After a 15 month hiatus from triathlon racing, I was able to complete my first two of this year!! I’m so happy to be able to participate again that even when I’m panting, my legs are burning or I’m being drown by another swimmer, I’m still smiling on the inside. That’s was this year is all about!
Inevitably, I’ll give an update on the ol’ foot cause that seems to be what has guided my life for the past year and a half. My heel is good to go…no pain! Though it took significantly longer after surgery to heal than I was told to expect (e.g. ~6 months vs. 2 – 4 weeks), it truly seems to be behind me and it’s a great feeling! However, the whole time my heel was sucking my ankle was also, I just didn’t realize how much because the pain from my heel was so much more dominant. Unfortunately, despite a healed heel :), my ankle continues to be pissed off, swollen and sometimes black and blue after I run. It really doesn’t like right turns, slanted roads or rocks / stumps / roots at all. The upside though (!!) is that if I don’t for ~2 – 3 days after, the pain essentially goes away, much unlike my heel that hurt 24/7 leading up to and after Cabo. So for now, I’m running no more than ~2 days a week and no more than 3-5 miles each time and cross training / doing other stuff the other 5 days. And I’m delighted to be able to do that! I freikin’ HOPE there is a day when I don’t have to deal with pain anywhere, but I’ll take this any day after what my heel presented to me.
Anyway, given my ability to run a little this year, I decided I’d do a few races for fun! I don’t have any sort of “race season” planned out, I’m just doing what feels right at any given moment. I’m also trying to select races and courses I have never done before because I think comparing results to prior years would kind of suck, quite honestly. I’m 100% certain I’m not in the best shape of my life right now so no need to pour any salt on that wound.
In early April, I was starting to get the itch to do something competitive. I have been competing in something basically my whole life and last year sucked from that prospective. Racing is fun, it keeps me motivated and it’s a great social outlet. I searched high and low for a sprint so I could ease my way back into racing but unfortunately there weren’t any that fit my schedule. So I quite literally said “screw it” to myself and registered for Carolina International. My sister got married the weekend before so I knew training would be a little lackluster leading up, but I also knew I could (at minimum) complete the race. I had zero expectations on my performance and was just beyond excited to get out there and have some fun. I thought 100 times leading up to the race that worst case scenario, I could walk the run.
The weather was maybe the most perfect weather I’ve ever raced in, the course was great, and it was so nice to have friends and Derek out there supporting. My sister was very bummed she missed my triathlon re-deubt being on her honeymoon, but I knew she was there in spirit! Like pretty much every race I’ve ever done, this race can be summed up as follows: mediocre swim, fast bike, ok run. Some things never change. I very purposfully stayed relaxed on the swim as to not overdue it considering I had been questioning if I had enough endurance for a ~3 hour race leading up to the event. I’m naturally a slow swimmer, so a slow swimmer attempting to stay relaxed = really slow swimmer.
The battery in my power meter was dead on my bike so I rode 100% on percieved rate of exertion. I looked at nothing except how many miles I’d gone. It was nice to ride with no pressure, no numbers, no expectations. I just spun up the hills and cruised hard on flats and downhills. And smiled. I set out on the run excited but in question. I literally had no idea how I would feel. Overall, I would say I surpised myself. Don’t get me wrong, I felt like death at variuos points due to the mountain-like hills that we ran up and down, but given my little run training, I was pleased to see miles ticking off in the 7’s. When you are really dialed into training / racing / results / splits, etc you pace yourself, you know HR’s you should / shouldn’t be seeing, and you know what approximate pace you can run x distance. This was the first time I literally had no idea. I likely ran a bit too hard miles 1-3 but I didn’t do a whole lot of “course recon” (read: none) prior to the race so I didn’t realize quite how hilly it would get. I managed a 7:45 ish pace overall for the 10k with some serious positive splits but seems like that was pretty common…those hills were long!
The funniest part about this race was I went to have fun I ended up winning by default because my friend Carrie swam the wrong course. It was my 2nd only ever race win but will always be “*” to me.
My boyfriend has recently gotten into cycling / triathlon training so we have been looking for his first race to do. Post wedding, my sister was also looking for something fun to do. I recommended Tomahawk because I’ve never done the course, it was nearby and it looked pretty fun!
My focus on the weeks leading up to this race was totally on them and making sure they were ready. We did a few open water swims which are always beneficial to do prior to a race, though I’m fairly certain I’m triathlons worst ever open water swimmer.
Anyway, it poured rain most of the drive down to the race and I thought to myself how much I wished it would stop raining for Derek and Dawn’s sake. I knew neither of them had ever ridden in the rain and they would not be comfortable, but also wished it would stop raining for my own sake. and it did…at least for long enough for us to set up transition and get in the water.
This swim was a time trial start by order of registration which I liked and was happy that Derek wouldn’t have to deal with the chaos of the open water start at his first race. I’ve also quit racing “open/elite” this year partially because I’m not in good shape, but partially because I hated it. I just prefer blending as an age grouper and I was glad I did so I could time trial start with the age groupers too! Dawn, Derek and I were all seeded one after another and that was comforting to have them around before the start.
The swim was nice, a little choppy and definitely very long, but I actually felt good and swam somewhat harder than I usually do. My watch clocked 0.74 miles which is quite longer than 1000 meters so I felt slightly better about my very lackluster time post race, and overall this was an ok swim. I’m working on not pulling so significantly to the left and this was a better effort, though I have so much work to do if I plan to keep racing.
I could feel the rain pick up for the last 200-300 meters of the swim and by the time we exited the water it was pretty much pouring. It rained nice for the first 5 miles on the bike and then it let up. Overall my ride was ok – I rode a bit timid because of wind and wet roads but rode hard when it made sense. The course was a great mix of rollers and meandered nicely through the countryside. I passed quite a few men and a couple women but mostly just spent the 18 miles alone.
I headed out for the 8k trail run even more skeptical than I was for the Carolina 10k given I have next to zero experience trail running and have a pissy ankle that doesn’t like right turns or uneven surfaces. I made a point to run in a pair of trail shoes I have and was thankful I did. The trail was quite nice but definitely challenging to get any good speed going. I wasn’t sure my Garmin was working because it was telling me my mile splits were 9 min or so but, given my lack of trail experience, I thought that pace could quite possibly be true. Thankfully it was not. The course was an out and back and I hadn’t seen any girls coming towards me for the first 2+ miles. I started to wonder if a) I was still on course and b) if there were any girls ahead of me. A little less than a mile from the turnaround I saw a tall girl running towards me looking a hell of a lot stronger than I felt! I didn’t think anything about her again because I just needed to focus on not killing myself on the trails!
I crossed the finish line around 1:56 and was happy to have another race under my belt! Even more exciting is that apparently I was the fastest girl to show up that day too! I realize that had a whole handful of girls I know decided to race, that the outcome would have been much different but heck, they didn’t. The best part was the sweet bag, a hat, a $50 gift card to Inside Out Sports and $300 check that was presented to the winners! I may have to start training specifically for Tomahawk 2015, like, today! And Derek picked up a 3rd place age group and little gift card as well! Serious swag!
So that’s what I’ve been up to in a nutshell. My focus this year is not on splits or times or anyone else’s splits or times, it’s simply on having fun and doing what my body will allow. Winning has been fun, but I’m honest and realistic enough to realize that I haven’t gotten more fit, just a little more lucky. I hope to be able to do a few more races this year but that won’t be decided until I can stop limping from the last one. One day at a time!
Ta-ta for now my friends!