Quick Post-Surgery Update

So my initial PT visit went well.  My Physical Therapist (also a USAT Level 1 Tri coach) and I hit it off well and I did pretty well in my movement and strength assessments.  Apparently I’ve only got about 40% of the strength in the repaired hip, but the range of motion is pretty good.  I lack some range of motion in my hamstrings and glutes, and my hips are pretty tight to begin with, so this isn’t necessarily new news.

I was given some exercises for strengthening and stretching, which I’ve been doing religiously in the week since my first appointment.  I’ve also upped my time duration on both the stationary bike (not my tri bike on the trainer yet) as well as the elliptical.  I’ll be getting back in the pool this week as my incisions are almost 100% healed.

My wife and I are also doing the Plank-A-Day Challenge, and we’re up to 45 seconds so far on day 7.

Catching up – Ironman Arizona, Surgery, Recovery…

I’m surprised it’s been so long since my last post.  Things have been nuts all the way around and I didn’t even have a chance to throw together a post-IronmanArizona blog post.  The truth is that I returned from Arizona completely psyched but also staring down the barrel of a massive work schedule along with getting things ready for my December 18th surgery, so it fell by the wayside.  In a nutshell, here’s my thoughts:

On Ironman Arizona –

Some Sweet Rides

Some Sweet Rides

I arrived out in Arizona on the Friday of raceweek.  In addition to being out in AZ to volunteer (and thus solidify a spot in the 2014 race), I was looking forward to rooting on and supporting TinMen Endurance – a group of 5 heart-transplant recipients that were all racing together to raise awareness for organ donor programs.  My buddy Derek successfully finished Ironman Lake Placid in July becoming the first American to complete a full-Iron race.  We all went to dinner on Saturday evening and I had a chance to meet the guys and their families and learn about their stories.  Sadly, only two of the five were able to complete – one was jumped-on while entering the water pre-start and had to be pulled out before the gun at 7am, and another was swept off the run course late-night.  A third (Kyle Garlett) took a nasty spill on his bike a couple of weeks before the race and just couldn’t make the start.  Many of you might know Kyle from his previous Kona attempts and spotlight segments on the NBC Kona broadcasts.

The race was fantastic.  I was able to join some friends out on the bike course during the day before my volunteer shift at the finish line.  I saw a couple of nasty wipeouts – 3 loops causes WAY TOO MUCH CONGESTION and I sincerely hope the rumors of elongating it to 2 longer loops in 2014 becomes a reality.  At one intersection I saw a tri-teammate from Delaware dash into a porta-john, and shocked him when he emerged to find me holding his bike with a good luck cheer!  My time at the finish line was incredibly inspiring and while I was completely exhausted after a long day on my feet (woke at 3:30am) it’s impossible to NOT keep going while these competitors kept streaming across the finish line.  It was an honor to participate as a volunteer, regardless of my registration.

IMAZFinishLine

I headed back to my hotel and caught a couple hours of sleep, then checked out and headed to Athlete Village to get a place in line.  The word on the street was that there was an unprecedented number of volunteers gunning for slots, and the long winding line appeared to have way too many hopeful people in it.  Once the sun came up the line began to move about 7:40 am and I ended up finding my way to the front and registering for 2014.

I Guess This Makes It Real

I Guess This Makes It Real

Surgery –

My hip really felt a bit “blown up” in the days leading up to the surgery.  Just to refresh, over the past summer I felt more and more discomfort while running.  After a round of PT treating what we thought to perhaps be a “groin strain”, an arthrogram revealed a torn labrum in my left hip.  We tried a cortisone injection to no avail, so it was onto arthroscopic labrum repair.

I look calm here, but I'm totally freaking out.

I look calm here, but I’m totally freaking out.

I’m not exaggerating, I was completely losing it prior to going into the OR.  My wife was really comforting though, and before I knew it I was waking up and only wanted something to drink really bad.

So there was a little more damage than my doc thought:

Beforehip

Red and frayed = not good. This is the anterior, and more damage was seen on the other surfaces.

But, it all cleaned up nicely…

Afterhip

Nice and smooth…

So the first couple of days were tough.  I needed crutches almost all the time and the pain meds were my best friend.  I used the hell out of my 110% Compression shorts and ice – ice and compression might just be the best thing ever.  I kept up stretching and my isometric exercises, and 9 days after surgery my doc was amazed at my recovery.  I had much more range of motion than would be expected, and he cleared me for bike, elliptical, pool, and core strengthening and just about anything I felt up to EXCEPT running!

So off we go.  PT begins tomorrow, and I’ll be working with a tri-teammate who is an excellent PT as well as a Level 1 USAT coach!  I’ve already been on an exercise bike as well as an elliptical, and the crutches are no longer needed.

Ironman Arizona 2014 – you’ll be my bitch…

Getting Better – Resuming Activities Soon

So as I type this, my house is asleep.  I’d normally be out for a long run or big brick, as weekends are the perfect time to exploit my family’s love of late sleep while I go log some hours.  Also, most of my team is gearing up to race – either locally at our little “Top of Delaware” sprint or at Mount Tremblant or Timberman.  Normally I’d be at the local race as a “tune-up” for my intended A race of the Diamondman 70.3 in September, but the Triathlon Gods had different plans.

PT has been going well.  I’m now being pushed pretty hard, and we’ve added stationary bike and elliptical into the mix in small controlled doses.  Most of the work is actually stretching, strengthening, and stability.  My typical PT session looks like:

  • 10 minutes of ultrasound on the affected area
  • Sometimes – my PT does a little bit of “active release therapy” here  – if you’ve never had, it’s like a slightly more violent deep tissue massage designed to break up scar tissue
  • Stationary bike – 10 minute warm up (get a bit of a sweat going)
  • Calf Stretch 4 x 30 sec
  • Lying Hamstring Stretch – 4 x 30 sec (each leg with a strap)
  • Lying Quad/Flexor Stretch – 4 x 30 sec (each leg with a strap – facedown)
  • Using Flexi- bands (black = high resistance) – 4×12 reps straight leg standing lifts all 4 ways (flexion, extension, abduction, adduction)
  • Lying Knee Squeeze playground ball (adduction/groin) – 4 x 10 sec
  • Standard Planks – 3 x 30 sec to start (these kick my ass, and are part of the reason I’m injured in the first place)
  • Abdominal Bridges – 4 x 10 feet on bosu ball
  • Electro-Stim Therapy w/heavy ice pack – 15 minutes

This whole sequence ends up taking about 90 minutes or so.  We’re getting more aggressive with the intensity and the pace of the session, which is a good thing.  I’ve also noticed that injury recovery often involves days where you think “Wow, this stuff is working” and other days where you believe “Aww crap this sucks and I’m hurt again”).  It’s just difficult to know how you’re going to feel the next day or two after you work the injured area, but lots of my day to day functional pain is gone.  It hurt like hell to get out into my car and out of my bed, but those small daily reminders have vanished.

I’ve just entered into a period of heavy travel for my job.  The fall season is chock full of industry events and functions, and since my company’s primary marketing tactic is to exhibit and present/speak at these events, off I go.  I’m on the road and speaking 12 out of 14 weeks, but a lot of those trips are just 2-3 days in duration.  It’s going to be a stressful 3 months, and my biggest challenge is not blowing up like a fat balloon while grabbing fod on the road.  Salads and oatmeal will be my friend, and if I can begin some very light easy running soon I’d be a happy guy.

I just purchased a new heart rate monitor that will be compatible with my iPhone5.  I am going to play around with a Heart Rate Variability app called SweetBeat.  A Twitter buddy of mine is a big believer of using HRV to guide day-to-day intensity and monitor the body’s changes, and it’s been proving very effective especially in guarding against over-training.  I believe that I’ve been pushing the envelope here, and that over-training at least contributed indirectly to my injury.  I’ll explore this app and it’s benefits in some future posts, but you can read about my friend Brian’s experiences here – http://bri-tri.com/tag/heart-rate-variability/

 

 

Some Updates

I’ve been a bit lazy keeping things current, but I wanted to take a few moments to catch up with you…

  • I recently gave my little blog a place on Facebook.  I’m using that portal to be more of a “curator” of content and sharing what I think is the most useful or valuable to my small following.  It’s actually going to be different from what I post here, so you should pop on over ad “Like” my page – https://www.facebook.com/PersonalReboot
  • My next races are all Olympic Distances, so my focus for right now is (a) building power/speed/strength and then onto (b) distance and endurance.  This has been really evident in the pool as I’ve found that I can pretty much count on 100s coming at a 1:40ish pace when I’m going for distance.  In a set of sprint 100s (with rest intervals) I can get them down into the 1:20s, which is new for me.
  • Zone2 HR training is where its at!  For a long time over the winter and early spring I spent most (if not all) of my time below 148 bpm.  The result is that I can now go A LOT faster with a lower HR.  Case in point – I did a bike/run brick yesterday with a really short 2 mile run.  I kept my HR in Zone2 and was 2 minutes per mile FASTER than comparable runs last fall.
  • Diet – still working on it 🙂  Seriously, I am trying to work in green machine smoothies for breakfasts, some incorporating a scoop of Juvo Green Protein Powder.  It’s not cheap, but it really presents a full amino profile and actually makes a cup full of dirt taste a little better.  Also, bananas and pineapple helps that too.

I see the light at the end of the tunnel in terms of my schedule chaos.  I’ve been travelling almost weekly for work and it’s getting to the point where it drops out for the summer months.  It will pick back up in August/September, but the summertime will need to be focused on quality time and hard work.

My wife and I have stumbled upon some awesome recipes that I’ll be sharing soon.  The one that was one of the most surprising was Cauliflower Crust Pizza!  More on that later…

 

Devilman Triathlon Race Report

Note – I blogged this on the airplane today on my iPad, so there are bound to be odd autocorrect items in here I haven’t found yet.  Also I was so race-focused I took only one photo the entire day (which is below).

The Devilman Tri would be my first race of the 2013 season. The race also marks the first official race for my tri-team, the Delaware Swim and Fitness TriDawgs, and my first chance to put the “superman” suit on and sport my new team kit.

The race is interesting as an early season event, as the distances are odd, but in a cool kind of way. Their Sprint race is actually a bit of a sprint-and-a-half, and their longer distance event is called a “half-lite”. I opted for the Sprint, in that the slightly longer distances (.4mi swim, 21mi bike, 4mi run) would be a nice bridge to my first Olympic event in June (TriRock Philly).

Overall, I came into the race in decent shape, but perhaps a bit undertrained. I had made some significant gains in the water over the spring (swimming with the Dawgs on Saturday mornings and latching onto some harder workouts helped), my bike is lagging a bit due to weather and travel. My run is merely just OK and I have a lot of fitness left to build across my training, but I figured I would train up to and through this race just to see where I was.

The race was located over in South Jersey, so I woke early having packed the day before. Actually I spent lots of time during the week painstakingly preparing my lists for packing, as well as a comprehensive race plan that I hoped to follow to the letter. If you’re the type of person that craves structure and benefits from solid planning, you should take a look at this template that I found in Triathlete Magazine.

Aside from my transition bag the truck was already loaded with my bike gear, and my bike on the rack on the back of my SUV. There’s no way that fiddling with that in the cold dark would be fun. I woke, showered (something I HAVE TO do) and had a light bite of quinoa bread, almond butter, and banana with some water and a coffee. The coffee was purposely chosen to help speed digestion and clear out any unpleasantness that might haunt me on the racecourse. For the record, it worked and close to the race site I jumped into a Dunkin Donuts to take care of business.

Check in for the race was simple, however there was a lot of walking. I happened to park right next to two teammates which was nice, so we all headed over to check in and get bodymarked. I made it over into transition early and set up my patch. It was pretty chilly out (about 49 degrees) with a wind blowing about 15 mph. The water temp was rumored to be about 61 degrees, which confounds me how race organizers consistently publish “expected” temps that are completely unreasonable (pet peeve). There was supposed to be a swim warm up, but I didn’t see anyone partake.

Here's my patch.

Here’s my patch.

It amazes me how the time runs away when waiting for the race. I went from too much time to kill to “Crap, need to get to the pre-race meeting!” I had actually put my wetsuit on early, figuring I could get used to the tightness a bit and stay warm (wise in hindsight).

I was to go off in the 2nd wave, and as the guys in the 1st entered the water, I could tell that the water was decidedly warmer than the air. At first this is a great thing, but 61 is still cold water, and while waiting to begin your body begins to lose heat rapidly – think of thawing frozen meat in your sink full of water rather than the countertop. The water was dark and muddy, and the much on the bottom was completely gross but warming on the toes at the same time! The one thing I sensed is my own reluctance to dig my head down into the murky water, and I knew that in order to swim fast today I would need to press the sternum down and “swim downhill” as much as possible (easier said than done).

I also knew we were in for some work when I saw 4-5 1st wave guys come out of the water before they made the first buoy!

At the gun, I tried to find rhythm and a clear path which wasn’t easy with the lack of vision and guys swimming and stopping every 10 strokes. I never had to break into breaststroke or flip onto my back, and I made my way around the counterclockwise box course and back to the exit. The run into T1 was pretty long, but I managed to pass a couple of caps from the first wave and certainly didn’t come out of the water at the tail end of my wave either, unlike my races last year. I was hoping to be clear from the water on the way to T1 in 15 minutes, and when I looked down at my Garmin I saw 12:00 and change so I was thrilled!

So into T1 I go, and I still see some bikes in my immediate vicinity so I’m feeling pretty good. The wetsuit came off and I skipped arm Warner’s and gloves, as well as socks and grabbed my nutrition, shades, and aero helmet and made for the bike out. The run to the road was over a road path of crushed stone, so in bare feet that sucked. The extra effort for a flying start was for naught anyway since I not only botched my mount but learned after the race ended that my beefy, unathletic leg swung low over my saddle and CRUNCHED my HydroTail carbon bottle wing!  I didn’t even notice until after the race when I racked my bike on my truck.  I had one bottle in the rear that held my repair kit, but I’m going to need to attend to that detail for longer races.

The bad mount was all on me – a combo of a brand new foreign bike and new hydration system that hasn’t been tested enough outdoors in brick workouts. I’ve only ridden the Slice outside twice before the race, favoring the trainer throughout the rainy cold springtime. Surprisingly I felt like I rode pretty well, and while I’m still not fit enough to stay in aero the entire time, I made certain to get as low as I could in moments of big headwinds. And there were winds!

Another glitch – I somehow messed up my Garmin in Multisport mode and I had no data on the bike beyond HR. I really wanted to be as close to 20 mph as possible, but with my bike time coming in a little longer than an hour I was a bit under that. Considering the winds I will take it.

T2 was a snap and I was able to get in and out pretty fast. The one thing that shocked me last year was my transition times – I felt Ike I was quick, but then I would look at the splits and see I weighed anchor for 4.5 minutes! I was determined to be fast here, and I think my total transition time for the race barely exceeded 5 minutes. I reset my Garmin for run metrics and off I went.

Almost immediately I was hit with cramping. I felt like my power was good through the day and my HR was really steady and actually a bit lower than I thought at moments. For nutrition I did take a gel on the bike and the run about half way through each leg, but I took a full serving of 30 EnergyBits prior to the race, and 45 min into the bike leg and I felt as if I had more gas in the tank. In fact I would guess that if I were tracking power numbers on the bike, that ride was my strongest sustained effort. I’m not sure if the cramps were over exertion, or maybe just a freak thing but I rarely get them in training at all. I was hydrating on the bike with a mix of Herbalife24 Hydrate and Prolong and I certainly wasn’t losing a lot of fluid due to the relative temperature of the day. I did take two quick stops on the run to stretch my quads and calves, but I still managed to finish strong and was able to pick off several folks on the run. I’m still a glacial-paced runner, but I’m starting to see splits come down.

My team had set up a tailgate near to the finish line, so I got a good ice in the last 100 yards or so. I was shooting for a total overall time in the neighborhood of 2:35, figuring that I’d be suffering a bit due to lack of training. I made my way over to the screens to see my time, but they were not serving yet, so I peeked at the collection of LED clocks by the finish. From what I could gather it looked like I broke 2:20, which made me happy, but upon further review my actual chip time was 2:08. It’s tough to estimate time passing in the fog of post-race euphoria I suppose!

Note
I raced at 221 pounds, and could have raced as a Clydesdale like I did last year. I figured on losing more weight than I have so I registered as a 40-44 instead. It turns out I would have placed 2nd as a Clydesdale!

 

Key Takeaways from the Race:

  • Bike fitness needs to be better.  Now that the weather is better I should be able to get outside more and push my limits.
  • I need to be bricking more frequently.
  • Open Water Swim sessions on Wednesday nights with my team are going to be very helpful.  I’m going to be attending these more once my travel calms down.
  • I fought calf and low back tightness the week leading up to the race, but surprisingly they didn’t impact me raceday.  I’m wondering if something in my stride or alignment “created” my quad cramps – my chiro and PT friends subscribe to the theory that an injury in one area can “trickle down” to other supporting areas.
  • EnergyBits work – flat out.  No Joking.  I felt as if my body was able to deliver higher levels of O2 to muscles, and my heart rate was a touch lower throughout the race, which shocked me.  I was pushing it too.

 

The post race tailgate was excellent. I learned that the team took several podium spots in the sprint events as well as the longer race. Apparently we have a group of teens that knock it out of the park in the 0-19 group. I was disappointed to learn that a friend of mine DNF due to back spasms on the bike, and another teammate went over his bars due to a bad bottle handoff exchange (note to race organizer – do not let 9 year olds hand out bottles!). He’s a surgeon and sustained serious finger tendon damage, and we are all praying he’s ok.

All in all, and excellent day. I felt as if there as more I could have done in prep, however life and family play big parts in our daily schedules. I need to find that balance again as best I can.

Aaaand – we’re now into March…

So February was here and gone in the blink of an eye.  It’s tough to believe that March is upon us.

According to my calendar, my half-iron race is a little more than 27 weeks away.  The training plan I’m using is designed for 20 weeks, so that means about April 21st.  So I’ve got about 6 weeks until I can officially start this program and end it on time.

 

So what do I do to fill in the time?

  • March will be dedicated to getting STRONGER and LIGHTER.  These are two outcomes that are somewhat diametrically opposed – usually strength  means some degree of size.  I plan to lift two days per week through the middle of April, concentrating on posterior chain and large compound movements.
  • Swim hard – tomorrow morning will be my first organized swim practice with my tri team the Delaware Swim and Fitness Center TriDawgs.  I joined them for two open water swim practices last summer, but these Saturday morning sessions are 90 minutes of structured, coached, and intense work.  I’m in no way ready, but I need to step it up and there’s no reason to wait any longer.
  • More speed work on the bike and the run.  I’ve been doing a lot of lower intensity zone 2 stuff, and it’s time to go shorter and more intense.

My hope is that I can drop another 5-8 lbs while getting a little stronger.

Training updates – getting fitter and stronger

I had a couple of encouraging things happen this week…

First, I’ve had zero bites on the sale of my road bike.  I’ve got it posted on Craigslist, but not even a tire-kicker.  I think with three days-worth of snow and flurries it’s just a bad time to be trying to sell a bike.

Second, I’ve had a great time using a new iOS app LoseIt!  I’m just using the free version and it’s fantastic.  The food library is extensive for food tracking, and the barcode scanner is excellent.  I have it on my iPad but the app is really designed for the iPhone.  I’ve eaten extremely clean this week, and I can feel it.  My wife has upgraded to premium and there are some enhanced diet metrics that can be tracked, in addition to WiFi scale capabilities.

I really had a good week training.  I want to get my bike situation straightened out so I can really begin pounding out the miles, and since I am now aware that my current equipment is ill-fitting, it makes me less enthused about jumping on the trainer.  I was able to get two good long runs in keeping my HR down in my desired range, and my swims have been excellent.  I was really hoping to grab big gains on the bike during these cold months, but I’ll take the swim improvement too!

Now, I’m off to the kitchen to make a couple of Super Bowl indulgences.  We have a Mexican 7 Layer Dip that is awesome (I call it “Mexican Lasagna”), and I’m making some New Orleans BBQ Shrimp.  We’re going to enjoy ourselves today, and then bust our asses tomorrow.