Sometimes, we all go a little too far — in life, in love, and for some of us, especially in training. As someone who takes pride in pushing herself, even I reached a point in May where even I had to acknowledge I’d taken measures to an extreme, in a not-so-great type of way.
After months and months of training for the Boston Marathon (my 2014 recap is here… still working on the 2015 recap!), I finished the 26.2-mile race in a personal best time for the course. (Yay!). Yet after just one weekend off, I was back to the grind: I completed a 10k with an elevation gain of 1,212 feet in Bear Mountain State Park, then set off to Cape Cod for the all day/all night Ragnar Relay, where I ran just under 35 miles in 24 hours.
And I wasn’t done yet! One week later I ran the Brooklyn Half Marathon, a race I had to scramble to buy a bib on Craigslist…then finished in a disappointing time, in pain.
By the time I crossed the finish line along the Coney Island boardwalk, I was mentally and physically exhausted. A pain was creeping up my left knee, and both my hips ached.
The last thing I needed was an injury, but what did I expect? I’d just broken every rule in the recovery book. My runner’s high was running out, and I had officially given my friends and co-workers who labeled me “crazy” a legitimate reason to do so.
So I set out to rest for a few weeks. And I did. Try, I mean. Really. But as most runners and athletes know, not training for something is often worse than training for a specific race, even if you’re tired. So when I heard that a group of friends were signing up for triathlons, I started toying with the idea of registering for one myself.
I’d swam as a kid at my local swim club (thanks mom!) and I’d once biked 26 miles with my high school gym class … so how hard could a tri really be, right? After some encouragement from a few buddies, I signed up for the Lake George Half Ironman, a course boasting a 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, and 13.1-mile run in upstate New York.
Well, I was wrong about the “easy” part — riding a road bike is completely different than the mountain bike I’d used to commute in college, swimming might be the most exhaustive sport, ever, and running after both of these events is a feeling I cannot even describe into words.
However, what I did find is that by training with three sports instead of the usual, “run every damn day” workout routine I was previously doing, was that my body didn’t feel overly strained in one specific area anymore. Plus, mixing up my workouts was fun. I wasn’t dreading my next sweat session — as long as you don’t count the 5am wakeup call — or feeling exhausted before I even put my sneakers on.
I completed my first Triathlon Sprint in Connecticut this July as a “warmup” for the big race (Lake George). The Greenwich Cup’s half mile swim, 15-mile bike and 3-mile run was a refreshing change up from my beloved marathon. I even came in second for women in my age group, which, as SNL’s version Hannah Montana would say, is, “Pretty cool.”
Now, all that’s left to do is conquer the half ironman distance, without forgetting the real reason I compete in endurance events to begin with: Because it’s fun, because I get to train with amazing people, and because I like proving to myself, and to others once in awhile, that I’m strong and capable of conquering challenges — both big and small.
Stay tuned for a race recap, and leave any advice/words of wisdom in the comments below.