Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A Rant: Why Do You Race?

We race for many different reasons. Health. To beat someone. To challenge your own limits.

This last weekend I started to get offended by some folks who are having very good seasons. Why? The language choices they made regarding their race finishes at different races or workouts this last weekend.

I suppose it really made me mad because of the lack of gratitude for their a) health b) ability and c) rewards for their hard work.

Words like: "have to" when referring to a workout. You NEVER "have to". You do it because that is the "price of admission" to good results. If you feel you "have to" you might reconsider your commitment and reasons behind your efforts.

Comments like: "I won/qualified/PR'd etc. but it was a real shitty day." Any day you are racing, even if you finish dead last - is a good day. My Achilles tendons LOCK UP when I sit for 10 minutes. You have NO IDEA what pain I'm going through to race at even a LOW level again. Who knows if I'll be "back of the FOP" again or "front of the MOP". One thing I promise, you'll never hear me bitch about a workout here, on Facebook or Twitter. If I don't want to workout... I won't. I don't seem to have that problem.

I have had one client in and out of the hospital for the last six weeks. What do you think they would say about even my leg issues? At least I'm not in the hospital. I have three clients who have lost nearly 600 pounds. How do you think these folks feel about being able to participate? They have a new life. How about Jon Blais? 33 years old and DEAD from ALS. A guy who raced elite in triathlon reduced to someone wiping his ass before he choked to death on his own saliva because he couldn't control those muscles any longer. Complain about qualifying? How dare you. Try not to be such a self centered asshole. (My blog... I can swear if I want to.)

The TRULY GREAT athletes are grateful. That gratitude for simply being OUT THERE is something that is a differentiator of the great athletes. Secondly, PEOPLE are designed to move and be ACTIVE.

After I finished my fifth Ironman, I still didn't really understand or know why I liked to race Ironman distance triathlons. I suppose I never really needed to know. I just did 'em. For whatever reason, I needed to know at that point in my life. Now, I know why I do this type of stuff. I really understand it for myself. If my family doesn't understand that is really their issue. I just ask that they support me. I get that support. They get it. They get me. My suggestion if you find yourself saying things like the above - sit down and figure out why you do this. Really... why? Your reward will be far greater than qualifying or winning ANYTHING.

Tonight, I was able to run along the river trail a little over two miles in a pink, purple, and indigo sky. It was beautiful. I know why I do this. Why do you?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Ironman Wisconsin from this Marshal's Perspective

A week ago the Ironman circuit came to town... sort of. It came to Madison (about 1 hour and 40 minutes north of my home). The week preceding Ironman "Moo" was a bit rough as I sprained a muscle in my back and two weeks of consistent workouts came screeching to a halt. It only hurt when I moved so at least it wasn't horrible. Wait a second, it was. Well, by Saturday I was nearly back to 80%. Saturday we held the marshal meeting. Caught up with Jimmy about details and the season and then headed off to go for a run - pain or no pain.

I made it 1.0 miles. Rapidly improving.

The evening was spent at Russ and Liz's place in Fitchburg. It was the best place I stayed for a race all year.

Race morning came after a great night of sleep and we rolled into the volunteer parking garage at 5:00am. Went to see if we could catch up with a few friends and wish them luck. Then verified the pro helmets were legal and to meet the moto drivers. As soon as the motos showed up I found someone with a bike that was comfortable. I hunted down the BMW and Honda Goldwing drivers immediately. I rode with Pat (from Sun Prairie, WI). Pat is a great guy and very good driver. He is out there every year.

As for the race, I was to cover the pro men and/or women. Jimmy took the men's leaders. I followed next then Jay and Glenn. I had the men's pro chase pack who did a very good job riding cleanly and actually - more than cleanly. They were about 11-12 meters apart and motoring. The race for those guys really came when #41 of the pro women's race came ripping through them like a hot knife through butter. She attacked them repeatedly on the steep hills trying to drop them. Other than that, my work was very quite in Madison. I wrote a total of eight penalties. I was in a lull of the athletes. I had pros that I had to watch but the amateur athletes were either behind or ahead of where we were on course. Even the crazy hills seemed less populated. No problems getting up the hills. *We did almost get "doored" by an 8 year old kid and a parent not watching for anyone other than themselves. Other than that it was very, very calm.

I did catch one bandit. A guy who looked to be 40-50, white male jumped on the wheel of #30 - about 1" off his wheel. I was going to give him a drafting penalty when I noticed he didn't have a number. This bandit did take the time to mark his calf, arms and put on a neoprene chip strap. When I asked him where his number was and if he was racing he said, "I'm just out for a ride. These are public roads." Actually no, they aren't. Ironman pays for a permit to be on those roads. While a person can ride their bike on the roads they cannot "willingly" interfere with the race and you certainly cannot take aid. I asked the man (nicely) to back off of the pro athletes if he wished to continue his ride. Then we came up to an aid station where he proceeded to take food and drinks. Now we have a situation of "theft". We rode up to the next sheriff officer and told him of the situation. At the following intersection the cyclist was arrested and his bike was confiscated. This is a typical bandit situation. If someone rides... not much we can do other than ask them to stay right. If they start taking anything from the race - we get the police involved.

I did hear many stories of crazy fans and lunatics who turned off their brain when they turned off the alarm clock. The scariest one was from Jay who saw Joe Bonness almost get killed by a stupid, female on a motor scooter with a large "W" flag. She was riding it up the hill next to athletes. She turned into oncoming athletes (several pro men and pro women) narrowly missing them as she misjudged their approaching speed, nearly ending their day, season and perhaps even a career. When I rolled through on lap number two I saw a police officer talking to the woman, but didn't think anything of it at the time.

A typical Ironman day.

Monday, September 6, 2010

You Don't Know Everything

2005, 245th of 2076 starters in the highest DNF percentage in any Ironman anywhere, ever. 49th of 384 who started in my age group. Some guys registered and didn't show up on race day - about 34 to be exact. I did alright considering the 95 F and stupid hot humidity/heat index. I did a great deal correct in my preparation for this race. I would change several things looking back.

The run went fairly well (especially compared to the race as a whole.)

Massive chaffing and the urge (yet inability) to urinate was a sign that I was suffering in the heat too.

The race (for me) was lost long before race day. Weeks before, I was severely limited in my cycling training time. Never... is it a good time to limit your training hours before an Ironman. What was interesting (and something I'll never forget) is how person after person were just drilling the bike ride. On the day, I figured that they were just having a great day or pushing too hard. After, I know they were pushing too hard. Nothing about Ironman is fast. Every one of those people went to the hospital and didn't finish the 1st 13 miles of the run. I used a Polar heart rate monitor and slowed when the heart rate didn't jive with the RPE I was experiencing. It probably saved my race. 36 guys were between Kona and me, but the worst part about the race was that I wasn't ready physically. Mentally, you bet. I used every trick in the book that I knew. (A reason I don't endorse people racing Ironman without several years of triathlon experience.)

My slowest Ironman swim of all races I've ever done. 1:00:38. I had dry heaves in the first 400 meters. Not sure (to this day) what that was about. I probably wasn't trained to race; more like participate. Yet, on race day, I showed up to race.

Recently, several friends of mine (not coached by me) and one of my athletes have decided that they know more than their coach. Racing only weeks or days from completing an Ironman. Running "every day" when running 3 days was near impossible. Lastly, letting family over commit you when recovery is in order.

There is a line from the movie Beverly Hills Cop which has always stuck with me. Axel Foley (Eddie Murphy) gets chewed out by his boss (one of the experienced detectives) who says, "You're a good cop, but you don't know every f*cking thing." Many of us are very good athletes, hard workers or really smart. If you are lucky - you have two of those. If you are great... you have three. Even the great ones needed help. Dave Scott, Mark Allen, Lance Armstrong.

I start back with my coach this week. I'm keeping that in mind. Work is assigned. I do it. I ask for information purposes. Anything NOT in my plan - I don't do it or ask permission to do it. Even experienced athletes need to go back to the feeling of being new to the sport. The combination could yield strong results.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Battles with Plantar Fascitis

Oh... if it weren't everything I'm going through right now it would be funny. A few years ago my heel was swollen like a grapefruit. It didn't really hurt much. So I wedged my shoe on and did a full day's worth of presentations... standing. That's what consultants do. We gut it out in order to get paid. No guts/No work = no pay.

For more on how I train people with PF... contact me directly.

Tonight was a forced off night as my heels, achilles and arches hurt like crazy. Tomorrow a swim, water run, lift in the AM.

Here is a taste of what I'm going through. Remember... I walk 2.367 miles a day to and from the office plus walking for meetings (a lot) and food/ice water.

Plantar fasciitis is irritation and swelling of the thick tissue on the bottom of the foot.
The most common complaint is pain in the bottom of the heel. It is usually worst in the morning and may improve throughout the day. By the end of the day the pain may be replaced by a dull aching that improves with rest.
Most people complain of increased heel pain after walking for a long period of time.
Conservative treatment is almost always successful, given enough time. Treatment can last from several months to 2 years before symptoms get better. Most patients will be better in 9 months.
Initial treatment usually consists of:
Anti-inflammatory medications
Heel stretching exercises
Night splints
Shoe inserts

Got 'em all.

If these fail, putting the affected foot in a short leg cast (a cast up to but not above the knee) for 3-6 weeks is very often successful in reducing pain and inflammation. Alternatively, a cast boot (which looks like a ski boot) may be used. It is still worn full time, but can be removed for bathing.

Some physicians will offer steroid injections, which can provide lasting relief in many people. However, this injection is very painful and not for everyone.

In a few patients, non-surgical treatment fails and surgery to release the tight, inflamed fascia becomes necessary.

Causes **ALL**
The plantar fascia is a very thick band of tissue that holds up the bones on the bottom of the foot. This fascia can become inflamed and painful in some people, making walking more difficult.
Risk factors for plantar fasciitis include:
Foot arch problems (both flat foot and high arches)
Sudden weight gain
Tight Achilles tendon (the tendon connecting the calf muscles to the heel)
A typical patient is an active man age 40-70.
This condition is one of the most common orthopedic complaints relating to the foot.
Plantar fasciitis is commonly thought of as being caused by a heel spur, but research has found that this is not the case. On x-ray, heel spurs are seen in people with and without plantar fasciitis.

Tests & diagnosis
Typical physical exam findings include:
Mild swelling
Tenderness on the bottom of the heel
X-rays may be taken to rule out other problems, but having a heel spur is not significant.

Nearly all patients will improve within 1 year of beginning non-surgical therapy, with no long-term problems. In the few patients requiring surgery, most have relief of their heel pain.

Maintaining good flexibility around the ankle, particularly the Achilles tendon and calf muscles, is probably the best way to prevent plantar fascitis.