Monday, May 13, 2013

Broken Bones & Baby Borger (coming soon!)

Hello world!  If I have any blog followers left out there, thanks for sticking around. It's been 8 months since I've checked in last, and life has been crazy. I left off last in September with a blog post about Ironman Canada, and I explained how I had previously been searching for balance in life and for the love of the triathlon lifestyle I once had. I told you that I was beginning to get the fire back inside to get back after it. After Ironman Canada I was extremely busy working for the roofing company through late-October before things slowed down, and I honestly didn't have the time to train. I had plans of starting real training again, but I found these plans getting pushed back week after week - just too much going on in my life.  I was also working home remodel management jobs on the side, in addition to the roofing company and coaching athletes.
Things changed one day on a job in December. I had an incident happen. I won't go into details but that day shook me up like no other.  I was scared, and I lost sleep for a few weeks, but eventually calmed down and came away totally rethinking how I was spending my life. I came away shaken in realizing that life isn't guaranteed, each day is a gift. I am a person who tries to control everything, and sometimes things are simply out of our control. It's hard to accept sometimes, but it's part of life and we need to learn to deal with that. Events like the one I had make you realize that life is short, and tomorrow isn't guaranteed. It kicks you in the rear and yells at you to "live a meaningful life!" Do things that matter!  Live for something greater than yourself! Don't waste it.  It's been a recurring theme in my mind lately.  Really, we aren't guaranteed another day, but we spend our efforts living for things that don't last. Three nights ago I was reminded of this again. I was driving home around 9pm and pulled up on a horrific scene - I drove by a man laying in the road after just being hit by a car.  His life was over, and the police were directing traffic around the scene. No one was rushing to his aid as it was already over, and no one had come yet to cover up his body. Just like that, in an instant, life can end. It was a horrible sight.  Again it reminded me that life is a gift. At the end of the day you realize that life is a blessing.  You realize that time spent on useless things isn't time well spent.  You realize what kind of car you drive doesn't matter, and no one cares about your clothes or the things you have, or your image you worked so hard on trying to preserve... it all doesn't really matter. You can live daily with the goal being to attain wealth, things, status, etc., and in the end it really doesn't matter. Life is short and time is valuable. 
A gift from Westmont, my baby will be representing!
Late last year, life was feeling a bit shallow again, and I knew I was searching for something more. I felt like I was waking up daily simply for a paycheck. I missed deep conversation and more interaction with those I had meaningful relationships with.  The god I was serving was one of work and money, and it felt at the time like that as about it.  I also felt physically awful. I hadn't done much in months in terms of training, and my body was beginning to feel it.
  I had stopped triathlon training due to being consumed with work. It was especially easy to justify my lifestyle at the time as I had thoughts of my responsibilities in becoming a father and providing for my family...Yes, the big news! (which isn't new news anymore, but some of you may not have heard yet).  Soon after Ironman Canada we found out my wife Amy was pregnant, and we are expecting a little girl any day now, with a due date of June 8. Whoa! I can't wait though, it will be great!
Kona is intrigued with the baby bump
In early January, after the on the job incident, I once again realized I was about the throw away all my hard work in triathlon if I didn't give it another go.  I felt I'd be hit with regret if I did. Plus, I was excited about it again... which is what I had been waiting for.  The fire began to come back, and I decided to give it a go again, but I approached things differently this time, taking my lessons learned in the past with me.  I didn't tell many people, as I really didn't have a need to, but I signed up with a new coach, John Spinney of QT2 Systems after being invited to the QT2 Pro triathlon camp in Florida in February put on by renown coach Jesse Kropelnicki.  I thought John would be a good fit, which he has been, and I loved the team aspect of QT2 and have becoming a believer in the coaching philosophy. Part of my decision to join the QT2 group was the team feel of being a coached athlete of QT2. You get to know the others well, and end up having a natural support system. You also want to see the other athletes succeed. 
 In my mind, my new approach to triathlon was this: a balanced approach, one with the purpose of doing the sport completely for myself (and my family), while keeping perspective on everything else in life. There was no more racing to impress others, or to achieve an image of this amazing 'pro' triathlete for self glorification, or bragging rights, or anything like that. This meant no need for triathlon talk on Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc - at least for a while. No trying to impress people online with workouts and accomplishments.  No more wasting time thinking or caring about what anyone thought about what I was doing with triathlon or why I was doing it. This was about going back to the roots, about racing for fun again, and because I'm competitive by nature - racing because I love competition and too see how far I can take my talents.
As I mentioned, in February I went to the last 8 days of a 17 day QT2 pro camp in Clermont, FL.  Coach Jesse spoke to us one day about racing with external pressures, and how so many pros (new pros especially) completely drown themselves in self-inflicted pressures. They create them in many ways, like talking themselves up in person and online, boasting about training, chasing 'sponsors' whom they then feel obligated to perform well under, hyping things up on Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc, and telling everyone they know exactly what they did for training daily, and where they are heading next to race.  I'm not saying I've never been guilty of this stuff, I have.  Triathlon is already a self-centered sport, and it's easy to get caught up in the "it's all about me" hype.   I went through that phase, and I get why athletes do it, but I also see the pressure it puts on us, and to be honest, it often hurts our race performances.  When you fly under the radar, race for yourself only, and don't give a d%$* what people think about you or who you have to try to impress - well, that's when you can simply go race for the love of the sport, and you'll likely race faster. There's no pressure, and it becomes fun again. So, I knew I needed that approach, and so I took it, and it was refreshing.  That's why there were no blog posts from me about the epic camp, nor Facebook updates about our training or anything like that. Also, I never told many people I was planning to race the New Orleans 70.3 in April. I wanted to show up without any of those pressures, and enjoy racing. Plus, not many people asked much about it.  Jesse explained it like this: with these external pressures, often many athletes become MAF athletes -  "Motivated by Avoiding Failure", instead of MAS athletes, as they once were - those who are "Motivated to Achieve Success."  Instead of racing to see how well you can do, you find yourself racing to survive, and simply to avoid failure and avoid letting others down. The goal becomes to "not fail" rather than "to win" - which inhibits our ability to let out full potential. We have forgotten the purpose of racing. Now, this whole 'avoid pressure' thing isn't about being soft or the inability to handle pressure. It's just smart.  Obviously some pressure will always be there, and one needs to handle it; there's just no need for unnecessary distractions.
This winter I spent a ton of time on my new Scott Plasma
thanks to Kompetitive Edge!
             As I mentioned, I began training again at the beginning of January. I was ready to get back into it, and I now had the time again in my schedule for the first time in 7 months. Eventually I had to leave my job due to personal convictions and the way things were being done there, and lack of being paid when owed - and it was good to put my energy back into triathlon and plan what I wanted to pursue next.  After last year's lingering heel spur issues and IT band syndrome, I decided to try a new running shoe starting back up this time around. I went a bit risky and tried Newton Running shoes. The shoes work for many, but they've also caused a slew of issues for others, and unfortunately I'm in the latter boat. After about 8 or 9 short, slow, easy runs in the shoes, I developed a pain on the outside of my right foot one run after 20 minutes into it.  I ran again the next day, very easily, and the pain was still there - a bit worse this time.  After 3 consecutive painful runs in the shoes, I ditched them and went back to my Brooks - my go to shoe for the past 10 years. That said, I couldn't rid the pain.  Fast forward a few weeks, and I had stopped running completely. I almost cancelled plans to go to the QT2 pro camp in February- but I decided to go and get in the group swims and bike workouts, and a bit of running if possible. I had a free flight down there, and already had plans to stay with Jessie Donovan and two others in a house for the week. It was a tough call but I decided just to go.
Thanks to a new sponsor, Normatec, I was able to use
my recovery boots daily at the QT2 camp and at home.
It was a great camp, quite intense from starting back into triathlon only a few weeks prior.  I think my weekly swim volume went up from 10,000 yards to almost 38,000 the next...not ideal buildup but it is what it is, and I got through it ok.  We did a huge bike volume week as well - the most mileage I'd ever done in a week; but my body held up fine. It was likely because I only did a few of the runs, and sat the rest out - which was humbling and difficult to do.  I came back from the camp, and my coach John and I decided to hit the bike hard. QT2 believes in bike durability, which is key for long course racing - so a main focus the past few months was on the bike. The bike was really my weakness in the past, and I know to be a strong Ironman athlete, it's all about the bike.   A few weeks ago, I was encouraged and was seeing the work on the bike pay off. I've still got a ways to go, but my power numbers during my 20 minute max test sets were up about 25-30 watts from a year ago.  I was riding 5 to 6 hours every Saturday this winter, and around 8-9 hours many weekends, many rides with a good friend and athlete I coach, Tripp Hipple, who is racing Ironman Texas this weekend.  I was excited, and amped up for my comeback season.
Tripp and I spent way too many hours together sweating in my basement this winter.
The next few months consisted of visiting different physical therapists, getting ART, Graston technique, and dry needling done on my foot, which was very painful (now I know why so painful!).  I was being treated for a bad case of what I was told was most likely peroneal tendonitis. I began to limp around a bit; even walking around the house was painful, especially after cycling or being on my feet a while. The foot pain lingered, week after week, month after month, and unfortunately wouldn't go away, though some days it was better than others.  Foolishly, I didn't get an x-ray early on. Honestly I didn't really even think of it, as I was so certain it wasn't a bone issue. I'd never broken a bone before, and never had a stress fracture, even while running 80 mile weeks in college, and all the running injury experts and physical therapists I saw were telling me it was a bad tendonitis flared up from the rubber lugs on the sole of the Newton shoes.  I was told it wasn't a fracture, since fractures aren't often near the point of pain (which is incorrect).  Certainly I never had guessed the shoes would cause a major issue like this after just 2 weeks in them, but I was wrong. Though few, others have had issues from running in Newtons also.  I assumed what was bad tendonitis in my foot would settle down soon and race season would be a complete success. Unfortunately, this won't be the case. I eventually had the chance (with the help of my amazing sister) to get in for a free MRI, so I jumped on it. I had the MRI the day before I worked a day for my friend Jordan Jones and his wife Amy who own, an online ski shop in Golden. We were up in Vail loading 400 pairs of skis in trucks to haul them back to Denver, when my sister called with the report. She said a radiologist had read the MRI and it showed an avulsion fracture of the 5th metatarsal.

I was completely shocked. Unfortunately, it was (and still is) a displaced fracture, and a non-union at this point since it's been around for so long, meaning the break is slightly out of place and that my bone has separated from the bone it was once attached to.  Originally I thought it was just a stress fracture, but as I researched more and talked to doctors, I realized it was worse. I got a load bearing x-ray a few days later, which confirmed the fracture.  The next week I talked to a number of orthopedic surgeons. Looking back, it all makes sense that it's a fracture, but I'm still stumped on why my foot bone was weak enough to develop a stress fracture (if it started as one, or a regular avulsion fracture) from 8 or 9 runs in the shoes.  I was walking around with pain for months, and never really stayed completely off my foot to give it time for a bone fracture to heal. 
The split at the arrow shows the avulsion fracture in my 5th metatarsal
Since I've waited several months and continued to walk and ride on it, not knowing it was fractured, I likely caused more damage; I'm told it is probably past the window of healing now since the fracture happened so long ago and there was no sign of healing in my x-ray (though there still is a small chance it could heal without surgery).  I had cancelled my trip to Ironman 70.3 New Orleans in April, as well as a few other races I had planned.
So here I sit, realizing my 'comeback' triathlon season likely may not exist this year; I'm a bit crushed honestly.  It's tough to swallow after what happened last year, where I only raced twice, and after many hours training to get back to the point I was at this year.  That said, I'll keep putting one foot in front of the other.  I will have my comeback, it will just be postponed.  I'm not done yet and I am determined to get back to a high level of racing as soon as possible.
 Right now I am stalling for a month before rushing into surgery, and praying the foot will heal without it, though chances are not good. I've stopped all cycling as well as running, in order to give the foot the best chance possible to heal, but thankfully have still been able to swim to keep my sanity.  If I rushed the surgery now, I'd likely be out for the season; and if I waited to get surgery in a month or two...well, I'd still probably be out for the season. That said, it makes most sense to go all in with one last chance of trying to get this thing heal by staying off the foot.  I'm heading back for more x-rays in a few weeks, and will make a decision then about surgery. They would most likely remove the piece of broken bone completely rather than pinning/screwing it; the difficulty is dealing with and reattaching tendons that are likely connected to the piece of broken bone.  Obviously you can see why I'm hesitant to rush into surgery - that, and my high deductible catastrophic insurance plan.

 I'm also starting a new career in real estate, which is exciting.  I've completed real estate school the past few months, and I'll be taking the real estate exam at the end of May. I've loved working with, in, and on homes the past few years, and have always had a passion for the real estate business and serving people. Real estate is something I have thought about doing for a while now, as I've been involved in about 5 fix and flip jobs or home remodels the past few years in addition to my sales and coaching jobs. My accounting background also fits in well.   It will be work, tons of work, but I'm excited to take on the challenge and have a chance to work for myself, do things the right way, and help people fill a need they have.  I love homes and I love working with people.

I'd be lying if I said I haven't felt the anxiousness of becoming a father, and the thought of hefty  medical bills from surgery is never pleasant of course at a time like this - with a baby on the way, the start of a new career, still being owed money from my previous employer, but it is what is is and everything will work out well in the end. I've been blessed to be in a position to choose what to pursue next.  Being a dad will be one of the best things that's happened to me. I'm sure it will help put everything in perspective.  I can't wait for the day, it's coming soon!

I've been floored by the generosity of so many people.
Lots of pink in our house from lots of baby showers!!

Amy and I in Oceanside, CA during a quick trip to California in March


Anthony Harris said...

Nice update. Good luck on the exam!

daddio said...

Hope the exam went well and the delivery will be a positive for both mom and baby daughter.