Thursday, October 24, 2013

MRI Results: Confirmed, My Knee is Crap

Well, I had an MRI yesterday of my knee and the results are in.  I wasn't surprised to hear I have a torn meniscus.  That confirms what the good doctor, my PA friend Charlie, and I suspected all along.  But I wasn't prepared to hear I also have rubbed a spot on the bone clean of any cartilege at all.

Okay, so let's just slap some cartilege on that bald spot and press on?  I wish.  It looks like next week I'll get arthroscopic surgery for the meniscus, and at the same time Dr Hasty will go in and drill some microfractures in the bone to stimulate new cartilege growth.  But it doesn't happen overnight, and for 6 to 8 weeks I'm stuck with crutches and can't walk on the knee as even that will rub off any new cartilege trying to take hold.  I look at it like a new coral reef down there trying to grow.  It's my little underwater national park - you can swim around and look but don't touch the fragile coral.

What sucks more is that it will be months before I can really run again.  Doc said 6 months.  I'm reading from triathletes on Slowtwitch that some have taken 12 months or more.  Sigh.  And it doesn't sound likely that the new cartilege works quite as well as the original OEM parts.  It will take a while to run again, and I may not be able to as well as I was able to in the past.  Who knows.  Deep Sigh.

There are evidently NBA players out there that are back on the court after this surgery.  My good friend Dave Mirra is a prime example of someone that has gotten over the surgery and bounced back to good shape.  He's running well and reports no knee pain.  So, maybe I will come out of this alright.  It's gonna be a long road though.  Deeper Sigh.

Plan is to have surgery next Wednesday or Thursday.  It couldn't happen soon enough in my opinion as it still hurts to walk almost 2 weeks after Kona.  

Not thrilled about all this but trying to see the bright side.  I guess I at least ended the season on a high note by being able to make that finish line on Ali'i Drive.  Well, stay tuned......

Sunday, October 20, 2013

My First Kona and the Knee That Just Couldn't

I came to Kona on a wing and a prayer.  I qualified with an outstanding time at IMFL of 9:20 that is still unfathomable to me to this day.  But I did it. I earned it. And I got there.  After a few good glasses of wine it was clear the only way to do honor to the race and my own accomplishment was to show up firing on all cylinders and give it my best shot - to find a way not to beat the island and its wind, heat, and humidity but to take the brunt of all of it and reach the finish line as dehydrated, exhausted, and numb as my body would allow.....but first of all, to show up ready to roll.

But I didn't.  Damn it, I didn't.

Dad gum it my knee was shot weeks before I arrived!  Normally I do a good job of keeping myself injury free and have never taken that for granted.  You can say it caught it up to me or whatever.....I have a torn meniscus.  From wear and tear over the years or my old jetski accident from 15 years ago just came back......I dunno, but it is what it is.  Here's how it affects me: I can run....maybe a mile, maybe 6 miles.  But suddenly it catches, or a flap of cartilege gets caught.....and the pain stops me in my tracks.  Waddya want me to say? I'm weak!

And that's how I arrived at Kona.  Not only with the fear of how soon the pain was going to start in the knee (I knew it would abate til the run, since it doesn't bother me on the swim or the bike) but also the knee had kept me from training for the marathon at all.  I was essentially prepared - if the knee held up - to bandit a 5k at best.  My legs were not trained for the marathon even if a miracle kept the knee pain at bay.

So, yay, here I am at my debut in Kona!  The World F'in Betta Have a Good Pair o' Knees Championship!

Swim: 1:06:34

I was open to any creative plans on where to start the swim so I wouldn't get beat up too bad by the 2000 other swimmers that were at least as good as I was at converting normal, natural forward progression on good ol' dry land to to the weird, unnatural, flailing motion that only a few of us figure out how to manage into something that looks somewhat fluid enough to call swimming.  I entered the beach with Eric Hinman, a friend of Dave's from NY, and we settled on a plan to start on the extreme left side of the start line in hopes of avoiding the good flogging you would get as a reward for daring to start in the middle.  Colin Laughery, who I raced with at IMFL and is a triathlete with a bright career ahead of him in the sport, showed up right next to me on the beach and indicated he had the same plan.  For some reason I opted to try something different at that point, so I wished them both good luck and headed on my own tangent.  I went straight to the TYR inflatable in-yo-face advertisement smack dab in the middle of the harbor but a few yards behind the start line.  I clung to it and waited instead of treading water for 15 minutes.  I met an English guy that qualified at Frankfurt in the process and we discussed racing and qualifying - the only things we knew we had in common and the only thing on our minds anyway - to kill some time.  We were both cold and shivering.  In Hawaii.  Shivering.  Yup.  3 minutes before the 7 am start I breast stroked my way to a spot about 12 yards behind the start line.  I was in the middle but slightly to the right, enough that I could see the start cannon and the guy with his hand on the rope trigger.  Just in front of me was the raft of the team that was doing the Hoyt thing and pulling his bro/son/friend behind him.  I thought I was far enough back with plenty of room around me to avoid the crowded thrashfest, unless I actually swam up on it myself.......which would then be my fault alone and I could live with that.

As soon as the gun went off I started swimming at a comfortable pace, and I had good space around me. Of course, I breathe to the left so that's all I see.  Whatever occurred on my right I would have to feel, which isn't to say takes some sort of Jedi skill or anything - you can feel it in the form of a punch or a kick to the head.  It's pretty obvious somebody's there at that point.  By the second buoy I was in the thick of it, and frantically paid attention to others around me trying to protect my space at all cost.  I was to the right of the buoys, which was fine, but would need to be corrected by the time I got to the turnaround......but I had a long time before that point.

Here's an excerpt of the thoughts that went through my head during the swim:

Ow, who hit me?  Damn, gimme some space!  Ok, follow the feet in front.  Ooh you slapped him?  Him or her?  I dunno but nice feet!  Stay on the bubbles, stay on the bubbles, stay on the bubbles! Man, I can't see anything but bubbles!  Just yesterday you could see coral and fish below but now just bubbles!  Okay we gotta get left of the buoys, give it a shot.   Oh hell no, look at that wall of people over there!  I'm stuck!  Livorsi cable systems, why are you thinking about boat binnacle suppliers at this time?!  Focus!  I wonder if I will be able to run at all on the marathon?  Stop it!  You're a swimmer right now!  Worry about running when it's time to be a runner!  Damn, you're still right of the buoy line.  Okay, stay calm. Stay on bubbles, stay on bubbles, stay on bubbles!

At the last buoy before the turnaround I managed to just squeeze onto the left side of the buoy line, but I was on it tight and that meant I would be in the most crowded part of it.  It was pretty ugly in there.  A little dishwashing soap and we coulda got that part of the Pacific pretty sudsy.  I kept telling myself to just relax, and before I knew it not only was I through the turnaround but I was on some guy's feet that was swimming a perfect pace for me.  He was on someone else's feet and I don't know how many people we had in our train but we were swimming so straight on the buoy line my right elbow was smacking every buoy as we went by.  I never had to lift my head once to sight the whole way back.  I did have to defend my position on his toes several times and it got a little dicey at times, but it was worth it.  I came out of the water in 1:06, way better than the 1:10+ I had expected.

I was more than happy to be done with that swim.  A great experience, but a sketchy one too.

Oh yeah, I used a BlueSeventy P03TX swim skin over my Tricredibles uniform that I bought 3 days before the race.  It worked like a charm.

 Walking the first transition. 

T1: 7:31

I had planned to walk all of T1 just in case even that short run would tweak my knee and start sending my race downhill early on in the game.  But it was so embarrassing to do so.  Everybody was hauling ass and shouting through the maze on the pier to get to their bikes, and here I was lolligagging.  I had to press myself up against the banisters as folks raced by to get around me.  I was that guy at the airport that was hogging the moving walkway.  Volunteers were looking at me with sympathy.  "You can do it!  Don't give up!"  Geez do I look that bad?!

Bike: 5:04:22

Once on my bike I prepared to get right in my zone and set a good pace.  Had I thought for a second I had a good marathon in me I would have held back the first 30 miles, but it was a given that the knee would give out at some point on the run - probably right away.  So, I didn't see why I should hold back on the bike if most likely I wouldn't need any reserve aerobic capacity on the run anyway.  So I started passing people like crazy right out of T1.  The first part that goes through town and up to the turnaround on Kuakini Hwy went quickly.  When I came back to town and hit the right turn up Palani Hill I took an outside line and gave it full gas.  It felt glorious to roar onto the famed hill and glide up to the top firing on all cylinders with folks lining the streets yelling and cheering!  Just before cresting the top and turning onto the Queen K I saw Angie and my family.  It'd be a long time before I'd see them again.

Angie took this shot just as I was cresting Palani Hill and turning on to the Queen K for the killa part of this bike course.

If everybody commuted on bikes rather than cars I imagine this is what 5 o'clock traffic would look like out of Kona. The Queen K highway was an endless line of bikes and remained so for the next 20 miles or so. But I continued to pass people cleanly, and despite the crowds of cyclists, I felt like everyone around was doing their best to ride within the rules as well.  We had a tailwind going north on the Queen K, and I didn't know how bad the winds would be coming out of Hawi but I was hoping they were just like they were a couple days ago when I test rode that section.  On that day, it had been a strong tailwind back (as in 35 mph UPhill!) but none of the crazy side winds that are known to blow down from the mountain nearly throwing you off your bike.

Crowded section early on Kuakini Highway.  I had my arm coolers on inside out like the bozo I can't help but be.

Early on the highway out I kept trading places with one particular girl in a white tri suit that had an odd disc protruding from her shorts just above her butt crack.  I had to ask......

"What's that thing on your ass?"
"What's that thing on your ass?" (this time pointing to my own ass)
"Oh!  It's der heffen shoffen fleur der grueben!"

Somewhere around mile 25 or so I caught up to Hunter Hobson, the marine F-18 pilot who I met at IMFL last November.  I said something about finally catching up to where the cool people were and he said he was just taking it easy.  So I pressed on ahead thinking he was probably being smart to be conservative.  I knew he had some iffy legs as well from injuries this year, but he probably held out more hope for running the marathon than I had.

I tried to get water at every aid station to at least soak my arm coolers and pour over my head.  It also broke up the sugary taste in my mouth from the electrolyte concoctions I was sucking down.  There's definitely a skill to grabbing a water bottle while doing 25+ mph.  I miss-grabbed one early on and it slammed into my quad.  It took about 20 minutes to get the feeling back in my leg after that.

At the left turn at Kawaihae I made a bit of a surge and caught and passed a long trail of riders ahead of me.  Shortly after I began to see the pros trickling back from the Hawi turnaround.  I was excited to see who was in the lead, but I couldn't make him out.  Shortly behind the leader came a small group containing Kienle (my favorite), McKenzie, and later, Starkywyckz.  By then, I was starting to feel the climb up to Hawi and the wind was obviously in my face......or was it?  I couldn't actually tell where it was coming from.  It was............swirly!?  I was still passing people and told myself it only seemed harder because of the climb.  And the ones going the other way that had already made the Hawi turnaround were obviously enjoying a helluva tailwind by the way they were spinning their cranks, just like I had experienced there the other day. So I couldn't wait to get to that point too.

Here's an excerpt of what goes on in my head during the bike leg:

"Pedal pedal pedal pedal pedal....okay pass this guy........15 second countdown to pass: 15, 14, 13, 12, 11.......oooh that happened quick!  Pedal pedal pedal pedal pedal!  You need a song in your head to motivate you......hmmmm........."Ain't nottin gonna breaka my stride, ain't nottin gonna slow me dow-wn oh no"..........oh geez, come on you can do better than that!  Oooh she has a nice booty!  Focus!!!  I sure hope I can run at least some of the marathon.  Stop worrying about that!  Just be a biker for now.  Ha, passing a P5.  Can't wait to tell Dave!  Okay, you can stand for a few strokes but only 8 or you'll blow your quads........Nooooooooooo!  That was 12 strokes and you've blown your quads!  Man, these Zipp 808's are rolling!  Okay focus!  Pedal pedal pedal pedal pedal pedal.......!"

5 hours of that.  You really gotta be on good terms with yourself, because there's no telling yourself to just go away!

When I made the turnaround in Hawi I thought to myself, "this is unreal!"  Wow, to be at this famous point in this legendary race was just amazing.  And I was feeling strong!  I had to stop to get my special needs bag since the volunteer wasn't ready with it when I coasted by.  I swapped all my botttles and downed one that was a Red Bull mixed with electrolyte tablets.  Then I got on the pedals and went full bore all the way back to Kawaihae.  I caught the only group I saw all day that was blatantly drafting.  They were like a great big bait ball taking up the whole highway lane.  A course marshall roared by me and gave them an inspection but I'm not sure if any of them got a red card or not.  I still wonder why they use loud Harley's for this job rather than a sneaky quiet rice-burner.  Why let the cheaters know you're coming?

There is no greater feeling than hammering on the bike on the Queen K.  This is towards the end of the bike leg coming back towards town, and the headwinds were somewhat miserable.  But things have to get very miserable to take the fun out of riding my bike!

Back on the Queen K for the last 30 miles or so and the wind was no longer favorable.  We had a strooooonnnnnggggg headwind and it was taking its toll on all of us.  I kept telling myself not to get down about it since I was still passing folks, but until this point I was seeing a possible sub 5 hour split on the bike and I hated to let that goal go.  I needed all the time I could bank knowing my race would go south as soon as the marathon started.  Every time we climbed into a carved out section of the highway that had some wind protection on the right side I would veer off the highway and onto the shoulder to tuck in as close as I could to the protection of the lava.

T2: 8:06

I did not do a flying dismount.  I nursed the knee through T2 just like I did T1.  "Come on, don't give up, you can do this!" Volunteers were so supportive.  I took quite a while in the men's tent.  A nice volunteer slathered me with sunscreen, which I had forgotten like an idiot in T1 even with all the lolligagging I did.  He also put Vaseline on the spots on my neck and arms that had gotten rubbed raw from the swim.  They stung a bit.  I put on my Hoka One One "high heeled" running shoes that I had just bought hoping that the extra cushioning would score me some extra run mileage before the crunching of bone on bone in my knee would make me give up on running.

Please don't take any of this as negative.  Just to even be here I had to remain super positive.  It's just what I had come to face as a reality over the last few weeks that I was doing a race I would have dropped out of if it had been anywhere else, and I had all the optimism in the world going for me just to give this day a shot at all. But at this point the bell had been rung and it was time to put the bite guard in and take this thing on toe-to-toe.....

Run:  5:30:31

I knew Dave Mirra was probably right outside of T2 and would give me all kinds of shit if he saw me walking and not even trying to run.  So, I eased into a trot of sorts.  For now at least, there was no pain!  I made it up the lower part of Palani and around to Ali'i Drive.  But I didn't get very far up the road before I felt the first sensation of grinding in my knee and settled into a brisk walk.  Oh man, I don't want to walk 26 miles!  My head was a mess......I had had such a great race so far!  I just wanted to jog....just a bit at least.  A couple miles down Ali'i Hunter came by me and gave me a pat on the back and said something encouraging and how he hated to see me having to walk.  I wished I could run with him and share a phenomenal day but the knee wasn't letting me.  Out of frustration, I picked up my legs and tried to shuffle.  That is to say, the legs moved quicker than walking but I didn't pick them up off the ground in an attempt to lessen the impact when I shifted the weight to my bad right knee.  It was working somewhat.......I was moving a little faster........if I pretended, it seemed sorta like running even........and I wondered how good the tread was on the shoes as I set out to grind them down shuffling them on the asphalt.  By about mile 4, somehow the shuffle had turned itself into a bonafide jog!  I could not believe it!  I was in heaven and so thankful for every step I was taking that didn't have to be a walk.  No matter what pain came my way I told myself I could run through it - cuz at least the knee was working!!!

I.  Am.  Running!!!!!!!  This is right in front of Lava Java on Ali'i Drive.  I wasn't moving fast, but I was friggin running and that made every step a complete joy to be thankful for.

Around mile 9 I came up on my sisters Ginger and Cindy.  What a great sight to see and I gushed about how I was actually running though I had no idea how.  Cindy urged me on with the promise of an ice cold beer at the finish line.  Good motivation.  Right after that I saw Eric Hinman coming the other way.  He must have had a tough bike leg (he did - stomach issues) but he was a great runner and I was sure he'd bounce back now that he was in his element.  Then I came up on mom and Angie and experienced that tingling high you get out there from seeing someone you love very much.

I wish I could post lots of pictures of me running in Kona.  But they were rare!

But right after that something started welling up in the knee and it wasn't feeling good.  I still had to get by Dave Mirra, who would never let me forget he saw me walking if I gave in at this point, so I started grinding my teeth to accept the pain and shuffled onto Palani Hill.  He was right there.  And there was no way I was walking this famous part of the course.  I don't remember what he said but in my head I tried to beam a thought over to him: "This f'ing hurts you son of a bitch!"  Something like that.  But it was good to see him.

The first time it was anyway.  Then he was right in front of me again yelling at me to trudge on and I hoped he would quit popping up next to me so I could stop running just for a little relief from the pain in the knee. 

This is one of Dave's shots when I went by him on Palani Hill.  Looking at it now, I can see in my face that the pain in the knee was just starting to rear its ugly head.

Once I crested Palani and was on the Queen K I let myself walk.  I could still walk without pain.  At least I had that.  Brisk walk, brisk walk, brisk walk.  I was elated I had just finished 10 miles and even ran a good bit of it. I noticed my quads were blown too after running further than they had in over a month.  If I had to walk 16 miles I figured I could live with that, but it wasn't my intention.  I already knew I needed minor surgery to fix the meniscus.  How much more damage could I do?  So I slipped into a trot again.  The initial steps were excruciating, but it subsided a little and I found I could traipse along to the next aid station.  Fine, I'd walk aid stations and jog in between.  Every time I started into my jog the pain would flare up, and it felt exactly like you would expect living bone on living bone to feel when you grind them together.  It was getting worse.  Much worse.  Every step was so painful, and I noticed when I tried to shuffle jog I was grinding my teeth, looking straight down, and contorting my arms, hands and fingers in weird positions!  I don't know how that helps and even told myself to knock it off and just relax but that's just what the body does I guess and I gave in to it.

So I walked.  And I watched Pete Jacobs, last year's winner, and another pro walk by the other way, laughing as if they were on a stroll telling old race stories.  And I wanted to walk over and punch him in the face. I felt if he had the energy to laugh and goof off in a World Championship he had the energy to run to the finish line.  And I couldn't.

I started piecing smaller goals together.  Go ahead and walk to the Energy Lab, but you know you want to run the lab section.  You can walk til you get there.  So I walked and walked and walked, telling myself to walk as briskly as I could.......that time still mattered.

Here's how the thoughts go down in my head on the run course:

Brisk walk, brisk walk, brisk walk, brisk walk, brisk walk.  It's okay to walk, just walk as fast as you can.  Damn, look at how smooth that old guy is running by you.  Damn it!  Run!  Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaagkkkrrrrr!  That hurts so bad but don't stop don't stop don't stop.  Quit doing that weird thing with your hands you drama queen you, run run run run run run run.  I can't believe I'm running in Kona!  This is amazing and aaaaargggggghkkkkkkkkkkkkkrrrshiiiiiiiiiiiii.........that hurts so bad!  Okay walk the aid station......water, yes please!  Ice, yes please!  Coke, yes please!  Powerade drink, yes please!  More ice, yes please!  More water, yes please!  Now rrrrrrrrruuuuuuuuuuuuunnnnnnnnnnnnn aaaaaaaaaaaaaghhhhhhkkkkkrrrr!  Okay stop, stop, stop, stop.  Just walk.  Brisk walk, brisk walk, brisk walk!

As soon as I got to the lab entrance I gave running another shot but it wasn't happening.  I was giving in to the pain.  A young guy from South Carolina came up on me and started walking with me.  He was having a bad day too, so we wallowed in it together for a bit.  I suggested trying to run again and whatever he was saying took a little of the sting away from running but not much.  Seeing Hunter running the other way gave me another jolt of happiness that a friend was still motoring on well.  I stopped to walk and the young guy kept going.  It was starting to get lonely out there.

At the turnaround in the lab the big Hawaiian fella that was dj'ing said, "This song's going out just for you.  I think you need it."  And it was Eye of the Tiger.  Awesome!  But I had to say, "Keep it playin cuz I gotta take a crap!"  And I ducked into the porta john.

By now, I was so afraid of the pain it took to pick up my feet and try to run that I just couldn't bare to even try.  I was done and would walk to the finish which was 8.5 miles away.  There were just two problems with that.  First, there was a photographer for FinisherPix a half mile up the road and I wasn't interested in any pictures of me walking.  Second, there was no way I was gonna walk the finish line chute.  No way.  I'd drag the leg behind me if I had to.  I just wasn't sure how I would do it, but I had 8.5 miles to muster up the strength to do so.

In the Energy Lab.  I saw the cameraman on this one and ran about 5 steps for this photo.  That's all there was.  Just enough so that he couldn't get one of me walking.  This is a little painful for me to look at.  I really put everything I had into making it look like all was normal and I was running pain-free.  I thought I did a much better job than what I see here.

On the way out of the Energy Lab I saw Eric on his way in.  He would catch me in the next 2 miles.  I also had an uplifting experience.  A guy came up on me and said, "Bruce Richter?!"  He was super supportive and had recently emailed me to tell me that I had inspired him somehow and that he had qualified for Kona as well.  He looked great and I wished him well for the next few miles as he went on to the finish.  I really wanted to run with him.

After Eric passed me on the Queen K on the way back to town I started getting really depressed.  There was no further stimulation out there to keep me going other than the fact that I wanted my medal, and I had bought a lot of shirts and stuff that said Ironman World Championship and I'm not the type to allow myself to wear them if I didn't actually cross the finish line.  It hurt just to walk, and I would learn after the race how much will I was using up just to keep walking - after the race I wouldn't be able to walk without having someone support me when I planted the right leg.

I'm not gonna caption this.  I don't have any words for this one.

I don't know what to say here either.  This was new territory for me.

Coming down Palani Hill with about a mile to go, I was ready to saw the leg off just above the knee.  The downhills are the most painful.  I started bracing myself for the pain of running the finish chute.  People were so supportive on the sides of the street.  Once I could see Ali'i Drive, where the finish line is, I decided it was time to break into a run.  Oh my God the pain was unbelievable.  I don't know what having a baby feels like, but maybe the pain was something like having a baby come out of your knee.  I could not believe people who were sitting on the ground started standing up, folks hitting the person next to them and telling them to stand up for me, and the applause was just roaring.  Even now the feeling as I recall it is incredibly emotional.  I'm not saying I was crying, but it seemed the sweat was really coming from my eyes more than normal.  Between the pain in my knee and the crowd as I entered the finishing chute, I was flooded with emotions and eye-sweat.  I didn't even notice I had randomly high-5'd Angie and Lauren Mirra in the chute as I crossed the finish line and pumped my fists.  Two volunteers grabbed me and took me the hell outta there before I could even soak it all in.

 Elated to finish.  Thrilled to be here.  Ecstatic that I don't have to run anymore.  Or walk.

Wow!  Is this really me?!?!

Finish Time:  11:57:04

Despite not being able to lay my best race out there I possibly could have and to have missed out on the suffering that comes from the breakdown of the body as it attempts to trudge on to an Ironman finish, soaking up all the punches that this island is known to dish out,  I got my fair share.  I gave my first Ironman World Championship everything I had.  I had no run plan, and made the decision to start running right at the marathon start at the last minute.  And I'm glad I did, cuz I ran my knee until it just couldn't anymore.  I can't look back and say I could have done anything better given the circumstances.

That was my best.  But it doesn't mean I won't get a chance to do better.  I don't know when, and I certainly don't take qualifying for Kona lightly, but I want to go back.  I want to have a chance to finish this race again.  Just next time without the grimace.

I want to of course thank my wonderful wife, Angie, for putting up with me as a husband.  I had no idea how supportive she would be when I married her.  I lucked out.  Thanks also to my family for being there at Ironman this year.  Unfortunately my dad got there just in time to find out his sister unexpectedly died and he immediately had to go back to the mainland for the funeral.  Aunt Joycelin, I felt ya out there.  And thanks to all my friends out there that allow me to feel like doing this with my time makes a difference and IS worthwhile.  I don't just want to do these Ironman things.  I want them to have some meaning and I want to use the gift of being able to compete for something.  I'm just too dumb to figure out what that meaningful thing is.  I believe God allows me to do them for a reason and I hope He'll lead me to figuring out what that reason is.

 Angie arrange my finisher's lei and medal like this for me when I woke up the day after the race.  To say she takes good care of me is almost too stupid a thing to say.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Ironman WC Hawaii: The Journey Ends Tomorrow

To everyone that has cheered me and supported me, that will be watching live or online, that offered their sympathy for my bum knee in kind words or the form of healing gadgets, tapes, patches or tricks, and to the ones that slapped me in the face and reminded me to man up despite it all...I thank you.

Tomorrow, when the canon fires, my first thought will be about what an amazing journey this has been and I'm so privileged to be here.  Well, unless I get clobbered in the head and then maybe I'll be more concerned about that for a while....

The knee status: I have no trust in my knee other than to get me through the bike and swim.  Please don't read that as negative.  It's a reality that running will turn my day into a disaster, and I'm over it.  But I can still finish this thing.  Anyway, I have to - I spent a fortune on the shirts at the Expo and I don't earn the right to wear them without finishing.  So, the plan after T2 is this: there is no plan.  I'll call each play as it comes.  But for reference I'm somewhere between walking the entire 26.2 miles and just running from the get-go and wrenching the leg off if it comes to that.  At some point I'm sure I'll test the knee out at the very least out of curiosity or boredom.

Anyway, Richter Kid is anxious to get on the other side of this and move on.  Thanks so much for sharing this journey with me and send all the positive energy my way that you can tomorrow.  You can track my progress on the Athlete Tracker at  Let's get this fun over with!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Baker's Cyst: I Don't Even Like to Bake....

Alright.  This morning I hobbled into the orthopedist.  No swelling and he could not duplicate the pain, nor does anything hurt to the touch.  All good stuff.  ACL and PCL are fine.  So, either the pop I felt last night is a burst Baker's Cyst (although apparently I should have felt the sensation as it leaked into the calf and I did not) or I just aggravated the already torn/inflamed meniscus.  Perhaps it's a flap of meniscus that just got pinched in there.

Snakes and earthworms are so lucky.  No knees.  I wish I could slither.  I bet I'd be a fast slitherer.

So, all I can do is rest the knee and ice it.  It's very painful to walk, so I left work after a few hours today and am now just chillin' at the crib.  The pain will perhaps go away after a couple days.  Maybe.  Hell, it might have been a good thing getting a burst cyst over with now rather than during the race.  Who knows?

I have no idea what this means for race day.  I hope I can start.  I hope I can finish.  It is a very interesting mental process to go from wanting to kick your own ass at Ironman and take as many down with, well, maybe I can just swim and bike and then walk-run the marathon and still finish in plenty of time before the, oh no, there's a chance that, after all of this that I've put into it, I may not be able to do the race. 

I don't know how I could possibly get my head in a place where just watching the race happen in front of me would be satisfying.  

I'm not quite ready to throw in the towel yet, but it's in my hand at least.........for now.  9 days to go til race day.

Thanks all for the support.

Knee Update: When Things Go Pop

Just a quick update here to those interested.  Last night some new running shoes came in that I think might help me handle the knee pain for a few more miles during the Kona marathon.  They're Hoka One One's and are kinda like platform shoes for runners, with super thick cushiony soles.  I know better than to go for a run, but I wanted to at least see if I could run in them just down the street and back.  I got four houses down the street and something popped rather violently in the back of the knee.  I had to limp home in pain.  I actually was looking for a neighbor that might be outside to give me a ride home......just 4 houses away.

I immediately went home and texted my orthopedic PA friend and he said it could be a burst Baker's Cyst, and that a it might heal up with rest and ice.  At least there's hope.

I'm going in to see him with literally a back door clinic visit in a few minutes and see if there's anything else he can do, or at least get the okay to continue on with this.  I certainly don't want to damage anything beyond repair.

As of now I can't walk.  The Ironman run course rules say you can make forward progress by "running, walking, or crawling."  At this point I've already crossed out two of those.  October 12 is going to be a very humbling day for this guy, if I even get to start.

Thanks for the support.