Entering Nation’s I had been battling a debilitating right Achilles injury since late June. In August I finally took some advice and began regular “Active Release Therapy” (ART) treatments with a local doctor. My running form was all off, leg muscles were weak, and I wore shoes that placed additional stresses on the lower leg. In the six weeks leading up to the race, I managed five ART visits and only 7 short jogs mixed with walking; so, my pre-race run training really focused on rest and leg exercises.
I have now done 5 triathlons, and this was my first in the rain. I only mention this because I really could have been better prepared (dress, transition area set-up, etc.). However, I quickly reminded myself of two things: one, everyone was dealing with the rain; and, two, my bad Achilles made doing a strong 10K unlikely.
GOAL: Finish race (due to injury); DREAM GOAL: Beat 2:56:10 PR set at Nation’s last year
SWIM: Last year, finished in 32:10 (did not wear wetsuit). This year, I wore a wetsuit in a race for the first time and came home in 28:31 despite all the contact. Came out of the water in 54th place out of 314 age groupers. Really liked the new buoys/distance markers.
T1: My happiness quickly vanished as I gave nearly all of my decreased swim time back during that new, looooong run through T1 (last year: 2:27; this year, 5:19). I put on a good face though, focusing on proper footing on the road/mud and testing the Achilles (a bit tender). Six additional age groupers passed me during T1 (did not care) and I started the bike in 60th place.
BIKE: Last year, finished in 1:14:29 (20mph). This year, I rode surprisingly fast in wet conditions and lots of turns and came home in 1:05:22 (22.8mph). Good enough to pass 32 age groupers and come off the bike in 28th place. I credit my 5-month old Cervelo P1 and a proper bike fit (first fit in my life). Only one guy passed me at the very beginning and he ended up riding the course in 1 hour flat. Yelled Left! a lot; lots of people riding 4-5 abreast at the same speed. What pleased me the most is that I rode conservatively (out of habit) to save something for the run. I just did not want to strain my calf/achilles (slow run time acceptable; a DNF would be harder to swallow). Very excited with my smoking PR.... then that looooong T2 smacked me in the face (last year: 3:55; this year, 4:06).
RUN: Oh, if only I were healthy!! I could jog, but had no toe push-off and had to "run" more flat-footed. This made my ankles extremely sore by race end. Could only manage a 1:01:58 (10:00/mile). Ninety-nine age groupers passed me on the run and I fell from 28th to 127th place out of 314. In fact, out of over 4,000 finishers, over 3,000 had a faster run time than me. On the positive side, in spite of the terribly slow "run", I still did a 2:45:13 without ever going into oxygen debt... just too injured to really press it. Also, aside from the ridiculous transition times, I got PRs on all three legs and for the course.
Considering my injury, I am very happy with my day!
I am excited to see if I can have a "no excuse" race next year..... assuming I can stay healthy through training and enter the race with a solid run base! It also would help to lose some of my Clydesdale weight. In the race photos I look like a tank running with Gazelles!
Did not see any MMTC folks at the race. In particular, I wanted to see if Mark Yost was still sporting his tattered wetsuit!