This upcoming Sunday is the St. Anthony’s Triathlon. I am gutted to say that I will not be at the starting line. 11 days ago, I was completing the culmination of a hard training block and in the middle of a long run I felt a pain on the right side of my lower back/glutes. As the pain seemed to intensify, I stopped and walked the final three miles before a friend was able to pick me up. Needless to say, it was an emotional, long, hot three mile walk. Since I started back up to running after my sacral insufficiency fracture last fall, my body had been feeling better than ever. In the recent months, I really stretched the body and was preparing for my first Iron distance event. When I felt the pain, my mind immediately thought back to my injury last year. Are my bones healed? Did I need more time to strengthen them? Lots of questions.
I fortunately was able to get an MRI in just two days, thanks to the help from Dr. Gideon Lewis. The MRI showed mild sacral edema and I was cleared to run in 10 days. The prognosis did not seem bad and I would be back at it in no time. I was cleared to swim and bike, but I was having significant pain walking. My gut was telling me that something was just not right. Five days after the injury, I was having some pain swimming, but the pain was different than last summer. This lead me to believe something else had to be going on. I was being treated for mild stress reaction in the bones, but according to the MRI I should not have any pain walking and would ready to return to running soon. The paper was telling me one thing, but my body was telling me something else.
This week I investigated my own body and searched for more answers. Several therapists looked over my MRI and decided this injury was not related to a bone issue, but soft tissue. Yesterday, I started treating the injury as strained muscle in my glut and I woke up this morning with the best it has ever felt! I feel like now that I know what the real issue of the injury entails, I can now properly treat it and move forward with training and then back to racing.
Going through an injury is emotionally exhaustive. Almost every bike ride I have been on the past week has included tears being shed. I was going 90 miles a minute with training and getting ready for final race preps and then I was suddenly halted in my tracks. I am not sure yet if my body will be ready for Ironman in mid May, but I will race when I know that I am ready to go. I can’t thank the team of great supporters around me who have helped me through this process and are there to get me back to it again. Thank you to my amazing sponsors who are ever so supportive. Thanks Nate for being there with me on those breakthrough training rides, but also being there on the rides I am shedding tears.
I wish everyone a great start to the season! I have had a great start, but a year always has a better ending with a few bumps along the way. I am constantly learning, constantly changing and evolving to be a better person and athlete.
This past winter I was introduced to an innovative technique and trainer David Petersen. This technique uses energy to help balance my body. The methodology uses six key acupressure points on the body to help balance the body. This technique allows the body to align properly and have equal tensegrity of the muscle fascia from head to toe! Just prior to the first treatment, Nate (my husband/coach/trainer), had been really working on my posture and reminding me to stand up tall! After having a baby and spending a year in a hunched position while nursing, I noticed I was having a hard time standing up straight…I could not even if I tried. After one treatment, I was absolutely floored with my improvement in posture. I no longer had to try and force my body into better alignment…it just naturally improved. Nate could not believe how much I had improved my posture! We measured my height and I grew 3/4 of an inch. I used to stand at 5’7.25’’ and now I was 5’8’’!!
Not only did I notice an improvement in my posture, but my ease of movement with walking, not being as sore waking up in the morning, and having more energy overall! This has translated well into my passion, job and career of triathlon.
In addition to working on acupressure points, part of the treatment is total body strength training. This strength training is very specific and important that is completed with correct form so that I am not strengthening compensation patterns. After several months of strength training and weekly “tune-ups” (acupressure treatments), I have noticed a decrease in injury, ability to train harder, and my body feeling better overall. I have much less areas of tightness and weakness and I feel I can trust my body to give me what I need to do on training and on race day. I don’t have to worry about my body breaking down during a training cycle. I can focus on working hard and resting because I am tired from a strenuous training load, not because I am injured.
Be sure to check out the Body Tuneup Shop and see how it can improve your training, sleeping and life!
Two months into the New Year and race season is about to begin! Tomorrow I officially kick off the 2015 season with the Clermont ITU Sprint Triathlon. This is my fifth time competing in this particular race. It is a great way to start the season with a race so close to home. I love being able to race on a familiar course in the beautiful Lake Louisa State Park. My training has been slightly different as opposed to years past as I have been focusing on more volume in my training at a lower intensity to prepare for some upcoming longer distance races. I am excited to get out on the race course! I love racing and I feel it’s the best way to measure fitness! With the first race of the year, it’s great to see what you need to improve on going forward in the season.
The weekend after Clermont, I am racing in San Juan, Puerto Rico. This will be my first 70.3 distance race. I am excited to race this new format and tackle this new challenge. I know that the venue will be hot and humid, so nutrition and hydration will be extremely important. The weather turned a little warmer in Clermont this past week, so I have had the opportunity to train in some similar race conditions. I planned this race as it is a close plane ride from Orlando and it will help me prepare for my next big challenge, a full Iron distance. I have chosen to race Ironman Texas as it is the National Championships. I feel that racing in Puerto Rico will be similar to racing in Texas in May, both will have similar climates. I feel this will help give me an idea for what I can expect to feel and need nutritionally.
The past couple of months in Clermont have been great. The weather has been up and down, but compared to most of the country stranded in feet of snow, we have been lucky! Caroline enjoys to stay very busy, so she keeps Mom and Dad on our toes! We enjoy taking her to the many local parks Clermont has to offer. A new splash pad is currently being built at a park down the street from us, so we are planning to spend a lot of time here once the weather begins to really heat up. Finding a balance between Ironman training, recovery and motherhood is not always easy, but I would not want it any other way. Even on my longer training days, I try to finish up by 3pm, so that Caroline and I can spend some time together before dinner and bedtime! It amazes me how much toddlers learn every day! Her energy and little personality bring such joy to us as parents!
After several months, I am thrilled to be back at the start line. I will be racing in the finale of the Lifetime Series and Toyota Triple Crown. I missed several of the races this year due to my injury over the summer, but really looking forward to the thrill, excitement and joy of racing.
My sacral fracture was one of the toughest injuries I have dealt with in my career. I was not able to run for ten weeks. When I am not running,I really miss it. . The first couple of runs back from injury, I was smiling ear to ear. I especially missed those outdoor runs when the weather was a perfect 70 degrees.
I will be pushing my body all that it can give me on race day. That is what racing is all about! My goals for this race are very different from races earlier this season. I have been back to running for just over a month now and I have had to slowly ease back into distance and fitness. I am currently still building back into fitness and really listening to my body so that I avoid setbacks and continue on as Nate says, “Slowly climbing the mountain.” The past few months have been mentally tough. I have to thank Nate and my family for helping me to stay focused and positive.
The past few months, I participated in several events that really inspired and motivated me. Earlier in September, I had to opportunity to work with Mike and Jenn McGuire. . Lifetime and Toyota are teaming up together to help Mike and Jenn complete the Oceanside Tri. Hunter Kemper and I gave Mike and Jenn training and nutrition tips. The most inspiring part of the trip was helping Jenn overcome her fear of open water. After a scary experience at the Royal Gorge in Colorado where she almost casino online drowned, she had not been swimming in open water since she was a child. I felt inspired by her bravery that day. She overcome her fear of open water and swam several hundred meters!
Later in September, I participated in Pedal the Cause. Riding with thousands who are all working towards finding a world without cancer. I saw many survivors and those who have been touched by the disease in some way.
Finally, a few weeks ago Nate and I had the opportunity to race, Boarder Wars Half Distance Triathlon. This was an inaugural race in Alton, IL. There was a race within a race with “West” vs. “East”. Those who lived west of the Mississippi were racing those east of the Mississippi. We were racing for team, Swim Bike Run St. Louis. Nate completed the half distance with a fourth place overall and I was able to do the swim/bike while my brother ran the 13.1 miles. We finished first in the relay division. This was my first half distance to race the swim/bike portion. I loved it! Although next time around, I would use more than two Power Gels. I was completely bonking the last ten miles of the bike. This was a fun, last minute opportunity to race against each other (I won!). Nate braved it out in the cold. Even though he is a Minnesota native, he prefers to race in the heat!
Best wishes to all those wrapping up their 2014 season! Whether you have had the season of your dreams or a season left to be desired thus far, remember that every race is a new opportunity to challenge yourself and make the most out of what your body can give you on that day. Embrace the challenge!
Thank you to my sponsors who have been so supportive during this time of the injury and ongoing healing process. Toyota, Fuji, PowerBar, Sketchers, Zipp, Toyota, TYR, ISM, MissionAthleteCare, Speedfill, Polar, Rudy Project,.
It has been a whirlwind the past few weeks! Caroline turned one, we visited with family in Minnesota and now I am recovering from an injury. The season has taken an unexpected toll, but I am focusing on enjoying time with my daughter and healing. Here is an update regarding the past few weeks!
Two week leading into Minneapolis were extremely tough. I was desperately attempting to mentally prepare for one of the biggest races of the season (as this was the first race part of the three race Toyota Triple Crown Series); however, my body, physically, was barely hanging on. I did not know what was wrong. Towards the end of June, I was doing a hard run on the treadmill, going on and off the treadmill as I was running my intervals (a workout I have rarely done this year). Towards the end of the short, intense workout, I began to feel a sharp pain on the lower right side of my back. I figured it may heal up in a few days, but it never really improved after that initial first day. I saw my chiro and physio and it was diagnosed as SI Joint inflammation. The following week I tried a 30 min run and after the run, I could not walk!!! The next day it was better, but I was advised to take anti inflammatories and let the swelling calm down. My SI joints were moving well, so it was just a matter of time to clear out the inflammation. I figured at this point, I needed imaging to see what was going on in my back. I quickly found a doctor right before the 4th of July holiday and was again diagnosed with SI joint dysfunction, but was diagnosed without an MRI imaging. The following week, I had a flight scheduled to fly up to Minnesota and was hoping with the increased amount of anti-inflammatory medications, I would be ok to race (as I was told as long as I didn’t feel pain, I would be ok). Unfortunately, I still had a significant amount of pain and had to withdraw from the start line.
Earlier this week, I had an MRI and got down to the “bottom” of my pain, literally! My diagnosis is a sacral insufficiency fracture, my SI joints were fine. This injury is due to my bones being in an osteopenia state. I suffered this fracture because my bones are in a weakened due to the demands my body was placed under this past year with breastfeeding for the past 12 months and elite level training. Breastfeeding puts women at risk for temporary osteoporosis, due to hormonal changes. Often women stop their monthly cycle (which happened to me) and the lack of estrogen puts women at an increased risk for bone loss. I have never suffered any type of stress fracture before, so this was all new to me. I have been researching about lactation and what exactly happens to the chemistry inside a women’s body.
“Maternal calcium resorption increases during lactation. That means that the mom’s bones actually break down and release calcium into the bloodstream. Also, the kidneys secrete less calcium in the urine, so the nursing mother doesn’t waste any of that precious mineral.” Elisa Zied, Parents.com
In addition, lactating pulls calcium and other minerals from women’s bones and puts women at risk for bone loss. For most women, taking a prenatal can help with this issue. However, due to the required amount of training and racing we forgo as elite athletes I was not able to sustain proper bone health. The prognosis is four to six weeks off and then I can resume running. Of course, I will be sure to listen to my body and resume run training when I feel ready. Unfortunately, I will not be able to race the month of August; however, I hope to be able to race again before the end of the year.
“Although women do lose some bone during lactation (to provide calcium for human milk)—even if they have a high intake of calcium—they’re likely to bounce back and experience an increase in bone density after weaning. During lactation—and at all times during a woman’s life—it’s important to continue to consume adequate calcium to support the health of bones and teeth.” Elisa Zied, Parents.com
My treatment will consist of heavy supplements of calcium and Vitamin D and I can resume light swimming and cycling for the time being, if I don’t have any pain. I am feeling pain with most movement, so I am trying to be as cautious as possible. Fortunately, I have lots of family to help me with Caroline as I am trying to limit the number of times I am lifting her. I am also going through the weaning process as she is now one year old and breastfeeding is no longer recommended for her health. (Not an easy task!). Once I complete the weaning process, research has shown that my bones will return back to normal strength with some time.
Knowing what I know now, I still would not have changed anything. I loved nursing my daughter and so happy I was able to provide the nutrition I felt was best for her. I am headed into a different stage with her as we are leaving the infant stage and headed onto the toddler stage.
I have to be very happy with the season thus far. I appreciated each and every six of my wins this season since having my daughter. I knew that pregnancy/nursing was unchartered territory for me as an elite athlete.
I am very much focused on improving my bone health first and then excited to get back on track for the 2014 season. I am taking this time to enjoy time with my husband and my daughter.
Although I am devastated not to be able to compete in the Toyota Triple Crown or the Lifetime Fitness Series, I know that there are many opportunities in the sport of triathlon. Those series were just not meant to be for me this year. God has a different plan. I am so thankful and happy I have a healthy, beautiful daughter and that’s what is most important.
Thank you for all your support this year!