Friday, August 22, 2014

YMCA Duathlon - Passing A Test

I visited the doctor again two weeks ago. The prognosis was positive, excitingly positive. I had just completed two non-stop runs lasting five kilometers, a task I had completed thousands of times over three decades but was unable to finish in recent months. The repeated failures to run came despite my carrying out all of the exercises that two PTs had asked me to perform. Admittedly, I had grown stronger and physiological weaknesses/flaws were largely corrected (from which I will certainly reap benefits for years), but I was unable to run and my condition had actually worsened to the point where it was uncomfortable to walk. And my last fortress, cycling, had become painful and awkward. The left side of my body had grown annoyingly weaker each day.

Amazingly, two sessions of precision neck twisting had me back in the saddle and back on the trail. If you Google chiropractic neurology you will find that there are a lot of people who do not believe in this practice. After two years of similar experiences with it I am a firm believer. I only wish I had been able to connect with the chiropractor at the beginning of the summer instead of the end.

That third appointment came two weeks after the first one. Much analyzing and snapping were carried out during the first two visits, but the third analysis led to very little snapping. The doctor told me that I was in relief and my body (nerve) had been mending incredibly quickly. With that he set the beast free. By seven o'clock the next evening some close people and a few Tin Man stouts had convinced me to enter the local duathlon the following morning to test the prognosis.

It was smothering muggy and overcast when I arrived at sunrise, but that was not a concern of mine. I simply wanted to finish uninjured. I had, after all, made it through the entire summer without incurring injury to any of the struggling left side muscles or their connective tissues. The plan was to run and ride well within myself. And there was no need to "place" as there had been at Du Nats. This was a low key event where I could focus on pushing without straining.

Luckily, the normally fast run went out comfortably. (Greg and Mike had other goals coming up.) That put me in the lead despite running two kilometers 45 seconds slower than I had in the past. I worried about dragging the left foot on the steep hills, but that did not happen. Yea!

A smooth, stretch-free transition allowed me to leave the park before any other duathlete or triathlete competing in the concurrent sprint triathlon. (I like racing them, too!) This, it turns out, was not all good. The sheriff manning the intersection at the park entrance did not see me or hear the fans clapping and shouting. He directed an SUV to turn onto the same road I was turning onto just as I made the turn at 28 mph. We both adjusted as we came within a foot of each other, but I emerged in one piece and with the lead!! Again, not a perfect place to be.

About a thousand meters later I encountered a rafter of 10-12 turkeys in the road. They chose to run down the street away from me - at first. Then they angled to my right. Then, when they were directly in front of me occupying most of both lanes, they began to run straight down the road. I soon caught up to them. That was when they decided to squawk and lift off. At least three of them slapped me with their frantically flapping wings. I hope the people in the SUV got a kick out of that. I sure did.

The rest of the rolling 15-mile ride went smoothly. I pressed hard enough on the pedals to stay about 25 seconds ahead of the guy who was chasing me. I've never liked looking back when racing, but I was on a mission to stay healthy and I've never liked being passed in races.

Though leaving the transition in the wrong (old) direction cost me 8-10 seconds, I managed to reach the road before the next competitor arrived. The legs were both a bit stiffer than usual for the start of a second run (lack of practice, ya think?). Soon after the two steep hills I could sense my pace increasing as my stride lengthened. Most importantly - my left foot was not dragging or skidding early.
It turned out to be a peaceful run in the park. And there were energetic kids stationed along the route to keep me smiling. Perfect!

My data analysis revealed that the early hills, the muggy conditions, and my lack of fitness drove my heart rate well into the tempo zone after only two minutes despite the fact that I felt comfortable. I also learned that I negative split each of the three out-and-back legs of the race. All three times were slower than I raced there before which resulted in an overall time that was 2-2.5 minutes slower. Believe me when I say that I was elated to be this close to my previous results after a tough non-running summer.

As usual, the Y Crew put on a great set of races. The venue at Scales lake is a good one and the volunteers are always vocal and helpful. My only complaint - I would prefer to run with my bike on something other than a gravel road after crossing the transition timing mat. Watching the Olympic distance triathletes finish much later in those muggy conditions made me glad that the du was short.

I quit taking trophies many years ago. Many of my friends know this and two of them felt a need to tease me for taking this one.

In truth, I was handed the trophy after I responded to my name being called over the loud speaker. I handed the lady my phone as I took the trophy. She took the photo above. Then I handed the trophy back. They will pull off the plate and reuse it or return it for most of their money. And I will have one less item to dust! ST

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