Archive for the ‘Cycling’ Category

So I wasn’t very good at keeping up with my blog this summer so I will lay it all out now.  In the last post I wrote about my first triathlon of the year.  Well after doing that one and placing fairly well the Tri bug bit me pretty good.  My achilles was still bothering me but I was able to race, recover, and then train lightly and do it again.  a few weeks after the Tri For a Cause Triathlon my self and two friends went to Duluth and did the “Brewhouse Triathlon” as a team for the fun of it.  Dave swam, I biked, and Kirk ran.  We all did very well in our events and we took first place in the team division by 13 minutes.  It was a very well organized and well attended event that I think will be on my roster for next season as an individual.  After the race we went down to Lake Superior and met up with a few more friends and rode the North Shore from Duluth to Two Harbors, had lunch and then rode back.  For any of you who live in Minnesota that is a very cool ride.

Lunch stop with the crew in Two harbors

Lunch stop with the crew in Two harbors




The next weekend I did the “Northwoods Triathlon” in Nevis Minnesota.  This was another well run and well attended Triathlon.  It is strange because Nevis is a small little town in northern Minnesota yet the registration for this event fills up in 30 minutes.  I had some high hopes for this race but my body just wasn’t there.  I don’t know if I was getting sick, over tired, not prepared or what, but I struggled through every event.  My swim time was about average (1:42’s) but I felt especially tired coming out of the water.  I jogged slowly up the hill to the transition area and just tried to regain myself.  I got on the bike and off we went.  The road had been repaved the week before so it was a super nice ride.  I averaged 23.3 on the bike but once again was exhausted when I came into the transition area.  I got off my bike and slowly got my running shoes on.  I started to run but my heart rate was at like 185 and I could not calm my breathing down.  I did my best to just keep moving hoping that my legs, breathing, and heart rate would come around.  They never did.  I had to stop and walk for 5-10 seconds four times in the first mile.  I eventually got a little better but by that time I had been passed by a lot of people.  My run splits were 8:06 minute miles.  Due to a good bike ride (I was in third overall off of the bike and in first place for my age group off of the bike) I was able to hold on to a 3rd place finish for my age group and 21st overall.  I still don’t know why I felt so crappy that day but that’s part of the sport.  If you want to win, you have to be healthy.

Two weeks after the Northwoods Triathlon I had my final race of the season “Lakes Country Triathlon” and it was in my home town.  And to top it off my cousin’s wedding was the night before so I had a bunch of family in town so I really wanted to perform well at this race.  2 weeks prior to the race I trained really hard and then tapered the week leading into the race.  I watched my food intake carefully and was able to stay healthy,  but it was difficult with family events every night and a wedding the night before a race.  It may have been blessing in disguise but our baby sitter got sick before the wedding ceremonies so we had to leave the wedding at 8 o’clock to put the twins to sleep.  Probably a good thing for me as well!  I woke up at 5 AM on sunday to severe thunderstorms.  I checked the radar and it looked as though it would be passed by the time the race started.  I hopped in the car and picked up my sister who was in town for the wedding and was racing (her first ever triathlon) as well.  We headed into town, stopped and got some coffees at Starbucks and headed to the race.  It was still raining when we got there so we sat in the car for a while and I tried to talk my sister through the race.  She was nervous and was hoping for a storm cancelation.  Soon my Cousin Ian who was also racing showed up and we all went to the transition area and got set up.  I did my usual pre race routine and went for a bike, run and then a swim.  I was feeling pretty good.  We lined up on the beach and the gun went off!!  The swim went well, nothing crazy and uneventful.  I swam 1:37’s and came out of the water feeling good.  I raced through the transition and was off on my bike.  Oh, I forgot to mention that my garmin computer was dead that morning so I had no idea what my pace or heart rate was during the race.  I was just racing off of how I felt.  On the bike I felt really good but was thinking about the run at the Northwoods Triathlon and decided that I wasn’t going to push too hard.  I still rode hard I just didn’t push quite so hard into the wind or up the hills.  I finished the bike with a 24.2 mph average and was feeling great.  I knew at this point I was close to the leader.  I had a quick transition and was off on the run.  The first mile is always hard but I kept on running. I usually don’t stop at the water stops but today I decided that I would.  At both water stops I took one sip of water and dumped the rest on my head.  I kept looking back waiting for the pack to catch me but there was never anyone there.  As I said I didn’t have my Garmin so I had no idea what pace I was running.  I did however know the course so I knew how far I had gone and how far I had to go.  About a 1/2 mile from the finish line I got passed by another racer.  He was moving along pretty good and I new that I wasn’t going to hold him off.  I finished the run with a 7:14 minute mile pace.  I got 6th place overall and 1st in my age group.  I had a lot of personal bests in this race and having a lot of family members cheering me on at the finish line was awesome.  And even more awesome was when my 3 year old twins came running at me at the finish line to give me a hug.

My Cousin, Sister, and Myself after the race

My Cousin, Sister, and Myself after the race

That was a good way to end the race season.  I am really excited for next year and look forward to getting in better shape and healthier over the winter.  I am going to take some time off this fall though and hopefully let my achilles get better.  I also have a bakers cyst forming on the back of my knee again so that too will need some rest as well.  All in all it was a good first season of racing.  I had to miss a few races at the beginning of the season due to injury and I didn’t get to train as hard as I would have liked to but I learned a lot about staying healthy and injury free, I learned about racing and where to push hard and where to save some, I got over my fear of swimming in a pack, and I learned how to do transitions well.  I am really looking forward to the next season and seeing how much I can improve.

This is a long one but I have a lot to say. Where should I begin? Let’s go back to April. In early April I did a 12.5K trail run with a few of my buddies. It went great and I felt great. So when that was done I decided that I would do my first half marathon at the end of the month. I set my goal time to be an hour and 45 minutes. I was pretty sure that was an attainable goal but knew I would have to work for it. Being that it was my first half marathon I really didn’t know what to expect. I took off and tried to keep my pace just below 8 minutes per mile but I was way too excited and I think my first 2 miles were closer to 7 minute miles. By mile 4 I had settled into my pace and was feeling good. At mile 6 a friend of mine jumped in with me and ran me to the finish. This was a good thing and a bad thing. He is a much better runner then I am so we were pushing the pace back to about 7:30’s. I was still feeling good until about mile 10 when we hit some hills. My legs were suddenly really tired. The last 3 miles were really hard and it took everything I had to keep going. My buddy kept pushing me along to the finish line with a time of 1:43. I wouldn’t have met or beat my goal if it wasn’t for my running partner. On the downside to this story I pushed it a little too hard and later the next week my achilles tendon was really sore.
I took some time off and was starting to feel healthy again but as soon as I biked or ran my achilles would flair up again. I went to my Dr. and was diagnosed with achilles tendonitis. Not what I wanted to hear at the beginning of my race season. So I took more time off and started some physical therapy. But every time I thought it was better I would try to exercise and it would flair right back up. I was signed up to do the Chicago ITU world triathlon in the end of June and it was my goal to be healthy enough to participate in that event. Unfortunately as the date approached I was not healed enough and also hadn’t trained now in 2 months.  So I dropped out of that race and another race on the 12th of July.
In my past posts I have talked about the correlation between my M.S. And exercise and how my symptoms are kept at bay by staying active. Well this was a battle. The longer I sat to let my achilles heal the worse my M.S. Symptoms were getting. I really struggled with this.  About the second week in July I started to slowly run short distances. Maybe 2-2.5 miles at a 9:30-10:30 pace and didn’t have any pain. So 2 weekends ago myself and three others did a local triathlon course just for the fun of it and to test my achilles. It went great and I didn’t have any pain so I decided that the next weekend I was going to race  (or should I say participate) in a triathlon.
(For those of you who just want to read my race report start here.)
So it was Saturday morning and I was off to the races. I was really excited to be doing my first Tri of the year. I got there early and got a good spot in the transition area and then went and got registered. I then went for a short run followed by a short bike ride and then a short swim. Everything was feeling good. At 8:30 the horn blared and we were off. I started on the inside and at the front of the swim. I was a little nervousness to do this because I had always stayed to the side out of the commotion. It went well and I kept my cool. At on point the guy next to me kept cutting me off and pushing me into the marker lines so I eventually just had to stop swimming and let him get away from me. I think this cost me a little because I was now out of the pack and was not getting the draft. It didn’t bother me though because I didn’t show up to race since I had not trained in 2-1/2 months. What did bother me though was my goggles fogged up so badly that I couldn’t even see shore anymore. I literally swam until my hands were hitting the bottom. That’s when I new it was time to get out of the water. My swim time was 10:04 (600 meters) or 1:42/100’s. I got to shore and ran to the transition area and had a great transition. 38 seconds and I was off on my bike. The bike was hard. It was really windy and seemed to be in your face for most of the way. I did pretty good on the bike but definitely didn’t push as hard as I could have. I was very nervous about over doing it and hurting my Achilles again and or not having enough to do the run portion so I let up a little on the up hills and instead of putting my head down and pushing through the wind I would just shift to an easier gear. I still managed to average 22.9 mph over the 16 miles. I got to the transition and had another good turn around. 39 seconds and I was running. As I was leaving the transition some of my fellow team members yelled at me that I was in third place. I took off on the run and felt horrible. I wanted to walk so badly, I felt like I was running about 10 minute miles. When I got to mile 1 my watch said 7:30/mile. “Alright, I can do this” I told myself. So I just kept on chugging along. I got passed by a few people on the run and I just didn’t mentally have it in me to push any harder. Had I shown up with a different attitude I may have but not today. Don’t get me wrong I was still suffering and working really hard. I finished the run with 7:46 splits for the 4 mile course. I ended up 13th overall and a surprising 2nd in my age group. All in all it was a good day and it made me really want to show up and race at the next one. Unfortunately my Achilles is acting up again though so I don’t think I will be setting any records this season. 😉
With all of this though I must say that this new lifestyle I live do to being diagnosed with M.S. Is paying off. For one, I had never even done a triathlon before M.S. yet alone been able to place in one with limited training. This just goes to show the importance of diet, sleep, exercise, stress control, and your all around health. I am thankful every morning that I am able to do what I can and that so far M.S. has not taken control of me but the other way around. I still follow the paleo lifestyle, take a few select suppliments, raise, grow, or buy as much local food as we can, and aside from my achilles I think I continue to get healthier and stronger then I have ever been and have less and less M.S. Symptoms!!

Thank you for reading.

This picture is me after finishing the Tough Mudder Minneapolis.

This picture is me after finishing the Tough Mudder Minneapolis.

Part 2: Exercise

In Part one of this series I talked about how the Paleo Diet has changed my life.  I mentioned in the last post that My health is better, my endurance is better, and my overall feeling of life is better.  I will give credit for this to the Paleo Lifestyle, but not just in the way of eating, but rather in opening my eyes to other aspects in your life that are just as important as nutrition.

Before I was diagnosed with MS I was an active person.  I have been a cyclist for most of my life and had just recently gotten into running, and fitness was becoming more important in my life as I got a little older.  In March of 2012 the first serious symptoms of MS really acted up after a snowmobile trip to West yellowstone.  I got fairly sick while I was out there and just couldn’t kick it so I went to the Dr. and got an anti-biotic.  After 3 days of anti-biotics my feet had gone completely numb.  (The anti-biotic is a story for another day)  This had happened before in prior years but it was never to this extent and it would come and go, I just chalked it up to a pinched nerve from one of my previous injuries.  This time however instead of coming and going it just kept coming, working its way up my legs.  It got to the point where I couldn’t feel my legs.  I would lay in bed and snuggle with my wife and couldn’t tell if we were even touching.  (That was depressing to say the least).  As time went on the numbness moved all the way up to my chest.  I could still walk and did some downhill skiing, but my legs were very heavy and it took a lot of effort to move them and I couldn’t feel anything.  Once it was up to my chest I started to have some other health issues that were terrifying.  Not to get too in depth but they involved bathroom functions.  I remember one instance where I was driving and had the sudden urge to pee.  Lets just say I wasn’t able to stop the car fast enough.  I had been going to the Dr. for quite some time by this point trying to figure out what was going on.  Though I had pretty much figured it out thanks to the internet.  I would have to say that this was the low point during my MS experience.  I was very depressed and had stopped exercising and my symptoms were at their worst.

My wife had been doing a ton of research into how to treat MS and that is where we came across the Paleo Diet.  We started with removing grains and I noticed a big difference.  Spring was also starting to show it’s face which cheered me up a little bit and gave me some urges to get out of the house and do something.  I decided to start running again.  It was very hard at first.  My legs were still fairly numb and heavy as could be.  Once I got moving though (about a mile or so into my run) I felt great.  By the time I had finished my run my numbness was almost gone.  This went on for quite some time.  Some days my legs would feel good and others the numbness would come back and my gait would be off  (Hot days are worse).  on those days as soon as I would get home from work I would go for a run and things would get better.  At first I was trying to stay active because I thought that “if I can still run I am beating MS”.  But then I realized that if I didn’t run, MS was going to win.  This is when I realized how important exercise was going to be in my life.

My diet was going well but I had now decided to go full Paleo.  I wasn’t really drinking or eating very much dairy at this point.  A little cottage cheese here and there and some half and half in my coffee.  When I took dairy out though…….My numbness went away in about a week and has rarely come back, and when it does come back it is minimal.  So at this point I was feeling pretty good.  My spirits were up and my symptoms were down.  I was back to exercising most days of the week and could feel definite effects if I didn’t.  In the middle of the summer 2 of my friends decided to do a Try-a-Triathlon.  Basically a mini triathlon without any pressure of the bigger races.  I decided to do it and signed up the morning of.  The gun went off and we were off.  The swim was hard, I only swam one time before this.  The bike went well because that is my strong point and the run went well too.  I ended up winning.  That was a big boost for me (having been diagnose with MS a few months prior) and has gotten me to where I am now.  I did one more triathlon last summer and surprised myself with my results in that one as well.  I have now decided that I am going to pursue the sport of triathlon for a couple of reasons.  It is a hard sport that requires you to exercise on a regular basis in multiple disciplines.  That means you are using almost every muscle in your body.  It is also very mentally challenging, forcing you to go beyond what you think you are capable of.  Whether you are racing against other competitors or the clock or just trying to finish, the sport holds you accountable for how hard you trained and the time that you put in.  This is a great lesson that I have carried over to other aspects of my life as well.  If you put in the extra effort there will be a reward.  Maybe not instantly or even noticeable but at some point it will benefit you.

The Paleo diet (Lifestyle as I like to refer to it) has really made me look at life in a different way.  We eat clean food.  That is food that is grown or raised without the use of chemicals.  I don’t use any products that contain chemicals on my body.  Start reading your labels on shampoo, deodorant, hand soaps, lotions, etc. It is amazing what we put on our skin.  (Yes I still shower and use a deodorant. I just use natural or homemade alternatives) I consciously drink a lot of water throughout the day.  I try to remain as stress free as I can and enjoy the moment that I am in.  I follow a strict sleep schedule to allow my body the time that it needs to repair itself.  Exercise and triathlons have helped with all of these areas.  I want to perform well so what I put in my body is important.  I want to recover quickly so my rest is important.  I have found that nothing relieves stress better then exercise.  There is something about being out on the road with your bike or running on a trail with nothing but you and your thoughts is very therapeutic.  I start everyday with 30 minutes of core exercises and stretching.  If I don’t follow through with these disciplines my stress levels go up, my anxiety goes up, my patience with my family goes down, and my MS symptoms start to come back.  If you recall from my last post I have just had a knee surgery so I haven’t been able to run in a while or exercise like I would like to and I can definitely feel the effects.

So, I’m not saying you need to get out and do Triathlons (though they are fun),  but get out and exercise and enjoy nature!!  It will benefit all aspects of your life.

Thank you for reading!!