First, a few words about the 9h:02’ race that saw me finishing in a less than thrilling 7th pace, after leading off the front on the the swim and the 180k ride.
To recap 9 hours of racing in a few words: that was a long, mentally taxing, and strenuous day of exercising.
The 3.8k point-to-point straight swim took place along the bridge connecting Venice to Mestre. Even though the water was extremely warm & the air torrid, it was deemed wetsuit-legal. Just a few strokes in, I was ready to be done.
Usually I'd be disappointed to have people in tow, but this time I was almost relieved to see Casadei (local favorite) on my tail to keep me company on the 180k bike.
We held a solid consistent pace throughout the ride in the flat, windy & hot countryside around Venice. Towards the final 30k or so, Casadei faltered a bit and dropped off, while I maintained the same pace and led into T2.
TTing on the flats in the bars for 4h30’ at a consistent power output was mentally very very draining, and was happy to be off the bike. (Check out the Strava file below)
At every station I would dunk myself in the ice buckets, which is what kept me alive throughout the marathon. I ran feeling strong (albeit slow it appears) for 30k, collecting a plethora of colorful bracelets along the 5 loops course.
At 30k I crumbled and begun walking for “a bunch of Ks” (it’s all a blur really). I was ready to be done, but mustered all the mental energy I could to get running again, just to finish my first Iron-distance race, so I could finally say I did “a real triathlon”, tell the grandkids one day, and never have to do one ever again! It ended up being a 3h30’ run, which could have been worse, but could have been much better...
- Didn’t DNF, finished my first ever Iron-distance race, and am still alive to talk about it
- Leading the swim and off the bike
- Didn’t have any hydration/nutritional issues, and for the most part always felt “in it”
- Feeling strong throughout the whole race
- After being at the front of the race for 5h30’, it’s hard to go back 6 places in the last 3h30’
- Feeling stuck in a “comfortable” cruise-control pace and no additional gears, one which is too slow to get a good placing though. This was true across all 3 disciplines, but especially on the run, where I literally went backwards from the start of the marathon
THE POST-RACE STRUGGLE
After the race I felt tired of course, happy with finishing the race, but feeling a bit puzzled by the fact that at the end of the day I had achieved yet another MEDIOCRE race result, which was not on par to my expectations and not reflecting of all the hard & long training months, the sacrifices, and all that this sport has required of me.
My coach Matt Dixon of Purplepatch fitness prescribed me a 2h ride the Monday following the race and on Tuesday a 2k swim and a jog, but all I could muster was a spin on the cruiser bike to the lake for 10 VERY BAD strokes. The rest of the week was all prescribed OFF, doing something active. Too bad Italy was in the middle of a heat-wave, so anything outdoor was an additional struggle: I got myself out of the house mainly to go do something on the water, be it windsurfing, some sort of swimming, and a hike up high in the crisper air. It didn’t involve any triathlon.
When it was time to get back into training after a week like that, I simply couldn't muster the energy, and have delayed my "come back" to structured training.
The mental, physical, and emotional struggles have continued now for almost 3 weeks post race. I have gotten on my bike twice since the race. I’ve flopped around in the open water almost every day because being in the water cheers me up, but haven’t gotten around to doing a set in the pool, and I’ve been feeling like running, but my legs would refuse to keep going shortly after. Just now coming close to 3 weeks later, I ran 1h with some efforts, and did a nice 45' open water swim where finally for once I wanted to go hard so I let it happen.
MAYBE only now approaching the end of the 3rd week, I’ve begun to see the light, and some sort of motivation to get back into training has resurfaced.
Just sharing my experience with my first Iron-distance race and how (badly) I've coped with it, hoping that it might help someone with their own road to recovery!
More to come...
(Action pics courtesy Jose Luis Hourcade www.joseluishourcade.com)