My prostate gets wet

Day 1 of Swims With My Prostate.  I’m already in pretty good shape, and swim 1000-1200 yards pretty hard several times a week.  But the main goal in my preparations to not totally humiliate myself in the Cap2K is to build up a lot more distance during my pool sessions.  I hate swimming uninterrupted lap after lap in the pool, so I’ve taken a page out of my run training book and broken it down into shorter intervals swum at a faster pace than normal.  Up until today, after warming up with 3 X 250 of kick and stroke work, I’ve just been swimming 8-10 50’s on a minute split, which has become pretty easy now.  But the thought of swimming more is intimidating, especially after I saw the local Masters group’s workout up on the whiteboard at the Y:  32 X 25, 16 X 50, 8 X 100, 4 X 200, 2 X 400, and 1 X 800, for a total of 4,800 yards.  Ok, so, maybe I have some work to do.  But I like the structure of halving the reps and doubling the distances, so that’s where I’ll start.  Did my 8 X 50’s, then added on 4 X 100’s, and it was pretty mild.  Went to the outdoor pool at the Oakhill YMCA, which is pretty cool because this is the end of February and the weather was great, combined with having the pool exclusively to myself.

A pool of one's own

What is wrong with people?  My major complaint with swimming is the whole dynamic of fighting for a lane, which is so unlike running.  Most people are pretty nice, but a week doesn’t go by that I don’t run into some old guy (or woman) who feels they need the entire lane to themselves, or a couple that swims a 100 and then stands there talking in the pool for five minutes.  But that wasn’t the issue today, and the lifeguard was so bored that he took the time to coach me a little, and encouraged me to shorten my rests between splits.  I felt great after my 100’s, but I’m in this for the long haul, and am going to build up slowly and methodically.

I didn’t finish my story about my formal introduction to my prostate.  So we returned home from the vacation, and I let my wife in on my little secret.  I needed no encouragement to get a doctor’s appointment, and quickly began researching the issue on the internet while I awaited my visit.  The most encouraging news was that all the bad stuff that can happen down there is going to result in really dark blood, and mine was very bright red.  Plus, I have no family history of prostate problems, so in the few days leading up to my appointment I began to worry much less.  But every morning, there was still a lot of blood.  I went to my family doctor, who I honestly don’t see very often.  When I first moved to Austin and initially went in for a general checkup about ten years ago, he looked at me and said “why the heck are you here?”  I’m pretty healthy looking.  But he didn’t say anything like that once I told him about the blood shooting out my butt, and being aware that I am over fifty, we both understood that it was time to whip out the rubber gloves and drop my drawers.  I have to give the guy credit:  his skills were amazing.  The procedure was done and over in the blink of an eye, almost a magician’s trick leaving me in doubt that he had really done what he appeared to be doing.  He said that he didn’t find anything unusual, and we both had that shy hesitancy to look each other in the eye afterward that reminded me of teenagers at the end of a first date.  But the blood was of enough concern to bring out the big guns and schedule me for a colonoscopy, which is a whole other kettle of fish.  More on this in my next posts.

Swimming with my prostate

I will be swimming the Cap2K open water swim race on May 5 this year.  I put that out there now, because between now and then I will have multiple opportunities to back out:  I don’t have time to train, I haven’t put in enough yardage, I’m not that great a swimmer, I don’t want to die, blah, blah, blah.  But even right now, I know I could at least complete the race without further training (there is a one hour time limit), so all those excuses are irrelevant.  If I say publicly I’m going to do it often enough, the chances are pretty good that I will carry through.  I am a silly, proud man.

The Cap2K is a pledge swim in support of prostate cancer research, as well as being an open water swim down Town Lake.  I know a little about swimming, and a little about prostates, so this blog will be a celebration of both.

I learned to swim very young in Dallas, Texas, but was never particularly gifted.  In college, my enjoyment of running eventually morphed into the sickness of triathlons, and that was my first exposure to competitive open water races.  Happily, triathlons being composed of three events, my poor showing in the swim was always more than compensated for by my cycling and running performances.  It was the event I had to get through so that I could begin to really race once I got out of the water.

By a strange series of events, I spent 16 years working as a scuba instructor, making over 5000 ocean dives and spending most of my day in the water.  Scuba diving is not swimming, but you do acquire a very intimate relationship with water.  Being a fairly skinny dude, I sink like a rock, but I am very comfortable in the water.

On the other hand, I never had much reason to develop a relationship with my prostate.  I was aware that as I approached 50, it was recommended that I receive an annual prostate exam.  But like most men, I’m sure, I had some kind of ridiculous reluctance to have a total stranger stick his finger up my butt, medical degree or no.  That reluctance immediately disappeared the morning after arriving with my family at a vacation cabin on the Guadalupe River.  It was a several hours long drive, but the next morning I felt fine.  I like to start my free days slowly, so I was happy to quietly get up before everyone else, tip-toe into the bathroom, and take a seat.  I was immediately surprised to hear and feel an enormous rush of liquid shooting out my backside.  I felt fine, so diarrhea was unexpected.  But the real surprise was standing up to take a look, and finding the toilet full of my beautiful, bright red blood, and nothing else.  It doesn’t take much knowledge to understand that there is never a good reason to have blood shooting out your ass.

Not wanting to ruin the vacation by informing my wife, who foolishly loves me without limits and would immediately send me to the emergency room, I kept the blood as my little secret for the five days we were on the river.  But the day we returned, I had ample opportunity to learn all about my prostate.