I raced another off-road triathlon this past weekend: the ITU Cross Triathlon World Championships slash XTERRA Southeast Championship in Pelham Alabama.

It was in Oak Mountain State Park, outside Birmingham, and for my first trip to Alabama this was pretty much the ideal destination.The trails were really nice, the terrain beautiful, and the people hospitable. I had a great homestay too.

See, the trails were nice!

See, the trails were nice!

As for the race, it was rendered yet another non-event-of-2012 for me when I started getting searing back pain almost as soon as I hit the trail on the bike. It hurt so much.  I’m stubborn and I flew all the way there and you never know what happens in front of you or behind you so I kept going. But it hurt so much every time I pedaled, every time I got out of the saddle, every time I went over a root or rock, every time I did anything involving biking. It didn’t feel like a race anymore, it just felt like survival, just trying to not stop and to keep the [audible] sobs to a minimum for an hour and forty minutes, which is for-ever.

Maybe I can catch someone?

Maybe I can catch someone?

The pain went away as soon as I started running, as it has in my previous two triathlons this year, but with the closest competitor over 5 minutes up, my motivation to dig deep lasted only about 5k of the two-lap 10k run course. I ran out of positive self-talk.

For a while people thought I was racing this girl for 3rd place.

For a while people thought I was racing this girl for 3rd place.

What’s nice about the athletic community is that everyone seems to want to help. So I appreciate that. I’m addressing the issue methodically–reassessing one element of bike fit at a time, introducing a specific strength routine,  supplementing that by adding more hours on the bike to my weekly schedule, and honing in on treatments that get my psoas and glutes and other stuff with names I can’t remember to work. My hope is that a smaller crank on both the road and mountain bikes will make a big difference.

The good news is that, because it’s bike-specific, I’m not worried about some deeper skeletal issue. This IS solvable. But it’s uncharted territory for me.

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