Back in December, my fitness plans for 2016 were ambitious: steadily increase my mileage, train for a 20-miler, run some trail races, get fit for tri season. But I returned from the Grand Canyon, with a painful tightness in my right glute and hamstring. Weeks of rest, foam rolling and stretching didn’t help. In fact, the pain was worst when I was sitting and driving. Finally after several weeks of PT, three doctors visits, and an MRI, I got some answers: a nerve had ruptured from the disc between my L1-S-5, which was also bulging slightly.
I spent most of the winter in pain, working on core and glute strength. I got a standing desk. I did a lot of PT. I foam rolled. Five months later, I’m finally starting to feel like myself again. When my friend Michael called to invite me to Wellfleet for a triathlon, I initially opted in as a spectator only. But I was feeling pretty good last week, so on Thursday, I pulled the trigger and signed up for the race.
Michael is a devotee of the Wellfleet Sprint Triathlon, which attracts a small, local crowd. He’d invited me to do it last year, but I had to decline as it was the day before the Hero Triathlon. Sadly, that race got rained out. (This happened to me with two tris last spring, Hero and Cohasset. Sigh.)
I drove down to Wellfleet after work Friday. The forecast for the weekend was cool and cloudy, so traffic was no problem. I arrived just after 9 p.m., drank a beer, and installed quick laces on Michael’s sneakers. We were tucked into bed by 11, though we talked in the dark like middle schoolers at a slumber party until long after that.
As a result, the 6 a.m.alarm the next morning was tough. Gulped down some swiss muesli and coffee, and was out the door at 7 with Michael and Matt for a 1.5 mile ride to the race.
Check-in was no problem, and it took me about 10 minutes to set up my spot in transition, so I was in my wetsuit and ready to go by 7:30. Matt and I took advantage of the lull to warm up on Long Pond, which was a balmy 70 degrees.
Soon enough we were lining up on shore… and then we were off.
Swim: 1/4 mile
The swim was an anti-clockwise square in Long Pond. The water was pretty clean and there were no weeds. I hadn’t swam in my wetsuit since last fall (my training was almost nil for this race), and I was surprised at how buoyant I felt. But I also felt my lack of training. While I focused on keeping my stroke long and loose, I felt like I was lacking power. It was more of an “I can do this”feeling than a “I am dominating this.” Still I caught someone at the end, and emerged fifth from the water.
Swim time: 6:15
I ran into transition feeling woozier than usual from the swim. I remember running up the path and telling myself that I needed to unzip my wetsuit and get the top down while I ran, but it seemed hugely impossible. Once in transition, I wasn’t sure where to hang my wetsuit, and ended up putting it over my sneakers. Oops. I stepped into bike shoes, grabbed my stuff and was off.
T1 time: 1:39
Bike: 10 miles
The bike course was two five mile loops. This was where I really felt my lack of training. I’ve been on my bike exactly twice this year, and it felt that way. While the flats were ok, I wasn’t exactly powering up the rolling hills.
I got passed by a couple women and several men during the bike. I’d meant to eat a Gu towards the end, but forgot. It was over before I knew it.
Bike time: 38:13 (average 15.7 mph)
I’m not sure why this transition was so slow, but it was. I had grass all over my feet and decided to put on socks. Need to work on this.
T2 time: 1:36
Run: 3 miles
Interestingly, my legs felt great when I started the run. Usually they feel weird and heavy, but perhaps because of my poor bike performance, my legs felt good to go. The course was an out and back, and the first mile was mostly uphill. Hence, that was my slowest mile (9:16) and my last mile was the fastest (8:17), so that was nice. I passed a woman I thought was in my age group just after the first mile, and knowing she was just behind me for the rest of the race definitely motivated me to push it.
Run time: 27:17 (9:05 pace)
Overall time: 1:14:59 (overall:31/82; 2/8 age group; 8th woman)
Overall, this was a great race: well organized with a fun course and a good crowd (of less than 100 people).
I can’t be disappointed with my performance. I had a tough winter and a cold spring. But, I know that I need to work on my swimming and biking. The goal, then, is to get a regular training routine that doesn’t push things too hard. Next step: sign up for some more races.