Straight up cheesin’ afterward.
If you’ve been reading a while, then you may remember when I got “called up” last year to put my training to the test in this swim, run, repeat suffer fest. If not, then here’s the workout:
Total distances: 1,500 yards and five miles
Yep, you read it right. Swim 100 yards in the pool, jump out, take a brief detour outside, enter the indoor track from the ground-floor, run 400m, head back to the pool, dive in, swim 200 yards, etc.
The yellow cap is me!
And you may remember, a mere 100 yards stood in the way of finishing the session as prescribed last year, so this time around, I went in with one goal: Finish the entire thing.
Prior to the race, my coach outlined my run splits I should hit and hold (1:45-1:52/400m), and as per usual, it seemed like an aggressive range. He also said which females I should try to maintain contact with and which ones I needed to let go. But he did not mention I would be racing alongside our elite women. Which is probably a good thing. It totally would’ve psyched me out.
Anyway, the workout progressed like a real race: setting up transition on deck with sneakers, warming up on the track and in the pool, etc. There wasn’t a lot of time to be nervous. And I wouldn’t even call it nervousness. Maybe anxiousness. Or simply knowing the next hour would be brutal.
So the first sections of the workout progressed seamlessly: 100 yards, 400m barefoot (putting on shoes would cut into transition time and by extension total time, a lesson I learned last year), 200 yards, 800m barefoot. I felt good, I was hitting my paces, and surprisingly I was keeping the top girls in my sights. But I knew it wouldn’t last. It was the calm before the storm.
Forget shoes—get me outta here!
During the 300 yard set, I inadvertently swam an extra 50 yards, which caused me to move from the middle to the back of the pack. And during the following run section, I fell off the pace; 1:50, 1:53, 2:00, 2:03. I couldn’t wait to get back in the water and recover. The 400 yards went fine, but I couldn’t rally on the next 1.5 miles; my splits were stuck in the 2:0X range, and mentally, I was in a bad place. I did my best to break the six laps into, well, six laps and focus on chipping away one at a time. Looking back, I’m obviously upset with the decrease in pace, but it’s the mental slip that makes me feel the most unsettled. This is exactly the battle I’ll face during a race, and I can’t become complacent.
Plus, while swimming the last 500 yards, all I could think about was the daunting seven laps around the track. I knew I would get through it, but I didn’t know how or how fast it would get done.
By some stroke of good luck, I exited the pool for the final time with one of the elite woman. We gasped for air chatted as we slid on our sneakers, and she proposed hitting a 1:50-1:55 pace. In all honesty, I expected to fall behind, but said I’d stick with her as long as I could. And by some miracle, I did and got it done.
So my finishing time for the workout from hell? A semi-respectable 1:08. Yes, faster (and technically longer because I actually covered the entire distance) than last year’s race, but it left me feeling unsettled. The lead women finished in 1:03-1:05, and I know the bulk of that time was lost during the 1.5-mile section. And I know I’m not quite “there” yet—in terms of experience and development—but I want to be. My coach said I’m on the brink right now, and I just need to trust the process, remember that I’m only 24 years old, put my head down, and keep working hard.
What’s the most intense workout you’ve completed recently?