Can’t find a better time to update the blog than right now, since I am laying here post-surgery unable to move. Talk about post-race recovery. I started this season with a big race (Vermont Marathon) and ended it – unexpectedly – with a big race (Challenge Poconos 70.3). I really wanted to throw in a couple more early fall races. Nothing major, maybe a sprint tri and a half marathon, but those possibilities came to an abrupt end due to a bad hernia that led me to the operating room 12 hours after I crossed the finish line at Challenge Poconos.
I was ready for this race. I put a lot of work into this season, but more importantly, I put a lot of heart into it and I enjoyed every second of it. On my bike, I always took the longer, hillier option during training rides. I ditched both the treadmill and the flat, boring trail and ran on the roads, adding at least one major hill into each run, but usually two or three. I did pace work on my runs, hill repeats on my bike, and sprints in the pool. I chose Poconos 70.3 because it *was* easier than Timberman, but the course changed slightly a couple weeks before race day and the elevation profile on both the bike and run went from less than Timberman’s to more. Good thing I came prepared. My hard work paid off. I put down the fastest bike split I have had in a 70.3, and finished with a personal best at that distance.
tune up sprint tri 3 days before Poconos
The race report: I’ll keep it short.
Swim – I was calmer than normal, probably because I was the last pink cap in the water. I treaded water for about 3 seconds and then heard the 10 second countdown to start. Barely had time to think about where to go but managed to get up to the front lines so I got off to a fast start with no one in my way. My breathing was calm and collected and I managed to catch some feet in front of me for a bit but that didn’t last long…never does for me. The first part of the swim was upstream slightly against the current but I barely felt it.
last pink cap to the party
Bike – This is what I trained for and this was where my heart was in this race. For all I cared, the bike was really the only thing that mattered to me. I completely ignored the fact that I had to run a half marathon after and just took off. Linda and QuintanaRoo vs. Pocono Mountains. My nutrition was consistent – slightly under 300 cals/hr mostly in liquid form minus a Picky Bar and 1 Clif shot (which is basically liquid anyway). The first 6-8 miles of the bike was a lot of climbing to get out of the valley and into the Delaware Water Gap federal land. Rough roads with punchy hills, but no different than the ones I’ve ridden around here. There really isn’t much to say about the bike course – it was closed to traffic and basically stayed on one road through the Delaware Water Gap National Park area….I saw trees, one turkey, and trees. Also a couple trees hidden behind the other six million trees I saw. Riveting. Definitely not my ideal bike race scenery but it gave me 56.2 miles to concentrate hard on what I was doing. I focused on keeping momentum after the punchy climbs and kept repeating to myself the MPH # that Jay gave me as a target. “Pedal all the way around” and “Push up Pull Down” I repeated over and over. I really enjoy descending, but even more enjoyable to me are the dangerous descents and there were a few of these on the course. For whatever reason (the reason is 100% Jay, because his love of danger has rubbed off on me), the descents with twists and turns and rough road seem to be the most fun for me. Maybe I need to try out mountain biking again?
Run – As soon as I re-racked my bike and took my helmet off, I felt a wave of heat slam down on me. It was hot – low 90’s with humidity and super sunny. Thank god most of the run was shaded. In the few parts that went through treeless areas, the sun was brutal and I was thankful to get back into the shade. My first few miles were faster than normal but my legs and body felt great so I just ran with it. I felt pretty great until about mile 8. My race caught up to me at that time and my stomach was starting to feel the effects of 300 cals/hr. I crammed in one more Gu, sucked up the pain, and pushed out the last few miles. Jay rode up next to me on his bike a few times to keep me going and give me some pointers. He bounced back and forth around the course and met me at the finish line. Can’t say I had the energy for a sprint finish – the tank was totally on empty, and I was okay with that. For me, that meant I raced harder than I ever have.
2.3 miles into the run, not feeling too much pain yet
11 miles in and too hot for shirts
So now I lay here, 3 days post race and 2 days post-op, barely able to move. Laughing hurts, talking louder than a whisper hurts, everything I do hurts. Except eating gelato. That’s about the only thing that doesn’t hurt right now. This is my first experience with open surgery and I seriously underestimated the pain I would be in. Seriously underestimated it. Recovery time is about 6 weeks, and then I have to ease back into flat, short, easy rides and runs. QuintanaRoo is all clean (thanks bike fairy) and set up on the trainer awaiting my sad attempt for a ride in a month. For the next few weeks all I can do is sit back and try to enjoy a forced break from working out. Not sure how I am going to do that, but I will try.