Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Turning a breakdown into a breakthrough

Unappreciated view from Cordelia Park
This past weekend was off to a great start. I got to sleep in a little bit before heading out to indulge a rare treat of an outdoor long course workout. While it had stormed through the night, the morning was crisp and brimming with potential. After throwing down a solid 4500m, the boys and I headed out for a nice, yet humid, little run through NoDa and my old 'hood, Plaza-Midwood. It was a fun little jog down memory lane (except for the blistering fast pace set by The Boss). A late breakfast, a little R&R, an aerobic ride, and a short dinner with the girls . . .  done-zo for the day-o.

It's kitty time!
Never one to shy away from adventure, I committed to heading over to the Wilksboro area to ride the infamous Brushy Mountain route Sunday morning with Chuck Norris and The Champ. I was feeling a little intimidated to ride with these guys as I know from personal experience they are both strong climbers and really tend to push the hills. I figured the two guys would just feed off each other and leave me behind like chum in the water. Unfortunately for me this was the least of my worries. About 90 minutes into the ride I blew up. We were on our second climb and I was struggling to breathe. My heart rate skyrocketed and I felt like I was hyperventilating. The combination of clouds, cooler temperatures, and high humidity beguiled me to believing I did not need to eat or drink anything.  Yet when I hit the top of Lithia Springs I was drenched and had a nice steady stream of sweat rolling off my nose as I bent over my bike trying to catch my breath.  Thinking I had just overcooked it, I continued on with the ride feeling quite helpless as my mind and body slowly and painfully deteriorated. On the last big climb of the day I found my legs barely capable of pushing my pedals. I contemplated getting off my bike and sitting on the side of the road until someone took pity on me but since I was so busy throwing a pity party for myself I ended up lumbering my way up to the top without additional assistance. When I finally caught sight of the guys my mind was almost in full blown tantrum mode. Chuck Norris tried to memorialize the meltdown via video.  Luckily a few words in the right tone put an end to those shenanigans. I silently finished the ride stifling expletives and whimpers as my adductors and quads continued to cramp. I was frustrated and disappointed in myself for not being smarter and fueling appropriately but mainly for letting it get to me. The celebration for reaching our final destination was short and sweet but only when I watched Chuck Norris head out for a post ride run did I realize 1) this stuff isn't easy 2) I should be thankful I get to do it 3) I am constantly surrounded by the amazing athletes/friends. And with that I rang my air cowbell as loud as possible for Chuck Norris as he came in FTW.

The transformation
Monday morning I woke up to a new day. Thoughts of yesterday’s (almost) complete meltdown were (almost) long gone. I packed my swim and lunch bags as if on autopilot and lumbered out the door with my coffee in hand. As usual I was late walking on deck and I was easily the last one to start warm up. Thanks to the cramps running up and down my thighs my legs were not feeling too jacked. Warm up ended too early (said the girl 15 minutes late) and the first warm up sprint set felt like a slap in the face. Finishing the last sprint 50, I am fairly sure I saw a little gleam in Johnny Tango’s eye as he cheerfully wished us a happy July 1st and announced we would be doing a 1000 for time. I would be lying if I claimed I was not downright giddy. The other girl in my lane, a distance swimmer from Brown, made the executive to not do a broken 1K, as some of the other lanes were doing, much to the dismay of the sprinter from UNCW. It was clear Ashley and I were in our element as we both very quickly settled into a groove. The poor guy in our lane didn’t have a chance as we averaged 1:06s per 100. The last 150 didn't feel so hot but I finished the 1K satisfied and content with my effort. Unfortunately that feeling was fleeting as we were told to begin an 800 IM for time on “the top.” I waited patiently for Johnny Tango to instruct us on how we were to break it up but as I feared it was supposed to be an 800 IM straight. I didn't have time to reflect on it as “the top” came fast and unyielding to my concerns. Surprisingly the 200 fly felt pretty smooth so my insecurities shifted from the butterfly to the breaststroke. Breaststroke has always been my nemesis. Luckily Ashley and I are equally poor at breaststroking and while neither of us drowned Cody did manage to catch up a little bit. Finishing the 800 IM once again quite pleased with myself, I was ready to kick back into a long drawn out cool down set. Nope. 200 free for time. Awesome.

Johnny Tango, he looks innocent enough
Just goes to show you everyday is a new day. Don't commit to yesterday. And don't forget to HTFU.