The Undeniable Ruth Rotating Header Image

triathlete

Benched

“One of my favorite meditation spots” by Jay Thompson from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

My hip pain flared up at the end of last week, and Coach David benched me for three days. I don’t even have a good story. It just started hurting. Only things I can do are stretch, heat, and strength work that doesn’t engage the hip. (My apologies in advance to anyone I converse with while I’m on the sidelines. I get moody and opinionated when I don’t workout.)

Yes, this is the same hip injury I’ve been dealing with off and on for over a year. It’s the one body part I didn’t blow out as a gymnast (except for a few pulled groins), so they’re making up for lost time.

Coach David has been increasing my workouts painfully slowly – like increasing my running distance by ¼ of a mile each week. (The standard is a runner can increase their mileage by 10% each week.) I’ve pushed myself hard the last few weeks, but I didn’t think I was going too hard.

As always, Coach David uses a practical and logical approach to dealing with injuries. It’s better to take a couple of days off now – over six months before race day – than to push through and be triaging a worse injury closer to race day. This morning David lovingly said, “Your body needs a vacation.”

Thankfully, I was already ahead of schedule in regards to my training, so taking a few days off isn’t a setback in terms of that. It’s just a challenge for me to be forced to sit on my tush.

I’m starting to wonder if the line between pushing hard and pushing too hard is razor thin. It’s frustrating to constantly have to deal with the possibility that my hip could flare. I felt like we were doing everything right. I was slowly gaining speed, strength, and confidence.

I was pushing myself, but not that hard.

Challenging myself, but not killing myself.

Over the last week, I spent a lot of time sitting as I was sending 500+ emails promoting my first online course on the legal side of photography.  I wonder if that has something to do with this most recent bout of soreness.

Rosie’s trying to teach me how to relax.

Regardless of the cause, I’m spending three days sitting on my heating pad, trying to get the muscles to relax and the joint to calm down. (I have two heating pads – one at home and one in the office.)

I’m on board with the plan that it’s better to deal with a minor setback now than to deal with worse pain later.

The goal is Ironman Mont Tremblant, not killing myself getting to the starting line.

New Swimming Accessory: Choker Necklace

Yup. I’m wearing a choker.

I don’t like things touching the front of my neck.

I don’t own turtlenecks.

I don’t wear kerchiefs or fashion scarves around my neck.

When I go to the salon, I ask them to make the drape one snap looser.

Sometimes I can’t even wear crewneck t-shirts because – you guessed it – the edge of the shirt barely touches my neck.

When I picked out my wetsuit, I got one with the lowest neckline I could find. It still touches my neck. Actually, my wetsuit is snug around my neck. It’s snug around every part of my body. That’s how wetsuits work.

When I’m wearing my wetsuit and I go from being vertical and walking into the water to horizontally swimming in it, the discomfort becomes more intense as going face down puts extra pressure across the front of my neck. (If past lives are real, I’m pretty sure I either drowned or was strangled in one of them.) Add in being hit by other swimmers and unable to find my swimming cadence, and it’s enough to make me panic.

Heading into Ironman Mont Tremblant, I’m trying to work on this. I don’t want to start this race with a panic attack.

I can’t control how choppy the water is.

I can’t control other swimmers bumping into me.

What I can do is force myself to get used to swimming with something snug around my neck. (I know some athletes cut their wetsuits to lower the neckline, but I don’t want to do that.)

My chokers, courtesy of the junior section at Target.

I bought myself a set of five stretchy choker necklaces, popular among tweens and young teens. I look like a person having a mid-life crisis when I wear them.

Before I leave the house for the pool, I pull one of these things on, and I don’t take it off until I’m back. I figure the more I wear it, the sooner I’ll get over the heebie jeebies of having something touching my neck.

For my first day wearing a choker to the pool, I opted to wear the red one so if the feeling of it touching my neck was too much and I ripped it off mid-lap, I could easily find it in the water and not litter in the pool.

Thankfully, that didn’t happen. I don’t notice it when I’m swimming. Once I’m fully used to wearing one necklace, I may try wearing two, then three, at a time, so I can get used to the material covering more of my neck.

Hopefully, this exercise will teach me that I can have something snug against my neck without feeling like I’m choking myself.

Tri Bike!

A few months ago, I took the plunge and got a triathlon bike. It was a substantial process because I went and had a proper bike fitting done.

Bike Fitting

At my first meeting with Barry the bike fitter at Cyclologic, we talked about all my past injuries, he checked my legs for strength and range of motion, and he took a some of measurements. He then put a bunch of dots on my body – one on my hip, knee, ankle, and shoulder (at least) – so it would be easier for him to take photos and measure my angles.

Then it was up on the bike measuring contraption. It was like a bike in that it had a seat, pedals, and handlebars, but there was no actual frame. He could raise and lower each component as well as move them closer or further apart to determine my ideal fit. There were cameras on two sides to shoot video and images, and the whole platform it was on could spin. There was also a special seat cover to detect how I distributed my weight on the seat.

The entire fitting took about three hours which culminated in figuring out all my measurements and then looking for a bike that fit my proportions.

The Delta Flyer on her trainer.

New Bike

At 5’4”, I’m the same height as the average woman, but because of my proportions, I’m tiny when it comes to bikes. I had to get an extra small frame. When I stand over my bike, there is less than 1 inch of clearance between the top bar of my frame and my crotch.  

The upside of needing an extra small bike is that I was able to get a good deal on one from last season. They only had the “guy color” left – black with red. (The “girl color” was peach and gray.) The moment I saw a picture of it, I knew I was going to call her the “Delta Flyer” because it reminded me of the uniforms on Star Trek: Voyager.

First Ride = First Fall

My first ride on my triathlon bike was the first time I rode with my feet clipped to the pedals. In the weeks leading up to getting my new bike, I paid close attention when I was training on my mountain bike to see which foot I push off of to start riding and which foot I put down when I come to a stoplight. It turns out, I do everything the opposite on my triathlon bike.

On my first ride, I clipped in my right foot, pushed off with my left, went about two feet, and fell over, with my right foot still attached to the pedal. I couldn’t keep the bike moving forward while trying to clip in my left foot. Once I switched to doing everything with my right foot, I was fine.

Switching from a mountain bike to a road bike was like changing my shoes from sneakers to ice skates – all my weight was balanced over skinny tires! It took awhile to get use to keeping my balance on a lighter bike and narrower tires.

Now that it’s warmer, most of my rides are on the trainer, a device that turns my bike into a stationary bike. On the upside, I don’t have to worry about traffic or having to stop at lights. On the downside, it’s pretty boring. I always watch movies to help pass the time on my bike.

I love my tri bike. My hip is slowly adjusting to riding in the “aero” position. I only ride in the aero position about 10% of the time, but hopefully that will increase, and I’ll be able to take full advantage of the benefits of my bike in races.