Monday, July 11, 2005

The Y

I've always liked our downtown YMCA. It's an older building, tall and made of brown brick, carved up on the inside into lots of floors, hallways, stairwells and funny little rooms, some with colorful old mosaics, murals and interesting exposed piping. You never quite forget you're in an old building and you can get turned around in there pretty easily.

But what I like best is that it reminds me of the YWCA in Muncie, which is architecturally similar. One summer when I was a kid, my mother enrolled me in a day camp at the Muncie Y. We did a lot of fun things there. We played games and did sports during the morning, ate our lunches (brought from home) in a dark, funky room in the basement, then spent the afternoon doing crafts. Some of those crafts would be considered too dangerous for kids today because they involved wires and hot plastic. But I guess we had better sense than modern kids because no one got hurt and we all had a great time.

Our summer program also included swimming lessons. Unfortunately for me, I was prone to ear and throat infections and could not participate. In the '70s they didn't put tubes in a kid's ears, they just said to stay out of the water. So I and about a half dozen other kids who also couldn't get in the water for one reason or another would sit in the bleachers and watch the other kids swim. (The pool area was huge, with multiple pools and stadium seating.) During the swim lessons we non-swimmers were under the guardianship of a wonderful young man whose name I no longer remember. He was the first black man I had ever met and although I had been told by my father that black people were no different from anyone else, I felt pretty sure Daddy was wrong-- this guy was better! He told us jokes and stories. He taught us rhymes, tongue-twisters and games involving pieces of string. He taught us songs, too:

Jeremiah was a bullfrog,
He was a good friend of mine…

I don't know who this guy was and I have no idea what ever happened to him, but I wish there were a way I could pick up the phone and call him. I would tell him that he was the most fun ever and he kept a lot of four and five year olds from feeling sad while our friends got to splash in the water. He made us feel like we were the lucky ones. I would tell him that it took thirty years, but I finally learned how to swim and I do triathlons now. I would tell him I've never forgotten him and that he has a special place in my heart.

Joy to the world,
All the boys and girls.
Joy to the fishies in the deep blue sea,
Joy to you and me.

Recent Workouts
Sunday: 90 minutes bike, Spinervals 5.0 Mental Toughness
Monday: 45 minutes core and strength training, 5 mile run


Flatman said...

What a cool post. There are many people in my life like this that I have come across. If there were only some way to get a hold of them...surely it would brighten their day if they knew what a difference they made in our lives!

Wil said...

I really agree with Flatman on this, I so wish that I could gather everyone up who has made a difference for me...maybe I'll try to make a list and slowly but surely write them all a letter or something.

Hey, thanks for the inspiration!!!

shrimplate said...

I used to work from 0600 to 1400, then jump into the car and drive to nursing school. Before classes I'd do intervals of 5 minutes hard followed by 15 seconds rest jogs. I'd do 10 of these and then change into clothes in the bathroom of the snack bar before grabbing a bite and going to class, way mellowed out.

Long runs of 21 miles on weekends.

I'd run at Boston in the spring and train for some shorter race in the fall, like the old Fort-to-Fort 30K in northern New York, or a big 10K.

I only ran because I didn't have a bike and I sunk when I swam.

You must be pretty good!

Anyways, it taught me how to "try." No pun intended.

I met my wife, the great love of my life, in a running club.

I always felt that endurance training made quite a difference in who I am, and also brought me a leprechaun's kind of personal luck. You probably feel the same way. I hope so, anyway.