Sunday, July 27, 2014

...and the foot injury

After surgery, I was on crutches for 6 weeks, and was then told I could ease back into my full workout routine.  I even decided to run a 5K on New Years Day to start off the year right.  I also signed up for a yoga class.  Bad idea.  Pretty much every move in yoga requires that you bend your toes, whether weight-bearing or not.  I could not do that.  I then attempted my run/walk routine a few times over the next couple months, but never without pain.  I figured it would just take awhile for my foot to get back to 100% so I didn't think too much about it.  In mid-March I found out I had a degenerated and herniated disc in my lower back, and so I was happy to just take running off the table for awhile until that got stabilized.
My need for surgery was direct result of a soccer play gone wrong, however the joint
that I hurt was the same as though I had a bunion, so that's the procedure I received.
It's also possible that I did have a bunion that just never bothered me at all until this happened.
It was June when I was finally cleared to run again by my new back doctor, and I decided to start very easy with the couch to 5K program.  I was doing well but my foot hurt with every single step.  I wondered if it was really just taking a long time to come around?  Meanwhile, I was still attempting to do the yoga once a week and it was getting more and more painful.  The day that it hurt while I was swimming(!!) is the day I made a follow up appointment with Dr. Lutta.
This is how it looks today, or at least a month-ish ago when I saw Dr. Lutta.. much better!
I have had nothing but great experiences with Commonwealth Orthopaedics, except for the wait time to get on a doctor's schedule.  This was no different, so I suffered through a few more weeks before I finally had my appointment.  X-rays showed that structurally, my foot is doing great.  He noticed some scar tissue on the top of the joint and thinks that maybe this is what is causing me pain...although then he checked my "before" x-rays and noticed I have scar tissue there also (possibly from when I broke my feet during one of my college summers).  He decided to give physical therapy a try. 

It was a little weird to me that I wasn't sent to physical therapy right after the surgery, but I guess it was winter and I wasn't really doing too much - or wearing flip flops - such that it really really bothered me.  I was a little hesitant after my poor experience with my back physical therapy, but as much as it hurts, I'll give anything a try!  I'm glad I did because immediately, I was much more impressed with this practice.  I have 2 therapists, Amy and Jenni.  In my evaluation, Amy took measurements of my feet.  My left big toe joint had range of motion 38/85 (down angle to top angle), and my right joint has range of 15/32.  Amy's initial response was "wow, how the hell have you been running at all with this?!  Your joint has zero mobility!"  and, after several chats about my triathlon training schedule [which admittedly has been light on the running lately], commented, "ahh, I can tell you're going to be one of those patents."
This part of PT - the hands on part - HURTS!!
Dare I say, I think the physical therapy might be working.  I have exercises to do on my own, and I have been diligent about it.  After all, it's in my best interest to do anything and everything I can to get rid of this pain once and for all.  And contrary to my PT experience for my back, I really like my physical therapists.  They each spend quite a bit of time with me each day, really working the problem area in my foot, and explaining clearly how each thing they do will directly address the issue.  The exercises are designed specifically for my injury and, while it does hurt [which they warned me it would do.. if it doesn't hurt at all, it's not working the area], I am optimistic that it is helping.
After the PT works with my foot, it's a series of foot/toe-specific excercises and then ice.
It's not yet been determined how long I will be in PT.  The original suggestion was 4 weeks, but given the absolute lack of mobility, it could be considerably longer.  I'm OK with that.  It's a pain to schedule alongside of work, training and chiropractor for my back, but if it helps in the long run, then it's totally worth it.

Friday, July 25, 2014

catching up on the back injury

I feel like I've been injured forever, and to some extent, with no end in sight.  It's both annoying and frustrating... often fairly painful and sometimes downright debilitating. The more recent issue is my back problem, the degenerated and herniated disc in my lower back.  In hindsight, I learned a huge lesson with this injury.  I'd had such a great experience with Commonwealth Orthopaedics, that I knew I should look to the same practice for a back specialist.  I was impatient though.  My back hurt and I wanted to get it addressed.  So I settled for a doctor who could see me on short notice.  Now, Dr. Davis was nice, and I'm sure very qualified.  He is the first doctor in all the times I've been seen for my back to send me for an MRI which finally revealed the problem.  That's where my good experience ended though.
So, I have a degenerative disc AND a herniated disc, both at the same
location, L4/L5 [so lumbar spine near the arch]
I wrote before about Dr. Davis' treatment plan, basically physical therapy that ended up being a complete joke, and an ESI that helped for a bit, but obviously didn't solve the problem.  When I returned to Dr. Davis after my trip to Florida, his professional advice was to avoid lying on the ground, which is the thing that triggers my back locking up most of the time.  Huh?  That's all you've got?  I felt as though I was getting dismissed.

At the urging of a coworker who's recently had back surgery for a similar [but significantly worse] back issue, I saw a neurologist (his referral) for a second opinion.  Well, that jackass told me to simply stop doing activities.. no running, no biking, no yoga and even no swimming.  End of treatment plan.  Uhhh.. no, sorry, that's not even close to an acceptable path for me.   But, I guess why they call them "opinions" though, because it's just that.. his opinion.  Next!
Yep.. Jon had to place my wine on the floor for me when my back locked up b/c I couldn't sit up.. AT ALL!
[btw, face down on the couch with ice on your back is not the most ideal way to drink wine]
Immediately, I got on the phone with Commonwealth Orthopaedics and got myself on Dr. Mazahery's schedule.  I had to wait a month, but it was well worth the wait!!  Such a night and day different experience.  He reviewed the MRI and discussed my options with me.
  1. Do nothing - but since I'm active and my back hurts, that's not really an option
  2. Physical Therapy - which I've already tried, but perhaps with the right physical therapist I could have a better experience.  That said, he thinks PT probably won't do anything extra for me since I'm already pretty active.
  3. Chiropractor - yes, there are some quacks out there, but there are also some good Chiropractors that can help, and it's a good way to help avoid any surgical procedure
  4. Pain Management - basically, get another ESI.  He gave me the "prescription" and referral, but told me to hold off using it until I've tried one of the other options, to see if I was still having issues.
I've had one ESI and thought it worked for a while, but then BAM.. locked up again, and went back to hurting constantly.  Andrea told me that it took her 2 injections to really see a difference... but the idea of shooting steroids into my spine doesn't sit great with me, so I'm hoping one of the other methods will help.
OK, so I found a chiropractor close to my home that I visited.  He looked at my MRI and settled on a treatment plan of laser therapy and spinal decompression therapy.  I thought it was odd that I was going to a chiropractor and spending all that money and he never even touched me!  All he ever did was rub some laser thingy on my back and then hook me up to a machine.. anyone could've pushed that start button.  Part of me feels like this was just a huge waste of time and money, and as far as chiropractor care goes, a big pile of shit.
This is the exact spinal decompression machine that was used on me and it
basically stretches your spine back and forth.
Nevertheless, I completed that treatment plan... and my back still hurt.  A lot.  Not all the time, there are definitely better days than others, but enough to still seek out a treatment plan that works.  I feel like I haven't really given the chiropractor route a decent chance because I am still not sure what this guy did was really chiropractor care.  Through connections with Team Z, I found Positively Chiropractic and made an appointment with Dr. Anna who does a lot with sports chiropractic medicine.
Heating pad... Every. Damn. Night.
My first visit with Dr. Anna went well, and I am hopeful that she can help.  She did some adjustments (she actually touched my back!) and did some traction therapy with heat and electric pulses.  She gave me some exercises to do, which I have been good about doing, and instructions to ice and heat my back daily [which I have been doing this whole time].  My only concern with her is that she seemed to want to be more of a life coach than I was looking for, giving me advice about my foot that sometimes contradicted what my foot doctor and PT were telling me, and nutrition advice even though I told her I was working with a nutritionist [who is even associated with her practice!].  Not sure I care for that, but at the end of the day, if she can make my back feel better without the need to get another shot in my spine, then I guess I can handle auxiliary nonsense.
Dr. Anna uses this table for some type of traction therapy also, but actually adjusts me first!
My treatment plan with Dr. Anna is for about 6 weeks, so fingers crossed that this works... because the next step is to revisit the pain management specialist, which I am really hoping I don't have to do.
All my new accessories to hopefully help me at home!  Thanks, Amazon Prime :-)

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Save The Bay Swim

For starters, I wanted to give a HUGE THANK YOU to everyone who was able to make a donation to support the cause to save Narragansett Bay -- y'all are awesome!!  I was able to meet my minimum fundraising goal, and even went a little over ($600!).  Even though it's not a local bay, as a swimmer [and general user of water all around], keeping water clean is definitely important to me.  And I promise I won't solicit donations for another event again for at least a few years!
On a whim, in the week leading up to the bay swim, I decided to check out my training numbers for swimming over the past few years.  I started logging my workouts in 2009, and sure there were probably some periods where I wasn't consistent about entering in my times, but I think for the most part it's pretty accurate [especially for triathlon sports, maybe not so much the extra stuff like soccer, hiking, etc]Holy cow, check out these swim numbers!!  Mind you, we are only in July of 2014 [and not counting the actual bay swim] and I have already well surpassed the past three years combined!  I have my swim lane-mates Linda, Hillary, Taylor, Catherine and Dexter [and Chris even though he recently moved up a lane] to thank for keeping me committed to the training.  It's easy - well, easier - to wake up before the crack of dawn when you have great lane-mates [and when you know they'll notice when you're not there]!
Don't get me wrong, I wasn't sitting on my ass all these years [well, not completely]..
I did run over 67 hours in 2013 [prior to surgery in Sept] which, for me, is a LOT.
I'm definitely going into this event confident in my swim training this year, even though this is the 2nd furthest I've ever swam (one 2.4 miler at Slam the Dam a couple years ago), and the first time swimming straight across a major body of water, versus the sheltered areas and along shorelines.  I was thankful for the Tarzan (helps with sighting) and weak-side breathing drills in Tuesday morning's swim workout, since the one thing I've heard from Heidi [who heard it from others who have done the swim] is that sighting is the hardest part.  I also ordered tinted goggles to minimize any sun glare.  One final open water practice on Thursday evening with Andrea, and I'm ready to fly up to Rhode Island.
Getting up to Providence was a breeze (and thanks to Heidi who picked up some TriSlide from a local bike shop for me -- stupid carry on liquid rules) and Heidi, Dan and I went out for a nice dinner and just relaxed for the evening.  I think I woke up pretty much every hour on the hour that night, but was still shocked that 4:30 rolled around so quickly.  The three of us got our stuff together, stopped at Dunkin Donuts for coffee/diet coke and breakfast for Heidi and Dan, and then made the uneventful drive to Newport, including a drive over the bridge that I would be swimming alongside of.  We actually made it there fashionably early and had a bit of time to hang around enjoying the views.
Originally, I was placed in the 2nd wave, and was happy to know that there would be a wave before me that I could watch navigate the first 5 minutes of the course.  Except, when I got to the check-in, I found that they had shifted me to the first wave.After the safety briefing, I started making my way into the water over the [very] rocky shoreline.  Once I got a few meters into the water though, there was a bunch of seaweed that created a softer carpet on the bottom of the bay.  Us swimmers couldn't hear any of the announcements that Heidi and Dan heard, giving us the 2 minute warning and such, but all of a sudden we heard the cannon (!!!) sound and we were off!
I was super nervous about this swim.  The idea of swimming straight across a large body of water, without any buoys to help guide me gave me visions of a large current catching me and carrying me out to sea, never to be heard from again.  Shockingly, that didn't happen.  I kind of let most of the swimmers in my wave go ahead of me, and I slowly started to get my groove on.  I was breathing only to my right (bridge was on the left) and so everything looked the same with every stroke.  I decided to just plug along without looking at the bridge or my watch, though I gave in after what seemed like a really long time... 18 minutes.  Geez.  Then I decided to look over at the bridge, and it seemed like I was barely into it.  Oy, it was going to be a long day.
They had warned of jellyfish in the bay that time of year, and I saw them!  There were tons of them just under me in the water, and I did not really care for that sight.  I felt like my arms kept swerving through a school of them and I could feel them touch my hands.... I later realized that what I was feeling was more likely the bubbles that my hands created as they moved through the water I did get stung though.  Twice.  Luckily, the jellyfish lotion I was wearing did its job and it didn't really bother me at all past the initial sting. 
Twice I hit something solid and slimy, that I can only describe as a huge fish head (or sea monster?), even though realistically I know that no fish would swim that close to me no matter how separated I might have been from the other swimmers [which, at times seemed like there was a ton of space, though I think I was always within 15-ish meters of another swimmer in varying directions... I only collided with another person once and much unlike triathlon, we both paused and -- wait for it -- apologized!!].  Touching the sea monster's fish head freaked me out something fierce, but I had nowhere to go but forward.  I looked over at the bridge and could tell that I was approaching the middle section, so almost halfway.  I kept swimming, trying to get away from the sea monster that was obviously following me, and looked at my watch again... 26 minutes.  Then I looked at the bridge again.. still almost halfway... still coming up on the middle section of the bridge... ohmigosh, I felt like I was in an endless pool.  It took literally forever, but as soon as I passed that section, the rest of the swim seemed to go really kinda fast.
The top is the mapped course... the bottom is MY course :-)
Honestly, the current wasn't too bad.  There were a few sections that were a little choppier than others, but at no time did I feel like I was stuck in a washing machine.  There was one completely disgusting section with foamy brown water that I couldn't bring myself to put my head into, so I swam with my head out of water for about 20 meters (give or take 10; I have no way of measuring that kind of distance).  I forbid myself to look behind me for most of the swim because I was worried I'd see that I really hadn't swam that far at all.  But finally, I allowed myself to stop and glance back to take in the beauty of the area.  What I saw was a parade of kayaks decorated with balloons and streamers, all so that the swimmer they were escorting could identify them.  It was actually a really cool sight!
One of the things I didn't count on was how much my back would hurt.  The wetsuit keeps you buoyant, and it poised my legs at just an angle to put an arch in my back.  It really started hurting during the second half of the swim and lingered for the duration.  But I kept on going, and realized the end buoys were within reach and I was close to being finished!  Some of the kayak swimmers had caught up to me by then and it got really congested trying to navigate around the corner and into the finish chute.  The finish volunteers were standing pretty far out in the water, and I wasn't sure when I was officially done, so I just kept swimming until I was basically on top of them.  I hit the lap button on my watch cause I wasn't sure if that was the end or just a check point -- we were still a good distance from the beach.  1:16:09.  My [completely reasonable, in my opinion] goal was to go under an hour and a half, so this was fantastic!  I got my position marker and walked towards the other set of volunteers who took my marker (basically a popsicle stick) and wrote down my number.  I think I was probably officially done at this point, but I kept my watch going until I was firmly on the beach.  Done!  1:18:18 when I finally stopped my watch for a total of 1.97 miles (versus the advertised 1.7 miles... It was 1.91 miles when I hit the lap button and stood up).
The hardest thing about distance swimming for me is the feeling of being horizontal for so long and then standing up and trying to walk.  I was dizzy and disoriented, probably walking around with my head in the clouds wanting to find some water and a place to sit.  My mouth was on fire from all the salt water [and my invisalign retainer cut up my mouth as well, as it does on many endurance events].  I looked around and saw Heidi waving at me.  Someone handed me a towel and I made my way over to where Heidi and Dan were standing.  I went back into the water to remove my wetsuit and the 3 of us went over the the festival area where I snacked on some post-swim fruit (the strawberries were stinging my tongue -- not cool).  Then it was a walk to the car, back to the house for a shower and off to breakfast!
The currents didn't get me.  The sea monster didn't get me.  The nasty brown foamy section of water didn't get me.  The jellyfish did get me, but I was prepared for them.  Unfortunately, I didn't come out completely unscathed, as I sliced my toe open on one of the shells on my way out of the water.  Still, all things considered, this was a win for me.
I don't think this band-aid depicts exactly how much this cut hurts!
[even though I didn't even notice it until later that afternoon]
The rest of the weekend was spent at the Narragansett Town Beach, a driving tour of the area, good food (scallops!), great ice cream and a good nights sleep.  Heidi and I took a mile and a half stroll along an ocean side trail Sunday morning before it was time to get me to the airport to go home. Heidi and Dan were both incredible hosts [and swim sherpas!] for a fun weekend!
Yes, that is Dan in that photo, riding the waves on his boogie board!
Then.... when we landed in Dulles, a lady from my flight comes up to me and says,
"Oh, I recognize that shirt; my husband and I were in Newport and saw all of you guys swimming!  We were actually there for the shark catching contest on the other side of the bridge, and were worried they were maybe using you all for bait -- I'm glad to see you made it out!"
Ummmm... say what?  She must be kidding.  Right?  Wrong.  Of course I immediately grabbed my phone and looked this up.  Sure enough, the Newport Shark Tournament was going on at the same time.  It's a really good thing I didn't know about this before the event!!  I am now absolutely convinced that the sea monster I touched twice was actually sharks...  [I'm kidding... kind of]

Monday, July 14, 2014

Colonial Beach Sprint Tri

You know that saying, never try anything new on race day?  Well I defied that like a champ!  I went to the Bike Lane on Thursday for a bike fit -- I have had my bike for a number of years now, and I've never been super uncomfortable, but who knows, maybe I could enjoy it more.  And sure enough, I walked out of there with new shoes, new cleats, adjusted seat and adjusted aerobars... and no time to get in a ride to try it all out before the race.  oops!  And then, a coworker gave me a homemade sports drink to try, which I promised to do, and I threw that on the bike without trying first... more on that mistake later.

I haven't had specific time goals for a race in awhile, but I decided to make some for this race:

Swim ~ 17 min  (that would be slightly faster than my Kinetic relay time)
Bike ~ 1 hour (14mph is doable!)
Run ~ 40-45 min (ugh.. the dreaded run)

OK, so I made my way down to Cindy's house at the most inconvenient traffic hour of 5pm on a Friday afternoon.  An hour and a half later, I arrived and it was great to catch up.  I hadn't seen Cindy for months, so we chatted over dinner and wine and then went to bed early(ish) in anticipation of my 4:45 alarm.

The morning at Cindy's was uneventful as I got my race outfit on, put ice in my water bottle and headed out for the race.  I decided to ignore the light that kept flashing at me on my dashboard as my GPS sent me through the back roads of La Plata, MD (interesting that it had me turn off 301 only to get right back on it about 20 min later).  Taking the back roads at that hour of the morning meant several close encounters with wildlife, and soon I was worried that all the braking would cause me to be late for check-in; I hadn't planned on an hour drive from Cindy's house that morning.  Luckily though, as soon as I crossed over the bridge back into Virginia's Northern Neck, I began seeing more bikes on cars.  A good sign!

I grabbed my race packet with plenty of time to spare and proceeded into transition to set up my area.  It took me a few minutes to figure out the numbering system and where to rack my bike [cause numeric is often difficult to figure out], carefully set up my gear and went to the body marking station.  Simple as pie, and I start making my way over to the Team Z tent as I hear the announcer over the loud speakers, "transition will close at 6:30 ... race will begin in 30 minutes ... you will need to have your bib number in order to receive your timing chip ... blah blah blah" -- oh craptiming chip!  how oh how did I forget that I might need a timing chip?!  Back into transition for my race bib, over to the timing chip table, and return the bib to its place in my helmet resting on my bike.  Phew.  That would've been a terrible mistake!
Finally over at the Team Z area, I found Annette.  Annette is one of the reasons I signed up for the race.  We were in the same starting class for Team Z back in March, and is the first person that I met on the team when we showed up at Providence for our first swim practice.  This was to be her first ever triathlon, so it was nice to be there to support her.

Then I met Trish.  I have a feeling Trish and I will get to know each other pretty well over the next 18 months, as we are both scheduled to attend the team training weekend at Ironman Maryland this year, will be staying in the same house, volunteering at the race and << gasp >> perhaps signing up for next year's event?!?!?!
weird that they write your number on both thigh in addition to the usual arm/calf
A few of us head down to the beach - and of course we are the jackasses not paying attention, chatting, and suddenly realize they have started playing the national anthem.  Time for the main event!  With a quick "good luck" cheer to Annette, I made my way into the water with Trish, and before we knew it we were off.  We had watched the wave before us swim and get carried by the current to the right (were supposed to go on the left of the buoys), and knew we had to aim left.  It was a rough first leg, and once again, I think that first turn buoy was moving!  In the opposite direction!  I got around it and settled into my stroke.  I was feeling good, but had no idea of my pace in relation to my 17 minute goal.  As I'm passing the next sighting buoy, I realize I am significantly wide of it.  I tried to correct that, but still passed that next turn buoy with plenty of room to spare, and continued to drift wider and was even further away from the next sighting buoy [the sighting buoys are placed midway between each turn buoy].  Oh well, just focus on the finish area and I'll be fine.  The beach was really rocky which was tough to walk on with bare feet.  I looked at my watch and saw it had been 20 minutes.  Oh well, so much for that.  Official time 20:30, which did not make my goal, but is similar to my time at Kinetic sprint which was a much calmer - and wetsuit friendly - swim, so I can't really be too disappointed that I actually improved!
yeah, so.. that should be a triangle.. with straight lines.. whoops.
In transition, I decided that since my bike shoes were brand new, I should put socks on, so I took an extra minute there, but still got out with a decent-enough time under 4 minutes, especially considering the loooong walk from the bikes to the road and mount line.  As I'm making the trek, I'm thinking back to the interesting sound my bike was making that morning as I walked it into the race.  I'm wondering how this is gonna go... got on the bike and clipped the new shoes and cleats in with no problem.  Off I go!  I really wanted to do 14 mph for this ride, and was relieved that it was a pretty flat course.  Unfortunately, the only nutrition I had on the bike was the sports drink my coworker made for me - my coworker, that is, who is not an endurance athlete.  I took one sip and didn't care for it at all.  I do have a fairly strong stomach, so I could *tolerate* it, but I just did not like it.  I forced myself to drink most of it, but didn't get though the bottle, so not great.  There were a few sections that we passed where I got super cold, like goose bumps cold.  I wondered if that was a sign of my lack of nutrition or even heat exhaustion?  I pressed on though, and other than one long section of rough road, the course was nice.  Not completely flat, and there was one downhill with a turn at the bottom.  It was here that I realized my right brake wasn't working.  Wonderful.  That, combined with the horrid noise that sounded when I was in certain gears just reiterates the fact that I should've tested it out after the bike fit.  Next time.  I was off to the finish, and knew that I was coming in under an hour!  Woot!  56:30 was the official time, for 14.8 miles per hour.
look at that final push on the last lap which was even a slight uphill at the end!
There's not really much to say about the "run" portion.  I pretty much walked the whole thing.  Sure, I could whine about the heat (and yes, it was HOT), or how much my foot hurt (which it did, but anyone who knows me knows that I can push through pain.. it's how I managed to run Ragnar Relay the night before surgery), but the fact is, I need to run more.  I need for the weather to cool down so I can get out and run (treadmill is out of the question b/c it's too hard on my foot).  I was absolutely craving water by this point and I knew that meant I was probably dehydrated.  Luckily they had a few water stops on the course.  I was thankful this was only a 5K and not a 10K and just kept inching my way forward until it was finally time to cross the finish line and have my timing chip removed.  Happy to be done, I grabbed a powerade and made my way back to the Team Z tents.  I didn't have any kind appetite for any food, but I stayed and socialized for awhile until it was time to make the drive back home.
I forgot to get a photo at the race site, but did take a post-race selfie as I stopped for gas on my way home.  Disappointed that I was too late for Chick-Fil-A breakfast, I made it home in about an hour and a half [without that dashboard light yelling at me again] and quickly showered and got myself ready for my family reunion.  It was awesome to see so many family (about 100 Stewarts and Masons!!), and we enjoyed a long [hot] game of kickball, some cornhole, and good food... though I still didn't have much of an any appetite and only ate a small plate to accompany my 4 ciders.  Not great nutrition choices for someone who was already pretty dehydrated.  I did force myself to eat some pasta salad when I got home, because I knew there was no way I was going to get through my scheduled bike ride the next morning without something in my stomach.
I sported compression socks at my family reunion picnic in prep for my next day ride
Andrea and I met at 7 Sunday morning for a 30 mile ride in Gainesville.  Definitely dehydrated and sore from the day before, I did much better than I thought.  My legs did decide to quit on my on the last set of rollers, so I sent Andrea ahead since she was planning to do a small brick run, and took a much needed break.  I did find a way to finish strong and was pleased with my effort for the most part.
After a quick nap, it was off to Sunday Funday with Sweeney and to watch the world cup final, and then rush home to join Jon for an evening concert at Wolf Trap to see Jennifer Nettles.  A super jam packed weekend all around, leaving me absolutely exhausted, but so great catching up with friends and family, good workouts, good music.  Now for some sleep....

Thursday, July 3, 2014

speed matters.

Deb and I have been talking about the dream of ironman since as long as I can remember.  Deb has achieved this goal already, and I am hoping 2015 will be my year.  I know that it will take a lot of hard work and dedication to make this happen... starting with nutrition and rounding out with a really good bike base. 
As someone who is always flirting with cutoff times in just about every race I do, it's only natural to be concerned about it now.  To modify a quote from Legally Blonde, "The rules of hair care [Ironman] are simple and finite"...
My best marathon time is 7 hours and 12 minutes.  Seriously.  [In my defense, I ended up with a stress fracture in my knee during that race]  Do I think I can go faster than that?  Sure.. but realistically, I need to allow for a 7 hour marathon during ironman, even with the best of run training.  And everyone knows you plan for the weakest link.  So, I made a chart.. what swim and bike pace combinations need to happen to allow for a 7 hour marathon time?
So there you have it.. 14.8 miles per hour pretty much covers me.
[includes 15 min for each transition].
Then.. on Saturday, I met a new friend, Andrea, for a 40 mile bike ride which ended up being really disheartening for me.  So many hills, breathing issues [asthma?  or is it anxiety from the hills?  It only happens on hills..]. 12 miles per hour.  You may notice that 12 miles per hour didn't even make the chart!
seriously, look at those hills!!  And I thought the Rock Hall course was hard...
Uh oh.

It's really irrelevant to try to compare a race that happened SIX years and 20 pounds ago [seriously.. six years ago?  how'd that happen?], but just for shits and giggles, here are my times from Redman 70.3.
  • Swim | 0:51:21 | 2:40/100m
  • Bike | 3:47:21 | 14.8mph
  • Run | 3:33:19 | 16:17/mi
Do you see that?  I hit my swim and bike numbers.. granted, half the distance, but you see where I'm going with this.  I do have it in me.  Right now I'm looking at Ironman Maryland [the selected team race] for 2015 and that course is flat [hills are my kryptonite!] which makes it more doable.

No, seriously, how has it been 6 years since this race???

The point of the comparison though is that it is possible.  It will take some work.  Scratch that, it will take a lot of work.  But I have well over a year...