Tag Archives: Control Yourself

Injury Fake Out

Coming down from Ironman has been a humbling experience. I feel eager and excited and full of energy…until I’m 3 miles into a 6 mile run and want to just take a nap. My muscles aren’t burning, my joints aren’t creaky, but I’ve been insanely sleepy. In fact, I could pretty much – 3+ weeks later – fall asleep at any moment. The sleepiness is starting to lift though and with each workout my body is waking up more quickly and engaging more efficiently. I finally feel like the fog is lifting.

Which is why it was especially infuriating after Track Tuesday one week ago that my right foot started hurting. My right foot being the one that’s been fine since Portland Marathon 2009. During the 2 mile time trial my foot felt fine – the rest of my body including my lungs is a whole other story – but when I got in the car and started driving home my big toe felt cramped in a claw-like position, and the cramp extended into my arch. Having battled PF before I knew what to do and iced, rolled it out, and stretched my toes.

So when it hurt 100x more the next day I was really angry. And concerned. Wednesday morning my big toe joint was immensely swollen, and the pain was radiating from the center of the joint upward. I could hardly walk on the poor toe, because I really couldn’t move it. As the day progressed it hurt more and more, and then I got worried. I called my doctor in a panic and though he was leaving on vacation the next day he let me come in after hours to take a look.

When I arrived and described the pain he looked grim. And when he came back with x-rays I knew that he had not good news to share. He showed me a few x-rays that looked fine, and then we got to looking as my sesamoids. The words ” stress fracture” and “boot” were said. According to the x-ray my 2 sesamoid bones were in 3 pieces.

What 2 sesamoid bones should look like. (But not actually my x-ray)

I left the office feeling like my heart had been ripped out and thrown on the floor. 4-6 weeks in a boot. No NWM Half. No NYC Marathon. But it wasn’t even the boot-time and missed races that got to me the most. What got to me is that this time, this training cycle, I listened to my body. Since my last bout with stress fractures at the slightest sign of something amiss I’ve taken action, be it rest or physical therapy this time around. On the list of top 200 body parts that hurt during training or racing IMC this spot on my body wasn’t ever on the radar, truly. I drove home wondering how I’d ever be able to trust my own instinct again, and arrived on the assumption that I wouldn’t.

In the following hours I became more and more doubtful – 50% in myself and ability to read pain, but 50% in my doctor. Sure I’d wear a boot, but only until I could get a 2nd opinion on the injury. Generally stress fractures can’t be seen in x-rays, and if I was going to be in a boot for 6 weeks I wanted concrete proof that I needed to be there. My doctor was gone so I couldn’t show up on his office doorstep anymore, so I pulled together a list of new doctors to call first thing in the morning. At 8am I called and pled my case with each office. Thank you sports medicine community for listening to my woes – I was granted appointments with every doctor that I called and had my pick. I picked Dr. Blahous at The Sports Medicine Clinic.

I arrived, explained the onset and pain, and the doctor was great. He didn’t discount my previous diagnosis too much, but at the same time said that it didn’t sound like a fracture of any kind to him. Music to my ears!! He poked and prodded and asked thoughtful questions, then more x-rays. This time around they took images of both feet and I thought nothing of it.

Dr. Blahaus came back and shared new images with me. This time the image was more clear; the blurry line that had looked like a fracture the day before was much more pronounced, and my sesamoid bones were much more separated.

Again, not my x-ray. But this is what my x-ray looked like. I have a Bipartate Sesmoid.

Then my new favorite person in the world then shared the news that earned them that title: No fracture, I’m just a freak!

“Sesamoid fractures need to be differentiated from bipartite, or two part sesamoids.  Bipartite sesamoids are found in less than 10% of the general population.  Bipartite sesamoids are usually found bilaterally.  Therefore, one way to differentiate a bipartite sesamoid from a fractured sesamoid is to take a comparison x-ray of the non-symptomatic foot.  Bipartite sesamoids usually have a rounded appearance at the separation of the two fragments while fractures are typically sharp edged, without rounded edges.”

Though the physical pain and swelling didn’t immediately disappear with this news, I felt like a boulder had been lifted off my emotional and psychological state. The doctor guessed that the pain was some sort of soft tissue issue, prescribed lots of ice and Advil, and guessed I’d be good as new in a couple of days. His thought that track work on a tired body was the culprit.

The moral of this story: Trust yourself. 4 days later I’m back to running with no swelling, minimal tenderness, and no real pain. I can’t stop thinking about if I had agreed to hang in a boot for 6 weeks…for no reason!


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Filed under Health, Injuries, & Prevention

Delayed Recap

I’m not quite ready to write about Ironman Canada itself.

I haven’t forgotten about writing a recap, but rather I’m still processing the race and the weekend. During that day and at the finish I was so so so happy with how I performed, the decisions I made, and how everything played out. The day WAS actually rainbows and unicorns for the most part. Once I got out there and started I felt like I was prepared to handle everything that came my way, and due to practice, focus, and somewhat due to luck, I made the right decisions when things got less than perfect.

However as days pass I guess I feel less content with how things went and more hungry to take what I learned and put it to the test again. I still think I made the right decisions for the day, and wouldn’t trade the positive experience I had to risk shaving off a couple of minutes here or there. But I feel less and less victorious and more eager to push myself much further than I went – and dig deeper than I had to – last Sunday.

Maybe that’s normal. Maybe I’m nuts.

And don’t get me wrong. I know I did well. I exceeded my own expectations in countless ways. For the first time ever I didn’t have a panicked anxiety attack during a race swim. Some people want to swim fast, but I wanted to swim smooth. On the bike I had a strong 56 miles, then patiently took in more food and drink, and let people pass by while I dropped my heart rate average by a few BPM. It paid off because I was able to tackle Yellow Lake with energy to spare. And the run. From mile 4-17 I had stomach cramping that slowed me to a walk every 5 minutes or so, but I took in enough calories to keep going and not make things worse. It paid off and mile 17-26.2 felt how I wanted to feel; like a RUN.

In all senses of the word this race was a huge achievement. Overcoming early season stress fractures, a scary bike crash, and gearing up to race an Ironman with barely any triathlon experience under my belt. However I still struggle with the fact that I know there is so much more I can do out there. I can push myself much further than I had to last Sunday.

I am happy that I don’t feel done out there though. Next stop: sub 11.

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Filed under Ironman, Race Recap, Racing

Ready For Another Marathon

After Sunday’s race running last night felt good. Very very very good. No foot pain, minimal soreness, my body felt loose and ready to run. Running just for the sake of it, without any imminent races or goals was a good way to wipe my brain clean and start fresh. The workout was surely speed work but a doable set; as I ran I felt my body light and flying, there was no fighting or fatigue or holding back. I walked back to my car sweaty, energized, and smiling.

Thank you track and running friends. I’m ready for another race.

I’ve been feeling ready for another marathon, but I didn’t want to get ahead of myself. I’m trying to take my running in particular one day at a time so that I stay healthy and ready to ramp up for Ironman. I don’t want to compromise anything important so I’m being cautious and careful, and am trying to be smart. Historically, I’m sometimes not (smart) so I’m really trying here. But I also don’t want to be overly cautious. I love the marathon and if one can be reasonably done I want to give it a shot. Please do quote me on this, but I’m even okay if it’s not an A race. I’m even okay if I’m not completely smashed when I finish! But how ’bout partially smashed? Please?

I want to train through the next few horrendous-weather months and have that light, my favorite light, at the end of the winter tunnel. And in the meantime I want to practice racing at some local 10k and 15k events to get used to enduring racing pain. I want to keep building my swimming and biking, even if it compromises my marathon speed some, because the real goal is Canada and I need my strength in all three disciplines. But can’t a girl have a little marathon fun on the way?

Think I can squeeze in a March or April marathon? Any suggestions?

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Filed under Racing

Thank Goodness For The Peanut Butter

Dear Self,

Sometimes I’m pretty impressed with you. I think about how much you hated running, even just as cross training, growing up. During conditioning you always plotted your turn to sprint while coaches were watching someone else (thus being too preoccupied to yell FASTER!). I think about how you have asthma, but don’t let it stop you. I think about how many mornings the “tiredness” or “fatigue” was probably a hangover, but you ran anyway. I reminisce about how many times you wanted pizza and ice cream for dinner, and made it so. Well, that one doesn’t work. But truly.

6 months ago you had never swam in open water.

7 months ago you hadn’t ridden a bike in about 15 years (minus a jaunt around Stanley Park, twice).

1 year ago you qualified for Boston, and that was enough at the time.

2 years ago you hadn’t swam laps as exercise since childhood. 1 year ago you started only because running with a stress fracture was no longer an option.

3 years ago you trained worked out only to burn off calories consumed at the bar the night before.

3.5 years ago you and running had just been introduced, but weren’t yet friends.

It’s easier to keep going when you can remember the progress you’ve made, so drink it in. Take it while you can get it, because there will certainly be greater challenges around the bend. You’ve already jumped from celebrating these victories to feeling unsettled if you miss your splits by seconds or if weights feel harder than they “should”, no matter what the reason. You recently edited an early blog post regarding Kona because you had lied. You most certainly do want to get there, are willing to do the work, and now aren’t afraid to say it out loud tell the interwebs anymore.

Keep dreaming of Ali’i Drive, but slow down and savor now, too. To get there, you’ll have to make all of your moments happening right now count.

Self, remember to be lighthearted. Laugh at the time you thought you were only supposed to swim with one fin. Learn from the race where you doggie paddled a significant portion of the swim. Look back on winter morning runs with frozen fingers and toes, and smile. Be grateful for the people you’ve met and the friends you’ve made, and use them as inspiration. Thank your body for following suit in what you ask of it. Love every second that you are given the opportunity to work hard and be better. Savor early mornings, late nights, and every container of peanut butter than you are going to experience along the way. Thank goodness for the peanut butter.



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First official day

Today marks the first official day of training. Perhaps I should wait until I’m actually registered for the race to make it official, but as of today my coach has started providing planned workouts and this morning I enjoyed my first coach-assigned session. My biggest challenge as an athlete is enjoying rest, celebrating a job well done, and knowing when enough is enough, but I think that working with a coach will really help me in those departments.

My prescribed workout today was a brick: 30-50 mile bike, 30 minute run. Given that my foot is still pretty injured I know better than to push the run (ok, maybe I don’t totally entirely know but at least sort of…), but it took every ounce of control, coupled with low energy from lack of Gu, to pull a u-turn on my bike at mile 25 and not one-tenth of a mile further. Lucky for all of us I gain as much satisfaction from being a good rule-follower as pushing myself so having a plan that a smart and qualified athlete put together with exactly me in mind should serve as good direction as well as constraint.

The road was beautiful today, a perfect morning for enjoying hours of sunshine. I passed through lots of tri training clinics and practice racers out there, as well as my first funeral procession on bike (apparently I was suppossed to pull over to the side of the road even though I was heading the opposite direction?). I’m getting a lot more comfortable on my bike and might even claim to be okay eating and hydrating while riding soon.

While today marks my first official day of training, it also marks my first official PNW sunburn of the year!

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Filed under Training