Coming Back

My 2011 racing season started out very well before being aborted by a serious injury as the result of a bike crash. I started my rehab as soon as the doctor would let me do more than simply get out of bed.

Last weekend, at St. Croix in the US Virgin Islands, I kicked off my 2012 season hoping I could regain my racing form and nab qualifying slots which would put me into the 70.3 (Half Ironman) World Championships in September and the Ironman World Championships to be contended in Kona, Hawaii, in October.

St Croix is a beautiful tropical island, known for bright blue skies and warm breezes – a place where you kick back and enjoy the relaxing good life. Not so much last week!

Three days prior to the race, the rains started and flash flood warnings were posted. Now, this is not the kind of racing weather triathles dream of. But we had time. Surely it would clear up, as it usually does, before the big day.

This was not to be. Race morning arrived and conditions hadn’t changed much. But, with warnings from the race director to be cautious on the bike, the race began at 6:30 a.m.

Of course, the 1.2-mile swim was not affected except that the usually pristine water was quite murky. But the 56-mile bike was a whole different story. The bike course is particularly challenging even on a clear, sunny day. The roads are rough and full of potholes and include lots of tight turns and hills – the most “interesting” being a one-mile hill called The Beast, which is pretty much straight up. Even Lance Armstrong, who was a racer this day, had to call on all his resources to climb this one. After making it through the hills, deep water and thick mud, I was grateful to arrive at the bike finish without having suffered a flat tire or a crash. Many weren’t so lucky.

The run was a crazy-hilly 13.1-mile course through the muggy, humid air. The rains had  slowed somewhat at this point, which left the air thick, sticky and energy-zapping.

The finish line was a welcome sight. I was rewarded for my efforts with an age-group win and qualifying slots for both World Championship events this fall.

I believe several factors contributed to my good day: being highly motivated; having trained hard; adapting to the unusual conditions; having some good luck.

Being a little crazy never hurts in this kind of endeavor, either!

Stay tuned…..

About Cherie

Cherie Gruenfeld, Boingo's official butt-kicker, is an Ironman age group champion and world record holder. She is a grand masters triathlete — a sport in which she didn't even start competing in until her 40s — proving that top fitness is achievable at any age. She has raced in more than 25 Ironman triathlons, has 18 wins overall, and has won her age group at the Ironman World Championships a whopping 13 times. She's also an incredible fitness coach with great insights on goal setting and fitness on the road. Have a question for Cherie? Email her at You can also learn more about her non-profit organization, Exceeding Expectations on Facebook.
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One Response to Coming Back

  1. Julie says:

    Congrats, Cherie! You’re amazing.