Stepping back in the ring at Augusta

I raced my first IM 70.3 event of 2016 at IM 70.3 Augusta in Georgia last weekend.

Like a pop quiz, going to IM 70.3 Augusta could result in four outcomes that answer the question:  Where is my fitness/rehabilitation at right now? They included:

a) A small miracle has happened and I get a podium finish my first race back.

b) I struggle a bit from lack of run fitness but still finish relatively strong, so I know I am ahead of schedule.

c) I struggle a bit more, have a tough day, but finish knowing I am healthy but need more work.

d) I am unable to finish.  DNF.  Not healthy, not healed, not ready.

Ironman race gear at augusta 70.3Ready to race my first race of the season in Augusta.

Option a) A small miracle has happened and I get a podium finish my first race back..

I went to Augusta visualizing option a).  I think it is in our nature as athletes to dream of miracles and work hard towards making our wildest dreams happen.  Most of the time it is hard work and patience that allow you to exceed your expectations.  On Sunday I was 16th and I tip my hat to Helle Frederikson who won the day by a large margin.  This finish was below my expectations.

Jan Frodeno says one of his strengths as a pro athlete is he is “good at being injured”.  I find that an incredibly insightful comment into what makes him really good.. and I think Brent McMahon shares this strength.   What this means (to me) is they have an unwavering confidence in their ability.  The most insidious damage injury creates in an athlete is the erosion of confidence in your ability.   However, confidence in your ability to recover and realistic expectations of that timeline should go hand in hand.

It was a mistake for me to go to Augusta hoping for a miracle.  I should have been much more realistic about where I am at.  I now have a true measure of what the real status of my recovery is.

Option b) I struggle a bit from lack of run fitness but still finish relatively strong, so I know I am ahead of schedule.  

If the miracle failed, this would have been my second choice.  Going to Augusta was always a stretch but I liked the date because it was a nice round number in terms of injury anniversary:  SIX MONTHS.  Even if I didn’t podium, to get strong finish only six months after my accident was pretty appealing.  Looking at my training into the event it wasn’t realistic to expect a great day.   I struggled but much earlier that expected as I explain below but option b) might have been a stretch, in hindsight.

c) c) I struggle a bit more, have a tough day, but finish knowing I am healthy but need more work.

This is the answer I got in Augusta.  I successfully ran through a long transition in bare feet without limping from the swim to get to my bike (I could not do that in Penticton four weeks ago) so that is very positive.  I am much stronger and my ankle works much better.  That is what I had expected.

When I started running OFF the bike, things weren’t 100% as soon as I started trying to push on the run.  I chose to back off relatively early to avoid any risk.  I did not expect that.

Running at IM Augusta 70.3
My springs were not quite bouncy in Augusta.
I could only run 6 kilometers four weeks ago so at that point I would have been at option d) I am unable to finish.  DNF.

I am moving forward.  It takes a good three to six months to get the real fitness for 21 kms of running alone, according to my incredibly inspiring friend Marilyn Arsenault, so I can’t expect to be there yet.

I can take away the following positives from my performance:

  1. Coming out of the swim third place in my Blueseventy P4TX  in the lead of a strong pack.
  2. I was in a podium position for most of the race.  That is something to build on.  I felt I had a lot left after the bike and I still had the second fastest bike split.  The Trek Bike Speed Concept and I are still a fast combination.  Thanks Shimano, Bontrager, Powerbar, Rudy Project, Champion System, Asics Canada, Powertap, and Trek Bikes for the support.
  3. I went and did my job.  I am a professional who signed contracts to perform at races.  I had the opportunity to discuss the event with the media, was on the pro panel with three other incredible pro women, and finished the race.  I also was in third place up to 4 miles into the run so I was IN THE RACE even if I wasn’t 100%.
  4. I have a baseline to determine the next steps in my training and I need race fitness.  As long as I didn’t INJURE myself doing the race, I would come away in better shape with more metrics to base my next block of training.

img_25111-480x640This is the reminder I wrote on my hands before the race to help me remember to just put my expectations aside, listen to my body, stay positive, and push through. ‘Here now’ was a reminder that “this too shall pass” so that I didn’t give up if I wasn’t performing the way I had hoped.

 

 

Thank you to my host family of Monica and George Pearson, who presented me with a gift of some of the most amazing honey I have ever tasted from the bees on their little farm.  I am most grateful to have met their daughter Teresa Eddy, who is an amazing career woman/mom/and athlete and despite very little time to prepare got herself to the finish line as well on Sunday.  The Augusta race is absolutely amazing, the second largest in the world, and I applaud all the athletes that finished in difficult conditions (it was hotter than a pancake griddle out there).   I loved my time in South Carolina/Georgia… the Southern hospitality has absolutely lived up to its reputation.  Much love to you all xx

South Carolina farm life
A beautiful part of the world on the farm in South Carolina with my host family.

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