One year later

It has been one year since I last competed in a triathlon. It is hard to believe how slowly and how quickly time has passed. My last race was Lake Stevens 70.3. It was not a banner day. Despite the pain from my rib injury, I hobbled through the race. I knew at the time that it would be my last triathlon for a long while, so I decided that I would finish slowly rather than not finish at all. After the race, I spent a month on the couch recovering both mentally and physically before beginning a long journey of doctor visits and physical therapy.

This past year has been one of change, introspection, patience and flexibility. I have altered my expectations as an athlete and redefined my role in the sport of triathlon.

No longer a triathlon competitor, I continue a very active involvement in the sport as a coach, writer, and educator. I avidly peruse results, stay up to date on technology, learn about new races, and keep informed about rules changes. I take my job as a coach very seriously so I continue to be a student of the sport; athletes look to me to achieve success and I do not want to fail them. As well, with my long history of ailments, I can almost always find a solution to an athlete’s problems. Cheering from the sidelines is not as hard as I anticipated.

In terms of training and racing, my year has taken a very interesting turn. I am a Masters runner with a very concrete goal of qualifying for the marathon Olympic Trials. Training has changed markedly. I run with the Running Republic of Boulder. In the past, I ran mostly alone, whereas now, I almost always have a run buddy (especially since if I cannot find a human, Diesel the dog, is always a willing and able partner). The workouts are completely different than anything I have done in the past – they are longer, harder, and far more taxing. Indeed, in the beginning I was getting a touch of workout anxiety, wondering if I could complete such rigorous training. My confidence in running has grown tremendously this year, although I still worry about getting dropped on the long runs. And, I am continually humbled by the ageless 47 year old Colleen DeReuck who kicks my butt on a regular basis (how on earth can she get that far ahead of me in just 60 seconds???).  I have toed the line at races I would have balked at in the past, and have a lot of fun doing so.

Flexibility and patience. I have been notoriously poor at both. My rib injury still plagues me and so, in order to train at the level I aim for, I have made certain modifications. For instance, I have gotten out early for more swim workouts this year than in my entire career previously. I learned that if my rib hurts in the pool, I must get out lest I make it worse. I cut run workouts short. I take unexpected days off to let a rib flare up calm down. I manage the pain most of the time, but it takes a lot of effort to do so and I cannot relent on physical therapy, stretching and gym work. I am “patiently” waiting for this injury to finally go away.

It is never easy to redefine yourself, especially when something has characterized you for many years. I realized that finding other tangible goals has eased the transition. We are always evolving; it is up to us to keep up.

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5 Responses

  1. Kevin (The Dude) says:

    Joanna,

    One year ago I DID have a banner day at Lake Stevens 70.3. Not because I had a PR or did anything especially amazing physically. Nope, my banner day was due to finding out mid-bike that my tri shorts had become see-through….from you! Now, I know that sounds odd. At the time I just pulled my number belt down lower and soldiered on. The real effects began when you posted details of the incident on your blog! Oh my! I have never taken myself too seriously, and posted a humorous comment about the blog.

    So why would I consider something embarrassing to be a banner day? You were very gracious after I posted my comment. I also began following your blog and to know a bit about the happenings in your athletic career. You have also been so kind as to give me bits of advice here and there during this year. Those things are great, but it also made me realize what a nice person you are. And THAT is what made it a banner day for me!

    Life IS a constant re-invention of oneself. And you are doing a great job of coping with the changes! Keep on keeping on.

  2. Joanna Zeiger says:

    Kevin-

    Thanks for you support and your continued sense of humor!

    JZ

  3. Bret says:

    One door closes, another door opens. I'm sure you're going to rock the running world!

  4. John Howe says:

    Great post JZ! I really believe that the competing we do is more about challenging ourselves and overcoming obstacles. Best of luck in your latest endeavor!

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