Sunday, April 26, 2009

Week 25 Summary- Achilles Diagnosis

( Click Photo to Enlarge)
I started the week on Monday by seeing three doctors. All 3 have been very helpful. First I had a 9:00 a.m. appointment with an orthopedic surgeon. She is supposed to be one of the best in the area with athletes. She did an ultrasound scan of my achilles tendon and found something unusual pushing up against the tendon. She couldn't tell from the ultrasound whether it was a pocket of blood or a cyst. Either way she wanted to try conservative treatment for 10 days which includes the use of a walking boot when I'm not working out and physical therapy three times a week. My physical therapist is Charlie Stelk, the hurdle coach at Augustana. Charlie's office is close so that made sense to me. He also was very accommodating when I saw him last weekend and promised to take good care of me if I needed anything. I saw him after the orthopedic appointment and the treatment was good. That evening I saw Dr. Kaminski who has been doing a great job of helping me gain more flexibility in my ankle joints. My range of motion is improving with each visit. I decided to play around with this picture editing program to show where I'm hurting and I'm sure you are all impressed with my skills on this picture!

With Dr. Kaminski's ART and Charlie's PT I have begun to feel much stronger. Each day I wake up with less pain and I even started biking with the walking boot on to minimize the strain on the achilles while I ride. For the week I was able to get in 93 miles of cycling including a hard workout on Wednesday and 53 miles split over 2 rides on Sunday. The second one was outdoors without the boot. It was a pretty easy ride except for the hills which I pushed very hard. I adjusted the cleat position on my cycling shoes and that seemed to help alleviate the pain. A week ago I couldn't have done this much riding without a super high degree of swelling and discomfort so I know the treatments are helping.

On Saturday Dr. Kaminski told me to stop by a class he was taking on diagnosing injuries. The seminar was being led by a well renown Dr. from Boston, MA named William Brady. When I walked in I thought Dr. Brady was going to look at me during a break but little did I know I would be used as a case study in which he would show how to diagnose an injury. He asked me all about the background of the injury and the treatments I have gotten. When he heard the ultrasound showed a possible cyst he checked the achilles for tendinitis and tendinosis and ruled both of these out. My achilles looks to be in good shape but what he concluded was that a cyst is causing friction on the tendon when I cycle and run. It is worst in the dorsiflexed (toe up) position. I'm hoping that when I go back to the orthopedic this week she can remove the cyst. From what I've read it is a fairly simple procedure and recovery from it is very minimal if everything goes well. For the week I also swam 10, 500 yards. My stroke is much more efficient thanks to a clinic I'm taking every Saturday at Augustana. I missed a race today but it didn't bother me so much because I'm seeing progress with every day and know it won't be long before I'll be back to regular training. I'm excited to run on fresh legs this summer.

With my reduced training time I've been able to spend more time at home with Jen and Payton. The shirt in this picture is one I received as part of a nice package from Hammer Nutrition. The world's best bike mechanic, Moon Villalobos from Healthy Habits has helped get my name out to some great reps from companies like Hammer Nutrition. I can't thank Moon or shop owner Bruce Grell enough for the things they have done to help me on this great journey. I have more exciting news to announce about the help I'm getting from Healthy Habits soon. I'll wait until it is all finalized to make the exciting announcement. The guys at Healthy Habits have been great to me and they will take care of you if you have any needs for the upcoming season! The sermon we had in church this weekend really hit home for me. It revolved around the topic of doubt. The idea is that when things are going wrong people tend to doubt their abilities. They tend to see only the bad side of life. God brings challenges our way to make us stronger. I kept thinking of my own suffering with this injury and I know it is for a reason. I know I'll be stronger when this thing is finally gone and I can return to regular training. My legs and mind will be fresh. I'll have a new perspective on the gifts that I have been blessed with. I can't wait to train and to race. Thanks for reading. DREAM BIG!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Week 24 Summary

For week 24 my focus was on getting my achilles tendon healed up. I think I'm making some very good progress. I can get up on my toes with both feel without any discomfort. When I do it on my left leg I can still feel a little bit of something. It's much better than last week. I'm over the initial frustration of the injury. I've found the toughest days are the ones when it feels better and I try to work out only to have it swell up again. My plan is to not run or bike until the left achilles feels just as strong as the right one. I think I'm getting close. I'm crossing my fingers that by mid-week it will be there and then I will race in Sullivan, IL on Sunday. If it's not totally healed I'm going to skip the race. Although that would be disappointing I am much more focused on getting 100% healthy so I can race at a very high level this summer. I'm sure I've lost a little fitness but I'm excited about a few things as well.

I know my legs will be very fresh when I resume training and it should lead to a very good summer of workouts. I've also been using this time to focus a lot of energy on my swimming. Many triathletes take part of their season to focus almost all their training on their weakness. Although this would have ideally been done earlier as opposed to now I'm still excited about the progress I'm making in the water. This week was the most yards I've swam in a week since 2001. My total yardage was 19,100. I have been focusing a lot of my pool yardage on technique and I am seeing the results. My times are dropping and the number of strokes I'm taking per length is decreasing. I noticed this week I had a few scales growing on me due to the amount of time I'm spending in the water...
One of my biggest fears of being injured was that I would gain back weight I worked hard to lose this year. I had been avoiding the scale since there really isn't a lot I can do about it without running and biking. I weighed in on Thursday and I haven't gained anything over the last 4 weeks so that was exciting. I'm 3o lbs. down from where I was a year ago this time. My plan for this week is the same...get healthy. I know this injury will make me stronger down the road. I believe injuries happen for a reason. I believe they make athletes stronger. I believe the summer will be great. Thanks for reading. DREAM BIG!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Armed for Battle- Week 23 Summary

So this achilles injury is a much tougher foe than I thought. I know the seriousness of achilles injuries. I've probably read about 100 websites about them ranging from what causes them, what it can become, what to do to get rid of the pain, to forums of others who have similar injuries. This has been a tough battle. It's tested me mentally and physically. It's not easy knowing I'm in the best shape of my life but without being able to run and bike the fitness level has no doubt dropped and will continue to until I'm 100% healthy. I took 4 days of no cycling from last Saturday through Tuesday. I saw Dr. Kaminski three times for ART treatments and was feeling very healthy. I was confident the achilles was healed. I had no pain doing any of the exercises to test it. On Wednesday I rode 15 miles and felt fine. Thursday was so nice out I decided to test my strength in a time trial on the bike. I warmed up and then rode 12.6 miles out and back as hard as I could on my time trial bike. I averaged 25.8 miles per hour which was faster than I've ever ridden that distance. Last year I did the same course in the middle of June and averaged only 23.4 mph so I know I'm WAY ahead of where I was. Unfortunately after the ride my achilles swelled back up more than it has yet. This injury is proving to be my biggest obstacle yet. I've now armed myself for battle to beat this opponent.

I've decided to rest as much as it takes...the frustrating part is that I can feel better to find out after a run or ride that it's not better. I've decided I need to get this better now before the big races start in June, July, and August. As much as I'd like to race in two weeks and do well in Memphis in May I need to take the time to rest now so I can race and train without pain this summer. I've had to look back at last year to remind myself to be patient. I am 30 lbs. lighter than I was a year ago. I didn't do my first ride or start running or swimming until late May. I'll continue to get ART treatment to help defeat this opponent. I also received some good information from Olympic silver medalist Simon Whitfield of Canada about making some adjustments to my bike shoes and saddle to take some stress off the achilles. I'm an avid follower of Simon's blog and knew he had an achilles injury not long ago. I shot him an e-mail not expecting to hear anything back but within 15 minutes he responded with some very good information about bike adjustments and possible causes for the achilles pain from biking. It was exciting just to hear back from a guy who was a silver medalist! I've also armed myself with an achilles tendon strap and a shoe lift to wear the first few weeks back once I'm healthy enough to start training. The biggest thing I'm doing to beat this opponent is staying positive. My biggest race isn't until late August. Although I'm losing fitness now I'm also getting rested up so I can train hard through the summer while remaining fresh. I started training November 3rd and knew that would make for a long season. With the extra rest I don't have to worry about being tired by summer's end. I may be able to race longer into the season. I'll look into racing at the US Open in Dallas, TX in October. I will also look into my first 1/2 Ironman the week after Chicago. This is a distance I may have more success in than the Olympic because the swim isn't much longer and the bike and run are much longer which play to my strengths. Lastly, this injury is forcing me to work more on my weakness...swimming. I swam 14,200 yards this week, my most in over 3 months. I can feel my technique getting better and that will pay off this summer. In total I trained 11 hours this week. I'll continue resting and healing up with hopes of running pain free a week from now. I know God has great plans for me and this is all part of His plan to make me faster, and tougher mentally in the long run. I have to keep reminding myself of that. Thanks for reading. DREAM BIG!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Week 22 Summary

Week 22 was pretty uneventful training wise. My focus is on getting my achilles tendon healed up so I can resume my normal training regiment. On Monday I saw Dr. Kaminski at Kaminski Pain and Performance Care for an ART treatment on the achilles. It was very good and I felt great Tuesday and decided to test it out. I ran 6 miles pain free and of course thought that meant the injury was gone. On Wednesday I did a total of 10 miles in a workout that included 5x 1000 meters all in 3:15 with 2 minutes rest between each and then 6x200's in 33-35 seconds. I was happy with the times considering how windy it was. I didn't hurt at all during the workout but afterwards could tell it wasn't totally healed. I should have skipped the bike ride but chose to ride 25 miles at a moderate effort. On Friday I ran again and it didn't feel very good. Again, I should have skipped the bike workout but I did 5x5 minutes hard followed by 5 minutes easy and when I finished I could tell I had put myself back to where I was last week. I'm committed now to resting up until it's 100% and I will take the return to full training much slower. I saw Dr. Kaminski again today and scheduled to see him Monday and Tuesday as well. I was frustrated with the lack of training because the Memphis race is only 6 weeks away and it isn't ideal to be resting up right now. What I realized though is that I have 7 other races planned and my peak race isn't until late August so in the long run the break now will help to keep me fresh through the summer. As for the VERY exciting news...

We had our first Team Tri-Fit meeting on Friday night. This is the triathlon club that director Steve Meek started a couple months ago. When he asked me to help start it I was very excited. I love this sport and want to promote it in our area. Regardless of past experience or ability levels this sport offers such a great healthy lifestyle. We had 13 members signed up before the meeting but on Friday night we grew tremendously! 16 new members joined and we are now up to 29 members! This total already exceeds the goal number I had for the first year of the club. It was great to see so many people excited about triathlons on Friday. If anyone is interested in the club please visit the Team Tri-Fit webpage and if you have questions contact myself or club director Steve Meek. Steve has a great vision for the club and has done an outstanding job of organizing this. Thanks for reading. DREAM BIG!