Yup, I just shared a video of me snotting and bawling for all the world to see.
Last week I made the mental decision to step up my cycling game. I solicited some biking friends that I don't normally ride with and made appointments to ride with them two days this week, with the express intention of pushing me out of my comfort zone on the bike. Error #1: planning hard riding immediately after a race.
The race. I had plans to compete in the Ironman 70.3 relay as the swimmer. My friend Annemarie was supposed to bike, and Alex was the runner. Right after I made the plans to bike with my fast friends on 8/12 and 8/14, I found out I would have to sub for Annemarie and bike the 56 miles at Steelhead in addition to swimming on 8/9. No big deal, I had 50 miles biking on the schedule for the weekend anyway, so I figured I'd just do it as a training ride and kill two birds with one stone.
Turns out I'm a competitive bitch...who knew?? (; .... and an "easy training ride" did NOT happen at Steelhead.
Here's what did happen at Steelhead:
Swim: I was nervous about the swim, what with the crowds and the waves and the wetsuit and all. Turns out the waves didn't exist that day so that was easy. As for the people....once again I learned that I'm a competitive bitch. I didn't panic at all, which was good. However I wasn't the most courteous person in the world. There was nowhere to go....people on all four sides of me. So I decided to just swim. I basically pretended there was nobody around and just swam right over/onto people. It worked. Except for right as I got out of the mix and had some space about halfway through the 1.2 mile swim, I started getting into the back of the previous swimmers' wave and the stragglers from waves before that. So there was basically no time where it was just free unobstructed swimming. I did swim head first into one of the buoys at one point. That was funny. All in all the swim was very easy and uneventful. Time: 40:40 or 1:56/100yds. I'm happy with that. It was a comfortable pace, definitely didn't gas me at all. Huge improvement over where I was last year or the year before.
Bike: My normal bike speed for long rides is 15-16mph in training. On shorter rides I'm not even very good at pushing the pace. (Hence the decision to start riding with faster people and trying to up my game). So I was expecting this race to be around 16-17mph. I ended up averaging 18.7 mph for the 56 mile ride, and that was with some hills. (Not a flat course like my Ironman will be). I definitely pushed WAAAY harder than planned. Definitely did some hard cranking on the pedals. Part of it was an accident. I was just trying to follow triathlon rules, so every time I found myself accidentally in the 12 meter draft zone I would gun it to pass them. Which was a lot. And passing has to be done quickly, so you end up cranking out super high watts at those times. I quickly let go of any plans for an easy training ride and decided to just go with it. Especially since I knew I wouldn't have to run a half marathon at the end.... no reason to save my legs.
***EXCEPT. I'm training for an Ironman. And that was supposed to be a recovery week. That's one really big reason to save your legs. The training doesn't stop after a non-goal race. No taper, no recovery. **** <--- Hindsight is 20/20!
After I got off the bike and handed off to Alex I went for a 15 minute "transition run", which is my normal training after a long ride. I took it at an easy pace and felt like I was going REALLY slowly, but ended up averaging about 8:45/mile. Nice. I do feel like I could've laid down a respectable half marathon at that point if I had been doing the individual race and not the relay. Probably 2:05 or faster. Likely right around 2:00. (It seems like just yesterday when I couldn't break a 2:00 half by itself to save my life!!)
So anyway, I had a blast at this event, and was super pumped and feeling really confident about my Ironman. This was Sunday August 9th. Monday I took a rest day (every Monday is a rest day on my training plan). Tuesday I did a 2500m swim and 6.5 mile easy run, relatively uneventful, no major pain or problems. Wednesday. Wednesday I effed up. Wednesday 8/12 I met a guy to ride, and we headed out on the start of the route with some pretty intense climbing, then the rest of the way I pushed pretty hard. I felt obligated to, since my whole reason for requesting to ride with him was to push myself on the bike and ride a faster pace! About halfway through the ride I noticed a new pain in my left achilles, so I started altering my pedal stroke a bit to try to minimize it. Didn't think too much of it. I had pain similar to that in my right leg when I first started biking more a few months ago.
Thursday 8/13 I did another 2500m swim and a 6 mile interval run, and I definitely noticed my achilles when I was running. I took the run on the easy (my "fast" intervals were only like 7:45 pace) and it wasn't awful, just a little sore and tight. I warned my Friday ride buddies that I was DEFINITELY taking it easy the next day and riding a gentle pace.
Friday 8/14. OUCH. I woke up and was like WTF. I couldn't walk normally around the house. I for some stupid reason thought it would loosen up a bit and loaded up my bike to meet the guys to ride at 7:30. Hopped on the bike and headed out on those same hills as Wednesday, took them as easy as I could, and was in excruciating pain. I aborted, said farewell and turned around about 3 minutes into the ride. Ice. Aleve. More ouch.
I went to work and was limping. I freaked out. See original video above. Decided to take the weekend off biking and running. Very very very worried that it was something more serious that would require more time off than that. Not a good day. Lots of alternating ice and heat and aleve when I got home. Severe pain with certain movements.
Saturday 8/15. It's a miracle. It feels SO MUCH BETTER. I can walk around my house barefoot normally. It feels so much better that I was tempted to go out and run after all. But I'm not going to. I only have like 6 weeks left until my race. If I don't let it heal and end up making it worse I won't have time to recover and get back on the horse. A few days now is definitely the smarter move. So today instead of swimming 3,000m and running 14 miles, I'm just swimming the 3K. Tomorrow instead of biking 70 miles I'll swim another 3K. I *might* try to run a short distance, like 6 miles or so. I'm definitely not doing any cycling until Wednesday, which will be a full week off cycling. And when I do, I'm going to be extra careful and cautious about not cranking too hard and being on the lookout for pain. I also adjusted my seat forward and down a little bit, which should hopefully help by not making me reach so far at the bottom of my pedal stroke and overuse my calves and achilles.
I'm optimistic now. I think I nipped it in the bud. Hopefully. Please please please, be over.
Side note: I am a triathlete. I'm not a runner anymore. I am starting to like swimming and biking as much as running. And I love that there are very few, if any, injuries that have the ability to sideline me from all three disciplines. Even if this achilles thing ends up being bad, it hasn't affected my swimming, and I like that a whole lot.
Onward. Ironman Maryland 2015.