Wednesday, May 25, 2016

2.5 weeks

Yesterday, Liz asked me for my race plan. Prior to every race, Liz requests that we write a detailed race plan. The plan includes everything you can think of: what are you eating the days leading up to the race; what are you eating race morning; what are you drinking; what is your warm up (if you have one); what is your strategy for each event; what will you do when things get tough. After we turn in our plans, she provides feedback based on how well she knows you and gives recommendations.

I can't believe that I'm at this point. In March, I had surgery. As I was recovering, I thought to myself, "If I can be ready for Boulder, I'm going to put everything I have into training".  In April, I was released to start training again.

I emailed Liz, "Do you think we can be ready for Boulder in 8 weeks?"

Her response: Absolutely.

Then, she told me, "It'll take 2-3 weeks to get back to your old paces. Don't worry about".

Two to three weeks. I let that sink in. That puts us at 5-6 weeks until race day.

Every day I went to the pool, I felt like a fish out of water. I wasn't fluid. I was flopping around. I was splashing more water out of the pool than I was actually propelling myself forward. It took everything in me to hold a 1:45 pace.

I ran. Or, I should say, "I ran". I felt like an elephant stomping down the street.

My legs didn't want to spin on the bike and getting my cadence to 90 was ridiculous.

I was swollen. I was bruised.

I kept going. I didn't judge myself for where I was. I wasn't hard on myself. Every day, I woke up and said, "Do you best every damn day".

It would have been so very easy to take the easy way out. There were times I seriously considered it.

"It's not going to matter if you cut this short. It's not going to matter if you go a little easier at masters. It's ok if you have dessert a few times a week. No one is going to know".

It was true. No one would know, but I would.

I was up early 3 days a week for strength training; grunting and groaning in my basement. I was swimming 3 days a week at masters. I was riding 4 days a week and running 4.

My swim coach started working with me more often. "Your hand needs to enter here. What's your thumb doing? Tighten your core. Out of the water, let's try this a different way. Pull deeper. You're starting too fast. Slow down. Let's try this again."

For weeks, I gave everything I had in the pool. Fitness gains are not linear. I knew I had to keep working at it. Every time I swam, I heard Andrew's voice, "Tighten your core. Squeeze! Pull deeper.Watch your hand."

Slowly, my pace went from 1:40 to 1:35. Then, I stalled. I stayed at 1:35 for weeks. More work with Coach. Swim with faster people. Every once in awhile, I would see a 1:33 pace, but it was fleeting.

It happened. After weeks of putting in the work, getting lapped, flopping around, wondering if all of this work would EVER be worth happened. I swam 6 x 100's in 1:30 with :05 rest.

One after another, hammering out 100's at the end of the workout when I was already tired.

And there was the bike....

Shortly after I came back from surgery, Liz scheduled a bike test. I think it was out of sheer determination that I managed to increase my power. I knew this would be my last test before the race.

I knew that in order to meet my goals, I needed a w/kg ratio of 3.2%. My previous test put me at 2.9%.

This bike test came in at 3.24%.

What about the run?

Long runs, speed work, hill repeats, mile repeats at the end of long runs, runs at faster than goal pace.

One by one, I checked off workouts. Every week, I saw little wins. I biked to the top of a zone and held on. I ran faster than HIM pace, when my legs were screaming at me to stop. I went beyond my comfort level in the pool and didn't back down.

Throughout all of this, I learned that every step of the way, Liz was showing me that "I can handle this. I AM strong enough".

Now, I'm 2.5 weeks out from my race. After seeing so many people freaking out about the race being close, I decided that I need to stay away from social media.

This time around, I'm in a different place.

I'm not thinking about missed workouts. I'm not thinking about what I could have done better.

Eight weeks ago, I didn't know that I'd be standing where I am today.

I put everything into this training.

Yesterday, Coach took me aside and said, "You are ready, Tea. You ARE READY". I felt tears welling up because for the first time ever....I knew he was right.