I am a major fan of experiencing experiences. The good, the bad, the ugly. I am against pretending things are okay when they are not. I am against pretending to be happy when I am sad. I am against pretending I am not disappointed in my performance last weekend.
The problem however…. is when you are part of a team that doesn’t really give a shit if you are feeling down and disappointed, they are going to give you a kick in the ass to move you forward anyways. That whole….bring your disappointment sad face oh I had a bad meet with you…. you are moving forward anyways.
My plan for Tuesday at practice was just to sit in the back of my lane and swim. Enjoy the camaraderie of my teammates, they are the reason I am there in the first place. The great thing about these people, and about Brett and Mike…. is they don’t tolerate crybabies. They make it fun but hard, no coddling. No hand holding.
After the warm up Brett announced we’d be doing a test indicator set, he pointed to me and said “To redeem yourself in case you think you had a bad meet this weekend”. Essentially the team was about to pay for my crab-ass-ness. I wasn’t in the mood for hard swimming. At all. My plan was to regroup this week and decide what’s next.
But the gang had other plans.
“Mary, I think you should swim between Nick and I.” Todd called over from the next lane.
“”Ha!” I responded. He was batshit crazy if he thought I was doing that. Both of them are much… MUCH faster than I.
“Come on over.” He said.
“I should.” I laughed again. Shit. He is serious. Should I go? But I was going to hang back at the end of my lane today….
“Let’s go.” They called. So I switched lane. Shit … I thought. Nick and Todd put me right between them. I told Todd to just let me know when he wants to go ahead… and all he would respond with was “Don’t let me catch you.”
I don’t like to share our team’s swim sets. Not because they are some big secret because after all… it’s not the secrets … it’s how you use them. I just find that it’s their work. If we do a set I want to share I will ask. Essentially the set is a pace set for a 500…. that over time will yield the targeted result. It’s a set to be done over several weeks, or months.
Brett gave me my target time. At the end of a several week progression if I can hold this target time…. it’s a good indicator of what I can swim in a meet. It’s a set of 50’s and my target time was doable. Calculated out and at the end of the progression the time would add up to below nationals.
Oh he’s nuts. I thought as we began. These people are all nuts.
Pot calling kettle!
During the first 50 Todd tapped my toes. I offered to allow him to go ahead. He declined, reminding me to go faster. I had made the time. Then we did it again. I made it again. Then I made it again. And again. Somewhere between the fourth and eighth round I realized I was in it now.
Maybe this is possible.
Maybe in ten weeks I could actually do this.
“It’s your turns.” Todd said, which I knew. “Tighten up.”
“You are swimming a 32, with your turns you are a 36.” Nick said.
They were right.
“We are on the back side of these.” Brett called out, “This is where it matters.” He’s right. This is where it matters.
I was feeling the effects of celebrating Luc’s 15th birthday the day before (cake, pizza, ice cream). I was feeling the effects of swimming on Sunday. But little by little I began to crawl out of my pity party hole. Brett laid out the progression of the set, I was already holding the times I needed to hold…. we just need to allow it to work. We need to give it time to work. I need to keep my faith.
Maybe this isn’t over yet… I thought as I nearly vomited in the gutter.
Back at the Brook… Coach Dave used to use the analogy of a basketball. He would say that the basketball has to hit the ground hard in order to bounce higher. Many times I have hit the ground hard, and if I am patient and persistent I … almost always…. bounce higher on the other side. It takes that bounce, that slam into the floor…. to get your head on straight and your shit together.
Two days after a bad meet I am hitting the times at the beginning of an indicator progression set (if that’s what it is called). I know where it should go from here. That… is what I needed. If you tell me what I need to do…. I will find a way to make it happen. Where I fail is when I am unsure, when I am guessing. That’s why I am coachable. That’s why I crave direction. Tell me what to do…. and I will make it happen.
You know you have good coaches and teammates when they don’t even bother consoling your wounded ego. They simply give you a kick square in the ass, and push you off the cliff.
I am still disappointed, but again don’t mistake that for negativity. Once a few more days pass it’s my best asset. It turns into resolve and resolve turns into work. And work turns into results.
I think it’s important to not skip the disappointed part. At the same time it’s not good to linger there too long.
My endgame to everything I do…. is …. what does this teach Luc?
He’s seen me in this position before. He’s seen me rise above it and he’s seen me fail again. He is watching right now to see what I do as he embarks on his own journey. He is on the JV indoor track team for our district high school, it’s his first time on a team like this. So he’s watching me to see what I do.
In fact…. he’s asking me what I am going to do.
I finished that set hitting every single one. It wasn’t easy. I have a boatload of work ahead of me. That set was proof to me that I am not in a pipe dream (if I were in a pipe dream there is no reason to stop dreaming either). With time… patience…. and work….. this might actually happen. Can it happen in ten weeks? I don’t know. But I am willing to find out.
Big thanks to my teammates, for not holding my hand. For putting me into between you guys and telling me to go. That’s the thing about teams, whether you are a kid or adult. We get by with a little help from our teammates. And while swimming isn’t a first world problem, it’s important to me.
As the old saying goes “How we do small things…. is how we do all things.”
Thank you team, and thank you Brett and Mike.