Following my breakdown this spring, I’ve been trying to find as many places as I can to cut back on stress, and every doctor I see emphasizes the importance of this to me. Stress only exacerbates several of the issues that my bloodwork and physical symptoms indicate, and at this point, I don’t have a choice. This has meant skipping out on my team’s training camp in Lake Placid because of how it lined up against with my work schedule, saying “no” to a lot of things I’d like to do, and just trying to live as simply as possible.
It has also means that I’ll be giving up the work I’ve been doing as a head coach for a synchronized swimming club effective today.
I’d been growing a little bit sad about this as the team competed at nationals last week and registered the best finishes our club has ever seen – the best swims and scores and placements we’ve ever had by a long shot. And performance aside, it really is an outstanding group of young women. We had a series of travel mishaps including delayed flights, a mid-meet hotel switch, and a record-setting heat wave, and they all adapted without complaint. Try getting that out of any other eight teenage girls. I dare you.
But then I got sick on Saturday. Really sick. Sick enough that I skipped my workout and missed going to the beach with the team. And this reinforced to me that I can’t possibly keep up with the demands of my full time job and the coaching work.
When I took on the work as “temporary” head coach with the club in 2006, there were 5 swimmers, and the team competed at local meets. But now, we have about 25 swimmers, including junior and senior national qualifiers, routinely register podium finishes at zone meets, and are the most successful club in the mid-Atlantic. As you can imagine, this is a MUCH more time intensive proposition than it was seven years ago. Add to that the fact that my day job changed dramatically after the 2011 Tohoku earthquake, and the combination of the stress and time demands from both jobs was bound to take its toll. This is part of why I’m currently sitting here with an iffy thyroid and God-only-knows what else wrong with my body.
And it simply isn’t sustainable. I realized this in the fall of 2011, knowing that my workload at the office would only be growing, and told the board of directors for our club that the 2012-2013 season would be the last for me. I will miss a lot of the rewards of serving as head coach for this group, and it’s been amazing to see them grow from almost nothing to a national-caliber team. But I cannot do justice to what the job entails. It’s not worth getting deathly ill after every long travel meet.
That story out of the way, the trip to nationals in Riverside, CA last week, along with the mystery illness that knocked me down all day Saturday, definitely impacted my training. There was minimal time on my bike, and not a lot of swimming or running.
But on a positive note, you know those 10 pounds I gained in a week this spring? Well, a few came off in the last couple of weeks with increased training volume, but after being almost deathly ill on Saturday, the rest is long gone.
If only I could patent this and sell it as a “miracle seven pound weight loss formula.” I'd be rich.
Monday: 40 minutes of strength training and an hour on the bike trainer with a 15 minute interval building up to Z4.
Tuesday: 3500 yards of swimming before getting to Dulles at 7 am to travel with the team, only possible because Ida Lee in Sterling, just a few miles from the airport, opens up at 5 am. This worked out perfectly, because our flight was so delayed that I wouldn’t have had a chance to swim after we got in.
Wednesday: Found a treadmill at a nearby gym for a speed workout at 5 am. Did just over 5.7 miles with the main set alternating 0.25 miles at 7:30 pace with 2 minutes of jogging at 9:30 pace.
Thursday: Rest day, needed after spending a lot of Wednesday outside in the sun while exposed to 100+F temperatures.
Friday: Another treadmill session, this time, it featured a tempo run. 5.72 miles total, including 20 minutes building from 8:20 to 7:35/mile. Later in the day, 3000 meters of easy swimming to loosen up before judging in the blistering heat for several hours.
Saturday: In theory, I was going to swim. In practice, I woke up in the morning very, very sick and didn’t manage to get myself vertical until 4 pm. I was not sure how I was going to drive 70+ miles to the airport for the redeye home, but the athletes need me to drive, so I managed to make it happen.
Sunday: Still super dehydrated, I slept a lot and finally got onto the bike trainer for just under 2.5 hours of steady spinning. I was supposed to do 50 miles out flat riding outside, but wasn’t willing to risk getting sick on the road, because that’s just dangerous.