August 31, 2008

Wisconsin Fun

I got up early today to enjoy the empty Madison streets before the tourists flooded in. I was at Lake Monona by 7:30am, but there were no swimmers. I thought I was either too early or too late, but after a few minutes I spotted one in the lake and a few others arrived and started getting into their wetsuits. We chatted a bit and talked about the Ironman. Watching them swim made me a little sad I didn't have my wetsuit and another good arm!

I hit the elliptical and then another long day at the Taste of Madison. It was hotter today so we found a nice spot in the shade. We needed to keep my little nephew cool. It's been so much fun spending time with him. I just wish it were easier for me to pick him up. He weighs 16 pounds now so he either needs to be handed to me or I need to be sitting.


I checked out a local bike shop to do some more dreaming. There was a sales guy that just loved to talk gear so I got all the finer points of differentiation between the Zipp 404s that I really want, and the Flashpoint 60s that I really should get instead due to the massive price difference. He also talked about the proven increases in speed and efficiency gained by wearing the Giro Advantage aero helmet. Who knows if it's true, but it sure makes you look faster. I ended up sticking with cheap items instead and got an assortment of new gels, bars and recovery mixes that I haven't seen at my local shops.

The weather is supposed to be great for race weekend. It will also be cooling off just in time for me to get back into running. I am aiming for a Thursday or Friday run depending on how I feel. My shoulder has improved over the past few days, but I still have a lot of pain in my ribs. I'm just taking it one day at a time.

Elliptical
Distance - 4.5 miles
Time - 45:00

Taste of Madison
1 order fried cheese curds with paprika dipping sauce
1 bratwurst (allegedly the best in the world)
1 22-ounce beer (a local amber)
Unknown amounts of kettle corn
1 small gelato
More beer...

August 30, 2008

Taste of Madison

My Ironman journey officially began at 6:00 this morning when I left New York for Madison, Wisconsin. I'll spend the next 9 days here visiting family before volunteering at this year's race next Sunday. My two shifts - assisting in the female bike-to-run changing tent and run course marshall - span 12 hours from noon to midnight, yet I won't be out there as long as some of the athletes. I am volunteering so I can get an up close and personal look at the Ironman experience before jumping in head first. It also feels really good to support the incredible people taking on this incredible challenge. I want to be part of the race rather than watching from the sidelines. Since I couldn't get a morning shift, I will go to Lake Monona bright and early to watch the race start on Sunday.

Even as I sit here on the plane, already on my way, I can't help but have some lingering doubts deep within my mind. Can I really do this? Am I a poor cyclist and likely to crash again during the many miles I'll ride in training? Will I burn out from the high volume of training and lose interest in the sport? If you know me or have read my profile, you know I've struggled with consistency and motivation throughout my athletic attempts. I've always managed to get through my marathons, with stress fractures, ilio tibial band syndrome and other ailments, but I always could have done better. Why do you think I call myself The Lazy Marathoner? That is why triathlon has been so good for me. It's the first thing I've taken seriously enough to follow through and not cut corners.

I arrived in Madison at 1:45pm and was at the Taste of Madison by 3:30. This is my annual gluttony fest where I eat things like fried cheese curds and brats and it's always worth it. This is my third year at the Taste, but my first here with a purpose. When I landed in Madison, there were international triathletes arriving for their IMWI experience. My family said the lake was full of swimmers this morning. So while still subtle, Ironman is in the air if you take the time to notice. I'm getting up early tomorrow to walk to Lake Monona to see who is out there swimming the course. If I can't join them, I might as well watch them. That's why I'm here after all, to have a full Ironman experience before I begin my own personal journey. And the time is now.

Taste of Madison
1 order fried cheese curds
1 pulled pork sandwich
2 crab rangoons (fried, of course)
1 slice key lime pie
2 small chardonnays

August 29, 2008

Doctor's Orders

I had my follow up with the orthopedist today, just a little over 2.5 weeks from my crash. I had an X-ray that showed the fracture still there, but with signs of healing and it is still non-displaced. My range of motion isn't too bad considering the fracture and the lack of movement I've had over the past couple weeks. I was given the go-ahead to ditch the sling while at home, but I'll need to wear it outside for the next week or so. I was given some basic exercises I can do at home and was prescribed physical therapy in two weeks.

But the most exciting news of all is that I've been cleared to run in one week. I am looking forward to it so much that I can hardly wait. I'll need to spend some more hours on the elliptical in the meantime, but at least now, there is a final end in sight. I won't need to wear the sling, which will make it even better. I wonder how my legs will feel after 4 weeks of just cross training. I hope the transition is fast. I asked my doctor if I could go right back to full volume and he just laughed. He said everything I'd been able to do so far had surprised him, so why not? Of course I'm not looking to trash my legs so I think I'll make it a gradual transition.

My doctor laughed because of my morning workout. I went to the pool and swam a mile in sets with one arm. It took me a little over 45 minutes and I felt really great the entire time. I did a warm-up and then 100 yards for timing, then did the rest in longer sets. I feel as though I could swim comfortably like this indefinitely if I had to. I get a little more tired, but I'm adapting more and more each time. I won't be cleared to swim with both arms for another 3-4 weeks most likely so until then, this is what I'll do. My doctor was amazed that I got back into it with one arm. Or he thinks I'm crazy...

I'll have another X-ray in 3 weeks to check my progress, so until then, I'll continue on as I have been. I'm looking forward to getting back to running and focusing on the marathon. There is a chance I can still recover from this and have a good race. The rest of me has healed very nicely. The bandages have been off my face for a week and my leg and elbow are finally coming along. This photo was taken last weekend, just 2 weeks from the accident. It was the first time I started to feel somewhat normal. And it's only gotten better since then. Let's hope this is a trend that will continue.

Swimming
Distance - 1800 yards
Time - 45:54

August 28, 2008

Ironman Plan

I took everyone's advice and have used some of my injury down time to read and plan for my 2009 race season, particularly the Ironman. I've been enjoying the two books I bought last weekend. One is purely for inspiration and the other is a practical look at what to expect when training. The latter got me thinking about how I want to approach my training and when. Something I have been contemplating for quite awhile is whether or not to hire a coach. Coaches can be a big investment, but if you find the right fit, the return is worth it.

Some people think coaches are for inexperienced racers while others think everyone should have a coach. I think the choice is very personal and depends entirely on the goals, personality and training style of the athlete. I am confident I could put together a good training plan with a little research and that I could motivate myself to stick to it for the most part. But after weighing the pros and cons and getting the opinions of several other triathletes, I have decided to hire a coach. This Ironman is a huge commitment for me and it's something I want to enjoy.

Having a coach will take the strain of planning out of my schedule and save an incredible amount of time. Training for an Ironman takes anywhere from 12-20 hours per week so every minute saved becomes precious. A coach will also be there to help me adapt to challenges. I keep thinking about what I would have done if this injury had happened during Ironman training. And most importantly, a coach will keep me from undertraining or overtraining, both of which can ruin my Ironman experience.

The process of finding a coach is pretty complex so I'm getting started now. I've gotten a lot of great recommendations that I'll narrow down to a short list with some research. Then I'll reach out to each one for more information and make a choice. I'm aiming to get started in December after the marathon and my November rest month. I'm looking forward to having someone come along on the journey with me. At least there will be one person who doesn't think I'm crazy (I hope).

August 27, 2008

Adaptation

After not having the use of my arm for 2.5 weeks, I'm beginning to adapt and figure out how to do a variety of things with just one arm. I've learned how to put my hair in a ponytail. I can get a pullover shirt on. I figured out how to shave my legs without slicing them up. But most exciting of all, I learned how to swim again.

It was my second post-accident trip to the pool and it couldn't have gone better. I started out with kicking and then grabbed a pull buoy and did some one-arm freestyle. After 100 yards, I decided to give it a try without the buoy. It only took me a moment to get comfortable and I was able to swim 200 yards easily so I kept going. It's harder work than regular swimming, but mostly because I have to kick a lot more to compensate for only pulling on one side.

Three months ago, I stood at the end of pool wishing I could swim to the other side and back. Every length was a struggle and I wondered if I'd ever get it. I found myself standing in the same place today, experiencing many of the same feelings. Only the hard work I put in over the last three months made it possible for me to adapt and learn this new way of swimming quickly. It was an incredible feeling, the best I have felt since my accident.

Of course it got me thinking all sorts of unrealistic things: Could I compete in my late September tri and just do the swim with one arm? Should I take my wetsuit to Madison and try a swim in Lake Monona? I decided I will wait and see how the follow up with my orthopedist goes on Friday before I let my imagination run too wild.

It was hard to follow up such a great swim with yet another elliptical session, but I managed to motivate myself to go to the gym tonight regardless. I was aiming for an hour, but as I neared 50 minutes, I swore I couldn't take another second, let alone another 10 minutes. But then 50 came and I forced myself to endure 10 more. I keep reminding myself that it might save my marathon and that keeps me going. Running will feel like such a sweet reward for all of the pain and boredom over the past few weeks.

Swimming
Distance - 900 yards
Time - 35:00

Elliptical
Distance - 6.05 miles
Time - 1:00:00

August 26, 2008

Reality Check

I went to a friend's surprise 40th birthday party last night against my better judgment. I knew it would be incredibly crowded and difficult to navigate with my arm. But this woman is the kind of person everyone loves. She is the kind of person you risk bodily harm to go out and celebrate with. So I went and took my chances. It was at my local bar, the one that used to occupy all my free time before triathlon and the one I still frequent at least two days a week. It was nice to catch up with some friends I haven't seen for weeks, but I definitely paid the price. I took about three hard blows to the shoulder and was grabbed a couple times in a span of less than an hour. It was as though anyone who passed by me was drawn to my busted shoulder and just couldn't help but slam into it. I'm still glad I went, but I had to make an early departure.

I ended up battling the worse case of insomnia all night afterward. My shoulder was throbbing and I just couldn't seem to fall asleep. I tossed and turned from midnight to 2 or so, woke up at 5:20 and finally got up at 6. The master plan for today was 45 minutes on the trainer before work and another attempt at swimming after work. I managed to get in 35 minutes on the trainer, but decided to skip the swim. My shoulder ached all day and I just don't want to push it.

This force me to do a reality check. It is 99.99% certain I will not be able to recover in time to do any more triathlons this year. I've been holding onto a shred of hope that I will be able to do one of my late season races, but with every day coming and going with marginal improvement, I'm accepting that it isn't likely to happen. I think I've known this all along, but I just didn't want to admit it. It's incredibly disappointing, but I have a marathon to focus on now. I'm going to continue my cross training and keep it balanced with resting in an effort to keep up some level of running fitness so I can get right back to training when the doctor clears me.

I have an incredibly exciting triathlon season ahead in 2009 and so much to look forward to. Im starting with my first half-Ironman, I'll have another half in the summer and then Ironman Wisconsin in September. My new bike is also waiting for me. So on the emotional roller coaster that is my recovery, at least for today, I'm feeling at peace with how things are and am focusing on what lies ahead. I can't guarantee I'll feel the same way tomorrow, but I'll certainly try.

Biking (on trainer)
Distance - 8.3 miles
Time - 35:00

August 25, 2008

What it's Worth

As I'm stuck in cross-training land, I can't help but wonder - what is it really worth? Sure I'm retaining at least a percentage of my cardio fitness and that should help me get back into training without starting from scratch, but it's hard to compare the injury training with real-life training. For example, I spent an hour on the elliptical this morning, kept my heart rate high the entire time and felt like it was a pretty tough effort. Yet the mileage equivalent according to the machine was a pace slower than a 10-minute mile. I could have run much faster and further in the same amount of time. Biking on the trainer is the same. It doesn't really compare to real biking so you just have to take it for what it is.

I rebounded from a long injury hiatus during marathon training two years ago and was still able to complete the race, albeit in total misery. I'm not sure what this time off is going to do to the rest of my training and ultimately my race, but I'm hoping I won't have yet another miserable run. Paula Radcliffe was diagnosed with a stress fracture of the femur in May, yet she continued to train for the Olympic Marathon with cross training including swimming and water running. She only had 3.5 weeks of actual running before the race and she held out for awhile, but eventually fell back and finished 23rd in tremendous pain. She said she felt great cardiovascularly but her legs just couldn't hold out. She is one of the best distance runners ever. If cross training didn't work for her, how is it going to work for me?

I've mentioned before how many athletes, including myself, dread their running workouts and struggle with motivation. I sometimes question why I do it. But the second I am unable to do it, I miss it terribly. I was feeling that way this morning while I plodded away on the elliptical reading a recent issue of Runner's World (what can I say, I'm a glutton for punishment). Then I came across this article about the embarrassing questions all runners have, but never want to ask. After reading about intestinal distress and running-induced incontinence, the elliptical started to seem like a nice break. I realized I'll have plenty of time to abuse myself with the remainder of my marathon training and my race won't be miserable. My time might be miserable, but I'll no doubt enjoy the experience as I always do.

Elliptical
Distance - 5.83 miles
Time - 1:00:00

August 24, 2008

Hydrotherapy

Two weeks ago today was the bike crash that abruptly ended my triathlon season. The time since then has been a combination of rest, pain meds, bandages, ice, more bandages, optimism, frustration and planning. Anyone who knows me or reads my blog regularly knows how much the training meant to me. While I still have a long way to go in my recovery, I have been slowly easing back into a modified training schedule. Today was my biggest day yet both in significance and in volume.

I did my first swim today, which was a new challenge to say the least. My last swim before the accident was one of my best with my fastest mile yet. But today was entirely different. I swam with my sling on to keep my arm stable and used a kick board and pull buoy as needed for support. I started with basic kicking and was surprised by how hard it was to go straight with only one arm. After 100 yards I was pretty breathless. Kicking used to be so easy, but now it's a challenge. I switched to side kicking and then finally attempted some one-arm freestyle. At the advice of a fellow triathlete training through a broken collarbone, I held a pull buoy against my stomach with my bad arm to keep it stable and help me maintain my position. I've heard and read that when swimming one-armed, you should breath on your pulling side, so in my case, the right side. However, I've been breathing only on my left so I just went with that for today. It was awkward at first and difficult to figure out where my right arm should be in the stroke cycle without the other arm to balance it out, but I got the hang of it quickly. After 200 yards I switched to a balance and breathing drill that is essentially kicking without a board and rolling to breathe. This was by far the hardest since I didn't have any flotation support.

Being back in the water was incredibly therapeutic. It made me feel closer to getting back on track. While it's not the same, it will help me at least retain my comfort level in the water so I can ease back into swimming more quickly. It was exhausting because it is all new again, but it didn't stress my shoulder. The hardest part was getting in and out of my swimsuit and getting my cap on. I was also worried I might not be able to get out of the pool since we don't have stairs. The lifeguard said he could send the chair lift down for me, but thank god I was able to hoist myself up the ladder with one arm. It's one thing to be barely swimming with a sling on your arm and another entirely to have to ride the chair lift out of the pool!

Since I can't bike to the pool anymore, I treated myself to a Mocha at the overpriced Tribeca coffee shop right outside my pool and headed over to the Hudson River Park for the one-mile walk home. It was a beautiful day and I was feeling the best I have in a long time.

After a small break, I hopped on the trainer for my first "long ride." I was aiming for 2 hours or 30 miles, whichever came first. I'm still struggling with my new pedals and had a little mishap when mounting the bike. I was trying to clip in on the right so I could swing my left leg over and just couldn't get it to clip. My foot slipped off the pedal and I ended up jamming my bad arm really hard against the bike. The pain was excruciating and actually brought tears to my eyes and took my breath away. I had to ice it before the ride and for the first few miles. Other than a shaky start, it was a good ride. I found ways to shift my weight to ease the discomfort of being stuck in the saddle continuously. I watched the ITU Triathlon Championships and Olympic recaps to pass the time. I took a quick break at 45:00 to stretch my legs, give my butt a break, fill my water bottle and have a gel. I hit 30.2 miles in 1:45:00 and decided I'd had enough.

I was registered to ride the North Fork Century today. My husband rode it and sent me pictures and updates throughout the morning. I couldn't help feeling bad about missing it, but I kept myself busy and was thankful I was at least training today. It was no century, but it was more than I was able to do a week ago. Hopefully each day will continue to be better than the last.

Swimming
Distance - 800 yards
Time - 25:00

Biking
Distance - 30.2 miles
Time - 1:45:00

August 23, 2008

Inspiration

Today was another rest day and I think I actually needed it. It's so sad that an hour on the elliptical left me with slightly stiff and sore legs after all of the training I have done. But two weeks of little-to-no activity are starting to take a toll.

I had an early start regardless to attend the funeral of a good friend's father. I had never met his father, but wanted to be there to support my friend. The final speaker read a poem called "The Dash" that was about how you live your life as represented by the dash between the year of your birth and the year of your death. I really enjoyed hearing the poem and I though quite a lot about it throughout the rest of the day. The simple message was to make the most of the time you are given.

With no training obligations, I was able to enjoy my day at a leisurely pace, something I haven't done in quite some time. I went to a wine tasting that was so much more than just a wine tasting. It was a BLT Festival complete with gourmet bacon, ribs and key lime pie. There were more than 25 wines to sample and even an interesting tequila drink with tomato, basil and bacon bits. But after sneaking an extra slice of key lime pie, I passed on the bacon bit drink so I'll just have to assume it was delicious.

After pickling my liver a bit, I headed off to Barnes & Noble to look at the Ironman books. Not surprisingly, the triathlon section was about as thick as a stack of business cards so there wasn't much to choose from. But I did find a good book for inspiration and motivation called "Becoming an Ironman" that shareds people's first Ironman race experiences. I also picked up a book called "Become an Ironman" that offers insights and tips on preparing for the distance. I'll have to order some other books that have specific training programs so I can start planning my training year. It feels so far away, but I know it will be here in no time. I have to begin training in December since my first half-Ironman is the first week of April. There is so much to do between now and December to get mentally prepared to start the challenge.

Tomorrow will be my first trip back to the pool since my injury. I'm planning a lot of kicking drills and will throw in some one-arm drills to see how it feels. After that, I'm planning a long trainer ride, hopefully 30 miles if my butt can handle it. Since I'm so much slower on the trainer, I think it will take close to 2 hours so I'll have to reward myself with a quick break about every 30 minutes or I'll surely go numb. It's going to take a lot of inspiration for sure.

I'll close by sharing the poem I heard today.

The Dash
by Linda Ellis

I read of a man who stood to speak
At the funeral of a friend.
He referred to the dates on his tombstone
From the beginning to the end.

He noted that first came the date of his birth
And spoke of the following date with tears,
But he said what mattered most of all
Was the dash between those years.

For that dash represents all the time
That he spent alive on earth
And now only those who loved him
Know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not, how much we own,
The cars, the house, the cash,
What matters is how we live and love
And how we spend our dash.

So think about this long and hard;
Are there things you'd like to change?
For you never know how much time is left
That can still be rearranged.

If we could just slow down enough
To consider what's true and real
And always try to understand
The way other people feel.

And be less quick to anger
And show appreciation more
And love the people in our lives
Like we've never loved before.

If we treat each other with respect
And more often wear a smile,
Remembering that this special dash
Might only last a little while.

So when your eulogy is being read
With your life's actions to rehash
Would you be proud of the things they say
About how you spent your dash?

August 22, 2008

If You Want Something Done, Do it Yourself

After spending hours on the phone trying to find a doctor to remove the two stitches in my elbow, I had accepted that my only option was to go to the ER and waste an entire afternoon waiting for this very simple procedure. But then I started thinking about all the valuable time I've lost as a result of the accident and decided I wasn't in the mood to lose more so I took matters into my own hands. Well, not my hands exactly. I sterilized a pair of manicure scissors and some tweezers, rounded up some alcohol wipes and enlisted my husband to take the stitches out. It went surprisingly well, didn't hurt as much as I anticipated and was finished in less than 5 minutes. So it literally saved the day.

I am so relieved to have those stitches out. They were the last hurdle I needed to get over to really be on the road to recovery. I'm already feeling less pain in my elbow so it was definitely time to get them out. I wish I could say the same about my shoulder. It's been hurting more with each day as it heals, which has been an unpleasant surprise. But I'm off the pain meds and I'm not even taking any of the over-the-counter stuff so I guess that's likely part of it. I had continued the meds at night, but after waking up with another splitting headache, I'm calling it quits. I'll just ice it a couple times a day and continue keeping it as still as possible.

I finally found the motivation to go to the gym for the elliptical. I did 6 miles in an effort to kick my running training back into gear. I doubt the mileage translates accurately, but it will at least give me a point of comparison from workout to workout. I was able to get my sling adjusted nicely to minimize shoulder movement so it was relatively comfortable. I spent 15 minutes on my legs afterward to keep up my strength.

Now that the stitches are out, I'm planning my first trip to the pool this weekend. I'll likely focus mostly on kicking and just try to enjoy being back in the water. If I'm feeling up to it, I'll try a lap or two with one arm to get a sense of what it's going to take to learn. If nothing else, it will at least be interesting!

Elliptical
Distance - 6 miles
Time - 56:48

August 21, 2008

No Substitutions

It's been 11 days since my crash and I've tried pretty hard to keep my lacerated, bruised chin up throughout it all. I took a full week to rest, followed up with the orthopedist, changed hundreds of bandages, ate healthy, slept a lot and focused on the positives. Yet I don't feel as good as I wish I could. The whole experience has been a physical and emotional roller coaster that in and of itself is exhausting. I'll be feeling better and then realize I can't do simple things like get my shirt on or put my hair in a ponytail. It's actually amazing how many things are now a huge undertaking for me. I used to put my energy into training and now I put it into just getting by.

I took a walk tonight to clear my head and again found myself on the Hudson River, watching everyone out for their evening run. It was then that I realized why I don't feel better. I miss training. I miss having a goal and a purpose. I miss the energy it gave me and the sense of accomplishment. I miss everything about it. And it's clear there are no substitutions. I was planning to do the elliptical tonight and I couldn't find the motivation. It's not the same even though it's intended to get me back on track more quickly.

But since I can't train, I'm going to need to re-set my goals and priorities. I need to find a way to motivate myself within my limitations. I know I said a few days ago that I wasn't focusing on limitations, but I have to at least acknowledge I have them.

I reached an all time low in my injury sadness tonight. I don't want to dwell on it, but I think it's important that I acknowledge just how much this accident has affected me. It's hard to keep hearing, "cheer up" or "it could be worse" when I really just want it to be ok that I'm sad, frustrated and disappointed. Yes, I'm thankful it wasn't worse and I'm thankful I will heal quickly and look back on this in months as a distant memory, but for right now, today, it's hard. And until I can get some of it back, it will continue to be hard.

I paid a visit to my local bar because I heard some good friends were there and I knew it was just what I needed. It was nice to see friendly faces and forget about my arm and triathlons for awhile. I just need to carry that over to the rest of my life and everything will be fine.

August 20, 2008

Stitches

It used to be that the only stitches I worried about were the ones I was getting in my side from running. But now that I can't run, I have a different issue with stitches. My recovery is progressing quite nicely which means it's time to get the stitches out of my elbow. I'm really looking forward to this because I'm experiencing a lot of pain there and am hoping the healing process will get underway more quickly once they are out. Sounds simple, right? Wrong. Just like with the stitches in my chin (which I had to beg my orthopedist to remove since I happened to be there the day they needed to come out), I cannot find a doctor willing to remove them. I spent an hour on the phone today and was finally advised to go to the ER and have them out.

I've had the misfortune of visiting a New York City ER on three unhappy occasions and I don't wish to repeat this for something as simple as stitches. It would likely mean hours and hours of waiting and being exposed to some rather unpleasant things. I'm getting back on the phone tomorrow to see what I can do. The manicure scissors and some alcohol are starting to look like the best option.

I wanted to try the elliptical today, but couldn't find the motivation to go to the gym so I did a short trainer ride instead. I was only in the mood for 30 minutes so I tried to keep the pace up to make it worthwhile. I got to try my new pedals and shoes for the first time. I love the shoes, they are specifically for triathlon so they are lined for sockless wear and vented on the top. They were incredibly comfortable. The new pedals were really hard to clip into so they need some adjusting. I'm hoping to be able to get them right.

On the topic of bikes, Cadence called to tell me my bike arrived today. They are keeping it there for me until I'm well enough to do the fitting. It's a 3-hour process that would require me to get my shoulder fully extended in the aero position so I'm guessing it's going to be a few weeks at least. I hope it isn't too long. I cannot wait to get on that bike, even if it's only on the trainer for awhile.

Biking (trainer)
Distance - 7.9 miles
Time - 30:00

August 19, 2008

Birds of a Feather

After being rather cooped up for the past two days, I decided to take a walk tonight to get some fresh air and natural light. Since I live right next to it, I wandered over to the Hudson River Park. Because the weather was nearly perfect, there were hundreds of people out for a nice, evening run. Suddenly, I felt sorry for myself yet again. I've been battling the self pity every day and some days are better than others. But I'm human, and the sight of everyone running in such great weather made me sad.

I was starting to head home when I saw a guy with a brightly colored parrot. You see a lot of strange things in New York so I almost paid it no attention until I saw a bunch of other parrots milling around the park. I stopped to get the scoop and before I knew it, I was sitting in the grass with parrots on my shoulder with a bunch of strangers. They were a lot of fun (the birds, not the strangers) and instantly cheered me up. The green one liked to be petted while the yellow and orange ones liked to play in my hair. One saw his reflection in my glasses and climbed right onto them. And in case you're wondering - yes, I got pooped on eventually, but only a little. Apparently I'm lucky he hadn't been eating cherries today.

I continued to improve today so I did my first trainer ride. It was difficult since I couldn't lean on the handlebars and had to keep my shoulder completely isolated, but I'm sure I'll get used to it after the multiple sessions I'll inevitably end up doing. I felt great and was able to ride a lot harder than usual, although I had to take two 30-second breaks to get comfortable and catch my breath. The trainer is not my idea of the best time, but now that it's all I can do, I'm thankful to be able to do it. I read about another guy's crash today that was so severe he required major facial reconstructive surgery and is looking at a long rehabilitation. Another girl had an accident that didn't sound so bad, but she tore her spleen and can't do anything for 6 weeks. So I'll take the trainer and the elliptical, and eventually my one-armed swimming at the pool. Things could certainly be a lot worse.

Biking (trainer)
Distance - 16.2 miles
Time - 1:00:00

August 18, 2008

Scene of the Crime

A victim of a crime sometimes finds it necessary to confront their attacker in order to achieve closure. This is the position I found myself in yesterday. Ok, so I wasn't exactly the victim of a crime and I didn't exactly have an attacker, but I am harboring some ill feelings about the road kill that was my demise. I remembered it being huge and very unusual looking, but was this a figment of my imagination? Did I embellish it to justify my poor bike handling skills?

I got the reassurance I needed when my husband returned to the scene of the crime on Sunday and found my furry friend still taking up the entire shoulder of the road.


Wouldn't you have looked twice? Now imagine you're cruising along at 20 mph and you ride right over the top of that thing. If you're still doubting, here is a closer look.


Even after seeing a photo, I still don't know what the heck it is. It looks like some sort of prehistoric or mythical creature. But the photo made one thing very clear. I know why I glanced back. I guess riding over it freaked me out more than I'd like to admit. I really am a girl.

I woke up feeling my best so far today, which was a surprise because I didn't sleep all that great last night. The road rash is starting to itch and I can't touch it so it's akin to torture at times. I hope it's a sign that it's healing because some of it still looks as bloody as day 1. The best news of the day is that my jaw is almost back to normal. I was able to bite down for the first time and the pain and clicking have minimized tremendously. I think it will be back to normal in a few days and I can resume eating solid foods again.

I had planned another crack at the elliptical, but was too busy during the day and then too tired tonight. I think the rest is still very much needed and I don't want to overdo it so I'm taking it one day at a time. My bike is on the trainer and ready to go so if my body feels ready, I'll get my first bike session in tomorrow. At least I won't have to watch out for the road kill.

August 17, 2008

New Beginning

It's been exactly one week since my bike crash and I'm finally starting to feel a bit better. I slept incredibly late - until 11:15 - which seems ridiculous, but I stayed up late watching the Olympics so I needed it. I decided to stop taking the pain medication today in an effort to ease back to normal. Since I was feeling pretty good and had a good night's sleep, I made my first trip to the gym to see how it would feel.

I spent 30 minutes on the elliptical and it was completely pain free. I kept it at a low resistance and high cadence to more closely mimic running. I got some funny looks from my fellow gym-goers since I was working out with a sling and bandages all over me. The sling was great, but I still held my arm pretty firmly across my stomach and supported it on and off with my right arm to ensure there was absolutely no shoulder impact or movement. After a cooldown, I spent 15 minutes on leg strength training. I'm hoping between the elliptical and weights that my legs will be ready to transition back to running where I left off. The only thing that hurt after my 50 minutes at the gym was my knuckle. This is proving to be one of my most painful injuries since I essentially lost my knuckle in the crash. It is going to take several months for the skin to fill back in and I imagine it will be painful for quite a bit longer.

This little workout made me realize just how much I've changed over the past three months. There was a time when 30 minutes on the elliptical might have been my full workout for the day and I was content with that. Now it's something I did to test my boundaries with an injury and I'll most certainly be doing more on each subsequent trip to the gym. My training over the past three months made me really happy. Not only am I more fit than I've ever been, but I feel better - more healthy, more positive, more fulfilled. I also felt accomplished from tackling new challenges and stretching out of my comfort zone.

While I hate being stuck indoors at the gym, it felt really good to get my heart rate up and get moving again. It was a tiny step, but an important one. It was a new beginning for my next phase of training. This phase will be focused on healing, regaining strength and retaining as much of my hard-earned fitness as possible. Instead of dwelling on my limitations, I'm going to focus on the possibilities. With hard work and a little luck, I might come out of this stronger than I was before.

Elliptical Training
Time - 33:00

August 16, 2008

Jockstrapping

Jockstrappers are the friends and family that support us during our races. They help us carry our gear to transition, drive us to events, carry our favorite snacks, take pictures and cheer us on. I'm used to having one, but not used to being one. So today I changed roles from athlete to jockstrapper since my injury kept me from doing the race I was registered for.

Picking up where my post left off yesterday, Barb and I had a bright and early wake-up call at 4 a.m. I went to bed around 11:15, but ended up being awake most of the night. My pain pills had me feeling out of sorts and I just tossed and turned. It was frustrating to lay there and know how little sleep I was getting, particularly knowing how much sleep I need right now. It was just like all other pre-race sleepless nights, only I wasn't racing! I drifted in and out until the alarm went off and got right up and ready to go the fastest I have yet with my injuries. I dressed, changed a few bandages, put on a hat, guzzled a cup of coffee and quickly ate some cereal. Roberto arrived around 4:30 and we were out the door.

It started to get really foggy just as we left Manhattan. It was still really dark when we arrived at the race site and the fog showed no signs of lifting. You could hear the waves crashing on the shore, but it was too dark to see anything. Rumors began about the swim being canceled, not because the water was rough, but because the fog made it impossible to see. They delayed the start so we stood around killing time until a decision was made to go on with the race. Then it was delayed again due to the fog on the bike course. Finally, the bike was canceled and the race began.

The breakers were huge and looked like a lot of fun to swim through. Once past them, the water looked incredible. It was nice and smooth and the course was a simple out, turn and back. Not surprisingly, I felt a great deal of sadness watching the swimmers take off. I'm ok with letting go of the races, but I just learned how to swim for the first time in my life and now it's been taken away. I know it's only temporary. I know I'll be able to get it back, it's just going to take some getting used to.

Here are a couple pictures from the morning. First, Roberto and I waiting for the swim start. Note that I've been able to downsize the bandaging on my face to just one small Band Aid!



And here is Barb before the swim. She's an incredible swimmer so I knew she was going to have a great race.


I was back in Manhattan by 10:30 and back in bed by 11:30. I slept soundly until 1:30 and couldn't believe (A) How early it still was; and (B) How much I had already done for the day. My energy level is tremendously better but it was still a very tiring day. I was resting some more when I received a very happy call from Cadence - they had located the Cervelo in my size and it was on it's way to New York with my name on it. I motivated myself for one more trip out so I could pay for it in full and know it was officially mine. They should have it in the store by Wednesday and I can go have a look since I can't take it home just yet. What great motivation to rest, heal and recover so I can come back even stronger and enjoy a fall and winter training season on my brand new bike. I Suddenly felt remarkably better.

August 15, 2008

Step 3 - The Diagnosis

Five days after my bike crash, I finally got the official diagnosis on my shoulder. I have good news and bad news. It's Friday, so let's start with the good news:
  1. I am the proud owner of a shiny new Cervelo P2C tri bike. I won't have it in my possession until they locate my size and I'm able to do the fitting, but it will be patiently waiting for me in a box at Cadence. Retail therapy works wonders, I feel better already!
  2. I finally found a doctor to remove my stitches. I begged my orthopedist so he did it reluctantly, I think he felt sorry for me. And it turns out the PA that stitched me up in the Nyack ER did a beautiful job.
  3. I'm allowed to bike on the trainer and use the elliptical as soon as I feel up to it. I can also do kicking and one-armed drills at the pool.
  4. I have no ligament or tendon damage in my shoulder.
Now for the bad news:
  1. As suspected, I have a fracture in the greater tuberosity of the humerus in my left arm. It's non-displaced, which is great, but broken none the less.
  2. My triathlon season is over. My next triathlon will most likely be Ironman 70.3 New Orleans on April 5, 2009.
  3. I won't be swimming for at least a month, but more likely 2+ months. This is the type of injury that will hurt for awhile and severely limit my range of motion.
  4. I can't run for now, not even on the treadmill. I've had one week of resting and wearing a sling and my doctor would like a minimum of two more weeks. I'm hoping I can maintain some level of running fitness on the trainer and elliptical.
In this MRI image, you can see the fracture off to the right side, the vertical line toward the edge of my bone:


I'm disappointed for sure, but I was pretty much expecting this. I'm thankful the damage wasn't worse and I'm hopeful I can still have a good NYC Marathon once I get back into training. It might be difficult to reach my sub 4-hour goal with this setback, but I'll see how I feel and re-evaluate my goal if needed. I'm just happy to have a running season to look forward to along with a lot of indoor training on my new bike once my shoulder is ready.

I'm getting up at 3:45 a.m. tomorrow to go to the triathlon I was supposed to be racing, the Sandy Hookers Tri Club race in Long Branch, NJ. I signed up with my swim buddy Roberto and then invited Barb from my JackRabbit training group to join us. Since the two of them have never met, I felt like I'd be ruining everyone's weekend by not going. Besides, sitting around here feeling sorry for myself would just ruin my weekend so I decided to go along for support and to serve as the unofficial photographer for the two. I'm sure I'll feel some sadness and a sense of loss, but I'm hoping that being there and experiencing the day with friends will also be uplifting. I have so much to look forward to next season.

August 14, 2008

Step 2 - Wait

My orthopedist's office opened at 10:30 today so I called at 10:28 with fingers crossed they could get me in. The good news is that I got an appointment. The bad news is that it's tomorrow. I was thankful to get in this week, but the waiting is definitely difficult. It gives me too much time to sit here and speculate about what could be wrong and what my recovery will be like. I'll have all the answers I need tomorrow at 3:00. Until then, I continue to wait.

I slept really late again today. I meant to get up earlier, but dozed back off and slept really soundly. I guess I shouldn't fight it. I imagine my body needs it and this is likely the best time to be resting. I am always so stiff and sore in the morning that it's difficult to assess how I'm feeling for the day so I give it about 30 minutes before evaluating. My shoulder feels about the same, although I'd say my mobility is a lot better. This might be because I'm getting used to using just one arm so simple tasks aren't as much of a chore. My road rash is still pretty painful, particularly on my knee where I lost several layers. However, I'm thrilled to report that the road rash on my cheek and under my nose has faded to a very light pink and is barely noticeable. The cuts on my nose have healed a lot, but are still pretty red and the bigger patch of road rash on my chin looks remarkably better. I think my face will be dramatically improved by the weekend.

My elbow is probably coming along the most slowly due to the severity of the blow I took and also the location. The fact that I'm always bending it and it also has the pressure of resting in the sling makes it ache a lot. It's the only cut that continues to bleed even after so many days. The stitches are staying in for another week so it should be healed up by then. The stitches in my chin, however, are coming out tomorrow. I can't wait. They are black and wiry so at a glance, make me look like I have a facial hair problem.

My jaw also continues to make a slow recovery. I still can't bite down and can feel a lot of swelling in there. I'm taking 2 Aleves a day now and have seen a tiny improvement, but it's nowhere near getting back to normal. I'm really hoping it will be fine when the swelling subsides. The thought of having to have any work done on my jaw makes me cringe.

If I'm feeling up to it, I may venture out to Cadence tomorrow to have a final look at the bike I'm planning to buy - the Cervelo P2C. After this crash, I was worried that my confidence might be shaken a bit and keep me from getting back into cycling, but I'm pleased to report that hasn't been the case. While I definitely could have handled my bike better in the situation, I really think it was inevitable and just bad luck. In order to do well in my two Half Ironman races and Ironman Wisconsin next year, I'm going to be spending many long hours on my bike and I need it to be one ready for the challenge. I think the Cervelo will be just perfect and despite my current situation, I still can't wait to get it. I wonder what they'll think at the bike shop when I stroll in wearing my sling with stitches in my face? They'll likely make a hard sell for one of their coaching packages.

August 13, 2008

Step 1 - The MRI


My new, stronger pain medication definitely helped me sleep better. I woke up at 8 in the exact same position I'd fallen asleep in. The drawback to this is how stiff I felt, but then again, I think I would have been stiff regardless. I was planning to sleep in but my phone had been ringing so I checked to see who was trying to reach me so urgently. It was my orthopedist's office calling with my MRI authorization so I was immediately glad I'd gotten up. I jotted down the number and called the radiology center expecting to have to beg for an appointment this week. To my absolute surprise and delight, they offered an appointment at 7 p.m. tonight. I happily accepted and promptly went back to bed.

I woke up at 10:30 with a splitting headache, which I think is a side effect of the pain medication. It faded after being up for about 30 minutes. I got on a regular schedule with the meds today and it helped tremendously. I was able to move around a lot more comfortably and feel semi-productive. It lifted my spirits a lot to be up and around, even if only to sort through my mail and do basic tasks. I'm not a lay-on-the-couch kind of person so these past few days have felt long and depressing.

I had to venture out during rush hour to get to my appointment. I have to say, I was shocked and appalled by how rude and inconsiderate people can be. Here I am with visible stitches in my face, cuts and bruises, a big sling on my arm and walking with a pretty pronounced limp. Regardless of the obvious indicators that I'm injured and likely in pain, countless people slammed into my shoulder - the one in the sling, the one that's likely broken - in an attempt to get past me as quickly as possible. Even if they were just racing to get to the corner to then wait for traffic, they still felt the need to cut me off and practically shove me out of the way. Then a young girl and guy actually tried to beat me to a seat on the 5 train. I'm not looking for the sea of people to part in front of me and for people to stop and help me cross the street or anything, but it would be nice not to be plowed over while trying to walk down the street. I always clear the way for people who need a little extra room and I give my seat to pregnant, elderly or otherwise needy people on the train. I just think it's the decent thing to do, but apparently the feeling isn't as widespread as I thought.

The MRI was surprisingly quick. I was thankful for this since I was head first in the tube as far as you can go. I'm not claustrophobic, but the 4-inch clearance is a little daunting after 30 minutes or so. I had classic rock on the headphones to drown out the noise and pass the time and the technician couldn't have been nicer. Regardless of how relaxed I am at the beginning, about a minute into an image, I get the uncontrollable urge to move - wiggle a finger, take a deeper breath, shift position slightly. And everything starts to itch. I get this creepy, crawly feeling on my skin and by the end of the image period, I feel like Kate Capshaw in that scene from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom where she's trying to get Harrison Ford and the kid out of that room and the bugs are crawling all over her. Luckily my longest exposure was only about 5 minutes.

I got to have a look at the images on the computer screen. I'm no doctor, but there is a jagged line across the part of my humerus that's suspected to be fractured, the greater tuberosity. The good news with a fracture in this part of the arm is that you don't need a cast and the healing time is relatively short. I was allowed to take the images with me - which explains the cool shot of them - so now I just need to get a follow up appointment with the orthopedist for the final verdict. Even if the news isn't what I'm hoping for, it will be better to know so I can shift my focus to recovery and rehabilitation. But I'm still keeping my fingers crossed for good news. It can't hurt to hope.

August 12, 2008

Pity, Party of 1

As soon as I woke up, I knew today would not be the day I had hoped for. I didn't sleep well and had to get up somewhat early for a 9:50 doctor's appointment since it takes me 10 times longer to do really simple things. Everything hurt when I tried to get out of bed and walking down the stairs was a chore. Not only did the muscle aches and pains worsen, but all of my skin abrasions had started to burn like crazy. I was attempting to get dressed and get my hair into a ponytail and could not get my arm to cooperate with any of it. I finally had a little meltdown and was reduced to tears, not from the pain, but from feeling sorry for myself. I'm not proud of this and it's not how I want to be, but I'm human and I guess I'd finally reached my limit.

I pulled myself together and headed out to my orthopedist appointment. To add to the challenges, we discovered an insurance issue - essentially we weren't covered due to an HR error - so my husband left work to come with me in an effort to straighten it out. My appointment was brief and didn't have the outcome I was hoping for. The doctor is fairly certain I have a fracture of the greater tuberosity of the humerus even though it isn't showing up on x-rays. He referred me for an MRI and was hesitant to speculate about what my training future will look like. He also prescribed stronger pain medication and encouraged me to get on a solid schedule with it. The better I'm able to manage the pain, the faster I'll be able to recover. I'm having such a hard time moving at this point due to the pain so hopefully the new meds will help. Unfortunately, they also knock me out so my productivity is pretty much non-existent.

My little, private pity party continued throughout the day. Even though I'm most certainly thankful the outcome wasn't worse, I can't help but feel a little sorry for myself now that some time has passed. I have no idea when I'll be able to swim again and if I'll be able to do either of my late season races. I'm definitely missing a tri this weekend and a century next weekend. And at this point, I'm not sure the marathon will even be possible. The MRI will determine all of it, so of course I'm anxious to have that test.

I eased my sadness by eating some cookie dough (always a good idea), looking some more at the new bike I still want to buy and thinking about my longer term goals. This setback may have cut my first season short, but I have more than enough time to recover and come back strong for 2009. I'm still doing the two Ironman 70.3 races I planned and most definitely still doing Ironman Wisconsin. I'm hoping I got my inevitable crash out of the way and can now train injury free. That would be a silver lining for sure.

One thing that has made all of this so much easier is the support and comfort I've gotten from my family, friends and other triathletes. I've gotten numerous phone calls and emails checking in and wishing me well and some really positive comments here on the blog and in my training log on Beginner Triathlete. I can't thank you all enough, it has been a great source of encouragement.

August 11, 2008

The Gory Details

I need to warn you that this post contains photos that some may find unpleasant. Once the initial freak out over the accident subsided and I knew I'd have several hours of time to kill in the ER, I decided to capture some photos to chronicle the accident. I waited until after a great deal of blood had been cleaned up and the bloody bedding had been taken away so they are far more pleasant than they could have been! I think you might bleed more when you have an accident in the middle of something athletic because the scene looked far worse than what the injuries ended up being.

First up, a full shot of my face. You can see the road rash just coming out on my cheek (it is much darker today), the cuts on my nose and by far my worst road rash on my chin.


They didn't get around to looking at my chin for hours since there were so many other priorities. The entire time I was being examined and having x-rays, I kept feeling liquid running down my neck. I would reach up and realize it was blood. It ended up soaking my ponytail, leaving my hair a pinkish tint. You can also see that my upper lip was swollen from hitting the ground. I believe it saved my teeth.


Here is a closer look at my chin after some of the blood was cleared away. There was actually a hole in it. Yuck. No wonder the physicians assistant looked at me like I was insane when I asked if we could skip the stitches and just use some tape instead.


Next up, my hand. I had that nagging knuckle cut from the Niantic Bay Tri that had just finally closed up so I decided to wear gloves on this ride. I haven't worn gloves since June and I am so glad I did. My gloves were completely torn up so I can only imagine what my hands would have looked like without them. Of course as luck would have it, my bum knuckle took almost all of the impact and lost a few more layers in a bigger diameter. The picture doesn't quite do it justice and like my other abrasions, it has gotten nastier as time goes by.


Along with my face, my left elbow took the greatest impact. The x-ray didn't show any fractures so I seem to have gotten lucky. I had to get a few stitches to close up a hole and have had to keep a heavy layer of bandages on it since it presses in my arm sling.


My right leg didn't have a mark on it, while my left leg took a beating. I have a big area of superficial road rash along my shin and a couple really deep, really gooey abrasions around the knee. Here is a full shot after they were cleaned up.


And now a slightly closer look. This knee has been the most challenging to keep bandaged since it's right where I bend. It also makes it bleed and ooze (gross, I know) more so I've had to re-bandage frequently. Unfortunately, a lot of cycling injuries are on joints so this is a common problem.


This was my second CT. I had a head CT earlier in the day and was back a few hours later for the abdominal CT. The CT technician was incredibly nice and really put me at ease. I had to wait about 15 minutes for a PA to come and give me the contrast injection so he let my husband come in to keep me company.


After 8 long hours I was finally released and waiting for a taxi to take me back to Manhattan. It was a beautiful night and it felt great to be outside. I was wearing a new sweatshirt my husband ran out to buy for me since there was no way I was getting that tri top back on.


I was told I would likely be more sore today and possibly even more tomorrow. They were right. I felt like I'd been beaten with a baseball bat when I got out of bed this morning. The pain was much worse and I had stiffened overnight. I had to take the pain medication every 4 hours to be comfortable, which meant I also needed a long nap in the afternoon. I iced a few times as well, focusing on my shin and shoulder. But nothing seems to be helping my shoulder pain. I have an appointment with an orthopedist tomorrow morning to hopefully figure out what is wrong and get going on the recovery.

My jaw hasn't improved so I'm on an all liquid and squishy food diet. I had a little bowl of cream of wheat for breakfast, chicken broth for lunch and a strawberry, banana and vanilla yogurt smoothie in the afternoon. I took a walk to get some air and pick up a prescription for more pain medication and realized just how weak I felt. I've been eating 2,500+ calories a day during my heavy training and had only had about 700 at that point. I was able to have my first real food for dinner - fish and stuffing since neither really needs to be chewed much. It was so great to really eat. I might have this every night until my jaw gets back to normal. I finished the night with two chocolate chip cookies right out of the oven. After everything I've been through, I figured a little treat couldn't hurt.

August 10, 2008

Crash

I had my first non-car related crash today after four seasons of biking. I was out doing the 85-miler postponed from yesterday and even before the crash, wasn't having the best ride. I was tired and hungrier than usual so I was feeling a little lethargic. I ended up having to stop for Luna Moons just as I reached the George Washington Bridge, only 13 miles into the ride and had an Uncrustable about 15 miles later. Even after that, I was still feeling slow and unfocused. We had a re-fueling stop planned at 45 miles so I decided against having a gel. In hindsight, I wish I'd had the gel. It might have boosted my alertness.

At 41 miles, just outside of Nyack, I made a mistake I would pay dearly for. We were on highway 9W, which thankfully has a very wide shoulder, and came across a rather large road kill specimen. I didn't see it until it was too late and ran right over it. Running it over didn't immediately do me in, but I must have jerked the handlebars in reaction and I went down. Hard. I was going about 18 or 19 miles per hour so the impact was tremendous. As always, it happened so fast that I'm not entirely sure how I fell, but I vividly remember slamming my mouth and chin on the pavement. I heard my teeth hit and was sure I'd knocked some out. I managed to sit up and realized I had blood literally gushing from my face. My nose bled, my mouth bled and my chin was gashed open. I spit something out that felt like a piece of tooth and was thankful it was a piece of the road instead. My teeth were all still in place. My left leg was torn up as was my left elbow and the pain radiating through my left arm was unbearable. I thought it was broken.

While my husband was calling for an ambulance, a car pulled up to help. This man and his wife jumped out and immediately offered to drive me to the hospital, which was luckily just 3 miles away. I was so bloody and didn't want to ruin their car, a nice Mercedes SUV, but they insisted. Then a livery cab driver pulled over as well and offered to take the bikes and my husband in his car. It took a few people and a lot of wailing in pain to get me up off the ground and into the SUV. The man's name was Eddie and I unfortunately didn't get his wife's name. She had hopped into the backseat with their baby so I could ride up front. Eddie said he was a cyclist too, which explained why he didn't hesitate for a moment to help. These three strangers really touched me with their kindness. There are some truly incredible people in this world and I felt lucky to have encountered them.

I ended up being in the ER for 8 long hours. I had to have a series of x-rays on my left arm to check my shoulder, upper arm and elbow for fractures. Then I had a CT on my head to rule out a head injury. I had gotten a piercing headache on the way to the hospital so we weren't taking any chances. I was finally given some Percoset so they could attempt to clean up the wounds and have a look at my chin. It was gashed open pretty good and needed 9 stitches. Then we discovered I had an actual hole in my elbow, it was disgusting. That got a few stitches as well. It was looking like I might get to go home, but when I sat up after the stitches, I got sharp abdominal pains. A doctor did an exam and ordered an abdominal CT to rule out internal bleeding or lacerations. At this point, I got an IV for the dehydration and was given morphine for the pain.

The abdominal CT required drinking a "tasty" banana flavored barium solution - which I actually kind of enjoyed given how hungry and thirsty I was - and then waiting an hour and a half for the solution to work through my system. I was also given a contrast solution by IV that made my entire body burn. It was really strange and the chemical smell was so strong that I could smell it even though it was in the IV. I might actually glow in the dark tonight.

It took another hour or longer for the CT results, which were thankfully clear, so I was given some more morphine and just rested. My brother-in-law and his girlfriend had generously driven over an hour to pick up our bikes so we could just take a taxi back to Manhattan when I was released.

My mouth struck the ground so hard that my jaw is swelled so I can't bite down all the way. I was absolutely starving, but can't chew, so I had a banana and peanut butter smoothie the moment I walked in the door. I'll be on a liquid and super-soft food diet this week until my jaw gets back to normal.

My bruises are staring to form and I can't believe all the road rash I have. It's getting more prominent as time goes by. I have it all over my poor face, little patches on my arms and hands, my left knee and shin, and the strangest, most unexplainable place of all, the entire side of my right breast. Yes, TMI I suppose, but it's on the list of injuries. I was wearing a tri top that got shredded on that side and my sports bra underneath was actually torn with the fabric embedded in the rash. I have no idea how this was even possible, but it's painful for sure.

I'm going to attempt a bath, which I'm sure will be excruciating, but my hair is caked with blood and I have little bits of road all over me. Then I'll be icing as much as possible before calling it a night. I plan to remain fairly immobile tomorrow to rest my body. I need to schedule follow up appointments with my primary doctor and my orthopedist ASAP. I may have a soft tissue injury in my shoulder and need to identify what it is. It goes without saying that my race season is likely over. I was feeling sorry for myself earlier, but I feel really lucky that I wasn't hurt worse so I'm not dwelling on it. If my leg feels ok, I might be able to start running again soon and keep training for the marathon. But for now I'm just resting and taking it one day at a time.

Biking Before the Crash
Distance - 42 miles
Time - 2:41:48

August 9, 2008

DNS (Did Not Start)

In racing, a DNS means you committed to the race, but didn't actually start it. In the world of training, this is what happened to me today. I had an 85 mile ride planned for this morning, partly for the fun of it and partly because I decided to ride the North Fork Century in just two weeks and haven't ridden more than 30 miles since before the NYC Tri, so the ride was rather important. But my husband got sick and since he was leading the ride with the GPS, it was off. I tried to quickly switch gears and reschedule an open water swim, but it was too late to make it happen. In one last attempt to salvage the training day, I briefly considered a short run but then decided against it since my long run was just yesterday.

So today ended up being an unplanned rest day. I'm not particularly fond of rest days to begin with and an unplanned one is even less welcomed. If I had planned it, I could have used the day to catch up on all those things I never have time to get to. Instead, I had to improvise as the day moved along. The first thing I did was address the laundry situation. It was literally everywhere and seemed to be multiplying. There ended up being 8 loads of it and a rest day was required in order to get it done. I was able to do some other neglected household things before spending a few hours on the roof deck enjoying a beautiful afternoon and an even more beautiful evening with a bottle of wine. I don't get to do this very often anymore so it was a real treat. We had fall-like weather in NYC this weekend before an inevitable return to the hot, humid days of August next week. I'm glad I got to have some down time to enjoy it.

I also had time to catch up on the Olympics opening ceremony on DVR and watch the live broadcast of Micheal Phelps winning his first gold. It is incredible to watch the swimmers. I can't imagine being able to move through the water like that.

The big ride is rescheduled for tomorrow and I'm looking forward to it. We'll have good weather again, at least in the a.m. hours, and then a full afternoon for relaxing. I'll have to do some adjusting to my schedule for the week now, particularly the timing of my long run, but it will all work out in the end. It's all part of the balancing act of life and triathlon training. I'll be back on schedule in no time.

August 8, 2008

Path of Least Resistance

scheduled my long run for today so I could do a long ride this weekend. I'm following a very basic marathon schedule given my simultaneous triathlon training so my long run was a nice, short (in the world of long runs) 10 miles. I continue to struggle with lack of running motivation and today was no different, although it only took me 1.5 hours to get out the door vs. the 2-3 recently.

I decided to head up to Central Park to run on the bridle paths. I wanted to give my muscles and joints a break from the pounding of concrete and stone on my usual routes. This turned out to be a great choice. While I struggle to get going, I really do enjoy it once I'm out there, especially on a day like today. It was about 73 degrees, partly cloudy and most of the places I ran were fully shaded by trees. The air was semi-fresh (it's still New York after all) and I was genuinely happy to be outside experiencing the day. Once I'm running, I wonder why I resist it so much. Is it really so hard to remember what I love about it? Do I forget that quickly? I wish I could get past that mental barrier and look forward to doing it.

This was the perfect run in so many ways. I barely felt my legs for 5 miles, and even after that, it was minor aches and pains, some of which were caused by the path. While the softer surface feels great on my legs, the uneven terrain stresses my ankles and makes my ITB hurt a bit. I ran my last loop around the reservoir, which is harder packed cinder and a lot more level. It definitely helped and the pain was a distant memory. I maintained a relatively consistent pace between 8:35 and 8:45 and my iPod Shuffle actually picked good music. Seeing the horses on the path just added to the enjoyment. I love New York City. Where else can you be in the center of a major metropolitan city and see horses fitting in as naturally as can be?

I finished the run and immediately stretched. The weather was just perfect so it was nice to be outside. I grabbed a chocolate milk and water from Starbucks and hopped on the train headed downtown. When I got off, the ground was soaked and everyone was carrying umbrellas. It had rained, but I had missed it. I seemed to have captured the best part of the day for my run.

All week I've been attempting to get a good video together from the Niantic Bay Triathlon. The full video is on YouTube, but the quality is not so hot. But no matter how we slice it and dice it, it just doesn't work so I can't embed it here. To see the video, click here. I'm in a pink cap and sleeveless wetsuit at the beginning and end of the swim video, and in the gray top and black shorts in the rest. What a great race this was.

Running
Distance - 10.10 miles
Time - 1:28:17

August 7, 2008

Bike Envy

I'm ashamed to admit this, but I am suffering from severe bike envy. I got up early, and I'm talking record-breaking early for me, to do a ride in Central Park since my day was going to be jam packed. I was in the park by 6:15 a.m. and immediately noticed the higher caliber of cyclist at this hour as compared to my usual mid-day rides. I spent more time ogling people's bikes than focusing on how well I was riding, although it may have caused me to speed up more than once so it wasn't all bad. I've shared how much I'd love to buy a triathlon specific bike and I'm just waiting for the right time, but I feel like that time couldn't be soon enough.

I ride a really simple, really basic road bike. When I took up cycling, I wasn't sure I'd even enjoy it. I didn't have a lot of money to spend and honestly wouldn't have known what to spend it on even if I'd had it. I went to my local bike shop and said I wanted something cheap so they sold me the Trek 1000, Trek's entry level road bike. It seemed so great at the time and it has really served me well. That first summer riding was the best ever. I did a metric century on my fourth ride and completed a full century the next summer. My bike serves its purpose and has held up nicely even though I don't treat it so nicely, and it survived being hit by a car (as did I) and has the scars to prove it. My cycling has improved tremendously, particularly this season, but I can't help but think how much better it could be with a shiny new tri bike.

Before I start to sound like a typical, gear-obsessed show off, let me also share that my bike frame is way too small for me. Apparently the bike shop was just looking to make a sale rather than sell me what was best for my size, so I now have a really ill-fitting bike that I can make better with some adjustments, but it will always be the wrong size frame. I know - excuses, excuses. I can sit here and make them all day to justify the tri bike purchase, but there is validity to some of it. But I'll continue to wait, not patiently, until the time comes for me to purchase my new bike.

My ride today was great, an easy 20 miles that was done by 7:15. I'm usually not even up by then so I was feeling really productive. I ate my second breakfast and headed off to the pool. On the way there I decided to swim another mile to change things up a bit. Swimming laps can be a bit like running on the treadmill, very repetitive and monotonous unless you try to make each workout different and focused on something new. I warmed up with 250 yards, rested for one minute and went right into the mile. Around the half-mile point, I had to stop for about 15 seconds to dump the water out of my goggles. I don't know what is going on, but they were leaking so badly that they literally filled up with water. I pressed them on really hard to try for a tight seal and kept going. They leaked a tiny bit, but I was able to finish without fixing them again. I felt great during the swim. I could tell I was breathing a little harder than my previous miles so I was hoping it meant I was swimming faster. I was thrilled that turned out to be the case. My first mile took about 38:00, the second 40:00 and this was 35:14. I'd love to be able to do the swim at my Olympic on 9/14 in under 35:00 so I'm just going to keep working on it.

I undid most of today's workouts with a phenomenal dinner in Brooklyn. We met friends in Carroll Gardens at Lucali for what is by far the best pizza I've had in New York. This was my second visit and it was even better than the first time since I have my training appetite. I had 4.25 slices (yes, I ate someone's leftovers) and a quarter of a very big calzone. Even if I didn't have the appetite of an insatiable beast, there is something about this pizza that allows you to eat twice as much as other pizza. It has the perfect thin crust, just the right amount of topping and everything is incredibly fresh. I don't know why I don't go there more often. You do have to wait - anywhere from 1-2 hours - but it is well worth it. You just camp out at a local bar until it's close to your seating time. It makes for a perfect night.

Biking
Distance - 20.3 miles
Time - 1:13:19

Swimming
Distance - 2250 yards (1.28 miles)
Time - 45:00

August 6, 2008

One Foot in Front of the Other

I only had one workout today, which is a first in my schedule for awhile. I usually try to plan two workouts, but decided to just run today. I'm trying to make running a higher priority and have a couple very heavy workout days ahead so a single-sport day felt right. I got up early and then procrastinated for hours to the point where I had to go at lunch. So to anyone who thinks I may no longer be lazy - I assure you, I am. It was overcast and relatively cool this morning so I should have been leaping out of bed and out the door, but instead I busied myself with pretty much anything else in order to put it off.

But once I was out there I really enjoyed it. The temperature had definitely risen and it was a humid day so I ran with a little 8-ounce bottle of Gatorade Endurance to avoid cramps. I've been battling side stitches this entire season and haven't yet found the magic formula for keeping them away entirely. My Gatorade strategy seemed to work well today. Over the course of 5 miles, I only had minor cramping twice.

I tried to stick to the bike path along the Hudson instead of the newly opened Hudson River Park since the park is paved in some sort of stone, maybe marble or granite. I've been doing all of my running on this surface and I'm starting to feel it - and hear it - in my knees. The oh-so-fun crunching is back and they ache a bit right after my runs. The bike path is at least asphalt so while not the best, it's better than concrete or stone. Unfortunately my plan was foiled when I reached the World Trade Center area and was forced onto concrete paved detours. I made a detour of my own and hit the streets throughout Battery Park City. It wasn't the smoothest or most direct run I've done, but at least it was a change of scenery. I also managed to fit in a half-mile or so on some newly cut grass that wasn't terribly lumpy. While this slowed my pace a bit, the break it gave my legs was well worth it. I'm planning a long run on Friday and think I'll go up to Central Park and do it on the bridal path since it's dirt and much easier on the joints. I really should be doing this at least once a week.

I tried to run a consistent pace today and focused on slowing my speed a bit. The consistency was just about accurate with splits of 8:34, 8:35, 8:28, 8:17 and 8:44 (well, almost accurate). I was aiming for an 8:40 or 8:45 average but the slightly quicker pace felt right so I went with it. My goal pace for the NYC Marathon is 9:00 and I've been training much lower, even on longer runs, thinking it would make the race feel easy. But I read a couple articles last night about slowing your long run pace by 45-90 seconds per mile to get the benefits of training without the risk of injury. That would mean running a 9:45 mile or even slower, which I haven't done in quite some time. This leads me to wonder a few things:

  1. Is my goal race pace too low? Should I be aiming for 8:30 or 8:45 instead? This would allow me to do my long run training at 9:15-9:30, which would still be very comfortable.
  2. Am I on Injury Road heading straight for disaster? I just increased my pace this spring and while it feels comfortable, maybe I should be reserving it for one workout per week and races, rather than all of my mileage. I've had multiple running injuries before and know I have limitations.
  3. If I don't decrease the intensity and manage to not get injured, will my legs really be ready for my best race, or will they be tired and beat up?

Clearly I have some things to figure out. I don't want another set of injuries, but I also don't want to sell myself short. I've finally become a better runner and really want to reap the benefits, but only if it's right for my body. I also need to get better at sensing my pacing. I've relied on my new Garmin 405, but unfortunately the pace per mile is never accurate when I run along the water. At times it says I'm doing a 12+ minute mile and then I'm hitting the mile marks in under 8:30. I will swear I'm running slow, then realize I've done that mile faster than the last. I used to be better at detecting this and need to dust off that skill to get through the rest of my training.

I'm feeling re-energized by running and just need to keep that momentum going. Now if only it would make me stop procrastinating.

Running
Distance - 5 miles
Time - 42:47

August 5, 2008

Retrospective Look at July

July was a very big month for me. I started out having completed my first triathlon, kicked my training for the NYC tri into high gear, FINALLY learned how to swim and ran my first half-marathon of the year. Now that it's over, I wanted to take a quick look back before continuing to move forward.

Swimming

Even though I had completed a triathlon, I still wasn't able to swim comfortably and build my endurance. I went to the pool on July 2 and had my first big breakthrough, a .75 mile continuous swim. I went back the next day and did a mile and felt like I was on top of the world. I met my swim buddy Roberto and started practicing in open water every weekend and continued my pool training during the week. By the NYC tri, I was able to swim the 1500 meters panic-free and comfortably.

July was without a doubt the month I not only learned to swim, but learned to love it as well.

Totals:
Distance - 28,350.42 yards (16.1 miles)
Time - 13:00:18

Biking

I joined the Tour de France Challenge on Beginner Triathlete as a push to spend more time in the saddle. I committed to 300 miles during the Tour and kicked it off with a 66-miler. I hadn't factored in my taper and recovery for the NYC tri so I actually ended up having to scramble a bit at the end to finish, but I did even though it required an 18-mile trainer ride after I ran the NYC Half Marathon. Now that's dedication!

As a result of all the extra time I spent on the bike, my average increased slightly over the month and I was able to ride very strongly in the NYC Tri. Plus I re-discovered that I love cycling after having a very low year last year. Now if only I could get that tri bike...

Totals:
Distance - 354.43 miles
Time - 22:57:17

Running

Ok, so I could have run A LOT more in July, but at least I made the running I did count. I continued to push my pace and settled very comfortably into an 8:15-8:25/mile average for most runs. I ran a strong 10K the week before the NYC Tri and extended it to a 10-miler for my marathon training. Then I set a 10K PR during the NYC Tri, finishing almost 2 minutes faster than the week before. The following Sunday, I ran my first half-marathon of the year and set a PR by 12 minutes. So while my overall volume was a bit low, my effort and intensity was by far the best I've ever done. And for the first time in my 9 years of running, I no longer felt like a slow, casual runner.

Totals:
Distance - 76.15 miles
Time - 10:54:54

----------

Shifting back to the present, I had a good 4-mile run today. I didn't get as early of a start as I would have liked so I had the heat to contend with, but I felt relatively good overall and maintained a great pace. My feet have been bothering me so I had to take a 10-minute stretch break at one point. I want to prevent another battle with plantar fasciitis so I'm hyper-aware of any and all foot pain.

I did a longer (for me) swim tonight. I'd like to work on increasing my comfort level with both speed and distance so I went just a bit further. I'm going to spend some time this week looking at Olympic distance training plans so I can keep focused on the swim needs. My next Olympic race is on September 14 and I'd really like to improve on the swim.

On that note, I had to make a decision regarding my final race calendar. I am registered for the Triathlon at Pacific Grove in California on 9/13 and the Mighty Hamptons Triathlon on 9/14. I had hoped to find a travel partner for the race in California since my husband is unable to join me, but I didn't have any luck so I decided to withdraw. My decision to do Ironman Wisconsin also had an impact since I'll be spending 9 days in Wisconsin in September just a week before the race. I'm sad to let it go, but feel it was the right decision for my schedule and my sanity. I'll have a 50% event credit to apply toward one of the organizer's other races next year so I'm hoping I'll be able to fit one into my racing and travel schedule. 2009 is looking to be a very busy year!

Running
Distance - 4 miles
Time - 32:46

Swimming
Distance - 2,000 yards (1.13 miles)
Time - 42:00

August 4, 2008

Weekend in Pictures

Today was a much needed rest day after the fun, but long weekend. I woke up an hour and 15 minutes before my alarm for who knows what reason and felt sleepy the entire day. I think the 8 hours in the car plus the short night's sleep before the race really wiped me out so I was happy to have a day off. I had a nice lunch with a friend that included a long walk across town and back in absolutely beautiful weather, took some time to get the photos and video together from the weekend and wrote my race report on Beginner Triathlete.

To go along with my posts from the past couple days are some photos from the weekend:



Roberto and I "carb loading" pre-race at a local dive bar Saturday afternoon







Saturday dinner location, all food was ordered at a take-out window and seating was at picnic tables along the water







Race morning, getting transition set up and ready











At the finish and happy to have had a great race














Bike hand injury - it looked far worse before the run
















Post-race lunch, it doesn't get better than this

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...