My race season was over. It was now time to decide on the next list of races. I decided my first race of 2006 would be to return to the half marathon I’d done the year before. I also signed up for the Gulf Coast Half Ironman Triathlon, my biggest race yet. I began my year with the intent of slowly building up my mileage and keeping the intensity low. I did very well at sticking to the plan for the first few weeks of the year. Soon though, I found myself feeling very fit and wanting to up the intensity. Before I knew it, I was training too hard without cutting back on volume. Before long, I'd overextended myself and ended up sick. This would be the first of several derails on the road to the Gulf Coast Tri. I got well and was back on track within a few weeks.
I began extending my long runs in an effort to prepare for the half marathon which was rapidly approaching. After the final long run during the build up for the half marathon, I had considerable pain in the outer portion of my right knee. I took it easy during the remaining couple of weeks leading up to the half marathon, hoping the pain would not become worse. I lined up for the half marathon hoping to finish with a time of one hour and fifty minutes or better. The gun went off and I felt fairly good. I was right on pace for the first several miles and my knee felt good. By mile eight, I had increased my speed beyond my projected pace and was having thoughts of a great finishing time. It was just beyond the eight mile point that I began to have some knee pain. I continued on at the same pace, but by mile nine, I had begun to have some cramping in my calves and the knee pain was increasing. I slowed my pace a bit in an effort to ease the cramping and pain. At mile ten, I had a climb that only served to increase the cramping. Mile eleven and twelve saw me slowing more to hold off the cramping. Wind increased significantly on mile 13 and I was struggling to make it to the finish line. In addition to the cramping, my knee had begun to hurt even more. I was so preoccupied with the pain that I missed the final turn to the finish. I got back on course and crossed the finish line in just over an hour and 52 minutes. I was in a good bit of pain at the finish line. I continued to walk, hoping the pain would subside, but it didn’t. I didn’t stay for the awards ceremony. I was sure my time would not be even close to placing, and I was ready to get off of my feet. I iced my knee and did no running for a few days after the race. To my dismay, I later found out I’d won second place in my age division. I wished I’d stayed long enough to hobble up and get my medal.
Even after a few days of rest, my knee continued to hurt while running. I began to have doubts about being able to complete the half Ironman, which was only weeks away, and had thoughts about not doing the race at all. In desperation, I decided to visit my doctor. The diagnosis, IT band syndrome. The treatment, a shot of cortisone under the band. Within a few days, the soreness of the shot wore off and I headed out for a test run. The pain wasn’t totally gone, but it was much better. Each run got better until there was virtually no pain at all.
There were three weeks left before the half Ironman and I was beginning again to think I may be able to reach the time goal I’d set for myself back when I registered for the race. Then, a few mornings later when I woke up, I felt a strange sensation in my throat when I swallowed. Surely not, I can’t be getting sick when things are starting to come around. But, by that same afternoon, my throat was sore and there was no doubt I was getting sick. Over the next couple of days, fatigue and congestion set in. My sore throat began to get better within a few days, but the congestion and fatigue remained. After 5 days of doing no training, I decided to go for a ride. I did 25 miles on the bike and felt fine. The next day, I decided to go for a 5 mile run. I felt fine at the beginning, but my heart rate was soon much higher than it should have been. My effort felt high, though my pace was low. I was very tired after the run, but just attributed it to the cold and to the medication I’d taken. I decided to go for a swim the next morning. The swim started out ok, but I began to feel a little nauseated after 15 or so laps. I continued on for 15 more laps and ended the session at 30 laps. I felt terrible. After the swim, I broke out in a cold sweat and had no energy, on top of the nausea. I gradually felt better as the day went on, but not 100%. That was Wednesday, 10 days before the race. I felt much better Thursday, but still not 100%. I looked forward to the next training session to see how I would feel. I'd expected to feel much more fit and strong in the last few days before the biggest race I'd taken on up to this point. I'd now traded time goals for a goal of finishing.
I've become a bit frustrated with all the setbacks and intend to take a much needed break after the race is complete to rejuvenate. I had become so intent over the last few months on training to meet a certain time goal, that I'd let myself get a bit burnt out. I had become so involved in reaching my goal that I'd forgot to have fun and enjoy the process. I've begun to daydream about mountain biking, trail running, kayaking and marathon running. Who knows what new adventures I'll seek over the next few months. I'lll continue to run, probably more often. And I'll continue to swim and bike, but at a reduced volume and frequency.
Whew! So there you have it.
You’re all caught up with my endurance adventures to this point.
Of course, there were many other situations and setbacks I had to deal with throughout the last couple of years. And there were many fun and humorus happening's along the way that would have made this writing even longer. But my fingers need a break.