Allow me to share a recent swim with "The Wonder Twins" (ie., Denton and Nate). I've been upgraded from Manatee to Guppy. Sweet.
I cannot believe this happened again.... !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ...........but I was first to get in the water to warm up. Denton got in soon after me (this ploy was probably to bring in the element of surprise). I was heading towards the wall prepping to flip turn when --- WHAMO (!!) ---- Nate completely cannonballs on me AGAIN (see last swim post!). I popped up, screaming LOUD (in exaggerated hysteria) and cracking up ..... Denton and Nate high-fived and laughed like two pubescent 10-year olds who just nailed someone with a water balloon from the 5th floor balcony.
Coach Nate came up with the workout on this day. After our warmup, he barked out the main set. He and Denton were doing a series of really fast 50's ......... I got assigned a longer set. *sigh*
Nate: Carole, you're doing a 1000, 800, 600, 400, 200.
Carole: (in exaggerated annoyance) Ugggggggggg. Come ON. That's boring!!!!
Nate: You need endurance. This is a better set for you today than what we're doing.
I knew he was right. I hated to admit it but he was.
Carole: (with exaggerated sad face) uggggggg. Ok....
Denton: Keep them steady, Carole. Try to hit consistent 100's.
Nate: You alright or do you need some help?
Help = does that set need to be broken up a bit to help with the boredom, etc.
Carole: Noooooo, I can do it... (again, with exaggerated annoyance)
They laughed at my sarcasticly enhanced sad face. I was not looking forward to this longer set alone, but I knew Nate was right. It was what I needed.
At the top of the pace clock we all pushed off and began our sets. I would get so jealous watching them goof off in between 50's with all the rest they were getting. Man! That was the part of swimming with them that I loved so much. I was totally missing out on the FUN. But I pressed on - I had a job to do. I got through the 1000, 800 and 600. As I was prepping to start the 400, they were finished with their workout and were chatting in the shallow end. I was most definitely losing steam - a reflection of my lack of endurance. They urged me on as I pushed off for the 400.
When I finished it, I was pretty tired. My face was bright red and I was pooped.
By now my boys were on deck, talking. Nate had a towel wrapped around his waist and Denton already had on a shirt. I was jealous they were done. They both looked down at me from the deck.
Nate: You're doing great, Carole. Keep it up.
Carole: (in VERY fatigued tone) thanks.....
Denton: You ok?
Carole (again, in very fatigued tone) yeah....
Nate: 200 to go, Carole! Make this the strongest effort. Really push this. Break 2:20 here.
I had about 20 seconds before my push off. Mentally I was preparing. I had nothing left to "push this" but I didn't complain or say a word - I just got my head together and prepared for the suffer fest.
But then Denton did something I will never forget. The dude was done with practice, had dried off and was half dressed. He yanked off his shirt and jumped back in. I didn't say a word, I just focused, but that meant so much to me. Denton was going to join me on this last one to pull me through it. Bless him.
Denton: Ok Carole. Last 200.
Nate started clapping and whooping it up on deck to help fire me up. This was the last hard effort of the day and it was game on. These two were seriously commited to helping me. I would have probably laughed at how seriously they were taking this had I not been so exhausted. It took every ounce of energy I had to commit to this last two minute and twenty second effort.
Nate gave us the send off. I was really pooped but was in the moment and was determined to get it done. The way Denton pushed me was masterful and reflects how well he understands me. He stayed right next to me, dead even, in the next lane - but every once in a while he would nudge ahead, just enough to provoke me and force the competitor (who we feared died long ago) to come back. If he had pulled too far ahead I would have gotten discouraged and not pushed it, but being just close enough to get to with an added push sucked me right back in. I would accelerate and pull up even with him (panting breathlessly and about to implode).
Halfway through the 3rd 50 he did something really smart. He dropped back just a tiny, tiny bit. Athlete psychology is really important - not many coaches realize this. Sometimes it's important to give the athlete, who has legitimately been working hard, the psychological boost they need to motivate them to keep going.
A few years back I was working with an athlete on the bike - she had been working really hard for a long time and that particular ride was killing her. I wanted to boost her confidence. We headed into a 5-mile stretch where she'd be doing a "race pace" effort. On my cue I launched her off and told her I'd be on her wheel.... she was breathing hard and giving it everything she had - and as the miles went on I allowed her to pull away from me, just enough so when she glanced back and I wasn't there, she'd feel even stronger. Dropping someone is a huge mental boost to an athlete, especially when you're working so hard and are fried. It doesn't register in the moment that the person is doing it on purpose, you just know you're ahead. That's what matters.
On this day - Denton was pulling the same trick. And it was working. I was nudging ahead of him and working really hard to keep myself there. He would pull back up to even us out, but the ploy to keep me ON IT worked. We touched the 200 even. I was completely fried (Denton wasn't even breathing hard - the stinker!). Definitely, my best effort of the day, and exhaustingly so.
Nate leaned over the pool deck and high-fived me. "Nice job, Carole", he encouraged. I was still panting like a dog....Denton patted my shoulder and smiled as he said to Nate, "That's our girl...".
I'm so lucky to have their help. They're both so good to me and I am not sure I can adequately express how much what they do for me means to me. My slow swim speed is almost a joke for them - but they are right there pulling me through and pushing me to be better.
Plus we three laugh all the time. That's probably the best part - and, let's be honest, the best way to keep anyone motivated. Right?