Sunday, October 15, 2006

getting in shape

"Non piu mesta", from La Cenerentola, is on my audition list for a few things this year. I feel great about it for the most part, but there's one phrase where I always worry about getting to the end breath-wise, and there's really no place to breathe in the middle of the crazy coloratura going on (mezzos, I'm sure you know the part I mean!). I always make it, but it causes a little bit of panic every time, and who needs that in the middle of an audition? This has given me the final incentive I needed to get in to better cardio-vascular shape this fall.

I used to have fantastic breath control. I was a flutist in high school and college, and I was also a swimmer, In fact I was captain of my high school swim team. I could swim, at one point, 2 lengths of the pool underwater without breathing. My breath control and lung capacity are still pretty good, but I definitely can't do that right now! So, last week I joined a US Masters swimteam at a pool close to my house. Workouts are 5 days a week from 7-8:00 a.m. Alec usually leaves for work at about 6:30, so the timing is perfect, and then I'm done earlier than I would usually even be awake enough to be doing anything other than drinking a cup of coffee.

I started on Wednesday, which was unfortunate in some ways because Wednesday, as it turns out, is distance freestyle day (which means longer sets without resting, and a total workout of between 1 1/2 and 2 miles). I was never a distance swimmer at the best of times (I have a strong kick, which makes me more of a sprinter), and let's just say that by the end of the workout I was tired!!!! But, I got some great reminders of why I love swimming. First, and this may sound weird to people who have never been swimmers, I smelled very faintly of chlorine for the rest of the day, and I really love that. It brings back lots of great memories. Secondly, walking out of the pool in the morning to a bright, sunny day, and smelling the fresh air knowing that I had challenged myself (and survived) felt fantastic. Thirdly, I am one of the younger people there. Lots of the women have children in high school, and they are all amazing, dedicated, and in great shape. One of them asked me how old I was and when I told her, she said, "Oh, you're just a baby!" I'll take it! But most importantly, in the pool, I had a moment where I had a glimpse of what it felt like to be really in shape. I felt a very physical sensation that reminded me of how amazing it feels to be really strong. So, even though the first workout kicked me right in the butt, I made it back for Thursday and Friday, and it got a little easier every time. I can't make it tomorrow morning, but Tuesday I intend to be back in the pool!


Ariadne said...

Oh, oh, OH! I *loved* swimming (competitively and water ballet) as a kid/teen. I know exactly that feeling you're describing, the chloriney, stretched, comfy, strong, warm, slightly sunburned, happy, smooth zen-like feeling. And it is wondrous for breathing!

I was a distance girl, myself. As a child it was breast stroke & back stroke, then I went to (Arndold Schwartzenegger's) gym in Graz Austria and they made me learn butterfly. Then I came back and as a teen was the relay butterfly anchor and the freestyle "bring it home" girl.

So, Masters Swimming, yeah! I've *seriously* considered that, too. Mebbe I'll take action on it, now that we belong to our local Y.

What was your best stroke, M.?

ps I think there's a swimming- flute- singing connection here, 'cause I did all 3, as well, and I recall so did Canadienne ... I wonder if others did, too?

Campbell Vertesi said...

I've been hitting the gym lately, and I love the way it makes me feel! I sleep better, I eat way more (a serious budget problem), I'm more relaxed... and yeah, I just feel generally strong! Me likey.