Joe reminded me not to forget the contact lens accoutrements, and lucky me, the boxes of spare lenses I ordered arrived today. So lenses, spares, case, cleaning solution--CHECK.
And estaminet in her wisdom reminded me to bring undies and spares--CHECK.
And I have made myself a new playlist and loaded it on the mp3 player: Yuri Yunakov, the Pogues, Brave Combo, Gogol Bordello, Les Negresses Vertes, the Ukrainians, Taraf de Haïdouks, Charming Hostess, Balkan Beat Box, Squirrel Nut Zippers--you get the idea. I am ready to make the ultimate haywire go nuts.
Huh? Let me explain.
Here is a bit of something Pem sent me by way of inspiration. I know it is about running, but it translates well to swimming too. It is from Jeff Johnson’s Border Clash 2001 inspirational remarks. He has some good things to say about running generally, but here is a part about competition:
So here’s another question for you: Why do you compete? Why do you race 3.1 miles? That’s gotta hurt. Why do you do it?
For most of you... I imagine that you race for the challenge... the danger... the rush of putting yourself in a place where you must do your absolute best...
... Because the race requires it. To give your best is to honor your fellow competitors... your teammates... your coach... your school... your family... your community... and all the good people who have worked so hard to put on the race.
To give your best in a race is a matter of honor... and duty... and you know that going in. You know, also, that the course will challenge you... that your competitors will challenge you... and that you will challenge yourself. You know, too, that there will come a critical moment in the race where you must make the decision to lay it on the line... to take your shot... or to fall back and regroup.
And you hope you’ll be up to the challenge, but you’re never entirely sure... and it’s that uncertainty that calls to you... because it is there, at that moment, that moment of decision, that you offer yourself up to be measured: by the clock... by your legs and lungs... by your guts, and by your heart.
And if you want to win the race, in that moment of decision, you’re going to have to go a little crazy.
That, friends, is why I made that mix: to remind myself to go crazy, or as Eugene Hutz says, to make the ultimate haywire go nuts, bunkers buck wild. Because, my friends, it is nice to be hammered in the brain!
But back to Jeff Johnson:
You race, then, because races are a big deal. ...
Races are a big deal. Races are the culmination of all the forces that have brought you here:
desire... commitment... focus... sacrifice... suffering... self-discipline... hard work... responsibility. You race because you are invested in effort, and you are invested in success.
Moreover, you are invested together.
Look around you. Go ahead. Do it. Look around.
Who are those people you see? Do you think they are your opponents? People who oppose your quest for excellence?
Well they aren’t. They are not your opponents. They are your fellow competitors. In fact, they are your co-conspirators, for to compete is to enter into a conspiracy.
The conspiracy is revealed in the word itself: compete, which comes from two Latin roots, com and petere, which means “to strive together.”
Al Oerter, the 4-time Olympic gold medalist in the discus, once said: “I’ve never competed against anyone in my life. I’ve always competed with people. To compete against people is a negative thing. To compete with people is a celebration, a celebration of human capability.”
And so it is. The worthy competitor is essential to the race, not as an enemy, but as a co-conspirator. The race, you see, is a secret form of cooperation. The race is simply each of you seeking your absolute best with the help of each other.
Steve Prefontaine said: “To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.” What gift do you think he was talking about? The gift of your talent, surely. But perhaps also the gift of opportunity... and the gift of youth... perhaps even the gift of life itself.
In any case, you give your best to the race as a matter of honor. You can do no less, because your competitors are giving their best to you.
So before I go, a quick shout out to all my co-conspirators: it is my duty and my great honor to swim this race, to conspire with you, whether that conspiracy happens in the pool or not. Bolshoye spacebo to the PP for EVERYTHING and especially the support (and getting my ass out of bed at oh dark thirty several days a week), to Coach Jimmy and Coach Jim, and to all the Masters Team, and to everyone who has ever said anything encouraging (and dahlings, you know who you ARE!)