Monday, June 24, 2013

Halftime...Copper Creek Triathlon

It's been 19 weeks since I began training for the 2013 season.  I've progressed really nicely since beginning in terrible shape back in February when the basketball season wrapped up.  I have raced 4 times and won all 4 of them.  Sunday was supposed to be my 5th race at the Copper Creek Triathlon in Pleasant Hill, Iowa.  I originally planned to go to Kenosha, WI to race an Olympic Distance event but after Jen's great race at the QC Triathlon last weekend we decided the best move for the two of us would be go race at Copper Creek.  This race is a very competitive 1/2 Olympic distance sprint format.  The 1/2 Olympic sprint format is not one that suits me terribly well because the swim is longer than a typical sprint at 750 meters and the bike portion is only 12.5 miles.  Last year in this race I was 6th and the race pays well but only for the top 3 spots.  Jen was 5th last year but is mightily improved and we thought she had a good shot at placing high in this year's race so we got signed up and planned to take the kids with us since my oldest brother Jason lives less than a mile from the start line. 

Since last Saturday's race I have been dealing with some swelling in my lower right leg.  I did not know what the injury was but have since learned it is a swollen anterior tibialis...a tendon that runs along the outside of the shin from the foot up the leg to near the knee.  The swelling was noticeable after my race on Saturday so I decided I would just ride last Sunday.  I didn't think riding would affect the tendon but after riding 100 miles on Sunday the swelling was much worse.  Walking was painful early in the week so I knew I would have to take it easy which actually played well for this race.  Since I have no races planned for the next 6 weeks I decided to go through an extreme 6 day taper hoping for a good race result before this long race layoff.  I knew this race would complete the first half of my season and I would be looking forward to moving to longer distances after my long race layoff.  It would also make this week a good week to take a few days off as part of my halftime break before increasing my training volumes to prepare for the longer races.  What I found is that this swelling in the anterior tibialis is the first real injury I have had in over the past 2.5 years.  I think I jinxed myself last week when I was telling Dr. Kaminiski at Kaminiski Pain and Performance Care how remarkable it is that I have not had any injury in the past 2.5 years since my Achilles tendon was surgically repaired.  I only ran once this week...on Wednesday and it caused the tendon to swell a great deal.  I biked easy on Tuesday and then rode some hard interval on Thursday which also caused swelling to increase.  Swimming was not bad but if I kicked much the swelling would go up.  I swam every day but used a pull buoy for most of it so I could minimize the amount of kicking I was doing.  On Saturday night I was still unsure if I should be racing.  I rode the 12.5 mile bike course Saturday and afterwards the tendon swelled a lot and was really tight.  I knew it would be a bad decision to race and do further damage that could make racing the last event of the Scheels Duathlon series tough to compete in.  If an injury keeps me from doing that race I will not win the series that I am currently leading.  I had trouble sleeping because I didn't know if racing was the smart thing to do. 

Sunday Jen and I were up at 5:30 and had a light breakfast before we made our way to the race site.  We immediately learned that the water temperature was not wetsuit legal (80 degrees) but the race director had shortened the swim to 500 meters which was great news for both Jen and I.  I opted not to run for my warm up because I wasn't sure how many run miles this tendon had in it.  I decided to ride the entire bike course again for my warm up.  After returning to the transition area after about 40 minutes on the bike one of the race officials said we were going to start  the race early because a line of thunderstorms was moving in.  I quickly grabbed my Kiwami skin suit that I wear in non-wetsuit swims and headed for the start area.  Jen and I were waiting there when the race director made the announcement that the swim had been shortened to 350 meters.  This was more great news for us.  Then about 10 minutes later the bad news came.  The director reported that the storms were too close to start the race and we would be delaying the event until they had a better idea of when it was going to clear the area.  Robert White, a friend and athlete I began coaching a few weeks back had driven to Des Moines to watch us race and he was kind enough to let us stay in his car as the storm moved through.  We looked at the radar and it did not look good.  We waited about an hour and I got out to see what the word was and we heard that they were going to change the event to a 5k run.  When I told Jen I could tell she was pretty excited.  The chance to go after the 1st place prize of $1,450.00 in her own element of running was good news for her.  I knew there were at least 2 guys who were faster than I was.  Those two would have beaten me even if the race was the original triathlon.  We got our shoes and warmed up again anticipating the start of the 5k.  My leg was questionable at best but I was going to start and see how it went and decide whether continuing was the best option.  Just before we started the race director came over and told us that he was going to evenly divide the prize purse among all the elites that had stayed around for the 5k.  The finish of the 5k would not determine any prize money.  Many athletes had gone home.  I knew that the best thing to do would be to get my training shoes back on to minimize the damage to my tendon.  I missed the start of the race while I was changing shoes but still got back to the line so I would be in the results.  I ran the 5k a little slower than tempo pace just to finish.  Although it sucked not getting to race a triathlon Jen and I were still excited that the race director decided to pay all the elites that stuck around.  The day should bring about $350.00 to the iHope Foundation.  Had the triathlon happened I would have been in a great battle for 3rd judging by the althetes that were there.  I could have ended up with $425.00 or I could have ended up with nothing.  I do think Jen could have been in the mix with the other elite females for a shot at placing really high.  Either way the decision to cancel the triathlon was a smart one in the interest of athlete safety and we were fortunate the race director still decided to award prize money to those of us who stuck around. 

My focus this week is on getting healthy.  I'll use my local team at Kaminski Pain and Performance Care along with my good friend and local physical therapist Dan White to see if I can get to 100% by the end of the week.  I'm planning to take as many days off training as necessary so I can get past this injury and get started on my training for the 2nd half of 2013.  My big events in the 2nd half are the Pigman Longcourse 1/2 Ironman distance race on August 18th and Beach 2 Battleship full ironman distance race on October 26th.  I think Jen will be racing both of those with me.  We are also planning to do a sprint race in Florida in the 2nd half with Robert White.  I will be ramping up the volume after this injury is healed in hopes of doing my best racing late in the season.  I'm excited by how the 1st half went.  My season goal was to raise $1,500.00 for iHope and I'm already over that amount with some big races to go and a Scheels championship prize of $1,000.00 looming.  At the end of the season my parents are going to generously match whatever I have earned through racing.  It has me excited about a goal of ending the season with over $10,000 in the iHope Foundation.  That would nearly put iHope at the endowment level needed for the interest to pay for a gift every year.  I've been blessed by the support of contributions from numerous individuals through this website and of 8 local businesses.  If you would like to make a tax deductible iHope contribution and help us get to $10,000 you may click here.  Thanks and DREAM BIG!!


Molly Kuhn said...

Just wanted to say a quick thanks for putting together the transition clinic at the bike shop and for sharing your xterra discount. Just ordered my first wetsuit, can't wait to try it out. Congrats to both you and Jen on your great seasons so far. I'll be doing the Pigman Olympic in August, hope to see you guys there.

Jeff Paul said...

Great to hear Molly! Glad you got a wetsuit. I hope it helps the swimming a lot! We will see you at Pigman in August! Keep working hard.