Yesterday was the final Rev3 race of the season in Venice, on Florida's Gulf Coast. I had been targeting this race all year, figuring that I'd finally be ready to race hard 9 months after Amy was born. I finished in 5th place, which was not the result I was hoping for, but one that I am happy with and kinda proud of.
Ten days before race day, I injured my back. All along, since having Amy, my back has been a constant source of aches and pains, which I'm guessing is something that happens to a lot of Athlete Moms. It's not one thing in particular, just general soreness in different areas. It hasn't slowed my recovery much, but it has been a serious annoyance. But this was different. I had significant pain while swimming and biking. Running was out of the question, even on the alter-g treadmill. On Tuesday before the race, things escalated to the point that I hauled myself all over NYC going to doctors and getting an MRI to rule out a stress fracture or anything else serious. I was pretty much heartbroken at this point, with the thought that I was not going to be able to race. I found out Wednesday that there were no fractures and got the go ahead from the doctor to race. It was a relief to have answers, but still disappointing to think that the loss of training was probably going to effect my performance. Meanwhile, the daily ART treatments from Carolyn at Fusion were starting to work and by Thursday things started returning to normal. I could actually walk without pain and swimming and biking easy were almost painfree. I didn't dare try running, but the improvement was encouraging. I went ahead with my plan, as if I was racing and traveled down to Florida. By the time I arrived in Florida, my body felt much, much better and I was ready to go. I had realistic expectations, but wanted to give myself the chance to race - just to see what I could do.
My MegaTaper (two weeks of not running a step and only easy swims, bikes and runs) left me feeling pretty fresh by race day, although it's not exactly a plan I would recommend. The race started with a calm swim in the Gulf. I followed Emily Cocks around the course and we exited the water together about 30 seconds down from Meredith Kessler and Lauren Goss. Jen Spieldenner was about 1:30 ahead of us. By the time I got to my bike, I had my work cut out for me to catch the girls ahead, who by this time were out of sight. I just put my head down and went hard as if it was an Olympic distance race (25 miles) and not a half ironman (56 miles). After about 15 minutes, I could see people off in the distance and somewhere around 10 miles, I made contact with the group. I was able to back off the pace, which felt good, but at the same time felt weird. I'm not used to racing at a pace that's not all out. Meredith (who is very experienced with this race distance) was setting a powerful, steady pace, so I just stuck with her. The course was almost completely flat and there were sections with headwinds and tailwinds. By the time we pulled into transition, Meredith and I were together with Lauren about a minute behind and Jen about 2 minutes back. My back felt surprisingly good on the bike, I executed my nutrition plan exactly and ended up getting the bike prime (an $833 bonus for having the fastest bike split). This is the first time in my triathlon career that I've gotten this prize. Over the last month I've been focusing on riding my time trial bike - riding on the trainer on weekdays and getting outside on the weekends.
Turns out my perfectly executed nutrition plan may not actually be a very good plan. It's something I hope to figure out before the next one of these long races. The run was very hot (at least by my standards) and I struggled from about 6 miles into the 13.1 mile course. My back didn't hurt that much, but I felt really dehydrated. I was in podium contention until about mile 7 when things started to fall apart. I ended up with one of the slower run splits of the day and crossed the finish line in 5th.
It was a relief to finish the race and I was very happy that I was able to pull off a top 5, considering the lead up to the race. It's encouraging to know that if I can race like that with two weeks of worry and pain, then maybe under ideal circumstances, I'll race even better.
I hope all of the other racers had as much of a rewarding experience as I did out there. The pros are the ones who get the photos and write-ups on the triathlon websites, but there are so many other stories within each race. Thanks for reading my story and we'd love to hear about yours. Feel free to share in the comments section below.
Congratulations to Meredith for taking yet another win and for Lauren and Jen tough fought second and third places.