I was petrified, the first time I went downhill skiing. But it was great, because I realized after congratulating myself for making it down the mountain still standing, that I felt completely refreshed.
While one could chalk this up to adrenalin, I attribute this to something else. Challenging myself to learn an unfamiliar sport, took total concentration. Thus, I had no time to worry about anything else in my life and that made me feel good.
Sometimes we get so caught up in little petty things such as: Why I can’t get this computer app to load? Why didn’t that bill I thought I paid get paid? Why did a spot have to magically appear on the very pair of pants I was planning to wear tonight? Add some type of physical training, crunches or a 20 minute bicycle ride, and the world looks different.
I was reminded of all this when I waited for my husband Peter to finish the Great Chesapeake Bay Swim, a 4.4. open water race across the Chesapeake Bay. He wasn’t expecting to place as a winner, he just wanted to get from Point A to Point B and that took a lot of training. He practiced in the County pool several times a week and also did an shorter open water race The Maryland Freedom Swim across the Choptank River in May to prepare for the event.
The Chesapeake Bay Swim event is limited to six hundred and fifty qualified swimmers. For two years, due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, the event was suspended as swimming practices and leagues lost opportunities to practice and large gatherings were discouraged. I’m not certain how many swimmers participated this year, but four hundred and eighty-five swimmers, which is closely monitored by legions of volunteers in boats and kayaks, finished the course.
The wind and water currents make open water swimming a challenging exercise. When Peter practiced swimming in Cape Cod Bay I worried about sharks. In the Chesapeake Bay there’s jellyfish, Vibrio (flesh-eating bacteria), and too much sun. It doesn’t matter how much sun block he slathers on, several hours in the water will wash it off.
The ages of the competing swimmers ranged from thirteen to eighty. The fastest swimmer, nineteen year old Matt Fallon from St. Petersburg, Florida crossed the bay in one hour, thirty minutes and 32 seconds. The slowest swimmer crossed in three hours, fifty-six minutes and two seconds. Friends, family and onlookers cheered for the water logged men and women who quickly looked for more water—water to drink and a hose from the firetruck to clean their swim gear. The variety of wetsuits ranged from full body with hood to shorty suits and what are called “farmer johns” full legs and a partial upper torso. Scores of swimmers opted to forego the wetsuit, claiming it impedes their strokes. Everyone, however, wore swim goggles.
Next up on my husband’s challenge list is the Annapolis 10 mile race that takes place August 28th. Originally a track runner in high school, he has been running the Annapolis 10 mile for several years, although he spends more time swimming.
I used to also enter into some races. The longest one I’ve done, however, is a 10k. Some previous damage, a horseback riding injury and auto accident, causes me to gravitate to slower activity. My physical challenge is to push myself to do a 20 minute mat work-out on those days I don’t have a Pilates studio class. (That’s me hanging upside down.) Always, I prefer walking to driving and I have a dog that loves her long walks.
Writers, we all have a tendency to sit in our chairs. It goes with the profession, or does it? Some of my best thinking is done while moving. And if you are creating a scene and your characters are on the move–in a car, on a nature walk, bicycling up a mountain—the activity energizes the story.
So here is a writing prompt, for those who wish to exercise their writing muscles. Think of a situation that takes place with one character on the move. Use action verbs and challenge your character to get somewhere or accomplish something such as deliver a package. What happens? Try it again with different ingredients. How will the scene change if another character appears?
Follow me on twitter at SN Maril and here’s a little something for your reading pleasure about a mother/daughter shopping trip. Thank you, as always, for reading.