Yeah, yeah, it's Tri for Joe. I did a bit of running Monday - 1:1 and 2:2 walk/jogging. Well, I pushed it a little hard during the jog, up to 10k pace at one point. The result was that I was kind of owie all week. Not back to limping, not at all, but the leg hurt more than I'd like. At this point I'm hoping it's just normal twinges, and the hypersensitivity to anything weird that goes along with injury recovery, but I haven't seen the doctor yet. I was already signed up for Tri for Joe, and I could've survived the 5k by walk/jogging or even walking, but I know me. NOT run when I physically can (as opposed to when the injury absolutely would not permit it) and NOT push myself during a race?
I was gonna end up refracturing the stupid thing, let's face it. So for once in my triathlon career, I made a very good, wise, mature decision. I switched to the aquabike category.
It was not an easy decision. I got to the point where I almost felt good about it, and then I nearly cried when I tried to spit out said decision at packet pickup the day before. It did not help that the woman at packet pickup didn't even know what an aqua bike was, and then the guy there said I didn't get to cross the finish line, I would just run my bike into t2 and.....find someone to hand my timing chip to. Way anticlimactic. Way to make a hardworking injured triathlete feel special.
But I was happy I did it. It was good swim training, good bike training, and I set goals for myself and met them. I wanted to improve from last year, and I did. I felt like I had the energy to run a 5k race, and run it well, after I was done, which bodes incredibly well for future triathlons and is a testament to the endurance I'm gaining. (As opposed to last year, when I was thinking, holy CRAP I have to RUN now??) I got to race with a few friends, I got to use the new trisuit in a race, I really can't say anything bad about the race except that I didn't get to run it. I won't pretend that doesn't suck, but I won't pretend that being an aquabiker for the day wasn't pretty freaking fun.
The pool wasn't freezing like last year, thanks to the warm weather, and I was more used to swimming outside, swimming in water that's a hair colder than most gyms, and swimming around other people, thanks to Masters. Those things definitely helped. I did fight the initial adrenaline rush/panic that makes it really hard for me to breathe, but now I've gotten used to it and I know what it is and once I forced myself to start swimming, I got over it pretty quickly. I swam the whole thing freestyle (as opposed to the doggie paddling I did last year!) I know my form wasn't as good as it could be. I tried to remember proper form stuff but let's be honest, my brain was a bit of a mess. The bilateral breathing I've gotten used to went out the window, but it worked out because I prefer my left side, which, due to the course layout, was usually the side without another person in my way. What got screwed up was that I kept taking the looooong way.
All those diagonals?? I didn't follow them very well. I kept finding myself way to the outside. I don't think it was a sighting issue (although when I start practicing open water swimming again I'll see how that goes); it's more like I just kept getting disoriented. The sun was in my eyes and I couldn't see which way I needed to be heading and I never figured it out until I realized there was nobody around me. Going around the buoys was super congested and I was always to the outside of the crowd swimming around them. At one point (going around the red buoy on the lower right hand corner) I was swimming next to Splashy McSmackthewater and couldn't get a breath due to the mass quantities of water going into my face. At that point, I switched to a breast/doggie hybrid (since I can't do a good breast stroke) so that I could see better to maneuver around the people.
So yeah, course following could've been better, but I kept a good head on my shoulders and didn't panic during the swim. That was the plan. I also kept with all the people I entered the water with, so I knew I wasn't the worst one out there!
Had to walk in the shallow end. Walking in that water was HARD WORK. Got to do my bit of running by running to transition. Lots of people at that point were walking to transition. I ran.
Swim time: 16:52. 3:20 faster than last year.
Not much to say here. I did save a second or two by riding sockless. I had tested it the other day and it worked well, although the other day I didn't have gravel stuck to my feet like at tfj. However, once the shoes were on I didn't notice it. I sucked down a gel but lost a little time because I couldn't coordinate my breathing and swallowing. Arrgh.
Started out a bit off here. The tiny little bit of an incline required me to actually shift to adjust to it, which has never happened before (and I've ridden that road quite a bit.) My legs felt dead, I felt tired, and I had an oh crap moment. I saw two people ahead of me and knew I could pass them, and I did. Then I got passed by a really fast guy who was on his aerobars. Aerobars!!! I've been slowly getting used to mine and decided to try them. That was about a mile in, and pretty soon, that post-swim suck started to fade. I got my breathing and my legs back and took off. I had my garmin strapped to my bike, but it twisted so that I couldn't see my stats. That wasn't a problem, I just settled into a comfortably hard pace, passed people back and forth, and enjoyed the ride. I know the landmarks pretty well by now and I was surprised at how FAST I seemed to be getting from one point to another. I was in aero almost the whole ride and it felt great!!! I did get out of the position on the hills, turnarounds and one really bumpy stretch, but I felt like a badass on my bars for the rest of it. TFJ has great volunteers, too - they were ALL cheering. I thanked some of them when I could catch my breath.
I was still feeling a little tired - not used to the swim before biking - and I was worried about the one hill on the course. It kicked my butt last year. It doesn't kick my butt anymore, but I thought maybe part of the butt-kicking was due to swimming beforehand. Nope. The hill felt like no more than a speed bump. I even cheered a guy on as I passed him while he was struggling.
I felt like I could've biked like that all day. I felt like I totally could've run a 5k afterward, and I'm glad I didn't bring my running shoes with me. (I almost had, just in case!) I seriously considered doing the run barefoot, but I held myself back. NOT worth jeopardizing higher priority races for a sprint tri.
Bike time: 38:38. 4:57 faster than last year.
Total time: 57:02.
My goal, pre-injury, had been to do TFJ in less than 1:30. When I changed things up, I hoped to do the whole thing in less than an hour and the bike in less than 40 minutes. Obviously, I nailed both goals. And the improvement from last year is fantastic - not just in the timing, but how I felt. None of it was a struggle. It was a challenge, but I never struggled. I had fun the whole time.
I'm looking onward to other things. Given the rest of my training, I'm feeling pretty decent about doing a 70.3 now....and training further to go after that 140.6. With my recent mindset shift, I've come to realize that I still AM run training, in a way - improving my efficiency and comfort with the swim and bike will set me up to have a much better run. As far as the swim and bike goes, I'm pretty confident that I'm exactly where I should be in my training.
I go back to the doc on Thursday to see how the injury is healing. I feel good about it. I notice some improvement since I got the diagnosis - walking, balancing, running (breaking out into impromptu runs without thinking about it, same thing that was happening last year when the stress reaction was over). I feel like I have a lot more strength in that leg. I get NO twinges with swimming or cycling, even if I ride hills and even if I stand up on them.
I really, really want to do Muncie. I know it's not a lot of time to get my run fitness back, but I'll be content with just being allowed to attempt it. Cross those fingers hard for good news from the doc.