Monday, September 15, 2008

Just a tiny prick...

Most of you know by now that I'm a bit of a wreck, hanging on in the world of triathlon by a fine thread, a body held together by spit and the thinnest of ligaments.

My rugby career was huge fun - the best time a sportsman could ever have, but it took its toll physically. I have ear problems due to my cauliflour and the subsequent operation I had to have there, I broke my nose twice, fractured my right cheekbone whilst playing rugby at university, suffered a triple fracture of my left cheek and eye socket playing for London Irish against Gloucester (resulting in an operation where the surgeons inserted a crowbar into my skull above my left ear and warned me there was a 'very slight chance we'll hit the optic nerve and you will lose your sight'), I've broken my hand (London Irish v Orrell) my right ankle (Manchester University vs Liverpool University) and numerous toes.

But these injuries pale into insignificance when I offer up my right knee. The original injury occured when playing for Irish against Vale of Lune up in Lancaster (this was the days pre today's league structure). The ball shot out of a scrum and I lunged forward with my right leg to try and poke it forward, just as Vale's scrum half tried to fall on it and smother it. Unfortunately I got there first and he fell on the outside of my outstretched leg, buckling the knee into the Lancashire turf (as a Lancastrian I'm glad it happened there rather than Yorkshire). Long story short is that I've had constant problems and three subsequent operations on said knee which has been reduced to bone on bone operation without cartilage for many years now.

None of which was much of a problem before I decided I'd like to swim 3.8km, bike 180km and run a marathon in the same day.

Managing the mobility of my knee has become an integral part of my training and preparation for Ironman and triathlon. I use a sports physio - my Ironman mate Dave Harvey - and need to have rest periods factored into my long distance training. My coach, Mark K, works schedules around it and more often than not a long training session will see me sat in a freezing cold bath followed by hot shower, followed by knee sweep (where I elevate the leg and use my hands to brush away all the fluid that collects there as it swells) followed by knee compression bandage. Usually that means I can train the next day.

It's pretty obvious to me - and to anyone with half a medical brain who ever treats me - that I'll need a new knee at some point in the future.

But that will be then... and this is now. All the more reason to get Ferrous and push this ailing machine I call a body!

Why am I telling you this? Well, the only reason really is that it's kind of cathartic for me to remember and also, as part of ongoing treatment for a back problem I visited my chiropractor and he decided to take a look at my knee.

More specifically, he asked me if I'd be open to his using accupuncture. Now, not everyone from Blackpool is a closed-minded neandrathal. I have a very open mind about these things and my philosophy on medicine and healing is that the body responds to all forms of treatment, from conventional medicine, through healing, hypnosis, reflexology and the like. Whatever rocks your boat, kind of thing.

So what's a little prick between friends (no, that's not this week's film quote though I suspect it might have been used in a 'Carry On' film). In went the needles and, simply put, the knee loosened up almost immediately as blood flowed into the constricted areas, attracted by the presence of the needles (at least I think that's what happened). It's not the cure for all my knee-ly woes but it certainly helped short term and I'll re-visit it as a form of treatment as and when I need it.

It certainly loosened up the leg for me to compete in the Eton Sprint Triathlon on Sunday at Eton College's amazing rowing facility in Dorney. I was competing with a mate of mine, Dan. Dan and I lived together at university, part of the notorious 'Log Cabin' in Manchester's now infamous Longsight area. Little did we think that (he) greying and I (balding) would be competing in triathlons together some twenty five years down the line. He did really well and, with a time of 1 hour 25 mins, has already knocked 5 minutes off his earlier season's sprint time on the same course.

I had a good race, coming in at 1 hour 10 mins, feeling strong in the swim and bike but dropping off slightly on the run where I became aware of my non-training over the past month and the fact that I was holding back slightly due to the recent ankle injury. Still, a performance I was pleased with and, I think (official results aren't up yet) enough to get me into the top 20 of all male competitors.

I think I might have won my category for Male over 45 with dodgy knees.

Training's been better this week too:

Monday - 10km run, gym work
Tuesday - 2km run, gym work
Wednesday - 2km swim, gym work
Thursday - 10km run, gym work
Friday - gym work
Saturday - 2 hour mountain bike, gym work
Sunday - Eton Sprint Triathlon (no gym work - damn ! double today to make up)

Last week's film quote was spoken by TIM CURRY as FRANK N FURTER after he had dispatched EDDIE (played by Meatloaf) in the freezer. The movie? THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW.

In the spirit of comparing injuries... who said this:

"Mary Ellen Moffat. She broke my heart."

And don't anyone say that I don't give you easy quotes.

Anyway, must go... I have an appointment today with a vascular surgeon to talk about stripping some veins out of my right leg...

I guess reading back over the catalogue of injuries... 10 hours 42 mins isn't a bad time after all...

-- sigh --


Colin Bradley said...

Ouch! Wincing throughout reading this post.

I can see the headlines now....'Bionic Man does Ironman Germany in sub 10-hours'.

Great result Sunday, and also well done to Dan.

Rob Q said...

jesus mate - "Iron" is the perfect term!!

this weeks quote HAS to be from........Jaws? as spoken by Robert Shaw discussing his tatoos?

Jevon said...



But I'm proud of you mate and you get half a point for getting the movie right...


Alexanders said...

I don't know the the quote (although it does ring a bell) but I have to say the sound of the acupuncture and blood rushing to the needles sounded good!

Now, when is your aromatherapy session?