Well... we all thought we were in for a light workout at today's practice... After all, the calendar says "Recovery Week". I suppose we all forgot to consider that our wonderful Coach Beth has a penchant for pain.
Our workout? 200m warmup, consisting of 25m alternating kickboard drills and kickboard "fin" pulls (we place the board between our legs like you would a pull buoy and swim... it ensures you don't twist your lower body in the water by forcing you to lift the weight of the water if the board twists too far.)
Main Set: 800m continuous swim. That's right... 800m! That's 300m more that our swim test, and for those of you quick with the math... 1/2 a mile!
Now, I have quite a bit of difficulty with the kicking thing; partially because I am dense as a stone and partially because I have a hard time keeping my toes pointed in the water. Still, that was the easy part.
After a minute of rest, we began our main set. I was doing OK for the first 200m or so, and then I began slowing down. Coach Beth and Coach Ryan noticed this and began "cheering" me on. I pushed through. 250... 300... I'm pausing at the sides of the pool, doing the breast stroke, gasping for air and bouncing on the bottom of the pool. Coach Beth reminds me that I can't bounce on the bottom of the lake and urges me to keep pushing. "No stopping Jordan!" she shouts, "200 meters! You're in the middle of Lucky's [Lake] now, you can't stop, you've gotta get across, c'mon!". Coach Ryan tells me I just have 4 more laps. "JUST" four more... I take off again. Fighting the water (which apparently is my biggest problem).
Every time I hit the edge my coaches egg me on, "You can do it! No Stopping". So I keep going. I hear Coach Ryan tell me that I have one more lap and I put my head down into the water and SCREAM; I come up for air, take a breath and it feels pretty good, so I do it again, and again for the entire lap... It helped... Noticeably so because Coach Ryan asked me what I did on that last lap... my best lap.
One minute of rest and I'm back in the water; 300m to go. I'm OK on the first lap, but by the second I'm gasping for air again, by the third lap my legs are cramping. Coach Ryan tells me I shouldn't be using my legs that much anyway and that my arms should be doing most of the work, pulling me through the water. Coach Beth tells me to work through it and reiterates to me that I can't stop in the middle of the lake or race. I take of again... Gasp::Breast Stroke (my version of it anyhow, the one where my head goes under each time)::Bounce::Swim. I'm trying so hard to fight the cramp and to not stop.
My teammates are all done with their swims now and chime in to motivate me to keep going. Coach Ryan tells me to "Bring out the rage!". I put my head down and scream in the water again, willing my legs to stay afloat and my body to keep swimming despite the pain in my legs and the desire for more air. I tell myself that I'm in the middle of the lake and that I just have to get to shore and it will all be over. I finish strong, and Coach Ryan once more tells me that that was my best lap of the set. I'm just glad it's over and that I can stretch my cramping calves and have something to drink.
Coach Ryan gives me a few pointers on being more efficient through proper use of my arms as "paddles" in the water and tells me he will no longer be "nice Coach Ryan" because I have three choices; 1. Be Ready, 2. Be pulled from the race, or 3. Be MedEvaced (sic) from the water at the race. Coach Beth wraps up practice and we discuss nutrition, techniques I need to work on, and other methods of torture to get me swimming right. Bring it on I say. I made a promise to myself and my Coaches that I would do this and I WILL do what it takes.
So much for recovery week...