With the flights, airbnb, and the body feeling ready to get this thing going, the first race of the season is officially on the calendar. Well really it was official last Thursday but I only got around to writing this post today, in any case here's the scoop. If you've been following along on social media you'll have seen that after yet another labral tear, this time in my other hip, and taking some time to tend to my wounds, I've been back running, and actually running strong. I had been running exclusively on the treadmill from November all the way until March 31 when I ventured outside for the first time to put the hip to the test. November to January were pretty decent months in terms of mileage getting into the mid 70s, and low 80s, however, by the end of January and through February things were starting to quickly unravel. First, I had a flare up of an Achilles tendon problem, and then the hip started giving me trouble. I was forced to take a couple of weeks off entirely, and a couple weeks with very low mileage, and extremely painful mileage for that matter.
Mentally I was not in a good place at all. I was putting some massive weeks together on the bike, and making some incredible gains in power. I had an ongoing debate with myself about whether it was time to pull the plug on triathlon entirely, despite essentially only just starting in it, and maybe pursue working my way up the ranks in the pure cycling world. I had even put together a sample schedule which included mostly cycling hill climb time trials, the Canadian Individual Time Trial Championships, and potentially going after the USA National Hill Climb Championships later in the year - where I could meet one of my idols, Phil Gaimon. Here I was only competing in triathlon in the first place to help minimize running injuries that ended my pure running career, and instead the cycle just continued and with now even more viciously painful injuries, all while my biking, I felt, reached National level calibre - in terms of my power to weight ratio (the most important number for a hill climb time trial). I felt stuck. I felt like I had invested so much time, let only alone money in this pursuit that giving up on it just didn't seem like an option. If I went after cycling, I would have to start all the way from the bottom (of the category system), and while it seemed to work well for Drake, for me that would take at least a few years to make it anywhere, which would be more time without any financial stability. Beyond that giving up on something is just one thing that I refuse to do, and especially if that thing is running. I never feel more alive, and more happy with life than when I'm running. So I lifted myself back up, cranked up the music, and started chipping away one kilometre at a time, staring at the white board next to the treadmill filled with inspirational messages I have written to myself reminding me for example to "Never Ever Give Up."
As I said in the day in the life video that I posted, once I started running again, I realized the hip pain was not too bad on the treadmill, however, the hamstring problem that I've been dealing with since Nov 2016, was at its worse on the treadmill, really limiting my speed, and overall preventing me from enjoying any part of running with the constant nag of the hamstring, and running in constant fear that it could pull entirely at any moment. But my hope was that running on the treadmill would allow the hip to heal, and that would eventually allow me to run outside where the hamstring is not nearly as bad. So I just had to endure the mental fatigue and pain brought on by the hamstring in the meantime, and be patient that soon the hip would be ready to go outside. And On March 31 as you saw on social media, I went outside and had a fantastic first run. I don't know if it was from the incredible adrenaline rush of running outside for the first time in almost 6 months, or was the fact that I was running with little to no pain (in the hip or the hamstring), but after about 15 minutes I got very emotional and started crying. To pry further into the readiness of the hip/hamstring, and prove to myself that that the run wasn't a fluke, thinking maybe just the experience of being outside distracted me from the pain, I went out again on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday of last week, and then again today (tuesday). Last Tuesday was 2x5km with 1 min float between going 17:25, 17:10, and having to hold myself back from doing a third cause felt like I could easily do another. Thursday was 6x4min with 45s-1min rest descending 1-3 going about 3:23, 3:20, 3:15 (felt so good to finally see 3:15s again), and Saturday did a 10km aerobic tempo run (in pretty garbage weather), going 33:49. Today was likely the best of the bunch doing 3x3km with short rest, averaging under 10mins for each (3:19/km average).
Now taken in isolation none of these workouts are anywhere near personal bests compared to previous years, looking back through workout logs from 2013, 2014 and early 2015. However, in reality, looking at them within the context that it is only my 5th week back running since injury, and they are being done in addition to big bike and swim volume, and all four of them are over a 8-day span it actually may one of the best week's of run workouts I've done. Also just on the mileage front these workouts are being done on 50-65km per week of run volume (last 4 weeks 47km, 50km, 53km, 65km) which I think makes them more or at least equally impressive than say in the past doing something like 8x1km averaging 3:05km when the weekly mileage was averaging 160-230km. Sure sub 5min mile pace sounds nice, but when your running exclusively, and doing that much mileage, I would expect that I better darn well be getting some good results with that method. The fact I'm running pretty well right now I think obviously speaks to the effect that building the overall fitness on the bike especially, given the somewhat similar muscle recruitment, can cross into and benefit running fitness since the speed seemed to come back relatively quickly.
So with the running being where it is and now that stuff is all booked, I can finally announce my debut pro race will be April 29th at Ironman 70.3 Marbella (south of Spain). I chose Marbella since the bike has about 5000ft of elevation gain (which is huge considering over just 90km), and also because if I have the honour of being selected to represent Team Canada on July 14th at ITU Worlds in Denmark, I figured with that being about 2.5 months away, this would be a good time to practice racing off a trans-atlantic flight. Basically, I can figure out if I would need to get there earlier to give more time to adjust to the time change, or if maybe I could afford to get there later. This time though I am getting there pretty early (april 23rd). Reason being that I have been firmly fixed to a trainer since Oct 22 so I'd like to get somewhat used to riding outside before racing on the technical looking course, and also get a couple open water swims in to get somewhat comfortable with that.
So that will be the first. Until then I'll keep running hard keep this train rolling, and building on things. In the past, I've said things to myself when I've come back well from injury like calm down, easy don't get too too pumped up, try to stay somewhat level headed, but to be honest I don't get too many wins (or pain-free days) when it comes to my running over these last 4 years, so this time I'm going to take it and enjoy it the best I can. I think if I don't ever let myself get too happy with things when I'm on the comeback trail, if an injury does happen to come down the pipeline than you just go from being in this monotonous anhedonic state back deep down into the dumps. So you never get to experience any sort of thrill or pleasure. You end up training in constant fear, and constantly holding yourself back from letting yourself enjoy the moment. As much as being injured puts me in a bad place mentally, training scared and hesitant, I think is equally bad. So this time, I'm going to actually let myself experience and have fun in the manic state brought on by running healthy, and just keep riding the high and running hard.