Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Implosion

Implode: /im-'plod/ (def) a: to burst inward b: to undergo violent compression 2: to collapse inward as if from external pressure; also : to become greatly reduced as if from collapsing3: to break down or fall apart from within : SELF-DESTRUCT.

Which is pretty much what happened on my swim today.

And it was brilliant.

Hey, if you're going to go down, you might as well do so in a blaze of glory, right? No regrets - just leave everything out there. How do we know what sort of limits we have unless we continuously push the envelope? Break through old barriers and set new highs.

But it was quite painful, if I do say so myself.

Call it what you want: The Wizard, Dumbledore, The Gorilla on the back, or The Red Monkey. All I know, is that towards the end of my swim set, I was towing something on my back. At least that's what it felt like.

Before the swim, I emailed Coach Jen and asked her opinion on what kind of average time I should aim for. Within a matter of minutes I got my reply. And it was something that I knew I could do, but for a workout of this magnitude I had just never done it.

Had I been doing short swim sets (100s, 200s, 300s), it would have been fine. Piece of cake (except that I can't have any for the month of October. Sigh. I miss my baked goods!)

Really. Trust me when I say I can hold on to an 80-85% effort for up to 4 minutes. But when you start throwing 600s and one L-O-N-G 800 into the mix, it changes things up a bit.

But I figured "why not".

Why not indeed?

Uh - do I really have to answer this? Will this be another Self 1 and Self 2 thing? Because it'll be painful?

I had a few brief flashbacks to working with my old coach when I would desperately try to hold a specific pace for 3 X 1000. I remember how painful, how tiring those workouts were. And all too often, I fell short of my goal.

But this is a new season, a new coach. And even, a new me. So if Jen thought, nay - if Jen believed I could hold this pace, I knew it was possible.

Workout started when I met up with Ludi at the pool. I checked her workout out - a mere 3000 yards and wanted to cry. I asked if she wanted to switch, but she laughed and said, "No way."


No baked goods, candy, and my awesome training partner refuses to switches workouts. Not cool.

Hopped in the water, realized it was refreshingly warm (only for the warm-up, it felt HOT during the sets!), and began the swim. After a 500 free and 8 X 50 of IM drills and kicks, I was ready to start my pyramid sets of 200, 400, 600, 800, 600, 400, 200.

I guess the one upside about having to hold a specific time, was that I would be taking a peek at my watch ever 100 or 200 yards; so hopefully I wouldn't loose track of yards covered. Heaven forbid that I swim 650 instead of 600. Or worse... only a 550?

200 and 400 went by without a problem. I hit my goal pace and was still on track. No worse for the wear, but my arms were teeny-weeny fatigued from the functional strength earlier. (not thinking about the impending soreness! not thinking about the impending soreness...said the tiny voice in my head).The 600 found my using the pull buoy and paddles. Not quite as much pressure to go fast, but if my arms were sore before, it was nothing compared to what I was experiencing now.

A quick check of my watch at the 300 showed I was still on track, but I wondered if this would be possible after my 800. I cruised in, threw the paddles off, shook out my hands, and got ready for the monster of my workout.

The 800.

At that time, it seems so inappropriate to think about how fast you can run an 800. Downright cruel. In high school I ran my 800 in 2:40. Now in the pool, I cover a 200 in the same time. An 800? Well, let me think about that one...

Regardless, it's a lot longer.

And 800 on the bike? Even faster.


Did I mention I wasn't doing candy or baked goods in October.


But it didn't matter: the 800 is what I wanted. I wanted to show myself that I could do it. Prove to myself that I could nail something that was within my grasp; in spite of the hardship, in spite of the pain. It was mine if I wanted it.

First 400 was uneventful. I could feel my arms, but my rhythm was solid and strong. I hit the 500 exactly one second over my goal pace, and that's when I began to feel the pull at my arms and burn in my lats. Head down, hips rotating, I powered past the 600. I was dimly aware of Ludi sharing my lane, and once at some point I got a mouthful of water during a flip turn.

Note to self: inhale air not water.

And then I really began to hurt.

With 150 to go, I reminded myself that it was less than 2:00. To quote my old rowing coach, "You can do anything for 2 minutes." Yeah, sure. Not one to argue, but I could rip that apart if I really felt like it.

100 left came and went, and I reasoned that with every stroke I took I was that much closer to finishing the set. Final 25 found me powering down the lane, my breath billowing out of my body like a freight train engine.

I think I can I think I can I think I can....

I hit the wall and was happy to be done. A glance at my watch confirmed I was 2 seconds above my target time, something I was so excited about. Had I been able, I would have been whooping it up on the deck. But as it was, I was gasping for air, barely holding onto consciousness.

"Damn girl! You know you look blue?" Was the only comment Ludi made before she took off for her 150.

It was all I could do to keep from throwing up. At least if I vomited, I would get out of the rest of my set. For some reason, I'm not sure if Jen would harbor much sympathy for me. Better just to get the rest over with.

The next 600 pull went by in a flash of pain I would rather forget. So I conveniently did.

It was during the final 400 that I imploded. Big time. I pushed off the wall with the happy thought that I would be done with this set in half the time it took for me to complete my 800. Oh joy!

I could definitely feel the fatigue, my arms were shot, my lats were burning and I could tell my form was not what it was 2000 yards ago. Oh well; little that I could do about it now save for finishing the set. And 200 yards into my 400, it hit.

I felt like I was carrying a bowling ball behind me. Something jumped on my back for a free ride, and I swear that I saw Dumbledore in the stands during my turn. His eyeglasses sparkled over his crooked nose, and his blue eyes gazed down at me during my swim. There was absolutely nothing I could do to prevent the catastrophic result. And my next 100 was a full five seconds slower than anything from before.

At the same time, though, I was happy. Call me crazy. Sure, I'll admit it.

But in order to reach that point, the point where my body decides it can do no more, I had pushed it to the edge, pushed past the bounds of what I thought possible. Of what I had done in the past. And in doing so, I paid the price later.

And I didn't mind a bit. I would rather give it my all, leave my heart out on the field of battle than have never tried. Sometimes its better when we don't play it safe, when we take a risk and see where we can go, what we can do.

And if it meant I felt like I was swimming through spaghetti for my final 400 and 200, so be it. If that's what imploding means to me, then that's okay.

Next time I do a workout like this, I'll remember what I did today and know that I can push the bounds even more. And you never know - perhaps I'll make it to the final 200 before I spectacularily implode. You never know.

You never know unless you try.


Beth said...

Great workout Marit!! You are right - you never will know unless you try! And next time you do this workout you will nail it. Playing it safe doesn't get you too far!

Eileen Swanson said...

GREAT JOB!! Forgot to ask, how are MM and LM? ;-)


Anonymous said...

Oh yeah baby!! Love it Marit! :)
Jen H.

Danni said...

Awesome job Marit!!!
I am still waiting for one of those a-ha swim workouts... People keep telling me, one day it will "click" and you will see... Still waiting for the click. :)