The Joy Of S


I have never been much of a swimmer. Only once in my life had swimming ever been a part of my regular exercise routine. That once was 20+ years ago when I figured that I could finish a triathlon as long as I didn’t drown during the first leg since I was running regularly and I knew how to  ride a bike. Over the past few years I would get in the pool once every few months.

The last 4 weeks I have made it to the pool each week. So where is the Joy you ask?

The first time,  I was barely able to swim a lap. After every lap I had to stop and catch my breadth. For me, swimming a lap is equivalent to out-and-out sprinting — even though I am and will always be the slowest swimmer in the pool. (Old ladies, 4 year olds and people working on their dead man float all pass me.)

So where is the joy?

Four weeks later and I am up from 10 laps to fourteen. I still have to catch my breadth between most laps but I twice went 1.5 laps and once completed 2. The beginning of Joy.

Then came today. In case you don’t know, it is cold and full of snow in Chicago. But today I swam outside. Fourteen laps. All it took was a 4 hour plane ride and an hour in a car. I am just outside of Key Largo. I will be here for less than a day. It is a business trip. I will then have a 6 hour trip back home.

However, for 30 minutes I got to swim outdoors in the middle of February.

The Joy of swimming.

Beach Walking

Beach walking is a major recreational activity in Punta Cana. The miles long, uninterrupted beach comprised of soft white sand draw you into beach walking. At any moment in time, dozens of people are walking along our beach.

There are two styles of beach walkers. The most common type strolls along the beach soaking up the sun, the sights the smells and may occasionally jump into the ocean. The vast majority of strollers are couples, many hand-in-hand. Strollers are already relaxed into the rhythms of the island. There is no destination, no concern of time or place, only feeling and being.

The second style of beach walker exercises. They are motoring down the beach not unaware of their surroundings but willing to settle for a fast forward version of the people and other sights around them. For them aerobics trump aesthetics. This is not a put down of this form of beach walking, not at all. These people would otherwise be at a track, running path or on a treadmill if they were not here. For them, this comes down to doing what they will be doing in a tropical surrounding. The sun, sand and people still magnify and enhance the experience 10 fold.

The exercise walker is a distant cousin of the beach runner. In my youth before the impact of too many pounds dragged across too many miles took this joy away from me. I typically was at a beach a year from my late twenties to late thirties and called myself an avid beach runner. For a boy from the Midwest, running on a long beach in the dead of winter was a slice of heaven.

Beach running brings together beautiful environment and freedom. You are in shorts, no shirt and your feet are bare. The freedom is hard to describe beyond the lack of constraints of shoes. Maybe it is being in this otherworldly place that makes each stride feel freer than running on a path. I am sure that it as much psychological as physical.

On the best beaches the sand is smooth. You run but it is almost as if you are gliding, moving effortlessly, feeling the warm of the sun, playing in and out of the waves and seeing the sunlight shimmer on the thin layer of salt water as it rolls back to the ocean. Because the sand nearest the ocean can be hard, I would play with the timing of the waves as I ran. You want to hit the next step just after the water has washed over the sand softening it just enough. There is always the soft sand further away from the water but this takes effort and reduces speed, therefore nullifying much of the experience.

(By the way, the art of beach running has no room for people running in socks and running shoes who happen to be on the beach. I have nothing to say other than these people should immediately seek serious psychological counseling. The urgency is that it may take many years to relieve them of their deep seated problems.)


Back to beach walking. In our week in Punta Cana we experienced both types of beach walking. My wife’s stroll pace is faster than my exercise pace. Some walks were together and others alone. When alone I could stroll and she could motor. Together we strollecised. The third style of beach walking.

Next $1 Million Idea

My friend Jeff and I misspent a good part of high school trying to think up the next idea that would make us fabulously wealthy. In the mid-1970s, $1 million qualified.

Here is my latest.

 I am going to develop an exercise routine for travellers stranded in airports and on planes. The content will be a videos in hi-def which can be a DVD for your laptop, downloaded as a podcast or sent directly to your phone.

Of course there will be attractive men and women demonstrating the exercises but instead of being outfitted in tight spandex, some will be in business casual and others in full business attire. There will be two versions. One for those wanting to be relatively unobtrusive or have limited space. These travel warriors will be doing yoga positions and related stretches modified in ways that they will blend into an already fidgety group of strangers tired of waiting…and waiting …and waiting. For the more gregarious around us there will be a set of wild gyrations sure to get your mojo working.

 I am in early stage development looking for angel invested. Interested? 

Going to the Gym

Since the biking season ended I put on a quick 8 pounds. I feel like crap and I look 10 months pregnant. Time to start doing something about it. I’ll let you know what happens.

What are the odds of dropping 8 pounds today and keeping them off?