It is not often in life that a circumstance occurs testing whether you actually learned from a previous mistake. I have spent much of this year dealing with rib injuries from my bike crash in November. I rashly toed the line at two early season half Ironman races, thinking (hoping) I was ready for the rigors. The results, two DNF’s, were devastating mentally and physically.
I clawed my way out of doldrums and regained my fitness and health. A win at the Boulder Peak race last month increased my confidence. Training since that day progressed agreeably and I signed up for the Boulder 70.3 event.
The week leading up to the race went well through Thursday. On Friday, I felt something was amiss. I did not feel bad, but I also did not feel good. I relegated the bad feelings to the taper blues. Saturday’s bike ride went ok, but my run left me breathless. I began to worry.
I lay in bed Saturday night listening to the rain pelt my bedroom window feeling my ribs throb in the areas that previously bothered me. I tossed and turned until my alarm blared at 4 am. I dragged myself out of bed with dread and headed out the door for a warm up run.
I was immediately short of breath and each footstep hurt my ribs. I was devastated.
I called Coach Phil for a consultation; not the phone call he expected so early in the day. I asked his advice, knowing that if I was asking whether to race, I should not race.
After some deliberation, contemplation and self-realization, I, for the first time in my triathlon career, pulled the plug on a race the morning of the race.
You would think that in a career there would not be much opportunity to make a decision to not start a race the day of the race. You would think wrong. You see, in my 12 years as a professional triathlete, I have woken up the morning of the race vomiting, a hamstring so sore I could barely walk, extreme back pain, terrible asthma, sick. In all instances, I still started the race only to pull out or barely cross the finish line.
So, at the tender age of 40, after so many mistakes and hope gone awry, I finally learned from the past and skipped my hometown race. I have learned that you cannot toe the line at a race anything less than 98% (let’s face it, 100% is a myth) and that it is more important to be healthy than fit. I learned that hope and fairy dust is not enough to get one through a race.
Why did my ribs flare up? Good question. But, I am confident that a few easy days will rectify the situation and I will be back in action soon.