Heaps of Frustration

Just-keep-Swimming

I’ve been going through a lot of emotions since making my decision not to press on with my Ironman Lake Placid training. For over a year, that race has been stuck in my mind, nudging me as I wake, sneaking up on me during runs and sometimes pounding me over the head when making race arrangements but then it all suddenly disappeared and I no longer have this gigantic goal standing in front of me and I have very mixed emotions about it.

On one hand I am relieved because I can’t will my body to get better. In fact, I’m over a week into the antibiotics and am almost done with them but things aren’t totally in the clear yet so I’m headed back to the doc’s tomorrow morning.

With this relief though comes a huge sense of frustration on multiple fronts.

-Frustration with such a goofy “injury” to have me not be able to continue on. Its not like I broke my arm or rolled my ankle badly but when your saddle area is infected, it has to be able to heal and things like running and biking too soon can only prolong the “injury”.

-Frustration with not knowing how the rest of the season looks. Once I got through with Lake Placid, I was going to have fun but keep training for the rest of the season. I’m registered for Rev3 Anderson Oly and Rev3 Florida 1/2 Iron but things future wise are so up in the air that I can’t even make plans a month out from now. I’m a planner by nature but this is even beyond my normal idiosyncrasies.

-Frustration with leaving a lot of time out on the Raleigh 70.3 course. I don’t think I’ll do a full race recap because I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on that race and just know that I didn’t have a great day out there and that a 6 hour race time is definitely do able. Several factors contributed to a less than ideal race.

1. I cramped with about 200 yards left in the swim. I went to clear my through of phlegm and coughed so hard my calf cramped. Prior to the swim, I realized I hadn’t taken my salt stick tablet and that it was in my bike box. Not a great way to start things off.

2. Just 15 miles or so into the race I heard a noise resembling a flat rear tire. Mentally, I was trying to keep it together so I hopped off quickly and inspected the bike. Nothing was found which was so odd because of the noise but I was thankful. Around 40-45 miles on the course, I went to change from small to big ring and the chain dropped. Off the bike again to grab the chain and get it back on. Grease all over the hands and girls I had just worked on passing passed me.

3. Saddle issues. The bane of my existence. I was ok for about 20 miles but once we started climbing and into the wind nonetheless, things did not go well. Moving centimeters set things on fire and I was not a happy camper. Like I mentioned in my previous post, had I needed to go 1 more mile on that bike I would have called it a day.

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4. The bike issues caught up with me on the run as did the heat and the lake water. My stomach was just so full of air and gas that I kept having to stop to dry heave. I have never walked so much in a run or race before but it was all I could do to keep things under control with my body. I got through the run on flat coke and water because as I made my second lap through downtown Raleigh, it certainly wasn’t the crowds since everyone had left and just us last wavers and some older guys were still out on the course, in the hottest part of the day no less.

5. With all that being said, I want redemption at Raleigh and hope I can do so next year. Its a good and fair course and one that I want to give another go at. Final time for Raleigh 70.3 was 6:33

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So since Rev3 Knoxville and Raleigh 70.3, I have been on an emotional and physical roller coaster. I have never felt super strong this season nor have I felt real confident. Both of these are unusual for me. I know there are several factors to this: fall and winter achilles tendonitis/plantar fasciitis, up and down workouts where I get on a roll and then something happens (foot cramps towards the end of the swim, saddle doesn’t cooperate) and my training plan gets altered and I don’t reach my full potential, and a general questioning of why I was doing Ironman Lake Placid in the first place.

I haven’t spoken about this much at all because there were times where I would get really fired up about the race but there were many more times where I questioned what I was doing and why I was doing it. This is not a good mind sight for your Ironman training. I know I want to do the 140.6 distance and do it to my satisfaction but a lack of training partners, injuries and general feeling of progression kept those thoughts swirling around my head.

Another big part of these lackluster feelings has been weight. I don’t like to talk about this just like most women don’t but I have gained weight during the Ironman training. Even though I’m not really training right now, I have lost weight. I went into Raleigh a lot heavier than I would have liked which I know affects my speed and race time. This has been super frustrating and something I am working on with my coach and family.

During this long distance training I have found I miss the speed and fun of triathlon. Since I was injured going into this training, we had to kind of skip over the speed stuff and my times have suffered because of it especially in my running. Not getting my tendonitis under control sooner really put things behind the 8 ball.

The run has always been my strongest leg of the race but this season I have no base to rely upon and have seen my times hang where they used to when I first started running. This has been really tough mentally as I know I am capable of running low 8 minute miles but I haven’t sniffed those times all season.

While I’m feeling more confident in my swim, its not reflecting in my swim times and it has become discouraging to keep coming out of the water to empty racks around me because I’m towards the back. I’m always playing catch up on the bike and run.

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I know with hard work and focus, I can turn these two things around, especially my running. While I haven’t been able to run or bike for the past 2 weeks, I’ve been swimming and have done two of my longest swims yet both in the ocean so I am pleased with that. I’m going to really start studying the swim stroke and work on my technique because I’m finding that my lungs are really good right now so I know I’m not taxed but something else is out of whack.

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Typically, when I need to burn off steam I exercise; so now that my steam burner has been cut off, the anxiousness increases. Yesterday it seemed as if all of my triathlete friends were racing or training really well. It was killing me knowing that I too should be doing that but couldn’t. My fire for triathlon has been reignited however so I’m really happy to have that feeling back.

I’m crossing my fingers and toes that I can get back on the road soon and start to piece together my second half of the season and start to work towards my new goal of Cozumel in November. That course suits my training efforts here in Florida much better than Lake Placid does and it is easier to travel to and enjoy than Placid as well. Right now, I guess I have to just keep being patient as my parents say, though my whole life I have had significant trouble with “being patient”!

In the mean time, my fundraising efforts continue for the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation in memory of my grandfather. I am having a local yard sale soon and am looking forward to not only decluttering but also generating cash for the MMRF from the sale.

Until next time…..Just Keep Swimming.

Just-keep-Swimming

PS I did get to swim with two sea turtles during my swim this past Saturday and it was such a cool experience. It definitely made my day and helps me get back into the ocean now that its turtle season so I can hopefully see more!

Tough Decisions: Ironman Lake Placid

I’ve been meaning to write my Ironman Raleigh 70.3 race report for some time now, the race was June 1, but with being away for a  couple of days post-race in North Carolina and returning home to a lot going on and recovering, I just haven’t found a suitable time to do so.

This post is not going to be about Raleigh though but about my season thus far in general. I started my training plan for Lake Placid in mid-March of this year. I was recovering from achilles/plantar issues in my left leg and had not been running for several months. I was doing some shorter bike rides and some casual swims. When I went to Vegas, I got my butt kicked in Red Rock and found I had zero fitness going on. Just a couple of days prior was my longest run for quite awhile, 2 miles!

As March turned to April, things were rolling along pretty smoothly though conservatively. I raced St. Anthony’s sprint in late April and felt pretty good and was just happy to get to the start line.

By May, I was having saddle issues during longer rides and so began my ever long quest of finding a saddle that did not produce tears and audible grunts every ride. Needless to say, I am still on this quest.

Rev3 Knoxville Olympic race occurred in mid May where I had lots of climbing for the first time. Post- race I felt ok except for my saddle area. Without going into too much detail on any of this, lets just say things were not happy for quite some time.

The week after Knoxville I did not bike except for my longest ride to date on the Ironman FL 70.3 course in Haines City where my friend Amber and I rode 62 miles. I was in some serious pain that day but got by with some Chamois Butt’r reapplication but man did I start to worry about Raleigh 70.3 the following week.

By this time heading into Raleigh, my longest ride was 62 miles and my longest run was 14. I was taking time off to let things recover and heal but its been quite the process. Throw in weather and general Ironman training fatigue and things were getting rougher.

Post Haines City, I did not ride again prior to Raleigh 70.3 on June 1. When I hopped on my bike before pre-race racking, I was uncomfortable and uneasy and that was just a 2-3 mile spin to check the bike over. I knew the following day was not going to be a fun one but I tried not to think about it and was excited to ride on a beautiful course.

Race day came and during the bike portion of the race, any time I moved a centimeter on my saddle, I got sharp, burning pains that left my legs tired from trying to alleviate any additional pain during the ride. I could feel things on fire and tears welling up towards the end of the ride. If I had to ride one more mile as we climbed the last hill into transition, I would have probably quit at that point. I walked into transition with my bike, racked and walked to a volunteer to get my gels in my kit. I have NEVER walked a transition before. The subsequent half marathon was brutal as it felt like sandpaper and ripping for the next 13.1 miles.

Long story short, my post-race vacation in Pine Needles, the golf mecca of NC, was not filled with golf but rather a bed, tubes of neosporin and advil. I even lost a toenail and let me tell you, I rather lose all 10 toenails than deal with what I’ve been dealing with. It doesn’t even compare.

As I returned to FL, the swelling was slowly going down but there was certainly no biking or running going on, when I walked, it was as if I had been on a horse for a week straight.

I started back in the pool towards the end of the week and started to face the reality that we were 8 weeks out from Placid and I had just lost another week of training.

As that week rolled into this week and I woke up this past Sunday morning not feeling great and knowing things weren’t improving, I headed to a walk-in clinic. I received two antibiotics and was told no running or biking until everything was healed.

I was demoralized. I cried in the parking lot because I knew that no matter how much my mind and spirit wanted to will these issues away, my body was going to take its time to heal.

Following that appointment and calming down and reflecting some more (something I’ve done a lot these past couple of weeks), I made my mind up to not continue my pursuit of Lake Placid. I consulted my parents and friends and coach and everyone agreed that with now 7 weeks out and an insufficient training bank to fall on, I would risk injury before/during/after the race and a giant uphill battle to even get to the starting line.

The path to this decision has not been taken lightly nor has it been an easy one. When your training and racing is public knowledge, it is difficult to say you will not be lining up with the other competitors on July 27, 2014 in Mirror Lake. I am a competitive person by nature and do not like not being able to compete. I’ve been competing in sports my entire life and rarely did I miss a game or event due to injury. I have spent over a year thinking about this race but I know that these races are not going away any time soon and that I will have another chance at crossing an Ironman finish line; it just won’t happen on the date I thought it would. I have read too many times about athletes who only think in short-term considerations and end up doing more damage in the long run. I’m only 28 and want to be able to continue this active lifestyle for a long time to come.

So….I’m hitting the restart button and letting things heal before getting back to training. I have been swimming frequently and in fact did my longest swim ever last night in the ocean with our group. It was about 1.6 miles I believe and I was happy to reach a new milestone.

I’m still uncomfortable with things physically but now I’m not putting the pressure on my body to recover quickly. Once things are healed, I am getting another bike fit done and hopefully will solve the saddle issues.

Should everything start to fall into place, my goal and hope is to register for Ironman Cozumel which is held annually over Thanksgiving weekend. When I first thought about my first Ironman, this one was the original one I targeted but chose Lake Placid in the end. I know the universe has a strange way of working things out so maybe I was destined to race there all along!

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With regards to my fundraising with the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation, I am still going and still need your help! I am currently at $3600 and should I reach $7000, I will shave my head. A promise is a promise! The MMRF team is also holding a spot for me for next year at Lake Placid, but we’ll see.

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I have 6 weeks left to raise $1400, my minimum is $5,000, so will you please consider a donation to this very worthwhile organization in memory and honor of my late grandfather? You can donate here. 

Thanks for reading this post and for hopefully supporting a very difficult decision. I know its the right one for me and me only. With that said, let’s get training again!

Why I am throwing goals out the window tomorrow

Before I left Florida bright and early yesterday morning, I made a very conscious decision to discard my goals for Raleigh 70.3 this Sunday. When I do have race goals, I tend not to share them publicly for a number of reasons but here’s why I’m throwing them out the window.

1. This is my first 70.3 race but 3rd registered 70.3 race. I have a monkey to get off of my back. Two years ago I was signed up for Florida 70.3 and trained the whole season only to get socked with two major illnesses: the first sinus related two weeks before the race and the second one of the worst food poisoning episodes I have ever had a week before the race. Those two sicknesses forced me to withdraw after making it this close to race day.

I was also signed up for Augusta 70.3 for this past September but when a sponsorship opportunity came up for work with Iron Girl, I was able to defer my spot, hence how I ended up in Raleigh. So two races, no starts.

2. This is a long race and as any athlete knows, things can go wrong on a wide scale. Just a factor of racing.

3. Several months ago, I wasn’t even running! Walking and sitting hurt and I had been frustrated with the situation for months. Dr. Dan and his staff at Vital Wellness in south Florida helped me tremendously to get me back out on the road. Being able to toe the line tomorrow is a major accomplishment in and of itself and I am celebrating this!

4. We do this sport because we think it is fun. By putting pressure on ourselves to reach a certain distance or come under a certain time, can really affect how you view your experience afterwards. I have learned thru lots of trial and error over the years in competitive sports that when I put a specific goal on a performance I tend to under perform. Mostly because I wear myself out mentally and tense up physically, neither of which works well in this sport. I am going to enjoy the nature and beauty of the state I called home in college for four years. Basically, I am going to have fun while trying my best.

5. Tomorrow’s race is another stepping stone to the big dance, Ironman Lake Placid. Raleigh does not make or break things for me. It allows me to experience long course racing while simulating nutrition and pacing for Placid. My eyes are on Placid and Raleigh is helping me to get there.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I won’t be lolly gagging on the bike or casually strolling by on the run. I will go out with my same determination and will but with lighter shoulders. High fives will be given and words of encouragement will be shared with others. Were all going to be suffering the same.

Best of luck to everyone racing this weekend especially my Rev3 teammates at Rev3 Quassy! I hope someone else benefits from this thought process and has the race of their life.

See you at the finish line. Bib #212