Thursday, April 28, 2011

Catching Up From Salt Lake City

Once again I'm catching up after a bit of time away from the blog.  Way too much going on lately.  But hopefully that will soon be on a downward spiral towards normalcy.

So some rapid fire updates before I have to get on a plane again!

Injury Update!

So I've been spending huge amounts of time in doctors offices and physical therapy and elsewhere trying to get my right leg issues dealt with.  After a series of nerve tests and an MRI the official diagnosis is that I have a "stress reaction" in my right hip.  Which is somewhere between healthy and a stress fracture.  It means I've damaged the bone, but I haven't fractured it.  My ortho actually cleared me to carefully start running on it, however my PT suggested 4 more weeks off to really give it time to heal.  So thats been my current plan.  I haven't seen my PT since the MRI so we haven't had a chance to put my full recovery plan together except via email, but with any luck starting on tuesday when I see him again we will have an official plan to get me back and running again and ready to start tri training in earnest!  I'm still worried however that we don't know the whole picture yet, and my leg still doesn't feel great, but I'm optimistic we can get something going.

Training Updates:

Swim:  continues to improve, intervals are going better and better and I've managed to get through some 10x50 @ 1:00, and 10x100 @ 2:00 which is saying something for me.  I know thats not fast, but it is definitely leading to improvement.  Its amazing how much better a "feel" for the water you get when you are trying to do intervals and I'm starting to connect the dots and figure out how to tweak my stroke to get faster.  I'm also averaging about 27 strokes per length currently which isn't fabulous, but its a great number to know as I can tell when I'm tiring and my SPL goes up and my form is falling apart by counting strokes.  On the laps where it goes up and so does my time I know I'm not holding my form together properly.  So good things continue to happen in the water.

Bike:  No big gains here and nothing but sketchy training.  I really need to get cracking on regular interval and long ride sessions and more time in aero in my new position.  Its just been hard with all the travel and moving.  But no more excuses.  Starting tuesday of next week I have a big 2.5 week training block planned.  Hopefully good things happen!

Run:..   still awaiting clearance to run....

Travel:  I'm currently in Salt Lake City waiting to fly on to Florida from a very intense 7 day show.  The hours here were long and the work was very challenging.  I only made it to the gym once.  I was just too tired otherwise.  That combined with the spin bike in the gym being a piece of junk made it hard to feel like there was any benefit to getting on it.  So I took this as a "recovery week" to rest up and get ready to start training when I get back.  Not ideal...   but a reality of what I do sometimes.  Its hard to be on your feet all day long running around a huge venue and still have the energy to workout afterwards.  Working out before is just not an option when I'm already getting up at 5am just to stretch and then make it to work on time.  Add working out to that and I'm just not getting enough sleep to do my job properly.  So something had to give.  I'm not thrilled with that reality, but I can accept it.


So the hope right now is to aim for the Providence 70.3 as my first race of the season.  I've given up on the Patriot being a reality.  I could potentially rush to get up to that fitness level in time but I think thats a bad idea so the Providence half it is.

Worries...      I'm going to say it out loud.  I feel like my fitness level is not what it was last year, that my health is not as good, and that my legs are not as strong as last year.  I'm very worried that I won't be able to do the full iron this year and part of me thinks I should consider doing just the half.  But that will be a decision made much later this summer.  My plan is to aim for the full.  But I don't want to just complete it, I want to race it.  So we'll see how my legs feel as the training kicks up.  I just want to acknowledge that I really beat myself up this offseason, I failed to recover, I injured myself, and I may need to accept that I can't hit all my goals for 2011 this year at this rate.  So we'll see.  Time will tell.


So after a week here in Salt Lake City I'm not headed to meet the girl in Florida where we are headed to visit some friends, relax, enjoy the sun, and watch some friends compete in a local olympic triathlon down there.  Should be great fun!  I'm looking forward to a few days off after getting through the move and the brutal stretch of work to begin the year.  And then starting tuesday its time to get very very serious about my training and put in a huge 2.5 week block before I head off away again.  Here's hoping it goes well!

Here's the view from my hotel room window of Salt Lake City as I type this...

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Update From Within the Chaos!

Its currently pouring rain with loads of thunder and lightning at the moment and I'm waiting for the storm to pass so I can go to the Y and get my swim workout in.  I'm guessing with the lightining that they are like most pools and are closed until the storm passes.

So its been a while since I've updated as life has gotten rather fabulously chaotic!  Pretty much all in a good way though, or at least in a great direction if not great in the present moment.  Everything has been all mixed up in a jumble of life, work, and love.  But all good things!  So I'll break them down quickly into some headings.

The Move!:

The girl and I are moving in together!  Which is fabulous and amazing and I love her dearly and I'm really excited to move in with her.  However the process of achieving that has been a lot of work!  Between my work travel, work, , doctors, trying to see some friends, and get some sort of regular training going its been a challenge to find time to pack.  I also hired movers to do the grunt work, but I still have to move all the fragile stuff myself.  So I've already moved my office, and many other bits from one third floor location to another third floor location!  UGH!  I'm just psyched that moving day is almost finally here as I'm really excited to get this move done, get unpacked and start the next chapter of our lives together!


Fortunatley theres been a tiny two and a half week gap between jobs to get some quality time at home to pack and deal with the move and get some real training blocks in.  Looks like my travel schedule is about to lessen up a bit to its usual 7-12 days away a month which I am so ready for after a brutal stretch of only being home for something like 20 of the last 120+ days.


So I decided it was time to get serious and stop screwing around and really take charge of whats going on with my right leg.  So I found a new physical therapist who has a great reputation of rehabbing athletes and runners, and went back to my orthopedist and told him to start over.  I was not happy at all with my original physical therapist who I never felt really took an interest in me or my case and was just sort of "phoning it in" and not trying or caring enough.  Plus I hate feeling like I'm one of three patients she's working with at a time.  So...   some quick updates on that front.  My sports medicine doc and I decided to get aggresive at figuring out what the hec is going on...   we suspected sciatica or a nerve issue, or possible stress fracture, or who knows what.  So we started with an EMG which is a test of your nervous system in your leg where they cover you in electrodes and shock and poke you a lot (its not pleasant) and time your muscle responses.  That came back clear!  Hooray!  no nerve issues.  Thats great news as my Dad has that, and I was worried I would be fighting it for a very very long time.  Next up tomrrow is an MRI to rule out other issues.  So with our best theories put aside by the EMG (we suspected periformis issues were causing nerve issues) our new leading theory is quite simply that I just wrecked my legs with overtrainning.  An exhaustive analysis with my physical therpist revealed tight muscle issues not just in my right leg, but all over my left as well.  I have quite the reduced range of motion.  So its possible this is all it is.  But I and my doc want to rule out everything else first just to be safe.  So for now my PT has me on a stretching routine that takes me 30 minutes in the morning and 30 at night.  How did I fit this into my schedule?  I wake up that much earlier and go to bed that much later.  I will say that I'm optimistic its working well.  Its only been 5 days or so of this routine but it feels like its helping.  So who knows when I'll be able to run again...   perhaps in another 4 weeks?  we'll see.  But fortunately everyone says I can still swim and bike so thats great!


On the plus side being home and able to get some regular training in means I've been able to really get some work in on the bike and swim.  Which means in combination with keeping my diet in check that I've reduced my weight a little lately which is great.  I started the yeat at a high of 155lbs and I'm already down to 145lbs.  My goal is a race weight of 138 or thereabouts which is where I got to last year.  So with continued training I'm sure I'll get there.  And my body fat percentage is down to 9.2% which is getting close to the 8% range it was in last year.  Getting there!

Bike:  I'm still suffering from a lack of power on the bike most noticeable on hills, but I'm slowly building back up.  I just need to keep logging saddle time and keep working with my PT and it will all fall into place.  at least thats my hope.  For now I've been avoiding too many group rides as I'm getting dropped on the hills too easily and thats really frustrating for me as that was somewhat of a strength of mine and I also think I need to do more rides in small groups of two or alone for now until I feel strong again.  This is about me and the bike and my legs...   I need to keep the competitiveness inside me out of it.  Its not going to do me any good!  But I am hoping to start up the TTs again soon.  Hopefully next week.  In other news as well my new stem and new aerobar extensions have been fitted to the bike which is great.  So my new position is now offiicially dialed in, and now that the profile design T2 extensions are all gone I will no longer have any annoying elbow pad dropping issues that my other bars were plagued with.  So hooray for that!  The elbow pads dropping everytime I went over a bump was getting really really annoying!

Swim:  I am so so happy to report that theres been FANTASTIC progress in the pool!  My yardage last week was 10,800!!!  A new all time high for me by a ton!  I'm really excited but how comfortable I'm starting to feel in the pool that my workouts now have a purpose!  So far I'm sticking with this pattern for my weeks...   Tuesday -2500yds, Wednesday 2000-2500yds.  Friday 2500yds, Sunday 3200yds.  My loose plan is that midweek swims are full of intervals and are meant to leave me feeling spent when I get out of the pool, and sunday's swim is a long slow endurance swim.  I have typically been doing ladders on sundays to keep my brain occupied with only 10-15 seconds rest between each segment.  Last week I did 3200yds in 1:09 and that includes rest breaks.  So hooray for pool progress!

Run:  None...    currently on week 7 of no running.....

Races:  My PT is optimistic that I could still do the Patriot half as a training day...   but I haven't registered yet and I'm not going to focus on it as a goal.  For now my only goal is to continue to build my base and get 100% healthy.  I'll race when I'm ready and not before.

Ok...  time for me to go do some things here to get ready for the move...   and the chaos continues!

Heres a couple of quick pics of Cannon with the new bars on, and a pic of this handy dandy 4 bike rack I picked up to store mine and the girls bikes.  Works out great!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Catching Up From Dallas...

Time for a much needed catchup post....   things have been rather busy as usual...    mostly with work and trying to arrange the logistics of my upcoming move in with the girl.  In fact as an example of my life's wackiness...   I've only been home for 21 of the last 100 days.  So yeah...   its been hard to get stuff done!

So without further ado...   here's some highlights of whats been going on in the order of which such things happen in a traithlon....


Things in the pool are progressing fabulously!  I'm really quite pleased with whats been going on lately.  I've managed to get my workouts up to 2400 yards and my rest intervals way down from as much as a minute between sets or repeats to down to an entire workout with no more than 15 seconds rest between anything.  Which is great!  I have finally found a groove in the pool, my body position has improved greatly, I'm getting my kick under control, and most importantly I'm feeling confident without a wetsuit on.  I've also been doing great at swimming at least three times a week most weeks and the consistency in the pool has been great for me.  I'm still slow at an average of 2:00/100 but thats fine.  The important thing right now is endurance and comfort.  The speed can come later.  I feel very confident that I would be able to complete the Amica half Ironman without a wetsuit if needed and that feels great!  As a minor bummer I haven't been able to swim at all here in Dallas on this event but I hope to be able to do that tomorrow morning...   we'll see though.


Some good things have happened on the bike, and some not so great things.  I've slowly been working my distance and endurance back up to being able to knock out a 50-60 mile ride without much trouble which is great.  However my right leg has definitely been a limiter in my bike progress (more on that in a minute) and my power on the bike is in rough shape.  Specifically my climbing on the bike feels very weak right now, and I'm convinced thats entirely due to my right leg.  But first a few highlights of whats new on the bike....

The TT

I'm very excited to say that the Providence Bicycle Time Trials have started up again.  So far its only been "preview" rides of the course to get used to it again.  I've only been home on a tuesday for this once but I was very excited to get Cannon out on the course for the first time, but also to see many of my Tri New England friends I haven't seen in ages due to my travel schedule.  It was great to see everyone!  I did two laps of the course that day and both were at easy pace in a group ride situation.  I was having fun till we hit the two big hills of the course.  I watched my friends pull away and I fell off the back of the pack.  There were some riders I know I am stronger than or equal to who pulled away as well as it seemed like everyone else was taking it easy and I was struggling.  I just have no power in my right leg and it made the climbs very difficult for me.  Extremely frustrating!!!!

Bike Fit!

One of the best things I got done recently was going to see Todd Kenyon at TT Bike Fit in Warren, RI to get my fit on Cannon dialed in.  Now that was not only a great productive afternoon but a great day!  I'm very pleased with the results and I had a great time watching Todd work and listening to him explain what he was doing.  Todd used a computrainer setup combined with video analysis from all four sides to work on all details of your bike fit.  He has the ability to stop your pedal stroke video at just the right spot and use special tools to measure your leg angles and arm angles etc at different parts of your pedal stroke and then make changes to your fit and look at them again.  All of this is displayed on his laptop as well as a large plasma screen in front of you so you can see whats going on as well.  It was great to see my pedal stroke in slow motion and see where my feet and knees are doing different things.  An excellent and very informative afternoon.  But we also did some great things...   first up was that we replaced my Cobb saddle with an Adamo saddle which so far has been much more comfortable than the first two saddles I've tried on the bike.  Its early yet but I think its a winner.  The second thing we did was make my position MUCH more aero and more comfortable which is going to equate to "free speed" which is a great thing.  And the third thing we did was order new aerobars for my bike.  The profile design clip on bars that it came with drive me nuts.  The elbow pads slip constantly and rotate downwards all the time when I hit even a small bump and the carbon is wearing under them making the problem worse.  So I ordered up a set of Zipp clip on's that have the elbow pad locked into the extension so that this problem won't happen again.  Fortunately despite being Zipp's they weren't that expensive and its a much needed upgrade.  I had the same problem with my Profile Design clips used on my road bike so I wasn't surprised it started to happen on Cannon as well.  I'm brining my bike in next week to have these added and I'm excited for that problem to go away!  Especially as the elbow pads even both dropped on me on the trainer the other day!  Speaking of the trainer...   I managed a three hour trainer ride the other day.  Man that was dull!!!!

Here's a shot of the before and after of my bike fit:
You can clearly see how much lower and flatter my back is in the picture on the right.  Much better!


Ok so here's the depressing bit...    I took six weeks off of running after the marathon in Jacksonville.  I let my legs rest up, went to the ortho, went to phsyical therapy a few times and did lots and lots of stretches that the PT asked me to do.  Last wednesday I went for a massage.  After some advice from the girl I asked my massage therapist Nancy to try a psoas release technique on me.  Between that and the rest of the work she did on my legs I felt great afterwards.  So I started to think about running again.  So that Friday I woke up early, swam 2400 yards, then got on the trainer for three hours, and then while sitting on the trainer bored out of my mind I decided to try and run a little afterwards and see how it felt.  The PT had cleared me to run again so I figured lets see what happens.  In the end I ran just under five miles.  The first mile felt a little funky but I expected that.  The second and third didn't feel much better.  I had the discomfort in my glute area, my knee felt a little funky, my foot felt weird and my right leg still felt like a giant limiter.  My pace was slow.  I've taken time off before and my first run usually starts around 9s but by mile 3 I'm running sevens.  On this run I barely held onto 9s the entire time.  Not a good sign.  After the run I felt very sore in my right leg and the next day it didnt' feel good at all.  Since that day I've also tried a very short three mile treadmill run that also felt pretty awful.  I'm not encouraged, and in fact I'm very worried.  So onto....  another disicple of traithlon.


So when running my right leg feels awful and that the last six weeks off of running have done nothing to rehab it.  The problem still feels just as bad as it did almost two months ago.  It feels like its made no progress and that sucks.  So I'm getting more proactive about this...   I need this figured out and fixed ASAP.  So I'm going with a two pronged approach.  I'm going to see a new PT who is apparently excellent at diagnosing and rehabing runners with injuries.  I'm also going back to the ortho to ask him to look deeper into whats wrong.  His initial diagnosis of me just having tight muscles isn't the whole story.  True its part of it, but its not the root cause and thats was I so desperately need to figure out right now so I can address it and figure out whats next.  Right now I feel like my entire tri season is in jeapordy if I can't figure this out.  After all right now I feel like I can swim fine, bike OK but not great, and run terribly and at risk of further injury.  So yeah...  not exactly the approach to go for your first ironman with is it?  UGH!  This has been terribly depressing and hard to deal with.  I just hope whatever happens I'm allowed to keep swimming and biking.  Part of me suspect I may have to give up the bike as well for a bit.  We'll see.  As long as I can keep swimming though I'll be happy.  More on this next week after I see the docs on wednesday and thursday.


Ok so this has nothing to do with Triathlon but I went skiing with the girl and some friends last weekend in Vermont and had a great time.  We skied one day and then took the girl's girl for a hike in the woods in Vermont.  It was great to spend a weekend with the Girl.  Sadly though as soon as we got home I had to fly to Dallas where I am now the very next morning.  Here's a couple of pics of the skiing and hiking to close out this post.  Here's hoping I can get these injuries addressed asap and start moving forward with my 2011 season.  As of right now I think its doubtfull I'll be able to complete the Patriot.  I'll try and do an aquabike if I can, or maybe just the swim if I can find a relay team if thats possible.  Time and doctors visits will tell.....