Anyone who has dealt with this injury knows it can be a big challenge trying to return to top form. After about 7 weeks of doing very little I was able to return to normal training. It took me a good 3 weeks before I felt like I was actually making some headway. This past week (week 11 post crash) I really started to feel like my old self.
My wife and I also decided to move back to northern Michigan in early August. This is where we're from and both our families are back there. We found good jobs and could not pass up the opportunity. So far it has been great. I am loving my new training environment. There aren't as many people to train with, but I've always kind of been more of a solo trainer anyways. There are awesome fresh water lakes to swim in, hill after hill with very little traffic and wonderful sights for cycling and running, trails everywhere and a track less than a 1/4 mile from my house. Only problem...the long winters! It's all good though. I will swim more, have never had a problem banging out hard sessions on the trainer and treadmill, and will be taking up xc skiing.
Anyways, my father and I were co-directing a small local tri & 5k this past weekend in northern MI. I decided about mid week that because it was a pretty small event I'd try to race if everything went smooth on race morning. Plus, my father was there if anything went wrong and we had a lot of great
volunteers. I wasn't able to get in a warm up because of all the running around getting things sorted, but I had enough adrenaline to get me rolling and I was excited to just be back out there racing. The gun went off and I just told myself I'd sit on whoever's feet was in first. This plan worked and I felt strong. Came out of the 1k swim in 11:47. It was a bit short, but still a good swim for me.
Onto the bike and I was on fire. My coach and the man I coach alongside, Janda Ricci-Munn, has been implementing a "secret" bike session the day before races. Both of us have been trying this out on our athletes and it has shown some awesome results.
Each time it's the same feedback, "Man, I felt great on the bike from the first pedal stroke." I was excited to try this out for myself and sure enough I felt magic straight away. Cycling is my biggest strength in triathlon as it comes quite naturally to me. This course wasn't awful hard, but fair. I rode away from the majority of the field and came in right at an hour for 40k. I've only done a handful of hard bike sessions since the accident so I was pleased.
Onto the run...this was the bigger question mark of the day as I really have only done extensive/intensive run sessions since early June and have only been running for 4 weeks. I just told myself to run hard to the turn around and then if I had a big enough lead I'd just shut things down in hopes of being able to get right back into training a day or two later. This plan worked. I ran about 6:00 pace until the turn around and then shut it right down. It was so much fun being back out there...and even more fun winning. I won't ever take racing for granted again after missing out on Eagleman this year because it was one week after my crash. It has been tough getting back in shape, but the hard work I do year round has allowed me to bounce back pretty quick.
I want to thank Jake for helping our event out in a big way. He sent all kinds of sweet apparel and more. Our participants walked away pumped and thankful for some cool stuff from Zoot. You're the man Jake!