It’s Been Way Too Long …

Posted in: Ironman, recovery

Wow, I have  not blogged for around 8 months; it had been so long that I forgot how to access my blog admin page to login.  I’ve wanted to blog, but seems like life just got extremely busy.  I started the Masters Degree program in Christian Apologetics at Biola University in September, and between that and getting back into Ironman training and racing after my  bike crash and surgery, blogging definitely took a backseat.  So I’ll try to update as briefly as possible.

After the crash in June, surgery in July and moving to Prague, I spent August and September trying to get into some sort of shape again.  I seemed so far from the athlete I was that it was quite humbling.  I basically rode a stationary bike and walked uphill on a treadmill for 6 weeks.  I wasn’t allowed to get in the pool for 8 weeks post surgery due to the large incision and risk of infection.  After 8 weeks, I was in the pool but mostly doing kick sets and slowly working up to being able to swim 10 x 100m without pain.  It probably wasn’t until November when I could do a real swim workout.  But, I think the injury was good for my swimming in that now I have to pay attention to my stroke or my shoulder will scream at me.  I’ve really only worked up to swimming 4 days per week maximum and I have found that my swimming is actually improved – my recent race results all show a consistent improvement in my swimming.  Just goes to show you that quantity is not always the answer to performance improvement.

In February I was ready to race again, and was fortunate to be able to take a 7 week trip to Australia and New Zealand.   Geelong 70.3 was my first race back and I was quite nervous about just staying on my bike for this one as I had only ridden outside twice since my crash at Ironman CDA in June.  So, now I was embarking on 56 miles on the left side of the road in a place that could get extremely windy.  Not only that, but the course has around 7 U-turns in it – yikes!  I was overly cautious on the bike, especially at the U-turns and at any aid stations, but I somehow still managed the fastest bike split of the day.  Looking at my power file after the race, I knew something was wrong with my bike fit – I lost A LOT of time due to poor aerodynamics for sure.  Anyway, I had an ok run in that race and finished 5th overall – behind some pretty incredible ladies too.

Next, I headed over to Taupo, New Zealand to get ready for the Ironman there.  I stayed with an awesome family for around 4 weeks, and was amazed by Taupo’s beauty and friendliness.  One thing I could do without are the rough road surfaces in New Zealand.  I had a not that great day in Ironman NZ and finished 4th; however, I was delighted to finish.  I think I was slightly undertrained for the bike leg, as I had only done one 4 hr ride up until 2 weeks before the race.  Then 2 weeks and 1 week prior to race day, I got in about 5 – 5 1/2 hrs of mostly race pace riding.  This is by far the least amount of cycling I have ever done leading into an Ironman and I think mentally I doubted myself a bit.  I had some severe glute and low back cramping on the run with about 10 miles to go and I had no idea why.  Since I was supposed to race another Ironman in 2 weeks, I saw a massage therapist several times and my gluteal muscles were severely tight.  I had also developed a sharp pain in my left gluteal area and upper hamstring and found it very painful to bend forward.  I had no idea what the issue was, but went into Ironman Melbourne ready to give it a go.

Well, Melbourne was again not meant to be.  I think this race is cursed for me or something as last year I was in the shape of my life and got terribly sick just before the race.  Now, this year I was racing ok and was around mile 65 ish into the bike and I crashed into an age group athlete that I was lapping.  Ugh!  We were both ok, but my bike was badly damaged and my rear derailleur was sheared off – I got on my bike to continue on before I realized that the bike was no longer operable.  My race was over!  Later, I would find out my frame was cracked and totaled – good thing I had insurance on it.  I got a ride back to the transition area after waiting on the side of the road for over an hour.  Then since the finish and transition were basically 42km apart, I had to catch a bus to the finish – all this time I had no change of clothes, no phone, no money, no food or water, nothing!  I have to say that I am terribly disappointed with the race organization at this race.  I am sure they take super great care of the superstars, the Tier 1 professionals; however, for those of us a little lower on the ladder, the basic feeling was that we had zero value.  There was a stark contrast between this race and CDA – the race director from Ironman CDA called me personally a few days later to ask how I was after the crash and to find out if there were any safety issues that the course organizers should address in the future.  And that wasn’t just because I was a professional, he called EVERY athlete that had a crash during the race that was reported to him.  No such concern or professionalism from the Ironman Melbourne crew!

Overall, my trip to Australia and New Zealand was very positive.  It seemed like a good starting point for the 2015 season and I was ready to build on that.  But, I could not shake the pain in my left glute and hamstring, and it became more and more apparent that I had sciatic nerve issues.  Well, 2 months later, and lots of pain and missed training later, I have finally been diagnosed with a herniated L5-S1 disc.  It’s pretty severe, but I am optimistic that I can avoid surgery with some aggressive PT.  I trust God to work this out for good too.  This could be a “career” ending injury; before I ever really got my triathlon career going.  In my heart, I don’t feel like I am done; I believe I still have a lot more to do in the sport of triathlon.  And I believe God is guiding me toward that and that this is all part of the journey.



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