Sunday, September 15, 2019

Ironman Wisconsin 2019 - The Verdict (Two Actually)

This makes my fourth post in 2019, which is the same number of posts in 2017 and 2018 combined.  I guess I had to do something with all this energy.

I ended the last post waiting my doctor's appointment to take out the sutures and get his opinion on Ironman Wisconsin.  I was still going through all the motions.  Bike race ready.  Transition bag packed.  Nervously awaiting the arrival of my new sleeveless wetsuit.

Thursday started pretty early at 5am.  My shoulder was pretty sore actually.  The most sore it's been in over a week.  I think the Kinesiology Tape may have been part of the problem but figured it was helping and it was part of the healing process.  I also mowed the night before.  That bothered my shoulder and my back.

I still had packing to do and I was too tired/sore Wednesday night.  I got a good chunk of it done but still plenty to do.  I got Rieger packed up and took him to my brother's at 8am.  Then drove back north to my Doctor's appointment.  I was afraid I would miss some details so I had a page and a half written up on what happened, what meds I took, what I had been doing, what Dr Sindorf had to say and so on.

Once he came in we chit chatted about the event.  He started to take out my sutures (every other one and then the rest) and said everything looked good and well on the way to healing.  My road rash looked great.  I probably could have taken the Tegaderm off but just left it on just in case.

He basically left it up to me.  He was not worried about the cut but did put Steri-Strips on it in case I did swim.  He did play to the "mental health"card saying I could race but would it be worth it.  Would I be happy with the result, especially since I had backup options.

Note: Parked

I left the office feeling good but cautious.  Next up was a swim to test it out.  I could have driven to my YMCA and did a test, but wanted to give the steri-strips a chance to adhere.  Plus I had lots to do still.  Haircut.  Grocery trip. I had about 2.5 hours to go before I was suppose to leave to pickup Tricia from work.  No signs of the wetsuit at this point.

Finally, about 1:30pm, the wetsuit arrived.  This really would have been perfect because that's when I needed to leave to get Tricia.... but the car was still empty.  Finally got everything loaded up and out the door about 2:30pm.

I was tired and sore, so Tricia drove a good portion of the way to Cedar Rapids, where we met up with Kevin and Ann.  Vicki was already in Madison, WI.  Kristen and John were going to stay in Kansas City and leave early on Friday.  Kristen, Vicki, and Kevin were also signed up for the race.

I say it that way because Kristen was dealing with a sudden new ailment, a self diagnosed pinched nerve.  Hard to swim, sight, and look up on the bike.  Not a good mix for a fun day of 140.6 miles.  She was getting some therapy on it Thursday evening.

Friday morning we took off for Madison around 7:30am.  We had an ETA of 11am at a YMCA near Madison.  Once there and I filled out a form that I hoped wasn't necessary since they have a national membership system now.  Whatever, I was just hoping my swim would take longer than filling out the form.

Made it to the locker room.  Changed into my jammers and went out to the 6 lane, 25 yard pool.  Two lanes used for aqua aerobics and the rest full of swimmers.  One wall of windows looking into the lobby where Kevin, Ann, and TKB were watching back.  Great, I have an audience for my self-destruction.

I got one swimmer's attention and he let me in his lane.  I slid into the deep end of the pool, still wrapped up in Tegaderm and 6 strands of black kinesiology tape.  After a few fake swim strokes to stretch, I started.  Slow.  Very slow but I was moving.  Had some soreness.  I did 25 yards, then 50 yards.  I then pushed to do a full 200 yards.  It took 4 minutes.  My normal "easy" 200 yard is around 3:20.  I stopped and chatted with the guy in my lane for a bit, then went to do another 100 yards and it was pretty painful and I had zero strength in my swim catch. Every time I tried to breathe, it felt like someone was punching me in the back right where my ribs were bothering me after the wreck.   I stopped at 50 yards and got out.  Walked over to the window where the trio were waiting and gave a reluctant look.

To be honest, I was hoping for a Forrest Gump moment. That moment when the bully kids start throwing rocks at little Forrest and Jenny yells, "Run, Forrest!  Run!".  He then takes off while the leg braces fall apart and he speeds away running super fast.  I really wanted my Kinesiology Tape to fly off my shoulder.  Maybe it would stick against the wall or the ceiling or along the windows.  But no...  nothing like that.

Walked to the locker room, changed, and sat on the bench.  A 4 minute 200 yard split?  A 2.4 mile swim is roughly 4,200 yards. So that would take 84 minutes to swim.  That didn't seem right.  It seemed like it should take much longer than that.  84 minutes is less than the 140 minute time limit of the swim portion.  Eventually I pulled myself off the bench and walked out.  Everyone was supportive.  Not pushing me one way or the other.  I decided I needed another swim to give myself a chance.

While the tape didn't fly off, allowing me to swim all the way out to the car as if asphalt was water, I still hoped that the 375 yards did workout some kinks.  Guess we'll see.

We drove straight to packet pickup.  Kevin and I went through the line.  Again, I just felt like I was going through the motion.  You wind your way around the Terrace to get all the parts of your packet.  It almost felt like a scavenger hunt.  Get your waiver and walk a flight of stairs to fill it out and sign it.  Walk over to some scales where a guy writes your weight on the waiver.  Seemed very old school, but OK.  Then walk out the door and down more stairs.  Get your actual packet where the woman showing you all the stickers also explains a bracelet you can wear during the race.  "Give it to a volunteer that helped you out to show appreciation", she said.  I should have just given it to her because I was thinking, "you're the last volunteer I will see this weekend".  I tried to push out the negative thoughts but the pain wouldn't let me.

Grabbed my free beef jerky, Red Bull, and backpack, and then we found TKB and Ann.  After going through the merch area (ignoring everything), we grabbed a bite to eat. It was now 2pm and time for the last participant meeting.  After that was over, Kristen and John had arrived.  When I saw Kristen, I gave her a hug knowing she just went through the same frustrating motions I did in the packet pickup gauntlet.  We both had hopes Sunday might happened.  It was reliant on that final swim.

John, Kristen, Tricia and I went to the hotel while Kevin went for his open water swim.  After getting settled, it was happy hour time.  Normally I would have just stuck with water, but I was not in the right mindset.  Margarita please.  Kristen's attempted a swim at the hotel pool and it didn't go well.  She wanted to wait for Saturday to try her bike before officially calling off the race.

I also had Tricia help me take off the Kinesiology tape. I had started to peel it back and it relieved pain.  It actually relieved quite a bit of shoulder aches.  So that's good.

Saturday started off with a text from Kristen that she tried her bike and it didn't go well either.  She was out.  If you can't look up to watch the road, you probably shouldn't race.  Coach Ken texted me and asked about doing a bike ride.  I told him I was still going through the motions.  Bike/Run brick and then the open water swim.  All in the plan.  I'm sure he was hoping to get me to do a long-ish bike ride considering I had already texted him the previous day about the failed pool swim.

Kevin, Ann, and I drove the bike course with a stop around mile 22 to ride one of the hills.  I would then follow that up with a 10 - 15 minute run.  We went backwards on the course down a medium descent.  It was a little bit windy and my front wheel was shaky.  I soon realized it wasn't just my wheel in the wind.  My shoulders were shaky.  This did not bring confidence.  I slowed down considerably.  Once we hit the bottom of the descent, I got a bit more comfortable on the bike.  Aero felt fine finally.  I just needed to work through it as the ride went along.

We hit a turn around and another guy joined us who was aparently the owner of BASE Performance.  Kevin chatted with him mostly and we went up one of the "big climbs".  Didn't really seem bad at all; however, we hadn't been racing or completed 22 miles after a 2.4 mile swim.  The 10 minute run went well.

Finally back at the hotel around 11am, we packed up all of our gear and went to check in our bikes at the race site and drop our gear bags.  Again, going through the motions.  Before I dropped things off, I had one thing to do.  Test out my new sleeveless wetsuit with an open water swim.  They had bleachers by the swim area, so Tricia sat and watched me struggle to get into the suit but I was able to get in without abnormal moans.  In addition, I was actually able to do a full arm swing.  Multiple times.  With good speed.  Hmmmmm.

I walked over to the swim entry. Floated in my new wetsuit.  Christened it (aka, peed).  Then started my swim.  Right, left, right left.  100 yards. Right, left, right, left. 200 yards.  300 yards.  I stopped a few times to adjust the suit.  It was pushing down right on a sore shoulder spot.  I presume a bone bruise.  Then a little further.  I felt good.  Maybe 85% strength on my swim catch.  Hold up.  "Hey Siri, Text Tricia 'This might actually happen'".  (yes, I had my Apple Watch on me.  No, Siri didn't listen to me so it didn't get sent).  The shoulder felt.... good enough.  I started swimming back.  Earlier in the day, Ann had joked about practicing the Side stroke.  So why not, side stroke was a success.  I then looked up and there was Ann and Kevin waiving at me.  Heh.  Coincidence.

I started swimming back.  I wanted to go the entire way without stopping (and not hit someone swimming out).  I started going and then things started to slow again.  I felt like my arm was moving "in squares".  I stopped.  Went a bit.  Still sore.  Stopped.  Went a bit.  Felt like someone was punching me in the back when I tried to breath.  Stopped.  Made the decision: I'm out.

I already had my pitty party. I had tried everything I could to race. I had backup options.  I had great family and friend support.  Unfortunately, I also had a friend to wallow together in misery.

I did some weird combination of side stroke, breast stroke, and water running before I finally felt ground.  TKB, Ann, and Kevin pretty knew the answer before I walked up because of all my wading on the way back.

Kevin had already checked everything in and I didn't need to anymore, so back to the hotel we went.  I showered and then met Kristen, John, and TKB in the lobby.  John had a six pack of the Spotted Cow ale and I had used my new Ironman Wisconsin Backpack to transport  "Ironman DNS Elixirs" (many mini liquor bottles and soda to mix.. DNS: Did Not Start).

I submitted my paperwork to get my Ironman fees reimbursed to the insurance company.

I texted Coach Ken my final result and we agreed to fill in part of Sunday with a long run.  My Fitness had dropped a good chunk during my recovery so it was time to start moving the needle back up.  I'm no longer in taper mode but full on training.  A 15 mile run and I already had a route planned out for me, the half marathon loop of the Ironman Wisconsin run course.  I might not have thousands of people cheering me on but I did have Ann to run with.

Sunday was race day and now I'm sherpa'ing more iron distance races than I've participated in.  I tried to stay positive.  We didn't get a chance to see Kevin/Vicki before the race but we did watch the first hour of the swim.  It was choppy.  Lots of people being pulled out of the water.  Seeing that, I knew I made the right decision.

The rest of the day was a blur.  Went for the run, which was beautiful.  It is a pretty run course.   Had lunch at Portillo's.  We chased around our triathletes on the run course.  I saw Vicki probably 4 or 5 times.  I saw the other two MTC Racing Team members out there (they likely had no clue who I was at the time, which was fun).  TKB was fighting off a cold, so she stayed in Vicki's hotel room for the evening, which was smart.  The weather went south.  Cold, windy, and rainy.  It was a super tough day with the conditions.  Kevin and Vicki persevered, just like they did in Chattanooga a few years back but that race had horrible heat.

Monday TKB was feeling better so we went out for a 3 mile run.  We finally hit the road about 10am, bringing home a few cases/6 packs of Spotted Cow ale for friends at home.

It looks like I still have 3-5 more weeks of training before calling it good and focusing on my half marathon in November but, ultimately, I'm glad I decided to bail on the race.  As I've said a few times already, this isn't the experience I wanted.  I didn't want to spend my last two weeks hoping I would be able to heal and fight until the last possible moment to determine my participation.  I remember in 2013 enjoying every last workout before the race.  I especially remember finishing my last swim in the lap pool, leaning up against the edge of the pool with Phillip Phillips "Home" playing on the lifeguards boombox and simply taking it all in.

I want that.  I want to enjoy the final week.  The drive to the race site.  The nervous anticipation of packet pickup.  The lack of care spending money at the merchandise tent. The alarm going off at the stupid hour in the morning and pulling myself out of bed, ready to race.

So there is still another verdict to be made.  Ironman Chattanooga or Ironman Louisville. Considering it's been 3 weeks and I'm still not able to swim, I want the race that gives me the best chance at recovering for the swim.  That would be Ironman Louisville.  It's also the first branded race I had signed up for but couldn't do because of injuries.  So it's like a second chance.  I haven't signed up, nor will I until I am good with the swim.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Ironman Wisconsin 2019 - Injury Update and "Fun" Klutz Facts

Things are progressing.  It's been extremely up and down.  Day to day but I would call it hour by hour.

Tuesday - Took a day off from work to pick up medicine and lick my wounds.

Wednesday - Worked from home so as to not scare the office floor.  Feeling better and positive.  I was able to get a full swing stroke but it was slow.  Hopped on my bike and rode the trainer for 30 minutes.  It was tough getting into aero but once there it was fine.  I tried shifting my chainring to the outer ring and it simply wouldn't.  Hopped off my bike and called Joe at Cycle City.  He didn't have availability until Tuesday but said he'd take a look.  If anything, that'd allow him to order any parts to be installed next week.

Called my general physician who was able to squeeze me in since it was an "ER follow-up".  Scheduled an appointment for the next Thursday to have stitches removed.  Called Chiro (Dr Robert Sindorf at Elite Chiro Care) and left a message.  I knew he was on vacation this week, so hoping for next week.

My attempt to keep the sutures dry and protected during a workout.

Thursday - In the office but was getting worn out by the end of the day.  That night my right shoulder was starting to get sore.  Really really really sore.  I had been working it throughout the day but this was bad.  I ended up going to bed early with a Tylenol PM.  Couldn't move it at all.  Set back?  Instead I think it was the tetanus booster.  I think I recall that happening last time I got a booster.

Called Cycle City and they had not started on the bike yet.  Eek.

Friday - Back in the office.  The shoulder was still sore in the morning but throughout the day it loosened up.  Texted my cousin Nurse Kari about it.  Figured out my backup plan.  With either Ironman Louisville or Ironman Chattanooga, I could get a free hotel stay.  For Louisville, I could fly in Tricia for free too.

I went for a 30 minute run at the YMCA indoor track and it went pretty well.  So check running off on the list for race day ready.  On the way to the gym I stopped at Cycle City.  Joe said he had all the parts and would be working on it next.  Whew.  Picked it up a few hours later!  Thanks Joe!!

My bike is back!  With new shifters.  Wanted to tell Joe to disconnect my brakes so this didn't happen again.

Some of road rash scabs started to flake off

Saturday - Bad day.  Very bad day.  I got up early-ish and got on my bike.  Started leaning into aero and expected a little pain like Wednesday.  This time the pain wouldn't allow me to even reach the handle bars.  Noooo.  I wanted to do two hours but after 30 minutes I had a TSS of 4 (if you don't know what it is, just know it's bad).  So stopped.  I went up to Tricia who was still in bed and said this wasn't happening.  Whatever happened Thursday put me back.  After 6 days I still was in no condition.  8 more days wasn't going to make a lick of difference.

Once I calmed down a bit, we decided to go get brunch and do a little shopping.  I sent out the text to Kevin, Vicki, and Kristen that things were looking grim.  Vicki and Kevin both pushed me to text Dr Sindorf to get his thoughts.  Wait, you both have his personal phone number?!  What kind of VIP plan are you on?  Well, I did.  He agreed to work me in and likely would be Tuesday evening.

Throughout the day the arm was feeling better.  I was again able to mimic a full swim stroke.  I then realized that things are just more tight and sore in the morning and I need to discount any pain in the morning.  The problem with that is the race will start around 7am.  Gotta warm up that arm!

Bloody Mary at the J Rieger Monogram Lounge with brunch.  Needed it after that morning.  Rehydrated after the lost tears sweat.

Sunday - Woke up feeling better.  Better range/mobility right off.  No workout for me.  Went up to Fairfax, MO for a family baby shower and dinner.  Nurse Practitioner Aunt Pam said my sutures/wound were looking good.

Monday - Woke up feeing better.  Probably the best yet.  Things are looking up.  Got in some retail therapy... even triathlon related.   I ordered a sleeveless wetsuit.  Hoping it will be in by Thursday or that they are willing to ship to our hotel.  Swimming with wetsuit sleeves are challenging enough.

I also went for a SEVEN MILE run that evening!

Road Rash under Tegaderm

Really starting to heal up

Tuesday - Finally got in with Dr Sindorf at Elite Chiro Care.  Spent about 30-45 minutes with him.  He did a quite a few range/mobility tests and determined (to his ability without any imaging) that I didn't tear anything.  Could there be? Yes but not likely.  I passed his tests and since I was getting better every day, it's not a labrum tear.  Gave me some homework to do for PT exercises.  He also did some "adjustments" on my shoulder and ribs that were cranky.  Put some KT tape on myself shoulder and on my way!

Ordered new glasses, which are slightly different than my normal style.  Looking forward to getting them and not destroying them.

Did my hour long trainer ride as prescribed in my training plan.  First one since my accident.  Felt great.

Wednesday - This thing might actually happen.  I got up at 4am simply to get my bike race ready and so
I did a 21 mile ride at the downtown airport plus a 3 mile brick ride.  Everything is cruising along.  A little nervous about the new shifters because muscle memory with them isn't there yet.

It really is quite a lattice work of Kinesiology Tape

So it's been over a week now. Nine days, in fact.  I'm icing my should and also applying some moist heat.  The heat seems to help quite a bit.  I'm sitting at about 50% right now on doing the race.  Lots of things to take into consideration.  Do I chance having the wound re-open during the swim.  Even if my shoulder handles the 2.4 mile swim, what about acting as a structural strut when in aero on the bike for 112 miles? :/.

Next test is talking to my general physician at 9:30am Thursday... and hopefully a test in the pool!!!  Departure for Madison, WI is Thursday afternoon (umm... .pending delivery of my wetsuit... eeeeeeek)

Other Interesting Tidbits - I'm a KLUTZ

So I started thinking about my luck with big things in my life and injuries.  It's not looking good for me.

  • 2019 - Bike wreck 13 days before Ironman Wisconsin
  • 2018 - Jacked up my pinky toe 3 weeks before Space Coast Marathon. Opened a door into it while stepping forward.  Nearly took those full 3 weeks to get better.
  • 2016 - Nasty nasty ankle sprain 1 week before a 100 mile Appalachian Mountain bike race, Blood Sweat and Gears.  Ended up backing down to the 50 mile.
  • 2015 - Leg stress fracture diagnosed 3 weeks before Boston Marathon. Cancelled run.
  • 2011 - Bike wreck and broke a rib 7 weeks before Beach2Battleship 70.3 triathlon (with a setback that put me in the ER a month before).  Side note: almost took a codeine pill instead of meloxicam the morning of the race.
  • 2010 - Got a cold the week before my first marathon.
  • 1996 - Dislocated my right pinky finger 3 days before leading a saxophone quartet in State competition.  
  • 1984 - Broke my left arm the weekend (or two) before starting first grade.
I should probably be locked up right before major events.