So, I planned to do it, but only if I could do it and not let it interfere with the marathon. I think I was successful at pulling that off. I limited my swims and bikes to just 1-2 x per week, got my running in, crammed my only long bike of the summer in with a 70 mile bike ride the weekend before the race, and decided I was good to go. And I was! I was worried I would be flat and miserable. Not at all! I was good to go.
"Just for fun" with Jeremy :)
My swim was fine. I only felt my low back on the back half, and it was completely manageable. I had this unusual experience of feeling prayerful on the swim. I was praying for everyone's safety. I was praying thanks for my ability to swim. It was odd...I must be getting old because that is such a weird thing to do. I even saw a guy struggling a bit and treading water. He looked so sad, so I popped up and encouraged him. "You've got this! Don't give up!" I normally don't do that in a swim, but his smile was completely worth it. I was in a happy and calm place.
When I got to T1, I was pleasantly surprised to see a ton of bikes still on the racks. I had zero expectations with my swim as my volume has been reduced 75% since having Isla. Yup- 1 to 2 short swims a week is all I have made time to do and all my back with tolerate right now. I don't expect this to make me competitive, and it doesn't. But I was pleased to not be alone on the rack, and I came out with several strong riders.
This bike course is VERY forgiving. There was some wind on the coursewith a head/crosswind situation, but it was not bad and the day blessed the bike with great weather. The course is rolling, but you don't lose momentum. I would love to ride this course in great bike shape. I had a great ride for me. I knew I wasn't bike fit and couldn't race the other girls, so I rode to my HR, cadence, and RPE. I kept asking myself, "is this reasonable? Can I run off of this?" I was surprised at how good I felt out there, but I knew I had not put in the training to race the bike. The top girls were smoking me, but I knew I couldn't keep up and I knew I would not be able to execute a run if I tried to do something I have not replicated in training. So, if a girl came by me and was working it, I did not try to chase. I didn't see any drafting, although I heard the guys were drafting quite a bit up front. But in my position, it was a clean ride with a lot of nice people.
And again, Grandma Damie was coming out and I kept saying "good morning...have a great ride!" to people. LOL! But seriously I made tons of friends out there and it kept me smiling. And while I am almost always nice to people on the course, I don't go around saying "good morning," so I don't know what had come over me. I said I was going there to have fun, and I did. But you know, I got all of that encouragement back in SPADES. One girl and I ended up riding maybe 20 miles in close proximity together, and she was in my AG and super nice. To be honest, this may have been one of the most pleasant race experiences I have every had on a bike course with the exception of IMWales, which also had super friendly competitors.
My main thoughts on the bike: 1. I don't need a new bike, yet. My bike is good enough even though it is on the older side. It really is, and it fits me. No upgrades needed. 2. I am starting to feel comfortable on the bike again, like I did a few years ago. It is all coming back. 3. My saddle was jutting into the wrong places on my pelvis and forcing it to go numb. I have been saying I needed a different model of my saddle since I started racing again, but I never did it. I decided I would not wait any longer. 4. My feet were going numb. It was not really affecting my cycling, but I was wiggling my toes and trying to figure out what was up. I was getting a little concerned with all of the numbness, but I was riding fine so it seemed okay.
I got of off the bike feeling fantastic and fresh. I was such a contrast to Nola 70.3 this year. It was like the old me, where I was able to find that rhythm and pace perfectly to my fitness for the day. I was in and out of transition ready to work.
I started the run expecting heavy, dead, flat legs from the marathon. Instead, I was surprised to find that they, and I, felt great! What I wasn't happy to find, tough, is that the bilateral foot numbness was starting to burn. And burn. And burn with knives. My pace, body, aerobic system felt amazing. My foot pain was not resolving, warming up, or working itself out.
And the race slips away from me here.
So... this "foot pain" has happened in every race that I did this year, although this weekend was by far the most painful and intense. The other races it really, really hurt, but I could gut through it because the pain was a bit less and the distances much shorter. I thought it was a shoe issue, and I went though 2 different pairs of shoes and threw out any shoe that I had raced in this year that was "linked" to pain. Today I wore a new a wonderful shoe, so I was not expecting an issue. I have also run 50 miles a week for the past couple of months as well as a marathon last week, and NO foot pain ever. Oh, I have done plenty of bricks this summer. NO foot pain. Ever. And never mind that I have raced many years and many long distance races without this issue. In hindsight, I should have realized there was a problem. But in reality, I thought the problem was minor and I had it solved.
And within minutes on the run, I realized, that they burning, stabbing pain was not an old shoe/bad shoe issue. It was nerve compression. Possibly from the bike. And I was screwed.
I couldn't run. I was fighting and fighting for it. I was willing my mind to ignore the pain. At about mile 5, I stopped for the first time. I knew there was no blister...no wrinkles in my sock...nothing to fix. But I took off my shoes and just massaged the neuralgia for a few seconds. There was some temporary relief- shoes back on- run again. The pain came back and was full force in no time. It just progressively got worse as the yards clicked by, and yes my race was becoming measured in yards. I spend the rest of the race trying everything. The shoes came off again, but running barefoot didn't change anything. I tried heel striking. I tried to massage it again.
And thank GOSH I was so encouraging to others throughout the whole day because they gave it back to me on the run. The pain become so debilitating that I started walking regularly. I didn't relieve the pain, but it lessened it just 1% and gave me the motivation to try to run another 100 yards. And other racers saw me run and really try, and then just pull up quickly and walk on my heels for a second, take off my shoes, or whatever I tried. And most of them had so many kind words. And I wanted to be running. I wanted it so bad, and I wanted to work my butt off on the run. And for the record, I have NEVER walked in a triathlon. Ever. I have taken a few steps in an ironman to grab nutrition or whatever, but I have never outright walked. And today I walked. A lot.
My slowest mile was a 9:23, and in reflection, that was damn good for all of the stopping I did. I think initial mile that I first took off my shoes, I still ran an 8:25. I was really fighting for it. I was in so much pain and so frustrated. I kept telling myself the pain could be mitigated in my head. Ignore the pain. But it never worked itself out. I think it just compressed the nerve more and more as I was on my feet. So the finish was so anticlimactic. And once I crossed the finish line, I am sure I ruined tons of pictures. I just pulled straight over to take off my shoes and try to stretch out the nerves. A volunteer came over and thought I needed med help, and I was like..."nope! Totally fine!" I was physically 100% fine. I felt like I didn't even get a chance to run. And my feet were in pain and burning for 24 hours later.
So here is where I ask you guys if anyone has had this and what worked for you with resolving it? I have spoken to a couple of people that are telling me to change saddle first, then maybe a platform pedal system next (I am on speedplays- but again, I have ridden these for years with no issue). I don't understand why I never had any issues with bricks in training, and the only thing I can think of it is that I haven't been riding anything over 30 miles, so my rides weren't long enough to elicit the reaction, or that I ride with socks in training but don't ride with socks in racing so that is a difference and maybe there is some sliding in my shoes. I did read that stability is very important in bike shoes in preventing hot spots. But otherwise...???? I mean, I have done years of racing with this set up. And the only difference is that I changed my saddle after Isla, so that seemed to be the initial clue for me. But is there something I am missing? My dad asked me if it was an age issue- getting older and having nerve problems in feet. I laughed it off because I run tons with no issues....but....any ideas?
And I have realized through this process that being consistently good really requires such attention to detail. You can't talk about getting a new saddle, you have to get on it. You have to test and retest in order to perform on the day. If you have really bad pain, you make sure it is completely resolved. You don't fix what you "think" is wrong. I think I have gotten
Racing with one of my favorite triathletes- Walt Rider. What a smart and fast triathlete! :)
And I give a big thumbs up to the Redman Couse. It is really run exceptionally well, and it is everything I want to race and a HUGE alternative to M-dot racing, which has left me a little "meh." The atmosphere was competitive but laid back. The volunteers were great. The competitors were great.