Saturday, September 21, 2013

Year in Smiles

Sometimes when my wife and I are wishing we had a little more time to do whatever we want she says something like "but you're always doing workouts" and I think to myself "that's not fun, that's hard work." In my head I push myself and hold a less than fun schedule so that I can swim faster, run faster, ride my bike faster. I don't think of it as fun, I think of it as a challenge.

I may not surprise some of you, but I think she may be on to something. I present a small year-in-review photo-replay. These have all been on this blog before :)

Cool morning after Randy's Run enjoying ice cream with the kids

Finishing up Randy's Run

Not standing in the rain at Randy's Run

Super serious on my trek toward a new 5k PR

Me and the Jeffs representing our workplace at Waconia

Heading out on the bike at Waconia

Giving the kids high-5s on the way to a slow run at Waconia

Hanging with the littlest after Waconia

Standing in line at Minneapolis Tri

Finishing the run at Minneapolis

15 seconds of medal wearing at the end of Minneapolis

Exiting bath water swim at Chaska

Post Chaska with my little guy

Post Chaska with the littlest

Finishing up Prior Lake

Hanging out after Prior Lake

Even in my imagination I'm happy to be racing

Before Maple Grove

Getting out of the water at Maple Grove

Post Maple Grove

So - obviously I like to race. But they are way more fun when my family is there. I can't thank my wife enough for coming to all the races and taking all the pictures. All of that effort on her part to wake up the kids, get to the races, cheer like crazy and snap pictures literally makes my life better.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Meningitis

Recently I had a brief battle with what turned out to be viral meningitis. Here is the story.

Pre Sickness

My youngest and second youngest took turns getting sick. We never put our fingers on it, but they were sick for a little bit of time each. A variety of things let me believe that these two illnesses weren't remarkable at all. For the youngest, I think we decided that maybe she was getting some molars or just having a tough time sleeping. For the other, he had just gotten his tonsils out and perhaps having some bounce back recovery time. The short of the story though is that they did have some sort of illness, it's possible it was the same. Nobody else in the family had really gotten sick though.

I was having some tummy troubles leading up to the Maple Grove triathlon, but nothing specific, and nothing severe. I did not tie these things together, and realistically they may not be tied together.

Zero Day

I was at work, feeling fine. It was roughly mid-day, and I was getting a pop and getting ready to eat the largest pear I have ever seen. I ate my pear, and I kid you not "WHAM!" I was sick. I was feeling nauseated, and a little disoriented. I sent this message

I think the pear I ate did me in, I’m feeling ill and am heading home to hopefully sleep it off. 
See you in the morning. 

I drove home, not feeling well. Made an unceremonious entrance and went straight to bed. Estimated time of arrival to bed: 12:30 p.m. Tuesday. During the "night" (it was dark at least, I have no idea what time it was) I did wake up once in a pool of sweat, I'd imagine that was some sort of fever breaking.

+1 Day

I woke up around 8:30 the next morning. I wasn't feeling awesome, but not nearly as bad. I basically was fuzzy, with a headache, I felt pretty stiff all over and possibly a weak stomach. Given my previous weak stomach problems and the idea that I had just slept for 20 hours with nothing to show for it really, I decided to head to work. I took some Advil to kill the headache.

The day was pretty uneventful, the headache and body aches stayed. Advil was pretty effective at getting rid of of the headache, though I was taking 2x dose and it wore off about 30 minutes before the recommended re-dose time.

The common thought around the office and in my head about the illness was some sort of food poisoning from the pear and perhaps some level of dehydration causing the headache. These seemed plausible, though now that I'm thinking back, not actually that plausible. First, everyone else in my house was eating the same pears that could have gotten me sick. Also, I was drinking and peeing like a champ.

+2 Days

Basically the same, I think the Advil was starting to take its toll on my stomach because I was getting an uneasy stomach when I would take it. Other than that no real changes.

+3 Days

At about 3:30 in the morning I woke up with a headache, the same headache I had since the first day. I could not bring myself to take four Advil, so I just took two (recommended dose.)

At about 8:30 I really felt like crap. This was the first time I felt like I might throw up, I did not. I was cold sometimes, hot sometimes, it hurt to open my eyes, and I never really felt comfortable. I was unstable on my feet. I asked my wife to make a doctor appointment. I could be seen around noon.

Around doctor appointment time we discuss very briefly me going by myself, I suggest that's not going to be possible. To say I felt terrible was putting it lightly. I stagger down to the car, I cannot bring myself to sit up straight or wear my seat belt. The short (less than one mile) trip feels like forever. I stagger into the clinic, and get seen quickly.

The doctor comes in quickly, my wife does a lot of talking, I do some talking, he quickly comes to a few options.
  • Meningitis
  • West Nile
He's pretty confident that it's viral meningitis, but the only way to test for it is to do a spinal tap. He'd be happy to do it, he's done a lot, he has the equipment, he's done one recently as his office, but "they" didn't like that, so he's not going to do it today. He orders a battery of tests, along with two bags of fluids and some decent pain medication. He'll do the test for west nile, though the results probably will take long enough to get that by the time we know I'll be over it.

Over the course of the next few hours my wife drops the kids off at a neighbor's house and comes back. I get an IV and some fluids. They turn the lights off in my room and bring in some heavy duty medication. I start feeling pretty decent.

The doctor returns. Because I am functional when properly medicated, and a bunch of the labs have come back normal, he's staying with the idea that it's probably viral, and it might be meningitis, but because it's viral there's not a lot of do about it but manage the pain and wait it out. He prescribes some narcotics and sends me home with orders. 'Do not hesitate to go to the hospital if you cannot manage the pain or things get worse' He specifically tells my wife to watch out for confusion. This, obviously, scares my wife.

We head home, I am a little sick from the medicine, but when I'm laying down everything is fine. I get on the schedule for the pain medicine prescribed and things are looking up.

+4 Days

I wake up around 5:30, it's been three hours since I took some Advil, I have a headache, but I'm allowed to take beefier narcotics, so I do and go back to sleep. I wake up again at 8:30, the headache is back. I am not supposed to take any more medicine for another hour. Also it occurs to me that probably the narcotics should be more effective than three hours, and possibly the Advil isn't working much at all. We elect to call the nurse line to see if they think this means we should come back in, after an hour on hold they say yes, breakthrough pain shouldn't be an issue given the medicine I'm taking.

I take some Advil as we're heading out the door to hopefully help a little.

We get to the urgent care / ER triage. Pontential meningitis is not handled by urgent care, off to ER I go. The headache is pretty bad, eyes hurt again I spend most of my time with my eyes closed (for the second day.) The doctor comes in, he says he agrees with the initial assessment from the day before. Likely we'll end up with better medicine, but we'll run some extra tests just to make sure.

They hook me up to fluids with some sort of medicine to help the pain. I head over for a CT scan and we wait for results. The CT scan is fine. The pain is still present. The doctor comes in, suggests we go ahead with the spinal tap to confirm meningitis or not. That sounds like a good idea. He says we'll get some more medicine and that I won't really be super alert for the procedure.

A few moments later nurses are there setting up for the puncture, the doctor rolls in and has me assume the position. At this point I ask about the "additional medicine" as I had not receieved anything, and wasn't feeling super awesome. They gave me some, and asked if I felt anything. No change, so they gave me some more and then didn't ask again. The puncture is painless and goes quickly. My wife said it's very similar to watching it on TV. The procedure is over as quickly as it started and I'm back on my back keeping my eyes closed.

Some time later the doctor comes back in, confirmed meningitis, and a slightly elevated white blood cell count. So we'll do a quick round of antibiotics to get rid of any infection and an anti-inflammatory medicine to help with the meningitis pain. At this point I mention that whatever medicine they have been giving me is not effective and to please take note. They give me something a little stronger, and a much stronger prescription than the day before. The instructions are "take these new pills and not the old ones, lay off the Advil as it's probably messing up your tummy, you should be fine in a couple of days based on what the estimated timeline of your illness is"

We head home, another day down. I take one pill (of the suggested dose of two.) These pills make me quite sleepy.


The next two days I am self regulating on half doses of the new prescription. Pain management is fine, though I do feel pretty run down. I kind of tool around the house not doing much. Thanks to the extended holiday weekend I am feeling pretty decent when it comes time to head back to work. Because of work I stop taking the opiates, as that is unsafe for driving, and I'm sure against company policy. I take a couple of Advil the first day, and then just take it easy for the rest of the week. A light headache stuck around for a few more days, and food wasn't that appealing for a couple of days, but this week has been good, and I'm about 100% now. A full week later and maybe two weeks after all this started.


Thanks to everyone who dropped me a note with their thoughts and prayers. I appreciate everyone's concern. Also thanks to our neighbors who watched our kids when we were at the doctor and hospital, my sister-in-law who came over two days in a row to watch our kids at night. Of course to my wife who took care of me when I was feeling the worst, and kept the kids away when I would sleep for basically days on end.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Tri Season Notes

This year I did five races. Here's how they lined up.
Lake Waconia (Sprint)
Minneapolis (Sprint)
Chaska (Sprint)
Lakefront Days (Sprint)
Maple Grove (Sprint)

Last Year for Comparison
Chain Of Lakes (Sprint)
Liberty (70.3)
Lake Waconia (Sprint)
Minneapolis (Sprint)
Chisago (70.3)
Lakefront Days (Sprint)
Maple Grove (Sprint)
Rev3 Florida (70.3)


What I see 


Chaska is slow and maple grove is fast. Chaska was the only non-wetsuit swim, but I'm going to go ahead and say that I think that swim was long, and possibly than maple grove is short.


There's lot of consistency here, I was hoping to gain some speed this year, but I think I just misfired on the execution of that plan. Still, the consistency is actually kind of neat to look at.


I did not maintain the speed I would have liked. I only did one run block, and I was not happy about it (plan, and execution, but mostly I didn't like the plan.) That obviously came back to bite me.


What I see here is what I think happens when you "just put in the time" I did workouts, and stayed in general good fitness, but I did not do what it takes to make some progressive gains.

Next Year
I'm basing next year's performance goals on this year's life realities. Next season our family of five will be a family of six with an average (USAT official) age of 15.

  • Have fun
  • Stay at it
I will be trying some "new to me" ideas about how to build power and speed. But primary goals are listed, getting faster is a secondary goal for now.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Season Training Notes

Year three of trying to get faster at triathlons in the books. I like to look back on the years and months and even weeks to see what I can see. To try to see what worked, to try to see what I didn't notice at the time, etc.

Last year my numbers looked like this

Swim yards79:30 hours
Bike2,100 miles124:50 hours
Run533 miles82 hours

This year looks like this
Swim yards60:30 hours
Bike1,334 miles79:30 hours
Run288 miles44:30 hours

That's substantial. But there are are some significant differences. Mostly, last year I trained for a 3.5 months longer. If I trim out those months the totals are a little more lined up

2012 (same number of days)
Swim yards65 hours
Bike1,908 miles110 hours
Run404 miles61 hours

But there's still a pretty significant difference.

Another thing that's not immediately apparently when staring at this year's numbers is that actually my effort over the entire year this year decreased over time. It's not a terribly interesting graph, but basically what it looks like is that I started out strong, and then over the course of the spring and summer slowly decreased load.

That reduced workload mainly came in the form of just fewer workouts and when I did do them they were fairly short. For instance, I only did nine runs all season over 6 miles, every single other run was less than 5. I'm sure there's some way to make that work, but it's not your typical recipe for success when you need to run that distance at full speed at the end of a race. There was a similar pattern on the bike.

Looking back I'm not sure what if I would change much. I basically just decided that getting enough sleep and putting family stuff ahead of racing would be the plan. Don't get me wrong, I'd love to dominate, but sometimes for me it works better to stay up and hang out with my wife than go to sleep and make sure I can be up and out of the house every morning before anyone else wakes up.

Heading into next year, I don't anticipate any more time. So I'm trying to formulate a plan that allows me to have a pretty reduced load but produce some decent results. Time will tell :)