Thursday, December 27, 2012

Out With The Old, In With the New!

As I was checking back to see when I wrote my last blog, I couldn't believe it's been almost 6 weeks. Yikes! I guess time flies when you're having fun and staying busy!

The last half of 2012 flew by in a blur with my two hip surgeries in June and August, a total of 10 weeks on crutches this past summer, followed by the last 6 months of rehab. To say it wasn't challenging, mentally and physically, would be a lie, but at the same time, I wouldn't have wished it to be any different. I am so grateful for the turn of events this past year that led me to figure out the cause of the injuries that I had been having, and how to get past them and move forward. Once you get to a roadblock of any type, you can only stay passive in that one spot for so long. There's always work to be done to get around the obstacle, but once you do, you can finally move forward.

I am back training now (hence the having fun and being busy excuse), getting ready for the start of the 2013 race season, and I couldn't be happier. The very biggest of Thank You's to my family, friends and sponsors who have supported me over the past 6 months, and to the new friends I have met along the way who will be friends for a lifetime. Onwards and upwards to a great 2013!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

San Diego to Kona to Vail in 3 Weeks!

Since my last blog post October 6th, it's been a busy month!! I left for Kona that day to watch some of my friends compete in the Hawaii Ironman, catch up with some of my sponsors, and be a part of Team Wattie Ink/Betty Designs in the annual Kona Underpants Run to raise money for charity. I had such an amazing time in Kona. I swam and biked everyday, kept the Kona coffee companies in business, and the 1.2mile fun run was my first run back since having surgery on both of my hips this past summer (June 5th and August 14th).

After my trip to Kona, I flew back to San Diego for a day and a half before my next flight to Vail. Enough time to do some rehab that I had, uh-hum, slightly neglected while in Kona, unpack my summer clothes and repack my winter clothes for my recheck in Vail (where I had both of my surgeries and was due for my recheck a few days later on my most recently operated right hip).

My trip to Vail, other than the frigid 10 degree temps and 4 inches of snow that fell a few days into my visit, couldn't have gone any better. I had my recheck with my surgeon, Dr Philippon, and what better news can you get than, "Your hips are healed. Now go out and win some races!" It was definitely a happy day for me. :-) I also had a great week of therapy with Mark Ryan, director of Sports Performance at Howard Head Sports Medicine, who started me on a 3 x a week return to running program. Thanks also Mark for waking up my glutes - those muscles that I never knew I had before!

So, all in all, it's been a GREAT last few weeks! I'm really excited to be back swimming (and yes, finally flip turning!), biking and running, and getting ready for 2013.:)

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Take Two!

It's now 7 weeks since my right hip surgery and 17 weeks since my left. The last couple of months have felt like Groundhog Day, but I can profess to being a pro on the rehab steps following a hip labral repair! It's actually been much easier the second time around, partly because my second surgery was two hours shorter, but also because I knew that there was an end in sight, and light at the end of the rehab tunnel.

So, what have I been doing the last 7 weeks, and the ten weeks before that? Unbelievably, I've been spending more time "training" at the pool, on the bike, and in the gym than I do when I'm training full time for ironman. Since I woke up from my second surgery August 14th, I haven't missed a day on the bike, a day in the gym or seldom missed a day in the pool. Most days I'm at the gym on the spin bike, doing strengthening exercises, pool running, doing exercises in the shallow pool, and swimming with masters, along with three 90min PT sessions a week.

Last week, I started riding on the road again, and decided to break my Trek Madone out from hiding. I love this bike, and for the last two years, it's been hard for me to ride a road frame comfortably because of the closed hip angle and impingement issues I was having. I guess the yard sticks for improvement post surgery are different for everyone, but I can't tell you how happy I am to be able to ride a road bike again. As I start to build up for next season, I'll go back to my first love, my Trek Speed Concepts tri bike,  but in the meantime, it's fun to be a "roadie" for a while.

Next up on my countdown is my return to running next week, and flip turns in the pool (finally!) the next week. Onwards and upwards!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Triathlon Magazine Canada

So honored to be the feature story in the current issue of Triathlon Magazine Canada.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Second Time Around

So much has happened since my last blog post two weeks ago that it's difficult to know where to begin. It was 9 weeks after my left hip surgery, and I had just come back to Vail for my recheck. Everything was going great - I had just started running, I was back biking, and I was waiting for my recheck with my doc the following week to see when I could start racing again.

However, there had been something nagging in the back of my mind for the few weeks leading up to my recheck. My right hip had also started to bother me on/off just prior to my left hip surgery and as I squatted and lunged my way through rehab, it started to complain a bit louder. It wasn't as bad as my left hip had been, but it was enough to make me realize that I had one of two options:

1) wait and see how it would respond as the next few months of training and racing progressed. Worst case scenario, I would get an MRI at the end of the season and if it showed another labral tear, I would be back on the wait list for another spring surgery, potentially missing most of next season as I had this year.

2) get an MRI prior to my recheck while I was here in Vail, and then make an informed decision on what to do. If surgery was needed, I'd be months ahead in the rehab process and ready to start racing again by the spring.

So, after a few restless nights of tossing and turning, I decided to have an MRI while here in Vail. On my recheck with my doctor the Monday before last, my MRI was reviewed and I found out that I had the same genetic bony impingement in my right hip as I had had in my left, ie extra bone on the neck of my femur and socket of my hip joint which had in turn created a tear in my labrum. I was due to fly back to San Diego the next morning, but there happened to be a cancellation on the surgery list for the next day, and my surgeon asked me if I wanted to stay? Oh boy, what to do. Stay and have another surgery or mull it over and have my name put back on an 8-month wait list??

Well, long story short, I had surgery on my right hip 9 days ago, and I couldn't be happier. Both hips are now done, and I feel like the luckiest person in the world to have been in the right place at the right time sitting in the doctor's office last Monday and being offered a chance to have surgery the next day. Prior to that appointment, I thought I'd be looking at another spring surgery, but it's August, and although I'll miss the remainder of this race season, I'll be more than ready for some early spring races next season. This surgery was also two hours shorter than my last surgery, and already I feel like I'm ahead of where I was with my left hip. Yup, I couldn't be happier.

I've also had the support of so many great friends here in Vail the second time around, and I've had the great fortune of being able to do my rehab and pool therapy with some really great athletes - baseball players from the While Sox and Orioles, marathoner Uta Pippig, and many others who have become great friends. A big Thank You also to Jay for his endless support and for looking after me the last ten days, to my great PT's at Howard Head Sports Medicine, Dr Philippon and the staff at the Steadman Clinic, Mark Ryan for overseeing my rehab, and of course to my family, friends, and sponsors for their continued support.

Off to the pool for rehab and then I'm headed back to San Diego. It's been a busy summer, but it's been two big steps forward in the right direction.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

9 Weeks and Counting!

Today is 9 weeks since my hip surgery, and I'm back in Vail for the next week, having my recheck with Dr. Philippon on Monday. Everything is going great (knock on wood!), and the last few weeks I've started to get back into my "normal" routine. I said a fond farewell to my crutches at 5 weeks, and a week ago, after 8 weeks of daily spin bike sessions, I took my Trek back out on the road.


Now that I'm in Vail, I've been borrowing a friend's road bike and doing some riding around town and in Leadville at 10,000 feet elevation. If it's true what they say about pigs and mud, then yes, I am happier than a pig in mud!

I was also given the ok today to start running and using the elliptical again. Every week, there's something new to look forward to, and that's the great part about rehab. Next on the check list are flipturns in the pool at 10 weeks. After 9 weeks of swivel turns, I am actually counting down the days on this one too.

A big, big THANK YOU to my family, friends and sponsors for being so supportive throughout my rehab. And the biggest of thank you's to my PT in San Diego, Brett Bloom, for helping me through the last 9 weeks, and to Mark Ryan at Howard Head Sports Medicine in Vail for overseeing my rehab program....and loaning me his bike. Thank you!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Home in San Diego, 4 Weeks Post-op

I came back from Vail last Tuesday after an amazing 3 weeks of rehab at Howard Head Sports Medicine (located in the same building as the Steadman Clinic where I had surgery on June 5th). For 3 weeks, I had 2 Physical Therapy sessions a day, 7 days a week plus pool therapy twice a week. It was a good thing I was in shape heading into surgery because 30+ hours a week of rehab is not exactly a walk in the park!:)

I had some great PT's in Vail and met so many great friends while I was there. Derrick, Heidi and Kevin joined me for my swim workouts in the pool, and Julz - tired of hearing me complain about being stranded at Starbucks whenever I went for coffee - created my very cool "coffee/Mountain Dew crutch holder" (see pics below).

Since I've been home, I either pool run/swim or use the stationary bike every day, in addition to my 4-5 PT sessions a week. Tomorrow will be 4 weeks post-op and in a few days I'll be off crutches - it's been an experience but I am ready to move on! The great thing about having surgery is that every day and every week, things improve and get easier. Already my hip feels better than it did pre-op. I'm being patient, but at the same time, I'm excited about what lies ahead.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Post-op Day 6 + Pics from Vail

It's crazy to think that it's been 6 days since my hip surgery. The time since then has flown by.....yes, partly due to my drug induced state the first few days, but also because, believe it or not, it's been non-stop since I came out of surgery. I've been going to PT 2hrs every morning, 2hrs every afternoon (weekends included) + 40min a day on the spin bike + at home exercises, and this week I'll add two sessions a week of aqua therapy/pool running/swimming. The Rehab in Vail has been amazing and so I decided to stay another 2 weeks to take advantage of getting a good start on the road back to recovery.

Below are some pics from the past incisions 1 day post-op, the 45min drive to check out Leadville on Saturday (altitude recovery at 10, 000ft), and my new friend the spin bike....c'mon, let me add some more resistance! Just joking! ;)

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Day 1 Post-Op

Just a short note to say that surgery yesterday went really well and I left the hospital this morning. The last thing I remember after being wheeled into OR yesterday evening was looking at the clock on the wall, seeing that it was 3:30pm and feeling like I had never been so hungry in my life (I had been fasting since midnight the night before). The next thing I remember was being wheeled into recovery, doing a double take at the time on the clock, 9:40pm, and wondering what was for dinner. I'll spare you the details, but it must be true what they say about drugs increasing your appetite!

As for my surgery, I couldn't have asked for a better outcome. I think most surgeons pre-op are cautious in predicting recovery times and until surgery is over, there's a certain amount of apprehension and wishing for the best. I'm happy to say that my surgery went as well as I could have expected. Dr Philippon repaired my labrum, and shaved the excess bone from my acetabulum (socket part of the hip  joint), and also from the head of my femur (the ball part of the joint), thereby eliminating the impingement that had caused the labral tear to develop. He then did a PRP (platelet rich plasma) injection to speed up the healing process.

Immediately after surgery, I was put on a CPM (continuous passive motion) machine that moved my hip and knee for 6hrs last night, and then I was off to Physical Therapy at 7am for a two hour session of exercises, crutch walking and 15min on a spin bike. At 3pm this afternoon, I'll head back for another 2hr PT session, followed this evening by another 4hrs on the CPM machine. I'll repeat this for the next 7 days until I head back to San Diego next Wednesday. I'll also start pool therapy at the beginning of next week and swimming a few days later.

Thank you to all my friends and family, coach and sponsors for your amazing support over the last couple of weeks. I have a busy month of rehab ahead, but I'm looking forward to getting back training on a now stable hip, and finishing the season with a kick.:)

Friday, May 25, 2012

Sometimes You Kick, Sometimes You Get Kicked

As my favorite INXS song goes, "Sometimes You Kick, Sometimes You Get Kicked". I've had a great 2012 so far. A new coach, a new team, great training, and the first time in five years that I've been living at home for the winter/spring. But a couple of months ago, I had a sudden twist in my plans for the season...

I was in Phoenix in March getting some physical therapy on some tendonitis I'd been having in my hip on/off for the last year. While there I had an MRI and was told that I had a small tear in the tendon and a stress reaction in my pelvis from the tendon pulling on the bone. 4 weeks off and I'd be back running. BUT, there was something else going on in my hip and the PT gave me the choice of knowing about it or waiting until it got worse to take action. I immediately said "No, don't wanna know". However, over the course of the next few days, as one new piece of advice or one new exercise in therapy lead to the question "Why?", I soon became aware that I had a labral tear in my hip. The tear was caused by a genetic impingement, due to extra bone on the head of my femur (the ball part of the ball and socket hip joint). It had likely developed over time, and although I'd been having some groin symptoms from time to time, it wasn't anything that bothered me enough to think it was something serious. The bigger issue, however, was that left untreated, a torn labrum can accelerate degenerative changes in a joint which can cause worse problems down the road. I also became aware that the labral tear had created an instability in my hip which in turn had switched off my glutes and was likely the cause of past hip tendonitis and IT band injuries.

So my big decision over the last month has been deciding whether or not to have surgery. I had sent my MRI and x-ray to the Steadman Clinic in Vail to get a second opinion and to set up a potential surgery date if in fact I decided to choose the surgery route. I was first given a date of February, 2013 and then moved to an "athlete wait list" that might get me in by the end of the summer. Then on Monday, I was offered a June 5th appointment date due to a last minute cancellation. All of a sudden, I had to decide between the next few months of training and racing or prolonging my race season until the fall. It wasn't an easy decision to make, but in the end it came down to one question....What was the most direct route to getting back to racing at my best. I think everybody has a goal time or a goal finishing place that they'd like to achieve. For some people, it's simply crossing the finish line. For others, it's going under a certain hour time for an Ironman. Or maybe beating a rival who they're competitive with. For me, it's all of the above. When I train, I always think about my goal finishing place that I'm working towards. I think about the people who I'm racing against and it makes me work harder. With the current hip issues that I'd been having, I could either keep training at 80% and hope to get through the rest of the season, or I could fix the problem and get on with things. Thinking of it that way, there wasn't much of a decision to make.

So on June 5th, I'll be having hip surgery to repair my labral tear by Dr Philippon in Vail, CO. He's the same doctor who's done surgery on A-Rod, figure skater Michelle Kwan, golfer Greg Norman, and numerous other NHL and MLB athletes. The following is a Sports Illustrated link that talks about the surgery and other pro athletes that Dr Philippon has worked on. I also have to say a BIG THANK YOU to my family and friends who have been supportive of me in making this decision, my coach Pete Coulson for his advice, and to fellow pro triathletes Liz Blatchford and Margie Shapiro who have had the same surgery and have given me so much confidence and advice. THANK YOU.

Here are some other training pics from the last month. Looking forward to getting back on the road after surgery and finishing the season with a KICK.

* Winner of the Encinitas 1 mile swim race last Sunday. Thanks to my TYR Freak of Nature - fastest wetsuit I've ever worn!

* My Tuesday trainer sessions. Fun times!;)

* Morning run. My favorite workout.:)

Monday, April 9, 2012

AZ Training

After spending the last 4 weeks training in Scottsdale, AZ, I'm heading back to San Diego tomorrow where aside from racing, I'll spend the rest of the summer. It's been an amazing 4 weeks training with my AZ training partners, getting some great therapy and strengthening at Endurance Rehab, swimming with the Phoenix Swim Club, doing the Saturday FasterAZ group rides + post ride 48 degree cold plunge, and of course how can I not mention the 90+ degree that summer is almost here!

As much as I've loved training in the heat with my AZ training buddies, I'm looking forward to heading back to SD to re-join my Champion Factory team mates and get going on my 2012 race season. My early season race schedule has been changed slightly by the return of an old hip injury that I neglected to take care of the first time it came knocking. But after the last 4 wks of therapy/strengthening, I've given it a kick and hopefully scared it off for good. I'm planning for my race season to kick off in June with some 70.3 races followed by a July/August IM.

Time to get packing for my road trip and see what awaits around the next bend in the road, Summer 2012 Training/Racing...can't wait!

*Group trainer ride in the "Pain Cave" at Endurance Rehab.

*The view back into Scottsdale at the finish of a long Saturday ride.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

New This Week

My latest Ipod download this past week...the newest addition to my Ipod running tunes...

The latest book I started reading this past week has kept me glued to the pages for the past few days - "Racing Through the Dark, The Rise and Fall of David Millar". My favorite part in the book so far talks about riding in the peloton at the 2000 Tour de France...."The US Postal Team was coming up the right side of the peloton, bringing Lance back up through the riders. As Lance came by, he looked at me and called to his team to wait. 'Dave, what are you doing back here', he asked. 'Chatting to the boys, just a bit of a calm moment', I said. 'Dave, this is the Tour de France', he said sternly. 'I know, Lance, I know'. 'Well, Dave, at the Tour de France you have no friends. Ride at the front'. It wasn't a suggestion. It was an instruction...capturing exactly how he saw the Tour de France. It was war for him."

And saving the best for last, my new Trek frame for 2012! I'll have it built up and ready to go in the next week or so while I work on installing the motor over the next few months...

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Seasons Change

You know you're having fun when times flies by and before you know it January is gone in the blink of an eye and it's February. Since I'm more of a math/science, black/white, problem/solution person, and writing is not on my "favorite past times" list, I made a goal of writing one blog a month, and up until now I've been able to stick to it. However, January has proven to be the exception, and not because of procrastination (ok, maybe a little), but because the month flew by and I honestly don't know where it went!

So what have I been doing over the last month? Pretty much spending the majority of my time on the bike - well, that's what it feels like anyway - building up a base for the season ahead. And I can't complain, I LOVE riding my bike. This is the time of year when decisions about the year ahead are made - whether to stay at home, go to training camp, plan races for the season, try out new products/equipment, figure out a training schedule and training partners that work for you, etc, etc. It's the path that we pick at this time of year that often decides where we'll end up down the road in July, August, September, and beyond.

For the past four years, I've spent the winter months and the majority of the summer away from home at a training camp in either Asia, Switzerland or LA. I recently decided that I would go down a different path and stay at home this year where I have a great group to train with and access to a great swimming program five minutes from home. I'm happy to not be living out of a suitcase for a change, and I'm super excited for the season ahead since training is going better than ever. Change is sometimes good, and better late than never. I never want to look back and have regrets for the things I didn't do or didn't try. As one of my favorite quotes reminds me, "Regret for the things we did can be tempered by time. It is regret for the things we did not do that is inconsolable."