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Demetra's 2017 in Reflection

I ended my 2017 season with the NYCRUNS Queens half marathon the Saturday before Thanksgiving.  It was fitting that my last race was a running race, since my run has been the source of both frustration and satisfaction this past year.  I finished in 1:41:11, for an age group win and 45th out of nearly 1,600 women. This is a step in the right direction towards getting back to the 1:3X times I was running just a couple years ago, so I was happy with the result.  And by running faster than my qualifying time for the NYC half marathon next March, I already know what my first big race of 2018 will be.

 

Probably my main goal this past year was to stay healthy, and I basically achieved it.  Aside from an annoying broken toe the beginning of the year, which I got by stupidly walking into my trainer, this is the first year in three years that I have not spent time on crutches with a serious injury, so I was actually able to have an uninterrupted season.  But wouldn’t you know it – after a few weeks of some niggles in my thigh and an MRI – I found out just the night before the Queens half marathon that I have a mild stress reaction in my femur.  The doctor agreed to let me run the race as long as I promised to stop if/when I had any pain, but thankfully I didn’t feel anything for the entire race.  

 

From a statistical point of view, 2017 was a pretty good year.  Of the four 70.3s I raced, I placed: 5th at Augusta; 6th at Maine (with a 1:50 run split, it was the only one of my four 70.3s where I had a good run); 7th at Puerto Rico; and 11th at Eagleman (with a 2:37 PR bike split, the fastest in my age group by 4 minutes).  In addition, I had age group wins and podiums at several short course tris and running races, consistent top 2 bike splits, and finishes on the overall women’s podium, including a win, in the 3 duathlons I raced.  

 

But statistics don’t convey the full story – not the joy, disappointment, fun, tears, angst, pride, doubts, laughs, melt-downs, and triumphs of the season that passed.  They also don’t reveal the many lessons that continued to be learned.  I am a fairly emotional athlete, and that isn’t going to change.  And I often have very mixed emotions about the same thing.

 

A perfect example of those mixed emotions was my final triathlon of the season, Augusta 70.3, which also happened to be my final tri racing F50-54 (yep, I was emotional about that).  Going into the race I was probably the fittest I have ever been, and I additionally had the confidence of a strong race in Maine 70.3 just one month before.  My instructions from Greg the night before were simple: unleash hell.  And that is just what I did, coming out of the water in 102nd place and then riding and running my way to 2nd place in my age group.  But then I totally fell apart, and being passed again on those final miles of the run was truly awful.  Nevertheless, I was still thrilled to hold on for a 5th place podium finish.  

 

This past year was definitely about building strength and re-building belief in myself.   I gained confidence from nailing some really challenging blocks of training (hello lots and lots of 1-minute intervals at 250 watts!), and from seeing times I hadn’t seen in a while.  I had moments in training and racing where everything just felt so right. The winners of my age group at Maine and Augusta finished below 5 hours.  That’s fast.  Inspiration and motivation for me to keep working hard.  Clearly my slower swim is a big disadvantage.  But I keep working at it, and even if I don’t get much faster, if I can come out of the water feeling fresh enough to attack on my two strengths, I’ll take it.

 

This past year was also about fun.  I am as fixated on times and results as the best of them, but by far my most enjoyable races, regardless of outcome, were those when I raced with other team members.  Sharing practice swims and pre-race nerves, cheering for each other out on the course, coming together after the race to celebrate, witnessing goals achieved – those were the best.  At computrainer and team run practice there were always a few laughs to go along with the suffering, and I had workouts where I had a smile on my face the entire time.  Also, with some treadmill training in Indonesia this fall (since running on the streets of Jakarta is not an option), I increased to 22 the number of different countries I have run in, which is always an interesting experience.

 

Before the Queens half marathon, I read an article that about racing with gratitude, grace and grit.  I repeated these 3 words to myself throughout the race, and they remind me still of the need to be grateful to do what I do, to be humble, and to be tough.  I’ve participated in this sport for 7 years, 6 of those with Triby3, and being surrounded by a bunch of greats has made it an amazing experience – great family, great coach and great team mates and friends.  I couldn’t be more thankful.

 

It’s been time to let my body heal and my mind refresh, so I’ve taken 2 weeks completely off any activity.  When I start running and swimming again, I still won’t be able to run, but I will begin using the anti-gravity treadmill in mid-December.  I am determined to break this cycle of injuries, so I will restart and stay committed with strength work, work on improving my running mechanics, and follow up with a bunch of tests to see if anything physical is going on that I need to fix.

 

The next year is full of so many possibilities, and I am super excited.  I age up to 55-59, and at this age, being the “youngster” in the group will be a pretty big deal.  I still have potential to fulfill, and goals to reach. There may be a new bike, and another ironman, in the picture.  There will definitely be many emotions. I will also celebrate my 30th wedding anniversary!  So 2018 will certainly be a good one, and I am ready!

Greg Close