One month from right now I will be in Texas. Before I get into my injury that I am fighting I wanted to share a lesson learned than I will remember for next year.
In the past few years I would enter the spring season with a few races under my belt. I normally race Hyannis (cancelled because of weather) and then try to get in a late March 1/2 marathon. Last year my season ended late. I ran a December marathon in Dallas and my legs were just dead after about mile 13. I was even texting a friend on the second half of the race.
My plan for this year was to race less so my body would be recovered for the long season ahead. But the problem with racing less is you don’t have that intensity you need to replicate during races. In races you teach yourself how to ‘suffer’. Meaning you peg your heart rate for a long period of time. You teach yourself to hold onto that limit. Races improve your cardio. This is a lesson learned and I will plan my schedule accordingly.
I have one real race under my belt this season. I raced Stu’s 30K in March early. It’s considered one of the hardest races out there at this distance. Over 1,100 feet of climbing. I had trained a bit over the winter outside. Most of my training outside was at around 10:30-12 minute miles. I had plenty of treadmill miles at a 10 minute mile per pace. My normal training pace is 8/8:15 per mile. So when I started the race I was hoping to run about 7:30-8. I was able to hold this for 9 miles. After 9 miles I knew I was in trouble. I suffered the rest of the way. I was able to finish in 2:40 with an average of 8:33 per mile. I was hoping to break 2:40. But I never had the legs for it. I am going back next year to break 2:30.
Now as I enter the critical period of my training before Ironman I am missing these racing miles. I am now working extremely hard to find that intensity. Just last night while I was out doing a 5 mile run I saw a guy about 600 yards away jogging. I made myself chase him down. :). He was probably running about 9:30/10 minute miles but I put myself on the limit just to catch him in about a 1/2 mile or so. I have one race planned before Texas. I will be pacing my girlfriend two weeks before Texas at a 1/2 marathon in Providence.
A few days after Stu’s I injured my back shoveling a driveway. My legs were so sore from the race and I couldn’t use them to shovel so instead I used my back. As I was picking up a scoop of snow I heard my back crack. I went for a massage a few days later and it felt better for about 15 minutes. For the next two weeks I wasn’t really able to walk. I had a heating pad on me non-stop including sleeping with one. I even spent some time on my bike trainer with the heating pad. I saw a chiropractor three times. It was helpful but I still wasn’t 100%.
After about 2+ weeks I was able to get back to training. Getting back to training has been tough. It’s not because I don’t want to train it’s because I know my back isn’t 100%. While I am out there running my legs just aren’t turning over the way they should be. My average times per run are what they ‘should’ be in January or early February.
I went for a 90 minute massage last weekend and she could feel something isn’t right in my back. She is hearing something in my hip as well. My lower back is so tight I don’t realize it’s not healed. With a lot of the Texas run course on concrete I will be in a lot of pain. I always have ice on my back for the marathon to numb it so I am hoping this won’t be an issue until after the race is done.
Last year for the month of June I nursed a back injury because of Ironman. I spent the month doing very little training and healing. This year I won’t have the luxury because I have a 1/2 marathon the weekend after Ironman (pacing a camp friend), a 70.3 on June 21st, another 1/2 marathon on June 28th, and Ironman Lake Placid on July 26th. The June 28th 1/2 marathon is to give me preferred seeding at my fall marathon in Hartford where I hope to BQ.
I make no excuses for how I will race this year. Injuries are apart of the sport in which we all deal with. I know I need to improve my core and reduce my body fat % to help reduce my chances of further back injures.
The bottom line Ironman is about race execution. For me it’s about 3 things. It’s about nutrition, pacing myself, and being mentally tough and focused. I always thought I was mentally tough at racing. It wasn’t until Ironman Chattanooga last September 28th where I earned that toughness. I hit the wall at about mile 9 of the run and I fought through that. I know what to do when this happens again next month in Texas. I have no expectations that I will do as well as I did last September because my fitness is missing but I believe in my heart I will perform to the best of my ability and complete Ironman Texas again.