Ilana Katz MS, RD, CSSD and 70.3 Finisher again
October 15th, 2010… Great way to end a tax quarter… extensions in the mail and on the road to Amelia Island for my 5th 70.3 distance triathlon. Last year it was Augusta Ironman 70.3, not quite my “A” race, but I did have Marine Corps Marathon lurking on the horizon. This year it was Amelia Island as an island (the only one to focus on)… but post stress fracture was the thorn in my side this time… oh well, planned to have fun, take it easy, relax and enjoy – all those goals were accomplished.
Four long months ago, my left tibia was diagnosed as fractured. I had already signed up for this 70.3 and I was determined to get past the injury in style. Training remained in tact, other than less running than would be preferable for a 70.3 distance. The extra swimming and biking helped make up the healing time, as well as add to my confidence as an athlete ready for the challenge… Countless hours in the pool, drawn out miles on the bike, mostly on the Silver Comet Trail and on Columns Drive (particularly chosen due to the flatness of the Amelia course, not because I don’t like hills or anything, no really, I swear!!) And again, a repeat of last years training, minus the two rainstorms and the close encounter with a sports utility vehicle… but yes, the 3 boxes of gel packets of all flavours, from gross to mmm actually quite nice, the same old variations of oatmeal and peanut butter, many many cliff shot blocks and still the ice packs rotating between the freezer and my tibia. I was prepared for my 70.3 miles of pure painless joy. This being my 5th half ironman distance event, I felt more than ready for the wetsuit legal ocean swim (although I had not practiced at all in my wetsuit, or in an ocean (where is one to find waves in Georgia??) or in open water for that matter) and the 56 mile flat bike ride, but the 13.1 mile run was daunting. Daunting because any runs over 8 miles caused a nagging twinge in my left knee, explained by knowledgeable Dr. Sadri as overcompensation of pain avoidance in the tibia. This left me with the undertrained anxiety on race day… but no worries, I balance out under training with over performing, so sounds like I am all good “on average.”
The weekend was awesome, and yes, that included the 6 plus hours of continuous accelerated heart rates (oh #$@^% !! I would have loved it to be sub six hours, but I can always blame that left tibia !!). I arrived on Friday midday after a 6 hour drive from Atlanta to Amelia… it just dawned on me the time it took to get to the race, was the time it took to do the race, how cool. The weather the entire weekend was gorgeous. Blue skies calm seas and sandy beaches, what more could an triathlete ask for… ok, calm seas, except for Saturday morning, the day I practiced getting in and out of my wetsuit, and swimming my first open water experience since…mmm…. since… well, well over a year ago!! The ocean in its glory, threw the few of us practicing around like a tornado. Up and down and all around, falling off of breakers, swallowing those delicious “electrolit” salt waters… a good experience nevertheless, because if race day was like this, we needed this experience.
Race day… calm waters… whew!!! Wetsuit legal… whew (buoyancy is our friend, people). And then again, wetsuit has become my enemy… you should see the raw chaffing on my neckline I have to now endure due to forgetting my glide back in the hotel room (I dare to now admit, that I am the literal definition of the Southern “redneck”… ow!!). The bike ride was lots of out and backs, so I could see all my buddies way ahead of me about 20 odd times, nothing short of heart beat torture. Thanks you guys, as I am continuously inspired by all my fellow athletes who do this, especially the ones that continue to beat me. My bike times have improved, but I am blown away at the times some of these amazing athletes consistently put out there. The run started off in the heat of the day, shadeless and through the neighbourhoods… but within 4 miles we were running through a stunning treeful (in other words, motley shady) park with tons of support by the volunteer crew, and lots of hydration and fueling options. Again, all out and backs, so feeling a little behind was an understatement, as saw some of my tri club compatriots I saw finishing up their last 4 miles of the long 13.1, as I was entering them.
Well, to cut a long race report short (I guess that I am too late on that too, huh?), I loved every minute of the race and spending time with my tri club buddies, some of which are clients too. We all got medals… but most of my tri club athletes got that extra “hardware” too, stating podium placements. Wow, I feel honoured to be a part of this group.
Just a note to my clients: you all are the people that appreciate me more, just because I do these crazy endurance endeavors and thus the fact that I understand the mental side of this sport, bonds me more each day to you and my unbelievable career. I have come across so many inspiring stories along the way, and I just want to be that to someone else. I have always insisted on walking the walk, not just talking the talk, so to continue being a confident, professional sports dietitian, this is a no brainer, even for someone who is no natural born athlete.
My 5th 70.3 medal (I should actually say 70.7, as the last mile was at least half a mile longer than it should have been according to my and many others’ GPSs) was a personal victory. I have overcome the naggings of my left tibia. And my most recognizable accomplishment in this race, was my overcoming a fear of letting go of my handle bars and eating a gel at about mile 49 on the bike (yes, I admit, taking in sports nutrition/fuel has been a challenge for me, and even though I preach this all day long, I struggle with it – I do at least drink calories, okay). However, with that said, this is the year I had better get into this fearless habit, as I have an ironman in my vision and 2011 is going to be the year of conquering this fear and finally putting the remnants of my 2007 bike accident that caused it to rest !!
So in conclusion, I stand up on my platform (no, not the podium… my own personal platform) and repeat after each race:
With the finish line now just a distance memory, my mind wanders to my training partners who each have not only their own, but a hand in my personal victory. To all my clients who reward me daily too. Those that take what I teach them and put it into action, so they too can feel this way. Besides this being the most rewarding part of what I do, they are the ones fueling my fire to continue with endurance sports so that I really can understand not only the physical side of what I teach, but the mental capacity. Thank you, see you at the next one.
Amelia Island put on by DRC sports was awesome. I recommend it to anyone looking for a great 70.3 (or 70.7perhaps) distance triathlon. Our tri club have even committed to making this an annual event… as long as the weather, the calm(ish) oceans and the hotel right next to the race start stay in good order, I am there in 2011!!