Thursday June 30, 2015.
25 days until CranberryTriFest Olympic
66 days until IronmanMaryland
As Boston Express bus 805 made its slow journey from South Station in Boston to the Park-N-Ride located at exit 8 in Nashua, NH I continually pulled up weather.com on my laptop to see if the weather forecast was still holding steady. It was. The heavy rainstorm was on its way out and by 6:00 pm there would only be remnants over Brookline. The radar images told the same tale. Things were looking good for my scheduled 65-minute ride.
In February I had a skiing accident and after months of physical therapy with limited improvement (though my neck felt much better) I received a cortisone shot in my right shoulder and just like that I could train hard again. I had recently been training in MontTremblant, Canada with NorthEast MultiSports and was feeling confident that I was finally trending in the right direction. My numbers were all coming up. I had just completed a 114-mile ride one day and a 60-mile the next. I had managed a 2.5-mile swim and felt good. My runs were starting to get longer. All systems go.
When I got off the bus and headed home the heavy rain had dissipated, just as weather.com had foretold. I got my riding kit on grabbed my bike and headed outside to ride before it got too dark.
There was a light drizzle.
Not a problem I told myself. That is just the last of the storm pulling away. I started to pedal. The drizzle got a little heavier. I rode down Route 13 and then headed past Hampshire Hills. The skies opened up. Heavy rain. At least it was warm I told myself, and it is going to pass quickly. I pedaled on. I took a right onto Ponemah Hill Rd. and began climbing. The rain continued. Hard. I was having trouble seeing too well as my riding glasses were being pelted. I wiped them. It made no difference. The rain was not pulling away. As I approached the top of the hill I began to weigh the pros and cons of completing the ride. I crested the hill, began to pick up speed, and the next thing I know I am on my side skidding across the road.
As my rapid deceleration ended I paused for a beat, unclipped from my pedals, picked my bike up, and went to the side of the road. I began my damage assessment with my bike. Aside from some ripped tape on the left bullhorn all seemed well. Thank goodness. I then began to assess myself. My left knee was bleeding heavily. My right arm was bleeding heavily. My left shoulder hurt. A lot. My head felt fine. My helmet was untouched. With the rain continuing I called home for a ride, and suggested that Amy bring a lot of towels. Crud. 66 days until Ironman Maryland.
The next day I went to Urgent Care where x-rays of my shoulder indicated that I had a separation and possible fractured clavicle. I as given a sling and advised to contact my Orthopedist Dr. Dan Bouvier. I got my long run in that weekend wearing the sling and an Ace bandage to keep my arm from moving. Not graceful yet I got the work in. I saw Dr. Bouvier and the diagnoses in the end turned out to be a separated AC joint in my shoulder. He said further training would not cause additional damage (unless I had another accident) and that pain was my limiter.
Clearly swimming was out and this was disappointing, as I had made many improvements recently in my technique. Riding outdoors was out, for now. I could not put weight on my left arm, or really move it. Trent Hayden lent me his Wahoo Kickr so I could still get my rides in. Training picked back up, just not quite as intensely as I wanted. The days passed and I slowly got more mobility in my shoulder and the pain was manageable.
On August 17th I went for my first swim since the crash. I swam with no expectations and managed 2537 yards in 1:03.54. Not fast. There was pain. Nothing I could not handle. Cranberry TriFest Olympic was on for me! The next day I went for my first ride outside since the crash and again I could handle it. The pain was manageable. I trained for the rest of the week and prepared for my race with very different expectations than when I signed up.
Cranberry Trifest Olympic
Upon arrival at the Ted Williams Camp in Lakeville, MA I collected my registration packet, and setup my transition area. Since the water was 82 degrees the race would not be wetsuit legal. One less thing to worry about. Once I had transition setup I realized I had left my timing chip in my car. I ran back to the car and then back to transition. I realized I did not have my swim cap with me. Back to the car I went. It was not my finest hour. In between my journeys to the car I talked to fellow NEMS teammates and generally got myself relaxed and ready to race. Time ticked away and it was time to test my shoulder.
The Olympic distance swim is .9 miles, which was the distance around the pond if you swam all the way along the edges of the pond keeping the markers to your left. The race had a time trial start with two swimmers heading out every five seconds. I got in line with my fellow silver caps and made my way to the start. The clock counted down from 5 to 0 and I made my way into the water. As planned I went slowly letting faster swimmers pass me. I had a lot of open water and the real challenge was trying to stay out of the way of others. I was not ready for water combat. As I swam I could not extend my left arm very far, perhaps 1/3rd of my normal extension. As a result of a fairly normal extension with my right arm and a shortened one with my left I tended to pull left. I adjusted as needed and kept moving forward. The pain level was about where I expected it to be so I just plugged on. Eventually I saw the swim out, I pressed on and finished the swim.
Division Place: 39
Overall Place: 380
The run to transition involved navigating some slippery rock steps and a run the length of the transition area before you could head to your rack. I navigated this, and then had to sit to get my shoes on. No flying mounts for me. No putting the shoes on by extending my arms. While not the fastest it was a reasonable transition.
Once on the bike I was in my comfort zone. I wanted to ride at about an IF of .85. I very quickly started to pass people. Riders seemed to be in clusters stretched along the rode with big gaps before the groups in front of them. I had a power gel and drank my Gatorade Endurance formula as I rode. Every five miles I had two licks on my Base Salts. I felt good and passed many riders. The course was familiar as much of it is the same as the Patriot Half course, and I had trained on and raced the Patriot Half. The cranberry bogs were beautiful and made for great scenery. I was nailing my nutrition and felt that I was setting myself up for a successful run. As I headed back into transition I performed a flying dismount and charged back to the racks.
Division Place: 13
Overall Place: 63
Once again, due to my shoulder, I had to sit to get my shoes on. My normal procedure is to just bend down, slide my feet into them, grab my glasses, visor and number belt and start running. As a result my time was slower than I expect of myself.
Within moments of leaving transition I caught up with the woman who I had been playing ‘tag’ with for the last ten miles of the bike. We entered transition together and she was faster out, so catching her felt like a positive development. I stayed with for the first half mile or so then I picked up the pace a bit. This race had nutrition stations every mile and as I ran I would grab water and dump it over my head to keep my temperature down. My pace was steady. I could not swing my left arm as I usually would so my gait was a bit off from where I like it. I did manage to keep a fast cadence however and over all I felt good. I was at a pace that I felt I could maintain for the rest of the race and probably could not have run faster. The course is overall fairly flat with a few small rollers. Nothing compared to New Hampshire. It was overcast so the sun was not an issue, which in some spots it certainly could have been. I licked my Base Salt every mile and pushed onward to the finish. With less than 500 yards to go I got passed by a runner who had been on my tail for miles. Some days you are the rabbit. Some days you are the fox. On this day I was the rabbit. I crossed the finish line, received my medal and a water bottle and proceeded to leave the finish area.
Division Place: 17
Overall Place: 97
Division Place: 25/42
Gender Place: 111/237
Overall Place: 140/441
Soon after leaving the finish area I ran into Zuzka Trnovcova who had won the women’s division in the sprint event the day before, and had just won in the Olympic completing an amazing weekend. After talking with her I headed towards the medical staff to get ice packs for my shoulder. Now iced it was time to pack up, change, and get the car loaded before I was going to head to the award ceremony. As I packed I could not find my keys. I went through everything and they were not there. I hoped that in my rushing around in the morning that they would be on top of the car, where I thought I had placed them at one point. No dice. Fortunately I had also forgotten to lock the car so I again went through all of my bags, looked under the seats, and looked under the car for the keys. No keys. I quickly took a baby wipe shower and changed into fresher clothes and made my way back to the finish area. I looked on the ground everywhere I had walked. I asked the announcer if anyone had turned keys in. No. I checked the registration area. No keys. The starting area, no keys. I walked along the porta potties. No keys. Eventually I made my way back to the car, went through it again, and still no keys. I checked on final place, on top of all the tires. On the fourth tire I checked. Keys. The lesson. Slow down in the morning. Use the checklists you created.
As I drove home knowing I had just 42 days until IMMD I felt confident for the first time since the crash that I could pull this off. My goals that I had when I signed up have gone out the window. I have no idea what the swim will bring. Will my shoulder allow me to fully extend when I swim? Will the pain be that much less by then? No matter. I know I can pull off the swim. The time it takes will be less than 2:20. That much I do know. The cycling will be under six hours if I can continue to build the way that I have. The run… again a lot is dependent upon my shoulder and how much I can have my normal arm swing. It will be what it will be. I will keep working and on October 3rd give it my all.