It's been a long couple weeks since the Bridgeland Sprint Triathlon and I just kept putting off my blog post about it. I finally made myself sit down and put this report out before I forgot more details and made this even more difficult.
After my last blog post my ankle seemed to heal fairly quickly and I was excited to be doing Bridgeland as a fun C-level race. However, the Wednesday before the race saw me dealing with pain on the sole of my left foot -- the previous ankle issue was my right foot.As it turned out, I had had a plantar wart festering in the ball of this foot for several months and it picked now to blow up in size and cause pain to plan weight upon my foot. A Friday trip to the doctor provided freezing treatment, and with it I had hope that I might be able to do the triathlon. Due to my foot issues I was unsure if I would be doing this race as recently as the morning before the race. However, my foot seem lasted to hold up decently well on a short Saturday morning run and I decided I was going to give Bridgeland a go. If anything, I was over-rested for this race given the recent foot injuries limiting my training a bit over the last two weeks.
On Sunday morning, my foot was giving me a bit of discomfort as I was going through the morning pre-race routine, but nothing more than being at a nuisance level. I got to the race site early and was in transition as it opened. I was set up quickly and went to lay by the OutRival Racing tent for 30-40 minutes. After that I got up to make a final check of transition before moving on to the swim start area. In this timeframe I made the first of several trips to the porta potties. Eventually I had everything worked out and met up with friends over near the swim start. My race plan was simple for today, try to get a good swim and then take what I could from the bike and run and enjoy this day.
Since I was in one of the early waves (4th or 5th) I stayed near the start are and quickly lined up my my group. When the time came for my wave I found a spot a bit to the left and in front of some less confident looking swimmers. When the horn went off, I found myself going at a solid rate with only a few pink (my wave) caps ahead of me. Somewhere near 150-200 meters in (maybe a bit more), I was suddenly hit with severe abdominal cramps for a moment which caused me to stop and breastroke for a short bit. I regained my composure and swam about 50-75 more meters and had more cramps that felt more severe than before. At this point I started to feel concerned and looked for a canoe or buoy that I might need to swim towards. Since neither was close I chose to breastroke for a bit as the cramps came and went for a moment or two. Suddenly and somewhat uncontrollably, I passed a lot of gas from my system and began to feel better and I soon resumed my swim, though this time at a more moderate pace for most of the rest of the swim. I exited the swim in 13:21. This was well behind my original expectations, but better than I imagined it would be as I got out of the water after my experience that day. :-/
As I completed this rather eventful swim, I exited and I found I could initially run on the carpeted path to transition, though after a minute my foot hurt enough that I had to walk and then limp my way to my bike. I had stashed some extra bandages for my foot near my bike and reapplied them to the sole of my left foot, and then I put on thicker socks than normal and also put on my bike shoes before leaving the transition area. Given the pain in my foot, I was moving pretty slow all through the transition process. T1 was: 4:02.
After I mounted my bike I started off at at good cadence with a slightly easier gear to keep pressure easier on my foot. Even in my current state I passed many more people than passed me on the bike. Although I specifically was not using a Garmin or bike computer to monitor my pace because I did not want to try to force myself to go faster than my comfort level would indicate, I was watching my heart rate and that heart rate stayed lower than I would normally expect it to be for a race effort. When my foot pain would bother me more than I wanted to bear, I would ease up on the gears a bit and try to make it up in cadence of my pedaling. My foot definitely hurt more as the cycling continued. In my mind I figured I was probably averaging in the 17-18 mph range , and maybe 19 mph if I was lucky. I was very surprised to see that I averaged 20.6 mph, which was very close to last year's bike speed (20.7) but under much less optimal personal conditions this time out. When I neared transition I took my feet out of the bike shoes and pedaled with them on top of the shoes. This was the least painful part of pedaling for me, probably because the distribution of weight from my foot to the top of the shoes kept pressure spread away from the area of the plantar wart. I finished the bike in 37:54 at 20.6 mph.
Once I got back to T2, I had to limp my way back to the bike and I gave a moment of thought to stopping the race, as I figured running would be more painful than cycling. However, I also thought I should start out and go from there. I took some extra care to get my shoes on comfortably and make sure my bandages were properly positioned on my foot. When I stood up it seemed fine and I jogged out of transition feeling good enough to give it a go. I finished T2 in 2:38.
The run was a very interesting one. All I really hoped for was a comfortable run with a minimal amount of foot discomfort. I felt good starting out and tried to keep a quick and easy cadence without forcing a pace. I found that what seemed a quicker and shorter stride felt less painful to me and ran like that. My heart rate was pretty much in the mid to upper 150s for most of the run, though I didn't much look at my watch and tried to just run on feel. This would be about 10-15 beats lower per minute than I would have normally expected for a true race effort. I hit the lap button at each mile (apparently, other than the mile 3 marker that I did not see). Mile 1 was in 8:04 with a 155 avg HR. I noticed about a half mile in that I was feeling more pressure than pain in my foot and tried to block it out from there and enjoy the run. Mile 2 was a bit slower in 8:23 with a 161 avg HR, I was still going on feel and trying to keep things comfortable and was just glad I wasn't falling apart from my foot around this point. The last 1.1 miles were finished in 8:18 with a 169 avg HR. I waited until getting up the grassy hill off the path near the end before trying to pick up my pace to the end. I was still feeling good and just went with it, though I could definitely feel my foot much more when I ran harder. I finished in a surprisingly strong 24:45 run considering my injured status. If I'd been healthy I would have expected better, but considering the status of my foot I expected a high 20 minute range run with some walk breaks thrown it. Last year's run pace was 9:16 per mile and I felt healthy and gave a harder effort, this year was 7:59 avg run pace.Overall time was 1:22:42, over 4 minutes faster than last year, though a different course. Overall I had a better race this year while feeling sick and having a bad foot. I'm thinking a healthy me could have finished at least 10 minutes better than that and maybe more.