Friday, February 22, 2008

The 25 yard Hurt Box

Before I get going on my Tri Blogger Swim Challenge, I just wanted to give a great big GOOD LUCK to Liz at the Desert Classic Duathlon, Kellye on her 10K, and Beth on her 10-miler. Wow - you guys are hardcore! And to Ryan - IF you choose to race out in New Orleans this weekend, may your legs be swift and calm winds be at your back. Personally, I hope you show up at the Blackwater Trail at 8:30 am for tomorrow's ride... as I'm looking for some speedy (BIG) people to block the wind for me.

Hope that I got everyone who is racing, if not - so sorry! It was not me, rather it was all the chlorine from my swim challenge today... I'm still a little fuzzy and could swear earlier that the clock at the gym was moving backwards... But good luck to you as well!

And now for my Swim Challenge: 40 X 100!

Today dawned partially sunny, humid, and with the promise of thunderstorms in the air. Upon walking in to Running Wild (local run store), I could see the clouds piling up to our Southwest. After leaving the grocery store and hour later, the temperature was a heavy 82. The humidity was thick in the air, and dark clouds were rapidly amassing. No thunder, no lightning - just the promise of big storms in the not-too-distant future.

Driving home, I was downright worried about getting the entire 40 X 100 set in before the storm blew up. I was scheduled to meet Ludi at 1 pm, and figured after our usual chitchat, I would be in the car by 2:30 or so....

Please please please, oh weather gods, don't explode until 2:31!!! Please please please. I don't want my set to be interrupted, in spite of what I'll be thinking DURING the set. I just want to get everything done in the time allowed. Please please please don't break out the lightning until after I'm done. Better yet, wait until I'm in the relative safety of my car. Then you can Crash all you want... just please let me get in my swim.

Oddly enough, this was a new, rather pleasant feeling...

A year ago, I would have hoped that my swim get cancelled by thunder. Heck - four weeks ago (before the coaching change!) I would have looked for any excuse to not get to the pool. The workouts were boring, the same 10 repeated time and time again. It was stale, it was monotonous, and I wasn't assertive enough, didn't know enough to expect any different. So I just went along with it - hoping and praying that every time I went to swim, the pool would be closed.

Lifeguard on strike? A-Okay!

Pool chemicals out of whack? Not a problem!

Pool deck filled with Girl Scouts practicing their swimming qualifications? Be my guest - and you can complete MY swim while you're at it! Thanks!

But recently, between Jen's workouts and my Masters Practice, I've loved the pool. I don't mind waking up at 4:30 am to jump into the pool. Breath sets that make me pee? Ha - I'm there! Swimming - nay, swimming, biking, running, functional work - is fun again, and I feel like a different athlete. I'm learning new things about myself in the process, and growing leaps and bounds. It isn't always easy (today's swim a prime example), but even Nathaniel - who is flying, studying, reading, or preparing to fly - has noticed a complete change in me.

Over dinner, he made the following comment, "I think you're a little more tired from the volume of training, but it’s a good tired. You're not trashed from too much intensity. You're challenged and you're doing what you love in the way you love doing it. I have never seen you so happy about triathlon, happy in general..."

Aw shucks - what a great guy. And this was after my Monster Swim Challenge.

Long story short, after nearly crashing my car in anticipation of the workout (I was trying to get a parking space next to Ludi, and some idiot driver decided to park his van in the middle of the parking lot - stupid!), I met Ludi. After a quick stop to pick up water for her, we made our way on to the pool deck.

I wasted no time. Didn't poke my toe in the water. Didn't make endless trips between my gear and pool lane. Didn't obsessively adjust my goggles. After saying "farewell," to Ludi, I hoped in and completed my 200 warm up.



Its the warm up, silly! It's supposed to be. Sigh...

Before starting my 40 X 100, I had done some strategic thinking about how I wanted to arrange myself during the set. As I'm not the best lap-counter (ahem - small cough), and this was 40 X 100, I knew that counting would be the key.

Dude - if I'm going to swim 40 100s, I'm not going to inadvertently swim 41. OR 39 - now THAT would be a nightmare!

I quickly arranged my pull buoy, my two zoomer fins, and my two yellow paddles at the end of my lane. After each 100, I would simply move them individually in one direction, and then after hitting five, move them back the other way. I figured this would be pretty easy, as Jen had broken down my 40 X 100 into 4 X (10 X 100) on various rest intervals. As long as I had time to reset my watch (no pool clock from where I was) and move said item left or right, I would be good-to-go.


That sounds like a lot of work to do - okay on the 1:30 or higher.... but on the 1:25, 1:20, and dare I say on the 3 X 1:15... would this method seem reasonable?

Only time would tell.

Before I set out on my journey, Ludi mentioned that she would try to join me for a few of the sets, but she wanted to follow her workout as well.

"Girl, I am here for you, moral support - to be here when it gets tough. No worries - you can hit your splits. Just go! Don't worry about me, just do your times, and you will be awesome." She winked at me, gave me a big hug, and we were soon underway.

The first 10 X 100 felt decent. Not so bad.... I though while completing the fifth. I was swimming conservatively, not on a really fast rest interval, because Jen had organized my splits so that I gradually negative splitted the entire thing. Legs were a little tired, but overall things felt smooth. Now wasn't the time to bust out a 1:10 on the first 100. Or even the second.

In the battle of the tortoise and the hare, for this workout I was starting off as the tortoise, but rationalized that somewhere in the mix (probably in the last 1200 or so), I would have to transfigure myself in to the hare.

Perhaps Dumbledore could help...?

(Rest assured, he did).

After my 6th 100, I realized how utterly ridiculous my pull buoy-zoomer-paddle method was. Too much energy and time to think! I was forgetting which one I had moved, and it was way too much effort for something I should be able to do myself. So with the amazing mind-power I have, I decided then-and-there, at the 700, that I would keep track in my head, using my watch and Jen’s rest interval splits.

Before you fall out of your chair laughing... hear me out.

Jen had me mix up how many 100s I swam on a particular split (never more than 4). So as long as I could keep track of how many 1:25s, vs 1:30s I was swimming, I was pretty much set.

And you know what? It worked!

I encountered a little more pain during the 2nd set of 10 X 100, but it wasn't horrible. I kept rationalizing though - that the fast, hare-like stuff, wouldn’t come until the final 1200 or 1300 - just be patient. Legs still felt a little heavy, but after my 3 hour trainer ride yesterday, this wasn’t a big surprise.

And sure enough, at 2500, I began to experience Dumbledore. It was especially nasty when I inhaled a mouthful of chlorinated water instead of air, and proceeded to suck it all into my lungs. Luckily I had only 3 strokes to the side; otherwise I would have (literally) tossed my cookies in the pool.

Thank God I made it to the gutter (and that there were no witnesses!)

The Erin Baker's Breakfast Cooke - Pumpkin Spice flavor - which I SO LOVE, came up, chlorinated water and all. After a few coughs, I managed to catch my breath and finished the remaining 25 of the set. Needless to say, I didn't make my split time, but pushed off at the: 30 instead of the: 20 (close!)

I powered my way through the final 100s of the third set, came so close to hitting my 1:15 (made a 1:18), and then started in on my final 10 X 100.

Time to bite down, dig deep, HTFU, seek out Dumbledore, and nail this set!

My legs were burning and I could feel my arms, heavy and tense. Inwardly, I laughed at my innocent suggestion to Jen about assigning me 50 X 100 instead of the 40 X 100s. Part of me really wanted to do the additional 10 X 100, but the other part of me wondered if I could even hold my assigned splits for the final 10 of 40 X 100. I had no choice, except to swim.

No question, no fret, no worries - just swim.

But I was worried.

Out of the corner of my eye, I could see the deep purple and blue clouds, piling up against the SW sky. The clouds were furious, and the humidity hung low over the pool. At any moment, it appeared that the sky would release all of her fury: I just hoped she gave me 15 minutes to finish my work...

The first 3 of the set were at 1:30 - simple enough for me. I found myself relaxing, especially after my 1:15 effort, and soon found my groove. Even though I swam roughly the same splits for my 1:30 rest interval and 1:25 rest interval (1:20/1:21 each), my swimming felt so much more efficient, relaxed, steady during my 1:30. Not because I was going slower, but I wasn't so rushed or worried about the rest interval. I was calmer about making my split, and that sense of calm affected my stroke in a positive manner.


The final 5 were all on guts and glory. I was supposed to swim 3 at 1:20 and then conclude my 40 X 100 with 2 @ 1:15. The 1:20s were painful, with barely a second or two of rest, but the 1:15s were an all out suffer fest. My lower back felt stiff as I powered clumsily through the water. It felt as though Dumbledore was enjoying his ride, as I swam the exact same 1:19/1:18 but with such a greater effort.

My legs were dead - left somewhere on the other side. I had stopped feeling my arms around 3300. And my stomach was - truly - in the pool gutter.

But I finished. I didn't loose count. And I completed my challenge. Hooray!

It wasn't pretty, and it certainly wasn't easy - but I did it. I learned that I could hold 1:20-1:22 pretty consistently, regardless of the rest interval. Not as fast as the speedy-people out there, but a good start nonetheless. I learned that I still love Pumpkin Spice cookies, even though I lost them a few hours ago... And I found that having another person in your lane, cheering you on while you complete your challenge, can make all the difference in the world (thanks Ludi!)

More importantly, though - I learned that I love swimming and I love a challenge. For so long I've been doing the exact same thing, day in day out. Hard as they are, Jen and her workouts are simply amazing. Never have I walked into the pool and hoped that the thunder would hold out. Today was the first time since moving to Florida, that I hoped the storm would hold off – and to my relief, it did. Moreover, I was happy and excited while walking onto the pool deck.

Well – what do you know?

And I learned that its okay to not always hit my splits: that's why it’s called a challenge. If it was easy the first time, then what's the point? Now I have a goal to work towards: absolutely nail my 1:15s. And I can't wait! Rain or shine, count me in.

Here's to the Tri Blogger Swim Challenge (thank you Danielle!), discovering our new old selves, setting new goals, and almost hitting our splits.

And next time, well - you never know. I may just go for the 50 X 100...
Without thunder, of course.


Pedergraham said...

Way to go!!! I am so glad that you got your challenge done and that you are feeling so good about swimming.

I've spent a lot of time in a hotel room over the past two days, which means that I've had access to a TV, and every time I look at the Weather Channel, they are showing a huge thunderstorm right over Pensacola.

Marit Chrislock-Lauterbach said...

Kinda makes me feel like Charlie Brown, eh? (Or whatever the character was who had the raincloud over his head at all times... :)

Today is supposed to be beautiful, rain free (knock on wook), sunny, and bright. Perfect for a long ride!

Beth said...

GREAT job Marit!! Tough set and way to nail it!! Next time those 1:15s are yours! Have a great ride today!

Ness said...

Awesome job, Marit! That's a tough set and you hung in there!
I have to admit I was reading this blog entry with the most puzzled look on my face thinking: "why wouldn't she be able to swim if there was a storm??". Then it dawned on me that people in Florida probably swim OUTSIDE in February! Wow.
Hope the weather is perfect for your ride today.

Mira Lelovic said...

I'm in awe, that was awesome! But I won't eat Pumpkin Spice BBC anytime soon :-)
Yes, March 2nd is my 1/2 marathon. I'll be expecting all those fast vibes from the HTFU camp in SC!

Anonymous said...

Hee hee....LOVE IT Marit! Excellent job! :) I am sure it was tough...but that is good and what you needed...and look how great you did! I loved reading the details of it too...we both did our Challenge Sets yesterday - TOO bad we couldn't do it together! Jen H.

Anonymous said...

Well done Marit! You should be very proud of your hard work! Those 1:15's will be nothin' next time.

I hate to admit this but I'm with Jen. I thought "They close the pool when it storms?" Duh! I felt really stuid. You are so lucky to be swimming outside in February!!!

Mel said...

Wahoooo Marit....good job on completing the CHALLENGE!!! Hope you are getting nice and rested up ;)

Kellye Mills said...

That's awesome Marit!! You are such an inspiration for me, and I carried you along with me on my run today!! Thanks for being there for me!!

Stay Dry and remember... Better safe than sorry! :)

Anonymous said...

well done! sets like that will make the swim in the races feel easy.