Thought I had testicular cancer.

I went away for the weekend to relax and had two massages at a health spa. The massage therapist was a martial artist and had power in his hands. While resting over the weekend I was watching Lance Armstrong DVD on his 7 Tour de France victories. He described his cancer scare and how he had tumours in his lung and brain and yet he survived.

The day after the first massage I started to feel pain in my right testicle. I immediately thought about Lance Armstrong and recalled what I was watching on the DVD. The pain was constant and it spread up to my lower abdominal area. Being a physiotherapist made me think of the worse scenario as I had not had any trauma to the area. I had the second massage and on the same day I did a heavy squat, lunge and deadlift training session in the gym. After the session the pain got worse in my testicle and groin. This made me worry more but I put on my clinicians hat to make a diagnosis.

If it was not cancer then it could possibly be a referral from my thoracolumbar junction in my back. I decided to wait 5 days to see if it went away and then call a doctor if it was still there. When I pushed on the muslces and the joints in the thoracolumbar junction it did reproduce my pain but it did not lessen it.

5 days later the pain was virtually gone. I was so relieved and I realised that the first massage must have set it off as it was very hard on my back. Then I went to the gym and it made the muscles and joints in the thoracolumbar region even tighter and cause more referral to my testicle and groin.  With time the muscles relaxed and joints had less pressure on them and the pain eased.

This taught be how powerful the mind can be and how it can be fooled into thinking irrationally because it associates events and what I watch together. In my training and on race day I want to have positive and empowering thoughts to keep me happy and strong mentally.


Bike fitting with Bike Mechanic Dave.

Had bike fitting lasting 1.5 hours yesterday. The idea was to decide if my current bike would be comfortable for a 6hour+ ride in the ironman. Currently the aero position is uncomfortable. I was originally fitted at a bike shop and they put me in a very low profile aero position and I felt strain in my neck and in the web space between my thumb and index finger when resting on the brake handles. 

I went to cycle fit in Covent Garden and had it modified and they put on a specialised arm where my handle bars attach to the frame. They then modifed my seat and gave me inserts for my shoes. It was better but not totally comfortable and I still felt like I was reaching forward too far on the handle bars.

Yesterday Dave looked at me and said the aero position I was in was like a “Barn Door”. I was not in a touring position or a profile position. He said the (54) bike  frame was a size I could use and then went about modifying the position of the handle bars, aero bars and seat.  I bought a new seat and after the changes he made to the bike it did feel like I was in a more profile position. He wanted to make the changes slowly over time.

I am now to go on rides and report back to him on how the bike feels. Dave would then make more adjustments and over a 3 -4 month period I would get more and more comfortable on the bike. He gave me great advice…to stay with clincher types as they are easier to change, to possibly look at Zipp wheels to race in and to practice sitting on the bike with my back in a straighter position.

Dave has a practical approach to his bike set up and he is good at listening to what you say and what you want. I highly recommend his service. Let me know if you want his details.

I am looking forward to arranging some bike sessions now.

Preparations heating up.

Went to see Fran this morning and look at my bike, look at the list of equipment I have and look at a gym program. It was a brilliant session and a shame my camera had a flat battery as you would all like to see him talk. I will get him next time.

The bike I have must be comfortable as I will be in Aero position for at least 3 hours in one stretch. He thinks the frame is good and the bike will be fine for the ironman. I will drop the pump and get CO2 cannisters, get an aero bottle and may change my aero bars. The key is to look at the position on the bike today with Dave at SwimBikeRub and decide if it is right. Fran explained the bike has to be sorted now as he does not want me to change later in the training. I could spend more money on wheels but we are weighing up the value of that to me. We are focussing on good training and technique.

My brother is a leading sports podiatrist in New Zealand and his client is Cameron Brown, a leading world and NZ triathlete. He is going to get me in touch with him to ask him for some advice. I hopefully will get a video for you all to see. Tips from one of the worlds best.

Fran then looked at what I own and need to buy. The bike is the biggie but other key points were wear tight fitting clothes to stop wind from coming between the body and the clothing. This will prevent the cold in winter. He said he runs in tight tri- shorts and not normal running shorts because it helps keep his Testicles supported (funny). He explained it is more comfortable and reasearch has suggested this can help reduce infection. Fran is serious so this is the reality of the event. He also advised getiting  a cycle specific winter jacket. This is different to a normal windproof jacket and requires less layers to keep me warm. It appears each sport has specific clothing and it does matter.

In the gym I am focussing on strength training. This is 6 rep max and supersets with a tempo of 2 second up and 2 seconds down. I will be combingin Sumo Squats with lunges, Chin ups with dips and Deadlifts by itself. I do this 2 x week and for the other sessions I will focus on my swimming.

Really looking forward to meeting my Physiologist and nutritionist Dr Justin Roberts next week in London. Fran wants to come to get his advice as well. The more team I have around me and the better they understand what I do seems to make all the effort more rewarding and less effort. Even my orthdontist is interested in my progress.

The power in letting people know what I want to do seems to create more opportunities for me. I will tell more people and let the flow of people come to me even more. I will start keeping a database of my supporters and my team. I big thank you at the end will be needed.

Fran said training starts next week and I am looking forward to it.

Reality check on buying equipment.

Went with Fran to SwimBikeRun (SBR) in Fulham to discuss bikes and equipment. I have been reading the triathlon magazines and looking at bikes and after speaking to a couple of ironman athletes I thought I needed a new bike. I have a £1500  Felt road bike at present. I spoke to Dave the mechanic at SBR and he thought the latest LOOK time trial bike was a beautiful bike and then Cannondale. He said the Cervelo bike range were very technical and did not rate them the top of his list. He said Felt were value for money and mechanically a great bike. He then pointed to the 2009 Felt DA as  one to consider. At £5500 it would be a huge investment.

Fran came in and he brought me back to earth. He siad it is not the bike that is going to make the biggest difference for me. It is my training and getting my nutrition spot on. He wanted me to  avoid mistakes he made when training for his first ironman and avoid overtraining. He wanted me to start strength training in the gym and working on technique in the swim. we planned to bring my bike to SBR next friday and see how I fit on it.

When I first bought my bike I was fitted badly as it had me reaching too far in front  and created pain in my neck and in the web space between my thumb and index finger from pressure on the handle bars. I went to cyclefit and they placed a tube extension onto the handle bars to shorten the distance between  seat and the handle bars. It made the bike look ugly but over time I have started to adjust to the new position and it has been getting more comfortable. Next friday we will check if I will be able to ride 180km on it. If not then we will consider a new bike.

I called Cyclefit and they bespoke make bikes. The cost of the frame set alone will be about £3800 and then I must buy components, handle bars etc. Something to think about if I must buy a new bike.

We looked at wetsuits and Fran suggested I get a thicker wetsuit as my legs tend to drop in the water and  I will be swimming in a lake. My body will not be as bouyant as in ocean swimming. The cost of a wetsuit could be between £150 -£200. He recommended I do not get a one piece tri suit because there are problems going to the toilet. Two piece suits will cost at least £120. Other items we looked at were a belt to put my race number on, puncture repair kits and additional storage bags that can be attached to the bike, Aerobars, waterbottles, and goggles.

He said clincher tyres are better than tubular types because the tubular types can be  harder to put on the wheel. In terms of nutrition, I must try several brands until I find one that works. Once I find one stick with it. I will try electrolyte and carbohydrate mixes, recovery drinks and gels. I already know my body likes power bars to digest as solid food.

We went for a coffee after visiting SBR and Fran stressed the value of having a coach. His first advice to people wanting to start triathlons is to stop looking at bikes and look for a coach first. I am finding his guidance and advice saves me time and I am learning from his experience. I know in other areas of my life having mentors to help my journey is a must.

Fran and I decided I must write down everything I already have at home  and then we will look at the list and buy what extras I need. I will start strength training with supersets in the gym next week. I must strengthen all muscle groups but inparticular the legs, core, chest and Lats.

The hard training will start in January. I have time on my side so I can take a leisurely pace in building up to the event. I am so fortunate to have great friends and some have said they will come to the event to support me. I called home and they are excited for me as well. My father may even come over for the event. I want a big support team to pull me through the event.

I am interested in talking to Dr Justin Roberts next week. I want to get a program from him for my training and nutrition but I am not sure if he does this. I will wait to see what he can do and Fran wants to come with me.

I feel things a slowly building momentum at nice pace. I will be fitting training around work and at the moment I have time to rest. One aspect of my life I must get more of is sleep. When I am tired I can feel my body not performing at its best. I want to be the best I can so the late nights will become fewer the closer I get to full training.

ITB friction syndrome.

I know when I run I get bilateral ITB Friction syndrome. In the past I have had a lot of massage and had orthotics with excellent running shoes. I still needed lots of massage leading up to previous events. This is a major concern as a marathon at the end of the race will be hell with ITBFS.

I went to see Alex Fegallo to get them assessed. He looked at my movement patterns of my spine and hips and pelvis and said I was very tight through the ITB and lateral legs. He myofascially released them over an hour. Lovely pain and reminded me of what my clients go through. At the end he said there was not much more needed work on until I start running and training properly.

My brother in NZ, Justin Chong, is a sports podiatrist and on a home visit this year I had my feet assessed for new orthotics. I also went on a treadmill to have my running shoes assessed and he is sending me over a new pair  of running shoes shortly.

I will be doing rehablitation on my hip muscles and stretching my ITB over a foam roller. I will also be doing calf stretches. I am in a subdued mood at the moment. Preparing for the training mentally and enjoying my time eating what I want and resting.

I purchased three more triathlon magazines on the weekend. I have started reading the 220 Triathlon magazine. It is a commerative issue so a lot of history of events and athletes in it. Not as compehensive as Triathlon’s  World but I think if it did not have anniversary material in it the magazine would be different. I am willing to give it a second chance. I do think the 220 magazine seems to have better connection to athletes, events, and equipment suppliers. I am finding this important when starting out and looking to get advice and training plans.

I have contacted 220 Triathlon be email to see if they would follow me through my training. Will wait to see what they think.

Read up about bikes and wheels. The Cervelo P4 at £7999 is impressive. I would like to get a second racing bike. Seems Cervelo, Trek, Specialize, Giant and Felt have quality bikes and then there are companies which have made their own tri bikes at a cheaper price. I think sticking with recognised brands must be better. The bike companies have a longer history making bikes. Someone correct me if I am wrong.

I will be contacting Cycle fit as I have been assessed there before and ask what they can do for a triathlon bike. I head away the next two weekends. In early September I will start more regular training. Hope to visit the bike shop with my coach soon.

Swimming tips.

Met a woman who swam long distances competitively. She explained to me how to exit my hand from the water and how to keep my elbow high so as to be more energy efficient with the stroke and use my shoulder muscles less.

As my hand brushes my hip I turn my hand to be like a knife so my little finger exits the water first. This reduces the resistance as the hand exits the water. For training purposes I can pratice riding my fingers along the surface of the water to keep my elbow high during the recovery phase.

She did say she competed 15 years ago so techniques may have changed. She uses a key hole shape stroke under the water. I will look at current swim techniques and make my comparisons. Maybe there are DVD’s I can buy of swim strokes the best swimmers in the world use?

Getting myself prepared.

I went away on holiday and bought the Triatlete’s World magazine to read. There are some great tips in the magazine to use during the event and also for buying equipment and looking after my equipment.

An article by Sean Kelly, GB swm coach and Speedo ambassador described some swim drills to save energy before the bike and run.  Some drills I take away are to practice taking as few strokes as I can and kick as little as possible each length, relax and imagine the forces hitting me from the front. Stretch out with my arms and stay streamlined to make the hole in front of me small. Practice sighting a target in front every 8-10 strokes. Use a buoy between the legs to simulate  the buoancy of a wet suit. To keep fresh legs aim for a two beat kick for every two arm cycles.

Another article highlighted the importance of nutrition. If transition is the fourth discipline then nutrition is the fifth. It seems getting the balance right for the event is key to a good race and this has to be tested for each individual. Finding out what works best for me is important before race day.

Tips for nutrition I will take away are to hydrate days up to the event and only sip water 30 minutes before the race to stop dry mouth. After the swim wait for 10 minutes before eating because the body may struggle with the transition and diverting blood flow to the stomach might cause problems.

Richard McChesney, an ironman veteran, sets his watch every 15 minutes during the race. Every 15 minutes he takes a sip of Gel and water. He eats sandwiches as his stomach does not tolerate commercial food.

On race day only eat and drink what I know. Avoid high concentration drinks so mix Gel and water in bottles. I will definitely use Power bars as I like these as a solid energy source. I will practice drinking on the run.

I am tossing up whether to purchase a new bike. Having lighter wheels and  better aerodynamic bike appears to help. Some ironman athletes I know have a bike for training and another bike for racing. The Zipp wheels get great reviews. Learnt the difference between Clincher and Tubular tyres. Think the Tubulars are the way to go and faster to change. Also learnt to reverse the front and back tyres every few months as they wear differently and also how to adjust the pressure in the types for  less resistance or a smoother ride.

Equipment I must buy are Cyclone Chain Scrubber (£27.99, Finish Liquid Degreaser (£12.49, Finish Line Speed Degreaser (£10.99, to keep my chain in good condition.

There is a lot of information available to read and it can get daunting reading so much and knowing what is best. I am looking forward to seeing Dr Justin Roberts at the end of the month to give me nutritional and physiological training advice. I think I need to get a decent training program first and then as I get more experienced I will know what equipment I want.