Down in the basement of my gym, I am a part of an elite team known as "Swimmer." My membership of this group is not merit based, certainly not, no one would confuse me for "experienced." Rather, I am simply one of a handful of people who actually use the pool.
I find it spectacular - in a four lane pool, I've never seen more than 3 swimmers. I have thus combined my swim workout with my meditation time. My concentration is normally only broken when I hear someone drop a massive dumbbell onto the ground, which is the ceiling, above me. In this under-the-table, "I know a guy in Hialeah that can do it on the cheap," permit -optional city of mine, I sometimes have visions of the 2nd floor of the gym crashing down into the all-but-empty swimming pool...and a guy from the wrecking crew 2 weeks later yelling to his buddies "Hey, I found a swim cap- was there someone down here?"
So despite that sporadic thought, I love spending my 45 minutes there. Often times, it is my goal to just outlast the occasional dipper who comes out for 5 - 10 minutes of laps. As of yet, I've never gotten into the pool after someone and gotten out before they have. I'm vain like that. On Wednesday, I decided it's time I step up my routine; from one mile in 35 minutes, to whatever I can accomplish in 60 minutes. I was doing well, feeling good at 30 minutes and then a guy got into the pool.
He did a couple laps, pausing to stretch for long periods of time in between before trying a couple more. After gaining the equivalent of a 3rd grader while pregnant and struggling for many months to regain my strength, I've learned never to make any sort of judgement about other athletes, even those one might insist on calling "athletes." They might be having a bad day, be coming off an injury, struggling with a life threatening disease, whatever it may be -all I know is they are trying. So here's this 30 something man, the only other soul in the pool, putting along. And then he stops, just about the time I'm getting tired yet I have 10 more minutes. But he doesn't get out of the pool, he sits on the steps and he watches me. Back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. And suddenly, this "Elite Swimmer Team" I'm on no longer seems that cool. The very rare chance of someone else coming into the basement isn't as relaxing. The idea that I'm working harder than I have in a long time and am on the verge of exhaustion doesn't seem so wise.
I start judging. Only, I don't think he's recovering from an injury or having a bad day...I think he's watching me tire myself out, like a wolf waiting until the deer is too weak to run. It scares me, more than the dumbbells up above, but not enough to get out of the pool.
I kept swimming, because he doesn't know I'm an endurance athlete. Despite feeling like I couldn't take another step at Mile 23 on my marathon, I finished. After seven drug free hours of labor, I bore my child and walked out of the birthing center 4 hours later. I've lived on the streets for a year, I've cried for 12 miles, I've finished a 4 year university in 3 years. I am an ENDURANCE HUMAN.
And I outswam him.