Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Joanna Zeiger recaps superb racing season

Joanna Zeiger has had an amazing year. Here she explains the trials and tribulations she had to experience in order to come out on top.

The best laid plans

At the start of the year, I meticulously planned out my season. I laid out Plan A, Plan B and Plan C which were based on qualifying for the Olympics in Tuscaloosa, not qualifying but racing in Des Moines for the third slot, or going to Ironman Coeur D’Alene to qualify for Kona. I did not anticipate – who ever does? – Plan I. What, you may ask is Plan I? That is the extra special injury plan.

Going into the Olympic Trials, I felt primed, fit and ready. I had a great race, but as soon as it was over everything fell apart. My throat started to hurt as I watched the men’s race and by the next morning I had a full blown sinus incident that morphed into bronchitis. I had to pull out of my two favorite races, St. Anthony’s and St. Croix. During my convalescence, I somehow incurred a mystery injury in my foot. It occurred suddenly and rendered me unable to walk. I did what any normal person would do; I continued to swim, biked like I was training for the Tour de France and ellipticaled myself into insanity. Racing was on hold until uber-PT Bob Cranny gave me the green light. Somehow he allowed me to race Eagleman 70.3.

I ran 4 times in about 5 weeks, but I was confident in my swimming and cycling and I really wanted to race there and visit with Mark’s family and my friends. I figured that if my foot hurt during the run I could drop out. Luckily, things went off well, despite the 100 degree heat and 200 percent humidity. I won the race after an 11 year hiatus from winning there. It was very exciting. Unfortunately, I could not walk for two days and I had to take another week off running. It was during this time that I discovered acupuncture. At that point, I would have tried voodoo, so acupuncture seemed reasonable. It worked and I went from pain to no pain overnight.

It was on to Lubbock next. I approached this race much the same as Eagleman – go for it on the swim and bike and hold on for the run. Despite the abysmal conditions on the day that included pouring rain and gusty wind, I felt good all around and posted a PR for myself on the course and came in second. Best of all, my foot felt great and there were no post-race repercussions.

After a week long training camp with coach Terry in Boulder, I had an upcoming tough double, Lifetime Fitness and Vineman 70.3. A 4th at Lifetime and a win at Vineman 70.3 capped off a great month of racing.

Plan I was unexpected, but it turned out to be quite liberating. It forced me to work on a weakness, my cycling, and it also forced me to approach my racing differently. My attitude changed completely from one of being overly concerned with the outcome to one of enjoyment of the process. I was forced to rethink my pre-race preparations and make some adjustments to a method that had been in place for years. I have gone back to races that I did many years ago that were always favorites due to the location or the course. I realize how awesome the 70.3 distance is, and I am once again reminded how much I enjoy this sport.

What does plan I include for the rest of the year? The beauty of Plan I is that the options are endless.

Race hard, have fun.

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