What goes up must come down

A few weeks ago I was feeling great. I was erging longer and longer distances every night, feeling good and not feeling any pain. I was up to doing 3 sets of 2000 metres, at pretty good speed and not much pause between then, and I had every expectation that I was going to increase the number of sets and distances continually. But then I started doing some extra stuff with Dan, trying to build up my core and other muscles and other things I’d need for the up coming season. But instead, I ended up overdoing it (due to the strange slowness of the way my body responds to pain, I never feel it when I’m overdoing it, only afterwards).

The next day, my shoulder was a little bit sore when I woke up, but I attempted to go paddling with the guys, but ended up falling in at the dock (due to using a different boat) and not going, but by evening my shoulder was killing me. And it kept feeling bad. I tried icing it, I tried stretching, and I tried taking more Aleve than usual. Nothing has really helped.

Yesterday I had a massage from my favourite massage therapist, and then a few hours later I tried a tiny bit of erging. By tiny bit, I mean less than a minute. I felt a tiny twinge, so I stopped. And a few hours later, it was back to feeling really bad.

My enthusiasm and optimism for next season has pretty much evaporated now.

Progress

For the last several months I’ve been trying to slowly build myself back up after the surgery. I paddle once or twice a week, and generally I do one “long” (for values of long that seem ridiculously short to me) continuous go at first, and then continue for as long as I can doing paddle/rest/paddle/rest. Sometimes I have to stop because my shoulder is sore, sometimes because my muscles are tired, sometimes because my aerobic system is worn out, and sometimes it’s all three. Up until last week, my maximum “long” stretch was about 1.25 miles, and my total distance was generally around 3 to 4 miles with a lot of stops.

Last week, I was off work, so I actually managed to get out 3 times. I also started getting much more diligent about doing the stretches and exercises my physiotherapist prescribed back when I was still doing that. And I went to see the massage therapist I was seeing a couple of years ago about my shoulder and neck.

On Wednesday, I managed to paddle 1.5 miles, take a quick drink of water, and keep paddling to a total of 2.5 miles, and then do stop/start paddling for a total of 4 miles. That’s the first time all year I’ve seen two miles in less than 11 minutes per mile. (Oh yeah, did I mention that my speed compared to last year also sucks?) So that was pretty good.

Today, I did even more. I managed to paddle 2 miles, take a quick drink of water, and continue to a total of 3.2 miles, and then do stop/start paddling for a total of 4 miles. That’s 3 miles in a row at less than 11 minutes per mile! That’s real progress!

Ok, granted both times my shoulder was pretty damn sore afterwards, but I’m so tired of waiting for the pain to go away before I start getting fit again. I have an appointment with the surgeon next week to see why it’s taking so long, but I suspect he’s going to tell me to stop paddling.

I’m making progress, and I’ve got the erg so I can keep going all winter. Here’s hoping I can bring the endurance up to the old level and then start bringing up the speed.

The State of the Paul

I’ve had my surgery, and it was a rousing success. The doctor said that there was wear on the rotator cuff, but no actual tearing. He’s opened up the gap so that there is more room for the rotator cuff to move without wearing on the acromium(?). After the surgery, I was a little concerned that half my tongue was numb (although I could still taste with it), but that numbness is getting a little bit less every day and currently just involves about 2 millimeters of the tip of my tongue. Over the last two weeks since the surgery, I’ve been seeing less pain and more range of motion, although I’ve still got lots to recover. I start physio next week, and I’m going to do every exercise they give me, and then some. I got the doctor to sign the request for physio for both shoulders, so maybe I can stave off the same thing happening on the other side. I’ve also been approved for limited driving, although without being able to raise my arm very high it probably wouldn’t be good to go out in a snowstorm or long drives on the thruway just yet.

Obviously the good news has me re-evaluating my plans for this kayaking season. It’s going to take a while to get back into the shape I was in last year after 6 months completely off, and however long it takes me to regain full mobility. So I think I still have to consider the spring races a complete impossibility. I might be able to do some of the summer races, although I don’t think I’ll be competitive. But really, I think what I need and want most of all for this summer is to get better in surf and waves in the ski, and also (once I’m better in the ski) even in the Thunderbolt. My dream is to be as good as Ken, but I’d settle for being as good as guys like Mike or Bill. (That’s not a slam at the other guys – Ken is amazing in the waves, and I don’t think anybody would deny that. Dan and Doug are almost as good, but they don’t look as at home there as Ken, and then a few steps below that comes everybody else, and then a bunch of steps below all them comes me.)

So the big question in my mind is whether I should aim everything at being good and fast in time for Long Lake, or whether I could build up the enormous distance base I’d need to race The 90. I don’t think I could hang with Doug or Mike in the 90, but I could probably finish. Either way I’m going to have to put in a lot of hours, both on the water and off. And I’m putting aside the money now for a SpeedStroke to help towards that goal. I know a lot of people say they get bored doing hours on the SpeedStroke, but I’ve done several 1.5 hour workouts on other people’s SpeedStrokes and I enjoyed it.

Last year my goal was to do 650-700 miles during the year and then 800+ the year after to prepare me for the 90, and I actually managed 778, but I’m probably not going to manage 800 in 2011. So I don’t know where that leaves me.

Surgery scheduled

I’ve got my shoulder surgery scheduled for February 3rd. The doctor says that if things are good inside the shoulder, I could be looking at 1 week in the sling, and only a month or so recovery, but if things are as bad as they were for Vicki, it could be 3 to 4 weeks in a sling, and up to 6 months of recovery. So there is a slight chance I might be racing (although not as well prepared as I was this year) by the end of the season, although I’m shelving plans for the 90 even if things go perfectly.

And in related news: The Onion.

Medical update

Ok, I’ve seen the orthopod today. The official diagnosis is “PARTIAL TEAR SUPRASPINATUS, AC OA, IMPINGEMENT”. What he said was that the tear wasn’t as bad as my doctor said it was, but that I have some sort of bursitus or tendenitis. He gave me a cortisone shot into the bursa, and a scrip for physio therapy, and I see him again in 6 weeks. He said we’ll have to see if that works, and if not I’m going to end up getting similar surgery to what Vicki had.

This could be a disaster for my hopes to paddle the “90” next year. Or I could recover quickly and get back to where I was a few months ago.