Oh my goodness…it’s been a long time since I posted on here. In the past 6 months, my life has been flipped upside down and A LOT has changed. That is another post for another time. This post is about tackling my comeback into the triathlon world. I am 3 days shy of the 1 year anniversary of the ankle break. We will not be celebrating that day. However, we are celebrating that the ankle is feeling pretty darn good.
I am fortunate enough to be named an ambassador for USA Productions again this year. I plan on participating in almost all of their events this year. First up was the South Bay Duathlon this past weekend. Running has obviously been the hardest for me to regain, but I have been working on it. In a duathlon, you run and then bike and then run again. Ugh….running. No swimming. WHY??? I agreed to race it and so I did.
I signed up for the sprint distance so I could push the ankle in a race setting but not kill myself. This particular race called for a 2 mile run, 10 mile bike, and another 2 mile run. Because I am who I am, I looked up the times from last year and got an idea where I wanted to set my goal time. According to last year’s times and my training times, I could possibly land on the podium. This is always a goal for me, but coming off a year off and not really pushing myself during training, I wasn’t holding any real expectations. And besides, it all depends who shows up on race day.
Off to Morgan Hill we went. The sprint distance had a late start time, 9:34am. It was foggy and cold race morning, but the forecast called for temps in the upper 70’s, low 80’s. I watched as the longer distance race took off at 7 am and headed back to the car to stay warm. There I looked up how many ladies were racing in my age group. There were 8 of us. The thought of a podium finish crossed my mind again, but I didn’t want to put too much pressure on myself. This would be a new approach for me. Breathe…breathe….breathe.
Finally the clock approached 9:30am. I took a short run to warm up the legs and then headed to the start line. As the gun fired, we all took off for our 2 mile run. The lead pack of ladies took off VERY fast. I stayed in the middle of the pack, but when I looked down at my watch and saw a 8:05 min/mile pace, I KNEW I had to slow way down. I let the lead pack take off and knew then and there that I needed to race MY race and let the idea of a podium finish go. I knew at least 3-4 ladies in my age group were in that lead pack. I settled into my run rhythm and pushed a pace I knew I could handle. I finished the 2 mile run in a 8:50 min/mile pace. I was satisfied with that, but according to my training runs, I knew I could run faster. The legs were heavy, but I accepted it and switched into riding mode.
I hopped onto my trusty pink machine and took off.
I kept my cadence at a good pace and passed several people on the first few miles. I even caught up to one of the ladies in my age group. As I passed her, I called out ” Catch me on the run”. I knew I would have to create a good sized gap to hold her off on the run. My ride continued strong. I pushed on the flats and kept a high cadence up the single hill on the course. The 10 miles were broken into 2 five mile loops. The second go around, I was able to push more since I knew what to expect.
As I came into transition, I was feeling hungry and didn’t have any nutrition on me or waiting for me in transition. Bad move.
I hopped off the bike, grabbed my running gear and heading back out for 2 miles. The legs still felt heavy, but I had a goal and I wouldn’t let it slip away. At this point, I knew I hadn’t caught enough ladies on the bike portion to think about a podium finish. It was now about racing MY race and push my body to perform. I ran and attempted to hold a 9:00 min/mile pace. That pace slowly slipped away as the legs got heavier and heavier. I shortened my stride and dug deep. As I made the last turn, with .2 miles to go, I knew I had to turn it up and finish strong. I dropped into a sub 9 min/mile pace and crossed the finish line.
I wasn’t super happy about my performance since my legs felt heavy and weak. I was disappointed because my training runs had been strong. Regardless of my time, I was happy that the ankle didn’t bother me hardly at all during the race. I had set a time goal for myself and I ended up crushing that. I raced my race, and beat my goals. That is what success is all about.
I hung out with my mom and daughters and waited for my friend to cross the finish line. After she crossed, I noticed that they had posted the finishing times. I headed over to check out how I did against the other ladies in my age group. I was SHOCKED to see that I had finished 3rd in my age group. Oh. My. Goodness. I had given up on the goal of standing on the podium and I was okay with that. I would have been happy finishing anywhere in my age group because I beat the goal I set out for myself. That is really what the day was about. Finishing on the podium just happened to be an added bonus.
I collected my award and congratulated the other two ladies that finished before me. I thanked the girl I passed on the bike for pushing me to run hard to the finish line. (She finished only a minute or 2 behind me.) I love the triathlon community for this reason. Everyone is so supportive and friendly. Yes, it is a competition, but we are all there to push and challenge each other, as we push ourselves. I was proud to race among that group of ladies.
So, what is in store for racing this year? Well, like I said, I will be participating in as many USAP events as I possibly can. I will likely bump up to the longer distance as my running miles increase. Hopefully as the race season continues, my training will become more consistent. With all my life changes, training has really suffered. With that being said, I bit the bullet and signed up for a 1/2 marathon in Santa Cruz on April 9th. Again, I will be going into this race with zero expectations. I really just want to see if the ankle will hold up.
Now to get back to actual training……
photos courtesy of USAP, Gary Brooks, and Roy Kikunaga