Last week I was struggling to find the motivation to go to the pool and begin my Ironman swim training. I was changing out of my uniform to my commuter clothes for the 55 minute train ride home. The Metra platform is strategically located next door to the brand new LA Fitness Gym. The training gods knew what they were doing when they built it here – I must walk right by it to get home.  However, tonight like many nights, I had my list of excuses of why I couldn’t go: I’m tired, I’ve been up since 4:30am, I haven’t had a rest all day, The gym will be packed, I’ll never get a lane at 5:30pm. And then I felt ashamed. It was the exact conversation I had with myself the previous week and somehow I NEVER found my way to the pool.

With exactly 6 months before Ironman WI, lamenting over the prospect of poor preparation for a 2.4 mile swim and thoughts of being plucked out of the water by rescue boats or even worse awarded a disqual for taking more than the 2 1/2hrs allowed gave me just enough impetus to don my swim suit, and slip track pants and a sweatshirt over for an easy transition from the locker room to the pool. I even went sockless to make sure there was little to get in the way of me grabbing a lane and getting my training started.

After a 10 min warm up I was gently tapped on the hand by a tiny, slender elderly woman asking if she could share the lane. I gave her a thumbs up and continued on with my laps, plodding along slowly but surely checking my watch every other lap just to confirm that 1. Time was moving, 2. I was as slow as I felt, 3. There was an end in sight. Like two slow canal barges, my lane partner and I passed back and forth – never touching, never splashing, never creating a drag or slosh. In the back of mind I told my inner competitor that I was barely keeping pace with a 70 year old and I should be ashamed. That is exactly what I get for blowing off the pool for an entire winter.

On a water break my new companion stopped to tell me I was the perfect lane buddy and she felt safe alongside me and begged me not to stop swimming. My ego was soothed, I had a purpose, not to be fast and mighty, tonight it was to be mindful and protective, I could be fast tomorrow, I was needed in my current state, and lane buddy needed me this way!  A wet shriveled hand reached across the lane “I’m Megan! It is nice to meet you!” I exchanged compliments and introduced myself and went right back to my laps, still just as slow albeit happier knowing I was the BEST at being a lane buddy.

30 minutes later my workout was done and I was relieved. Megan swam up to me for one last chat. She told me how nice it was to have such a peaceful swim and told me how she often gets knocked around by big guys and wanted to know if we could share again. “Absolutely Megan, I would really like that!”

Timing is everything, had I not gone, had I not been “ready” to swim, had I decided to answer an email or grab a coffee before my workout I would have missed Megan and missed a chance at being the BEST lane buddy on planet LA Fitness.  Starting off slow is winning!


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