Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Hello Wisconsin!

Well, if you're still out there at all, if anybody's actually still interested, I bid you a very hearty hullo. It's been a crazy spring, a crazy summer, and so far it's been The Season That (Almost) Wasn't. But, things are finally starting to make sense, and if the injury gods allow, I may still be able to salvage something here.

We're officially Wisconsinites now - this is our...what...10th day of living here or something? We live in a very lovely small town - about 11,000 people (which is about the size of where I grew up in Dakota), and though it's only 13 miles from Madison, it's not "suburban" at all - the town has it's own history and personality that I'm sure I'll be discovering for a long time. We live in an amazing house in a beautiful neighborhood and, true to the Madison way of life, every day I'm just astonished with how active this place is. People constantly walking by with dogs, or jogging, or zipping along on a bike. It's almost some kind of athlete's Rockwell painting or something, and we've met more neighbors in the past week than we did in 6 years of living in suburban Minneapolis (which was a reflection both on the suburb and on our general disinterest in our particular neighborhood). So far, so good. It feels more like "home" everyday.

Of course it is difficult to live away from our many good friends in Minneapolis, but I think we're figuring it out - not terribly difficult in this crazy age of communication, but nothing beats the actual presence. That's just another thing we'll be adjusting too.

We're officially halfway through the pregnancy (well, now plus a few days), and all seems to be going well. Almost every night Amy places my hand on her belly and says "feel that?", and sometimes I think I do, and sometimes I'm not sure what I'm feeling or supposed to be feeling, but last night was a bonafide alien movement coming from in there, and that's some kind of insanity, I'll tell you what.

Okay, so now that everybody's caught up, let's get back to the game.

A refresher: In late April, in the midst of all the move stuff that was slowly chipping away at my ability to consistently work out, I was trying to still nail down at least one long run - 10+ miles - even if I wasn't able to reinforce the run with shorter distances throughout the week. I paid for it when I was forced to stop during a run and nurse a knee that was killing me. I mostly rested it, and ran a 13.1 in mid-May that on paper went pretty well, but didn't really, and I could hardly walk for 4 days afterwards with the knee - it was in full aggravation. I don't know how to explain the pain, except that it lives sort of under my left knee cap and in the soft tissue around it. In my research it doesn't appear to be any of the usual suspects (though it very well could be) such as cartilage/miniscus or ACL stuff, but it got so that I couldn't run 2 miles without having to stop and walk, and then hobble around for days, even after just the 2 milers. Incredibly disheartening, and my plan has been, once moved, to seriously address it with a trip to the doctor. Meanwhile, I'd give the knee as much as 10 full days off from running, and then I'd go out and be okay to about 2 miles, and then suddenly limping after 2.5.

In addition, I'm nursing some kind of painful and consistent shoulder injury that might be a rotator cuff thing, and I think I've been dealing with that in some form or another since long before Ironman. But - one thing at a time. I can live with the shoulder thing (for now). The knee thing has been kicking my ass.

I skipped my first (and hopefully last) race on June 9th, though I am okay with the decision. Besides being injured, it was the weekend before we moved and we had a lot to do. Bottom line was that it wasn't in my family's best interests for me to go out and spend the time and energy on something focused only on my own satisfactions, however important in the grand scheme those satisfactions are to me. Still, missing a race you signed up for...ugh.

Anyway, last week I tried 3 miles with a gaudy knee brace I picked up at Target, and I felt pretty good about it - maybe 85%, which is so much better than I've felt all season. I still had pain the rest of the day, but it didn't last for days like earlier in the season. I didn't want to attribute too much to it - maybe the brace was doing some of the hard work and masking my symptoms or problem. Along the way, of course, I've fallen significantly out of shape, and it's been pretty heartbreaking to think that last season this weekend I was doing my 2nd Half Ironman and was clipping right along towards Ironman, and this year I'm considering walking the dogs "exercise". Bah.

Alrighty, so this weekend I just got fed up with all of it - the lack of exercise, the poor nutrition, the aimlessness of my season, etc. I've felt like a prisoner to my knee and it's been driving me mad. Of course, all the resolve in the world doesn't mean much if I can't physically go out there and do what needs to be done.

So yesterday - Monday - I went out to just see what was possible. I wanted a minimum of 3 miles if I could do it. I'd given my knee a full week of complete rest, and mostly this was a defining workout - if I had the status quo pain during and after, I'd be in the doctor's office on Tuesday, prepared for whatever course of action was required.

I'm happy to report - cautiously - that for once I had a decent run.

Jack & I ran 2.5 miles to my grandparents house for a 10 minute water break, then ran another mile, walked half a mile, and ran a quarter mile the rest of the way back home. Without a brace. My knee felt - well, really good. I had none of the expected pain, and I considered it about 95% normal - that 5% might even be exaggerated, and while I felt a few whispers of the pain I've been experiencing, nothing even close to the normal debilitating pain, and in fact if I wasn't nursing it so heavily I'd probably not even have noticed it as anything but normal soreness. I wasn't hobbled up by it at all last night after running, even though I iced it as a matter of prevention when I got home, and this morning I feel fine. I don't want to make too much of it, but I am so encouraged that maybe I can actually get back in the game. We'll see more after a ride today, and a week's worth of workouts, and some real stress to see how far we can go.

I had mentally all but given up on the Lifetime triathlon in mid-July, an Olympic distance. I'm going to just take each day here as it comes, and that race may still be a gametime decision. If I am coming back from this injury, I have to be so careful not to reaggravate it with a distance or intensity I'm not ready for. We'll see.

Meanwhile, 2 things of note: I'll be trying to take some pics of my new area on my workouts, to give you a sense of how things are for me out here now. Also, I'm excited to report that my friend Todd (who you know as a regular visitor here and who's having a really great first Oly season) and I have committed to training and racing together for a Half Iron next season. I'm really excited about it - we haven't figured out all the details of the "virtual" training together, but he's going to be in charge of the off-season weight training plan, and I'll be in charge of the Half Iron training plan. I'm a really solitary training person, but the "virtual" accountability of it will add a new flavor, and Todd's just the right kind of guy for me to do this with, so I think it'll be a blast. Not sure yet what Half we'll do - maybe Steelhead? We'll see.

Alright, that's all for now - you're officially caught up. I'm all moved in now, and the myriad distractions and obligations away from the game are sorting themselves out now. Come on back to the blog regularly now, cuz I am.


Tri-Thomps said...

Welcome to Wisconsin!

I was at the dinner at Stu's also.

I'm not too far away from your ne place, about a half hour north of you in De Forest.

It was a tough day on the course in 2006. Congratulations on becoming an Ironman. Although quite a thrill, it will pale in comparison to becoming a Dad. Enjoy every minute.


Todd said...

Welcome back to the blog, bout time!

Erin said...

Welcome to the Madison area, and congrats on the dad gig!

I'll keep a lookout for you and Ol Blue on the Ironman course...Lord knows I'm out there every, single weekend.

xt4 said...

Thanks all, good to be back! And welcome Thomps!

Triteacher said...

"It's almost some kind of athlete's Rockwell painting or something" - that is a killer line.

Glad you're back to blogging and WELCOME to Wisconsin!! Woot Woot!

Steve S. said...

Nice to have you back! Glad to hear your settling in

TriSaraTops said...

I wuz wonderin' where you've been!

Here's a new trick for Amy to try...2 nights ago I was watching the Indians game and had the remote on my belly...AND THE BABY KICKED IT RIGHT OFF!!!!! Holy crap! It was pretty sweet.

JB07 said...


Congratulation on the news about your baby girl. It gave me chills reading about you hearing the news. I (my wife) have 2 boys and a girl and each one was the best gift we have ever been blessed with.

I have enjoyed reading your blog and following your Ironman progress for the past year. I entered Wisconsin as my first Ironman this year so have been absorbing as much info as I can online.

Take some time to get healthy and enjoy the changes in life. You have plenty of time to jump back in later.

Good Luck