Redefining My Purpose

With the biggest race of my swimming career cancelled and open water season over, I’m at a bit of a loss of what to do with my swimming.  Yes, I am trying to swim 500 miles by the end of the year (and my goal is actually to have that finished during the first week of December to give me some buffer room).  I’m currently at 334.79 miles with 2 workouts missing still which I should be making up within the next week to get back on track.

While at the pool this morning, I was reflecting on how I got to where I am today with my swimming.  I didn’t start swimming again until July 2012 (15 months ago).  Funny how back then swimming 500 yards straight was a huge deal for me and now 700 yards/meters is “short” for me. Swimming last summer/fall helped me cope with a relationship break-up.  My ex-boyfriend went on a bit of a rampage with bad mouthing me and spilling details of (in my opinion) the private side of our relationship to just about anyone who would listen.  Keep in mind that he was extremely angry at me and quite manipulative so his  viewpoint was just that..his viewpoint. He saw me as being dysfunctional and seemed too happy to tell that to all of our friends.  I lost a lot of friends over that as they just seemed to all stop talking to me and inviting me to social gatherings. I found out from my friends Jason and Mani as they were the only two people who seemed to refuse to stop being friends with me because my ex wanted that. Everyone else? Haven’t really heard from them since. Nice.  There’s this Katy Perry song called “Part of Me” about a break-up. I had that song in my head A LOT while swimming all those mornings and really threw myself into swimming 5 times a week.  It became true that my swimming accomplishments (I consider every finished workout an accomplishment) to be something about me that my ex couldn’t take away from me. Swimming really helped me get through that period of my life.  If anything, it was about just elevating my mood.  Yes things with my ex and I were *so* definitely over and I had no desire to go back to a bad relationship. It was one relationship that I never forgot exactly how I felt towards the end and the reality of our relationship.

Then there came the offer for doing a big open water swim race in Tahoe in August 2013.  I had met my friend Romy through my cousin Kathy as we were both swimmers. When I told Romy that my usual swim workout was 5000 yards a day, she encouraged me to join Masters and open water swimming as she said that most people couldn’t swim 5000 yards, yet alone do it comfortably.  The Tahoe race I had heard about through Jamie Patrick, a man that I hadn’t met yet and whose career I had loosely followed because his best friend from childhood was my physical therapist after my two hip surgeries. I had kind of forgotten about Jamie until he popped up in my Twitter feed one day. I’m rarely on Twitter and had forgotten that I was following him on there.  He posted About this open water race and I responded saying that I wanted to do it and didn’t know the first thing about open water swimming. He offered to coach me. I’d have been crazy to say “no.”  He also told me to join Masters. I had always been in awe of the San Mateo Masters as they had a cool logo and I’d watch them from the opposite end of the pool in some jealousy as I didn’t think I was good enough to join them.  I emailed their head coach Tom Reudy inquiring about joining.  The rest of that story, of course, is infamous as I can’t brag enough about how awesome Tom is and have told that story so many times, even in this blog so I’ll skip that this time.  The point is that I had a purpose at the time and that was to drag my sorry butt across the width of Tahoe for 11 miles.

Shortly after training started for the Tahoe swim, I stopped swimming with my Masters group to do longer sets as per Jamie’s coaching.  Tom noticed my stroke needed work though as I had a “wiggle” which was making my stroke to be less efficient.  He told me to re-join him on Thursday mornings to work on it. I told Jamie that I wanted to start working with Tom on my stroke as Jamie didn’t seem to have time to help me actually in the pool.  In 5 weeks or less, Tom managed to help me completely re-engineer my stroke AND shave 20 seconds off of my 100 yard split time.  The dude is awesome!  Around them my Tahoe swim dream imploded due to Jamie’s absence of a coach and me being too green to really be able to handle this without real coaching guidance every step of the way. I really needed a full-time coach who could be there for me and Jamie wasn’t available.  I talked with my friend Romy about how I was feeling and she said to focus on just re-learning the joy of swimming so I focused on that.  It worked and over time I found myself enjoying going to the pool again on a regular basis and swimming with my team every now and then (and always on Thursdays with Tom).  In fact it was a very difficult decision for me to move to LA when the time came up as I didn’t want to leave Tom and my team.  I wasn’t sure what I’d be doing down in LA in regards to my swimming. I’d never felt so lost with any of my activities.

I moved to LA and joined the Rose Bowl Aquatic Center. I didn’t join the Rose Bowl Masters though. I remember emailing with Tom about moving down to LA (he’d done it before too in his past) and he didn’t know either of the coaches at the Rose Bowl or CalTech. Like any good coach and fatherly figure, he said that he hoped that whichever team I decided to join would give me the coaching and guidance I needed.  I pretty much knew then that there was no way that I could change my USMS team affiliation from SMM. No way in hell.  I started swimming just kind of aimlessly at RBAC without any real goal except to get used to it and as a form of exercise and something familiar for my move. Yes I have my friends down here that I knew from before the move. Swimming at RBAC was something I could do by myself though and feel comfortable at.

I had another turning point in August 2013 at Jamie’s swim camp. On Friday, 10th August 2013 I did my first real open water swim at Emerald Bay in Lake Tahoe. I LOVED IT.  The whole weekend was a magical experience and I met a lot of new open water swimming friends, some who lived in Laguna Beach even who I could swim with them in the ocean.  I was extremely pumped about open water swimming when I got back to Pasadena. I looked up what open water swims could I do still in the year and signed up for the Corona Del Mar : Don Burns 1-mile and the “Slam The Dam”‘s Super Slam (2.4 miles + 1.2 miles back to back). Again I had a purpose in my swimming life of training for the Super Slam! Yipee!  And of course swimming with new friends Lynn, Patsee, and their other Laguna Beach swimming friends.  It was great to have something to work on and look forward to with my swimming as then I could have set goals for what I needed to swim each week, etc.  I was still emailing Tom and sending him my proposals for my training and he’d give me his feedback.

So that brings us to today. Sure I have my 500 swim miles for the year to work on. That’s just swimming crazy yardage in a pool without anything besides “swim farther because you need the yardage to log into your flog.”  I did my first Masters workout with my SMM team last weekend since I was up in SF. It was awesome and Cindy Lee (assistant coach and the one I did most of my workouts with) had no idea I was coming up.  I hadn’t done speed intervals in a loong time (fun fact: my first and last Masters workouts were with her on a Sunday..the last being the day I moved to LA and here were were again on another Sunday workout with her). My legs were killing me.  I’m thinking about including some speed intervals into my daily sets to help work on my speed.  I’m just still a little lost though on what am I doing all this swimming for now. Okay, aside from the free swimsuit I get if I hit 500 miles this year.

I had another breakup to deal and this one more traumatic as I didn’t want this one to happen yet there was nothing I could have done really to stop it. To compound things, I had been involved with one of his good friends earlier this year who turned out to be a real jackass. He knew this. I was hoping and expecting that he’d treat me better. I wasn’t looking and getting involved with him just happened. For a minute I thought that I’d found the one intangible thing that I’d always wanted in a partner..chemistry. I wanted and was looking for the chemistry that my best friend Maurice and I have and in someone that I’m attracted to. Someone I could talk to for hours yet it felt like 5 minutes and have open and honest communication with. I thought I’d finally found someone who I could have that with as we could talk for hours about everything and anything. We had a lot of hobbies and interests in common and even similar philosophies on life and relationships. I believed him when he told me that he was over his ex-girlfriend, a woman who repeatedly abused him time and time again with multiple dumpings and never showed him any respect. She picked fights with him frequently. He had told me details and said that he never wanted to go back to that ever again. I believed him. NO ONE should ever allow themselves to be in such a situation. We had similar experiences with my breakup with my ex (mentioned above) and his last time being dumped by her where on many levels neither of us really cared as we were done being treated like that. It ripped my heart out when he told me a few weeks ago that he had decided to go for Round #6 with her in TWO YEARS (yes that is right, she dumped him FIVE TIMES in TWO YEARS and he was stupid enough (he had admitted that before) to take her back that many times). He lowered his standards AGAIN to accommodate her. She’s selfish and really doesn’t care or respect or love him and loves what she can make him do (taking her back 5 times? What do you call that? I have yet to meet anyone else who would put up with such crap from someone). She manipulates him to get what she wants without any regard for his own happiness. I think she’s made him think that he’s happy with her when he’s made it pretty clear that he was miserable with her (and he said that his son felt neglected the entire two years too so I think safe to say that his son wasn’t happy with her either). Somehow though she managed to keep wedging herself in there with his life, especially apparently after he had told her “no” when she begged him to take her back for a SIXTH TIME. Really, if it didn’t work out the first 2 or 3 times one should stop trying. As the quote goes “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” He should have cut her lose after the 2nd time she dumped him. I was offering a mature, nurturing, loving relationship based on open communication, trust, and respect. I don’t easily end relationships, romantic or otherwise whereas she does it based on a whim. It saddened me to no end that he was picking her over me. The five minutes I spent with him felt absolutely wonderful and I saw a lot of potential there for us and like I had finally met someone who could understand me and vice versa. I couldn’t believe that it was taken away from me so easily by someone who (let’s face it) will dump him again. Yes I know he made his choice and I have to live with it and all that crap yet it doesn’t help with my emotional wounds. He had said that he always thought I was really cool and was disappointed when his good friend broke up with me and here he was having his chance with me and he just threw it away for someone who is worth a fraction of what I’m worth in a relationship and as a friend? It’s been a rough few weeks though for me and many days I really didn’t want to do anything but stay home curled up in bed. I was having trouble focusing on anything else. One of my best friends kept saying “Dude, I’m worried about you.”  I hit a breaking point a week ago when my body went limp and I started crying in the middle of my set.  Even my underwater mp3 player couldn’t help my mind from racing and getting overwhelmed emotionally to my breaking point. It took all the strength I had to get my act together and finish my workout.  I basically have gone back to using swimming as a means to help make myself feel better and to deal with heartache.  It’s been difficult to get myself back into it with this last low. I keep reminding myself that I’m coming out of this stronger as I’m facing this challenge, dealing with it the best that I can, and I will be able to overcome this hardship.

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