Spoiler alert! Despite how the finishing photo looked, my recent Ironman 70.3 Boulder triathlon ended with a finish and a personal best time for that distance when I raced in the 2016 Toughman event in New Mexico.
The fact I could even get close to a personal best with only 41 days of training and an unstable shoulder for most of the 13.1-mile run are two of many positive takeaways from a long day on a beautiful course!
The first three hundred yards of the swim was from buoy to buoy. Having difficulty catching my breath among the other 50-something age group swimmers, I let the pack thin out and finally regained composure to salvage a decent swim. The final 400 yards of the swim was filled with my brain calling out orders to the rest of the body how transitioning from swimming to standing to walking is supposed to take place. Getting out of the water, I did my best impersonation of an evolutionary tetrapod. No falling.
The 56-mile bike effort was the best of the three disciplines. My brief training for this aspect of the race, paid off. The course was “fast”, which I really do not understand because there were points where I felt anything but fast. My time was nearly 30 minutes faster than my last race at this distance. It was fun flying by other cyclists on the downhill segments.
Then there was the run.
Throughout training, my transition to the run was the weakest element. For the race, I set low expectations and failed to meet the minimum standards. Yes, it was a $#!& Show that was about to go into hyper-drive in the wrong direction.
To understand what happens next, you need to know a little bit about my family medical history. Here is a recap:
- Brother – three shoulder surgeries
- Sister – three shoulder surgeries
- Me – two shoulder surgeries
At mile two, my foot tripped on something and I staggered my step, some would call it a trip without a fall. The jarring nature of the event caused my shoulder to become unstable and the socket and rising out of the right socket only to capture a nerve and other things on its way back into place. How did it feel? Think of hitting your funny bone and the sensation resonating throughout your entire arm. Welcome to my world.
It turns out the running action was causing my elbow to drop, pulling my shoulder nearly out of socket. For the next five miles I adapted by clutching my shirt, below the collar. It helped temporarily but caused some to think I might be having a heart attack or other medical event. Not so good. Then at mile eight, I hailed a motorcycle medic and explained what was happening with the shoulder. The medic fashioned a triangle bandage into a sling and wrapped it tight to stabilize my elbow. Relief. It worked! I could now run with confidence, and I did.
About three miles from the finish it occurred to me that a new personal best might be within reach. The 2016 Toughman time to beat was 6:57:19. Honestly, I did not remember the time, only thought it was about 6:56 and change. My final time was 6:57:08, something I did not fully realize until putting this blog together.
Time to go celebrate #Cheers!