With that said, when I embarked on my return to triathlon in 2005 after a long layoff, I began to look for a coach to help me reach my goal of completing my first Ironman. A very demanding job and family kept me from overtraining. The internet was filled with great information to help me. Gordo Byrn’s site and forum was my favorite. I trained on my own up until eight or so weeks before the day of my first Ironman in Florida. I was clueless on how to handle the nutrition, pacing, and approach the race. I needed some help. I needed a coach!
Friday, December 26, 2008
With that said, when I embarked on my return to triathlon in 2005 after a long layoff, I began to look for a coach to help me reach my goal of completing my first Ironman. A very demanding job and family kept me from overtraining. The internet was filled with great information to help me. Gordo Byrn’s site and forum was my favorite. I trained on my own up until eight or so weeks before the day of my first Ironman in Florida. I was clueless on how to handle the nutrition, pacing, and approach the race. I needed some help. I needed a coach!
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Well, winter has hit in Oklahoma. The kids missed two days of school last week because of ice on the streets. Now they are home for two weeks for Christmas break. This means that Rob and I are spending more time training indoors on the computrainer.
I don't look forward to training indoors on the bike. I like the computrainer just fine, but it is a distant second to riding outside. I really enjoy riding in rural Oklahoma and just being outside.
So, I have set a few house rules for this season of indoor training. Just like when my parents, driving the car, warned my brother and I "don't make me pull this thing over", when we got a little rambunctious in the backseat, I will say...
"don't make me get off this thing" when I am on the computrainer.
To my kids:
Don't ask me to make you something to eat. I don't think you will starve in an hour.
Don't ask me to fix your hair, put lotion on you, tie your shoes, or floss your teeth. I think you can do all those things yourself, and I'm sure not going to get off the trainer to do it for you.
Don't make me solve your "she/he has been on the Wii ALL DAY and I haven't had a turn!" problems. My solution is to turn it off, and you won't like that.
And for my husband -- I can't really tell you what to do so here is my "make some major brownie points" list:
Please keep your cell phone with you while you are in the house so I can ask you to bring me stuff while I am on the trainer.
Please ask me if I am about to ride before you take my bike off the trainer and put yours on. You could win "Double Browie Points" if you put my bike back on the trainer when you were finished, too. (A girl can dream, can't she?)
Please don't expect me to be pleasant when I am doing intervals or when I am at 3:20 of a 3:30 indoor trainer ride. It is humanly impossible.
We can all get through this winter if we just work together!
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
I’m a busy guy and trying to fit in workouts in three sports is a big challenge. To save time, I keep my workout equipment including swim and running stuff in my car. I use the passenger’s headrest to drape my swimsuit over to dry, and the back seat to hang and dry used workout towels. I have gym bags water bottles and other equipment recklessly strewn about. I call it my mobile locker room. My partners at work have expensive cars like Mercedes, BMW’s, and Porsches, and I drive a Ford Explorer mobile locker room.
The other day I had my kids in the back seat taking them to gymnastics meet. My son Braden, who seems to always express his opinion about everything, said, “Dad, your car stinks. It smells like a dead rat!” Well, I know for a fact and from personal experience that isn’t true. I have had the dead animal smell permeate my vehicle before and this smell isn’t close.
Dana and I were on the road to the Redman Triathlon in 2005. Suddenly, as were driving down the turnpike, there was a grinding noise in the air-conditioner and then it stopped working. I thought a belt had broken. So I just rolled down the windows and opened the vents. As the drive wore on a peculiar odor began to permeate the car. It was bad, really bad. Dana said that she was about to vomit.
I lived with the smell for a few days by driving with all the windows open. I am often forced to endure terrible smells at work like the smell of burning flesh and dead necrotic bowel. Necrotic dead bowel… Now that is nasty! I can tolerate bad smells. However, the stench had now started to take over the garage and I think the smell was even sticking to my clothing. I was unable to take it any longer. I took the car into the shop to see what cause of the awful smell was. It reminded me of that episode of "Seinfeld"when Jerry couldn’t get rid of the body odor smell the valet left in his car. Another link with video” The Smelly Car"
The shop guys couldn’t sit in the car very long either. “How can you stand it” they said .They opened it up the system and found chunks of a chopped up field mouse in my air-conditioner fan and hoses. Apparently, the vermin had made its home in my car air-conditioning system and met his fate when he walked into the spinning fan. They had to remove and replace the fan, hoses, and fumigate the car for 24 hours to rid it of its awful smell. Ughh! Eventually, I had to sell that car. I think the entire ordeal cost me a grand!
So, “No Braden, it doesn’t smell like a dead rat! You have no idea. “
I have to admit, my car is looking pretty messy. It needs a good cleaning. When my eight-year-old son complains about it, I suppose I should get it detailed. Maybe I will be able to do that in the near future, but until then the kids will just have to tolerate it and be glad that they don’t have to endure the smell of a dead rat or dead bowel.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
...our twins were born. They were tiny, each weighing in at about 3 1/2 pounds. They spent the first month or so of their life in the NICU. The nurses "bunked" them together, they seemed to function better that way.
We brought them home and spent a lot of time with them snuggled up on our chests.
Rob had a bit more hair then!
Today they are twelve years old. They still enjoy being together, and would rather play with each other than anyone else on the earth.
Playing house "Oklahoma Style".
She is your mirror, shining back at you with a world of possibilities. She is your witness, who sees you at your worst and best, and loves you anyway. She is your partner in crime, your midnight companion, someone who knows when you are smiling, even in the dark. She is your teacher, your defense attorney, your personal press agent, even your shrink. She is your twin, your sister. ~Barbara Alpert
Happy Birthday Payton and Paige!
Friday, October 24, 2008
This past year, I went into my old files and analyzed the anatomy of my good season last year and compared it to my poor season this year. I loaded up the charts on the computer and looked at them. Granted, this is only cycling data, it still gave me a feel for my fitness during both seasons, because the other sports training paralleled my cycling. Below is an image of my 2008 season. Click to enlarge. Following that is an image from 2007 season.
The first thing that I found, which was obvious, was the lack of consistency and progression this year in comparison to last year. I missed a lot of days this year. I just couldn’t get myself out the door. The rides that I did do, lacked direction, focus, and intensity. My motivation was lacking and I just didn’t get out and hit it like I should have. There were a lot of gaps in training and my (chronic training load)CTL, the blue line, and (acute training load)ATL, the red line, numbers were low. My CTL didn’t get much over 25/d for this entire season. In 2007, I was hovering in the 60’s all year and before Hawaii, I was in the upper 80’s. This year, I went into races unprepared but I still had fun despite my lack of performance. I needed the break physically and mentally.
I read this post on Joe Friel's blog and now understand that I what I did by “feel” in 2007, was right on despite not having a graph to look at. The CTL dropped around 10% before each race, and the (training stress balance) TSB rose above the zero line to just below +20, before each race.
If you look at the graph, at around the beginning of September, I took a 100+-mile ride. It rained for the entire day and when I went out on the bike a few days later, and the SRM didn’t work. I had to send it back to Colorado for repair. The big drop in CTL/ATL and huge rise in TSB isn’t a massive taper. It was just a month or so riding without power while the folks at SRM in Colorado fixed the water damage to the unit. It picks up again September 23rd. However, I do like long tapers before Ironaman races.
I’ve started to monitor my running and swimming with the same methods and it gives me a good idea where I am graphically. The graphs usually match my subjective feelings. I suppose I could continue to use the “feel” approach. Some would think it is a little silly to do all this data gathering and analyzing, my wife for one, but it works for me. I’m a scientist and I enjoy doing training experiments on myself. I have kept detailed training logs for years and I often go back and see what worked and what didn’t. I have also found that, by coaching others, what works for me doesn’t work for everyone. These graphs just give me information that is more objective so that maybe I can reproduce positive results more frequently. If things go wrong, I can look at the data and then develop theories why. I think combining them with the, subjective, “feel” method is the way to do it.
Ironically, Marky V is now is coached by Paulo Sousa, who is the author of The Triathlon Book Blog ,who trashes the TSS method and coaches by “feel” without all the bells and whistles. It looks like Mark believes the same thing.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
At school, I help in the library only because I love to read, and I love the Dewey Decimal System. My favorite job is putting the books back in order. Everything has it’s place. So therapeutic.
I also don’t like to drive on most field trips. I have a problem with field trips to the mall, or Starbucks, or the Imax theater. Yeah, my kids have been on all those. Really. Maybe I am getting old, but I hear myself saying "When I was a kid, we only had one field trip a year. And it was to a ‘field’". And we walked.
A field trip to Starbucks? When I was a kid we didn’t HAVE Starbucks.
All my kids play sports, but I’m not really into their sports that much. Braden is playing flag football, which I love to watch because they are just SO CUTE. But I don’t really know what is going on most of the time. Looks like to me they do a fair share of just standing around.
Payton has been working on a certain skill in gymnastics that has alluded her for TWO YEARS. I never ask about it, I’m sure she will tell me when she gets it. I look at it this way, what a great life lesson – she has been attempting something and failing for two years. But she won’t give up. In this day of instant gratification, there aren’t many opportunities to learn a lesson like that. Awesome. There I go again, sounding old.
Paige swims, but I couldn’t tell you her best times in any event, or if the were a "B" time or an "A" time, or whatever. I don’t understand why she occasionally gets DQ’d, I think that is just mean!I do know that she has fun, she looks beautiful, smooth, and elegant when she swims, and she loves the breaststroke the best. What else does a mom need to know?
I don’t like to micromanage my kids school work, either. We can look up their grades on the computer but I don’t unless they ask me to. When I was a kid, my parents didn’t ask about my grades. I guess they were OK or I would have heard about it. I don’t help with homework unless they really need it. If they ask me a question, I often tell them to "Google it".
When I was a kid we didn’t have Google.
Well, this week, I became "Supermom". And I have the pictures to prove it!
I volunteered in the lunch room at school. It didn’t quite look this bad. But I was so busy opening milk cartons, passing out trays and squirting ketchup that I couldn’t take a picture.
I watched Braden’s first flag football game. Serious standing around.
I took the girls to see the US Olympic Gymnastic Team put on a show at the convention center. Maybe that will encourage Payton to work hard on that devil of a skill.
I drove on a "field trip" to the zoo. At least it wasn't Starbucks. Here is Braden drawing a picture of a rhino.
I watched Paige’s swim meet. Here is a picture of her just after getting DQ’d for turning over too much as she touched the wall at the end of her 50 M backstroke race. I told you that is mean!
I went on a "mom and me" camp out with my son. 24 hours in the woods with a bunch of 8 year olds. Actually pretty fun, but my superpowers were starting to weaken.
We finished off the week with a birthday party for Paige and Payton. I am exhausted. One week of being a Supermom is enough. Zen mom is coming back. Just breathe.
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
It’s been a while since I updated this blog. I just haven’t had much idle time since the training has picked back up again. I am back running again and it feels good.
I have added another contributor to “Robsworld”, Dana, my wife. She, of course, is a large part of my world and adds a touchy feely component to the writing. Our coach, Dave LaTourette, describes us as “ying and yang“. I am all numbers, heart rates, paces, power numbers and I don’t have a bit of trouble taking my training indoors if I have to. In other words, I’m a geek. I also have a dry sarcastic scene of humor. Dana, on the other hand, could care less about paces and power numbers and just loves getting out with her friends to socialize on a ride. She is positive, bubbly and fun.
Dana has posted under my name before on previous posts. Now folks won’t think I am a cross dresser racing as a 39-year-old blonde woman. Now that’s a sick thought.
Last week we raced the first annual Tall Chief open water challenge. It was a small race put on by the Tulsa Masters Swim organization and Denise Smart at the Zink Ranch. 36 swimmers attended it and it should grow with each year. I placed second overall in the 2 mile and Dana was 4th in the female division. The guy that won was Christian Ballard from Oklahoma City. I was able to hang with him for around 500 yards then he juked left and dropped me from his draft. I thought,” who is this guy?” After the race, he told me he grew up in California and swam for UC Berkeley as a distance specialist in the mid 90’s. I just wish he had let this old man drag behind him a little longer. When all was said and done, he blew me away by 2 minutes. He was so strong. I have work to do!
Doug Leib raced the Duathlon world championships in Rimini, Italy last weekend. The weather there was horrible and he crashed on the bike. Check out his blog here for details.
This past weekend Dana and I traveled to Austin, TX with the Chance crew (our kids) for the Longhorn 70.3. Dana raced and I was the sherpa, gear runner, master kid herder, and long road driver. I did some running down at the Town Lake trail Saturday morning. What a spectacle, it seemed like everyone who was a runner in Austin was down there. It was congested just like Austin's highways
The Longhorn 70.3 race had 2000 people in it. Big race! We spent a lot of time in lines. There was a line to pick up the race packet. It took two hours to wait in a line of traffic and drop the bike off at the transition and on race morning there was a line at 5 am to get into the park. While we were waiting in traffic jam the morning of the race, the song “Lunatic Fringe” by Red Rider popped into my head. When you are racing, you are so into it you don’t realize how silly it really is. All these were people lining up at 5 am on a Sunday morning to pummel themselves. They paid to do it, too!
While I was dropping Dana off at the race, the kids were back at the hotel asleep. I was back in the room before they even knew I was gone. Our three kids don’t have the patience to hang out at a sprint race, let alone a half ironman so I chose to give them a few more hours in the room before we headed out to the 50 mile marker of the bike to watch the final section of the bike and the run. It was still a long day for them.
Dana at 50 miles and looking strong
Dana on the run with the kids in the background cheering her on.
Dana did great and she finished under 5 hours, which was her goal. She finished 3rd in the 35-39AG. After her finish, I sent her to grab food, then her bike out of transition, and we got out of there. We were back in Tulsa by 9:15 that night. It probably took less time to drive than it would have if we had flown. If you have read my past blogs, you know my past experiences with air travel.
Jessica Myers-Jones, a pro triathlete Dana and I train with sometimes here in Tulsa, did great in her debut at the 70.3 distance. She was 8th overall amongst the pros.
Jessica looking strong on the run.
I did some analysis of my 2007 and 2008 seasons using the Performance Manager on Cycling peaks. I will highlight that a bit during my next post. Some interesting (if you are a geek) but obvious findings.
Friday, September 26, 2008
My kids didn’t have school today, so we were all just hanging out around the house. I was scheduled to do a key bike workout, some ten-minute efforts with wattage numbers starting with a 2. I figured I would put the bike on the Computrainer and get the workout done while the kids hung out in the other part of the house. Well, there were two problems with that.
One, it was an absolutely perfect day outside, and the though of sweating out those somewhat uncomfortable intervals inside changed everything about the workout. They would be fun outside, hammering up and down the road, enjoying the Indian Summer. But inside, ugh. Sweating all over the floor, counting the minutes as they ticked slowly by, with perceived exertion much higher than it would be outside. I am just not an inside workout girl. I rode several 4-hour rides this winter outside when the temperature never reached 30. That was more appealing than the trainer to me.
Secondly, my kids love love LOVE the computer. Having mom hog the computer for a stupid bike ride would be cruel in their eyes. They fight over who gets to use it, and I have to allocate computer time like gold bars. Braden builds virtual LEGO cities. He knows how to customize a LEGO order and put it in a virtual shopping cart. If that kid ever gets his hands on my credit card number I am going to be in big trouble. The twins love making web pages on Piczo, and playing Webkins.
So I decided I would leave the girls in charge for a little while and go on my bike ride outside. They will be twelve next month. I guess they are ready. But I don’t know if I am. I gave last minute instructions, made sure I had my phone, told them to call me if they needed anything, and I was off. I felt so…strange. Apprehensive, but … free. I worried the whole ride, but I had a fantastic workout. For the last twelve years, I have always had to find “coverage” -- someone to watch the kids while I worked out. Rob and I would often tag team, which means we hardly ever get to train together. Or we would find a babysitter. Many times, I have had a group of training partners waiting on me, while I was waiting on a teenage sitter. Those sitters never knew how their punctuality, or lack of, affected up to half a dozen people at times. My kids have been around triathlon their whole lives, and fitting in mom and dad’s training is natural to them.
I rode my route, the “bait shop” route, in record time. Maybe it was the feeling that I needed to get back quickly before they kids burned the house down, or maybe I felt a bit lighter. I felt a bit of empowerment that I could leave my most precious people on the planet alone for a little while, and it was just fine.
I got back home, and the girls were playing in their room. Playing with Barbies, nonetheless. Here is a picture of the Barbie scene. I guess the Barbies were watching a movie on Payton’s laptop from school. Yes, my girls do most of their homework on laptops now. I am constantly amazed at their computer savvy, and I find it amusing that they still have hearts of children enough to integrate the Barbie dolls in their world.
The girls got dressed up tonight and went out. Yeah, they went out. Celebrating one of their girlfriend’s birthday. They looked so pretty waiting for their ride I had to take their picture.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
About a week ago, I started to feel better on the bike and I felt the urge to test my fitness. I wrote to the folks at the Redman Triathlon in Oklahoma City to see if I could get into the half ironman aqua bike.
Redman is Oklahoma’s only iron and half-iron distance race. I have done it several times before, using the iron aqua bike as my simulation prep for IM Florida in 2005 and Kona in 2006. This year they made the iron distance aqua bike an official event. For the athletes prepping for Ironman Florida and Kona the timing is perfect
This weekend the race, for me, wasn’t prep for anything other than getting some baseline data to work from to build upon for next year’s program. I haven’t ridden longer than about an hour and forty-five minutes recently so it would be interesting to see what would happen. There wasn’t much pressure to perform and I was glad that I wouldn’t have to get off and run. Dana challenged me to break 3 hours. That was a doable goal and I was up for it.
We had to check in our bikes the day before the race so I had to drive down there after work on Friday. The morning of the race was perfect. There wasn’t any wind and Hefner Lake was like glass.
The iron distance and iron aqua bikers went off in the first heat, following them, 15 min later, the under 40 male half iron athletes, then 3 min later, me and the over 40 male half iron and aqua bikers.
My swimming has been coming along great lately so I quickly swam away from my group and within a few minutes, I was swimming through the bulk of the younger half iron males. At the turnaround, I had clean smooth water and I began to pass some of the leaders of the first heat as I continued to move through the field.
My goal, though cocky, was to be with the overall leaders of the first heat of half iron younger guys by the time we hit T1. I figured a 25 or 26 minute swim would get me there. My Xterra Vendetta wetsuit provided me with the best ammunition to get the job done. I ended up with the fastest swim split of the day, a 26:38. The course might have been a tad long.
I had a sub 1 min T1 and was on the bike in third overall not including the 3 min head start I allowed on those guys. By 4 miles, I had moved into second overall and I was setting my sights on catching the overall leader. Folks on the roadside were telling me the leader was just 3 min up the road, so in reality we were about even. Without the burden of the run hanging over me, I was going after him. There wasn’t a lead police vehicle with lights flashing on it so I couldn’t see him up the road.
The race starts in an urban populated portion of Oklahoma City, and then you quickly find yourself out on desolate farm roads with fields, grain elevators, potholes, and chip seal roads as rough as gravel. Out there, alone it’s easy to lose concentration. I just looked down at my SRM and tried to keep a steady wattage level of around 230 and my cadence above 100. My heart rate was high in the 150’s but I didn’t care because I didn’t have to run. At around 1:30 into the bike I started feel the fatigue. That seemed about right, because that was about the extent of my long rides recently. My quads and calves started to cramp so I soft peddled and worked them out.
I was pretty pumped coming into town, as it appeared that I was going to achieve my goal of going under the 3-hour mark. I was motoring at an even wattage and cadence and I was getting ready to turn it on to the finish.
The traffic is a little dodgy coming into town so you have to keep your wits about you. Redman does a great job of policing intersections and fast food entrances but some people don’t follow their directions and are quite irate with athletes taking up their road space. I saw a few honking and shaking their fists.
I was approaching the last major intersection before I made the turn for the final loop around Lake Hefner to complete my race. I had my hands on the hoods and fingers on the brakes as I cruised through. I just don’t trust drivers at busy intersections like this. At the very last minute, a silver car pulled out right in front of me. I tightly gripped my brakes and fishtailed slamming directly into the side of the car. “Smack!! Ugh! It reminded me of the type of hit I would take when I was playing football. It sounded the same too. The right side of my body and head took the majority of the impact. According to my SRM, I was going 27mph and on impact, I had slowed to 16.5 mph. That’s one tidbit of data that you can garner from your power files that the book “Training with Power” doesn’t tell you.
I laid on the ground for a bit, stunned and angry. My right leg cramped and it was bleeding. The policeman who was supposedly directing the traffic asked me if I needed an ambulance. I looked up at one of the other police officers picking up my bike and the wheels seemed to be turning well but the handlebars were bent. I looked over at the driver of the car. It appeared to be a gray haired elderly lady. I told the police officer to get all her information. I was going to finish the race.
I gave them my race number my name and birth date and told them that I would be in touch. I was banged up, sore but I could ride another five miles, and I was already so far out in the lead already. I hadn’t come this far not to finish.
I cruised in third overall in the half and won the aqua bike but my time was 3:02. The accident cost me my sub 3 hour goal and my bike time was 2:34, far from the sub 2:30 pace which I was on. My anger soon changed to relief. I realized that this accident could have been more serious. I could have had a much more severe injuries or even been killed.
The race director, co race director, and folks in the medical tent were all wonderful. I was treated like a king. Everyone was flocking around me giving me drinks, pretzels, bandaging my wounds. Those folks all work so hard to make this race a success and I appreciated all their efforts to take care of me and devote their free time to help make events like this a possibility.
I have to admit, the traffic situation at Redman is a problem though. I heard of other athletes having narrow escapes and in my past races here, I have had close calls too. People just don’t follow the traffic direction. Other than closing the course to traffic, I don’t see any other way to solve this problem. The folks at Redman have done everything in their power to make this course safe.
Currently, I have a sore neck from the whiplash and a swollen lower right leg, but I will recover to race again. My friend, Brian Flournoy, D.C. fixed my neck up today and the headaches that I was having have diminished. I feel fortunate just to only have these injuries.
I haven’t had an accident in years. I was due. My plans for the future see me on the Computrainer…a lot.
If anyone out there is looking to do an Ironman race and want to try a race other than an Mdot, Redman should be considered. It is set to be the Half Max USAT Long Course National Championship next year.
Sunday, September 7, 2008
Of the few Ironman races I have started, I always wonder at the starting line if this will be the race, which I will face disaster, an unavoidable event out of my control that results in implosion and blows my race apart. When I cross the finish line part of the emotion I feel when I raise my fist in the air is relief, because nothing went terribly wrong and I finished strong.
When I started coaching athletes this year, I tried to guide them away from potential disaster and help them through my experiences to have a solid race.
One thing that I like to do which most might find somewhat compulsive, is my race blueprint. My race is scripted. It’s a booklet that I have put together. I have everything planned out concerning pace, nutrition, fluid consumption, what to do when X, Y or Z occur. It’s something that I have put together through the years and continue to make additions. A lot of the information has been gathered off the internet and from other athlete’s race reports. It’s a script for the “perfect race.” I review it for a few weeks and days up to the race just as an actor might remember his lines. I gave my latest copy to my athletes and let them configure their own blueprint.
Last week, Matt Carnal, an athlete I coach raced IMKY. Matt had been training for this event for a year and was doing great until an uncontrollable situation occurred during the peak of his training phase. Matt works for a company called SemGroup .They made some risky bets in the futures markets, which resulted margin calls and within a week of the news breaking, bankruptcy.
SemGroup was a great company to work for because they valued employee physical fitness. They had a tremendous health club in their building, which was more posh than anything else was in town. Matt was well rewarded for his athletic participation with sponsorship from the company. He was the model employee.
Bankruptcy resulted in SemGroup terminating 110 Tulsa employees and, unfortunately, one of them was Matt. This came as quite a shock. Priorities quickly changed and so did Matt’s focus. I felt so sorry for him. He had worked so hard and for this to happen, just as he was heading into the home stretch was a real bummer. I think making a race blueprint and thinking about his race plan was the furthest from his mind.
Before Matt left for Louisville, I sat him down and went over a plan but there is no way that you can cover all the bases in 15 minutes.
Matt had some company along on his trip, Sean Stevens; another athlete that I coach went to the race with him. Sean brought his mountain bike so he could offer some verbal support at various positions along the course. In addition, he helped share some of the drive time going home.
On race day, I was on the computer with my cell phone texting splits and coaching advice to Sean and he was able to relay it to Matt. It was a slick operation. I was the “Chance Command Center” at the home office in Tulsa, OK and Sean was my patrolman.
Matt’s race went just as planned for the swim and the bike. He was off the bike in around 15th place in his age group and his weapon is the run. I was confident that Matt had a 3:20 or faster marathon in his legs. He had done some badass long runs after long bikes at 7:00 pace in the humid Tulsa heat so I was feeling pretty stoked. I felt that when Matt hit that run he would unleash his fury. I was looking forward to watch him move through the field on the split grid. I felt he might be able to go under 10 hours. A top five age group placing and a Kona slot were within his reach.
I was texting splits to Sean that Matt should adhere to prevent him from going out too fast and I was informing him of the carnage that was happening to his fellow competitors ahead of him up the road. Then I got a direct call from Sean and he told me Matt wasn’t feeling too well. GI problems, gas, bloating, and dysentery “It’s not good” Sean said. I gave Sean all the information I could to help Matt get through this bad patch but the pace still didn’t improve. I was racing vicariously through Matt this year. It was disappointing. I wanted so badly for him to succeed and get a Kona slot his first time out, but sometimes shit happens and there isn’t a thing we can do about it.
There are a number of reasons that he had GI problems but I won’t go into all of them now. All that matters is that Matt finished his first Ironman in 11:01, despite his problems in the race and on the home front. He finished 14th in his age group under very difficult conditions. Not bad for a first timer. Chalk it up to experience. I guess its back to the drawing board to figure out how to manage his nutrition for next time.
I have often asked top age group athletes, why do you continue to race? What drives you? Their answer is almost unanimously, “I have yet to have that perfect race.”
I wonder if the entity of the “perfect race” even exists. It sure would be great to experience it if did.
Monday, September 1, 2008
I want to thank all of those who called or wrote emails to me after my recent surgery. It was appreciated. I have often been asked about how my rehab and recovery is going, so I thought I might document it here to allow others who may have this procedure take a peek at what is involved in the rehab and recovery. Of course, everyone is different and some surgeries are more involved than others are. My surgeon tells me that I am way ahead of the game in my recovery.
Originally, I mentioned that my plica was lateral. Contrary to that belief, it was in fact a medial plica, which had torn loose and settled in-between the two condyles of the femur. I have pictured it above.
I went into this procedure in very good shape. I was swimming a lot (4-5 x /week), and despite some pain in my knee, I was able to ride my bike three times a week fairly hard and had built my Critical Power up to a season best. I wanted to go into the surgery in good shape with the rationale being that I would lose some fitness but, once recovered, I would still be reasonably fit.
I am currently a practicing Anesthesiologist, but I am also trained and board certified in the specialty of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. I knew what I needed to do to recover as quickly as possible. My enemy would be muscle atrophy in the quadriceps muscle group and swelling, which would limit the range of motion of my knee.
I have documented below how things went for the first few weeks of my rehab.
Day of surgery: Ice and ROM (range of motion). I didn’t need any oral pain medication. The knee felt kind of squishy to move it but I made sure I ranged it often. My knee actually felt better after the surgery than before. This was a good sign. It is important in this period to keep the range of motion. If it is kept stiff, the collagen in the knee capsule can remodel quickly resulting in a contracture making it more difficult to move later on. This becomes more of an issue with knee replacements than with arthroscopic surgery. However, contractures can occur if the patient becomes complacent about ROM.
Post op day one: I went to work with my portable ice pack and crutches with partial weight bearing (WB) through the right leg. I worked on ROM a lot that day. I provided the anesthetic for a long back surgery. I was able to sit in one place for a while which I would have been doing at home anyway.
Saturday, Post op day two: Ice, ROM, dressings off, crutches, compex muscle stimulator on the quads for an hour to maintain some muscle tone.
Sunday, post op day three: Ice, ROM, and one crutch, advance WB
Monday, POD four: Back to work, ice, ROM, one crutch and at end of day, no crutches. I got back to training today and swam 3300 yards including a 1000yards in 12:02 pushing off the wall with one leg. It still hurt a little pushing off the wall full force. Knee is still swollen. I might have overdone it a bit with the kicking today. Compex on the quads.
Tuesday, POD five: worked all day and into the night and next morning. No time for exercise but I was able to occasionally ice, ROM, stretching, full WB walking with a slight limp. Some pain and swelling.
For the rest of the week I swam daily and by the following Sunday I was on the trainer spinning 100-120 RPM 120 watts for an hour a day. I occasionally iced the knee when I felt I had pain and swelling or the joint felt warm. Riding the bike actually helped ease the tightness and discomfort at the portal sites. There is some residual scar tissue at the port sites and I massage those areas frequently.
By two weeks post op, I advanced to 200 watts intermittently on the bike trainer. Currently, I am able to ride 200+ watts for a few hours and rode outside the other day hitting some 30-second efforts in the 500-watt range with no ill effects. My 1000-yard swim time is down to 11:35, so things are good on the waterfront. I am holding off on the running for a week or so and I should be able to be back to full triathlon training including running 4 weeks post op. I’m back and it feels good.
My motivation has been low this year because of my pain issues and burn out from the past few years of really hitting it. It’s tough fitting in the training, a greater than full time job, and a family including a wife that does this crazy sport. I just had to shut it down this year and have fun. However, after I watched my buddy, Marky V, lead IM Canada for the majority of the race, and my wife, Dana, do so well there a few weeks ago, the motivation to race and train is starting to come back. Dana and I are already making plans for next year.
I guess that my future plans of buying and relaxing on a sailboat, hoping for a windy day will be replaced again with getting on my bike and hoping for a windless day.
Monday, August 25, 2008
Hoorah! I finished! I told Rob last night that I think this race was the hardest one to finish. I hear people talk about those "low times" in Ironman but I really haven't experienced it before now. But I'm getting a little ahead of myself so here goes the race report.
The swim start was great. Everyone around me swam so politely and worked together from the beginning. I sat in the back of a small pack of 8-10 swimmers and we were off. The water was cool but not uncomfortable. The swim went by quickly and I was out in just over an hour. I grabbed my bag and ran into the changing tent, quickly got ready to ride, and passed about 15 women in the tent. I don't know what they were doing in there for so long!
The bike went well. I love this bike course. I think the reason I keep coming back to do this race is because of the bike course. It is as beautiful as a postcard, and it has a little bit of everything. Long grinding climbs, challenging rollers, fast flats, and superfast descents. Oh, and I successfully peed on the bike! On my sixth Ironman, I finally got it!! Ok, TMI, I know.
Coming into T2, I was ready to start running. In my previous two Ironman runs, I have been getting a little bit faster, so I was excited about this one. I had just over 4 hours left before an 11:00 finish, so I made my goal to finish under 11 hours. I thought that would be easy. Silly me, nothing is easy in ironman!
Heading toward OK Falls, we had a terrible headwind. It was difficult to not get discouraged but I kept the heart rate in check and kept plugging along. Then I started experiencing some stomach troubles. I made many trips to the little blue penalty boxes every mile or so on the run course. I really had to "gut it out" from there, in more ways than one! It was so hard to keep it together and keep plugging along. I said all kinds of terrible things in my head -- I wanted walk, I wanted to quit today, I wanted to quit Ironman, I wouldn't take a Kona slot if they gave it to me on a silver platter(shame on me!)etc.
At this point I was past the turn around, and my perspective changed. I was watching all the people that were heading to the turn around, and I started thinking that they probably wanted to be where I was. So the marathon was not going as wished. Suck it up, buttercup. At least you are out here and you better give it your best. It began raining at this point, and as I came back into Penticton, the streets were still lined with spectators. They were cold and wet, but they were still watching and cheering. From their perspective, each one of the racers is amazing, and worth their time, even if it meant standing in the rain, to cheer us on. That gave me the motivation to give my best.
So I finished in 11:04. I didn't make my goal of sub 11 but it could have been a lot worse! I finished 6th in my age group. The Kona slot rolled down to the 5th place woman, who went 10:59. But, I sincerely mean this, it is totally OK. I know this woman has barely missed a Kona slot several times, and I am super happy for her. Keeping it in perspective.
Here is a picture of my three kids on the first day of school.
From their perspective they couldn't care less if I finished first, last, or anywhere inbetween. They just are happy I can tie a cute bow in their hair or help build a LEGO scene.
And here is where I am going now, world famous Tickleberry's ice cream. Oh yeah, I deserve that!
Friday, August 22, 2008
Today is Friday, a big rest day for me except for a short 20 minute swim. I was looking forward to the swim today because I have heard that the water is much warmer, already. Down at the swim start there were quite a few people with the same idea.
When I first got in, my feet were cold, but after a few minutes the water was PERFECT. Seriously, it is quite a bit warmer than it was two days ago. I was really enjoying my swim, feeling smooth and fast in my new Xterra Vendetta wetsuit, thinking how clear the water is ("hello fishies down there!") and what a great swim it will be on Sunday, then BAM!!! Head on collision with a rather large guy in a bright pink cap. OUCH! The first thing I thought of was the sound -- I was suprised how loud two skulls sounded when they hit head on. Then I tasted blood in my mouth and thought "that wasn't very fun". So I popped up, Big Pink Man popped up, and we both apologized. He was very nice, and it was all good. Really, it could have been my fault just as much as it was his. I finished swimming to the Sycamous then turned around and came back.
My friend Michal was waiting at the shore. When I finished swimming, my noggin still hurt a bit, and I told her what happened. She started laughing hysterically and said that not too long ago a Big Man in a Pink Cap exited the water and said "I ran into three people on my way back in". She thought it was so funny that I happen to be one of those people! Maybe it wasn't as much my fault as I thought it was! Well, luckily, on race day we will all be heading the same way, so that won't happen again.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
This will be my 3rd annual trip to Ironman Canada. This year, for a change, I decided to fly into Spokane then drive from there to Penticton.
It worked out great. The flight to Spokane was easy, and the airport there is pretty small and getting in and out was quick.
I shipped my bike to a local shop in Spokane, because I though it would be important that my bike went with me on my drive to Canada. Uh, yeah. What a nightmare it would have been if I had to wait around in Spokane for my bike to arrive on some later flight.
Here is a picture of my bike waiting for me to come get it outside of Two Wheel Transit. It is a really cute bike shop but my bike didn't want to get left behind. She heard there was a party in Penticton and she didn't want to be late.
This is the coffee shop in Spokane where we had lunch. It is just about as cute as the bike shop.
We drove past the Grand Coulee Dam on the Columbia River.
Did you know there is enough concrete in the Grand Coulee Dam to build a 60 foot wide highway four inches thick, from Los Angeles to New York City! ~ That is a 4 lane Highway 3,000 miles long!
Here is a picture at the US and Canada border. Not a very good picture, but I didn't want to stop and get out. It was raining, plus I don't think the border patrol would appreciate any horsing around at their border.
We drove past the Husky Station that marks the turn up to Richter Pass. My bike wanted to get out but I told her she had to wait until Sunday. See ya on Sunday, Richter, my old friend.
Finally, we made it to Penticton in the afternoon.
Driving into this city is a welcome site. I love this race and this place!
Here I am standing by "the peach" -- the most well know landmark in all of Penticton. Well, maybe not, but it ranks way up there. I registered and have my hands full of my race "stuff". The swim start is behind me. The water looks like glass. It really is a fine sheet of ice that is over the lake that makes it look that way! And look out there in the water -- a poor soul is stuck in there, frozen, and can't get out.
Just kidding. The water feels VERY COLD to me, below 60 degrees. But I can't find too many Canadians that will show me any sympathy. Obviously.. that dude is out there without a wetsuit!!
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Most kids then played outside all day. When school was released, I ran home with the motivation of beating the bus riders. I rode my bike all over the neighborhood and throughout the town. We played football in the vacant lot. There were only three TV stations and cartoons played on Saturday mornings. Besides that, nothing else was that interesting, so TV was a less important part of my life.
I grew up in the Kansas City area. My mother put me in a lot of different sports as I grew up, but at 10 years old, in the summer of 72, I preferred the refreshing cool swim practices versus standing in the hot sun in the outfield.
1972 was also the first time I remember watching the Olympics. What caught my attention at that time was a swimmer named Mark Spitz. It was a big story and the family gathered around the TV to watch his events. I was new to the sport and his achievements were both inspiring and motivating to me. This was the first time I had seen medals awarded and learned the significance of each color.
I had a poster of Mark with his seven medals on my closet. (above) I can remember below it said "7 gold medals, 7 world records" and it listed each one. I examined the medals closely on the poster and can remember that I wanted one.
The last swim meet of the summer was an invitational, and I had heard that they were awarding medals to the top three in each event, just like the Olympics. My best event was breaststroke. I was in one of the slower heats so I knew that I would have to swim fast to beat the kids in the later, faster heats. I was a boy on a mission. I wanted a gold medal.
I still remember that race vividly. It was only 25 yards and I stood on the blocks gazing at the end of that pool. I knew I had to swim fast. When the gun went off, I hit the water and stroked as fast as my gangly 10 year old body would take me. I won the heat. I remember, after finishing, looking around and the rest of the kids were still swimming a quarter of a pool length behind me. I had given my best effort.
When the results were published, my name was at the top of the list. I had won the gold. It was only about the size of a quarter on a red, white, and blue ribbon, but I was so proud of it. I was probably just as talented as the rest of the kids there but I guess I just wanted it more. I learned early, that motivation plays such a big part in success. I willed myself to win that medal. I have won many medals since then but none of those wins were as special as that one.
Since that time I have continued with some form of a fitness program and it has just become a part of my life. One of my former training partners called me a "Lifer."That poster, and what Mark Spitz did in the Olympics in 1972 were instrumental to my development and current lifestyle.
Fast forward to today, 2008. There are over a 100-cable television channels. I don’t see any kids today outside playing or riding bikes. I suppose, now, they are inside playing Madden football rather than playing it in the vacant lot. I heard the other day that based on the current trends, everyone in the US will be obese in 30 years. I don’t see that happening.
I have my kids in athletics, and it is a requirement in our family. I don’t care if they win or lose. I don’t push them. If they want to win, it has to be self driven. I just want them to develop the "fitness" lifestyle. I want them to be healthy and be "Lifers"
Michael Phelps did something special in Beijing by winning eight gold medals. Mark Spitz described his 100 fly win as "epic." I don’t remember an age group swimmer in my local meets being as dominant as Phelps was in these Olympics. It was truly amazing. Talent combined with motivation is an awesome thing.
I wonder if it is possible today, with the current trends, to motivate today’s youth to swim and develop lifetime fitness habits. I hope Phelps efforts have motivated today’s youngsters away from their virtual sports worlds and into real world sports and a quest for their own medals.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
In 2005, I made a comeback into the sport of triathlon. I had yet to do an Ironman or half Ironman for that matter and before I got too old, I wanted to be able to check this event off my “to do” list. I took it much further than I had dreamed, and that one Ironman turned into three including two World Championships in Hawaii. In 2007, I was top 10 in my age group there. If I never do a triathlon again, I would be satisfied. It’s been a good run.
I have been training consistently for three and a half years without illness or injury but this year things have not gone so well. Multiple aches and pains have caught up with me. For the past year and a half, I have been dealing with discomfort in my right knee, which, in the past, I was able to endure and train through.
After the Buffalo Springs triathlon last month, the pain in my knee became too much to bear and I was unable to run without an abnormal gait. When the pain became constant, I put the running on hold and started swimming exclusively to see if it would go away, it didn’t, and I feel it actually worsened. I sought orthopedic attention and underwent arthroscopic surgery this week on Thursday 8/7.
I had my surgery done at a local outpatient surgery center here in Tulsa. I used to supervise the nurse anesthetists here so I was familiar with the staff and the routine there. I worked until 10:30pm the previous night and the last case of the evening I did was an emergent incision and drainage of a large back abscess on an obese diabetic man. It was disgusting. We sucked two liters of pus out of it. Needless to say, I was happy that I had chosen to have my surgery done at a clean new outpatient center. The last thing I needed was a nocicomial (hospital acquired) infection.
I arrived at the surgery center at 9:30 am the next day, and filled out the last set of paperwork including living will forms. I planned to have this surgery done under local anesthetic and MAC (monitored anesthesia care)…awake, so this seemed to be a little much. Tim Davis, a friend of mine, texted me on my phone and claimed my bike if I died. I texted him back and told him that bike was his if I didn’t survive.
I was quickly escorted back to the holding area where I received the standard issue a gown, hat, booties, and was placed in bed number 4. There, I got my IV and passed the time by watching my own personal TV where I caught up on details regarding the Brett Farve trade. I hope it works out for him in New York.
I had many visitors by old friends and folks that I used to work with. A surgery center like this is a great place to work. There is no call or weekend duties and the patients are healthy, unlike the major tertiary center where I work. Many nurses move on to places like this, it’s a much better lifestyle.
Pat Case is a nurse anesthetist that I used to supervise and she arrived there early and signed up for the room that my case was to be assigned. Pat is an avid cyclist and is fluent in Italian. She has a second home in Italy, and has ridden most of Italy’s major mountain passes. Pat has even been to the Tour de France. She would always have a copy of Velo News in her bag that I could read when I was working with her. I was pleased that she would be taking care of me.
Dr Ron Hood was my surgeon. He trained in San Francisco with Eric Heiden, the former uber Olympic speed skater and professional cyclist, who is now an orthopedic surgeon. Ron is an expert on knees and sports medicine. I liked the way that he was able to do a good local block to allow the patient to stay awake and watch the surgery. It was what I wanted. The post op pictures just don’t show the knee as well as a dynamic live view.
I was taken into the room and hooked up to all the monitors. I requested not to get any Versed (Midazolam). It is a potent fast acting benzodiazapine, which causes amnesia. I usually give this as my pre-anesthetic and can quickly convert a stressed person into a laughing jokester. It is known as truth serum and is often used illegally as a date rape drug. It has a half-life of 2 hours but I had no idea how I would be affected by the drug. I wanted to remember the procedure so I opted not to have it.
When the scrub tech pulled up some local anesthetic in a 60 ml syringe with a long 18-gauge needle, I asked Pat “I think I’ll take that Fentanyl now“. Fentanyl is a fast acting powerful opioid, which is ten times the potency of morphine. I observe patient’s reactions daily as I administer it, and often wonder what it feels like. It is a frequently abused drug in our profession. I soon found out why.
I felt a lightheaded and a warm euphoric feeling came over me soon after I got it. It was smooth. The next drug I asked for was Diprivan (Propofol). It facilitates inhibitory neurotransmission in the brain mediated by a transmitter known in short as GABA. It often burns as it flows into the vein then it renders immediate unconsciousness. I was commenting on the lack of the burn when the next thing I knew; Pat was quietly speaking my name and waking me up. I opened my eyes, I looked up to the screen, the scope was in my knee, and the surgery was already in progress. “Wow, how long was I asleep?” It’s been a while since I have had anesthetic and each time I marvel at the power of these drugs.
Ron quickly went over his findings. Immediately, he said they found cartilage loose bodies floating around in the joint. There was a tight plica stretched across my lateral femoral condyle digging a groove into it. He demonstrated the damage with instruments. I had a torn lateral meniscus and my lateral capsule demonstrated some tight bands causing my patella to track laterally. The photo shown below is the synovial plica which was removed and causing the problems.
Femoral cartilage groove
The lateral plica is a rare finding. Most plicas are medial. The most likely cause of lateral plicas is trauma or overuse. He said he had never seen anything like it. After he pulled it out, I looked at it. It had the consistency of ligament and I knew that it was the source of my pain. It had gradually gotten thicker, tighter and tougher and had begun to wear a groove into my femoral cartilage as a steel cable would if it were rubbed repetitively across a piece of wood.
He trimmed up my lateral meniscus and did a lateral release of the tight capsular bands and I was done. Here is the trim job ----->
I was taken to the recovery room where I was greeted by recovery nurses, Lacy and Kelly. They were familiar faces that I usually drop patients to in the hospital after they awake from anesthetics. They had moved to outpatient too. Dana eventually was allowed back into recovery to be with me. I am normally reserved guy but the Fentanyl made me euphoric and I wouldn’t shut up. Dana had to tell me to put a lid on it. The cardiac alarm above my bed was going off because my heart rate was extremely bradycardic at 38-39 bpm and it was causing a racket. I’m sure that they wanted to get me out of there.
I was discharged quickly with crutches, a large portable ice cooler attached to a knee wrap, which was great. I didn’t need to take any pain medication and my knee felt better after surgery than it had before. This was a good sign. The referred pain, which radiated into my calf, had also disappeared.
I was able to go to work the next day on crutches. I arranged a long room where I could prop my leg up and ice my knee. I brought my knee cooler with me.
Recovery is going well. I might start swimming again on Monday and then in two weeks or so, I will be able to get back to cycling. Meanwhile, I think I will take a break and watch the Olympics. It’s a good time to be laid up. It’s nice to have some motivating TV to keep me off my feet and keep me entertained.
I am so glad that I made the right decision to go through with taking care of this issue now. It’s a relief to know that the source of my discomfort is resolved. Maybe it isn’t all over for me. I plan on a smart recovery and focus on next season. I look forward to the journey back.