The dreaded bike. One day I will be awesome on the bike, until then it's baby steps. I still owe a post on my bike fit, which I will get to after this weekend's race. the details are all pretty cool but because of my injury I haven't been able to fully reap the benefits of the new fit, so I've been holding of on posting about it.
When I started training for this race I had been off the bike all summer playing sherpa to my two little swimmers. So when I got on the bike it was evident that my body and my bike were done with each other. Two weeks in I was in so much pain that I had to stop all training and scheduled an emergency bike fit. After the fit I was excited and nervous to try it out (we raised my seat 3cm) and return to training. I may have been a little too excited and didn't really give my body the time it needed to heal from the terrible position I had put my body through while riding a poorly fitted bike for so long.
Wednesday, following my bike fit I started masters. I was so excited that our pool and my daughter's coach had decided to offer a masters program for the fall and that it was geared to all of us mom's who couldn't get to the pool until 9am. I jumped in full steam and was super excited to be adding yardage to my swims. That's when my body said no more. Having not fully recovered from the back and neck strain of my poor bike fit and increasing my swimming equaled total body failure. I woke up one Saturday morning in so much pain that I took myself to the urgent care. I knew they wouldn't be able to do much for me but I wanted an rx for physical therapy so I could work on repairing my body and continue to train. They also gave me some muscle relaxers to get those muscles to stop spasming at the constant rate that they were. It took about 5 days for the worst of it to pass. We're talking child birth levels of pain and absolutely no way to get comfortable enough in bed to sleep at night.
Sadly my trusted physical therapist has moved and practices in Santa Cruz now. I had to go blindly into PT and hope that I would find someone as knowledgeable as her, but based on everyone's bios I wasn't sure that would be the case. I was asked to not do any activity for 3 days (the horror) which I accepted. It was better to take the time early on then to be in a position where I wouldn't be able to race on race day. When I came back after those three days they asked me to stay off the bike and not swim for 3 more days. I was sulking a little bit but I followed orders. Running seemed to be okay as long as when I got fatigued I remembered to keep my shoulders back and down. When I returned to the pool I kept the yards low and stuck to only kicking, which is entirely miserable for someone who is a puller. I tried to look at it from the prospective of it would make me a better swimmer in the long run. Eventually I added breaststroke to the kicking and even tried some butterfly kicking. The hard part is that holding a kick board is only comfortable for so long, so I had to experiment with different ways of holding the board and not using it at all. Eventually I broke out the fins to help with all of the kicking and then developed blisters on my feet from using those so much of the time. Some days it feels like you just can't win.
Slowly I started adding in some freestyle to test it out. As long as I kept it minimal I seemed to do okay. While I was gaining more mobility in my neck and the terrible spasms had decreased I just wasn't seeing any improvement. I was finally given the go ahead to try the bike. A week ago Sunday I hopped on my bike (on the trainer) to give it a shot. It was miserable, it hurt so bad that I was only able to ride for 10 minutes. I was devastated and running out of options.
I decided to see my sports massage therapist. I felt like my back was still in knots and we just weren't being aggressive enough to work those out in physical therapy. I spent 30 minutes having my back, shoulders and neck tortured. Afterwards, I was sore, but I felt good, I felt like in a couple of days there would be a huge payoff. She said my entire back, shoulders and neck were still really inflamed, but that in a couple of days the tissues should start to repair and it should start to feel better. The next day I hit the pool, which was not one of my best ideas. While she had for sure released a lot of those muscles and I was actually able to lay normally at night and sleep without pain, I think swimming so soon aggravated the most tender spot on my shoulder. I knew though, that I was headed in the right direction. I visited the PT the next day and after I left immediately felt like she had made it worse. Argh.
By Saturday morning I was super depressed and for the first time ever had to consider the idea I may not be able to race. While this is not a super important race for me, I still knew it would make me really sad to have a DNS. I had asked my PT about taping the shoulder but taping isn't anything that she specializes in or has much knowledge of. I knew I had to take things into my own hands if I was going to have a shot at showing up race day. I got out my rock tape and taped up my shoulder. I got on the bike and set out to ride for 30 minutes, which I did. I felt triumphant for sure. Saturday's bike portion will only be a little over 8 miles due to construction so I'm feeling confident that my body will hold up for the shortened bike portion.
On Monday a different PT taped my back for posture. Mostly to insure that I don't fall into a slouched position due to fatigue and cause more pain. I tested it on the swim, bike and run this week and it doesn't seem to hinder anything (we were mostly worried about positioning on the bike) so I'll return on Friday to get re-tapped for Saturday's race.
What a roller coaster. I'm excited to race on Saturday and while I know the bike is going to be tough and I haven't trained in the manner that I had planned, I'm thrilled to actually be able to race and get my last triathlon in of the year.