Trial By Fire—I Finished!

Yesterday morning, I completed one of Full Throttle Endurance’s most brutal, yet fun-in-a-masochistic way endurance workouts:  the infamous Trial By Fire.

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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:

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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.

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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.

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#WannabeSwimmer

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.

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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.

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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?

8 responses to “Trial By Fire—I Finished!

  1. WOW no really wow that sounds beyond painful and brutal and totally bad ass. I can’t even imagine switching between the two so interchangeably. On a very unrelated note, I bet you had a hunger the size of a horse. Between running and swimming I am like a ravenous beast.

  2. Wow this sounds so intense and I’m in awe for you. Congrats on such a great workout. you will have a break through soon and I cannot wait to see break through!

    • Hollie, you would love this workout! It was more more of a mental challenge than I remember, but that’s good; we hit those walls during races, and we have to buckle down and power through.

  3. That workout does seem like it’s straight from hell, but you rocked it! I really hate that you’re a little disappointed because I am so overwhelmed by what a rockstar you are. That’s great!

    • It’s mostly the mental toughness (or lack thereof) that upsets me. I’m glad this experience reminded me how mentally tough racing can be; better now that during SoBe!

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