Injury on my Scandinavian tour – Missing to defend my title at Indeland – Building for two World Championship

Jetzt ist es schon einige Zeit her dass ich etwas geschrieben habe. Sorry dafür.  Wie ihr euch denken könnt war ich in der Zwischenzeit trotzdem gut beschäftigt 😉 Nachdem ich glücklich den Ironman South Africa überstanden hatte, und nicht nur überstanden, sondern deutlich besser ins Ziel gebracht habe als wir vorher aufgrund der viel zu kurzen Vorbereitungszeit gehofft hatten, wollten wir meinem Körper etwas Ruhe geben. Daher habe ich einige Tage gar nicht trainiert. Das war allerdings einfach, da ich in der Zeit viele Dienste in der Klinik hatte. Wie immer wenn der Sport deutlich zu kurz kommt habe ich die Bewegung vermisst. Da wir aber in keiner Weise unter Druck standen, da ich  für die Qualifikation für Kona  schon genügend Punkte hatte, konnten wir mit einem sehr langfristigen Aufbau für Kona beginnen. Auf dem Weg dahin wollte ich jedoch im Sommer einige Rennen bestreiten, aber keine Langdistanz. Beim Blick in den Rennkalender waren die Rennen schnell gefunden. Ich wollte sehr gerne wieder nach Schweden, wo ich meinen ersten Ironman gewonnen habe, und habe mich daher für den 70.3 in Jönköping angemeldet. Zur Vorbereitung auf das Rennen sollten der 70.3 in Helsingor und der Indeland-Triahtlon dienen. Da es keinerlei Druck gab noch irgendwelche Punkte sammeln zu müssen habe ich mich gefreut einfach nur des Triathlon wegen am Start zu stehen. Die Vorfreude war riesig.

It’s been quite a long time I didn’t write something here, sorry for that. As you can guess I was busy in the meantime. Happily having survived IM South Africa, and not just survived, but finishing much stronger than what we could have except from my short preparation for the race, we wanted to give my body a rest. So I took off some days from training. That was kind of easy because I had a busy week in hospital 😉 But as always I started missing to swim bike and run soon. Now that we weren’t in any rush or had any pressure anymore since I had already enough points for Kona we started a long term build up for Kona. My wish was to do some races in summer. No more long distance, but some shorter races. Looking through the race schedules it was easy to decide. I wanted to go back to Sweden, where I did win my first Ironman, and signed up for IM 70.3 Jönköping. For preparation we also choose to do two more middle distance races before to get me into peak form. I was really excited. There was no pressure for collecting points, it was just about triathlon and racing and giving the best on race day.

 

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Wenn ihr genau hinseht, dann seht ihr das der Helm gebrochen ist. Bei mir waren es zum Glück nur Prellungen, Schürfwunden und Schleudertrauma. Looking close you can see that my helmet is broken, I had sone bruises, abrasions and a whiplash injury.

 

Zwei Woche vor dem Wettkampf in Dänemark hatte ich noch einen Sturz mit meinem Rad. Zum Glück ist nicht schlimmeres passiert. Der kaputte Helm wurde rasch von Giro ersetzt (DANKE!). Prellungen, Schürfwunden und Schleudertrauma waren relativ rasch auskuriert (DANKE Dirk König bei Physio Vital). In der Rennwoche selber merkte ich auf einmal dass mein Körper bereit war. Bereit für das nächste Rennen. Mit der Verletzung vom Winter hatte ich noch lange zu tun und war noch lange damit beschäftigt die Muskulatur wieder aufzubauen. Aber genau in dieser Woche fühlte sich alles endlich wieder normal an. Dazu kommt dann auch noch dass Helsingor wirklich ein schönes Städtchen ist, die Landschaft, aber auch kulturell wird dort einiges geboten. Am Wettkampftag lief es dann leider nicht wie geplant. Mein Schwimmen war ganz gut, das beste seit langem. Vor allem der Start war prima bis ich irgendwann die Lücke nach vorne nicht gefunden habe und bei dem Versuch einen anderen Weg zu nehmen hinten raus gefallen bin. So habe ich mich irgendwann in der dritten Gruppe wiedergefunden. Bis dahin war alles soweit okay. Auf dem Weg zum Rad hatte ich dann plötzlich starke Schmerzen im linken Oberschenkel und konnte  nicht mehr laufen. Es fühlte sich wie ein starker Krampf an, nur eben viel schlimmer. An Laufen war nicht mehr zu denken, also bin ich gegangen bis ich es irgendwann an die Mount Linie geschafft hatte und auf das Rad durfte. Ich beschloss  zu versuchen Rad zu fahren, in der Hoffnung dass sich die Muskulatur lockern würde. Die ersten 10 Minuten waren die Hölle, zum einen der Schmerzen wegen, zum anderen aber vor allem deshalb weil ich sah, dass ich nicht annähernd Wettkampfleistung trat. Es war klar ich würde immer mehr Zeit nach vorne verlieren. Und so sind aus gut drei Minuten nach 10 km schon 6 Minuten Rückstand geworden. Mit und mit konnte ich das Bein aber normal bewegen, wenn auch nicht den normalen Druck geben. So blieb es für den Rest der Radrunde, die Schmerzen waren fast weg, aber normal war das nicht. Irgendwie habe ich noch gehofft dass sich das beim Laufen ändern würde. Wieder in der Wechselzone angekommen, musste ich erst mal vom Rad runter klettern und dann war es eigentlich auch schon vorbei. An Laufen war nicht zu denken, die Schmerzen waren wieder so schlimm wie am Anfang, es zerriss mich innerlich. Also hieß es aufhören, doch so einfach ist das im Wettkampf irgendwie nicht. Es ist schon unglaublich wozu einen so ein tolles Publikum und das Adrenalin bewegen können, ich habe mir doch tatsächlich die Laufschuhe angezogen und wollte es mit Gehen versuchen. Zum Glück hat Chris aus einiger Entfernung gesehen dass etwas nicht stimmte und kam zu mir rüber gerannt um mich aus dem Rennen zu nehmen.  Das war meine Rettung und die einzige richtige Entscheidung. Klar war ich frustriert und habe einige Tränen vergossen. Zurück zu Hause hieß die Diagnose dann Muskelfaserriss. Die nächsten beiden Wettkämpfe muss ich leider absagen. Etwas gutes jedoch hatte der Wettkampf, ich habe einen wunderschönen Ort venengelernt, viele nette Menschen getroffen und weiß, dass ich mit der Vorbereitung auf den Punkt topfit war und sogar meine Leistungen aus dem Vorjahr bereits jetzt übertreffen kann.

Two weeks before the race in Denmark, the IM 70.3 European Championships I had a crash with my bike. Luckily I didn’t have any severe injuries. And just as race week arrived I felt that my body was ready. Ready to race again. For a long time I still had to deal wish my injury I had during winter and was working on building strength again. But just that week everything felt normal. Helsingor is just a beautiful place. But everything did fall together on race day. My swim was okay. I had a great start but then I struggled to keep contact to the fast woman and even struggled to stay in my group firstly. Slowly I managed to get back into the group. Either way, it was one of my fastest swims and I existed the water in a perfect position to attack the podium. Running to my bike I started to really struggle. I felt a pain in my left quad, like a cramp, just even worse. Trying to stretch and loosen it, I only made it worse. I wasn’t even able to run through transition, I had to walk. That was so frustrating. I decided I try to start the bike, being in lots of pain I wasn’t able to push my pedals. It took about ten minutes until I finally found some rhythm, but far away from what I am usually able to push. And from three minuter in T1 the gap to the front was growing to 6 minutes after only 10 km. It is a two loop bike course and you pass the center of the city. Coming trough the large crowd they were cheering loud. I wanted to cry because I would have liked to enjoy it but was just suffering. Since the pain got better I was hoping for a good run. I should have known better, because I still was not able to ride my normal watts. Crawling off my bike the pain was even worse. It is surprising how a huge crowd and adrenalin can influence you and make you try. I had to walk and every step did hurt. I just didn’t want it to happen so I got my running shows on and wanted to just walk and maybe see if the pain will go away. Chris was waiting for me somewhere down the run course. Looking of me he saw my head going up and down (as I was humbling) and ran over to the transition where he had to shout very loud until I was able to hear him. Luckily he came to safe me to start the run. As you can guess I was really frustrated and sad and yes I did cry. Back at home I got diagnosed with a torn muscle in my left quads. What means that I had to withdraw from Indeland Triathlon as well as IM 70.3 Jönköping. But I also took some positives with me, having been at a great place, meeting some very nice people and knowing that I was perfectly fit on race day and I am already stronger than I have been last year.

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In der Zwischenzeit habe ich die Einladung zur IM 70.3 WM in Chattanooga erhalten. Eigentlich wollte ich die WM dieses Jahr ausfallen lassen, aber unter diesen Umständen habe ich die Einladung sehr gerne angenommen. Es wird für mich kein „A“ Rennen sein, aber wo kann man schon besser seine Form testen als wenn man mit den Besten der Welt zusammen an der Startlinie steht?

In the meantime I got the invitation to the 2017 IM 70.3 World Championship which will be held in Chattanooga, and I am happy to accept the invitation. It won’t be an A race for me, but what place and race is better to test your performance before the World Championship in Kona than racing against the best of the world?

 

Thank you all for your support, everyone out there who follow my  passion. My family and friends for being me just who I am. My husband and coach Chris (triworx-coaching.com) who support me, believes in me and helps me to get stronger. My medical support team: Dirk and Berit and Conny and Andreas. And of course all my sponsors:

#myroadtokona – IM South African Championships 2017

For a long time I didn’t write on my blog and just posted on social media. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to write but I just couldn’t. During winter happened a lot.  Just to make sure you stay with me, I start at the very beginning:

Last season was an up and down, with not finishing IM Frankfurt did mean not going to Kona in 2016 (we had decided to get there either with one IM or not at all). So I aimed for early points and did get them by racing IM 70.3 worldchamps in Australia, winning IM Barcelona and placing 4th at IM 70.3 Miami. Since Frankfurt I already felt a minor problem with my gluteus and hips, nothing to worry about, I thought, but I did have cramps every race I started and my stride just didn’t feel normal. Even Chris did ask me once why I did have changed my running posture from mid foot to front foot and I just answered that I didn’t changed it but it just happened (and felt happy about it). That should have been the point to stop and ask someone what was going on. Well at least we did ask but didn’t get the right answers. So we just kept going and hoping it will just be okay with having massages and doing stretching and drills. When I was able to win Barcelona in sub-9 I thought it might not be too serious. Then in Miami I still had one of my best bike splits (and the fastest of the day), but running didn’t feel normal at all. First day after the race I asked to go for an easy jog to get rid of my cramping gluteus, believing it would be better than resting. The flight back home made it even worse. Finding some rest the first week back I did hope for recovery which didn’t happen, gluteus got even worse. So I started training with almost no intensity, starting my runs with having pain in my right hip which did disappear every time after a few minutes. So I decided to go for one of the local running competitions which meant to do also speed work. On November 15th I went out for 5 x 1 k. It took me some time to settle into a nice rhythm. Intervalls worked out better then ever. Only the rests in between made me almost cry, pain got worse. But still not feeling any pain during my intervalls I kept going. Just to realize after I finished my speed work that I had no idea how to get home. It was still a 4 k jog home and it took me forever. This was the last day I did run for a long time. I was in pain walking, I was in pain resting, sitting and even lying – I was distressed. 

An MRI on Thursday didn’t show any significant pathological signs. Knowing that, I thought I just might need more rest and more massages and manual treatments. Friday night we went by car to the movie theater, me on the right side of the car. And then I wasn’t able to get out of the car. I wasn’t able to lift my right leg at all and had to take it with my hands and put it outside like I was paralyzed. Shocking!

I thought walking did at least look normal and every time Chris asked me why I was humbling I groaned at him that I didn’t, until also strangers asked me what had happened. There was no way to ignore it any longer that something serious was going on. Swimming was only possible with a pull boy and riding my bicycle only on my indoor trainer with almost no effort. For the last week of November I had signed up for a seminar in pediatric intensive care medicine in beautiful Blaubeuren. Not only intensive care seminar but it was also to be an intensive seminar since the talks started 7.30 am each morning until 8 or 9 pm with a break of an hour for lunch. First I had planed to have some running sessions during this week, make some trail runs, have fun. But I had to change plans and took my indoor trainer and bicycle with me. After another week of no training but swimming or better say pulling I just wanted to give my legs and body some turnover whilst sitting on a chair for 12 hours all day long. At least I did learn a lot and really can recommend this seminar to all German speaking pediatricians. The food was great as well 🙂 Just my walking didn’t get any better, but worse neither. End of the week there was a hike planned and I just wanted to get outside. Bad idea. It did only last 90 minutes. Going a bit uphill was fine but the way back, having some downhills I had to fix my hips with my hand to be able to walk anyway. I barely made it back. So I prescribed myself: no more sports at all. Back home I immediately saw my doctor again, got treatment, but nothing worked. With help from a friend I finally found the best orthopedic doctor I met so far. I was totally destroyed, willing to travel anywhere if just somebody could help me. As soon as I contacted her she just saw me. Being a former Olympic qualifier she knows how you feel being injured. When I told her my story she knew what my problem was. She even didn’t need to examine me, which she did anyway just to be sure. The same day she made me see an osteopath. The first time since 6 weeks I felt that something positive was going on, just a minor step, but something did work. I met another osteopath who also helped me a bit but the pain in my hip didn’t go away, still not being able to walk. Just before New Year’s Eve I met Berit, the sister of my orthopedic, also a physiotherapist and osteopath who also sees a lot of athletes. And after her treatment I didn’t have any pain. She wanted me to take 2 more days of rest and then start running again for 20 minutes. So I did. I immediately felt that I was still having a schon relieving posture and didn’t think it was good to keep going like this. I tried it 2 more times and then we had to decide to stop running again. I made appointments with her in Hamburg where she lives and works to get another treatment in the second week of January. At least I was able to push the pedals again on my bike trainer and was back to swimming. No big efforts but at least some. After this second treatment she got me back in my running shoes 🙂 Really slowly but making progress from day to day. I started running 10 minutes a day, after a week I did it twice. We did built it up like this very slowly, still having a relieving posture and not being able to stretch my hip for along time until it looked and felt almost normal again. In the middle of February I was able to run 10 k again, just easy effort and flat. Instead of a strong schedule of swim, bike and run I had a strong schedule of rehabilitation training, stability training and work at the hospital. In the time left I squeezed in my „normal“ training. Seeing Berit again in February she gave me the GO to increase my volume and go for my training camp at end of February, but kept my rehabilitation work doing every day. In between I still saw my other therapists and now have build a perfect network. I now see my physiotherapist every week, see my osteopath every 4-6 weeks to check on my body and meet Berit every 2-3 months or as often as necessary.

But back to the story: Training camp went very well. We had 8 days of great training in the southern sea alps, some long rides on the bicycle, a lot of brick runs. Most of them starting fast and also had my first run longer than 75 minutes. And it all did work very well. The day of our trip back home I did a two hour run in the morning with increasing my speed on the last half hour. I was so happy that even after a tough week of training I was able to run some k’s in Ironmanpace. For the first time I didn’t feel my hip at all this week. Before I still had a strange feeling like my hip being tired (no pain). But this week I did enjoy running again. Didn’t last long though. Sitting in the car for an hour I already felt the pain coming back. Anyway we had planned to stop at least every 2 hours to get me do some stretching but now I really needed to work on it. Having our first stop Chris got shocked when he saw me walking. In his eyes it looked like I did walk as I did back in December and January. I knew I wasn’t walking normal but I also knew it was different from what I felt back then. Stimm on our trip home I contacted Berit who did answer immediately. Back home I did my hip routine and went to bed. Now I had to admit that something was going on because I again did feel a discomfort. The next morning she gave me an additional hip routine which I was supposed to do after having done a 20  minute run…. and it did work out! I was so happy!!! Also I knew I was kind of safe because I would meet her again the next weekend. Feeling better from day to day we decided to stick to our plan and test how far I can go. So on Friday I had an Ironman specific bike session with some Intervalls and on Saturday a 28 k run, my longest so far (3 weeks before the race), again with increasing pace towards the end. In the evening I saw Berit and she was very happy. Just from the therapists view I did look much better than before, she didn’t find any major problem. You can’t imagine how happy I was, it might actually become true that I’ll be on the start line of IM South Africa on April 2nd to chase my points for Kona.

Well, not the last time of a setback. Back at work the next week I got asked if it would be possible I could work a full time job again (I did cut back my hours in February) and only a few minutes after being asked I started humbling again like in December. I just thought, this cannot be true! What did I do wrong?? I was able to take some minutes to just lay down in our office, come down and do a bit of hip routine. Getting checked by my physiotherapist the next day we were sure it wasn’t a setback but just my soul crying :-/ I had a though schedule, maybe not wise to register for my neonatology exam one week prior to the race. Anyway, I managed to calm down at least a bit, nailed my training sessions and was perfectly prepared for my exams, which I happily passed. Not much time to relax the next days as I was on duty all weekend, really looking forward to leaving on Tuesday. To be sure I didn’t take any minor or major problems with me I had a last body check with Andreas (osteopath) on Monday. After arriving in PE on Wednesday we did go for an easy bike and run in the afternoon. On Thursday I saw Marolien (physiotherapist) who checked on me a last time that I didn’t have any muscular problems from the flight (thanks for making the contact Kyle!) she herself raced the Ironman and she got hit by a car about 4-5 weeks before the race and she still made it to the start and from start to finish! CONGRATS!!!

About the race itself:

I needed at least to place 7th to get a safe Kona slot. I knew I wouldn’t be able to have a fast race, but of course I dreamed of the podium. And I was really excited for raceday.

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My swim got much stronger. So my plan was to catch a group and somehow have the swim of my life. Did not happen 😦  From my trainings we knew I hadn’t the fitness on the bike like before IM Barcelona and I missed a lot of running. So our plan was to take it kind of easy on the bike, and went out with a lot less power than what I raced last. It seemed like the other girls in the front did push very hard and they gained some time on the first of two laps, only Daniela Ryf, the reigning world champion didn’t go much faster, so either she didn’t have a good day or had a similar strategy I thought. Passing Chris at the beginning of lap 2 he shouted at me to go just 5-10 watt harder on the second lap. And just as said I did go some minutes faster. I had to be very patient all the time. Well, I know what it feels to exit the water far behind but usually I gain place by place much faster. Not this time, holding back. Counting places I moved from 20th after the swim to 6th after the bike, not realizing I overtook Nikki in T2. Racking my bike I hit my toes, but anyways this didn’t bother me much longer. Running off the bike felt easy and smooth. We just changed strategy here and decided to not go out for an even pace but start a bit faster to gain some time. It was going to be a very hot day out on the run. The crowds made it a bit easier, they were cheering loud! From the middle of nowhere I started to struggle with a pain in my right knee it did bend when it wasn’t supposed to, it came and went away and came back. Trying not to think about it too much, but didn’t help, it slowed me down. Thanks I have a dream and I believe, I just thought „never give up, keep smiling and keep going“. I was able to settle into a new rhythm. In between I made it to 4th place, knowing that close behind me are 3 or 4 girls chasing me. Instead of looking back I kept looking forward, counting k by k. I still wasn’t going for the 7th or 4th place, I was going for as many points I could get, I was willing to fight for my road to Kona. I had already did put so much blood, sweat and tears into it for my comeback and that made me defend my 4th place until I crossed the finish line 🙂

The next day I didn’t know how to handle my emotions. On the one hand I was soooo happy I made a safe Kona slot, on the other hand it wasn’t satisfying not to have a close fight for the podium. Because I race to fight for the win and compete with the best. 

I love to say thank you to everyone who believes in me: My husband and coach, my family and friends, my sponsors and partners AND my docs, physiotherapist and osteopath! THANK YOU for BELIEVING in me and MY DREAM!

Fotos: Ingo Kutsche, Chris Decker