Semi-officially just kicked off my season with the Mighty Moraine Man Spring Sprint - kudos to Joella and Get Fit Families for organizing a great event. The MMM race series has been on my to-do list since it raises funds and awareness for autoimmune diseases - for better or worse, near and dear to my heart. Which, of course, means that (a) all of mine took this opportunity to flare, (b) it was cold, aka sclerotic joint kryptonite, and (c) I cried at the end because I was happy to still be able to do this even though my body has been fighting itself for quite a while now.
#1: The Swim
Water was 60 degrees. In the interest of maintaining hand/foot circulation, I didn't get in the water until right before my wave. Disadvantage when you take the first 4 minutes of a swim that's only a quarter mile long to acclimate to the water? Yes. Ending your race via scary-blue Reynaud's syndrome fingers before even hitting the bike? Avoided. I sighted not-bad and only got kicked in the face a few times.
T1: slowest transition of my life. My lumbar spine and SI joints go "nope, not today, we're not bending!" My brain goes, "%#* you, inflamed stiff joints". I sit on the ground to pull on my giant socks because this is clearly not a race where I'm going for time. Then I put on arm warmers, a jacket, and gloves. The Boy takes my picture as I run/tin-man hobble my bike out and says something like "yeah, that kind of took you a long time."
#2: The Bike
Hilly. Spun up the hills like a pro/the lightweight I am, got passed on all the descents because my tiny body generates no momentum/I'm still keeping an eye on finger and foot numbness/my left glute isn't firing at all since my spine and SI have gone on a tropical vacation somewhere else which adds an interesting element to staying upright on one's bike. I doubt I'm getting my heart rate out of Z2 riding like this, so I decide to admire the pretty scenery instead.
T2: Rack the bike. Take bike shoes and helmet off. Try to feel feet. Nope! Put run shoes on and grab bib. Stumble out of transition on numb feet, almost fall 3 times (captured on video by The Boy!).
#3: The Run
Even on numb feet, I run not-bad. Contemplate that maybe I should establish temperature and sensation-graded PRs. A competitive 5000m/10000m track&field background goes a decent way towards still being able to wing a run. I start passing people and smiling really big because I'm running, and all my spondy joints hurt and I feel like the tin man, and I'm going to have to go home and take a bath in meds, but I'm running! Simple out and back on a nice trail with just a couple hills, and the turnaround is actually physically made by running in a circle around a volunteer, which I find very funny for some reason. I have a nice chat with a nice woman about how much I like her race kit. I regain feeling in my feet around mile 2.4-ish, think about all the lovely people who put up with me in both illness and health, and try to nail the last 0.7.
Hooray! I finished! Sometimes it's good to go in with a bigger purpose than FAST, relax, and enjoy the ride. Do what you have to do, do what you can do, and live with it.
To learn more about ankylosing spondylitis, visit http://www.spondylitis.org/