I had an accident in bed Thursday night leading to an interesting race Saturday at Clash Endurance Miami where I competed in the Sprint Duathlon. The Clash Endurance races have become favorites of mine as they have a one of a kind race experience hosted on NASCAR tracks. I have raced in Daytona and Miami twice each now as they have become staples in my annual schedule. Here, I share my experience from my second of three duathlon races leading to the National Championships at the end of April.
The week of the race was going as planned until Thursday evening when I made a most unfortunate decision to force my leg out from under a weighted blanket. I twisted my knee to the delight of many pain sensors under the knee cap. I quickly hopped out of bed to see if I could walk on it and it was reacting fine walking around the room. As I attempted to climb back into bed I was met with those same sensors. I went to bed thinking it was one of those funny bone effects that would hopefully be gone by morning. Morning arrived and I was in the same condition with swelling under the knee cap.
My regular day before pre-race routine involves a 20 minute run the with a few speed pick ups mixed in. The effort went extremely poor and I cut it short. I then spent the day doing several things to treat it. I went for one more test run at the end of the afternoon and it was the same. I took the gamble and drove the 4 1/2 hours to the Homestead Speedway Friday night hoping it would be race-able by morning.
When I woke the knee was sore to touch and felt the same. I taped it up to provide support, set up transition, and then gave it a test before the start. The test didn’t go well but the tape provided enough relief to give it a go. If I experienced pain to the point where I was going to damage I would walk off. In a way it put another focus on the race to manage and I was good with that.
We started the first run, a one mile sprint (1/2 mile out and back). I went out fast behind three other very fast gentlemen. The pain was there but manageable. It wasn’t slowing me down and as we came back into transition I felt great about the effort, running a faster pace than in the race last weekend. I hopped on the bike and took out of transition quickly moving into second place. The leader was long gone. He was an absolute stud. The pain in the knee was there when I tried to drive down so I pulled back a bit with that leg.
As I navigated the course with several turns and u-turns I continued to notice I could not shake the gentleman in 3rd place. We were putting distance between us and the 4th place racer however. When I made the final u-turn with about 2.5 miles remaining, the 3rd place gentleman was still right there. I may have had 30 seconds on him and based on his first run I wasn’t sure that would be enough for me to hold onto 2nd place but I just kept doing my thing.
The knee was hanging in there. Now my thought shifted to, “I will know immediately jumping off to start running if I will be able to go on the final run.” When I hopped off the bike running next to it into transition I was ecstatic as the pain in the knee went down dramatically from the first run. I knew I had to be quick in transition as 3rd place was right behind me. I was and out I went for a two lap, 5k final run.
I had a good pace going as mile one closed and at that point we dipped into the infield of the track for a u-turn where I was able to see who was behind me. I didn’t see the 3rd place racer but knew he had to be around. I kept the pace going and began to pick it up a bit as mile three began. At the same u-turn spot with about a 1/2 mile left in the race I didn’t see him. That felt great as I entered the final stretch to the Finish Line. As I crossed I was extremely happy that I fought and simply was able to race. The injury didn’t play out in any way. It did not impact either run speed. It did impact by bike power/speed but even on my best day I would not have been close to the overall winner. Most importantly I was being smart and if it was going to do more damage I would have walked off, and I didn’t have to…
It’s crazy how our bodies react to things. I have done enough races now and been through several injuries to know when to stop, dial back, or go and sometimes you don’t know until you have to give it a go. It’s a fine line knowing pain vs. discomfort and this was on the pain side. I would have walked off at any of the three stages if it would have caused further damage. I am so happy I drove the nine hours round trip and took the gamble as coming through the other side made it very gratifying and without further injury.
Trust what your body is telling you and consult with a doctor, coach, and/or another type of professional for guidance.
– Add Health to Your Life