Monday, March 9, 2009

The Lost 50

Today I lost a 50.

It happened at the pool, so I was swimming. At least that's what I think I was doing at the time. Because I was so far in oxygen debt that I really had no idea. I was beyond the point of no return, and coughing up a lung would have been a blessing. At least I would have known that my lungs still existed.

Because when I stopped - at 200 meters into our 400 - I thought I was on the verge of collapse.

I blame it on the Germans. Apparently a few of their ITU-people (read: really really really fast professional triathletes!) are spending the month training in sunny Southern California, and just so happened to show up for Carlsbad Master's Lunch practice.


I knew I should have dragged my sorry butt out of bed when the alarm went off at 5:25. Instead I muttered the words, "There's no way in hell I'm getting up to go swim at this hour." (meaning it really felt like 4:30 am. Duh).

I think Nathaniel just laughed.

My payback was a new pr in my 400, while trying desperately to remain within sight of the pro directly in front of me. On the "easiest" interval. In fact, the workout instructions had the words "base pace" written directly next to the 400. And we still had another 1600 to finish.


Were the instructions 'lost in translation'?

Who knows. (Sentence, not a question)

And before you give ME any odd looks or funny winks, in my defense I was swimming in the proper lane. I just never realized people could go SOFAST!

After the German guy jumped in lane 1 and lead the pull set, one of the guys from lane 1 moved into lane 2. And it was at that moment, that exact moment, that I realized I was screwed. Up shit's creek without a paddle. Sianara. Goodbye, good evening, and good luck!

No need to elaborate. You get the idea.

We made space: me, two other Lane 2 regulars, and two girls I had never seen before (Germans!). Lane 1 guy said he would lead the lane, and the German girls looked - dare I say it? - determined to stay on his feet.

I gulped and tried not to shit myself. Something like that doesn't go unnoticed. And though it may have gotten me out of a painful workout, I doubt that in future, I would be permitted to swim Carlsbad Masters.

Before I knew it, Lane 1 guy took off, and about two seconds later, first German girl left in his wake. We were swimming a 400 (supposed to be "easy", but no one but myself got the memo), and no one wanted to be lapped. Since I was third to last - swimming in the middle - I felt safe. But there was one German girl behind me.

Not much was remembered after the first 200 into the set. I know that I set a pr for my 400, and that the girl behind me tapped my toes in the last 25. I let her go ahead. The 100s were hard, and the final 200 of the first set was nightmarish. Another pr was set, and I hit the wall.

Literally - in my haste to get to the wall before Lane 1 dude started on the second set of the workout - I crashed into the wall. Sweet! I was breathing so hard that I didn't even realize he had taken off. No time to groan or cry. There is, after all, no crying in baseball! Why should swimming be any different?

For the first 100 I remained in contact as much as I could. Then, I lost sight of the feet in front of me, and soon there were no bubbles drifting under and next to my person. I peeked a glance ahead during a turn, only to realize that I had cracked.

I was done. Toasted. Burnt to a crisp. The damage was done, line had been broken. And there was nothing I could do to prevent my demise. Phil Ligget would have had a field day with my performance.

"Oh look, this doesn't look good for our girl now! The elastic has snapped and she's gone off the back. Almost like she's going backwards Paul! Oh no, oh dearie me, this does not look pretty!"

And then Paul (Sherwin), being the professional sportscaster that he is would reply, "No, and you know what? When someone has cracked this badly, you know their body is beyond repair. The lactic acid has built up and can no longer be flushed from the system. This does not bode well for Marit at all. If she wants any hope, any chance of getting back in this race, she's got to stop the damage and stop it soon. Otherwise I don't know how she'll be able to carry on..."

Thanks guys.

So I hit the wall. Again. Only this time - and for the first time ever during a Master's swim - I stopped. I paused. I took a break. And the one guy who had been swimming in my draft, flipped and continued on.

My arms were shaking, my legs convulsing, and it sounded as though a train was trying to escape from my lungs. I gasped for breath and did what I could to remain calm. Bloody f*cking hell! This was supposed to be an easy 400! Why the hell are we swimming at x:xx pace?

But there was nothing I could do. I was only a small part of Lane 2. And if I wanted a chance - any chance at all - of remaining calm and rejoining the set, I would have to accept the fact that the pace was fast. Really really fast.

Before I knew it, Lane 1 dude had returned and flipped off the wall. Followed by German girl 1, German Girl 2, and then a fellow Lane 2-er. Without thinking (my saving grace), I jumped right back in, figuring I could do anything for 150 meters.

Somehow I finished the remainder of the workout without having to pause on the wall. I'm not exactly sure how, but I did. Then again, I have little recollection of my time actually IN the water, simply because I was in so much oxygen debt.

I think what saved me today was my lack of thought. When it got really really hard, I just zoned out. Pushed beyond where and what I thought I was capable of, and simply swam. It wasn't pretty, and I was far off the pace of the fastest people. But I did it. Aside from one missed 50 - where had I NOT gripped the wall for half a minute or so, I'm sure the lifeguards would have needed to jump in and retrieve me from the bottom - I swam every single meter on pace and within a reasonable amount of the girl ahead of me.

And I'm incredibly grateful for this workout. Sure, it's neat swimming with ITU people. They are Stupid Fast - not just SuperFast! - but stupidly fast. And they make it look easy. But going above and beyond the comfort zone, past the breaking point, and into the level of (what I refer to as) 'functioning survival', is the key to personal growth.

Besides - if we never push our own limits, we never really discover how high we can go.

And today I found that I can swim for 1200 meters at a stupidly fast pace before clinging to the wall in panic. Maybe if I'm lucky, in a few weeks I'll be able to stretch it to 1400? Who knows? The point though, is that I tried.


Mama Simmons said...

You do a great impression of Phil and Paul! Nice work swimming today. Use those Germans for all they're worth while you have access to their speediness! :)

Ordinarylife said...

wow - well done!!

You had me laughing at your commentary.

ADC said...

I looove Phil Ligget and Paul Sherwin (and they are Brits, yay!!!). Well done Marit on that swim -that is absolutely awesome. You rock!!!

Beth said...

Oh that sounds harsh! Crazy Germans! :) Great job for surviving and hanging in there Marit! Now your "normal" pace is going to feel that much easier! :)

Angi Axmann said...

Yeah, crazy Germans...we currently have the Japanese National Swimming team in Flagstaff, but they are just next to us and not doing the workout with us:-)

Feel free to email me if you want me to translate something into German, so that next time you can say something funny to them!!! It might scare them and make them think that you understand everything:-)

Good job on the workout!!!

GoBigGreen said...

Ha too funny, No not the set, me reading this post with the accents, in my head, of Phil and Paul. Where is Bob Rolle in all of this? Wasnt he supposed to say "Back in the day when i raced I surely remember being in Marit' Suit ( eww no, sorry) and as you said Phil, the only way out is for a teammate ( doesnt apply to swimming really) to drop back and pull her back into the German's bubbles."

Ok can you tell I am counting the days till the TDF!?

Trigirlpink said...

Ok... after reading this.. I ain't swimming HARD ENOUGH. HTFU TGP!!!!

Can we just talk about how you live in Ca. now???? Maybe it's old to you.. but holy smokes, You scored going from one warm state to another!
Thank you Thank you for you messages, concern and ideas for water running.