It's time to let this year end so I can move forth to what I am hoping is going to be a very good 2008. This post is my whole year condensed into one big story. Next year my blog will be filled with detailed posts on each race.
In life you have to pay your dues and this is what I feel my last two years have been about.
This was my second year competing as a professional triathlete in what seemed to be a more competitive womens field than ever. More girls, with faster times all vying for a few Hawaii spots at every Ironman race.
MY PURSUIT TO FIND A COACH
I had a couple goals for this year some were met and some were not. My first mission at the end of 2006 was to find myself a coach. I had had a solid season in 2006 with a 7th place finish in Ironman South Africa and a personal best of 10hrs 8 min in Ironman Hawaii.
I knew I needed a coach to try take me to the next level for 2007.
I started my quest for the perfect coach. Someone who would put up with my calls and questions...someone who I could put my trust in ....someone whose training philosophies I believed in. I spoke with several coaches, two were impossible just to reach and just seemed way to busy and I just did not feel like a few of their training approaches were going to work for my lifestyle.. Then I remembered that I had got a great recommendation from a fellow Timex athlete, Jordan Rapp. He had suggested earlier in the year that I contact Paulo Sousa. I went onto his site www.pstriathlon.com and read his very brief bio. I liked his philosophies of more is more, although the less is more training system did sound very appealing. We spoke a few times and I was convinced. ....it was very apparant as the year progressed that I was truly lucky to have found such am amazing coach with such a passion for his athletes and for triathlon.
LIFT YOUR FEET WHEN YOU RUN IN THE WOODS.
Well, my year would not start until Febuary due to much time spent in Health South Physical Therapy under the relentless torture of Jimmy Smith. At one point he was treating me for 3 nagging injuries all caused by slipping on ice and tackling a tree after tripping over a root while running in the woods.
I eventually got the go ahead to train and started a slow build on a whole new training plan. I decided by choice to train with a srm and heart rate monitor which was another huge change for me. I received my new Trek TTX which is so sweet and I headed out to Las Cruces, New Mexico to meet my new coach and some really cool triathletes at Paulo' training camp. Most were gearing up for IM Arizona and I definitely felt way behind schedule. But I hung in there and came back to NJ with a really solid week of training and I was very fired up.
My first race of the season was going to be Disney 70.3. It turned out to be a bad start to the season, a true learning experience though. I neglected my nutrition on the bike and ended up really bonking on the run. I was extremely upset as I had big expectations and I really wanted a great race to start my year. I took a day off and then got back to training to prepare for Eagleman 70.3 two weeks later. A much better result this time with a top ten finish against a very tough field. I also had 3 PR's. A faster swim,run and overall time. I was alot happier as I felt like it was a confirmation to me that I was on the right track.
I proceeded to get ready for IM Lake Placid. This is a race that I really enjoy and it was the womens pro race for the year. This I felt was going to be my defining race. Four weeks prior to Ironman, I was up in Lake Placid training and I was feeling so strong and ready. My swimming was so smooth and I felt so positive about my bike and run. A week later, 3 days before my taper I finished my last 20 mile run in 90 degree heat and I walked into the ocean to ice my legs. I jumped up over a wave, but my calf cramped up and I fell to the ground. My muscle was in a full spasm and when it released I knew I was injured. I could not walk. My calf swelled up and I was devastated when my physical therapist said he suspected I had torn my soleus. Without a confirmed MRI Paulo made the right decision to pull me from the race. I was truly crushed.
I spent 5 weeks back in physical therapy....knowing I had lost my chance of qualifying for Hawaii this year. I resumed training and did a short build for a late entry into Ironman Canada. I had only run for two solid weeks, all very slow and I was not sure how I was going to feel. I had a descent swim for me, a lot of mechanical bike issues.( Do not change your chain the day before your race ever!!!) It turns out I ran a PR too but I need to be running alot faster. It was the best I have felt in an ironman run and I finished strong. I got alot of confidence from that. I finished 12th with a 1.03 swim 5.39 bike and 3.39 run 10.29 overall time.
MY IRONMAN FLORIDA EXPERIENCE!
I decided I wanted to try race IM Florida 8 weeks later to see if I could try qualify for 2008 there. With thirty pro women already signed up I knew the competition was going to be fierce. I took off two weeks and then started a gradual build . The 30hour weeks leading into the race was more training than I put in before and my confidence started to grow. My build went perfectly and by my taper I started to see my swim times getting faster and my run times picking up. I was feeling very strong and almost back to how I was feeling prior to Lake Placid. I was excited to race.
The week before I was about to leave,my groin started to tighten on a bike ride. I immeadiatly cut the ride short and headed to ART. For the first time since my injury I was worried that something was going to happen prior to race day. I took the pre race week very easy and got alot of aggresive work done on it. I put it out of my mind. It was good to be in Florida with Paulo and the rest of the HTFU team, Will Ronco, Sergio and Jonnyo. It's always great to see the Timex Team and my friends from New Jersey,not to mention my friend,room mate and fellow pro Kathryn Bertine.
Race morning went smoothly and I got into the water before the sun had risen. It was little eerie....but I was glad the day had arrived and I felt good going into the water.
The gun goes off.
Its a big pro field and the group immeadietly divides in two. As per most of my races I get left swimming by myself. Good thing that that is how I always swim so I enjoy the fact that I am not getting beat up and settle into a rythm early on. I catch up with a group at the turn around and pull them to the beach. My first split is 28 min. I am very excited as this is fast for me. I enter the water and once again lead a group all the way to the turn around. I get tired of doing all the work so at the turn around I stay wide and swim alone back. I come out ahead of the group....almost making it under 1 hour ( another one of my goals for this year.) I see 59 minutes as I exit the water in 9th place. It is such a boost to come out of the water knowing you have had a solid swim. I had heard Florida was not the course to try get a PR swim time so I was chuffed. I executed my transition perfectly and got going on the bike and at the 5 mile mark I was in seventh place. Then came a slight turning point in my race. I had a very definite race plan that I struggled mentally with throughout the day as I watched pro women after pro women come from behind in little packs of age groupers and then eventually in big packs of age groupers. The drafting for some went from the beginning to the end of the bike. I was in total shock and disbelief. My first experience with this was the 70.3 World Championships last year. I could not believe how blatant it was and how so many people responsed,"It's not just me everyone is doing it!" I decided after the first girl went by that I was going to just stick to my race plan and try my best not to get caught up, but at times I had to sit up out of my aero bars ,slow down and wait for a group to pass. I was so distracted at times that I know the last two hours of my nutrition was not perfect. I felt cheated and very disheartened.
I came off the bike happy with my time and feeling like I was ready to get the run started. I left T2 feeling very good and started running with a good effort. My heart rate was around 150 which looking back was probably a bit too high. The first ten miles I had very nice leg turnover and I was feeling pretty good. I could see the pro women running towards me. It was obvious those who drafted had put alot of time on me. I was out of contention for even top ten. I started to feel the effects of probably not well executed nutrition and at mile thirteen I was at 1hr 38 minutes. I knew if I could hold 7.30 pace I would have an awesome run but my hamstrings were getting really tight and my stomach was not feeling very good. It is amazing how important your nutrition is in order to have the perfect race. By the last time I saw Paulo at mile 20 I was just hanging in there bringing it home with 9 minute miles. I crossed the finish line with very mixed emotions. My goal this year was to break 10 hours. I went 9.51 so how could I not be happy. I had a swim , and run PR despite all my difficulties. Yet, it was not a perfect day.
Next year I shall continue my mission to find the perfect storm.
"You miss a hundred percent of the shots you never take!" Wayne Gretzky
I shall continue my pursuit as I know I can be better!