Finding a New Strong – My Return to Racing – Miami 70.3 – Part 2

3 words: Racing. Is. HARD.

I’m about a week post my comeback race and am still recovering! Holy cow that race did me in! I was Ironman-style sore for about 4 days after the race, hobbling about everywhere, and I’m still feeling hormonally run down. Bed time can’t come soon enough at night, and my body is only just letting me start to push a bit more in training.
But I raced. And I finished. And I was THRILLED. It was exactly what I needed and wanted. And I learned a few things to boot.

Going in to the race I felt pretty prepared and ready to race. I was nervous, but confident, and I was excited to see how I fared. As soon as I was out on the race course though, it was a different story! There is a BIG difference between training and racing, and when you are out of competition for so long, I learned it is a true shock to the system when you throw yourself back into it.

In short, I was slow. I was slow on the swim. I was slow on the bike, and I was surprising pleased with my run.
When the gun fired I pretty much got dropped immediately. At 300 meters in, I was thinking “this is SO hard!! OMG I still have another 1600 meters to go! OMG!”….but I plugged along and tried to keep general contact with the girl just up ahead of me.

When the swim was over, I was so amped to get on my bike. I knew I could ride well and really was looking forward to putting up a great ride. NOPE. Didn’t happen. About 5 miles in I felt exhausted. It wasn’t because I was having an off day either – I realized I am not in race fitness and wasn’t ready or used to that level of intensity. As someone who love love loves the bike portion of the race, it was a sinking feeling to feel exhausted with 51 miles left to ride. I wanted to get off my bike, cry, and then take a nap. This was SO much harder than I remembered it being. I wanted to push and my body was yelling back “WTF?!?! STOP!!!!” At the turn around on the bike I could see I was losing time to the lead girls and I was still very far back. I put in a good effort on the back half, but it showed me I’m not where I thought I was.

Coming in to T2 I felt like I had just done an Ironman. I was wondering how I was going to make it through the run. But, I put my shoes on and got out there and started running. It felt surprisingly good. I was running 6:20’s-6:40’s, which given how little running and how little speed work I had done, was really about the best case scenario for me. I was worried that perhaps I was going out to fast, but decided to roll with it and just see how it all would unfold. I really had nothing to lose.

At mile 6.5 we got brought to a dead stop. A freight train was coming through Miami and went right through the run course. We got put into a corral and I sat there for about 3 minutes. It was so weird having that break in the middle – and then off we went. In the end I ran a high 1:25 (which is faster than what is recorded online, which doesn’t account for the mid-run pit stop), which I was thrilled with.

At the end of the day I was 7th. On one hand I was disappointed. It wasn’t what I had expected of myself. It wasn’t where I thought I could be. It wasn’t where I WANTED to be. On the other hand, I was SO SO SO thrilled and happy to have raced. I was grateful for the opportunity to see truly where I am at. And I was humbled and reminded of the fact that you can’t take 3.5 months fully off of all forms of training, come back, train for 2 months and then expect to get out there and compete with some seriously fast and amazing women. It showed me I have to put my head down and work harder. It showed me I have a lot of work to do. It showed me I am not there yet.

Was I disappointed? Perhaps slightly – only because I am competitive and want to do better. Was I discouraged? Really not at all. I’m motivated and hungry to get back to work and get to a place I can feel good about in my next race. Was I happy? I was. Crossing the finish line with no pain and having battled through a lot of “This is SO HARD!” thoughts all day; being reminded of how tough racing at this level actually is – I was very proud and excited to be back out there.

I’m back in SF now. My head is down. I’m focused. And I’m working hard. Next up – Ironman Western Australia on December 7th. Lot of work to do between now and then. Wish me luck!

Until next time
Don’t dream it. Be it.
Sarah-

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