A toe in the water, so to speak

It is the 17th day after the accident, and I’m really feeling almost normal. I have little pains here and there, but they are the kind of muscle soreness I am used to, the kind of soreness I have accepted as the cost of doing business ever since I took up triathlon. I probably shouldn’t be having this soreness if I’m not working out, but the pains feel like they belong there.

So I decided to risk a brief workout. I went to the pool before work and swam 1100 yards. I meant to swim 1000, but as usual for me in a continuous swim, I lost count of the laps. My habit, when I realize I have lost count, is to add another lap to what I think the total might be. I have a watch that counts the laps (better than I do, obviously), but I’ve never been able to look at it while swimming. So I just sort of let it surprise me at the end of the workout.

The watch said I did 1100 yards in 23:11 (1246 strokes). That comes out to 2:06 per 100 yards, which is fairly normal for me. I am a mediocre swimmer. But if I could put together the time to focus on one of the disciplines, I know I can realize far greater returns from improving my biking or running speeds. For the swim, I try to do enough to keep from deteriorating, which is about 3 swims per week in normal circumstances.

I had no particular issues in this swim. My neck and shoulder bothered me a little, but I forgot about them for hundreds of yards at a time, so I think they are getting better. I had no problem at all with my hips. All in all, this swim was pretty normal.

That’s not to say it felt comfortable. I worked at keeping my form the same as it was last time I swam, but swimming today felt a little stressful and frustrating. Previously, I felt far more at home in the water, maybe even a little graceful. It’s surprising how quickly I can lose that. I expect I’ll get it back, but my intuition tells me it will take longer to regain it than it did to lose it. We’ll see.

I guess I’m ready to work my way back into my regular schedule. I retrieved my bike from Fit Werx yesterday. It looks as good as new. They told me they had gone over it carefully and couldn’t find any sign of frame damage. They even took the fork out of the head tube and inspected the steerer. They charged me $49, and that was mostly for the time they spent in the examination. Any time a triathlon expenditure comes in at less than $50, it’s a bargain. I love those guys.

So now comes the real test. Can I keep up with this blog <I>and</I> my workouts? We’ll see.

Today’s weight: 155.6

Waking pulse: 55

A Brush with Celebrity

Most of the country knows Scott Brown as the man who changed the balance of power in the U.S. Senate in 2010. But Massachusetts triathletes know him as a competitor. If you race triathlons in Massachusetts, you will probably encounter him eventually.

He and I were in the same swim wave at Buzzard’s Bay in 2009. He showed me how to loop the extension of my zipper pull under the closure tabs of my wetsuit, in order to keep somebody from inadvertently pulling the zipper open in the chaos of a swim start. And then he placed 14th overall and I placed 115th. He likely didn’t notice he left me 101 places back. But then, he was second in his age group, and I was first in mine.

The photo is from the Sharon’s Back triathlon in 2010. My support crew was sick during the Buzzard’s Bay race in 2009, and I have no photos of it.

Scott Brown is in the 50-55 age group, so he has a way to go before he becomes an an apt subject for a post in a blog called Geriatric Triathlete. For all I know, he would be embarrassed by it. But just consider this an early writeup, for he shows no sign of slowing down, and we’ll probably see him competing long after he becomes one of us.

In fact, he turned up at the Mill City Triathlon in Lowell, Mass. on Sunday. That race features an international length tri, a sprint, and an aquabike. He entered the sprint and placed 17th overall, and got on the podium with a 3rd place in his age group.

He was competing in friendly territory. According to the writeup in the Lowell Sun, “Brown captured the vote in Lowell by almost 1,000 ballots against state Attorney General Martha Coakley during the special election to fill the seat vacated by the late Sen. Edward Kennedy in January 2010.”

I still start every race by looping my zipper pull under the tabs on my wetsuit. Thanks, Senator.

Today’s weight: 155.8

Waking pulse: 56


First Collision with a Car

Fifteen days ago, my bike workout was interrupted by a Subaru. It entered an intersection at the same time I did (although it had a stop sign), and we met in the street. My Garmin data file for the workout shows I was moving at 27.6 mph, and the next second I was moving at 0 mph.

I managed to get the bike turned a little before impact, and the car and I were both broadside when we connected. The point of impact for me was apparently my hip. That’s good. You know what they say: “Land on a fleshy part. You can’t grow a new derailleur.”

The bike went out from under me, and I landed on the pavement. I refused the ambulance and called my wife (the driver of the car kindly offered me her cell phone when mine couldn’t get a signal). I didn’t want to go in the ambulance, because I didn’t want to argue with the EMTs about taking my bike along.

My wife drove me to the hospital, where they gave me a Motrin, a tetanus shot, and an x-ray of either hip. By the time I got home, I looked and felt as if someone had surgically implanted a baseball in my left hip. It was painful to walk.

After about a week, the swelling went down a little, and a large bruise formed. The photo shows how it looked on day 6 after the accident. Pain during walking (and especially climbing stairs) continued for another week.

A few days after the accident, I began to have pain in my left shoulder and neck. It felt exactly like the pinched nerve I’d had in the 1980s. So I wore my soft collar (30 years old, but still pretty functional) to bed a few nights. I don’t know if it helped, but that pain began to subside in about a week.

I took the bike to the shop within a few days. It appeared to have sustained only cosmetic damage — a bent brake handle and a scratched handlebar — but you don’t want to take any chances with carbon fiber. I asked them at the shop if they had any way of checking the frame for invisible damage. I left it there for them to go over, and I haven’t checked on it since because I really don’t have any need of it right now.

I am not working out. On day 7 after the accident, I rode my backup bike for 3.5 miles. Every pedal stroke hurt a little, at least on the left side. So I decided not to try any kind of workout until I had healed.

I went to see my doctor on day 12. By this time, the bruise had doubled in size and new bruises appeared, on my calf and my lower back. My doctor said he was pleased to see the bruise spreading out everywhere. He said that was part of the process and that I was healing beautifully. He advised getting blood flow to the site, through heating pads, hot baths, stretching, and light exercise.

So the next day, I did 20 minutes of easy spinning on the trainer. And the day after that I ran a half mile lightly, at a pace of 8:30/mile, then walked home. Tomorrow, I’m going to try to swim a few laps at the pool.

I’ve given up hoping to make the next race on my schedule (the Massachusetts State Triathlon, which is Saturday, July 14), and I have decided not to go to the Age Group Nationals in Burlington, Vermont in August. But I’m going to try to compete in the Sharon Triathlon, which is a sprint, on August 12. I will probably have to toe the start line without

any training behind me, but it will be a good way to see where I am in my recovery.

And I am planning on doing the Pumpkinman half-iron on September 9 in South Berwick, Maine. If I recover as planned, I should have just about a month to train for it. I feel pretty fortunate, all things considered.

Anybody out there have accident stories to share?

Today’s weight: 156.9
Today’s waking pulse: 58 bpm