Monday, November 30, 2009

one armed swimming:)

Tired today, but hit the pool at the end of the day for about 20 minutes. Did one armed drills and kicking drills. You can't cheat on the one armed drills when you can really only use one arm! This may actually be good for my form. Did some dolphin kicking, which is good for the core. All in all, a good way to relax after work. Went home and just hung with the family. This is what life is all about:)

Recap of last week: 12 hours, all on a computrainer. Depending on who you talk to, this is the equivalent of 16-18 total hours of riding outside, which would be like riding 300 miles. The 220 "actual" computrainer miles is the second highest volume I've ever done for a week. The neat thing is that my quads would be a little sore the morning after riding, but fine within 24 hours. I keep thinking that I am going to be in the most awesome bike shape come St. George! Now, I just need to get the shoulder and hip healed up:)

Saturday, November 28, 2009

3 Hours on the Computrainer

Right now the hardest part about riding my bike indoors is my butt:). So, every hour, I got off the bike for 1-2 minutes to just stretch out, and actually it worked out ok.

Yesterday was exciting, I got in the pool for 10 minutes and swam with one arm for all of 200 yards. It felt wonderful to be in the water, it really is relaxing. Also, my form had to be good with one arm. I couldn't fake it. In fact, it's interesting how I did one arm swimming better and with better form than ever before.

I also spent 10 minutes on an elliptical trainer. This was tough, but I kind of got my bearings as I went along. I'll keep working on this.

So, how about my bike ride today. In terms of my endurance, I'm doing quite well. Three hours on the computrainer is solid and my legs felt absolutely fine. I went pretty easy for the first two hours, keeping my HR mostly in zone 2; then, at my coach's request, did 5x5minutes hard (pushing just into my lactate threshold HR range); and then spun easily for 5 minutes in between each one. My ave wattage for each of these was 180, which is probably about 30 watts less than where I normally am when my bike fitness is good. Not bad for the dead of winter and over 5 months to go before St. George. If I keep putting in the time and effort, I'll be in great bike shape come May 1st.

I'm just taking it easy this afternoon. My shoulder was a little sore this morning, but didn't hurt on the bike ride, that is, didn't hurt any worse on the bike ride. So, it was aching a bit, but it was aching before I started riding. I think I may have jarred it slightly last night by accident, but doubt I did anything bad. The hip seems to be doing ok. The more time I spend on the couch the better right now.

I'm now back to work for two weeks and really getting back in my groove. We're nearing the end of the year and it will get a little crazy in about two weeks. But things are going well, which always helps. When things are tough it's easier to get anxious or stressed. I have to remind myself sometimes that when things are going well nothing should really get to me.

I'm expecting some more bike time tomorrow, this will be one of my biggest bike weeks ever!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Making progress

Worked this morning and rode on my computrainer this afternoon for almost 2 hours. I'm making progress on the bike, getting my fitness back. It's actually pretty remarkable, here I am, I can hardly walk (not really, I can walk, I just shouldn't be walking), but I can ride my bike just fine. That's really good news for my St. George preparation. I looked at some blogs about the course today and the bike course sounds reasonable. There will be a few 8-10% grades of short duration, but generally 8% will be about the worst climb. I know from my ride in Colorado Springs back in September that this won't be a problem. That said, I'll still have to figure out my max effort for such climbs. An ironman is all about pacing.

So, right now, I'm just plugging away, putting in a ton of aerobic bicycle time. Well, not a ton yet, but I will be soon. It's nice to know that I can go almost two hours indoors right now and survive mentally. Thank goodness for West Wing DVD's.

One of the really neat things about this week is that I literally did nothing for three weeks after my accident and clearly lost some fitness. That's generally not a bad thing, allowing your body to recuperate, but I was pushing wattages at about 70% of what I had been doing for a similar heart rate. Already, in less than a week and a half, I've increased my wattage by ~10%. It will be interesting to see what happens over the course of the next 4-8 weeks if I persist in putting in a lot of bike time at zone 2 effort.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Realizing a Dream and Maintaining a Balance

As I've set my next goal as the St. George Ironman, I clearly have to make sure that I'm doing it for the right reasons.  My last blog helps me to remember the importance of doing an ironman in my life.  It's something that has been a goal of mine for many years.  However, my first goal is my wife and family.  Doing an ironman can not get in the way of that.  I was reminded of that fact this morning.  I had set my alarm for 6am so I could get some bike time in.  My wife had a bad night's sleep and therefore so did I.  First of all, I reset my alarm and ended up waking up before it went off at 6:40am.  I didn't read the newspaper (something I always do), and I managed to get in 35 minutes on the bike before taking a quick shower and getting to work on time.  As I drove in, I thought about what this meant.  It became very clear to me.  Again, my first goal is my family.  They come first.  As much as I love triathlon, I love my family more.  However, reading the newspaper has to get pushed way down my list, possibly off of it.  I can think of other things I do that I can reprioritize.  I've already decided to take an extra day off of work from January through April.  I truly believe that these adjustments will allow me to realize my dream while maintaining the balance that is rapidly becoming the most important thing to me.  I am also very comfortable with the reality that I will now pick family time and issues over training without any question or disappointment.  At the end of the day, it's a matter of priority.  And I know what mine are.  By the way, when I got home, my family was out getting dinner and shopping.  I managed another 55 minutes on bike.  I can do this.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Why do I Tri?

I can’t start this story without thinking about my dad, who grew up, literally, on the streets of Detroit, wanting to be a major league baseball player. My dad used to tell us how he would stay out until it got dark (or even after that), having his sister throw balls at his feet, so he could develop the fearlessness that was needed to be a superb defensive ballplayer. To this day, at the age of 75, my dad won’t let a ball get by him! Baseball dominated my father’s life, to the point that he didn’t care about school, or studying, or anything else. Needless to say, he didn’t make it to the major leagues. Interestingly, there are pictures of me swinging a baseball bat when I was two or three years old, but by the time I was five, my dad had undergone a renaissance, and decided that he didn’t want his children to have the same singular focus on sports that he had growing up. He wanted them to read, study and, at least for me, to become doctors. If he attempts any revisionist history on this story, I will quickly remind him of the chickens he had me dissect when I was nine years old!

I did become a voracious reader. I did decide at the age of nine that I wanted to become a doctor. But I also spent many hours reading about our country’s sports heroes. To this day there is nary a sport that I am unfamiliar with. I stayed out late throwing balls against the wall or up in the air, on one memorable occasion, missing the ball and having it hit me in the eye (I was never the most coordinated kid). When I was eleven, I’d stay out late playing basketball with my friend Mark Goldman. As I got older, I’d play baseball, football and basketball with my brothers. I have always loved sports and it’s in my blood.

Ironically, while both of my brothers played little league baseball, the idea that I might do that never really came up. This was all probably complicated by the fact that I had asthma as a child, but more likely, it just wasn’t encouraged. I once suggested to my parents that I might want to try playing football, and I think the response was along the lines of me having made some kind of a joke. I didn’t help my cause, when finally at the age of 13, I tried out for the freshman basketball team. I had skipped the eighth grade and was already at a disadvantage because of that. I was not the most coordinated kid, and I couldn’t figure out how to do the “weave” for the life of me. I got discouraged pretty quickly and after getting quite winded after having to run in practice, I quit. I blamed having to quit on my asthma and no one questioned me. It’s ironic that my brother, Craig, was discouraged from quitting the football team and then praised for having stuck it out.

So, I ultimately became relegated to highly competitive games of basketball and ping pong with my brothers and father as I grew up and went through high school. I went off to college and a funny thing happened. I gravitated to playing intramural floor hockey. The first year I stuck to the coed team, but by my second year I played on an all men’s team. My confidence was in playing defense, where I was tenacious and gave it everything I had every second I was out there. I actually love telling the story about how I went to a Genetics mid term in my floor hockey outfit and with my hockey stick, finished the test as fast as I could, and made it to the start of one of our big games. I began spending most of my spare time practicing and eventually dropped out of college towards the end of my sophomore year.

One of the ironies of all of this is that throughout all of these years I had never run a mile without stopping. When I was in high school, my dad briefly jumped on to the running craze and I followed him to the track a few times. I even tried to run, but generally started out way too fast and stopped way too soon. It never took.

After taking a year off and coming back to college, I continued to play intramural basketball. My favorite basketball story, perhaps of my entire life, was captured on video, when playing in the semifinal game of our hospital’s league during my residency, I was the “1” in a “3 on 1” fast break led by the opposing team’s star player. I got position at the top of the key and took the “charge”, his head hitting me squarely on the chin. I needed 13 stitches, but I always love telling people that he was never the same and we won the game, putting us in the finals, which I played in, all bandaged up, just a few days later.

My internship, residency and fellowship years were a blur, though I usually made time for some sports. I then started practicing with Kaiser Permanente. I was thirty years old, and quickly found my way into the Kaiser basketball league, where I found myself getting injured more often than not. Ironically, this was certainly related to my propensity to forget that I was smaller and weighed less than most of the other players. I also began having trouble with my knees swelling up. I decided that this wasn’t the best direction and I took up recreational swimming. After doing this for awhile, I somehow figured out that I needed to strengthen my knees and I began working out on a stairmaster. I always did this while listening to music, and built up to going about 40-60 minutes at a time. From there, at the age of 32, I began running on a treadmill, first for a mile (my first mile straight in my life), then for two and finally for four miles. My knees were holding up, I still needed to listen to music while running, but I was ready to run outdoors. I ran my first 5K, using what was going to become my typical pattern of going out way too fast, dying in the middle, and hanging on at the end.

Somewhere in the back of my head, I had carried around the picture of Julie Moss crawling across the finish line at the Hawaii Ironman. I was now swimming and running, so adding in a bike ride and doing a triathlon just seemed to be the right thing to do. I did my first tri in Cerritos in 1992 at the age of 32. It was a run-bike-swim, and I was hooked! I wanted to do an ironman! This actually fit into my life long pattern of wanting to push myself to the highest goals as quickly as possible. I signed up for tough tri at Castaic Lake, and truthfully, was not fully prepared or trained to do it. Fortunately, in retrospect, my wife woke up sick and I didn’t do the race. I was disappointed, something she recently reminded me of. I’m not sure what disappointed me the most, just not getting to do the race, or the fact that my dad was going to be there watching and I’m sure I wanted to impress him. Nevertheless, I pressed on, and figured out that I was sure that I could swim 2 miles and bike 112 miles, but had no clue if I could run the requisite 26.2 miles necessary to complete an ironman. So, my next goal took shape. I needed to run a marathon. This began a journey that led to me running nine marathons in the next six years. I also signed up for my first half ironman in 1993.

It was “Mike and Rob’s Most Excellent Triathlon”. About six weeks before the race my front wheel came off my bike while riding to work. I needed some stitches in my chin, bruised my shoulder and broke a bone in my wrist. I got a removable cast so I could get back in the pool and kept training. I finished the race and can now look back and realize that my training was never fully ideal for the distance, but I had finished.

I then got on with the task of marathon training so I could pursue my ironman goal. I chose the 1994 Los Angeles Marathon as my target race. True to form, I did the first mile way too fast and crashed and burned when I “hit the wall” at 18 miles, staggering home in 4 hours and 47 minutes.

We moved to Denver in the summer of 1994 and I was truly excited to be moving near the mecca of triathlon, Boulder. Ironically, there were far more tri’s in California at the time and I ended up focusing more on running marathons over the next several years. I achieved my best marathon time in 1997 in Philadelphia, running 3 hours and 35 minutes, but 2 years later, after doing 3 marathons over the course of several months, suffered a herniated disc (L5-S1) and stopped running. I fell into a bit of an exercise funk over the next few years, gained almost 20 pounds, and added considerable work related stress to my life.

The timing of this was both ironic and metaphorical. I had set a goal for myself of doing an ironman when I turned forty, and here I was, turning forty, with a herniated disc and getting out of shape. I was also commuting from Denver to Orlando every week and living a life completely consumed by work and stress. I decided that I should put off doing an ironman until I was fifty. My ability to rationalize my training became my ability to rationalize not training.

It was around 1999 when my dad told me he wanted to get in shape. I put him on a walking/running program and a funny thing happened, after 45 seconds of running, he felt very short of breath and had to stop. I told him to see the doctor. He did, and was set up for a treadmill. He cancelled his appointment and didn’t say anything to me. He came to visit us in Denver in 2000 and we were walking outside and he grabbed onto his chest. I told him he needed a treadmill, which he got an appointment for when he went home. This story ended with an aortic aneurysm repair and a triple bypass. My long held excuse for not worrying about heart disease because I didn’t have a family history was now long gone! I used this as my stimulus to get back into exercising and once again gravitated to doing triathlon’s as my goal methodology. I started cycling and doing some running and swimming and in 2003 resumed my triathlon quest.

As I look back upon my life, it is clear that I have a love for sports. There isn’t a sport I enjoy watching. I also love participating in sports, although the “safest” are non contact sports. There has clearly been an affinity to triathlons for a number of reasons. I’ve always said that the people who do triathlons are amongst the nicest you’ll ever meet. They tend to be focused on a healthy lifestyle and generally are more laid back. The fact that triathlon focuses on three different sports allows for variation, and this reduces boredom or any feeling of getting stale.

It’s taken awhile to really love swimming, but I love being in the water. It’s relaxing. As I’ve learned better technique, I’ve finally begun to develop that “feel” for the water that some swimmers talk about. This has helped me to enjoy swimming even more, and has helped me become a better swimmer. Prior to my last race (and bike accident), I was feeling like I was really coming into my own as a swimmer and was really looking forward to ironman swim training.

The science of becoming a better cyclist involves proper technique and effective training. Riding outdoors can be relaxing and enjoyable. I certainly look forward to the long lower intensity rides needed for ironman. I am clearly going to be relegated to long rides indoors for awhile, but can generally manage these by watching my favorite movies and just being happy about the physiologic progress that I’ll be making.

Running is clearly its own joy. There’s nothing like running on trails and just enjoying what’s around you. I will miss running for the next couple of months and will have to be careful when I come back to it. It’s going to be hard to not go out and try to run too much! When I started running seventeen years ago I needed headphones and music in order to withstand what I considered the tedium of running. I will never forget a long run I did a couple of years after getting started. It was in a nature reserve in orange county on the way to the beach. I was out for a long run with my headphones on. During the return part of the run, I took my headphones off and just began listening to the birds and appreciating the surroundings. I never wore headphones again! While I listen to “The Best of the Beach Boys” when I’m on the treadmill, I don’t need any outside stimulus when I’m running outdoors.

I haven’t even mentioned the transitions we do in triathlons. These add an additional component, and I see this as yet another discipline. I also consider myself to be somewhat of an aficionado when it comes to transitions, and my transition times support this.

Yes, I’m competitive. Yes, historically, I compete primarily with myself. While I am now more competitive with other people due to the improvements I’ve made over the last few years, at the end of the day, I enjoy participating. I enjoy the different disciplines. When I get too caught up in my times and my results, I find that I can be disappointed even when I “do well”. Winning my age group doesn’t have the joy and excitement that just giving my best effort has. Triathlon became a metaphor for the rest of my life, rather than being about my love of sport.

So, why do I tri? I tri because I love sports. I tri because it feels good to swim, bike and run. I tri because I like to see what my body can accomplish. I like the feeing of giving it my best, of trying my hardest. I tri because I love the sport of triathlon. Finally, I tri because I can. And I will continue to tri.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Official Diagnosis

So, I got the final report from my MRI and CT scans. I already knew about my distal clavicle fracture. The good news is that my rotator cuff is essentially intact. What was somewhat surprising was that I had an acetabular (hip) fracture that extended somewhat into my ischium and pubic bone (pelvis). The good news is that they were non-displaced and stable fractures. The bad news is that I can't run for 8 more weeks and need to minimize weight bearing pressure on my left hip in order to let it heal. So, no swimming or running for 8 more weeks.

The good news, however, is that the orthopedic surgeon has told me that I can do the St. George Ironman on May 1st. I will be healed by mid to late January and can resume my run and swim training at that time. In the meantime, I'm going to get tons of bike training in. In fact, I've already managed to get in rides of 60, 90 and 120 minutes this week (obviously on my indoor trainer).

I've been using a cane to keep the pressure off my left hip, and the stress of doing this adds up throughout the day. I've also been giving considerable thought to why I do triathlons. More on that in the coming days!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Contemplation and Flashbacks

I keep flashing back to my crash, and I'm now pretty sure that I may have gotten slightly disoriented just prior to the crash, having been swimming for an hour and jumping onto my bike. It certainly doesn't take long to lose control of a bike.

So, taking stock of my injuries, I can feel the left shoulder healing. I took off a piece at the end of the clavicle, but I don't know how important it is:). I'll have to wait until I get home to see someone and get some opinions. In the meantime, I can't use the shoulder, although I'm finally starting to get used to being able to use my left hand (i.e. typing this blog) without lifting my shoulder. My left hip is another story. At least I can walk, although it is slow, I think I move at about 2mph! It still hurts, and I'm having good days a bad days. Can't tell if it's a muscle or the bone that was chipped that hurts, I'll have to wait until I get home to have my fearless massage therapist figure it out:)!

It's taking a little work to "enjoy" a vacation with the injuries, but I have lots of time to sit ponder:). My triathlon future is certainly still out there, but the timing of it may have to pend seeing an orthopedist when I return. That said, the one thing that I thought about a lot while on the bike and thereafter was that I don't have anything left to "prove" to myself when it comes to triathlon, or anything else for that matter. I've been trying to understand my drive with tri's, and it clearly involves trying to "prove" that I can be a successful athlete. I think that I really need to work on just enjoying the activities, and as my coach always says I'm a better trainer than racer, that may not be too difficult to achieve.

The injury has taught me to slow down! I'm always moving at 100mph, so I think that this is a good thing.

Well, my shoulder is saying it's time to stop typing:)