Everyone and anyone who knows me, knows that I pride myself on my swimming. I work my ass off in the pool because I love it, I love how it makes me feel & I love knowing that when I toe the start line of a race, the swim is just the warmup. I've had many frustrating races with swim times that were not even close to a good representation of my actual swim or my hard work, but I just continue to plug it away.
And then I met Michelle. In the past year and a half that I have been working with her she has pushed me so far beyond my swim limits I'm just itching at the chance to race at Ironman Canada and see the difference. It's my IM PR swim, and I feel like I've maybe, just maybe stepped it up one more level and anxious to see if the hard work will pay off.
All this butterflies and rainbows talk about swimming just about got thrown out the window over the last 3 weeks where I have been SUCKING in nearly every single swim. Yes, I know I'm at 7000ft, but none the less I've been frustrated as hell. Somedays I look at my workouts (ok, a lot of them) and think no freaking way in hell am I going to be able to do that. Somedays I shock the hell out of myself and actually pull off the swims, hitting the intervals (albeit maybe seeing my send off time, touch and go) while other days I leave the pool wondering wtf I work so hard and seem to have diminishing returns.
Last Friday Michelle gave us a batshitcrazy swim set of 5500. The warmup was 2000 and the main set was basically 3000 with sets from 100s-500s all with a sendoff of only :05 seconds per 100 additional time than my fastest 100 I had done since being up in altitude. Thankfully I had done a set the previous Friday with 100s that I actually pulled off without fading so I had almost fooled myself into thinking maybe, just maybe I could pull off this swim.
When we got to the pool and I saw it was set up as 50meter long course I basically mentally gave up. The last time I swam long course (2 weeks ago) I couldn't do a 100meter set even close to the SEND OFF times I had set for my intervals, and actually the 50 easy that were between were most likely not even going to happen.
There is nothing I LOVE more than nailing my workouts. Surprising myself at holding a steady pace and not bonking. There is also nothing I loathe more than missing the intervals and continuing a downward spiral of swimming like SHIT.
Sure enough I struggled the entire set. The negative attitude I started the swim with combined with some fatigue, lack of sleep and that damn long course set up (which in theory, I should love!) was a recipe for disaster. I only hit the first interval which was a 200. Touch and go. I missed the 300 by :15, and the 400 by :17. I had to add :05 on to the "easy 50s" and was getting beyond frustrated. I decided to put my fins on for the 500 just to actually visually see a number I would be happy with and try to set myself up with a few second rest for the next set.
Funny how attitude is everything, right? I'm slowly learning. I hit the 500 giving myself almost a minute rest before the next set and with that was able to make all the intervals after. It was just what I needed to not throw my goggles in the garbage and quit that swim.
After I wrote my notes to coach, she responded with something along the lines "there are good swims, and bad swims always….." Then she sent me a link to read this blog.
It made me feel at ease. It made me feel like a real swimmer. Frustrated beyond belief about missing intervals or scared to death (crying in goggles) at the pain or fear of the swim. I felt like I could have written a portion of that blog word for word.
It's funny to so many why some of us put so much pressure on the swim. It's the shortest portion of a long course race and more times than not it will not "win" you anything. However, there are also some times when that swim split HAS helped me out with an award, and if you look closely at some of the great AG wins, those swim times sure as hell do count. Not saying that is my motivation. I simply work hard in the pool because frustrated as I may get at times I enjoy it. I didn't come from a swim background, I never had a lesson in my life yet it's something that I have been able to somewhat excel at. Who wouldn't want to keep working on that, doing that and maybe even continue to improve on it.
All this said, today I went to the pool with a main set of 5x100 followed by 2x50ez, 4x100 followed by 2x50ez…….all the way down to ending on a 1x100 ALL OUT. The send off intervals were VERY generous this time so I was pretty sure I could have a good swim. My goal was to hit an interval time that would give me ~30 rest (that's unheard of with my swims!!). Shane & I were in a lane with another guy, circle swimming so I headed out first trying to be a little conservative, but failed coming in :05 FASTER than I wanted to. I followed that up with hitting the next 4 within 2 seconds off that first one (slower) but still happy and under my goal. I took my 2x50s extremely easy and set off for the next 4x100.
Long story short. I freaking nailed that swim. Every single 100 after that (15 in total) were the same time as my first 100 or a second faster….until my last, all out I PR'd at this pool @7000ft elevation hitting the 100 FOUR seconds faster than my first and totally, STOKED. I think I was actually smiling during my cooldown and couldn't wait to put my notes into training peaks. It was EXACTLY the workout, the swim that I needed for my head. To remind me why I train so hard, why I swim lap after lap even when I'm sucking and even when I'm not enjoying myself.
That last 100 was 100% worth it! I have a new NAU 100meter PR!
disclaimer: no promises this good attitude will still be here when I tackle another 5kFriday swim with a main set 100matrix of 40x100 sendoffs ranging from 1:55-1:40. Ouch. My lats hurt just thinking about it.