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January 31, 2012

Learning to say No

I recently had 2 weeks of racing. One week was an out of this world feeling where I put only a few steps incorrectly all day. The next weekend I had to pull the plug from a race for the first time ever due to a nagging calf strain after receiving a punch in the leg in the opening 50m of 70.3. These things happen.

I was aware of the pain all week and was pretty sure I would be able to run so it was worth the risk of taking a flight and the drive to race in Buffelspoort, where Rehidrat Sports is a huge part of the puzzle for Stillwater Sports and Xterra. Representing the brand on a national level gives me immense pride as the word on the street/trail/pool is out that Rehidrat Sport is the real deal when it comes to simple, reliable sports nutrition.

I would take the race completely on feel. If the calf was out of control, I would have to pull the pin. I had a decent swim at altitude, exiting the water with Dan & Conrad. A year ago I was 30sec down. For the first time in ages, I truly felt the control in the water. When I was swimming full time, I took it for granted and now, it’s like an ellipsis I am hunting for in the pool every time I swim, that pause where there is control, timing and feel in the water.

Onto the ride and I felt great on the flats, but the legs were, without a doubt, undone by the effort at 70.3 every time the road went up. My concentration was not quite there on the technical things either and the bike felt strange underneath me as I had not ridden the mountain bike since EUT11, something I promised to correct before Grabouw. I got off the ride in 7th, struggled with badly laced elastic laces in T2 and was out onto the run, finding my pace, feeling good, but not great.

The calf twitched and tightened to the point of walking on the very first downhill I ran. In previous years, I would undoubtedly have pushed on. Had I raced badly the week before, I cannot say that I would have made the same choice, but the choice was easy to pull out at that point, knowing I had the 70.3 result in the bag.

As a lightie, I would have been hell bent on finishing. Now, as a slightly wiser early 30’s guy, who has a long term athletic vision, I have learned that sometimes, it’s ok to ease up. Every result doesn’t count and I will be back for more soon. As I walked back to the transition area, I was smiling, knowing that growing up sure isn’t easy and that is surely does not come with a manual. Only through experience have I learned to say No. Only through burning my fingers have I learned where the limits are.

See you in Grabouw. I will be ready, rolling faster and with more focus.

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