And so the emotional pendulum swings back the other way…
In my last update, “Team USA – Worlds: 2 Weeks Remaining…,” I wrote in a rather somber tone, “What a difference a week makes.” With a tweaked knee looking more like a serious long-term injury only two weeks before the ITU Long Course World Championships in Almere, Holland, I was, without even being able to make one complete revolution of the bike pedal, in the depths of the realization I might not be able to race, the pendulum stuck at the bottom, no place to go, no momentum to swing, down and sadly out.
A week later, after much self-treatment, complete rest from the bike, and a lot of good luck and many well wishes, I am excited to say…
What an AWESOME difference a week makes!
The pendulum slowly rocked back to a full swing, and now it’s swinging hard on the way up, set to keep going, well over the top, all the way to Worlds with a healthy knee!
And I am happy to report that as of this writing, my knee is strong with no hint of a ping or pang or even a weakness, and it’s craving the Mighty Mjolnir Hammer and the Warrior;s Madness that follows.
Injury, and what’s with it anyway?
I don’t know, and frankly, because it’s good to go, I don’t care.
Just over a full week ago, I tweaked the knee doing squats. Right away I knew I did something serious. The next morning, sure enough, when I went to hop on the bike for a ride, my worst fears were confirmed. I couldn’t even get a single pedal stroke out of the left knee. Not only did it hurt badly, it also felt as if I were tearing it apart. Even with that one revolution of the pedal.
Rest started right away. I figured I’d give it a day or two to heal and test again. Curious, the next day I tested it. It failed. Bad. I still couldn’t ride the bike. At all. That bad!
As so began the self-treatment of ice, regular dosages of anti-inflammatory pills, complete rest off the bike, easy walking stairs and even getting on and off my shorts, and anything else that made sense. So worried I was about the knee, I even solicited a list of recommended knee doctors from my local running (MVS Striders) and triathlon clubs (Trifury).
Every second day, to gauge where I was – and to see if I even had to box the bike to bring to Holland – I gave the knee a “test.”
Thursday’s test was a roll down the street and back. I couldn’t believe it when I pedaled once, twice, three times… without pain. None at all. Still, I pampered the knee with a soft-pedal then promptly got off the bike in attempts to give it every chance to heal.
Saturday’s test rocked! I got on the bike expecting the knee to hold, and if it did, I’d go a bit farther in attempts to “feel it out” in what it can and can’t do. It passed that test with an array of colors.
The next test was Tuesday, and my, oh my, that array of colors danced as it flew. Not only did the knee respond without even a hint of pain, I was able to put pressure on the pedals, like push hard, all without even a hint. And so I dialed effort back and was able to very easily get through a 19 mile ride, including two hills, which should have exposed weaknesses in the knee.
Although the injury seems long gone, from here until race day, I still plan with self-treatment and I still plan to go easy on the knee in hopes to get it healed.
Hopefully I’ll look back at this scare as nothing more than a forced early beginning to my taper.
Team USA Uniform
If you haven’t seen the Team USA uniform yet, you have GOT to check this out:
And while you’re at it, check also out the new banner on my blog!
It is my understanding that all ITU events are broadcast on the Live Coverage player on the ITU website. So come race day (August 31) if you would like to track my progress or see a live video feed of the race, go to the website listed here and click on “Live Coverage” on the menu to the left.
A year ago I was able to watch a good friend cross the finish line of an ITU event. So hopefully this year you can do the same.
My goal for Worlds is to pull off an amazing race. To be honest, some of the guys in my age group are fast enough to go Pro, and many will after this race, so although I will work my ass off in attempts to stand tall on the podium with the only medal that matters, I will not be disappointed in any result as long as I gave it my all.
The only wildcard is my knee, because if the knee squawks, I will have to dial it back. Still, even if the knee slows me down, as long as I leave whatever I can out on that course and kick as much World ass as I can, then I will walk away very pleased.
But make no mistake; this nonchalant attitude does not mean I won’t give it my all. You just watch. I will haul ass.
With the O3 (Long Course) distance being such an unfamiliar distance, I don’t even know what kind of time goals to shoot for. This just plays into my goal of leaving my heart and soul on the course in Almere.
Come on, at least take a shot at time goals…
Again, time goals on such a flat course, something I do not race often at all, and over an odd distance, are hard to guess. But if I had to…
Swim: With the 4K (2.48 miles) Swim being longer but very close to Iron distance, I’ll venture to say that I’ll shoot for a 1:10 swim time. That’s a lofty goal since my best swim ever at the Iron distance is 1:13, and this course at Worlds is longer. But still, my goal is to find clean water, pray the water conditions aren’t choppy or wavy, and start pushing after the land lap. That might put me close to 1:13-1:20. Even with the mass swim start, I’m hopeful that with such a quality field, there will be so many faster swimmers to slice through the water, way ahead of me, leaving me with water so clean I might wonder if I missed a turn buoy.
Bike: The bike course is two rounds of a 60K loop, good for 120K in all, or 74.56 miles. The course is amazing flat, but it is also notorious for stiff winds. So the course could be blazingly fast with a low wind day, whereas it could be slow and wearing on even a regular wind day, and since the wind is always there due to the geography of Almere and surrounding areas, I’m guessing there’s going to be a lot of suffering out on the course, and I’ve been mentally preparing for it. So figure I’ll average somewhere over 20 mph. Anything less and something happened to my knee (re-tweaked) or the wind really just sucked something fierce. But I’m hopeful to get that as high as I can, because once I get out of the water, not only will the party start, but the hammer will drop. In training I know I can push 75 miles and still run afterwards. And that’s what I intend to do. So when the time comes and you know I’m out there on the bike, know that I will be having the time of my life while also pushing very hard on those pedals. I will be smart and use the wind to my advantage, but I hope to learn on the fly how to effectively kick ass into a stiff headwind, since I’ve had no real training for it.
Run: The run is two rounds of a 15K course, totally exposed to the sun and wind, good for 30K in all, or 18.64 miles. I will approach the run exactly as I do the run in Ironman. I will keep my breathing under control for the first loop, run within my zone, and then by the second loop, if I have anything left, I will push pace as hard as I can. I am hoping for a average pace much closer to 7 minute miles. Again, this is a steep goal, but I’m not only up for the task, I’m in a World Championship, and you can bet your ass that I’m going to squeeze every bit of performance out of my body.
Overall time or results: Who the heck knows? It’s too odd a distance to guess, and the field is all quality. Just know that I will race hard. I will stay strong and focused, and I will lean on my support for when the going gets tough, and just as I do in Ironman where I take a moment at least once in each discipline to reflect on exactly what I’m doing, such as “Holy crap, man… I’m doing an Ironman,” I will do that every chance at Worlds. “Holy Jesus, dude… you’re competing at Worlds!” And then I will retool my focus and go for Gold.
Team USA Community
As race day for Worlds nears, it’s amazing how the Team USA community has drawn together, and if this last month is any indication, I know that the final week and the event itself will net friendship to last a lifetime.
Brian Keno, from down in Florida, is one of the several I have met or grown closer to. Brian added me to his Team Keno count down to Days of Glory, and since then not only has he been a huge source of inspiration, but he’s also become a very good friend. And Brian’s wife, a personal training and very fast runner who’s shooting for a 1:25 half marathon in the winter, very kindly helped me with ideas for self-treatment on my injury.
And so I am very looking forward to meeting Brian and the others and being a part of a fraternity all of us are in for life.
While you’re away…
And while I’m away, I will try to post recaps on my day and closing thoughts, but at this point I do not know if I will even have Internet access. But I will try!