Sunday, September 25, 2016

Weekend Riding

Currently... on the laptop on the floor, with wine on one said and my loyal dog/cat on the other... :)

Hey, where did my bike fitness go? I mean, it's only been like 7 weeks since I did an Ironman... and I've been riding like 3-4x/week... I mean, even if most of that riding was easy, you wouldn't think your power would just go away like mine has. I guess if I didn't have a power meter I wouldn't know the difference, but those #littleliedetectors are telling me that things have changed in the watts department. I'll admit that maybe I haven't been as diligent about taking care of myself these last few weeks, so that could be part of it, but still.

Dinner, anyone?

Since I'm not training for anything right now, I've found it to be a good time to go out and join my community and be social and do other's people's workouts for a change. Its been enlightening!

I think the thing I've noticed most when riding with groups (any and all groups!) is how hard people ride up every hill. I mean, any time the road tilts slightly up, everyone starts pushing hard, but no one will admit they are pushing hard. Yesterday I was cruising along by myself when I got caught by a group of guys who said they were just out for a short easy spin b/c they were doing the Honolulu Century Ride today... Just a short easy spin, they said... ok, so if you are going "easy" then why I am pushing 240w to stay next to you while we climb up this hill?? I guess the easy part comes at the top of the hill?
Backroads Waimanalo and yes we take up the whole road.

Eventually yesterday I met up with another group and they were riding in a similar way. Uphill 200+ watts; at all other times 100w. I guess there's some merit to that style of riding (call it fartlek intervals?) unless you're prepping for a long distance triathlon, in which case I'd say its decidedly less than ideal. There's only one gal in this group who is prepping for an upcoming long distance triathlon, so I made an attempt to teach her how to 'flatten out the hills' when riding over gently rolling rolling terrain. Goal: keep effort steady, which means that pace will not be steady! You'll go slower on the uphills. Let it go. But you'll go a lot faster on the slightly downhill parts! And overall will go faster b/c you won't be spiking your power and therefore won't need extended periods to 'recover'...

That's me checking watts on my garmin and trying to explain this concept
before we attempt another 20min 'steady' interval...
I think everyone was bored out of their minds climbing behind me b/c I eased up enough to not spike watts, but at all other times they were working while I was holding the watts when the road tilted slightly down.

See how spiky up and down my pink line is? It's all over the place! Can you see the one short section where its a more steady effort?
I think this is really the biggest issue with group rides- it's nearly impossible to ride a truly steady effort. So yes, group rides are fun, and its good to be social(!), but if you're serious about training specifically for a long distance triathlon, you might be doing yourself a disservice by always riding with others. Especially if no one has a power meter. :)

Today I led a session at the computrainer studio, which I haven't done for a long time. So of course being inside is an opportunity to be more specific- not that I personally need to be at the moment- but I was doing a favor by 'guest coaching' the class. I chose the session based on the needs of the gals who were there, so while the race specific session was good for them, it was a bit beyond what I am capable of need to be doing at the moment. Um, when did 160w become hard??

Pretty specific set. Anyone guess what it is?

Note about my hip- it feels nearly perfect. And because of that, I can totally see how this is the type of injury that can take like 6+ months to recover from... Mostly b/c if I hadn't read so many horror stories online from athletes who felt better and started running then re-injured themselves then had to rest again, I'd totally be out running right now. It def feels like I could. However, I've talked with several athletes who have been through it and universally the ones who healed themselves the quickest were the ones who heeded the instructions to NOT RUN for the full time the doc says. One gal I rode with yesterday told me that hers felt good for a full 4-5 weeks before she attempted running on it again, and then when she did start to run it was all good no issues she could just build her run volume back up and has had no further problems. So her story was reassuring and steeled me in my resolve to follow the instructions Don't test it! I have, however, walked the dog a few times and it doesn't seem to have set me back to do that.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Moving On...

On Sunday I was at a local triathlon with one of my local athletes... I wasn't racing (obviously, since there is #norunningallowed at the moment) but it was an annual all women's sprint distance race and they put out a call for volunteers and well, it made sense that I would go support the event even though I couldn't race. All I really did was direct them on the bike at a corner (right turn! right turn! right turn up ahead!) but I think it was helpful to many and it was good to be a part of the community at least a little bit.

Afterward I was having a conversation with the gal who I coach (She won! Overall! Boom!) and we were talking about the coach/athlete relationship. She and I haven't been working together all that long, but I feel like already we know each other pretty well, and we care about each other as people not just as athletes, and it's just an overall really good situation. She knows that I 100% have her best interests at heart, which makes it easy for her to trust me and communicate with me and once those things are in place, good things happen. I lamented to her that I wanted a coach to care about ME the way I care about her. See, I'd actually hired a guy to work with me... We were coming up on a month together and I just felt like he didn't really give a shit about me. It wasn't sitting well in my gut and it caused anxiety and well, I know it had only been one month and he is remote so we didn't really even know each other but still...

I wasn't really sure if I should give it more time or just cut it off before we were in too deep? But I'll give a little tip about coaching... If you email your coach and he doesn't respond for 3 days, he doesn't really want to coach you. That happened repeatedly, so it wasn't just one instance, and I was trying to figure out if that was something I could put up with or not? I think what it came down to is that I know how *I* am as a coach, and I can't imagine not checking my email. Hello. It is my JOB to check my email. I check it probably 10 times/day. And when an athlete sends me a question or a concern, I hit reply. And I answer. Partly because that is my JOB but also because I care about these athletes as people and I genuinely want to help.

Anyway, I had no intention of burning a bridge so the email I sent to him telling him that this relationship wasn't right for me was very respectful (I thought). <Crickets> from him confirmed for me that I made the right call (seriously, the guy can't reply and say something basic like, "I understand and I wish you the best going forward..."??) Damn, I feel like I just wasted (what was for me) not an insignificant amount of money... It was more than I'd ever paid a coach for a month before... So the lesson learned is that money will NOT automatically buy you attention from a coach. And I guess the other lesson is to listen to your gut. If you think your coach doesn't give a shit about you, you're probably right. It doesn't matter how smart they are or how much they know about physiology and training adaptation and response... If they don't care about you, you won't learn any of it. Move on and find one who does.

Don't worry! This story has a happy ending!

I contacted another coach who has been a twitter friend for a while. I've seen that over the years he has worked with masters females who have posted good results. I sensed that he was open and friendly with a good sense of humor but also kind of no bullshit, more is more, and you can't fake it kind of philosophy when it comes to training and racing. He had a real website with a contact form so I shot him a note and wouldn't you know it? He replied first thing the next morning, set up a phone call for that afternoon, told me he was flattered I contacted him and was very interested in working with me... A 90min phone call confirmed that yep we are on the same page and within 10min of hanging up the phone he'd emailed me his on boarding forms and just like that, I found myself in a coaching relationship with someone who cares! I feel good about this one! I think he's a lot like me, but he's not me, so he can be objective with me and call me on my bullshit which I will appreciate because I sense that he genuinely wants to be a part of me reaching my goals. THAT is how it should be. Like, a partnership.

We're not gong to officially start until I'm cleared to run which should be Nov 1 but we'll have to see how the healing of this hip continues to go. Its was feeling quite good and I have not been pushing it at all... The deep ache was going away little by little. Last night though I was sort of wrestling with Moana and I felt a sharp pain in my hip (GAH!) when I was in a weird position and now the deep ache is back. GAH! I can't imagine I did any serious damage just in that stupid simple movement but I'm back to being super careful with it because I really do want this thing to heal up 100%. I miss running.

In the meantime I've been swimming a bunch and riding some. Swam the last 4 days in a row and got in ~15k. Some of it easy, some of it moderate pacing, some of it strong. For those of you who come here looking for swim session ideas, there's what I've done the last 4 days:

Sunday ocean 4k continuous. Really relaxed/easy.

Monday main set: swim 20x100's off 1:35 held 1:28 for most all of those. Call that a threshold set for sure. I felt nauseous after ~12 but held pace anyway.

Tuesday pacing set, all with paddles. Started with a 2k straight, descend the 500's to mod/strong effort. 7:57, 7:54, 7:46, 7:37. 100 easy then 2x500's pads again trying to go faster than the last 500 of that 2k. Barely made it 7:36, 7:31. I was going to do 3-4 of those 500's but I was hungry and bored and felt like that work was solid so I called it enough.

Wednesday main set: swim 2 rounds 2x300's steady @4:55> 2x100's MAX @1:35> 4x50's @:55 hold pace from the 100's> 100 easy rest as needed before repeating round. Had training partners this morning which made this set a very strong one- held 1:20-1:22 for those 100's which is pretty fast for me in this pool, especially mid-set like that. Was pretty happy with the pace change there as I was holding ~1:31s on the 300's. So 10" drop in pace is HUGE for me. Finished today with 1000 steady pull 15:29. That was faster than it felt, which is always nice.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

On What I *Can* Do...

Often when you're injured it's easy to focus on what you can't do. I have a stress reaction (turns out if's actually femoral neck and intertrochanter, not exactly femur) so I cannot run. I cannot hop. I cannot do weight bearing exercise really at all. So that's a bummer. However, I *can* swim and bike and water run and do some basic functional strength stuff and all that is enough to keep me sane at the moment so really, it's all good.

So what have I been up to? Swimming a couple times/week and that's pretty much 'as normal'. Not sure I need to bore anyone with the details. Some swimming has been pretty easy, some has been more tempo, and some has been downright MAX. So. Pretty standard. It's been a bit of a logistical PITA b/c the pool right by my house has been closed for a full month now (pump repairs) so I've been scrambling to get to other pools that are open but with limited hours which just sort of screws up my day. I miss just swimming MWF morning with my pals and having it all done early. Hopefully next week my 'home pool' opens back up. I know I shouldn't complain about my life being hard because it is not hard but regardless, I'll appreciate the ease that is having a free long course pool open 1/2 mile from my house. #spoiledbrat

Biking has been mostly super relaxed and easy. Been riding maybe 3x/week. I have no pain in my leg/hip at all when I ride which is awesome. So my rides are super cruise I've been avg like 115watts for maybe 90-120min each time out. I have been adding in some very short but near full gas efforts like 40-60" uphill... only maybe 3-6 of those in each ride. Call it 'polarized' training if you want to give a name to it, but I've spent my time riding at either 110watts or 310watts*. Not much in the middle. This was my ride from Tuesday.

Today my "main set" was 3x40seconds (wow, right?) but I avg 400+w for each of those which is pretty big for me. Full recovery on those at <100watts for as long as I need to feel like I'm ready to hit it again. I find it easy to wrap my head around such itty bitty short little sets. And doing the majority of my 'training' at such a low intensity pretty much has me chomping at the bit to go HARD when I finally get the opportunity. Overall I think I could characterize my riding these days as 'patient'.

"Running" has been done in the ocean. I started off going into town and 'running' at Ala Moana which is this protected area of water where there are no waves or really any adversity at all. Water running there is actually somewhat enjoyable b/c there's a nice view of Diamond Head and I can chat with stand-up paddlers and watch Japanese tourists have their wedding pictures done on the beach. The last few days I've been logistically challenged with getting into town so I've just stayed close to home which means water running on the east side... but the wind has been blowing (out of the east) at a solid 25mph which creates different conditions than what you get at Ala Moana... It's more akin to trail running I guess you could say. Trail running in the ocean? Something like that. It's challenging and I have to pump my arms pretty hard to keep my head above water. Even then, its a constant smack in the face with the wind chop. Can't say water running there is my favorite thing to do BUT it is better than water running in an indoor pool so once again I'll shut up and not complain. #spoiledbrat

The deep ache I felt in my hip is going away slowly but surely. I think this is the time period where its really good that I had the MRI to confirm what the problem was. If I didn't know it was a bone issue, I'd probably be trying to jog on it right now (it feels almost like I could). I can see how when athletes don't get a correct diagnosis that this injury could last a long time b/c I think if I were to try to run on it tomorrow, I could, and it would only hurt a little... so I'd go running again the next day and it would hurt a little more... and that would set me way back in the healing process. I've circled Nov 1 on the calendar as the day I'll start back walk/jogging (Ok maybe I'll start walking prior to that? We'll see). I've walked a little here and there- doc said I'm ok to go without crutches and I'm super glad about that. I think it was an ok call as well b/c I feel like the pain is just a little bit less every day so I don't think I'm doing anything at the moment that is causing a delay in healing. I've only been walking enough to go about my daily life though- not extra walking. Scott has been in charge of all the dog walking for the last 2 weeks and while he's good at that and enjoys it, I think Maia misses the long walks on the trails she and I used to do. I'll look forward to getting back out there with her as soon as it feels ok to do so.

In the meantime, seems the highlight of her day is waiting for the cats to finish up eating so she can clean their bowls.

*Did I mention that PowerTap replaced my pedals that fried out right before Vineman? Took me a while to get on the customer service dept to make that happen but once I started the process, it was easy and now I have new pedals that function. Mahalo, PowerTap!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

What A Difference A Shore Makes...

Here on Oahu we had two long ocean swim races this past week. Monday (Labor Day) was the Waikiki Roughwater Swim on the south shore (2.3 miles, supposedly), then today was the 5K up on the North Shore.

The Roughwater attracts ~700 swimmers each year, many of whom come from California or Australia. It has the feel of a 'big' race in that it goes off in waves and well, it's just a 'big' race with a lot of people. I've done it a few times over the years, though I often skip this one. Mostly b/c logistically it's a bit of a challenge for those of us who live here (hello, have you tried to park in Waikiki recently??) It's point to point and when you finish, you have to walk back 2+ miles to your car, or find a friend and hitch a ride. The plus side I suppose is that we get to race people who we don't know. I'm not 100% sold on this being a 'plus' as honestly I have more fun racing people I do know, but I suppose its fun to stretch yourself sometimes and race new people.

Before the race I heard the announcer say that the current was neutral so should be a good day out there. I don't think he 'lied' necessarily, but clearly he didn't have all the information when he told us that. After we got out there it was clearly the strongest current I'd ever swam against in Waikiki... Just nuts. Long story short (because this could seriously be loooong!), I was over it by the time I walked up the beach to the timing mat... It took me 1:32 to get through that swim, solidly 30+ minutes longer than ever before. The funniest part was that even with that time, I won my age group (23rd OA female), which is just a testament to how ridiculous the current was. Apparently they were pulling hundreds of swimmers out... putting them in boats because there were so many who just couldn't even swim against that current anymore. Crazy. An Aussie Olympian who just swam the 10k in Rio didn't even make it under an hour. Hearing all that made me a bit less salty about my own personal slowest swim, because well, I didn't get pulled out. #smallvictories Actually, I was sort of stoked to win my AG there. They give big umeke bowls to age group winners at that race and I have one from 2006 (that I still use as a fruit bowl in my kitchen!) so to earn a matching one 10 years later was a secret goal. Let's give that a hashtag #longevityinsport!

Fast forward 5 days later and ~100 mostly local die hard swimmers showed up on the North Shore to swim 5K from Sunset Beach to Waimea Bay. (Not my file. I don't wear garmins during swim races!)
As I was swimming this morning I started thinking about all the things I like better about this race vs the Roughwater. Mostly what it came down to was that racing with a smaller group of friends is way more fun, and hello, when you finish this race you're on the North Shore vs in Waikiki! #KillerTacos

This race seemed to fly by. I did it in 1:19, a full 13min faster than the Roughwater, which is hysterical given it should be ~20min longer! Won my age group again, which was cool because it meant I could get in a photo with the cool kids (and Hudson, lol!) To be fair, some Aussie guy showed up and stole Hudson's blue ribboned medal... Apparently he didn't get the memo that this was just a local race... ;)
Anyway, fun day today for sure. I'll miss swimming on the North Shore. Winter swells will start arriving soon and making it not suitable for swimming up there until next spring... So, until next year...

Thursday, September 8, 2016

If you're Googling: "Stress Reaction Femur"

It's been almost a month since I've written here. I'd thought about writing, but really I'm not sure anyone would have wanted to read all the thoughts in my head this past month. Mostly b/c I've been pretty obsessed with this hip pain I've been feeling. I didn't know what it was, and my theory about what it was changed every day, so posting day after day about that would have just made your eyes roll. I do feel like maybe I want to document it though b/c one thing I've actually found to be super helpful is reading stories from other runners who have been through something similar. So. Here we go.

The week before Vineman I made a note in my log that my hip flexor felt tight. It was after a run and I remember being able to run ok but it was not without pain. I ran a few more times over the next several days, but just like 4-5 miles and each time the tightness was there for the first 1-2 miles then it would sort of disappear and I'd think everything was fine. Then it would come back after I was done running.

Race week I limped while walking every day. It made me nervous but I couldn't see how I had developed a serious injury in the week leading up to a race when I wasn't even doing much training so I figured it was phantom taper pains. Or something like that. Just in my head. Everything would be fine. Race week I ran once for 3 miles and limped through that then tried to block that experience out of my head.

Race morning I woke up and had ZERO pain. I'm not normally a believer in 'race day magic' but looking back, I'd say this was an amazing mental feat by my brain! I wouldn't say I had any specific hip pain during the race, but I did feel like my muscles weren't working properly. Cramping in races is nothing new to me though so I just sort of chalked it up to that again like, I don't know... My muscles just don't work when I do Ironmans??

After that race I was insanely sore. Like insanely sore. I'd done 15 ironmans previously but had never had soreness like that. I thought it was weird like every muscle around my left hip was completely seized up and no matter what, would just NOT release. That week I did a bit of walking (with a limp) but figured I just needed some time to recover then it would be fine.

In the next 4 weeks I was home and saw 3 different chiropractors (several times each... seeing doctors was beginning to feel like a part time job) who adjusted me, did ART and acupuncture, and every time I thought maybe I'd solved the problem, I'd wake up the next morning and all those muscles were completely seized up again. It was incredibly frustrating.

Looking back I can see how *smart* our bodies/brains are. At some level my brain was simply protecting me, I think, from continuing to do any further damage to that stressed out femur bone. That's what caused me to make an appt with my sports med doc. I like to truly understand injuries and it made sense that if acupuncture was making my muscles relax, but then within hours they'd go right back into spasm again without me doing anything to cause that, then they must be protecting something? An unstable joint maybe? That's what I thought. I read about labral tears and feared I would end up having surgery at some point... A stress fx still hadn't crossed my mind.

Anyway, I could tell that my sports med doc was thinking along the lines of stress fracture. She ordered an MRI but I had to wait a week to get in and have it done. In that week I googled anything and everything about stress fractures and based on what I was feeling and what other runners had written about how they felt when they had one, I basically diagnosed myself. The two biggest factors were that I failed the hop test (no can hop!) and the sharp pain I felt after 'unweighting' that leg after standing on it was what others noted as well. So really I just didn't know if it was femur or femoral neck, and I didn't know if it was a stress fracture or stress reaction, but I figured something along those lines...

Email from doc came today and she said it was a stress reaction of the femur. I didn't cry when I read her email, because I'd already mentally accepted that this would be the diagnosis. Honestly, I'm relieved to hear t's just a "reaction" vs full fracture and I'll attribute the fact that it didn't progress to the fact that I didn't attempt to run through it (ok, well, after I did Vineman I didn't attempt to further run through it!). I did walk a lot, and I have been swimming and riding my bike. It actually feels like it's improved since a week ago (I can mostly walk without a limp now, nearly 6 weeks post Vineman). I have no pain with swimming or riding or water running (which I've been doing in the ocean!)

So. Going forward I'm not exactly sure what I'm going to be able to do? I'll have a call with my doctor tomorrow to learn what she has to say about what she recommends I should and should not do for the next (I'm guessing) 4-6 weeks. Part of me thinks 4-6 weeks feels like FOREVER but then I know that it'll fly by in a flash if I have the right mindset about it.

I had to tell my Ragnar Hawaii friends/teammates to find a replacement runner for me for that relay run in October b/c obviously I won't be able to do that. That's really there only thing that made me cry (that was last week). That would have been super fun and that weekend I'll be bummed for sure when I'm home and they are running all over the big island...

I won't document this day by day (b/c OMG can you say boring??) but because there will probably be someone I don't know who will google "stress reaction femur" and will want to know what to expect, I'll write maybe once/week with my progress and what I'm feeling and doing...