Monday, December 28, 2015

2015 Race Year Recap, 12-28-15

All-in-all, I'd say 2015 was a good year of racing. I stayed true to my word and did less races than in 2014 but the distances were longer in 2015. Next year will be even fewer races due to the recovery and rebuild time.

2015 Races:

1. Lifetime Indoor Triathlon-1/5/15*
2. Rock 'n' Roll Arizona Half Marathon-1/18/15
3. The Big Game 5K-2/1/15
4. Road Rage Olympic Duathlon-2/28/15
5. Bayshore 70.4 Triathlon-3/7/15
6. Rage Sprint Triathlon-4/18/15
7. Xterra 10K Trail Run-4/26/15*
8. Badass Dash Obstacle Race-5/23/15
9. Sand Hollow Olympic Triathlon-5/30/15
10. Grand Rapids Triathlon/USAT Athena National Championship 70.3-6/14/15
11. Zoom Multisport 1/3 Iron Distance Aquabike-6/21/15*
12. Shoot the Moon Triple 5K at Once in a Blue Moon-7/31/15
13. Toughman Utah Half 70.3-8/22/15
14. Kokopelli Olympic Triathlon-9/12/15
15. Las Vegas Sprint Triathlon-9/19/15
16. Terrain Mud 10K Obstacle Course Run-10/10/15 (DNF)
17. Snow Canyon 5K-11/7/15
18. The Great Santa Run 5K-12/5/15

*No medal given

I had two DNS races-Pumpkinman Sprint Triathlon on 10/24/15 and the Tucson Marathon on 12/5/15.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Charlie's Spring Loop, Valley of Fire State Park, 12-22-15

On 12-22-15, I decided to go hiking. I wanted to get one more good, long hike in before I have my knee surgery. So I loaded my dog and me up with my friend and her dogs and we went to Valley of Fire. It is a state park about an hour NE from Las Vegas. It is Nevada's oldest and largest state park.

We picked Charlie's Spring Loop as our hike for the day. It is a 6.7 mile, moderate loop in the backcountry of the park. The trial is unmarked and not maintained. We printed out the below map to help us find our way. 

We left Las Vegas as 7:00 AM and arrived at the park just after 8:00 AM. The west entrance booth was closed so we paid our entrance fee in the drop box. It is $10 per vehicle and $8 for Nevada residences. As we were entering the park, we saw a small herd of desert big horn sheep. It was really cool to see them next to the road. 

We stopped at the Visitor Center to use the restroom and pick up a park map. The trailhead is a few miles east of there so we loaded back up into the car and made our way there. There is roadside parking on both sides of the road near the John Clark Memorial. The trail begins there. We parked on the south side of the road and gathered our gear. 

I decided to bring my daypack instead of just my hydration pack. I had dressed in layers and wanted the extra storage for when I needed to shed clothing. I was carrying 3 liters of water, my lunch, 3 bones for Black Jack, my first aid kit and my emergency kit (a gallon size Ziploc full of all things needed in emergencies). I also had my walking poles since my knee still lacks stability. 

We walked to the memorial and then began our hike. It stays in a wash for the majority of the hike. The footing alternated between loose sand, dried earth, gravel, and small rocks. The hiking poles were not necessary for a healthy hiker but I'm glad I had mine. 

Since this trail is a remote hike, we knew that we would probably not see any other hikers on the trail and we were right. After a few minutes of hiking, we decided to let the dogs off their leashes and let them explore. They had a blast! It was a great place to let them roam since we were trapped in the wash so their routes were limited. It made my heart happy to see Black Jack enjoying his freedom. 

After a few miles of hiking, we approached a small section of narrows. It was dry but would have made a beautiful waterfall section if water was flowing. 

We started into the narrows and were able to navigate our way with ease. I was a bit nervous since I didn't know what to expect but I was able to do all the scrambling even with my injured knee. 

The most strenuous section was about a 20 foot drop that was a little steep. My friend and her dogs went first and had no problems. We threw our poles to the bottom to free up our hands. I went next and stopped about halfway down to help Black Jack. He was very nervous at this section. Whenever he would try to go down, his paws would slip and he would back up. He weighs over 80 pounds so I wasn't sure how we were going to get him down if he couldn't do it. My friend came back up to me and with her help, we were able to coax and cheer him down small sections at a time until he was finally at the bottom.

We finished the narrows section and continued to walk along the wash. It was a very interesting area. The rocks varied in appearance, some even resembled concrete. It was neat to see what the power of water can create. 

We finally began to see water. Charlie's Spring has water year round. We didn't see where it started but walked along it for probably a mile or so. The dogs loved it and enjoyed drinking and playing in it.

The map noted that we would see a power line road entering from the right and exiting from the left and that we were to take it to the left. We saw some power lines high overhead but never saw a road. We continued walking along the wash. Eventually, we walked under an overpass. We looked at the map and didn't see that road. I began to think that something was wrong. As the miles began to add up, we realized that we somehow missed the turn. We decided to stop and eat lunch. I gave Black Jack his 3 bones. We were able to get phone service so we looked at our location on a map. We saw that the road we had recently walked under was North Shore Road, which is in Lake Mead Recreational Area. I knew where we were and knew that we were no longer near where we wanted to be. We decided to turn around and head back to North Shore Road. We had two options at this point, we could walk along the road or retrace our steps. We were at about the 6 mile mark at this point. We weren't sure about the distance it would be on the road but I was worried about getting Black Jack back up the narrows section. We decided to walk along the road back to our car. I figured it was about 5 miles. We put our dogs back on their leashes and made our way to the road. Once we were back on the road, we were able to use our phone to see the distance and it was about 7 miles. The walk was longer and at an incline but it was not hard since we had stable footing. The occasional car passed us as we walked. I could feel a few hot spots forming on my feet but decided to keep walking until I reached the Lake Mead north entrance booth. Once I got there, I was a few minutes ahead of my friend so I stopped and doctored my feet. I dumped out sand and small rocks and added a band-aid. Once my friend joined me, we continued our trek. We were getting closer. Immediately after the fee booth, there was the Valley of Fire Hwy. We turned onto it to make the final few miles push back to our car. It was a steady incline into the sun. The road offered a nice sandy shoulder area so I was able to walk on it with my dog to help save his pads. We finally reached the park entrance and stopped to get a picture by the sign. 

Both mine and my friend's feet were really hurting. I knew that we only had about a mile left so we continued on. We passed the west entrance pay area. I stopped to use the bathroom and wait for my friend. She opted to not stop because she was afraid she wouldn't be able to start again. 

We passed the famous Elephant Rock and then continued along a trail over the crest of the ridge. Once I was on the other side, I was greeted with this beautiful sight. I knew that we were almost to our car so I reveled in the sight. 

When I was finally able to see the car I yelled back to my friend. Black Jack and I reached the car first and we were so happy. I was really looking forward to sitting down and taking off my shoes. When my friend reached the car, she told me our total mileage was 13.2 miles in a total time of 6 hours (moving time of 5:15). 

On the ride home we talked about it and think we figured out how we missed the turn. The hike is in a wash and is not maintained. We have several times a year where there are flood-like conditions. There must have been enough flooding through the wash since the map was made that the road entrance and exit have been washed away. The landscape must have changed enough that we were not able to see the landmarks that we needed. 

I had said that I wanted a nice, long hike before my surgery and I got what I asked for. It wasn't a super difficult hike, it was just long. I am very glad that we did this hike in the winter because there was no shade or protection so this hike could have been detrimental if it had been during the summer. My words of advice for future hikers of this trail is that if you reach the power lines, you missed the road. You should either turn around there and retrace your steps back to the trailhead or do some extensive exploration around there to try and find the road to continue the loop. Happy hiking!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Great Santa Run ~ 12/5/15

On 12-5-15, me and my boys participated in The Las Vegas Great Santa Run. It was held in Downtown Las Vegas/Fremont Street. I had picked our packets up the night before so we were able to arrive already dressed. Instead of a shirt, we received a full Santa costume. 

The race was scheduled to start at 10:00 AM so we arrived at 9:15 AM. That gave us enough time to find a free parking spot in the neighboring residential area and walk to the pre-race party.

The before show included singing from the cast of "Jersey Boys" and dancing from Chippendales. We were too far back to see anything but we could hear the music. 

After the pre-race entertainment, they marched us to the start line which was a few blocks away. The race ended up starting about 15 minutes late. 

They sang the National Anthem and then had a 10 second countdown. At zero, confetti was shot into the air and a small wave of wheelchair athletes were allowed to begin. They were given a few minute head start. 

They then had another 10 second countdown for the 5K runners/walkers. At this confetti cannon the crowd began to slowly move forward. 

It took us another few minutes to finally cross the start line. The boys were running the 5K while I was walking it. So once we started, I lost sight of them. Since we are all dressed alike, there was no way of telling them apart. 

The course is a nice flat, paved course that made it's way around downtown Las Vegas. It starts by going south on the famous Las Vegas Boulevard. It even passes the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop, made famous by the television show Pawn Stars. There was a water aid station at the 1.55 mile mark. They handed out bottled water which was nice because it allowed me to drink it for the remainder of the race. 

I crossed the finish line in 51:27. I was pleased with that time since I had to walk the entire thing. I received my medal and then found my boys at the predetermined meeting spot. The boys both had great races and were excited to receive medals. 

This was a very fun race! It is my second year participating in it. I hope to be able to run it again next year. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Snow Canyon Half Marathon and 5K ~ 11-7-15

I was really looking forward to racing the Snow Canyon Half Marathon in St. George, Utah. It is a downhill race that goes from 4695 feet to 2812 feet. It is a great course to set a Personal Record (PR) on. I had planned on making this a PR race for me. With my injury on 10-10-15, torn ACL and Meniscus of my right knee, I was not going to be able to go for that goal. I realized that they had a 5K so I decided to change my registration to a 5K and walk it. My husband was still going to run the half marathon so I figured I might as well participate since I had already paid for it. 

The Snow Canyon Half Marathon elevation chart.
We drove up on Friday night so we could pick up our race packets and attend the vendor fair. It was located at the Dixie Convention Center. The vendor fair was small but packet pickup was quick and easy.

We stayed in a hotel that left a lot to be desired. It was not super cheap but was definitely not one we will stay in again. The beds were comfortable but the walls were paper thin. That led to me not getting a lot of sleep.

We woke up at 6:00 AM, so we could stop by the breakfast and still get to the race by 6:45-7:00 AM. My husband  needed to catch a bus to the start of his race since it was a point to point. The buses were running from 6:30-7:30 AM. His race was scheduled to start at 8:30 AM. We found the race with no problems and he was on the bus by 7:05 AM. My 5K was not scheduled to start until 9:00 AM, so I returned to the car to stay warm. By 8:00 AM, I was bored and made my way over to the start line. I waited there with a few other early birds until the race started. 

A pre-race selfie.
Since I knew I was going to walk, I made sure to stay towards the back of the pack at the start line. At 9:00 AM, the race was on. I started walking and tried to keep a steady pace. I was not used to being at the back of the pack and it took a lot of self control to not try to run.

A view from the back of the pack.
I was able to maintain an average pace of 18:00 minute miles. The course was a square with one corner having an out and back section. On that section, we made our way beside some of the lava fields. It was really pretty so I decided to take some pictures. At around the 1.5 mile mark, I was looking at the scenery and not at where I was walking and stepped off the edge of the road. This caused me to lose my balance and fall down. With me knee injury, I have lost the ability to regain stability once lost. Luckily, I was going slow enough that it was a relatively painless fall. I landed on my hands and left knee. I wasn't able to get up on my own so two older ladies, who were walking behind me, helped me up.

What I was looking at when I fell.

Such a beautiful course.
I was able to continue walking at about the same pace and encountered no further perils. Around the 2.5 mile mark, the 5K and the half marathon courses joined. I was able to see the front runners merge just before I was at that spot. As I neared the finish line, there was a course photographer so I smiled for the camera. They also caught my husband as he ran by.

The finish was on the track at the high school. They had a nice long finisher's chute set up that was about 75 meters long. It was lined with spectators and already finished racers. It was very hard to walk that section. I know it's silly but I was embarrassed. I wanted to sprint in like I usually do but instead I kept my steady pace and finished the race. My official time was 58:38.

I made my way to the side of the chute to wait for my husband to finish. I knew he wouldn't be too much longer and I was right. He finished strong with a time of 2:04:16.

After he finished, I met him for our customary hug. They offered several snacks and drinks for the finishers. There was an award ceremony for the overall winners and the top three in each age group. They had a tent set up so you could check your time and placement. We checked both of our results and then made our way back to our car. We stopped for a quick lunch and then drove home to Las Vegas.

Our post-race selfie.
This race is put on by St. George Races. This was my second race with them and so far I am really impressed with their races. They offer nice tech shirts, free race pictures, great medals, and certified courses.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Coeur Sports Ambassador for 2016

I am so excited and honored to announce that I have been named as a 2016 Ambassador for Coeur Sports! I contacted them and told them that I am injured and that my 2016 race season will not be what we had expected. They said that they would still love for me to be on their team! She asked that I chronicle what it is like to be an injured athlete; recording the journey through injury, back to training and finally to racing. She said it is something every athlete can relate to and be helped by. Their slogan is Heart and Courage. That perfectly describes what I'm feeling now. I think that I'm going to fit right in on their team!

Coeur Sports offers amazing triathlon, cycling, running, swimming, compression, tees and more for active women. Check out their page!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

My Season Ender ~ Completely Torn ACL and Oblique Medial Meniscus Tear

On 10-10-15, I was running in the Terrain Race 10K obstacle/mud run at Bootleg Canyon in Boulder City, NV. I was running it with my husband. It was my forth obstacle race and his first. We were in the first wave at 9:00 am. We started in a garbage bin filled with water. At the cannon boom, we were off. I jumped out of the bin and hit the ground running. The first obstacle was an over/under section of banners and rope. The next obstacle was a long section of large rocks that we had to run over. We then had to run up a steep hill. At the top of the hill, we had a bit of rolling terrain until we were directed to run down a steep hill. It was really steep and the ground was unstable. I slowed down a bit on this section because I was afraid of wiping out and tumbling the 100 yards down the hill. At the bottom of the hill, the course had brought us back to the main staging area so we were near the start line, the food vendors, and spectators. The next obstacle was a four foot wall. I ran to it and jumped so that I landed on the top sitting. I swung my legs over and jumped down. Then I heard it......POP!

My right knee let out a loud pop and it bent to the right at the knee. I immediately knew that I had done something bad. I was able to stay upright because I yelled to my husband who was instantly by my side. I told him that I broke something. I buried my face in his chest and began repeating "No, No, No". He led me to the side of the course where a vendor came over with a chair. I sat down and my husband asked the vendor to get the medics. (I never got to thank that vendor and I really wish I had.) I rolled my capris up and could see that my knee was already swelling. The medics arrived only a few minutes later. They asked me a few questions, looked at my knee, and strapped an ice pack to it. They said that I needed to go to the ER. We decided that we would drive ourselves so the medics drove me in the ambulance to our car. They took our timing chips to give back to the race directors.

We drove about thirty minutes to our hospital. For the first time, I cried. I had a lot of time to think about what had just happened and what it more than likely meant. We arrived at the ER and were able to be seen pretty quickly. They took me straight to get X-Rays. I had to set my leg in a few positions and that was pretty painful. They then sent me back to my exam room. After a while, the ER doctor came in to talk to me. He told me that I did not have any broken bones. The physical exam pointed to a soft tissue injury. He said that he was going to put me in for a referral to the orthopedic office. They then set me up with a full leg immobilizing knee brace and crutches and some pain medication.

So I was sent home to wait. Since it was a holiday weekend, the ortho office would not be open until Tuesday. My knee continued to swell. I had a friend loan me his Polar Care ice machine to help ice my knee. I spent many hours that weekend sitting on the couch with my leg elevated. 

Finally, Tuesday arrived and I called the ortho office. They said that the soonest they could see me would be November 4th. I could not believe that! How could I go that long without knowing what had happened? After explaining my case and the hardship it would cause to wait that long, they said that they would examine my case and call me on Wednesday with more information. The next morning, they called me with a new appointment date. They were going to be able to see me on Monday, October 19th. In the meantime, I was instructed to continue wearing the brace and icing it. 

At the one week point, the swelling was down some. I was able to place some weight on the leg and hobble around without the brace or crutches. 

Still a little swollen.

This is how straight I could get the knee.

This is how much I could bend the knee.

On Monday, I arrived at my appointment ready for answers. I was seen my a Physician's Assistant. He pulled and pushed on my leg/knee, had me try to straighten and bend the knee, and did all the normal exam stuff. He said that my knee was still really swollen and that he was concerned that I had damaged more than one thing in my knee. He put in a referral for me to get an ultrasound due to how much pain I was having in my calf. He was also going to try and get me an emergency MRI spot. He sent us over to the imagery department. As I was checking in, they told me that they were going to be able to do both that morning. My husband had taken the entire day off of work in hopes that they would be able to get me in for an MRI that day so we were really glad that it was working out that way. I was sent straight back for the ultrasound. It was a bit uncomfortable when they were looking at the underside of my knee but other than that, it was fine and they saw no issues with clots. I then was taken to the MRI waiting room. I filled out the questionnaire and had to mark that I have wires in my body due to an accident in 1986. I have several wires in my face that were used to set facial fractures. That raises red flags so they sent me to have additional X-Rays to see exactly where the wires were. Since they had been in my face for 29 years, they were not worried about them pulling out but more about them heating up. It was determined to be safe so I was set to have the MRI. I was in the machine for about 20 minutes as it did it's thing. They then sent me back to the orthopedic office to find out the results. I went back to an exam room and was shortly talking with the PA again. He told me that I had torn my ACL and meniscus. He told me to stop wearing the brace and to start walking on it. He wanted me to see the orthopedic surgeon as soon as possible so another appointment was set for Friday, October 23rd.

I still had several events and races scheduled for this year. I was going on a three day hike in Zion National Park, a sprint triathlon, a five day camping/hiking trip, a half marathon, a 5K color run, and a marathon (my first). The PA told me that I was not going to be able to do any of those. He said that I would be out of competition for 9-12 months. When I arrived home, I began contacting the friends and race directors with the sad information. I had also registered for a half iron distance triathlon on April 2, 2016. I had planned on racing in my first full distance race in Ironman Arizona in November 2016. I realized that I was not going to be able to do these races either. Friday night was hard when I began to think about all that I was losing due to this injury. After talking to my husband and some friends, I was able to pull myself together and realize that I needed to change my focus from race and competition to healing and recovery. 

On the 23rd, I was at my ortho appointment and met my surgeon. He confirmed that I had a complete ACL tear and an oblique medial meniscus tear. The ACL will require surgery to repair. They will harvest a replacement from my hamstring tendon. The meniscus tear can not be repaired. They will just go in and clean the damaged area out. They scheduled my surgery for December 29th. I will be in physical therapy for prehabilitation before the surgery and rehabilitation after the surgery. The surgeon wants me to regain my range of motion before they operate. 

The surgeon is a prior pro triathlete who trained six years for the Olympics so he understood me when I asked him about continuing any sort of exercise program. He said that I could walk on a treadmill, swim and water jog, and bike on a trainer or stationary bike. He said that the stronger my leg is before the surgery, the better it will be after the surgery. 

So, my season is over and next year is a bust as well. They said that I could probably plan on doing a sprint triathlon next fall. That's not exactly what I was hoping to be doing then but at least I should be able to return to the sport I love.