Wednesday, September 21, 2016

That's A Wrap!

I suppose I could have titled this post the Season That Never Was, but that would be looking at this race season in a negative light.  I'm trying to stay away from that mindset and look at the good things that came from this season.

Yes, I got injured and didn't compete in my A-race.  Yes, that sucked big time.  There were tears.   But, after that race day came and went, I focused on what I could do and that was swim and ride my bike.  I spent a lot of time in the saddle this summer.  I worked on my swim stroke.  And I worked on fixing all the little things that contributed to my injury in the first place.  I'm not 100% sure that everything is fixed but I'm definitely feeling and moving better.  

I went back to Dr. Galea last week to go over the results of my MRI.  I finally got an injury diagnosis and it told me what I suspected all along:   "Mild tendinosis at the origins of the hamstrings bilaterally.  Low grade partial tear of the posterior fibres of the semimembranosus tendon origin from the left ischium"

Essentially, I tore my hamstring tendon at the insertion point.   It was small tear but it was painful.  There is some scar tissue kicking around in there still so that will have to be worked out because I still feel like there is some restriction of movement through the gait cycle.  I also still feel some pressure in and around my glut / upper hamstring.  So it looks like I'm going to be working on strengthening my hamstrings for the next little while.  The good news is that Dr. Galea thinks that this is all fixable via gait retraining.  He said that my left glut either doesn't fire or fires late (previous gait analysis has shown that it fires late).  Right now it's not even firing and that's probably due to the injury.  He's recommended that I go see a physio by the name of Laura McIntyre at The Urban Athlete so that's where I'm off to tonight.

I am hoping that I come out of this stronger and more aware of my body and how it functions.  

On to the really positive things!  

Despite not running, I still managed to get a couple of races in.  And because of all the riding I had been doing, I actually set a new 20 minute power record on the bike at the Ontario Women's Triathlon.  That really surprised me.  I went from 221 watts to 233 watts.  I still can't believe that.  Once I got injured, I stopped training with power and I just rode.  Paolina always told me not to be a slave to the numbers.  I figured I wasn't training for anything anymore so I didn't need to pay attention to the data.  It paid off.

This past weekend, I did the swim leg of The Barrelman Half Ironman with my two friends David B and David L.  Or the Double D's.  Our team name was Phaedra and her Spectacular Double D's.  Yup.  We went there.  The guys thought it was really funny.  I was a bit upset at first (I had suggested PK vs. my actual name) but, I couldn't deny it was pretty hilarious.    

If you've been reading this blog for the last few years, you know that open water swimming is not my favourite and that it gives me a fair bit of anxiety.  I have slowly been getting better at dealing with said anxiety.  I know I could have said "No" when David asked me if I wanted to be the swimmer but I thought 1) it's a chance to race 2) I get to spend the day with a couple of my favourite people and 3) it's only the swim, not the entire race.  I figured I'd be fine.

Leading up to the race, I was ok but the day before I could feel the nerves setting in.  I didn't sleep well the night before.  Race morning there was a fair bit of griping.  I was nervous.  I hadn't swam more than 1800m in open water in my wetsuit this year and that was with stops.  This would be 2km straight.  Although I could have stopped if I wanted but it's a race.  I don't like to stop.

I knew a ton of people that were going to be racing so race morning was very social which really helped to alleviate my anxiety.   There was so much chatting and hugging and laughing that I could feel my nerves easing.  David B got all set up in T1 and I started getting myself sorted.   I wedged myself into my wetsuit gave the Double D's hugs and made my way into the water to do a good warm up.  My wave went at 9:05 and I was in the water by 8:45.

Me and my spectacular Double D's.

I swam to the other side of the canal and then back to the middle.  Off to the other side, back to the middle.  I floated for a bit, swam over to the edge, got out to fix my wetsuit and went back in.  Everything felt fine.  My wetsuit was comfortable.  My goggles were snug.  I was ready.  I tread water, listened to the National anthem and smiled.  I felt relaxed.  There were some nerves but not the anxiety that I normally felt.  The pros went off to a loud cheer from the crowd.  Then wave two went off.  My wave was up next.  I fell to the back and off to the side a bit.  No need for me to be up at the front in the fray.  The horn went off, I hit start on my Garmin and let the crowd go.  A few seconds later I started slowly swimming and caught my first pair of feet.  I navigated my way towards the shoreline of the canal away from the pack.  I figured I'd be better off out here for the first little while.  I may not get the benefit of the draft but at least I could get into a good rhythm.

There weren't too many buoys along the course so instead of playing the count your strokes between buoys game to keep my brain occupied, I just counted strokes, period.  I focused on making sure I exhaled as soon as I put my face in the water so there was no panicky breathing.  I swam at a very comfortable pace for the first little while.  Not pushing it but not too slow either.  I had had a massage on the Thursday night before the race and David had really worked at freeing up my T-spine and getting a bit more mobility through my ribs and shoulders.  I felt really good.  I actually felt like I could breathe better as well.   I chugged along comfortably.  I came up to the 250m mark sign on the embankment and had one small moment of "holy shit I'm only at 250m???" .  I quickly dismissed that thought and started counting strokes again.

I hit the 500m mark and thought ok, I'm 1/4 of the way through and knew that I would be coming up to the first green buoy soon so I started sighting properly.  I didn't bother for the first bit as I just used the riverbank as a guide.  I started to swim in towards the buoy and surprisingly didn't get caught up in much of a crowd.  WOOHOO!

As I swam towards the other turnaround buoy, I remember thinking to myself that I was feeling really warm.  And I was hungry.  The water was 24 degrees, which is pretty toasty for a full wetsuit.  I lamented the fact that I probably should have drank my entire bottle of Roctane before I got in the water.  Oh well.  I got around the second big green buoy without incident and thought "Woohoo, I'm halfway done!"

Shortly after I passed that buoy, I kicked a bit hard to pass someone and my right calf cramped.  Shit. I stopped kicking with that leg and just used my arms and my left leg for a bit until the cramp subsided.   I picked up the pace again.  I had gotten into a really good rhythm and was now working a bit harder.  I could see the 500m sign on the embankment and thought "Awesome only 500m to go!"  I felt like I was swimming really well.  I had caught a bunch of people from the wave in front of me.  Just after I passed the 500m mark my right calf cramped again so I went back to the one-legged kick. It eventually went away and I went back to kicking normally.  I could see the final green buoy coming up so I started to swim harder.  As I came up to the finally buoy my left calf cramped so hard it stopped me in my tracks.  I felt like someone kicked me really hard in the calf.  I stopped swimming and yelled OUCH.  I couldn't point my foot.  It hurt way too much.  Even when it was flexed up, it hurt.  I reached down to massage it and that hurt.  I was almost in tears it hurt so much.  I kept saying ouch, oh fuck, ouch ouch ouch.   I was so close to being done and I was swimming so well.  I was pissed.  I tried moving forward but my calf spasmed some more.  That resulted in a very loud FUCK. A swimmer stopped and asked if I was ok and I said no.  She asked if I wanted her to flag someone down and I said yes.  She waved and I think she got the attention of someone on a paddle board.  I tread water for a bit more and then put my face in the water and just used my arms.  My entire left leg was hurting at this point.  Eventually I tried kicking with my right foot.  That helped.  The cramp started to subside enough that I could kick but my calf still really hurt.  I swam as hard as I could to the swim exit.  As soon as my hands started grabbing gravel, I stood up.  I hobbled out of the water and started pulling off my wetsuit.  I was boiling hot.  I ran by David L and my friend Jen and David was yelling that I didn't have to get my wetsuit off.  I was so hot, I just wanted to get out of if.  I ran into T1 and found David B.  I yanked the chip off my ankle, passed it to him and he was off.   I hobbled out of transition to find the other David.  My calf was sore for the rest of the day and it's STILL sore today.  At least I'm almost walking normally now.

I hit stop on my watch as soon as I got out of the water.  Even with my stop for cramping I managed to swim 36:23 for 2km.  Not a PR by any stretch but pretty darn good given that I haven't focused on any real speed work in the pool.   The best part?  Not one single moment of panic.  I felt in control the entire time.  I'd call that a race day win and it's something I'm going to make sure I remember going into next year's race season.  I feel like maybe, just maybe, I've conquered the swim anxiety  demons that have plagued me for the last few years.

With my portion of the race done, I was able to chill out and spend the rest of the afternoon cheering people on and socializing.  I couldn't think of a better way to end my season.  In the car on the drive home, I was thinking about all the fantastic people I've met because of this crazy sport.   As I said on Instagram the other day, I feel pretty darn lucky.

Now it's "maintenance mode" time.   Time to really focus on fixing all the little things before I start to get back into the swing of things in January.   Next year there is another huge group of us heading to Tremblant do to the 70.3 and then myself, G, Irina and Zin have signed up to do Lake Placid 70.3  Yup, two half Ironmans in the span of 2.5 months.  If that isn't motivation for me to get better, I don't know what is.

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