Monday, February 04, 2008

1s, 3s, 7s and Rest

I made the Masters coach smile this morning

He is a somewhat crumudeonly old guy who was present at the creation--that is the creation of the planet and the creation of Greyhound as a swimmer. He "knew me when" I could barely huff through a set of 10 hundreds on 2:30. Today he saw a different guy.

The main set was 5x200 descending. I am in the slow lane. (Remember, my masters group won the Long Course Nationals this year). So we were doing our 200s on 4:30. I touched at 3:50, 3:48, 3:45, 3:42 and 3:42.

He smiled and gave me a, "good job."

That's as good as it gets.

In running, I did my typical route for a middle distance foundation run last week, and realized with a little more than a mile left that I would average quicker than 8 minutes a mile, and with no great effort involved.

Swimming with a "1" in the 100 time, a "3" in the 200 time, and running with a "7" in the time for mile splits. Those kinds of changes are like pulling out your compass and finding true north to be exactly the opposite of where you thought it would be.

As much as I am surprised by needing to reorient my brain to what is "good," I suppose I shouldn't be. I have been trying to do the little things daily in terms of technique and training and quality efforts. Any physiologist would tell you that the little things add up to eventual improvement. Doing the right thing usually gets results, which is not to say that doing the right thing is easy.

Which brings me to Wednesday.

On Wednesday, my sidebar says, "rest." The reason for the odd spacing of the rest day is because a great man is now at rest. My grandfather, about whom I have written before, breathed his last at about 2:00 in the afternoon on Saturday. His funeral is Wednesday. He is at rest. And he is one who "did the right thing." In fact, he did the right thing so often and with so much predictable regularity that I often feel very inadequate by comparison.

He was married to the same woman for 65 years. They were with each other 24/7/365 because they worked together in the family business. They taught Sunday school together to three generations of kids and attended the same church beginning in 1946. He tended her on her sick bed for two years before she died. He persevered through his own failing health, through invalidity and suffering that basically scares me to death. Yet, he laughed with me in our last phone call together no more than a week ago. I never saw him lose his temper, never saw him lose hope, never saw him give up.

He made it seem so easy, the daily grind of goodness. Wasn't it ever hard for him? It sure is for me. I try to do the right thing, but I so often want to do something else, either out of laziness or just because the wrong thing is so much more exciting or inviting. Wrong would hardly be tempting if it wasn't attractive, right? I am sure I make some right choices out of habit, but I often feel like the right thing is a chore, and it does not seem to get any easier. Is it always this hard? Did he think so?

He never swam, or biked or ran for training purposes, but his quality numbers were very good. He seemed to know what to expect when he looked in the shaving mirror in the morning, or the eyes of his high school sweetheart every evening. Now, he is resting, and I am wondering whether his numbers are something I could ever match.

28 comments:

Wendy said...

Nice descending set! (Your coach reminds me of my own. His comment to me on Saturday was, "I'm not disappointed."!)

And a beautiful tribute to your grandfather.

Kim said...

great swimming buddy! :)

im sorry to hear of your grandaddy's passing. he sounds like an incredible person.

TriRed said...

Very poignant post about your Grandfather. It's amazing how some very special people make their personal simplicity look so righteous, appealing, and fulfilling while we stubble through the everyday trying to merely get by with our own complexities. Sometimes I think that these people lead the more fulfilling lives than we can ever hope for.

a.maria said...

i'm so sorry to hear about your grandpa. my thoughts are with you and your family.. sounds like he was an awesome man.

Jen_runs said...

I'm sorry for your loss. What a wonderful tribute to your grandfather - it gave me goosebumps. I'm sure he is very proud of the man you are

Brent Buckner said...

Touching tribute.

Continuous improvement counts for a lot in all things.

Lana said...

Wow. Very touching about your grandfather. I'm very sorry for your loss.

Dude. 1's, 3's, and 7's...I WANT THEM TOO!

Spokane Al said...

Very nice, and very moving. Thanks for sharing. Your grandfather sounds like the kind of person we can all aspire to be.

Nytro said...

i'm sorry for your loss, but am happy that you are at peace... as is your grandfather. i'm sure he was a great man and i'm sure he was as proud of you, as you are of him.

god bless.

Pharmie said...

Beautiful words to describe a beautiful man. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

LBTEPA said...

Prayers for you Greyhound at this time of loss. How blessed you are to have had this man as a role model

supalinds said...

Wow what a week. I would love to see running splits in the 7's. Maybe on day, not today, probably not tomorrow.

I am so sorry to hear of your loss. He sounds like a great man and this post is a great tribute to him.

I am truly inspired by your posts. You are a great writer and full of wonderful things to say...you always get me thinking, and smiling!

Thanks!

Jane said...

This a beautifully written post about your grandfather. I'm glad you shared him with us.

21stCenturyMom said...

Tomorrow we do monthly 200s at masters. For monthly 200s you do 4 200s descending and then next month your first 200 is at the speed of your 2nd 200 from the month before. It is hard and wonderful all at once.

I will be thinking of you and of your grandfather and of the goodness that is always doing the right thing and making it look easy. I'm thinking it is like training - hard at first but the more you do it the easier and more natural it gets. A person who masters that skill and derives far more pleasure from making the effort to do the right thing than from taking the easy way out is a very, very special person, indeed. It is a tribute to him that you not only recognize and value that characteristic, but that you share it with everyone else.

Peace to your grandfather - I hope he is snuggled back up to his beloved now.

Steve Stenzel said...

Nice job in the swim! I had a track coach like that guy...

Fe-lady said...

A hard act to follow, your grandfather, but I am sure his model will not be lost on you!

I just noticed your CDA goal..."Race without fear".

See, your grandpa lived his life without it apparently, and you are already following suit!

In some of my workouts, I am surprising myself too. I am trying not to get to "comfortable" though. That's the challenge.

Donald said...

Your grandfather was a great man. I wish we could all have role models like that.

Congrats on the new training paces!

Tri to Be Funny said...

If you are another like your Grandfather, he must've been a great man. Very touching tribute. Thanks for sharing.

KCWoodhead said...

You should post warnings about these kinds of posts before I read them at work in my little cube. Something like: Warning! Post may cause girls to cry in their cubes at work! I'll let you off the hook on this one, but next time...

Seriously, I am so sorry for your loss - he sounds like a fabulous man. And also congrats on making such strides, no pun intended, in your training.

IronMatron said...

Your grandfather sounds like an incredible man. The wrong thing is often so much more interesting, more sexy, more fun, more more. He obviously had a peace, serenity and discipline that helped him to do such good. You're lucky to have had such a great person in your life!

Congrats on the numbers!

IronJenny said...

I wish I'd known your grandfather - he sounds like an amazing man.
Take care, and nice job on the swim. Thanks for your help on skype!
Jenn

Taconite Boy said...

Sounds like a true mentor. What a blessing and legacy he leaves for your family.

Fe-lady said...

Now you got me doing 200s in the pool! Damn you! :-) (And god they HURT!)

the Dread Pirate Rackham said...

my swim coach is like that, except I haven't heard the time of day from him yet. So you know I'm low on the totem pole.

I'm sorry to hear about your grandpa. Men of his generation are increasingly rare, and I think it's admirable to aspire to his greatness. These honorable things that you admire about him will become what others will admire about you.

TriBoomer said...

My condolences to you and your family.

monica said...

where would we be without role models such as your grandfather?? my thoughts and prayers to you and your family in your time of loss.

Shelley said...

Just reading this now..so sorry to hear of your loss Greyhound..please accept my condolences.

SWTrigal said...

All i can say is "wow" with a tear in my eye. Sympathies to you and your family.