Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

A month ago, I thought I was at the beginning of a Comeback – with a capital “C”!  I was going to steadily increase mileage, yardage, and intensity until in just a few short weeks I had returned to pre-injury form.  The future was bright and shiny and full of hope!!!  I was (a little) delusional.   Running started to aggravate my knee when I ran over 3 miles, and thus I have taken another four week hiatus from my favorite leg of triathlons.  This personal discipline is born of painful experience gained stubbornly ignoring sprained ankles, broken collarbones, and messed up knees where I stretched what should have been a 2~6 week injuries into year long ordeals of sub-par performance (see the article Brian at Phila Massages shared on what recovery really means for reinforcement that solid recovery is just as critical as the hardest training days).  I am making progress with swimming though and have returned most of the way to my pre-injury yardage in the pool.  The bike is coming back too, though there is no substitute for simply putting in the miles on the long rides and I’m still feeling the mileage deficit, which brings me to… RACING!

Due to my various injuries, I sat out my first two planned triathlons, but I was determined to get back in there for Eagleman.  It should have been my first half-iron distance race of the year and an early test run for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Las Vegas in September, but instead I had moved down from the Triathlon to the Aquabike (just the swim and bike – no run).  Taking out the strongest leg of my race meant I had revised expectations, and really I was just hoping for a solid swim and to hold my target power on the bike.  The swim was slow (though I later learned that pretty much all my fellow competitors agreed, so relatively speaking it wasn’t as disappointing as I had originally thought).  As I got on the bike, I tried to put the swim out of my mind and focus on getting into a rhythm at my desired power.  At mile 5 I felt great and was right where I wanted to be.  As the miles rolled by I basked in the joy of racing, of pushing my limits.  And then around mile 35 I started to struggle.  My lack of preparation started to show, and my wattage slowly started to tail off.  By mile 50 I just wanted the race to be over, and when I finished the bike at mile 56 I was very happy I did not have to stare down a half marathon.  My initial analysis of the race for my coach was “that was a f***ing disaster”.  Not my most eloquent thoughts, but I was frustrated.  If I am honest with myself though, it was a race that reflected where I am currently.  It’s a wake up call for the work that I need to put in over the next 3 months, but I am out there and I’m racing.  In a small field I also finished first in my age group and was declared the Female 25-29 USAT Mid-Atlantic Aquabike Champion, so that was a bright spot for a less than thrilling personal performance.

Female 25-29 USAT Mid-Atlantic Aquabike Champion

I continue to declare myself on the Comeback trail.  However, taking the combined lessons of past injuries and way too many hours spent playing Candy Land, I accept that it may not be a straight shot to the Candy Castle, that there may be detours through the Lollipop Forest of physical therapy, I might get stuck in the Molasses Swamp of re-aggravated injuries, and to ditch this tortured metaphor entirely, I will need all the help and support I can get.  Brian at Phila Massages has been working with me recently and will support me through my return to running, Todd – my coach – continues to provide both moral and practical support, and the entire triathlon community has been there for me, as almost to a person each has his or her own injury tale.  Despite all of this, or maybe precisely because of the challenge, I continue to love the crazy sport of triathlon, and I will continue to push to get back to 100%.

See you out there!