Love and Comfort
by, December 7th, 2009 at 01:23 PM (855 Views)
My husband’s grandmother was not much into sports, but she loved hearing about my swimming and polo playing. She always wanted to know where and when my next swim was, who the competition would be, how many times I week I practiced, who my teammates were—her attentions to anything sporty I did were really generous and genuine. She would insist that I was surely the next Gertrude Ederle (she was old enough to remember the great Channel swim), and gush at length about how wonderful it was that women today were so active and fit.
Then she would lean back in her chair and smugly deliver her line: “Now me . . . I was made for love and comfort.”
I knew that even Gertrude Ederle couldn’t compete with that.
This grandmother is gone, but her stories and sayings stay with me. I find myself pondering the whole love and comfort thing, particularly when things get frustrating and difficult with my swimming. Why put myself through the early-morning wakeups, the weekends sacrificed to meets, the bodily pain of training and racing? Shouldn’t love and comfort be enough? Why go looking for more, especially when it involves so much effort and sometimes brings disappointment?
I find these questions especially pressing when I look around at other swimmers and decide that I’m . . . well, probably lazier than most. I don’t at all love sets designed to put you at the edge of what you can swim aerobically. At every practice, I see teammates who relish doing 100s on the fastest interval they possibly can. They live for that heart-pounding, working-as-hard-as-possible endorphin high. Not me. I’ll suffer through that sort of thing once or twice a week because it helps me reach swimming goals, but I’m definitely not a workout junkie. And as far as dry-land and cross-training activities go—well, I do sometimes find rowing and running fun, and there’s a satisfaction I get from being strong and fit, but on most days those activities don’t seem intrinsically more fun to me than, say, curling up in a lounge chair and reading a good book.
Maybe I’m not actually cut out for this whole modern gung-ho aging athlete thing. Maybe being a couch-potato and eating bonbons is really my true calling.
But then I think about what I would miss if I weren’t a swimmer. I love the sensations of swimming—the feeling of moving through water, the sparkliness and blueness of pools, even the sound of the wrinkles in my swim cap rippling when I streamline off the walls. I enjoy the social aspects of swimming with a team. And I find the whole process of setting goals, making plans, and watching what I’m capable of doing change because of my efforts really satisfying. I’ve felt immense joy when I’ve swum faster than I’ve ever thought possible. And I still get really excited every time I step up on a starting block, whether at practices or meets—it makes me feel twelve years old and full of possibilities again.
So I will be back—getting up in the dark for workouts, ticking off laps, racing the pace clock, kicking till my legs feel like they’ll fall off, setting new goals and coming up with new strategies to work towards them. I’ll lift weights, stretch, row until my legs ache, do crunches and jumps, and all that good stuff too. Tomorrow.
Today is reserved for relaxing, for walking in the sunshine, for shopping, for eating dessert, for basking in a meet well swum. I’m not going to even think about hitting the gym or the pool or the running trail.
Today, I am made for love and comfort.