Thursday, May 16, 2013

Catching up, injuries and triathlon

After six months, I've finally got the urge to blog again. It's been a roller coaster since my marathon last fall. At first I was all set to jump right back in and even had big plans to train toward a half marathon PR in January. Then a trainer at the gym noticed my KT tape one day (for my right achilles) and suggested that I shouldn't keep trying to run through an injury. Since I've been battling achilles tendinitis for a couple years now, I decided to take the rest of the year off from running to see if that would help.

During my hiatus from running, I started going to spin classes at the gym and bought a bike trainer for riding at home. I also took some basic swim classes at the local pool. Obviously, this was all in preparation for my first triathlon which will be in June.

When I started running again, my achilles wasn't magically healed, but it wasn't too bad so I started to build up my mileage again. In early March I ran a local half marathon in 1:46:35 to kick off my marathon training. In April I ran the Birch Bay Road Race 30k and was extremely happy with my 8:04 pace. That's right where I needed to be if I was going to chase a BQ.

Finish of the Run For The Honeywagon 1/2 Marathon

But after that high point, things started to go south. I stupidly ran a 5k in rain and snow without properly bundling up and then stood around in my wet clothes for almost an hour waiting to get my 3rd place award. In hindsight I should have just skipped the award since it was just a lame unisex cotton t-shirt in large. The next day I went out for a 22 mile run and got soaked again. I guess it shouldn't have been a surprise that I came down with an awful cold after that.

I was also dealing with some left knee pain that appeared sometime between the half and 30k. I went to a physical therapist who diagnosed it as ITBS. In the 5 years that I've been running, I've never had knee pain or ITBS so it's really frustrating that it's happening now. Anyway with the cold, the knee pain and other assorted aches and pains I ultimately decided to skip the marathon and just focus on the triathlon instead. It wasn't a marathon I'm dying to check off the list and I didn't want to lay out a few hundred dollars just to run it "for fun". I need that money for my foray into the triathlon world. Oh yeah, plus I just started seeing an athletic trainer/massage therapist to try and work through my injuries and get my body back to feeling good for racing.

So now, on to my triathlon adventures. I may or may not delve more into what I'm doing as far as triathlon training in a later post. But for today I want to rant talk about cycling. I thought that swimming would be my weak sport, but I'm more frustrated with cycling right now than swimming. I guess maybe I had my expectations too high, but it seems like everyone I talked to said I HAD to get clipless pedals for the triathlon and that I'd notice an immediate improvement in my cycling. But instead of getting faster, all I've been left with is a series of bumps and bruises to the point where I'm almost scared to get back on my bike.

The first two falls happened in my driveway. I was clipped in with one foot and waiting to cross the street (so I could ride with traffic). Somehow I last my balance... twice!... just standing there. The second fall skinned up my knee so I didn't even get out for a ride that day. That was three weeks ago and I didn't take a photo until last night so it's mostly healed now, although every once in awhile I feel a twinge of pain that I'm hoping is a result of the fall rather than another new injury.

I had a few good rides and then last Sunday I toppled over again getting off my bike at the end of my ride. I'm still not sure what happened, if I was tired and off balance or if it was the wet ground. I got some surface scratches but luckily it wasn't too bad.

Last night's ride just plain sucked. I was with one of the coaches from my training group and we pulled over to the side of the road because she thought my seat was a bit too high for me. After she adjusted the seat and we were about to take off again, I didn't have enough momentum and fell over onto my right elbow and palm. I had gloves on so I didn't break any skin on my palm, but it hurt like hell the rest of the night. Even though I didn't tear the fabric of my jacket, I was sure I skinned my elbow, but with the coach waiting for me I didn't stop to check since we were at the back of the pack now. I'm not sure if that ended up being a good or bad decision. Good because I kept going with the workout, but bad because if I had stopped then I would have avoided some of the troubles that were yet to come.

The fall caused some problems with my chains and shifting (I don't know all the technical mumbo jumbo to describe exactly what happened) and several miles down the road the chains locked up and my bike came to a stop and I fell over AGAIN! Luckily this time I fell on a patch of grass and plants and didn't get too banged up. But I was definitely feeling anxiety about clipping in again. If the coach hadn't been with me I think I would have just sat on the side of the road and cried. Especially because I would have had no idea what to do with the chains. But I put on my brave face and we kept going.

The chains locked up one more time but I was able to get unclipped that time so I didn't fall. The coach said it was because I was in the wrong gears and crossing chains. The thing is that I know I've accidentally done that before but instead of locking up usually I just hear a noise that tells me I need to shift out of that combination. So I guess I need to take my bike in for another tune up to make sure it's okay after all of my falls.

This is dragging on, so I'll try to wrap it up. The icing on the cake was that after we'd already cut the ride short since we were so far behind the rest of the group, I got a flat tire. GRRRRRR. It was maybe a five minute walk back to our cars but it felt like forever after such a crappy ride. And then I got back and discovered that I did indeed skin my elbow.

I knew there would be a learning curve in switching to clipless pedals, but I guess I didn't expect it would take this long or be so painful. And I don't think I'd mind the falling so much if I was at least seeing some kind of improvement but my average speed on my rides is the same as it was before switching. I try to keep reminding myself that it took me awhile to get faster at running too. But I don't feel the same level of excitement with cycling as running and I don't think I'll ever like it as much. There's just too much "stuff" to deal with and I don't have a mechanically-oriented mind. I can't get my mind wrapped around all these gears and chains and levers and things that need to be tightened and adjusted and lubed and who knows what else. I'm a frugal person, but I'd almost rather pay someone to change my flat tire than try to do it myself, but I know I need to learn how. If only there was some kind of AAA roadside assistance for bikes. Hey, that's actually kind of a good idea!

Anyway, that's about it for now. I guess I should go run, mainly to burn off the thin mints I ate earlier. Then maybe I'll go wrestle with my flat tire. Actually first I need to find some kind of "how to" guide.

Any cyclists out there? How long did it take you to get comfortable using clipless pedals? Also any tips for changing a flat tire?

1 comment:

  1. Ouch! I'm not a good swimmer but also fairly terrified of a bike which is why I just admire triathletes. I'm sure you'll get more comfortable with experience!