Friday, 7 June 2013

A fall, likely to be one of the hardest


I swim, I bike, I run. I do this because I love it.

When a medical professional tells me I can’t, it hurts. A lot.

No matter how many times we fall, we can never quite relate to how hard it actually is to fall, until we fall again. I have just been diagnosed with Costochondritis, an inflammatory condition of the costal cartilage and quite frankly I hate it. I am not going to sit here and write I have a big smile on my face and I am so happy because I ain’t. What I will sit here and write though is I have been here before and I will be here again. It is time to put my knowledge, experience and never give up attitude into good use.

I have fallen many times in my career from that discus prolapse in 2007, numerous bike crashes, over use injuries, parasites, burnt feet, the list goes on. Falling is part of growing; it shapes us, makes us stronger, keeps us in touch with reality and brings out the best in us. However there is one thing about falling that is no secret; it does hurt.

The doctors say I have to rest, so what is the story and what is the situation? Well hopefully I can curb my frustrations in the best way possible and bring some good out of a bad situation. If not then I can at least enlighten you all, on what I can only describe as weeks of on-going nightmares.

‘In search of fresh air’

It has been 5 weeks since my withdrawal from Rev3 Knoxville. There have been some OK periods of training in these 5 weeks but no doubt a loss in consistency and a respiratory system that has just not been right. For those of you who don’t know; I withdrew from Rev3 Knoxville as a precaution to my health; upon arrival to Knoxville my respiratory system was struggling to cope with the high levels of birch pollen.

In May 2012 I was diagnosed as being an allergic to birch pollen. May back then was a month where I needed to push my body in search of absolute life best form. Being an unknown allergic at the time and preparing for my first ever Olympics, I pushed my body through the intensity levels needed. Unknown at the time I was severely overusing my intercostal muscles, of which generated a stress fracture of the T4 rib.

Back to 2013 and Rev3 Knoxville, suffering similar symptoms to those experienced in 2012, Ben and I took no chances. We were in Knoxville a total of 24 hours before making the decision not to race; we rented a car, chose to miss our scheduled return flight and made the 11 hours road trip back to Florida in search of fresh air. This is something that has been told before, but what has followed since that ‘escape from Knoxville’ has been tiresome and demanding.

Returning to Florida from Knoxville, I put in a solid few days of training on what we thought was a healing body. The immediate plan was then to return to Denmark, fulfill several sponsor commitments, attend an interview for a much wanted U.S visa and end up with a trip to France to visit LOOK. From there it was to be the U.S for as long as I felt happy.

It wasn’t to be…

Upon touchdown to Denmark what transpired was; a panic 5 hour travel across Denmark in search of low pollen levels, 4 days hidden away in a summer house on the west coast, permanent wearing of a face mask outside of a home environment, cancellation of all sponsor commitments including my trip to France, a 5 hour return travel to Copenhagen, visa interview and same day departure to Lanzarote.

Why such madness? With the stress fracture of 2012 and what I experienced in only 24 hours in Knoxville, I needed to do what I could to avoid further contact with birch pollen.

When I got on that plane from Copenhagen to Lanzarote, it was such a relief. I felt a sense of excitement that I could arrive in Lanzarote forget about the recent ‘drama’ and crack on with my preparation for races in the U.S. The plan was simple, get back on the horse, make contact with the shape I left the U.S with and fly back for an entire summer state side.


Expressing my excitement 24 hours before travel to Lanzarote


If only…

After only one full training day on Lanzarote I experienced pain, along my rib cage and across my chest. I spent 13 days training, some days were good, and some days were bad. I was suffering chest pains, occasional sharp shooting pains, neural pains down my arms and across my back, on the 13th day I feared for my heart. I sat in a hospital in Lanzarote contemplating what life would be like away from the sport. I feared the ECG scan and blood tests that I had just had would come back with unwanted findings. I always think the worst. Thankfully it didn’t; it confirmed that my heart was healthy. X-rays confirmed that my respiratory system and rib cage were perfectly healthy. Blood counts were great apart from a minor increase in inflammatory markers.

The conclusion?

Costochondritis - an inflammation of the costal cartilage. Having now spent 10 days since the diagnosis trying to get back into training, it is no use my body needs complete rest. My daily approach towards training over these last 3 weeks has become based on pain tolerance. For many injuries or problems this is OK, for Costochondritis it is not. The doctors say I have to rest, 2 weeks or more in total and then a slow progression from that point. It is safe to say I have recently fallen, 12 months since my previous fall and I can say this one hurts more than any of those in the past.

I recently believe I have found where my heart is in this sport, since the start of this year I have simply felt new again. I feel like a rookie with so much to learn, so many areas to improve on and I love it. Feeling a new sense of self-assurance and an ever-growing belief that I can consistently perform at the top end of this sport makes this fall hard to soften. I have, for a long time known what my ability is and I was very happy to demonstrate this in all races I have done this year. The most exciting part about my early season success is, Joel and I had yet to be specific. The training data I put out around the time I won San Juan was training data developed primarily for my intended start in ITU racing. With a knowledge and understanding on how to move that data even further to benefit my performance at non-draft events makes my hunger, my belief and drive to overcome this bump in the road even stronger.

24 hours prior to writing this blog I was anyone’s worst nightmare, short tempered, fragile, feeling my world had come to an end, just a down right negative human being. We always seek for reasons, solutions and strategies to limit the time off from something we love. We do it so we can get back into a rhythm and conduct what we are driven by. The fact is we need to make decisions, not by ourselves, not by one other person but by a group of trusted people. In a time where reassurances are needed seek comfort from those that have experience, don’t take it all by yourself. Understand that no matter how hard, how many times you fall there are ALWAYS positives to take away. I will return back to Denmark from Lanzarote tomorrow. I already now look forward to commencing my recovery and return to racing.


This image will be my motivation for the coming weeks.
A big thanks for all the messages of good luck regarding IRONMAN 70.3 Eagleman this weekend, I will keep them closely and put them to good use at the next racing opportunity.

Good luck to all those who are racing globally, I really do envy each and every one of you.

3 comments:

  1. Stay strong, I have the same injury while I was supposed to run a marathon in the tri off season, I ended up in the emergency room, EKG's CT scan's Echo's bloodwork, stress tests, the full 9 yards.

    They were very late with diagnosing me took them about 5 months before they could make up their mind. In the mean time I cancelled my Ironman and several other races :-(

    Anyway, rest, and ask for a cortisone treatment!!! that really helped me a lot and I hope I can get fit again to race in August.

    Stay strong!!
    S

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  2. Helle. Cool to see you are on top of things even though not the best health situation together with allergies.
    At least now you can plan, reschedule and come back much stronger than ever at the right time.
    Take it easy and enjoy your time of from training in a different way. Hopefully we will meet at some late season top en racing.
    Hi to Benji too..

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  3. I am not a doctor, this is just personal experience confirmed by my doctor. I stopped drinking milk and cut down extensively on milk products, this lead to my pollen allergis disapearing and my asthma being greatly reduced. Seeing that we in DK have a milk culture it sometimes goes against the trend saying that milk might be bad for you. Just a though, get healthy soon. Best wishes Jan

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