He is a somewhat crumudeonly old guy who was present at the creation--that is the creation of the planet and the creation of Greyhound as a swimmer. He "knew me when" I could barely huff through a set of 10 hundreds on 2:30. Today he saw a different guy.
The main set was 5x200 descending. I am in the slow lane. (Remember, my masters group won the Long Course Nationals this year). So we were doing our 200s on 4:30. I touched at 3:50, 3:48, 3:45, 3:42 and 3:42.
He smiled and gave me a, "good job."
That's as good as it gets.
In running, I did my typical route for a middle distance foundation run last week, and realized with a little more than a mile left that I would average quicker than 8 minutes a mile, and with no great effort involved.
Swimming with a "1" in the 100 time, a "3" in the 200 time, and running with a "7" in the time for mile splits. Those kinds of changes are like pulling out your compass and finding true north to be exactly the opposite of where you thought it would be.
As much as I am surprised by needing to reorient my brain to what is "good," I suppose I shouldn't be. I have been trying to do the little things daily in terms of technique and training and quality efforts. Any physiologist would tell you that the little things add up to eventual improvement. Doing the right thing usually gets results, which is not to say that doing the right thing is easy.
Which brings me to Wednesday.
On Wednesday, my sidebar says, "rest." The reason for the odd spacing of the rest day is because a great man is now at rest. My grandfather, about whom I have written before, breathed his last at about 2:00 in the afternoon on Saturday. His funeral is Wednesday. He is at rest. And he is one who "did the right thing." In fact, he did the right thing so often and with so much predictable regularity that I often feel very inadequate by comparison.
He was married to the same woman for 65 years. They were with each other 24/7/365 because they worked together in the family business. They taught Sunday school together to three generations of kids and attended the same church beginning in 1946. He tended her on her sick bed for two years before she died. He persevered through his own failing health, through invalidity and suffering that basically scares me to death. Yet, he laughed with me in our last phone call together no more than a week ago. I never saw him lose his temper, never saw him lose hope, never saw him give up.
He made it seem so easy, the daily grind of goodness. Wasn't it ever hard for him? It sure is for me. I try to do the right thing, but I so often want to do something else, either out of laziness or just because the wrong thing is so much more exciting or inviting. Wrong would hardly be tempting if it wasn't attractive, right? I am sure I make some right choices out of habit, but I often feel like the right thing is a chore, and it does not seem to get any easier. Is it always this hard? Did he think so?
He never swam, or biked or ran for training purposes, but his quality numbers were very good. He seemed to know what to expect when he looked in the shaving mirror in the morning, or the eyes of his high school sweetheart every evening. Now, he is resting, and I am wondering whether his numbers are something I could ever match.