Sunday, August 12, 2012

Getting it Done in Druid Hills

Today I raced what was, by a great margin, my shortest tri ever: the Druid Hills Sprint in Baltimore.  A 300-yard pool swim, 7.5-mile bike, and 5k run.  The idea originally was to race the Culpeper Oly two weeks out from Tremblant, and then this one, one week out, as a last-minute tuneup.  After spending May, June, and early July on ultracycling pursuits and the occasional short tri, I wanted spend the six weeks or so before Tremblant sharpening up my speed and working on my running.

But it didn't work out that way.  In mid July, about a week after the Saratoga 12-hour race, I did an easy brick workout, but three miles into the run, I felt my IT Band seize up and suddenly I could barely put weight on my leg.  I had to take a cab home, and I had trouble walking for several days afterward.  In fact, I had to take nearly two weeks off of both cycling and running at exactly the time when I should have been doing the last big push before the Ironman taper.  I've been doing everything in my power to treat the problem aggressively, from icing, stretching, and foam rolling to massage and chiropractic care.

This has all been pretty demoralizing, because at the moment I got injured, I was riding, running, and swimming better than ever, and my race results were showing it.  And I'm not injury-prone -- my last running injury was nearly six years ago.  But I think that the sheer volume of cycling, including two 12-hour races 14 days apart, was simply excessive when paired with even a scaled-back running plan.

Starting about a week ago, I was able to begin riding again, but I bagged the Culpeper race last Saturday, and even then, last Sunday I dropped out of an easy bike ride after 30 minutes because my knee was tightening up.  Things were not looking great for Tremblant.

Fortunately, I think I may have played my limited hand as well as I could have, because I was able to get through today's race (which included a 5k) without any pain or sensitivity.  In fact, somehow I managed to win the thing overall. The field was not a strong one, and my run wasn't what I'd have liked (a very cautious 20:40), but I was pretty happy with my swim and bike performances, and the key thing is that I've gained some confidence that I'll be able to give it a go next weekend in Quebec without thinking every step about my knee.

Sometimes things don't work out the way we plan, but this experience has reaffirmed the importance of being honest about injuries and not trying to press through them.  I didn't run a step for five weeks, but hopefully my caution has prevented an acute problem from becoming chronic.

And what better way to celebrate a return to health than with my first overall race win?  Rollin' on!