Updates With Exciting News

Well, long time no blog! I know I know my sincere apologies. I have to admit that sometimes I just don’t have the time or energy to write a few of my thoughts from time to time. I promise I will try harder! Okay enough of that and let’s give you all a few updates about my injuries, season, an exciting new clubfoot documentary in the works and my thoughts on the growing clubfoot community!

As many of you know I am currently in my offseason from training and racing. I am nursing a shoulder injury back to health after two significant training crashes. I went to the surgeon a few weeks ago for a follow up to my MRI. I was given the green light to return to light training while I let my shoulder and Labrum heal.

I am really excited and lucky that I do not have to have surgery. If I were to have surgery I would be looking at a 10-12 month rehab which would put me out of my season for next year. In the meantime I have been doing light work outs focusing more on strength and just staying in shape until I resume fulltime training in December for a HUGE season coming up! More details on my season to follow!

Now, what I am really excited to write about. I was delighted to hear about a documentary in the works called The Footnote Film Project. My ears perked up when I heard about a documentary being made in the hopes of raising awareness about the Ponseti method and how it can be used to treat children in developing countries with untreated clubfoot.

The film is a wonderful piece of art that raises questions and provides answers to the ongoing confusion of clubfoot treatments available especially in developing countries. The film’s Director Zach Gorelick was born with bilateral clubfoot and has firsthand knowledge of what it’s like dealing with the everyday struggles of having clubfoot.

As a graduate of George Washington’s school of Journalism, Zach has taken a chance and a once in a life time experience traveling the country to get real answers and meet with real life Ponseti treated children and their families.  Zach has taken his passion for journalism and heroically entered the world of clubfoot deformity.

Zach’s mission is to raise awareness and spread the message of hope and inspiration to thousands of children in developing countries living with untreated clubfoot. This film cannot be made without your generous gifts and support. Please visit The Footnote Film Project’s website to see how you can help.

I personally had a chance to speak with Zach for an hour or so. It was a great conversation and one I have not had in a while. We both suffer with clubfoot and know how hard it is. We both shared our desires to bring awareness to clubfoot deformity.

However, what I took away from the conversation was a tangible commonality we all share. I have seen over the years a tremendous growth with the online communities of clubfooters sharing their experiences both good and bad. It’s great to see how awareness of clubfoot is growing and how many want to see this community grow.

I am so blessed daily with emails asking questions about clubfoot, treatments and possible outcomes. I also have seen  parents actively looking for advice and hope for their children as the make their journey into clubfoot treatment. When I speak to fellow clubfoot suffers and parents Its rewarding and I cannot wait to see what the future holds for us!

Dealing with my Injury

Stay positive time will pass!
Nobody especially an athlete wants to be injured. I took for granted that for the last five or so years of racing and training I never experienced and “significant” injury. I raced for years in a tremendous amount of pain from the clubfoot but it has never really stopped me dead in my tracks like my shoulder.
Last week my MRI results came back showing a tear in my right shoulder Labrum. I was not expecting the bad news. I suspected it was nothing more than a sprain and with light work outs I would be able to finish of the season and glide into the offseason with no problem. Wrong! I am now officially in my off season. I decided for the sake of my career and goals for next year to pull the plug on the remainder of this season.

What went wrong?
I can beat myself up over what went wrong and how I allowed myself to get injured but I won’t. It sucks not be able to perform now at the level I was at. I was involved in two bike crashes a couple months apart and never fully recovered from my injuries. On top of daily training and ignoring the pain I am now facing the consequences of my personality. Pushing through pain is what I have been accustomed to but ignoring injury is not wise. I never really took a break after Ironman Arizona and entered this season with lots of races on my calendar. I love racing however, this season and experience taught me that racing to much can have consequences.

Reflections of a season past
I spent very little time recovering from Ironman Arizona and started training for Ironman 70.3 Oceanside and Wildflower long course way to early. I pushed through like I always do but I was not smart about my recovery. I took very little time for myself as a person. With work, kids and a heavy training schedule I should have practiced my recovery strategies better. I filled my race calendar with too many back to back races and a few to many “A” races. I ignored potential injuries and focused too much on completing prescribed workouts. Lessons learned!

What’s next?
Well, I am taking about 17 weeks of for recovery, rehab and base training. I cannot swim for at least 6-8 weeks as I cannot lift my shoulder above my head. I am glad I can still run and cycle. I plan on working with my coach this off season to get me back in shape and strong for next season.
My eyes are still on the National and World paratriathlon championships and a possible shot at the Ironman World Championships depending what’s best for me. There are many weeks ahead of rehab and relaxation coming my way. Sometimes I can’t help but wonder if my injury is a blessing in disguise. I am excited to return stronger and welcome this time off as it will only make me more competitive and stronger athlete next season.
 It’s time to heal this body. I raced and trained hard this year. I raced for all my clubfoot suffers and set an example for children with clubfoot that anything is possible with that in mind my season was a success!

When It All Comes Together

First, as always I would like to thank my sponsors for everything they have done for me and their support. I could not have won this race without Hoka One One, Xterra Wetsuits, Franco Bikes, Torhans, 2XU and GU!

Have you ever had a moment when your preparations just never seem good enough for an event? That was how I felt going into this weekend's San Diego International Triathlon. It was a physical and mental challenge for me. I felt flat and really did not know what to expect. 

Just a 'B' Race

This race is one of my favorite mid-season races after a few early season Half Ironman distance races.  I had just come off a third place finish at Wildflower, which took a lot out of me. I went into this race with very little rest because I picked up training again shortly after Wildflower as I am preparing for some “A” races scheduled at the end of September.

The week leading into the race I was dealing with a significant amount of pain in both feet which was really hard to explain. I also had another bike crash a week prior which left me with shoulder pain, stiffness and very limted range of motion. 

I had no known injury in my feet, rather, the typical unexplainable clubfoot phantom pain which comes and goes. I was worried how this was going to effect my race. I never know how my feet are going to feel from day to day. My body was weak and tired from the prior weeks training load and I entered this race with no taper hoping that it wouldn't affect my performance.

I arrived at the course feeling mentally ready and prepared for the day, but my body was damaged goods. I awoke with pain in both feet. Tight and sore, I racked my bike and set up transition. I zipped up my brand new Xterra Vendetta Westsuit and headed to the swim start. 

The Swim

I entered the water about fifteen minutes before the start and got a good warm up and indication of how my body was feeling. This was my fisrt time racing with my Xterra Vendetta on and I was not let down. The Vendetta is a very fast and form-fitting suit.

Skeptical about my day, I darted forward when the gun sounded and soon found my body gliding forward in a smooth motion. My Vendetta wetsuit felt amazing and fast. I was surprised how I was feeling mid-way through the swim and thought to myself for the first time that this could be my day. 

I foucused on staying positive rather then paying too much attention to my wounded body. I quickly exited the water and headed into T1.

The Bike 

I grabbed my Franco Trifuno Speed and prepared for the long, hilly course ahead. I took in some fluids from my Torhans and was able to get some needed calories from my GU gels and Roctane. Once I felt my nutrition kick in at the top of the climb I realized that I was riding a lot fasrter then anticipated. 

I was doing 25-30 mph in many sections. It was a great feeling passing many pros and being led into T2 with a police escort. I thought to myself, I am going to take first today.

The Run

I headed into T2, quicky transitioned into my Hoka One One Bondi B’s, and darted onto the course. My feet were hurting badly and I new first place was going to be a battle. After a few miles, the comfort and cushioning of my Hoka One One’s eased my pain and I was well on my way home. 

I felt good and new. I was running way faster than I normally do. I only had a few miles left and was focused on finishing strong. I told myself that I wanted this race to hurt and I did not let myself down. I pushed myself beyond my pain and finished first in my division.

The Take Away 

There were two things I learned. 

Number 1- Just because your preparations are not perfect, does not mean you won't perform well. 

Number 2- Staying positive can make the mind and body do great things. I could have let all the distractions of pain, interrupted training sessions and two siginifigant bike crashes within two months pull me away from a great performance. Instead I let it ll go and put forth my best effort and the results were worth it.

Clubfoot Pain Managment Diet and Nutrition

Daily pain is something that I have been accustomed to my whole life. Childhood memories of pain are still a big part of my psyche to this day. Of course now that I am getting older the pain is getting worse. Clubfoot pain is very common for most children and adults living with this deformity. While surgeries and casting correct the look of the foot I am finding that many people with post clubfoot correction are dealing with pain regardless of updated medical procedures and pain medications.
I think this blog is over do but timely as many of my fellow “clubbies” have asked how I manage or control my pain on a daily basis, especially being an athlete. I put a lot of demand on my feet and body. Pain is ever present after each training session and race. First, I think it’s important to mention that what works for me may not work for someone else and it’s always important to talk with your doctor before staring anything new in the context of pain management.
Growing up I was a meat and potatoes kind of kid. My family always had some kind of meat or dairy product in the house and the occasional burger and steak was not uncommon. I ate meat and loved every ounce of it. I was a big fan of dairy and put cheese on everything. 
I was not very active growing up because my clubfoot pain was too much. I wanted to be like others so I played sports but was never really fast or good at what I was doing.
When I graduated high school I was really unhealthy and I was not very active. I saw my weight balloon to 260 pounds at 5’8. After my first child was born I decided to change my bad habits and get myself into shape. Today I have lost over 100 pounds and I am Ironman triathlete making a living at something I thought I would never be able to do. I contribute much of my success to my strict vegan diet. My pain levels have decreased and I am able to recover and endure the demands of Ironman racing because of the benefits of my vegan diet.
Inflammation is a major cause of many of our lifestyle diseases and the cause of pain. Inflammation is defined as the first response of the immune system to infection or irritation. The symptoms of chronic inflammation can be swelling, redness and pain.
Swelling and pain is very familiar to those suffering with clubfoot. It’s not uncommon to have the foot swell with pain after a simple task like standing or walking for any amount of time. I have completed numerous triathlons and have felt a tremendous amount of pain during and after an event. Since I have become a vegan I have seen and experienced less swelling and pain on a daily basis.
So what foods do I eat in large amounts to control the pain and potential damage I am doing to my feet? Part of being a plant based vegan is making sure that all the six major nutrients are met daily from food sources that are natural or organic. Most of the foods on the market are highly processed, void of any nutrients and grown with pesticides. Below is a chart of foods that I eat daily which counter inflammation and foods that contribute to inflammation. I recommend that if your diet is void of these anti-inflammatory foods that you begin to slowly incorporate them into your daily diet and eventually make them a everyday part of your life.

All green vegetables ex: broccoli, brussels sprouts and greens such as kale and chard.
All fruits:  ex: apples, berries and avocados
Nuts and seeds: ex: Almonds, sunflower seeds and walnuts
Oils  ex: Coconut and olive oil
Drinks:   ex: teas and water
All Herbs and spices ex: basil, cayenne and oregano
Eat as much organic foods as possible. Eat all the above in their natural state and avoid overcooking or heating which can kill off the majority of nutrients that aide in controlling inflammation
Sugars ex: Soft drinks, candy, snacks and desserts
Common cooking oils: Vegetable oils, cottonseed, corn and sunflower oils
Trans Fats ex: Fried foods, processed foods, anything packaged, partially hydrogenated oils
Dairy products ex: milk, cheese, and hidden dairy in breads, crackers and most cereals
Red meat and processed meats
Alcohol in excess
Refined grains ex: White rice, White breads, white noodles and pasta including pastries.
Artificial food additives. Most foods that are commercially grown and packaged contain large amounts of additives to extend self-live and flavor.

As you can see the majority of foods that counter inflammation and pain are foods such as fruits and vegetables in their natural state. Unfortunately the majority of the food on the market is highly processed and full of additives that have very little nutritional value.
Most commercially grown meats are feed a diet of grains such as soy beans and corn that is high in inflammatory omega 6 fatty acid but low in Omega 3 fatty acids. Most of these animals gain a significant amount of fat (SATURATED FATS) while enclosed in their tight environments. These animals are also injected with hormones and fed with antibiotics which make them grow faster, fatter and less sick.  I choose not to eat meat for these above reasons.  
Go ahead and give it a shot and see if any of these foods help. Don’t expect results over night but begin to make eating these foods a daily part of your life. I highly encourage a vegan plant based diet but understand that it may not be for everyone. Below I listed a couple books and documentaries that I recommended highlighting this topic in further detail that helped shape my decision to be a vegan.

All Recovered Up!

Time to rest up! Well, it’s been almost two weeks since Wildflower and I am feeling good. I recovered quickly (thanks to GU Energy providing awesome products.) I took a week off doing only light and shorter workouts when I felt like moving. It was awesome not getting up at 4:00 a.m. and having nothing to do when I got home from work. 

It’s been awhile since I had nothing really to do during the week and no training schedule to follow. So, as you can imagine sitting around being lazy was fun but annoying as well. I had to force myself  to do anything for a week. However, the rest was well worth the effort and now I am feeling ready to get back to the grind of a daily training schedule and early wake up calls. 
I have a few more half Ironman’s scheduled for the remainder of my season mixed with a few Olympic distances. I will be starting a 16 week training schedule heading into my much anticipated Orangeman Long Course and my favorite race of the year, the San Diego Triathlon classic. I only added two “A” races to my schedule this season, Wildflower and SD Tri Classic. I am starting a new block of training with some base work as I build and peak. Hopefully, I will be able to podium the San Diego Tri Classic.
I am  excited to plan my 2014 season. I am focused on being a advicate for clubfoot athletes with my efforts improving the classification process for paratriathletes at the hands of the ITU. I will share more as the 2014 season unfolds. Until then I need to hold my body together in hopes of making it though the remainder of this season.

It’s been an awesome season so far with a few podium spots especially at Wildflower, which I worked really hard to achieve! I am hoping and training hard to get back on the podium this year.

I have formed some new relationships with outstanding sponsors such as XTERRA wetsuits and Torhans. I am very happy and excited that I have the sponsors I do that share my vision and offer support as I head into the remainder of my season and next!
So it’s that time again to get the training journal out, plan my weeks and nail my sets as I move toward the end of my season!