Saturday, Jan. 11, 2014 was the HITS Naples 140.6 triathlon. Obviously my first race of this year, it was also my first triathlon since Ironman Lake Placid in July 2012, because I broke my collarbone before the start of my 2013 season and did not get to race last year, with the exception of one duathlon in April (in which I placed first in my age group, so my only race was a success, at least).
How I ended up in Naples
I was scheduled to do the HITS full distance triathlon in Hague, NY in June 2013. I broke my collarbone in a cycling accident (commuting home from work – another cyclist hit me from behind) in May and had surgery at the end of May, putting me out until September. As soon as the accident happened – before I got off the ground, even – I thought about missing my races and what this meant in terms of time and money invested into my racing. After surgery, I contacted HITS and told them what happened, and asked if there was anything I could do to not be out my entire entry fee. To my surprise, they told me I could choose any other race they had within the next year and if it was open, they would transfer my entry. WITHOUT FEES. Awesome customer service! So I chose Naples, which would allow me time to train once I got my surgeon’s approval to resume activity, and would give me a tangible (big) goal to motivate me through my recovery process. That was definitely helpful as I healed and watched all of my teammates get fitter, faster, and post race results through the summer and fall. However, it also left me to do a lot of late fall and winter training alone, as my teammates had entered their off seasons.
Training and taper
I felt good about my training, but I always enter a mindspace, usually during taper, of wondering if it was enough. I had done two 20+ mile runs, a few 100+ mile rides, and my 193 mile Knighthood ride leading up to the race. I had spent more time in the pool than I had for any race before this. I felt pretty ready, with the exception of some nagging hamstring/calf/hip flexibility issues I was experiencing in November and December. I had seen the folks at Finish Line Physical Therapy for some help on that and was feeling better, but not 100%.
I was also more nervous for this race than I had been for any other Ironman – even my first. For about 10 days before I was experiencing nerves. Part of it might have been due to shipping my bike and figuring out that process (different future post), and part of it might have been the first race back since surgery nerves. Anyone who has come back from a surgery will understand the slight hesitation, almost like I’m holding back a little bit, that I experienced after I returned.
I did about a one week taper, with some short bursts of speed in moderate workouts on Monday through Wednesday, nothing on Thursday, and a 10 minute ride on Friday. The last two days weren’t ideal, but I ended up feeling fine on race day.
Travel and pre-race
We arrived in Florida on Thursday night, after a full day of travel, including a four hour layover in O’Hare. PRO TIP: Do not fly Spirit Airlines if you can help it. What you might save in ticket cost, you’ll pay for later in extra fees, aggravation, and other inconveniences. But we made it, slept a solid night at an Air BnB location, and went out on Friday to get my assembled bike from Naples Cyclery. The crew there was very nice and everything was great (I was just annoyed about the need to ship my bike at all). After a quick test ride to make sure it was alright, we went to the race site for packet pickup and the pre-race meeting.
On Friday I felt dizzy and sluggish, which which was concerning. I paid special attention to my nutrition and hydration, and did a lot of visualization of the race. I dropped my bike off at transition, put my race stickers on the rest of my gear, and set out my items for the next day. I chose not to use my special needs bags for the run or the bike. In hindsight, I think I would put an extra pair of socks and shoes in the run bag. Otherwise, I was fine without them. I was in bed around 11:30 and up at 4:55 am feeling fine.
That’s the lead up. Actual race in next post.