Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Ironman don't care

Another couple of weeks up north, and I'm starting to feel like myself again.  Well, minus the constant tired legs, endless appetite and need to go to bed right.now.it's9pm.   I'm still struggling with some swims, while other swims (typically Wed for some reason) I leave feeling refreshed and happy like all this damn hard work is finally paying off.  Of course then I go back on Friday and swim long course meters and feel like I took 5 steps backwards and am swimming through mud.  I'm trying to get over myself with that whole frustration though.

Last weekend was one of the biggest yet, and it was the last big build block of 4 weeks before a little recovery.  On tap was a 5:30 bike ride, intended to be harder, steady effort the whole time followed by a 40min run.  Then, finish off the weekend and block with another 3hr/20mile run.

Well, things didn't go exactly as planned as we had quite the storm come in Friday.  We woke up Saturday morning ready to roll, but looked outside to soaking wet streets and dark, dark clouds.  It happened to just be 3 of us that morning, so the thought crossed our minds to switch and do our long runs first, and save the ride for Sunday.  However, after checking the weather and realizing that the forecast was equally as gloomy (70% chance of rain and thunderstorms), we decided to HTFU and just get er done.

Within 2 minutes our legs and butts were soaked.  The streets were so wet our bike tires were flinging water, mud, grit, rocks all over us.  There would certainly be NO drafting today unless you wanted the spray of mud in your face.  We had plans to just go until the sky looked rough, or dangerous with lightening and try to stay close to home.  As the miles clicked off and we were already soaked & dirty we really just wanted to keep on going for an out and back course and get the ride done.  We ended up doing a loop with about 80miles, but I still had almost an hour left to go, and Karen had 35 miles to get to her goal of 112.  As we were making the last big climb before home the rain REALLY picked up.  My tires felt slick and dangerous and I was just DONE.  I pulled up next to Karen, said I was so over this.  DONE.

You know sometimes how your friends can be your worst enemy?  How your moods can bring each other down (negative thoughts, energy, complaints) and you can both end up sandbagging?  Well, this was just the opposite.  Karen had convinced herself to at least get to 100miles.  I hadn't succumbed to this quite yet, but as I neared the turn to get back home, I just kept rolling passed it.  I started thinking about the weeks left to Ironman, and with a race coming up in 2 weeks I really didn't have much opportunity to get the long miles on the bike in.

We pretty much rode in silence for the last 20miles, just trying to get the miles down.  The rain got even worse, making it nearly impossible to ride really well (safely), but as we made the last turnaround with only 4 miles left to go, I already had a satisfied feeling that I had sucked it up enough to finish the ride.

And that's where it all changed.  As I was making the last climb home, a hill about 3/4 mile long I realized my handling felt off.  I couldn't see my tire because of the rain, but finally determined it was indeed, flat.  I screamed to Karen who had pulled ahead when I stopped and she finally heard me.  So, there we are, mile 97 in the pouring rain, wind.  Soaked head to toe and muddy as all get out changing a tire on the side of the road.

Here I am, pretending to be happy about looking like a kid plaining in the rain.  I assure you I am NOT.  This picture does not even do justice to the conditions, or the amount of nasty black grime all over us from head to toe.  

We main it home a few miles later 100.01miles EXACTLY (after looking at my tires later, I'm shocked I didn't get 5 flats) we put our bikes in the garage, stripped off the nasty clothes and headed straight up to the shower.  My toes had been numb for about 3 hours and after the last hour when the storm picked up and I was barely able to to take my hands off the bars to eat or drink, and made the decision to bail on my brick.   I took a 20min HOT shower scrubbing all the grime off and had to dig my fingernails into a bar of soap to get the mud and grease out of them.  

Clothes were washed and soaked twice, but are still stained with mud.  Bikes were completely trashed, and may need new chains.  My once white bike saddle is now black and new tires will be replacing the completely trashed ones today.

It was one of those days where you remember Ironman is not easy.   It reminded me of the freak storm climbing Yellow Lake at IMCA in 2010.  The feeling of not being safe on the road, numb toes and wondering WTF you do this to yourself.

But in the end, it was a day of mental toughness.  A day of just dealing with what is thrown at you.  A day that made me stronger.  

The best part of it all was following it up with my best 20mile run to date (no IT band pain, and negative split!), and ending the big training block feeling tired, yet completely satisfied with all of the hard work!

A little reminder, that Honey Badger  Ironman Don't CARE!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

"cry in your goggles"

Everyone and anyone who knows me, knows that I pride myself on my swimming.  I work my ass off in the pool because I love it, I love how it makes me feel & I love knowing that when I toe the start line of a race, the swim is just the warmup.   I've had many frustrating races with swim times that were not even close to a good representation of my actual swim or my hard work, but I just continue to plug it away.

And then I met Michelle.  In the past year and a half that I have been working with her she has pushed me so far beyond my swim limits I'm just itching at the chance to race at Ironman Canada and see the difference.  It's my IM PR swim, and I feel like I've maybe, just maybe stepped it up one more level and anxious to see if the hard work will pay off.

All this butterflies and rainbows talk about swimming just about got thrown out the window over the last 3 weeks where I have been SUCKING in nearly every single swim.  Yes, I know I'm at 7000ft, but none the less I've been frustrated as hell.  Somedays I look at my workouts (ok, a lot of them) and think no freaking way in hell am I going to be able to do that.  Somedays I shock the hell out of myself and actually pull off the swims, hitting the intervals (albeit maybe seeing my send off time, touch and go) while other days I leave the pool wondering wtf I work so hard and seem to have diminishing returns.

Last Friday Michelle gave us a batshitcrazy swim set of 5500.  The warmup was 2000 and the main set was basically 3000 with sets from 100s-500s all with a sendoff of only :05 seconds per 100 additional time than my fastest 100 I had done since being up in altitude.  Thankfully I had done a set the previous Friday with 100s that I actually pulled off without fading so I had almost fooled myself into thinking maybe, just maybe I could pull off this swim.

When we got to the pool and I saw it was set up as 50meter long course I basically mentally gave up.  The last time I swam long course (2 weeks ago) I couldn't do a 100meter set even close to the SEND OFF times I had set for my intervals, and actually the 50 easy that were between were most likely not even going to happen.

There is nothing I LOVE more than nailing my workouts.  Surprising myself at holding a steady pace and not bonking.  There is also nothing I loathe more than missing the intervals and continuing a downward spiral of swimming like SHIT.

Sure enough I struggled the entire set.  The negative attitude I started the swim with combined with some fatigue, lack of sleep and that damn long course set up (which in theory, I should love!) was a recipe for disaster.  I only hit the first interval which was a 200.  Touch and go.  I missed the 300 by :15,  and the 400 by :17.  I had to add :05 on to the "easy 50s" and was getting beyond frustrated.  I decided to put my fins on for the 500 just to actually visually see a number I would be happy with and try to set myself up with a few second rest for the next set.

Funny how attitude is everything, right?  I'm slowly learning.  I hit the 500 giving myself almost a minute rest before the next set and with that was able to make all the intervals after.  It was just what I needed to not throw my goggles in the garbage and quit that swim.

After I wrote my notes to coach, she responded with something along the lines "there are good swims, and bad swims always….."   Then she sent me a link to read this blog. 

It made me feel at ease.  It made me feel like a real swimmer.  Frustrated beyond belief about missing intervals or scared to death (crying in goggles) at the pain or fear of the swim.  I felt like I could have written a portion of that blog word for word.

It's funny to so many why some of us put so much pressure on the swim.  It's the shortest portion of a long course race and more times than not it will not "win" you anything.  However, there are also some times when that swim split HAS helped me out with an award, and if you look closely at some of the great AG wins, those swim times sure as hell do count.  Not saying that is my motivation.  I simply work hard in the pool because frustrated as I may get at times I enjoy it.  I didn't come from a swim background, I never had a lesson in my life yet it's something that I have been able to somewhat excel at.  Who wouldn't want to keep working on that, doing that and maybe even continue to improve on it.

All this said, today I went to the pool with a main set of 5x100 followed by 2x50ez, 4x100 followed by 2x50ez…….all the way down to ending on a 1x100 ALL OUT.  The send off intervals were VERY generous this time so I was pretty sure I could have a good swim.  My goal was to hit an interval time that would give me ~30 rest (that's unheard of with my swims!!).  Shane & I were in a lane with another guy, circle swimming so I headed out first trying to be a little conservative, but failed coming in :05 FASTER than I wanted to.  I followed that up with hitting the next 4 within 2 seconds off that first one (slower) but still happy and under my goal.  I took my 2x50s extremely easy and set off for the next 4x100.  

Long story short.  I freaking nailed that swim.  Every single 100 after that (15 in total) were the same time as my first 100 or a second faster….until my last, all out I PR'd at this pool @7000ft elevation hitting the 100 FOUR seconds faster than my first and totally, STOKED.  I think I was actually smiling during my cooldown and couldn't wait to put my notes into training peaks. It was EXACTLY the workout, the swim that I needed for my head.  To remind me why I train so hard, why I swim lap after lap even when I'm sucking and even when I'm not enjoying myself.

That last 100 was 100% worth it!  I have a new NAU 100meter PR!

disclaimer:
no promises this good attitude will still be here when I tackle another 5kFriday swim with a main set 100matrix of 40x100 sendoffs ranging from 1:55-1:40.  Ouch.  My lats hurt just thinking about it.