Two day later my surgeon came in to my hospital room again and retracted his statement. He knew I had been doing this for awhile and that this was truly a freak accident. He said if I kept on top of hydration, and understood the risks of what I was doing, that I could return to long distance if the risk verses reward was worth it to me. The next day I left the hospital and started down the long road to recovery back to long distance triathlon.
In the journey back I took everything gradual. In 2014 my longest tri was an olympic where I got a PR for the distance at 2:41. I did a trail 25k which was a lot of fun, and I did a winter hilly half marathon in 1:48. After the half marathon I felt like I was on the right track since that was my average half marathon finishing time pre-surgery. Training over the winter in Kansas was rough. Never ending snow, single digit temperatures. On one short 20 mile ride on the road I got first degree frostbite, it was scary. Winter finally ended, I did well at my few sprints so far this year, and did well at my spring half marathon, but my one question still remained, could I still do a half ironman under 6 hours?
It had been a big question looming over my head for the past year. Up to this point I had done well post surgery at my short course triathlons and half marathons. To train for Muncie I did some 4 hours rides and my body had held up fine like nothing had ever happened. I was feeling good going in to the race, but just had a lot of uncertainty.
In 2011 Muncie 70.3 had been my first half ironman ever. I picked Muncie because my best friend Loraine is from the next town over and her parents are always generous enough to give us a place to stay. I finished the race in 5:48 that year. Being the sentimental, symbolic person I am, this year I decided to go back to the place where it all started. This was to be my 7th half ironman.
For the first time I brought my whole family. Joel, the girls, Loraine, the weenie dogs. This day was going to be huge for me, I wanted everyone there. Joel and Loraine had to watch me struggle for the past year and a half and got me through so much, I knew I would need to see them at the finish.
Race morning I quickly set up transition, and hung out with my family and some friends to get over some race nerves. Water was 73 degrees so it was to be a wetsuit swim. I have owned my wetsuit for four years and have just recently learned how to optimally wear it for my body. I have an odd body, especially for a triathlete. Short legs, big hips, long torso, long arms, and a long neck. I have always had an issue with my wetsuit getting filled with water from the neck, since my neck and torso are so long. My long torso was causing the neck on the wetsuit to be low enough to fill with water. I learned a trick how to fix this. I pull the legs of the suit almost up to my knees, giving me plenty to pull up in the torso, and plenty to have the neck actually go around my neck. I felt confident going in to the swim.
|Me and my girls|
I have learned a lot in my five years of racing triathlons. I am not a swimmer, nor will I ever be a swimmer. The best thing I can do in a long course triathlon is a relaxed swim and not gas myself. Muncie is known for being long, as discouraging as this can seem everyone in the race has to do it so we just keep swimming. It felt like it took forever to get across the lake to the first turn buoy, but unlike the last time, I wasn't worn out from it. Kept the same pace throughout the swim. I knew it was taking me a long time but I'm just a slow swimmer and I still felt good and just wanted to get on my bike. For once my sighting was good and I didn't go off course at all. Hit the beach and crossed the timing mat in 46:17. My Garmin had the swim at 2380 yards.
|All smiles out of the swim|
About a half mile in to the bike I saw my family cheering from the side of the road. I was so happy to see them. I gave them a smile and a wave. My bike had a 22 oz aero drink filled with water, and a 20 oz bike bottle filled with full strength Gatorade on the down tube. The first aid station was at mile 15, so I had to think of a new nutrition plan on the fly since all mine was still sitting in transition. Since I had swallowed some water in the swim, I did water only for the first 40 minutes of the ride to flush out the lake water. The bike had changed quite a bit from the last time I did this race. It was now a two loop course with a few hills thrown in. Nothing major, but the whole course had about 1100 feet of elevation gain now over the 400 or so feet it had the last time I did the race.
|The start of the bike|
|On the bike|
|Feeling good on the bike|
Entered T2 and racked my bike and removed my helmet and sunglasses. For the first time ever in a triathlon, I sat down on the ground to put on my socks and running shoes. I wanted to make sure my socks were all the way good, so that was the reason for sitting down. 13.1 miles is a long way when socks aren't 100%. Stood up, put on my running hat and race belt, and remembered to grab my Huma Gels. Went potty before going to the sunscreen volunteers, thought it might take awhile since I was wearing a one piece suit but it really didn't take any longer than when I wear a two piece. Got sunscreened up and headed out to the run course. T2 time was 4:53
The run at this race is a challenging one. Its hilly, roughly 500 feet of elevation gain over the course of this run. Rolling hills, lots of exposed areas with no shade. Its an out and back course. My plan was hopefully to keep a 9 minute/mile pace throughout the run. In the first mile there is a nice downhill. At the bottom of this hill Joel and my friend Daphne were there cheering me on. I needed this at this point in the race and it put the biggest smile on my face. I was trying to slow my pace, but the big downhill and the excitement of the race had me running the first mile in 8:09. At mile 1 I ate my first Huma Gel and waited for the caffeine in the gel to hit my system.
|Start of the run|
It was heating up, so I was pouring water on myself, putting ice in my sports bra, and putting water in my hat. Of course it all has to go somewhere, so my socks were getting wet. By mile 4 I felt a hot spot on the bottom on my left foot. By mile 5 I knew it was a full blown blister, and it hurt! I had ran a half marathon before in my Newton Fates, but not while pouring water on myself, so I immediately knew that was the culprit. I took another Huma Gel around mile 5. The hills kept coming, up and down, blisters feel horrible nonetheless, but it was such torture on these hills.
|Out on the run|
|In the chute|
A medal was put around my neck, I was given a finisher's hat, and a finish line catcher brought me to my family at the chute exit. The catcher kept asking me if I was ok, probably because I looked like I was about to burst in to tears at any moment. Days later I still can't put in to words the emotions I felt at this moment in time.
|Right before being reunited with my family|
Took off my left shoe to find a quarter sized blister, just ouch. So this is what slowed me down. I guess Swiftwick socks aren't as water repellent as I thought. Even with the blister, I was happy I was able to stay close to the 2 hour mark for the run.
Today is the Thursday after the race and I am still on cloud 9 from the feelings and emotions of the race. It was a great day and the huge confidence boost I needed. I'm currently on a two week break with easy workouts and then I will start the big build for Ironman Louisville, 86 days to go until the big race!
Thanks for reading!