Monthly Archives: May 2014

Flashback Fridays 15: The Rehab Races

March-May 2013.

I had a few minor races scheduled for spring 2013. Get Lucky Half Marathon (March), Goldy’s Run 10 Miler (April), and the Lake Minnetonka Half Marathon (May).

These were filler material “C” races. They could not have come at a better time. With my Posterior Tibial Tendon “shredding” and new orthotics, I needed some low key rehab.

But I also had Grandma’s Marathon and Ironman 70.3 Kansas coming in June. If this didn’t work, my season (and everything I worked so hard for) was in jeopardy.

These filler races did not go well.

Very slow times. Very painful foot. Each race was just worse then the other.

I was losing my passion and my interest.

I was very discouraged.

I was not having surgery, but I would not keep running like this.

In desperation, I thought back to the last time my foot felt normal. It was with my old beat up pair of shoes with the holes in them.

Can’t make things any worse…

I tossed the wide shoes and the orthotics, laced up junk pair and headed out the front door.

The improvement was almost immediate. It was the best I felt after a short training run in the past several months. The problem wasn’t gone. Not by any stretch of the imagination. But it didn’t hurt (much) to run, and my foot wasn’t in agony afterwards…just the baseline pain and weakness that I was used too.

If wasn’t a cure, but may keep me going for now.

A few more runs and the same results.

I was enjoying myself again, and looking forward to it again.

Good thing…the real season was about to start…

Epilogue: It has been a year. I ran most of last year in a couple of extremely beat up shoes with huge holes in them. I could not use clipless bike pedals since I could not unclip. But the problem resolved. At the end of the year, I had to break in a new pair of shoes. It went without incident. It took a year, but I am finally symptom free. I know that the damage to the tendon is still there. It could flair up at any time. If it tears, my running days are over. So, every run is a gift. Every race is a joy. I scheduled Ironman Wisconsin for this year since I may not be physically able to run it in the future. I want to take my shot…while I still can.

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Broken Rib Update…

It is eight days since my rib fracture. It is healing surprisingly well. I can bike and use the elliptical without pain. Swimming causes minor soreness only. I have been avoiding the run. I ran 10k shortly after the injury which caused a lot of discomfort and set my healing back a few days.

For the most part, I can easily forget about the injury. I had to do some moderately heavy lifting yesterday. I had to be careful, but I was able to do it.

It has been a slow training week. It was a scheduled recovery week, my work schedule has been more hectic then average, and the weather was not cooperating. All of this is fine, as a little downtime was needed for my injury.

But, I want to run again!

I have a Half Marathon scheduled for Sunday. I assumed that I would just have to take the DNS. But, I am reconsidering that given the speed of my healing. I did a half-mile treadmill test run today. Bumped it up to 7 mph…no pain. This is reassuring.

I will likely try an outdoor 5k tonight or tomorrow. If that goes well, I will lace up on Sunday. I certainly won’t push myself Sunday…it will be a rehab run, and I will walk if I must. But, I think I might be able to pull it off.

Now, if the predicted thunderstorms will hold off that morning…


Tried an 5K run after work tonight. 8:30/mile (26:26). Minimal soreness. Very pleased and will be lacing up on Sunday.

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Broken Rib…Broken Dream?

“…there is a minimally displaced fracture of the tenth anterolateral right rib…”

So that’s what went “pop” in my chest last Wednesday. It certainly explains the pain I felt. Still have no idea how I managed to break a rib stretching over the center console of my car reaching for something that fell onto the floor.

Not only did I manage to break the first bone of my life halfway through my Ironman training schedule, but I did it in such a boneheaded and clumsy way.

“Let pain be your guide…” That is what my doc recommended to me to guide me in my training for now.

I did a 5+ hour/85 mile bike ride within 24 hours of the injury. No problem.

The next morning, I completed a two mile swim. It felt therapeutic. The first couple of laps hurt, then it seemed to stretch and relax the muscles. I didn’t want to leave the pool. So far so good.

That evening, I went for a 10k run. That hurt. I breath heavier while running, and the jarring with every footfall was an issue. I completed the 10k run hoping that I would settle into a groove like I did when I was swimming. Nope.

The next time running popped up on the training schedule, I substituted the elliptical. That was a lot better.

OK, so I guess I have to limit the running for now.

I got a rib belt yesterday. That felt good to sleep with. It may help with running, but will make breathing harder. I will have to give it a short test run and see.

I have a half marathon scheduled for Sunday. I may have to take a DNS for that one. I may show up and try a slow jog, and walk what I have too. I’ll do a short test run later this week and see how it goes. I am a little more optimistic about the half marathon the following weekend, and the sprint triathlon the day after that (only a 5k run, but worried about the physical contact during the swim).

I am not the first to have an injury or a fracture during Ironman training. I am very lucky that I have an injury that I can train with. Running will be set back, but I can focus more on cycling, which is my weakness. As long as I don’t have to take too much time off running and get completely reconditioned, I should be able to ramp it back up quickly (I have done it before).

Becoming an Ironman isn’t supposed to be easy. It’s supposed to hurt. It’s supposed to be hard. It’s all about pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. It’s about overcoming your limits. It’s about pushing through adversity. The greater the trial, the sweeter those four little words that you hear at the finish line…

“You Are An Ironman…”

Pity party is over. I have work to do.

Broken dream? Oh hell no!


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Training Week #15 (Triathlon Build Week)

Today is the halfway mark of my 30 week Ironman triathlon training program. In 15 more weeks, I will be treading water, waiting for the cannon to go off and start the race. On one hand, this terrifies me. Will I be ready in time? On the other hand, I am starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I have never trained like this, and I can never keep this up long term. It’s too intense, and takes too much time. It is burning me out. I know I will never compete in another full ever again. But I think I will need a break from triathlon for awhile after this. I doubt I will leave the sport completely. But I have toyed with making 2015 a running only year. I have considered doing only 2-3 sprint triathlons next year. There is a Rev3 Half nearby that I will likely put off until 2016, or maybe not. After the Ironman race, I have several running events planned including the TC Marathon weekend “Loony Challenge” (5k/10k/10 mile), the Monster Dash HM (all in October), the Route 66 Marathon (November), Houston Marathon (January), Pittsburg Marathon (May). So, I will take a break from swimming and cycling for awhile, and likely wait and see how much I miss triathlon training and competing before deciding what I will compete in next year.

I am pleased with my bike improvement. I did an 85 mile session this week in 5:15. When looking at my splits, every single one was under 20 min/5 miles. Most were in the 18 minute range. A couple were in the 16:30 range. For a mixed use trail with a lot of slow traffic, blind curves and intersections, I think that I did pretty good. Last year, a similar ride had many 5 mile splits in the 20+ minute range. I am getting used to clip less pedals (I only fell once last week) and the time I spent on the trainer has helped. I am over 1100 miles cycling since starting my training.

Finally, I am dealing with a stupid rib injury. I can swim and cycle, but can’t run (well, I can, but it is painful and it sets me back). So I am substituting elliptical cross training. I will just include that with my running miles. The elliptical does not measure distance, just strides. I found a way to convert it to running miles, but you get very few miles in a heavy workout (a 2.5 hour session got me 10 miles). So, my running stats will suck as long as the elliptical stays in the training plan. I have a Half Marathon scheduled for next weekend. I will skip it if I have to, or maybe just walk it. Right now, I am treating at it as my first rehab run.

The Plan:
Tuesday-1:00 swim/1:00 run
Wednesday-0:45 bike/0:30 run (with transition)
Thursday-1:00 swim/1:00 bike
Friday-1:00 run
Saturday-4:00 bike/0:30 run
Sunday-0:45 bike/1:30 run

2 hour swim, 6:30 hour bike, 4:30 hour run
Total-13 hours/11 activities

What I did:
Monday-0:45 bike/0:28 run (10 miles/3.1 miles)
Wednesday-1:00 bike/1:10 swim (13.6 miles/1.75 miles)
Thursday-5:14 bike (85.0 miles)
Friday-1:20 swim/1:02 run (2 miles/6.3 miles)
Saturday-2:30 elliptical (10.1 miles)
Sunday-1:30 bike (20.0 miles)

Weekly Total
2:30 swim, 8:29 bike, 4:00 run (% change from week 14: +7.1%, -8.3%, -10.1%)
3.75 mile swim, 128.6 mile bike, 19.5 mile run (% change from week 14: +7.1%, -7.5%, -29.1%)

Total-14:59 hours/151.85 miles/9 activities

Grand Totals:
Swim-31:15 hours/46.5 miles
Bike-75:47 hours/1102.3 miles
Run 86:55 hours/511.3 miles
Total-193:57 hours/1660.1 miles

15 weeks to go.


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…and a new injury.

A few days ago, I was driving to work. I had something on the passenger seat that rolled off. I don’t even remember what that “something” was. At the next red light, I reached over to the floor on the passenger side to retrieve the item. I could almost reach it. Stretching as far as I could, reaching over the center console, my fingertips brushed the wayward item. Just need to stretch a little farther…


I crumpled over, shouting pains through my chest, could not breath. Good thing the pain made my foot jam down harder onto the brake peddle…otherwise I would have rolled into the (expensive) car in front of me. As I try to catch my breath, the car behind me starts honking as the light had turned green. I was barely able to focus enough to safely clear the intersection and pull into a gas station.

Damn, I am in pain.

And, what the hell just happened???

I can breath again, but it is torture. The pain is very intense and very localized. Right side, front of the chest, just off the breastbone. The area that was getting shoved into the center console while reaching for the now forgotten wayward item.

Did I just crack a rib???

No, there was no blunt trauma, no impact, no force. Just pressure. I know I am getting older, but the ribs are not that fragile (yet).

Dislocated? I feel around. No obvious lump or recess. There is a tender spot. But nothing seems out of place.

No. Not dislocated.

The location of the pain is right where the bone meets cartilage, just off the breastbone. I subluxed the rib. Basically, I partially tore the rib off the cartilage.

And it hurts!

I had just finished daily training and was on my work. Getting out of the car was an unpleasant experience.

I got though the day. It was getting less painful as the day went on. But, lying down on it the night was very unpleasant. The next morning, I was planning a 75-90 bike ride. This might get cut short. Way short. Just mounting the bike made me wince…

I start peddling. I can tell just how much my core is involved in cycling. But, my body accommodates. Soon, I am not feeling it. When I mount/dismount and when I need to made sudden movements, I certainly get an unpleasant reminder. I complete 85 miles without difficulty. A nice surprise.

The next day, a morning swim. I sleep a little better that night. Morning comes around and I head to the pool. The first few lengths are not good. Every stroke involves pulling with my arm and twisting with my core. Everything hits my sore spot. But, it gets better. The muscles actually relax during the workout. It’s therapeutic. Ok. Two out of three. I have an evening run planned.

That was a little rougher. Every footfall causes a jolt of pain. I breath heavier when running. And deep breathing caused more pain.

Unlike the swimming and cycling, I couldn’t get into a rhythm. It improved a little, but running was rough.

I do not sleep well that night. I certainly flared up the rib with a 10k run.

So, my training plan just changed from triathlon training to aqua-bike training. No running for now. I was scheduled for my weekly long run today. 15 miles planned and canceled. Instead, I will do a 3 hour spin. Maybe I will try my elliptical cross-trainer instead (see if that feels better and and if I can get a closer mimic to running). Fortunately, I was way ahead of schedule on the run training (had a full marathon earlier this month), so it is the discipline that I can most afford a setback. I do have a half-marathon scheduled for next weekend. That will likely be my next run. I had hoped for a PR. Now, it is a rehab run.

Disappointed and frustrated. But I can still train with this. Just need to adapt and hope it doesn’t linger…


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Flashback Fridays 14: Posterior Tibial Tendonitis

January-March 2013. I returned from Disney with foot pain that was preventing me from walking properly. Climbing stairs was almost impossible. Range of motion of the left ankle was severely compromised. I had to go see a podiatrist. He promptly diagnosed Posterior Tibial Tendonitis. There is a tendon on the inside on the lower leg that wraps around the back of the inner ankle bone before attaching into part of the arch of the foot. You can get some inflammation and scar tissue forming in the tendon sheath if it gets strained too frequently. Happens to folks who over-pronate (check), are flat-footed (check) and have hyper mobile lateral movement in the mid foot (I guess that is me as well). His first recommendation was “stop running”. But that wouldn’t fix it. This doesn’t heal. It will get worse no matter what I do. Only surgery would fix it…but the results are frequently not very good and most runners have to stop running. Great. He ordered an MRI. The results were disturbing. The tendon wasn’t inflamed. It was “shredding” Not what I wanted to hear. Since he assumed that I wouldn’t stop running (correct-especially since it wouldn’t fix the problem), he suggested orthotics. Basically build something huge that would prevent my foot from over pronating and would stabilize my foot to take the stress off the tendon. I was willing to try it. Got the orthotics and stuffed them in my shoes. Did not feel good at all. But they were also quite wide for my shoes. This shoved my feet towards the outside of the shoe. This resulted is the sense that I could roll my ankle with every step (and I did a couple of times). So I got a pair of wider shoes. This fixed that problem, but it felt like I was running in clown shoes. And the feet hurt even worse. “I just need to give the orthotics time for my feet to get used to them”. That was it. That was my last hope…

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1000 Miles…

Two years ago, I bought a bike. First one since I was a kid. It was for cross-training, then a Duathlon, then a sprint Triathlon, and eventually Ironman 70.3 Steelhead. It was quite a first season. On the last descent riding day of the year, I knew I was in shooting distance of 1000 cycling miles for the year. I went for it. Weather was good in the early afternoon but the snow was coming. A cold front was coming in…wind was howling and the mercury was dropping. I kept a close eye on the odometer. I was going to hang in there until the odometer rolled. At the end, I was doing laps around the block as the snow started to fall when it happened. I thought I did something pretty damn special and amazing.

The odometer rolled on me again today. Over 1080 miles this season, an it’s not even Memorial Day yet. I should be clocking over 2500 miles by the time I roll into Madison.

Compared to many who are Ironman training, this would be a pretty wimpy total.

But, it shows how far I have come. I am feeling the difference. I am faster. I am more comfortable cycling. I am handling the bike better. I can maintain my cadence for long periods of time with less and less difficulty. I can spin up hills. I can run pretty good after a long ride.

It’s paying off.

Today was my second 85+ mile ride in the past week. I had trouble doing 45 miles last year. I would strive for 1-2 century rides per season. Pretty soon, a century will just be my weekly long ride.

Why am I doing this?

Because Wisconsin is tough.

I will be tougher.


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Removing The Training Wheels…

Clipless pedals terrify me.

Your feet are locked to the pedals. If you stop without unclipping and you fall…without your legs available to break your fall.

Clipless pedals also allow you to use your leg muscles through the entire rotation of the pedal instead of just when pushing down with your leg. They use different muscles, so your legs don’t get as tired as quickly. They also allow you cycle faster.

Just like when you remove your training wheels when you were 5…

I have completed 4 century rides, 8 triathlons (including 4 Half-Ironmans) with flat platform pedals. I did this because I had an ankle injury, and I could not twist my ankle to unclip. I would fall over every time I stopped.

But, I also was terrified to try them.

Now, the ankle is better.

I have an Ironman coming up.

Learning this skill would make me more successful in the bike portion of the Ironman (my weakest discipline).

It was time to take off the training wheels.

I stalled all day yesterday. Finally, I ran out of chores. So, I grabbed my wrench and swapped the pedals out.

I had used the clipless all winter on the bike trainer…no problem. Of course, the bike is being held upright on the trainer and you can’t fall. Not so here.


I almost fell over clipping in just one foot. Whole center of gravity changes when you have a bike attached to the end of your leg. Tried again…success. Well, if you call clipping one foot in a success.

Pulled the foot up and pushed down. I was moving.

Got to the end of the driveway and turned onto my traffic-free road. Fiddled with the other foot and got it clipped-in.

My feet were locked. I was terrified. I calmly tried to unclip. Success. Clip. Unclip. Clip. Unclip. Stop. Didn’t fall. Cool…

This went on. Pedaled. Multiple clip/unclip. Start/stop. Went 2 miles and didn’t fall.

OK. That’s the training run. Next day was the real deal…long bike ride. I would bring the old pedals and the wrench…just in case…

Got to Elm Creek this morning. I can do this. Pedaled around the parking lot a few times. Still had the hang of it. Clip. Unclip. Stop.

OK, time to fly. Ninety miles…

Went OK. Only fell once. Was coming to a stop, unclip the right foot. Stopped. Put the foot down. Had too much weight on the other pedal and went over. Only injured my pride. But it took me 20 more miles to regain my confidence.

By the end, I was feeling OK. No more falls. Had more control.

And, no more training wheels.

Now, if I could just learn how to use the aerobars…

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Training Week #14 (Triathlon Build Week)

I was finally able to settle back into my triathlon training plan without the distractions  of traveling and a marathon. Felt good to be able to just focus on one thing. The weather is getting better which makes it easier to get out for a ride. This is key since cycling is my weak spot and I am lagging behind in my training schedule. The bike distance vs time listed is getting weird. I trust the data from my road bike. I have an old bike on the trainer and it constantly shows me going a lot slower (like 12-13 mph). I know that’s wrong. I also used a spinning bike at the gym. That one had me flying like I never had before. That’s wrong too. I have no way of correcting the data, so I will just report the info and not worry about it. I am getting faster on the road bike then I was last year. That is all that matters to me right now…

I had purchased clipless pedals over a year ago, but I have been unable to use them at all lest year due to an ankle injury (I could not twist my ankle to unclip…a bit of a problem). I finally got them on my bike this week for a road test (had them on the trainer all winter but I didn’t have a chance to get used to them before my first few long rides so I reverted to the old platform pedals). I adjusted to them pretty fast. Now, I just need to get used to the aerobars…

The Plan:
Tuesday-1:00 swim/1:00 run
Wednesday-0:45 bike/0:30 run (with transition)
Thursday-1:00 swim/1:00 bike
Friday-1:00 run
Saturday-3:30 bike/0:30 run
Sunday-0:30 bike/1:15 run

2 hour swim, 5:45 hour bike, 4:15 hour run
Total-12 hours/11 activities

What I did:
Monday-0:45 bike/0:30 run (10 miles/3.1 miles)
Wednesday-1:10 swim (1.75 miles)
Thursday-1:10 swim/1:00 bike/1:00 run (1.75 miles/21 miles/6.2 miles)
Friday-1:30 bike (18.1 miles)
Saturday-2:30 run (15.1 miles)
Sunday-6:00 bike/0:27 run (90 miles/3.1 miles)

Weekly Total
2:20 swim, 9:15 bike, 4:27 run (% change from week 13: -15.2%, +89.4%, -3.6%)
3.5 mile swim, 139.1 mile bike, 27.5 mile run (% change from week 13: -6.7%, +85.2%, +3.3%)

Total-16:02 hours/170.1 miles/10 activities

Grand Totals:
Swim-28:45 hours/42.75 miles
Bike-67:18 hours/973.7 miles
Run-82:55 hours/491.8 miles
Total-178:58 hours/1508.25 miles

16 weeks to go.

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Flashback Fridays 13: “Something Is Very Wrong…”

October 2012-January 2013
After the Twin Cities Marathon, I started training for the Walt Disney World Marathon. Specifically, I was training for The Goofy Challenge. This is a half marathon one day, followed by a full marathon the next. The main adjustment to my training was to start running back-to-back long runs every week. I wanted to build up to 10 miles/20 miles before race day. This ended up being a fairly big mileage leap. My shoes were also in need of replacement (old ones had holes in them…but I didn’t want to swap them out just before a marathon). I got the same brand/style/size that had served me so well so far. I put them on for the first time during my first long run-13.1 miles (I did a 10k the previous day). By mile 8, my foot didn’t feel right. I figured it was a random “phantom” pain (I get several of those per long workout…they tend to be forgotten within a mile or so). Also assumed it was my shoes just getting broken in.

By mile 12, something felt very, VERY wrong with my left foot. There was a knot in my arch that was not going away, and my medial ankle was feeling unstable. It didn’t hurt that bad, but it was just feeling more and more “wrong”. I stopped the run at 12 miles (first time I think I had ever done that quit a training run early).

I assumed it would be gone the next day.


I skipped a couple of short runs.

No improvement.


So, I went running again. It didn’t exactly make it worse, but it didn’t feel right either.

I cut down on mileage. Got another pair of shoes.

No help.

Event weekend was starting to draw closer. My training window was closing.

I also was starting to get the feeling that this could be the beginning of the end for my running.

I also knew what a Doctor, Orthopedist, or Podiatrist would tell me…”Stop Running”.

So, I did the stupid thing…I kept on running and built up my training. This would be marathon number three. I will have racked up Dopey and a half IM as well. If this were to be the end, then I would finish off what I chose to accomplish.

Training intensified.

I had trouble flexing my foot downwards or rotating it inwards. Range of motion and strength were vanishing…but it did not directly affect my running.

Three weeks prior to the event, I did my 10 mile/20 mile back to back.

The next week I ran the Polar Dash in -30 degree windchill.

The week before the race, I scheduled a podiatry appointment for my return. I expected bad news.

It was worse than I could have imagined.

But, before I could hear it, I had to run 42.2 miles in 3 days on a bad foot…

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