Monday, January 27, 2020

These things are sent to test us!

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I toyed with the idea of titling this blog ‘lurching from one disaster to another’, but then decided it would be a much more cathartic experience writing it if I started with a positive spin!

Safe to say, however, that I’ve had a challenging couple of months on the triathlon front.

Having taken a proper post-season rest for the first time in a few years, I was really looking forward to getting a solid winter under my belt, fine tuning my aerobic engine before working on the higher end come the spring.  But it seems fate didn’t agree with my plan (or maybe I was the architect of my own fortune, we can discuss that another time!)…

After a relatively strong December, I succumbed to the flu-like illness that affected lots of people before Christmas.  As such, my Christmas break saw me skipping many of the long endurance sessions I’d wanted to do and instead curled up on the sofa eating the obligatory seasonal chocs and mince pies.  Tasty but not exactly helping my 2015 season.

Finally I got back to training on Boxing Day, mindful that I didn’t have long before heading off to Switzerland in January for a company event and then off on holiday to South Africa.

All went well until I got to Switzerland and realized I had caught another bug from my wife (which she very nicely brought home from the hospital!) which caused a pretty strong chest infection.  So a week of not ‘training’ through being in a ski resort and then conference center (OK I did manage to ski a little, guess that was a form of cross-training!) became two and a half weeks of no running, cycling or swimming.

Sub-optimal, as a certain former Ironman world champion would say.

Finally I stopped coughing up crap out of my lungs long enough to feel confident that a run was worth the risk.  And I was in Cape Town. And it was 30 degrees. Who could resist?!

So my wife and I ran from our hotel on the V&A Waterfront (her first run in about four months!) towards Bantry and Camps Bay.  We ran together for 3km and then she turned back while I ran another 3km before turning around for home.  On the way back I decided to test the legs and upped the tempo, turning out a four-minute kilometer.  Nothing to write home about, but a bit of a boost after the previous few weeks. I had a little coughing fit back at the hotel but it was a ‘dry’ cough so figured my chest infection was all-but done.

I ran again the next few days, including a 10-miler, and while the legs were definitely not impressed with being press-ganged back into work, there were no ill effects on the chest. Great!

Coming back to the hotel on the last run on our final day (34 degrees, sunny, lovely!) my right arm felt a bit sore, like I’d been running holding it tensed too much (I’ve felt like that at the end of a tri before) but didn’t pay it too much mind.

On the flight home and the day after arriving, however, the arm got steadily worse – more and more painful and less able to move.  Two days after getting home I took myself to the GP who ordered me up to the local hospital to check for any breaks (I had bashed my funny bone in the hotel room, but hadn’t thought anything of it).

My wife drove me up to Radiology at Swindon, in quite a lot of pain now, and they saw me quickly, x-raying the elbow joint from a few angles.  The radiologist disappeared then came back: “We think you’d better go straight to A&E”…  Erm, OK then.

After a fair wait in A&E a nurse practitioner ushered me into a cubicle and show the x-ray.  The narrative went something like “We can’t actually see a break, but there’s a shadow on the x-ray which leads us to believe you’ve got a break in your right radial head. Sorry.”

Oh bloody brilliant. A broken arm!  I was fitted with a sling, given painkillers and told to see the physio in two weeks. No exercise whatsoever until then. Of course, I ignored that advice and was on the Wattbike one-handed 24 hours later...

The next two days were pretty damned painful but then the arm started to show signs of improvement. I started to be able to lift it, bear weight and the range of movement was improving.  A few more days and the arm was 100 times better.  There’s no way this is actually a break.

And so finally this morning I got to see the physio, who confirmed my suspicion that there’s really not much to support the theory the arm is broken and actually the more I use it, the quicker it will heal (most likely an impingement of the ulnar nerve and some substantial soft tissue damage).  She was impressed with how quickly the arm had healed – maybe there’s something for being (relatively) fit and healthy after all!

I’m back in the game.  What could have been a completely ruined 2015 season (I was told to expect at least six weeks of minimal training) has instead turned into a ruined winter and a delayed start to 2015.  This is the bit where I’m really grateful I don’t have any important early season races planned!

I do have the Wokingham half marathon this coming Sunday, but am reserving the right to make a last-minute decision on whether I run that or not.  There’s no way I’m in a fit state to even get close to my PB, so it would be a jog round at best.

In the meantime, I’ve managed to put on nearly 3kgs in weight.  I knew I was eating well (and by ‘well’ I mean eating lots of delicious food and wine, not caring about the waistband) in Switzerland and South Africa, but that amount of weight gain was a surprise.

Fortunately, I’ve been introduced to Tom Pinder of Pushing Natural and he has accepted the challenge to not only get me down to a better racing weight but to generally increase the quality of my nutrition.   I can only say that Adam and Tom have their work cut out with me this year.

I can’t help thinking it’s going to take a mini-miracle to get in shape for a decent performance at Alcatraz and the 70.3 world champs. But I’ve got to give it my best shot.

The one thing about being told you’ve broken your arm only to find out you haven’t really is that it really makes you realise you owe it to yourself to give it everything while you can!

Now… if I can just stop injuring myself and catching every bug going. ;)

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Matt Fisher runs - so it's all his fault! He pretends to be a triathlete, but really he is a husband, father and company VP. But he has raced for the GB Age Group squad a few times and is a two-times qualifier for the IM70.3 world champs