But on a different level, I feel...slow, (dare I say...?) fat, and slightly encumbered. Sort of like I've been outside in the cold for a really really (really) long time, and my cheeks have frozen so that speaking and forming words is tough. You have to think and be deliberate when communicating (while snot and ice melt all over your jacket).
Aaahhhh....the memories of winters in Minnesota. And to think - I spent how many hours, skiing and frolicking in the snow? Now, well, now after living in North Carolina, Florida and California, my cold weather tolerance has, um, slightly decreased. Anything below 68 and I'm in arm warmers and toe covers. (*wimp* snigger. Kindly keep your remarks to yourself. I realize the absolute absurdity of my statement).
But in my return to training, I've been feeling, well, off.
And yes, I'm still excited about training, happy that I'm steadily gaining back my fitness and know that in the long term - the time off and long recovery were ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY. But its still tough.
Because for the past few days, when the intensity has kicked up, I've been forced to listen to (and then deal with) the inner-dialogue of myself.
Self 1 - Running at a 5K pace? Ha ha ha - that's a good joke! Just back down...its only 2 or 3 minutes.
Self 2 - Unacceptable! It's going to be hard - DO NOT settle! Fast - work those legs, focus on turnover, GO! No one said it was going to be easy.
Self 1 - You don't do *fast*. Remember that IM-thing? Steady...strong...solid. Note - the fast is not part of the deal.
Self 2 - NOT LISTENING. La la la la la! Go fast now - because if you don't, you never will. GO!
More often than not, Self 2 wins out, and I push the pace, up the intensity, bring on the power. But there are other times where the task at hand seems just a tad overwhelming.
Today at the pool was no exception.
Post-CDA swimming has been interesting. For some reason, its taken me a bit longer to get comfortable swimming with Carlsbad Masters. Last week during my first week back, I swam in a slower lane - but still felt slightly out of sorts. This week, I've made myself return to my regular lane...but its been challenging.
In the past, making my lane's base pace wasn't usually much of a problem (and yes, there were always exceptions). But more often than not, I volunteered to lead - and didn't think too much of it. By the time my wheels fell off, the workout was usually coming to a close - and the guys who really wanted to sprint and have the fastest split for the day, would simply take off and drop my sorry butt (but I would try to stay on their feet...)
And while I realize that Rome wasn't built in a day, and my swimming and overall fitness will take some time to re-build (the point being, that it WILL return) - I still catch myself in the battle between Self 1 and Self 2.
Today, I had the perfect External Motivator in the form of my lane mate, urging me on. And while I partially believe he said what he did because he didn't want to lead the final 400, I was still grateful for his support and kind words. Because in the end - they made all the difference.
Marit (out of breath, slightly panting)- Okay, final 400. I don't think I can hold base pace. Who wants to lead it?
Jeff (totally calm, serious) - I think you can do it. In fact, I think you can hold a 1:xx pace.
Marit (slight pause, brows furrowed) - You know what? Okay. I think I can do that. No, I KNOW I can do that.
Jeff (totally calm, serious) - Well okay then. On the bottom, let's go.
In the end, I was exactly one second off the base pace Jeff predicted. And yes it hurt, and absolutely I felt like my lats were about to explode. But I did it, I made it happen.
Would I have 'gone for it' had Jeff not made his pledge of support? Not really sure about that one - undoubtedly after starting the piece I would have pushed hard and picked up the tempo throughout. But Jeff's words of encouragement and belief in me, made all the difference.
I guess that's the take home message: support from friends, family, loved ones, and training partners can make all the difference. So - be sure to hug your family members, thank your lane mates (do NOT pee in the pool! At least not in your lane.), and give your training partners their full due. I know that I would not be the same athlete without their support.
Thanks guys - for believing in me today, when I didn't. You made all the difference