January 20, 2006

I Feel Wonderful

Evening Workout
BIKE (Lactate Threshold Test)
45 minutes
Heart Rate Zone: As high as I can get it without dying. Dying would be bad. Then again, it would definitely mark my upper threshold of pain.

Random Comments: Pain is temporary, pride lasts forever.


Coach Gareth has this laminated card that he uses for Lactate Threshold testing. It's got numbers on it, from 1 to 20, and next to every other number is a word. It starts at the top, by the number 1, with the words "very very easy". Then it scrolls down through "very easy," "easy," "moderate," "hard," "very hard," and on through the chain until it finds itself at 20. I don't remember what the exact words are next to 20 because whenever I reach that stage, my eyesight is usually blurry from the pain of the testing. My guess is that it says something like "Stop! For the love of God, make the bad man stop!"

Every four minutes throughout the lactate threshold testing period, Gareth tosses that laminated card in front of your face and says, in his venerable English accent, "how you feelin' mate." And you're supposed to look at that list of 20 numbers and the accompanying statements and pick which one best represents how you feel at that moment. Then he pricks your finger, sucks some blood out and ups the intensity for another four minutes.

After about 4 or 5 of these, I'm pretty much wiped out. Blotto. I'm pushing myself with every ounce of strength and will I have left in my body. Every pedal stroke feels like I'm pushing a mac truck. Every second that ticks by on the clock moves so slowly it seems like time keeps pausing, like it is mocking me by saying "I can stop whenever I want. I can make you have to live with this pain forever. Look at me, I'm the clock. I own you. You are mine, bitch." And when I can barely stand it anymore, when my eyes have gone cross-eyed, my legs are burning in pain, my heart rate has reached it's limits, shot up and rung the carnival bell, Gareth slaps that card in front of my face and says "how you feelin', mate?"

I'll tell you how I'm feeling...mate. I'm feeling like crap. What number is "crap"?! What fucking number is "if I had the strength I'd reach out and strangle you for making me go through this pain." That's how I'm feeling, thank you very much.

Yet somehow I manage to select a number and continue on. He pricks my finger, sucks out the blood, increases the intensity and I pedal harder. And harder. And then, a few minutes later, my legs eventually give out and I can't push anymore.

I'm in a daze. Gareth usually shifts for me into a much easier gear until I feel my legs slowly circle around again. I pedal tediously on, until my heart rate drops back down to sane levels and my mind springs back to life. It's at this point that the endorphins start to flow. A smile creeps across my face as pride envelopes my body. I reached my limits and busted through to the other side. I survived.

"Good job, mate," he says. "How you feeling?"

Wonderful. I feel wonderful. Thank you.

I live for this.