The journey back to fitness – Part 1
Sometimes life throws curve balls, often when you least expect it. I guess a case in point is Covid 19, lockdowns and this weird, strange world that we are living in.
For me it was an easy ride on Sunday the 26th of September 2021. Following a training buddy onto a shared pathway I ploughed into a bollard that was unsighted due the rider in front blocking the view and giving no warning of the obstacle.
The result was boom. I had no idea what I had hit but I landed very heavily and knew straight away it was not good. There was a kind of funny moment where I was lying in the fetial position gasping for breath, I knew the ribs were broken but it also felt like my pelvis or hip was not flash (fortunately it was just sore) and Andrew’s comment was “Are we riding?” then when he saw the look on my face it was “Am I calling Nic (my wife) or an ambulance”
CT scan showing broken ribs (5&8) The 8th Rib break was the one that punctured the lung
So, it was a trip to hospital to discover two broken ribs and a punctured lung – a small puncture but still not ideal. At least this time I arrived at A&E with my gear on as in 2003 when I had my last big off, they cut my top off me and I was taken into hospital in a pair of speedo’s!
I will not bore you with the misery of the ambulance ride or almost passing out when they tried to get me in to the CT scanner, but it meant a night in hospital – it possibly should have been two nights, but I pushed to get home as due to abysmal timing on my part my wife was going into Hospital on the Tuesday for ankle surgery. We did make a sad pair as between the two of us we did not make a functioning human. Thank God the kids stepped up.
While I have cracked ribs before as you can tell from the picture this was a little more next level. The first 3 weeks were not a fun time and the punctured lung resulted in some fluid build up on the lung and quite a bit of breathlessness.
It also meant that the key races I had planned for the summer were now no longer an option:
The Oxman ½ Ironman - where I wanted to defend my age group title from the previous year
Ironman New Zealand – where it would be within a couple of days of being 30years since my first Ironman which was Auckland 1992.
Oxman 1/2 Ironman 2020. I so wanted to try and defend my age group win from this race - hey ho
With no planned races till Ironman NZ March 2023, it was a case of what do I focus on and when will I be in shape to race again. If I am totally honest with self, I know I need an event to be working towards otherwise I am a basket case and lack motivation.
I did start to look at races in Australia and I also seriously considered a return to Ironman Malaysia in October as I have unfinished business on that course. However, the uncertainty of travel in this covid ravaged world it was a case of I am not sure it is a realistic option as who knows what will happen especially with the appearance of Omnicom.
I think we are all struggling with the am I going to be training for an event that is actually going to happen? But for me it was a case of needing to find something and having a little hope
Then that hope came in the form of a text from a friend on a Saturday afternoon in about a new race.
December 2022 Iron Māori for the first time are putting on a full distance (same distances as an Ironman) race. By the Sunday evening I had entered.
So that means next summer I am potentially doing two Ironman races One in December and then in the March Ironman New Zealand. I have never done that before so it might be an interesting challenge both mental and physically
Long term goal sorted - short term goal Cyclcross season and trying to stay close to my son (pictured with me in the background) as he basically smashed me all last year - I fear the same for this year but it will still be fun
Game on. But first up - What is ground Zero :
This crash has meant the longest break from exercise in well over 20 years
While I was laid up in all honesty, I made poor food and alcohol choices with the end result being that I am starting this plan being the heaviest I have ever been. Christmas and New Year did not help but it was still poor decisions on my part.
I cannot remember the last time I had three months off running and I think building that back is going to be the biggest challenge.
However going back to mid-December I was given an all clear to exercise by the cardio thoracic doctor. I had an Xray in the morning that clearly showed fluid on the lung, so I was a little concerned when I rocked up for the appointment. I must say I was not impressed with his casual manner and the way he dismissed it as “it will clear up”. When I pressed about the rib which was still reasonably sore his comment was its too early to tell but because of the nature of the break it may need surgery. Ok so now I am a little concerned and when he said I could exercise, and I asked if I could go for it, he said yep. Again, I was concerned that he did not ask the question as to what I thought going for it meant as I am pretty sure most people are not thinking Ironman training here we come.
I came away with the feeling that he was just not that interested in my care or health and that remains. I had an Xray on Dembe 28th and I have still had no response on the outcome. The only way I know there has been an improvement in the lung is that I bullied the radiographer into letting me see the Xray and to my unskilled eye it looked way better than the previous one
The tail end of December was easing into training on the bike (on the indoor trainer) and easing back into the pool which pretty much hurt with every swim stroke but on the upside, I think it was good for the lungs and also while painful I think it was opening up the ribcage
Skip forward to Monday 3rd of January and the start point for this journey
Monday 3rd January 2022
Line in the sand day and time to address the following:
My weight – This is all about making better choices and monitoring it so I can hopefully see the downward trend. The reality is that when the run volume increases, I should be able to get some good progress. Right now the sore rib is still a limiter on the exercise so I need to be patient and make good choices. The key is to take a weekly average.
To put all this into context
Day 1 Monday January 3rd – Weight 80kg Farrk, The weekly average was a little less horrific at 79.0kg but holy shit I have some work to do
Get back riding
Playing safe and keeping the cycling to the indoor trainer - the Cowboy hat is an optional extra
Rebuild the run training
I think running is going to look this ugly for a while - This is what 35km into the marathon of an Ironman looks like
It has been a tough time especially when you add in all the Covid anxiety and uncertainty, rebuilding into what is a physical job and dealing with the ongoing discomfort of the rib which may or may not need surgery.
On a positive I now have a goal to be working towards so let the journey begin.
It’s a case of doing what I can and being patient.
Part 2 - coming soon
I will give and update on the first phase of easing back into it and how it is going and what I am doing.