Monthly Archives: September 2011

Let’s talk about foam rolling.

It hurts.

There. We talked about it.

Since racing in Malibu last week (which was by far the most fun I have had at a race in my short racing career), I’ve been in pain. Seriously hurting. Let’s go back in time to my return from China and I’ll detail this.

I got back from China and immediately noticed my knee was hurting when I went down the stairs. I often fear for my right knee because of the over-compensation it has tolerated for years. Even before my foot was amputated, I was depending on my right leg much more than the left. Anyway, I decided. This is it. I’ve made a HUGE commitment to continue racing and dedicating myself to the sport of paratriathlon so I NEED to take care of myself. So I booked an appointment at SportsFit with Dr. Rick Rafael (oh ya, I’ll be calling him Rick from here on) and was proud of myself for focusing on getting this knee healthy. Rick knows how hard I have been training because he shares a space with TriFit MultiSport where I had my bike fittings and where Coach Bernard’s office is.

And then I raced Malibu. I used the foam roller the night before to work on my IT bands and felt good during the race. I came home and then it hit. Excruciating pain in my IT bands. I tried rolling it out. OUCHHHH. Cringe. I rolled them out Sunday, Monday, Tuesday. It never got to feeling better. AT ALL. When I arrived for my appoint with Rick I was hurting. He looked at my knee first and had me squat on my one good leg. Immediately he knew what was going on. My glut meds! Oh really? They’re weak! Glut med is weak which is causing my knee to turn in a bit (there’s that pain) and causing my IT band to try to pull the knee cap in (ouch again). Okay, I’m no physical therapist so that may be a horrible description but I’m doing the best I can!

So the rest of the appointment went like this: Rick worked on my IT bands (talk about painful, try having an elbow dig into YOURS), Phil worked with me on various exercises to strengthen the glut med and then some electrical thingy on my knee (OWW). But guess what? I feel so much better today.

But to make the situation even worse, everyone is telling me to rest. This is tough for me. I am just so freaking excited about everything that has happened for me this year that I want to continue to train and get better. But I have to remind myself I need to rest in order to get better. So my week did not consist of a lot of training. BOO. I missed Spin on Tuesday (made me sad) and then track workout on Wednesday (now I was devastated) all to rest. Okay fine, I got on the Spin bike on Tuesday because I was so antsy I had to do something. You caught me.

I’ll rest a bit more this weekend. Hoping for an easy jog. But I know I’ll be resting because I’m off to San Diego to celebrate the birth of one of my dearest friends, Danielle, and me, Danielle! Yep same names, same last initial (M) and birthdays just a few short days apart. But alas, I am a whole year older and am approaching my quarter century mark on Monday.

Hope everyone has a great weekend and good luck to everyone racing especially my friends doing the LA Triathlon!

Another Busy But Successful Weekend

I cannot believe it is already Monday again! I was hoping for a very mellow weekend but it turned out to be very busy but very fun!

On Friday after work, Trisha and I went to IKEA to continue furnishing our very spacious apartment. We’ve both been so busy we’ve barely managed to hang anything in our apartment! It was a successful trip followed by some deeeelicious late night sushi! I know I swore to a lot of you I didn’t want Asian food or rice for a while but I caved.

Saturday morning I finally got to sleep in! I can’t remember the last time I slept in until 9 on a Saturday. I got up and did some stretching after that because I have been feeling extremely tight since returning from China. After that, it was off to the premier of Dolphin Tale with Challenged Athletes Foundation! The movie was so cute and I especially enjoyed the footage at the end of actually Challenged Athletes visiting Winter (the dolphin who lost her tail) in Clearwater, Florida. Now I want to visit! Afterwards, there was an afterparty full of delicious food and lots of activities for the kids. I kept wishing my sisters were there to enjoy it! CAF had a booth which I spent time at talking to various people about CAF and racing. Winter’s prosthetic tail was there too! I had a great time talking to the other CAF athletes. I met another young woman who is a Symes amputee and I encouraged her to consider swimming or some athletic activity, describing what it has done for my self-confidence and how empowering sports are. I left with a smile on my face and was so happy to take part in that.

Winter, the dolphin from the movie, who had her tail amputated because of infection.

Sunday morning, I rose bright and early for the Malibu Tri. I mean bright and early people. LIKE 4 AM. The 4 AM that my neighbors still think it is appropriate to be singing and playing guitar at. Jeesh. So I was a little cranky but I had my coffee and felt much better. Three other members of TriFit picked me up so we could all drive out to the race together. When we arrived, the race volunteers tried to divert our car to another much farther away parking lot so I did it. I pulled the I have one foot card. I rarely use this as an excuse but if they were going to make us park 3 miles away from transition only to have my run 4 miles later in the day, I was not going to take it! So we got to park only a mile away. Not nearly as bad.

I raced on a relay team with Jason, another member of TriFit, and Bernard, my coach, for the Classic Distance. The classic distance is in between Sprint and Olympic.

Jason marking me before the race.

 

This race was my first triathlon relay. I felt so great upon arrival because I knew this was a no-pressure race and the first I have done since getting my running leg that I didn’t feel I had to win! It was also special for me because I have not raced at a venue where I have been with others from TriFit. I got to race in my TriFit kit which was also great!

FInishing the run strong!

I finished the 4 mile run in 30:49. I felt a little sluggish and still tired but at a 7:42 pace, who can complain? Apparently I can. I wanted to be faster!

It was such a beautiful day at the beach so we hung around longer than I normally do after races. We finished 14th out of 80 coed relay teams which I think is pretty great! Had we registered in the Paratriathlon relay division, we would have won by nearly 7 minutes!

Coach Bernard and I after the race.

After we left, a group of us went to lunch and I inhaled a turkey burger. YUM. My go-to post race food: breakfast for lunch or a turkey burger. Trust me, at this point you’ve earned a yummy meal!

All in all a very successful weekend but exhausting. Back to training this week. See ya later relaxation, let’s get back to the routine!

 

Now that my jet-lag is gone…

Really. I swear. The reason I have not blogged since the race (1 week…. oops) or since I returned from China (4 days…. oops again) is because I am so jet-lagged I can’t seem to sit down and create a coherent entry. I just ramble, so my apologies in advance. I am so tired that I can barely make it through the work day AND I have actually given myself some rest time. Now I’m getting antsy to get back in the pool and on the track so I know I’m nearly recovered.

I arrived in Beijing on Tuesday afternoon. While waiting for my luggage at the nearly deserted Beijing Airport, I met Andrea (a Canadian team member living in Los Angeles) and Cortney. Coincidentally, Courtney works out at TriFit as well and had arrived to race as a guide for Patricia Walsh (National champion in the T-6 Category). SIDE NOTE: I had such a great time getting to know Cortney and Patricia throughout the week! They both are great!

When I got to the hotel, Melissa and I decided to search for dinner (it was 8:30 so our hotel had stopped serving). We walked for a good 2 miles until we realized it was dark, we didn’t know where we were and it probably wasn’t the best idea. Thank goodness I had been concerned about what I would be able to eat in China so I packed lots of snacks. So dinner consisted of beef jerky, an apple and peanut butter I had packed. UHOH. I was already panicking at this point about assembling my bike. Since I’m so new to the sport I haven’t traveled all that much with a bike so I don’t know how to build it. Most learn to do it themselves but in New York I was able to take it to a shop down the street for them to build. Not so in Beijing. The USA Triathlon Team mechanics were about 45 minutes from our hotel and there was no way my bike box was going to fit in a cab.

Wednesday we had breakfast at the hotel. I survived. There were hard boiled eggs, bananas (Bananas! I never realized how much I need them for survival until this trip), and cereal. From breakfast we headed over to the ITU Hotel right down the road from us to meet the majority of the team to head to the Great Wall. Despite several bumps in the road we made it and it was gorgeous! We rode a gondola up the mountain to the wall. It really is an amazing site to see. From there we headed to the Jade Factory. Jade everywhere but most importantly a yummy meal. We were ravenous at this point (nearly 3 pm) so it could have been awful but I enjoyed it. The food was on the table when we arrived and there were veggies (yum!!).

Melissa, Travis and I reppin CAF at the Great Wall. It was windy.

When we finished lunch, we told the others to go ahead and we would grab a taxi back to our hotel since we were so close. Little did we know taxis are hard to come by. Taxi drivers also do not take kindly to the suggestion that we will just “squeeze” 5 people in. No go. So we got on a bus that we THOUGHT was going to take us back to the hotels. And then it got on the freeway. WRONG. FOr about 60 seconds of that time I freaked out. Then I thought, oh well. And enjoyed the ride with the Chinese commuters. Express bus to nowhere is what they should have called it. We finally get off in a not so nice area, only to see a large truck full of pigs. Hmmm, wonder where they were heading? We eventually got back on the bus and arrived back at our hotels. And we were on to bike building. Thank goodness for Travis who helped me build my bike (And also takes the credit for making sure I went to CAF’s paratriathlon camp).

Thursday morning we ate breakfast at Robin and Beth’s hotel which was much nicer than ours. Their buffet had delicious coffee and  I had been majorly struggling without it! We had a meeting for all Paratriathletes in which they covered the rules and various aspects of the course. They mentioned that water in the reservoir was VERY warm (I think around 78) so this created a buzz in the room about whether or not to wear a wetsuit. Personally, I like wearing a wet suit, I feel I move better in the water but I do worry about overheating. We were also told that a decent amount of water would be added the next day which made me think it was likely to decrease the water temperature. From the meeting, a group of us rode our bikes up to the transition area. We were able to get in a swim which really helped me. I was able to get my nerves out even if it was just a brief 10-15 minute swim. We also rode a loop of the bike course (much hillier than I had thought) and walked through the transition area and run as a small group. Being able to do that increase my confidence SO much. I think that was part of the reason I was so nervous going into the New York race.

After that, we changed and headed to opening ceremonies. The event required us to go through security before getting on the bus. We paraded through the streets and the people of Beijing cheered us on. It was pretty fun! The food on the other hand was vacuum sealed and very strange. I think I may have seen someone eating a black egg type food. I refrained from eating this and bee-lined it to the pasta station. I don’t even eat pasta normally!

Some of the paratriathletes at the opening ceremony parade. Had such a great time with all of them!

ONTO RACE DAY!! On Friday  morning, we got up and ate breakfast. From there, we let the meal settle and relaxed. We both read and caught up on emails. Then, we headed out for our runs. I ran for about 20 minutes. It relaxed me a lot! But then we were twiddling our thumbs! Just waiting for 1 pm so we could go to the hotel to get bussed up to the race site… and then it was time!

Pre-race photo with Melissa- the two time World Champion and great roomie from Worlds!

We checked in but were not allowed into transition until 3pm because the U23 race was concluding. Inside transition there was much debate about whether or not to wear a wetsuit, if it was close enough to hop from transition rather than take the time in T1 to put my leg on, etc. I never questioned wearing a wetsuit because I had felt good wearing it the day before. But I went back and forth about hopping to my transition area. Finally, I decided to leave me running prosthetic with the ITU officials to give to me out of the water.

We lined up for the announcer to introduce us and then got out to the dock. After all the introductions, we hopped into the water for a deep water start and held on while some awful Chinese gongs played. It was like the Jaws music! I was in between the T-6 males and T-5 males, two competitive groups, so after the start buzzer went off  I counted for a few seconds before I started. I didn’t want to be in the mess of people and get flustered when I was ACTUALLY FEEL CALM IN THE OPEN WATER! And it was a good idea! As soon as I started moving I felt great! I felt confident. And you know why? Those hard 8x200s in the pool really paid off! As I came out of the water, I raced to get my wetsuit off and once again had a difficult time locating a wetsuit stripper. The bike went well despite it being more challenging than expected. I felt like I was struggling on the bike only to find out that my back brake was rubbing after the race (DARN). I came out of the bike feeling good, I didn’t feel great because I was never able to get gatorade and I felt I could have used this to re-energize during the bike portion. But when I started the run I realized I felt good and pushed myself through the run. I tried to keep a good pace up but wasn’t sure how fast I was going. When I finished at 1:35:08, I felt great! And of course couldn’t stop smiling because I knew I had put my all into the race. I was incredibly excited before going up to the podium when I found out I ran around a 21:40 5k. That is all thanks to TriFit and my track workouts!

Here I am. I love how you can see my determination to race my best race here. Photo courtesy of USA Triathlon.

I was uncontested in my field and made the podium and got a gold medal. All very exciting! I had a wonderful race but wish I would have had some competitors in my field. In order to challenge myself, I tried to race against myself, females in other divisions who I knew were competitive and also pushed myself to race some of the men in my division.

On the podium after receiving my medal, feeling very choked up hearing the National Anthem and realizing how far I had come.

It was such a wonderful experience to race in another country with a Team USA uniform on but mostly I loved getting to know all of the other paratriathletes.

A special thanks to everyone who has supported me through Nationals and Worlds but an especially big thanks to Gina and Bernard Baski, the staff at TriFit for all of their support, Triathlon Lab for getting me onto an awesome bike for Worlds, Challenged Athletes Foundation for the grant that has allowed me to compete in triathlons, my friends who are probably so sick of hearing about triathlons and me telling them that I CANNOT GO OUT and of course, my family!

Some closing thoughts on Beijing-

Thumbs up for Beijing: race venue (the same as the 2008 Olympic triathlon venue. GORGEOUS), watermelon- served at all the meals we had and I approve, and delicious duck

Thumbs down: toilets in the ground- it’s tough to squat with one leg, breakfast options, hard beds, crazy drivers (and I thought LA was bad), smog

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