Sunday 10 April 2011

The Lonely Fish

Today, I am supposed to be running a marathon. But it's not going to happen. Eight weeks ago, I stopped running becuase I have a fracture in my bone. Probably best. Wouldn't want it to snap on mile 22.

Not to be defeated and to still keep my promise to the MS Trust for who I was running, I decided to swim a marathon instead.

If I could be any animal in the world, it would be a shark. I love water. Just looking at, listening to, thinking about it creates a tranquility that thinking about trees/mountains/the tube doesn't do for me. I love water that looks like blue glass and I love water that is tormented and wild. When I lived next to the sea, just stepping out of the front door, no matter the temperature or colour, and just seeing the sea brought a spring to my step. When I lived near Iguazu Falls, the immense cascades which divide Brazil and Argentina, I would spend Sunday afternoons laying in the sun listening to that incredbile power and following single droplets as they took the plunge.

So, a swim made sense. I've always been a decent swimmer and I can get in the pool and swim for a mile without any problems. But, as I was in the pool earlier this week, I realised what this new challenge meant. I am going to swim 26 miles in 26 days. Almost 4 weeks of my life will be dedicated to the pool. I have to swim 1677 lengths. And the thing I realised most is that it would all be done alone.

Running is a relatively lonely sport. But you can also choose to run with others, and chat along the way to make the time go faster and burn more calories. You can listen to music and have Paula Radcliff telling you what a good job you're doing. What I've discovered about swimming is that it is even more isolating. Swimming cap on, goggles on and it's you and the water, nothing more. Whilst when running I might have Helen Reddy or the Red Hot Chilli Peppers pumping me up, the pool gives me nothing more than the swish and swash of my own strokes.

One good thing is that I think a lot about my stroke; doing it right, being effective. When I am tired I like to think I am a shark, gliding through the blueness effortlessly and it makes me pull my elbows out properly or breathe deeper. It's that and counting. There's no one to greet on the way round; no one whose bright pink head band you can laugh at inside; no one to emulate or beat.

I think it's going to be an interesting 26 days (due to take place in May) and I am looking forward to it. Running has always cleared my head and I believe that all this time in the pool will have the same effect.

And at least there is the sauna, steam room and jacuzzi for the lonely fish to relax in afterwards.

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