Race season has finally started for me. After a long break over the winter to heal my heel, I finally jumped into my first race – the Florida 70.3. It was so good to hear that gun go off and be able to run into the water and not be grimacing in pain! The best part of the day was that I was doing what I love – swimming, biking and running with all of my triathlon friends.
This past winter, I took 3 months off of running in another attempt to get on top of this injury. I swam and biked to my heart’s content and patiently waited to be pain free. I started running in March and progressed very slowly knowing that I didn’t have to run far because my first Ironman would be in August! Naturally there were a few setbacks and frustrations but in April, my heel really started to improve dramatically. I wanted to race in St. Croix, but I put my heel health first since there was more to lose than to gain. In fact, those few weeks in between St. Croix and Florida marked my first accelerations and a few short tempo runs off of the bike. It was the right decision to miss St. Croix.
Florida 70.3 was actually a test to make sure that I still had the fire inside of me to go hard and love it. After 6 months of training and allowing myself to heel, I wasn’t sure if I could elevate my game and let it go and have the eye of the tiger. As soon as the gun went off, I was ‘on’. I was so completely enthralled by my race – the passion was there.
I had a great swim. I have been working so hard on my swim meaning, the alarm goes at 4:30 a.m. to train with Dorado. But, it paid off since I exited the water in sight of Heather Gollnick (multiple IM winner) and ahead of Katja Schumacher, the 2007 Florida 70.3 champion. Granted I was 3 minutes behind the swimming trio of Leanda Cave (ITU World Champion), Nina Kraft and Dede G., but Heather and Katja are amazing athletes.
I rode so hard but I rode alone and continued to lose time to the swimmers up ahead who seemed to be able to stay together for all of the 90 km ride. My riding partner was my SRM and the feedback was good. I had a solid ride but lost about 5 minutes to the front running threesome.
Off onto the run, I was pain free. That is really all I need to say! I was a happy camper and I just ran as hard as I could to try to bridge the gap to the leader. I passed Heather and Katja and I began to make up time to Dede, but I ran out of road. I would love to say that I had the fairy tale return to triathlon and won the race. I still had a fairy tale race but I finished in 4th, less than a minute behind Dede. It was my longest run to date and I was able to manage the 2nd fastest run.
The true fairy tale is that while my heel was a bit more sore after the race than before, I recovered quickly and was back running a few days later. More importantly, this race was a great starting point for my return to running speed work and I am only going to continue to improve. It is good to be back! Next up is the Subaru Muskoka Chase on June 15th, a speech and run clinic in Regina, Saskatchewan and a bit of work with CBC for the ITU World Cup races in Ishigaki, South Africa and the World Champs in Vancouver.