Thursday, July 30, 2015

Road to Redemption: Through Liam's Eyes

I made a new friend in the last month, and his name is Liam. I met him through I Run for Michael which matches up runners and athletes with buddies who can't necessarily experience the every day joy of running or the exhilaration of a race. It's not fair to title this post as "Through Liam's Eyes" as he is blind. He was born with hydrocephalus which is an abnormal accumulation of water on the brain. While Liam is confined to a wheel chair, he is full of life and provides me with a new found source of motivation as I'm rehabilitating my hip. Liam has had surgery on his hips and over 125 operations on his brain. Understanding that, I have a hard time justifying complaining about my hip.

Last weekend, I returned to the Rocky Mountain State Games Triathlon which was the race I crashed in last year that nearly killed me and put me in the hospital for eleven days. It was a bit of a redemption race for me. My body was not physically ready as my hip is still not 100 percent and I'd only been running for the last 3-4 weeks.

Since Liam can't see, I thought I would recap the race for him through his senses as he'd experience it. Without sight. Since the race was in Colorado Springs over an hour south from where I live, we decided to get a hotel room and get to the race the night before. The whole idea there is to gain an extra hour of sleep (that plan backfired on me) which I'd need for the race. My 16 year old son was also racing. We rode down in the afternoon as we wanted to pick up our race registration materials, check into the hotel, and drive the bike leg of the triathlon. A triathlon consists of a swim, bike, and run. They can be of varying distances up to what's known as an Ironman. This was a short race called a sprint triathlon with a mile swim (750 meters,) 10.2 mile bike ride, and 3.1 mile (five kilometer) run.

I mentioned wanting to ride the bike course. I mainly wanted to ride through the corner that I crashed in last year the night before versus during the race for the 1st time. As we drove into the Springs, I started get anxious...nervous. I was having "flashbacks" of my crash. As we got closer to the Memorial Park where the race "hubbed" out of, the nerves grew. My wife pointed out the park to our left that I looked at outside my hospital window for 11 days. I didn't look as that would have made me more nervous.

When we arrived to the park, we got out of the car and it was hot. We were in a dirt part of the parking lot so it felt soft under my feet, but it made it feel even hotter as the dirt made it feel not only hot but dry. I unloaded my bike, but on my bike shoes, and helmet and took off on the race course as I heard a woman unsuccessfully try and calm a crying toddler. The roads where we would race were asphalt, but not the fresh and smooth kind. This asphalt had a larger mix of rock which meant that while it was flat, it was a bit bumpy. I would feel this through my hands on the handlebars of my bike and on my seat. The seat on my bike is very small and quite hard so you can feel every little bump in the road on your rear.

The bike course was a little over three miles and basically circled the big park. At the center of the park is the lake where the race would start on Saturday morning. As I started peddling on my bike, I was not worried about going fast as I'd want to save all my energy for the race itself. I also had the start of a summer cold (or allergies) which had me feeling a bit "run down" and affected my "sense of smell" a bit.

After only a few pedals, I would steer my bike slightly to the left. My breathing was normal yet a bit anxious knowing what was up ahead. The bike started going faster as I was starting to go downhill. The dry wind started to blow in my face. After a short block, I had my first hard right turn onto a busier street. I could hear cars going by as this was late in the afternoon and likely people were starting to head home from work. That right turn took me onto Union Blvd which was an even steeper hill. This hill was so steep, I really didn't need to peddle as my bike started going faster, and the hot wind blew harder in my face. My stomach churned as I approached the corner that I crashed on last year.

This time, I took the corner much slower as I squeezed the brakes with both hands that slowed down my front and back wheel. My race tires make more noise when I stop peddling. They are expensive, but sound like a cheap plastic toy gun when they spin without peddling. This year there would be no crash and my heart rate slowed down once I stopped my bike shortly after that fateful corner. Past that right turn is a big hill I needed to climb the next day in the race. I stopped as I accomplished what I wanted and that was getting rid of some of the nervous "butterflies" in my stomach.

After the test drive on the bike course, I put the bike back on the rack on the back of the car and we drove to the race registration site. The registration was in an old school that had been converted into shops and a brewery. Once you walked in the building, you could tell it was a mix of old and new. The old wooden floor creaked as you walked by, and you could hear the crowd lined up to pick up their registration materials. You could hear people talking loudly in the brewery, smell food being prepared in the kitchen, and baked goods in the hallway leading up to the registration desk where their was an air of anticipation and excitement.

We finished the night with some yummy pasta at one of our favorite restaurants and settled into our hotel room. The sleep was not the greatest as I had nerves about racing in the morning and there were three of us in a small hotel room with two beds. The air conditioning worked, but it was one of those cheaper wall units that seemed to always have the fan on which was loud. Much louder than the wheels on my bike. I didn't get much sleep, but I'm somewhat used to that the night before a race.

Race days particularly for a triathlon start very early. While you couldn't see the sun coming up, you could tell it was still dark as the air was cool which was refreshing compared to the hot dry air from the previous afternoon. We loaded our bikes on the car for the short ride to the park for the race.

While I hadn't raced in a triathlon in exactly one year (in the same race,) I have raced in enough triathlons where my preparation prior to the race becomes almost robotic. I'd already checked my list of everything I needed several times the few days leading up to this Saturday morning. Once we arrived, everything I needed was in my triathlon backpack on my back. I was wearing a triathlon race suit which is skin tight. The top was like a tank-top that only covered my torso. The bottom was equally tight and covered my upper legs. The triathlon suits are supposed to be tight so you can be fast in the water, on the bike, and on the run. Imagine if your clothes were really loose, it would slow you down like a parachute. I looked like a big kid trying to be a "superhero" in my tri suit only this one did not have a cape, nor am I a superhero.

With my backpack on, I wheeled my bike into what's known as the transition area. They call it transition because you transition from swim-to-bike and bike-to-run in the same place. While there seemed to be a lot of athletes in the area, people were pretty quiet as they went about setting up their bikes in rows of racks for all of the participants. Next to my bike, I set up what I needed going from swim-to-bike, and bike-to-run. While I didn't hear a ton of talking, I could hear the other bikes rolling into the area. Some sounded like my wheels with the plastic toy gun sound.

Once my bike was in the rack, I clipped my bike shoes onto the pedals. These are special shoes that are harder than tennis shoes or running shoes that help you peddle faster. Everything on a triathlon bike is engineered for speed. The key to transition is trying to do everything fast as this is included in your overall time. I used rubber bands on the back loops of my shoes to hold the bike shoes in a horizontal position. More on this later. After the bike was set up, I went to have my body marked and get my timing chip. Every athlete has their race bib number marked on their left shoulder. A young woman drew the numbers, two zero six on my upper arm. There was a paper number that I also adhered to my bike's seat post. They also marked my age on the back of my calf.

This sounds funny, but when you're out on the course, but you may want to know who's in front of you so you can try and pass them if you can. The markers were strong as you could smell the rubbing alcohol smell from the Sharpie pens. The timing chip allows the race officials to record your times throughout the race with electronic timing mats. You could feel these rubber mats under your feet throughout a number of key spots in the race including entering and exiting the transition area.

After all that activity, you still have a race ahead of you and a lot of waiting around until you enter the water which gives you time to fill up with water, and go to the bathroom plenty of times since you don't want to stop for the bathroom on the race course if you can avoid it.

They had a shorter little kids race before I went. It sounded a bit chaotic as a lot of parents were shouting instructions at their little ones...some who were racing for the very first time. One dad yelled so much as he clopped along in his loud heavy tennis shoe steps that other parents whispered about how he was probably not helping his son with all that yelling.

Shortly after that, they started with the teenagers like you who would be racing first. Again, the race started with a 750 meter (just short of a mile) swim around the lake. The race officials would allow athletes to "warm up" by practicing in the water shortly before their "wave" started. A wave is not like a wave in the ocean, but allowing smaller groups of athletes to start in succession without everyone starting at once.

Before my warm-up swim, I put on my wetsuit over my triathlon race suit. This is made of soft neoprene rubber which keeps you warm in cold water, but also makes you float better, and thus faster in the water. (I know you like the water as I've seen your pictures in the pool.) Like your tri suit, this is also skin tight for the same reasons. I asked another athlete to help zip me up, as there's a giant zipper up the back that's tough to zip on your own. I walked out of the park building's back door down a few steps to the beach.

Seems silly to call it a beach as the nearest ocean was 1000 miles away. This was not fine sand, but more of a coarse gravel. It felt good on my bare feet. It was warm. The clouds still made it the perfect race temperature at least to start, but I could tell it was starting to warm up as 9 AM approached. I could smell lake water...not the kind you would want to drink as the quacking geese nearby used it as their bathroom. I could smell the rubber from the other wetsuits.

Around 9AM after the national anthem, the waves started racing into the water after a horn sounded. Every nine or so minutes, each wave took off. They allowed swimmers to warm up in the water. The water was not cold, and I probably didn't need the suit for warmth, but decided to use it for speed. With all the water I drank, and zipped in tight, I performed a typical ritual of a triathlete and that's peeing inside your suit. The best part is no one knows you did it.

The water felt great, and I was finally calm and ready to race. With goggle and cap on my eyes and face, I ran and dove into the water. There was a lot of bumping going on in the early part of the swim leg of the race. There was one guy in particular, I kept running (or should I say swimming) into, but this is quite common, yet makes it part of the challenge in an open water (versus a pool) race--getting kicked by other swimmers. I didn't exert myself too hard, as I still had the bike and run to go. I had to make three left turns around giant buoys that floated in the lake. I was feeling confident as I have been swimming a lot, and even caught up to some of the swimmers in the previous wave.

After sixteen minutes in the water, I was able to touch the bottom of the lake and start jogging out of the water. As I ran towards transition, I could hear the crowd yelling words of encouragement to the racers. I couldn't hear my name as I was thinking about running up the gravel sand on the beach hill. To save time in T1 (transition one is the transition from swim to bike) I started unzipping my wetsuit as I ran and peeled it down to my waist. I grabbed my goggles and swim cap in my right hand and tried to roll it into my sleeve (again to save time.) I dropped them on the parking lot asphalt. I heard them click on the ground, but didn't stop to pick them up as that would have wasted time. The warm parking lot dried my feet a bit.

After several rows of bikes, I turned left into the row I'd memorized where my bike was at. I'd learn later my son got confused and turned around a bit in transition. This is common in the heat of a race which is why I worked hard to remember where I was parked. After peeling off the bottom of my wetsuit, I was once again down to my tri suit. I put on my sunglasses that I'd perched inside my helmet, then strapped on my helmet and grabbed my bike.

If you remember, my bike shoes were rubber-banded to the clip pedals on my bike. I turned left out of my bike row, and jogged with my bike to the transition exit over the timing mat. I nearly knocked over another man on his bike as the area was a bit congested where you could officially mount your bike. (You can't ride within the fenced transition area.) My wet bare feet were now peddling my bike on top of my race shoes. Once I had some momentum, I reached down, and slipped my feet into the shoes one by one and latched the velcro straps for a tight secure fit in the shoes. The tiny rubber bands snapped off and my T1 was a success as I was off for one of three loops around the park.

I told you about the first two downhills, I took the crash corner (from the year before) wide and much slower and surprisingly was not nervous at all. I could feel the wind in my face on the fast downhills and the rising heat on the uphill portions of the bike leg. This course had a lot of turns (five left and seven right) so my average bike speed was only 18 miles per hour, but I had a maximum speed of 37 mph. Each time I passed transition, I could hear people yelling, "Go Ty!" (just like the sign you made!)

Close to the end of the third lap, I loosened those velcro straps on my bike shoes, and again peddled with my bare feet on top of my shoes. As I entered T2 (transition from bike to run) I was able to swing my right leg over my bike seat and coast in slowly standing on my left leg and pedal. They had a "dismount" area where I hopped off the bike and proceeded to find my rack spot again.

It was now officially hot, and I was tired, but I still had to run 3.1 miles. After racking my bike, I slipped my feet that were now dry into my running shoes. I had prepared my shoes with Body Glide which is like wax and vaseline that allowed my feet to slip in quickly to my Pearl Izumi triathlon running shoes. These are special shoes that are light (to be fast) and have elastic laces so you don't have to waste time tying your shoes. After slipping on my shoes, I grabbed a hat to shield the hot sun and my race bib number that was pinned to a belt around my waist. Both T1 and T2 transition times were quick (1:14 and 1:07 respectively.) Imagine how much time you would waste if I didn't have all those tricks like the rubber bands?

I ran out of transition the same way I exited via the bike, but at the end of the parking lot, I made two sharp left turns to run back the direction I came but this time along the sidewalk. My legs rebelled and the cold I ignored that had dragged me down was affecting me right away on the run. I was out of breath, but tried to get into a rhythm with my running stride slightly shaded by the trees along the transition, but that shade disappeared quickly as I started the long loop around the park without the benefit of tree shade. I wanted it to be over, but the run had just started.

Like the bike course, the run course had laps, but only two around the lake. It was a giant oval course, and halfway around the lake, they "punished us" by running up a grass hill. They call this a lollipop as it's a little loop tied to a big loop. The hill was steep and running in the grass is harder than running on the concrete sidewalk. After my first loop, I heard my wife, sister, and her husband yell "go Ty" again. One more loop around the park, one more lollipop, and again questioning my sanity for signing up for a race that I wasn't quite ready for.

I thought of my family waiting at the finish, and I didn't want to disappoint them. I thought of you, and I thought of my kids. That gave me motivation to garner the energy I needed for the final lap.

While you couldn't see the numbers on the backs of the calves of the racers, I spotted one that was in my age group. In races like these, they will give out first, second, and third in each age group. I spotted someone in my age group, and I somehow found the energy to pass him. As I neared the finish, I started to run faster as the finish line normally does, My lungs hurt, my hip hurt, my family cheered and I crossed the final rubber timing mat under my feet. I paused to catch my breath with my hands on my knees at the finish as they removed the velcro timing chip and strap.

I put a bag of ice on my hip inside my triathlon race suit which felt good on my hip that was throbbing. It was officially really hot now, and I was sweating "big time" and I'm sure I stunk even worse. After reuniting with my family and congratulating my son on his race (he came in fourth in his age group,) I checked the race results desk and was surprised to find out I came in 1st in my age group. I was by myself and cried a little bit. I'm getting emotional in my old age and being able to conquer the course that nearly "did me in" a year ago and returning to a race at least for one day was enough to "choke me up."

I actually got to stand on an actual podium as they announced my name and overall time (1:16) over loud speakers as first place male in my age group. They presented me with a large round heavy medal as I smiled wide with satisfaction on the podium with the bling around my neck. It's the size of a small plate with a hole in the middle. Thanks for the sign and motivation to get me back on the podium.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Meme Monday: #MondayMotivation






































Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Redemption Race

It's not often that you would return to a very dark place. This post will end well, but you have to be patient for a few paragraphs to understand the last year for me.

For six of the last twelve months, I have been unable to run. One year ago, I crashed in a July race that could have killed me on the course and nearly finished the job in the hospital. This wasn't your every day crash. When I do things, I guess I go all out. I broke four ribs, collapsed a lung, separated a shoulder and tore a labrum in the same shoulder. I have a nice scar on my right rib cage where the garden hose was stuck between two ribs to drain the fluid out of my right collapsed lung. These ribs weren't cracked or bruised--three of the four were completely snapped. Think bread sticks snapped in two. One thing I did learn, is that ribs don't heal fast.

In the E.R.
As far as the dying part, I'm not exaggerating there. The race was on Saturday, and on Sunday night the nurses couldn't wake me. I was unresponsive with my blood oxygen level below 50 percent. I'm not a doctor but I understand that below eighty is bad--really bad. (see POST.)

I had three months after the crash where I couldn't do anything but walk and take a lot of pills. By the end of October, I was by all rights an "oxy" addict. Not by choice; I had no alternative as the pain was intolerable. Deciding to go "cold turkey" and get off the pills, I went three nights without sleep pacing the house "Lionel Richie style"--"All Night Long." This was the kind of stuff you see in the movies where someone is going through drug withdrawal. The pain was still there, but my desire to get ready for the Boston Marathon in April ('15) was greater. The first couple of training months were ugly filled with sluggish runs and a lot of self-doubt. At some point, I turned a corner and had an amazing long run 5-6 weeks out from Boston that had me convinced I was ready.

A month out from Boston, I tripped on a buckled section of sidewalk on a tempo run that had me tumble to the pavement hard. I awkwardly finished the run, and couldn't walk the next morning when I woke up. Like an "alpha male" dumbass, I proceeded to run 16 miles that day not wanting to miss out on a San Diego Harbor run. The back and hips loosened up a little, but it was an uncomfortable run along the beauty of the bay. The following weekend I was back in Denver, but my back and right hip started to seize up with the all the sitting on planes, trains, and automobiles it took to get back home. I had a twenty mile run scheduled that Saturday where again, I was sore before I started. By the end of the training run, my hip was killing me.
Broken ribs from triathlon crash

The month leading up to Boston was back and forth between trying to run, being sore, and taking extra rest days. The shake-out run two days before Boston, my hip still hurt, and I had no energy. A sore hip and four weeks of taper did me in and I was fortunate to be at the starting line of Boston and was a legitimate DNF candidate. I didn't want to disappoint my graduating high school son who traveled with me to see his dad run Boston for (his) first time.

I finally listened to my body and my wife and went in for an MRI shortly after that marathon. Hard to say if it was the bike accident, or the seemingly innocent trip on the sidewalk, but I was diagnosed with a torn labrum in my right hip--the same side as all my triathlon accident injuries. Once again, I relying on Steadman Hawkins in Denver for physical therapy on the hip. My ribs have improved a lot, but still hurt at night when I sleep on my right side. I found that I could run with a sore shoulder and sore ribs, but a sore hip had me grounded for the second time within twelve months. Doctors orders--no running. Hard advice to take for a runner, but once again I stuck to the plan.
Working on getting back to racing

The ortho surgeon discussed surgery as an option, but wanting to salvage the triathlon summer season and be able to run in the New York City Marathon which I finally qualified for, I decided to go with physical therapy. The results did not come as quickly surprisingly as the shoulder rehab. Slowly the hip, and glutes became stronger. I went in once a week to the clinic and had a daily routine of exercises I diligently followed. Without the progress I was looking for, I started getting Active Release Technique (ART) from Accelerate Health. Over the last 65 days, I've missed perhaps five days of work.(routine shown HERE.)

Where am I going with all this you're wondering--you're saying, "we've heard this all before." The news is that I got the "green light" to start running three weeks ago. I started with walking a half mile, and jogging the second half mile. I gradually increased the distance every other day as the doctor told me not to try and run back-to-back days yet. Last Sunday I ran outside for the first time since the Boston Marathon for seven miles, and on Tuesday, I had my first speed workout since early April.

I am nowhere near the PR and podium speed I'd built up before the Rocky Mountain State Games Triathlon I crashed in last year, but I signed up today to compete in the race this weekend that nearly killed me. I'd like to think that you can't keep a good man down. Wish me better results.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Revel Makes it Right

For the 1000 or so runners who were not able to get to the starting line of the Revel Rockies Half Marathon this last Sunday due to bus issues, race organizers at Revel made it right on Monday. They issued a statement offering a full refund or full credit to another Revel event. That does not take the sting away for those that put in months of training, but at this point, you couldn't expect anything more from the race organizers. Endurance runners of all people understand that this sport has setbacks, but not normally when you show up healthy on race morning.

As it turns out, the contracted company smells more than bus fumes. According to local 9News, "Access Transportation Solutions, also known as Access Transportation Systems (ATS), does have two complaints filed with the Better Business Bureau. But more damning is the cease and desist order issued by a Colorado administrative court judge to the company earlier this year, which could explain why the buses never showed."

Revel used the same bus company in 2014 with no issues, but it turns out the owner, Tony Dassinger has a checkered past. "The Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has been investigating this company since it was incorporated in 2000. Since then, the owner, Tony Dassinger, has been issued four separate Civil Penalty Assessment Notices for more than 200 violations discovered by PUC investigators," according to 9News.

As my stepdad used to say, "there's something rotten in Denmark." At this point, lawyers are talking to lawyers and as I pointed in my post on Monday, several other local races are offering discounts to those affected.

It's good to see someone step up and do the right thing in a bad situation. At this point, the only thing Revel is guilty of is trusting some guy named Tony.

Monday, July 20, 2015

High and Dry Singlets: Revel Rockies Half Cancelled

Summers are meant for disaster movies, not race disasters.

I googled the word "revel," and it is defined as "enjoy oneself in a lively and noisy way." I proceeded to google the opposite of the word "revel" and it's simply, "dislike, or hate." I imagine the later words largely apply to those that were left high in dry singlets and fresh legs when the Revel Rockies half marathon was cancelled in the early morning hours of the race on Sunday. I feel bad and I wasn't even signed up
Some races have a legitimate reason to cancel: Hurricane Sandy (credit wikipedia)
for the race. It was a race I absolutely would have raced in as I drooled over the elevation map (but didn't as I'm nursing back from injury.) Others traveled far for the marathon distance in hopes of a BQ within the shrinking window for the qualification and registration in September for the 2016 Boston Marathon.

There have been plenty of stories around races being cancelled for "acts of God" or "mother nature"--think New York City Marathon in 2012 when the marathon was cancelled when 40,000 of the 47,000 had already arrived in the city. They had a colossal storm (Hurricane Sandy) wipe out much of the area and it was understandable that they finally cancelled the race for obvious reasons. Back to the Revel Rockies, it was colossal alright, a colossal f*ckup.

Runners Waiting for Buses (credit: Examiner.com)
What was the issue? Revel contracted with ATS busing to provide transportation up the hill for the runners in the point-to-point race from Evergreen, CO to Morrison, CO. The problem? Reports of only a handful of buses showed up with thousands waiting in line for hours in the cold with little to no information until a Facebook post announced the half marathon was cancelled. The estimated 52 buses were supposed to start showing up at 4:15 AM. Perhaps they got stuck at the 25th Annual Hootenanny "after party" in Denver with a little too much in their hookah pipes.
This is accurate...in terms of number of buses.

Seems odd that likely months and months that go into planning with a narrow highway relying solely on buses could go so wrong the morning of the event. We can't blame a daylight savings time change, but why did a couple buses show up out of the 50+ that were scheduled? I reached out to American Transportation Systems for comment with no response as of the posting (I've always wanted to say that. #hackjournalist posing as a blogger...or is it the other way around?)

Without "dog piling" too much, there were some good stories that came out of today including BQ's, PR's, and age group medals (that were massive) with a number of my friends. I had plenty of friends who actually scrambled into another race in town. On my run this morning along the Highline Canal Trail, I saw a pair of women I recognized with their race bibs on. I wondered at the time, "that's odd," or "I wonder where the other race participants are"--there was no race on the canal today, but they turned their lemons into lemon gels.  Then there was a bit of the wrath on Facebook;

Jay (fellow race team member,) "Crap, they told the 2000 of us waiting for buses it was canceled."

Michael: "I talked to people from across the country who had spent some serious money on airfare, hotels, rental cars, etc."

Malia: "While frustrating (that's precious lost sleep time, haha!), I feel the worst for those who this was going to be their 1st half. All the training and emotional effort put into this one morning!"

...and the worst from;

Michael: "F*ck you for ruining my weekend and costing my family hundreds of dollars in travel expenses. You stupid f*cks."

Ouch, serious venom. Given all that, I do feel sorry for the race director and organizers. They finally put out more information later on Sunday. So shattered, they couldn't even spell busing (bussing.) They shared the bus mishap with ATS, and offered that they "take complete responsibility for this distaster." Yes, sadly, it was so much of a disaster, they couldn't even spell disaster.

Local race directors did start offering some consolation with discounts into their upcoming races including the Endurance Race Series who allowed runners to drop into the (not exactly) nearby Longmont Marathon the same morning. Another "fast" Colorado downhill is offering deals for the Georgetown to Idaho Springs Half. So cool. For those left "high and dry"you're sadly left with the VISA bill and the famous prophet "Dean Wormer's" not exactly calming words, "zero point zero."

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Three Things Thursday: Peanut Butter, Pain, and The Elephant in the Room

Three thoughts running through my mind in my birthday week. Yes, I figure my Mom went through more than a day's worth of work to bring me into this world so we celebrate birthday weeks around here, not days. Officially, my birthday was Tuesday, but I was on the road for work (not my idea of a party.) With that, my three things Thursday post.

Peanut Butter

I haven't begun to thank all the sponsors enough that participated in last month's Fitbloggin Conference in Denver, but a special shout-out to the good folks at Peanut Butter & Co in New York. I introduced myself to Adam during a session on nutrition, we exchanged cards and life got busy. Last week he reached out and asked if I would be interested in some samples and I eagerly replied, YES! I have been busy with rehab and work this year, so my product reviews have been minimal. I've had dozens of protein powder companies that want reviews and turned them all down. In this case, I have a teenage triathlete in the house who's a nutrition freak (he actually says no to Doritos) and loves peanut butter as part of his diet. Said another way, I test and review products I'm personally interested in.

Most people think that peanut butter is healthy and for the most part it is especially when compared to many other snacks. Peanut Butter & Co has no trans fats, no cholesterol, no hydrogenated oil, and no high fructose corn syrup--amazing how many products load up on that to make it taste better. My favorite thus far is "The Bee's Knees" naturally sweetened with honey. #delish

Thanks to Adam and team for the samples. Only issue I have is how to hide it from my son.

Pain

This ties into my third topic. This week, Runner's World posted an article on Running as Pain Relief, and I felt they were talking directly to me. As I have chronicled on these virtual pages over the last 12 months, I've had more than my share of pain with accidents and rehab.

The article relates to a University of Wisconsin study that concluded exercise released endorphins--one called endocannabinoids which is the brain's version of cannibis. Did I mention I live in the "Mile High City?" I have often gone on a run when I had a some kind of pain going on, and the run magically makes it go away. That does not mean, a run can heal a broken leg. Yesterday, I had a six mile run which was the longest run I've attempted since Boston, and the mental endorphins have been a welcome back to my life.

The Elephant in the Room

You may have caught, last week I got a soft green light...call it a yellowish green light on running. The eight weeks of physical therapy and strength have definitely built up the strength in the area, but it's not 100% nor what I'd call "pain free." You would think I would have yelled from the highest mountain, "I'm running again," but I don't feel I'm "out of the woods" yet.

The "elephant in the room" is on multiple levels. I'm a runner and triathlete that hasn't been doing either. I also have one of the world majors I finally got into and July 1st should have been the start to my marathon training plan to be ready to run the New York City Marathon. I also made the local triathlon team with Runner's Roost and have been unable to wear their gear other than my noble attempt at the Boston Marathon.

Speaking of the later marathon, there was no "BQ" in Boston this year, nor is there time on the calendar to fit in a qualifier at this stage. This will mean, no "beantown" for Seeking Boston Marathon in 2016. At this point, I'm more interested in simply running, and being able to compete again.

If things progress, I'll hold my reservation for the New York City Marathon and I'm also considering a sprint triathlon this month. Stay tuned...just don't get trampled by the elephant.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Road to Recovery: Torn Hip Labrum Exercises

As I've written here and lamented, I ran the 2015 Boston Marathon on a bum hip. Not just a tweak or hitch in my giddy up, but as I learned after the race, and after an MRI and catscan, I ran my marathon on a torn hip labrum. Ouchie mama! Hard to say if the injury happened last July in my triathlon crash that sent me to the hospital or during a seemingly innocent trip and tumble on a buckled piece of sidewalk in San Diego one month out from Boston.

The good news is I have Steadman Hawkins (SH) in my "backyard" who's the doc to the superstars
around the globe...and they tend to mere mortals like me. SH evaluated the cat scan and MRI and diagnosed the torn hip labrum. While surgery has always been an option, I opted to go the physical therapy route. Prior to starting P.T., my doctor had me try and stand on one leg...my bad leg...and it was obvious that my right leg had no power, strength, or stability.

This last Monday marked seven weeks of rehabilitation. I walked in (limped in) optimistic because I'd gone through p.t. with Steadman the end of last year to rehabilitate the torn labrum and separated right shoulder. While the shoulder was hard work at first--my shoulder blade seemed to literally "float" around my back, the results started showing up fairly quick. With my hip, I haven't been so lucky. I've done the work, but the first 4-5 weeks didn't show much progress. Up until this week, I hadn't run (per Doctor's orders) since the Boston Marathon. The race calendar has spun by with several favorites I've had to pass up. I've been sequestered to the pool and the bike.

You noticed I used the words, "this week" above. Upon consultation with the Dr. last week, and my physical therapist, I RAN this week! It's still not quite right, but the hip and glute are much stronger than when I tried to run Boston in the rain and headwind. I'm hoping to be able to salvage part of the triathlon season and get enough training to run the New York City Marathon on Nov 1st. With that, I thought I'd share the stretch and strength work I've been doing to get myself back.

I have been going to Steadman Hawkins for physical therapy and also going to a Accelerated Health chiropractor specializing in ART (Active Release Therapy) My regular P.T. has steadily increased the work and while she suggests I could do strength every other day, I've been doing strength and stretch for 20-30 minutes a day for 6-7 days a week for the last seven (almost) eight weeks. I've missed
perhaps three out of the last 52 days. Most of my exercises are shown in the above graphic. My complete list is;

1) Lots of foam roller. I have a soft one and one that's more firm. I tend to use the later and work all three sides of my hip area stretching the IT band, glutes, and hammies. I also use a Roll Recovery throughout the day, or roll my glute on a lacrosse ball.
2) Dog pointer. Get on all fours and stretch one arm and opposite leg straight out parallel to the floor. Two sets of ten (most of these are 2 x 10.)
3) Hug knee to chest (shown.) Pull knee to center of chest. At the same time, pull outside of lower leg across body. Keep knee centered.
4) Figure fours. Lay flat. Cross ankle over knee forming a "figure four." Gently stretch knee towards the ground.



5) Glute lifts. (Shown) Lay on back with knees bent. Lift lower back and hold briefly.
6) Walking stretches. Top tips (shown,) bend to touch ankles, airplanes (shown,) pull heel to butt, knee to chest (similar to floor version.) Perform each of these walking across the floor ten steps across and back.
7) Hammie stretch. Lay on floor and use robe belt to pull bottom of foot on extended leg towards your head getting hamstring stretch.
8) Glute stretch. Find couch or chair that's roughly hip level. Lay foot on chair with leg bent backwards. Stretch the glute.
9) Exercise Band work. Loop one foot into looped elastic band. Stand up straight and stretch leg 10x each direction. Do on both legs. (shown in above YouTube video.)
10) Planks. P.T. wanted me to hold for 30 seconds. I do two sets at one minute each.

This is a lot of work, but even healthy runners (especially elites) have strength and stretch every day. (See Meb For Mortals review.) It's too early to tell if I will be able to return to what I love this year, but not for a lack of trying.