More Doctor Visits
It has been an interesting few weeks, as I continue on my quest to solve the mystery that is my rib injury. I travelled to Colorado Springs to visit the US Olympic Training Center to meet with Dr. Moreau, the medical director. He was incredibly attentive and took the most detailed history I have ever encountered. I spent three hours with him. His compassion to my plight was reassuring; he understood my frustration and how much the pain was affecting not only my competitive life, but my daily life. I left there with the knowledge that surgery to fix some damaged cartilage and a hyper mobile rib was imminent (the latest theory is that I have slipping rib syndrome, you can read about it here).
Locating a surgeon familiar with this particular injury and the experience to fix it has been troublesome. The syndrome is rare and often misdiagnosed. I had the pleasure of speaking to a recently retired surgeon who has seen many cases. One particular patient he helped had their gallbladder removed before they received the proper diagnosis!
Observation 1: It is all about perspective
I saw a thoracic surgeon a week after my visit to the Training Center. The encounters could not have been more different. There was such a stark contrast between their perspectives. The doctor that sees athletes on a regular basis fully understood how this injury has been life altering. The doctor that sees cancer patients on a regular basis inquired how the pain would be if I just sat at a desk all day (I informed him that was not an option and secondly, sitting is the worst thing for my injury in terms of pain).
Run, Forrest, Run
After Lake Stevens 70.3 I took several weeks off of training completely. I started back slowly, with short, easy workouts. I was riding once or twice a week. Each ride was terrible. No matter how easy I went, it was painful. The medical people I consulted with encouraged me to keep riding to maintain muscle tone. After a particularly bad ride, I decided to put riding on hold and run more.
Observation 2: Running is much easier when you don’t ride
Once I came to terms with not riding, I decided to ramp up my running in anticipation of doing some races. Back in 2000, when I was training for the marathon Olympic trials, I topped out at 100 miles per week for a few weeks. But, I was still riding, so much of it was garbage miles with only 2-3 specific interval workouts each week. Now, with the luxury of fresher legs, I decided to build my mileage and include more targeted intervals days. I increased the mileage and paces systematically and I am pleased to say that this week I ran 80 miles with several interval runs, two double runs, and a very pleasant long run. The weather has been magnificent making this running experiment even more fun.
Even with the increased amount of running, swimming, gym workouts and occasional hikes, my weekly training totals are much lower than normal. Add in work time and coaching time, my days still seem much less hectic.
Observation 3: Riding takes up a lot of time and effort
I have never spent a significant amount of time off the bike. Even after my shoulder surgery last year, I was able to ride on the trainer fairly quickly. I cannot believe the hours that have been freed up since I am not riding my bike. For example, yesterday I swam at 7 and ran an interval workout after. I was done by 10:15 and was not planning on running again until 4. Normally I would spend a huge chunk of the day on my bike. Instead, much to the amusement of some friends, I went to Target to get some household items. I returned home and did some work, took a nap and played with the puppy. Also, because I am not riding, there is less laundry, no bike maintenance, fewer water bottles to clean, and no aggravation from lousy drivers or Klingons.
My disdain for the treadmill dates back to my time in Chicago when the icy roads often relegated me to indoor running (if I am being totally honest, it probably really stems back to the time I fell off the treadmill near the end of a 20 mile run). The fire in Boulder in September created air quality that made my lungs cringe. My choice: treadmill or no running. Given that I had already nixed the bike, the treadmill was the answer.
Observation 4: You can get used to almost anything
After weeks on the treadmill, I somehow got used to it. Even now, with clearer air, I choose to do my intervals on the treadmill. It makes running outside feel much easier!