The Fossiliferous Forties

I had a birthday extravaganza this past weekend, and extravaganza it was. My head has finally stopped hurting from all the drinks I consumed Saturday night (while I am truly young at heart, I am too old for that). I wanted to recap one particular event, a definite example of "no-fun fun", the Fossiliferous Forties.

My friend Tim suggested that one way to celebrate turning forty would be to do 40X100 in the pool, on 2 minutes. I was obviously sniffing too much glue the day he suggested it, as I agreed to do it. In the couple of months leading up to the end of May, I realized I was nowhere near the swimmer I used to be, and that this workout was going to be tough. I tried to get out of it a couple of times, but could never come up with an excuse that wouldn't make me seem like a total pansy.

The morning of our swim dawned, and Tim, Jason, and my friend Corinne showed up to swim with me. We jumped in and started at exactly 10am, thinking that way we wouldn't have to count since our interval was 2 minutes. I weakly tried to say "It's 40X50, right", but Tim declared that was for wimps and we were off.

The first one went by like nothing. Good thing since there were 39 to go! When I hit the wall, Corinne started counting back in years, saying "it's 2009 - what was important at age 39...", and each rest break was spent recounting highlights from the past. Traumatic injuries, hiking the Inca Trail, defending my M.Sc. thesis, counting porpoises, getting married, graduating university, counting sea otters, meeting Corinne, meeting Tim, meeting Jason, sailing from Victoria to Miami... these things all helped pass the first 20 years away.

The first 20 felt easy; I was hitting the wall consistently at 1:45. In fact I think I was getting cocky. "I've got this - what was I worried about?"... Yeah, and then everything started getting tough. Really tough. By number 25, my swim time had increased to almost 1:55, and my rest was shrinking. Numbers 25-30 were a struggle, and I started to think I wasn't going to make it. At 27, Corinne decided we'd increase the interval to 2:10 starting at 30.

I hit 30, and was glad to be getting at least 15 seconds rest again. Tim was really encouraging me on, and the next 10 went by really quickly. Tim made some crazy suggestion about doing one fly (I'm pretty sure he was joking), so I countered by saying the last one would be IM. (For any non-swimming readers, the Individual Medley consists of one length each of butterfly, backstroke, breastroke and freestyle.) I was dreading the fly, but it wasn't bad. It was the breaststroke that was brutal; that 25 seemed eternal. Finally I hit the wall and it was a last 25 free to the end.

The four of us cheered (I'm sure the entire pool wondered exactly what was going on), and immediately hit the lazy river for some relaxation. Now 40 laps around the lazy river would be actual fun!

What did I learn? I learned I'm in half-iron swimming shape, and after July will have to do some more serious work in the pool for that second 2000. I learned that I don't want to do that workout again. I learned I have a great group of supportive friends that will do crazy things, just because I asked them to. I also learned that a grilled cheese sandwich and chocolate milkshake from the Dog House goes down super-smooth when you really deserve it.

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