Remember when I foolishly confessed that I was thinking about doing a supersprint triathlon in September? Well, unlike that whole “writing a book” endeavor (progress to date: NEGATIVE TEN PAGES), I’m sort of inching forward towards that goal in that I actually signed up for swimming classes.

My first class was on Monday evening and I spent the entire day freaking out about it. Here is a partial list of the things that I was worried about:

• Not being able to find the locker room
• Getting undressed in front of straaaaaaannggerrrrrs
• Not knowing what, if any, footwear to wear between the locker room and the pool, like should I do flip flops or those gaylord Nike water shoes or some Lucite heels or WHAT
• That my ancient, now-too-big Miracle Suit would spontaneously perform the Miracle of Falling Right The Hell Off My Shoulders, Thus Exposing My Sad Post-Baby Hooters For The Horror Of All
• Having some Michael Phelps motherfucker observe me tiptoeing over to the Adult Beginner Swim Class and issue forth a loud Nelson-esque laugh at my shame.

Oh and also the swim cap. Jesus, the swim cap. I don’t know why I got so fixated on that little detail but I became convinced it was going to be this humiliating, insurmountable challenge to get the damn thing on my head, like I’d be in the locker room grunting and heaving and eventually collapsing unconscious on the floor in a puddle of my own urine or something, the cap still only halfway stretched across my scalp.

I posted something on Twitter about it, like oh my god you guys what if I can’t get the swim cap on, and people were very kind and no one called me a chickenheaded dumbass but they DID proceed to terrify me further by offering all sorts of exotic and conflicting advice. Get your hair wet, leave it dry, use baby powder, use leave-in conditioner, put water in the cap, wear your hair in ponytail, wear it down, wear TWO caps at once . . . I pictured myself staggering towards the pool, slicked with oil and sprinkled with powder, half-wet, a second cap dangling from one ear. Cue Phelpsian mocker: HA ha!

Kakaty’s suggestion made my day, though. She innocently sent along a link to a video she described as kind of weird, but showed someone putting on a cap, and I dutifully scrutinized it for technique. Wow, I thought. How cool that someone put up an informative little lesson in donning a swim cap, isn’t the Internet useful? It wasn’t until the end when the camera subject did a strange little come-hither twirl that I went, waaaaaait a minute. Then I looked at the comments. And the profile for the video owner. And back to the comments, one from “swimcaplover”.


So, you know, there was that to worry about too. Not only that I’d have this awful time getting the goddamned cap on, but that someone somewhere would be observing, possibly through a carefully drilled hole in the wall, and furiously whacking off over the whole thing.

ANYWAY. As it turned out, everything was fine. My suit held up, I found the locker room, the cap went on with minimal struggle, if any creepy cap-fetish dudes were nearby I was blissfully unaware of their presence, and no one pointed and laughed. The class was divided into a few people like me who know how to swim but need refresher lessons, and a bunch of folks who had never been wet before, and the lesson passed in a flash. I even stayed afterwards and flailed my way up and down the lane a few times, feeling nearly giddy about the fact that for the first time in my life I was doing LAPS. Sure, I had terrible form and I couldn’t figure out how to turn my head to breathe without water shooting up my nose and I had to keep stopping to sort of tread water and gasp, but I was SWIMMING. Rocky theme!

This weekend there is a triathlon class involving an open water clinic, and I keep browsing back to the registration page and hyperventilating a little. If you thought the swim cap fear sounded stupid that doesn’t even compare to my issues with open water swimming, which include, but are not limited to, large partially submerged objects, fish, and Lake Slime. I don’t know if a swimsuit will be okay (it’s hot as hell in Seattle right now but Lake Washington is cooooold) and I don’t know if I can swim well enough yet to even participate in this class and I am particularly concerned with the possibility, HOWEVER REMOTE, that there may be a submarine in the water (a surfacing one) (with water pouring over its sides . . . GAH GAH GAH) and if that’s the case then I will simply DIE OF FRIGHT, but I am trying to psyche myself up to sign up anyway.

It seems like there’s a lesson I should be learning about how things are rarely as bad as I tend to think they’re going to be, but then again, oh my god maybe I am going to be eaten by a MASTURBATING SHARK RIDING A NUCLEAR SUB if I do this thing. If I wasn’t the one worrying about these things, who would?


94 Responses to “Reactions: perfectly normal”

  1. Joanna on July 30th, 2009 12:10 am

    Okay, but I really want to know what shoes you wore (if you wore any) from the locker room to the pool! I too have this same worry. (I know, I know, LAME).

  2. Katy on July 30th, 2009 1:41 am

    Why, WHY would anyone swim in a lake?! Unless one of their beloved’s had fallen in there and they had to rescue them? MY GOD I am having the full body heebie jeebies imagining what would happen if I got some slime wrapped around my foot. I WOULD DIE. THE END. Would you be able to wear shoes? I would need shoes. And something covering my whole face and hair.

  3. Eric's Mommy on July 30th, 2009 5:35 am

    Way to go Linda! I wish I was as motivated as you to get off my butt and do something.

    I was dying over that swimcap fetish video. Apparently there is a fetish for EVERYTHING.

  4. Heather on July 30th, 2009 5:36 am

    Dear Linda,

    You consistently make my day! :)

  5. stacy on July 30th, 2009 5:41 am

    I used to swim for exercise, regularly, and I wore a lycra swim cap – it’s all stretchy and super easy to get on. I don’t suppose it gives you any advantage in time if you are looking to shave mere milliseconds off of your swim time, but it was much more comfortable than the too-tight cone-heady plastic thing. All sports stores carry them … I highly recommend.

  6. Kate on July 30th, 2009 5:47 am

    So…I want to offer words of encouragement about the swimming/biking/running thing, but I’m too busy vomiting in fear at the very thought… so, go team Linda? Hurray!?

    Also, an entirely innocent picture of me was favorited on flickr by, I shit you not, a GAUCHO PANTS FETISHIST. For real. My husband also recently wrote a post about stumbling upon a foot fetishist’s movie reviews-

    So this has been a fetish heavy comment. Sorry about that.

  7. diane on July 30th, 2009 6:10 am

    I don’t even know how to thank you for being the most awesome writer/person ever! who makes me laugh so hard before I have even finished my coffee.
    Swim cap fetish! Who knew?
    Oh, and go you with the swimming – inspirational as always.

  8. Beth on July 30th, 2009 6:25 am

    I still wish your entire post came into my google reader.

  9. Jessie on July 30th, 2009 6:36 am

    I have those fears about swimming in bodies of water too, which was not helped by the time my husband finally convinced me to go swimming in a lake and a dead fish touched my face when I surfaced. EWWW!

    I also wanted to let you know that I’ve been reading along here and at Bodies in Motivation, but meeting you in person at Blogher was the best motivation yet. You look amazing! It was enough to make me get my rear off the couch last night to start Couch to 5k training. (and I may even start shredding too, but one thing at a time will probably be the best approach)

  10. Amanda on July 30th, 2009 7:01 am

    You crack my shit up.

    I frequently worry about all that type of shit.

    I will not swim in a lake. The edge of the ocean is even a stretch.

  11. Rachel on July 30th, 2009 7:08 am

    I’m not usually in the business of telling people what to do, but my suggestion is compile these blog stories and publish, publish, publish so the rest of the world can enjoy your amazing talent and life lessons. This entry had me gasping for air. I could not stop laughing, all the while completely relating to every word. Thanks for making my day.

  12. Andrea on July 30th, 2009 7:11 am

    Oh my GOD you are hilarious. And I love your neuroses, as a fellow worrier myself. But you’re so right, things are rarely as bad as we fear they’ll be. Except high school. High school was as bad as I’d feared.

    Anyway, you’re incredibly inspiring as well, and I think it cool that you’re still overcoming your fears and doing all this anyway. How empowering that must feel!

  13. Chrissy on July 30th, 2009 7:18 am

    OK, as someone who used to be FREAKEDTHEFUCK OUT (andstillisalittleshh) by open water, here are my thoughts on the matter. Like everything else, unfortunately, I’ve found the best way to get over this–completely warranted, mind you (lake slime! seriously.)–fear is just to do it. Just get in the water and swim and uh, shut your brain off. Because otherwise it jumps from ahhh seaweed! to PIRANHAS! to GREAT WHITE SHARKS CIRCLING A PIT OF SLIME right to OMFG THAT IS ACTUALLY THE TITANTIC I JUST SWAM PAST. Believe me, I swam even *faster* into shore than bong-sucking Phelpsy when a fish lept from the water in front of me once, and have nearly drowned many a friend when I swear I see/feel something and inexplicably seize and cling to them. I swam my first ocean mile this past January, and I found I just really had to focus on getting into my groove. I concentrated on my stroke, on the awesome feel of the water, and on how fucking *cool* it was to be spending the morning swimming through the ocean. There were shittons of man-of-wars on that course, and you know what? Once I got stung once, I didn’t feel scared, I felt invincible. It was like, OK, some freakass creature from the deep just came up into my WORLD, stung me, and I’m still going, I’m still swimming, that was it. I got stung a couple more times and even, deargod, put my HAND through one of its…tentaclesgahhhh and I swam stronger, faster, and finished. I also always kept in eyesight of other people, so I could see their own bodies moving through the water free of imminent death, and you know, had the option to seize-and-cling, should I need to. You of course wont be encountering man-of-wars but I think the sometimes annoying philosophy of what’s the worst that could happen applies here. Keep your body relaxed, keep in sight of other swimmers, and uh, don’t let your eyes roam to innocent shadows that quickly become MASTURBATING SHARK RIDING A NUCLEAR SUB.

    Fitness challenge + fear conquering? My god woman, just think of how GOOD that’s going to feel?

  14. Texxla on July 30th, 2009 7:19 am

    You are so inspiring, seriously! WOW

    I could say more now but after reading this I have to get off my ass and go run! Thanks! You so rock and I want to be you or at least be your friend! Thanks

  15. Carolyn on July 30th, 2009 7:37 am

    I am laughing so hard right now–tears, ugly face-cramp, etc. My 8yo son has a friend over, and he just walked by my office, looked a little scared, and I’m afraid he may be calling his mom soon to pick him up. (*turns on Wii…lets boys’ eyes glaze over to buy more time reading blogs*)

    Seriously, Linda, you are such a great writer and absolutely hilarious. One of the things I love about you is how you’re this confident woman, a great mom, you’ve overcome a lot and achieved a lot, and you still let us into your little world where you have the same idiosyncrasies we all have. It’s comforting, all kidding aside.

    Though, I don’t know about the exact same idiosyncrasies. I’ve never worried much about masturbating sharks. Has this been on 20/20 yet?

  16. Deb on July 30th, 2009 7:58 am

    Lookit. I really don’t think that there are submarines or sharks (masturbating or not, and have you seen a shark? He’d have to work so hard (hard! hah!) to reach his junk, he probably wouldn’t have the energy to do anything to you).

    Why are you ignoring the lake-dwelling, toe-eating fishies? Also, I totally second Jenny with fear of murdered corpses. You need to get serious and focus on worrying about something rational. Like stumbling across a mafia-hit crime seen, swirling with human flesh eating fish.

    You are hilarious, and so are your commenters! I almost spit my coffee on my computer at the fetish video. WTF?

  17. Erin on July 30th, 2009 8:23 am

    I am convulsing with laughter but also have some useful advice re: the open water swim.

    If you rent a swimming wetsuit it will serve two purposes – it will keep you warm, but it is also buoyant. It probably won’t cost much to rent and then you will know whether it is useful to own one when you ultimately become addicted to triathlons.

  18. Rach on July 30th, 2009 8:46 am

    Okay, so I’ve never commented here before, but I’ve been reading your blog for awhile. I love it! It’s so great that you want to do a triathlon! I just did my first one last week, and as a fellow open-water/creepy underwater creatures phobe I would highly suggest looking into the ChelanMan Try-a-Tri or Sprint triathlon. Lake Chelan is beautiful and probably cleaner than any swimming pool I’ve been in! You don’t even need a wetsuit, although most of the people had them (except for the guy we saw wearing what can only be described as cheekies).
    Anyway, there’s my two cents. Good luck with the swimming! It gets easier once you get the breathing down.

  19. Jen W. on July 30th, 2009 9:07 am

    Check out a tri-suit. They are made for swim, bike, run- minus chafing. Check your race rules- some don’t allow wetsuits b/c of the buoyancy issue (unfair advantage, etc.)

    And definitely take the open water swim class! It is SO different. I tried to do it on my own…and I live in South Florida, where there are EFFING SHARKS BIG SHARKS THAT BITE YOU…oh, and also? JELLYFISH THAT STIIIIIING. I did two open water swims before I gave up (after mild panic attacks) and stuck to the pool. But, at least I had some experience swimming with waves and currents.

    A good thing to keep in mind? When you’re tired, the breaststroke is the way to go. My sprint tri was in Miami, where open water swims are like swimming in a bathtub, so I was all good for that.

  20. Annie on July 30th, 2009 9:35 am

    No lake swimming assvice, for I have no fear of it. BUT, you fucking crack me up. You are a great writer, funny when it’s called for, all honest, heartfelt and shit when it’s called for. I (heart) you.

  21. Erin on July 30th, 2009 10:19 am

    LOL!!! I had to read this sentence a couple times, it was so damm funny!!

    I don’t know why I got so fixated on that little detail but I became convinced it was going to be this humiliating, insurmountable challenge to get the damn thing on my head, like I’d be in the locker room grunting and heaving and eventually collapsing unconscious on the floor in a puddle of my own urine or something, the cap still only halfway stretched across my scalp.

  22. Erin on July 30th, 2009 10:19 am

    LOL!!! I had to read this sentence a couple times, it was so damm funny!!

    I don’t know why I got so fixated on that little detail but I became convinced it was going to be this humiliating, insurmountable challenge to get the damn thing on my head, like I’d be in the locker room grunting and heaving and eventually collapsing unconscious on the floor in a puddle of my own urine or something, the cap still only halfway stretched across my scalp.

  23. Anna A on July 30th, 2009 12:26 pm

    So I have been swimming in Lake WA every night this week in a bikini (at 11pm!) to escape the insane heat. Unless temps drop down to freezing, you’ll be fine in a swimsuit. It’s super warm. There is however, a lot of lakeweed crap floating about due to everyone being in the water. But it won’t kill you! And the water feels so good! You can do it!

  24. marta on July 30th, 2009 12:53 pm

    Ha, when you said “I don’t know if a swimsuit will be ok” I thought, wait. What? She wants to go naked? Like ok, as in not committing a faux pas? What do I not know about triathlons?!?!?

  25. Ubah on July 30th, 2009 2:14 pm

    Oh my god, you are so funny!! Thank you for making me laugh.

  26. Devon on July 30th, 2009 2:31 pm

    You realize, that from this point on, anyone who will Google “swim cap fetish”, will be directed to your site.

    Perhaps they will also enjoy the vision of you “staggering towards the pool, slicked with oil and sprinkled with powder, half-wet, a second cap dangling from one ear”.

  27. Kristen on July 30th, 2009 4:45 pm

    First of all, that is hysterical and not totally unlike my fears when I started triathlon training.

    Second, for the open water swim: I know it seems obvious, but breathe AWAY from the direction the waves are coming from. Please trust me on this.

    Third: Triathlon people are the nicest people ever. I mean, maybe not the ones who are actually competing for 1st place, but I’ve never been around a group that was so friendly and encouraging. I have so many stories but won’t bore you with them here. If you need to be psyched up, email me and I’ll get you SO excited to do a tri. Seriously.

  28. Sarah on July 30th, 2009 7:15 pm

    A swim cap fetish I can handle…it’s the foot fetish that has me wretching…but I digress….

    Honey, you’re amazing for even THINKING about attempting to do this…much less taking the steps to do it! Handle it all one fear at a time and we’ll all be staring at you in amazement come September!! You rock!!

    Oh, and don’t feel too bad about not doing well on the book right now. The market sucks currently anyway…so you have time to wait for it to turn around ;) Then your awesomeness will be snatched up faster than mine :D

  29. Joy on July 31st, 2009 6:31 am

    You should think about training for this next year since you are into biking now. It is a 24 hour bike race:

  30. JennyM on July 31st, 2009 6:42 am

    I think you are going to be eaten NAKED by a masturbating shark riding a nuclear sub, except for your swim cap of course, because don’t forget your swimsuit will have fallen off.

    Oh, man — I’m still giggling. Glad it went well! And go for it with the open water class — if it’s your time to go, then go out big, I say.

  31. sharon on July 31st, 2009 8:09 am

    Yup, have that same fear of open water. Not so much the submarine, but definitely slimy plant life and standing in the sandy bottom at the starting line.

  32. Emme on July 31st, 2009 9:12 am

    I’m another triathlete reader of yours – this is what keeps me fit and sane and I love the people this sport attracts – just the best!!! Please email me if you have any specfic questions or need some encouragment.

    I have too many embarressing stories to share but believe me – all the humiliation of being a “tri newbie” is worth what you get out of the sport!!

  33. babelbabe on July 31st, 2009 9:56 am

    is it totally weird that trying to picture the masturbating shark froze my brain? why would I WANT to picture that anyway? And is the shark wearing a swim cap?

  34. Gigi on July 31st, 2009 10:48 am

    OMG! Do realize how hard it was for me to stifle the laughter so my co-workers wouldn’t think I’d lost it completely?? Thanks for bringing a smile to this seemingly endless afternoon!

  35. Jenny on July 31st, 2009 10:58 am

    My best suggestion, swim cap wise, is to throw out the latex one, or maybe donate it to a fetishist, and get a non-hurty Lycra one instead.

  36. Miriam on August 1st, 2009 7:36 am

    This post made me laugh so much. Thank you for sharing about how you would have looked if you had followed everyone’s advice about donning a swim cap.

  37. thatgirlblogs on August 1st, 2009 8:29 am

    LOL have fun with all the google porn you’re gonna get now when people search for masturbating shark porn.

  38. tanya on August 1st, 2009 10:14 am

    For me, it’s the potential of a very old, very prehistoric creature living on the bottom of said lake with lots of teeth who just happens to notice my legs and thinks they look yummy. Ugh. So scary.

  39. tanya on August 1st, 2009 10:14 am

    in case old and prehistoric needed to be said separately. you know.

  40. Becca on August 1st, 2009 7:58 pm

    OK, first of all, I have been reading blogs all day and yours is the best by far! Not trying to make you feel bad here, but that was hilarious!
    I think it’s great that you are determined to do this, even though a lot of it seems to be frightening to you.
    Best of luck with it all!!

  41. Shannon on August 2nd, 2009 8:12 am

    HA! I too spend far to much time worrying about the what ifs…then a friend of mine suggested I worry about a trampleing elephant… it would be as productive. It almost never works…but when it does…I get a laugh.


  42. kerilyn on August 2nd, 2009 8:08 pm

    Just a random question…your lawn used to look great. What happened? An annoying question, I realize.

  43. sundry on August 2nd, 2009 10:06 pm

    The thrilling answer: we don’t water the lawn all summer long, therefore the grass dies mid-summer. By fall, it’ll be lush and green and needing to be constantly mowed again, never fear.

    Are you one of those people who likes to ask if someone’s gained weight, too? JUST WONDERING.

  44. kerilyn on August 4th, 2009 12:12 pm

    Gosh, sorry. Really. Just curious. I’ve always admired your yard. Thanks for taking the time to answer.

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