Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Fifty-Nine Minute Mile

I know some people just can't understand it.

"How can you do it? Isn't it just SO boring?"

I think meditation would be boring and yet some people swear by it. I never find swimming boring.

The only bit I don't like about early-morning swimming is when the alarm goes off and I get out of bed. I hate that bit. HATE it. So the key is to do it as fast as possible, so I'm up before I can think about it.

I eat a huge bowl of porridge first, so I'll have time to digest it a bit, and then I get dressed. It only takes nine minutes to drive to the pool if I'm earlier than the rush-hour traffic.

When there was all the snow and ice recently, there was something very strangely pleasant about the car temperature saying minus 4 in the strange early-morning snowy light. And then into the sudden warmth of the leisure centre - I loved it.

I love the first few strokes and the feel of the water. Then I get going and actually the first few lengths are the hardest - I feel not quite co-ordinated somehow. Between twelve lengths and twenty lengths I feel a bit tired - - still not going properly, and still a lot of lengths to go. But after twenty I feel - - hey, suddenly I'm nearly half way. Even more nearly at thirty! And then, by the time I get to forty I have really got into the rhythm of it, and feel I could keep going all morning.

What do I think about? The honest answer is not much. I just enjoy it. I am so busy generally in my life that I have to think about something or other most of the time - - always preparing, always planning. This is one time when I don't have to. So - if I think at all! - I think about how to improve my stroke, and try different ways of doing that. When I'm swimming in the sea - my favourite - I think a bit more - about the waves and the people and boats and sunshine and seagulls and anything else that's happening. But in the pool, I really don't think much.

Yesterday, when I'd done fifty lengths, I looked at the clock and suddenly realised that I'd been going rather faster than usual - - and that perhaps, if I put a bit of a sprint on, I might just be able to achieve my goal of swimming the mile in under an hour.

So I concentrated on swimming as fast as I could - - still not very fast, I'm not a fast swimmer and I swim breast stroke - but faster than normal! I didn't look at the clock again until I was on my final length - number sixty-four. It's hard for me to see the clock until I get near it, because even with my prescription goggles my eyesight isn't brilliant. But as I got nearer, I realised I was going to make it. Fifty-nine minutes!

I've never done that before. In my twenties and thirties, I never usually swam more than half a mile and in my forties I slowed down a bit because I was diabetic and hadn't been diagnosed, and just didn't have so much energy. More recently, I increased my swim to a kilometre - forty-two lengths - but I just didn't realise how easy I'd find it to increase it to a mile.

I tend to be a bit slow in some ways. It often takes me a while to discover things. I'm so pleased I have discovered this early-morning swimming. It sets me up for the rest of the day - I feel far more relaxed, and much less anxious. I feel so lucky that my Mum taught me to swim when I was little, and that my parents took me swimming such a lot.

I can't go swimming again until Sunday as I have lots of early-morning work this week. Some of it has been moved to this week from a couple of weeks ago when it was so snowy. I'll miss the swimming: but I'll be back at the pool on Sunday morning. It feels like a sneaked-in holiday: a secret pleasure.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

May I be the first to congratulate you on breaking the hour barrier. Well done!


9:10 pm  
Blogger Yorkshire Pudding said...

May I be the second to congratulate you on breaking the hour barrier. Well done!

Not Lucy

2:01 am  
Blogger rhymeswithplague said...

May I be the third to congratulate you on breaking the hour barrier. Well done!

2:20 am  
Blogger Jennyta said...

Great stuff, Daphne! :)

10:03 am  
Blogger rhymeswithplague said...

This doesn't have a thing to do with your post, but I just read it on another blog and thought of you:

An actor who had not worked for some time was offered a one liner in a show. He practiced the line all the way to the theater: "Hark, I hear the cannon's roar. Hark, I hear the cannon's roar."

Having gone through all the possible inflections, he decided on the best one. When he arrived at the theater they told him his line was just about to come up and asked him if he was ready.

He said he was.

They pushed him out on to the stage to an enormous sound of cannons roaring.

The actor jumped with fright and shouted, "Christ, what the hell was that?"

(Think about that while you're swimming....)

2:58 pm  
Blogger Daphne said...

Thank you, everyone! I don't think Rebecca Adlington is feeling particularly threatened but I'm very pleased all the same!

9:50 pm  

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