In 2000, when diagnosed with sarcoidosis, my pulmonary doctor wanted me to start running so we could evaluate my lung function in a natural environment. Those first runs of a mile to a mile and a half were daunting and painful. Over time, as my health improved, the runs became easier as the distance increased. It's amazing what a bit of healthy activity can accomplish.
As weight came off, my times improved, as well. The longer, easier runs were also taking less time. And the distances continued to increase. Even so, it took better than a year before I felt up to a full marathon.
In January, when this crazy pursuit of triathlons began, the I encountered the same situation with swimming. Completing a 200 yard swim was nearly impossible, and the idea of doing anything more than that was frightening.
Still, the pool continued to beckon, and various resources allowed me to improve my swimming abilities. Again, swimming longer and longer distances became the norm. First, it was 500 yards. Than 1000. Than a mile. Likewise, my pace improved (though only slightly). Today, roughly 7 months after starting serious swim training, another hurdle has been overcome.
I hit the pool with a purpose, today. Swim longer than any previous swim, and do it as a straight swim. Sort of a "see what can be done" session. I figured maybe 3000, but definitely more than 2500 yards. When I hit 3000, I decided to keep going. I did, and didn't quit until I hit 144 lengths of the pool, or 2 miles. It took just under 1:30 to complete that distance, another personal record (the longest time spent swimming).
Clearing this hurdle is huge for two reasons. First, it's just a major distance to swim. Second, the time to go the distance leaves another 50 minutes to complete the remaining 0.4 miles in an Ironman event. That's a pace even a determined turtle can achieve. It's a huge boost to morale to know that the 2.4 mile swim of an IM race isn't a roadblock.
Of course, my 22 mile bike after the swim was supposed to be 40, but I was too tired. Twelve months. That's what remains to resolve THAT issue.