Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Stepping Up

Let me just put this out there straight away:  Hiring a coach was the best decision I ever made with regards to my training and racing.  I just 2 short weeks I have learned so much about myself and how much untapped potential I have.  And I've come face to face with several weaknesses that I didn't realize I had, which I fully intend to turn around over the course of the year!

Week one, I spent in Iowa visiting family so I was limited to running in frigid, below- zero temperatures.  I literally had my tears freeze on my eyelashes when my eyes watered from the wind.  I did have one killer set of hill repeats which was kind of awesome on two levels, my body temperature actually increased despite the minus 20 degrees and there was not another soul outside.  On a crisp, cold winter morning there is nothing like the solitude of a quiet street and the sound of my breathing and footfalls as the soundtrack.  

Upon my return to sunny Arizona, I was thrown into workouts that were so new to me and challenged me in ways I've not been challenged before.  I won't share all the details (pay for your own damn coach!) but my arms after my Wednesday morning swim were more fatigued than I have EVER experienced in a swim.  Ever.  Including my 14,800 meter birthday swim.  Ya.  And it was only 3 km.  That's how tough it was.  

Side track!  I totally forgot to mention that for my birthday in December I swam 14.8 km.  That's about 9.3 miles if you do the math.  How did we come up with this number you ask?  Well, when I posted the invite for my usual 10k birthday swim, friends started talking shit and someone threw the gauntlet that if we swam farther (15-20k) he would swim with us.  20k freaked me the fuck out, but when I started doing the math I determined that 14,800 meters would be a multiple of my age (37 x 400 to be exact).  And so it was written.  It actually was a really fun morning and it took us 10 seconds shy 5 hours to complete the distance.  It was a lot easier than I expected, but when I got down to the final 1500 or so I started to get really mad.  Like, why am I still swimming?!?  But it was over, and we celebrated with cinnamon rolls at my favorite breakfast place (The Gilbert House).    

Anyhoo, back to my new training schedule.  One thing I am learning (slowly) is trust.  I am not a naturally trusting person.  In the beginning, I was questioning every little thing and trying to read into things more than what is necessary.  Am I being tested?  What type of response is she looking for in this situation?  If I feel this way after a workout, is that good?  Or did I miss the point of the workout?  The bottom line is, I need to STOP thinking.  Coach outlines the effort level that she wants me to hit, and tells me what feedback she wants from me (ie: record your fast 200 times from said swim workout).  I don't need to try to judge myself or try to read anymore into what is written.  I have been learning to let go, and trust that she will give me feedback.  She tells me if my performance was on track, or if I missed the goal.  She tells me how to modify for the next time around.

Another thing I'm learning is that despite appearances to the contrary, I'm actually kind of a wimp.  Coach is pushing me out of my comfort zone more often, and in more ways than I ever pushed myself.  I had gotten into this rut thinking I was all badass and whatnot.  Then she throws these workouts at me that initially make me want to A) cry, then B) vomit, and finally C) run away screaming.  But when I execute them I realize that I'm a lot stronger than I gave myself credit for and I have so much more to give.  On my own, I wasn't demanding enough from myself.  I let myself off easy, not necessarily intentionally- it just happened.  Now I realize the depth to which I will need to push myself in order to reach my ultimate goals.  This is VERY exciting.

I've also gained some new training partners (and friends!) to challenge me along the way.  One of my new teammates (CH) and I have been swimming together which is great because she is a lot faster than me so I am forced to work harder than I have before.  And another girl (MP) I've been swimming with for a while expressed some interest and has stepped up to do these crazy workouts with us.  (MP also did my 14.8 km birthday swim with us!  Turns out she's crazy like the rest of us so she fits in well.)  Eventually I hope to venture out onto the bike and run with CH as I think we could really do some damage.  She's signed up for IM CDA which is about 5-6 weeks after my first IM of the season so at some point our schedules might mesh for some bike rides.  I'm excited to see both of us realize our dreams.

And one last major accomplishment...
*FLIP TURNS!  When I decided to hire HPB as my coach and specifically when I decided to go to training camp in February, I went cold turkey on the open turns.  I "knew" how to do a flip turn but I always got so out of breath so I never did them unless I was doing 50s.  Plus I felt like I was always flailing about when I did them.  So a month ago, I gave up the safety blanket.  MP gave me a few pointers and now *hopefully* no one at camp will ever know that I didn't do flip turns prior to 4 weeks ago.  Yay!

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