The Mayans have predicted 2012 to be the end of our existence. I don't know about that but yesterday when I got back to my hotel room I felt like this was the end of MY existence.
I recently wrote that I would never DNF a race, and I reached out to my friend Hillary Biscay- an athlete/person who I greatly admire for her unbelievable determination to finish anything she starts- letting her know how much I respect that and wanted to follow in her steps in that regard.
Well at yesterday's Ironman Louisville I felt like I was between a wall and (instead of a sword) Hillary and also Michelle (Mitchell) who walked her way to a 13+hr Ironman after a series of back to back races to squeeze in the points needed to toe the line in Kona. HUGE RESPECT.
DNF means "did not finish" (as we know) but I've been telling myself that it can also mean "did not fail". Failure would've been to not start the race at all, or to drop out because my tummyhurt or I didn't really feel so good or fit, or I was simply out of contention.
I unstrapped my chip knowing that since the first quarter of the bike leg I was in bad pain that only came and went in certain sections and took a lot of sitting/standing/stretching. From mile 60 on I had various moments of "should I just stop now?" "how much damage am I doing?". By the last 15mi, having missed an aid station and feeling super lightheaded, I was praying I'd pass out so that I wouldn't have to actually get to T2 and hand the chip in.
When I got to t2, I didn't know who to say I am done to, or where, so I proceeded to grab my run gear and when I tried to run out of T2 it was clear running was not going to happen. I thought ok, I'll go into the portapoty and stretch a few minutes and re-assess.
I tried running 2miles, and was frankly at that point waiting to get out of the miles where the crowds were massively lined up so I could stop and call it. It was so ironic to hear people yelling "great form!" "oh wow she's a runner!" haha....I guess I looked okay but they had nooooo idea what was going on internally. The whole SI joint/low back ridge across was like a locked stabbing pain block of hell.
Going in I was 95% certain I wouldn't get back pain and if I did it'd be super mellow and zero on the run. I've been to every ART/chiro/massage guru and had all the surrounding areas loose and fresh race morning. I even swam that 1hr split falling asleep- it was cruiiissseeeee effort the whole way. What happened was I lined up far right (mistake cuz I breathe to my right) and when we took off my attempt to sprint and cut left was halted by others not budging their spot haha, so I eneded up swimming the most chillaxed Ironman swim of my life behind this one other guy with calm water the whole way. I thought it was a blessing in disguise that would help even more for a pain free bike ride. NOPE!
Long story short, I cried, I had thoughts (still do) that I will never fullfill my potential, that my back pain is now an established part of my life, that my dreams will remain dreams.
But deep down, I believe. I know. I know what fitness I have been carrying, I know the work I've put in. I know there's more doctors to see, a real break to take, a rehab to try, a strength season to undergo, and a build up from phase one for months of long slow volume. Perhaps this is what had to happen for me to start over, rest, come back with asbolute health and renewed strength to then, and ONLY then, be able to one day win an Ironman, and one day to the line with the best pro women in Hawaii.
Plus who doesn't love a good comeback story, right?!?! ;)
For the next few weeks I plan to swim heaps, get going with check up/rehab exercises/routine, cheer on friends and get even more inspired at the World Champs, and around mid October have a few months as a "runner".
Thank you to the following amazing people in my life: my family, my coach, my close friends (that this season has shown me who they really are), TYR, Nytro, SOAS, Powerbar, & Newton.
Never. Ever. Give. Up.