Saying thank you for lane-sharers

How nice it is when someone offers to share a lane before you even ask.

How nice it is when someone offers to share a lane before you even ask.

I don’t think I’m just speaking for myself when I say this: Those of us who swim tend to favor having our own lane. Most of the time, this works out, at least the times and places I go.

When you run, you don’t need to think about that. You see someone approaching on the sidewalk, and just move a little to the right till you’ve passed each other. It doesn’t take much thought, and probably only happens once or twice a week.

This morning, when I peered through the window at the pool on my way to the dressing room, each lane looked taken. Two lanes though, were occupied by two women who were getting in a across-the-rope visit before their water-aerobics class began at 9. I thought maybe if I asked, one would move over so I could swim my laps.

By the time I put on my swim suit and made it to the pool, the women were indeed in one lane. A lap swimmer was in each of the other three lanes. I recognized a man in the far lane and even remembered his name. Jim’s a nice fellow, and though he’d have to rein in his arms a bit so as not to bop me in the face, I decided to ask if he’d share.

I hesitated though. You just don’t want to interrupt someone’s swim to ask something that can be sort of irritating. So while I stood there, the woman next to the water-aerobics classmates stopped.

“Do you want to share?” she asked.

“Sure!” I said. “Thank you!”

She had a really pretty stroke, plus she was so easy to swim with. We each stayed on our side of the black line dividing the lane, and we never came close to colliding. I finished feeling good, without that stresed-out, playing-defense sensation that can come with lane-sharing.

We ended up walking out together. I told her I had noticed her walking into the gym because of her bright orange flip-flops, which I love. She said, “Dollar Store!” and we both laughed.

Turns out she’s a Spanish teacher on her first week of summer break. The last couple of weeks have been so busy, she said, that she’s had no time to work out. Plus, her students were bringing in junk food (which they were more than happy to share) to sustain them during final exams. So she’s planning to use the next couple of weeks to get back in shape before doing some traveling.

We parted ways, each expressing hope we’ll see each other again.

Meanwhile, for chance encounters…for people who share…for a reminder to move over and offer half a lane when I see a fellow swimmer waiting…The Grateful Runner says thank you.

Saying thank you for (under & over) finishing

I seem to have lost my tape measure

I seem to have lost my tape measure

I have been working on this hat for — well, quite awhile. Confession: I am not the crafty type. I do like to knit, but am not known for finishing projects. Case in point: A blanket I started knitting long before our knitting group at work, which has long since unraveled (so to speak), even began. I still have not finished the blanket.

The unfinished version of this hat has been in my little green canvas knitting bag since last winter. I’d knit a little…then put it aside. Well, today, spurred on by a jaunt to the knit store with my mother, who is starting an Easter vest for her adorable great-grandchild, I thought I’d go ahead and finish my cap.

So I did. Doubly so, it seems. I could have skipped the last — oh, what, five inches of knitting?!

On the opposite extreme is my swim today. I swam yesterday, so today only wanted to go — oh, maybe 54 lengths, which is three-quarters of a mile. When I started, I thought, “Maybe I’ll go 60,” which is 1,500 yards.

But about five minutes into my laps, my new goggles started providing vacuum cleaner-like suction. My eyeballs were being slurped into my skull, or so it felt.

I tried to adjust them once, but the effort was rather fruitless. So after 40 lengths, I stopped. Hey, that’s 1,000 yards more than I would have done had I skipped the whole thing altogether.

As my yoga instructor stresses, you just gotta go with how your body is today, and that is just how my body was. ‘Tis nothing to be ashamed of (really, Leslie, really!). I’m happy to have done something (including having a really good yoga class this morning).

So for finishing at all — overkill in one case, under in another — The Grateful Runner says thank you.

Saying thank you for persistence and perseverence

I swam late this afternoon, stopping at an LA Fitness between work and home. Even when I’m in the mood to swim (as I was today, really!) I tend to be the queen of stalling. First I put my swim cap on. Then I swing my arms around a few times, follow that with a few squats, follow that with a few more arm flailings. I push the button on my watch to clear the time from my last swim, look around, take a few deep breaths.

I look toward the end of the pool, mentally shake some sense into myself, windmill my arms a few more times before gingerly getting in and starting off. Today, though, just after asking the guy who was in my lane first if he’d mind sharing, the woman in the next lane stopped.

“Leslie!” she said, jostling me out of my pre-swim zone. It was my friend Jessica, whom I’d seen at the pool right before Christmas but hadn’t for months before that. We used to work together, and always had such good conversations, mostly about fitness.

She’s a triathlete, training for an IRONMAN competition (excuse me; I’m having heart palpitations at the mere thought) this spring. We said quick so-good-to-see-you hellos before I started my and she continued her swim. Afterward, we caught up in the locker room.

Turns out that even though she’d hadn’t been feeling well and thus hadn’t swum in two weeks, she nonetheless completed the swim that was on her training schedule (which didn’t surprise me in the slightest). It was her longest yet — TWO MILES. Trust me; that is amazingly far.

I, on the other hand, went — well, less than half of that distance. Oh, and did I mention she looked gorgeous, even after having worn goggles for who-knows-how long and no doubt been rather tuckered out? (I, on the other hand — well, didn’t.)

We walked to the parking lot together. Jessica told me that because she’d been sick, her weekly mileage isn’t what she wanted it to be. But, she said, she has three months; what can she do but just keep plugging away and see what happens?

We hugged and headed to our respective homes. I thought about her as I drove, thinking about what she said, how she must feel, and all the work that is going into reaching this goal she has set for herself.

I am proud to know — I was going to say people like her, but I really mean her. I am proud to know Jessica. For her persistence, her perseverance, and her determination; and for being able to call her my friend, The Grateful Runner says thank you.