Monday, August 29, 2016

Roth & Ruckus

Life has indeed been full speed ahead since I returning from racing in Roth, Germany. The trip itself was a bit of a whirlwind, but there isn't a single piece of me that regrets going. I wanted to post a few pictures and thoughts from my European extravaganza, as well as an update on my plans for the rest of 2016.
I left for Germany on Thursday, had 1.5 days to prepare for the race, raced Sunday and flew back to the states 15 hours after crossing the finish line. Roth was a bucket list race, and I refused to let the opportunity slip away. I was lucky to have Molina coaching me through the preparations, and reminding me how special this event is (he never raced it, but I'm happy that next year he'll finally check this one off his bucket-list as well).

Preparation leading into Roth was less than ideal.  Training volume dwindled once I started my new job, and my body wasn't responding well to any of the high intensity workouts. Other professional athletes who have raced Roth in the past convinced me that I needed to embrace the experience and opportunity to race Roth. Truthfully, a million things went wrong leading into the race, but being honest with my race expectations allowed me to shrug them off, put on a smile, and be grateful for the opportunity.  I usually go into races with podium goals, but for the first time in years I simply went into race day with a "roll with the punches, embrace the experience" mindset.  If that was my only rubric for measuring my success at Roth I'd give myself an A++.
Roth displays amazing energy in the days that lead up to Sunday's race. Fireworks, live music, and Bavarian dress up parties to name a few.

Race Day: The excitement race morning was electric.  Unfortunately they started the pro women at the same time as the pro men, and to make matters worse they also included age groupers who predicted to finish under 9 hours (or those with huge ego's). The swim was brutal.

I was whacked, kicked, punched and dunked more times than I could count. Again I reminded myself "smile and enjoy the matter how high or low this roller coaster takes you." At no point during the swim did I have any clue where any of the pro women were, but to my amazement I exited the water with the first chase pack (Daniela was already well on her way to crushing us all!).

In terms of the course and spectator support the bike ride was spectacular. You ride from one little town to the next, with each offering their own form of cheering entertainment. I usually race with my eyes either fixated on my Garmin or half closed out of agony. This time I stared right into the face of each cheering spectator and embraced their spirit. While I wanted to grimace (out of frustration for my power numbers) all I could do is smile. This couldn't be more true then when it came time to climb Solar Hill. The crowd was deafening!
THIS is what you go to Roth for!
(Huge thanks to Thorsten Radde for snapping this one!)
In terms of my performance, the 138.2 miles that followed the swim were simply abysmal. I had nothing in the tank and every time I asked more of myself I came up empty handed.  Come hell or high water I was going to finish, but over the last 8 miles of the race things got ugly. I knew my lead up was sub-par: closing on a house, new job, moving, trying to find my way amongst new training grounds, living out of bags for months.... but I'm beyond proud of the focus I put on perspective around this race. I couldn't end my racing career without competing at Roth!

Run Course! Can't beat this surface!
Post Race Updates:
I returned home and shortly after closed on my house in Portland. Work is demanding, but I am loving the challenges. Problem is, I always felt I was running on an empty tank. I was feeling pretty run down, but attributed it to my hectic life and post Ironman decompression. Inevitably, I took a few weeks off from training and then slowly started to get back to running and swimming. Best case, I wanted to do a late season Ironman, and worse case I thought I'd train for a few trail races and possibly a fall marathon. I embraced the Portland/Nike running community and enjoyed the opportunity to be social with my training again. It quickly became apparent that my body wasn't cooperating with my upcoming race vision. I was struggling to get out of bed after 10 hours of sleep, and dragging myself to even the easiest of workouts.

During my lead up to Roth I blamed my inability to recover, nail hard workouts, or hit race weight on "old age." I never envisioned that this would be my last year of professional racing, but maybe my body was deciding things for me. I didn't want to go out with the performance I had in Roth, but I found myself questioning whether I just had to throw in the towel and accept that my time in the sport was up.  Was it time to give everything to one career, instead of two?  This is an emotional decision, and one that I think only those who have left professional athletics can comprehend.  It wasn't until I backed off my training, and felt more settled in my house/job that I believed something simply wasn't right. Thankfully I connected with an amazing sports med doctor in Portland. We ran a full gamut of blood tests, and sure enough I had my answer: extreme adrenal fatigue, and iron deficient anemia (again). It was as if alarms started going off while the blood work was analyzed. The doctor I've partnered with treats countless professional and elite athletes, and his methodology, approach and analysis directly correlates with treating athletes as athletes and not just the common folk. I am beyond thankful to have been introduced to him, as this is EXTREMELY hard to come by within the medical community! I certainly had reason to pause when he told me that "these results are far worse than any I've ever seen." Okay then, if that isn't a nice whack over the head I don't know what is.
Closing day on my house!

While extremely frustrated to hear this, I can't say I am surprised. The past year has been incredibly stressful, and on top of that I keep asking my body to get faster and find more endurance. This wasn't the answer I wanted, but at least now I know I was right in thinking that something is indeed wrong. This means that I'm not on a forever downward spiral, that I can get healthy/faster/stronger again. Only my body will know how long this will take.  It's time to start listening and stop pushing. Yes, running 7:30 pace shouldn't feel like a sprint, and it isn't laziness (or happiness to be in my own bed again) that has me unable to get out of bed every morning.

So... all racing has been put on hold. I was suppose to run Hood To Coast with one of the Nike teams, but thankfully they found a worthy replacement. It's time to really rest and recover. I know in the end my desire for athletic endeavors will come back, but for now my body simply won't have anything to do with this frame of thought. We've put in motion a few changes in my diet (up'ing protein to 130+ grams a day- so I'll definitely be relying on Designer Protein to fill the gaps. Use coupon code: Caroline20 to save 20% on your next order). The upcoming weeks/months will offer a new set of challenges, but in the end I am confident that great things will come from this time out.

It turns out we aren't super human, and living life full speed ahead can eventually bite you in the ass. OUCH!
Huge thanks to my amazing sponsors who support and encourage me through both the highs and lows! Together we'll fight our way out of this!
Photo credit: Thorsten Radde


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