I went swimming on this night. As usual, I started each set strong and hit a wall almost immediately, with my arms and legs becoming jello-esque after only a few laps. The carbs I loaded up on before hand, and the Gatorade I drank during breaks might as well have been chili cheese fries and a root beer float. At the end of practice, the coach surprised us with a couple of relay races instead of the normal boring cool-down. Considering how poorly I fared during most of our longer sets, he paired me with a swimmer that was in much better shape to “even things out.” We won the relay, but I was absolutely exhausted afterwards. All-out sprinting at the end of the workout was probably not a good thing for me to do. I had to lay down on the deck for a few minutes before I could walk into the locker room. After getting changed I rested some more because I knew I would need it for the walk to my car. I don’t think I had ever felt so tired. Sitting in my car, I didn’t immediately drive off because I wasn’t completely sure that I wasn’t going to pass out. It was a full hour and a half before I felt okay again, and my body no longer felt like it was going to shut down.
I had been swimming most every Thursday since the beginning of June – as that night was the one I had signed up to swim with the Master’s team at the YMCA. Back when I started, I thought that I would gradually get into better shape and maybe even pick up another day or two a week. I had heard about a different group’s Sunday morning practice, and even emailed the coach of that group to let him know that he should expect me to start working out with them within a few weeks. That never happened. In fact, the Thursday night practices seemed to get harder, not easier. During one July week, my coach asked me if I was getting any other exercise besides the swimming. He said it with such disdain that I was too embarrassed to let on that I had in fact been eating healthier, taking walks at night, and riding my exercise bike several times a week. Instead I played dumb while he explained to me that I should really try to exercise more, even if just to take a few walks or use the stairs instead of the elevator.