The books say you’re supposed to start training approximately 24 weeks before your Ironman. You choose your race carefully, never miss a long run, don’t overtrain, sleep well, follow the schedule and peak at the exact right time. You test your nutrition, your shoes, your clothes…but as we all know, things do not always go exactly as planned. A good example of this would be when 29 days before Ironman Germany, at mile 11 of the Hospital Hill half-marathon, I felt a searing pain shoot through the top of my left foot. It hurt to run, it hurt to walk, it hurt to stand – so I figured I might as well run. I ran the last two miles straight into the medical tent and we ended up in urgent care later that day where I was x-rayed and diagnosed with a fracture of my 3rd metatarsal (one of the longer bones in the middle of your foot). I saw our official KC Multisport podiatrist two days later where I was told that yes, it was fractured (not stress fracture but the real thing), I would be wearing a walking boot for the next 5 weeks, no running for at least 8 weeks, and I had just become an official Ironman Germany cheerleader.
I know many of you out there have had a similar experience, being sidelined when you wanted to be racing, but if you haven’t, I can assure you that the emotional roller coaster you go through is unreal. At times, it’s okay, then at times you are devastated and, I’m not going to lie, there was definitely wine and tears involved…until I found out that by being a very lucky girl with incredible friends, I now had a slot in Ironman Arizona in November. That gave me five and a half months to heal, start over, and train all the way up to 140.6.
At first, I was only allowed to swim…and I soon discovered that my left foot had completely forgotten how to kick. So I pulled and pulled and pulled some more (which of course led to the massive upper body muscles I have now, right?). After about two weeks, I got the kickboard, determined. I would try to kick straight but about every five kicks, I would run into the wall on the left which might have been frustrating if it hadn’t been so funny. Eventually, I relearned how to swim – at first, I would swallow a big mouthful every time as I tried not to sink, going just 25 yards at a time, but every time, it got better and eventually I began to realize I was swimming without even thinking about the foot.
Five weeks and several x-rays later, I was cleared to bike at six weeks. So at the six-week anniversary date of the injury, I got on the Quintana Roo and took off, never mind the fact that it was about 90 degrees. The first 10 miles felt great….but I had to stop about four times on the last ten. My foot barely hurt, but I was beginning to realize how quickly you become out of shape in six weeks – and how maybe starting out on a day when the heat index wasn’t 100 might have been a better idea, but let’s be honest, how many of us would have gone out on the first day we were allowed? Yeah, that’s what I thought…..
At the eight week mark, I could run and I started with intervals – five minute run, one minute walk. My foot never did hurt at this point, but again, it was just the cardio to get back. I got back on my training schedule at this point and although it was harder this time around, I made it all the way back up through peak, taper, and then arrived in Tempe for Ironman Arizona this November.
This was the part that I was most worried about – you hear the phrases “63 degree water temperature” and “tread water for 20 minutes before the start”…. But it turned out to be my favorite part of the race! You had no choice but to jump off a platform which, when the water is that cold, is definitely the best way to do it – plus I had my support crew of Brian, Scott, Suzy, and Bill to pour hot water down the front of my wetsuit