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Mitzi S Continued

[Part 2]

[Just to recap: I finally met Mitzi S in the locker room, the showdown is about to begin]

This woman is competitive. Don’t be fooled! She’s the wife of a pastor, she’ll talk your ear off, she’ll tell you it’s all fun and games, but she is in it to win it.

And she just about broke me. (A quick note from the editor, aka Inge’s sister: Mitzi S DID in fact break Inge. She did. I think Inge is still coming to terms with this reality.) [Inge here, this is probably true considering it’s been well over 2 months and I still haven’t let the healing begin]

Mitzi S continues telling her friend about the swimming challenge and how I was in the lead initially but she stepped it up, and it’s all fun and healthy competition. And then she told me forever about her history of swimming, when she started, how long she goes, how long she’s been going. This conversation went on for a long time. Side note: I am not a fan of conversations going on for a long time.

Anyway, meeting Mitzi S was big news in my house for several days, as you can imagine.

Mitzi S maintained her 2-mile lead for a while. It turns out I didn’t see her at the Y very frequently because she only came around 9:30 in the morning and I tend to do my swims at 5 am. One day I had to make a 9:30 swim work, and who should I see as I was getting out, but Mitzi S. I should tell you that she keeps tracks of her laps by a series of beads she keeps poolside; it’s quite clever, really. One big fish bead is 10 laps, a little fish is one, and then you switch to big, and on it goes. She also keeps a baggie of Skittles poolside, and she eats them periodically. Water has gotten into the baggie, and if ever they needed a new marketing image for “taste the rainbow” they should get a look in that bag. Gross.

As I was getting out of the pool I thought to myself, this will be the telltale moment. If she asks me how many laps I did, I’ll know for sure she’s competitive about this and it isn’t just for fun. But if she just waves and carries on, I’ll know she doesn’t really care. Take a guess, just take a wild guess, did she ask me or not??

Yep. Yep, she sure did. She most certainly did stop her workout, whip off her goggles and her first words to me were: “So. How many did you do?”

Do you know what I said? Can you guess? I said, “I’m not telling you. Because if I tell you I did 110 you’re going to do 111. So I won’t tell you, and you’ll just have to swim as far as you think you can to beat me.”

You might be thinking this is awfully harsh of me. I’m telling you, get to the end of the story and you’ll understand. Just hang in there with me for a little while.

She laughed. She said, “I can just get out of the pool and check after you write it on the clipboard over there.”

“Yes, yes you could do that. But we both know if you get out of the pool you’re not getting back in. Because nobody gets out of the pool in the middle of the workout and has enough mental toughness to get back in.”

We stared at each other a little longer. Then she laughed and started telling me about how she began swimming 3 years ago, and how often she swims, and… you’re starting to get the picture.

After a while I cut her off and said, “it’s Saturday, do you swim on Sundays?”

“Well I don’t normally swim on Sundays so probably not, I like to take one day off a week.”

“Okay, well I won’t see you tomorrow then, have a good weekend.”

“You won’t see me tomorrow you say. Maybe, maybe not?” Then she winked and kept swimming.

MENTAL TERRORIST! Now I had to go on Sunday too!

When I did go on Sunday and checked the clipboard I saw that she exceeded her usual 110 lap maximum and swam 120! So I wrote her a note: Mitzi S! 120? I thought 110 was your max?!

The next day I was there for one of my kid’s swim lessons and I sent the oldest over to the clipboard to see if she had written a note back to me. Indeed she had! I snuck over to check it out. YOU THOUGHT WRONG” was under my note and written in large block letters.

At this point, I needed to take a moment and reevaluate my life. I felt I had reached a fork in the road, and I needed to make a decision. By now my health was failing (that’s clearly an over-dramatization but I had gotten pretty sick with a sinus infection), I was exhausted, I was starting to hate swimming again, and I had water in my ear 24/7. 

Did I continue in my quest and kick into a higher gear to beat Mitzi S? Or did I surrender; was it really worth this level of competition? 

Much mental anguish and many long conversations with Hubs and my sister later, I finally decided that a 34-year-old triathlete beating an older woman in a swim challenge was too much of a cliché. Of course I should win, when people saw the results of that they would think, of course she won, that’s not a shock. But to let Mitzi S win, now that would mean something to her. That would carry her for quite a while.

So I let her win. (Or at least that’s what I’m telling myself)

I still swim at least 3 times per week at 5 am; it’s pretty rare that I have to make a swim workout happen when the sun is up. But about 6 weeks later, I was in the pool at 9:30 and who should drop into the lane next to me? Mitzi S. We greeted each other amicably and commiserated how the prize for the swim challenge was just a shaker water bottle. I was hoping for a T-shirt personally.

Mitzi S said, “Good to see you finally made it back into the pool!” 

Umm that’s because I swim too early for you; I’m still coming as much as ever. I didn’t say this; I said it in my head. She squinted at my index card safely sealed in a ziplock bag that holds my workout for the day. “Whatcha got going on there? Is that what you’re swimming?”

“Yeah, it’s a bunch of different sets with rest intervals in between. Like swim 300 then rest for 20 seconds, swim another 300, rest.”


“300 yards is 12 lengths. So swim for 12 lengths, then rest and repeat.” I explained further.

“Ohhhhh. Well.” And then she says, “I don’t have to take rests anymore. Maybe when I first started, but now I just swim continuous for 2 hours.” (Now it was my turn to owlishly blink; thoughts of threshold training and intervals and triathlon swim sets running through my head; does she not know how to train? Deep breaths…)

And THEN she says… “Did I tell you how I started swimming three years ago?”

Y’all, I got out of the pool. I just straight up climbed out of the pool, quit my workout mid interval, put on my towel, and went home.

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