Maggie Rusch

Professional Triathlete

Ringing in 2015 with a 15K Swim

After any massive workout (maybe a big 25K track session or, say, a 15K swimfest with Dynamo masters), there's always the few days after where it's a strugglefest but then you get to experience what I like to call "The Bump." It sneaks up on you suddenly: you're cruising through an easy run or maybe even a usually terrible workout or just a run-of-the-mill swim workout and all of a sudden you feel awesome.

Fit. Effortless. The numbers *just* beyond your fingertips only a few days before are now casually resting in your palm. It might be just me but I always feel the tiniest of breakthroughs after one of these killer sessions if it's set up right.

I know a lot of people knock these massive overhaul workouts or say that they're really more mental challenges than providing any race-specific fitness but I like to disagree from personal experience. I got a nice little bump from my first ever bike camp over Fourth of July 2013, from racing at Coeur d'Alene last year, from SmashCamp and every "special event" 100x100 set that's come my way.

So that's why when Haley started mentioning this BEYOND-EPIC swim that the Dynamo crew down in Atlanta was doing New Year's Eve, I couldn't say no. With a few weeks notice and already well into Hillary's swim camp, I actually was somewhat well prepared—or as much as you can be for a five-hour swim. And then I was stupid and went and did my first yoga class in two years only two days before. I was rubbing my shoulders and triceps the whole drive down praying the dead arms would magically ease up.

Spoiler alert: they didn't.

Atlanta triathlete stud Erin welcomed me into her house, we carbo-loaded the night before with one of my newest favorite tri couples, Betty and Ernie and we set our alarms for a bright and early 3am wake-up call with the goal of pushing off in the pool at 3:45. AM. Yeah, this whole group was pretty much nuts—and there were plenty of us!

 Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 2.17.51 PM

Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 2.17.51 PM

Here's Haley's little recap of our early morning swimfest! We started out strong... and slowly but surely only the strong survived! You can bet I wanted to get out though when we were 2+ hours in and not even halfway!

 Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 2.17.22 PM

Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 2.17.22 PM

What I wasn't prepared for, however, was the long course 50m set-up. This was probably good as it kept slowpoke me from getting lapped but I definitely wasn't used to it, not having swam long course since I was probably in 7th grade at some winter long course meet!

We would get a set at a time on the board, with a set being anywhere from the 1800 "warm-up" (aka me going full steam early on to avoid getting dropped) to I think a 6k set one round and then a 3k "cool-down". Here's a sample set from Coach Maria that super-photog-Ernie managed to capture:

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Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 2.17.32 PM

The pool also smelled of red bull and gummy bears from the fishies Haley and Betty over in lane 1! :) Despite thinking I was going to die the entire time and having to resort to fins somewhere around the 12k mark, we made it all the way to 15k and concluded with a 50m of fly—or, in my case, something that looked a little bit like drowning before giving up 30m in and finishing with some easy free.

We DID IT!

 Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 2.16.52 PM

Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 2.16.52 PM

I have to say, I am in AWE of this awesome little triathlete tribe down in Atlanta and absolutely wish there was something comparable up here in Asheville. Hopefully this is only the start of more visits down South to train with fast friends!

But back to the bump: I almost missed the window to experience it—between getting out of a holiday funk and into a week of pretty miserable flu-like symptoms, I was worried I wasn't doing enough follow-up training and getting enough rest to make the payoff happen. But a few mornings back in a kind of boring masters set we did a descending set of 3x200 on pretty short rest and the last one was a not-so-shabby 2:41. While that's still absolutely nowhere near a PR, 800 into a set off of not a lot of rest, with tired arms and hit a number I haven't seen since before my off-season? YEAH, I'll take it!

*I should note that all of my photos were stolen from Ernie's twitter :)

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