The Preparation: Moving, Oops I Broke My Foot, and Recovery
Let's get a few things out of the way: it is not an ideal way to be training for long-course triathlon by changing jobs, moving halfway down the Eastern Seaboard, and having no bike.
Fast-forward to the end of July. I was aboard my new-old bike.
(It's the same frame I was on last year, but one size smaller as it turns out it would be better for me. More on that in a minute.) I'd been running a bunch with Tim, who now also works for Rev3. And as it turns out, I have a 25-meter outdoor pool at my apartment complex! Not bad!
So, Tim and I were out for a run at lunch. The Rev3 HQ and future home of Shop Rev3Tri (my tentative name for the place) is located across the interstate from the Manassas National Battlefield Park. We have a trail system that cuts from the shop, under the interstate at Bull Run, and right onto the battlefield. Awesome running!
We went out for another one of our staple lunch runs: out to the field, around the visitor's center, and back. We'd been hitting some solid 7:10-7:20 pace for the entire 10K loop in the middle of the heat. Figured it'd be good heat acclimation.
We start out cruising for the first little bit: well under 7:00 pace. Great. Tim's back in shape. I'm screwed.
We make it under the under pass, and it's a bit damp from the previous night's rain. So we went higher than we normally did. Stepped down and
I had hit a rock, and it rolled my foot onto the lateral side that wound up taking the brunt of the my landing force.
I staggered a few steps. Well, it doesn't hurt much...
...so I kept on trucking. I told Tim at the turn-around that I thought my foot was pretty well hosed. "Suck it up, princess. If it were that bad, you wouldn't be running." True. Right?
Wrong. There was a PT in for a Retul fit later that day who noticed me limping. So I was told to get it X-rayed, which revealed the partial fracture of the fifth metatarsal. Into a boot. No running for two weeks, no kicking while swimming (leave the jokes about triathletes and their lack of kicking while swimming at home), and cycling if I could cram my foot into the shoe and it not hurt.
Awesome. Project All-In has been a bust.
Things healed relatively decently (I still have some flexibility issues on that toe). I rode Skyline Drive for the hilliest ride of my life. Lost out on a ride at Rev3 Wisconsin Dells to build aid stations. Because hey...stress is stress. Or something.
I kept telling myself to remember how fit I was in July, all of the work that I had done. It hadn't gone anywhere, and the stress that I was introducing to my body was still fatiguing me, and I needed to recover from it. Although I wasn't receiving the same kind of cardiovascular load from the activity, I needed to still not try to overdo things and make up for sessions I'd missed.
Also, I had in the back of my mind that I was trying to race Rev3 Maine for Ulman Cancer Fund's Team Fight, in honor of my late father-in-law, as I mentioned in the previous post.
With all that, it was time to load up and head to Maine.
Pre-Race: Expo Building, Working, and Enjoying Maine
We travelled on up to Maine on Wednesday evening, and promptly crashed.
Woke up Thursday and got in a quick ride on the new bike, just trying to dial everything on in. Then headed off to work. Thursday is a hectic day in the life of a Rev3er. To give you a sense of what happens on Thursday:
- Snow fencing goes up
- Finish line arch is built
- All the electrical gets run
- Information, VIP, Registration, Medical, and Retail tents built
- All vendor tents built
- Retail fixtures are stacked, created, and merchandise received/put away
- Transition racks mounted into place
- Anything else we can cram in during the course of the day.
Friday rolled around and we started expo. Good times! Was a bunch of fun seeing everyone again, including nemesis Bob Turner.
Saturday. Pre-race day. The nerves really started to hit home today. I woke up and helped out with the Team TriSlide pit at the swim start. We got into the water and OH GOD THIS IS STUPID MIND-NUMBING COLD WHY DO I DO THIS OH GOD! This doesn't begin to accurately describe the alarm bells in my head.
Swam for a bit, and after about 20 minutes I finally got adjusted a little bit. Just in time to start heading back to work!
Got back, worked for a fair bit, and then headed out for a ride with teammate Michael Hutto. He's one strong dude. There were a couple of times he put on surges that I had to respond to...and I had a whole bucket full of nothing. Quassy 2.0 flashed through the brain.
Racked my bike and headed on back to work. Snagged some dinner and went to bed.
Sunday: It's Go Time.
Woke up bright and early and downed breakfast: bacon, egg, and cheese wrap with a boatload of coffee. Good to go. Put on the Team FIGHT colors and was ready to roll.
Got myself into transition early. Saw friends and fellow M25-29 Dr. Zev and Adam. Finished setting things up for the day and then took the 15 minute long walk down the beach to the swim start.
I managed to get into the water for a bit to warm-up, and headed out after 5 mind-numbing minutes. Found Michael again, and we stood together for a few minutes, including during the National Anthem.
Soon, it was go time. Down into the chute. Joked with Eric (race director) about not working too hard. He said the work was over. I told him that seeing as he was done with work, he could take down the retail tent later. That didn't go over well.
Countdown time. Nerves high. About time.
10 to go. Luckily, I knew who would be blowing the air horn, so I could just watch for him to trigger it.
I was the first one into the water out of the group. Whoa. Me, in the lead. The hell? I lead out for the first 200 meters or so, when the group caught me.
I knew I wasn't in strong swimming shape, but I figured I still had about a 34-35 minute swim in me. I tried to stay with the chase pack and find a set of feet to stay on, but people were just ALL over the place. Seems like the cold turned everybody's compass off, and we were adrift.
Made it to the first turn buoy in 10 minutes. According to the swim diagram, that means I covered .35 miles, so I had averaged .15 miles per 5 minutes, or right on 35 minute swim pace. Not great, but not terrible.
The problem: the long side of the course was against the current this year, unlike last year where it was with the current. I couldn't find anything to sight off of, but I wasn't being passed...so it can't be THAT bad, can it?
Made the turn for home, put in what felt like a good solid push, put my feet down, looked at my watch...
...and saw 37:XX.
I immediately threw out all expectations for the day. Forget going under 5 hours. Forget chasing Adam. Bob will be right up your tail soon.
Took a nice run up from the swim start, all the way back to transition (it's over a third of a mile). I got some words of encouragement from Adam's girlfriend, Sam. I asked how far ahead he was, and was stoked to see him just leaving transition as I was leaving. This meant I knew that something had to be up with the swim, as he is 6-7 minutes faster than me normally and on this day he was barely 3 minutes up.
Ran down to the bike, and got myself ready to rock.
I got over the mount line, and told myself repeatedly: ride smart.
I decided that if anything, I would wait until the last hour of the bike to push. But I had already stopped checking the Garmin. I just didn't want to know. Figured I'd go off of feel. I was going to not push the hills; I was going to just enjoy everything.
The first 15 miles clipped off uneventfully. I had a small draft-pack of aquabikers and M40-44 move past, followed by a tractor-trailer that was none too happy about this here triathlon taking place. Once he was past, all things carried on.
We rolled into the hills, and this is the spot last year I blew my race apart. So this year I just kept a steady, even effort. Don't redline to climb. Just because you can climb like a madman does not mean you should do it during the course of the race. After all, you do still have to run...
At about mile 40 is where the Durgin-Turner freight train trucked on past. I figured the way they were biking that they'd be dead meat come the run.
I knew I'd been putting in some good pace as I had climbed past some fellow wave starters, and I wasn't moving backwards in the age-group. I kept wondering where Adam was, as I had caught him at Quassy relatively easily. But he was nowhere to be found.
I took a glance at the Garmin at the mile 50 mark to realize that I'd be riding under 2:30. Awesome. But immediately, doubts crept back in: did I overdo it? Am I going to blow up? I told those voices to shut up, you can run, and that this is why I don't look at the Garmin.
Came hauling back into town, flew off the bike, and away we went running into transition.
I scrambled into T2, and for the first time, actually ran past my rack. Whoops!
Hannah yelled down to me, and I asked how Adam was doing, when she informed me that he was 6:30 ahead. Holy crap. He was having a hell of a day!
I slipped on the shoes and socks, and away we went.
This is really the tale of two runs: the first 10 miles, and the last 5K.
I took on off out of transition and felt really, really good. Saw fellow Rev3 mate Jordan (who I promptly called a sandbagger) and Michael, who were racing the Olympic. Again, I wanted to be sure I wasn't pushing or forcing the issue. The first few miles just clipped off.
We turned onto the Eastern Trail and came upon the run turnaround for the Olympic. I was moving well, but determined to not look at the watch. I simply didn't want to know! I got passed by a guy in M30-34 who was amazed I'd be running that fast in the shoes I was wearing. Alright, so I have to be moving well, and I don't even feel like I'm breathing hard! Awesome!
Out onto the exposed part of the course, and man it felt warm. I was determined, though, to just keep trucking. A little past the mile 6 marker, I saw Rick, Adam, and Bob in short order. Looks like I'd taken some time back! Sweet.
Run turnaround time. I glanced at the watch and did some quick math: I have 57 minutes and change to make it home. If I can't do that, I need to be taken out back and shot.
You see, Jordan has come up with the cleverly named pOOPS, referring to athletic induced stomach issues. And things were getting desperate at about mile 10. I glanced at the watch and realized that I had just under 30 minutes to get back to transition. So...if I had to walk a minute in order to prevent a full-scale crapstorm of the most literal sense...so be it.
See, ever since I'd decided to race for Team FIGHT at Maine, I knew I'd cross the finish line with the "In Honor Of" plaque I'd dedicated to Peter. The original plan was to have Hannah on the corner with it to be able to hand it off. As it turns out, Doug was there for me. He yelled out, and immediately I saw what he had. Snagged it, and made my way around transition.
Final corner...and the tears flow.
The realization and emotional let-go after racing for 70.3 miles.
Finally. Finally breaking through. Finally feeling like I executed everything. Finally feeling like I'd properly given everything I could to everybody. I finally nailed it. And to get to do it in front of so many family and friends...wow. I don't get here without all of you.
Now, onward and upward. Recover. And do it all again for double the distance next weekend. Here we go! To use a saying from Peter to wrap this one up:
live every moment.