Every breath felt like my deflated lungs collapsed and refused to take in air; the sweat poured to cool my body but it refused to be consoled; when do I get to stop, when do I get to rest? With wide, desperate eyes I looked at the ticking seconds and imagined the final 100 meters stretched out in front of me. I can hear nothing over the noise of my own breathing. And finally it was over. Finally the turn over slowed and my head lowered as I heaved inward to get oxygen. The heart rate monitor read 170. How many more can I ask my body to perform. Twelve were on the schedule but each one was its own journey to hell. Midway through each one I began to fight with my mind. "I can't finish this one. I'm going to slow down. How many more do I have? Ah, I want to cry."
And so it went this morning for the first portion of the workout. The positive take away: Intervals ... finally!!! The negative take away: they were performed on an elliptical machine in a gray, dingy, smelly gym. Do they NOT believe in air?
After I finished with the elliptical, or as it were, after it finished with me, oh, and that little stretch of planks and crunches, I skipped along like a little girl in pigtails (only I had a ponytail) to my waiting bike. Hopped on, clipped in and rolled along to the second portion of the day's workout. Oh this is so fun, but my backpack weighs 50 pounds. I'm a girl, I don't pack light. What can I say.
After I slipped into my Dolfin Ugly suit (note that mine is not ugly, it is the most fabulous combination of blues and purples, kind of like a bruise), I walked the cold pool deck under thick marine layer. Do I really need to warm up for 600 meters after what I just did? Yes, apparently. Oh, my arms were not happy. They thought their work was done for the day, but you see they never listen. They are always shocked when I hit the water and ask them to pull me forward. They think their only job is to swing by my side. It's an ongoing issue. One day they'll figure it out.
So coach, really I have already done my workout today. Maybe this can be sort of a nice slow pace, kind of like a long warm down. Sometimes I think that coach has hidden little horns on his head and a red thin triangle tipped tail tucked away somewhere. You would think that the fact that I'm his wife would have some pull, but it doesn't. As my sorry arms dragged my body through the water at a pace I hoped NOT to have to do, I began listing things in my mind he would soon be deprived of.
Our set was impossible ... literally. How many 200's can I do at base minus 5 without substantial rest. Need I remind him that I already worked out. So here it is. The main set: a merciful 4 x 100 at base +10 followed immediately by 3 x 200 at base -5, a short rest (I emphasize short), then another 3 x 200 at base -5. Then we got another merciful set of 4 x 100 at base +10, but that went directly into a final 400 all out. Well let me just say that I was truly "all out" by then. Then it was off to the deep end for vertical kicking. I don't think I've ever heard so many F bombs dropped in such a short amount of time. One of my lane buddies couldn't control his verbalization. I almost drowned because it is impossible to laugh and keep your head above water at the same time while vertically kicking.
So came the end of my workout. This is what I did to replace what would have been my magical long run but the doc says no running. For two weeks now I have again laid off running because I am finally in the care of a great doctor who is fixing me. With a left leg one inch shifted longer than the right leg, I have been grinding my Achilles tendon against the edge of the sheath through which it should go straight and smooth. For a year I have dealt with an enflammed knee that has been at best questionable. My hips have been torqued and running puts pressure on everything and the natural compensation that occurs has been injury inducing devastation. Sooooo ... the doc said no more running until I get this straightened out. The good news is that my knees are level now, my hips are tracking properly, my knee is significantly better, I have absolutely no more pain in my Achilles even when I squeeze it to death. Doc says I have made rapid progress and I have responded well. I have been running for at least two years, if not more, inefficiently because of these issues and I've fought through to the extent that I could, achieving PR's late in my running career, but the doc assures me that when I return to running, I will finally be running efficiently. I anticipate feeling more freedom in my stride as if a wall has been removed, but we will see. Maybe he'll let me go back to running next week. Maybe not yet, but I will wait for his green light and then nothing's keeping me back after that!