Life is interesting for me. I have been rejuvenated in my spirit and my swimming. But I still have a cold and my shoulder is now officially an injury. Whereas last week I was swimming, training, sick, and feeling overwhelmed. This week I am feeling calm and yet scared. Until recently I was completely confident that I could "do the distance" and just needed to hang on until my event. Now I am concerned that I may not be strong enough to muscle through the pain and swim for over six hours. And yet I have had an epiphany of sorts too. Because one of the most amazing things I have seen on the channel chat line is that there are numerous people who have "attempted" the English Channel and not succeeded, and yet they find the courage and the strength to try again! Knowing how long and arduous the trainig is, knowing how cold the channel is, knowing how long and painful the event can be, and they find the will to get up early, swim for hours for months on end, and try again. These people amaze me. And I am in awe of their strength and their mental fortitude. I don't want to find out that I don't have that characteristic, and if it takes something big, like a spectacular failure to see what I am made of, then there will be benefit in that. I am so used to working on something, trying it, and suceeding in it, that I hae never had this sort of test. Not that I am going looking for it, but I could stand to see how I handle failure. When I swam across Lake Tahoe last summer, I was nursing a shoulder injury (opposite side to now) and I used fins from time to time to keep up with my co-swimmer Joe Butler. It was my first experience with a marathon swim and feeding, and pilots etc...and I was very concious of not wanting to "be any bother" to the group. But I also, truth be told, got VERY cranky during the last mile of the six hour swim. I am embarrassed at how I lost my good humor and snapped at my kayaker towards the end. So I need to learn how t be more like my heros who can find it in themselves to fall down spectacularly and get back up and try again. I read some one's blog where they have made 6 attempts and still hasn't made it, and is still trying. That's some kind of crazy, but also some kind of strength.
I learned so far that I started my training schedule too early, and burned too hot to sustain, and een got injured. So that's valuable. My friend Suzie just told me of a coach who divided his team evenly down the middle. Had half of the kids swim a normal training regeme for a season, and the other half focused on drills and swam less distance over all. The kids who focused on drills had more improvment throug out the season and performed better over all at the final meet. Many people have told me that there is sucha thing as garbage training. And my personality is to do way more than I need to do because I feel better if I over achieve. I want to be able to say that I did an eight hour swim for a six hour eent just to be cool, or to be over the top. But it would be smarter to do a six hour swim, and not hurt my shoulder any more than necessary. So I am learning as I go along. I am also learning that even though I work out six days a week, I am intrinsically lazy. I want to do core exercises, need to do shoulder exersises, might have even skipped all of this pain if I had, and yet what do I do? I swim. I swim six days a week for too long. I would do better with variety, and strengthening work. But I don't do it. To me this shows a lack of character. So yes, I am out there doing stuff, but I want to have more personal discipline. I want to feel proud of my effort, not my result.
As Teddy Roosevelt said: "It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat."
"Citizenship in a Republic,"
Speech at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910