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Triathlete Blog


By April 2, 2008June 9th, 2015No Comments

This morning, I arrived at the pool at 10 for masters. Small problem. Apparently there is swim practice every other day at 10 am except Wednesday.


Honestly I didn’t know what to do. So I walked back into the lockerroom and sat down on a bench. Faced the possibility that I was going to have to either write my own workout or drive back home.

(how is it that I can write dozens of workouts each day for my athletes but faced with my own dilemma I can do nothing but sit on a bench)

I decided to pull up my big girl suit and write my own. I thought about the goal for today and realized that the masters swim would have been mostly IM anyways. So I knew I had to pull something out that was mostly IM. Plus I realized this was the perfect opportunity to knock off a good portion of the SuperFly Challenge – something that had been sitting in the back of my mind since yesterday.

If you don’t know about the SuperFly Challenge you should check out Pedergraham’s site. The idea came to me a few weeks ago when Ness – one of my athletes – sent me an e-mail that said she was itching to do 400 fly. I just about blew coffee all over my laptop because it’s not often that your athletes write to you and say something like “I want to do 400 fly.”

It got me to thinking why don’t we all do more fly. For crying out loud there is only so much free you can swim. And I don’t think one needs to swim 4200 yards of all free to become a better swimmer. It’s all about getting a feel for the water with more strength and quality sets. No matter what they are.

So I dropped the idea of an IM/fly-focused challenge to the Queen of the Swim Challenge Sets, Pedergraham, and the Superfly Challenge was born. The day after the challenge was set, Ness ripped out a 400 fly. Afterwards she started smack talking the rest of us so I knew I had to respond.

Please note: I have utter respect for an athlete willing to smack talk their coach. After all, the amount of pain in her body on a daily basis rests in my hands. To smack talk that is very brave. But must come at a cost. At first I tried to punish her with things like 25 fly no breath. Then she threw it back at me by saying she did the first 25 fly of all 100 IM’s no breath. I then realized that you cannot punish a swimmer with swim things and sit here in front of my cauldron of evil workouts waiting for the perfect punishment for her in the other two sports (more on this later….).

But back to the challenge she set forth with me. It came in the form of an e-mail yesterday that said something along the lines of while you were playing in San Diego the rest of us were making major progress on the SuperFly.

Great. Not only am I being smack talked but I am also behind. And I don’t like being behind. So I sat on the lockerroom bench thinking about how I could get most of the challenge done in today’s swim. And then it came to me….

Warm up:

300 swim
4 x 75 dolphin kick on (1) side, (2) back, (3) stomach, (4) side
4 x 75 rolling IM done as fly-back-breast; back-breast-free; breast-free-fly; free-fly-back

Main set:

4 x 50 IM order
200 pull w/paddles breathing every 3 – 5 – 7 – 9 by 25
4 x 100 IM order
200 pull w/paddles breathing every 3 – 5 – 7 – 9 by 25
4 x 200 IM order
4 x 50 IM order *for time*

Cool down:

100 free

I almost called Ness. Take that workout and shove it in her no breath 400 fly face (nothing but love for you Ness). This was the ticket. Today I would be SuperFly.

With workout in hand, I walked out of the lockerroom door and I swear I heard Curtis Mayfield playing in the background. Oh yes, the game she plays she plays for keeps, hustling times and ghetto streets….ok that last part was totally inappropriate for the pool but at best you could say the lane I take is the lane I keep, hustling times all IM no free trying to get over…..trying to get over….

*wait a minute*

Trying to get over what?

Myself. You see, about a year ago I wouldn’t do IM. I was one of those triathletes who didn’t do IM. Because I was too good, too focused on free, too unprepared. Really there was no good reason for it. Not to mention that I probably frustrated more than one masters lane mate in the past few years. Think about it – showing up to a swim team and not doing 75 percent of the swim strokes is like showing up to a baseball practice and saying “I don’t catch the ball, I only hit it.” Sure, there are specialists on the team that are better at hitting than catching but chances are everyone on the team can both catch and hit the ball.

And that is why this year I decided I have got to do IM. I felt like I couldn’t be a “real” swimmer until I at least tried. Plus I was suspecting lane mutiny if I showed up for another year of masters with no ability to do anything but free.

There I was one night November, I had no skills probably no right to try but I decided to try 25 fly and realized…

It wasn’t so hard. In fact, it is just like it looks. As adults we tend to overcomplicate things to the point that we resist our willingness to try because we don’t fully understand it or know exactly what to do. A child would just jump right in and do it now matter how ridiculous it looked or how awkward it feels. That was me, the child willing to try. I didn’t care how you did it, I just wanted to try.

Fast forward a few months later and here I am. 75 percent closer to being a “real” swimmer because I can now at least do some semblance of all four strokes. And ready to become a SuperFly.

I warmed up with first part of the set. Rolling IM, 4 x 50 IM, all things I have done before. But I arrive at 100 fly and know this will take some work. But it’s just two laps. I can do anything for two laps. So I give it a try. And before I know it I have done 100 fly, back and breast and then relax into my familiar free.

During the next 200 pull I started thinking about the 4 x 200 ahead. Part of me was scared about doing 200 fly but part of me was looking forward to it with giddy anticipation. I’ve done it before but the last time I tried 200 fly I had to stop at each wall for 5 seconds to catch my breath. I remembered how much it hurt in my arms and lungs and the more I thought about it, the more I got scared. Because it would burn. Because it would hurt. I started to think maybe I just wouldn’t do it. Forget the challenge, I don’t need to do it anyways.

Then I realized that things we think we don’t need are probably things we need to do most. I realized that I was just scared of myself and my body with the burn and hurt. Come on, Liz. 200 fly – four laps. It’s not like you’re going to get stuck mid lap and not be able to start up again. Or run out of breath. Or arms fall off. Or choke and die. It’s 200 fly. It’s not a mountain or a marathon. It’s 8 lengths, down and back.

I stood at the wall, waiting for the clock to hit the top and right before it did I said to myself:


(I have noticed this is becoming my mantra for training lately since every week I seem to be attempting something completely out of my bounds)

First 50 is easy. The trick is to lighten up on the kick and just let your arms move through the water without much force. The next 50 is not so bad since I just did 100 fly a few yards ago. The next 50 is where I start to feel the burn. I want to hang on the wall but keep pushing off knowing this time there will be no 5 second pause. The next 25 I feel a bear – or my coach – or Ness – has jumped on my back and the last 25 I realize I am probably doing nothing even close to real fly but when I touch the wall I know that at least I tried.

And, I did it. With only one illegal turn and one slightly too long turn at the 175 mark to take a really deep breath. 200 fly was in the bag.

Followed by 200 back. During which I realized that at the 150 mark you can really feel yourself on top of the water pulling in a rhythm just like in free. And then 200 breast which seemed more impossible than 200 fly – I mean, I could have been doing 200 breast for something like 6 minutes at my rate but I got through it. And then settled into my good old friend 200 free which at this point felt like nothing at all.

The last 4 by 50’s were just an afterthought. Originally it was another 200 pull. But what if I threw in 4 x 50 IM order. For time.

The cauldron of evil workouts was bubbling.

So I did them. HARD. Hurt, burn, hurt, out of breath, legs, arms, core are fully engaged and after 200 yards…..fully done.

After the swim I realized I had today become a SuperFly. I did the challenge and could now smack talk everyone else. And I also realized how much I have come to enjoy the support of everyone on the blogs. Each time I found myself before the fly set I thought of everyone who had already done it and most importantly of Ness – who had been brave enough to raise the bar for herself which then overflowed to everyone else. We keep pushing each other to better ourselves and anyone that argues triathlon is not a team sport – well then I encourage you to join our legion of bloggers and try the SuperFly.

Of course no matter what I accomplished none of it cancels out the fact that Ness still smack talked me. Talked sassy to the coach. And for that – there is a price. Like I said, it won’t be a swimming penalty. Not this time, my friend. As I drove home I thought I would pick something a bit more challenging than no breath fly.

Then it came to me – hill repeats. But not the usual kind. That’s too easy. I’m talking uphill skips, up a steep hill, 6 – 8 times with the first 4 easy and the last 4 no breath.

That’ll teach her to sass.