The deadline for completing my 2,500-lap challenge in Taylor’s honor is October 29 – just three weeks from today. I’ve logged 1,670 laps in the pool since the campaign began on June 21 – meaning I still have 830 laps to go.
Eight hundred thirty laps in the 25-yard pool equates to about 11.8 miles. In running shoes, 11.8 miles would be pretty easy; in fact, I ran seven this morning and would have gone farther if not for my college football team’s noon kickoff. Unfortunately, running doesn’t have a direct correlation with swimming. After all, that’s why the running portion of an Ironman race (26.2 miles) is more than 10 times longer than the swimming portion (2.4 miles).
So, 830 laps in three weeks? All I can say is that I’ll give it my all. I put in 120 laps yesterday and 80 the day before. After I finished my 100th lap yesterday, the older man in the next lane over asked me if I compete. I was so shocked, I pulled my swim cap halfway back, shook the chlorinated water out of my ears and asked him to repeat the question. I haven’t “competed” (if “competed” means swimming in a timed race) since I took up space as a 7-year-old on the Beverly Woods East neighborhood pool swim team during the 1989 summer season. So, I explained to the man that I’m a runner/soccer player rehabbing an Achilles injury and trying to churn out 2,500 laps for her sick little sister in the meantime – that is, 2,500 laps of breaststroke, since it’s the only stroke I’m not ashamed to put on public display. I think he thought I was crazy. At the very least, I took off shortly after answering his question, and, when I returned to that end of the pool 50 seconds or so later, lap number 102 in the bag, he was nowhere to be found.
If he thought I was crazy, he certainly wouldn’t be the only one. I think I’m crazy, too; torn ligaments and tendons, inflamed metatarsals and broken noses be damned, I’ll keep moving. I’ve always loved athletic pursuits, and in the past five-plus years since Taylor’s diagnosis, they’ve been my lifeline. I love a good adrenaline high, and it works wonders as a temporary analgesic for the searing pain in my legs and feet and the heart-wrenching pain caused by watching my sister lose ground to the disease lurking in her genes.
But, no matter how far or fast I run or swim, my little sister still has Batten disease. And when my post-workout physical pain subsides, the emotional pain always returns.