Leaving New Zealand

LeavingNewZealand09.jpgNo real reason for this photo other than to remind me of slightly happier times and motivate me to get back to top fitness. It also shows how quickly that sort of fitness can be taken away. So, when you have it don’t take it for granted.

Jo and I catch our flight back to the UK this evening. We’ve had such a great time here and both feel excited to return home and see family but sad to be leaving New Zealand. It feels so familiar here now and that’s nice.

Not quite the end to the trip we had planned. Not able to just chill out now together in Taupo and bask in our success. No looking back contented at a 9:14 and 1st M40-44 … that will have to wait till another time. Jo’s race was not as she’d hoped (read here ) and I do wonder how much the distraction and stress of my surgery had to do with it. She spent alot of time doing things for me, pushing my wheelchair and just not having her full focus on the race. Despite this I was proud to see how she went for it. The way she attacked the run was inspirational and something I would just not have seen had I been racing.

It’s been a tough few days and very emotional. The day before and after the race actually proved worst. Not getting nervous on Friday felt slightly bizarre. Then on Sunday not having that feeling of utter contentment at having done an Ironman was horrible. It was made worse by comments that the conditions were ideal, very little wind on the bike. People that had also done it last year confirmed the conditions were better. It fit in with what I saw from the results. I made the mistake of looking at the times of the top guys in my age group and I was gutted. The day of the race was actually pretty fun. I wrote a ‘race report’ on it here. I do know that in the grand scheme of things I am very lucky and this injury is really pretty minor but when you get emotional and upset you are not being logical. I will hopefully appreciate and savour my future Ironman finishes as they happen. Being ever one to love statistics it just hurts not being able to ratchet up the Ironman count another notch !

My friend Roz back in London has been working non stop to get me sorted out with specialists to see upon my return. I can’t thank her enough. One that she contacted recently told her how this tendon is incredibly difficult to snap. I’d done a little search on the internet and found hardly any cases of it. The sports physician in Christchurch said there had only been a handful of reported cases. I have a sense of being unlucky but the flip side is I’ve gone about 8 years now without any injuries to speak of. I’ve had niggles but nothing other than sprained ankles (always done at Mountain Marathons) that have stopped me training. I’m probably getting ahead of myself by thinking about this without having seen a specialist but I can’t help it. This is now a repaired tendon which to me means it won’t be as strong as before. Having snapped it once there will always be the thought of snapping it again at the back of my mind. It seems most stress is put on it when the big toe is up as thats stretching it and also when pushing off running. As such I wonder whether I should change my training approach to reduce my run mileage. It goes against the grain since last year in New Zealand I felt so strong running and this was off the back of the biggest run mileage I’ve done. On the other side running is the element I struggle most with from a motivation point of view. So feeling no pressure to do larger volume may actually make for a happier triathlete. Perhaps switching to make every run have a specific purpose and away from all miles are good miles. ;o) Jeez … I’m starting to sound like ‘conventional wisdom”. The thought I’m trying to steer clear of is that I may have to reduce my fell running. I should have more on this once I’ve seen the specialist back in London.

I always knew with the volume I did that if I ever got injured there’d be those that immediately said it’s due to the volume. Like non runners who see a runner injured and immediately say it’s because they run. [caveat here ! I have no medical training ;o)] I feel the snapping was due to all my running and cycling but the fact that my running and cycling was actually damaging this tendon is another matter. Normally the sesamoid bones would protect it. So if someone else mimic’d what I did the chances are they would not experience any of these problems. I’m desperately trying to think back to when the pain in the ball of my foot started. The chances are I did something that was pretty innocuous at the time but which put this tendon in a position to get damaged everytime I ran. My volume merely brought it on sooner. Since volume is easily measured it’s an easy target. If there was a clear cut way to measure intensity would that mean if the ‘norm’ was an intensity of 10 per week but someone was doing 20 and got injured then it would be – ah it’s because of your intensity. The reason I say this is because by looking at volume alone you only see part of the picture. This year I’ve started tracking intensity as well. Most of my volume is very low intensity. This is because I like going a long way. If I ride I like to just pick somewhere on the edge of the map and go there. When running I like to explore, see how many hills I can get over, I want to spend as much time in them as I can. I like the process of exercise. Unlike most who train because they want to do an Ironman, for me, it’s more accurate to say I do Ironman because I train. So will I reduce my volume ? No. I just don’t think I’d be able to.

I’ve had to start (re)thinking about my goals now. The main goal was better than third in my age group. I really felt I’d put the work in to crack this. I’d been so consistent with my training having identified this as the key (see the entries pre christmas analysing my training). Here’s  a graph of daily activity. Red – swimming, green – biking, blue – running:

This is by far best the best block of training I’ve ever had and I felt so fit. That main goal was a definite possibility at both New Zealand and Lanzarote. Luckily with the timing of this injury there’s a chance that I’ll still reap the benefits of this in the second half of the year but there’s no way I’ll be ‘racing’ IM Lanzarote. Here are some goals I now have for the year:

Be cycling by the time Jo and I are meant to go to Lanzorate. This gives me 6 weeks – perhaps 50:50

Be on the start line at Lanzarote. This is a tough one since if I start I’ll want to finish so I may have to bite the bullet and not start

Sub 9:30 at Kona. Reckon a tough one and weather outside my control. Clearly a massive step up on my best every Kona race requiring me to go 20 minutes quicker than that. Though my swim last year was already 7 minutes quicker so not out of the question.

Top 5 M40-44 at Kona. Ambitious but in line with the time goal based on last year.

Sub 9 at Busselton. This is dream goal. Is 52, 4:50, 3:10 + transitions realistic ? Doesn’t seem completely bananas. It’s a big step up in my bike strung together with near my best swim and runs.

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