I have had a busy month since my last blog post that can really be summarized with one word: PATIENCE.  Allowing the body time to recover – phase 1 – is critical to come back from any injury.  Allowing the proper time to build volume to pre-injury levels – phase 2 – is critical to avoid re-aggravating said injury.  Both phases require patience that often seems harder than the workouts themselves, and when I get frustrated I try to remind myself that at least now I’m in phase 2.
One joyful part of being in the build phase was doing my first complete triathlon of the 2013 season!!!  On July 22nd I competed in the TriRock Philadelphia Sprint Triathlon.  I was a little disappointed with my swim, but I had the most fun I’ve ever had on a bike.  I knew that was the leg to push, I knew it was a short race, and I just floored it around my home turf in Fairmount Park.  I had exactly one goal for the run – DO NOT GET INJURED.  I wanted to turn out steady miles below threshold as I didn’t want to put myself in deficit and strain my knee.  When another Breakaway teammate passed me with about a mile to go, I reminded myself that today was not about racing other people, but rather was about safely completing a triathlon, about starting a very long road back to much longer races, and that it wasn’t worth the risk to try to go with her.  And to my husband’s amazement I restrained my competitive spirit and followed my race plan.  I finished 3rd in my Age Group, but the two real highlights of the day were getting a triathlon under my belt for 2013 and getting an awesome post-race massage from Brian and Olivia at Phila Massages!!

Philly TriRock

Because I didn’t put myself into a deficit for the race, I was able to continue training uninterrupted, and I finally started getting some longer rides on the bike, and gradually – painfully gradually – building back my weekly mileage on the run.
The next test of the season came this past weekend at the Musselman Triathlon in Geneva, NY (upstate NY near the Finger Lakes).  While my running is coming along well, my long run is still hovering around 6 to 7 miles, so there was no point in attempting to complete a 13.1 mile run at the end of the half-iron distance triathlon.  For this reason, I was once again in the Aquabike – just the swim and bike, no run.  Last year, Musselman was Tristan’s and my very first half-iron distance race, and it was an incredibly easy call to return this year.  Jeff Henderson, the race director, and his committee and volunteers all put on a wonderful event.  The town of Geneva is warm and welcoming, the intersections are well controlled, and the local bike shop even fixes any flat tires they find in T1 while everyone’s out on the swim.  There’s a pre-race dinner for athletes and their families on Saturday night, and it was there that Jeff informed everyone that there had been a death in the sprint (shorter distance) triathlon that day.  The latest information suggests that the athlete was distracted by something and ran into a car that had run out of gas and pulled to the side of the road.  Because of all of the love and effort that goes into this race, the death of one of the competitors, Michael Coyle, was even more tragic, if there can be degrees of tragedy in such a circumstance.  Tristan and I both had fitful nights of sleep, and on race morning instead of our ritual question/answer repartee of “What day is it?!”- “RACE DAY!”, we looked each other in the eyes and told each other to be safe.  Being safe didn’t mean taking it easy though, and I fought through the roughest swim I’ve experienced in a triathlon to date.  The water was smooth but I was in the mix with other swimmers’ feet and arms for the whole course.  I still came out of the swim 3 full minutes ahead of where I finished in 2012, and after a quick transition, I was out on the bike!  On the bike I felt smooth, steady, and in the biggest win of the day my power was stable over the whole race, with the last 5 miles being the strongest.  That put all of the doubt and fears from Eagleman to rest.  Overall, I was very happy, though not thrilled, with my performance.

Relaxing after the Musselman race

There’s no rest for the weary, and the day after the race it was straight back to training for me.  I now have my sights set on the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Las Vegas in just under 8 weeks.  My goals have changed somewhat.  I simply want to put together the best race I possibly can, and I will let the overall time and age group place sort themselves out.  I can only control my race, and sometimes even that is beyond my power.  So far this season has been about acceptance of my limitations, knowing when to push the envelope (and when not to), and above all, patience.

Train hard out there, and for the sake of your loved ones, be safe.