Radical Immersion

Ironman Training with Life, Marriage, Children & Work

Category: Injury & Recovery

Track Night

Last night the workout was 3×1200 with 400 meters between each followed by 3×400 with 200 meters in between.

I still need to learn a lot about pacing.  My fitness is also not back to where it was in the winter.  But, I think my form is improving and that is something.  Hopefully it is something that helps ward off injury.

The splits/pace were 4:34/6:13, 4:52/6:29 and 5:07/6:52 for the 1200s.  There was typically about three minutes in between each one.  The splits/pace for the 400s were grouped a little closer at 1:36/6:25, 1:30/6:00 and 1:29/6:00.  There was typically about two minutes and 15 minutes between each of the 400s.  However, after the last one I took an additional two minute rest and then jumped in with the third group (I was running far in the back of group two) for their final 400 and turned in a 1:26.

In all, it was a soggy 6.78 miles (due to nearly 60 percent humidity) but a step in the right direction.



I haven’t been logging my workouts lately.  I’m not sure why and I know it is self-defeating behavior.

I think maybe I know in the back of my mind that I’m not at all ready for the race in Raleigh in about ten days.  If I were logging the workouts, I would see evidence.  A year ago I was hitting six days a week consistently. Now I’m more like three days a week and my running volume for all of May is about what it should be for a week.

I got home tonight from a four day trip to the Midwest.  It was hard.  There were some long — breakfast through dinner — days with work and today I visited each of my parents in their respective assisted living facilities.  Harder than any brick, that is.

My goal is to go to Raleigh and enjoy it all.  I’m worried that I won’t however because the races that I have had the most fun at are the ones where I’ve gone the fastest, been the most fit and pushed closest to point of failure.

I guess regardless of preparation, I will have that third option.

Oh, and I ran this morning with my nephew.  He was having trouble with chaffing from his shorts however, I think it is a fair assessment that in a little more than four miles I was able to put a little more pressure on him than he really wanted to bear.  I may not be race ready but it is nice to bring a little heat on the youngsters.


I’ve been offline for a month.  What has happened?

  1. I’ve been messing about with the new Garmin 910XT.  In short, it is a phenomenal piece of equipment but it doesn’t quite do everything as advertised.  Namely, I cannot get consistent readings from the power meter to the wrist in a position where it is visible while riding.
  2. My physical therapy is down to once a week.  I’m eight weeks post-muscle tear and ready to be done with the limited activity.  NB – I cam to a realization about two weeks ago.  I am a runner.  Never before have I identified as such.  But, I figure that if I miss it when I’m not allowed to run then it must say something about me.
  3. I have new “race shoes” for the season.  They are stored away. I haven’t even been able to bring myself to trying them on yet.  They are 1400 from New Balance.  More of a flat compared to the new 890s that I adopted last year after half a dozen years in the same full cushion shoes.
  4. Yesterday I put in the work and was rewarded with my first century of the year.  at 101.48 miles I barely scraped over into triple digits and the one trip up Mt. Sugarloaf was pretty uninspiring, but it is a start and today I don’t feel terrible.
  5. I signed up for a 2014 Ironman.  September 20 on the old Chesapeakeman course on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.  It is flat as a pancake.  Patrick also signed up (the week before he set a new personal record at the Boston Marathon.)  I have some ideas about time goals but I’m not ready to commit to them in print.
  6. I’ve been reading the Coggan book on training with a power meter.  It is like a textbook which I like.  I do not like my initial FTP number of 239, but it is a starting point.
  7. Dana has been diligently training for the Raleigh 70.3.  She is out on a ride now.  I think she is going to fly through the first two thirds of the race.
  8. My swimming is up lately due to the extra time.  It is also a bit faster.  I don’t think it is primarily due to the extra volume.  I’m quite sure that I’m swimming faster — repeating in the 1:15-1:17 per hundred yard range — than the past couple years because of the absence of tiredness from running.  There really is only so much load that the body can handle.  Regardless of the reason, it is nice to do a set like 8×300 descending.
  9. My weight remains a constant struggle and worry.  I’m above 190.  Really, there isn’t much more to say other than “gross.”


Ready to Run?

Ready to Run?

Calibration II

For at least two years I have coveted a power meter.  I bought the Stages Cycling offering at the first of February and have been eagerly waiting for its arrival.  It came this week — while I was on crutches.

This morning Noah did some backyard wrenching and installed the new cranks and a bottom bracket.  All that remains to be done is to pair the meter with the new watch from Garmin.

Tucked in behind the new crank arm is the power meter.  It works by measuring micro strains in the metal of the crank.

Tucked in behind the new crank arm is the power meter. It works by measuring micro strains in the metal of the crank.

Oh, and to get my legs back to the place where they can handle pedaling.

Today I noticed that one week after injuring my leg while playing tag with the kids, a bruise has emerged.  It is a dark, ugly mark on the calf.  I also went to the pool to try to stretch out my leg underwater.  I could actually walk but only for about a dozen steps before everything locked up.  Walking in the pool is far superior to walking around on land with crutches.

I’m trying to be patient.  Soon enough.  Soon enough I’ll get back outside and will be using my legs again.


One week ago I tore the muscles in my right calf.  It hurt about as much as you imagine.  I’ve been on crutches since.  Thankfully, I should be done with them sometime in the next week.

The prognosis is good.  After about a week to ten days I should be able to walk without pain.  After three to four weeks, it should feel healed.  After six to eight weeks, it should actually be healed and I can begin training again.  No surgery.  No cast.  No extensive use of medications.

The prognosis is also a huge challenge.  I was looking forward to a Half Marathon next month and going to the Raleigh Half Ironman on June 1.  I have to recalibrate my expectations for the spring and summer.  I won’t be able to do the Half Marathon and as of now, I may be able to participate in the Raleigh Half Ironman but I may not.  It will be determined by the rate of recovery.  Either way, I won’t be racing so much as covering the distance.

Harumph.  Maybe I’ll add a race in July to my plans.  Regardless, it looks like a bid to qualify for the World Championships in Mont-Tremblant is officially off the table.  Harumph Harumph.

On the bright side, muscles heal better than joints and nothing was damaged to the point that it will require a lifetime of limitations.


Friday I received an email indicating that the power meter from Stages Cycling finally shipped.  I was thrilled.  I had spent three full days in Iowa and two days in Illinois — with minimal training — and it seemed like a good indication of things to come.  A change to my training methods to accompany better weather and more consistent sessions.

Saturday I joined Tri360 for their group ride.  I’ve done the ride many times, it is full of hills, and this time I had a horrible time getting up them.  I felt flat and without any oomph.  Immediately after, I went for a 4+ mile brick run.  It was the best part of the workout.  The first two miles were within .75 seconds of one another.  I made the turn and picked up the pace a bit.  The third mile on the WO&D trail was some 20 seconds faster than the second.  The fourth mile was another 23 seconds faster than the third.  I finished the last .34 miles a a hair under 7:00 minute mile pace.

It is always rewarding to get a workout right.  It is more rewarding when that feeling comes on the heals of a crap session.  After a quick shower, walk of the dog and lunch, I took the kids to a new playground.

We played Monster Tag.  Guess who was the monster.  During the third round of the game, I raced up a slide and as my foot planted I felt my right calf pop.  I couldn’t put weight on my leg.  It was terribly painful to the point of being nauseating.

A kindly neighbor drove me home after his wife helped me to the van.  Dana came home a few hours later.  Moments before she drove me to the ER for an exam, a stranger from Twitter and a fellow age group triathlete from Alexandria dropped off crutches for me to borrow.

What happened?  The folks at the hospital affirm that the Achilles tendon is intact.  They put a fiberglass splint on my leg from the toes to just below the knee.  The diagnosis is torn muscle tissue.  How much or how severe?  Time will tell.  Oh, and the orthopedic surgeon may have something to say about that.  That’s right, my next stop on the way to recovery is to see an orthopedist.

Instead of getting fit and moving into more consistent training, I’m grouchy, laying about the house and my leg cannot bear any weight.

That is a change I could do without.

Bum Therapy

I went to physical therapy yesterday.  It was humbling.  There were all sorts of exercises that I couldn’t do or could do with marginal efficacy on my right side but simply failed when I tried on the left.

For example, one legged squats were hard on the right side and I had all sorts of balance problems.  On the left, I could only drop down about two inches.  Same results when I tried to go up on my tiptoes using only one leg at a time.

It was a wee bit scary too.  I hate going to doctors and have an irrational fear of hospitals — mainly the fear was of the unknown.  Beyond the balance boards, stretch cords and various weights, the doctor vibe was pretty strong when I walked in the door.  I expected him to tell me that I had some sort of defect that could only be corrected with major surgery.

It was also uplifting.  There is a path forward.  Though I’m only supposed to run twice this week for 15-20 minutes each, he said I should be “doing triathlons for a long long time.”  I’m scheduled for follow up appointments each of the next three weeks.  But I’ll come back to that in a moment.  First let’s revisit what brought me to the point of seeking help.

My left hamstring is strained.  Not pulled, not torn, not debilitating — but tweaked.  It feels tight about half of the time I’m awake.  It is worse after a run.  The issue surfaced in November about a week and a half after my first track workout.  I tried more stretching.  I tried rolling.  I tried heat.  Then I tried a week off with no running.  After two runs and more soreness, I went three weeks off.  The strain persists.

So I went to a doctor.  He is a PhD doctor and he definitely knew his way around the human body.

He pushed and prodded.  He demonstrated simple exercises that flummoxed me.  He watched me walk barefoot then took video of me running on a treadmill from several angles.  He was calm and thorough and strikes me as the kind of guy who would be extremely good at Scrabble — he was curious and willing to look at a hundred things in various combinations before he made any comments or committed to one diagnosis or another.

We talked about my training load, weight, foot strike, shoes and past injuries.  He was thorough — and nice — and painfully honest about inadequacies.  Even if he had not been so clear, the videos were irrefutable.  We watched them before and after drills.  Side by side.  In slow motion.  From the rear and from the side.  My form is not pretty.  I run ugly.

My gluteus muscles are far too weak.  As I land with each footfall, my ankles drop in a bit and pronate which brings the knees slightly out of alignment if you think of a vertical line from shoulder to hip to knee to ankle.  I run with too much bounce; there is too much vertical displacement with each step.  Instead of gliding along and sliding forward, I leap off my back foot and travel up and forward wasting a great deal of energy (going up) and bringing a lot more force down on each leg (coming down.)  He thinks my stride is probably a bit too long.  Also, I do not have the forefoot strike that I thought I did.  Looking at the video, it was clearly a heel strike and inconsistent too.  The left foot typically comes down more on the heel than the right.

The prescription is to strengthen all the muscles — starting with my big ass — that should support my legs during good running form.  This should relieve some of the stress on the hamstrings and they will heal themselves.  He gave me some exercises to do each day to work on my upper legs and core strength.

As much as it made me happy that there is a fairly clear path back to good health, it also surprised me.  I have a big bum.  Sir Mix-A-Lot should be the president of my fan club.  As it turns out, the junk in my trunk is just junk and not doing me much good at all.

Due to poor form, the muscle groups in my legs and hips did not develop over the past several years in balance.  So over the next several weeks I’ll be clenching my cheeks a lot throughout the day, during various exercises and drills and even as I run slowly to build up bum strength.

Worse Than Any Snot Rocket, A Booger Blob

About a month ago, I cut my finger.  I don’t know when exactly, it wasn’t that big of a deal.  It was a nick and was a bit in the flesh on top of the thumb and across the cuticle.

It got infected.  I poured hydrogen peroxide on it and slathered on Neosporin.

It got worse.

About ten days ago, it started to get bad.  My thumb stiffened up and was pained at all times.  Some sort of booger looking brain thing appeared on top of the nail.

I went to an urgent care place.  The physician’s assistant on duty could not treat it.  She said it had to be lanced and treated immediately with antibiotics.  She gave a referral and I went to the second place where sure enough — after several shots of lidocaine — another physician’s assistant cut into the angry pus filled blob.

I decided against riding home that night; local anesthesia only lasts so long.

After four days of antibiotics, the swelling was down, the booger blob had expanded in area but deflated a bit.

The doctor I saw at the follow up visit said I shouldn’t swim without a finger condom.  I didn’t even know that was a thing.  He thinks that the booger blog is sitting on top of the nail and will dry up like a scab and fall off.  He says that it is a bacterial infection and all I need to do in addition to the antibiotics is a to use soap and warm water.

I’m doubtful.  I think the nail is actually melting away underneath the toxic booger blob.  But the damn thing is so painful and still juicy with infected drainage I haven’t had the nerve to try to pull it back and peek.

Stay tuned.

Mystery Pain

I’m going on three days of a mysterious leg pain. The outermost side of my left thigh is sore. It feels like I slept on a pipe or received a charley horse punch only I’m unaware of any recent bumps, bangs or falls. I’ve not done anything to injure myself, yet, there it is.

This morning it was sore enough to warn me away from doing jumps onto the box in the garage. I did one and POW!, I could feel it. Last night it was sore before I ran, fine while I ran for an hour including up the significant hill on Mt. Ida Avenue, and then just as sore afterward. No more or less painful today than on Monday when it showed up like an uninvited guest.

What gives?

This weekend’s training will be shortened I’m afraid, due to out of town guests. Maybe a little extra time off of my legs will let the mysterious ailment become a healed ailment.

Here’s hoping…

Bonk — But there were only 5 more blocks

I bonked on Saturday. It hurt. It got into my head and the only good that came of it may be that it probably propelled a better run on Sunday.

It was embarrassing. No one watched, but I knew. It can happen to anyone. It only happens to people who make mistakes.

As backdrop, I had ridden fairly well for three hours in the wind. It wasn’t spectacular but my heart rate was steady and in check and I felt in control of how my body reacted to the wind and hills. Then before heading out for the brick run, I stopped for 24 minutes to take care of some things at the house that needed immediate attention.

While I scrambled around, my body cooling off and my mind racing, I was a bit worried about cramps or just tightness on the run. All I had to do was put in another steady 30 minutes of work — tap out a regular cadence on the sidewalks of the neighborhood — and I’d be done for the day well before the sun went down. And at first, all was well. But then it was as if I ran into a brick wall, stuttered back from the blow, and the wall tumbled down onto my head.


Ignore nutrition and you’ll come face to face with this guy.

Dizzy. No mental focus. It was a chore to walk. I wanted to sit down and weep. I was on an uphill near a church parking lot and wondered if anyone would carry me in and minister to my frailty. Pathetic.

There were five meager blocks between where I stood and home. Sadly, I walked three of them.

In retrospect, I fueled properly for the 57 mile ride but did not take anything for the last 30 minutes of the ride nor during the delay. It was a mid-afternoon ride and my lunch was probably insufficient and considering how much fruit I consumed, I’m lucky that I only bonked. It could have been severe cramps and then a bonk. Under normal conditions — starting the brick right away and riding in the morning after a big breakfast — I probably would have coasted in to the house with an empty tank and ready for a meal. These were not normal conditions and I paid.

I’d like to think that running an 11 mile out-and-back course on Sunday and coming within :30 of an even split is redemption, but I had better hang on to the awful memory of the bonk for a while. I don’t want to repeat that bit of history.