I Started The Race With A Smile
The race plan was simple. Do this short little run around the lake, for the sole purpose of getting back to my bike. Bike my heart out. Then drop my bike off so I could go out for another run around the lake, and hopefully not screw up my back in the process. Without a swim included in this plan, it made for a lower-than-usual anxiety morning, and I was able to soak in the morning a little lighter-hearted than my typical pre-race state of mind!
It’s been a VERY long year of sitting out the races, trying to mend my back and get it strong enough to race safely again. It’s been an entertaining and challenging year for Coach Suzy, no doubt, as she’s had to alter my training plan on almost a weekly basis. Without her, I wouldn’t have gotten through this past year! And I probably would have ended up in the loony bin last summer, after realizing that I was out from racing for the season, if it hadn’t have been for her. She never gave up on me, and stuck by my side the whole time I was recovering, and she never got tired of switching things up for me to keep me challenged, yet not provoke my injuries at the same time! (At least, she did a darn good job of hiding it, if she DID get tired of it!) 🙂 She helped me morph over to cycling racing, and trained me through a 4-part time trial series this past winter, where I was able to take a 1st place finish in my category at the end of the series. She got me ready to delve into triathlon again, in baby steps, preparing me for a sprint triathlon in Pleasant Prairie.
And then I paid a visit to the orthopedic specialist for some on-going rotator cuff issues I’d been experiencing off-and-on again while swimming, shoulder pain that seemed to flare up enough over the course of two years that I thought I ought to have it looked at closer.
And then I was told by the ortho specialist that, per my MRI, I had a torn supraspinatus muscle and rotator cuff tendinitis in the right shoulder. Oh, and that I needed to stop swimming for 8-12 weeks, or else it would never get better.
Are you KIDDING me???! I had my first triathlon in 2.5 weeks. I sat out an entire season last year, because of back injuries. I’ve been busting my butt with physical therapy exercises to help every joint in my body practically, and taking clinical massage therapy classes for the past 10 months, where I’ve learned EXACTLY what untreated tendinosis will do to an athlete if they don’t take care of it. And I knew. I knew that rotten doctor who seemed SO blasé in his diagnosis and stop-swimming-or-never-get-better comment was right. I didn’t have a choice. I had to have a private moment sob session, and grieve another lost triathlon season.
And then? And then I said to myself, “SELF! Your season isn’t finished! There has to be SOMETHING you can still do!” Heck, I’d already parted with my $$ for the Pleasant Prairie race, and I wasn’t going to lose out on that. And my only other race of the season wasn’t for 10 more weeks…maybe my shoulder will be recovered enough by then that I can swim 1500 meters by that point. (Coach Suzy isn’t too keen on that idea, though, so that may not be happening… Gotta follow Coach’s orders, since she knows best!) So the idea of racing in the duathlon at Pleasant Prairie slowly took form. Running has never been my strongest discipline of triathlon, especially after last year, so I proposed the idea to Suzy as something I would do purely for fun. I had no major expectations for myself; again I just figured I’d look at it as a BRICK workout with a small little run tacked on the front. And if I ran the slowest pace of the day, who cares? I just wanted to ride my bike! J So Suzy was game, and she changed up my training plans for me yet again, now preparing me for a little duathlon.
And upon race morning? I think I was actually excited! This seriously never happens to me before a race. Usually I want to go puke up anything I’ve eaten that morning, and butterflies take over my entire stomach. Usually I put so much pressure on myself to do well that I don’t even like to talk to anyone. (Yeah, not a good way to be, I know. Suzy has her work cut out with me on that.) But I started the race with a smile on my face. I actually ran in almost a social mood, as another female racer next to me kept pace with me the whole time. Short of having a conversation, it was like running with a buddy. I passed a tissue over to her when I noticed her sniffling a lot (hey, no one likes a stuffy nose when they run.) And then I got back to my bike, and it was time to race!! The final run went fairly uneventfully with just some side-stitching and a bit of cramping, but no lower back issues—hurrah!! I had nothing left to spare at the end, so I guess I gave it my all on the 2nd run.
Favorite moments of the race? Having my fellow ET’ers and cheering crew cheer me on, and then getting to join them as we cheered on all of our Oly distance racers coming down the home stretch! And holy cow, Coach Joe, I don’t know what kind of cereal you are suggesting your athletes eat, but I think that Wheaties might be calling you soon to hire some new models for their cereal boxes!!! What a strong bunch of athletes ET had out there!! 🙂 Oh and one more super cool moment of the day? Walking up to the podium to receive my 2nd Place Overall duathlon medal, and getting a hug from my awesome Coach Suzy afterwards! You’re the best!
Congrats, Sarah, on another fantastic race. We loved the smile on your face!