Thursday, July 11, 2013

Mechanical Problems & Injuries

Please pull me out of my training abyss!  I obviously have been totally missing these past few months, and I can list a ton of excuses.  But it all comes down to my normal extra blogging hours were dedicated to training and recovery.

So what have I been up to?  A lot!  Ironman Lake Placid is less than 3 weeks away and I have been busy getting ready for the day.  I will fill you in on some of my mishaps.

Back in June, I was having an amazing 100+ mile training ride.  I was at about mile 80 and feeling really good.  Suddenly I couldn't shift any of my back gears.  Hmmm, I was doing some heavy climbing so continued to try and cycle through the gears thinking they were just stuck.  In the middle of a big climb, pop a cable goes flying up.  Oh my goodness, my heart rate skyrocketed.  I should have immediately thought about my gears, but all I could think was that it was a brake cable.  How in the world was I going to get home with no brakes?  Then my mind came back down to reality and I realized it was my shifter cable.  I pulled over to the side of the road and had a look.  The wire was frayed.  I called my husband, quite frustrated.  He basically told me that I could still ride but that I was stuck only being able to use the front rings to shift which meant I had a heavy climbing ring (I was stuck in the hardest gear in the back) and the big ring which was good for coasting.

So I pedaled my ass off for the next 30 miles.  And just as luck would have it when shifting back into the small ring after a huge descent, my chain fell off.  AHHH!!!  I was not smart and didn't pull over immediately.  Many times, I had been able to push my chain back into place with the derailleur.  Well today was not my day and when I finally did pull over my chain was a mess.  All tangled and around 18 miles from home.  And hot!  I called my husband, again, crying.  I was hating life.  Another biker rode on by not even asking if I was ok.  (I had stopped at about hour 2 of that ride for another rider who needed help, so karma was surely not on my side.)  Eric decided to come get me because I thought my day was over.  Finally, after calming down a bit, and full of grease, I placed my bike on the ground and got my chain back on.  HUGE sigh of relief.  I was going to get to finish my long ride.

I hopped back on my bike and took off and vowed to not touch the shifter and stayed in the big ring the rest of the ride.  BIG mistake #2 of the day.  I worked my butt off to get home in that big ring.  I had to stand on the climbs and flew on the downhills in order to get momentum to get back up the other side of the hills.  My average pace was awesome for those final miles, but I knew I was trashing my legs in order to get there.

I rolled into my driveway, about 30 minutes later than I had planned but finishing 109 miles in 6:00.  I was so excited as this was a distance PR.  I ran inside to switch into my running shoes and go for my run.  And, this is when mistake #2 came to bite me in the ass.  As soon as I started running, I knew something wasn't right.  My achilles was screaming within a few steps.  (During my long run, 2 days prior, my calves were incredibly tight and pushing the big ring made my calves even worse.)  I should have called it a day immediately, but there was no way I was not going to complete my 7 hour workout after working my butt off to get that bike done.

And, so I ran for 40 minutes.  I wasn't in pain during those 40 minutes, but I know my body and I knew my achilles was not happy with this run.  I finished up, proud of my day.  But, by the end of the night my achilles was swollen and I was in pain.  Less than 2 months to go until the Ironman and I knew I was injured...

I can promise you, I am not normally a cautious person when it comes to injuries.  I have many times run through injuries and made things sooooo much worse.  I knew with the amount of time I had to go, I couldn't take any chances and took two days off.  After the second day off, I went for a bike ride and it felt fine.  So I figured, we were good to go and went for my long run on Friday.  Again, no pain on my run, but it didn't feel right.  I stopped every 2 miles to walk and see if it was in my head and I had no pain.  But my ankle tendons felt weird, not in pain.  Post-run, I was much more miserable than I was during the run.  UGH, this was so not what I was hoping for.

So, I swam the next day and headed out for a shorter long bike on Sunday.  Again no pain while riding.  When it came time for my brick run, I promised myself, no funny feelings.  If I felt even a twinge, that was it.  I put on my running shoes and took off.  17 seconds later, I stopped.  I was not running, it was time to rest.

I went home and emailed my coach and told her I was taking the week off from running.  I wanted her to load me up with swim and bike workouts because I knew I could handle those, but no running.  Mentally, this killed me.  I knew I was approaching taper and my longest run was only 17 miles.  But, I knew if I wanted any chance of running any of the marathon that I needed to let my leg heal.  Physically, I knew the increase in bike miles would help as the bike is my weakness.  I could feel tightness while on the bike, but I never was in pain during or post-ride, just tight.  That week, I also did a lot of strength exercises for my ankle.  I wanted to get the muscles around the tendons to be strong so that I could allow the tendons to have less stress while running.

One week later, I attempted a brick run after a 90 mile ride and I made it!  :)  No pain.  I got home with tears of joy, knowing that my self control to rest when I didn't want to helped me to heal much faster than I was used to.

Has my running suffered from my little hiatus?  I think so.  Unfortunately, my return to running coincided with a heat wave, so who knows if my slower pace is due to the heat, tired legs, or lack of running.  But, I am still running strong a few weeks later and all ankle pain seems to be gone.  But, I have to admit, Ironman training has really worn down my body.  I can alter my gait for a short time and another tendon flares up, and my immune system seems down.  I have been really focusing on getting extra sleep, drinking water, and avoiding all injuries at this point as I know my body is ready to give up on me.

And if you made it this far, learn from me.....Know your bike and know your body.  Apparently, shifting cables should be replaced every year.  They don't normally snap like mine but get your bike checked out.  My chain was also stretched out way too much thus had been dropping a lot.  Chains should also be replaced annually.  And, if you know something doesn't feel right with your body, you are probably right.  All the miles on your legs have taught you what is right and what is wrong.


Jen said...

No more pain for either one of us! Okay? You are still going to rock Iron Man (woman) Placid!

Laura @ Mommyrunfast said...

Oh goodness, what a journey! I had no idea you were going through so much. Hope you're back on track now for a solid race!!