Sunday, June 26, 2011

No Ironman For Me This Year

I'm guessing anyone who reads here noticed that I have not posted much in terms of training or racing recently.  Training has been driving me nuts lately and I couldn't figure out why.  I've had this persistent pain in my left foot that started out as a small bruise and then just became an annoyance on every run I went on.  But I altered my stride so I was running off the inside part of my foot and it didn't really hurt that much, it was just irritating.  It was bad, then kind of better, and then I went and raced in Florida.  Once again it hurt some, but I got through it.  I'm guessing because that course has a whole lot of grass and I was losing it for different reasons on that course, so I finished with a run split barely faster than my bike split.

I came home and things continued as they were.  I had Mooseman only three weeks later and I had more training to do.  One day I went out on a routine run and right in the middle I just felt like something went in my foot, right where it had been bothering me but recently had become much more tolerable.  Well, this time it stopped me in my tracks.  I tried to run a few steps again and immediately stopped.  I stood still for a little bit longer, walked it off a bit and then decided to start running again.  Well, it certainly hurt more than it had before, but I was able to finish the run and decided that was just how it was going to be for a while.

Fast forward after a few more awful runs and some normal biking and swimming and suddenly it was time for Mooseman again.  It was a beautiful day for a race and unfortunately I was not in a place to take advantage of it.  The swim was chilly but not too bad, the bike was atrocious because the course is a monster and mentally I just wasn't into it.  When I got to T2 I honestly wasn't sure even before I put my shoes on if I was going to continue.  But I slowly changed into my run gear and decided I didn't feel that bad and I might as well go out and run.

Well, at least the first mile was good.  In fact, it was probably the fastest mile I'd run in months.  But the further I went, the more I just didn't think my foot felt right.  And it didn't seem to me to be the smartest idea in the world to keep going.  So after three miles, I stopped at a med tent and hitched a ride on a golf cart back to the start.  Was I disappointed?  Kind of, sort of, but not really.  As I said, I wasn't mentally there at the time so not finishing, especially when I felt like I might do further damage, seemed better than walking my way to a 3+ hour run split.

Instead I enjoyed watching my teammates have good races and then of course made an appointment pretty quick to get my foot checked out.  First on the agenda was... not an x-ray.  But I was recommended to go visit a podiatrist, who I couldn't get an appointment with for a week and a half.  So I continued on, wondering how in the world I was going to do an Ironman in a couple of weeks.  I had never felt less enthusiastic about an Ironman.

Finally, June 20th, I got my podiatrist appointment.  He checked out my foot, pushed and prodded and then said he was going to do an x-ray just to rule some things out.  Well, the technician put the x-ray up on the wall before the doctor came back and even I could tell that it was definitely broken.  Was it upsetting?  I guess it's annoying, but it sure does explain a whole lot.  It's been at least six weeks since this has been bothering me.  But I didn't think it was a stress fracture because it didn't seem to hurt as much as the last one I had.  See, the last one was the third metatarsal on my right foot and there was just no way I could even try to run on it.  This one was the fourth metatarsal on my left foot so I could sort of just run off the inside of my foot and not put pressure on it.  At least it's nice to know that my problem isn't all in my head and I don't have to feel so bad about not finishing Mooseman.  As well as having an injury with a definite healing point.

So my trip to Coeur D'Alene was canceled and I was out an entry fee.  And sometime before February I'm going to have to take some flights on Southwest to use the money I have there.  Did you know that aside from their consistent $50 bike fee, which is the cheapest you'll find except for the few random times they might not charge you at all, but you can cancel or change a flight with no penalty?  I can use all of the money spent on that flight to go towards another one.  Also, unlike Lake Placid, there was no crazy cancellation fee on the hotel room, so I could just cancel that no problem.  It sucks, but it could've been worse.

So for now I'll be doing a lot of open water swimming, getting some bike rides in, hopefully spending a good amount of time at the lake driving people around on the boat because I'm the next-most-competent one.  (I think I was the only one who Dad wouldn't get nervous when the boat was taken out by someone other than him.)  I'm also really, really looking forward to going to Lake Placid and not racing.  I love that town.  I've said before that I could probably live there.  And while going there to race is great, as I'd done it for seven years in a row, I'm even more looking forward to going there and just enjoying the town and not having to worry about not walking around too much or staying up too late.  And of course watching my friends have great races.

So, there it is.  My first year without an Ironman since 2003.  Thinking about it that way, maybe that's not such a bad thing.  Maybe this is what I needed.  Just a forced rest and a complete do-over.  I'll just have to keep my bones intact from now on so I can find my running stride again.

Oh, and one last thing.  I think that was the first time in my life my left foot had ever been x-rayed.  Well, this x-ray not only confirmed my stress fracture, but it confirmed my long-believed suspicion that I broke my foot my freshman year of college playing basketball.  He mentioned he could see that it looked like there was a fracture at some point on the outside of my foot that never really healed quite right.  I'd always thought that little protrusion on the outside of my foot didn't look right.  But, well, my freshman year there were only five of us on the team.  I'd recently severely sprained my right ankle and was playing with that all taped up.  Then I felt something definitely wrong with my left foot, but we wound up just taping that foot up, too and letting me play every minute of every game.  It's hard when you really don't know which foot you're supposed to be limping on.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day

I asked a couple of friends recently who had lost their mothers a few years ago when it is that it stops being tear-inducing every time you think of it.  Apparently there is no definite answer to that question.  But I guess the first year is most definitely the hardest.  The first Christmas, their first birthday that they don't get any older, Mom's first birthday, and now the first Father's Day.  We never tended to make a huge deal out of Father's Day, just your usual cards and sometimes a present (Mom and Dad had recently decided to tell us to no longer get them presents since they already had everything they needed.)  But of course it's hard not to think about him a little more today.  And it's not just thinking about him in general that is sad to me, like fun things we did or anything like that.  It's thinking about the fact that he's never coming back.

My father was just about everything you'd want in a dad when we were growing up.  He and Mom fell into the traditional gender roles in the household, so Mom did all of the cooking and house work stuff while Dad worked full time and dealt with taking out the trash, mowing the lawn, etc.  I never once witnessed either of them getting on the other's case about not doing their "job."  It all just worked out quite easily.  And while my father worked very hard at his job, I never heard him complain about it and I never remember him working late or being gone a lot.  We all ate dinner together almost every night, with my younger brother and older sister. 

He coached my teams, went to my games, started taking bike rides around town with me when I was around eight years old.  He took us skiing, out on the boat, played basketball with us in the driveway, took us to McDonalds, Disney World, made us waffles on Sundays and did countless other dad stuff and he never seemed like it was a chore.  He actually seemed to like it.  And let me tell you, one thing my father was not good at was pretending to like anything.

Dad taught me a lot of things without actually teaching me.  I mean, he taught me some stuff conventionally too, like how to shoot a basketball, swing a bat, cast a fishing lure, drive a boat, drive a car (Mom was the one in the car when I crashed into Nana's house...)  ski,and a whole bunch of other stuff.  But he also taught me a lot about conducting yourself with integrity, being honest with people, playing by the rules, being good to people, watching your language, being smart about money, showing up on time (or almost always early, as we call it "Zahr time") doing a job to the best of your ability, not raising your voice or getting angry and worked up about things and just being kind to people in general. 

My father never once sat me down and told me to do any of these things.  It was just how he conducted himself and made me realize that that was obviously how I should act.  I won't say I'm perfect, because of course I'm not, but I do know that I never would've wanted to disappoint my father with my behavior.  I doubt I succeeded one hundred percent, but I tried, at least. 

I guess I did sometimes wonder if this was all some childhood illusion, like this ideal you create based on what you saw when you were a kid and everyone idolizes their father.  Well, last week we had the opportunity to attend two events honoring my father.  First was a charity golf tournament for a cause that he was on the board of, and this tournament had been named for him.  Then an awards dinner for the Associated General Contractors of NH in which he was the recipient of this year's ethics award.  At both of these events I had the opportunity to hear some of his business associates, and not even from his own company, who spoke on his behalf and listed a lot of the traits I did.  That's just who he was. 

So this Father's Day it is very sad that I don't get to give him a hug and tell him to enjoy the day.  Each day that passes we just have to get more and more used to living without him.  At least I still get to be grateful for all of the wonderful times we did get to spend together.  And I don't really have to sit back and regret not having spent enough time with him.  I would've liked more of it since September and maybe into his 90's, but I got to spend a lot of time with him while he was here. 

Happy Father's Day, Dad.  We miss you.