November 1st was the day I realized something was wrong with my foot. I stopped running. A few days later my orthopaedist confirmed that my pain couldn't be anything but a stress fracture. Bad news.
But the Good news was I had two other sports I could focus on. That's the cool thing about Triathlon. Of course I really wasn't too excited about my bike yet since I had just endured the Queen K oven ride a few weeks before.
So it was all about the pool. I have been focused on swimming swimming swimming. I have worked so hard to fit swims in the past few months. I wake up at 4:30 a.m. or I drive 1 hour in a snowstorm on a Saturday morning just so I can swim with some friends at a Masters practice. Worth it? Absolutely!!!! I'm even swimmming 5 days this week!!!! Since there is no pool in my town...that is very rare. I think back to when I first started triathlon. Finding a place and time to swim was the big hurdle. The pool I use opened later back then. Those first few years, I only had 30 minutes to swim twice a week!!! I think I did about 4-5000 yards/week! I can't believe it.
I dove in the pool yesterday (shhhh...not supposed to dive...but the guard wasn't looking and I knew I wouldn't hit the bottom. It makes it Much easier to get in the cold water that way..) and felt so good. I felt 'normal.' I felt like a swimmer. My arms were loose and I could grab the water. My stroke didn't wobble from side to side. Back in HS and College when I was practicing two times/day, 6 days/week.....I had special feel for the water. That is how I look at it. Occasionally, I get that feel back. I have it now and I am loving it. I'm not that much faster yet, but I know I will be. It's going to be a good year.
But the reality is...Triathlon is not all about swimming. Not even close. But it is my secret weapon. It is my strength. Sure, I can ride fairly well and run pretty well too...but I can swim even better. I constantly hear this, "Nobody wins a triathlon on the swim." I hear that, and I laugh a sinister laugh. I'll leave it at that.
Since swimming is Not the only sport...it's time to refocus on the other two. Running is coming along. Slowly slowly slowly but surely. And that is ok. It's not time for speed yet. We all love to feel the speed but it's not time. It's January. Patience. I will have patience.
Biking...well....it's fine. I guess. I'm on my trainer like the rest of the athletes in the Northeast. I work hard when I need to work hard and I spin when I need to spin. I do the time. I'm a firm believer in Nike's words: Just Do It. When it comes to the bike these days..I JUST DO IT!
In the water, I put my head down and savor the soundless workout. The sloshing of the water in my ears and the sound of my own breathing. I watch my hand entry and pull and concentrate on efficiency and strength. I concentrate on power. I think about the middle 10 minutes of a Half Ironman swim and find that pace. I envision my competitors in the one pool race I get to enjoy each spring. I'm finding that old swimmer within me again. That's right. At age 40. Bring. It. On.
When I run I feel each step. I feel the muscles in my legs getting used. I enjoy the cold air making my eyes water. I hear myself breathing in a rhythmic manner and smile to the point of tears because I am OUT THERE again!! Injuries are tough..they hurt and they slow us down. But for those of us who truly find their souls through sport it can be disabling. It can eat away at your heart and your confidence and cause you to change. I started to loose sight of myself while I was injured. Sport is not my life...my family is my true life. But I am part of that family and because of my sport, I can stay centered in myself. I run to race and to stay fit but running is also my time. It's therapeutic like nothing else to me. I have it back. And that feels great.