Humble pie. It tastes a lot more yucky than crow, but over the last week I’ve been eating quite a bit of it.
That stuff I wrote last week about taking it easy now that summer’s here? Well . . . I didn’t want to mention it, but I did the Quad Cities Triathlon last weekend. And I broke.
As with last August’s Crossroad Triathlon, I panicked during the open water swim and ended up swimming the majority of it on my back. Miraculously, though it was 100 yards longer than the Crossroads, I finished a minute and a half faster last weekend!
Unfortunately that gain was quickly thwarted by my apparent lollygag from swim to bike. At last August’s Crossroads my first transition time was a mere 1:44, comparatively last weekend it was 4:31. And things just went downhill from there.
I’ve been pretty distracted lately, likely due to tonight’s annual Paul Skeffington Memorial Race. I never thought I’d be a part of something so big! For me, the Skeff Race runs the gamut from star harriers to leisurely walkers and the many paces in between. I love that it’s been around for 27 years and I hope you all go out and enjoy it tonight, either by participating or cheering.
But back to my meltdown . . . with my primary focus being on pre-race details, any efforts to formulate a plan for the triathlon were useless. I’m terrible at multi-tasking so it’s no wonder my mind was everywhere but “in the moment.”
The result of being so scattered was that I attacked the 15-mile bike portion of the event with a vigor I can only imagine rabid dogs having, I was actually, literally, foaming at the mouth. I shifted my bike gears into the big ring and gave it all I had.
I’ve been riding a lot more this year than last year, but I’ve spent minimal time riding in the large gear ring. Bigger ring means harder pedaling BUT faster speed.
While the QC Tri bike course is pretty flat, there are a few significant hills. Couple that with increasing winds and it made for a hard 51 minute ride compared to last year’s Crossroad which I rode 90 seconds faster AND felt much better doing. I remember feeling a joy during last year’s ride. But last Saturday? I was merely trying to muscle my way through it and get it done.
I’m still trying to figure out exactly when it happened, but sometime after I rode up to the transition area and got off my bike, I bent over several times while changes shoes, snagging a drink of water, etc. and something “went.”
I was too scattered, breathless, shaky, and let’s not forget, foamy, for real pain to register. I blew it off as mere tightness and headed out for the 5k run. But once I began running, I noticed my left leg not working very well. Thinking I was just breathless, I walked a bit.
After about a half mile of running and walking, I realized I was dragging my left leg. That’s when it hit me, “Uh oh. I’m hurt.” I finished, but once I knew I was injured, I got mindful in a hurry! I was conscious of each footfall, aware of how my muscles were feeling with each stride. But it was “too little, too late.”
So now what? After I finished, I message my soft tissue therapist who since last fall has dramatically helped correct issues with my running. Monday he determined I’d compressed a nerve near the sit bones of my pelvis during the bike that caused the glute muscle on my left side to stop working, making the groin and hamstring compensate and ultimately fail.
So does that mean I pulled my groin? Strained my hamstring? Kind of. As he explained, the whole area simply got way too beat up and now needs a rest. I have twice-daily exercises that he assigned me and I’m to stay off the bike for at least week. And most importantly, work on strengthening my mind/body connection.
Wednesday was my first workout since the triathlon so I did a slow mile in the pool, but without thinking, when I climbed out of the pool and swung my left leg up onto the deck, I re-activated the “ouch.” I’m here to report, lack of mindfulness brings nothing but trouble!
Which brings me back to the humble pie and how awful it tastes. I screwed up. I should have taken it easy. Instead, I was a crazy person.
Please do not think I’m Wonder Woman or think that I think I’m Wonder Woman. I share my highlights and lowlights as evidence that ANYONE can do this, that we don’t have to be naturally-gifted athletes to reach awesome heights. Regular people, you and me, do this stuff! But we have to use our heads . . . and I haven’t been.
Should I have skipped last weekend’s triathlon? Heck no! But as I reflect on it, I remember at no time during the event did I really, truly enjoy myself . . . and if it’s not fun, why bother?
So to those who are heading out for tonight’s Skeff Race, HAVE FUN! Personally I think it’s a lot harder to injure ourselves with a smile on our faces and a giggle in our bellies. But if you choose to go all out, stay focused. Really think about what your body is doing and how it feels in each moment.
Don’t fret the finish! As you feel that mind/body connection, celebrate the awesome strength that lies inside you! And when you see that chute, revel in the joy of our cheers pulling you in and over that finish line!
Originally published 21 June 2014 in The Observer.