Monday, August 10, 2009

Tortoise and the Hare

An interesting thing happened during Master's swimming today. And before you cut me off, I DO realize that I've still got pictures to share (so yes - they are forthcoming...just not this post). But life - pictures and all - flows ever so swiftly forward.

I've noticed a few things about myself post-Ironman, that I could have never ever predicted. Well, perhaps I could, but I just didn't want to admit them.

The biggie?

I'm not fast. Okay - let me rephrase. I don't feel fast. There's a difference. And before you get into the semantics of it all: we ALL have different "fasts". (ahem). Someone else's slow is my fastest fast and my fastest fast is just a little too fast for someone's slow. Or fast.


Don't be.

Because what it all boils down to, is the fact that I will forever rely on my Ironman mantra of "steady, solid, strong."

Somewhere I forgot "fast".


Oh well - in a race such as Ironman - that's not always necessary (unless you've decided to "sprint" at the end. That's different).

In Masters Swimming - fast, along with steady, strong, and solid IS necessary. And essential.

Today was the kind of swimming workout that, on first glance, seemed cruel and unusual. Errr, difficult and hard. NOT the kind of workout you sprint or GO FAST for the first 500 or 800, because you would surely pay for it later.

The focus of the workout, starting with 1,000 meters of pulling and followed by a 2,000 meter main set dessert, was to sustain the same pace over nearly 3000 meters of various intervals. A brief break after the pull set to discuss the intervals of the main set was all we were granted.

I KNEW that strapping on giant paddles and pushing the pace during the pull set would be unwise. If anything, it would guarantee a spectacular, if not devastating, blow up during the even more challenging main set (with a chance of blowing out my shoulders in the process). And yes, while I love distance work - today's workout would be just as mentally tough as it was physically challenging.


So I did what any smart, self-respecting Ironman-in-training, steady, solid, strong athlete would do: I moved somewhere to the middle and opted to not utilize paddles.

And yes, the pull set kicked my butt. Not because it was overly difficult - but because our lane leader had decided to 1) strap GIANT paddles to his hands 2) push the pace 3) play the game of 'how-many-people-can-I-drop-in-1,000-meters-holding-x:xx-base pace-but-swimming-:15-per-100-faster 4)all of the above.

If you choose 4, you would be correct.

300 meters into the pull set, the guy swimming ahead of me was laughing his head off, amused by our lane leader's antics. "He's going to blow big time, the Bastard!" And then he pushed off the wall, in desperate attempt to stay on Lane Leader's draft.

Somehow I managed to survive, but just barely. I was cursing under my breath, ticked that the LL Bastard had decided to (what felt like) race the pull set. But what could I do? I hadn't stepped up to the plate to lead the lane; instead I kept my mouth shut and pulled to the best of my ability (and our lane's base pace). Yeah, I had little draft - but I was steady, consistent, and slower than some.

But I got the work done and was (still) in the game.

During the main set, things got interesting.

Our esteemed Lane Leader decided that he wanted to continue leading the mainset. My amused friend swimming in spot #2 turned to me and said, "He won't last - you just wait!" while our LL Bastard pushed off the wall a few seconds early.

I (and the six people behind me) breathed a sigh of relief when Guy #2 pushed off when he was supposed to. All was well. And sure enough, not even 200 meters into the first piece of the mainset, I suddenly found myself on the feet of Guy #2, who was on the feet of LL Bastard. True to form, an early pull pace that had seemed so easy and effortless, had suddenly come back to hit our leader square in the respective rear end.

We coasted in, just making the split, and Guy #2 stepped up to lead while I assumed position #2. Another few hundred meters later, and I was falling off the pace - the set was HARD and the new lane leader is a ROCKSTAR swimmer (24-25 min 1/2 Ironman swim!! WOW). I moved a few places back and let someone else attempt to stay in his draft. The extra :10 did me good.

Unfortunately, LL Bastard slipped in ahead of me and took off before I could start in on the 4 X 100 descend. Oh well, I figured, I'll just do my best and wait it out.

And while I didn't descend the pace as much as I would have liked (in part because my "fast" is pretty much "steady"), LL Bastard blew up. Again. It was so awful, the (dare I say poor? because I really wasn't feeling that sorry for him) guy couldn't even finish the final 100, and then sat out another 200.

But I just kept swimming. And swimming. And swimming.

There were times when the workout was really tough, and I didn't know if I could make the next set, let alone the set in another x,xxx meters. But I just put my head down, ignored the speed demon rabbits at the beginning, and kept trucking along. Just call me the tortoise (and we ALL know how much I love turtles.)

Sure, the rabbits of the world may be a heckuva lot faster, but patience, being smart, steady, and strong is what worked for me in the end. And I made the entire workout - all 3,000 meters and all.

Take THAT you Waskly LL Bastard Wabbit!


Anonymous said...

Oh how I love me some masters swim lane drama :-) HEE HEE - NOT! I am with you on the steady, solid, strong. You can't ask for much more than that in IM. GREAT JOB Marit!!! Kona is going to be AWESOME!

Molly said...

It doesn't sound like any one of them was able to be steady and consistent for the ENTIRE workout other than you, so take that for the huge success that it is!

Mama Simmons said...

This story makes me so glad that I'm not swimming masters anymore. 8 people per lane? That's craziness!!

On another note... so sad you're not going to be at Lake Stevens! I was totally looking forward to meeting you. Looks like we'll have to wait until October. :)

ADC said...

I am glad I am in the "slower" lane as there is less drama - we just want to get through it. I love your mantra.

D said...

Why don't I swim masters? hmmmm...
Ok, it's cuz there isn't any masters here, but you made me feel better about that.

Lately I've noticed a lot of people are racing me at the pool. They get in and do 25-50m of my set and then get out pretty proud of themselves for beating me.

GoBigGreen said...

Take LL Bastard to the Cove with you next time and watch him wet himself as he seems you and Elaine kick his butt. Or when he sees a seal or some other marine he goes flailing back to land ASAP!

GoBigGreen said...

OOPS I meant Eileen:)

Beth said...

Oh how I love masters! :) Hey - great job just doing your thing and making the best of the workout. You need to come to my masters program Marit! Only occasionaly drama in our neck of the woods... :)

Charisa said...

Nice job swimming steady!