Weekly Wrap. Week 12
I came into this week after a failure to withstand an indoor bike session of 3 hours. This built up a premise, which haunts me till this day – where I am afraid of the long bike sessions and bike in general. Week started off easily with a rest day after all the work I have done and slowly started picking up in intensity and hours. I was still feeling pumped up from the Vitamin D, sun and great energy from the camp, which made me come in those sessions with energy, excitement and readiness to battle anything that my training plan would throw at me. Except the brick run, which I had to skip.
After being back from vacation for a whole week, Dovile and I, finally managed to finish our bedroom renovation and once we moved in and placed our bed there – we were so happy with the result. All the difficulties and time sink we went through, suddenly paid off and both of us were so ready to sleep in on a proper bed, in a separate room. This allowed me to get some more rest and rest itself was better. Therefore, I hit the training sessions being a lot more rested.
At the training camp, we did a filming and review of the swimming technique with the coach. Despite the fact that my swimming improved immensely from autumn – I managed to cut down the time by solid 25 seconds for each 100 meters – we still found many mistakes and improvements points, which I had to focus on. I was very happy to have my mistakes pointed out to me and to understand them. That is why I was hitting the pool and adding some exercises to my morning routine, while watching my swimming improve even more and more.
Things that I started to focus upon are my crawl technique and the way my arm exits the water after the crawl movement. In addition to that, I had a tendency to place my both arms inwards, into the center of my swimming line. However, it was pointed out to me that such thing negates the flow of the movement and decreases my speed. On top of that, we noticed that my core muscles are not engaged properly, which impacts the position of my body. Quite a lot to be mindful of and to improve, but as I said, excitement had me and it is great to see improvements almost after each swimming session. I might try to go into details later on the analysis and technique, but before that I want to continue with the training camp stories. Let me know if you would find it interesting to see some pictures from the swim analysis and more in-depth explanation of the mistakes. As for now, let us get back where sun shines all the time and wind brings havoc on every turn – Lanzarote and training camp.
Days 2: Work hard. It works.
The official work week started on Monday, with a mental preparation on Sunday. We all received an e-mail from our coach, which I have read in a strict voice and delivered the following message “I have landed, will be in the hotel 22:00. Meet you by the pool at 07:00”. Instantaneously I felt that it will get much more serious right now and sort of started my mental preparation for the swim session. Judging by the Sunday we have had and Jon’s comments that it will not get easier, only the opposite – I questioned myself from time to time if I am supposed to be there. Sunday was already difficult to withstand and realizing that it is just the tip of the iceberg we are about to constantly pummel – a bit scare-some.
Nevertheless, I have done some light reading and put my alarm clock with some time in advance to do the stretching and drink absurdly strong coffee. Once morning came, I easily got up and did the yoga routine quietly, so I do not wake up my roommate – Finbarr – as I did not want to be the “annoying” one, during our cohabitation. It was extremely pleasure-some to see the sun coming up, while I stretch and feel the warm, sunny-like breeze of air coming in through the window. Stretching already behind me, I continue with the coffee to “stretch” my face – I have made myself a disgustingly strong coffee – that my face autonomously started doing grimaces. Finbarr got up a bit before I have done my stretching, so it was a free pass on the kitchen and I was still a good neighbor. Morning started strong, just like the coffee.
Outside the pool, I finally meet my coach in person (previously we spoke only through Skype), alongside with Katherine, Claire, Chris, who have joined the camp after the same flight delays. We quickly establish who is in which lane. After Sunday’s swim, guys named me the “faster” swimmer, eventhough I am much slower than Jon, and Chris is supposed to be swimming even faster. I decide to join the challenge and see some hesitation in my coach’s eyes. Jump into the pool and we are greeted with a warm-up before the main session, warm-up is made out of exercises I have never done and I start to feel the anxiety and discomfort from being in the fast lane, while not able to maintain the same effort as the guys. I am being lapped. Warm up done and I get downgraded to the slower lane. Scary thoughts from Sunday only grow in strength, while drowning them in the pool, I proceed with the main set and it is brutal. Much more challenging than what I have done at home. Coach notifies us that you can do 2 sets of intervals or 3. If we are tired and do not feel like it – do 2 instead. I tell myself that even if I am not as quick or strong as my colleagues – I have to work harder to get to the same point, to make it up. They have done their homework to be this strong and it seems there is some catching up to do for me. With this in my mind, I complete full 3 sets. I pull myself out of the pool and feel like a wet piece of clothing. Only to hear that we meet for breakfast in 15 minutes and go for the bike in 2 hours. Trying to do the mathematical calculations, I am missing “rest for a good chunk of time in between” in the calculation. Apparently it is not there.
Inhaling the breakfast and quickly running to our home for a quick rest and preparations for the bike. It definitely feels like there is no time for it. In a blink of an eye, we have to be ready and myself and Finbarr apparently are the last ones to be ready.
Today our bike group consists of the previous local guide Jon and Claire with Chris joining us. I hope that it will be a bit easier and we agreed not to try to keep up with Jon – remember? On some sections Claire was being dropped by us, then Chris went back to pick her up and myself and Finbarr… you guessed it right – followed Jon. Almost a month after, I still feel the pain of that decision accumulating over few days, while I type this and remember it. On this day the wind was even more smashing, than before. I was working my heart out on the bike and it was not enough. We took turns with Finbarr, but whenever any one of us went in the front, it felt like I pushed my limits already and I should turn back to get some rest. The most awkward and painful to realize moment was a good hour and a half into the ride, when Finbarr asked me – do I want to know how much kilometers we have done. Ego in me wanted to answer “Well over 30 kilometers, maybe 35”, more humble and realistic mind came into the dialogue and I replied: “I hope around 30 kilometers”. Unfortunately the demotivating answer from my bike buddy was that we have done merely 25 kilometers. And I already felt like I have been squeezed out through a juice machine and there is not much left in me. And there was still 70 kilometers to go. I collect all the anxiety that is in me, put it aside and decide to roll back on my though from the morning – even if I am not prepared for this, I will make myself prepared.
As before, Jon was being an excellent guide, kept waiting for us on specific turns to show us the road. We agreed to stop by the shop to refill our water and at one stop, I was resting a bit, but I guess I looked less “resting a bit”, more like “this guy can not continue”, so Jon asked me if I am alright. Yes, I am, just stretching and resting. With a bit of searching for my hidden superpower, which is apparently not there. After that stop, the next stop was close enough and we all went to the shop. I instantaneously searched for anything that would give me energy. So I picked up a can of Red Bull, energy gels with caffeine, energy powder with caffeine. Due to the fact that I wanted to buy “all of the shop” – Jon has continued after making sure it is OK with us and Claire with Chris went on a bit forward. But explained where we need to go. Finbarr and I nodded at them, while I continued to inhale everything-caffeine. Few minutes later we take off and we get lost. We go back to the shop and decide to take the other turn, next to the one we originally took. While on-route, we see Chris coming back for us. Once again, I am astonished by this “looking after your colleague” approach. I am humbled. Few more moments we hit our bigger climbs and I get completely smashed again. Finbarr takes off, but I am searching for every tidbit of energy and hoping that caffeine metabolizes any moment now. I live through the climb, downhill gives me some rest. The nature around is such a barren wasteland around some volcanic craters. It looks very unnatural and different to anything else I have seen before. There are even some trips on camels you can take up the craters. When I saw that with combination of my tiredness – it seemed surreal.
After scenic routes and being surrounded by the volcanoes we get lost again. We were supposed to do another climb or something similar to it, but could not find it and took a route back home. Once back at the hotel, there was a brick-run waiting for us – a type of an exercise where you run right away off the bike. Coach did not give us any specifics on what to run, just approximate time to adhere to. I decided to do the same hilly route we have done on Sunday and I paid for it. This was my first brick-run since 2017 September, so my body completely forgot how to function during it. At first my legs felt like two wooden logs connected to me and going up the hill was extra unpleasant, however after the downhill the logs suddenly got swapped with some “jelly” and I continued onward wobbling on jelly. Once I get back to camp, I see the group led by our coach coming back from the bike ride. On my coach’s cycling jersey I see a sentence, which settles my anxiety in its rightful place for the rest of the camp – Work Hard. It works. Simple and elegant. I will keep reminding myself it long after the camp as well. For now: two days completed, four days to go.