Bit By Bit

When I was a kid, I was forced to endure my mother's obsession with all things Barbara Streisand. That meant seeing Yentl.  In theaters.

It meant listening to the soundtrack.  Over. And. Over.

And over again.

It meant listening to every Babs song ever made on road trips, and heaven forbid a quiet Sunday afternoon at home, because that meant watching KTLA-TV's movie of the week if Streisand was starring.

Oh, how that woman tortured me with her nasally charm.

I thought I had put those memories out of my head, but then along came this morning's Fortius team swim.

Once again, Coach Gerardo flooded me with information about all the things I'm doing wrong in my stroke.  (Side note: That's his job. I love the feedback!)  It was one thing after another following each set of intervals.  Cross-swimming. Not rotating the arms. Not gliding enough off the turn-kick. Reaching wider on each stroke. Stop clenching my hands entering the water.  Relax on the recovery stroke.

I'd fix one aspect and break another.  Then, I started to look like a mechanical bot on each stroke, trying to fix everything at once but instead looking like C3-PO trying to run (not a pretty sight).

As I started to get the hang of all these tweaks towards the end of the workout, Gerardo had me swim one more 100-yard set, this time all-out.  I was getting frustrated prior to that point because my 100's were consistently at 1:50 even though I was supposed to be increasing speed from 2:00 down to 1:45 over a set of four 100s.

I think Gerardo was getting frustrated too.

Then, I took off.  Everything clicked!  I glided along the water.  Almost effortlessly.  Almost.  I built speed and power with each 25, though my effort/output level remained largely the same.

And out of nowhere, a friggin' Barbara Streisand song popped into my head!  Seriously! I don't know the actual name of the song, but it's the one that has these lyrics: "Bit by bit, putting it together..."

Honestly, that's all I know.

Sorry mom.  But I'm serious.

I was building confidence with each lap while that annoying song was embedded in my noggin'. On the final lap, the music in my head grew louder as did the power of my stroke.

I hit the wall hard and leaped up to see the giant electronic clock confirm what I felt...a new personal record!

100 yards in 1:37.  I think I hit 1:40 once but I've certainly never broken through the 1:30s.  This also explains my Newport Beach Triathlon pace of 1:40 (wetsuit-aided, of course).

Gerardo looked at the time, and looked at me.

"Why did you make me work so hard for that?"

I couldn't help but laugh.  My teammates cheered me in the next lane, including Megan, our team's swim coach.

It was a nice moment.  Probably a little more special than the others I've enjoyed so far.  Hopefully it signals a breakthrough.

Putting it together.  Bit by bit.  I knew all those years putting up with Babs would pay off somehow.


Speaking of pay-offs, I had another nice one today courtesy of Jack Black Men's Grooming Products.  Thanks to Stephanie, I use this stuff every day.  Especially the All-Over soap, Beard Lube for shaving and Face Moisturizer after coming out of the pool.  Jack Black (not related to the actor, thank goodness) makes premium skin care products for men that truly are a cut above the competition.  The soaps, creams and ointments are good for your skin and work really well.

Jack Black was a sponsor of the Newport Beach Triathlon and had a booth at packet pick-up.  I visited with them and proclaimed my love for their lineup and how it's a perfect fit for triathletes.  (What a coincidence, since that's why Jack Black is sponsoring triathlon events.) The company recently released a new line of performance-based products geared towards athletes, including muscle rubs.  I bought the muscle rub product and applied for a raffle to win the full lineup.

Today, I got a call from Jack Black HQ telling me I won.  So, on top of a great morning in the pool, I had good fortune at my back.  This really offset the news that I wasn't selected in the Kona Ironman lottery for 2010.  I knew I didn't have much of  a chance, but a guy can dream, right?

My Jack Black prize pack should arrive in the mail early next week.  I'll let y'all know how I like everything.  Based on past experience, I'm sure it will be soothing, smell great and feel even better.

Man, this might be the most metro-sexual post I ever write.  Barbara Streisand?  Skin care products?

Surely there's a place for us crazy triathletes.

Sorry, couldn't resist.

223 days and counting.