“And this is why I will only train with Fleet Feet.”
It wasn’t me that said it, but it easily could have been. We’d just finished biking from Alliance Bank Stadium through the Farmer’s Market, past Carousel Mall, and around Franklin Square. For some, it was their first time on roads with clipless pedals. For others, it was their first time riding in a paceline. For me, it was everything I’ve come to expect from a Fleet Feet class. Meaning, there’s no way on earth I would have done it outside of this, but we showed up scared and left a little bit smarter, a little bit more confident, and a lot more cohesive as a group. Also hot, sweaty, and (let’s face it) probably smelly. Fleet Feet has that effect on people.
At the end of the ride, they tacked on a 20-minute run. You know, for funsies. It ended up being about 4 laps around the Alliance Bank Stadium parking lot. Somewhere in the middle of lap 3, I was coming up with all sorts of things I’d rather be doing instead of running in circles in a hot parking lot (including, but not limited to: pretty much anything else). I get to that point in most workouts. I’d love to say I’m the person who shows up with a fantastic attitude and spends the whole time pointing out how beautiful the tulips along the way are, but somehow even tulips manage to piss me off when I’m about two-thirds of the way through a workout.
More importantly (and slightly less horticulturally-inclined), it’s why I run, bike, or swim with a group. So when I start making my cranky face, they can smile and say, “Come on, it’s one more lap. We’ve got this. This is nothing. If you want, I’ll even stomp on that tulip, just to teach it a lesson. And have I mentioned lately, you look like you’ve lost weight?” Workout buddies, they’ve got my back.
On my own, I would have run 3 laps today. And skipped the biking through the mall bit completely. Possibly left out the run, actually. I mean, it was hot…and early….and Saturday. Who runs on Saturday??? I don’t. But we do. Turns out, there’s a whole lot I won’t do. And a whole lot more we will.
We’ll run over bridges, even if we have a fear of heights. We’ll get on the bike again, even if we fell last time. We’ll wear swimsuits. Period. We’ll finish that fourth lap even though we felt like quitting on the third. We’ll discuss doing core (and then decide not to, but at least for a moment, we considered it. Then the moment passed…). We’ll rearrange our schedules, change our eating habits (“please pass the suet” was not part of my vocabulary prior to this experience), and double our weekly laundry. We’ll laugh, cry, spit (not always successfully, but we’re working on it), swear, trip, and – more often than not – we’ll go that extra mile. And do it with flair. Or pizzazz, depending on our moods.
Riding in a paceline today was, to me, a celebration of all that we are. Seeing the communication, teamwork, and trust was something I don’t think I’ll ever forget.
Which isn’t to say that riding around cones wasn’t awesome too…but cones are kind of like tulips, in that they somehow become annoying to look at. So, I say stomp on them too (but maybe wait until the coaches aren’t looking. Or else, tell them Sarah’s blog told you to do it…).
Drafting and Defeat (aka ‘swimming’)
Normally, I swim at the Valley pool. I like it there. Aside from making sure your stuff doesn’t get stolen, there’s very little stress at Valley. Not everyone knows how to circle swim or share lanes, and you do occasionally have to wait while a child takes their swim test in your lane, but all of that is fairly low stress. Which, come to think of it, is probably not good preparation for Iron Girl. But it keeps me getting in the pool, and that’s good enough for now.
Friday, however, there was a deviation in my schedule. As fate would have it, I ended up swimming at the YMCA in a lane with 3 other women. One of them was training for a 70.3 and the rest of us were training for Iron Girl, but one of them had done it before. They seemed nice enough, so we all agreed to circle swim and I told them to just go ahead and pass me whenever they need to. My training buddy and I did laps, drafting off one another (well, ok basically I just drafted off her the whole time, but who’s counting?).
Now, please explain to me why I was the one drafting AND I was the one dying at each of the breaks?? Because, mathematically speaking, that doesn’t add up. Despite destroying the laws that govern the physical universe (actually…maybe that’s physics, not math? In that case, never mind, universe is all good), my training buddy finished each set perky and conspicuously not out of breath. Meanwhile, I considered just grabbing her ankles and letting her pull me up and down the lane (since she obviously wasn’t working hard enough…what can I say? I’m a helper.).
About 3 laps into this frustrating process (aka ‘swimming’), I decided to graduate from that emotion and step right on up in to panicking. The other women were faster, I was drafting and still falling behind, my jaw was hurting from a recent trip to the dentist (he apparently thought I needed incentive to better appreciate my shoe-shopping experience…), and my neck was starting to twinge like it was thinking of choking me (which is does occasionally, just to keep life interesting). All in all, my stress level was rising and the truth was, I was doing an easier workout than any of them (because I was drafting) and I was still struggling more than them. They were stronger, faster, and better.
Which, while irritating, shouldn’t be frightening. It’s not like I don’t think there are people out there who are better than me. (Although, let’s face it, Lance Armstrong didn’t feel the need to go back to doing triathlons until our team joined the field. Hardly a coincidence. And, he won his first 70.3 on the day I graduated. Which is obviously somehow related in a pivotal, 7 degrees from obscurity kind of way.) It’s more that I just want to have some days where I finish my swim not feeling quite so defeated by it all.
They keep telling me that the swim is going to be fine. Nobody wins it in the swim. Which I think is true, but that doesn’t mean you can’t lose it in the swim and that’s what I’d prefer to avoid, if possible. I mean, if I’m already struggling…what’s going to happen when we add the stress of open water and five billion women all jostling for positions?
10 weeks to Iron Girl. Fleet Feet has their work cut out for them. Meanwhile, I’m going to go take Sarah’s advice and find some cones to stomp on... And I’ll do it with flair.