2018 was a weird year for me – it started out strong and then just sort of…fizzled. I made my age group podium in the first three triathlons of the year and then went 0/3 to close out the year, which included a self-disqualification at the Patriot’s Olympic Triathlon in September. In actuality, I had a fantastic race that day, finished first in my age group and even qualified for Age Group Nationals…until I made the walk of shame to the timing tent to take a DQ for going off course. I won’t elaborate on that in detail since its been covered before here, but it was still a tough pill to swallow. There was also the fact that my “A” race for the year in the Outer Banks was cancelled due to Hurricane Florence.
On the bright side, my fitness level has never been higher and I performed well in the back half of the year, even though I was off the podium. My last three races included a 4/14, a 1/24 (pre-DQ) and a 4/22 in my age group in some competitive fields, so I was really knocking on the door. I was also able to set a 5k PR in November, so the focus on improving my running speed in 2018 paid off. There were a fair amount of 800s on the track to get there, so it was good to see the track work pay dividends.
There was no full Ironman in 2018, but I’d done Maryland in 2016 and Chattanooga in 2017 so a year off from the 140.6 distance was in the cards. Fall Ironman races make for an exhausting summer, particularly as the long Saturday bike rides and the long Sunday runs ramp up in June or July. Once you’ve done a full though, its really hard to readjust to some sense of normalcy once its over.
From a training standpoint, I went from 303 hours in 2016 to 394 hours in 2017 to 354 hours in 2018. That equates to 6.8 hours/week over the course of the year, with the training load being somewhat higher in the summer than in the winter. That was a slight pullback from last year, but I trained for Ironman Chattanooga in 2017 and I wasn’t training for a full Ironman this time around. I also lost some training time in the Spring due to injury and illness.
On that note, 2018 was okay for me in the injury department, but there were some bumps in the road for sure. I continued to see Tressa once a month so she can work on my piriformis issues and my IT bands (and whatever else is bothering me at the moment), and she’s kept me moving forward pretty well. Her sessions can be pretty painful, but she’s worth every penny. Plus, she lets me bring my dog. Actually, I don’t think I’m allowed to come to an appointment without my dog.
Two new issues came up this year though, with the first being (what I think is) an oblique strain on my left side. I’m not sure what the precipitating event was, but I began having pain under my left rib cage just before Easter. The pain was never overwhelming, but it was nagging and noticeable during training. Diagnostics didn’t reveal anything concrete, and prescription anti-inflammatories helped for a while. I was almost back to 100% when I ran out of pills, and then I re-aggravated it doing swim sprints. It was re-aggravated again after spreading mulch this Fall, and its still bugging me today. Not enough to need any additional treatment, but its getting pretty old at this point and I’d like for it to go away.
The other issue was intractable headaches that started in June and which went on for 2-3 months. I had a headache pretty much everyday all day and I was taking 6-8 Ibuprofen per day to try to deal with it. That made training difficult at times, because riding a bike with a splitting headache isn’t a whole lot of fun. The only thing that I could think of that might have been causing the headaches was the fact that we’d gotten a kitten in May. I never had pet allergies growing up, but maybe I’d developed a cat allergy over time. Tressa finally gave me some supplements to take, and the headaches resolved within a week or two of starting on her regimen.
So overall, 2018 was a pretty good year, even though there were some hiccups. I also turned 40 this year and aged up into the “masters” category, which is certainly bittersweet. Still, I’m blessed to be able to say that I’m faster and fitter at 40 than at any other time in my life, but its getting harder and harder to keep the upward trajectory going. The performance gains are definitely diminishing at this point, but I’m going to try to hold on to them for a few more years.
Looking ahead, 2019 is going to be an awesome year – with two Ironman brand races already on the books. Ironman created a new 70.3 race in Williamsburg that takes place in May, and I think most of the Richmond triathlon community is going to be there, including Leigh Anne (its her first 70.3). I also got the go ahead to sign up for Ironman Louisville next October, and I can’t wait to get back to another 140.6. My current race calendar is here.
In closing, thanks to Karen Holloway and Erin Wittwer for coaching me, for putting up with all of my whining and for letting me wear the ProK dots even though I can’t seem to stay on course. Thanks to Leigh Anne and the rest of my family for living through this with me and for the motivation and encouragement that they provide. Thanks to my friends, who are probably sick of seeing anything remotely workout related on my Facebook wall, and thanks to the two or three people who actually read my blog instead of just looking at the pretty pictures.
As always, thanks for reading and Happy New Year!