Monday, December 27, 2010

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to everyone reading my blog. Hope you had a great time. May 2011 also be a great year and may you accomplish all your dreams and goals. Thanks again for all the advice and well wishes on my way to recovery after the surgery, really appreciate it.

We had a quiet Christmas weekend and just relaxed at the house. No driving around or visiting family. My elder sister was suppose to spend the weekend at our place but some last minute change in plans saw them not coming. My younger sister spend Christmas with Gerhard's family on their family farm in the Freestate and Kim's sister and brother also spend their Christmas with their in laws.

That meant it was just me, Kim, DJ and my Mother at our place. It was the first time in years that it was only us and to be honest I quite liked it. No busy schedule and preparing food all the time and entertaining everyone.

We opened our presents on Friday night and just relaxed outside next to the pool. Christmas day was a pleasant sunny day and we had a BBQ and spend most of the day next to the pool. Picture right at the top is DJ with her present, a scooter. One thing about DJ is she is not one for TV games or fancy expensive presents, she like the plain simple things that make her happy. This is her third scooter and she rides it for hours until I can't repair it anymore.

I didn't do any training on Christmas day but did do some biking and swimming the day before Christmas and on boxing day. I am really happy with my progress and my power on the bike is back at the same level it was a month ago but my heart rate is still higher. Coach is also happy with my progress and that I regained my power so quickly after surgery.

Hopefully the fitness level will be back soon. One thing I've seen in the past is that if I really need to up my fitness level I can do it by putting in some extra running, pity I'm not allowed to run for another week.

I am now really itching to put on those running shoes, just hope the knee also feel that way.

DJ playing the piano for us Christmas

Haven't done it in a while but here's some info of the sessions I did over the last couple of days.

Bike: 1h10, 41km, (main set 3x15min at 265-275 watts on 5 min recovery), 85rpm ave, 146bpm ave

Swim: 45min, 2.5km. (main set: 1x500m, 5x50m, 1x400m, 4x50m, 1x300m, 3x50m, 1x200m, 2x50m, 1x100m, 1x50m. on 20 sec rest)

Bike: 1hr

Bike: 1h20, 45km, (main set: 4x12min at 265-275 watts on 5 min recovery.) 82rpm ave, 149bpm ave

Walk: 30min walk with DJ on her scooter, picture below. No knee pain--> happy

Below is Eddy and Dolly getting a bath before treating them with some food on Christmas.

We had such a laugh at Eddy, looking on and don't wanna miss anything while we bath Dolly.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

"Need a Lifestyle Change"

Well I went for my follow up visit to the Specialist on Tuesday, a week after my knee surgery and I didn't like what he said.

After three operations to the same knee and removing some cartilage at each one there ain't not much left on the inside of my right knee.

According to him if I carry on the way I am, running long distance, I will only be able to continue doing it for another two years max. My initial reaction was OK see you in two years then we remove some more cartilage but maybe that's not the brightest idea.

When I started talking to him about Ironman and when I can start training again he bluntly said: "You need a lifestyle change" I didn't like it but maybe it's that old saying "The truth hurts" He says I have a choice: Continue the way I am and in two years I won't be able to run anymore, never mind the distance.

Or I can switch to shorter distance Triathlon and will have more than two years but also not guaranteed to last forever. His suggestion is to switch to Cycling or find another sport that doesn't involved heavy impact on the knee.

At this stage I am confused, angry and frustrated and need to make a decision but don't want to make one. Maybe I can still do Ironman's but not competitive anymore. Will work hard on my bike and swim and just do short distance running. That way I might hammer the swim and bike at Ironman, run the first 10-15km's of the marathon and then walk the rest.

Another option is to switch to half Ironman distance racing?

At least he gave me the go ahead to get back at Bike and Swim training but no Running for another four weeks. I emailed coach and we adjusted my training, guess it's now time to improve some more on the bike and finally focus on getting my swimming better. I've also asked coach for some feedback on how little running one can get away with to still be competitive at an HIM or IM.

One good sign is my knee doesn't bother me on the bike and my power is down but not as much as I thought. Yesterday's and Today's bike sessions were good. Amazing how some training can lift the spirit.

I've also watched a lot of swim videos on improving technique (or in my case getting technique) and I am now spending a lot of my training session working on technique and not just piling on the miles. Thanks Nina and Russell for the swim video links, appreciate.
My younger sister, Heloise, DJ and my older sister's son,Tiaan

Last weekend my sister and her family from Polokwane (about 300km up north) came to visit and we had a great time. They were on their way to the South Coast for holiday and then we will see them again for Christmas.

Heloise, Mom, Etresia, Kim, me and DJ

DJ was fooling around with the Santa hat and at one stage Eddy got hold of it and what a mission to catch him to get it back, one fast little doggy

Friday, December 10, 2010

Recovery Going Good

Well it's been three days since my knee surgery and the recovery is going much better than expected. Don't know if I'm wrong but my recovery three years ago took much longer but I must add they also did my ITB back then.

I'm not a doctor but from what I can see the Specialist work from the bottom of the knee this time and it seems that he didn't cut any muscles. With the previous two knee operations the cuts were made top and bottom and there was definitely damaged to the muscles.

Yesterday the knee was a bit swollen but after talking to the physio I realized I overdid the exercises they gave me to do. I've taken it a little bit easier since then and the swelling is almost gone.

Since this morning I can even climb stairs without helping myself with my arms or only doing it with the one leg.

I even did some one leg bike pedaling today, don't think you can call it training as it was only ten minutes but I had to get on the bike and get the heart rate going. I gained renewed and huge respect for athletes doing an Ironman or even a sprint triathlon with a missing limb.

I've done a lot of one leg intervals but then you switch between the legs and it's not as hard as going longer just with one leg.

Hopefully I can start swimming on Tuesday when they remove the stitches even if it's only with a pull buoy at first.

One thing I've heard on many occasions and have seen now when I was in Hospital is that you recover much faster when you are fit and not overweight.

When I came out of theater it wasn't long before I started reading my book and had lunch without feeling nausea's. By late afternoon I was walking around and the sisters couldn't believe how flexible my leg was. They said they couldn't believe I had an operation that morning and didn't even take anything for pain.

Next to me was a guy, very friendly and we chatted a lot but he was overweight and by his looks not as fit as what I am. In his case it was just the opposite, and we had the exact same surgery.

He had a lot of pain and during the first night and at one stage they told him that they can't give him anything more for pain as he had more that what's actually allowed. He slept the whole afternoon after surgery and it took him a while to get out of the "deep sleep" It was also only the next morning that he could get out of bed and had to use a crutch to get along.

When the physio visited us the next morning he couldn't do half the exercises she gave us as his leg was too sore and stiff.

After seeing him suffer I said to myself, this will be my motivation to never loose my fitness or become a couch potato. Never know when you need to have surgery again (haha)

Little buggers causing me some knee pain

One last thing that was quite funny was the nursing staff being confused with my low heart rate. Usually my resting heart rate is between 40 and 45 bpm. Going into surgery it was 50 bpm.

When they took my blood pressure and pulse later that afternoon it was back at 40 bpm. The nurse had a look at it, then switched the machine off and on again and then it was 39. Then she started fiddling with the device that connects to my finger and wanted to switch it off again, I told her not to worry as this is normal.

When the night shift nurse came later that night the same thing happen and my heart rate was 42bpm. I didn't say anything and liked the way she scratched her head. I asked her what's wrong and she said my pulse is not right and she's going to call the head nurse. I then helped her and said not to worry it's normal, don't want them giving me something to get the heart pumping faster.

O sorry one last thing about my Hospital visit and you probably have seen the Tweets but the food was just so little it was insane. Picture above is of breakfast, suppose to be the biggest meal of the day. At one stage I thought this is a weight loss clinic. One is suppose to recover after surgery but how do your body recover if you get children portions. Luckily I was only in hospital for two days otherwise I would have starved.

When I arrived back home Eddy was all over me and didn't let me out of his sight for the rest of the day.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Treasure Hunt

Just an update about the knee. Went to see the Specialist today and I am going ahead with surgery tomorrow. Picture above is close up of the loose piece inside knee (little white dot above knee bone)

As I said in the previous post, tomorrow is his last day of surgery for 2010 or else I must wait until mid January 2011. He also agreed that I will eventually need to remove the loose piece.

One thing I like about this Specialist is he give you the various options and is not like some Doctor who take out the knife and then ask you what's wrong, just to make an extra buck ( and I talk out of experience).

I remember the same when I did see him four years ago, he gives you all the options with surgery as the last.

At first I thought that the surgery would be "easier" and my recovery time will be quicker with the piece being separated but after he explained it to me I am a little worried.

If it was a torn Meniscus he knows exactly where to go, although your recovery time is longer. In my case where the piece has separated, it is like a Treasure Hunt. He can find the piece immediately without "digging" too deep, remove it and recovery will be quick .

But the downside is because the piece is loose and moving around he may not be able to find it immediately and will have to look for it, which can cause more "damage" to the knee.

He also did warn me that it may also be possible that he can't find the loose piece which in reality mean I will have an operation, be out for six weeks and will still have the loose piece inside the knee.

This worries me a lot but I guess I have to take the chance. Rather take the chance than carry on training with an injury causing more damage. Just hope the piece is somewhere to be seen tomorrow and is not going into hiding.

Yesterday we went through to Pretoria for the Christening of one of our nieces (I think, don't know what you call it in English but it's Kim's, Sister's, Daughter's, Son). Above is DJ with Monja, Jonathan and Nathan after the service. We didn't stay too long as me, Kim and DJ came back to Witbank and had Lunch at a Restaurant to celebrate Kim's birthday. Below is a little rocking horse we bought for Nathan. Kim ordered it from a friends Dad who still build them and it is quite solid. You don't see these type of toys a lot these days.
Just had to post this picture (below), sorry a bit skew from taking it while driving but I was just amazed. It is a wall that the Government had to build on the middle section of the Freeway just outside Witbank. The Freeway goes past an informal settlement either side of the Freeway and they had a lot of pedestrian killing of people crossing the Freeway, illegally.
Well I guess it didn't help much and if you don't wanna walk 200 meters to use the pedestrian bridge across the Freeway, which was build before the wall and can't get over a 12 foot wall, you just go through the Wall- AMAZING!!!!.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

A Rock in my Shoe

Before I continue I want to thank everyone who left a comment on the blog, twitter or by email/sms regarding my knee injury. Thank you for all the encouragement.

Well finally after almost waiting two weeks to see the doctor I was there on Friday afternoon. One advantage of having one Doctor dealing with all my sport injuries is there is no "Playing Twenty Questions with me" and she knows my history and what sport I do and at what intensity.

She confirmed what my coach thought it is, a torn meniscus with a small piece separated from the meniscus.

I explained to her that my knee's been sore for two weeks and my running is uncomfortable and sore but funny enough on Friday I had no pain when I went out for a run.

The danger of having a piece "floating" around is, one moment it can be in a spot which won't bother you but the next moment it can move to a part of the knee that can make running impossible.

After a long discussion and explaining to her my race schedule and goals for the new season, we came to an agreement to remove the loose piece as soon as possible. If I wasn't a Triathlete with running making up a big part of the sport I may have come away without an operation.

If you are not that active and doing a sport you can live with the little discomfort but the three main reasons why I am having the piece removed is number one I can't train at 100% intensity.

My running sessions are average and I can't do any speed work.

The second reason is the loose piece can move into an area that may make running impossible. With my luck this will happen during my pre-race run the day before Ironman or even during Ironman.

Finally the longer I wait the more damage the loose piece is causing, moving around in my knee and grinding and rubbing against other internal knee parts.

And as Doc says, "If you have a little rock in your shoe you stop take it out and walk on"

One thing I can say is my Doctor is very thorough. She did a sonar scan and x-rays (they even give you a CD these days).

[I haven't had X-rays taken in a very long time but it's quite cool these days with the CD. I played around with it and the CD program allows you to measure and highlight different parts on the x-rays. I just had a little panic attack when I couldn't find the function to delete all the measurements and drawings I made on the x-rays.

Was already thinking of what the specialist will think of all these drawings on the x-rays. Luckily I managed to erase it all].

She then phoned the specialist who did my previous knee operation and managed to squeeze me in to see him on Monday and arranged to provisionally put me on the theater list for Tuesday.

If the specialist agree with her findings I am going for the operation on Tuesday.

Must say if she wasn't assisting the specialist during his operations and work so close with him I would have had no choice but to wait until next year to have the operation as Tuesday is the last day of 2010 that he is doing operations.

That would have frustrated the, you know what out, of me and might have given my 2011 season a major drawback.

Recovery time depends as every patient reacts differently but being healthy and fit and with the piece being loose inside the knee and no need to work the meniscus to remove it, she reckons three weeks.

As I said she can't be 100% sure but she think I will be able to run again in three weeks and will be able to swim and bike before that. Now it is just another wait until Monday for the final decision from the specialist.

Forgot to post this picture with the previous post of DJ playing with Aiden, quite a nice pic. Oh and tomorrow is Kim's birthday. Me and DJ spend most of the day shopping for presents, having something to eat and some father, daughter time.

Happy birthday Kim, love U

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Tussen die Boom en die Bas

Directly translated it means "Between the Tree and the Bark" but the more appropriate translation in English for this Afrikaans saying is "Between a rock and a hard place"

Struggling with my knee for the past two weeks has made me irritated and demotivated. It feels if I have lost my Mojo as Simon would say.

I can't do any running and when I bike it is not painful but I notice the discomfort. Coach has changed my program and I am doing a lot of swimming (which I hate) and some biking.

After describing to coach the symptoms, she suspect a torn Meniscus. I've also read up on the Internet (which can make you even more negative) and I am afraid she may be right.

The problem is I can only get to my "sport" doctor next Friday as she is fully booked and with the holiday season upon us, she is closing early December.

Apparently the only way to treat a torn meniscus is by way of operation as the piece that got separated can't heal by itself. Coach is waiting for a report from the doctor, as she is one herself to determine how bad it is, if it is a torn meniscus. The "ball" I was talking about in my previous post is the piece that got separated and is now "floating" around in and around my knee.

If the piece is on the inside I am fine but as soon as it is on the outside or at the top of my knee I can't run and walk with a limp.

We will then decide if I can carry on this way up to March/April next year for Ironman or do we do the operation now and hope for a speedy recovery.

DJ had her birthday Thursday and she turned 12. It will be a birthday she won't forget as she cut her finger open and instead of spending the afternoon with Kim shopping and visiting coffee shops and having some mother/daughter time, they spend the afternoon at the doctors emergency room and she got sticthes to her finger.

As she walked out of the classroom at school she cut her finger open as she moved passed the teacher's table which has a glass top on top of the wooden top. If the teacher wasn't my sister, I would have made a big thing but hey family need to stick together.

I guess DJ took one for the family, but I did tell Heloise to have a look at her table and make it safe in case it happen to someone else.

Back to the birthday DJ didn't want to go to a restaurant for dinner( a first for this family) and wanted to spend the afternoon with family. My mother baked some snacks and a birthday cake for DJ. She didn't want anything fancy, just her name with some candles.

On another happy note, Eddy is himself again after the Owls moved. They had a little owl on our neighbours porch and the local newspaper even came and took some pictures. After the little one learned to fly it wasn't long before they moved along. Will see if I can still find the newspaper article and scan it and put it on the blog.

Oh and we are baby sitting again this weekend. Kim's sister is attending a wedding and asked us if we can babysit Aiden. So tonight I will enjoy my sleep and Kim will have the "pleasure" again of how it feels to me a mother again, awake most of the night.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Injury Ghost

Have you ever had that feeling where you know what's wrong and you know what to do to fix it but you don't wanna do it. Sound silly but that's me.

Last week Sunday morning as we prepared to go to Church my knee gave in under me and I had this pain. I didn't make anything of it and still did my long run without any hassles later that day.

But Monday morning I couldn't put pressure on my right leg and my knee was hurting. This was so bad that I did my swim session but couldn't do my run on Tuesday or my Bike and Gym sessions on Wednesday. It feels if there is a small ball just under my skin which is pretty sore when I put pressure on it.

Don't know if it's the same ball but sometimes it's on the outside and sometimes on the inside of my knee.

It is the same knee that had two operations done on it and I am too scared to go back to the doctor.

My last operation was in 2006 and the Doctor's words popped up in my head as soon as my knee started giving me trouble. Being a competitive wrestler for so long in my younger days, my knees took a bit of a hammering and when I had my operation to remove some loose cartilages and cut my ITB the doctor said my right knee is in pretty bad shape and with the little bit of cartilage left I won't be able to run forever.

He said he can't tell but I can run for one year or maybe for twenty and advised me not to do ultra running events as this may shorten my running career. I am too scared to go back to be told that it's time to hang up the running shoes.

My knee's been better since Thursday and I could bike and run but as soon as that ball (I think) move into the wrong place my knee suddenly give in under me.

Luckily there's been some great surprises this week.

First surprise was I received a postcard form Bryan Payne this week. One he sent from Kona, during Ironman Worlds with a special message for me. Thanks B

Later in the week I received a package from Nina with whom we stayed during our Kona trip last year. I received a book and Ironman DVD from Newton and used their address to ship as they didn't want to sent it to SA.

Nina was so nice to forward me the parcel with a card from her and Dana as well as a copy of the pictures they took while we were there. Thanks Nina

Saturday, November 13, 2010


Can you spot my weakest discipline? Yes it is the Swim part of a Triathlon. During last Sunday's race I had the 55th "fastest" swim in my age group.

My bike time was 4th fastest in the 40+ division, even thou I paced myself on the bike. I am an Ironman athlete and I am used to pacing myself for the 42.2km run waiting at the end of the bike.

But feedback from coach after Sunday's race is we don't pace on Olympic distance racing.

The email from my coach almost sounded like the Windhoek lager advert, South Africans will know but it's this guy instructing the other dude: "We don't drink pink drinks". Well when you do an Olympic Distance triathlon: "We don't pace our self"

And then on the run I had the 3rd fastest time in the 40+ division, something I am very happy with, a 41:41 run on the 10km.
Above is the Garmin file of my bike and run. Only after reading @bigbradbrown blog did I go and check and yes the bike course was more than 2km's longer than the 40km they said it will be.
Official results here

This weeks training was shorter sessions but at higher intensity level. Can't wait for those long hours on the bike and run waiting for me this December and January. Luckily this week was a "easy" week, hours wise as I attended two school functions and made a quick visit, or so I thought to the new company's HQ on Friday.

On Tuesday we attended the Christian Society's evening at DJ's school and I was happy for her to be elected as a leader. Then on Thursday it was the Merit awards evening and highlight of the School year.
DJ was so surprised to be named the Hockey player of the year and was also elected as one of the leaders for the new year. She also received Academic honour colours, definitely Kim's child, not mine.

Friday I flew down to Port Elizabeth (a 1h25 flight) and had an early 3am start. I flew back at 7pm and thought I will have an early night compare to the previous one.

Well not quite, I had my first "break down" in a VW in 18 years. Somehow the car's key lost it's coding and although I could open the car it didn't want to start.

VW assist was quick to respond and help me but they had to take the car to a dealership as they couldn't code the key on the spot. That was quick but getting the car out of OR Tambo airport's parking almost took me forever.

Never knew you had to complete so many forms to tow a car out of the airports parking. Well five hours later I was in bed just to be up and running in 4 hours to DJ's National championships dance competition.

She did great and reached the quarter final in the Freestyle division and the semi final in the Slow dance division. She almost made the final in the slow dance division. They called back 4 girls after the semi final to dance for a spot in the final, think their scores were tide. Unfortunately she didn't make it but for her first year dancing, I am proud of her and she did great doing so well at the National Championships.

This sign is on my way to work, maybe some advice, what do I need to do. Stop or keep going.

Here are some more of Windhoek (my favourite beer) ads

Monday, November 8, 2010

11Global Triathlon Race Report

After struggling with a slight cold for the past two week I didn't expect much from this weekends Triathlon. Friday before the race I even considered not doing it as I am not that sick but just sick enough not to go full out.

DJ had her year end dance school concert on Friday and Saturday evening and we as parents were asked to help. Both nights were late nights and leaving Sunday morning at 3:45am on a 2h30 trip to Sun City didn't do my body any good.

And I don't know if I missed the info or if the race organizers didn't tell but we weren't allowed to park close to the race venue and had to park right at the resorts entrance. Then everybody was shuttled up to the race event with buses, meaning long queues. Then I had to face another long queue at race registration to get my chip, swim cap and T-shirt before racking my bike.

They only had medium T-shirts left and Kim now has a Triathlon shirt to wear. I had to rush getting everything sorted in transition and luckily they announced that they are postponing race start with 15 minutes to accommodate everyone.

Not being critical but compared to previous years the event was not up to standard and the organising of it wasn't good considering the entry fee.

But I am glad I did the race. No PB or placing but I am happy with my performance and the way I felt on the bike and run leg. No cramping or any major hick ups apart from the swim.

I started well during the swim but after about 200 meters I suddenly struggled to breath. My chest felt tight and I was coughing, or trying to. I struggled to make my way out of the masses and was looking for a life guard and wanted to quit. My mind was set that it was the flu symptoms. Lucky for me I couldn't find a life guard close by and they were way to far to get their attention.

I continue with breast stroke for a while and the started swimming freestyle again at a very slow pace. After about 5 minutes I increased the pace a little bit and continued to complete the swim.

Transition from the swim to bike was the longest I've ever done and was about 400meters. Then after I got my bike it was another 200 odd meters to the bike mount line.

They bike course was nice with one nasty hill and I enjoyed it and made up a lot of places on the bike. My average watts were 270 and although I felt that I could push harder I knew the run course had a nasty hill and didn't want to push it too hard.

As I was passing a lot of people I just maintained the pace and also kept my heart rate in the mid 150's.

The run was good and I started of slowly and after climbing the hill I increased the pace. My legs were feeling great and for the last 5km of the 10km run leg I could maintain a sub 4min/km pace.

I usually pass a lot of people on the bike leg and only one or two on the run leg but this was the first time I passed so many people on the run leg.

I am happy with the result and how I felt during the race especially since I am not really good at shorter events and prefer Half Ironman to Ironman distance racing. Amazed that I could increase the pace the further I went without feeling any flu symptons, maybe just want I needed.

On the home front the two owls sleeping on our roof has given Eddy a freight and now he's scared to go out during the night and do his thing as one of them tried to catch him one night.

When I took him out last week one of the owls came right at him and tried to grab him. I couldn't believe it and said to Kim people won't believe me if I tell them the story. Kim spoke to our neighbour and she told Kim without knowing about our experience that she's concerned about these owls as they tried to catch her poodle.

Now Eddy is scared at night and don't wanna go outside if I don't go with him. These are one of Owl feathers we picked up on the lawn.

11Global Triathlon: 1.5km/40km/10km

Swim: 30:53
T1: 3:42
Bike: 1h13
T2: 47sec
Run: 41:41
Total: 2h30:14

7/99 in 40+ age group
38/407 Overall

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

If I Only

Without planning to, someone cross your life path that changes your life or perspective on life in such a way that you can't stop thinking about that person.

That someone crossed my path this weekend. I didn't know the person, didn't plan on meeting him or didn't even know he exists until our charity ride project.

One resident of House Betsie Louw made such a huge impact on me that I need to, or let me rephrase, want to tell you more about him.

His name is Pieter and although he is mentally handicapped, or as they say these days mentally challenged he is just one awesome person.

I didn't post any pictures of Pieter on purpose apart from the one with Donnalee as I wanted to save it for this post.

When I first saw him Saturday morning when our fund raiser started, I didn't take much notice but he just blew my mind away.

He helped us the whole Saturday and Sunday without complaining once. In fact I never even saw him take a break to eat something, he just kept going. If it wasn't for him convincing hundreds of people to do the Computrainer challenge or take a raffle ticket to win the bike, I know we wouldn't have raised such an awesome amount.

We even had this Chuck Norris joke: "Chuck Norris was at the Mall and didn't want to buy a raffle ticket but Pieter made him buy one"

We always look for Icons or Heroes to look up to. If the advice is not coming from a film star or a successful sportsman we don't even bother listening.
We read books on how to behave, what to do, when to do it and what will happen when you don't do it.
Well let me give you some advice, you don't need to look that far, just find the Pieter in your community.
If I only had the patience Pieter has
If I only had the confidence....
If I only had the enthusiasm....
If I only had the sense of humor...
If I only had the believe...
If I only had the courage...
If I only had the energy...
If I only had the knowledge not to judge people.

Thank you Pieter, for giving me the opportunity to meet you, it was a real honour.

I salute you!