the US, ranging in age from 20 to 92, and organized into age groups blocks of 5 years. I am in the 40-44 age group. Guys who swam in college and never stopped in my age group are still damn near as fast as they were 20+ years ago. I, however, am not. I am doing pretty well considering I got back into the water in February after a 20 year break in my swimming career. Having said that, I am nowhere near as fast as I used to be. But I will be again. In fact, I have decided that I am going to be that one oddball freak-of-nature swimmer who goes faster as an old guy than he did as kid. I am on it. Done deal. Going to happen. Though probably not at this meet. The target for that one is next year.

The 100 fly will be the first of four events that I will compete in over the following three days. The 100 has always been my favorite event. As a kid a in the 1980s I had about 15 minutes of fame as a flyer. I swam that race about a million times in some incredible pools and against some awesome athletes. Having said that... tomorrow's venue and competition beats all of that history by light years. Built for last week's US Olympic Team Trial Swimming Meet, the pool is absolutely unrivaled in the world of swimming. The kind of place that gives swimmers goose pimples to visit. Where the chlorine heads wander about with a dazed and amazed expression. Today at registration I took heart from the fact that I was not the only one gawking like a bumpkin in times square for the first time.

The people I am joining with and racing against are from all of the United States, from a myriad of different backgrounds, and range across the age spectrum. One of the people I most want to introduce myself to is Mr. Bob Doud. Bob is the oldest guy entered in the 100m fly. He is 89 years old and is swimming in a lane next Mr. Thomas Maine. Thomas is 87. I'm rooting for Bob, though I am cool if Thomas wins too. One of things that makes masters swimming so extraordinary is that it is full of these stories. Every event has a story of human triumph that inspires and uplifts us. I spoke with a guy in warm ups today who is focus made flesh. He is here to try to set the masters world record for the 400 Individual Medley Relay. This a particularly brutal event where you swim 100m of every stroke. He has a legitimate shot... though the competition is fierce. There are 21 people swimming his event in his age group and three of them can potentially beat him. He is 73. His age group is 70 to 74 year old men.

I am not going to break any world records tomorrow or the next two days after. What I will do is step up and be counted. I am a man with a mission and tomorrow I take an important personal step forward toward accomplishing that mission. If you don't know about the mission, please check it out in my past blog.

For all who are interested in watching me swim (or any of the meet for that matter) the whole thing is being broadcast on the internet. You can tune in at The state of Nebraska is in Central Daylight Time Zone (UTC - 0500, an hour behind EST, two ahead of PST). My races are:
Fri 6 July - 100m fly between 11:20-11:55am
Sat 7 July - 200m fly between 3:45-4:20pm
Sun 8 July - 400m free between 8-10am
Sun 8 July - 50m fly between 3:10-3:40pm

If you have never seen me in a bathing suit or watched a swimming meet... maintain low expectations. Both share a high degree of anti-climax. My hope, ambition, secret plan, and solemn vow is work to make both be more exciting in years to come. For this meet... I will settle for not embarrassing myself in either a suit or (more importantly) in the pool. I hope you tune in and give me a virtual "cheering on" to speed me along.