Shortly after my last blog post, a regular reader of my ramblings asked when I was going to publish one about my Ironman training.
I replied along the lines of; “it’s all Ironman training”.
But I also took the point that, certainly of late, this blog has all been about the bike.
And there have been reasons for that.
In terms of swimming, there’s little to tell, really.
We’re still just a bit early in the year for my open water season to have started so any swimming oriented blog would basically start with; “I got in the pool”… end with; “I got out of the pool”… and have something along the lines of; “I swam up and down for an hour or so” somewhere in the middle.
Not exactly riveting.
Which, in a way, is a good thing.
If it were any more exciting than that, there’s a 50/50 chance that it would be because things weren’t going as planned.
The simple fact is that things ARE going as planned.
Swimming, as some of you will know, comes a very close second, in the enjoyment stakes, to cycling, for me and nothing has happened to change that over the last few months.
I still appear to have the swim endurance that took me to swimming the equivalent of an “ultra-distance” event a couple of years ago… I’m hardly “fast” but I can seemingly just keep going without tiring for, well, as far as I can be bothered to swim.
To conclude, in the same way as the bike stint of an Ironman doesn’t give me sleepless nights, I’ve hardly got any anxiety about my ability to complete an Iron-distance swim and still finish feeling fresh.
If only the same could be said for my running… which has been almost non-existent.
It’s not been for the lack of desire, though – we’ll need to do a bit of time-travelling to find out why.
Almost exactly 11 years ago, whilst I was having physio following my right total hip replacement at age 33, a bombshell was dropped on me by the guy showing me the exercises I needed to do in order to help my right hip regain its mobility.
“We’ll see you again soon, once you’ve had your left hip replaced”
I had no idea what he was talking about… he elaborated and, in doing so, inadvertently became the one to break the news to me that my left hip was “on its last legs”, so to speak.
I had enough to cope with at the time, what with learning how to walk again and all that, so almost pretended not to be in possession of this new information.
I reasoned that, if my left hip FELT okay, then it WAS okay.
Perhaps towards the end of January this year, and for the first time since the day I was told about the condition of my left hip, it started to give me pain.
The pain felt worryingly similar to what I’d felt with my right hip, all those years ago.
I reasoned that it was just my imagination.
I reasoned that, because I could still cycle big distances without aggravating it (where, 11 years ago, I couldn’t even get ON a bike, let alone RIDE one), my left hip MUST be absolutely fine.
I basically tried to ignore it.
But it turns out that ignoring something doesn’t mean that it’s not there.
Increasingly, my left hip started to hurt until, in what was meant to be a gentle “test” on our treadmill at home, it started to hurt so much just 13 minutes into a run, that I had no choice but to stop.
I paused… seemingly recovered fully after just a few minutes (which tricked my mind into thinking that I must have been imagining the pain)… and stupidly resumed.
It started hurting again after a further 6 minutes… then, after another pause, went for a third stint… the pain returned VERY quickly, this time.
I got off the treadmill and slumped into a chair, feeling very sorry for myself.
Night-times started to become a case of; “how many times would I wake up in discomfort”.
Day-times started to become a case of; “how many times would friends ask me why I was limping” (I’d lie about the reason, clearly – not even ready to admit it to myself, let alone anyone else).
It wasn’t good.
I finally admitted it to myself during a bit of an outpouring to Lisa… and, honestly, I was feeling quite upset.
So I decided to take some action – but action which is based on the premise that it’s not as serious as I fear (i.e that my left hip really has, finally, given up the ghost).
Instead of going to a doctor, I decided to pay a sports-physio/chiropractor a visit.
I used the one I’ve been to before – a chap called Clive.
He’s really very good.
He wasn’t about to lie to me just to get repeat business out of me, though; he basically said that he’d do what he could but that if I didn’t see progress almost immediately, then he’d reach the conclusion that my left hip had finally decided to have the impact on my life that it had been threatening to have for 11 years… and that I’d be better off in a doctor’s surgery than in his room.
That appointment with Clive was a week ago, now… and, whilst it’s difficult to say for sure (I may just be imagining it), my hip certainly SEEMS to be improving.
The pain appears to be easing and I’m back to getting a full night’s sleep.
On that basis, it is quite possible that, despite the similarity to that dark time in my life when my right hip was starting to fail, I’ve simply injured myself – and a bit of sports physio will sort it out.
But, at the same time, I’m conscious that the improvement over the last week may simply be because I’ve steered well clear of running on it… in which case, the sports physio did nothing at all and my hip is just waiting to be tested again so it can remind me of its condition.
I just don’t know.
I’ll have a few more sports physio sessions to see if the improvements can keep coming.
So all of this is a roundabout way of answering that regular reader’s question about how my Ironman training is going.
If my left hip pain is more akin to an injury that any one of us could pick up, then I’d say that Ironman training is going okay… and it’ll be going a whole lot better once I can get my running shoes on again.
But if my left hip pain turns out to be far more serious, such that I’m going to need a left total hip replacement, then Ironman training is non-existent because, in a nutshell, the Ironman itself will cease to feature in my diary.
Whether I turn up in Hamburg or not, then, is hanging in a very fine balance – centred around my left hip.
It saddens me more than I can put into words but, if doing another Ironman means physically breaking myself such that I end up in an operating theatre, then I simply have to close the door on that dream once and for all.
It also saddens me that I deferred my entry from last year due to serious motivation issues – so I’d effectively have two “did not starts” to my name.
But, I have to do what’s right and, let’s face it, the two “did not starts” wouldn’t matter a great deal… because I will always have that “did finish” to cherish.