personal bests

last night, i made a personal swim record of 500 meters in 11 mins and 44.2 secs. it is a personal best because i have never gone that distance without stopping every 50m. when i started my swimming lessons early this year, it was a struggle. i wanted to quit very early in the program because i couldn't even finish a lap on an olympic-sized pool without feeling utterly tired and spent. it didn't help of course that my classmates were already doing a kilometer on the first session; of course, they already had an advantage over me: they have no fear of the water, and they'd already been swimming long before they heard about triathlons. their interest was improving technique, gaining speed, and developing endurance. i had to start from practically zero. i am convinced i'm a sinker, i have an inexplicable fear of deep water, and i nearly drowned, more than once.

but what i do have that more than makes up for my absolute lack of athleticism are persistence and pride: a combination which propels me to achieve feats normally not within my grasp. i put in a lot of secret hours swimming on my own, until i built enough confidence to do a full 50 meter lap, then 2 successive laps, then 4, and now, 10. i don't care if people who are good swimmers laugh at my exploits. personally, i already consider what i have accomplished as a big achievement, more importantly because i have conquered a fear. and that in itself is something to be proud of.

and due perhaps to my rapid weight loss, which can be attributed to failing health more than anything else, i've managed to improve on my speed. last tuesday, my iPod nano's nike+ reported that i ran 5.44km in 29 mins and 39 secs: that's a pace of 5:15 min/km. now the nike+ has never been known for pin-sharp accuracy (and i won't even compare the treadmill's readings either), but i'll take it. i've never ran that fast in the last 3 years. since 2005, my speed and endurance in middle-distance runs have consistently decreased and i am eager to regain my form on the pavement. i am not proud of the fact that i have not joined a 10km road race since november last year (well, i did take part in the TNF 100 -- a trail run -- and my time there was pathetic), followed by my 21k in the singapore marathon.

so who knows? maybe, in the coming weeks, i'll be chalking up a few more personal records. i'll make sure to write about my triumphs... and it isn't unknown that i admit even my own failures.