Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Swim training

Most of you know that I have been competing in triathlons in the summers for the past several years. There is actually a Hannover triathlon the first weekend in September. And there is a Hannover triathlon club.

Amateur sports here happen on a club level. Other than at the International School, there are no school sports. Kids, adults, anyone who wants to compete in something joins a club team. So when I learned about the Hannover 96 Triathlon Club, I looked into it and sent them an email. It's important to know before you read on that I never joined any sort of tri club back home. Partly because it's expensive and partly because I don't really like triathlon people. Actually the women are usually ok, but the guys are a little socially awkward, really into their gadgets and heart monitors and GPS watches, and say things like "I run 9 miles on my treadmill every night after my kids go to bed while I watch documentaries about bike engineering. Then I spend two hours on Play Station before bed." These are the kinds of guys I attracted in high school and college too. Thank goodness Brian came along.

Even though I knew the same kinds of people might be in the Hannover tri club, I thought it would be a good way to learn some new bike routes and get coaching on my swim technique, as well as a chance to practice speaking German. So I emailed them, in English and German (thanks, Google Translate). It turns out the price was not too high and they invited me to come to a swimming session to try it out. The weird thing is that they swim from 9-10pm on Tuesdays and Fridays. So after German class ended a couple of Tuesdays ago, I went off the the pool. I was nervous. I was nervous because I didn't know if any of them would speak English and I didn't want to have no idea what was happening in German. I was nervous because I don't think I have ever been swimming continuously for an hour. I was nervous because I am usually getting ready for bed at that time of night, not working out. I was nervous about biking home in the cold and dark. There were many excuses available but I decided to go anyway.

I headed to the pool after German class. I waited and waited and the team never came. I was at the wrong pool. In the complex where the Hannover 96 soccer team practices, there are actually two pools and I had gone to the wrong one. So last night I tried again. I was still nervous but not as much as before. When I got there and I was the only woman waiting and the coach talked to me entirely in German and I caught about 30% of what he said. Then I was scared. But I was in too deep (sorry, bad pun) to turn back so I put my suit on and headed out to the pool. It got better. The coach sat down with me and told me, in English, what lane I should be in and what the workout would be. A few other women showed up. And I was able to do the workout - mostly. I am not good at backstroke so that was a bit of a disaster, but otherwise it went ok. The coach talked in German the rest of the time but they were short phrases with some hand motions to go with them so I was ok. The other people there didn't really talk to me. I don't know if it's because they are German and therefore not outgoing, or because they could tell I didn't speak much German or what. But I was able to keep up and got home safely around 10:30.

I didn't talk to the guys much but I did spot one heart monitor and a few fancy waterproof watches. There may have been some conversations about Play Station, but I couldn't understand them.

I am getting better at doing things that make me scared and uncomfortable. There are a lot of opportunities for that since we moved here. (Yesterday I successfully bought parmesan cheese from the deli counter at the grocery store. I even knew about how many grams to ask for! There's no shredded parmesan here, you just do it yourself. Sorry for the tangent).

I hoped after last night it would be clear to me whether I should join the tri club or not, but it isn't. The pros of joining are that I could practice speaking German a little, my swimming would improve, and I might learn new bike routes. There is an outside chance that I would meet people I like. The cons are that the schedule is weird and I like to work out in the middle of the day now that I am not working full-time. The other cons are that I can see myself not really want to go to training, but feeling like I should go because I've paid for it and it's good for me. I might also feel awkward while I'm there.

So I will open it up for your votes and comments. Comment on the blog if you like ( I think you log in with your gmail address or create a google login) or send me an email with your thoughts.


  1. ze germans say you must work out very haad all de time.

  2. Go for the tri club. Fitness and improved German: a two-fer!


About Me

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Thanks for coming to my blog. It started as a way to keep in touch with family and friends, and now has become an ongoing project. I'm an American living in Germany and trying to travel whenever I can. I write about my experiences as an expatriate (the interesting ones and the embarrassing ones), and about my travels. There are some recurring characters in this blog, particularly my husband Brian and several of our friends. The title comes from the idea that living in a foreign country means making a lot of mistakes. So the things you used to do easily you now have to try over and over again. Hopefully, like me, you can laugh at how idiotic it feels. If you have happened upon my blog, then welcome. Knowing that people are reading what I write makes me keep going. Feel free to write comments or suggestions for future posts.