Friday, July 30, 2010

Determining if I'm ready for Ironman

How important is doing an Ironman race to you?

This question was the theme of many questions last weekend. My wife and I discussed this for literally hours prior to watching 2010 IMLP, during IMLP and on the drive home.

In order to for me to toe the starting line of an Ironman race, I need to be physically able to do the training necessary for success. My latest injury finally made me see reality - I'm not ready and I've been avoiding the obvious for some time now. My left hand doesn't work right, my knee still hurts more often than not, my hip hurts from time to time, and while I've lost a lot of weight from the beginning of this journey, I've haven't been successful on optimizing my body composition. I'm nowhere near where I need to be in order to be successful to start train for this distance.

But can I be ready to train? That's the second question that I need to answer.

The first question is how to define what is "ready to train." I believe that my size is my greatest limiter. I feel that if I was significantly lighter I would have fewer or less severe injuries. I realize that face planting off a bike or getting hit by a car doesn't have any correlation to my weight but I believe that my hip and knee issues are at least magnified due to my weight. Sad, but true. My size is a big contributor to my effectiveness (or lack there of) on the bike and run. If I was lighter, I should be faster. The biggest component of being ready, though, is that I need to be injury free. I've been dinged up in some manner for almost a year now. Something hurts, and it isn't always the same something, almost all the time. I need to heal.

I may never get to the point where I am "ready to train" for an Ironman and that's OK. But let's take a leap of faith and hope that I can get to the point when I could be ready to train. Once I get to that point, I need actually to do the work to prepare. Many people think that doing an Ironman is a very personal quest and on one level it is. Another level, though, makes me not necessarily agree with this statement since the impact on my family is hard to predict. I'd be wrong to say it would have no impact, it will. That bothers me some.

Watching IMLP was inspiring and I'd love to be able to race the 2011 version of that race. My family will support me as best they can in this quest but I need to be physically and mentally ready to keep up my end of the bargain. So I've decided on a checkpoint approach. If my body has healed and my body composition is looking good (aka weight under 230) by November 1, I'm going to sign up via a community slot if available. If there are no community slots left, another race. Perhaps IMFL or IMAZ.

If my body composition isn't where it needs to be, I guess Ironman wasn't that important to me.

Since I'm going to focus on healing , I won't race anymore this season unless it is a fun, low pressure event. Syracuse70.3 was in jeopardy since I can't train for it. Ditto for NYC26.2 in November. Taking them off the agenda will help me focus on what is important. Healing and body composition.

Let the off season begin.

Let the body get right sized.

Let the healing begin.

Only then I'll be able to determine if I am ready or not or if it is important to me or not.

PS: I made a hotel room reservation for Placid next year just in case. One's gotta hope.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Quote of the week.

"Fear less, hope more;
Eat less, chew more;
Whine less, breathe more;
Talk less, say more;
Love more, and all good things will be yours”
- Swedish Proverb (seen on sign in Lake Placid)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A weekend in Lake Placid

  • My wife and I spent last weekend in Lake Placid cheering on the iron faithful. I took these pictures as we ran from spot to spot as the race was happening. All 22 Team Runner's Edge athletes who started completed the Ironman successfully. As I wrote in an email to Cary on his successful race, "Inspiring, simply inspiring."
  • We came back home to no internet, no phone, and no cable TV due to a massive storm that hit our area on Sunday. No permanent damage but the neighborhood looks like a mess with all the downed trees. We're back on the air as of Tuesday morning.
  • The big observation regarding Lake Placid is that we weren't able to find any, repeat any, piece of level ground. Anywhere. Perfect iron venue.
  • I met my first bloggerati, the Caratuck Girl, who signed up for IMLP2011.
  • My girls came back from camp on Monday after a little over a month away. The house is no longer quiet. Even so, that is good.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Quote of the week

"Life is a series of experiences, each one of which makes us bigger, even though sometimes it is hard to realize this. For the world was built to develop character, and we must learn that the setbacks and grieves which we endure help us in our marching onward." - Henry Ford

Monday, July 19, 2010

Variations on "let your body heal itself"

This afternoon I went to a hand specialist to try to get a definitive diagnosis as to what is going on with my left hand. He heard my story and looked at my hand. He asked me where it hurt and asked me to move it in a variety of positions. He said that I most likely have either a very bad bruise or perhaps a hairline fracture of one of the bones in my wrist. To be certain, a MRI would be required, but he felt that if I put it in a brace for a few weeks and was nice to it, it would continue to improve. In summary his advice was "let your body heal itself." If it doesn't get better on its own in a few weeks, then do the MRI and come back. He said I could try to resume some activities but to stop if it hurt in any way.

Last weekend I focused on doing a lot of nothing. I still woke up at 5AM on Saturday for my workout but since there was no workout to be done, I forced myself to go back to sleep. I watched some TdF and baseball on the tube and the Mrs. and I went out to dinner and a movie ("Inception" - definitely a unique flick). Sunday was more of a variation on that nothing theme but I mixed in an afternoon nap.

My wife says that I'm not very good at doing nothing.

To prevent me from going completely bonkers, we decided to go up to Lake Placid next weekend to cheer on the iron faithful. We were able to score a reasonably priced last minute hotel room. My kids come back from camp on Monday so we have to be home. This means I'm avoiding the temptation of signing up for 2011 IMLP as many of my friends are planning. I wasn't going to sign up/do this race anyway since the training demands for a July ironman doesn't fit into the high demand family schedule of April, May, and June.

Of course, a whole weekend of workouts in Placid is already scheduled around the race. The Crew is swimming first then cycling up Whiteface Mountain on Friday, biking one lap on Saturday and running Sunday while the race is happening. I'm leaving my bike home (I can't safely grip the bars yet) but will pack the wetsuit just in case.

My mantra for the near term is "let my body heal itself". Of course, I'll experiment to see the healing might be aided by a micro brew from time to time this weekend. This will only be to advance the science of healing. I might need to try a few different flavors though to find the best one for healing. Anything to help advance the science of letting my body heal itself.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


I won't be racing the NYC triathlon this weekend. I don't think swimming in the Hudson is the best way for my wounds to heal but more importantly is my left hand isn't working well enough to grip the bars to ride safely.

Oh well.

I had my niece, Doctor Wannabe Caitlin (a 3rd year medical school intern-ish student) remove my stitches from my right hand Wednesday night under the guidance of my sister, a real life medical professional with a lot of initials after her name on her name tag (BS, RN, NP, PhD). My second niece DocWannabe Rachael (a going into second year medical school student) looked at my hands beforehand and said "Ewwwwwwww, that looks gross." I commented that she must have not taken the bedside manner course yet. Realize all of this is for my "good" hand.

With my "bad" hand, I have an appointment with a hand specialist on Monday. There are certain flexes that my hand cannot do, most notable is the ability to ride aerobars. My sister, the one with more initials after her name than me (but I still have a US Patent, so there) said that there was probably something broken in either my hand or wrist or a pinched nerve/tendon in there. She said in order to find out the real deal a MRI may be required but even so there may not be much they can do except give it time.

The road rash on my face has healed to the point where I was able to shave yesterday. I'm thinking that makes my wife happy. I've ordered a new helmet and found I needed new lenses in my Rudy Project cycling glasses as the lenses had road rash too. Writing that is a little frightening to me. I still haven't downloaded the file to see how fast I was going when I face planted. I may not ever.

Racing this week wouldn't be a good thing for me. Healing, in contrast, would be a good thing. I need a good thing.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Quote of the week.

"Whatever you are, be a good one" - Abraham Lincoln

Monday, July 12, 2010

Things I learned last week

  • One of my so called gifted children thinks that her greatest accomplishment at a very competitive music camp is that she has finally figured out the optimal ratio of peanut butter to jelly in the iconic sandwich. The other gifted child is pictured above playing her cello in Sunday afternoon's concert at the New England Music Camp.
  • Hands are definitely not overrated.
  • Since I couldn't drive due to my hands being wrapped and was taking drugs that recommend to not operate heavy machinery while under their spell, I had the experience of riding shot gun while my wife drove from Cape Cod to Maine. I am not a good passenger in a car. I wonder if that is a guy thing. At least I didn't do a "Driving Miss Daisy" by sitting in the back seat.
  • I seemed to be the only one who was amazed that the local Walmart in Maine had a nail salon. My girls got a manicure since they explained it would look really cool to play string instruments really fast with nails done. I'm still looking for the reason why the needed a pedicure too. That wonder must also be a guy thing.
  • When we left Maine at 3:30PM the car thermometer said it was 69 degrees. When we arrived home at 10:30pm the same thermometer said 82 degrees.
  • Whoopie pies are good things. Never had them before.
  • It is best to get off a bicycle feet first, not face first or hands first.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Hats and Maine.

Last night my wife and I celebrated our arrival in Maine by going to see the Portland Sea Dogs play the New Hampshire Fisher Cats in a AA level game at Hadlock Field in Portland, Maine. I enjoy minor league baseball games but I kept getting a lot of strange looks. It might have been due to my face being in pieces after my faceplant off the bike coupled with my hands wrapped (fear not I was still able to have a dog at the game for dinner). It might have been due to people recognizing a true rock star in their midst. After thinking about it a while longer I figured it was probably most due to the fact that I was wearing a New York Mets hat in the womb of the Red Sox nation (the Sea Dogs are part of the Red Sox farm system).

I bought this hat to wear during the rest of my stay in Maine. If people here continue to stare at me it must be that Maine-ites recognize a true rock star, right?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Cape Cod Hospital Emergency Room

At the end of our 20 mile bike ride yesterday on the Cape Cod Rail Trail Bike Path, my wife and I decided to stop at a cafe to have lunch. It was a good ride for her and a recovery ride for me. We had a nice lunch and got back on our bikes to go about a mile back to our hotel room through the resort roads. I started riding easily, looked behind me to make sure she was there and she was wasn't. I turned around to head back to the cafe and my phone started ringing. I figured it was her and reached back with my left hand to get the phone out of the back pocket of my jersey. At that exact moment in time, I hit a speed bump and over the bars I went.

I landed face first. My hands landed second. The rest of my body last. I laid on the ground bleeding from lots of places. Some people stopped to help me. The phone started ringing again and I asked one of the bystanders to talk to my wife to tell her where I was.

Since we were riding on the grounds of the resort, one of the housekeeping folks opened up a room and I cleaned myself up a bit. I looked nasty but my hands were hurting the most. I got my bike to the point that it worked a little and we rode back to our room (my wife knew me to not question the lack of wisdom in riding home as she said that there would be no reasoning with me). I hopped in the shower to assess were I was physically. My right hand had a deep cut that I guessed needed stitches (later I figured out that gash was probably due to the brake lever going through my palm. My left hand/wrist was started to throb and I thought I might have broken it. I had road rash on my right hip, right knee, left elbow and cuts and scrapes everywhere.

I put on my "Life is Crap" cycling tee shirt and since there were no doc-in-a-boxes around, we went to the ER. We did OK there, they cleaned out my wounds, stitched me up and x-rays were negative. My lips and chin the doctor said would get heal without stitches. They gave me some pain meds and antibiotics and sent me on my way. I look like they gave a box of band aids to a 3 year old and said go at it. Both hands are wrapped so I have the dexterity of a lobster. No swimming until the stitches come out in 7 days. The NYC tri is still on the table as that is 10 days away but that really depends how I feel next week.

I was riding my custom Guru titanium road bike when this happened. The bike needs some repairs but is salvageable. I need a new helmet but am happy the old one did it's job. I think I need to start riding with gloves though since that would have minimized the injuries to my hands.

My wife asked later if I was ever going to ride with her again. I said, of course. This wasn't her fault. I just need to heal a bit first.

PS: The quote of the week was published before all this happened.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Quote of the week.

"Everybody's got plans... until they get hit. " - Mike Tyson.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Riding with spouses

My wife and I escaped Long Island's epic heat this week and stopped in Cape Cod for a sample of their 100 degree weather. We packed our bikes and got up early to ride. My wife hasn't ridden in a while and told me she really enjoys biking most when:
  • Somebody (read me) makes sure her bike is sound and inflates her tires before the ride.
  • Somebody (guess who) is "around" just in case she needs a flat fixed. I think she can actually fix a flat if she had to but why would she if I'm around?
  • Somebody (getting the drift on who that might be here) picks a route that she won't get lost on and has little or no car traffic.

Our plan was to ride the Cape Cod Rail Trail together. The rail trail is a former train right of way that got turned into a limited access bicycle path. The trail is 22 miles long and I was going to let her set the pace and the distance (this was a recovery ride for me since I rode hard Saturday, raced Sunday, and rode again hard on Monday). Our hotel is in the middle of the trail and we decided to head west. After a few miles she said that she could turn back since it was difficult to get lost with no turns and I should go ahead to open up my legs a bit. I went a few miles up and then turned it around to catch her. I picked up the pace a little heading back and when I didn't see her I realized she missed the one turn off back to our hotel (so much for not getting lost). Panic quickly set in and I pushed the pace beyond recovery. I found her before I got in trouble.

We did this ride at 630am and it was still approaching 90 degrees when we finished. Tomorrow we'll try something a little different by heading east instead. I think I'm still in charge of pumping the tires though. Hope the temperature cooperates but think that hope is just a wish.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

The accidental triathlon = podium? !

This morning I raced the Independence Triathlon, a last minute addition to my race calendar. This super-sprint distance (500m pool swim, 6 mile bike, 2.25 mile run) tri's goals were to assess if I could even run a bit, get a TT swim time, and remember that there were these things called transitions. There were not many participants (under 200). I decided to race Clydesdale and I finished as second Clyde. This was my first medal I've ever won and the first time I was called up to the podium.

The swim was a snake swim in a 50m pool with 10 lanes. (A snake swim is where you swim to the end of a lane, duck under the lane lines and swim back in the next lane. Repeat until done.)Each swimmer went off every 5 seconds and everyone was supposed to seed themselves. This is where the biggest fail of the day happened. I though I seeded myself in the 2:10 per 100m section but when I watched the people swim before me I realized that I probably was a better swimmer than many of them. I got in and almost immediately the people behind me blew by. When I came up to the 150m mark, 7 people were hanging on the wall and I couldn't even get a touch. On the next 50m I had to sprint to get around a bunch of slower swimmers and I was blowing myself up with the sprints. At 200m I looked at my watch to see my pace and it showed 00:00 since I must of missed the start button when I hit it at the start. (Fail yet again). The congestion got worse and I had to stop a few times mid lane due to it. I got caught behind 3 breast strokers side by side by side with no opportunity to get around them. I realized my goal for a decent TT time wasn't going to be all that good since I was waiting too much. Even so, with no wetsuit and no pull buoy (I've almost been exclusively swimming with a pull buoy to avoid stressing my hip), I got it done. Slower than I hoped (this is becoming a theme of my swimming this year) and the final results show pace of 2:36 per 100M.

I walked T1 and took my time. It was good practice but I probably can improve on my transitions.

I wanted to hammer the bike. There were some no passing slow zones and the course had many hairpin turns really preventing unleashing the hounds completely. No one passed me on the bike and I passed plenty. The official race results had me averaging 20.5 mph on the bike.

When I went into T2 and couldn't find my stuff. Then I realized I was one row over from where I should be and turned around. There was my stuff, duh. First time I've done that but it only cost me a few seconds. On the with sneaks and off to run. Ah, the feeling of transition runs where my legs are like concrete was there. I wish I could call that a good feeling, and in a strange way it was, but the even better feeling was when my legs started feeling like legs again after about a half mile. I wanted to take it easy for the run so to not get hurt, held it back and just kept going steady. A few twinges in my leg from time to time but I finished OK. Race results say I averaged 11:10 per mile. Garmin says a little slower but I think that's still OK for someone who really hasn't run.

When I looked at the results I started laughing since I came in second Clyde. Part of me was wondering if there were only two but there were actually more. Getting 3 Clydes on the podium made us question the weight bearing load of the podium itself but it held. Getting called up to the podium is cool. Overall this race was a success for me and I feel that I'm on the way back physically.

Everyone, enjoy your 4th!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Kids and Facebook

My wife and I seem to be the only people on the planet who are not Facebookers. I believe that I am fairly savvy when it comes to internet and social networking and made a decision while back to not set up Facebook for myself. I do have some accounts for pseudo-personalities (my real name is not Joe RockStarTri [gasp!]) and have extended some into Facebook mostly to check out what needs checking out but Facebook isn't something that I spend a lot of time on. I know that others feel differently and that's OK for them but our family decided to mostly abstain.

My eldest daughter really hasn't asked for Facebook since she has heard horror stories throughout middle school of kids releasing their inner moron on Facebook. At high school orientation though one presentation had to do with the evils of misused inappropriate social websites (aka Facebook) being the source of many school issues while the next presentation said that they let everyone know what's is going on with most of the after school activities via Facebook. I guess consistency won't be a strength of this school.

My daughter finally asked for a Facebook account so that she can "friend" her friends at camp when she comes home. This won't be done at camp since camp is a cell phone free and computer free zone. She would use Facebook as the way she'll keep in touch with these camp kids and then could use it for the school activities going forward. My wife and I agreed with her on terms and conditions and let her setup her account the night before she left for camp. One of our insane parent rules is that we have all the passwords and the right/responsibility to make sure she (and her friends) are using this appropriately by checking it frequently (yes, some may say we are mean but again, that's OK).

She was home only about 6 hours before she went to camp and sent out friend requests to a handful of her cronies. We've been checking her account while she has been gone. In only a few days, she now has over 30 friend requests.

I don't know what about this frightens me the most is the number of friend requests that she already has, what these kids put up on Facebook, or the amount of time that these kids are obviously choosing to dedicate to being attached to the keyboard. During summer. When there is no school.

Did I mention it was summer and there is this thing called "outside"? I'm sure some of these kids are waiting for someone to post a picture of 'outside" on Facebook so that they can "like it".