Sunday, September 7, 2008

Old Hickory Lake Triathlon

Twenty Four hours and change after the conclusion of the Old Hickory Lake Triathlon I'm still replaying the race over and over in my mind. Don't get me wrong, I finished the event, and that was my main goal. I have said over and over again, after each and every event that finishing was the goal of each race, as it was, but for this one it couldn't have been any more true.

On Tuesday morning, just four days prior the the tri, I woke up and could hardly walk! Took me several minutes to get out of bed, took me even longer to be able to stand up straight. The two bad discs on my back were at it again. I could feel the pain shooting all the way down my right leg, through my thigh to the knee. As I struggled to the morning two things kept going through my head; what went wrong and will it get better before Saturday morning?

On Wednesday I woke up feeling even more in pain. Nothing I did on Tuesday seemed to help. I just knew that the race in Saturday would have to be bypassed. This was a bummer. I was so looking forward to this one event. It is to be held at home, in front for family and friends, but I knew that feeling how I felt at that point it would be irresponsible to follow through and try to compete.

I continued stretching and concentrated on doing more sets of the back exercises. I pulled out the inversion table and borrowed a massage pad from my sister-in-law. I was not about to accept the fact that I couldn't race without a fight. I postponed the decision to a "game time" decision.

On Thursday morning the pain was a bit more bearable, it seemed that whatever I was doing was working, I was encouraged. By Friday morning, just hours prior to the swim start, I still felt pain and my walking was still affected.

So here it was. Woke up Saturday morning and my decision was to try to do at least ten back press ups as soon as I got out of bed. Assess the pain and make a decision. I was able to do full presses and the pain was almost non-existent. I was ready to go! Got ready and off I went.

The pre-race jitters were huge! Never this intense. There were several issues that contributed to this . How would my back perform and react? How would the swim leg be? This would be the first time I ever compete in open water and how would it go? How about the run? Would my back take the pounding? How would splitting the run in two stages be?

I was number 252 out of 454. My turn came quick and like it or not, off I went. As soon as I got in the water, anything and everything I had learned and practiced at the pool, was gone and forgotten. You cant see with your head in the water so your first reaction is to lift up your head to see where you're going. This alone, seemed to take more energy than anything else I did. When I tried to swim with the right technique, I found myself way off course, again dispensing more energy trying to get back in line. The buoys seemed to be miles away. Boy am I glad I had practiced the backstroke at length. This saved my swim.

Off the water came the first run leg. It started very gingerly as I was trying to assess how my back was feeling. It felt good, not great just good. Got through this stage and made it to the transition area to mount the bike.

The bike stage felt awesome. I feel this is where I made up time lost in the last two faces. All went well until about mile nine when my calves starting cramping up. Found out real quick that you cant climb well when your calves cramped up. Actually, it is very difficult to climb with your calves in pain. But I worked through it and made it back to transition area.

The last stage of the triathlon was the second half of the run. As soon as I started running the left calf started tightening up again, so I stopped immediately, stretched it to prevent further development. This worked somewhat but I still felt the remnants of pain through the remaining of the run.

I'm not sure what my total time was, let alone the splits. Today I was truly not interested in this, I was just happy I was able to finish. Half way through the event I realized that my mid to late week focus on the back pain distracted me from focusing on proper diet and hydration. I felt the effects during the race; I even forgot to take my pre-race Gu Gel as I have done prior to each event and each long session in the past.

Now this triathlon season is over for me. I will concentrate in the next few months in marathon racing. Yes, I did say "marathon" racing. My desire is to run the full Marathon in Memphis on December 6th! We'll just have to wait and see what develops!

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