Friday, July 1, 2016

How the Day May Go.........

As I stood on the beach waiting for the race to begin, I was in pain.  My lower back hurt and I wondered and thought what was I going to do.  Suck it up and gut it out is what came to mind.  You got all the way here.  You raced Boulder IM injured, surely you can handle this race.  Perhaps the swim and water would loosen up my back and I just needed to get moving rather than standing around, I convinced myself of that.  Just work out the kinks and you'll be fine.  Except I wasn't...... Excerpt from..IM Cabo Race

That was over 9 months ago and I think if I was to stand on that beach today, I would say almost exactly the same thing.  Progress has been slow since that day.  I've had enough, Boulder IM is quickly approaching and I now feel like I am in the worst shape since I was age 2 ok maybe 3.  Nah, actually I was in pretty good shape back then.  After trying everything from voodoo dolls to lighting candles to bathing in chicken blood (not really, I'm a Vegan after all) I decided to head to the Boulder Sports Medicine Clinic.  After testing muscular strength and flexibility they stated like others before over the past year, every thing seems to be strong and flexible.  Let's take it up a notch and a peek inside to see what may be up, an MRI was ordered on my spine.  

We came up with this....

"Marty doesn't have any signs or symptoms related to any nerve root irritation which is great.  Pain is aggravated with swimming (back extended) or with transitions between biking and running (flexed to extended).  Pain comes and goes during the day as well from unknown causes. I think that this is an instability with possible forward slippage of a vertebrae (possible), but again without any radicular symptoms.  Pain is central, however there is some irritation along the SIJ bilaterally as well. Symptoms and tests all point to instability and chronic irritation of the low back most likely L5/S1 and bilateral SIJ."

At the end of the day, it was mentioned that it is probably my iliolumbar ligaments...

"I’m leaning towards going after his ilio-lumbar ligaments as a plan of attack for his back.  He was really tender on the left side and moderately so on the right one.  I’ve had some great success with prolotherapy to those too if things aren’t progressing."

Ilio-Lumbar Who????   Pain is likely to arise in the lower lumbar spine and may be felt as occasional stabbing attacks. This can be exacerbated by physical activity involving the spine, e.g. twisting or bending, and long periods of sitting can also bring on the pain. The area can be tender to the touch and your back might feel weaker than usual. Painful attacks are often brought on by physical exercise involving bending and twisting of the lumbar spine. 

I'm lucky that while participating and training for iron distance triathlons there is no twisting of my lumbar spine while swimming or bending involved while riding on a bike for 6+ hours.  Sheeeeeeeesh.

Prolotherapy whaaaa?????     In simple terms, Prolotherapy stimulates the body to repair painful areas. It does so by inducing a mild inflammatory reaction in the weakened ligaments and cartilage. Since the body heals by inflammation, Prolotherapy stimulates healing.

So the ligaments in my lower back/spine that feel like an occasional stabbing attacks takes place can potentially be healed with injections into my spine with a sugar water to induce inflammation by the injured ligaments so that my body attacks the area and potentially heal it.  

Got it!  Where do I sign up??

Wait.....a slight problem is that the guy writing this blog (me) doesn't even take an aspirin when he has a head ache.  Can I see myself laying on a table and having a doctor inject my spine with a sugar water concoction?

The Miracle Worker at Red Hammer Rehab, Heather and I decided to forgo Prolotherapy and attempt to work on it the natural way.  This is also the much slower route and with no promise of healing.  Nothing in life is a promise and there is something said to avoiding "quick fixes" in life.

As I see it, here is where I am at......over a year ago, I decided to play kickball.  While taking off from 1st to 2nd with my explosive burst, I hurt my hamstring.  Hopefully I am not losing the sarcasm on anyone.  Tears in my hammy, a reoccurring injury for over 20 years and also a top 40 tune in the late 70's.  Here I am in the middle of race season so I continue to train on it and in a little over 2 months later I participate in IM Boulder.  The path to get to IM Boulder wasn't without it's set backs from this injury.  My goal was to manage the injury to get across the finish line.  To the outside world, it appears that things start to fall apart for me on the bike.  Yet who knows what was going on in my body those previous 2 months.  After the bike, I dismount Bella and I then walk hobble and jog my way to the finish line.  We are not done yet because after IM Boulder, I continue to train with dead leg.  Meaning my glutes stop firing and I have no power from my upper right, hamstring injured, leg.  So my hammy, my glutes and now my lower back start to hurt.  Fast forward another 2 months and I toe the line for IM Cabo.    No one ever said I am the sharpest knife in the drawer..... now we are back to the first few lines of this blog standing on the beach.  

It has been over 5 months since I have last written in this blog.   I truly had no clue as to what to put down.  I'm not a pity person and I didn't and don't want to put words out there that would cause such.  So I put no words out there at all.  I avoided it.  But through all this time, I realize that you can't ignore it for ever.  Not writing about it doesn't make it go away.  I'm tired.  I'm tired about avoiding it yet on the same hand I'm tired about talking about my injury.  I'm tired of trying to figure out exactly what is wrong and when will it get better.  I'm tired of working on it for over a year.  I'm tired of spectating and speculating.  I'm tired of having gained over 20 pounds since I stopped training to "give it a rest and slowly get back into it".  I miss swimming, biking and running.  I miss that beaming smile on my face and laughing while doing such.  I miss high fiving spectators and screaming "More cowbell".  I miss seeing my teammates out on the course and the Tri Community in general.  I miss that feeling of being alive and squeezing every moment out of life that I possibly can while participating in Iron Distance training and events.  

Maybe this entry is meant to be a place for me to just vent.  If I didn't know it already I am not a good spectator of life, I am not a good excuse maker, I'm not a good ventor, I am not a good patient.  Suck it up butter cup and get back out there is more my speed in life.
Here we stand 36 Days....7 hours....1 minute....1 second until until August 7th.  The day of Ironman Boulder.  I know, I have no right to even think that I could/should participate in IM Boulder.  I know that the thought that I could complete 140.6 with the lack of training and condition that I am in is preposterous.  I am not even in normal "Martyshape" let along Marty Competing in an IM Shape.  I know it.  Deep to my core I know it.  "Wait a minute, what are you saying here?"  "Are you even contemplating....?" "Marty, surely you must be kidding?"   I'm not.  I know that I am tempting the IM Gods and they think I am making a mockery of them.  But I am not.  
Coach Eric, once told me that the Demons will always get you.  It is not a matter of if they will get you but only when.  Our goal as coach/athlete is to try to not have them get you till the end of the race or as close to the finish line as possible.  I know on August 7th, those Demons will get me much closer to the starting line then that of the finish line.  For all the reasons I know I have no right and should not be able to complete IM Boulder '16, I also know that I should try.  What do I have to lose?  I feel very confidant in the knowledge that I will not cause any permanent damage to my back and spine by attempting Boulder.  

In meeting up with Miracle Worker Heather last week, we discussed the race and my health.  We discussed what gives me joy and why I participate in IMs in the first place.  I am not chasing Kona or attempting to make a name for myself as many of my teammates are.   I love them for that and their achievements, drive and determination give me great joy and satisfaction.  I'm just a guy who really really enjoys the comradery of racing and being out there with his peers.  I want to do my best and I enjoy surrounding myself with others willing to take that first and that last step in pursuit of their dreams.  Quite simply, the entrance fee has already been paid.  I shelled out the dough and I can't get my 750 or so clams back.  I figure I might as well have the most expensive training day out there.  I hope that this particular training day will take me 142.6 miles to the finish line.  I tack on the 2 extra miles for the way I swim.  I know that most likely, I wont have the chance to turn up 13th St. in downtown Boulder and fly to the finish.  Some may say with a defeatist attitude like that, there is no way I will cross the finish line.  Well, I laugh in their faces.  

Those demons surely will get hold of me early on.  In Cabo those buggers were waiting for me on the beach even before I got in the water.  Perhaps I will again see them before the swim on the shores of the reservoir or perhaps after making the first set of turns at the big orange buoy or maybe I could avoid them until standing up after getting out of the water and getting back on my feet.  Who knows?  My plan as of this second is to swim 2.4 miles.  Get out of the water preferably before the cut off.  Assess the situation.  Stretch, get into child’s pose, hydrate, smile, high five people, maybe sing a song, see my beautiful fiancée and give her a kiss.  

If the situation is right, I'll pry myself out of the wetsuit and squeeze my pregnant like belly into my 303 Triathlon gear and head out for a 112-mile bike ride along beautiful Boulder Country roads.  Let each mile unfold as it may.  I may finish the 112 miles before the cut off (fingers crossed) or I may call it day as I am zipping down Neva Rd.  I think this is where the real test of my back and spine will occur.  If the Demos were knocking on the door while swimming, I expect them to be knocking it down with sledgehammers during the ride.  During an attempt at a sprint race a few weeks ago, those demons were pounding about 10 miles into the bike.  I know that I will have a hard time riding on Bella.  If we are so fortunate to do the math correctly and I'm able to bring her to rest at the bike corral, I will go through the process much like after the swim.  Laying down rolling out the back, singing a diddy or two, hydrating and determine if I have 26.2 miles left in the back.  Will I have enough of time to walk a marathon?  
Get to the finish line before the clock strikes 12? I truly anticipate loving every second of this adventure. Being in the moment for every step I take and appreciate all that is around me.  I wont be the happy idiot oblivious to all.  I'll be going through that thought process of another DNF.  The possibility of having to quit.  The thought that, man I am going really slow out here.  That guy 300 pounds heavier, smoking cigarettes and wearing jeans just passed me like I was standing still. It will be tough to see people spectating and cheering me on to give more and the feeling I am letting them down.   How long can I deal with that stabbing in my back?  How long can I play with those demons before they do their victory dance over me?  Will they have their victory dance on me?

I believe I will give each stroke, each peddle and each stride my full ability of the day and if I am so fortunate to have Mike Reilly call me an Ironman for the 5th time then that would be f*cking great.  BUT even if by lunchtime, I am sitting on my back porch with Rugger, Mocca at my feet, Jess by my side, Jacob in his room watching The Walking Dead and a Captain and Ginger in hand while Banana Pancakes is playing on Pandora, I know that I am truly blessed.  

I envision that this is how my day may go......for right now at least. ;-)    #warriormode

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