Last weekend, I competed at the US Masters Swimming Nationals in Greensboro, NC.
Okay, that sounds really fancy, and there are some great swimmers there! However, it's an open meet, so anyone can swim, including me.
I had a lot of reservations: I'm not that fast, I haven't swam a race since I raced with Kate, I didn't have fancy swimsuit, I didn't have qualifying times, I was in a new age group, and it's expensive to travel for a race. However, like most things I do, I drank a glass of wine after work, and went ahead and registered myself for a couple races that I like to swim: the 100 back and the 200 free. (I registered for the 50 free, too, because it's fun and fast. And then I got in as many relays as I could.)
Okay, so I have to admit that I was really hesitant about swimming without Kate. My friend Kate was a fierce supporter and competitor, and the summer before she died, we swam two open water swims and one meet together. And that was the last time I competed in swimming. It was hard to dive off the blocks without her physically there, but I did it. And Kate would have been mad at me if I didn't.
So two things happened at Nationals that could not have happened anywhere else.
Maybe this only happens to me, but there are moments in my life when I look around, and I think: "Holy cow! I am part of an amazing group of people! And they like me!" This happened a million times at Nationals.
My teammates are amazing! They swam personal best times, they shredded second off of their sprints, they cheered and cheered for each other. Some of my teammates are trying to stay as fast as they've always been (because they're crazy awesome swimmers), and some of my teammates are trying to figure out what their bodies can do and are swimming better than they ever had. (I'm of the second category.) That's really cool.
I realized that I am really strong! I dropped 35 seconds off of a 200 freestyle in two years!
Sometimes we work out and we work out, and because we aren't professional athletes, our lives happen, too. After all, eating right every day and working out regularly doesn't usually lead to huge differences,; you don't have moments when you're like "Wow! That salad was really worth it." It just isn't as immediately rewarding as a huge bowl of fro-yo covered in sprinkles and chocolate chip cookie dough. However, at Nationals, I realized that I am crazy strong! It's awesome that I dropped 35 seconds off of a 200 freestyle. It was my last race of the meet and my happiest. And it was a good reminder that I'm doing something right!
(Note: I do have a little impingement in my shoulder--because I swam so fast!--but I'll be back in the poll on Tuesday!)