April 14, 2024
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April 14, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

“Water takes me home.” “High Water,” RUSH

There are these two goldfishes, late at night, just staring.

(You stare or they stare?)

Yes.

(Yes, what?)

We stare at each other.

These goldfishes repeatedly swam to the bottom of the tank and back to the top again. Over and over again, they never stop to take breath.

(Neither do you it seems.)

We are less than 90 days from Ironman Lake Placid and past foretells the future; like a snowball rolling downhill, time picks up speed. I started ramping up my swim yardage in January, fully aware that by the time the ocean will become warm enough to swim in, it will be too late.

Ironman training means hours of swimming in a pool.

(Hours each month, right?)

Each week, sometimes, each day.

This— this is what I have become, a goldfish in a bowl.

Back and forth, sometimes for hours.

(Do you have gills?)

No.

(Just checking. How do you keep focused?)

My mind drifts when I swim. I do some of my best writing, in my head while my arms propel my body forward.

(Did you write this, in your head, while you were swimming?)

Actually, I did. I create movies in my head and then I have to convert them to words. After I’ve toweled off, I will “speak” them into the note taking app on my phone and play them back to see if they sound like the words I hear in my head.

(I live inside your head.)

Yes, you do and I’ve learned that if one has an idea, one should hear how it sounds by having others listen and give feedback.

When I was dating my wife…

(Before you were married.)

Way before we were married. She refused to let me end one of our dates until I told her what was bothering me.

(You have no poker face?)

Zero, but her insistence started a practice of my sharing every thought in my head with my wife, Janet.

If she says, “You are crazy!”

(As she often does.)

Then I proceed and much hilarity ensues.

But, if she says, “Don’t do it,” chances are I will get hurt, so I listen.

(What does she make of your pre-dawn ocean swimming?)

Oh, she has come to hang out at the beach during my swims, so I take that as her endorsement of my insanity.

When the pools closed down last March due to COVID, I traded my three weekly pool swims for three ocean swims a week.

There is something liberating about swimming in the ocean.

(You can’t hear your phone ringing?)

There are no lane lines in the ocean. No waiting for your turn. No membership and yes, no phones.

After a summer in the ocean, it was difficult to swim again in an indoor pool, so I decided to make a challenge of it.

I was going to surpass my last year’s swim total of 160,000 meters to swim a quarter of a million meters this year.

(Not yards?)

My Garmin watch measures the swims in meters, so I may have to do some math to convert the pool data.

It’s an indoor pool with a skylight, but I swim at 5 a.m. and there’s no sunlight dancing across the floor of the pool at that hour.

I missed the ocean so much that I went out to Brooklyn, in a snowstorm, just to steal a few minutes of ocean time. I felt like the shadows in Plato’s Republic, finally set free. The pool was my dancing shadows across the cave walls, the ocean was my reality. Even with snowflakes swirling around my head and a beach blackened in snow where one would expect sand, I was at peace. Even when the 42-degree waters chilled me to the bone, I still felt happier than confined to my aquatic prison cell.

After that swim where 42-degree waters turned me into a human fish stick I started to come to grips with the reality of my prison.

(“Sir, are you classified as human?” “Negative, I’m a meat popsicle?”)

I started to fall in love with lap swimming. The ocean is dark and ominous, but the pool is clear, almost see through.

When I am swimming across the surface of the chlorinated water, staring down at the bottom of the pool, I am gliding across the surface, almost like flying. I am free, because the only prison is in my mind.

(Sounds clich?.)

Perhaps, but if it gets me to my goals, where is the harm? Even Plato, the father of dialectic philosophy,would have agreed, that, as I always say, “Don’t live inside your head, speak to me.”


David Roher is a USAT certified triathlon and marathon coach. He is a multi-Ironman finisher and veteran special education teacher. He is on Instagram @David Roher140.6.

He can be reached at [email protected]

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