Thursday, November 10, 2016

2016- What a Trainwreck

This season has been hard. That’s the only thing I felt I could say to start this. It’s been a year that has blended into one great feeling of disappointment, anger, and frustration. Not only did I not reach my goals for the season, I really wasn’t even close to them. I had never pulled out of a race before. This year, I had to pull out of 6 races I intended to compete at. I really thought this year was going to be big for me. I finished off last season very strong, and had a lot of confidence going into the winter. My base season went well- no injuries, no problems, and feeling like I was hitting the best shape of my life. It was time for me to start stepping up to race the big boys, and while I knew it was going to be a big learning experience, if I raced to my ability level, I knew I could have success. Unfortunately, the world had some other plans for me.

Breaking my foot in April really started the spiral. I rehabbed from surgery as well as I could, and it seemed to go very well. After a few months that really tested my patience, I finally felt ready to race again at the Montreal World Cup. It didn’t go the best, but I didn’t expect to be out for four months with surgery on a foot and come back to the best race of my life. I just had to get back into it. After the race, I came home with a slightly sore knee. It seemed like most post-race soreness—just a few days rest and it should be ok. After a couple days resting it without any pain, I went for a jog and the knee just locked up. Again, I didn’t expect it to be as big of an issue as it was, but it turns out IT bands are not so simple to fix once they go wrong.

I planned to race WTS Edmonton, but then had to pull out of that. Then I lost my shot and going to U23 Worlds, my main goal for the year that I really felt I could win. By this point, we had decided to shut it down quite a bit to let it all heal. We put the US Nationals race in New Orleans tentatively on the calendar. Again, I wasn’t ready for that. As we built back up, it was looking like I would be ok to race the final two world cups of the season in Tongeyong and Miyazaki. Unfortunately, the knee flared back up and that was it. It’s hard to believe that by the end of the year, the surgery on my foot was the least of my worries. If I didn’t have a scar to remind me, I wouldn’t even think anything ever happened to it.

The year has been long and hard, but in the end, all you can do is take what you learned and look forward. I feel that I have a great team around me doing everything we can to help me be successful. I’ve got a good strength program to help me stay injury free, we’ve identified my functional limitations and how to improve them to allow me to train at the level I need to. Neal will design a program that will address my weaknesses and give me the skills to be successful at the highest level. I will need to take a couple steps back and work my way back up, but with a couple good performances the doors can easily be wide open again for big opportunities. The pieces are all there, it’s just up to me to make it all happen. 

Saturday, May 7, 2016

China, Broken Bones, and Surgery

                So I haven’t posted anything in quite a while. I try to wait until I really have something to write about as I know not many people are interested in the classic race report. There are a million of them, and eventually people will begin to just scroll by.

                I’ll start off by saying the last few weeks have been very hard. We’ll pick this up with my race in Chengdu, China three weeks ago. I was coming off of Abu Dhabi and Mooloolaba, great learning experiences, but at the end of the day, poor performances for me. During the week leading up to Chengdu, I had a great run on Wednesday. Not breaking any records, but solid and comfortable. After the run my foot was sore. By nighttime it was difficult to walk. Having never had any pain in it before, I assued I just tweaked some soft tissue and it’d be fine. By Saturday, race day, it had gotten much better and I really didn’t feel a need to be too concerned.

                I got ready to race and we were off. There was a long run out of the water and the foot felt fine. The bike went fine, and then about 800m into the run I felt something pop. Sure it was painful, but at that time you’re just so ready for pain. After a few strides it seemed to basically go away for the most part, so I figured I tweaked something but was fine. I soldiered on, and was closing well, only a few seconds behind 2nd until it all seemed to go away from me. All in all, I ended up in 19th, a disappointment for me.

                My foot tightened up by nighttime until I couldn’t walk. Traveling back from China without really being able to walk was an awful experience, but you have to do what you have to do. In the few days I had to wait until seeing the doctor, it started to feel way better. I was feeling less and less concerned. I had a race coming up in Richmond where I’d also make a trip home, and I was confident I’d be going. It turns out the x-ray felt differently. I looked at it in amazement as my 3rd metatarsal had snapped pretty good. I guess that pop I felt running was in fact my bone snapping. I’m not sure about you, but that makes me a little queasy. The best course of action was to surgically repair it by moving it back into place and putting a plate on top. At this point the surgery was about a week and a half ago. Obviously it wasn’t fun. I woke up from it in pretty extreme pain and remember the doctor just injecting me with more pain meds. The next time I woke up a great friend who I really have to thank a lot, Paula Findlay, was there by the side of the bed. She took me home and really took care of me that night. Sometimes I feel really far from home, but then I’m reminded of some of the great people that I have around me. I have had a lot of support from friends and family here in Boulder and also back home. I’ve got a lot of help.

                But back to how this all really sucks. Unfortunately, at my level, you don’t really have much money coming in. I lifeguard to try to get enough money to get by. Now I can’t do anything. The actual meaning that I can’t afford to be hurt. So now I’m just freaking out trying to figure out what to do. It’s also possible that I could miss the chance to qualify for U23 Worlds, the main goal of this season. So there are definitely a lot of hopeless feelings going on at this point. Not many good thoughts spiraling through my mind. Sometimes life gives you lemons, and you can make lemonade. Well, other times it just kicks you in the nuts, and there’s nothing you can do but try not to throw up. I wish it was nothing but a hurt foot, but it seems to affect everything, and it sure doesn’t feel good.

                All I can do now is look forward. Back in the water next week, and hopefully starting the run progression back in mid-June. Everything really seems to suck, but at the end of it all, there is no reason the last third of my season can’t go really well. I’m knocked out here in the middle, but I’m confident that I can be better than ever at the end of the season. I started this year with the goal of winning U23 World Championships. That remains my goal. September is a long way from now. I will do everything I can to get on the start line and be ready to win that race. For now, I’ll work on all of my weaknesses that I can, spend lots of time on the Vasa, and catch up on my Netflix binging. I’m excited to get healthy and be back full force to have a successful end to the year.