I am 9 days out from Ironman Lake Tahoe. I got down to some serious thinking about it this morning on my run. Specifically, my goal time. A handful of people have asked and the honest answer is, I don't know. I want what a lot of athletes want - to finish under the cut-off, to hear my name called, and emerge and Ironman, happy and uninjured. A respectable time would be the icing on the cake.
6 months ago, I wasn't even running. In late June of 2012 I got a wicked case of plantar fasciitis. I had just run Boston and my training was at an all time high. I did IM Lake Stevens 70.3 in mid-July with great results. I thought after some time off running I would be back to it, PF-free. Days turned into weeks, and my foot just kept hurting. I stopped running. I biked, swam, and strength trained all summer. When the kids went back to school, I couldn't even walk with them because my foot hurt so bad. It would lock up in the car, watching tv, and always overnight. I wore the Straussburg sock. I stretched, iced, rolled. Nothing helped. Finally I saw a podiatrist who gave me a cortisone injection and a month long prescription for intense anti-inflammatories. The cortisone worked for a bit, then wore off. The anti-inflams just made my stomach hurt. I had custom orthotics made. For me, it made my foot worse. I spent months after that working back up to just being in bare feet again.
I finally went to a physical therapist who had promising results with Asytm therapy. This I did for 3 months. Astym, lots of exercises, stretching, and ice. He asked me to stop swimming and cycling so nothing would aggravate my calves. This I did - for 5 weeks. I was miserable. My foot still wasn't getting any better and I was lethargic and cried a lot. I missed running, and without swimming and cycling I had nothing to keep me sane. I eventually just stopped going to PT - it was crazy expensive and I was getting nowhere.
One day (probably during a crying jag), while stretching, I had had enough. I went on-line and booked an appointment with the first local acupuncturist I could find. As luck would have it, I was able to go that very day.
That day turned my entire injury around. The acupuncturist had a completely different attitude. This was whole body and mind treatment. He didn't make any sweeping promises about getting better in a short time. He could see how my much pain my mind was in. After telling him my entire story, and after a couple sessions, he simply said "Rebecca, I think you should just go run."
And I did. I got an inexpensive pair of neutral shoes with high cushioning. I went out 10 minutes. It hurt. Bad. Not the PF but my body. After not running for 10 months...it was really hard. I started every other day. 10 minutes became a mile, then 2, then 3, then 4 and so on. I started working with my coach again. I felt normal. The acupuncture was helping the PF. It was still there, but not the debilitating "for crying out loud, I can't even walk my kid to school" kind of pain. I ran, I iced. I massaged and compression socked and went to acupuncture every week. I couldn't believe what was happening. Increasing mileage and I was ok! I trained for the Seattle-to-Portland bike ride and the Fat Salmon 3.2 mile open water swim. I was happy. I had capped my runs at 10 miles and that was fine by me.
When the opportunity came up for an entry for Ironman Lake Tahoe, I couldn't pass it up. I had enough time to increase my run mileage. My swim was there, as was my bike. I did multiple century rides, on top of what I had already done in preparation for Seattle to Portland - which ended up being a great weekend. 152 miles the first day and 55 the next, a lot of it at tempo. I was very pleased with my Fat Salmon 3.2 time. 1:35 per 100 - which for me is fast. I ran 11, then 13, then 15, 17, 18.5, 19.3 and finally 21 miles. More long runs than I did when I ran my PR (3:26) at Portland 2011! I even did a spur of the moment Sprint (1.4/13.8/4.3) and ended up 3rd in AG, 4th overall. All this time I kept going to acupuncture, increasing my miles, and waiting for the "other shoe to drop." It hasn't, and here I am 9 days out, having completed a ton of training and coming through it uninjured. I suppose the reason I haven't given much thought to a goal time is that I am kind of surprised to even be here. But here I am. My zone 2 isn't what it used to be, and I find myself not really worrying about that, despite the fact that I worked to hard to get it where it was in 2012. What is most important is that running feels like it used to feel, and that's what makes me the most happy.
My Ironman is in 9 days. In my mind, it will be the completion of a long journey. Not one I had planned on, but they seldom are. At the end of it all, I feel lucky and happy to just be here.