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.
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