Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The Meltdown

Yesterday, I had a meltdown.

It may have been the fact that the temperature was 86 degrees with 1000 percent humidity and I spent all day at work stewing in my own sweaty clothes. Or, it may have had something to do with Sunday’s race.

As Chris and I have always said to each other – sounds like somebody had a PR their body couldn’t handle.

Yes, yes, and YES.

It started with a run. About two steps into it, my legs were running the other way and someone was kicking me in the hamstring. Chris?

No, not Chris, because you see within two steps of the start of the run he was already about a mile ahead. He ran back and tried stretching me out, and that didn’t work.

A few more steps – a lot more pain. And then I just stopped. Actually, Chris made me stop. Gave me a hug and told me it would get better. I tried to cry, because it seemed like the right thing to do, squeezed out one tear but then realized I was either too tired or too who cares to cry. Really, it’s 2 days post race. I’ll get over it.

Then I tried running a little more. It was so slow that within 2 minutes Chris had gotten so far ahead that all I could do was wave him on while shouting – from a mile away – go on without me. Leave me here. There must have been buzzards circling overhead. Ok, we don’t have buzzards here, so maybe it was blackbirds or misdirected gulls. Whatever I felt like I was about two steps away from being pecked, eaten, and sh*t upon.

But then, 10 minutes later, things looked up. I was moving along at a pace 30 seconds faster per mile and it felt much better than slogging along.


The run was over – finally – and it was home to rest up for 2 hours before swimming. Note that usually after a race I find myself laying on the couch twice a day, and not working out twice a day. But on Sunday, after the race, I was talking to my coach and she said “I’m not going to let you recover from this.”

Maybe it was too much race, or too much coffee, or too much sugar from a toffee nut bar flowing through my veins, but I was rendered too weak to either realize what she said or offer a rebuttal.

And so, here I am, two days later, most definitely not recovering easily through forced, intense rest. This is more active recovery. I think I prefer the reduced fat version of recovery a little better; as in recovery that reduces you to a fat blob that lays on the couch every night after work.

Then it was time to swim. But first, time to sit in the hot tub and talk to Christy. 8 pm rolls by, 8:05…..it’s time to swim, Elizabeth, for real, NOW. I get in the pool but not before announcing to the coach that I do not want to be in the pool tonight. She comes back with announcing that she does not want to be coaching tonight. I guess it’s going around.

I took my own lane, on the wall, and warmed up slowly, painfully. Then the main set. 4 x 100 on 1:25, 400 pull, 3 times through. Are you kidding? When I announced to Chris, in the next lane, that I would not make that interval – nothing like killing your workout before you even give it a chance – the coach said “use fins.”

It’s pretty bad when the coach recommends you put on fins to make the interval. It’s even worse when you find out that even with fins you cannot make the interval. It’s far worse when you look at the clock when you reach the wall and realize that not only did you not make the interval but you added 5 seconds overall.

After two times of faking the workout on my newly created interval (1:25 and then some), I looked at the coach and she said “just do whatever.” And whatever was what I did.

I got out of the pool early, and sat in the hot tub. Chris finished his workout, actually nailing everything, actually swimming so well the coach even said to me “he is kicking ass tonight, seriously, kicking ass tonight”, and actually making me feel like what the heck is wrong with me because he did the same race I did and he was kicking ass and I was kicking it in the hot tub,

Chris drove us home, and even offered to make me eggs. I refused eggs, plus any other food. He said I needed to eat. I shouted that I did not want to eat. I was giving him my best version of a 2-year old tantrum I could find and he left me alone.

I got home and of course I ate. Like I would ever go without food. Which then made me feel fat. This often happens post race. I feel 10 lbs heavier though I’m probably just the same. I don’t know because the batteries on my scale have been dead for about a month now and I’m just going by feel. And right now I felt fat. So I decided to roll my sluggy puffy ass to bed.

When you race well you have to be willing to hit the bottom, maybe even dig yourself a new hole and redefine how far down the bottom really is. And accept the fact that recovery – no matter how “short” the race (anything under 3 hours is short to me) - recovery is a long, slow painful process. The harder you race, the longer it takes, the older you get, the longer it takes, the….you get the point. It takes time.

This isn’t my first post-race meltdown. It’s just the first one this month. If I only told you about my successes and feeling good you’d maybe start to think that good times come without bad times. That’s a bunch of bullsh*t. Good times come with hard work, ugliness, pain, and tears. Good times come from working through the bad times and waiting it out – going through the meltdowns, not making the interval – yes, there are many more of these to come. Many more meltdowns to come.

3 comments:

Bill said...

Sounds like we have had a similar experience recently. Instead of post-race issues, mine was the cumulative effects of my pre-race build. So instead of short race-pace intensity workouts this week, I'm having to take a few days off completely.

Kinda sucks, but it's all part of the game...

Julia said...

Anemia?

Alicia Parr said...

Oddly enough, I like training through my post race recovery. Probably because I tend to over-rest before the race and I'm itching to get back at it.