Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Sh*t Happens

It's Thursday night, just a mere two days before Ironman Boulder and I am waiting for the parents flight to come in from New York as it has been delayed.  I haven't been in here too much writing race reports and updating what's going on in my life.  Sitting just a few days out of my 4th IM in 20 months it is hard not to reflect on just how did I get here.  Particularly since my last IM.  Getting to the starting line of Fortaleza was very tough. My training had suffered tremendously with the unrealistic expectations and the pressures of work.     I had seriously given thought to quitting and dropping out even before I got to Brazil.  I actually stopped training at one point, met with Coach E and was resolved that I should not go.  A deep and strong mental struggle existed between my loyalty to my job / work ethic and my life values and beliefs.

In the end, I did not compromise my values nor my work ethic but went into IM Fortaleza physically under prepared.  Getting to this starting line of IM Boulder is not as difficult as I didn't have any mental turmoil and never for a moment thought of giving up my my journey to get to the swim start.  Getting to the Boulder start will definitely go down as the one that has the most complications and set backs that I have faced to date.  I at times felt the universe was telling me to back out, to give up.  One thing after another was thrown in my face. Time and time again this adversity did not stop me along in my path but caused for reflection and aided to deepen my determination for 4 in 20.
So what was up?  What has kept me away from writing down my thoughts?  What signals was I receiving that could be perceived as "Don't Do Boulder IM!"  What has transpired these last 8 months to this usually pretty Zen guy to make me say I faced the most set backs of my very short triathlon career?

In Making up for Lost Time, my last blog entry, I chronicled my resignation from work and touched how I suffered from a Sinus Infection and Bronchitis.  I had made a dismal attempt to get back into training and by mid April I was ready to go full force into Boulder IM. May was a busy race month.  I had the Summer Open Sprint mid month and introduced the world to my ongoing Garmin Watch problems.Watch Saga #1 is a funny video that takes the viewer along with me.  Needless to say this continued all summer long thus far.  The Summer Open went by without much fanfare for myself.  It was a get out there and see what you could do, set the bar and then see how the Colorado Sprint compares two weeks later.
The Summer Open was followed by a great, fun relaxing day at the "Bolder Boulder.  Jess and I had a blast.

But Marty, I thought this was about Shit Happens.  Seems like an awesome month so far you may be saying. I would agree.  The final weekend of May saw the inaugural Colorado Sprint Tri in Boulder.  I was fired up for this race and learned a valuable lesson.  An assigned easy training day means easy, no matter how great you feel.  As I rode harder and faster all week in training then I did come race day.  My power was below what it should have been and my running suffered because of it.  Shit Happens, I thought.  I flew to the finish, had the traditional post race Bloody Mary and normal difficulties with my Garmin watch just like every other race I do.

Then in early June I had my 1st real injury of my 18 months and 3 Ironman history.  I classify it as a triathlon injury, though I know Coach E and many others would disagree.  For the 5th time in about 20 years, I seriously messed up my hamstring.  1st time (tear) playing rugby, 2nd & 3rd times (tears) playing softball, 4th (tear) playing Ultimate Frisbee.  Small micro tears that caused a build up of scar tissue in the muscle causing one Physical Therapist to bend his needle in me while dry needling, after tear number 4 about 3 years ago.  This Triathlon injury occurred just like the previous during an explosive movement taking off from 1st and going to 2nd while playing kickball.
You see, when you have a very supportive partner, who never complains (out loud/or to my knowledge) about the time I  spend training or the races that I enter and she asks me to play kickball with her fellow teachers in Denver School District Kickball league, damn straight I am going to show that support back and say yes.  So although, I didn't injure the old hammy in a triathlon specific event, I did in a show of support for my gal who continually supports my habit of training and triathlons.  Shit Happens.

This injury caused me to back out of Boise 70.3 in June as the 1st race I ever had do such to.  In the past it has taken me 8 to 10 weeks to rehab myself since having that gunshot feeling in the back of my leg depending on the severity of the injury.  Boulder IM is in 8.5 weeks from the injury.  Here we go.....A late start on my training due to work, Sinus Infection & Bronchitis and now a messed up hammy.  I've spent the last 8.5 weeks managing this last set back.  Coach E altered my training giving me the best opportunity to succeed.  Heather implemented the trifecta of pain as my PT.  Darcie manipulated and dug deep as my Massage Therapist.  I certainly had an incredible group of people working with me to help get me to the starting line of Boulder IM as healthy as I could be.

At the end of June, Jess and I made the decision that I would move in with her down in Lakewood.  Starting July 1st I would rent my Boulder home.  Originally Jess was going to move up to Boulder but with still not having found that right position for myself this helps to cover the mortgage payments.  This move certainly put a kink into my training regimen.  1.5 hr drives to make a 6:30am swim practice then "hangout" all day to make a 5:45pm track session.  I have no clue about the roads around Lakewood so  I would take that drive again so I could hit the roads in Boulder, get my rides in and train on the course.  Visiting Safeway so I could use a rest room or going to the gym so I could shower after a session. Hanging out and living in my car.  It reminded me of what my Italian Grandfather affectionately used to call me and what his father called him.......
This was just another obstacle to overcome and deepened my resolve to Boulder IM.

In mid July, about 4 weeks after the initial hammy trauma we decided to give the Boulder Peak Olympic Tri a go and see how she would hold up.

 The Peak had all my usual suspects in it.....Smiles, a Garmin I can't work, flying to the finish and post race Bloody Mary.  This time dead leg also came to the show.  After getting off the bike about a mile into the 10K, I had no right leg.  Everything from the knee up basically felt dead.  The quads were heavy, the glutes weren't firing and the hammy stayed in T2.
I did that hot out and back in shame.  I watched people that knew me and fellow BTCers with disapproving and puzzling looks on their faces and shouting out me to get moving.  I heard volunteers at aid stations, who I knew, tell me to pick it up.  I watched people that had no business passing me move ahead of me with ease as I did a different version of the walk of shame
I felt pretty shitty.  Shit Happens.  This was the 1st race I ever left before the awards ceremony even began.  I just wanted to hide.  I went home and chilled for a few minutes and then laced up the runners.  I was going to show myself that I was ok and do an easy cool down 3 miles or so.  After about 10 minutes of running or about 100 yards, I decided to turn around, call it a day and go home.  That brilliant idea certainly didn't help.  The final few weeks before the race was much of the same.  Most of my runs were without pain but with a heavy tight leg.  After a final easy brick workout just last week, I experienced that same dead leg feel.  Swim felt good, bike felt fun, run felt like a slow heavy jog.

I go into Boulder IM reflecting and with mixed thoughts about how the day will wind up for me.  With all the craziness of the last 8 months for me, I never gave a doubt that I would be standing at the starting line of IM Boulder.  I believe in signals from the universe and now 2 days out, in retrospect, I can't help but wonder if I have been receiving those signals saying "Don't do Boulder IM", "It will be a bad day for you", "something bad will happen" and all these signs were meant to steer you away from this race on this day of August 2, 2015.  That's not how I read those signs though.  As I was going through it, I like to believe it was more of a "that which doesn't kill you makes you stronger" type of message, that I have been receiving.  A perseverance type of message.  SO I feel ready.  I feel good.  I feel that I will race with what I have on the day.  That sometime before the clock strikes midnight, I will cross that finish line to have finished my 4th IM in 20 months with people that I love around and supporting me.  Mentally and Physically (with exception to my hammy and the muscle groups surrounding it that have failed me)  I feel primed for a personal Ironman best.  Not sure how, with all the distractions and the small window of training to prepare me for this race, but I feel ready.  I am not too high, not too low.....I am simply ready.  Ready to face the day and the challenges ahead of me and all the shit that may happen.  Let's Do This. Warrior Mode.

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