Dirt in your skirt blog

Day 116…Going the Distance

Posted on October 1, 2011 by Margaret Schlachter

“The difference between a good athlete and a top athlete is the top athlete will do the mundane things when nobody’s looking.” 
—Susan True

Game on, we are back in training. Today my training partner and I headed over to the Pico Pool for a long pool workout, after a lackluster attempt at running yesterday I was weary as to how this workout would unfold. As soon as we each took our lanes we set off on doing 1000 meter sets. I can tell you if you haven’t experienced it, swimming laps is not the most interesting of workouts, but it gives your mind a lot of time to run through all sort of thoughts.

One of the largest questions that keeps arising from people around me is, Why? My answer to them is always, Why Not? It seems that no one is able to give me an solid answer why not after I return their question. There are millions of reasons why to do the things I do; physical fitness, exploring limits, pushing boundries, finding new challenges, really I could go on for hours, but I always return to the same return, Why Not?


I recently submitted my essay for the 2012 Death Race if you are interested in reading it here is the link, https://www.youmaydie.com/essay/margaret-schlachter/. I have become friends with the race directors so that’s the second part of the essay but really it all comes down to why not. I was told by Andy Weinburg, one of the race directors, in an email exchange after I sent him the essay, “Are you sure you want to do the Death Race?  I don’t think you’ll like it.” 

My response back, “I know I am probably not going to like it, its fine. I do a lot of things I don’t like, actually hate and still manage to make it through and push on. I know I probably won’t finish, so I just shouldn’t show up, it will be horrible, I will probably get injured, or something else, but in the end it’s worth a try. I also know come spring time you and Joe will stop talking to me and I will be blacklisted. I know all these things and yet still signed up to do it. Better to have tried and failed then not tried at all and regretted it. But that’s for next spring and that’s a ways away.” 

As I swam lap after lap today the thoughts of just why do what I do boiled to the surface and the only answer I have is: I do this because it is who I am, it is who I want to be. The hours I spend sweating, pounding trails, pavement or any other surface, loosing toenails, ice baths, epson salts, many many blisters, fighting demons in my head, even the night terrors are all worth it as for the first time in a long time I am at ease with who I am and where I am in life. 

The moments between breaths, the early morning training sessions, the late night hikes, the hours out on the road or trail alone allow for a sense of clarity and a reconnection with myself. It is the work put in when no one is looking and no one cares that helps define who I really am.

As I pressed on today, Jason and I in the same pool, but truly in our own worlds, him prepping for his double Ironman, me trying to get my training back on track to make the last push before the World’s Toughest Mudder, it really came to me, it is within these moments that we find the joys in training and find comfort in the solitude the water provides.

For those interested in what my workout really entailed. I swam about 3,800 meters or around 2.25 miles. My final swim time was 1:15. In the last set, which turned into 800 instead of 1000, I was keeping on Jason’s breaks, I felt myself grow more and more tired, and my body slowed rapidly. I just kept pushing on and felt myself in the moment of truth. 

I had wanted to give up after the third set but knew I had one more last push in me. As I exited the pool and Jason continued to swim, I knew I pushed hard today. I quickly sat down in the shower once I hit the locker room because standing wasn’t an option anymore. It is in these moments I find satisfaction, no one needs to see this satisfaction, I don’t need a medal or a high five. Me alone in a shower, just having pushed my body to a new level, that is success, at least for today.
Tomorrow it is time to create new quiet personal successes, because in the end, Why Not?