The weather was beautiful. The water was warm and glassy smooth. I pedaled down to the Shores after work for the 2nd TCSD Aquathlon of '08 (http://www.triclubsandiego.org/). Put on my wetsuit and body-surfed until it was time to start. I felt good.
We all marched down to the Marine Room for the start. I felt calm and relaxed, very different from last year. I guess I've finally done enough club aquathlons that I can just enjoy them now without getting nervous. It's a great way to get in a hard-core speed workout and socialize with friends at the same time.
The whistle blew and the stampede was off, me trailing behind. What's the hurry? I dove under the waves and began stroking through the water. The mass start reminded me of IMAZ as I navigated in and out, in between, under, and over several bodies. I had a draft the whole way. I decided to push the pace a little. Focusing on technique, I thought about increasing my turnover while maintaining my glide, all the while, checking to see if my breathing was rapid but even. Sharp, rhythmic breaths. Ah, yes--that's the pace I want. I glanced at my watch as I hopped out of the water: 14:42, a full 2 minutes faster than last month. Yes! I'll take it.
I wriggled out of my wetsuit and began running...barefoot. I love running barefoot on the sand. I feel so light and fast. The beach was packed with kids and throngs of surfers, parents, walkers, joggers, sunbathers. The sand was littered with rocks, deep trenches and sandcastles. It was a dangerous obstacle course to navigate around but the extra challenges were kind of fun. I was able to narrowly circumvent all the treacherous hazards and was heading out to the pier on the 2nd lap with a dangerous invincible Superwoman feeling on a packed, flat, calm tract of sand when it happened. The big toe of my left foot somehow mysteriously got hooked in the sand as my left leg pulled forward for the next stride, bending my toe unnaturally in the opposite direction.
I knew instantly the damage was done. I limped severely for 20 steps. I'm out, I'm out, I thought repeatedly. I should stop. But, stubborn me, I didn't want to. It must have been the adrenaline. I continued limping onward. I tried to run. Couldn't. Then, tried to break into a slow run. This seemed to work. Maybe it was the endorphins but after a few minutes, I felt no pain. I finished the run, albeit at a slower pace (23:46, as opposed to 23 last month).
As soon as I crossed the finish line and broke to a walk, the pain in my toe screamed out, reminding me of the damage I had done. I limped over to the surf to soak my toe in the ocean. Then it dawned on me, and I almost broke into tears: I have the San Diego International Tri next weekend.