Monday, October 13, 2008

Making Peace with Sickness

Actually just touching the acceptance of the possibility of illness…cough, hack, hack, fever, aches.
Leading up to all of my big races I go through rituals like all athletes. Bike tune up, running shoes double scrutinized, new swim goggles broken in-however, being the overachiever I am, I inevitably add sickness to that list. Working up to my first Olympic triathlon in 2006, I became sick in the taper week- and had a very quaint throw up in the first 200 meters of my swim. In 2007 and 2008, as I was making the final steps of my marathon training for my first and second mary, I got the chills. And like clockwork, my old friend came back to visit me before my very first Half-Ironman. It is nice to have old friends around for big milestones in your life but seriously, I can do without this one. I’ve emailed with Steve Born, head nutrition guru at Hammer Nutrition, and will post on this in the future. We both have theories but it all goes right in line with bad recovery during training and then hitting taper week.
My very first half ironman triathlon was this past Sunday in beautiful Austin, Texas. I had a good half. I had a bad half. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. I’ll just stop there. I had a great swim. Felt awesome in the water, rolled and pulled textbook and didn’t worry about time. Came out steller on time. Kicked it in transition and felt good. When I got on the bike I felt strong but nothing was happening. Nothing was being translated to the bike. The run was dismal but I had accepted what was possible then and removed my watch from my wrist and put it in my jersey pocket. I didn’t want to worry about splits or pace or cadence. I just wanted to finish and enjoy the slow steps that would bring me to the tape.
Yesterday Greg asked if I thought the sickness played a roll in my race results. I said, “Between you and me, yes but I don’t want to say that to anyone else.” This may seem silly to you. I know it probably does but I hate excuses. Any number of things can go wrong on race day to change the plan and structure of your race but it is still your race. You are still in control. I hate above all else people who make excuses for poor performance by blaming it on outside factors.
“I would have done better on the bike but when I got a flat, the tire changing guy took so long to get to me.”
“My run pace was pretty good to start but then my shoe laces seemed too tight.”
“My swim would have been pretty sick if it wasn’t for that woman going so slow in front of me.”
I don’t want to be that person and that’s why I’ve held back from accepting that the sickness may have played a roll in my race. Greg talked to me about it a little and said that it is perfectly fine because I gave what I could and did what was possible. The fence of ailment was already in place before the gun went off. My body wasn’t all there and I can learn from it.
I’m trying but it is hard to accept. I’m not an excuses type of person. I can do it or I cant and I hate more than anything the second part of that statement. I’m going to push myself and give it all I can to do it. I know that maybe there is a possibility, especially on the awful pace of my run that the lung power and muscle aches brought about from being sick had a major influence on my ability. I just don’t like thinking about it.
Here I go, I will accept that being sick played some roll in the race. I pushed myself as hard as I could go but it wasn’t all there. Ok, I accept that now lets move on before I get bitchy and renounce that statement.
Still trying here, I promise I am.
I just got back from what was supposed to be a pre-ride with Greg out here in Moab the day before the 24-hour race starts. Slick rock, beautiful views, perfect temperatures but less than a mile in to it, I felt like I was putting out 100% and only 40% was deciphered from my legs to the pedals. Granted, I just finishes my first Half Ironman less than a week ago so I can blame most of it on not enough recovery. I’ll also put the sickness on the board for today. It sucks. Really, it really, really sucks. Get how I feel? I’m just sad right now because I’m in a mountain biker’s mecca, though ridiculously windy and insanely dusty, and I felt killed at a mile. I should be out on the bike with a big ol’ smile on my face, pushing up the ups and cruising down the downs. Instead I’m here in the tent, hoping Greg is having a great ride, and typing about how much I hate the fact that my body cant do exactly everything I want it to do even after I put it through so much hell.
Oh well, I just finished a cold Shiner and am going to take in some more rest while I wait for Greg’s return. This is keeping me from pulling on my trail shoes and bounding up the gorgeous mountain behind me though its call is pretty freaking loud. Maybe tomorrow morning I’ll do a light jog, walk, hike, climb up there.
Until next time my shifting brothers and sisters, ride happy, ride content, and ride blessed.

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