Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Making Lemonade: Crosstraining and Working on my Bike Skills!

Loving the Bike:

My motto for this last week has been when life gives you lemons make lemonade! Although I can't run and I miss running, I am doing my best to move ahead towards my season goals. I had a fantastic week on the bike! We had excellent weather so I had to take advantage of it! Steve and I rode 130 miles: 24 Monday, quick 15 Wednesday, 20 on Friday, 50 on Saturday and 22 on Sunday. We did some of our usual routes and rode the soon-to-be new route for our new home in Concord. More hills over there for sure, which is good! I am getting much better at taking turns in the aerobars too. Also good! I LOVE my new Kestrel! It is such a smooth ride. Oh one more thing, Steve got me an aero drink setup too so that was nice to have in these higher temps.


I also did core Tuesday morning and the eliptical trainer on Sunday for an hour. Steve, being the wonderful husband that he is, knows how much I miss running so he bought us a new eliptical. It set us back about a grand but we both figured we will use it to crosstrain when hurt and also the kids can use it. I used it again this morning and it feels kindof similar to running if you don't use the arm bars. The only difference is the lack of picking your feet up and thus the impact. Either way, it feels so good to sweat and feel like I'm running in a way! I plan to use the eliptical 2-3 days a week to help maintain my running fitness. I hear from others that this makes a difference in getting back to the run more quickly. Hoping this is true for me.

Swimming Like a Fish:

Unfortunately CSU rec center had closed down the whole facility for a week to clean. Cleaning is good but not having a pool to swim in is not. I was able to get in one swim at Lifetime Fitness since I still have a flex membership there and I did 2000m last night at CSU since they're open again. I LOVE the CSU pool right now because it is setup for long course. 50m lanes so 1 lap = 100m. This makes it easier for me and Steve as we like the longer lanes. I felt strong last couple of swims. I may do my first open water swim this weekend at Headlands or Fairport. I hear the water in Lake Erie is around 55 degree. Brrrr! Glad I have a new Blueseventy full wetsuit to try out. May need to grab a neoprene cap and booties though.

Other Fun Updates:

My Team Rev3 racing kit and training kit arrived yesterday! They look so cool! A huge thanks to Rev3 and Pearl Izumi for this awesome looking/fitting gear! I am EVEN more excited to race now. Just need the foot to heal. It's getting there.

After talking with Steve we decided to switch the Twinsburg Duathlon to the relay option. Steve will be running (which is good since he's a little faster than me) and I'll be biking! Yay! I can't wait to race my new bike. She's been good to me so far and I am excited to see what I can do with the new bike and wheels! Twinsburg is a tough bike course albeit short so I am hoping I can finish in around 30 minutes. We will see. The next race planned is Geneva Tri the week after. I may not be running or in running race shape yet at that point. My plan is to see how it goes and if the run is not there I will just race the swim and bike. It will at least give me some good race practice!

As I mentioned earlier we're in the process of buying a new home. We found our dream house and now we just have to get through the next 3-4 weeks of closing/moving and manage to kick butt at training too and fit in a couple races and do fun stuff with the kids and work full-time. No big deal, right?! Okay so I will leave you with these words of wisdom this week! When all else fails stay calm and do a triathlon!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Stress Reaction and Roadmap to Recovery

The Test: Did Not Pass!

After a very painful test run last week following the ART therapy, I decided it was time to see my Ortho doctor at Cleveland Clinic. The run was just a 2.5 mile test run to see if I'd be able to compete in the Nordonia Duathlon last weekend. I knew after the test that running was not going to be in my best interest. Within the first few steps, I felt that all too familiar initial twinge of pain that said "this is not going to go well". I moved along anyways as I had to see what my body could handle. Around 1.5 miles my foot was really hurting so I stopped to strech it and started up again telling myself that it was just one more mile. By mile 2.5 my foot was throbbing and burning. When I stopped to walk it was clear something was really off. I immediately soaked the foot in a bucket of ice and took some ibuprofen. Not a fun experience. Was I ready to run in Saturday's race twice? Not so much.

The Ortho Visit and MRI:

I was able to get in Monday to see Dr. Jones and he was concerned that I could have a stress fracture as was I. He ordered an MRI. Wednesday I went in for the procedure. If you haven't had the joy of an MRI yet let me describe what it's like. I also found a picture as well. To have your foot examined in an MRI, you lie flat on your back with your affected foot inside of a sort-of cast like area. The MRI tech provides you with headphones in an effort to try to drown out some of the disruptive noises of the machine's imaging process. They take a number of pictures of the affected area via image scan. Each scan takes anywhere from 1-4 minutes and makes some sort of alarming sound. It's really quite shocking. Since this was my second MRI, I was not quite as shocked as I was the first time.

It took approximately 40 minutes for them to take about 10 pictures. I received a disk with the images of my left foot. They look like the image here.

The Results:

Being the inquisitive person that I am I opened all of the MRI images on the CD that CCF had given me. Then of course I googled images of various stress fractures trying to figure out what was going on with my foot. I was hoping to hear from Dr. Jones yesterday since the results were in but I was unable to reach him until this morning. The results show that I have "stress reaction" in my left heel. So not a stress fracture but on the cusp of being a stress fracture.

The Treatment (Roadmap to Recovery): 

Dr. Jones said I do not need to be in a boot or take any specific amount of time off as with a stress fracture. Although I am to avoid running for at least 2-4 weeks until my foot is pain-free. I am allowed to bike, swim, pool run and use the eliptical as long as these are done pain free.

I will be seeing a running specialist to assess my running gait, shoes, etc to figure out what's going on. With this being the second season of injuring this heel in the same foot there must be an issue with something. One thing I can say is that I went minimal with my shoes both seasons. Aside from that I am not sure what else could be a factor. I am looking forward to learning and correcting whatever issues I have and getting back to being a strong runner again. Because running is my favorite and best sport of the three (although the bike is nipping at its heels - no pun intended) I am anxious to get back to good. Like that old saying when life gives you lemons make lemonade. I intend to do that with this injury.

The Schedule:

Last week I sat out of Nordonia Duathlon, I will be sitting out of Cleveland Marathon this weekend (which saddens me greatly) but I will be cheering for my husband and countless friends running! The Twinsburg Duathlon will now be a relay for Steve and myself. He will run and I will bike. So I am excited about that in a few weeks. I also had signed up for the Geneva Tri a week after. Right now the plan is to participate in the swim and bike and abort the run. This will at least allow me to get some tri race experience in June. I will likely not be able to run the Mentor Flag Day race either, which is also a bummer. I am shooting to be back on track by Milton Man and hope to compete in either the sprint or oly there. I will also plan to do fairport. I think I will be on schedule for Rev3 Dells 70.3.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Ups, Downs, Injuries and Introspections

It's been a tumultuous season for me. I'm starting to think that spring is just a bad season for me. I tend to be injured every year around this time. Maybe that's my body's way of trying to say something like "woman you are getting old". Just kidding. I don't feel old. I feel good and just need to deal with these injuries as they arise, accept the downtime and stay positive.

Yesterday I went to Solon Wellness Center to see Dr. Keyes' associate as recommended by Coach Sean. Talk about pain! The doctor did some serious work on my left foot, which has been aggravated for almost three weeks now. Think foam roller x 10. Deeply pushing with fingers and thumbs along my foot tendons and ligaments and along the shin and calves. Ouch! There were quite a few people around so I didn't want to scream or cry but I was close a few times and settled for biting on my shirt. I guess this is called Active Release Therapy (ART) and the doctor says within 3-4 sessions I should be better.

What does this mean with all my races approaching - including tomorrow's duathlon? It means I will be testing the foot out this evening on a run. First attempted run in almost a week. Doc says to take some ibuprofen in advance. I plan to do this easily. No fast running to relieve this bottled up stress but slow and steady just to see if the foot will hold up tomorrow. The race is not too long. It's a 2.5 mile run, 10 mile bike and 2.5 mile run. I am most concerned about run #2. So I will decide this evening if I am participating in the race or spectating and cheering for my husband and friends that will be racing.

As for Cleveland, which was originally to be a full marathon and changed to the half marathon, I have to wait and see. I have a second Dr. appointment with ART scheduled for next Thursday with a test run that night or following day to see how the foot is coming along. Running 13 miles with an injury can be rough and just sounds like a sufferfest to me. I certainly don't feel ready to set a new PR to say the least. My husband is very supportive and says if I am able to run he will run it with me for fun as a training run. That actually sounds like it could be a fun little adventure if my foot behaves. Otherwise I have some options: 1) switch to 10K, which would be easier on the foot 2) run some and or walk the half and 3) spectate AGAIN this year as I did last year with the fracture.

I have done a lot of thinking this season about who I am as an athlete, what I want, where I am right now and where I want to be in the years to come. So maybe this setback was needed for me to dig deeply into myself and consider these things. Being type A, I have this natural tendency to be competitive with myself as well as others. Many athletes have this attribute. In some ways it is good because it is a driver for continuous improvement and accomplishment. In other ways it is destructive because we hold ourselves to such high standards, sometimes lose the joy of the sport or push ourselves too hard. And let's face it, there is almost always someone that is faster than we are or else better suited to some particular race.

Let me get to the point here. I am at my best when I am sprinting. Some people hate 5Ks. I love them. I also love distance but I am not as fast at long races and my body tends to decline after a certain point - generally anything over the half distance. So I am considering all of this for next season already. I set a goal this year to complete my first full ironman distance race. And I am not backing out of that goal. It may be difficult, painful and a pain in the ass to meet that goal but I will do it. And I will enjoy doing a couple of 70.3 races, olympic and sprint triathlons and other races too. Even if I am not as fast at the long course triathlons I will enjoy the experiences and it will make me tougher mentally and physically. The picture I shared here is an Asian symbol for strength and I absolutely love the quote. It very much describes the mindset that an endurance athlete or aspiring endurance athlete must have to be successful.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Not a Very Good Training Week

This week is not turning out to be one of my better training weeks. I am having some issues with my left outside ankle (seems like a mild to moderate case of tendonitis). So I am resting it. With races the next two weekends back to back that is not good. Hoping to attempt a test run Saturday or Sunday. If that does not go well I will shut it down until the race May 12 and again maybe until May 20. Hopefully I just get back to it quickly.

In addition, I just feel bloated and crappy this week in general (tired, achy and have headaches). I've been battling this all season so far. It's weird. I felt terrific before my wedding while on the paleo diet but I cannot be on a paleo diet during Ironman training. I need energy to fuel those workouts. Cardio without carbs is like powering a car without gas. It just doesn't happen. After a little research this week my husband and I think I could have a gluten allergy. We are going to experiment with a gluten-free diet for the next 2-4 weeks and see how we feel. I am hoping this does the trick for me. Stay tuned in future weeks for an update on the gluten-free experiment.