Friday morning started like any other – oatmeal, coffee, gathering up water bottles, gels and other equipment for the day’s workouts.
Today we drove over to McKee Marsh for a bike/run brick. On the way we spotted something naught y – a really hot guy riding a bike without a helmet.
“Roll the window down, let’s heckle him,” I said.
What proceeded was a HEY SEXY, WHERE’S YOUR HELMET? Imagine my surprise when the guy turned toward me and I realized oh crap I know this guy. He works at the local running store. Shouting HEY SEXY at some guy you sort of know crosses that line into just awkward and inappropriate but it was his fault – he should have been wearing a helmet.
A quick ride up to Fermilab to warm up. Along the way I point out the buffalo (in the barn), a coyote (eyeing us suspiciously) and cagey physicists driving their cars. Cat says the setting is surreal and I agree. There is something about Fermilab that is like another world, a strange clash of natural settings and science with high power lines and oddly-shaped building filled with busy physicists.
After warm up we set out to do 45 minutes at a steady but hard pace along Eola Road. It’s the perfect place for intervals; uninterrupted, flat, about 6 minutes out, 6 minutes back with a tight race-like turnaround at the end. I told the girls to stay on my wheel as best they could. If not, circle around and meet up again.
The way out was into the headwind. It was about 10:15 am and already stifling hot. After about 5 minutes my stomach started churning and I couldn’t believe I had to maintain another 40 minutes of this. Breaking it up into 8 segments helped mentally but damn it still hurt. Andrea was right on my wheel, Cat nestled right on her and Danni was chasing us down with legs on fire. The way back was harder to hold watts with the tailwind. Around the second half of the third out and back, I had made peace with the fact that I only had 2 more segments to go. I was fired up to keep pushing, still with my stomach turning and my HR snug in the danger zone. THAT was fun.
Nearing the end of the sixth segment, I realized my aero bars were moving. Lower. A minute later they were lower. A minute later lower. For whatever reason they were migrating south. This is not good. I thought myself here we are cruising at 25+ mph and all I need is to lose my aerobars and send all of us down.
I didn’t want to stop but safety beckoned. We stopped at the stop sign, Danni once again pulled out her wrench skills and figured out that one of the screws on the stem was tight but not tight enough. Once ready, we told Danni to hang on no matter what. She mentioned something about her legs burning and Cat said something like “didn’t Liz say to get a fire under our asses?” That would be one of my coachisms, yes, and let me add that burning legs, fear of blowing up, pushing so hard to bridge a gap only to find yourself stewing in a soup of lactic acid and pain: THAT’S THE GOOD STUFF! That’s when you know you’re learning and pushing toward new limits.
We finished up the last out and back – just as hard – and all agreed that the 5 minute break didn’t really do our legs good. It almost hurt worse to get going again. Andrea kept tight on my wheel, Cat right behind her and Danni held on with Cat screaming encouragement. I have never wanted any interval to be over more by this one. When it finally was, Danni told us her legs were on fire the entire time. Hey – me too! But add to that my head, face and stomach which was still doing loops. It hurts – for all of us, it’s all the same pain. The difference between champions and everyone else, though, is that they make it look easy but know that underneath that look is teethgrinding, gut churning pain.
Riding back I was sitting behind Andrea and Cat when I heard something:
Do you ever just get the urge to rip it up?
That would be Cat talking to Andrea – who responded with:
Well, go ahead then.
Cat takes off. Bolts like someone stuck a hot iron up her ass. I had to laugh because a move like that is totally not Cat….and it was good to see the competitive streak light up in her. I also think it was good for her to take two Tylenol PMs last night and finally sleep!
Now, when you do that in front of your coach – you are really asking for something. It seems that someone saved a wee bit too much energy sitting in third wheel today. I pulled up to Cat shortly after the end of her microburst when I once again read the look on her face that begged PLEASE LET ME DO THIS AGAIN and said to her: go as hard as you can to the stop sign, out of the saddle, stomping.
Her response: Now?
Yes, now. Go!
After the bike it was a run for Danni, Andrea and myself. Cat opted to sit in the parking lot and make googly eyes at the forest preserve service crew. I set out for a 5 mile run. It was beyond hot at this point – let’s just call it boiling in a wool sweater with a side of humidity. I learned a valuable lesson in too hard, too soon that led to a complete meltdown. It was awesome. A meltdown so classic that when I returned to the parking lot I told all of the girls I wish they had been there to see it because sometimes I think we think we’re the only ones out there that have bad days, bad runs, feels pain, is hard on themselves or isn’t good enough. We ALL blow up, have meltdowns, it’s the price you pay for pushing yourself.
End of workouts. We were cooked. And needed food. We headed over the Whole Foods for a delicious lunch of salad, sushi, coconut water. Typing that it sounds disgusting but at the time it really hit the spot. Back at home for some rest and getting cleaned up.
Cat asked to give Boss a bath. I wasn’t about to say no – it’s not every day someone offers to bathe my dog. Do you do toilets, showers and husbands too? She did a fine job of washing Boss, singing the washy wash song and even brushing him. Meanwhile, all humans bathed and finally got out of workout clothes.
The evening workout: the mall. It’s a beautiful outdoor mall with everything a girl needs. We started out at Anthropologie trying on crazy sunglasses and hats. Cat totally Brooklyn-ed herself with a pair of 80s large square glasses while talking in a Brooklyn accent. Next up, to the Aveda store for some overpriced hair care. After that, we were walking by Bebe when Andrea said this:
I dare you to go in there and try something on.
Oh.No.She.Didn't. Did you just say dare? Is this a challenge? Are you challenging me? Because if it is, I’m ready to throwdown. Instantly, I opened the door to Bebe and sprinted to a rack to select the most heinous outfit I could find. It was in the dressing room as I was dressed in a white feather skirt and a black and silver sequined halter top that I declared myself the winner of this Shopping Throwdown.
The real purpose of this mall trip was to go to Lululemon. Andrea bought some cute things then we headed out for dinner. The service was about as slow as my run pace today. Regardless, with the girls I laughed so hard that I had to remind them to stop making me laugh because my abs hurt so bad from core work yesterday. It didn’t help that every time I turned on my iPhone a picture of Notorious B.I.G. popped up because my iPod kept mysteriously turning itself on. This sent Cat and I into a fit (not a HISSY fit like the Honda Fit vanity plate we saw driving earler in the day) of giggles making my abs hurt even worse.
At the end of dinner, I asked everyone what they learned today. Danni said she learned that it’s all in her head. She said that yelling at herself to chase us faster, harder was a good strategy – because it worked. In her words, “yes, I can do this shit – I’m not super but I’ll get to super.” YES! What did Cat learn? “Drafting really works.” Third wheel is a sweet spot and she rocked it. Andrea’s lesson, “hydration is important.” Yes, hydration counts as does eating and timing. One thing that Danni talked to me about was how good it was to finally “see” what athletes eat – to know what to buy and get an idea of how much it takes to fuel yourself. Eat well, eat often. From what I’ve seen, most female athletes underfuel which places them at risk for poor recovery, decreased immunity and retention of weight. Perhaps they are too busy to eat, too entrenched in years of bad eating habits or thinking that girls don’t eat a lot. When you take on athletics seriously you need to let that go. You cannot expect to perform or improve without paying close attention to what you and when you eat. People think there are secrets to getting better. If you look at the things that top athletes do I think some of the few differences you will see include better recovery and better nutrition (and nutrition is recovery). Eating the right things at the right time in the right amount.
Two more days of camp. There are still many miles – but also many laughs ahead.