Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Light!

I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. It's been 11 weeks since I've been able to do any run training. My achilles tendon feels stronger than it has over that time. I had a great week of physical therapy with Kevin Swanson at Plaza Physical Therapy and also a good visit to Kaminski Pain and Performance Care. Two weeks ago at PT I did 30 toe raises with only 80 pounds and it hurt really bad. On Monday I was able to do 3 sets at 120 pounds with minimal discomfort. On Friday I did 150 pounds with no pain at all. This weekend I rode 30 miles on Saturday pain free and then followed it up with 32 miles on Sunday also pain free. I can do toe raises and eccentric strengthening excercises pain free. On Tuesday I will walk into PT with the hopes of running for the first time pain free since early March. I'll be running on the treadmill under Kevin's supervision. By the way I feel I expect it to go well and I can set up some kind of gradual plan of increased mileage and interval work. I'm excited about Tuesday. If I can run pain free I'll expect to compete in the QC Triathlon on June 19. Although it will take me some time to get back to the level of fitness I had in early March I'll be perfectly content to race pain free on June 19th just to celebrate being healthy and able to compete in a sport I love. If Tuesday goes well I will probably begin adding interval work into my bike workouts by the end of the week. For now I have to work hard and use my head to get back to "fighting weight". I haven't been on the scale in awhile and I don't even want to know what the damage is right now. I lose weight quickest when I am able to run so maybe I'll work up the courage to check in a couple weeks if I'm able to run. I had a great time yesterday for Payton's 2nd birthday party. We rented a bounce house that I was using with her before Jen "politely" reminded me that jumping around in that may not be the best thing to heal my achilles tendon. With each day I feel better and my confidence of a return to regular training grows higher. I have lots of work to do but school is now out and that gives me an extra 40 hours a week to work in time to get back to ridiculous shape. I plan to do just that! Thanks for reading and all the support I've received over these tough weeks. I'll update quickly Tuesday after running and I expect to write good news. It has not been easy posting depressing updates over the past 10 weeks. DREAM BIG!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Tough Decision

I got a new white board that I keep outside my classroom at school. Nearly every day I make up a quotation and pretend it is from someone famous. I have actually surprised myself by coming up with some pretty good ones that even I think are probably famous quotes by someone else besides myself. Last week I had one that said, "The road to greatness is never flat." That's pretty much how I've been feeling about the most recent adversity I've been faced with. Through February everything was rolling perfect. I was in the best running shape of my life, had biked 60% more mileage than last year at that point, was swimming my best workouts ever, had nearly reached my goal of increasing my leg weights in the weight room by 30% over last year, and I was 10 lbs. less than my 2009 race weight. With each workout my confidence soared and I was believing that a podium finish in a pro race was going to happen this summer. Around the middle of March things started to fall apart quickly. My achilles tendon hurt too bad to run so I was just swimming and biking when that didn't hurt. I finally decided surgery was the best way to a long term fix and since my April 27th surgery the recovery has had its' ups and downs. Knowing that I was missing what I had planned to be my professional debut on June 6th was not a huge deal to me but I began rushing into workouts in order to prepare for my new pro debut which is slated for July 18...which WAS slated for July 18th. After waking up on Monday with a huge cankle (lots of swelling around the ankle for those who never saw Shallow Hal, I cancelled all my pro races for the 2010 season. It was the toughest decision I've had to make yet. I want badly to race well at the professional level but I finally faced reality this week. I am hurt and the only way to make this a long term fix so I can reach my goals down the road is to let my body heal now. It was very difficult for me to come to this realization but after deciding to get the pro races off the schedule it allowed for me to take time off of training to let my body heal without feeling stressed out about losing fitness. I realize the Ironman I was planning to do is not until September. That is much sooner than most would think considering I wanted to build up to a 140 mile bike ride and a 2 hour 30 minute run leading up to that. I decided at this point I was trying to rush back into training so I could build to those levels in time to race. My stress levels are down now that I'm patiently waiting to be healthy before I resume workouts. My leg was swollen all week and showed no progress until today. I still hope to race this summer but it will be in races that are not pro-only fields. I didn't want to enter a pro race with a lack of training. I'm simply not good enough to try to race at that level without the proper training. I don't mind racing in non-pro events without being in tip-top shape. I signed up for a 1/2 Ironman in Door County, Wisconsin to replace Ironman Racine 70.3 on the same day. I'm also signed up for the Pigman 1/2 Ironman in August and I think I'll do another non-pro 1/2 Ironman in September if I'm healthy. Those races will help me build my confidence and get some high quality work in while I prepare to get my fitness back to where I want it leading into 2011. My pro license only lasts two years so I need to get back for things next year.
videoIt's been a little depressing not working out since that has become such a large part of my lifestyle over the past year and a half but it has allowed me to spend much more time at home with Jen and the kids and that helps to take away the void of not training. Payton is growing up extremely fast. We put together this video of her you that may enjoy. I've had more time to help her learn the ABC's and she's starting to go potty on her own quite often which is exciting. I'm continuing physical therapy at Plaza Physical Therapy with Kevin Swanson and I've also resumed getting ART treatment from Dr. Kaminski at Kaminski Pain and Performance Care. They are both taking great care of me so I can hopefully return to working out and competing soon. Author John Paul Severin published the rest of the interview between super pro Andrew Starykowicz and myself at http://poohbeartri.blogspot.com/2010/05/pro-to-pro-jeff-paul.html
This part of the interview features my responses to Andrew's questions. Every great story involves the main character overcoming adversity. I hope this is the worst bump in my road for 2010. I'll enjoy the greatness much more now that I've had to deal with this bump. I can't wait to go for a run...a bike ride...to compete...thanks for reading. DREAM BIG!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Week 26 Summary...Progress

This week began with a trip to physical therapy at Plaza Physical Therapy where I got good news from Kevin Swanson, my PT. Kevin told me my incisions were closed and I was good to begin swimming. I went straight from PT to the pool and my arms reminded me that they don't like it when I go 16 days without swimming. It was my longest time out of the water in the last year and a half. I only made it 2,300 yards before calling it a day in the pool but I would be back for more later in the week. My achilles continues to heal from the surgery although running is not in the plans for at least two more weeks. I've had no pain at all biking which is a sign of improvement because pre-surgery I would have put the pain at a 1 on a scale of 1 to 10. It wasn't enough to keep me off the bike but the fact that it is now totally pain free has me excited. I went to PT on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. After physical therapy on Friday I made a visit to my massage therapist, Laurel Darren. I have long known the benefits massage can bring to having good workouts and then also aiding in recovery. Last year I went to Laurel for massages before all my big races and I believe the work she did helped me to race well in all of them. This year I plan to use Laurel's expertise even more as I will get massages before AND after all my races. I know the pre-race massage is important to getting my body ready to perform at its' best and the post-race massage will help me to recover quickly so I can begin training at a high level soon after the races. I also will sprinkle in some massages during hard training weeks when I'm not racing. I know these will help me to reach my goals. If you are looking for a massage therapist or have never used massage for sports performance call Laurel for an appointment. She is tremendous. Her office is conveniently located on Avenue of the Cities just off I-74 in Moline, IL. Laurel is also generously offering a tremendous deal of three 1 hour massages for $100.00. I don't think you'll find better in the QC. When I was at the Bettendorf Fitness Center the other day I saw an advertisement for their massage therapist for $1.00 for each minute. That doesn't come close to Laurel's 3 hours for $100.00.
On Saturday morning I had a great 53 mile bike ride with my good friend Stephan Marsh who was home for the weekend having just finished law school finals at Creighton University. The weather was awesome and it was great to get a real training ride in, my first ride of any substance since surgery. After the ride I went to the pool for a 3,300 yard workout and I felt awesome! I couldn't figure out why I felt so bad my first 2 days in the pool and then everything clicked on Saturday. The only thing I could think of was how well the massage loosened up my back, shoulder, and arm muscles. I just felt in a great rhythm. I followed up the swim with a session in the weight room and my total training time for the day was about 4.5 hours. It felt great to get such a solid day in without any pain in my tendon. I followed that up on Sunday with a 45 mile ride with Team Tri-Fit director Steve Meek and also got a 3,000 yard swim workout in with some fast 100's.

I had the opportunity to speak to youth on Sunday who are preparing for the Hy-Vee kids triathlon to be held at the Bettendorf YMCA on June 5th. It was awesome to see how excited the kids are to be competing in a triathlon. They are the future of the sport and I hope to see this sport continuing to be the fastest growing sport in the U.S. My total training time this week was right at 15 hours which I felt very good about. I need to start eating better to lose the weight I gained in my time off. I'm still optimistic about racing the Quad City Triathlon on June 19th. Thanks for reading. DREAM BIG!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Rehab Update

Last Monday I got the cast off my lower leg and I was able to get around in a walking boot using crutches. The mobility that I had in my ankle was extremely small. I could not bring my foot up even to a neutral 90 degree position. Since beginning physical therapy at Plaza Phyiscal Therapy with Kevin Swanson I've been improving each day much more than I ever expected. I got rid of the crutches on Tuesday and by Friday I had retired the boot. I have no pain walking in shoes. I was able to begin biking on Wednesday with a 20 minute ride. We've increased that time through the week and yesterday I went outside for the first time for a 20 mile ride. I've had no pain at all while biking so I'm hoping to get the green light to begin interval work sometime this week. Through this entire process I thought swimming would be the first thing I'd be doing in my rehab workouts but that has not been the case. One of the two incisions from the surgery was not sealing shut and with that left open I would have been at a high risk of infection in the water. The good news is that it closed over the weekend and I hope to get the okay today at PT to head straight to the pool. I'm really excited about the progress that I'm making with the recovery. I enjoyed having the transition clinic on Saturday and would like to thank the poor souls who braved the terrible conditions to attend. It was nearly 40 degrees and the wind was blasting about 20 mph. Hopefully all of them were able to pick up something useful to help them reduce time in transition.

I recently had the opportunity to do a "Pro on Pro" interview arranged through journalist John Paul Severin. I interviewed fellow pro Andrew Starykowicz and he interviewed me. Andrew is a very well established pro who is an incredible rider. Last year at the 70.3 World Championships in Clearwater, FL Andrew biked a world record 56 mile split in 1 hour 58 minutes. He has had the lead in that race coming off the bike each of the last two years. The interview is at www.evotri.com if you're interested. As for my early season race schedule it has definitely taken a hit. I will not be able to race in Galena in 2 weeks, and frustratingly enough they will not allow me to transfer that entry to next year's race even though I have a documented injury. Those are the kinds of things that make me not want to go back to a race like Galena in the future. I understand not allowing transfers to someone who just didn't train and decides they don't want to race but I think a documented injury is different. I had originally planned to make my pro debut in Kansas on June 6 but that will no longer happen. My new target pro debut is July 18 in Racine, Wisconsin. That leaves me with a target race date of June 19 at the Quad City Triathlon. That will only happen if I get 2 weeks of pain free running in prior to the race. I like the way things are coming along and the "glass is 1/2 full" when I think about the summer. Thanks for reading. DREAM BIG!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Post surgery update

I saw my surgeon Dr. Mendel this morning. They cut my cast off using some device I thought was going to saw through my leg but they told me to trust that this ancient looking saw could detect human flesh and it would stop cutting when it was reached. Dr. Mendel has cautioned me numerous times to be patient in coming back from this injury and I intend to do just that. Later in the day I went to Plaza Physical Therapy for an analysis from Kevin Swanson, the head PT at the clinic. He called Dr. Mendel over since their offices are on the same floor and together decided I was ahead of what they would have expected with the recovery. With that said they still want me to remain very careful. We decided I would be able to swim with a pull bouey in the pull. That is a flotation device that goes between the legs so you don't kick. I will begin that on Wednesday if my incisions are completely closed. One of them was still slightly open today and with that open it would increase my chances of infection if I went swimming so I will wait. Kevin had me ride a bike for 10 minutes with almost no resistence. I was excited to be pedaling even with no resistance. I will continue to get physical therapy three times a week for the next two weeks. I graduated from the cast to a walking boot and will use crutches if it hurts at all in the boot. As for the looks of the achilles...it resembles a big cankle due to all the swelling. I have black and blue on the bottom edges of my feet on both sides and some black and blue going up the tendon. I've begun to ice regularly at home and it feels better with each ice treatment. The biggest limiter I can feel is that my foot doesn't have near the same range of motion it had before the surgery. I can only bring my foot up to about a 90 degree angle. Any more than that hurts. I hope to be in the pool this week and get some kind of fitness in. I lifted upper body weights today and I'm expecting to be sore tomorrow. Thanks for reading. DREAM BIG!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

What I learned during a week on crutches...

For the past 6 days I've been in a cast that I expect to be removed tomorrow morning when I see Dr. Mendel. I expected to have lots of pain when the initial local anesthesia wore off but it never came. I stopped taking my pain medication on Wednesday night because it was making me very sleepy and I wasn't feeling any pain. I was falling asleep in the middle of some awesome shows on the History Channel and I knew that had to be due to the pain medication...I mean who would fall asleep while watching the history channel otherwise? I learned some things this week that was spent mostly on the couch elevating my leg. I learned that wood floors do not go well with crutches. The rubber thing at the end of the crutch worked as a suction cup on the wood floors about 7 times nearly leading to fatal accidents. I was trying to figure out if Jen would be able to sue the crutch company if I died due to those things suctioning to the floor. I also learned that Jen really doesn't know the word sympathy. She was pretty easy on me the first two days as I laid on the couch 24/7 while she took care of two kids...3 counting me. A huge thanks to my mom for helping out Tuesday-Friday with getting the kids to and from daycare while Jen was at work. The only way I could have gotten them to the car is to crawl on my knees which I did learn was very useful while on crutches. By the weekend Jen was expecting a little more from me...help with dinner, bedtime...and then at 12:30 a.m. when Owen started crying Jen asked if I could do a feeding so I grabbed the crutches, hobbled out to the fridge to warm some milk, hobbled back to Owen's room to feed him, picked him up from my knees so I could burp him and get him back to sleep. I shouldn't say I learned this sympathy thing about Jen. She's always been super tough and would have done the same had she been the one who was injured. It reminded me of when I was out of shape and we raced the Bix 3 years ago. At the turnaround of the 7 mile race I was hurting and looked back to see Jen smiling only about 20 seconds down to me. I knew she would have no second thoughts of going right by me and she did that at the 5 mile mark. I let her go and made a desperate attempt to outkick her but she beat me by 5 seconds on her way to running 43:15. The next week I wanted revenge and challenged her to a 5k. I switched strategies and decided I would try to sit on her the entire race and outkick her at the end. Just after the halfway point she dropped me and went on to run 17:45. I was 18:00. She's tough and expects me to be that way also so there was no sympathy with my condition this week.

To put my competitive spirit at ease this week I challenged our daughter Payton (who will turn 2 on June 1) to some races down the hall. Payton beat me 8 straight times. I could go about the same speed as her once I got up to speed on the crutches but she accelerated much faster than I could. She also cheated a couple times and left the starting line before she said go. She says she is training for the Junior Bix...I'm betting she walks it again this year because she doesn't handle pressure of a crowd very well.
On Saturday I got a really exciting call from my oldest brother Jason who had just completed a sprint triathlon in Newton, IA. Jason had gastric bypass surgery about 5 years ago and has made a committment to living a healthy and active lifestyle over the past year. Last year at this race his time was 2 hours 22 minutes. This year he was 1 hour 49 minutes! What an incredible drop in time! He is signed up for the Hy-Vee Olympic distance triathlon in mid-June and I can't wait to see how much more fit he is by then. These are the kind of stories that inspire me. I hope my own journey can inspire others to try to reach their own goals. It is what makes me believe I can go from losing to my wife in road races just 3 years ago to dreaming about being one of the top long course triathletes in the U.S. I watched the entire Ironman St. George race online Saturday live from Utah and during it I couldn't help but picture myself in the field fighting for a top 5 podium spot. I believe I can and will do that down the road. I have a long way to go...I'm excited to begin the rehab and start working towards my goals once again.
I want to invite anyone who is interested to a triathlon transition clinic I'll be putting on next Saturday morning at 9:00 a.m. at Crow Creek Park in Bettendorf, IA. No need to bring anything. I'll be going over some of the things I do to speed from the swim to bike leg and then from the bike to run leg. Transitions are something I value and I hope others can learn a thing or two about if they attend. There is no cost for the clinic. I hope to see you there. Contact me if you want any more details. I think some of the Team Tri-Fit members are planning to run afterwards although I don't think I'll have the green light to chase after them quite yet. They would welcome anyone on the run whether you are a member or not. I'll post a quick update of what the doctor says either tomorrow or Tuesday. Thanks for reading. DREAM BIG!