The past few weeks have been a bit of a reality check, trying to train consistently for Port 70.3 brought about a few hiccups that has helped me hone in on my plans for the rest of 2017. Leading into Port 70.3 I was trying to put together a decent 8 week training block after having some unstructured training time around the birth of Huw. I felt like I was going pretty well (not great) but good, and well enough to try to be competitive in my age group.
In my 6 years in Australia I have only missed attending Port Macquarie Ironman once, when my son Ethan was born on Ironman race day 2015. It's one of my favourite events of the year, I have completed the Ironman there twice, qualified for my first Kona there and last year I couldn't race due to illness so I enjoyed supporting. This year I was determined to hit the start line if I could.
10 days before the race I injured my back, no not training, but bending down to untie my shoes!!! Old age right? Maybe a little! I've had back trouble in the past, tearing two discs (L4, L5) and having some surgery in 2005, rehab and strength work has always maintained my ability to train and race well and I have rarely had trouble. In this shorter prep for Port, with neglect on my part on continuing my back exercises, things finally took their toll and I was having trouble. After the initial painful incident my back and gluteal muscles had tightened up a lot in an effort to prevent my back from excessive movement, at this point I could barely bend forward or move sideways. Not looking good!
Over the next week I got some great treatment from Square One Physiotherapy trying to improve my mobility and loosen up the joint movement and muscles in my back and gluteals. Things were going well, by the Wednesday before the race I began to do some light exercise to test out the back, it wasn't great but it was improving everyday. The physio and I agreed that I would be ok to hit the start line, I may have some residual muscle issues but it wasn't going to put me in jeopardy of further injury, maybe just some post race soreness.
Come race day I was pretty confident and enthusiastic, I felt healthy and although I had missed a bit of training I felt my accumulated fitness could carry me through ok. I decided to start the swim a little further back than usual to give myself less pressure to overcook things early on not knowing how I'd go. I got through the swim pain free in a fairly decent time, but a couple off minutes of the top guys.
Onto the bike and I was feeling good, I climbed out of town pretty steadily enjoying lots of opportunities to sit up and not be in the aero position. Out past the golf club and onto the flat I was riding ok in my aero position (with some additional stack height I added pre race). I was moving well and picking off groups all the time, as I hit around 40km I was pleased to see I was averaging around 37kph which I felt was a competitive ride for the course. It was at this point that I began to feel by back muscles tighten and my glutes pulling hard on my SI joints. I sat up to try to stretch, but getting back down on my bars was proving pretty difficult to sustain. I rode around the back part of the course waiting for some smoother road to try to regain some power and get aero again but it wasn't happening - I rode back to town sat up most of the way trying to consolidate what I could, tagging onto other groups where I could, one final push up Flinders (thanks for the support Bel Fong) arriving in town a little bit cooked.
I got to T2 and although I had the thought about pulling the pin on the run, I figured I would at least wait a few kms in to see how bad my back felt in an upright position. I started the run at a usual 70.3 pace to see what I could manage but things weren't going well. I stopped after the first half loop to walk and stretch and that was pretty much my day done. I wanted to finish and thought it was a good reflective lesson for me and our triathlon community about things not always going your way but trying to persevere under less than ideal conditions. I was a bit disappointed not to be at the pointy end competing, but happy to be out there racing with everyone and enjoying the atmosphere of a great event. Thanks for all the support and cheers from everyone who was out on course.
Onto the rest of 2017 . I had already set my goals around Busso 70.3 in December with a trip to Sunny Coast and Nepean prior to that. Time to get my back 100% and rebuild for the latter part of the year. A big thanks to Square One Physiotherapy for all their support in getting me healthy and ow back into Vision Mosman PT for some rebuilding of strength and some consistent training. See you all out on course soon.