After a lot of rehab and therapy, he was able to put in a minimal amount of running to prepare for the IM World Championship and ran surprisingly well without further damage to his foot but there was still some lingering niggles up until this April (11 months after the injury happened). While he still has to be mindful of his foot with daily exercises, therapy and strength work, we think he may be on the mend (and his running fitness is proving this to be true).
When we set up our race season (typically late fall before the next year) and select our one or two A races (for Karel, IM Austria and IMMT for me Rev3 Knox and IM Austria), this doesn't mean that we don't race hard for all the other races. The difference between A and B races is not that B races aren't important and we don't give a hard effort but they don't have a specific build as we have specific developmental phases to go through and we want to peak appropriately for our A races. So when we race a "B" race, we simply continue with our training and appropriately adjust a few days before and after the race depending on the season and type of race.
Karel and Drew then drove the 58 mile bike course to T2 to drop off their run gear (except for their sport nutrition filled flasks for their hydration belt which they would then do on race day morning before heading to the race start).
For dinner, Karel made pasta with marinara sauce and chicken at home.
Campy loved being able to sleep in his own bed before his spectating duties on Sunday.
There was no getting off course for him.....unlike you know who :)
Karel and Drew were accompanied by my mom (what a great sherpa!), our athlete/friend Meredith (who was racing the aquabike) and Campy.
Karel swam 31:12 which he was really happy about.
Karel never stresses about his swim time because the swim starts with the gun time and the swim finish is always where the timing mat is. In this case - at the top of a hill, right before transition.
Right from the park, there was ~1.5 mile hill to the main road. He used this to set himself up for a good ride by adjusting his posture, changing up his cadence/gears and settling into a good rhythm. When he got to the main road, that is where his "race" started.
If there is one thing to know about Karel on race day, it's that he can suffer really well.
He's exceptionally good with being uncomfortable....like really, really uncomfortable.
And to his surprise, around 25 minutes into the race, Karel caught up with Drew and Drew told him that there was one guy still ahead - which they both had in sight.
By the time they reached the first aid station in Salem, Karel took the lead for the first time. This was much sooner than he expected or hoped for.
It was very windy and he just put his head down and told himself that if he is suffering he knows everyone else is suffering. That is where he opened up the gap on Drew. And by the time he got to Pumpkintown hwy (off Hwy 11), he was extending his lead.
Karel was really pleased with his Alto Wheels (CT 56 in the front and CT 86 in the rear). The bike was very fast and stable in the windy and hilly conditions. His gear of choice was 54x42 front chainring with 11-26 rear cassette. He managed the terrain well by keeping constant tension on the chain while climbing, thus controlling the heart rate and being able recover and soft pedal (while moving fast) going downhill.
While giving this hard effort on the bike, he stayed present and never let his mind think about how his legs would feel for the run.
As Karel was approaching the transition, he saw my mom as she wasn't expecting Karel so soon (or in first) and Karel said to my mom with a smile "Hi Susie!" and she was super excited to see him.
Thankfully, there was a little of a downhill before the first climb which allowed Karel to loosen his leg out and to find his running rhythm. This cramp was purely from the effort his was pushing. This cramp was pretty severe as he couldn't bend his knee or move his leg for a brief moment but thankfully it released itself.
Did I mention that Karel loves to push hard?
Karel's fan club - My mom, our neighbor/friend Tim and his wife Joey (taking the pic along with many of the pics you see in this blog - thanks Joey!)
Karel ran the first 30 minutes in 6:25 min/mile average on the Swamp Rabbit Trail before making his way to Furman. Karel was not alone on the course as he was joined by his own police escort.
Karel is a big proponent of form over pace and he is constantly making sure that his form feels good, especially in the early miles of running of the bike. He always tells himself "form, posture, fluency." over any pace.
Once he found his rhythm, he found himself wondering if he should pick up the pace a bit for a little stronger effort but then he came to his senses "this is just fine, you are suffering enough."
When he knows he has reached a good pace or rhythm, he almost feels numb. It's really hard for him to describe but obviously it works for him.
After Karel ran by the tracks, he felt a sigh of relief and finally felt like he was on the homestretch without any more distractions.
Although, it was a regular Sunday with lots of people on the trail enjoying their beautiful day outside and then here comes this neon orange wearing triathlete huffing and puffing as if he was in a race.
Oh wait - he was!
Still giving everything he had, there was absolutely no mile that wasn't a best effort on this race day. Near the later miles of the run, Karel was running and not knowing if his next step would be his last. Every part of his body was hurting and he just kept pushing and pushing and pushing.
Karel wanted this win so bad and he worked so hard for it on this day.
He said he even got a little emotional at the end because this was one of those days where he doesn't know if he will ever be able to repeat this type of effort again, from start to finish.
It just all came together.
As the other athletes started to roll in, it was time for everyone to share their war stories of the race.
Here are Karel's run splits:
Mile 1: 6:25
Mile 2: 6:30
Mile 3: 6:21
Mile 4: 6:25
Mile 5: 6:29
Mile 6: 6:42
Mile 7: 6:30
Mile 8: 6:33
Mile 9: 6:39
Mile 10: 6:32
Mile 11: 6:31
Mile 12: 6:27
Mile 13: 5:51
Total: 1:23:55 (per Garmin)
Average pace: 6:31 min/mile
627 elevation gain
These run splits are super impressive considering that many of Karel's long runs are around 7:40-8:00 min/mile pace! Although he does specific speed work on the track and treadmill as well as hill work, there are some sessions that are designed to be slow and easy. In the past, Karel was always running much faster in training and this only lead to injury so now he is more cautious and saves his best efforts for race day.