Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Toasted at 2500

Sometimes you have workouts that are hard.

And then, there are other times when you have workouts that are really hard.

And the absolute worst? Those workouts that look not-that-bad, but deep down, you know they will totally and absolutely kick your butt.

They are innocently deceptive. To the casual onlooker, no "biggie". But to the workout-doer, a completely different story. A snot-filled, arm-quivering, I'm-not-sure-I'll-make-this-but-I-know-my-coach-won't-kill-me-right?-kind of workout.

I had one of those in the pool the other day.

The workout looked innocent enough. That should have been the giveaway. Well, that coupled with Jen's comments at the end, "Only 2400 today, but you can do more if you feel up to it. But no more than 3k..."

Those words - if you feel up to it - were the kiss of death.

And looking at the workout, it's not like I'm doing 500s, or 1000s, or God-forbid 200s (I have a fear of those). It was only 100s. 15 of them to be exact. But the rest interval time was generous and I had a whopping "50 easy kick" in between every 5 100s.

Written next to the 100s were the simple words: very fast.

Very. Fast.

Very Fast.

Okay, okay - you get the point.

And after the first set of 5 X 100, my goal for the second and third sets of 5 X 100s was to "hold first set pace."

Not swim almost as fast as the first set.

Nor swim close to first set time.

But Hold First Set Pace.

Gotcha Coach. Allright. I know that you won't do anything that will intentionally harm me. And that everything you write, you do because you want to push me, but also think I can handle it... So here goes.

First few 100s were done right at and then below my T-Pace. So far, so good. I wasn't dead yet, nor did the pool lifeguard feel that my life was in any danger. I may have alarmed the gentleman in the lane next to me with my Dark-Vadar-like breathing - but I was swimming very fast. So it's acceptable.

And before you get your knickers in a bunch, realize that I wasn't holding a very tight interval. In fact, for the first set my rest was :20 per 100. For the second it was :30, and then during the final set a whopping :40. Just enough to stop hyperventilating before I took off to repeat.

I arrived at the end of my first 5 X 100 pretty much intact. No - I wasn't dead, wasn't gasping for air or flopping on the deck in agony. But I didn't reach for my flippers to aid my kick either.... I took my sweet time with my 50 kick. My neighbor - the one doing the elementary back stroke on his front - may have passed me. But I'll never admit it.

Second set started, and yep - there was the fatigue. But on the first interval, I managed to come in two seconds faster than my T-pace. So there was a reason to the lack-of-breath and quivering legs. And now that I had lowered the bar, I was bound and determined to hold my pace there.

There are few times, I rationalized, that I have the opportunity to swim this fast, or to do a workout like this. I might as well make it the best possible...

And yes, I managed to have that thought within the span of my :30 rest interval. So off I went. The arms continued to protest, and with each and every push off the wall after a flip turn, I could feel my quads tightening up. But for the next 4 100s, I managed to hold my time to one second faster than my T-pace.

I was on a roll. But also concerned about what my body could handle.

During my second (and thankfully final) 50 second uber-slow kick, I reminded myself that workouts like this don't come very often for me. Make it count.

Pain is temporary. Pride is forever.

Which is the slogan that I see on a lot of Marines's shirts at the gym. A little cliche, if you ask me... but when you're in a situation where the phrase is truly tested, it is more than appropriate. Trust me.

The final 5 X 100 were like no other. I set off with a time two seconds below my T-pace, and then repeated it for the second. It was during the 13th and 14th repeat that I felt my body systematically shutting down.

Fingertips?

Don't need those.

What about back muscles?

Nope, not those either.

And the quads?

Long gone.

But in spite of the uncontrollably fast pace, the lack of sensation in my quads, and my really really really loud breathing, I managed to complete my set in under my original time. Yes, the wizard jumped on my back, and afterwards if I had been forced to outswim a shark attack (hey - they DO have chlorine sharks, right? They live on the other side of the grates at the end of the deep end, right??? They're the reason why I hate being in the pool alone...they are there. And they're waiting for that overly-tired swimmer who won't put up a fight...), I would have been a goner.

I grabbed the kick board for my 100 kick cool down and my legs felt oddly detached. The arms were much much worse. I ended with a 300 pull. Again - I may have been passed by Mr. Front Stroking Elementary Back Stroker, but I can't be sure. I was just trying to move forward without sinking.

So there you have it: I was toasted at 2500 yards. High quality and very fast yards, thank-you-very-much. But that was the thing about this workout: I didn't want to look back or write up my account in Training Peaks and lament what I didn't do. Pain really was temporary and my pride at completing the workout in the times my coach had set for me was, well, forever.

And the really great thing? Next time I have a really hard workout on my schedule, I'll be able to look back at this one and realize that I could do it. I did do it. And even though I had to use a ladder to get out of the pool at the end of the swim, inside I felt like a little kid, jumping up and down and waving her arms in glee.

And I can't wait to find that feeling again.

11 comments:

BreeWee said...

LOVE it, short and sweet. Nice job getting your @$$ handed to you by your coach, you gotta love it though and gotta LOVE that you made it! Way to go... and I like the new blog look!!

rr said...

I got out at 2500 today - bet you don't have an IM in three weeks though! :) Nice job, you swam way harder than I.. I was just bored!

She's back!!

Pedergraham said...

Nice swim. The short, but fast ones are the hardest for me, mentally and physically. I guess I am still a distance swimmer at heart.
I like the imagery of Mr. Front Stroking Elementary Backstroker. Not quite sure how you do that but I will try next time I am in the pool. (No swimming now for 2 weeks. I am still congested from a cold and determined to not get another sinus infection in 2008.)

Beth said...

Yay Marit!!! Such a great feeling isn't it? (not during the workout of course...but after...once you realized that you nailed it!) I love the short, fast ones!! And I had to laugh at the front stroking elementary backstroker. I think we have a few of those at my pool too. And they have definitely stroked right past me on occasion! :) Have a great day!

TriGirl Kate O said...

Way to go, Marit! I also have fears of lurking creatures under grates in the pool...

Terri said...

Love the new look of the blog! Nice job on your workout - there are workouts and then there are WORKOUTS!

Terri

Ashley said...

OMG - I actually miss swimming. Your description makes me want to go jump in a pool. Great job Ms HTFU

Courtenay said...

omg. great post! and i feel like a jackass for adding a few extra seconds rest during my workout today ;). next time, no way. thanks for the inspiration to get 'er done. you are awesome!!

Mel said...

Ya scared BUT YOU DID IT!!! I think the old/new Marit is back I can tell by your writing:) You have been through so much and you are such a inspiration to people to NOT give up the fight:) I LOVE the pool photo!!!

Greg Remaly said...

sounds like a great workout - reading about it made me almost miss swimming! keep it up, kiddo!

Bob Mitera said...

Marit - I have 20 x 100 on 1:30 tomorrow for the first time in a while...not planning on eating much before this swim.

It will be ugly.

Hang in there kid!