Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Lions And Tigers And Bears, Oh MY

My weekly trips to the ASPCA have continued.  I am heartened (and saddened) by the fact that many of the animals are not there week to week because they have been adopted in the intervening six days.   So I pretty much have no idea what or who I am going to find.

"This is my lap.  Get your own."

A tuckered out schnauzer puppy.

We've got our eyes on you.

First I was tested as a viable jungle gym.

Then I was tested for drift compatibility.

Sometimes its a snooze-fest.

Sometimes you meet new people who are the same color as you, but don't speak the same language.

Sometimes you find out that animals that do nothing actually are pretty fun (and what you look like after being sick for a week).

Occasionally I drag people who are related to me, there.

Occasionally I drag people who are not related to me, there.

And sometimes the two of you run into the professor who assigned you the group project that got you together on a Friday afternoon in the first place.

Which is definitely the weirdest thing that has happened to me at the animal shelter.

The First Swim Meet Of The Rest Of My Life

When you've done as many sports as I have at as many levels as I have there are few true "firsts" left in sport.  This weekend I crossed a big one - "first swim meet as a swimmer"- off the list.

As book-ends go it was a good one.  On Saturday, the Ironman World Championship was held in Kona, Hawai'i.  Five years ago I was there, racing one of the longest mainstream sporting events currently held, and on this Saturday I was racing the 50 free, the shortest event in the Olympic swimming line-up.

The comparisons don't end there.   I was warned multiple times about what to expect for the meet warm-up.  Basically every competitor has access to the pool for the same 30-45 minutes to complete their team and/or personal warm-up.  It is "dangerous" and "chaos" and I was going to get "swam over" and "flip-turned on" etc etc.  We dove in and after about 200 yards I had to laugh.  There were approximately 1975 fewer swimmers trying to maul me during meet warm-up than during an IM mass start.  It was so tame.

Despite being half my age, my teammates held my hand through it all.  They answer my very basic questions without laughing (too much) and often look at each other and say "oh yeah, I guess that is something we do at meets."  To them all of this is second nature, just like I could set up a triathlon transition area blind-folded, and we all take that for granted in our own sport(s).

I think that I am enjoying swimming at this advanced commitment level because so much of it is brand new to me.  I might as well be one of the adorable 8-year-olds whose arms and legs and back are covered in permanent marker.  They start with event number/heat/lane on their forearm and get very carried away....

Early in the meet I was timed by a pair of women who carefully mentioned my age, which immediately follows my name on each heat check-in sheet.  I confirmed that I was in fact the oldest competitor by 14 years and they were floored.  I heard from several teammates that these two ladies had asked them "do you know there is a 32-year-old swimming this meet?" not even realizing we were on the same team.  They were just announcing it to random people.

Little do they know that if it was a triathlon I would have been required to write my age on my calf.  Next meet I might do that and write "eat my bubbles" right below it - just like all the other newbies.

One of the lessons I learned this weekend is that the hardest part of any event is the climb out of the pool after its over.  Almost didn't make it out after the 100 back.

I could easily have titled this post "Swim Meets: As If I Needed Another Reason To Love Rice Pudding And Chinese Leftovers".

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Not Buying The Ick That I'm Selling

Never in my life have I been in such constant proximity with so many people in such a confined space.

Now imagine the germs.

Two Thursdays ago one or some of those germs dropped a hand grenade into the middle of my relatively ordered life and walked away with the pin.  I felt fine at the beginning of swim practice and had a sore throat by the end.  So began a frustrating seven (but more like nine or ten...) days.

Hot mess doesn't even begin to cover it.  Swim coaches were forbidding me from attending practice, office mates were holding their breath walking by my chair during the times I was required to show up, and little dogs were cowering in their handbags.  Ok, no little dogs, but those who knew better were staying well clear.

I lost my voice by Saturday afternoon, but since I live alone I didn't know it until I was standing at a counter trying to order a sandwich.

Due to an administrative debacle a couple of weeks ago, my basketball section has already used up its one acceptable cancelled class.  So I was teaching, unable to yell and unable to borrow a whistle because the next person would be doomed.  Layering on the germs, I found out I have one student in the ICU and another diagnosed - on Tuesday, after coming to class Monday - with strep, which is something I did/do not have.  But I bet only barely, since we all share basketballs.

One of the days I was starting to feel better I rode the shuttle to campus and everyone was sniffling and lightly coughing.  Everyone.  It cannot be escaped.

I realized that after these upcoming years, I am going to be either a Super Solider or a shadow of my former self.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Music Dump: The "Over And Over and Over and Over and Over and" Edition

Every major event, big assignment, or prolonged stressful situation in my life has had a theme song.  Sometimes it's a newly released song, sometimes old, sometimes upbeat, sometimes mellow.  Usually the song either matches my feelings or models an emotional state I need or want to achieve.

But no matter it's characteristics, once identified, the song is played over and over and over and over and over and...until the situation has ended or been resolved.  And it is forever identified in my mind as "the song that got me through X, Y, Z."

Scrolling through my iTunes library is like using a pensieve (see: Harry Potter).

I had a big paper due Friday.  The song was Waves, by Mr. Probz.  Incredibly soothing.

Studying for the GRE in January 2014 was Elastic Heart, by Sia, and The Draw, by Bastille.  Both plaintive and a bit haunting.

IM Brazil in 2011 was The Show Goes On, by Lupe Fiasco.  A future-focused pump up.

May 2010 and IM CDA was Airplanes, by B.o.B. and Hayley Williams.  (The two never met in person until performing this song live at the MTV Video Music Awards, after the song had been recorded and released.)

IM Louisville 2009, my first IM that I signed up for 10 days beforehand, was Run This Town, by Jay-Z, Rihanna, and Kanye West.  Obviously.

Writing my "senior thesis" the spring of my senior year in college was a weird collage of instrumental movie theme songs.  I wrote about the technology and federal policy that allowed the U.S. to spy on the USSR during the Cold War.  I basically taught myself to whistle by "singing along" in the library for two weeks.

Shawshank Redemption (just the first half)
Road to Perdition
Last of the Mohicans
The Boondock Saints
LOTR: Fellowship of the Ring
The 5th Element

Fall of my senior year in college was Mama, by Beth Hart.

Fall of my sophomore year in college was Everywhere and All You Wanted, by Michelle Branch, frequently sung with my roommate at the top of our lungs as we compiled assignments for CS 50 (intro programming).  Girls wanting disposable girlie songs to combat a drawn out period of serious pressure and no sleep.

The winter of my junior year in high school was Angel, by Sarah McLachlan.  Who the heck knows, but I listened to it continuously for months straight.  Now they use it to jerk tears in ASPCA commercials.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Scratching Post

On Friday I went to the local ASPCA to play with the animals.  Someone told me there are just rooms of animals roaming relatively free that you can play with - and it's true!

When I got there I was a little grumpy.

I looked around a little bit.

I was very suspicious for a while.

I stiff-armed a lot because I wasn't sure of my surroundings.

I wanted to watch rather than interact.

Eventually I got a bit more comfortable.

Soon I wore myself out and needed to sit down.

Which was a bad idea because then I was covered with animals and stuck sitting on a concrete floor for an hour and a half.

Being a pillow (and a scratching post to a 2-month-old kitten aptly named Freddie Krueger who climbs you like a tree) is tough work.

Sadly I didn't see these two there.

PS - Mr. Haugh, if you are reading this, I totally had permission to take that sweatshirt off of school property....

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Step Right Up

Two experiences this past weekend starkly highlighted what has been a developing anecdotal observation since I started swimming with my age-group team here.

The seed was planted when my first couple of weeks of practice contained more all-out swimming (or all-out of any physical activity) than my entire previous swimming experience combined.  Most of it was off the blocks, meaning the diving start of real swim races, and all of it was supposed to be as intense and focused as real swim races.  I was nearly overwhelmed with the anxiety of it - the anticipation, the pressure, the pain - and all these...kids were (seemed to be) totally at ease.   In fact, all they wanted to do was 100s all-out off the blocks and all I wanted to do was vomit.

Several months later I'm all "you want me to do x, y, z all-out?  ok, lets's go on the next top."

But the funny thing is that the (slow) change didn't even occur to me.  Not once.  Until this weekend.

On Sunday I "watched" the Ironman 70.3 World Championships and putting myself in their shoes, vividly remembered the gut-wrenching anxiety of triathlon race starts.

Except that on Saturday I did 12 (!) race-simulation repeats without much hesitation.

Setting aside the different physiological demands of triathlon versus pool swimming that determine their ultimate repeatability, the practice of swim starts and damn-near-close-to-race-intensity swimming is intentional.  A swimmer could start 6 events in one day of a three-day meet in a season of at least 1 meet/month.  Balking really isn't an option.  You need to step right up - and go.

In that moment - and swim starts, it truly is only a moment - you don't want to think.  You want your body to act, almost in reflex, for the entirety of the race.  Therefore, swimmers practice starts, all-out swimming, and get comfortable with approaching each, a lot.

In triathlon, it's not a moment, it's a week, and all you do that week is think.

All that thinking drives some people batty.  {raises hand}

All you do that week is think because you have never practiced or prepared to do anything else.  The reason I was freaking out so much this summer is because in all my years of cross country, soccer, and triathlon, I had never practiced with any real repetition or dedication, the mental and/or physical start of any event.

Sure, a triathlete may only start 6 events all season, compared to the swimmer's 6 per day.  But that only expands the gap between the number of opportunities that type of athlete has to practice starts - a lot vs. six - and the number of those opportunities they make use of to practice starts - a lot vs. none.  And I can't really blame triathletes for not using those fews races to practice because in that moment you aren't thinking "oh, let me practice my mental and physical approach to starting a race."  Most likely because you are too busy thinking "I am so scared and nervous and afraid, what the hell did I get myself into?"

Swimming is preparing me to be fearless in a way I never have been before.

Monday, August 25, 2014

You May Now Address Me As Professor Beebe


Today I taught my first class.  Of all the physical activities classes that I would actually be qualified to teach, I am teaching a class in basketball.  Thirty undergraduates are relying on me to teach them the basics and intricacies of basketball twice a week, for the next ~16 weeks.

Basketball is the game on ice they play with sticks, right?

Kidding!  I do know more about basketball than that.  There is no ice, there is a ball, and it's white and made up of stitched panels.

Wait, there aren't stitched panels?  That's soccer you say?  I do vaguely recall that from when I played in college 10+ years ago.  If that's the case, then I'm not remembering back far enough.

Oh, there it is.  The last memory I have of playing competitive basketball.  In it I'm not much shorter than I am now, but I am much younger than I am now.  That would be because this memory is from 1995.

Clearly I am ready to knock this curriculum out of the park.

Huh?  That metaphor alludes to baseball you say?

Ok, then I'm fully prepared to knock this curriculum down.

Hmmm, I think that's boxing...

Someone corrected "Professor Beebe" to Professor BeeBall.

And thus, my rapper name was chosen.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Chocolate Pudding and Mermaids

Yesterday was my first swim practice in almost three weeks, and of the fall short course season.  The thing I find most interesting about the return from long breaks is that water only feels like water after you have been away from it for a while.  Otherwise, it feels like chocolate pudding.  Or better yet, sand.

Water that feels like water is thin.  You push against it, it lets your arm slip right through.

Water that feels like chocolate pudding is thick.  You push against it, it pushes back.

The ideal feel of swimming was once described to me as similar to elbow-crawling through sand, like you see on military obstacle courses.  No wonder swimming is such a lat-focused movement.

I celebrated the return to swimming and thin water with several much needed new suits.  One is a metallic turquoise mermaid print suit lined in pink - so not me and I love it!

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