For those of you who have been reading my blog, you know I had ACL reconstructive surgery back in late January. It's been a little over 4 months since the day of surgery, and I'm happy with the way things have progressed. I was incredibly excited how quickly I was able to get on the bike and start working on my range of motion and keeping my cardio workload up. A week or so after that I was back in the pool and cranking out lap after lap.
A lot has happened since then, but one thing was always on the back of my mind: running. Running had always been my go-t0. I was always able to rely on an extra gear to put myself into at the end of any race to kick it up to another level. Whether it be to pass one more person at the finish line, or hold off someone coming up behind me to do the same. But since I've started real running the past couple weeks, I feel the table has shifted on me, and I have to concentrate on the front end of the race more.
If I want to be competitive at the end of a race now, I need to bury myself in the swim and bike. Not completely, but enough so that the weakness of my run now isn't so much of a handicap. This will be a delicate balance. I have decent speed still, but going sub 7min/mi in a 10k of the Olympic Distance isn't really an option right now as it was what I was shooting for last season.
I feel like I'm starting triathlon all over again, but from a different perspective. I've been pretty confident in my swim, and I think my bike has come a long way, too. However, all of my running, with exception of this Saturday, has been base building and recover style efforts. The good part is that I've never felt I'm going to run out of gas on any length I've gone. The thing is that I just don't feel that extra gear yet. It's like I have a body with six gears, but I've only got the horses to fully utilize the first four. But if I stay in those first four gears, I can go forever.
This past Saturday, I put myself in a bit of pain by pushing my cardiovascular limits, getting up and pushing my VO2 Max in essence on a 6 mile run. I was able to push my HR up into the upper 180's and low 190's. However, I did so on the uphills to ensure I wasn't putting too much load on my still recovering knee. While the pace stayed slow, the effort grew. On a few hills, I was able to drop my pace from what it was on flatland and descending. I tried using the descending portions for recovery and flatland for form and get my feel back for the road and changing conditions.
The true test will come this weekend when I hit up the Capitol View Triathlon up here in Madison. My first race of the season! I've ridden the bike course twice in some longer rides, and I know it's a fairly flat course with a couple short steep bursts of uphills. If the wind holds off, I think I can crank out one of my best bike splits. It will be my first open water swim of the season, so that should be interesting. I'm still looking to find a group to swim with in the area so I don't go out alone. Very unsafe! And this will ultimately test my knee and how I can hold up in the 10k portion of the race.
I have no real expectations in terms of finishing times. I have a few in mind, but I know once I get off the bike, things can completely change based on how I feel with my knee. If it's feeling stiff, I'll go easy and just finish up the race casually. However, if it feels good, I'll push it and see what kind of pace I can crank out. Either way, I'm really looking forward to getting out and racing!