Before the storm
Ironman 70.3 Lake Placid, New York is the only race that separates me from my “A” Race – Ironman Panama City, Florida.
My goal for Lake Placid was to beat my 70.3 PR of 5:19:24 I set two months ago in Muskoka. In fact, I was more than confident that I can break the 5 hour mark with my brand new bike I bought just two weeks ago. Argon 18 E117 TRI+ with crazy expensive carbon wheels from “Blade”, rear – disk, front – three spokes.
I am ready!
7:00 am – Start-gun shot broke the silence.
GO! The race began
It was raining the entire night. Morning was cold and dark. Clouds on the sky gave no chance for the sun to break through.
Despite the fact that I zig-zagged a bit, I swam 2,125 meters in 35 minutes, averaging a 1:41 min/100. Exiting the water and seeing the numbers on my watch I was excited, felt strong and determined to give it all on the bike.
It was cold, rainy and REALLY windy, definitely not the weather for shorts and sleeveless top I was wearing. And it was not the race to have the disc race wheels on… The farther I went, the more hypothermic I got. My vision started getting blurry and no matter how hard I pushed on the pedals, my HR would not go above 120 bpm. I am cold, really cold.
You’ve got to warm up buddy, it’s not safe anymore.
Spin your legs faster. Increase and keep the cadence high.
Put more sugar in your body. Have a gel or better two, have more water.
– Sasha thought to himself.
Bike course was really hilly with a lot of fast descends on the wet pavement. First aid station. Gatorade G2 – love it! Put a lot of fluids and fuel in my body, feeling better, however still cold. EXACTLY at the midpoint – 45 km into the race , I was going down a big hill and I was going FAST. Shifted to the highest gear I had and kept pedaling as hard as I could. The sound carbon wheels make, rubbing on off the road is hypnotizing. Laser focus, looking straight ahead, lean into the bike.
Cross wind hit from the right.
Holly shit that’s strong. Stay focused!
Cross wind hit the second time. Two-three wiggles… Feeling a hard hit on my head… Sky, ground, sky, ground… Dark and silent.
I reached the top speed of 47.3 mph (76 km/h). Side wind blew and my bike started wiggling. All I remember after that is waking up on the road and seeing a blue sky. I remember excruciating pain and not being able to stand up…
He’s awake! Somebody call 911! Don’t move! Don’t move! Call 911!
I heard people yell
What do you mean don’t move? I attempted to get up
Excruciating pain won’t let me even lift my head up. It’s cold. My body starts shaking… Laying down on my back. Blue sky – what a blue sky. Finally the rain stopped…
After about 30-40 minutes the ambulance arrived. Paramedics and police officer(s) loaded my on the stretcher and slide into the truck. 45 minutes after I found myself surrounded by 4-5 people in Emergency Room of the hospital in Plattsburgh, NY.
Right clavicle comminuted fracture that is broken into three fragments
Broken 5th and 7th ribs
3.8 mm & 2.8 mm nodular areas in the right lung
Feeling sorry for myself
Feeling unworthy, not good enough
I failed. I failed miserably. Not only I wrecked a brand new bike, didn’t finish the race, wasted all the money and time, but also broke myself to the possible no-return point. I am a looser… All my plans, all my dreams of becoming a world-class triathlete will never come through. I won’t be able to swim as I used to with this shoulder. I am going right back to where I came from… I cried, yes I cried so hard. Not from the physical pain, I could endure that, but from the mental pain that was burning me alive from the inside.
You are DONE! It’s OVER!
….hey. Are you done crying yet? Let it all out, don’t leave anything inside. Whenever you finished this mental masturbation and ready to move on, let me know, I’ll be around.
I am ready
Okay, the first think I need you to
do is STOP and take a deep breath. STOP, there are no things to do, there are
no places to be, STOP.
Now listen, as long as we have each-other we will be okay. We ALWAYS find a way, always. Remember what you went thought, the challenges we been through, the hardships we overcame. We not only found a way out of each situation, but we came out stronger, smarter, wiser. The history shows – you flourish in times of crisis. Like a cockroach, you survive even after atomic war. Did you touch the ground? Do you feel foundation under your feet? Great, this is the bottom we will be pushing against to the way back up.
What is this? You can legitimately perceive it as a punishment, a fee to pay. You can also start blaming others, the weather, the bike, the disc wheels etc. Let’s not waste time on that. We both know that’s stupid, just a waste of time.
I suggest looking at this an OPPORTUNITY. The opportunity to start over, to try the things you could not have done before, to learn, to practice the skills that you already have. This is a challenge, a hell of a challenge. But, you are always looking for a challenge, don’t you? Here is one for you. Isn’t it, not hard enough? Embrace it.
But, it’s such a loss of time. I could’ve done so much, move so much further. Time lost in recovery is the worst. How can I take the most of this time?
Great question! Let’s brainstorm.
First of all it is not a loss of time if you don’t let it be so. You’ve got your brain and that is the most important part. Also you get about 20 hours a week more, otherwise spent in training. Not including the commute times to & from trainings.
What are the things you could not have done living the lifestyle you had before?
- Nutrition…? Try different diets. You wanted to try, and now you can go vegan. Try a plant based diet without worrying about performance decrease and protein consumption. See how you feel.
- Writing. You have more time to research & write. You can move further with your book. Also add few chapters on eating for recovery and adjusting energy intakes for people who are limited in their physical activities.
- Radical lifestyle change? You are passionate about travel and was thinking about an RV, a camper-van? Why not now? There is no training to do, no stationary bike to ride…
Be a student. What a great opportunity to learn! Learn about your body, about healing process and physical rehabilitation. Experiment with new foods and find the ones that work for you better. Look around, and learn more about the people in your life. Who helped, who did not, who turned their backs on you or simply ignored? Without judgments or grudges, take notes.
Brain is a powerful thing and mental attitude is one of the main factors that contribute to recovery. You know it, so don’t let yourself self-limiting beliefs and negative thoughts.
I can do it!
We can do it!