Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Pesky little knee

So, since Ironman Canada, I've been dealing with my knee. Well, let's back up....since May, well probably late April, I've been dealing with my knee. As soon as I crossed the finish line at NorthShore tri, I knew something was up. I could barely walk. I didn't crash, I didn't trip and twist something, I have no idea what happened, there wasn't an event, but I was in pain and it wasn't good. I iced and rested and limped around the rest of the day hoping I would wake up and it would be a fluke, just a random pain, but the next morning was worse, I couldn't put any weight on it. I knew something was seriously wrong, but what it was, I wasn't sure.

Triathlon is full of wonderful my world BOCA (and the small triathlon community on Oahu) is full of AMAZING people that will always be there to lend a helping hand, knowledge or services when you are in need. I'm lucky enough to be part of such a great family! As soon as I started reaching out, I was instantly connected, referred and put on lists to get the help I needed. Thank you so very much to everyone that was there to help me figure this out!!
I cannot say thank you enough to everyone that went out of their way to help me out!!!

So what happened......I went to JACO, got an MRI (thanks Bonnie and Ryan!), was referred to a great orthopedic and we began trying to understand what the problem was. The MRI was a little bit inconclusive due to bad pictures caused by previous ACL surgery and little flecks of metal that were floating around in my knee (not the cause of any of my pain and pretty typical after ACL surgery, who knew!?) that blurred the field of vision. However, due to the area where I was feeling the pain and what the doctor could see from the MRI, it was determined that I likely had a small lateral tear of my meniscus, JOY!

Now what?! It's mid May I have Honu in 2 weeks and Ironman Canada at the end of July. Definitely not enough time for surgery and recovery before either race. And surgery was not even a thought in my mind (nor my doctor or Jaco's) initially, if I could rehab this and strengthen my knee and surrounding areas, then that was the way I wanted to go. I was in and out of periods of being totally pain free and thinking I was crazy to have even gone to all these doctors, tests and specialists, to times when I was in pain enough that I couldn't run at all. I was able to swim and bike pain free, so I swam and biked as much as I wanted/was on the schedule. Rehab, ocean running and actual running as little as possible to get me through these races was what was up.

A week out from Honu, I had some decisions to make. (Thanks Dr. Tom, for all your help during this time!) Do I push through the pain and do this race (something I'm sure I could have done) and jeopardize IM Canada where I would have the opportunity for a Kona spot? Or do I bail on Honu and do what I need/can do to be able to make the best of Canada and give myself the best shot at trying for a Kona spot? Now, it's comical to think that that was even going to be an option!? If I had gotten a Kona spot, of course I would have taken it and I would be in the cycle again of being in pain and doing the minimal to get through the race and next time I race Kona, I want to RACE, I don't want to just "get through it." The things that go through your my mind. So, if you've been keeping up with the blog, I decided to bag Honu, (after I raced the swim of course, which was super fun. I love swimming in Hapuna and it's not like Ironman would give me back my entry fee anyways, so I might as well do the swim!) and do what I needed to do to give myself the best shot at having a good race in Canada. And at the time I really did think I was going to be able to have a good race in Canada.

The weeks went by and I was able to put in all the swimming and biking necessary to ensure the best race possible. I even got up to a 20-miler. About 3 weeks out I was cautious, but confident that my knee, my head and my body were in the right place to put together a solid race in Canada and then 2 weeks out I was running a 16-18-miler and my knee became noticeable once again. It wasn't terrible, but it also wasn't ideal, so we backed down the running (at this point there was nothing that was going to hurt my race training wise, I could only make things worse) and continued about the taper process.

Flash forward to Canada, great swim, miserable bike and a not ideal run. I got through the race and those are the exact right words "got through the race." It probably wasn't the smartest idea I've ever had, but I wasn't about to quit, that's just me. But that lead to me not being able to walk for a week (not due to Ironman stiffness, I was actually the least sore and stiff I've ever been after an Ironman, likely because I was fitter than I've ever been before an Ironman). Not good.

Once we got home, I immediately scheduled an appointment with my ortho and we decided that since I didn't really have anything on the schedule in the near future, the best option was to go in there and fix the problem! Surgery was scheduled for a week after we returned from vacation.

Surgery went great! It was a minimally invasive procedure so in-and-out within a couple of hours. There was a piece of bone floating around in my knee that was removed (which was likely the big culprit!), some meniscus needling to increase blood flow and help heal the micro tears that were there, as well as a bit of scar tissue clean up and an influx of bone marrow into the knee to aid in the healing process. Doc was super happy with results and says I can be back at it in no time!

It's been 2-weeks since surgery and I was able to get back in the water on Monday, thank goodness I can move the body again. I know in the grand scheme of things 2-weeks is not a long time at all, but I was starting to get a little bit grumpy, sorry Aaron! I'm PT-ing, swimming and can spin easy on the bike for now so things are looking great. I'm looking forward to healing up and being able to get back out there, but in the mean time, it's been "fun" to relax a bit and have some down time.

Thanks for everyone that's helped me out in the past couple of months, I really, truly appreciate everything!

Not sure what's on tap next, but maybe the DOUBLE ROUGHWATER in November.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Vacationing Post Ironman

Getting to spend a week after the race vacationing with family and friends is always a good time. It's fun to get to explore new places with the people you love and care about. Here are a few of the highlights...

Actually SEEING the beautiful race course

The ladies went shooting at the biathlon shooting center at the Olympic Plaza....I went 5 for 5, no big deal.

.....While the men went golfing

Exploring Vancouver

Getting to swim in the longest pool (137m in 1 direction!) in North America

Seattle area sights

and a few pic from the days before Ironman

Great vacation, great people, great time exploring new (for me) places!
Up next, figuring out this pesky little knee issue and the rest of 2015 racing tbd. 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

IM Canada....the nitty gritty

Overall, I can't complain about the day I had. I want to, but I can't. There were so many DNFs out there on race day. Whether it was due to the weather, hypothermia, or people's mental state after being so cold for so long, there were many people who weren't able to finish the race. I'm sure, for most, it wasn't for lack of training or desire and it was most likely due to the horrendous circumstances we were dealt on race morning. I was able to finish and although it wasn't the race I was prepared for or wanted, it is what it is and finishing an Ironman is an accomplishment, no matter what.

Typical race morning, choked down breakfast and hydrated a bit. We had to shuttle to the swim start, which wasn't as bad as I though it was going to be. However, I'm glad we got to the shuttle stop when we did as our driver took 2 wrong turns on the way to the lake. We had plenty of time, so I didn't stress at all, there were plenty of people on that bus doing all the stressing. We got to the swim start and T1 with plenty of time to spare (read over an hour!). Not ideal, but definitely enough time to get everything situated. It wasn't even raining and the sky looked like it could clear up any minute....too bad about 30 minutes before race start it began raining. Joy!

Pro men started at 6:50, Pro Women 6:55 and everyone else at 7:00. MASS START!!! LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!!!!! I headed down to the water as soon as the pro men went off and swam my way right to the front line. Of course you get your typical comment from AG male, "If you're not swimming a sub 55, you don't belong in the front row."

Best part of the day hands down! It almost always is, but usually I can back up a swim with an ok bike and a decent run. Anyways, the water was about 68 degrees on race morning. Chilly, but given that the air temperature was 42 degrees and it was raining outside, the water felt like a hot tub! It was actually the perfect wetsuit temperature and the ROKA Maverick Pro continues to impress! This was the warmest I'd be all day long.
Waiting for the gun to go off, is always nerve-wracking, but as soon as I hear the blast, I take off and within 5 seconds I'm in totally clear water with NO ONE AROUND! What?! Really?! All you men talking the big talk before the start and there is NO ONE even close?! Ok then. I see one guy off to my right and he keeps getting further and further away, I try to bridge the gap, but he's not in my line and is going way too fast, so by the first turn buoy, I give up the chase and settle into my own little world and keep swimming. I started catching some pro women by the first turn buoy, which was pretty fun. First loop was a clam, clear swim with ZERO dodging of other people, the start of the second loop got a bit choppy and more crowded, but really, I swam by myself the entire swim and had clear water the whole way. I came out of the water, super happy with my swim, I had no idea my time, but came out alone (I think there were 2 male pros exiting around the same time as me) and only saw the one AG male out in front of me. So, that was a great day in the water.

Before the bike, I made sure to take my sweet time in transition to bundle up. And why not, I had the tent basically all to myself with the assistance of the wonderful volunteers and it was WARM. Arm coolers (should have been warmers, but oh well) on, long sleeved shirt on, ear warmers on, helmet on, full fingered gloves on, jacket on, they made me bring my sunglasses for some reason and I took them in my pocket for some reason (maybe they were trying to be hopeful that the crap day we were having would turn better), shoes on and I was off, socks would have been a good idea, but I honestly don't think would have helped that much (actually my transition time wasn't THAT slow). I do wish there were heaters in the change tent, that would have been a nice touch, but I think too many people wouldn't have left the warm safety of the tent if they had done that.
As you can see, the bike was miserable from the start, I really don't have anything good or positive to say about the bike ride at all (when you don't have anything nice to say......), other than that I think I would truly enjoy this course had it been a regular day outside.

A recap of most of my thoughts.....The first 30 miles.....Rain, rain, rain, wet roads, oh we're going downhill and the wind is whipping in my face, that's great, I'm freezing, oh, there's a pro on the side of the road grabbing a garbage bag from an aid station, she must be freezing too, at least I'm not alone, this is terrible, I'm so cold, I can't wait to start climbing again, ok this isn't so bad, scratch that, the wind and cold is miserable, oh maybe I can see some pretty views, wait, it's raining and cloudy, I can't see anything, what did I get myself into, ok Lectie, get with the program, it's not THAT bad, it could be worse, ok we are kind of climbing to Callaghan now, it's a little bit warmer, how are those men going so fast down the hills and not freezing to death, they are nuts, or have hot patches attached all over their bodies, I hear ambulance sirens, that can't be good, at least it's not pouring anymore and this isn't horrible, make the turn and head back down, oh we had a pretty good climb, how did I not notice this on the way out, these descents on wet roads are a little scary, I wish it was a nice day because this could be really fun and fast and right now it's neither, I'm getting cold again, I need to pee, it's raining again, I'm freezing, at least my core is dry, my fingers are frozen, I can't grab my bottles, but at least my core is "warm," oh no, there's a boy on the side of the road shivering like crazy getting put into an ambulance, that's not good. This road is crazy with how it's coned off and the white and colored lines and wet roads, this would be super fun if it were a nice day out. Mechanical on the other side of the road, if I got a flat right now, I definitely would NOT be able to change it, my hands are way too cold and I can barley push the buttons to shift, there's no way I could change a flat, please don't flat. Ok good, finally back to Whistler, now we just have to descend into Pemberton and then we get some flats and then the climb back, I cannot wait for the climb back and a little bit of warmth, oh no, a decent, please make it go by quickly, I'm too cold and I might crash because I'm shivering so much. Oh, my bike bag is falling off, let me stop and fix it and I might as well pee while I'm at it, oooh warm, that feels nice, a hot tub would be excellent right about now. Downhill, downhill, downhill, downhill, oh my gosh, wheeeeennnn, wiiiiiiiiiiil, thiiiiiiisssssssssssss, hilllllllllllll, beeeeeeeee doneeeeeeeeee, I can't wait to climb back up it I don't care how steep or long or hard it is at least I won't be freezing and I can warm up, please, please, please get to the bottom, oh, I have to pee again (at least I'm hydrated), stop, pee, warm, I just want to be warm, I'll never complain about being hot ever again, get back on bike and go, finally the bottom, I've never been so cold before, special needs, see a guy he says he wants to quit, I say me too, but at least we can warm up in the next 30 miles, ugh, 30 miles of flat boring roads ahead, at least it's not pouring, but I'm still freezing, I try to eat my musubi and I drop it, whoops, can't hold onto anything, fingers too cold, get passed by a guy who tells me to go with him, I go for about 3 minutes then feel guilty drafting and drop back on my own, meanwhile see plenty of people (women!) in front and coming from behind in groups, ugh, cheaters, when will this road end, at least it's not raining anymore, what's that weird pain I feel in my back and shoulders, oh yeah, I've been shivering for hours and bracing because it's so cold, this is fun, I paid to do this,? that was dumb, at least we get to climb soon and then I can maybe get warm and turn this race around, oh joy, here we go, this climb is kinda fun, I really love my bike, really I do, oh no rain again, and colder, more ambulance sirens, maybe I should just quit, this climb is NOT warming me up, I do love climbing though, please no downhills, I can't take getting any more cold than I already am, oh goody a downhill, freezing, climbing again, good, just get back to Whistler, just get back to Whistler, it's still raining and they are making me ride around in circles around the village, this is stupid, they should have extended the road in Pemberton 1500 more meters and we wouldn't have to do this nonsense, finally, back to transition and off my bike, I'm so cold, it's still raining, at least now I get to run, thank goodness, I hear the run in beautiful, I can't wait!

clearly in a hurry
All-in-all, although the bike ride was horrible, miserable and the coldest I've ever been for that extended period of time, I really do think I would LOVE this bike course, given normal conditions. I'll come back.

Get into transition and I sit right down and take my time stripping off the cold wet clothes, the ladies tell me to hurry and keep going and I tell them I'm going to take my sweet time, thankyouverymuch, I put on my watch, grab my visor, head to the porta-potty, definitely hydrated, and I'm out on the course. Again, not a super slow transition time given that I felt like I was in there for 10 minutes (3 minutes and change in actuality)

The RUN.
The run course is beautiful and I think a straight marathon on this course would be amazing. You're running through trails, on and off road, past lakes, in wooded areas, by houses, by beer garden parties, golf courses, there were parts that were breathtaking.
 For me, on that day, the run was a real struggle, I ran 16 miles pretty well, at the half, I was on pace to run my BQ time, which is what the goal was and what I wanted to/knew I could do. But from mile 3 on my knee started to rear it's ugly little head, I'm not one for excuses, but I knew my knee was going to be the wild-card in this race. I had done just enough run training on it to get through the run at a respectable pace/time and what happened on the day was tbd. Right after the first loop, when I encountered the bear was the first time I had to stop, this was the beginning of the end, had I kept running (which wasn't an option when we saw the bear, you don't run in between a mama bear and her cubs), I think I could have made it to the end, well I hope I could have and mentally I know I could have pushed through (I did), physically I hoped my knee would let me.

The last 10k was brutal both mentally and physically. My heart and lungs and legs were totally fine, I was as fit as I'd ever been before and Ironman, I wasn't tired, I was feeling really, really good, I was catching and passing people at the beginning of the run and then my knee just said, "nope, no more, you're crazy, you might even be a little bit dumb to be running on me, I'm done." That was my knee, not my heart, lungs and legs, so they kept me hobbling my way along to the finish. I will say this though, never have I ever experienced so much support, encouragement and helpfulness from both spectators, volunteers and athletes as I did on that day when I was struggling like I was. I couldn't be happier with how much love and support was present out there on that course, that's something I've not experienced before, I mean people are usually nice and courteous along the way, but people are also in the zone and in their own world. You get the occasional good job or keep it up, but that's about it and I get it, I've been that person too, but from where I was on that day, the support and the struggle back there is real. I ended up finishing because I'm stubborn like that, it wasn't the day I wanted, but I took a lot more away from this race than I have in the past.

For me, realizing that this is something we all do for fun, it's not our job, this is our hobby, so why not be supportive and encouraging always, in all ways (that's from something, some BRAVO tv show or something I think, maybe?). It's not easy and everyone is dealing with something whether it be sickness, job, injury, family, life stress, injury, happiness, love, new kid, new job, new partner, etc, whatever it may be, good or bad, we are all going through life and have highs and lows, this is something we do for fun and let's support each other and go through this tough, rewarding journey together.

IM Canada, you were not easy, you dealt some ugly punches and I battled back, you didn't get the TKO, but you won this time, I'll be back for round 2!