last week was THE WEEK. the week that coach k and i had spoken about during our drive home. the week that was the beginning of real breakthroughs. the week that each workout needed to be me pushing myself way past my limits. and it was all of that and way more.
monday i went and swam with patty. and of course it was as if coach k had told her to break me. every swim is hard with her. and i always contemplate faking an injury or swallowing water to take a break. i don’t. but i contemplate. but this particular workout i cried. after the warm up, the board said 3 x 500 – 1st 50 of every 100 hard in the first 500, fins in the second 500 and 2nd 50 of every 100 hard of the last 500. i was thinking ok sweet, i’ll push it here. i was beginning to lap the two other people at the workout and patty seemed to have other ideas about this. she pulled out a drag suit (in case you don’t know what this is, it’s a mesh “speedo” style suit with pockets, POCKETS!! ugh) and said wear this during the 500s. she expected me to stay at pace with that suit on. holy moly. and i worked. i pulled harder than i’ve ever pulled, i kicked harder than ever. i refused to get lapped or lose my place. it was so hard. i cried and cried in my goggles as i swam. my arms and shoulders and lats were screaming. my glutes were on fire. but i finished. and as i looked back at the data, i swam those 500s in under 8 minutes. holy moly. coach k and patty had won the first battle – they forced me to work and have a breakthrough.
i was already nervous about tuesday because i had to bring my bike and trainer to spin class. i was feeling embarrassed because i hate bringing attention to myself about stuff. and this was a blatant i’m doing something different kind of thing. but i brought in keke and set her up. jas set up his bike in a different place and i’m not sure if he was actually watching me but it certainly felt like it. and i worked. every time i wanted to quit, i added more gear. i knew that the work on the bike with walter inside would eventually show outside. i listened to his words and tried to put them to memory so i could climb better outside. it was awful and wonderful. i was drenched and tired. but again i finished.
wednesday’s medium run was brutal. it was as if coach k had found every hill in a tiny 3 mile radius and put each of them on this run. it was only 7 miles but i hit hills i had only heard about. i was laser focused as i powered up george street. which by the way seems like the most ridiculous street on the planet. there’s just no need for streets like that anywhere ever. i cried as i ran up pleasant. it was all so hard but i knew i needed it. i couldn’t be weak in lake placid. the tears here would save me there.
when friday finally arrived (by the way i did have other workouts in there, these are just the highlights), i was a bit nervous about riding. sunshine was meeting me and we would ride together. and we did. the ride was hilly as can be and there was so much traffic. which made me all the more nervous because i just wasn’t feeling comfortable still on keke on the road. we finally were on our way home. we hit pleasant street coming from holden/paxton and that road is steep! i had to really think about letting go and staying calm and settled in order to make it down safely. i felt pretty proud that i was able to get 38 miles in after work on a friday.
saturday morning came fast. i woke up and didn’t want to run. but i knew that getting it done early would help the rest of the day. i melted and ate. and visualized how to get this run done successfully. i was hitting more hills, some of the steeper and longer ones in worcester (bancroft tower, salisbury, moreland) and was a bit nervous. i met at the ymca with the team, knowing i would only see them at the start. i wasn’t even beginning the same way. ha. but Eduardo joined me. i warned him about the hills and he was still game to run. and so we ran. we chatted a bit here and there. and we climbed. we both set the pace at different times. and since i didn’t want to seem too weak with him i refused to cry. i cursed. a lot. but i felt strong throughout. until coming down haviland and my knees were just unhappy. those downhills are killer on the IT band and knees. when i finally finished i was relieved. and looking forward to a quality nap and food.
and i earned that nap and meal! i was also prepping for a long ride the next day. i had 85 miles to ride the following day. folks were supportive and figuring out where they could be with water and hugs. it was lovely. i drove the course to get a decent idea of where i would be going. the course was beautiful. i was excited.
i went to sleep nervous with anticipation. i woke up with just plain nervousness. and exhaustion. i laid on the floor to melt and cried. i didn’t want to ride. i wanted to sleep. my tummy felt funny. i melted and ate. i had my usual smoothie and cereal. i continued to eat liquids because i knew that it would be easier to get the calories in that way. heather arrived and we set off. the day was beautiful. thank goodness. the first part of the course was airport hill. i had wanted to ride airport hill last year but was too nervous that i would just fall over. but we climbed it no problem. we chatted as we climbed. it was wonderful. it wasn’t even emotional or monumental when i arrived at the top. it just was. there was more work to be done. we continued to ride. and goodness this course was hilly. apparently in the car, the hills don’t seem so steep or long. i just kept hearing coach k, jas and walter in my brain about the hills. i was focused on getting to the tops without slowing my cadence. i wanted to stay strong. but my tummy felt gross and it was hard to fuel. but i kept fueling. cheryl was going to be at mile 20 and it would be nice to see her. my goal was to empty my bottles by the time i got there. as we rode we chatted a bit and i focused on my position and my legs. we got to the end of this flat stretch and i knew we had missed a turn. ugh. i looked at the directions and yes, we had missed a turn. so we turned around and kept going. when we finally arrived at cheryl, i broke. i cried. i didn’t want to keep riding. i felt like i was going to puke. i refilled. and refused to stop in the end. as we kept riding i stayed focused on the good things. although as we continued to climb and climb it was hard not curse or be frustrated. when we got towards dunkin donuts, heather said she needed to go to the bathroom and for me to continue on and she would catch up. that was just what i needed. i decided to try to get as far along on the course before she could catch me. i stayed strong on the hills, stronger on the downhills, consistent on the flats. i focused on fueling well so i could stay consistent. she did eventually catch up to me but it was much further than both of us had expected. we continued to ride and she stopped again to call her husband. this time i knew i wanted to make it to the midway point without her. and i did. when i finally arrived at the midpoint turn point at the bottom of airport hill (on the other side) i was so happy to see patti. i took my shoes off, i got off my bike, i sat, i refilled and ate a ton. jaye and bettie joined up then.
jaye mentioned that i would lead them since i had already done the route. i made sure she had directions and said i really just needed to ride. and so we were off. immediately there were some hills. so i climbed. after the 3 hill i looked back and bettie and jaye weren’t right there. instead of waiting, i pushed. i decided i didn’t want them to catch me. i needed to stay ahead of them so even if/when i stopped to refill i couldn’t let me them catch me. so i focused in on the road and fueling and riding. i pushed as hard as i could to stay ahead. when i arrived at the quarter mark where sunshine was supposed to be, sunshine wasn’t there. i had a moment of panic. but refilled with the bottles i had, sent her a quick text. and continued on. i felt much more confident as i rode. me and keke were becoming one, although she was killing the queen, my neck wasn’t bothering me too much. i climbed and rode. then i turned onto my favorite road to ride. i knew on this road i could stop for a second and take my shoes off. my feet were killing me. as i thought to myself of doing this, sunshine pulled up. and so i stopped. i was perfectly calm on the bike but once i got off i started to get emotional and frustrated. i was yelling and cursing and promising to never do this again. sunshine (as always) was so calm and kind. she helped me refill and gave me some more ginger to ease my tummy and off i rode. i only had 15 miles left. i was feeling confident in my ability to finish and that was saying something considering i was so fearful of quitting throughout.
as i finally pulled onto pleasant street onto the long steep downhill a smile came across my face because i was heading home. and then i realized that coach k had done something awful, the route continued past (PAST!!) my normal turn and i had to climb a few more hills. this was a bit disheartening although i knew it was only a few more miles and i could do it. by the time i got to june st and turned on through the rotary i knew i was finally home. i wasn’t entirely sure how i would get what needed to get done, done after this ride. but i was done. and i was proud.