Essentially, I race and blow the tendon out. It takes me two to three weeks to get the tendon back to where I can just about train on it and then I jump into another race...blow it out again...and I'm back to square one. I hope to meet up with a sports medicine orthopaedic specialist in the very near future. I'm tired of dealing with this, tired of writing about it...and I bet you're tired of reading about it.
I write this as I had my first overall victory in 20-years slip away at the Lakes To Pines triathlon. In the position I hoped to find myself at the end of the bike, I was no more than thirty to forty yards behind the race leaders. That is 'blood in the water time" for this old shark as I should have easily hunted them down. But the Achilles just wouldn't let me do anything other than a painful jog.
The day started at 5:30 as I got up. A quick look at the outdoor conditions revealed the temperature was 33-degrees but with 24 mph wind it felt like 21-degrees! I had already made the decision to lose time in T1 in order to layer up for the bike. The night before I had decided to swim in trunks for the pool swim and then don a tri uni followed by long sleeved UnderArmour top followed by a long sleeved bike jersey. Two pairs of socks and light gloves. That would have to do.
By the time the event started, the winds were at a steady 24-MPH with gusts to 29-MPH. We would be riding into or at a crosswind for about sixty percent of the two-lap bike event.
There were four waves of swim in the Park Rapids high school indoor pool. I was in the last wave. As I watched the first three waves, I witnessed something that you may only ever see in The Tundra during a triathlon event. People would exit the pool and saunter into the locker rooms to get on their clothing for the bike/swim portion. Think about that for a moment.
It wasn't as stupid as it sounds. Had you actually left your gear outdoors, you would not have located it due to the high winds. I saw people leave helmet, shoes, etc all out in T1 and as I set up my bike, watched as peoples gear blew around the transition area. In the video, you see my lose one glove, only to recover it due to a nearby volunteer. In the end, I decided to don all my stuff, including helmet, at pool side.
The temperature, 42-degrees as we started, was not that bad on the bike. But the wind was a bitch. Especially the crosswind as you left a roadside shelter belt in which you and bike were fighting a 45-degree angle. I never felt out of control or in a dangerous position...it was just nasty. I have never used my upper body so much on a bike before.
The first lap went fine and then something amazing happened: I was catching all the fast cyclists. At first, I wasn't sure. But as I got within 400-yards of the Big Boy's I could recognize the bikes and uniforms. I put the hammer down and kept gaining.
With about 2-miles left I caught and passed the lead cyclists. With about a half-mile to go my calves started to cramp just a bit so I slowed to stretch them out and get ready for the run. I was ecstatic at this point. I would be right where I wanted to be in preparation for the run. In fact, ahead of where I wanted to be! All that separated me from finishing first overall was a run around 6:40 pace and how my nagging Achilles would respond. In the days leading up to the event, my confidence had soared as I was even doing stair risers with the right foot. The Achilles was sore, but I felt it would at least give me three miles.
For the first half-mile it was going well. I was really starting to think I could win the event. Then the right Achilles twinged and that was that. I could not push off. I could not maintain stride. All I could do was muster enough will-power just to finish the race.
I swam a PR in the pool. I had the day's fastest split on the bike. And when it came to my bread and butter, the run, I couldn't bring home the bacon. Depressing as Hell and then some. In the end, I finished third overall. Of special note, and perhaps of inspiration to all your old farts: The top four positions were aged 47-41-48-51.
My congrats to Craig Peterson and Dave Bjorklund (still course record holder) for their great finishes! And to the boys who made the trip from Beatrice, Nebraska and had a great event as well in the relay division. So many great athletes. And so many friendly people!
My days as a triathlete will now depend on how I eventually recover from this Achilles injury. Or if I recover. If it is permanent I may be subjected to begging race directors to include Aqua-Bike events (swim-bike). Or competing in tri's as a member of a relay. Neither seems satisfying to me though. Sort of like kissing your sister.
But then, there is The Boy®. He competed in his second triathlon and posted a second overall in the Boys division (8-12 yo's). He also had a very strong bike leg. Maybe in a few years he'll be out there with the Big Boys and I can draft off him on the bike. Or would he rat on his Old Man!?!?
I would like to thank the wonderful staff and volunteers in Park Rapids for putting on another great event. My your event continue to grow! You all do a great job. We look forward to returning in the coming years.
Race Numbers: Note - I list both the official times per the race results and my own. This was a non-chipped event. And since I dressed inside I did not cross the T1 line until after I had donned my gear, and my swim time is inflated.
Race Results - 10:27 (includes gear transition)
My Own - 7:57 (PR)
T1 (I definitely lost time here as I elected to put on more gear than others...wussy that I am)
Race Results - 1:10
Mine - 3:13
Bike (14.7 miles)
Race Results - 42:39 (20.68, best bike time of the day)
Mine - 43:42 (includes T2 as I forgot to do a split)
Race Results - 1:06
Mine - included in bike
Race Results - 23:54 (7:43 pace, more than a minute per mile...three minutes total... over my goal)
Mine - 24:04
So, what's next? I am scheduled for a 5K-K9 on May 31st. This would be a 5K run with my youngest whippet. If I do this, it would be a walk. I may also decide to just pick up the jersey and skip the event.
My planned June 14th tri in Bismarck or June 13th tri at the Liberty triathlon probably will not happen pending my Achilles issue. Luckily, I have yet to sign up for either event.
I am signed up for the Lake Waconia Triathlon on June 28. I'll have to hope for the best that maybe 6-weeks is enough time to prepare for that event. I guess time will truly tell.