A Look Back, New Goals, and New Beginnings

A Look Back, New Goals, and New Beginnings

Jan 26

So much has happened since my last post, I almost don’t know where to begin.  I guess I’ll start by saying that 2013 finds me healthy, happy, and in a very good place.  I’m training again (in a much lighter capacity than the same time last year), have my goals set, and most importantly am feeling strong, fit, and healthy. It took a lot of work to get to this point however, with a lot of bumps along the way.

Following my race at Oceanside in March, I settled into the build phases of my training for the Ironman US Championship.  Looking back at my previous posts, there were plenty of indicators that my body was trying to tell me something yet based on the events of the rest of the year its obvious that I didn’t listen.

I continued to increase my training volume over the next few months, cranking out another Half-Iron in May at Wildflower, and then my 3rd Half-Iron in 3 months in Hawaii in June.  I took it easy at Wildflower, treating it as a training weekend, and then hammered it pretty hard at Hawaii (although not as hard as I raced at Oceanside).

As this volume increased, I found myself having more and more issues with my PF.  I dialed back my run volume significantly, incorporated a myriad of treatment techniques, but it didn’t make a difference.  What I needed to do was shut it down, but I was too afraid that the lost training time would sabotage my upcoming Ironman in NY.

So what did I do?  I did what I’ve always done…..grit my teeth, suck it up, and fight thru the pain.  I saw a foot specialist who seemed to understand my predicament, and he recommended cortisone shots that would alleviate the pain enough to allow me to do my final build.  It was an awesome idea/plan, until it wasn’t.  The shots did exactly what they were supposed to do……they relieved my pain, and let me knock out a couple of monster weekends of training, including a 4/2 brick and a 5/3 brick.

Following my 5/3 brick however, the pain returned with a vengeance, and the last cortisone shot that I got did little if nothing to help with the pain.  My doctor, in all of his arrogance was CONVINCED that if I did this one particular stretch that my PF problems would go away.  What he failed to tell me was that cortisone shots make the Plantar Fascia more susceptible to ruptures, and one week out from my race the unthinkable happened:  As I was stretching my Plantar Fascia completely ruptured.  There was a pop in my heal and the most searing pain I can imagine (comprable only to the pain associated with getting the cortisone itself, which was like injecting pure fire into my heel).

I knew I was fucked….I could barely walk as I couldn’t put any pressure on my heel. I was crushing Advil like Skittles, icing nonstop, and convinced that somehow, someway, I’d still be able to do my race.  I know, it doesn’t make sense…..I just tore one of the most importnat ligaments in my foot and I’m still strategizing how I’m going to finish an Ironman.  But the thing about Ironman is the journey.  It had been 9 months getting to this point.  2 years if you count the season before.  I felt like I needed to finish the journey, and I was convinced that if I could walk, I could finish.

Fast forward a few days and I find myself in Central Park, 3 days out from my race, running gear on, and practically in tears because I’m limping so bad that I’m considering calling a cab to get back to my hotel. Still, the energy surrounding this event lit a fire inside me that had me convinced that this race was going to happen.

The race did happened, and I finished.  With tears streaming down my face and a marathon time that was more than my bike and swim times combined (I walked the entire thing), I pushed thru one of the most painful yet most gratifying experiences of my life.  The details of the race will eventually make their way into a race report, but for now I’ll just say that it was one of the hardest and one of the easiest things I’ve ever done.  Again, it makes no sense but anyone that has undertaken the journey that is Ironman will understand what I’m saying.

When I got back to LA, I consulted a new Dr. regarding my foot.  He confirmed what I had suspected regarding the ruptured PF, and also threw in a little gem about having 2 stress fractures on my 3rd and 4th metatarsals. He said those words that no running/triathlon addict wants to hear: “Shut it down”.  And by shut it down, he meant 2 months in a boot, no running, and no cycling.  Chicago Marathon was out, which I was really bummed about.  But beyond that I was bummed about losing the fitness I had built over the past 2 years.  My bike time at NY was off the charts for me, my swimming was on point, and I felt like had I been healthy my run could have been super strong as well.  Shut it down?  I felt like I was just getting started!

But I didn’t have a choice.  My foot was JACKED up, worse than I had realized. So I shut it down and turned into a full time swimmer.  I hit Masters for the first time ever, and quickly realized that my swim skills, which I thought to be somewhat decent, were completely average compared to a real swimmer.  So I swam. And swam. And swam.

In the meantime, it felt like a good time to also focus on the biggest issue holding me back from actually ‘racing’ at these events: my weight.  I decided that since I couldn’t use exercise to continue to improve my fitness, it was the best possible time to explore a new avenue on the eating side of things.  My girlfriend Becca was very big on the Paleo concept, and encouraged me to give it a shot.  And with the way my personality works, when I give something a shot, I go all in.

Several months later, I find myself here in 2013 with so many good things happening.  I’ve adopted the Paleo lifestyle 100% (well, except for the wine). :)  I’m down 15 lbs from my race day weight at NYC.  My foot is technically ‘healed’, which has allowed me to start training again.  (Its still sore and gives me problems, but the primary issues are taken care of). And because I’ve had to start off very slowly, I’ve incorporated a strict regiment of heart rate training into the mix.  I need to run slow, HR training forces you to run slow, so its a match made in heaven.  I could never HR train in the past because I didn’t have the discipline to go slow.  But now that I have to go slow, I might as well incorporate it.

So what does the future hold?  I’ve been training for the past 6 weeks, building very very slowly.  I have 3 races on the schedule for the year:  Escape From Alcatraz, Oceanside 70.3, and Hawaii 70.3.  I’m taking a break from full-distance this year and am going to focus all of my efforts on Hawaii.  Beyond that, the rest of the year has some possibilities, but this year is about SPEED.  Shorter distance races all in the name of getting faster.

I have a great feeling about 2013.  In some ways, I feel like starting from scratch was the best thing that could have ever happened to me.  I’ve revamped how I approach training, eating, and life in general, and I’m convinced its going to pay huge dividends in the months/years to come.  I’m excited about the prospects, and don’t have any regrets about the way things panned out.  Everything happens for a reason.  Let’s do this!