Monday, December 29, 2008

Four bits gets you time in the racks


Every journey starts with the first step.   Today I was given the green light to start riding again, with the caveat that I may have to taper back activities to balance pain management.  Music to my ears.

So, at 3:35:07 pm PST on Monday December 29th, 2008, I started on my road back from injury and preparation for the 2009 season.  The result was a massive 35 minute effort at 36 watts, with a HR of 85 BPM!  EPIC!

I'd love to report that the ride was 100% pain free, but unfortunately that wasn't the case.  My range of motion is still a bit limited due to the swelling, and those first dozen or so slow revolutions really didn't feel too happy when my knee was at the top of its pedal stroke.  However, over time it became less and less uncomfortable and I was able to increase my cadence a bit. 

It wasn't much, but it's the start.


(Kudos to those of you who make the connection with the title!)

Friday, December 26, 2008

76 hour check in


My ass and the couch were like the roommate you don't really like the last 76 hours.  You tolerate each other because you have no place better to be, but you'd really rather be someplace else.  The good news is that I'm up and mobile now, and limping down the road to recovery. 

My surgery was scheduled for a 2pm check-in on Tuesday, but at about 11:30 I got a call from the day-surgery group saying they had a few cancellations due to the weather and wanted to know if I could come in early.  I told them we'd be there in 45minutes.

At 12:15 I give my name, DOB, and what procedure I was having done to the lady at the front desk.  This information will be repeated probably a dozen times over the next hour and a half.  The lady who takes all my medical information, the nurse who preps my knee, the nurse who does my IV, the nurse who wheels me into the pre-op room, my Orthoped, the OR nurse, the anesthesiologist.... I'm sure there are a few that I forgot.

I try to relax during the prep-process.  Traci and I chat about what we'll do for dinner later tonight and wonder when my folks will be arriving.  Finally they are ready for me in the OR.  Traci walks with the gurney until we reach the waiting area.  I give her a cheery "see you in a bit" and she smiles.  We both have horrible poker faces.

The OR waiting area is cold.  Much colder than the rest of the hospital.  There is one other gentleman in the room with me, but he looks very much uncomfortable and sleepy.   I pass the time by staring at the dots in the ceiling panel, then I remember I did the same exact thing the last time I was waiting for a knee surgery.  My Orthoped comes and, does the final review of my chart and takes his pen and writes "YES" on my left knee.  It itches.

After about 10 minutes, and a few visits from the other members of  the surgical team, I'm wheeled into the OR.  This room is even colder then the previous room.  Fortunately they have a few warm blankets for me to be wrapped in when I move myself over to the table.  The team moves efficiently getting me situated in place and they begin to strap my arms down and ......................

I wake up in the recovery room and the first though was "WTF died in my mouth."  Anesthesia gasses have a horrid taste to them and heeding the advice of the anesthesiologist, I take some big breaths of air and cough out the remaining crud in my system.  A women named Lisa, who supposedly had a fairly detailed conversation with about 10 minutes earlier, is there next to me. 

The deep breaths of air are doing their thing to clear the fog from my head and body, and in no time I'm back in my room with Traci.  My nurse asks me if I could stomach some juice and food, and comes back with some cranberry juice and a bite size muffin.  This is the first food I've had in 18 hours and it vanishes in seconds.  She comes back with a small menu and I order some hash browns, and a bagel with cream cheese. 

While we wait I get the quick run down from Traci about the surgery.  They weren't able to repair the meniscus due to the extent of the damage.  "Tears within tears" was the phrase used.  My guess is that this was due to the initial injury in 06 with the Barton Park injury on top of it.  My food arrives and I dive in.

My orthoped arrives as I'm pushing the empty tray from in front of me.  Happy, but still hungry.  He shows me the before and after photos:


In the top photo, the white mass with the "F"  on it is my femur (thighbone).  You should be able to see the entire bottom of the bone in a knee that doesn't have an injury like this.  It is obstructed by my meniscus, which had torn up, flipped over on itself and became caught behind the femur.  The two lines are pointing to two additional tears within the main tear.  Hence, no repair.  The second photo shows my ACL, which was surgically replaced in January of '03.  The weird looking blob on the left was a tissue mass (it is not a tumah!) that grew that wasn't causing an issues, but didn't need to be there, so it too was removed.

The end result was this:


This is basically the same photo as the first, just shot a bit more to the inside of the knee to see where the meniscus was removed and how the tear went under the femur.

So with that news I was given a small list of PT exercises to do, and some instructions on what to take when, and how much.  I see him again on Monday for my follow up.

This surgery was relatively minor compared to my two ACL reconstructions.  I've been hobbling around without a crutch since the first day and I'm already allowed to take the compression legging off.  I'm just happy its finally over and hope to be doing some light spinning by the first of the year. :)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Before the knife.


Mother nature is funny.  After not having much in the way of snow in the greater PDX area for a number of years, we get a bunch pooped on us all at once.  Ah well.

Traci and I have spent much of the past week hanging at the house, cleaning and prepping for the holiday, and shoveling snow off our driveway.  We haven't gone out much because we didn't need to and I'd rather not drive if I didn't have to.

This morning however, I had to drive.  I was to have my pre-op surgery appointment with my Orthoped at 8:30.  So at 7am I get up and look outside.. its snowing.. again. 

We get in the car and make the short trip into downtown Hillsboro.  The roads are mostly empty and what vehicles that are out there have chains and are mainly trucks.  We feel out of place in the Mini without chains.  At 8am we get to the doctors park and there isn't anyone in the parking lot and the building looks dark.  We circle the block a few times (getting stuck once in the process but managing to get out with the help of a few bystanders.) Calls to the office go unanswered so we head home.

Once home, it takes us 30 minutes to get the car back into the garage.  I don't plan on going back out today.  I finally get in touch with the doctors office and was informed that yes, there were people there at 8am and if I didn't come in for the pre-op, I couldn't go in for surgery tomorrow.

Wow, nice ultimatum.

So back out into the snow I go, but this time on foot.  It takes me about 40 minutes to walk the 3 miles.  Its cold and quiet and really fairly peaceful.

Knee0002I meet with my surgeon and went over his findings in the MRI.   The circled areas in the first photo are the left side meniscus in my left knee.  The distinct dark triangles are the meniscus which is in good condition.



This second photo is the right side of my left knee.  Notice the circle on the left.  The triangle doesn't have a distinct point to it.  He called it "blunted".  The circle on the right shows more issues.  The dark slop (my words) on the left side of the triangle is what he identified as the part that should be attached to the right side, which has folded over on itself.  He believes this injury will be a good candidate for a repair rather then a removal of the torn area.  I had figured this was coming, but the confirmation from him was still a big blow.

I talked with him about recovery and rehab and I was happy to hear the "8 weeks non weight bearing" wasn't going to be the case.  Bed rest for 3 days and no twisting, jumping, running, or deep knee bends for at least 3 months.  Unfortunately cycling is also out of the picture with the exception of light gears and no-resistance spinning until March, so my 2009 road season is shot it seems.

I think that hurts more than the injury.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Year in review, provided early by inability to ride any more this season.


So my racing season technically ended at Barlow when I blew out my knee. Since that time, I've been on the bike a few times just doing easy rides in preparation for my surgery that was supposed to be on the 11th. Well yesterday morning I received a phone call from my Orthopedic surgeon. Seems they did a "second review" of my MRI films and discovered what's called a "bucket handle tear" of the meniscus. In addition to that, I've got fragments floating around in the joint. This is a bit more serious than the previously diagnosed injury and requires a more involved surgery which needs an assistant. As a result, my surgery has been moved to the 23rd. In addition, because I've got debris floating around the Doctor put the kibosh on being on the bike.

So, yesterday officially put the end to my 2008 season! Instead of jumping on the trainer for a light spin while my wife busted ass in her workout, I pulled up my WKO+ data and mulled over my season.

Season started Jan 29th, 2008 and ended December 2nd, 2008

3690 Miles logged in WKO. Figuring in rides that I did without my PT, I'm going to estimate I rode about 4200 miles this year.

Total wattage in kJ recorded: 120816 or 34kWh which is about enough to power my entire house for 3 days.

Total time in the saddle: 9 days 38 minutes, 48 seconds. As a bonus, most of it I got to spend with my wonderful wife and teammates.

Weight at start of season, 190lbs. Weight at end of season 186lbs. Average riding weight during season 184lbs. Low of season 179lbs (amazing what 11 hours in the saddle in 105 degree heat will do to you the next day.)

Longest day in saddle: 9.5 hours spanning 115 miles (also high single day mileage for the year.) Was a very odd day as we were doing Ride Marshalling for the Portland LIVESTRONG Challenge. The first 85 or so miles we averaged close to 19mph, but we ended up escorting a few struggling riders in the last portion of the ride which took a really long time. To add to it, the temp hit close to 105 in the afternoon. Even drinking 2 bottles an hour I was dehydrated the next day.

I burnt off about 28,856 calories riding this year, or 53.4 Big Mac's. Since I don't think I could eat one, we can go in pints of Guinness which is much more appropriate for my blog. At approximately 200 calories a pint, I burnt off enough calories for 144.2 pints!

Highest mileage month for me was June, however the hardest month for me in terms of TSS/mile was actually February. I'll hedge a bet this was due to a large amount of indoor interval training during the month and still building my fitness.

Highest recorded HR was 190BPM which was right after a massive attack at PIR where I averaged 640 watts for a minute.

Highest recorded speed was 51.2 mph, which was on the descent off of Bald Peak Road during the LIVESTRONG Challenge.

From a power curve standpoint I made some very good strides in some areas and highlighted the weakness I'll probably be working on next year:

Mean Max Power: (Max historical wattage shown at any time.  First set of numbers was taken as of Feb 20th, 2008.  Second set taken yesterday.)


Time Wattage w/kg  
1s 1039 12.36  
5s 873 10.38  
10s 714 8.49  
20s 534 6.35  
30s 460 5.47  
1m 391 4.65  
5m 289 3.44  
10m 256 3.04  
60m 211 2.51  
120m 198 2.35  
1s 1375 16.35 336w
5s 1315 15.64 442w
10s 1196 14.22 482w
20s 928 11.04 394w
30s 844 10.04 384w
1m 640 7.61 249w
5m 343 4.08 54w
10m 314 3.73 58w
60m 256 3.04 45w
120m 216 2.57 18w

Pretty easy to see that I saw my biggest improvements in my top-end.  I was both able to make "hotter burning machines" (higher total power output) but longer ones as well.

I set out this year with very few specific goals, but a number of general ones. Here is a quick review:

"Steady weight" below 180 during the season - FAIL! I defined steady weight as the number your weight fluxuates around over time. For me it was 184, so I didn't hit the goal but I was definitely lighter this year than I was in years past and I felt better climbing this year.

Race more - WIN! I did 2 road and 2 cross races in '07. This year I did 14 road races (including my first TT and Crit), 1 track race, and 8 cross events.

Upgrade to Cat4 - WIN! I received my upgrade in April after taking 7th in Piece of Cake and added to my wins at PIR in '07.

Progress towards Cat3 - WIN! After I upgraded, I had a very good April and May out at PIR and an okay crit at Sunset. Hopefully I'll be on the bike to race some of the "Spring Classics".

Dairy Creek team ride and not get dropped - WIN! This road always seems to kick my ass when we ride it with the team. A few times this year I was with the group when we hit the end and was even able to mix it up once or twice.

Participate in TTT - FAIL! Second year running. I will be in it this year (pending knee).

Participate in time trials - EPIC FAIL! I did one… ONE.

Race at Velodrome - FAIL! I did one mass start race this year and it scared the shit out of me.

Be competitive in Men's C's at Cross - Meh - I'll give this one 50%. I missed out on two races during crusades that would have fit me very well (PIR/Hillsboro) and I was in the top 10 at Barlow before I f'd myself up. Alpenrose I was one place out of the points, one Kermesse I took 4th and the other I crashed out of after flatting both tires. I think with a bit more preparation in August and September (i.e. not trying to plan a cross race in 34 days) I'll be much better off next year and will be able to move up into the B's.

Have fun - WIN! I enjoyed racing this year and made some really good friends that I look forward to racing with and against next year if all goes well.

All in all, it was a good year for the bike and I. I learned a lot on the bike, growing as a rider, racer, and teammate. I learned a lot about the bike, thanks to the patience of teammate who was very generous with his time, and I'm now able to do most of my mechanical adjustments and rebuilds at home. Finally, I got to witness first hand the inner workings of organizing, promoting, and running a race which I hope to be able to leverage again in 2009.