Tag Archives: triathlon

Physiotherapist taping up someone's knee

Week 2: I’ve been here before

In less than three months it will be one year since the knee reconstruction surgery.

Some say writing down a goal and making it public will help achieve it. Other research says talking about a thing becomes (in one’s mind) a substitute for actually doing it, thus undermining motivation. But I’m determined —

On Saturday April 9, I’m going to run at least 5 kilometres.

My physiotherapist says absolutely I will be able to run 5K by April 9th, and then, possibly, pull off a sprint triathlon in the summer. He gave me my first two weeks of workouts, written on a piece of paper which I promptly left in the treatment room. But no matter, I have them committed to memory. It’s pretty simple: at least 2 track workouts per week jogging the straights and walking the curves, ramp up length/intensity as long as I’m relatively pain-free. Do my strength routine on off days (as well as swim and ride bike and get on the elliptical trainer).

I’ve come back from debilitating injury before; I KNOW how much work this is going to be. It’s going to involve change, and dragging myself to workouts I “don’t wanna!” do in order to be consistent. It involves elliptical machine, and the track, neither of which are my favourite places to work out, but if it gets me to my goal, I’m there. I’ve been there before. I can do this.

I’m not completely pain-free. When I overdo it, my knee hurts like a bugger – but the good news is I’m giving myself a chance to overdo it (with the oversight of my physiotherapist, and a clean bill of health from my surgeon, I hasten to add). I’m not sitting around working myself to death anymore – not since the Christmas holidays when I deliberately started increase my physical activity because I knew I had to get my stress levels in check. When I do overdo it, I back off, ice it, and hit the pool instead the next day. Working on a campus built on a hill helps. Stairs make me stronger, according to my physio guy.

I’m going to start by dragging that box full of running gear from the storage room. Wish me luck and cheer me on.

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Four things I knew already, but forgot, before the Shawnigan 2014 triathlon

In descending order of importance, except for #6 Extra Bonus – you could just skip to that part right now if you wanted.

1. Endurance sport is all about mental toughness, and mental toughness is a skill borne of habit and routine.

All last year, and the year before that as a runner, and the year before that as a marathoner, back to 2009 and my first ever marathon, I have a week-long (or more) pre-race routine: each morning I wake up to “Love Like a Sunset” Parts 1 and 2 and visualize race day. I close my eyes and imagine the start, the middle, the end: the hurdles I’ll face; how I’ll overcome them because of my experience and training; how it will be tough, but I’ll come through it; how I’ll want to quit, but I won’t because the finish line is so sweet. And I visualize crossing the finish line triumphant.

Shawnigan triathlon swim start

Photo by Connie Walters-Dunwoody, all rights hers, used with permission

I didn’t do that this time. I think I was in denial. My unconscious thoughts were: I’m injured and have been slow to recover; I can’t do this whole race anyway; I can’t run (in fact I’ll probably need surgery before I can run again); I’ve gained weight; I’m slower even than usual; I’m shouldn’t take this too seriously because really, what am I doing out there in the first place?

My conscious thoughts were: I’ve been swimming like a dolphin; I don’t need to think about this; this is ‘only’ 500 metres; I don’t get to cross a finish line; it’s just a little swim in the lake; I’m an “old hand” at this; I don’t need to really think about it.

I didn’t even pack my gear until the morning I left for Shawnigan, though I had meant to pack the night before, then go for a little “shake out” bike ride Saturday morning before leaving.

As usual, race morning jitters hit me after breakfast race day, but this time worse than ever. Confession: I was almost in panic mode standing on the shore an hour and a half before my wave started, trying not to let it show as my relay team-mate Darcie and I watched the Trestle Challenge and Olympic distance racers embark on their swim. I posted a photo saying how nervous I was, but other than that I didn’t know how to calm myself down.

In hindsight a better course of action may have been to find a quiet place, dial up Phoenix on my phone, breathe deeply, and visualize myself swimming confidently through the cold water to a 10-minute swim split. Then do it again and again until it was time to get in the water.

2. Swimming is harder than it seems like it should be

I worked hard at swimming this winter, because it was pretty much the only thing I could do after I got off the crutches. Yet, my time for this 500 metre open water swim was, at 12 minutes, only 26 seconds faster than last year’s performance. I was confident I would make it in 10 minutes or less this year.

Tori peeking around other swimmers to mug for the camera

Photo by Connie Walters-Dunwoody; all rights hers, used with permission

I had a good warmup, which calmed my nerves. Then we stood on shore for 15 minutes waiting for my wave (the final wave) to start. I joked around with my teammates, and mugged for the camera a couple times, but I was shivering when we finally got in the water. Then the horn sounded, and I swam. I went out fast, trying to follow a speedy swimmer’s bubbles (the lovely Donna Morrisey actually), trying to see what it is like not to hang back, not to swim wide trying to avoid other swimmers.

I had no trouble being with the other swimmers, but I froze up 50m out from shore. I had gone out too fast; I wasn’t relaxed.

Full blown get me the f**k out of here panic.

Gasping for air, disoriented and thinking “I can’t do this, I can’t do this,” I stopped completely, floated in place and watched other swimmers pull away from me. Breathe. Breathe again. Sighted the first buoy. Told myself “I CAN do this. I’ve done it before, many times, in water colder than this. Get a grip, calm down and just swim. No-one cares if you win or not. No one even cares if you finish. No pressure. Just. Swim.”

So I did. At my own pace. To my surprise I aimed straight for the buoy and actually almost hit it. I rounded it, went straight for the next buoy and almost hit it too – no zig-zagging (my biggest problem last year.) I relaxed and tried to let go of expectations. I swam to within 3 steps of shore and exited the water, and then had trouble getting my wet suit off. Erg.

3. Leave the arm warmers off, or wear them under the wetsuit.

Tori in transition @1 swim to bike

Yeah, those arm warmers ain’t doing jack, and it took 150 seconds to put them on. Photo by Darcie Nolan-Davidson; all rights hers, used with permission.

It was a chilly, rainy day and I wondered how to get an extra layer on in transition for the bike. I rolled arm warmers like I roll my socks – all ready to unroll up my arms (or feet). But it took too long. I spent nearly 5 whole freaking minutes in T1, most of it trying to get arm warmers on wet arms. Gah.

Iron distance finisher and teammate, Coach Lindsey, told me later she just puts them on under her wetsuit – they dry as fast as a trisuit anyway. Double Gah.

4. It doesn’t f**king matter if it’s a bit chilly

I didn’t even need the arm warmers. I didn’t wear socks. I didn’t wear gloves. I didn’t even need sunscreen because it was cloudy. Transition could have been 2 and a half minutes, not 5, and it would not have mattered one little bit to my bike time. Racing is different from just being out for a ride. I’m working harder, I’m more focused.

5. Bonus: I love cycling

My bike split was 57:29, an average pace of 23.1 km/h on a rolling hills course; nearly 8 minutes slower than last year. I got passed by a hybrid AND a mountain bike at first! (I overtook them on the hills later…) And yet, I was happy with this performance. I only started cycling “for real” again about two or three weeks ago, getting off the tame, flat Galloping Goose trail to do the slightly more challenging waterfront-mid-peninsula routes I was doing regularly at this time last year. Heck, I had done a metric century ride in March last year leading up to triathlon season!

My physiotherapist still wants me to take it easy on the hills, and in truth I have no choice – I’m outta shape! But not as out of shape as I thought I was. I only had to ice my knee a little bit after I got home …

6. Extra bonus: Darcie is my hero

Tori, Darcie and Connie

Limp, Grunt, and Gasp. Selfie by Connie. Use with caution. 🙂

My team was called TriStars Limp, Grunt and Gasp. I was the Limp because of my knee injury, and Connie was the Gasp, because when she signed on to do the run portion of this relay team she was sick with a bad flu AND recovering from wrist surgery. Unfortunately, she had a coughing relapse a couple of weeks before the triathlon and couldn’t compete, so I ended up doing the swim and bike while Darcie – the Grunt – did the run.

Tori and Darcie

Tori and Darcie

But get this: Darcie was Grunt because six weeks before Shawnigan Triathlon she gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. SIX WEEKS POST-PARTUM PEOPLE. If that’s not determination I don’t know what is. Baby Abby has one helluva superhero mom, don’cha think?

See you at the Victoria Subaru Sprint, Olympic and Half Ironman in June! I’ll be swimming the Olympic relay distance as with Peter and Connie as part of TriStars Team Scrambled Legs.

Note to racer #799 with the Aussie accent:

… did you get a timely ride back to the finish? Bad luck with that flat and no spare, sorry I couldn’t help you out more. ’Til next time!

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When the going gets tough, the tough go bike shopping

When I originally got injured back in January, my doctor and physiotherapist thought I’d be back to training in six weeks.

Two months later, I am still trying not to limp, and to straighten my leg. Matt (the Physiotherapist) delivered the bad news a few weeks ago: “You’re going to have to re-evaluate your races this season. Maybe do some relays. Maybe a Gran Fondo, but not until Fall, depending on the MRI and surgical consult.”

So – yeah – it is probably a meniscus tear. I just have to accept it and work around it best I can.

I’ve been attending a lot of the Vancouver Island Race Series events, cheering on friends: Delani, Mandy, Damien, Brenda, Torunn and Bart (and others).

I’ve been swimming three times a week and I’ve really improved my form in the last two months. And now, I’m back on my bike. In fact, it’s easier to bike than to walk anywhere. During the time I could neither walk nor bike, I drove my car more than I had in the previous six months put together. I felt like an enemy of the environment every time I got in my car (twice a day sometimes!) .

Happy on the trainer at last

Happy on the trainer at last

As soon as I got clearance to try biking, I had my trainer set up. After three successful trainer sessions, I got clearance to ride outside. That was a week and a half ago. You can guess what happened next.

Yep. Saddle sore! But I don’t care, I’ll toughen up! I ride every day. Nothing more than 36 km so far, but it’s all coming back to me. Slowly.

Taking the sting out of it all: I bought myself a Brodie Once (that’s ON-say, as in the number 11 in Spanish). My triathlon season is limited to relays, and I can’t go whole-hog on road biking yet, so now’s not the year to get a full-carbon roadie with aerobars.

Now I have no excuse not to commute by bike for any trip less than 15 km one way. I’m incorporating exercise into my daily errands and trips to the pool.

The Brodie is an amazing ride; I don’t WANT to take a car when I could bike. It’s an 11-speed (you can turn it all the way up to 11!), which doesn’t make it faster necessarily, just makes it easier to climb hills. One bike guy I talked to said the extra gearing (over the Oche, or 8 speed I was considering) will give 20% extra gearing on the low end, for spinning uphill.

It goes all the way up to 11

It goes all the way up to 11

Internal gearing means less maintenance, as the drive train is protected from the wet and mud. It also allows for shifting while standing still. On my first ride I learned to stop at a light, click down three clicks, then start out in the right gear. Automagical! I don’t know why more commuters on the Wet Coast don’t have internal hubs. Also: hydraulic disc brakes. They work much better in the rain.

Because changing a flat on an internal gear hub is a royal PITA, and I never want to change a flat anyway, especially when I’m commuting and I have somewhere to be by a certain time, I changed out the tires to Gatorskins: durable, almost puncture-proof tires.

To offset the cost of this sweet Brodie ride I’m forced to sell my beloved Audrey. Any takers?

Bonus gift if you come up with a great name for my new Brodie.

 

UPDATE May 26: this post has been edited to remove some names.

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