Today was the result of a delusional plan back in December. I had a great year planned. Ontario Summit, Many on the Genny, a six hour ROGAINE. Then I would cap it off with my first double. In the morning, I would do my first triathlon in three years and the new MedVed Midsummer Madness in the evening. I was finally recovering from 9 months of Plantar Fasciitis, which really was the continuation of a year and a half of lower leg injuries. I'd start strength training again, work through more miles on the trails, and get back to the life I love. If you scroll down this blog, you'll see my dreams. Today was to serve two purposes, the capstone to a tough year, and a gut check for my bigger goals next year.
Except my life didn't work out that way. The lower leg injuries continued, and I dropped one race after another. While the strength training has gone great (thanks Rossi & 4Performance), and the PT has gone great (thanks Sherry Kessler), I could not shake the pain. So with a week to go, MedVed sent out "Hey you can defer" and "Hey uyo can drop to a relay" emails and my faith (not for the first time) faltered.
I was wrong to doubt, and right to run. At least until the endorphins wear off and I feel what I've done to myself...
We tell the story backwards
There was a great after-party, the food was wonderful (I was a bit of a glutton, though), and the high point of my night was watching my astounding wife sprint to the finish line, with all our trail family cheering for her. A close second was the moments of conversation and laughter I got to share with my trail family tonight. Thank you for the acceptance of us into your ranks and lives.
The last time I ran a triathlon, I had posted to Facebook that I was experiencing the ultimate first world problem. That I was paying someone to let me swim/bike/run a bunch of miles for fun, instead of because a lion was after me; as nature intended. Well, in the end, the lion caught me. I had been planning on dropping partway through the MedVed race for a couple weeks, as it became clear that I wouldn't be healed and wouldn't get my training done. In fact, I had gone so far as to contact the race director and warned him that I would be dropping early. But, early in the second loop, while I was bonking hard, the gentleman in last place passed me. And, try as I might, I never quite caught him. I had run the preview version of the second loop last week, but the sneaky twerps swapped the chirality of the run. But, that skips the delightful first loop, I came in fourth from last after spending some time with the other three and the sweep wandering West Esker, trying to find flags for the course. I had caught them around mile 1.5, after passing the sweep around mile 1. Yes, I passed the sweep. As I was driving down to Mendon Ponds, I looked at the clock and saw that I was going to be eight minutes late for start. Elnora went and talked to the Race Directors and they all decided to let me start late, with verbal directions for the start of the race, in the hopes that I would catch the sweep quickly. Who does that? I made their volunteer's life harder, their life harder, raised the possibility that they would lose a racer, and ruin their evening. I am deeply grateful to the RDs and Volunteers for MedVed's Midsummer Night's Madness for their generosity and for believing in me.
Rochester Sprint Triathlon 2017
You get told that you shouldn't try anything new on a run. That makes lots of sense, but today wasn't about sense. One of the things that I've been doing to try to get healed has been switching up my shoes. This has gone remarkably well, I have some Xero sandals that get me through casual time, some Vibrobarefoot dress shoes that get me through formal time, and my trail shoes have been zero drop. All in all, I'm in so much less pain than I had been previously. I you notice that there is a shoe type missing from the list. I didn't have any road shoes that didn't send my feet into paroxysms of pain. So, off to MedVed, a special order ('cause my feet are boats), and I had some shoes. A couple days before the race. In the end, I didn't get a chance to try them before today. Sure enough, before a tenth of a mile had passed, I was limping, but then I saw Shea Coleman and I faked it. And the feet loosened up and I got shin splints instead. Until this couple, trying to distract themselves from what they were doing were singing a full throated duet of Bohemian Rhapsody. Instrument solos and all. I joined in, and ran to make it last longer, and all of a sudden, I'm in the shade, on more varied terrain, and I'm happy again. I danced and swiveled my hips at the turn around in time to the music, and busted back singing the theme song to "New York, New York" as I crossed the finish line. My jaw didn't work, and I couldn't get food down, and I ran out of water quickly. As previously noted, this burned me later in the day at Mendon Ponds.
Prior to the run is a bike ride. Gary, Danielle, Jaime, HBO were all out there cheering me on, and helping keep me safe. Which at one moment became vital. Half way through the second lap, a police officer, decided to pull out into the (closed) road directly in front of me. It was only the frantic waving and yelling by Jaime and John Strossman that kept me from getting clobbered. The hill up Log Cabin road seemed, insignificant, and if I had had my gears on the current bike in my mental model (don't try new things on race day, folks, you might drop the chain off several times while trying to climb a hill), I could have done better with less energy. There were two disabled athletes on the course this year. I admire the dedication of these parents in participating in such a difficult sport with them. I wish we had something equivalent in trail running.
Prior to the bike ride is a swim. Todd Beverly was in charge of making sure I didn't drown, and he did not fail. I think I swam well. Like, passing people well. It wasn't an amazing swim, but I comported myself well. I continually skewed left during the swim, which was annoying, and you can see in my tracks me noticing and trying to fix.
Prior to the swim is a lot of rules and preparation and waiting around. I hate that part. And yet, this year... Shortly after I started running with #TrailsRoc on Wednesday morning, the Triathlon came around, and at the top of the hill was HBO, cheering at the top of her lungs. It made that part of the course for me. I've been hanging out with the trail running community a lot more since then, and today was. Amazing. I'm pretty sure that 75% of the volunteers were members of the trail running community. People that were helping a sport outside their primary love. People that know me and love me. I walked into the triathlon area uncomfortable and stressed and ill prepared, and was surrounded by friends.
That protective blanket was there the whole day. At the tri, I was never more than five minutes away from a friend cheering for me, by name. Knowing what I've experienced, and was trying to do, and being my help where and when I needed it. This afternoon, I ran in a race that I had no business being allowed to start. I was cheered and paced and congratulated and conversed with by people that knew me, and cared, and shared my love for this crazy hobby, the outdoors that allow it. Mormon scripture (right near some great bits that talking about not running too fast :) ) talks about our relationship with God and says because all that we receive from Him, even if we served him with our whole souls all our days, we would still be unprofitable servants. Today, I saw that demonstrated on a smaller scale by the people that I run with. I've volunteered at most of the races that I've had to drop this year, and tried to help where I could. But, it cannot compare to the magnitude and scope of what I receive in return from all of you. I've been paid back an hundred fold today, and my heart is full of love for all of you and your generosity and kindness and care that you have for both me and my family.