Sunday, August 12, 2018

Race Report: Ironman 70.3 Boulder

5 years

It's been 5 years since I completed my last half ironman.  Man time flies while you are stretching.

I've posted enough about those 5 years... specifically the last 3... that I don't need to rehash.  All I will say is that stretching is important.  Even the littlest amount helps.  I have found that when my hips (and shin) hurt that a couple days of stretching will relieve it.  It takes a couple more to loosen the hip up.  Seriously, a few days of stretching a week may have kept me from losing 3 years of my competitive years (plus the next year of getting back to that fitness level).

So let's move on.

I'm not exactly sure who chose to do Ironman Boulder 70.3 as the half for this year, but Kevin, Kristen, and I got signed up early.  The elevation gain on the bike and run was not as scary as others might think when doing a race in Colorado.  The base elevation gain may be, however.  Boulder is right around 5,300 feet compared to the 900 feet in Kansas City.  Actually, there is a new apartment complex near our house called Altitude 970, so I guess we are at 970 feet.

Training went fairly well.  I had a bad month of April and never recovered my TSS from it (never got back to the high at the end of March) but lesson learned.

I didn't really have any race goals coming into Ironman Boulder 70.3. I knew it wouldn't be a PR.  I just really wanted to have fun and enjoy the experience of endurance triathlon racing and enjoy the scenery.  It is racing near the mountains!!

We took off Thursday morning.  We hoped we got rid of the race gremlins right off.  Kevin had an issue with his tray bike rack and when TKB and I were heading to his house to start the caravan, my car wouldn't start (fast transition to TKB's car and we were on our way).  Gremlins squashed.

Kevin, John, Kristen, Dork, TKB
The race crew

Got into Boulder just before rush hour and checked into the hotel.  John and Kristen recommended a brewery that had a restaurant.  Early to bed as TKB and I were both feeling impacts of the higher elevation.

Somewhere between KC and Boulder. TKB is back there somewhere.

Entering Colorado.  Light'em Up!

Friday was race prep day.  We got up  and drove the bike course.  Then to the packet pickup.  As walking in I caught up with Ryan Falkenrath.  Shows how much race prep I did.  Didn't know Ryan was racing this until the week prior.  Good to see another familiar face out there and to race "with" Ryan again.  Packet picked and merch purchased.  We decided to do a practice swim and found the water temp to be pretty perfect.

Time For Swimmies!
We went back to the hotel and got our bikes ready to roll.  Our hotel was about 4 miles from the race site so we rode back to the site for bike checkin. About a mile to the site we started getting poured on.    It really wasn't that hot out but felt good.  Transition area was large as it normally is for one of these branded events.  After checkin, we listed to the mandatory race meeting and then back to the hotel to rest.

Dinner was at local bar that had a decent Mac n Cheese plate.  Then back to the hotel for an early bed time.

Race Day

4am wake up call and started my stretch routine.  Decided not to shower.  Couple bananas, couple hard boiled eggs, a bagel.  Also managed a pre-race bathroom trip before heading out to the race. Score!  Off to the race site!


Luckily got a parking spot not far from the transition area so didn't have a long walk.  Body marking, transition setup finalized, and off for the next to last bathroom break.  Even though we get there around 5am, it seems like it is 7am before you know it.

For those about to rock!

We all got suited up for the swim and Kevin and I went to checkout the water (for me... that FINAL bathroom stop ;)).  Water was even cooler today and perfect for wetsuit swimming!

The swim start was basically in waves but grouped by swim capabilities.  I assumed a 35-37 minute swim so lined up respectively.  Kevin was a head of me and Kristen behind.  Finally about 7:38, I stepped into the water (pro men started at 7:05).

I got into a groove pretty quickly.  I'm a bad swimmer in that I breathe almost every two strokes.  I tried do every four.  Some day I'll master that.  Today was not that day.

Before too long I started getting into traffic.  I really felt like I was passing a lot of people.  I felt strong.  A couple times I got blocked in by swimmers (one in front and one on both sides).  Even when I tried to draft, I couldn't maintain the distance and eventually pushed around.  Had I not, I might have actually improved my time.

Before we started I counted eight orange buoys on the way into the swim exist.  They definitely weren't spaced evenly but that's ok.  Before I knew it I was out of the water!  I picked a wetsuit stripped when I was finally ready and, woooooosh, I was without a wetsuit.

Eventually got to my bike and then on my way!

Swim: 34:04 - 1:46 pace

Time for some fun!

Loooong run to the bike mount plus it was up hill.  The bike course started with a couple out and backs along a closed highway.  I felt like I was riding within myself.  I was shooting for a specific power range that I thought I could keep for the 56 miles and it would also keep me in check on the ascents.  When heading west towards the mountains it was very much a false flat.  I mean, you are staring down the mountains while riding so of course your road will look flat.

Sure enough, I was riding about 15mph and putting in a high wattage.  So I dialed back my effort, sat up, and just kept passing people. As I like to watch the Tour de France, I combined what I see there with climbing techniques my coach shared.  Sit up high to engage different muscles and then I suck air in like a wide mouth bass.

We hit the top of the ascent, which was on a highway.  It was mostly flat on the highway but a little climbing.  As we ride along I see what appears to be our next turn off heading east.  It looks like motorcycles cruising along the road.  As soon as it was my turn I was flying.  In fact, my 5 mile split for that section of the race was 10:44 (average of 28 mph).  I don't think I've EVER seen that.  Not in my training, not in my racing.  It was fun and FAST.

Eventually we turn north and then west again and up another ascent with a false flat.  But what must go up must go down.  11:13 split this time.  Temperatures were rising.  During the ride I did my nutrition like I always do (2 chomps or quarter cliff bar every 15 minutes and as much liquid as I can).  I tried to continually drink whenever I can.  With higher elevation and low humidity, I wanted to make sure I was intaking as much liquids.  I do a mixture of water and gatorade.  In the last 10 miles my mouth was almost sticky.  I was thinking I should have a bottle of water with me to rinse but don't think it would matter. It's just the lower humidity.

Back to doing another couple out and backs on that highway and then into the transition.  I couldn't remember how long it was back to transition, so I ended up slipping out of my shoes with way to much road left to go but that was ok.

Jumped off the bike and then that long run back to the transition spot.  Shoes on, grab my hat/race belt and onto the run.  I actually did want to use the bathroom but chanced making it through the 13.1 miles.

2:34:28 - 21.76 mph

Heading out for an 8:25 pace first 5k.... and then I decide to "enjoy" the scenery.

My mouth was still super sticky and all I wanted was a cup of water to clear it out.  I hit the first aid station at about a mile out.  Lots of cheering for "MTC" (my team) on the way there.  As I mentioned earlier, I hadn't done much research about the race.  It wasn't until the week leading up to the race that I learned that the run was pretty much zero shade and dirt path with a couple rocky sections.  I seriously would have worn my trail running shoes had I thought about it.

I had a feeling with the heat and the couple hills that I'd bring on the walking.  I did not disappoint. I walked more than I'm proud of.  Likel related to the heat but probably due to my pace on the bike and a little bit with the run course terrain.  There were times on the rocky path that I just simply wanted to get off of it.  The bottom of my feet were sore.

Fortunately, there were a total of 10 aid stations on the run.  I pretty much downed two cups of water and then a cup down the back.

It was a two loop course around the reservoir.  On the second half of the second loop the clouds started to roll in and there was some shade provided.  I could tell I was able to continue running with the shade.  I ran half to the rocky trail this time before walking it as opposed to the previous lap.  Wind was coming in too.

Eventually I hit the last mile and the last aid station.  Zipped up my suit and into the finish chute!  I raised my hand holding five fingers representing five years since my last 70.3 race and finished!

I got "caught" by a friend of Kevin's at the finish line, so that was great seeing a familiar face in the finish line.  Thanks Molly!  She is going through something that I had to deal with for a couple years, injuries.  She was suppose to do this race.  I know I how I felt being at races but not able to compete due to injuries.  Massive props to her for volunteering and pushing through that pain!

2:18:52 - 10:36 pace


Age Group:  47 of 181
Overall: 435 of 1987
Note: Kevin and my watches both showed a 3 minute faster time and I noticed my swim time has been adjusted slower since the first day.

The swim was good, the bike was fun, the run was brutal.  Had I done my research and known about the run course, I might have considered a different race.  It was my personal worst half marathon but that's ok.  As I mentioned, I had no goals.  I just wanted to have fun and I feel like I accomplished that.

So this was truly my first Ironman branded race that I completed all three distances (Erik and I did a team at Ironman Muncie 70.3 in 2015).  I actually have a bad taste in my mouth with the Ironman brand because they killed my favorite Iron distance race.  They purchased Beach2Battleship 140.6, held it for one year and then killed it.  (Keep in mind that the first race at a given distance will likely always be your favorite race). So if I were to compare these branded races against the few other endurance triathlon events I've completed, I would definitely say that there were more aid station stops on the run.  Likely more volunteers in generally and volunteers are what make a race.

It's been over a week since the race and aside from normal post-race pains, nothing with the hip or shin.  Hopefully I've found the right combination because I still have one other big race this year.  More on that later. :)



TKB caught this on a walk Friday night.



Waiting in line for the port-a-pots... between the pro men (left) and pro women (right).

That water looks smooooooooth.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Hello, 2018...

Hello there.  How ya been?  Been a while, I'd say.

Thought I'd do a little checkup so this blog isn't considered completely dead.  I pay for the domain name, so might as well make use of it?

Last time I posted I was leading up to KC Half Marathon.  I actually did write an entire race report.  Too lazy to hit "publish" I guess?  Basically I ran a 1:43, which I was hoping for 1:45 so that felt good.  Pretty soon I was back on with full training because I gave Coach Ken with Midwest Triathlon Coaching a call and signed back up.  All I needed to do to keep the injury bug away was stretching, so I dedicated time to that.

2018 was returning to true endurance triathlon competition and hopefully a marathon.  I'm signed up for Boulder 70.3 in August and Space Coast Marathon in November.  I also signed up for KC Triathlon in May.

Leading up to the end of March, training was going great.  I believe I hit 14 miles and the pace was picking up.  I decided to sign up for Space Coast with BQ aspirations.  I signed up to finally race with Jill again.  Been way too long!

Then April hit.  Work exploded on me and I probably skipped 80% of my work outs.  Lost ~35% of my fitness (per TrainingPeaks TSS).  I hated wasting Coach Ken's time setting up training plans for me just to miss them.  I enjoy what I do for a living, it was just a crazy month (I say that because my training partner is also my boss who likely will read this, Hi Kevin!).

I actually had an awesome run a week into April.  I ran an 8 mile segment of Brew-to-Brew at 7:38 pace. But about a week later I could barely muster 9 minute pace.  I ended up bailing on the half marathon I was planning to run mid-April.  A couple reasons being I just didn't feel I would get the race I had been training for and it was also TKBs birthday (yes, I got approval to run a half marathon on her birthday in advance anyway).  But this gave me the opportunity take her to brunch at our favorite brunch place.

I was even considering bailing on KC Tri in mid-May but raced anyway.  It was a true olympic.  I've raced it multiple times and it was my first time racing in my new age group (40-45... I need to change my bio on this blog! Ugh!).  I raced my race and had plenty of moments on the HOT run that I wanted to walk.  I almost did but heard one of my teammates come up on me... Olympic distance World Champion, Kelly Dippold.  I kept pace with her for a couple miles.  She gave me plenty of motivation to keep pushing.  Definitely helped!

I was fine with my results.  Finished ahead of a couple people that I figured would blow me out of the water.  Wasn't my goal but gotta brag!  I did mention my buddy, training partner, and boss might read this? :P

That was about a month ago and I've been getting my lost fitness back (still off a bit).  Summer arrived in full force right before the KC Tri (When I did the brew-to-brew run on April 8, it snowed on me during that 8 mile run).  So my running in the heat has fully zapped my speed.  I need to suck it up and get back on the treadmill.  I probably still have gremlins floating in my head but I will work through it with more training.

I'm pretty confident my chances at a BQ are lost but not giving up on getting my fitness back because I plan to parlay that marathon fitness into ironman training in 2019.

Here's a few photos to share....

Rieger is weird. 
Kristen and John doing a practice wetsuit swim at Smithville Lake prior to KC Tri.

My nephew Sam and me running a 5k together.  He was doing a 7 week run club that culminated in the Heritage Park 5k.

Rieger and his chew toy, Turdle.

I think that's it for tonight... maybe the next 10 months?  I'll see what I can do.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Time For The 10 Month Post!

Surprised Blogger let me get logged in!

Time for a little bit of an update.  My last post was back in February, so basically an entire season has gone and past.  Such is life for the last few years.  Here we go!

Kept on trucking with the running.  In fact I was hitting double digit runs with no issues.  Feeling great! Cycling was getting a kick too as I was signed up for a 90 mile bike ride in June in the Appalachian Mountains called Blood, Sweat, and Gears.  Everything was really humming at this point.

Full stop.  Why?  No injuries but I got the cold twice with a case of the pink eye in between. Got in a couple decent mileage runs and rides but each time would wipe me out.  We also started our home renovations in earnest and that ended up becoming a massive headache.

Picked things back up after a week long work trip to Boston but the weekends were busy and so never found the time to get my riding volume back up.

The biggest change of May was GETTING A NEW PUPPY!!!  Introducing Rieger (yes, he's named after local whiskey)

He doesn't always just sleep.

Another setback.  I ended up falling down some stairs that ended up turning my ankle pretty bad.  I thought for a while that I had broken or torn something back after a day I could actually walk on it.  Everything reset though.   The morning of the day I hurt my ankle I rode 45 miles.  I did a 3 mile ride a week later and the next weekend was my 90 mile bike ride in the mountains.  I ended up dialing down to the 50 mile route because of lack of training and in case my ankle couldn't handle it. I was suppose to do the KC Corporate Challenge triathlon but since my ankle looked like a grapefruit, I declined to participate.

Blood, Sweat, and Gears (Mini-race report)
This is a supported group ride that I had been planning to do for quite a few years.  My in-laws had asked me to do it when I really started getting into cycling, but a late June 90 mile ride never fell into a good spot of my training plans.  This year was different since I didn't really have any plans.  Riding was the one thing I could do that didn't bother my hip/ankle, so game on!

Then I jacked up my ankle... and lost quite a bit of fitness in April and May.  So having the 50 mile option was a good backup.

We left Wednesday mid-afternoon and drove part way.  Made it to Valle Crucis in the afternoon on Thursday.  This gave me time to do a trial ride on Friday and pickup my packet for the ride on Saturday.  I needed a good trial ride because I had just gotten new front chain ring (literally the day we left) and after rain on the way down I needed to make sure it was all in good shape.  Luckily no issues.

Saturday morning we left to the race start, which was a couple miles from Mike and Susan's home, but they directed us to park about a mile away from the start.  So we just pulled off to the side of the road and I unloaded my bike and got all ready for the ride.  Then I followed them in my car back to the race start where Susan and TKB got out and waited with me for the start.

The 90 milers took off first and a few minutes later the 50 milers took off.  I was pretty intrigued by this as I had never done a mass bike start before.  Kinda felt like the start of Le Tour that I've watched so many times before.

Seeing that this report is about 4 months old, I may miss a few details but what I do remember:

Mile 10 - After we finished our first ascent, we started heading down and my back wheel felt "loose". So when I found a good pull over point, I checked and my back tube was leaking.  UGH!  Not that I was doing this for time but going through 50% of your tube/CO2 cartridges in the first 20% of the ride is not a favorable rate.  Luckily, the first SAG stop at mile 12 had a bike shop component and I was able to replenish my supplies.

I generally stayed with people or had them in my sights the entire time.  Because of my delays, I lost the peloton of people I was with.  The next 30 miles brought a few more ascents, another SAG stop and about 10 miles of rain.  I was feeling pretty good and I generally passed tons of people on the ascents, which made me happy.  I just kept my power around 220watts and just kept trucking.

On the last major descent I heard one of those noises that no cyclist wants to hear, especially mid-race.  pop-pssssssssssssst.  Another puncture!  This time I was cruising downhill and was luckily able to stop without incident.  I was stopped at one of the switch backs and saw people absolutely FLYING around the corner.  I found myself being so timid going downhill than I thought I would.  Mostly because I was concerned about my back tire flatting.

This time I did something about it.  Why did my tire keep popping on the descents?  I remembered that when I had my chainring worked on, the bike shop replaced my rear brake pads.  I checked it out and the calipers were rather high up on my wheel.  So I figured that it was causing a lot of heat and "burning" a hole in my tires, causing the junctions.  Whether that was true or not, I never got another puncture.

Around mile 40 I was definitely on my way back.  The course looped back and I now passed the first SAG stop but it took a slightly different route back.  I noticed something odd though.  I was passing a guy with a 90 mile course bib.  Didn't think too much of it as it sounded like he cut over to the 50 mile course.  But then I saw more 90 milers passing me and then more.  I realized I never saw signs where the 90 mile and 50 mile course broke off.  Uhhhh.... did I accidentally turn onto the 90 mile route?!??  After another 4 miles or so, I pulled off and looked at the map.  As long as I the next turn was this specific street, I was ok.  Sure enough, it was.

I finished in just over 4 hours.  It was an absolutely enjoyable experience.  I felt super strong on the way up the mountains (but super scared on the descent).  I hope to go back and do the 90.

Picture from my team car (from where we were told to park)

Basically restarted my training.  I had hoped to run the KC Marathon based on my progress in March but April and May ended that plan.  I had plenty of time to get ready for the half and throw in some speed work.  My other plan was to participate in the Jeremy Katzenberger Triathlon, which I had participated in the previous couple years.

Got back into something I hadn't done in MONTHS.  Hit the pool.  OK, I only did it once in August but still.  Tricia and I went to Tahoe, NV with Joe and Lauren.  Tricia and Joe had a work conference.  I actually brought everything necessary for me rent a bike and do some riding out there while they were at the conference but never did.  Kinda regret it but not too much.  I got in a couple runs though.  Sadly, my ankle was still causing me issues from my fall in June.

Definitely more swimming, more miles running, and maintaining on the bike.  Jeremy Katzenberger Triathlon was September 10th.  My first year participating I won my age group in the long course, last year I did a team and got 3rd with Oren doing the 5k.  This year I signed up for the short course and managed 3rd overall male!

On September 24 I ran 12 miles, which was the longest run in 2.5 years!

I have been doing some quality work (speed intervals, hills, threshold runs) the last few weeks and am happy with those results.  Although my first hill workout left me sore for 5 or 6 days!

For the first time in a very very long time, I'm in an official taper!  KC Half Marathon is this weekend.  I have no goals for it but I'm not going to just trot those 13.1 miles.  Looking forward to it all!

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.