Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Positive Progress

Good news to report from today's run. I made it almost two miles today without knee pain. An easy, slow pace but nonetheless a positive result. A little discomfort on the uphill incline but I'll take a little discomfort. Unfortunately, the Richmond marathon isn't going to happen. Three weeks isn't going to be enough to get from here to 26.2 miles. But I'm sure I can comfortably do the half marathon and I'm looking forward to that. Then I can find another race in December or January and set myself an achievable goal for that race.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Good News and Bad News

I first posted this on the Team Compex blog but wanted to add it here also.

I want to start by thanking everyone for their tips and suggestions for next year’s race schedule. I’m working on finishing up the first draft of that - some things may change based on finances and my future job situation but I think having those goals to shoot for and knowing I might run into some Compex teammates will keep me really motivated over the next year.

I had some good news over the last week. First, my doctor thinks that my knee pain is resulting from straining my quad. And of course, once my knee started to hurt, I started to focus on strengthening my quad to support my knee, increasing the strain. So the last week has been lots of yoga, stretching, ART, and Compex Active Recovery to try to help my quad loosen up. Of course, it still hurts to run. In fact, it still hurts to walk but I’m being optimistic. Second, my biopsy results came back negative so I don’t have to worry about that any more!

Then some bad news. I was perfectly fine and healthy all last week. I was excited about doing the Army Ten Miler on Sunday - even with the sore knee. I picked up my number at the expo as soon as it opened on Friday. Then, right after dinner on Saturday, I started to feel nauseous. I thought maybe I was just tired - I’d worked at the bike shop the last 3 days. So I went to bed nice and early (at around 8:00) and set my alarm for the race the next morning. The alarm went off, I fed the cats and felt okay. Then I went out to walk the dog. And as we walked, I started to feel worse and worse. My tummy was not happy. I was really achy and then began to alternate between being really warm and really cold and realized that the race wasn’t going to happen for me. I double checked and I did have a fever, so back to bed. I never did feel good yesterday but by mid-day today I was feeling fine so now I’m going to look for something fun to do this weekend or next and keep working on my quad between now and then.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Happy News

Two bits of happy news today. First, I found out that my knee injury isn't really a knee injury. It was actually a quad strain that was causing pain around the knee. So of course, my focusing on strengthening the quad to support the injured knee was just making it worse. Instead, I need to focus on stretching the quad and relieving the strain. I know that I'll be using my Compex Active Recovery every day between now and the Army Ten Miler on Sunday. It's already feeling better and I'm looking forward to my next run.

Second, I received the results of my biopsy and confirmed that it's benign. So no need to worry about cancer and I can start planning some fun but challenging events for next season. Kinetic here I come! And the new Xterra wetsuit that is on it's way is going to be very much appreciated at such an early season race.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Planning For Next Season

I've been trying to post this on the Team Compex blog but haven't been able to. So it's here and I'll get it up there too. Sorry for the somewhat duplication from the last post.

Everyone has been so good about recommending late season marathons that I thought I’d solicit your help. As of Tuesday, I’ll know better about whether I’ll be able to race or not next year and I’m trying to put together a plan of races that are really going to excite me - either a great challenge or really fun or something else that sets them apart and is really motivating.

Some specific races that I’m currently tossing around include:

Short Course Duathlon Nationals in April (and then Worlds in the fall if I qualify)

Kinetic Half Ironman in May (this is a definite, I’m going to do with a friend)

American Zofingen Duathlon in May (a maybe, debating between sanity of the short course (5/29/5 or the insanity of the long course (5/84/15)

Rev 3 Quassy Half Ironman in June (this is for my family so this is a definite)

Half Full Triathlon in October (I’d like to go back when I’ve trained)

Some other ideas that I have but which I don’t have a lot of specificity on:

A trail ultra - Some friends are going to apply for the Leadville 100 MTB Ride which made me think maybe trying to get into that 100 Trail run but (a) my asthma probably isn’t going to support that altitude and (b) I should probably start with 50 miles (I’ve done 50k). I think a mountain bike race would be fun, but I’m not a good mountain bike rider so 100 miles is daunting enough that I don’t think Leadville MTB is for me. But which 50 or 100 should I try?

An Ironman - I’m going to do one at some point. Why not now when I need something really motivating to get me going? But if so, which one? I’m not good in heat. I’m not that good on hills. I’m actually not that good on flats either - rollers would be nice.

A marathon - I’ll learn more from my doctor on Monday but I don’t think my knee is going to support my marathon this fall so that is likely to become a half-marathon. Which means I should try a marathon again next year.

A mountain bike race - Why not? I won’t be good which means it will be just like by road bike and cylco-cross racing.

So I’d love ideas. Where do you think I should put Compex to work next year?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Next Season

I still have a lot of open questions about my life going forward but I'm starting to get excited about planning for next season, setting some goals and getting ready to move forward. The first question won't be settled for over a week so no decisions until then. However races I'm thinking of include:

Kinetic Half Ironman - this one is for Nick. As long as I can race, we're going to train and do this one together in early May. Because swimming in cold water is always my strength!

Rev3 Quassy - early June and this is for my parents. I told them I'd do this race this year after doing Eagleman last. Quassy is far closer to my parents than Eagleman and it will be nice to include a family visit with a race trip.

HalfFull Triathlon - this one is for me. I had a great time and I'd like to go back to this race when I've trained.

Some other races include Duathlon Nationals in April, maybe American Zofingen, hopefully Gihon, maybe an Ironman, maybe a 50m trail ultra, maybe a marathon. I need something exciting to get me going!

My first step: train 7 straight days. I'm at 3 as of today. Friday is going to be the biggest challenge. I need to be at the doctors at 7:15 and at work at 11. I'm not sure that's going to leave any time to fit in a workout. And as I can't lift anything heavy after the doctors, I'm not sure I could train anyway.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Half Full Triathlon

If there is any experience at any event that can prove how amazing the Compex Sport Elite is, I think that my experience during and after the Half Full Triathlon is that one. My results at this race are nothing to brag about but how I felt and how I recovered sure are!

To explain, as I’ve written before, I’ve had some difficult times this summer that have really impacted my training and I cancelled every race I was supposed to do between Eagleman in June and this race in October. I’ve done fairly well recently at keeping up with my yoga, pilates and core work and with doing some pull work on my swim bench. But I’ve been mostly unable to actually swim, run or bike due to some more emotional challenges. I didn’t realize just how bad this was until I went back and looked at my log after Sunday’s race. My last swim was an easy open water swim on June 16. My last run was an easy 35 minutes in early September. And my last bike ride was actually before that - and I don’t want to admit just how pathetically short that was.

On the good side, when I sit down at my desk to work, I have been using my Compex either on the endurance or the Active Recovery programs. Definitely not a substitute for training but I have been keeping to a structured program of using my Compex.

Last fall I had registered for the inaugural Half Full Triathlon this past Sunday. It’s a fundraising event for the Ulman Cancer Fund and there were going to be a ton of cancer survivors there as well as a large group from Team Fight. Even though I was by no means ready for this race, I thought that if they could get out there and race, I could at least get myself to the start line. From there, my goals were pretty simple: keep going until I crossed the finish line or I missed a time cutoff - with no training, I was a little worried about just how slow I would be.

I’m going to give you all the blow-by-blow boring details below but here’s the very pro-Compex summary. I used my Compex on the massage program on Saturday after heading up to the expo, racking my bike, and doing some brief core and swim bench work. Needed to get ready for the race! During the race, I never experienced muscle soreness. In fact, I only felt a bit of tiring/cramping in my quads going up one hill on the bike. I wasn’t setting any speed records but I wasn’t hurting either (admittedly, my knee was but that started a couple of weeks ago and I need to get in to the doctor for that). I finished and during my post-race massage, the therapist commented on how loose my muscles were and how great my flexibility was. He asked what I’d done and I told him about my secret weapon. I used the Compex Recovery Plus program when I got home and Monday morning woke up to absolutely no muscle soreness. Not a twinge. Not going downstairs. Not going upstairs. Not standing or sitting or anything. The only pain I had all day was in that knee when I had to wear heels.

So while I don’t advocate ever doing a half-ironman without training, I have to rave about how Compex protects me from my own stupidity. Thank you, thank you Compex!!

Now the details for anyone who is interested:

The day started with one of those comedy of errors types of situations. I woke up about 3 am to go to the bathroom. First thought, ‘yeah! I’m hydrated.’ Second thought, ‘my head and throat shouldn’t hurt like this. And I’m really thirsty. Oops.’ So some tylenol and a glass of water and back to bed until my alarm went off at 4:15. Alarm goes off and my head hurts even worse so I hit snooze and lay back down. Right after the cats get comfy on top of me, I bolt upright, throwing cats off the bed because I’ve remembered that I can’t oversleep. The entrance to the park closes at 6:30 and I need to leave the house by 5:15 to get there on time and I haven’t packed. Downstairs, two more tylenol, print my checklist and start the packing. At 5:15, I’ve got the basics but haven’t grabbed any nutrition for the race. Oh well I think, they’ll be something on the course and if I don’t leave now, it won’t matter how much nutrition I have as I won’t be able to get to the race.

On the drive up, I was so happy that it was early enough that the roads weren’t crowded. Not only was I making good time but tylenol makes me really sleepy and I’m not sure I was the safest driver. I managed to get to the race location at 6:20. But I was so tired by that point that I decided to nap in the car for 15 minutes before heading over to transition. Phone alarm goes off and I’m jogging across the field from my parking location to the transition area. I got there as they were announcing 18 minutes until transition closed. So more of my being completely unprepared for this race - and usually I’m so organized, I have a checklist that I double and triple check. I got my bike set to go, put the half bottle of water I’d brought for the drive and my empty bottles on the bike hoping there would be water on the course, found a packet of cytomax in my bag to put in one of the empty bottles, found my helmet, glasses, chip, shoes, socks and race belt. Then I grabbed my wetsuit and swim cap with 2 minutes to go, got body marked and ran down to the swim start. (BTW, despite the hurry, that nap - best idea ever!)

Down at the swim start, I realize I’m still wearing my rings and necklace and now I’m worried about losing them in the water. What to do? I decide to put the rings on the chain and tuck it into my jog bra. It will be under the wetsuit and hopefully safe. My new Xterra wetsuit won’t be here until next week and the zipper on my old suit stuck again but a nice woman waiting to swim helped me get that up all the way. In line for the start I was able to talk to some of the other women, including one doing her first half-ironman - and willing to swim in 65 degree water without a wetsuit!

The swim was a time-trial start. We were in waves but within our wave we stated in pairs at 5 second intervals. Love this! No banging, no crowds. The only time I got banged was going around the 2nd turn buoy - that’s a great pleasure compared to normal. I did have a problem when I first hit the water. All of a sudden, my wetsuit felt too tight and I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t figure out why until I remembered the 65 degree water and that I have asthma. Once I realized it was just an asthma attack, I realized that I would warm up and it would go away so just kept swimming. After that, my only problem was that they told us to keep the buoys on our right and one of the turn buoys was so far to the left that I almost missed it and headed for the buoy to the right of it. Thankfully I wasn’t the only one - even a friend who is a good swimmer told me that she did the same thing. After that, my only issue is the standard swim one for me - I’m so slow that I get bored before I get out of the water. I was also a bit concerned about the swim cut off and glad when I realized I was at the swim exit before I even saw it coming up.

Ran out of the water, began taking off my wetsuit and noticed that my chain, the one I’d put my wedding band and engagement ring on was loose and hanging down the front of my tri-top. My first thought was that they were lost in the water. My second, that didn’t make sense, they would have been in the wetsuit so they were probably somewhere between the swim exit and my bike. My third, it didn’t really matter. I was going to have to take them off someday, wouldn’t this be a rather good karma way to make that happen. Kind of a breakthrough for me. So I grabbed the chain and threw it in my transition bag when I got to my spot. I thought my wedding band might have been tangled up in it but wasn’t sure and didn’t take the time to check.

Got transitioned and headed out on the bike. I knew the course would be hard, I’ve ridden Columbia before and this was hillier and some of the hills were on rough road surfaces. And I was slow - 4 hours on the bike, that’s an average of 14mph! But despite the knee pain, it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. I guess it’s hard to feel like climbing a hill is that hard when (a) it’s nothing compared to Killer Miller on the Savageman course and (b) the person next to you is wearing a jersey that says Team Fight or Survivor 2010. As one group’s kit said “F* Cancer!” with the Lance Armstrong quote: “Pain is temporary. Quitting is forever.” On a more practical basis, I stopped at the first water stop confusing the volunteers who kept trying to hand me bottles as I rode by. I explained that I had to unscrew my bottles to fill them with water. I also found out that at least one of the volunteers was from the DC Tri Club!! Mixed up my Cytomax. Ate the one Hammer Gel I’d managed to grab and headed on. BTW, I should add - the volunteers here, at all of the intersections, and throughout the course were just great.

Filled with water, having some actual nutrition, I was ready to go. My only problem, on the next rough downhill, the yellow mesh thing that keeps the water in the aero bottle bounce right out and water started shooting all over me. I was really grateful that wasn’t the Cytomax but a little annoyed at the cold water on a cold day. Was passed by Elizabeth from DC Tri and the HIP program and she was looking good on the bike and ended up having a great day. Hit the second water stop and stopped to empty my aerobottle and took a gel. I don’t want to mention the name of the product but I’m not having that one again! The taste was horrible. In fact my reaction was so obvious that the two closest volunteers started laughing. After that it was out for the second loop which was pretty uneventful. My only concern, based on my pace, was that there would be some sort of bike cutoff that I wouldn’t make but eventually I was on the final section back into transition. That part cruelly has some climbs you don’t expect, right when you are ready to be off the bike. Thankfully, other than my knee, everything felt okay. No back pain, no muscle pain, not even a sore neck. And many kudos to Sugoi try shorts because no pain in any sensitive areas either.

Off the bike and into transition. Surprisingly, also able to run into transition and I didn’t have that bottom of the foot pain I’d had at Eagleman. Of course, there were a couple of challenges in transition. For example, I had to spend time digging through my transition bag looking for something I could eat on the run because I knew I wasn’t eating the race supplied product again. I found an opened packet of Clif Bloks, took a couple of Endurolytes and headed out to run. Shockingly, still able to run!

The run was fun. Again, there were great volunteers all over. I found some people to run with and talk to for a while. I knew I’d need to walk a bit so I used the strategy of walking for 1 minute after each mile marker at either the first hill or aid station I hit. That worked really well. Most of the time I maintained about a 10 minute mile pace, which felt really good. The course wasn’t as hilly as the Columbia tri course and very doable, especially with my hill walking rule. Sooner than I’d expected (but still really slowly), I was taking the turn to the finish - which, of course, was uphill. Just at the entry to the finish shoot, I heard my name and saw a friend cheering for me which was a great treat.

The finish was well done. A volunteer met me with a space blanket and a medal, offered to take off my chip, got me water, asked if I needed a chair, helped me get my finishers t-shirt and didn’t leave me until she knew I was fine and ready to head off for food. A yummy burrito sans tortilla, a really good massage, a brief race de-brief with Suzanne (the friend from the finish), a second burrito, and I was ready to check out lost and found. And shockingly, they’d found my engagement ring. Later, I found my wedding band - I had thrown it in my bag. So I did lose the pendent I’d had on the chain but nothing else.

Overall, a success. I did a race. I enjoyed it. I made a big emotional breakthrough. And I’ve been able to train this week and am beginning to get motivated to set some goals for next year. Waiting another week or two for the results of a medical test before making any commitments for next season but I think this is good.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Ragnar and Yoga (Not at the Same Time)

Over this weekend, I was able to volunteer at the Washington DC Ragnar Relay. It was a great experience and it really motivated me to join a team for one of next year’s relays. I worked at Exchange 33 out of 36 so by the time the teams got to us they were tired and, with the temperatures in the 90s, really hot. But they were all still really enthusiastic and positive. It was great to see the teams with costumes - some memorable options include the banana costume, the man running in red ‘Flash’ underoos and compression socks, the team in short black shorts and bow ties. It was amazing to see the teams that were running competitively, especially the ultra teams. And motivating to see the teams of friend that were just out to have fun.

I brought my Compex to share with waiting teams but that didn’t work out as well as I’d hoped. We were the first shift so we waited 2 and a half hours for the first team to come through but once they did, runners started coming through pretty consistently for the rest of my shift. I did share my Compex with some volunteers as we waited and a runner from one of the earlier teams. The runner had cramping calves and a brief experience with the recovery plus program (they didn’t have time for the full program) helped stop his cramps. The EMTs who came by to wait with us for a while also really liked the Compex unit, they spent quite a bit of time looking through the manual and guide. I have a couple of photos to share and the response from everyone was really positive.

On an unrelated note, I learned a new lesson about my own Compex use. I’ve been pretty consistent about using Active Recovery after my run and bike training (even if not as consistent with my training!). But I didn’t think about using it after my tough yoga/pilates class yesterday and boy did I suffer when I got out of bed this morning. My quads, my glutes and my abs all let me know that I’d asked a lot of them and hadn’t rewarded them for their hard work. I did some more yoga today and I made sure to follow up with my Compex. Sadly, there isn’t a recovery program for abs so I’ll just have to hope that they are a little less sore tomorrow than they were today.