Ironman Mont Tremblant – Update on my DNF

Hey All

Just a quick update here on my end. Last Sunday was Ironman Mont Tremblant and my day frustratingly ended with a DNF. I think I wrote on twitter that I started having Achilles pain at 8k into the run but thinking about it after the race it really started more around 10 or 11k.

In short – this was totally unexpected. I went into this race feeling the best and the most confident and the most prepared than I have at any race I have ever done. My training has been great. I’ve been healthy, strong and just overall in a great place. I felt rested. Heading into race day I couldn’t believe how calm and relaxed I felt – I was really just ready to go and felt completely confident and excited about how I planned to execute. I felt calm about my Kona qualification.

Race day was solid. I think I executed my best-ever swim. And while I wasn’t thrilled with my bike riding, I still worked my way up the field and came off the bike in 3rd and in a place where, if I could run as we had planned, I would be in a fantastic position.

When I started the run, Mike, my boyfriend, asked me how I was and my response was “hurting” – I was definitely in a low moment. But my legs actually felt really good and so I went about getting calories in – coke, bananas, gels, electrolyte – everything I could. And after about 3-4k everything came around and I settled in the pace I was very happy with – the goal was around a 3 hour marathon and I was right on track and felt strong.

About 7k in I got passed by Lisa Roberts who was running SO fast. I started to run with her, but she was putting down 6:10 miles and after about 1 minute with her I knew that pace was not something I could sustain long term (and suspected she couldn’t either) so I backed off and let her go. As a side note – she did go on to set a new run course record in just over 3 hours – it was awesome to see!

Once we made the turn around that is when things went south. My right Achilles initially started aching and then started giving me shooting pains. I slowed my pace significantly and was heavily favoring my right side. It quickly turned into a situation where I wasn’t able to run and was questioning whether I’d be able to make it back to town on my own. I stopped, took my shoe off, stretched and started massaging my ankle. Eventually I got going again and things were better for about 1k and then the pain started again but was worse. I could hardly run uphill and I was completely favoring my right side. I stopped again and did the same thing. I was frustrated and totally confused as I have had no Achilles issues at any point this year. And my day had gone from racing for a podium spot to just trying to get through. When I got back into town (having finished the first loop) I saw my dad and my boyfriend and stopped to talk with them. We called Matt (my coach) and collectively made the decision to pull out.

After the race I was very bummed out – I’ve always been a firm believer in the notion that if you can finish a race, you should. And frankly – I could have finished the race yesterday – I certainly could have walked. So I kind of feel like I let down myself and all the people who were out there walking the course. BUT, I also think my decision showed growth as an athlete. I’ve always been the kind of person who will not stop unless I am properly and thoroughly injured. But I learned that lesson last year the hard way. Waiting to stop until you are injured is a recipe for a lot of time out off of training and out of competition and I won’t put myself back into that position again.

After the race I kept questioning whether I was being overly conservative having stopped, but in the few days after I became increasingly more confident in my decision.

Since I race I’ve had my leg checked out and the prognosis is that I have a bit of tendonitis in my Achilles, which was brought on by some plantar facia issues that I had been managing all year on my right side.

Am I injured? No. I have a niggle that we need to address. Had I kept going I think the likelihood is that I would have come out of it injured and my season would be over.

In fact, I am excited to report that today (Friday) I’ll be going out for a mini “test” run to see how it is and from there we will plan forward. My doctor says it will be 3-4 weeks to totally recover.

Am I bummed? I am. But that is how racing goes sometimes and we just have to take the bad with the good. And I guess in the end I got in a solid 7.5 hours of training – something that is bound to help me on the whole.

As for my Kona qualification – I needed that race in Tremblant to secure my spot to Kona, so as of now, there is a chance I don’t qualify (and this weekend it will all be determined). I feel pretty calm about it all – This year has been a wonderful year – I’ve gotten stronger and stronger and stronger throughout the season and I feel excited not just for the end of this year, but what is to come next year and the year after. I feel great about where I am now and what is to come. So if Kona happens – awesome! I will be ready and I can’t wait to go and fight like hell to reach our goals. And if it doesn’t – there are quite a few other Ironman races around that time and you can be sure I will be at one of them.

One of my goals this year was to win and Ironman, so I’ll always welcome and opportunity to give that a go!

Now it is time to get this niggle addressed, get back to training and figure out what is next!

Thank you to EVERYONE for their support, concerns and well wishes! A HUGE thank you to Cervelo – they brought a massive team out to the race and were incredible incredible INCREDIBLE cheerleaders on the day! Thank you to my Boyfriend, Mike, and to my parents for being there on race day. To my coaching team – Matt, Paul, Brendon, Kevin, Phil and so many other – THANK YOU!

And last but not least HUGE congrats to Mary Beth Ellis, Liz Blatchford and Lisa Roberts – the top 3 ladies. They were spectacular and it was awesome to be able to race with them and then watch them thrive out there. I am loving how women’s racing continues to be elevated and am proud of everyone who is doing their part to push us all to new limits!

Until next time….Don’t Dream It. Be it!

Sarah-

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