So I opted for Hal Higdon’s 10k novice training plan. I’m on Day 3, which is cross training, and which follows Day 1 (stretch and strength) and Day 2 (run 2.5 miles). Yep, Day 3 is definitely after those two days. Certainly.

When I got up the day after I had done the stretching and strength training, I could definitely tell that there was some stiffness and soreness. I haven’t really been doing any strength work, which I realize is a no-no when it comes to trying to extend your miles (which is my goal) and your stamina (also a goal). But I was definitely looking forward to today, and getting into the pool, for some cross training. I love to swim. I was, in various past lives, the following things: a life guard, a mermaid, a swim coach, and a fish.

Ok, maybe not the second one. Or the third. Okay, none of them. But I still love to swim. Love it. I swam on swim teams when I was younger, and had a blue ribbon, a red ribbon, a green ribbon, and a trophy, all of which I was painfully proud. I have no idea what happened to them, but I sort of suspect that they were victims of the divorce and wound up getting chucked when my dad and grandma packed up the house. My books wound up donated to the library, which in retrospect should have infuriated me, but when you are a kid, whatcha gonna do when one of your parental figures packs your books all up into the back of the station wagon and drives off with them?

Honestly, I don’t think I really understood what was happening, and told myself it was ok, since they were all “baby” books – books I had read, loved, and spent time with. I don’t remember being upset, but I still remember it happening – all those filled to the brim bookshelves, and then POW! Nothing. I don’t suppose it’s shocking that I have a house full of books now, and that if someone tried to run off with a book of mine they would be tackled and my dog would be sicced upon them (“Straxi! Trinus libri raptor!” that’s latin for “Straxi! Trip the book thief!” I would never encourage my puppy to be unnecessarily violent, although in this instance, it would be considered, certainly.)

Ok, I’ve gotten rather far afield from my intended topic: the 10k cross training. I swam today, and I didn’t just swim a bit, I swam a mile in 30 minutes. This was staggering to me, even with my memories of the time I spent in the water at the YMCA all those years ago, the pools in the apartments where I have lived, both as a kid and as an adult, and the laps I swam as I was working on my ultimately doomed Ph.D. exams.

As a kid, I swam laps until my mother said she was dizzy. I loved the feeling of effortless movement in the water – I could sort of sink into the pattern of stroke, stroke, breathe, kickkickkickkick as I did the crawl (my fave stroke, btw). I could do a flip off the wall and swim the next length without any trouble, and the next, and the next – I swam laps until I was forced to leave the pool by my mom because it was dark. Of course, I thought this ridiculous: that’s what the underwater lights were for. I never considered that Mom might have had other things to do, or she might have been bored, or that she might have been being eaten alive by mosquitos, or that she may have been tired after working all day. Nope, never crossed my mind. All I thought of was swimming another lap.

I guess I was like Chris’ dog, Rose, when it comes to tennis balls/footballs/any type of ball: put that activity on the table, and you have my attention (that’s Rose in the above picture, btw).

So I got away from swimming, obviously, and the draw of so many other things in life pulled me in: school, work, kids of my own, then various unhealthy habits. So returning to swimming, with a goal in mind, a purpose, but also with a love for the movement, the history it holds for me, and all it represents, is just an enormous opportunity for reflection and (hopefully) a little growth.