Saturday, October 8, 2011

The tales of my demise have been greatly exaggerated.

Well once again I haven't written much.  Once again I have many excuses, but the primary one is that I don't have access at work and am just not on the computer much when I get home.

In any case, there is much to update people on.

First and foremost, as I sit here watching the coverage of the Ironman World Championships in Kona I realize I haven't updated folks on my injury.

Last I posted I was told I had a bulging disc in my back.  An injury sure to cause me lifelong problems.  Well that wasn't quite accurate. 

Long story short I never really believed that diagnosis.  The pain I felt was always in my butt.  So I went to the spine center to get everything confirmed from a diagnosis standpoint.  I told them my story and how I thought the diagnosis was crap.  They listened and had me do a few PT workouts for a couple weeks.  When I came back and told them there was no impact and that the cortisone has no impact they started to believe me.  They ordered an MRI of my hip and found a grade 2 hamstring tear where it connects to the bone in my hip, and a grade 2 tear of my gluteus medius.

How does that feel you may ask...

So, the question quickly became, where do I go from there.  I went to the Froedert Sports Medicine Center to see a PT, Mark Lydecker.  He felt I'd be able to run again after 3 weeks, and he was correct to the day.  Having said that, I was running 5 minutes on, 2 minutes on, 5 minutes on and then calling it a day.  I was given TONS of exercises to do every other day.  That was about 6-8 weeks ago.

These days I am able to run 30 mintues or so.  I do get sore afterward, but its not so bad.  I am able to ride, not at full power, but I can do it without much pain at all.  I am hoping I'll start to approach full strength in 4 weeks or so.

With that, I hope to be in fantastic shape for next season and may travel for an early season half IM. 

Time will tell.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Time to think

So I have had a lot of time these days.
I have can't do anything as even walking aggrivates my hip/back.
I have been spending a lot of time on the elipticals...the most boring thing in the world.  But it has given me a lot of time to think about movies....

Below are some of my favorite scenes from movies....

Everything about the scene is fantastic.  Booger chucking his smoke in Ogres trophy, his facial expressions and smile at the end...pure comedy gold. 

Another great scene...

Bill Murray at his best.

Another great one...

Please feel free to forward me some of your favorites, I may even post them on my blog!!!  It will give me something to do besides eating.

I'm not sure anyone can beat the booger scene.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Season Over

It is with great sadness that I officially declare the 2011 triathlon season over…at least for me.

As you all can tell, I haven’t been posting much. There are several reasons for my lack of postings. No access at work and general laziness are certainly two of the reasons. But one of the primary reasons is frustration. Last season by all accounts was very good. I showed great improvements. I went into the off season on a fairly high note despite the cancelled swim at Halfmax.

The off season was a mixture of emotions for me. I made some good progress and made some mistakes. Overall it was mentally draining. But despite the mistakes, I was coming into this season in better shape than I had ever been in. But as many of you read even last year, I was slowly having trouble with my back/hip/SI joint.

Here is what I believe occurred that has led me to this point. For me, things are seldom simple. I don’t just fall and break a bone. I make a change that creates some kind of muscle imbalance that creates an injury in an odd body part and the diagnosis takes months while I suffer through my workouts. That appears to be the case here.

So last season I went on got my bike fit completely changed. That is when my back troubles really began. Early on I was told to suck it up, muscles are working different. Perhaps that advice was correct, or perhaps my seat was too high. The pain was very mild and never impacted my running. As I got into the off season and did short but extremely intense workouts, I didn’t have any trouble. But later in the off season I made some fairly large bike fit changes myself. All in an effort to get more aerodynamic. Well if my bike seat wasn’t too high before then, it was after I changed things.

As time went on after those changes I started having more pain. My personal belief is that it was all muscle pain at that time due to my poor bike fitting skills. Essentially I ignored that pain. I believe that created a muscle imbalance on my left side. My glute, piriformis, and hip flexor were all having trouble…and I pushed forward despite the pain. This brings me to about March. The pain would come and go to a certain degree. Stretching and other things would help to a point.

At some point in April/May two things occurred that I believe pushed my small problem into a full blown problem. Both were typical me. First, I was at the Y after a swim with the group and I fell right onto my left side. It was pretty much straight down onto my left butt cheek. I landed hard on the bone…hard enough to essentially knock the breath out of me. I had to sit there for several minutes before I could really move again. As my hip/glute was hurting prior to that fall, I couldn’t tell if there was a problem or not.

Prior to that fall the pain would come and go with my riding. After low mile days/weeks my back was much better. After high mileage, it was sore. To me, that indicates a muscular issue. Several days after the fall, perhaps a week I went for my long run and decided to push through the pain instead of stopping early. The next day I couldn’t walk without a pronounced limp. I have never recovered from that day. Both biking and running have suffered dramatically to the point of seeing both a chiropractor and orthopedic surgeon and having an MRI taken. I suspect the muscle imbalance and then the fall made me more susceptible to this type of back issue and the running just hammered it home. So what could have been a minor thing had I fixed my bike fit became a bigger deal.

The results of the MRI show a bulging disk in my back between L4 and L5. The bulge is minor but is apparently allowing the joint to aggravate the nerve. The disk is not herniated or hitting the nerve, so that is VERY good. But the problem is bad enough to require cortisone injections into my back to bring down the swelling. I had my first one on Thursday. The doctor has asked that I not run for about 3 months.

At the moment the diagnosis is somewhat ambiguous. If this first shot eliminates all my pain then the Dx is pretty clear. If, however, I am still in pain, it is possible that the Dx is incorrect and that the cause of my problem is something entirely different…or, I just need a second shot. So while the doctors are fairly confident, there is room for error.

What does all this mean? Assuming the diagnosis is correct; it means my triathlon season is over for the summer. The prognosis for a full recovery is very good so long as I let things heal, and I know for a fact I don’t want to be dealing with back trouble the rest of my life. So I will let this heal up. In the best case scenario that I am aware of at the moment I might be able to start running in very late August.

If the diagnosis is incorrect, I don’t have a clue. I will still probably lose the season as I am still unable to run or bike with any frequency.

It is my hope that if nothing else, I’ll be able to ride and swim this summer. I’d like to be outside working out. Otherwise I’ll be stuck on the elliptical all summer and at the gym. I just don’t think I can handle that. Granted I’ll be doing a lot of rehab work to make sure the core muscles are very strong to prevent this in the future. But I’d much rather be outside once we get some summer weather. Hard to believe its almost July and we’ve had maybe a handful of days above 80 degrees and everything else has been 50’s-60’s.  Plus I can work to build a really strong swim/bike combination.

It’s a shame really, I was in fantastic shape. Prior to the injury I was weighing 196 and the weight just seemed to be falling off me. But I might be able to get in some winter racing if I am willing to travel. 

The obvious question is what to do after learning such news.  I don't know about the rest of you, but I went out on Friday night and got drunk.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

And the season kicks off with a ... dnf

So I figured I'd have to write something sometime.  Since most people I know are racing Elkhart Lake, I figured now would be a good time to write.
But wait you may say...aren't you supposed to be at Elkhart Lake Eric?  That's a great question.

The short answer to that is yes I was...but no I am not.

So lets get into it.

Race report for Triple T.  DNF.
Prior to heading down my SI joing and hip had become a real problem.  the pain was very sharp and it wouldn't go away.  I had taken some rest and was hopeful driving down.

Friday was the super sprint.  Everything went well but when I did the 1 mile run my hip was a bit sore.
Saturday I got up, did the swim and bike...but during the bike my hip got very sore.  first step into T2 and my leg couldn't take a lot of weight.  stopped right there. 

On the bright side, my swim has really gotten good.  I suspect TTT was a touch short, but I still got out of the water in 17min and hit T1 at 17:45.  There was a long run into T1.

Since then I tried to work through it.  Fail.

Since last week I've been on absolute rest other than swimming.  I was all set to go and race at Elkhart knowing I'd bust loose on the swim and hopefully win the $100 swim prime.  Then I'd just noodle the bike and probably walk the run to come in DFL. 
Unfortunately we recieved word late last night that Aimee's uncle passed away suddendly from a heart attack.  While racing is something of a priority in my life, its not that much of a priority.  So I came home to be with Aimee.

I was supposed to race high cliff next weekend.  DNS.  My hip has not improved to the point where I can bike or run yet.  I suspect I'll be taking this coming week off as well.

My thoughts are turning to end of season races now.  Its frustrating, but I did it to myself by messing with my bike fit.  Now I get to deal with "LoEID"  Lack of Exercise Induced Depression.

Until next time.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Off-Road Adventures.

As many of you may recall, last season was marked by several “adventures” during races.

First was Lake Mills where I fell on my ass trying to get on my bike.
Then was Elkhart Lake where I fell on my face trying to get off my bike.
Then was Pleasant Prairie where I strained my knee on a steep entrance to the water.
Why should this year be any different…well it shouldn’t.

And with that, I give you the Jhawk Early Bird Sprint Triathlon.

Originally I was not going to do this race. I never have in the past and typically like to ride more outside before racing. The main reason is that I am not a real strong bike handler normally…early in the year it is worse.  Scott managed to talk me into it.

The Jhawk is a very laid back and relaxed race in general. It is a 500yd pool swim followed by a 13+ mile bike ride and a 5k cross country run.

The race director started all the faster swimmers at around 11am. As it turns out I was in the same lane as Scott Bowe and Robbie Greco. We all knew we’d be swimming pretty close to one another. Scott started out first, I was second, Robbie was 3rd, and there was a 4th guy in our lane.

The swim started about right and we were holding a good pace. We started 5s apart and I got right on Scotts feet and drafted. At about the 200yd mark I was about ready to pass Scott when my foot was touched. My first reaction was WTF? I didn’t know Greco had gotten fast enough to pass at this pace…and wasn’t sure why he’d want to leave my draft. I quickly realized it wasn’t Robbie, it was the guy who started in the 4th position and he was motoring right along. He passed me with gusto and then proceeded to pass Scott as well. At that point I didn’t bother making the pass. Looking back I should have. I came out of the water and wasn’t even breathing hard, I could have probably gone a solid 20s faster. Granted I would have dragged Scott and Robbie with me…but 20s is 20s.

T1 was uneventful. Got on the bike and started riding. The day was VERY windy and a little chilly. Pretty close to 50 degrees.

The ride was going well and Robbie, Scott, and I were all 1-2-3 for a little while.  At some point in the ride we were making a right hand turn. I had recently passed Robbie who got out of T1 a little ahead of me. As I made my turn I thought I had pulled straight and took a quick look back over my shoulder to see where Robbie was…I looked back forward and gave a little yelp as I was heading towards the edge of the road and into the ditch. NOT GOOD. By the point my brain engaged, it was too late. I was in the gravel, then riding down into the ditch. I was very fortunate that the ditch was dry and solid…and not loaded with bigger rocks. In any case, I was up on the pedals and managed to bring my bike back to the left and up onto the road. At that point Robbie passed me. At least I wouldn’t have to look over my shoulder to see where he was.  I was still 1-2-3 with Scott and Robbie...but Scott was a much further ahead #1.

The rest of the ride was uneventful. I passed Robbie back and took a couple minutes out of him. But it was really windy and rarely seemed to be a head or tail wind, rather a cross wind that was gusty. I never really got comfortable, especially after going into the ditch once. Most of the turns were taken very slowly. Scott finished about 3 min in front of me, which is actually pretty realistic compared to our other rides. So he must have taken the turns fairly slow as well.

T2 was uneventful.

The run was interesting. I’ve been dealing with a hip problem for the last month or so and it has really hampered my ability to run fast. I’ve been running, just not comfortably. Due to that, I really wasn’t sure what to expect on this run. To top it off, I had never done this course and had no idea what to expect. Plus the course was cross country on very uneven terrain. Something I had never really done before.

Overall the run was fun. We were in and out of the woods, up and down hills, going through some mud, through people’s back yards, and all over the place. As I was running I was a little disappointed to see my splits being so slow, but as I thought about it, the course was rather hilly and certainly challenging. The wind made it interesting as well. At one point I was running up a hill and the wind hit me straight in the face, it felt like I went from running to a complete standstill. I wouldn’t have been surprised if I slowed to a 12min pace up that hill it got so brutal.

Anyway, I finished pretty strong. Robbie managed to pass me back on the run. I hate runners. As it turns out I finished 10th overall and won my age-group. Not a bad showing overall.

My swim time was a 5:51. Solid overall, could/should have been better.
The bike was 38:20 or so. Considering the wind, not bad.
My run was a 22:30. Considering the course, not bad.

All in all a good race…and hopefully I can ride outside a bit more in the coming days.

Lessons to remember:
Pay attention to where you are riding. Don’t worry about those behind you.
Don’t be content to draft in the swim.
Bring water in my T1 bag. I was a bit parched prior to the race start.
Use sunscreen, even for a race that only lasts an hour.

Friday, April 29, 2011

2012 Season

So once again it has been a long time since I’ve written. As the season gets closer, I am sure I will write more.

For the most part, things have been going really well. I started swimming in January but then got sick and had a very sick pet. As a result I had to take several weeks off of swimming and then started back up in mid/late February. Since then I’ve been swimming a lot more than normal. Typically I swim a minimum of 4 days per week and get in about 3k yards. Sometimes I add a 5 day of swimming to swim with the group at the WAC. Right now I am already faster than I was at my fastest last year.

I swam a 5:45 500scy at the WAC the other day…I was swimming alone with no motivation, so that was a pretty good time in a very slow pool. With jhawk coming this weekend, I will have a good opportunity to swim a good 500 with come faster guys. We’ll see what happens.

Biking has been going very well recently. A few weeks back I purchased a new stem and dropped my front end down quite a bit. Unfortunately I do what I always do and got carried away…rode really hard and wasn’t ready for the new position. That really screwed up my back and hip for a while. My running took the brunt of that mistake. I then followed it up with a fit that had the seat too high. As a result my hip and back stayed sore for quite some time. In fact it is still sore as I only corrected my fit a couple days ago. I noticed a dramatic increase in comfort right away. I am hoping that this will simply fix the problem. I have recordings of my fit I need to review. I tend to sit closer to my right leg, which gives it just a little extra reach in the pedal stroke. With a higher seat I suspect my left leg was having to reach farther than it wants to. As a result my entire left leg was a bit tight causing this issue.

My running, well I don’t really know. All off season it was going really well. I was on the edge of breaking a 20min 5k. And then I got sick, and my pet got sick, and I hurt my hip on the bike…and before I realized it I’d lost quite a bit of training time. I never took an extended time off of training, only a couple small spurts of 4-5 days off. But until this past weekend I really felt like I lost a lot of fitness. Until Sunday every run felt poor. That seems to be going away now as Sunday was a fantastic run for me.

Despite that, I have been training way more than in previous years. Scott Bowe is assisting in my coaching and he’s attempting to teach me discipline and how to control my efforts. Every workout isn’t a crushing workout requiring recovery time; I now have easy workouts too. I’ve found that I am able to spend much more time working out doing this. I’ve taken a look back at some workouts last season, in particular 3hr efforts on the bike. Last season I’d typically do 3hr rides at an average of 360 watts and then go do an hour run faster than I should. As a result I’d get home and collapse…requiring a couple days off. This season has been quite a bit different. My longer rides have been at lower wattages allowing me to work out more often. It has been a welcome change as I am not a complete disaster after my longer rides.

Overall I suspect I am quite a bit faster than I was last season. But we won’t know until this weekend. I am confident in my swimming and biking, I am just not sure where my run will be.

I have a pretty fun race schedule for the year.

Here is what I am doing this year…

May 1 – Jhawk
May 20-22 – Triple T
June 11 – Elkhart Lake
June 18 – High Cliff
July 24th – Tri-ing for Children
August 20 – Pigman
September – N/A
October – N/A
November – Worlds in Vegas?

I was originally planning to do the Racine 70.3. But with Pigman being my A race for the season, it makes more sense to skip it this year and train through.

Jhawk is a little sprint race.
Triple T is a 3-day 4-race weekend of hell.
Friday night is a super sprint race. Saturday morning is an Olympic distance race. Saturday afternoon is an Olympic distance race that goes bike, swim, run. Sunday morning is a half ironman. I don’t really know how I let myself get talked into that insanity.

Elkhart Lake is an Oly race I’ve done every year. The change this year is that I signed up in the Elite wave. I won my age group last year, plus I want a shot to win the swim overall and take home some money.

High Cliff is a half Iron race. I thought it would be a good idea to get in a stand-alone half iron distance race as practice for Pigman.

Tri-ing for children is a fun Olympic pretty close to home.

Pigman is in Iowa. It is my only chance to qualify for the ITU World Championships. I need to score a top 5 in my age group 35-39. If my run starts coming around quickly, like I really think it will…I am pretty sure I can do this. Last year at Halfmax I ran a 1:46. But realistically I completely cooked myself on that bike by pushing way too hard early in that ride.

By the time Pigman gets here, I am hoping I can run a stand-alone half marathon pretty close to 1:30. If that’s the case, I should be able to run a half Iron around 1:35…assuming I pace things properly. That should be pretty realistic especially if I drop the weight I need to. My weight is currently sitting right where it was at the end of last season, pretty close to 200-202. With all the training I am doing, I only need to watch what I eat for a few weeks to drop some weight. I just need to put together a plan to do that.

Anyway, that is it for now.