Sometimes life does not go as planned.
If all had gone according to plan, I'd be about ready to taper for the upcoming Escape From Alcatraz Triathlon in 13 days. Instead, I'm trying to build my fitness all over again.
What happened you ask?
First there was that fall after a swim in Aquatic Park with Pedro's Water World Swims. During the swim that morning, I had experienced my most challenging ocean course ever due to the strong currents. I did luck out because instead of the 49 degree temperatures I'd had the pleasure of swimming in February, it was a much more comfortable 52 degrees. You wouldn't think three degrees can make such a difference, but trust me, it does!
I highly recommend swimming with Pedro, he gives wonderful informational talks beforehand. In addition, there are kayakers who follow alongside of you if you feel yourself getting into trouble. Go any Sunday, just sign up on the website ahead of time and you won't regret it. I promise.
Anyhow, after the swim a Forward Motion Race Club teammate and I were running along the Marina in San Francisco. I loved the weather, cool and overcast. We were headed toward the Golden Gate Bridge. I did not see the three inch blip on the cement sidewalk and SMACK! I went down very hard on my knees. Instead of stopping and icing and taking the day off from running, I jumped up, finished the route and by nightfall my legs were swollen to the point of not being able to bend either of them.
I took my usual day off on Monday and then I ran a 4.4 mile route on Tuesday. I felt just "okay." By the weekend I went on a 6.5 hour mountain bike "ride" (translation: walk) up Mt. Diablo State Park, pushing my bike whenever it was steep on the gravel or dirt roads. I am not exactly sure how I managed to do it but every time the road involved a very sharp incline my back wheel would spin and I would get NO traction. On the descent when I wasn't walking (because, again, it was really really steep and I am really really a rookie mountain bike rider) I started fishtailing and sliding-like-I was-snowplowing-on-skis (translation: out of control). At a certain point my three choices were:
A. Hit the poor elderly hiker to the left of me.
B. Go off the cliff to the right of me and into the ravine to meet "My Heavenly Father."
C. Lean to my right, push my bike to the left and ride straight into the Manzanita bush.
I chose the later. Because I was using Aleve (due to my previously mentioined knee injury) I bruised worse than normal during my crash landing so it looked rather dramatic. It was mostly superficial, except for hitting my right knee (again).
I did take some time to rest up during the week. But by Saturday it was time for me to run with a group of 11 other runners on The Relay from Calistoga to Santa Cruz. We called ourselves a skeleton crew. I had three legs I was scheduled to run that weekend, two were categorized as "easy" and one "very hard."
The first run of 4.7 miles wasn't terrible, though it was VERY hot. The next run of 4.9 miles at midnight began nicely enough. It was cool and just had one hill, not too shabby. This would have turned out to be true if not for the fact that one of the signs directing me was upside down and hidden from view. The extra two miles I ran UP HILL with chimney smoke were not my favorite. And it was dark. I did meet "Jen" and "Alex" (two-strangers-turned-comrades) also lost on the course. We helped one another find our way back onto the route. I might also mention that they were MUCH faster than I normally run so I was adding a bit of stress to my tired knees.
The third and final leg of the courese for me was only 3 miles, easy-peasy. But it involved nearly 1,000 feet of climbing. And then I missed my van so I kept running uphill, another a few hundred+ feet of climbing up, up, up...only to be told my van members were back at the exchange so I had to run back down, down, down the hill. I knew I lost more time for my team so I ran very fast!!
My knees rebelled.
Two days later when I went to go for my normal Tuesday jog with my running partner, I couldn't move. Not one step.
I did swim in a triathlon relay event at the ITU World Triathlon in San Diego that weekend (mostly pulling, not much kicking).
I iced my knees, took anti-inflamatory meds and finally succumbed to seeking medical attention on Mother's Day (note to self: Kaiser, Walnut Creek was not busy on Mother's Day, so keep that in mind should you need assistance on that hallowed day some day in your future).
I had to rest. My doctor told me I could begin riding my bike, only flat sections after an additional week off. I could not swim. When I objected he said I could swim if I only used my arms. I had to take an additional week off from running and could only begin again if the route was flat and I agreed to stop if the running hurt me.
My first post-forced-rest run was flat paths on the Iron Horse Trail. I was in pain so I stopped after only 2.5 miles
Biking hurt a lot too so I kept it short and sweet as well. Flat routes down the San Ramon Valley Blvd were about all I could manage.
I was trying to do as much biking, running or swimming as I could manage pain-free.
I told myself my mindset was not going to be to race Escape From Alcatraz any longer, I was now going experience it. Still, I was not happy. I felt like I was letting down Anamarie's family, fundraising efforts for TeamCindy's Brain Aneurysm Foundation and all of the individuals who donated money in memory of Anamarie.
My training most recently has been annoying and frustrating. I've worried or fretted and had to take mandatory rests. I missed events I had planned to do months ago and I've not been able to do the hilly bike training or trail running needed to prepare for my upcoming event.
After writing an email to another teammate on Forward Motion, he told me to let it go. Quit worrying.
Finally I was able to run four miles with both of my knees braced and began to think that maybe, just maybe, I could finish the Escape From Alcatraz Triathlon on June 10th.
Today I choose to be thankful.
And obviously I have more work to do for the next thirteen days.
I can promise you this, I will be able to finish the triathlon. 1.5 miles of Bay swimming, 1/2 mile of running in transition to then begin 18 miles of hilly bike riding and end with a killer 8 mile run which includes 400 steps of sand stairs and beach running.
I might not be as fast as I had wanted to be. I most surely will not look pretty. But I'll do it. I'll get 'er done.
Just like life.