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!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Welcome to Season 2015, Version 2.0

On Monday (the day after my last post), my doctor sent me in for some x-rays as my insurance denied the MRI without first getting x-rays.  The results were inconclusive so the MRI was approved, which I did on Friday.

I've never had an MRI and so I never really knew what to expect.  After removing all metal on my body, the technician put me on the patient table and then laid a heavy blanket type device on my legs. After sliding me in up to my thighs the fun started.  I am so thankful that I didn't have to be fully in the bore.  I can't image what that would be like or how I'd handle it.

After a few minutes my legs started to tingle.  Was this normal?  Then I started to experience micro muscle spasms.  Uh.   I don't want to do this thing again.   That can't be good for a sharp image!  I realized what was going on.  This heavy blanket was partial supported by my feet and my attempts to keep still was being hampered by the weight on my feet. 

She told me it would take about 30 minutes and so I thought, "I can run a 5k in less than 20 minutes.  I can mange some discomfort for a bit longer".  I was listening to a local radio station on these wireless headphones, so I just kept counting the songs.  Eventually my feet relaxed just enough to ease the discomfort and everything was good.

I had to wait until Monday to get the results.  Unfortunately, we received some bad news that Friday in the loss of my maternal grandmother.  The only shining light that weekend was spending Easter Sunday with an amazingly supportive and loving family.  They helped keep my mind on the important things in life.  

The day of Grandma D's funeral was Monday and I also got the results of my MRI: Stress fractureS.  I had a genuine concern being a casket bearer but, once again, my cousins are (strong) rockstars and helped me out.

I had to meet my orthopedist on Thursday with the results. I left the doctor's office with some new footwear.  I have a boot to wear for the next 4 to 6 weeks. Awesome.

Apparently this shows my Stress Fracture.  I think it shows my awesome.

So I emailed my coach and put out some new thoughts for 2015.  Boston was already out.  But what about the entire year?  When I did my first ironman, I did 30 weeks of training and, based off of that, I was already a month behind target.  I hired Coach Ken because I wanted something tailored to me and my schedule.  So training hadn't officially started yet anyway.  The point here is that Ironman events are way too expensive for me to half-ass them.  I'm looking down the barrel of some massive training weeks and I don't want to push myself getting back if I'm not really ready.  I still have the opportunity to get some money back from registration.  So I'm pushing my second ironman back a year.  Ironman Louisville 2016?

This left two races on my calendar.  Legends 70.3 and Ironman Muncie 70.3.  I should be able to walk without the boot by early to mid-May. That would be about 3 to 5 weeks out from Legends.  I could do the sprint, maybe the olympic, but no way I can do the half.  I would much rather cut out Legends altogether and focus on Muncie 5 weeks later.  

Will I be competitive at Muncie?  Well, I think there is a question on whether I will even be ready for it.  Either way, I am going.  I may not compete but I'm going.  I have a lot of great friends doing that race with me and it will be a first 70.3 for all of them.  I'm not missing that, even if it is from the sidelines.

So at this point, Muncie is the only race on my calendar.  I need a fall race.  What other fall races are there?  Maybe something that could involve a little vacation?  How about something near a beach?  What if there was a cool battleship museum close by?

Hello Beach2Battleship 70.3!

After talking with TKB, we decided going back to my favorite triathlon would be a blast.  I know the course. I know I can do it well.  I will be ready to compete.  After a rather crappy first half of the year, I want something to look forward to and train for and enjoy some time off.  Financially speaking, the money I get back from Ironman will cover most of the registration cost for B2B and the money saved preparing for Ironman Louisville will more than cover the rest (race, travel, hotel, food).

So here's to a new 2015!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Boston and Injury Update

When I started this blog in 2011 I didn't really know how it would turn out.  One thing it has done is turned into a place where I can relive those races that I really enjoyed.  It also turned into a reference for others planning the same race.  Even Beach2Battleship has reposted my 140.6 race report.  Pretty cool.

As much as I want to continue posting positive things, you must take the bad with the good.  And this is going to be a post I don't want to relive.

With all the positives that I've been seeing in the last few weeks, my shin issue hit an all time high.  I set out for my 18 mile run with the Saturday Ultramax Store group run.  I started with a couple other triathletes I know.  Everything was going well. Chatting with people sure helps take the mind off of things.  About mile 3 the limp showed up.  By mile 4 my right leg was sore from the bottom of my foot up through the quad.  Around mile 4.5 my coach caught up with me and suggested walking breaks, which I did at mile 5.

I never started running again.

Luckily, the route brought us back by the store at that point.  I got in my car and drove home.

After hopping around in the shower, I laid down in bed and told Tricia that Boston was over.  There's no possible way.  My sub-par training would lead to a sub-par Boston and give me a feeling that I'd be leaving that race with a chip on my shoulder... assuming I could finish it in the first place.

I couldn't fight back the tears.  All I wanted to do was go to sleep so this pain would go away.  But the caffeine from my pre-run coffee was still coursing its way through my veins.

Eventually I did drift off.  When I woke up, it was like a new day.  I've been dealing with pain over two months.  Sure, I was still going to endure some but the path to recovery had been paved.  I'm ready to be normal again.  I'm ready to refocus for Ironman Muncie 70.3 and Ironman Louisville 140.6.  The decision was actually a bit of a relief.

I had to convey the bad news to my brother, parents, and friends.  My brother and parents were planning to make the trip out to Boston.  I didn't want anyone to make any further financial outlays on my part.

So now the question is should I get the MRI?  The money I'm going to save from hotel cost, dining, and race merchandise will more than cover that.  It will help figure out how to plan the recovery.  I'll talk with my doctor on Monday to discuss.

Maybe in a few years when I'm preparing for my next first Boston Marathon, I'll see this post and feel a level of appreciation and not sadness.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

ScottyTris, MD

I'm getting tired of talking about medical issues here but that's my life right now, sadly.

So I continued with my foam rolling.  Monday I was doing better.  I decided to wait until Tuesday to see if it still helped.  Tuesday I was feeling even better.  PT Ross gave me the go ahead to run/ride.  So I decided to ride and call him on Wednesday to see how I'm doing.  Wednesday wasn't better but wasn't worse, so he green lighted running.  I did 2 miles on the treadmill and 1 mile on the track.  I wanted to use the treadmill to keep pace and a softer landing.  This SUCKED because I was staring out the window at the first warm weather day.

Thursday it was time to see Ross again... and I wasn't feeling any better.  Maybe a bit worse.  Again, I had to be honest.  This time I could point out exactly where it was sore.  As soon as I did this a light came on and Ross diagnosed a tight Iliopsoas.  Basically the same muscle group known as the Hip Flexor.

He showed me a couple stretches and some strength training exercises and sent me on my way.  As I was heading out he said to keep on "running, biking, and swimming"!  SWEET!

One of the stretches involved a BOSU ball.  I didn't exactly want to go to the gym multiple times a day to do this stretch, so I found a brand new one on Craigslist.  Friday morning I went to the gym and did my stretching and weights.  During the gym session, I planned out a meeting point for the BOSU ball and by 7:30am I had it and was on my merry way to work.

Interestingly enough, the hip was feeling pretty good.  I did a 5 mile run at lunch.  Did more stretching after.  Before noon I had already showered twice, at two different YMCAs.  That's a pretty good day!  I even snuck in a bike ride that evening.  Was I doing too much?

Saturday I hit the pool in the morning and then did a High Five Station at the Big 12 12k Run on KC Sports Commissions request.  I did have a two hour bike planned that afternoon.  Even though it was OK outside, I did it on the trainer.  I've been having some trouble getting my Power Meter to read correctly on my Tri Bike, so I ended up hosing up most of the ride by hopping on and off the bike tweaking it.  Eventually I just wasn't into the ride and cut it after 90 minutes.  My legs were pretty sore from the strength training the day before... but my hip felt great!

Sunday I met up with Kristen and the Sunday Runday group and ran 14 miles.  It went pretty well.  It wasn't the fastest, which is good because I wanted to keep the pace slow.  I did run about 1/2 a mile with the organizer, Donny, and we hit some 7:30-ish paces and, while it felt great to hit that pace, I knew it wasn't wise.

So after recording 19 miles running, 2.5 hours riding, and 1 hour of swimming, by Monday morning my hip was feeling... great!  I ended up calling Ross on Friday after a few more workouts (which included an 8 mile threshold run) and told him I was doing quite well BUT was concerned with a shin splint.  He agreed to see me the next Thursday and would tape me up with some KT tape.  By doing this I would be taped for my 18 mile run on Sunday.  According to Ross, if I watched the wrong video to tape it, I could end up doing something really bad.  He was being honest and wasn't trying to rip me off for another $40.  I didn't care, he fixed my hip.  He can have that plus more.

Saturday came and I rode outside for 2 hours.  It felt awesome.  That evening my hip and shin splint were both feeling good.  I met up with Kristen again on Sunday morning for my 16 miles.  She ran with me for four miles before heading back.  I did the following 8 miles on my own.  While my hip was feeling good, my shin was cranky.  I had four miles left when a girl who was running Boston as well caught up with me and we ran together for the final 4 miles.  She had told me how she missed her first Boston with an injury.  So she understood my situation.  After running with her for two miles, I realized we were kicking 7:30 - 7:45s instead of the 8:15 - 8:30 that I should have been running.  Finish strong, right?

By the time I got home, my shin was yelling at me.  It was bad.  I managed to get around but was not pretty.  Monday morning I could barely walk.  I knew this wasn't right.  I've had shin splints before but NOTHING like this.  I called my general physician as soon as they opened and scheduled an appointment at 10:30am.  Fortunately for me, TKB took the day off and could take me into the office.  Yes, I could drive but stretching my foot to push on the gas was quite uncomfortable.  Unfortunately for TKB, she had to spend the morning of her day off dealing with me at the Doctor's office.

Doc did some "point" tests and other range tests.  His gut feeling was it was a bad shin splint and not a stress fracture.  Until an MRI was taken, it wouldn't be possible to know.  So he did something that I thought was interesting.  He asked me what I wanted to do!  He knew I wanted to remain active.  So we came up with a plan:

  • Get in with the PT as soon as possible to do the KT tape now so it would help just walking around.
  • Take the remaining Meloxicam for inflammation the he prescribed me bake in early February.  He prescribed me 30 pills but directed me to only take 10 of them back then.
  • Hold off on running for a bit but when I do, hit the treadmill.
  • Start talking to the health insurance about doing an MRI.  This was just for the approval, not that I would actually do it.

I talked to Ross and was going to see him Tuesday morning and started the meds.  I made it into work around noon and went immediately into about 7 hours of meetings.  I got home, still in pain, and basically went to bed at 8:30pm.  The two days of bad shin splint pain and two months of dealing with all this crap had caught up to me.

Tuesday morning it was still very very uncomfortable.  I couldn't tell if it had gotten better.  I manage to shave the bottom third of my right leg to help the KT tape adhere.  Ross showed me how to put on the tape and gave me some stretches and a few strength things to do.

Meet my new sock for the next 3 weeks.

 Similar to my physician, he asked me what I wanted to do.  I didn't go to medical school!  I discussed the same plan with him as I did my physician and he liked it.  I wouldn't say I felt immediately better but there is always something comforting with a plan.

Another long day of meetings but when I got home, I could tell a difference.  It was good.  Wednesday morning (today), I was still sore but better.  Much better.  While I still had pain, it wasn't quite the same as what had been coming on over the previous weeks.  That could be the tape, or the stretching, or the meloxicam... or my new found medical profession.

I rode my bike tonight and did some hard intervals.  It wasn't irritated when I was pushing the 500 watts for 30 seconds or when I unclipped.  I'm hoping things feel even better tomorrow as I will plan to hit the treadmill for 4 or 5 miles tomorrow night.

I've never worked so hard to run a marathon and not refer to the training.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Injury Update

When I left you last time I had just scheduled an appointment with a bone/joint specialist. That week I put up 23 miles, which included 12 miles at the gym (11 miles on the treadmill and 1 on the track) on Sunday.  I guess I wanted the hip nice and visible for the doc the next day.

Before I continue, I just want to remind you that I never really have a pain in my left hip.  I have discomfort like a dull ache if I sit or lay down for a long period of time.  I do not have an issue, standing, walking, or running; however, I do have a slight limp.  It causes my form to change slightly give me shin splint concerns on my right leg when I run.

On Monday I arrived at the medical center and they sent me directly to x-rays.  I had three photos of my man hips and off to wait for the hip doc.  He came in and did some odd tests (hold your arms over head, look left/right, do the Macarena).  I figured these were mostly to confirm that I'm willing to follow directions in the event he tells me to do something really stupid... like stop running.

He said I had a femoral acetabular impingement (FAI).  Basically the head of my femur has a bit of a bump on it and it can cause irritation to the tissue around it.  It's something that I grew up with.  Based off of the always-truthful-internet-medical websites, having an active lifestyle can cause it to cause pain much earlier in life or it might not be a problem at all.

According to the doc, the only permanent solution is surgery to remove the 'bump' but he didn't recommend it.  He asked me to convert to water running for the next 4 to 6 weeks, pick up more strength training, go to Physical Therapy, take prescribed steroids, daily Ibuprofen, and then check back in with him.

Uh....  Boston Marathon is "4 to 6 weeks".  I told him that and so he modified the 'script.  Go to PT, iburprofen, and water running for 2 to 3 weeks.  Then convert to track running.. blah.

So I left feeling lost.  Seriously lost.  How in the hell is water running going to truly prepare me for -Boston?  It's not.  How am I going to run 26.2 with very little pre-pounding on my legs?  Sure.  Track running will help but doing 80 laps on a track?  Probably not what he had in mind anyway.  I was pretty bummed.  I decided not to go into the office that afternoon and work from home.  My mind was having trouble focusing though.

I called the PT to setup an appointment and then talked to my coach.  I told him I still want to run Boston. I didn't quite gauge his response to that but we already know it's not going to be a PR.  In fact, it's going to be a PW (personal worst).  Frankly, I'm mostly fine with that; although, I'm sure I will fly home knowing I have unfinished business.

That night I went to Masters Swim class.  A fellow swimmer was a family physician and when I told him what I had, he said he had one too and dealt with it.  He said "FAI" is a popular diagnosis.  That didn't exactly make me feel any better but gave me the confidence I can manage it when I'm through with this bout.  In fact, my friend Jill had one but had it dealt with surgically while she had hip surgery for a torn labrum.

Luckily, my PT appointment was the next day (Tuesday) at 4:30pm.  I had high hopes. I also had a full slate of meetings that afternoon.  My last one for the day was a few blocks away, so I left a bit early so I could move my truck right next to the building in order to leave right after it was over.  When I got to the truck, the battery was dead.  Just my freaking luck.  I was not parked in a place conducive for jumping with all the other vehicles parked around.  I was stuck.  I didn't have any time to get a jump and make my appointment.  CRAP!  I didn't want to miss it and delay anything!

My knight-ess in shining armor saved me.  TKB was able to cut out of the office early and pick me up in plenty of time.  That actually worked out quite well to have her at the appointment too.

Once I got to meet the PT, Ross, he immediately did an assessment. My left leg was shorter than my right leg.  Finally, something made sense!!  Up to this point, it seemed like every medical professional I talked to was just following some script and pushed me off to the next person.

So my left leg was shorter, which was causing a slight limp. That translates to a shin splint on my right leg. Along with having something that made sense, he had me do this particular PT exercise.  It took 1 minute.  He did the assessment again and, viola, leg length normal.  So I had a muscle imbalance, not shorter bones, that needed to be corrected.

He asked me to continue doing this exercise every couple hours and come back on Thursday.  He also told me what I didn't want to hear: No running.  To put icing on the cake, no cycling either.  He didn't want anything that could jeopardize pinpointing the exact cause of the muscle imbalance. Fine.  Swimming was approved though. After two days of bad news and my truck giving me a slight heart attack early that day, I needed a win.  I needed something.  So TKB took me to Freddy's Frozen Custard and Steakburgers for dinner.  It was delicious and, yes, so worth it.

My next appointment was two days later, on Thursday.  I had to be honest with him.  My hip wasn't doing any better.  It was still sore when sitting and laying down.  To say it didn't feel as bad was difficult because it never hurts that bad.  In fact, he did the hip length assessment and my left leg had gotten even shorter!  WTF!  He had me do the weird exercise and, viola, normal.  Argh!

So he gave me some more exercises to do.  He has me foam roll for 20 minutes on my left quad and hamstring to loosen up the muscles and then a quad strengthening exercise.  All in all, it takes about 30 minutes.  Knowing that I have a $40 out of pocket expense for every session, he asked me to call him on Monday or Tuesday to see how things are progressing.  If things are doing better, he would green light some running.  I'm not sure if he told me that to motivate me through 20 minutes of foam rolling hell or what.  This also gives me a mental struggle to figure out how to objectively determine if I'm truly getting better.  That's so difficult when sometimes it's hard to tell if it is sore because I'm sitting down all freaking day or it truly isn't healed.

So it is Sunday night and I'm about to do my 30 minutes of fun.  Here's to hoping it helps kick this issue!