Throughout the year I’ve talked about the highs and what went right, honestly there’s been a lot of success, but today I’m reflecting on some of the obstacles I’ve overcome and lessons that can be learned.
The I word
The first is the most obvious: injury. No athlete likes this word but most got through some form of an injury during their carrier. Mine happened in November last year when dabbling in armored sword fighting. I was hit on the fourth metatarsal by a blunt axe. Ouch! I’m lucky my foot wasn’t fractured but it did result in a severe bone bruise that was supposed to take 1-4 months to heal. I’ve mentioned this injury a few times in my Instagram story but haven’t been very vocal about it. This prognosis was from an x-ray from my University. I took 4 weeks off and just rested my foot.
‘Tis’ the season to run and give’ was at the 4 week mark in mid December so I decided to run the first half and get a ride back. It was about 2 miles from the park to the Ronald McDonald house with “hospital hill” which I intended to walk up. When I got to the the hill I was feeling pretty good and decided to go ahead and keep running (subconsciously I’m sure strata averages played into this gut decision). This was a big mistake. My foot bends right at the injury and pushing off on inclines aggravates the injury. I then took the rest December off too.
Next up I tested it out at a local Resolution Run 5k on January 1st. I went nice and easy. I was hesitant the entire run and walked anything that hinted as an incline. By the end my foot felt great! I was optimistic that this whole thing was behind me. My coach started increasing my running distance. All was well at first…then I cut a long run short because I wasn’t feeling 100%. My coach asked if I felt up to making it up on Monday. “*sigh* Yes, I can make it up.” I should have listened to my gut from the first attempt but I wanted to be a good athlete and push through it. Two days later it started hurting again. It continued to get worse and worse. SHIT! This was the year I was supposed to make big gains. This was the year I was supposed to get nearly a 1:20 half ironman PR and it was all crumbling away. I was in tears and throwing myself a pity party while booking an appointment for another Orthopedist mid April. We re-did scans including an MRI incase my original X-Ray missed a stress fracture. There was no remodeling which was good. My new doctor informed me I should have been in a boot from the beginning and might have healed faster with my foot immobilized.
So I had 4 weeks starting today in a Boot with no running. I walked around in a boot for all of 2 days before calling and asking for an alternative. The boot was wrecking havoc on my back and hips. The alternative we came up with we’re Alegria shoes. They have an extremely stiff sole that would keep my foot from bending. So no running. No speed work. I’m not getting faster this season. My doctor DID clear me to cycle so I shifted my focus to time trials and adjusted my expectations.
Long term foot health and racing was more important than one season. At the end of May my coach eased me into running. Now our focus was just building up miles to be able to finish a half marathon. We had 3.5 months before my half marathon and we were loosing time with worlds smack dab in the middle. For the rest of the season I walked anything that even faintly resembled an incline. I wasn’t going to risk this stupid injury flailing up during training. My race plan shifted to do my best swimming and cycling and then just hold on during the run to not DNF. I mean, a PR would still be nice but I wasn’t holding my breath. Fast forward to September, I was having some twinges and lingering soreness but nothing close to April. I made it to the start line in one piece. I’m going to at least finish.
You can check out the full race report here. Getting to the starting line healthy is always half the battle. I ended up getting PRs in all three disciplines including the run!
Most importantly what can I learn about this? Patience and throw Strava away. Ok, I didn’t actually delete Strata but I have stopped keeping it in the back of my mind. In the past I would push outside of my target zone because I wanted to improve my Strava average. I would also skip warm ups and cool downs. Ultimatly it’s about performing on race day so I’m slowing it down and doing things right in training. I’ve also learned to be more forgiving of myself.
Accusations and Jealousy
I was accused of course cutting this year. This is something I haven’t talked to anyone about and it hurt. If anyone has some input I’d love to hear it in the comments or shoot me a message.
Let’s back up to the race in question. At the third time trial of the season I was less nervous since I’ve been around the block a few times now. I forgot to pre-start my Garmin so I had maybe a 10-15 second delay clicking the button after it donned on me. No big deal because the race volunteers record our start time and finish time. My Garmin only really maters for the Strava segment. As I approached the turn around there was a lot of gravel in most of the bike lane and I didn’t feel comfortable moving further to the right to go around the cone. I decided in a split second to stay to the left. I went pretty far past the cone to make sure I actually cleared it just in case. We also have a turn around marshal who can give penalties. Their job is to make sure everyone does the full course.
Once I finished the race I found one of the organizers and self reported that I stayed to the left of the cone but went passed it. I asked what the race verbiage was and would take a penalty if it said participants must go “around” the cone. We looked up the description and it said “clear”. He confirmed with the turn around official that I went well passed the cone. I felt good about self reporting a potential issue, even if the turn around official said I shouldn’t have said anything. In the end I was happy I didn’t get a penalty. Huge sigh of relief! Actions speak louder than words for things like honesty and integrity being important to someone and I think my actions speak for themselves at this race. No race will ever be important enough to cut or cheat on.
The organizer’s decision wasn’t good enough for some people. There was a complaint that I cut the course and deserved to get a penalty even though I was one and half minutes in front of the next female participant AND I didn’t break any course rules NOR cut the course. Not to mention the fact no one would have even known if I wasn’t being honest and self reporting from the beginning.
Remember that detail about starting my Garmin late? Not so harmless now. Strava is known to over round so starting a little late shows 9.8 miles instead of 9.9 miles but somehow Strava still picked up the segment. Great. It was the perfect storm to make accusations behind someone’s back. What did I do about it? Nothing. Maybe I should have but we have a turn around marshal and timers; there is absolutely no way to cheat on this course. How do you combat something that is behind your back? Especially something as serious as being accused of course cutting. Thus far I have just been the bigger person and not given it head space.
What’s my take away? From this and other gossip behind my back I’ve learned to be more careful who I confide in. Even though I’m trusting and honest to a fault, that doesn’t mean others are. I’m transparent and always mean what I say. This was one of the toughest and most heart breaking lessons for my young soul to learn.
This is probably something I will ALWAYS struggle with unfortunately. This year has been a nightmare with switching insurance and being without thyroid medication for part of the year. Some of the side affects of hypothyroidism include low body temperature (being cold), low energy, low metabolism, and weight gain. When you already have a low metabolism it’s easy to be sucked into over restricting and wrecking your body even more than it already is…guilty. I’ve recently found out my thyroid medication dosage has also been too low for a few years so I’ve been slowly gaining weight back…great. Not all of the weight gain has been bad though. I have gained a LOT of strength back. Thus why I had almost an hour 70.3 PR even though I was heavier.
What’s the take away? Be diligent about checking your blood work and understanding your health. It really doesn’t affect anyone but you when something is off so you have to be the one to insist all the i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed. I’ve also learned a healthy body image doesn’t come with being a specific size or weight. It’s important to accept your self as you are now because you will change. Your weight and body fat percentage will be higher and and it will be lower sometime in the future. You have to learn to accept yourself regardless. Just keep working towards a healthier you every day, one step at a time.
With a new year rolling out I will be learning from this year’s hurdles. I will hold loved ones closer, be more generous, continue to race fiercely, be more kind to myself, and be un-apologetically me. Cheers 2017!!