October 31, 2009

From Zero to Fifty-Six

Since Ironman Wisconsin, I've only ridden my bike outside three times. I did a 14-mile ride in Prospect Park, a 25-mile ride a few days later also in the park, and a 45-mile ride on Long Island. I have done a handful of rides on the trainer in between but it's been slim. But yesterday I broke through the no training barrier with a one-loop ride on the Ironman Lake Placid bike course. This ride was incredibly fun but also incredibly challenging. I'm operating on minimal fitness and it's a very difficult course. I climbed more than 3,000 feet over the course of 56 miles and was swiftly reminded of how much making up I have to do after this two-month hiatus.

I rode solo and can't believe how quickly the time flew by. This is a magical place to ride, I think I could do the course over and over again and never get bored. The roads have been largely repaved and it was dry so I was able to ride rather comfortably. After the famous Keene descent and my favorite part of the course, a relatively flat and super fast stretch on 9N, my average was 18mph. At the halfway point I was on track to do the ride in 3:15, which would have been my best yet on this course. But the punishing climbs on 86 coming off 9, the Hazleton out-and-back and the final long climb back to town made my average plumet to 15.7. I finished the ride in just over 3.5 hours. Not bad when you consider where I was coming from. And most importantly, I really enjoyed it.

The rest of the day was fantastic. I love being here and wish it weren't such a long drive. I'm really looking forward to racing here next summer and having an excuse to make a few training trips this spring.

October 30, 2009

Lake Placid

I arrived in Lake Placid around 10:30 last night and was immediately happy to be here. This is such a special place. There is a huge high school hockey team at the hotel so they upgraded our room to the top floor where we'd get some peace and quiet. It also came with a beautiful view of Mirror Lake. I sat in the window last night looking out at the lake, thinking about being there nine months from now at the start of my second Ironman. Very exciting.

It's sunny and 47, heading into the lower 50s. Today is a perfect day to ride the Ironman loop. It will be my longest and most challenging ride since Wisconsin so I'll take it easy and just enjoy being on my bike in a beautiful place.

October 28, 2009

Watching My Ironman

My brother had a video camera on race day but I never had a chance to see the footage until a DVD arrived in the mail today. I cannot describe the emotional weight of an Ironman. It's been eight weeks and I've barely trained and barely thought about the race, but the moment I saw the video I was filled with a variety of emotions ranging from happiness to pride to awe. I still can't believe I did it, especially given the injury I was dealing with. When I see myself on video I have a hard time believing it was such a struggle. I looked so happy. So I guess I really had the best Ironman experience of all: one filled with joy from beginning to end. I wouldn't trade it for the world.

If I can figure out how to compress the video I'll post it here. In the meantime, I got an update from the doctor today. He is filing an appeal for the PRP but I won't hold my breath. The more promising update is that he offered to discount the treatment significantly so it's back on the table. I have an appointment next Wednesday. We'll see.

I'm off to Lake Placid tomorrow!

October 26, 2009


I received a letter from my insurance company today confirming that my doctor had requested coverage for my PRP injection, what they referred to as "Removal of tissue for graft, Autologous blood process." The decision? The medical director reviewed the request and determined it was "Denied - Not Medically Necessary." The letter went on to explain that tissue grafts are not approved for my specific condition and there is insufficient medical evidence to support the procedure.

I hope they enjoy paying for the months and months of physical therapy, follow up MRIs, regular appointments with my podiatrist and likely someday the surgery or other treatment that will be needed to correct my chronic condition and resulting scar tissue. Medical insurance companies absolutely infuriate me with their short-sightedness.

So my recovery will continue as massive waiting game. I realized today it's been two months since it all began. Just two months out of the four to six I need to be recovered. I've lost so much in that two months that will take me an additional two months to regain. But on the bright side, I am getting better and now that PRP is out for sure, I'll likely start PT and hope for the best. Hope and waiting seem to be the only things my costly monthly premium covers.

October 25, 2009

Happiness is an Outdoor Pool

I had the chance to swim in an outdoor pool this summer while visiting my sister in DC. I loved feeling the sun on my back and getting glimpses of trees and green when rotating to breathe. It was such a nice change from the basement pool I swim in. I'm back in DC for the weekend and much to my surprise, the outdoor pool is still open and the only thing better than swimming outdoors in the summer is swimming outdoors in the fall. It was a crisp, perfect day, right around 60 degrees and incredibly sunny with light wind. The water didn't feel particular warm, but was just the right temperature. There were fall leaves on the surface and I had to keep my eyes closed because the sun was so bright. It was absolutely wonderful. For the first time since Ironman I actually enjoyed swimming.

I have a short week and long weekend coming up. I'm heading up to Lake Placid on Thursday for what was originally meant to be a big biking weekend. However, due to lack of training I'll be taking it easy and attempting only one full loop at what I'm sure will be a leisurely pace. I'm also looking into other activities I can do that won't bother my foot, but will allow me to enjoy the area. It is so beautiful up there. The weather is looking decent with highs in the upper 40 and only one day of rain so far, but it's the Adirondacks so I won't trust the forecast until I wake up each morning. Regardless of the weather and the time I'm able to spend on the bike, I know it will be a really great weekend.

October 21, 2009

Unthinkable? Amazing

I haven't posted for a few days because nothing has caught my attention... until today. I get the Ironman.com daily news feed and they shared that Scott Rigsby, the first double amputee to complete an Ironman, has released a book about his experience titled, "UnThinkable." The book documents Scott's journey from losing his legs to becoming an Ironman. I've always been incredibly inspired by Scott for so many reasons. He competed in the 2007 Ironman World Championships, the race that made me take the leap into this sport and changed my life. His story was incredibly moving. I was dealing with personal challenges and didn't know how to swim, but none of it seemed that daunting in comparison to what he faced to achieve the Ironman dream. When I completed my first big triathlon six months later, Scott was competing in the same race. It was really incredible to get a chance to see him compete. I'll definitely add this book to my reading list for the offseason.

This has been a very good week. I've been busy but in a positive and productive way. I've done a little bit of training and have worked to get back on my pre-race diet. But it all still remains very unstructured and I do it as life permits. My foot is still as is, but I can't rush it. I'm hoping to take some steps forward with treatment next week, be it the PRP injection or just old fashioned physical therapy. And I'm preparing for a long weekend in Lake Placid, the site of my next Ironman. More on that to come soon!

October 18, 2009

Baby It's Cold Outside

I love fall and in particular, I love October. That is until this October. We went from picture-perfect crisp fall days to 30s, rainy and miserable seemingly overnight. This shift in weather directly coincided with one of the most brutal weeks I've had schedule-wise in quite some time. All of it left me feeling pretty drained by the end of the week. I've been loading up on the sleep - 10 hours Thursday night, 9 hours Friday night and 8 hours last night. I almost feel human again, but I'm still bundled up, looking out the window at the freezing rain and wondering if I'll ever get to enjoy being outside again.

The frigid weather pushed me to start loading up on my winter cycling gear. I'm attempting to create a no excuses situation where I'll be forced to ride outside unless it's (A) Snowing; (B) Icy; (C) Pouring rain; or (D) Below 25 (ok, maybe 30) degrees. With the right gear, one should be able to enjoy our fair sport nearly year-round, right? Given I've never attempted to ride in less than 45 degrees, it remains to be seen but I'm up for the challenge. Yesterday, I invested in:




The last item makes me look like I'm headed to a Monty Python themed costume party, but it will allegedly help me stay warm on chilly days. The thing on my must-have list is a good pair of neoprene booties to keep my feet from turning into blocks of ice in my breezy tri shoes. I'm planning to invest in either road shoes or winter cycling shoes eventually, but for now will rely on wool socks and booties for survival.

I ended up just taking it easy yesterday, and clearly doing some shopping, and in the end was glad I did. I was still feeling the effects of the week so any effort would have been forced and minimal. I got back into the pool today and also did my first strength training in months. Since I can't do much else I decided to make that a priority for the next few months. Hopefully I won't wake up tomorrow and feel like a bus hit me.

October 15, 2009

Barefoot Running - Hype or Help?

Barefoot running is suddenly the hottest topic in the sport. Everyone is reading Born to Run and more than half the athletes I know spend a portion of their running time in Nike Free or similar minimalist shoes. When I first read about crazy people doing marathons barefoot I thought it was ridiculous. How can that possibly be safe? Or comfortable?

Prior to my injury I had considered doing one short run per week in the Frees in an effort to strengthen my feet and beat my chronic PF. But now it looks like I'll have to keep running in my "little foot coffins" as referenced in this New York Times article, "Wiggling Their Toes at the Shoe Giants." It's an interesting article, recently sent to me by my dad after getting it from a friend of his who runs in the Vibram FiveFingers. Perhaps after my recovery I can give one of these alternative shoes a try and see for myself.

October 14, 2009

PRP - Maybe Not For Me

I finally got the call today I've been waiting for - my podiatrist's office letting me know if I could move forward with the PRP treatment. Similar to an MRI, the procedure requires pre-authorization that can take a few business days. It sounded fine to me, but then the office called and explained the process: I pay a deposit and have the procedure; they submit the claim to my insurance company; they reimburse me when the claim is paid. The catch? The deposit is $1,200 and the timing of the claim can be three months or more. Even more troubling is that the insurance company could reject the claim.

I've already paid out of pocket for my orthotics and am really not in the mood to do the same for an interesting, but definitely unproven treatment. Here is an article. What would you do?

NY Times

October 13, 2009

Latest MRI

I got my MRI results today. Good news: the inflammation is significantly reduced which indicates healing. Bad news: there is a visible "discontinuity" in the fascia, meaning it's still torn. I'm also developing fibrous scar tissue that could make this injury a lifelong battle. The news was mixed and I found myself disappointed to hear it. What was I expecting? The doctor to call and say, "oops, my mistake, you don't have a torn plantar fascia after all?" Maybe. Or maybe I was just hoping with reduced inflammation we'd discover the injury wasn't as bad as suspected.

With swelling down and healing underway, I'm ready to start PRP injections. Pending confirmation from my insurance company, I may get the injection before the end of the week. I'll start physical therapy two weeks after the injection to speed healing and combat the formation of scar tissue.

The waiting game continues, but I'm optimistic that my body is trying to heal and with the most aggressive treatment possible, I'll get there eventually.

On the motivation and training front I'm feeling much better. Sunday's ride and yesterday's walk really boosted my spirits. I'm also preparing for a trip to Lake Placid at the end of the month so shopping for the cool weather gear has been fun and makes me want to get out and ride more. I was hoping to nail every workout this week even if out of order, but a big work event and other work obligations are making today and tomorrow training-free. I'm running on fumes anyway so it's best not to push it. I'll jump back in on Thursday and keep on track through the weekend. At least the desire is back. That's 90% of the battle. The other 10% is easy and most of the time, fun.

October 12, 2009

Making Progress

I finally broke the lazy/no training barrier on Sunday with my first real ride since Ironman Wisconsin. It was four weeks to the day and my how four weeks can take a toll on the body. Four weeks prior to that moment I was doing the hardest physical thing I'd ever done in my life and four weeks later I was struggling to do an average ride. My Garmin wasn't charged and I think it was a blessing in disguise. I'm not sure I want to know what my HR was or how slow I was going. Instead I just rode and it was a beautiful, crisp fall day and being out there on the road was exactly what I needed. I covered 45 miles in three hours. Not a bad re-introduction to the bike. Next time will be better.

Today was my usual rest day but I did something I haven't done in over six weeks. I walked. I had an MRI appointment so I walked to the train furthest from my apartment, then walked to work from the radiology center. I also took a long walk at lunch and then walked home again from the train. All in I walked about 3.5 miles and my foot felt fine. I was barely limping and it felt great to do something so common.

As I enjoyed my old friend the MRI I realized it was my seventh in a matter of nine years. I've had three on my lower left leg - one to diagnose a tibial stress fracture and two to rule out subsequent fractures. I've had one on each shoulder - the first after falling repeatedly while learning to snowboard and the second after crashing my bike last year and breaking my shoulder. I've now had two on my left foot due to the torn plantar fascia. This total doesn't account for the three CT scans - one head, two abdominal - and countless X-rays I've also had. That's a lot of medical imaging in less than a decade of life. It makes me wonder if I'm doing something wrong, or if scans are a way of life for an athlete. Let's hope after this one I have a long reprieve. I think I've earned it.

I'm on pins and needles waiting for the results. My doc said he'd call the moment he has an update. I'll be sure to share the news when it comes.

October 10, 2009

Let's Try This Again

After another day with zero activity I decided to give it another try today. I was busy cleaning and catching up on life stuff so sure enough, I lost all desire to swim as the day went on. I had a train to catch and limited time, but I finally forced myself to get in the pool. No watch, no heart rate monitor and no workout. Just 20 minutes of swimming with no purpose other than swimming. I'm so glad I did it.

I have a nice ride planned tomorrow and am hoping it paves the way for more. I hate the feeling I have when I'm totally inactive. There is a distinct shift in my mood and energy levels that is unpleasant. So while a break is nice, I don't consider being totally sedentary a break. Light, unstructured training is a break. If my foot weren't injured I'd do other activities and take a break from swimming and biking, but alas swimming and biking are the only two activities I'm cleared to do. Oh the irony.

I started reading The Omnivore's Dilemma today. I was just starting Born to Run and decided to hold off on that one in favor for a non-sports book. Given the struggle I've had with my diet this past year I figured it would be enlightening. Plus I feel like the only person who hasn't read it. I'm looking forward to time spent on the couch reading. That's what I consider a break.

October 9, 2009

Two Out of Three

I haven't had the easiest time in triathlon. My first season abruptly ended with a bad bike crash that kept me off the bike for nearly six months and out of the pool for over three months. But during that time, except for a six-week stretch where I was stuck on the elliptical, I was able to run. And running made everything ok because it's something I've done every fall season for the last decade.

Now my second season has ended with another injury. At least this time there was an incredibly rewarding Ironman finish to go with it, but I'm still injured nevertheless. I've played the chin-up game for about six weeks now and it's finally taking its toll. I haven't done any training this week and while I can use my schedule and work obligations as an excuse, the truth of the matter is that it simply wasn't important enough to me. I somehow managed to fit Ironman training in for the better part of nine months and suddenly I can't make a 30 minute swim work. It all comes down to motivation and priorities and I have no motivation and the training just isn't a priority.

So as it turns out, being able to do two out of the three sports isn't good enough right now. I'm going to make one more attempt to get back into the swing of things and if it doesn't work, I'm going to rethink how I spend my off season. I know I am desperate to be physically active, but I just don't think it's going to happen in the swim/bike world. Not without the running.

So I'm going to let go of another wasted training day and see what tomorrow brings. I'm going to admit I'm feeling the effects of depression that come with not being able to do something you love. And hopefully I'll figure things out and find a way to make it through this injury and get back on track so my 2010 season doesn't get off to an miserable start.

October 7, 2009


Since 2009 is most certainly over for me as far as training and racing are concerned, I'm starting to look forward to my 2010 season. I'll be racing:
  • Ironman 70.3 New Orleans, April 18
  • Eagleman Ironman 70.3, June 13
  • Ironman Lake Placid, July 25
  • Ironman Wisconsin, September 12
In 2009 I only competed in four triathlons as well, but I rounded the year out with multiple running and swimming races as well as two bike events. For 2010 I'll likely keep the focus on this small group of races and my continued recovery.

I saw the doc yesterday and things are moving ahead. I got my orthotics and will start wearing them instead of the boot on and off over the next couple weeks. I should be having my MRI soon and the results will determine if I'm ready for PRP injections. If all goes well, I could be running by December. I'm willing to wait so I go into the season 100% ready, but just knowing the end is within 8-12 weeks is a good feeling. I don't do injured very well so my primary goal for 2010 is to be injury free. Finally.

October 4, 2009

Back in the Proverbial Saddle

Three weeks ago this very moment I was somewhere around Mile 20 of the marathon in my Ironman, digging deep within my soul looking for the drive to keep moving forward. I was in pain and my body was failing me, but my spirit was not. I had just told my parents that I would finish and I didn't care if it took me until midnight, I was on a mission to do so. Fast forward three weeks and my life couldn't be more different. I went from warp speed to no speed. I was training 20+ hours a week and now I'm lucky if I break four. On one hand, this is the best thing I could be doing. On the other hand, it's a hard pill to swallow. Over the past several months I've started to identify myself first and foremost as an athlete so this is very new territory for me. However, I know my body needs a break. I've asked the world of it and I'm going to be asking even more in 2010. So I'm not stressing and I'm enjoying the down time for what it is.

After a 2.5 week slump, I had a good talk with my coach about the future and about what to expect from my first offseason in long course. Just talking about 2010 filled me with energy and once I had a grasp on what role today and the next several days play, I was ready to get started again. That night I got on the bike and I stuck to my schedule each day after. I deviated today due to mechanical issues with my bike, but I have a bit of a grace period left so I took advantage. I'll take the schedule seriously, but I'll remain open to shifting for life opportunities. I only have three months of off season after all.

Wednesday - Biking
Distance - 14.68 miles
Time - 1:00:00

Thursday - Swimming
Distance - 1,150 yards
Time - 21:29

Friday - Biking
Distance - 15.60 miles
Time - 1:00:00

Saturday - Swimming
Distance - 1,400 yards
Time - 27:02


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...