I have spent the last week on speed. Never you mind about calling up the WADA. I checked their website to ensure that this type of speed was indeed legal for athletes likes me.
Monday started with a secret pact I made with myself. I would swim 5 days in a row this week. I would reconcile with the pool. The week before the pool and I had a few words. This week we would make friends again. The pool did its part by begin good to me on Monday night which actually surprised me. Because earlier in the day I had done a 55 minute run consisting of steady work. In 80 degrees. While overdressed because I might not live in the heat but I can simulate it with sweaty long sleeves.
Tuesday was a triple day. It started with a swim at masters in my own lane. I often find myself in my own lane. I still have not figured this out. It seems everyone has not yet realized that swimming in the lane with the slow person does not make you slow. It can actually build your ego if you try to lap me 3 times in a 400. Works for the rest of the team. But today I was embracing the pool. And I was going to keep up with the guy in the next lane. We worked hard on the pull sets and then he proceeded to lap me on everything that did not involve a pull set.
That’s ok because I had two more opportunities that day to redeem myself. Once during the group ride and then in the run afterwards. Remember the group ride? The ride that costs me 7 watts per kilogram just to hold on for 2 minutes and 11 seconds? There was no redeeming there. Ended up riding it out on my own. But I could at least pull off a run. I was chasing darkness as it settled in but had one of the most fabulous runs of the year. The effort was – well, effortless and it was one of those runs where you find the groove, stop feeling your feet and move fluidly through the air.
Wednesday. Another swim. On my own. So I decide to do mostly IM. About 1000 yards into it I wondered what possessed me to do 8 x 75 rolling IM. Or 3 sets of 3 x 100 with varying degrees of hardness. Or - for kicks – 4 x 100 in IM order and finish up with 5 x 100 of assorted breath control. Follow all of that up later that night with….track. Perfect. It actually was. The perfect night on the track to run the fastest mile of my life.
Thursday was another day and of course another swim. But first there was a 2 hour ride. Oh yes – that ride. The ride where I said, I’ll go outside. The ride where I then got poured on with rain. And then almost hit by a car because they didn’t see me nor hear me shouting NO BRAKES! Did the other half of that ride in my basement. Then headed to swim that night. And for the record, it is possible to slow down by 30 seconds in a 200 over the course of 1 hour.
Friday was my last day in 5 days of swims. I swam in a tough lane with the big boys. Why not. Everything was going well until goggle dysfunction occurred. And then they completely broke. Then I had to borrow goggles from someone else. All of this occurred during a set of 4 x 100 on 1:xx which I wanted so badly to do and got so badly upset when I missed 2 of them. That’s when you know you’ve been in the pool too many days. You’re ready to cry because you can’t do your last 2 x 100. Because the other 20000000 yards didn’t count for anything. Also on Friday I did a short run on my new treadmill!
And my new treadmill fired me up for my 5K. Yes, waiting for me Saturday was a 5K. And not only that but also 39 degrees and 38 mph gusting winds.
Those are perfect conditions for a 5K.
I actually pulled out my Hyper Speeds. I looked at these shoes and thought how infrequently I wore these shoes because of how rarely you will find me at a 5K. The goal was to push a hard pace on tired (more like dead) legs. The wind also had a goal. Push against Elizabeth at such a hard pace that she slows 30 seconds per mile off her hard pace. It wasn’t a PR and for the love of Garmin it was a long course. But I ended up finishing first and realizing that – wow – speed hurts.
Best thing for that hurt? Recovery ride. Since it’s warmed up to 45 degrees let's take 20 minutes to put on all of our clothes and ride outside. Going with the gusting winds – 23 mph effortlessly. Going into the wind – geared out at 11 mph pushing watts at 150% of LT. I survived 40 minutes before I retreated back inside. Besides, America’s Top Model was on anyways.
That brings me to Sunday. My last day on speed. I woke up at 5:30 am feeling like I had been rolled over by 5 swims, lots of bike miles, a 5K and today was supposed to do a…30K time trial. Walked downstairs. Realized it was 36 degrees. Walked upstairs. Said to Chris “It’s 36 degrees, I’m supposed to do a TT.” He said “That’s just stupid.” And then I went back to bed.
Later Chris admitted it really wasn’t all that stupid he just didn’t want to listen to me complain before 6 am.
But I wasn’t off the speed just yet. There was still one workout left. A bike-run-bike repeat 5x through brick on the bike and treadmill. At first I was a little scared. My lower legs screamed 5K on pavement in HyperSpeeds! But I had to try. And you know what –it was ok. Sure it hurt like heck and my legs were ready to explode and by the last 800 on the treadmill I thought I would need to pull that little red cord for safety. But I pushed out loads of watts. And cranked that treadmill faster than I’ve ever done before.
And when I was done I realized I survived my week on speed. I made it through and for the first time in a long time….I’m pleased! You see, it wasn’t so much the physical obstacles I was worried about – it was overcoming myself. I told my coach the Elizabeth a year ago would have cried upon seeing 5 runs in a week. Three of those including intensity. Or running the day after a 5K. Or swimming for 5 days. Or running hard off the bike 5 times through. A year ago I wouldn’t have attempted any of this at all.
It has taken time and taken a lot of letting go. Trust the process and be patient for the rewards. The weeks and months leading up to this week have been rough at times. I have unraveled on more than one occasion. I have been scared of becoming better than myself, of taking that risk. I have been impatient, too. But I’ve come to realize that impatience and anxiety are really our lack of confidence in disguise. Our inability to simply release, trust and immerse ourselves in the process. To let go of our hanging on the outcome. To instead just trust that one day we will just arrive.
I have my first big race of the year next weekend. Whether I am in the top 10 or the very last person to cross that line, I go knowing that I am confident in my preparations and knowing that I have prepared as hard as I can for now. I am excited to see how the work will pay off but also honest in acknowledging my work is nowhere near done. But each week I get closer. And each big week of speed shows me that I can do things better than before. I am doing things faster. I am getting stronger.
It is never easy but if it was easy everyone would be good at it, I say. It takes something more than that. Will I have that something more? Who knows. But what I do know is that I have weeks upon weeks like this to pull out from my mental files from the past few months. Weeks that have built me up to where I am today and those are the weeks that count for more.
So let’s find out, eh?