Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Call me a weenie if you must....

Best laid plans and all....

Woke up last Saturday morning at 4:00 am to rain.  Not drizzle.  Rain.  And thunder.

Nothing like a thunderstorm on race day.  The only thing better is a cold, windy rainstorm, which we had.  Trifecta!

The ever hopeful optimistic I am, I still packed up and headed out to Lake Rebecca.  Storm had to blow over sometime, right?

It did!

As I got to the venue, the rain stopped.  It was still cold and windy, but at least the rain had stopped.  But what a difference a couple weeks of rain makes.

My friend, Teresa, and I had done a preview ride on the course a couple weeks prior to race day.   The river that runs parallel of part of the bike course had been high, but not THIS high.  Two weeks prior, the transition area was grassy and dry.  Race day,  huge, two-inch deep water-filled puddles dotted the transition area.

Still, I got body marked, set up transition and went down to the lake for a look.  I bumped in t my friend, Shaun, who was also racing the Oly.   He came with me to inspect the lake..... Despite the lousy weather, the lake was calm and warm.  It's the small victories....

We wandered back to transition when BOOM.   Thunder.  FLASH.  Lightening.  Pitter, patter.  Rain.

I grabbed my wetsuit and went back towards the lake to wait out the rain in the bathroom (also has the private stall where I can get in to my wetsuit.  No one really needs to watch that.)

While I was suiting up, another woman came in to the bathroom.  She told me they had just announced a 30 minute rain delay.

"Perfect", I thought.

Once in the suit, I went back up to transition.  It was raining harder now.  I sat with other racers and volunteers under protection of the pavilion and just watched it rain.  And rain. And rain.

The more it rained, the less I wanted to do the race.  Wet roads are slippery roads.  The last thing I needed/wanted was to crash.  The wind and cold temps were not getting any better.  It was in the mid 50's.   I don't mind the rain if it is warm.  But I really hate being cold and wet.  I also have Raynaud's syndrome, which means if my hands get too cold, I lose circulation in some of my finger tips.  This typically is only a problem in the winter.  This kind of cold, wet weather would have been an issue last Saturday for sure.

Thirty minutes went by and no announcement to start the race.  Just more rain.

I pulled the plug at that point and turned in my chip.    I got my things out of transition and made the long, humiliating walk back to my car.  Walked by another friend, Julia, who was sitting in her car.  She rolled down her window and we chatted for a minute.  She wasn't sure what she was going to do.... said that radar was looking ugly.  (She decided to stick it out and raced.  Had a great day out on the course.  Go Julia!)

It wasn't a total loss, however.  I drove from the race venue to my health club and did an indoor version of the triathlon, swimming in the pool, riding a stationary bike and running the track.

No medal, but no road rash, no frozen hands, no season opener.  But, did the distance and stayed safe.

The race finally did happen.  Numbers were way down.  Lots of folks didn't show up;  about 70 of us pulled out once we were there....

Next up, the ITU Oly in Chicago.  Let's hope for better weather.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Here goes nuthin'

Every year, it's been the same.  Triathlon season comes and it goes by in the blink of an eye.  Every October, event registrations start opening up for the next year.   Who is first in line?  Me.  By the end of the year, I pretty much have my race schedule nailed down and paid for.   Then, the waiting begins until Triathlon season.

Last year was not different.  By December 31st, I had registered for most of what I plan to race in 2014.  Money was spent; dates and hotels were secured; all I had to do was wait patiently.

I just needed to keep my base up and get through the winter so I could race Tri U Mah, Fargo 1/2 Marathon, Liberty half, the ITU Oly, Timberman oly, Racine 70.3, Point to LaPoint swim and, the biggie, Ironman Wisconsin.  Then, fall fun, my husband and I signed to run the Twin Cities Marathon's TC Loony Challenge, which is doing the 5K and 10K on October 4th and then the TC 10 Miler on October 5th. 

Why would I think anything would break the pattern?

Enter:  Winterpalooza. 

It was the coldest winter in decades across the country.  Minneapolis had an unprecedented 60 days BELOW zero last winter.  Usually, we can brace ourselves for the normal week or two in January.  Last year, pretty much mid-December though February the mercury refused to go above zero degrees.  (We did have an odd warm day, but mostly, we were frozen solid.)

I started a new job last October and, as a new employee, was not able to take any vacation time for the first 90 days. This meant that my husband and I were stuck in Minneapolis for the winter with no relief.

What did I do?

Instead of making friends with the gym and the trainer, I reintroduced myself to the couch.  And snacks.  Lots and lots of snacks. 

It was also the winter that ended my long streak of being mostly injury free.  For all the years I've spent swimming, biking and running, I have managed to stay healthy.

I had the first hints of trouble training for and running New York Marathon last year.  My husband and I ran the race together.  He was feeling good and running strong.  I did okay up about mile 15   and then my right hip started to bug me.  Nothing terrible, just that nagging ickiness.  I ended up having to stretch it out more than once, which slowed us way down.

My husband (The Trooper), stayed with me the whole time, even though he could have had a much faster finish time. 

I think the nagging ickiness conspired with the couch and snacks so that by February, I had a lot of hip pain and a very, very limited range of motion when trying to lift my right leg.  Sometimes I had to think long and hard about whether or not I could lift it high enough to get up a stair

This was a big and unexpected surprise, which I tried to ignore for a long time.  ("It will go away... I just know it!").

My base training was very sparse.  (Did I tell you the couch called my name every night?  It wooed me.)  I kept "active", but mostly walking to and from the fridge.

It didn't help that my long-time coach had some life events of his own.  His medical student girlfriend got through her studies and was placed out of state for her residency.  He was busy concentrating on moving so I, and my love affair with the couch and snacks, were able to slip under the radar for a long time.

Finally, last February, I had to face the reality.  My hip was not getting better.  If I was going to do Ironman, training would start soon and there was not way I could fake it across the finish line. 

I finally made an appointment with Tria Orthopaedic Center.  They have a great reputation and work with a lot of athletes -- pro and amateur.   I met with a nice (young) lady doctor, who is also an endurance athlete.  I told her that I didn't care if they had to hold me together with duct tape, I just wanted to be able to finish Ironman   She promised me I could.   I love her.

X-rays indicated some hip arthritis (WHAT?).  Again, a huge surprise.  In my head, I am 35.  In my joints and muscles, I'm in my mid-50s.  Dagnabbit. 

The hip arthritis wasn't so bad as to stop me from being able to stay active, but it, along with the combo of snacks, winter, the couch and the cold, my glutes, groin, SI joint and all of the "stuff" in that area, just seized up and every thing failed.  At once.

So, I've been working on trying to get better with physical therapy, chiropractic work, stretching, ice, heat and compression.  The good news is that, after 3 months, I am much, much, MUCH better.  I don't think about climbing stairs any more.  I can actually swing my leg over the bike again (as opposed to lifting it, resting it on the stem and then hoisting it over to the other side, which is what I did for most of January and February).  I don't wake up in the middle of the night anymore in so much pain I can hardly stand it. 

The bad news is that, I'm still not at 100%.  I have a definite limp, which is much more noticeable when I'm tired.  I can swim just fine; I can bike just fine.  It is the running that is a problem.  My gait is very short and choppy.  My pace has sunk like a stone.  Some days I run fine with no after issues.  Other days, I run and the hip nags for a few hours after.

Ironman training happens over many, many weeks.  In theory, for a September race, people start training in earnest in February.  The fact that I'm trying to rehab while training for a 140.6 mile race maybe slowing down the recovery. 

But, will I stopNo.   Why?  Because I'm determined (translate to stubborn).  And, because I am cheap.  I have a lot of green skin in the game, having registered -- and paid for -- all those races last January.   Why leave money on the table?

What HAS happened has been:
  • A pullback from some of the races.   I wasn't ready for Fargo 1/2, so dropped that down to the 10K.  (Slowest 10K I've run in my entire life).  I am doing better and don't want to push it yet, so dropped from the half at Liberty to the Oly distance.  Lake Superior reported ice on the lake as late as last week.  I do not need to swim 2.4 miles in a slushy, so I've dropped Point to LaPoint this year.  (Also happens to be an Ironman Wisconsin camp that weekend that my training buddies are going to, so wanted to spend time there with them).
  • A new coach.  Sometimes you just gotta switch things up.  I moved on to a new coach and things have been going great.  She is on top of me if I start to slack.   This is what I need -- especially since the couch is always beckoning.
  • An agreement with myself.  Although I want to do well at each race, I am really looking at each one as a training day helping me prepare for Ironman.   My primary goal is to do everything in my power to get to September 7th as healthy and prepared as I can possibly be so I can cross that finish line before midnight.

Tomorrow is my first summer race -- Liberty Oly.   Wish me luck!

Here goes nuthin'.....