Thursday, September 11, 2014

The triathlon that wasn't - First race

When I first started drafting this post, I was high on the energy of a lot of good swimming, biking and running. I had planned to write all about how great the race had gone and skip over the pre-race stuff, such as training. Then I had a little accident and it all changed. Here's the story.

Last December Brother #2 and I decided we would race a couple of Olympic distance triathlons together this summer.  I started focusing on my training in January, and then took the extra step of working with a trainer and nutritionist to be sure I was as strong and healthy as possible for the two races.

Training was going well. I'd reached my distances and was working on speed. I'd dropped a little weight and turned some fat into lean muscle. Then, one Saturday morning, about 6 weeks ago, I decided to do a brick (cycle/run). I biked out 25+ kilometres to a friend's house, dropped off my bike and ran up to a lovely little forest area for a trail run and promptly tripped over a tree root, twisting my ankle.  But I am a tough woman, so nothing like a twisted ankle was going to stop me, oh no!  I continued my run and within 5 minutes the pain went away. I ran a nice 5km loop and just as I was getting back to the street, said to myself "Now don't go tripping over that tree root again!", which is of course exactly what I did. This time I managed to fall and scrape my knee and the palm of my hand.

Back at my friend's house, I washed off, and we enjoyed some time in the pool with her kids. Later in the afternoon I biked back home another 25+km.  By this point my ankle was quite swollen and it hurt to walk on it.  That night I iced it, elevated it, etc.

Over the next few days I rested the ankle as much as possible and focused on getting biking distance in, instead of running. By the following Friday my foot was feeling much better and I had an easy 5km run. The ankle didn't feel exactly right but well enough to get a run in.

The following Monday my ankle felt a lot better and moved things up to 8km, and on Wednesday back to 12km. Slow and steady is how I run. Not breaking any speed limits, just getting through the distance. Then on Friday, about 6km into my last 12km run, I started to have some pain in my ankle again, which then moved, I could feel it moving, down the side of my ankle, across the top of foot and then stayed, like fire, on the top of my foot until I had to stop running for fear my foot was going to burst into flames. I was at 7.75km of my 12km run. No way could I continue. I was also 1.3km away from the gym and had to hobble/drag my leg behind me.

One week before the first Olympic distance triathlon and I could hardly walk, let alone run. Panic set in.

An x-ray, a couple of visits to the doctor, some physio and although it seemed I didn't have a fracture, something called the intermediary cuneiform bone (which, quite frankly, sounds too much like "unicorn" so I'm calling it my unicorn bone - yes, that one, in my foot) got displaced and was causing the ligaments down to my toes to scream at me. If you want to know what it feels like, it's kinda like this:  as you flex your foot to take a step, imagine someone hammering a dull nail into the top of your foot and that will give you the basic idea.

When the doctor told me I wouldn't be running anywhere, I suddenly felt the tears welling up in my eyes. When I fell the first time I didn't cry. Nor when I fell the second time. Not even the third time when the unicorn bone moved and the ligaments screamed at me. No crying, no, none at all.  But somebody tells me I can't do something I've spent the nearly 8 months training for and now I want to cry.

So I couldn't run. What could I do? I did the next best thing. I switched my race to an Olympic distance swim-cycle! Turns out I did pretty well.

Here's a summary of the pre-race, race and post-race events.

Pre-race:
Might have slept an hour all night. Typical me.
Got out of bed at 6am, dressed and re-packed my bag one last time, triple checking everything.
Ate a bagel, some Greek yogurt.
Arrived on site just before 7:30am.
Got set-up.
Went down to the beach and pulled on the wet suit.
Quick warm-up swim - water was perfect temperature.

Race:
Swim -- Tried to take the long-line on the swim to stay out of the way of the crowd, but apparently everybody had that very same idea. Oh well. Did my 2 loops and hoped for a decent time.

T1 -- Wet suit came off fast and then I dilly-dallied over drying my feet and tried to pick off the cut grass that was sticking to me. Stupid waste of time. Even put on my bike gloves - another 20 seconds wasted.  Finally got my bike in my hands and started heading to the mount line. But first I had to knock the bike computer off the bike not once, but twice, before some kind man picked it up and got it locked into place.

Bike -- My heart rate was high and I struggled to catch my breath on the first 10km lap. Found myself hardly able to maintain any speed over 25km/h. The second lap wasn't much better. Finally by the third lap my heart rate was down a bit and I could push harder. By the fourth lap I didn't care anymore and really pushed it to finish. Off the bike, and as much as I would've liked to run through the transition zone, my foot was telling me not to. I hobbled and semi-ran down the finishing chute.

Post-race:
By some miracle I finished 3rd overall (admittedly we were only six) in the women's Olympic distance swim-cycle! Not only did I get a finishers medal, but also a "Bronze" ribbon and a prize (Deep ice & heat relief and big plastic smoothie bottle.)

Official times:
Swim: 40:07 (includes transition time, by my watch I was at 33 minutes when I got out of the water)
Bike:  1:33:12 (includes time from dismount line, through transition, to finish)
Total:  2:13:17.4

What would I do differently?

Swim

  1. Take short line out to swim course
  2. Swim over more people, but in nice way

Bike

  1. Get outside on more roads, more wind, more hills
  2. No dilly-dallying in transition
  3. Tape bike computer to bike
  4. Run through transition (if I could have)

Run

  1. Not run 5km after a fall
  2. Take more time to heal if I have fallen


Summary of the second race, 3 weeks later, coming soon ... hopefully before Halloween.


Thursday, September 04, 2014

Ice Bucket Challenge

In recent weeks you have probably heard about the Ice Bucket Challenge in the news.  Many people have been pouring buckets of icy cold water over their heads to help promote awareness of the disease and what it does to its victims.

On als.ca  they tell you right on their home page that "ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease) is a progressive neuromuscular disease in which nerve cells die and leave voluntary muscles paralyzed. Every day two or three Canadians die of the disease."  

Please, before you go throwing any icy water over yourself, read up a little on the disease and please, please, please donate.

This past weekend one of my brothers nominated me in his own challenge. It took the suggestion from one of my closest friends (hi, SuperC!) to get me to accept this challenge as I had no intention of putting any kind of icy anything anywhere near me.  I made this little video.

Enjoy and do please remember to donate to ALS.

video