Thursday, April 11, 2013



When I swim I almost always see the same people at the pool. I used to swim with my tri team swim group in the evenings but kids activities at those times now mean I generally have to swim earlier and by myself.  So the people I see at the pool generally aren't other "swimmers" per se but pool users nonetheless. 

There is the woman who has a light sensitivity and likes to turn off all the lights and swim in the dark.  That sometimes causes a problem when the only goggles I bring are tinted.  Swimming by braille I like to call it. She is also the lady who likes to do her nails in the pool.  She will walk to one end of the pool, apply nail polish to one fingernail walk to the other end of the pool and back again and do the next fingernail.  Maybe this is her approach to lap counting.

Then there is cold water man.  He likes to turn the cold water outlet on in the pool when he swims because he finds it refreshing. Too bad that the water is about 40F and has ice chunks floating in it. At least he is refreshed.

My new swimming friend is the long hair guy. He gets in the hot tub, then into the sauna,into the pool and then back to the hot tub. The whole process usually takes about an hour which is generally the length of the time I am swimming.

So a couple of weeks ago he asks me why I swim so much.
Do I just LOVE swimming? ( He emphasized the love thing)
I like it well enough but I don't LOVE it, I tell him.
Why do you do it so much if you don't LOVE it?
I say, I'm training for a triathlon,and I do LOVE triathlon.
Well that completely messed him up.
You only "like" swimming but you "love" triathlon which includes swmming!!!!
He just shook his head and went back to the hot tub.
So my whole swim I'm thinking about this conversation and thinking about my motivation and motivation in general. I'm always interested to hear what motivates people because it's different for everyone.  What makes sense to one person is totally ridiculous to the next. I think motivation can be a complicated thing. I'm not even sure I can verbalise what my motivation is. For some people it's fairly easy to articulate; "I want to lose weight" or "Doing an ironman is on my bucket list - one and done". 
For me it's more about the process. You train, then you test your training when you race, analyze, review, make some changes then go back to training again. Repeating the process, tweaking it, improving it, learning from it, setting new personal challenges for yourself.

I think about trying to explain this to long hair guy and envisioning him with steam coming out of his ears.

Over the next few weeks, long hair guy and I have a few more conversations about triathlon as he struggles to understand what draws me to it. And just before I headed off to San Diego to race Oceanside 70.3, he wishes me good luck and tells me that he hopes I win. too I tell him. I'll let you know how that turns out.

I have to tell you, that day I left the pool smiling.

Yesterday I saw him for the first time since returning from California. As I expected he asked whether I won or not. I told him that I didn't and he patted me on the shoulder and commiserated with me.  Just keep at it and you'll get there.

Good advice. New motivation. Back to training again.


  1. I love long hair guy. What an encourager. Finger painting lady, meh. Not so much.

    Ken and I went running yesterday and since Oceanside I am starting to prefer a little non-ipod running and so we chatted for 6 miles. And one of our conversations was about my motivation to continue and not be a "one and done" sort of triathlete. It was nice to process some of what motivates me with him. It is complicated to verbalize it and I know for me my motivations seem to change pretty frequently. Right now I love taking my weaknesses and turning them into sources of confidence and strength. It can't help but overflow into all areas of my life.