Thursday, February 23, 2017

Is This Still On?

So you might have not noticed (or remember) my last blog post.  I'll give you a second to read it.  Seriously... only a second or two it shall take.

My shortest post ever?  Yeah.  I wasn't happy with that one.

In attempts to make a long story short, here is how things went since then.

Good patient.  Didn't run but got in lots of riding with Kevin, Todd, and Vicki as they trained for IM Chattanooga.

Bad patient.  My leg still bothered me, so by the urging of Vicki, I went to an ART therapist who also does dry needling.  Soon I found out he was a Chiropractor. I swore I would never see a Chiro.  For clarification, the "bothersome leg" is the inside of my lower right shin.  Where I got my stress fracture before cancelling Boston.  Twice a week visits to the Chiro.

Dry needling = electro therapy.  He's alive... ALIVE!

Good progress but bad attitude.  I started running again based on urges of the Chiro.  Went to support Vicki, Kevin, and Todd at Chattanooga.  I did my best to be a good supporter but, to be honest, absolutely hated that I couldn't race.  I was registered, you know!  Once a week visits to the Chiro.

Dork, Kevin, Vicki, Todd, TKB

Participated in my last race of the year, the Jeremy Katzenberger Triathlon.  Had a super fast dude (Oren) do the run and we placed 2nd in the team event (even though I was third to last out of the water!)

Super fast dude, Oren, on the left.  Dork on the Right.

Colleen and Dork

Began hitting 3 mile long runs.  Nothing spectacular but had started buying what the Chiro was selling.  I was doing 30 - 45 minutes of physical therapy DAILY, so I might as well accept things. Also officially started a side business.  I had to figure out how to cover all these race registrations for which I couldn't participate. Moved to every other week for the Chiro.

Also replaced the Deerblazer with a newish ride.

Don't worry.  The mid-life crisis car eventually got a trailer hitch installed for my bike rack.

Was hitting 4 to 5 miles on my long runs.  Was getting consistent with every other day as well.  Moved to monthly visits to the Chiro.

We started doing a home renovation project.  Took two weeks off from basically all activities as I was scraping popcorn texture off the ceiling.  Leg began to bother me again.  Starting the Physical Therapy afterwords helped.

Did the 10k Resolution Run with Midwest Triathlon Coaching.  Longest run since, well, last year's resolution run.  Regretted it as my leg bothered me kind of bad for a couple days.  I really started to get down on myself after this point.  Took about a week off.  Ended up reinstating every other week visits to the Chiro.

DNS the Disney World Half Marathon.  Technically, everyone did.  The race was cancelled due to rain.  I didn't even show up due to the lack of training (and maybe a little bad attitude).  I felt bad not joining Jill, Ronnie, and Rebecca in Orlando.

I also lost a friend who had battled brain cancer for 14 years.  It was him who we did the Head For The Cure 5k (nearly) every year since I started this crazy running shenanigans.  It's something like this that puts petty little leg issues into perspective.  Miss you Mark.

Long runs have reached 8 miles; however, more and more tightness in the hips (quads, hamstrings, hip flexors).  I should probably say I have noticed the tightness, which had likely always been there. Finally shifted my Chiro sessions away from my legs and up to my hips.  Still going just every other week.

If I were truly going to summarize what my general physical, orthopedist, 1st physical therapist, 1st MRI, 2nd MRI, sports doctor, pulmonary doctor (yes, no joke), foot doctor, foot/ankle doctor, orthotist, 3rd MRI, 2nd physical therapist, and Chiropractor had been telling me, then it would be this: My inflexible hips were the cause of my shin issues.

I started doing yoga almost daily as well as the additional stretches recommended by the Chiro.

All of that brings us to today, February 23rd.  I did a 5 mile run at lunch and it was probably one of the best runs I've had in a very very VERY long time.  Nothing speedy about it.  It was just a run.  No pain in the shin.  Unlike on the previous weekend where it "was there" the entire time.  Not calling this thing resolved by any means.

With everything going on these days with the home renovation, job (I sort of changed careers in August within my current company), my freelance side business, getting back into training in earnest, I'm not sure how often I'll get posting again but I do have some things to talk about related to my long recovery and discovery. In addition, I have pieced together a small race schedule.  Although, I'm extremely trigger shy on registering for races.

So there's that.  Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Injury Update

Met with my sports doc today.  Suggested not running for an extended period of time to settle compartment syndrome concerns..

So there is that.

See you in November.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Two Month Update

Been a couple months since my last update.  Sounds about right...

My MRI test on my shin taken Dec 10 came back negative.  Everything was heeled up.  I went back to the orthopedist and discussed doing test for Compartment Syndrome.  He didn't have the equipment necessary but he did know how to obtain one.  He was going to call me to schedule once he got access to it.

He actually never called me.  I was OK with this because this green lighted me going back to the Sports Medicine Doctor.  It was after the first of the year when I had my appointment.  We discussed three tests: Compartment Syndrome test, Gait Analysis, and popliteal artery entrapment syndrome (PAES) test.  I have finally completed all of those.

Compartment Syndrome Test
So I had this done back in middle of January.  I showed up prepared to do some running; however, you first do a baseline test.  This involves sticking a long needle in different sections of your lower leg.  After this and applying some bandages, we went across the hall and ran on a treadmill at the physical therapy center.  He told me to run until my shin pain started and then run for five more minutes.

Uhhh, OK.  Well, the pain rarely bothers me during a run.  If it does, it's because it was bothering me before the run, which wasn't the case here. So I ran for about 15 minutes and, sure enough, I had some pain.  Well, that pain was because he STUCK ME WITH NEEDLES right before the treadmill. I did my best though.  So once it was time, I hoped off the treadmill and literally ran back to the doctor's office where they proceeded to perform the test again.

The purpose is to tell how the pressure in each of the muscle compare has changed during the run and if there is an imbalance of that pressure.  So the needle is basically checking my "tire pressure".

The test actually came back borderline positive. Sports Doc wanted to talk with a Foot/Ankle surgeon before going forward with any action.

Gait Analysis
Back in February 2015, my coach recommended I attend the iRunSafe clinic when issues started.  Well, that recommendation is why I started seeing this Sports Doc; however, I hadn't participated in the clinic yet.  I finally did near the end of January.

Basically you show up ready to do some running but they have you go through four specific stations:

  • Strength and Flexibility
  • Treadmill Running videoed from side and back
  • Foot and Ankle Specialist
  • Nutritionist

When I arrived at the physical therapist center, I was pretty amazed.  Waiting there was about 10 - 15 doctors and specialist.  I felt like I had an entire team of people looking out for me.  It probably took an hour and 15 minutes to finish all four stations.  The one that surprised me the most was the nutritionist.  TKB and I eat fairly well so I wasn't too interested in what she might have to say; however, I found out she was an ultra marathoner and so we discussed race day nutrition and just endurance racing in generally.

After you complete the four stations (with 3 other participants) we sat out in the lobby of the center while the doctors and specialists discussed each participant.  They then bring us back in and watch the videos and present analysis.

During the tests and during the analysis, it was pretty obvious I had issues with my right leg.  Poor flexibility and strength.  I pronate pretty hard on my right foot when it lands.  In other words, my foot rolls in when it lands.  The recommendations were to be more forefoot running to take pressure of the bones/joints, try to create a window between the knees, increase cadence (I was about 174 steps per minute as opposed to recommended 180), and a little more increased lean at the waist.

The foot and ankle specialist recommend inserts in my shoes to help with the pronation.

After the analysis I talked with my Sports Doc and he had already followed up with the Foot/Ankle surgeon who did not recommend any corrective actions on my compartment syndrome tests, whew!  We discussed physical therapy to get my gait "straightened out".  I decided that I would get the inserts in my shoes as soon as possible and then run for the next three weeks leading up to my PAES.  Then I would have a follow-up with the Sports Doc and go from there.

The next day I called the foot/ankle specialist (orthotist) and she gave me some inserts to try.  I ran with those for about 9 days with no improvement on shin discomfort so I was fitted for custom orthotics.  (I'm still waiting for those to come in).

Popliteal Artery Entrapment Syndrome (PEAS)
I really had no clue what this was about.  I thought it was related to finding scare tissue in my calf but really it was doing an ultrasound of my circular system while sections of my legs undergo pressure... I think.

Basically I laid on an exam table with 10, yes TEN, blood pressure cuffs on my body.  4 on each leg and 1 on each arm.  The technician used an ultrasound wand to listen/watch my blood as each cuff filled with air.  They compare that to my arm pressure and build a ratio.  I don't really know much more than that except that my tests came back negative.  We didn't really discuss what the corrective procedures are and I don't really want to know anyway.

So What Now?
Two months later, I don't really know anything more in terms of what's causing my shin pain.  Based on the gait analysis, it could very easily be some form problems.  What I do know is that I don't have compartment syndrome or PEAS, so no more surgery talks.  What I also know is that since I made the decision to not have the hip surgery, my hip is pretty much an after thought.  It rarely bothers me.

I have my next follow up with my Sports Doc on Friday in which most of the conversation is going to be about my right leg/foot and running/walking gait.  I noticed last week that when I simply walk, I have a tendency to "push off" with the outside toes of my right foot while my left foot is more off the big toe.  It kind of felt like mid-stride my weight shifts from the inside of my foot to outside of foot and that could be causing some weird torque in my lower leg.  I've been focusing really hard on walking with my right foot pushing off from my big toe instead.  With my forefoot running, that should take out the concern as well but we'll see.  I'll probably push for some Physical Therapy sessions.

Am I Back?
I'm not calling this a win yet.  I still have some occasionally discomfort and when it comes, it will take a few days to ease back off.  I'm hoping these custom orthotics will help.  I'm also debating about doing another bike fit just to make sure cycling shoes are setup correctly and that those aren't causing some kind of discomfort as well.

So that's the latest.  Thanks for reading.  If you have any questions about the iRunSafe clinic, feel free to ask in the comments.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Injury Update: Rollercoaster Autumn

The last two months have been quite a rollercoaster.  To give you an idea, I have attempted to start multiple blog posts but just couldn't finish them.  The two that remained in drafts were titled:
  • Latest on Crap Year - Started on September 21, 2015
  • 2015 Ends In Surgery - Started on November 11, 2015

So let's go back a few months to July.  I had just finished IM Muncie 70.3 Swim/Bike with my buddy Erik doing the run.  I then spent the next 5 weeks focusing on physical therapy exercises to see if I can get the hip pain to go away again.  That's what happened back in March and two weeks later I ended up with a Stress Fracture.  So back to the weight room and easy on the running (like 3 to 4 miles a couple times a week).

At this time I put my coaching on hold.  I didn't want to waste Coach Ken's time and I might need to put that money in reserves for anything up coming (like specialists co-pays which are much more than my general physician).

In August I finally talked to my Physical Therapist as the strength exercises weren't helping.  Well, they were but if I stopped for 3 or 4 days, the pain was back.

September I met with my Hip doc who sent me for my second MRI of the year but this time of the hip.  This MRI required getting a dye injection in the hip socket and 50 minutes almost fully in the bore of an MRI machine.  Results indicated a slightly labrum tear.  Ugh.  Next stop is a steroid injection in the hip.

October was waiting to see how well the steroid injection helped.  It did help quite a bit.  I was riding and slowly bringing my running up throughout the month.  After 3.5 weeks my hip pain started coming back.  I went out for a 5 mile run and the shin started to give me pings of pain.  So I stopped after one mile and walked home. The shin, while not painful, did give me discomfort throughout the past few months.  I met with the hip doctor and we scheduled surgery for December 10, 2015.

Quite a rollercoaster, eh?  Not quite.  We haven't even left the starting gate for the ride!  Ugh, why didn’t I hit the chicken exit.

At the end of the meeting with my Orthopedist I asked him a simple question.  While I had planned for a speech noteworthy of an award, it basically turned into this:  I love marathons.  I love triathlons.  I want to get back at them.  Will this surgery put me in a place where my hip and shin no longer hurt.

We’ve started to ascend the first hill.  “clack clack clack”. 

His answer wasn’t very comforting. Basically, I could have had this labrum tear for years and it’s just now bothering me.  

We are cresting the hill!

Then he slipped in this gem: My hip and shin pains are completely unrelated.

We have crashed down the first hill and into the first loop!

UGH!!!  So basically if this tear has been here for a while, I’ve been able to compete without causing any shin pain or stress fracture.  SO WHAT’S CAUSING THE SHIN PAIN!!

This is why I had trouble writing and finishing blog posts.  This one question needed to be answered.  

Back in February, Coach Ken had recommended I see a Sports Medicine doctor when my pains first started.  He does a form analysis session and might find some issues there that could be corrected.  I never did; however, I kept his name in the back of my mind.

I ended up scheduling an appointment with him and sent him all my medical records and MRIs (right shin and left hip) for the past year.  We had a good discussion and he spent quite a bit of time checking out some mechanics and really working over the hip.  

He said one thing to me that made me feel better: Your hip and shin pains aren’t related.  While this wasn’t a second opinion appointment, it kind of was.  So fine, it’s not related.  He then said that I shouldn’t get the surgery.  I should focus on what’s causing the shin pain first.  All the range tests he gave me didn’t hurt.  He said that the test results were so “boring” that it isn’t something to be concerned about yet.

He recommended getting another steroid shot and seeing if that helps again.  The thought being that the first one helped for 3.5 weeks so maybe it just needs a “booster”.  I agreed and he administered it in the office.  If the pain comes back, then consider surgery.  He then was going to refer me to a specialist regarding the shin pain.  

Hitting an inverted loop!

So I left that appointment not feeling too confident.  I am now in a race to Dec 10.  If pain comes back, go for the surgery?  If the pain doesn’t come back, hopefully the shin pain will be resolved and I’m back.

TKB said I should go ahead and talk with my hip doc.  I wanted to spend a few days trying to figure things out to decide my plan.  While going for a four mile treadmill run, I came to the conclusion to cancel the surgery.  The shin is the ONLY thing keeping me from being active.  The hip has never been an issue.  I’ve always been able to swim, bike, and run with the hip.  My shin keeps me from running more than 5 miles. That was just further validated by what my hip doc and the sports med doc said.

Meanwhile the hip pain did come back after a few days.

So I finally scheduled an appointment with my hip doc (1 week before surgery!).  I was nervous.  I basically got a second opinion without giving him much of a heads up.  When he came in, I told him what I did and told him I’d like to figure out the shin pain.  His first words were, “That’s good because surgery is going to make your shin worse”.  

We’re slowing down to re-enter the start gate.

Oddly, that statement made me feel so good.  I was going to be on crutches for 4 weeks, putting more weight and stress on the shin.  

He wanted to do another MRI on the shin to see if maybe there is some more healing to do or if it indicates another issue.  Then we can look into things like chronic compartment syndrome or some other vascular problem.  

For the first time I left my hip doctors office feeling amazing.  I wasn’t scared of the surgery.  I just didn’t want to spend the time recovery, money from insurance, or my doctors time on something he (nor the sports med doc) thought was necessary.  

So instead of surgery on December 10, I had an MRI done.  Now I’m waiting for Tuesday to get the results and go from there!

So I did have this blog post titled "Injury Update: Rollercoaster Fall".  Probably would have given people a false impression of what this was about.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Race Report - Jeremy Katzenberger Memorial Triathlon

Jeremy Katzenberger Memorial Triathlon

About a month and a half since my last post?  Yep.  Sounds about right for this year.

I’ll give a full update on the slew of injuries in another post but what I have been doing is a little running (!!), some biking, some swimming, and a lot of strength training, specifically for the hip.  Doing upward hip thrusts at the gym is only slightly awkward… so I do my best to make it fully awkward by looking at others directly in the eyes mid-thrusts  I’ll throw in a wink, just in case.

Over the summer I’ve tried to join up with the Cycle City Wednesday night group ride when my schedule and training plan allowed.  Through those rides I’ve gotten to know a few of the cyclists.  When conversing with one of the cyclist, we were talking about triathlons and she mentioned she is training for one coming up that she does for strong personal reasons.  It wasn’t until a few miles later when she mentioned Jeremy Katzenberger was her husband and I immediately put 2 and 2 together to realize Colleen was the wife of the fallen soldier that the Jeremy Katzenberger Memorial Triathlon honors.

I really didn’t know what to say other than I could understand why it is for personal reasons.  I mean, it's been like two months since that ride and I still don't know what to say.  I can't image what she's been through.  We have friends who have been deployed and would be devastated.  Can't image being a spouse. Just can't.

A few weeks ago Colleen continued to work on me to sign up for the race.  I had made the decision back in July that I wouldn’t sign up for another race until I had figured out my hip.  I had just finished running Head For The Cure 5k (I had signed up for it in March, ok?  Race report may still come as there was a $20 bet involved).  With completing that 5k race, I knew my hip and leg could manage the beating of a 5k run.  So why not try a sprint distance triathlon?  Screw that moratorium! I agreed and said I would ask around to pull in some more of my tri peeps.

As I was getting close to signing up I needed to decide on the distance.  There was no difference in the bike (11 miles) and run (5k) but there were two swim distances, 400 yards and 1200 yards. Recently JoeVI asked me to do the swim leg of Ad Astra 70.3 relay team, so I might as well do the 1200 yards since I would be swimming 1.2 miles a few weeks later.

My tri bike had been relegated to second string as I hadn’t ridden it since Muncie 70.3 in July.  I knew the bike course was hilly and curvy and I decided the road bike was preferable.  This further proved out when I rode the course on Friday before the race.  In the 3 miles to get to the bike course + the bike course + 3 miles to get home, I put in 1700 feet of elevation gain in 17 miles. NASTY.  Saturday I put the race wheels on my road bike and decided the beast was ready to ride!

I just might let KITT wear these new shoes a bit longer.  This was fun to ride.

Race Day

With the transition literally 5 miles from my house and a 6:15am transition open, it was nice to sleep in!  Once parked and into the transition, I immediately took position on the first rack closest to bike and run out.

After meeting up with Corey and Kristen (and their support crew, John and Amy), we watched the pre-race meeting.  Corey and Kristen answered my call to participat in this race.  A video was played honoring Jeremy and it was really good.  Sponsors were announced and Colleen spoke.  Even though this is the fifth annual, it still has to be very emotional day for her.

Not long afterwards, we were headed for the water to do a warm up swim and then off to the races, literally!

Pre-race I had met up with Matt from the YMCA and Pete of the famous Banana Hammock team.  Wished them good luck even though as we're all signed up for the long course.

At 8:05am our wave was off! The first 600 yards were surprisingly congested.  I kept up with 3 other guys but we broke off as we turned back.  I felt like I was in a good groove the entire time.  The swim exit is the most interesting I have ever experienced at a triathlon.  You swim under a dock. It wasn't fully submerged but through two open sections below the dock.   I swam until I hit the sand and then up the carpet to my bike. 

Time: 22:10
Age Group: 3rd out of 13

My setup was a little different than usual.  No tri bike, I used socks, no visor on my aero helmet as I used my Orange Wayfarer-style sunglasses.  This was all about having fun anyway. 

I haven’t practice the flying mount on my bike, so stopped to get on.  You immediately bike up a hill.  Might as well start those inclines in the first 100 yards! Having ridden the bike course on Friday, it didn’t seem as near as bad this time.  The first half isn’t horrible  but the elevation gain started to skyrocket later.  About a third through, there was a spectator calling out numbers. I assumed it was positions and I got assigned number 24.

At about 4 miles left a car had gotten on the bike course in front of me.  It wasn’t a closed course, which was fine.  I figured I would catch the car on a downhill but they will drop me on the uphill. That didn’t happen and I ended up passing the car, which was slightly nerve racking.  Good to know that car blind spot detectors do “see” cyclists.

By the time I got back to the dismount line my feet were out of my cycling shoes ready to jump off the bike and supposedly in 15th place (which would include relays, short course, and long course).

Time: 33:43
AG: 1 out of 13
T1: 47 seconds (2nd in AG) 

My transition rack was about 30 feet from the dismount line and so it was rather fast.  Drop the bike, tie on the shoes (no quick-tie laces since this was the first solo triathlon of the year… never setup the fancy laces), grab the hat, race bib, and run!!!!  Then there was the nasty first hill out of transition.  I put on my race bib and hat and huffed and puffed up this hill to blow down this run course (see what I did there?). 

So I was running and it felt great.  I mean… it truly felt great.  My right leg didn’t crumble into a million pieces from the healed stress fracture.  My hip didn’t lock up or pop out of socket from the impingement.  My foot wasn’t running on pins from the neuroma.  My lungs, on the other hand, were trying to escape imprisonment but the warden kept them.

The run course was hilly as well with 250 feet of elevation gain but… I felt strong!  Running up the hills you engage your quads more and those were definitely hit hard over the last 6 weeks of physical therapy strength training.

From what I could tell, no one passed me during the race since the turnaround on the swim... until I was closing in on the finish.  I didn’t turn around to look in the final 50 yards but about 5 feet from the finish I felt someone on my shoulder.  Just in case I lunged my left leg over the timing mat.  It turned out to be someone from the short course, which was fine, but lesson learned.

Time: 21:44
AG: 3 out of 13
T2: 37 seconds (1st in AG) 

No clue how I really did when I finished.  The timing people didn’t post results until later in the day.  I didn’t know if I had a chance of winning anything but we stayed.  It was a freaking beautiful day at a beautiful location… and I mentioned free beer, right?  They started out with the long course male overall podium, Banana Hammock Pete took home third overall, nice work!  The age groups were in 10 year groups and I got first in 31 – 40!  SWEET!  4th overall was fairly satisfying too.

Time: 1:19:02
AG: 1st out of 13
Overall: 4th out of 42

After I got my medal, they also gave me a tank top that said “JKT WINNER”.  Ha!  That was awesome. I’ve never see anything like it before.  I do enjoy it when races do things that are unique.  Maybe I’ll have to wear it during the run for next year’s race.

Tri Suit, Hoodie, JKT WINNER shirt!
I had a blast.  I got to thank as many of the volunteers, spectators, and police as I could.  I got to see familiar faces on the course. I got to talk triathlon. I got to run. I got to drink free Boulevard beer. I got to participate in a race honoring someone who paid the ultimate price fighting for my ability to do all of that. Got it?  Good.

Funny Note
Someone nabbed my swim cap and goggles.  That doesn't bother me.  What bother's me is I'm not going to enjoy watching them put on my prescription goggles for the first time.  I have horrible vision. They are going to go blind.

OMG.  I'm such a dork.

This made my hip feel so much better.

They had free beer.  Did I mention that?

Kristen and me post-race.  Finishers!
Talking with Pete and Corey

With Kristen and Corey

Enjoying a little post-race whiskey and coke.
Dork, Colleen, and Tiffany post-race

We all ride with our leader, Carter, at the Cycle City Wednesday night ride.  Everyone got 1st on the bike split within their respective age groups.  This was Tiffany's first triathlon and did fabulous!

Also...  my hand looks HUGE. 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Race Report - Muncie 70.3 Team Triathlon

TKB, Kevin, and I took off Thursday morning and arrived in Anderson, IN around 6:30pm.

After unloading the car we went into Fisher (suburb of Indianapolis) for dinner at Rockstone Pizza.  It's a wonderful place to get stone-fired pizza.  If you are reading this to find some good pasta for your Muncie 70.3 experience, they have some great baked pasta options as well.  They have a great selection of local craft beer and a friend of Kevin's works there!

Corey and his wife Amy arrived a bit later and stayed at a hotel in Muncie, so we didn't meet up Thursday.  Erik and his buddy/sherpa, Patrick, were arriving Friday afternoon.  Erik is my team runner.

Check-in/Packet Pickup
Friday we arrived at the race site around 10am.  Probably the first 5 athletes we saw were all from KC (Reds Triathlon team, KC Tri, and some folks wearing other local race shirts).  Picked up my standard pint glass and the shirt that has all participant names on it in the shape of the M-dot logo on the back.  Being a team, I'm not sure if my name was supposed to be on it (versus our team name) but since I had been registered as an individual participant, my name was definitely on it (I couldn't find Erik's).

About this time Corey and Amy had arrived.  We reviewed the swim area and the transition area then listened to the athlete meeting.  We had some questions for the head ref so talked to Rosalyn for a little bit.  One concern I had was the fact that relays were the last wave.  That meant that I would be one of the final 25 people to hit the bike course.  Yes, I literally told the ref "I don't want to sound cocky, but I'm going to be passing a bunch of people."  Frankly, my concern was I would be spending a lot of time on the left side of the lane because I would have 1,800 cyclists in front of me with a two loop course.  She didn't give me the best feeling but had to go with it.  Rosalyn was pretty great as she told us some stories of some horrible participants in previous races.

Kevin, Corey, and I then headed out for a shake-out bike ride which proved quite beneficial for all of us.  Corey was having some malfunctions with his bike computer and this solidified his plan to just use his Forerunner on the bike.  Kevin found out his rear brake didn't work!  The brake was loose from its attachment to the bike and the techs were able to fix it.  What did I learn?  My previous single practice of doing a flying mount on my bike wasn't enough.  I pretty much embarrassed myself trying to do so Friday, as well as managed to scratch up my right thigh and causing my right heel to be sore the rest of the day.

Erik and Patrick then arrived we made it through the packet pick up process. Erik and I walked through the transition setup now that we were able to get in and review the relay boxes.

By this time it was four o'clock and we had figured out dinner plans and headed out to for a pasta place once TKBs parents arrived.

Amy, Corey, Erik, Patrick, Kevin, TKB, Dork, Susan, Mike

After dinner we finished prepping our bikes/gear and off to bed with a 3:30am alarm.  We wanted to get there close to after the transition opened plus there was a 30 minute drive to the race site.  Fortunately, Erik and Kevin both share my propensity for having time on my side and not the other way around.

Race Day
Even though the race offered Friday bike checkin, we elected not to have to deal with bike pumps and other worries, so we brought our bikes on Saturday.  It was nice knowing we didn't have to worry about rack placement since each spot was individually numbered.

Nice and tidy.  Only thing missing are running shoes, visor, bib.
I got my spot setup and then headed over to Kevin's and gave him some advice on transition.  We went over to Corey's spot but he wasn't to be found but he was all setup.  He was one of those lucky few with the first spot on the rack.

We took off for the first of many bathroom trips and then off for a warm-up swim, which opened at 6:45.  My wave was scheduled for 7:48 but no one I talked to knew when the swim area closed, so I hopped in the swim practice with Kevin and Corey, who were in the third wave.

As I was getting ready to get in the water, I ran into another KC Triathlete who works at the local Ultramax store.  I've talked to her a few times before as I stopped into the store.  She mentioned that the swim area would remain open so I just did a short swim.

We all agreed that the pre-race warm up was a good idea.  It helped calm the nerves and get the body ready to go.  It was soon ready for Kevin and Corey to go to the start corral.  It was the start of a big new experience for both since it was their first half ironman.  I was hoping they would both enjoy endurance triathlon as much as I do.

Now that they were off, I was still within myself.  My nerves were still pretty high considering this was my first race of the year and, frankly, my last.  I've done two half ironmans before, so I knew what I needed to do.  Part of it was some frustrations that I couldn't do the run and so it was just going to feel somewhat incomplete.  Don't get me wrong, I am thrilled to be able to compete and that wouldn't be possibly without Erik and I'm totally grateful for that!

I decided to make another trip to the porta-potty and I'm glad I did.  I may have gained 5 watts on that restroom trip (if you don't know what that means, just move along).  I then put the wetsuit back on and did a few laps of the warm-up area.  As I watched the first swimmer exist, I noticed  the last buoy had a number "8" on it.  Good information to know, since all buoys were numbered.

After saying goodbye to TKB, Erik, Patrick, and Amy, I was off to join the final wave of relays, about 25 of us.

Joyce from Ultramax was with the relays as she had a similar story to mine.  She was going to do it as an individual but injured her hand in a fall, so was doing this as a team of 3.  I also met another KC triathlete while wading in the water.  Considering it was only 25 of us, we had plenty of room to line up.  At 8:03 (race was delayed 15 minutes due to parking problems), we were off!

I immediately got in a groove and felt great.  Having all that room was awesome.  Even though the previous two waves were the young gun females and males, I knew that room wouldn't last.  About buoy number four, that ended as I started swimming with the previous wave.  I felt like I was doing pretty good with my line.  The buoys were huge and so I could spot them easily.  Swimming westwardly definitely helped with the sun behind us.

Turn one was crowded but I manage to hit turn in open space on the turn but the washing machine was now in full effect.  I will say that being in the last wave was great.  If anyone was going to pass me, it had been done as we started.  There was no wave behind me to have people catch me. I was passing a bunch of people and seeing people in three to four waves in front of me.  It's always a confidence booster.

I hit turn 2 with a bunch of people and was happy to start counting up to buoy number 8 (the numbers restarted halfway through the swim).  I was still feeling in a groove but I noticed my left arm was getting sore.  When I put my wetsuit back on, I remember working on the left sleeve quite a bit and so might have put it on so it strained my left arm movement more than usual.

I passed buoy number 8 and just kept swimming until I felt ground.  Got up and took off!

Time: 34:30
Pace: 1:47 / 100 meters
Relay Rank: 5

Transition 1
This race had wetsuit strippers and so I sought out a couple people after pulling my suit down to my waist.  It took them a bit more time than I had hoped but still faster than by myself.  I then took off running the quarter mile to my bike.  Throw my wetsuit down by my bike, put on my sunglasses, helmet and shoes and then off!

Time: 3:00

My validation to not doing a flying mount was validated as there was no room with about 6 people spread about the mount line.  I quickly got on my bike, clipped in, and took off!

My fear about the bike course was quickly realized as people were all over the road.  I passed as within rules and within common sense as possible but there were multiple pelotons in action.  The quality of the roads in the first 7 miles weren't that great but no issues on my part.

The course reached out to State Route 35 and did two loops before heading back in.  My heart rate was pretty escalated for the first 10 miles as I was trying to get into open space.  My wattage averaged the zone I was hoping for but I was burning some matches trying to get around the groups of people.  I felt happy with my pace around 22 - 24 mph but I didn't have a run to worry about.

They had four aid stations on the course.  I've been in races with aid stations but those races had plenty of room on both sides of the road.  The roads here were two lane with no shoulder, so it was a tight squeeze.

The route had some elevation gain but no huge hills, especially compared to what we see in Kansas City.  You'd find yourself working hard and then you'd realize it was because you were on an incline.

I didn't keep track but had about 5 or 6 people pass me total and most to those were race leaders on their second lap of the bike course.  I did play leap frog with a couple people and that was a little frustrating.  For one thing, I don't like to play leap frog with the same people over and over and two, they were definitely drafting off of each other.  One was drafting off me for about a minute when I finally got done with it and pushed on.  I should have left him there for a ref to see him and save me from burning another match.

I tried to stay within my wattage zone and felt I was doing a pretty good job of it but I knew eventually my time would come to hammer.  Not having to run meant not needing to conserve energy.  Don't get me wrong, I was't holding back that much from the first mile but still wanted to pace myself.  I had been using my nutrition plan quite well so I had decent energy.  My finicky hip was cranky but I knew I wouldn't hurt it.  My right leg was also sore at a few spots that made me question the healing of my stress fracture but the biggest concern was on my calf.  I attributed this to riding in my triathlon shoes instead of my road shoes that I normally use.  I should have stuck with my road shoes since I decided to not do a flying mount.

About 10 miles to go, it was time to time trial to the end.  Not sure why I chose 10 miles out as my time to hammer but it was similar distance to the downtown time trials that I have done in the past.  Not too  long before this point, the couple guys who were playing the drafting game had past me again.  Now I had some fun flying by them at 29 mph and hoping I'd sweep them up trying to catch up with me not realizing I was done in 10 miles.

My miles 45 - 50 average 25.7 mph, which was a nice flat and open road but last split was slower at 22 but also had hills, turns, and "traffic" to it.  So miles 45 - 55 were in 25 minutes, 15 seconds.  My last split included some of my transition, so I don't have a good split of my last mile.  I do enjoy the bike!

Time: 2:27:36
Pace: 22.76 mph
Relay Rank: 3

I had the 3rd fastest relay split and so we moved up to 4th place.

Transition 2
Sometimes you have that perfect day and sometimes you have that perfect day with something that annoys the crap out of you.  Today was the latter.  I ran to my transition spot to put my bike on my rack and, boom, some idiot draped their wetsuit over my spot.  I simply racked my bike on it and started taking off when I hear a crash and turn back.  My bike fell off the spot because of the wetsuit and some official yelled at me that I can't leave my bike like that.  I agreed (even though I'd be back in a minute to fix it anyway) and ran back, grabbed the wetsuit and told the  official that this wetsuit wasn't mine and I threw it and re-racked my bike and took off.... again.

Erik saw me running up, kneeled down and pulled off my chip, placed on his leg, high five and took off!

Time: 1:16

Seeing Erik take off made me happy to have him on my team.  Erik has had an amazing weight loss story the last few years and enjoy participating in races with him and love having him on my team.

I anxiously awaited Erik to arrive and watch him run through the finish chute.  As soon as he came through we high fived again and I ran around the finish line to see him out the chute.  Erik killed that run with a half marathon PR!

Kevin and Corey
Let's back up.  After Erik took off I found TKB, Amy, and Patrick.  We walked around a bit and got to see the first two male finishers cross the line.  I had left a few things at my transition that I wanted to have with me, so I walked back to my bike and cleaned it up a little bit more and had it essentially ready to go.  I saw Joyce again and chatted about her swim while she waited for her cyclist to come in.  I then went over to get some food that was set aside for athletes while Erik, TKB, and Patrick bought some lunch.

After finishing my plate, I decided a trip to the bathroom was in order.  Apparently while I was off, Jason Parr who I raced with at Pigman Tri in 2013 had just finished.  TKB went over to say hi and then I did too after I got back.  I went looking for him but when I came back to the finish chute there was TKB, Amy, Patrick... and Kevin!  He had just finished and we missed it!  I was so bummed but I blame him for it... because he rocked his race!  He finished in 5 hours and 17 minutes!  Based on what he thought he'd finish, we didn't expect him in that soon.

We walked around a bit and then went a bit further down the run course to see Corey and Erik arrive.  Not too much longer and Corey came flying down to finish in 6 hours and 1 minute  Another amazing finish for a first timer (just a few minutes past my first half ironman).

These guys seriously did amazing for the first half ironman and was happy to be apart of it.  Looking forward to doing a lot more races with them!

Definitely had a good experience at Ironman 70.3 Muncie.  Good post-race experience with athlete food options (quarter chicken, applesauce, cole slaw, veggie burger, and pop).  Plenty of race merch to purchase.  On the non-race day side, I was able to easily get a refund when I registered as a team.

I was a little annoyed that I couldn't run through the chute with Erik at the end.  I will say that considering the size of roads we are riding on, there were way too many people on the bike and borderline unsafe.  Not many races in the world offer a completely closed bike course like Muncie and so I doubt they would be able to do that with wider roads.

I'd definitely consider doing this race again.

As for our place, we finished 7th out of 21 teams (1st of the three Kansas City teams ;)) with a finish of 5:34:11.

Just put that right back in the truck, please.

Don't put your wetsuit on my rack.  This is where you will find it.

Enjoying the pay-off
Someone commented that the road crew marking the bike route for potholes wanted to ensure no one harmed this sleeping rodent.

We got caught leaving the scene of the race.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Been a While

I haven't fallen off the face of the blog-o-sphere.  I just haven't had the motivation to write.  This has probably been the longest since I've taken off from posting.  New PR?

Taken at the Airport in Phoenix on April 20.  I was headed to California for work instead of running the Boston Marathon that day.

The healing process has been slow but as expected.  After I got the boot, I kept to swimming for a few weeks.  Then swim and bike for a few weeks and stayed there until the boot was removed.  Around 4 weeks I attended a half ironman training camp which gave me the opportunity to swim in a 50 meter pool, open water swim, and then did about 40 miles of the 56 mile ride.  Obviously skipped the run.

I did a handful of aqua running workouts.  Not as horrible as I thought it would be but didn't do more than 30 minutes at a time.

I started weening off the boot after 4 weeks, per my doc.  At 6 weeks I stopped wearing it altogether but didn't start running for another week.  My ankle seemed weak, so I wanted to give it a chance to manage normal walking.  Running consisted of short, slow run and then a walking break... repeat.  First week was not great.  Leg was sore.  I knew right then and there that any hope to run at Ironman Muncie 70.3 was out.

At the track, starting my first run in 2 months.

It was a couple more weeks before I got comfortable running at my normal form.  TKB and I went to Chicago for about a week and I got in a few good run/walk sessions on Lake Shore Trail.  I started extending my runs with good form.  Things were feeling pretty darn good. So after I got back I did a 9 minute run, 1 minute walk for 30 minutes.  It felt good to run long but my leg was sore.

At the same time, my hip was still bothering me like it was back in early February.  My foot neuroma was flaring up again.  During the previous few months I had started putting metatarsal pads in all my shoes and by now I had finally put them in my cycling and work shoes.  About the same time as my leg hurting after the run, my foot was really bothering me.  I got to the point of pain where on a 50 mile ride I stopped in the middle and ripped out the met pad I had installed (poorly).

I was through with the pain.  It wasn't massive pain, but it was there and caused me trouble sleeping. My stress fractures were on the mend but without fixing the hip and foot neuroma, I was surely going to end up in a boot again.  I was done.  I started noticing that with the neuroma on the left foot, I would walk "around" the pain.  Had a conversation with Kevin at work about it who mentioned that his hip/lower back pain was resolved by orthotics in his shoes.  I came to the conclusion that maybe the neuroma is causing my hip issue.

I talked to my physical therapist and agreed that may be a connection.  So back to the drawing board and back to my foot doctor.  I was happy to go back to the foot doc because he is a triathlete and knows how I think.  He and I had a great discussion and when I mentioned my hip he mentioned that it could be caused by the neuroma without my prompting.  So I bought some orthotics per his recommendation to put in my cycling shoes since that's where I started noticing the neuroma.  Even leading up to the appointment with the foot doc, I had become more vigilant at putting met pads in my shoes (correctly) and had noticed the neuroma wasn't as painful anymore.  That being said, it was hard to objectionably determine if my hip was doing better.

Armed with my new orthotics, I went out for a 3 hour ride this past Saturday and my neuroma didn't peep once (it usually starts around 20 miles in).  My hip isn't as noticeable but occasionally it is sore.  I do think it is getting better.

Shining Light
Given all this, how do I see the light at the end of the tunnel?  Small victories.
  • Working on race karma I volunteered with the MTC team to help at a run aid station.  I ended up course marshaling with Mark at the top of a nasty hill.  I brought my JAMBOX to blast music and we had a blast cheering people on.  Talked to participants days/weeks after the race and they appreciated the support at the top of the hill.
  • Knowing that I couldn't run the half marathon at Muncie 70.3, I asked my buddy Erik to participate as a team and he agreed!  Erik was already planning to attend Muncie as a spectator and is currently training for his first marathon.  Hopefully this worked out for him and his training.
  • The short runs I did in Chicago weren't super fast but did show me that I still had decent fitness.
  • I have been having trouble with my Garmin Vector Power Meters on my triathlon bike.  It would read low, although it was fine on my road bike.  I found out that I had not configured my Garmin watch and bike computer correctly for my triathlon bike but I had for my road bike.  This was awesome because it has a big impact on my Performance Management Chart on TrainingPeaks.  Happy to see it be accurate.
  • Had a good conversation with Kevin who was going to participate in Beach2Battleship with me.  We both decided to cancel.  Neither of us had registered yet.  Kevin wanted to train for KC Marathon and I was still the middle of figuring out my hip problem.  I know this seems weird to consider canceling a race as a positive but it gave me the relief to not try to train for something when I wasn't 100% yet.  I've still got a long road to returning to form.

Looking Forward
I feel that I have a good plan to get the hip issue resolved.  My neuroma hasn't flared up in a few weeks.  So after this week I want to get back into hip focused strength training and stretching.  Coach keeps putting yoga on my plan and I keep conveniently not finding time to do it.  Maybe it's time to look up the Yoga place in Parkville.

Why focus on it after this week?  Well, it's race week!  We are leaving for Ironman Muncie 70.3 tomorrow morning.  This is going to be a blast.  Not only am I registered as "Two Tall Tri Guys" team with Erik, but Kevin and another co-worker, Corey Hunt is doing it too. My other race buddy/co-worker Kristen was planning to make the trip but couldn't.  She'll be there in spirit!

TKB pointed out that I missed the opportunity of calling our team "Too Tall Tri Guys" but whatever, still works.

So hopefully I'll be back on the blog with my race report soon.

A while back my coach sent me the below link and I actually just read it finally after finishing this post.  A lot of great advice and you might notice some similarities in what I said/experienced to what she wrote:

OK... going to bed.  Good night!  Got an 8 hour drive tomorrow!