Something of a pattern has begun to emerge and I need to put an end to it immediately.
At Lake Mills I crashed and left with a few bruises, nothing serious.
At Elkhart Lake I crashed in a bit more of a spectacular fashion and left with scrapes, bruises, and strained ribs.
At Pleasant Prairie I hyperextended my knee during the swim start (It was a rather steep drop to the water, and I got a little push from behind at the start. My foot planted in the sand, knee hyperextended with most of my weight on it.) At this point I am really hoping it is just a strain and doesn't need surgery...however I doubt it. There is enough popping, cracking, crunching, and swelling to make me think there is cartilage damage at least. I had full reconstruction on this knee back in school from a football injury.
Fortunately I don't think there is any real ligament damage as the knee doesn't hurt enough. When I tore it in school the pain was off the charts and didn't get better for days. I'm able to walk (gingerly) without pain. I have an appointment later today, so we'll see what the ortho thinks. Either way I have no doubt an MRI is in my future.
Onto the race itself.
I wasn't really taking this race seriously and did not really rest for it. A couple days of easier workouts, but no days off.
My original plan was to come in and hammer the swim/bike and see what if I could hold on for the run. Both bike and run courses are flat, so it was a good opportunity to see what I could do.
At first it didn't look like the weather would cooperate, but everything ended up working out. It rained on some of the later waves, but I was in wave 2.
So, as you've read at the very beginning of the swim I hurt my knee. I'll start from there.
Right from the start of the swim I was a bit out of it. The obvious concern over the injury left me without focus. The knee was hurting and getting hot, so I was getting more and more worried. As a result I found myself off course quite a bit. I could see fine, but just wasn't focused on sighting enough. Plus being in such an early wave was on my own.
I think the bouys got pushed around a bit with the wind.
In any case my swim time (according to my Garmin) was a 21:40ish. PISS POOR. I wanted to break 19 minutes.
I have not seen any race results. According to my Garmin I swam one full mile. I don't think I went that far off course, so I suspect the swim may have been a touch long and then I added on with deviations. Once I where I stood with the results I'll know more.
I know one guy in my age group beat me. He took off pretty early and stayed in the lead. I wasn't focused enough to stay in his draft. That was a big mental mistake on my part. There wasn't anything I could do about my knee until getting on land. I should have stuck to him.
In the water I told myself that I'd DNF at the first sign of knee trouble. I don't normally entertain thoughts of quitting, but I have a history of pushing through pain too much and causing more harm than good.
Coming out of the water I was very tentative. I climbed up the beach and honeslty felt no pain at all. I was very surprised by that. I ran up to the bike and got out of the wetsuit. But I was afraid to stand on the bad leg and instead took some time getting out of the wetsuit.
During that process a guy came out of the water and was his zipper was stuck and he begged me for help.
I thought about being a dick and just taking my bike and bolting out of there, but I needed that time to situate myself. His zipper was stuck pretty bad and it took me a good 10-15s to get him out of that.
I felt better about myself...and honestly I wasn't sure I'd finish the race anyway.
Got on the bike...absolutely no flying mount with the knee. I made that decision in the water too. And started out. Right away I knew I was having a good ride. My power was above 300 and I was moving along real good. I had no trouble with the garmin either.
I kept looking for signs of trouble from the knee but it was fine. Perhaps I got lucky.
For the first 10-15 miles I held close to 300 watts for an average. So I do think my work in the aero tuck has helped me already. Over the course of the race my average dropped down to about 290. There are a couple reasons for this...
First, the course is fast. There were several sections of the ride where I was close to 30mph and just cruising. I find it tough to keep my power up when going that fast. I think it is a slight lack of focus coupled with the euphoria of going fast. Plus I had to weave in and out of some of the sprinters and got caught behind a few during some turns.
Second, my legs were getting tired.
My goal for the race was to hit the bike hard and see what I could do...and I think I did that pretty well.
I ended at about 290 watts. My speed was 23.3 mph according to the Garmin. And unlike other years, this course was a bit long, not short. My garmin measured it at a bit over 25 miles. 40k = 24.8 miles. So my time of 1:04 and change wasn't bad all things considered. In fact, that is quite good for me with or without a knee. But again, I have not seen any results to compare it to.
The one guy from my age group that beat me in the swim was not a great cyclist. I passed him fairly early and at a good clip. I did get passed by a few people on the bike, but mostly it was guys from wave 1 passing me back. I think one person from my age group passed me, but I couldn't clearly see the markings. I wasn't sure if anyone else from my group was ahead of me or not after the swim. Honestly I was more focused on my race at that point anyway. If I could hold 300 watts and they could pass me...so be it.
T2 was fine. No crazy dismounts. Even if I had tried I think the volunteer would have tackled me. She was nuts...she got right in front of me with her arms waving. I wonder if some of the elites in later waves took her out?
As I did during the swim, I told myself I'd evaluate the knee as I started the run. During the first mile I was concerned because there was a little tightness in my upper calf near the knee and my hamstring was a bit tight. But nothing specific to the knee. So I kept going.
I got to the first turn around and noticed I kept having lapses of slowness. I'd refocus and get moving again. And that was the way the race went for the most part. At times I'd find myself running 7:30's and then refocus and drop to 6:45's. I saw the Lanza's at the turnaround, they were a few minutes back...but had started 9 minutes behind me. ugh! I know they are faster, but to pull back 9 minutes!?!
Anyway, I got to the second portion of the course around the lake and was still moving fine. No knee or leg problems. I did get passed by a few runners. One guy had no body markings, so I don't know if he's in my group or not. Other than him, I didn't see anyone in my age group.
There is a little section of the course that only the OLY race does and it was a 2nd turnaround. I got there and started watching for anyone who might catch me in my age group. There wasn't anyone there. At that point I knew that my race would be fine from an age group perspective. Unless there were more swimmers that beat me, or someone got passed me while I was in T1, I was near 2nd or 3rd in the age group. Possibly 4th or so if someone got passed me that I missed.
I knew I wasn't catching anyone since the guys that passed me did so with gusto. And nobody was close enough to catch me.
I think it was at this point I remembered my strategy of hammering the bike hard and holding on for the run. It is funny how I forget things while racing. I was wondering why I couldn't hold 6:55's this whole way. At Elkhart I held 7:15's, surely I could go a lot faster on a flat course, right?
As I think about it in hindsight, 290 watts on the bike for an hour is about 92% of my FTP. And that's a solid pace for an OLY race with a 10K. Add to that the fact that I'm weaker in the aero position, and that 290 watts becomes a bigger effort. So towards the end of the run I started laughing at myself because I was upset, yet accomplished exactly what I had planned to do. I hit the bike hard enough to hurt my run a bit.
I will add that my knee could have been part of the problem. Despite not feeling any pain I could have been holding back a bit. I do not think this is the case.
As I was finishing I saw Matt on a picnic table. He encouraged me to kick it up a notch for the final stretch. I did to a point and got to 6:30's for my effort.
Unfortunately one of the Lanza's passed me right at the finish. I hate runners. At least it was a Gear Grinder. My final run time according to Garmin was 43:54. So my final time for the day was 2:13:40ish.
Last year that would have been crappy for the age group but top 30 overall. This year many of the big dogs in 30-34 were gone. Plus I am pretty sure they changed the bike course and it was a bit longer than last year. Of course the results aren't up yet. Ideally I'll be in the top 20 with 3rd in the age group. If not, I'm just not too concerned about it considering my knee.
Once I stopped I knew I needed to address my knee. I went to medical and they wrapped it with an ice bag. It was popping and cracking quite a bit but was not swollen. Yet.
After a few minutes the weather started getting nasty. There was some thunder and lightening and it started to rain. While I wanted to see the results I wasn't about to stand around on my leg. Aimee and I went to transition to get my stuff and leave. I was standing next to my bike packing when I straightened/locked my knee with some weight on it...and promptly collapsed. Even with the ice bag on it. That was not good and it took me a few minutes to get up.
Throughout the day the knee got progressively more stiff and swollen. Today it is much more swollen and stiff. But there is also less pain. I can walk and move around. I have a big brace with hinges on it. That helps prevent any weight bearing mistakes on my part. I am icing it pretty consistently. And I have an appointment a bit later today.
So that is three races, three seperate incidents, each one progressively worse.
At this point I am about 95% sure I'll withdraw from Racine 70.3. But I'll wait to see what the doctor says. Either way I doubt I'll be running in the next 2 weeks. So there isn't any point in doing that race.
If the knee is just sprained with no other damage, I don't think nationals will be an issue.
If the knee needs to be scoped, there will be a question of timing. They typically wait about 4 weeks before doing surgery to get the swelling down. After the surger there is probably 3 weeks of recovery. If that schedule starts today then I'm near the end of August before I am able to really train again. (I could probably swim and ride on the trainer through some of that). That would give me 3 weeks to train for nationals. I'm not sure I'll spend the money for that.
So my suspicion is that even a scoping will be a season ender for me. Obviously if I need knee reconstruction, again, I am done. Last time it took 6 weeks to get off the crutches. And even then I couldn't do much. We'll see.
Edit: race results.
As it turns out I was 20th overall. Not too bad. 4th in my age group.
My swim was 12th best. So I was a bit slow, but not that slow. Nobody broke 20 minutes. I probably could and should have been about a minute faster.
My T1 sucked. oh well.
My bike was 20th overall. It was not a short course as only 3 people broke an hour.
My time was 1:04:45. I'm happy with that.
My official run time was 43:54. Not bad.
The next guy in my group was over a minute ahead. Had I not hurt my knee I think I would have been faster in the swim and had a little more urgency everywhere else. I would have had a chance to catch him. Either way, no excuses. He beat me.
The 2nd place in my age group ran a 36. He's the guy that passed me on the run...no way was I catching him.
Just got back from the doctor. The tentative results are far better than I expected. Based on his examination and x-rays he does not think there is any knee instability or ligament damage. The graft from my original knee surgery appears fine.
There is the possibility of cartilage damage based upon the pain I felt after the race.
My limited range of motion is primarily caused by the inflammation, probably not a ligamint issue.
There is a ligamint on the side of the knee, I can't remember the name of it. It is often strained during a hyper extension. He thinks I more than likely strained/sprained that. Often times it presents similar to how I described my pain in the sense that it hurts like crazy right away and causes swelling. However the pain goes away pretty quick and the knee remains stable for the most part.
I will have an MRI in the next few days to confirm but he thought I could resume working out as my knee dictates. I suspect I'll take the week off of running. I'll try to add in some gentle biking on the trainer possibly tomorrow/wednesday. It will be very light stuff.
So my initial thoughts about the extent of the injury are pretty accurate...with the hope for good news and a better prognosis for training. Perhaps the season isn't over yet. I know my fingers will be crossed. If there is no cartilage damage there is no surgery. So that is certainly the best case.
I wonder if Gear Grinder offers a jackass award at the season ender. I think I deserve it.