Ok, fine. I will talk about my workouts today. But let me start by saying I quit the sport approximately 10 times today.
It started early this morning. I woke up at 6:30 am. I did not want to do this but masters starts at 7:30 am and it’s a 20 minute drive. Plus the dog needs to be walked, fed and I need to shove a power bar in my mouth. In the rush of things, I decide this morning to go without coffee.
REPEAT: no coffee
It goes without saying this was not a good way to start a day. Decaffeinated, I go to masters. The coach suggests I take my own lane. On the wall. Gee thanks. I won’t interpret that as a gentle reminder that I am the slowest one in the pool. Or that if I swim in any other lane I will get lapped before the mainset about 100 times. I take my own lane. And you know what – after about 200 yards I say to myself forget this under the water. I am joining another lane. Because I do not drag my ass out of bed this early on a Saturday morning to swim alone. No thanks. Go ahead lap me. I DON’T CARE!
I put myself into a friendly lane. One of the other swimmers admits she also did not have her coffee. Together we make a dangerously decaffeinated lane. Tread lightly, coach. Tread light……..oh dear god. What does that say? Up on the board….does that say 20 x 25 done as 4 sets of 5 on the :40, the :35, the :30 and the :25 – all done as….
My arms sob. My shoulders squeak. My lower back prepares to die. I make it through 5 and then say to myself no. No I do not do 15 more as fly. Not today. I need my lower back for biking and running. I will do them in IM order but not all fly.
The practice goes on after that up to 4000 yards. Next we drive 45 minutes west to ride our bikes in St. Charles. I convince Chris to warm up with me so I can enjoy 45 minutes of drafting his wheel. The ride starts out nice enough. Then about 20 minutes into it we find ourselves on a road that has recently been repaved. It seems smooth, it seems like a good choice. About 2 minutes later we realize fresh tar is no fun to ride on especially when they make us switch over into the rough grooved surface on the other side of the road while they repave the rest of the lane. There we were with wheels full of tar and riding at a wickedly fast 4 mph. For about 4 miles. You know what that is? Even more fun.
Finally we are out in the farm fields and riding free. It is time to begin a 45 minute time trial. I am very excited about this. It takes me about 5 minutes into it, however, to realize that a time trial today was wrong. Very wrong. The wind has got to be blowing a steady 25 – 30 mph from the west. I am heading north. This means I am being blown all over the place in a westerly way. This was an acceptable challenge for about 30 seconds before I became very scared. My arms were gripping the bars, I was pressing my weight as far into the bike as I could just hoping to stay on and not end up in a ditch alongside the road.
Needless to say I was not aero.
I make a left turn into the west wind. Much better. Though I am going 13, I am actually able to ride my bike. But then another turn north. And another turn, another…..until it’s time to turnaround and go south. Instead of being blown towards the ditch I am blown towards the middle of the road where the cars zip by at 50 mph. At one point I am blown on to one of those black tar lines in the road and it’s so hot out that the tar is soft and my bike squiggles, wiggles and I am convinced I will die going 23 mph on this road. So I break out some little tears because I am nearing that point of I CANNOT TAKE ANYMORE.
But I still have over 3 hours to go.
All right, tailwind. Then some recovery from the time trial. Then some hills. Before that, a stop at my oasis of a water pump at the park. I am in dire need of water. It is so hot, has been so windy that I was behind in my drinking. I could barely take my hands off to shift gears. To grab a full water bottle? Not today. I roll up to the water and start pumping it. Nothing. I pump more. Nothing. I pump pump pump vigorously now knowing the damn thing is either broken or not turned on but realizing that if I pump it long enough I will get out 50 percent of the frustration I feel. There is no water. There will be no water. Just warm gooey sports drink and with that I am running low.
Momentarily I cry again and mumble some not so nice things about the sport. The world. The wind. This ride. I have fought the wind for over 2 hours. I have not seen my husband for miles. I am hot. I am sweaty. I have hill repeats to go and I just want to go home.
BUT I WILL NOT GIVE UP! I am everything today but a failure. Or at least I try not to be. Negative thoughts keep filtering into my head but I do my best to turn each one around. So much that I am getting dizzy. I arrive at the one hill that lasts more than 2 minutes. I start doing my repeats and realize my legs feel good. I’m doing good. This will be ok. Sure I’m going uphill and into the wind but it will make me strong.
Off in the distance I realize some ominous blue gray clouds are rolling in. They look very far away. I will certainly finish this ride before they reach me.
I was wrong.
The thunder starts. Then a drizzle. I finish the 6th hill repeat and it starts pouring rain. It starts pouring madness actually. The wind is coming in huge rushes and the rain gets cold. I turn around and start riding towards the car but when almost blown across the road by a gust of wind I realize it is not safe. My brakes are failing. I can no longer see with the rain. And I have no choice but to stop on the side of the road, to stand there to shake and cry. The temperature is dropping and the storm is right above me. I have no idea where to go. Where is it safe? Above the ditch in front of me hangs power lines. I look up the road and think I see my husband riding towards me but then look again and see no one. I cry more because I am not only cold but crazy and seeing things. Finally I take shelter under a tree. The rain pours. I am cold. I can do nothing but wait.
I quit the sport about half a dozen times. I cursed myself for doing it. I cursed for my coach for writing the plan. I cursed my husband for not being next to me. And cursed myself again just….because.
15, maybe 20 minutes….the rain starts to abate. The road starts to steam from the heat of the day and the coolness of the rain. Someone up the road is standing there with smoke rising from their feet. It is someone with a bike. I pedal towards them. It is husband. The most frustrating part is that if death was going to arrive in the rain I didn't have to meet it alone. Husband really was right there.
When I see him I unleash a fury of expletives, wrath and fire from my mouth. I may have said some not so nice things about…..
The list went on. Actually, I went on. And then I ended it with “I am done.” Husband agreed. He was done too. We would fall short about 15 minutes of our ride but I think after 3 hours you get the point. Another 15 isn’t going to make or break an already broken ride. We pedaled back slowly in the rain. Throw our stuff in the car and drive away.
Chris asks if coffee would make me happy. I tell him it’s 4:30 pm. And then it hits me. It is not only 4:30 pm but I am still working out. AND I AM NOT EVEN TRAINING FOR IRONMAN! I am sitting wet in the car with the taste of salt and sunscreen in my mouth. I have eaten nothing but gel, bar, bagel all day. And even though it’s this late in the day, yes I want coffee.
We arrive back home around 5:15 pm. I tell Chris I am doing my run. I realize a decaf skim irish cream latte (YES I PULL OUT THE FANCY PANTS COFFEE DRINKS IN DIRE SITUATIONS LIKE THIS) may not have been the best idea before a 40 minute run but it was a risk I was willing to take.
At this point the day has heated back up to 10000 degrees and the humidity is on full force. I choose a hilly route and – what the hell is wrong with me? Has there not been enough for one day? I realize my legs have stiffened in the car and I believe my heart quit about 60 miles ago. Perhaps at the first 25 of fly. But you know what? I tried. I tried my 40 minutes to run as hard as was prescribed and my stomach hurt, my legs hurt and by the time I got back to the car I wanted to but didn’t cry.
The day was finally done around 6 pm. I realized that absolutely nothing went right today. I didn’t nail any of my wattages, my heart rate zones, speeds, nothing. Nothing at all. I saw the world on the ride today mostly through tears or rain. And for the love of my head and legs – I was tired.
As we were driving home, we passed a church with a sign that read:
You only lose if you quit
Isn’t that right. I know at times we feel like failures in a workout because everything doesn’t go just our way but really are we a failure for sticking it out? Even when everything goes wrong our determination to finish the ride and continue to seek our best shows that everything really did go right.
Sometimes I have to remind myself that if the workout went perfectly it wouldn’t be much use at all. Because how many times do things go perfectly in a race. Unless you deal with the obstacles and work through them you will never learn to respond. You can respond with frustration, cursing, tears but as long as you keep plugging away and moving forward you are really winning for the day. You are practicing what will eventually become your winning ways.