Overdue Injury Explanation Post

I’ve neglected blogging in 2016…big time.  I’m working on a few update posts, but will start with this.

In May 2016 I began to have pain on the top of my foot, above the arch.  I noticed it for a week or so, mostly during a run workout.  During a track workout I noticed that the pain was becoming significant enough to change my form and so I quit the workout immediately.  My foot felt better after a couple days rest and I went for a 6 mile run on a Saturday.  No big deal at all at that point in training.  It was an out and back route and for probably the last 4 miles, I felt my foot every step of the way.  When I got home that morning and told my husband about it, he could see looking at my feet that one was really swollen.

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Swelling after a run in June

Long story short, from that point until now I’ve had 2 MRIs, 2 sets of X-Rays, 1 Diagnostic ultrasound and have seen 7 different doctors.  Here’s the part that drives me absolutely insane:

  1. I don’t actually know what caused the injury.  If anything my run training was down at that point, I’d been doing double digit long runs for a year and a half and for the month of May was more in the 6-8 mile long run area.  Shoes- I was on my third model of that exact shoe, mileage was pretty low on the pair of shoes I was on, etc.
  2. I don’t actually know what the injury was.  None of the 7 doctors really had an answer.  It’s an unusual spot and not one they see often.  My answers ranged from stress reaction (pre stress fracture), to lisfranc injury (later ruled out by other doctors and diagnostic tools), calcification on the tendon between the first and second metatarsal, arthritis, arthralgia.

In the 6 months since the injury I’ve had times where I’ve taken over a month off of all training, didn’t really see any improvement.  I’ve had times where I’ve run 4 times in a week (2-3 miles at a time) and not seen any worsening or improving.

In October I saw a new podiatrist who ordered the 2nd set of MRI images, where a stress fracture was again ruled out.  She suggested a cortisone shot to get rid of the inflammation.  Initially I was very against the idea, having heard cortisone shots are bad and should always be avoided.  After doing some research on my own and essentially feeling like I had no other options, I gave it a shot (see what I did there!).

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An image from my most recent MRI, the white areas show where I have swelling going on. 
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Some discoloration from the shot.

I’m now 2.5 weeks post shot and can say that it has definitely helped (although I still have discoloration, luckily sandal season is over!).  I no longer feel the pain walking around that I have for 6 months.  I no longer have one spot on my foot that I can press that makes me jump.  I have had a couple of pain free runs.

But.  I’ve had a couple times where I step on uneven ground and still get a shooting pain that feels like something is very wrong.  And I understand that a cortisone shot is really a band-aid, not addressing why it happened in the first place.

So, I’ve started physical therapy and have just finished week 1.  Twice a week for 90 minutes I am doing all sorts of stuff at my appointments.  Some times I think my PT is crazy when he is explaining the exercise and feel it is far too easy, then by the time I am through the 15 reps my muscles are shaking because it is so challenging.

Overall I’m encouraged and feel like I’m on the right track to getting back to doing what I love.

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Adventures in bike fitting

Ever since adding aero bars to my bike in September 2014 I’ve struggled a bit with being comfortable on my bike.  While my bones and muscles handle the position just fine (usually), the saddle has been a source of problems.  Like most would think, I tried a different saddle.  Below is the journey to find comfort on my bike.  I hope to have a happy end to this story in the next couple months!  My 2016 plans include lots of biking, so this problem is getting solved!

September 2014- Purchase bike with aero bars.  Immediately swap out saddle for Selle Italia Lady Gel Flow, this was the only saddle my local bike shop had in stock that was geared towards triathlon.  Initially it seemed like it would work, but after a few months I decided otherwise.

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March 2015- After a winter of indoor rides, and a few outdoor rides in the spring, I was disappointed to still be uncomfortable on the saddle.  Purchased a ISM Adam PN 1.1 (in pink, because that would be so easy to find in transitions!)

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Installing and adjusting my ISM saddle in March.
Installing and adjusting my ISM saddle in March.

May 2015- ISM was not for me.  It felt very square and as though I was sitting on a 2×4.  But I did discover that I really preferred a noseless saddle.  While my local bike store does a great job, I wanted to try out a few more brands of saddles that they didn’t carry without actually purchasing a saddle just to try it so I went to a triathlon store a little over an hour away from my house.  After trying out probably a dozen different models, we settled on the Fizik Tritone 6.5.  I had this saddle to try out for a few months.

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September 2015- The Tritone 6.5 saddle was very close and much better for me than the previous ones, I even completed my ironman on it.  However, I was still experiencing a sore spot after every ride.  Since I’ve learned there’s no place for being shy about this issue, I would get a sore where leg meets groin area.  It wouldn’t bother me a ton on the ride, but would keep me from being on my bike multiple days in a row.   After talking with the tri shop about it, we went with the Fizik Tritone 5.5 because it was slightly more narrow.

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October 2015- Through the whole process, I’ve been told by my local bike shop and the tri shop that issues exist with putting aero bars on a road bike because you just can’t have the perfect position as the bike is designed differently.  I’ve been considering a tri bike for quite awhile and am making plans to purchase a tri bike in the coming months, so I went to the tri shop to have a GURU bike fit.  I didn’t want to spend all the money on a tri bike only to find out it doesn’t work for me, so decided the GURU bike fit seemed like a good investment.  I didn’t find a ton of information on it beforehand, so figured I’d share my experience here.

We started the bike fit back on the bike just for saddles.  Went through the whole process again and guess what, once again I chose a different saddle.  Like an eye exam, they swap out saddles quickly and ask which one feels better.  My final two were the Fizik Tritone 5.5 and the Koobi 232.  It was hard for me to decide, but ultimately I decided the additional cushioning of the Koobi felt a little better.

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From there they installed the saddle I had chosen on the GURU machine.  I stood on a mat facing a camera and the camera immediately came back with all sorts of measurements like height, inseam, torso length, etc.  The bike fitter explained that the inseam isn’t always accurate so we re-measured and that number changed quite a bit.  From there, those numbers are communicated back to the GURU bike and it calibrates to a position close to what it thinks I should be at.

As I’m pedaling, the bike fitter is able to make changes to one thing at a time and I feel the changes in real time, also seeing numbers on the screen like power, cadence, speed, etc.  Once we find the right saddle height, we move on to the next measurement.

Again, all adjustments are made as I’m riding, so it was easy to see where I would lose power when we got to a certain position.  Next up was determining the amount of reach to the handlebars.

Finally the amount of drop.  The bike fitter commented that I have an abnormally long humerus (the part of your arm that goes from your shoulder down to your elbow).  I joked that I’d never quite heard that before.  My dad does have really long arms though so I guess it makes sense.  Apparently my long humerus is a great feature to have as a triathlete, because the bike fitter was shocked at how low my ideal drop position was.  Thanks freakishly long humerus!

My starting point for tri bike fitting, on the GURU bike fit machine.
My starting point for tri bike fitting, on the GURU bike fit machine.

In the end, a full report was e-mailed to me with the exact measurements to set up my future tri bike at, as well as recommendations for exactly which brands and sizes of tri bikes would be the best suited for me.  It breaks it down- if I get brand A, the measurements for bike configuration should be this, if I get brand B the measurements would be this.  The great thing about this bike fit is that it is good for a year, so as I gain additional fitness and flexibility, I go back in and the additional diagnostics and adjustments are included.

Keep in mind, the report is individualized for me, so don’t assume the same recommendations will work for you, but if you’d like to see what the report looks like, here is a link.

GuruReport

Now, I just need to scrape together funds for the bike I have picked out.  Maybe teachers will get year-end bonuses this year 🙂

February Favorites

February was a good month with lots of base miles.  I’m looking forward to warmer weather and more outdoor training.  Until then, here are the favorites that got me through the month of February!

By the numbers:
Swim- 10.5 miles

Bike- 194 miles

Run- 75 miles

Favorite Gear- My birthday was earlier in the month and I got some fun new tri gear as a result.  The piece that I’ve loved the most is my TYR Streamlinekick board.  I have to admit that when I opened it, I thought it was a little nuts, why do I need my own kick board when the pool has one I can use.  And it’s a pain to have taking up that much space in my bag.  Then I used it.  There is definitely a difference between the free boards that the pools have for you to use that haven’t changed in who knows how many decades.  I really love the flex to this board, it makes me work harder.  The best part of it though, is the cutouts for my arms.  I’m sure there’s some technical reason for those, but I really just like it because it’s comfortable.  It’s the little things in life.

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Favorite Nutrition- I had tons of smoothies in February.  I have a hard time convincing myself to have a big breakfast most days and smoothies are my answer for a lot of mornings before work or before a big workout.  The addition I’ve been making to the smoothies though, is Hammer Whey Protein (vanilla).  Mix this with water and some frozen fruit and you’ve got a great smoothie!

Favorite Workout- Winter finally arrived to the area in the month of February.  Although it had been cold before that, we really didn’t get any snow til this month.  My favorite was a snowy run on the trail near my house.  Getting to make the first footprints in the snow doesn’t get old.  Even though the pace was incredibly slow and my heart rate was through the roof, this was a very enjoyable workout.

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Runner up to this was an exceptionally nice day where I got to bike outside!

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Favorite Snack- I’ve made these energy No Bake Energy Bites a few times this month.  They had me at healthy, no bake and ten minute prep.  Seriously though, these are so good.  I made a triple batch last time and they lasted a week, everyone in my house loves them.  It’s the perfect snack that you don’t have to feel guilty about.

Unmixed ingredients
Unmixed ingredients
After a good stir
After a good stir
30 mins in fridge, roll into a ball and enjoy!
30 mins in fridge, roll into a ball and enjoy!

Favorite Education- My bike store, The Bike Factory, has been providing some educational opportunities this winter.  As someone who is still pretty new to cycling, this is really appreciated.  I basically just get on the bike and ride, so am trying to learn more about things to keep my bike running smooth between tune-ups and hopefully being able to fix a flat should I get one while out on a ride.  I was able to attend a basic maintenance class where we learned about changing a flat tire, daily maintenance you should do on your bike from home and a little bit of troubleshooting.  They are also providing a really cool Junior Mechanics series where each week the kids learn about fixing a different part of the bike and at the end of the series they donate it to a local food pantry.

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Favorite Meal- I’m learning that triathlon training means lots of eating, how horrible 🙂  Though there were lots of great meals this month, this was one of my favorites.  Stuffed Bell Peppers with brown rice, steak, peppers, black beans and topped with gaucamole.

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Fail of  the month- Skipping workouts.  There were days where I thought I would get in great workouts and it just didn’t happen.  Sometimes for scheduling reasons, sometimes just being lazy.  Other times I cut a workout short or just mentally didn’t have it that day.  For the most part I had good workouts, but I hope that March has fewer of these days than what February did.