This is not the race report that I had wanted to, nor envisioned writing, but an update after my return to racing on the weekend is needed. One week before the IM 70.3 Port Macquarie race which was to be my very first race back after having Elsie 6 months ago, I felt some minor discomfort in my ankle/foot. On seeing the physio, we decided that it was likely some sort of ankle sprain and that with rest it should settle down for the race. I did not run all week leading into the race and was feeling confident that it was going to be OK. Yes it might hurt a little but I was not going to do any damage.
Race day came and I was so excited to be back on the start line! I fed Elsie just before the start, meaning there was no time for either a warm up or any pre-race nerves (aside from being worried about missing the start!). I led the swim out and rode very conservatively on the bike to come off in second place. Lisa Marangon had a flying bike leg and a big lead but at the start of the run I felt very comfortable and was confident of running a solid half marathon. From the very start of the run though my foot hurt. At first I thought I could manage the pain and that if I just took the pace very steady that I should get through. This quickly deteriorated though to the point where the pain was unbearable and I had to stop. Even walking was challenging so there was absolutely no way I could have made it to the finish even if I had taken all the time in the world. A DNF was very painful.
The upshot is that on Monday I had an MRI scan which shows 'bone marrow oedema' or bone bruising in my calcaneus bone (heel bone). To me this was very surprising as I have been careful to manage my run training and be very careful as to not overdo things. And there have been absolutely no warning signs or niggles or strange areas of tightness as you might expect with any other stress related injury developing. After consulting with my specialist the conclusion is that it is from the effects of breast feeding and reduced calcium/mineral uptake which had made me susceptible. HOWEVER this is only a small bump in the road back - a couple of weeks off running and a managed approach and I will be good to race again soon.
So a small set back but lots of lessons learnt and lots of positives to come from the race. First of all it was amazing to actually be back in a race. I felt very comfortable all day which gives me confidence that I can come to racing and achieve the results I am after. If I can get through that swim, bike and partial run off the limited training and prep that I had, then I think my rate of improvement should be fast and significant. (I think I have written before but I really haven't done any swim training yet). I was also rusty in so many small areas like transitions and bike focus that cost me a lot of time as well! I have been really happy with how I have pulled up post race - aside from my foot I really didn't get sore or overly fatigued.
I have also learnt more again about how breastfeeding places such huge demands on your body. Probably a warning there for all other mothers and especially those returning to sport. I am off next week to get a Bone Mineral Density test done to establish where things are at. While bone density does return to normal after you wean your baby, the losses during lactation are significant. But it is important to me to continue to breastfeed little Elsie as I believe it is the best thing for her - so it is a matter of me being smart about managing my own needs as well while pursuing my goals and return to racing.
So while I was extremely disappointed not to finish this first race back, it felt great to be back, and to be able to taste a real return to actually being competitive in the near future. And the very best part? Getting a cuddle from my little girl who couldn't have cared less whether I won or didn't even cross the finish line.