Thursday, January 22, 2015

Let Me Explain….

The picture that caused all the confusion and concern!!! Let me explain…..
Ahhh.  The trials and tribulations of attempting to be "normal" after an ACL tear and surgery.  Yeah.  I may have felt like I was "winning".  Finishing an Ironman 8 months after surgery was awesome.  Really.  But what I neglected before and after was rehab.  And strength training.  And stretching.  Yes, those dirty little words we athletes have a love/hate relationship with.  What???  I have to work on lateral movement?  What??  I am overcompensating for my knee???

So, I feel I must post this since my Facebook/Twitter/Instagram post and picture set off a wave of unnecessary concern!!  I am fine.  Great really.  Here's what happened.  I went skiing.  Several times.  You may call it making up for a lost season last year.  Whatever.  I call it finally being back to my first sporting love.  Ahhhhh…….the mountains.  Snow.  Turns.  Corduroy.  Powder.  Steeps.  You name it, I'll ski it.  (I only did Highline once.  I swear.)  After day 4, my left hip started hurting.  Like, not being able to get out of bed hurting.  Talk about feeling geriatric.  I stretched.  It kept waking me up at 4:30am.  I kept skiing.

Finally, RE talked some sense into me and I went in to see my trusty (and a teeny tiny bit evil) PT Bryan.  He's a no-nonsense kinda guy (which I like).  And here's what has happened…..my left hip hurts (actually my TFL - don't ask me what that stands for) because I am unintentionally overcompensating for my repaired right knee.  Even with wearing my brace.  Plus, the right knee was hurting pretty good too!  And, as "luck" would have it, I had lost some mobility and flexion with that knee.  Ugh.  So even though I had full mobility and flexion a mere 4 months after surgery, 11 months later I did not.

Not quite back to square one.  I am once again on an "official" schedule!!!  Woot!!!!  And I don't have any limitations as to what I can do.  I do have some pain after my sessions and certainly my knee is pissy/swollen after I ski.  And sometimes after I run.  And ride.  BUT, here's what I am doing……Bryan hooked me up with Pam at my gym.  And Pam isn't really nice either.  But she is helping me getting my strength back in my under-used glutes and helping me gain lateral strength and motion.  Yay Me!!!

These days, I spend 30 minutes in the morning (after Izzi gets off to school and before I take Charlotte) stretching and doing glute exercises.  I spend an embarrassing amount of time thinking about my butt.  Like all the time.  I now ice my knee after every bike/run session.  And now at 4:30am, I wake up with a slight ache in my hip.  My knee pain is totally gone (the serious pain, the everyday I had surgery in that knee pain and I probablyshouldntbedoingallthatido pain is still there).  But, I'm a triathlete right?  My pain tolerance is not "normal".

All this being said/written, I am sooooo excited for the upcoming season!!  My race schedule is about final and I'm adding in an Xterra (or 2).  Crazy right?  Because why not take up a new sport at my "advanced" age.  And some shorter distances.  I have sworn off Ironman this season.  But is October/November considered this season?????  Clearly, I have an Ironman problem.  Only time and finances will tell if I sign up or not:)

Sooooo, there is the update.  And thank you everyone for your concern!!!!  I appreciate it!  But all is well on this front and I will have full mobility and flexion before long.  Honest.  Oh…..it may be January 22nd but I already have 7 days skiing!!!!  Woo Hoo!!!


Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014!

I started this post 2 months ago……so rather than it being the "Kona Pre-quel" I'm just going to call it 2014 year-in-review.

Well let’s get this out of the way right off…..I am incredibly proud of what I accomplished last Saturday in Kona.  Because I honestly shouldn’t have been on the starting line.  Busted knee, surgery, rehab, divorce, moving, buying a house.  I’ve really packed a lot into this year already.  And all this activity just meant not a whole lot of training consistency.  But my doctor gave me a glimmer of hope early on that I might be able to do Kona (he knows me and my special brand of crazy) and so I kept that thought in the back of my head as I worked on getting my knee better. 

Here’s the timeline……

January:  Busted knee from a stupid skiing fall on December 30th. Shredded ACL, partial tear of lateral, MCL strain. Start doing pre-hab in advance of surgery.  Have to wait for swelling to go down before I undergo the knife.  Trying to stay positive but naturally it's the best snow year for Colorado in a long time.  And I can't ski.  Bitter. My athletes that post ski pics are punished with extra tough workouts:)

Everyone helped with pre-hab
February: surgery.  No activity.  Nothing. Trying my best to keep my chin up and know that I really had no choice but to do the surgery.  Some pretty dark moments in the first 2 weeks after surgery.  Lets not beat around the bush, this was a VERY hard time.  After a few weeks I was able to get back in the pool (pulling only, 1-legged flip turns) and do some easy spinning (up to 20-30minutes).  And one wrong move and I'm in a world of pain.  But, it is really unbelievable what just a little bit of activity can do for me and my mood.  I started to feel “normal”.  Even if I did have a huge scar on my knee and had to wear a brace 24/7.
This knee.  Not the other one.



March:  Still pulling only in the pool.  Bike is permanently on the trainer and I’m spinning every chance I get.  Even celebrating the few beads of sweat that have dropped onto the mat!  New to my training is time spent with Estim (Compex).  I started using it right after the fall and have pretty much been hooking up to it 1-2 times a day. This tool proved to be key in my recovery.  And because of that my muscles have not atrophied as much as normally expected and I get one step closer to clearance to ride outside.

Brace #3:  Bad Ass Betty

April:  I can ride my bike outside!!!!!!  I can ride my bike outside!!!!!  But no hills.  And no standing out of the saddle….sad face.  And, I can drop the pull buoy but only kick lightly – kind of a comfort thing.  And trust me, my knee let me know if I kicked too hard.  But, at least my activity is heading in the direction that I want.  My doc also cleared me to try running on a tready with my brace at the beginning of the month. This session lasted 4 minutes and ended up with me in tears.  Mucho pain.  Knee not ready to run. 

After my first outside climb!

May:  Puerto Vallarta!!!  All-expense paid trip that I earned with Wildtree (YAY).  PIC and I had a ball!!  Try running on the tready again and it goes much better.  I literally start with 10 minutes – 1 minute "on", 1 minute off!!!  I tried running outside and just the little imbalances in pavement and trail were enough to send me back to tears.  By the end of the month I’m up to 20-30minutes!!!!  And, I can climb on the bike – thank the lord!!!  May was also the month that I put the house up for sale.  Getting prepped was tons of work but fortunately it sold in 2 days.  YIKES!!!  It sold in 2 days!!!!  Now I have 35 days to get packed up and move out of a house I have lived in for 12 years.  And find another place to live. 
Don't worry - that's a one legged jump for me.

June:  Runs are getting progressively longer but I adopted a run/walk strategy as it seemed my knee was much more receptive to this than just straight running.  Started out as 10 on/1 walk and ended up around 15 – 20 on/1 off.  My swim has taken a back seat.  The move is taking up the majority of my time – I’m lucky if I’m getting in 2x week.  But I am still riding and doing my best to stay on schedule.


July:  Tried a 4 mile run race.  Pulled out after 2 miles.  Ouch.  I continued on with the run/walks and got up to 1 hour!!  And I tried to not freak out about Kona.  I got a big bike week in France (30k of climbing in 6 days) and had an amazing time.  Swim is still taking a back seat and I’m lucky if I get in 2x week.  On another note, apartment living sucks. The girls and me need some space….
Somewhere near the top of Alpe d'Huez

August:  My Kona run training begins – yes, I know it’s August.  My bike is in a good place.  My swim will come along – right???  I run 2 hours at the end of August. And I have a small glimmer of hope that I might be able to complete Kona.  And I threw in a little Olympic race in there – let’s just say I was NOT race ready and that run kicked my arse.  But, I did have tears of joy in my eyes as I crossed the finish line and I managed to win my age group – that felt really awesome.  Oh yeah, and I found the perfect house for me and the girls and decide to buy it!  I commit to 6 weeks of no missed workouts.  
Can't wait for more PIC adventures.


September:  YAY!!  I finally get to try running without my brace – which is a good thing since my chaffing marks are starting to look permanent and Bad Ass Betty (brace) has developed a “unique” odor.  I won’t lie, I was very scared about running without the brace.  But it was all A-OK!!  My bike was strong and my swim will come along – right???  Wrong.  I was struggling with my swim.  By this point I should be seeing some decent times in the pool but it was just not there.  I felt horrible, my stroke was off and I needed help!!  Nick at the GAC helped me out – basically after pulling for 3-4 months, I forgot how to use my legs and kick.  I was over-rotating which then caused a scissor kick.  Oye.  A few drills later and I was starting to feel better in the pool.  Whew.  I knew I wouldn’t have the swim of my life in Kona but I just wanted to feel somewhat strong and know that I could hold my own.
Family fun 5k

All along I told myself, I’m going to Kona to COMPLETE not to COMPETE.  Which sounds all great and stuff.  But it is really hard to take the competitor out of the athlete and “settle” for completion.  I struggled with this all month and it took me awhile but I finally accepted where I was at and what I was meant to do in Kona.  And that was to be completely grateful to even have the opportunity to jump in the water and line up with the best Ironman triathletes in the world – just 8 months after surgery.  Seriously, how lucky am I?  I’m going to Hawaii, one of my favorite places in the world.  And I get to swim in the ocean, ride the legendary Queen K, and go for a really long, hot run/walk.  I knew I could complete the distance.  My goal was not to get on the podium.  My goal was to get to the finish line. To hear Mike Reilly call out my name again.  And to put an exclamation mark on an incredibly difficult yet wonderful year. 

October:  I closed on my house at the end of September but wisely decided to take the month of October to move.  Kona, Kona, Kona.  I loved this trip!!  Since I knew I was there to complete, I had a fairly relaxed approach to the race.  Beers were involved.  Sunsets were watched.  Yummy food was consumed (including a fair amount of french fries).  And then it was race morning!  An incredibly difficult day but my knee held up and my run/walk strategy paid off and I crossed the finish line.  (I'd like to say I'll write a race report but it's almost 2015 so the reality is it's probably NOT going to happen).

Returned home to have my house painted, move out of apartment and into said house.  In 10 days.  Cuz that's when I was leaving with my girls and parents for Fall Break.  Yikes.  So there was really no Kona let down because there was just no time.  That also meant I really didn't have a proper recovery.  Oh well.  We left a house full of boxes and went on vacation.


November:  Time to settle into the new pad.  Ugh.  3rd round of moving in 5 months and I am over it.  It's really hard to set up house by yourself!!!!  Make all the decisions.  But by Thanksgiving, it was 90% done.  I was back in the pool and running.  My TT bike is still in its box:)  Doctor has cleared me to ski without my brace - really?????  Love the idea but not committed to doing it.  Start waiting for the first ski day.  And, decide to give mountain biking a go.  Why not???




December:  Settling continues.  Waiting to be bored.  Reunite with PIC.  And then the first ski day.  I was so anxious - I felt like a little kid!  And it turned out to be unbelievably awesome.  355 days after that silly little fall I was skiing again - how cool is that?
Return to the scene of the "crime" exactly a year later.

ABasin

My year in review at least from a triathlon/moving perspective.  I am incredibly grateful to be where I am at today.  And I can't wait for 2015 and all the possibilities the New Year holds.  I am committed to posting more often as I am done with the year of change.  2015 will be back to whatever "normal" is: working, training, racing, adventure.

And, I would be remiss if I didn't take a moment to thank everyone involved in helping me through this year.  Of course, my sponsors rock:  QR (fastest bike on the planet), Punk Rock Racing and Osmo. Thank you thank you thank you for sticking with me this year.  Dr. Stull - you put my knee back together and with your conservative recovery approach we got to the finish line.  And my wonderful family and friends.  A big shout out to PIC who is always there for me thru thick and thin and this year certainly tested that.  And to RE…..just wow.  

Happy New Year!!!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Day 4 Alpe d'Huez!!

The weather was decent on Day 4.  No sun but not pouring down rain.  All was well except for my horrible eating on Day 3.  Why oh why did I think a cheeseburger and duck confit would be a good eatng plan???  Well the tummy was not happy (SHUTUPTUMMY).  I figured it may be a pull over and barf kind of day and my dreams of a 30minute ascent of Alpe d’Huez was dashed. 
 
It just looks like any old mountain side right?
We began the descent from La Grave to Bourg d’Oisans (base of alpe) and had my first tunnel experiences on a bike.  Let me just say I do not like tunnels on a bike.  They are narrow, dark and any car that enters the tunnel sounds just like a Mack truck roaring up behind you.  And then it passes you and it is a teeny tiny Fiat.  Oye. 

My legs were NOT happy either (SHUTUPLEGS).  The first little climb felt awful and I figured another long day in the saddle.  But hey, I’m riding my bike (OK, A bike) in France.  Suck it up buttercup – when will you get to do this again?  Despite the pissy tummy and legs, I was still excited to do this iconic climb. 

The group gathered at the base of the climb and got suited up.  Guide Lisa was driving the van today and was getting everyone fired up with music and a generally awesome attitude.  And then it was time to begin. 
 
What have I gotten myself into??

We are going up there!!!

Laura Lee and Lisa had both warned us that the first 3 switchbacks were the steepest and that is where you usually see the most carnage.  So take it easy.  And, there are not 21 switchbacks.  Most people stop right when they hit the town at the top – there are all sorts of “fake ” finish lines.  But the TDF finish line happens after switchback 0 (thus 22). 

The road immediately turns up and you are climbing.  I had my bike in my lowest gear and it stayed there the remainder of the ascent.  Climbing was a combination of in the saddle and out of the saddle and yes, those first 3 switchbacks were a beotch.  Since my tummy was gross and I knew I wasn’t going to win the ascent, I lowered my heart rate targets and just kept a somewhat “comfortable” pace going up. 

The climb is stunning.  Absolutely gorgeous.  And unlike the other climbs we had done, this one had marker signs for each switchback counting down.  So the first sign was 21 and the grade for that section was like 22%.  Or 10%.  I don’t really remember.  I got in a groove and started counting down signs.  And then I would argue with whoever did the signs when I thought for sure that counted as a switchback yet there was no sign. 

The coolest part of the climb?  Well, there are several.  Starting with seeing the names of your favorite dopers riders painted all over the road.  The next was seeing all of the people out there on their bikes!  I thought I was doing great passing people until I would look over and see that the girl I was passing was 12.  On a mountain bike.  And then there was the 80 year old man on a fixie.  I am not kidding.  I had been passed by an 8 year old boy at some point who must have had a 36 on his rear derailleur the way he was spinning his legs.  He stopped at the first “finish” line he saw.  I smiled as I passed him back and knew that I had just crushed the 8 year old.  HA!!!!  I cruised through the village, hit the right turn at Intersport, nailed the first roundabout and then promptly missed the next roundabout.  I ended up with Daniel (fellow tour member and hilarious Brit) at the golf course.  We were pretty certain that it wasn’t the finish line.  So we turned back and finally got to the finish.  Pretty fucking awesome. 

After taking off the time for the missed turn, the 4 flat tires, the guy that needed CPR and the 9 holes of golf I played, my “official” time came in around 10minutes.  Take that Lance!!!



Lisa was waiting at the top with champagne and a medal!!! My first medal of the year –so excited!
 
The sun even came out at the top!!!
Dad nailed the climb at age 70 – just 10 minutes slower than what he did 10 years ago.  Nice.  Nicole made it up too.  So proud!!!

The rest of the day?  A very long lunch at the top, some shopping and then time to finish up the ride.  With a bitch of a climb up Col de Sarenne (8-9% average grade over 5k) and then a death defying descent down the back.  Yea, that wasn’t fun.  Skinny road covered with gravel and drops off the side.  My hands hurt after that.  Then one more climb back to La Grave after that and we finally made it back to L’Edelweiss.

What a day!!!!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Day 3 Rain Day

Today was supposed to be Col du Telegraphe and Galibier (highest climb of the tour).  But it continued to pour down rain.  We considered Alpe d'Huez.  But it was 38 degrees 3k from the summit.  So it was decided to wait until the next day for that epic climb regardless of the weather.  The group drove 2 hours from Menthon to Bourg d'Oisans (base of Alpe d'Huez) and decided on a "recovery" day.

Me and the boys
Sounds good to me!!!  But that also meant 2 back to back brutal days (alpe d'huez followed by Telegraphe/Galibier).  It was raining but the six idiots (me included) took off for Telecabine (gondola) to Les Deux Alpes. But when we arrived at telecabine we had only been riding 35 minutes, we were warmed up and it had stopped raining.  We continued on to St. Cristophe (described as a gentle climb followed by a fairly steep climb to St. Cristophe).

I thought we had done the steep climb.  I was ready to turn around and go to lunch.  But Lisa pointed up at the side of the mountain and the road. Wha???  It was literally straight up the effing mountain.  No joke.  The switchbacks were incredibly steep.  I refused to look to the right because it was straight down.  Don't look down don't look down.  Just keep pedaling just keep pedaling.  But this valley was unbelievably gorgeous.  The waterfalls were amaze balls.  The town we came into was just classic Europe.  Flowers everywhere, skinny streets, the church and the gravestones with dates of 1914 and earlier.
Of course, when we decided to stop, Lisa mentioned that we had blown off "recovery" day.  Yeah, that made sense since we had just climbed 3k+ in 30k.  Ouch.
Waterfalls everywhere!

The descent was a bit scary….do not look down!!  But in no time we were on the telecabine to the ski area base of Les Deux Alpes.  I am totally coming back here one day to ski - it looks fabulous.  We stopped into a pub and I was freezing my arse off.  I switched into some dry clothes and slammed a hot chocolate laced with cognac and baileys and whipped cream.  And then had a cheeseburger and fries.  (remember this for Day 4)

Food service does NOT happen quickly in France.  So after what seemed like forever, we finally ate and decided to descend and then ascend to La Grave.  But after the descent, the cheeseburger was wanting to make a second appearance and I opted for the van ride to La Grave.  Not proud but I also didn't want to blow chunks on my bike.

The day ended with a lovely massage with Bruno who is now known as my moto-man.  Yes, after the massage he gave me a couple of pills - which he said were all natural but would help me up Alpe d'Huez in the morning.  I really didn't care what they were - if he had said EPO - whatevs!!  I'm in!!!

Then a lovely team dinner at the hotel where I had duck for the first (and maybe last) time.  (once again, remember this for day 4)  My sis had planned a 70th birthday celebration cake for my dad and everyone had a blast eating cake and wearing silly sunglasses.  Great hotel, great staff, great dinner. (Hotel: L'Edelweiss)
Dad's sunglasses "Older Butwiser"


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Day 2 Col de la Forclaz, Col de Leschaux and Semnoz….

Day 2 started off with that same effing climb out of the hotel and then a climb to the climb.  Help me - I need warm-up!!  Once again, my HR was in Zone 17a within 3 minutes.  Oh this could be a loooong day!!  The boys and Laura Lee took off and I was happy to be in a little control of my own destiny for the day.  The first climb (other than leaving the hotel) was Col de Forclaz.  A beautiful climb.  With an average grade of 8% I think.  There were section of 13-14% grade and the first time I wished I had more gears:)  It was sunny, warm and just plain gorgeous looking back down at the lake.  Just Wow.

The descent was a bit sketchy and one of the guys almost went down but had an amazing save - I was impressed.  Plus there was the mountain bike dude that didn't care for being passed on the descent so he passed everyone back and took off.  Another wow.

The next climb was Col de Lescheux - it was a bit more gentle but just as beautiful. And as a bonus, I got to kiss the podium girl at the top.

The weather up to this point was fantastic but as we started the climb to Semnoz (and the first time out of tree-line) the big clouds started lining up.  The best part of the climb?  Each kilometer, there was a sign announcing how many more k's to go.  The worst part of the climb?  Each kilometer, that same sign also announced the average grade of the upcoming kilometer.  It really sucks when it says 8% and you are on a flat cuz you know what's going to happen:)  About the time of the ski area, it started sprinkling.  After tree line at the cows, it started raining.  I decided not to put on my rain jacket since I only had 1.5k to go……Plus the cows were giving me more cowbell and I felt obligated to really go for it.
And then the skies opened up and it started pouring!!!  Thank goodness the Trek Travel van showed up with our dry warm clothes and the cafe had awesome potage (soup) and cafe au lait.  It didn't let up so 11 of us piled into the van and drove down the mountain.

Fantastic day 2.