Thursday, September 20, 2012

4 minutes

On Tuesday, my doctor gave me the all clear to start running again.  Honestly, I'm shocked.  I though she'd have me walk for a month and THEN build up to running.  Nope.  She said I could start running immediately.

I almost ran out of the doctor's office to my truck, in celebration.

The running plan actually ramps up pretty quickly.  In week 3, I will be running a mile continuously, walk for 3 min, and repeat 2 more times.  Given that my walk on Sunday (3 miles round trip) wiped me out, I'm going to wait until this Sunday to start the program and walk a few more times this week.  As excited as I am to start up, I don't want to rush into it and re-injure my heel.

After work on Tuesday, after a semi-long search for clothes and a debate over which shoes to wear (do I wear my cushiony [and blocky] Mizunos for support, or do I wear my Newtons for better form?  The Newtons won.  Mainly because I've been wearing the Mizunos daily for 5 weeks and I'm tired of seeing them), I went on a walk.  After some internal debate, I decided to go about 3 miles, walking 10 minutes and running for 1 minute.  I figured it was a good test to see how I felt.

And wow, those 4 x 1 minute runs were amazing.  It was the first time I've ran since the Colfax Half Marathon.*  I took the first 2 conservatively, focusing on light feet and midfoot running.  The 3rd run I tried to up the pace but it really wasn't there.  And the 4th one, I just wanted to keep it strong.

It went pretty well.  I can tell certain things aren't used to getting used.  My shins/ankles.  My hips.  My my heel felt GREAT.  I really was the best 4 minutes I've had in quite a while.  I'm looking forward to getting in even more of those minutes. :)

* Quote from my race report: "My feet hurt, which sucks.  I'm hoping that a regimen of 2 aleve every 12 hours for a few days will fix things, along with RICE.  This is fixable".  Oh the irony.  Yes, fixable with 4 months of being booted and doing nothing.  Crapola.

Monday, September 17, 2012


I can honestly (and finally) say that I am confident that my heel is no longer broken.

let me repeat:  After 4 months, my heel is no longer broken.

holy schmoley.

To get ready for IMCDA, and to prevent this from ever happening again, I am really working on rebuilding myself.  I almost feel like the Bionic Woman, only without the bionic parts.  I'm working with a physical therapist, a chiropractor, and a massage therapist to address all of my issues.  I want to get all the kinks knocked out now before training begins in earnest. 

Physical therapy is kicking my ass - literally!  Becky feels that my glutes are weak, so my calves have to work extra-hard to make up for that weakness, which in turn causes calf tightness, and in my case a broken heel.  Awesome!  We (well, me) are working hard to address the glute weakness and to also work on a few other trouble spots.  Daily, I get to do:
  • a series of 5 pilates side leg lifts, 1 minute each (5 minutes total, per side)
  • bridge pose, holding one leg up and out, 1 min each side
  • face down leg lifts (2 types), 1 minute each type (2 min total, per side)
  • 2 min of calf raises
  • balance ball bridge pose (hold 10 sec) then roll legs out straight and hold (10 sec) to fatigue
  • theraband front wide walking to fatigue
  • theraband backwards wide walking to fatigue
  • theraband sideways walking to fatigue (each side)
  • 5 minutes wall squat (cumulative time with the goal to hold for 5 min straight)
This is HARD.  Wowzers.  However, I should have legs of steel from all of this.  Also: everyone I tell about the 5 minutes of wall squats looks at me and laughs.

I'm still searching for a good chiropractor.  The one I was seeing this spring wasn't taking my calf tightness seriously.  And I had to ask him to adjust my neck.  That annoyed me.  I switched to one closer to work who is sports-certified.  I guess there's a huge difference between knowing sports and being sports-certified, because this guy had no clue about any of the sports that I do.  He insisted on seeing me 2x a week "because I was tight" but never gave any indication of progress.  And when he asked me what activities I'd been doing (swimming and cycling), he'd tell me to quit undoing his work.  I'm not sure he was joking.  But honestly, I'm not doing all that much now and if he thinks I'm "undoing" things now... wow.  His speech mannerisms were also off-putting.  "Get on your tummy" instead of "lie face down".  When adjusting my back, when he was having a hard time he'd call me a "difficult girl".  It was creepy.  So I'm not seeing him anymore.

I had a groupon-type thing for a massage, so I used that on Friday.  Maybe someday I will get a nice relaxing massage.  But that day was not Friday.  He really worked hard  from my glutes on down to get knots to release.  I was pretty impressed, so I got 5 more sessions with him.  I need to get rid of these knots before I start training in earnest.

I haven't seen my doctor yet to get cleared for walking.  During our last visit, she wanted me to come back in 4-6 weeks, so I scheduled an appointment for 5 weeks.  I see her tomorrow.  My foot has been feeling good for 2 weeks now, so I decided to go for a walk to the farmers market yesterday as a test.  It's 1.5 miles each way... probably a bit farther than what the Doctor would recommend, but that's what I did.  Foot felt fine, but the rest of my muscles.....Wow.  I can tell that they are NOT used to getting worked in that fashion.  It was pretty sad, really.  Walking 3 miles round trip made me sore.  Damn.  But the foot felt fine, so that's the good news.  I can work on endurance.... slowly.

Finally, I hit a new bike speed max Saturday, on the hill by my house.  47 mph.  It was awesome.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Well, that was hard

This whooped me good.  It was also very educational.

The Plan:  I had 2 x 8 oz bottles of First Endurance Liquid Shot (about 4 hrs per bottle) in my jersey and a handfull of SunRype fruit strips for nutrition.    For water I had my 40 oz Speed Fill and I'd fill that up at aid stations.  I'd stop at every aid station and about every hour.  And I'd ride the 100 miles.

Starting out, things weren't so bad.  We were going uphill, but I could manage in my 2nd ring.  Five miles in, I wasn't dying.  Hooray!  An hour in and I was ok still.  Then there was a HUGE steep hill that didn't seem to ever end (see mile 10, above).  I saw 2.8 mph on my garmin and I was going so slow that it would auto-pause on me, thinking I had stopped.  Awesome!  There were moments where I considered walking, but I figured that each pedal stroke was taking me a greater distance than a step would.  So I kept pedalling.  FINALLY (two hours later) we reached Nederland.  3,000 ft climbed in 15 miles.  Hooray!  Ward is only another 1,000 ft and I have 15 miles to do so.

Insert ironic laugh, as I was about to get my ass handed to me.

We had a really fun descend.  I really enjoyed that, but it also scared the crap out of me because what goes down must go up.  Crap.  Then I saw a sign indicating that I had a Cat 2* climb coming up.  Crap again.  Its ok, I managed to stay on my bike in Boulder Canyon.  I can do this.

It turns out, asthma + 8,000 ft elevation is not a good equation.  My legs felt ok.  My lungs were gone.  And weirdly, my lower back was REALLY sore.  Things weren't fun anymore and my lungs were hurting.  So I got off and walked the steep parts.  I think I walked 3 or 4 times, usually spotting a tree or a rock just below the crest, which would be my re-mounting point.  Each time I walked, I'd take a hit off my inhaler.  It didn't work as 5 minutes later, I couldn't breathe.  That hill just wouldn't end.  There were points where it would level off and I'd go around a curve and see another hill.  Most of the time these later hills weren't bad, but I was almost crying at the thought of going up any more hills.  And I'd only ridden 22 miles.  In a century ride.  If I had seen a SAG vehicle on any of these hills, I would have asked for a ride to the next aid station.  I only saw SAG vehicles on the flats or slight descents, where I was on my bike and too proud to ask for a ride.  From past experience, I know that crying is usually a lack of nutrition.  I wasn't eating or drinking much because I was working so damn hard.  Once I realized that, I took a good hard swig of my nutrition to get some calories down.

FINALLY somewhere around mile 25 or 26, the hills ended and we had flats and a gradual downhill.  I knew Ward was around mile 28, where the aid station was, so I sucked it up.  I also made a deal with myself:  Ride the descent down St Vrain Canyon (30 miles) and see if I feel any better.  I got the the aid station and they were starting to tear it down.  Awesome.  My friend had been waiting 20 minutes for me.  Even more awesome.  Fortunately, she had some Advil and I took 2 for my back.  I told her about my plan to see how I was at the next aid station (Hygiene, at mile 60) and she was ok with it.

Then the fun began.  Yay - downhill!  Unfortantely, while we were on Peak to Peak Highway, there were some downhills and some uphills.  Down was fun.  Up was not.  I was done with going up.  Also, Peak to Peak turned into chipseal north of Ward.  Sucky. I just wanted to fly.  Once we got on St Vrain Ave, the chipseal turned into smooooooth pavement and there were no more uphills.  Just really fun downhills and sweeping turns.  I don't think I hit my brakes once on that road.

We made it to Lyons and the heat started to hit me and I knew I was back on flat land.  Pedalling was actually going well on the flats.  I was holding 18-20 mph.  I had also ran out of water at about mile 50.  Dumb.  I remember actually looking at my water bottle, thinking hmm, there's about an hour left of water in there.  I have 30 miles.  I can do that in one hour.  Yet another sign that I wasn't thinking clearly.  Somehow I trusted myself with 30 miles of fast descending.  Dumb.  So I was dry but I knew the road and I knew I had minutes to get to Hygiene.  So I just kept pedalling.

It was getting hotter and things were starting to get uncomfortable.  Saddle was ok-ish.  Hands were starting to go numb.  And my feet weren't super happy.  And I was starting to get crabby.  I knew the rest of the ride was flat-ish.  But I also knew it wasn't shaded.  I evaluated myself and my goals, and decided that things would cease to be happy if I continued on.  I had nothing to prove and why torture myself for another 40 miles.  SAG it was.

I made it to the mile 60 aid station and I was only about a minute behind my friend.  They had cheese pizza there.  I normally don't like cheese pizza.  But this was the BEST cheese pizza EVER.  I told my friend that I was SAGging it, but she understood.  And then I ate more pizza.  And red licorice.  mmmmm!

Getting a ride back to the race start/finish was super easy.  I had 3 drivers, all volunteering to take me back.  And on the way, I learned that my cousin was at the start/finish waiting for his girlfriend to finish.  That meant I had company for the 2+ hrs until my friend finished.  Hooray!  We hung out.  I drank beer, ate ice cream, ate pasta.  Good times.  The reports from my friends who did the full 100 miles told me that I made the right decision.  It was hot out there.  I would not have been a happy camper.

Lessons Learned:
  • I need to be better about my nutrition, even when working hard.  When I got to mile 60 (5 miles riding time), I had only had 1/4 of my total nutrition.  That's equivalent to 2 hrs worth.  No shit I felt like crap.  I can't be doing that.
  • I am questioning if I can do rides at altitude because I had SUCH a hard time breathing.  I don't know if this is an acclimation thing or if my lungs are defective.  My legs were ok (back was not, but it was tolerable).  I had to walk because I couldn't breathe.  Not cool.
  • At each aid station, I need to evaluate hydration and nutrition.  Even when its early in the ride.  Running out of water was unacceptable.
  • Good call SAGging it back after 60 miles.  I feel a bit beat up today but mostly ok.  I'm pretty sure I'd be in worse shape today if I did the whole thing.
I wish I took some pictures, as it was BEAUTIFUL.  The aspen were starting to turn, I had views of some big mountains.  I was just running so late that I didn't want to take the 30 seconds to bust out my phone and snap some pics.

Overall, the ride was VERY well organized.  Even though I didn't do the full 100 miles, I felt like I got my money's worth.  Maybe I'll think about doing this again next year, but only if I feel ready.  No more doing this on a whim.

* I thought a Cat 2 climb was the 2nd easiest climb.  I reasearched it this morning.  Turns out its the 2nd HARDEST climb.  No wonder that killed me!

Friday, September 07, 2012

Friday update

PT is going better.  I'm mastering my exercises and I have new ones.  One of which resembles a sideways crab walk and a theraband.  It is not very attractive, but I suppose that's not the point.  Its hard to be graceful when your feet are tied together by a gigantic blue rubberband.

I actually went to swim practice TWICE this week.  This has not happened since the week of July 8th.  Craziness.  Even more crazy, I could kick fairly hard and not feel my fracture.  Awesome.  Also: that's why I haven't been swimming very much.  Spending 3,000 meters pulling or barely kicking sucks.  Its impossible to motivate myself to go twice a week with that suckage.  Really.

I have ridden a grand total of 200 miles in the past 2 months.  Most of my rides are on the 45-50 mile range.  So, logically, I signed up for a century ride this Sunday.  Smart!  I figure, I can do Palmer Lake, which is 2k gain in 20 miles ok, and I can ride 45-50 miles and not be sore, so I should be relatively ok for a century ride with 4k gain in 30 miles.  And then another 70 miles after that.  NO PROBLEM!  I mean, there's 30 miles of downhill after the 30 miles of uphill (which really, requires no work what-so-ever), and then 40 miles of relative flatness.
no problem!  [gulp]
Honestly, a metric century would have been better.  They had a 70 mile option, but frankly, it was boring.  And I've nearly done that ride on my own for free.  I decided that pretty and painful was the way to go.  As slow as I will go, it will give me plenty of time to enjoy canyons and mountains.  I also plan on taking full advantage of EACH aid station, and not skipping every-other one as I typically do.

And if I'm dying, I can cut out early and go down Lefthand Canyon or something and simply ride back to the post-ride party.  Or a brewery.  We'll see if I survive.  Its probably not my smartest idea ever, but since when is smart fun?