This weekend, I conquered another athletic hurdle: I swam two continuous miles “open water” in the ocean. This was both a physical and a psychological feat: having not swum more than 3500 yards in a lap pool, where the water is current-free and there is a wall every 25 yards to use for rest or propulsion (pushing off post flip-turn, for instance), I was unsure if I would be physically capable of swimming 3520 yards (i.e. 2 miles) in the choppy, salty, wide-open Atlantic. Granted, I have completed one other 2 mile open-water swim in my life: it was in a lake with my old club swimming team. However, this was about 6 summers ago, during which time I was averaging between 7,000 and 10,000 yards of swimming daily and attending double practices (one at 5 a.m., one at 8 p.m.) three times a week. And I remember that race being extremely exhausting.
One would think that getting shown up by these swimmers (and consequently feeling slow and inadequate) would make me extra-motivated to work hard to improve. Ordinarily, that is how I would feel. Lately, however, my motivation to do anything athletic has been sub-par, at best, never mind my competitive spirit.
This lack of motivation is particularly worrying, as I need to begin training for the NYC Marathon in a few short weeks. I decided that maybe signing up for a race or two in between now and November 7th (race day) would help. It didn’t. Then I tried signing up for a swimming/running race to increase my interest in cross-training. It hasn’t. Then I thought maybe getting into triathlon training would save what little waning motivation I have left. However, I cannot even get myself to purchase a new helmet so I can ride the bike I have, never mind actually going through with a new racing bike purchase. (I figure that if I don’t even ride my current bike, why should I spend $1,000 on a fancy gizmo I am likely to break or worse: not use?) Plus, the more I think about it, the more work triathlons seem to be. There is so much gear you “need,” and on top of that expense, race entry fees are terribly expensive, and then on top of all of that there is the trouble of getting yourself and all of your gear to the race. I’m defeated just thinking about all of it.
Ultimately, this all boils down to my being tired of sports. “How can she be tired of sports?” you wonder. “She’s an athlete!” I actually wonder the same thing. However, this past weekend, when I went to swim at the beach, I met a slew of other open water swimmers, some of whom were triathletes, some of whom were just training for mere 25 mile swims around the island of Manhattan. And instead of being intrigued by all this talk of swimming and racing, I was just sick of it. I didn’t want to hear about BodyGlide and wetsuits and bodymarking. I just wanted to enjoy the activity for its simplicity—something I seem to be unable to do with any athletic activity anymore.
I am not sure how I will regain my love of athletic competition. I am hoping that marathon training will renew my vigor, but fear of injury is plaguing that enthusiasm from the outset. If even the NYC Marathon—one of the biggest running events in the country—cannot renew my motivation and excitement for running, I may have to try seeking a completely new sport. Perhaps I will look into curling . . . or better yet, power lifting!