I don't have much update in terms of progress but I continue to get more information about my body, and I always say information is power.
Dr Mautner referred me to his colleague, Brian Yee, for physical therapy. I already knew my glutes were weak, and my hamstrings were tight -- and that both of these issues were relatively big pieces within the puzzle of problems, but it is becoming clear to me how big they really are. Brian did various exercises and stretches with me, only to shake his head to say bluntly, "You are a biomechanical nightmare, Carole."
"C'mon. Is it that bad?", I asked.
I never thought I would hear that my butt didn't work, but it doesn't. :) My glutes are so dormant, due to years of inactivity (therefore domination of quads and hams) that I am reduced to exercises patients recovering from paralysis are given. I cannot do basic leg lifts without shifting my hips and/or engaging quads or hamstring. The glutes simply are not firing. Right now I am working on movements which are so small, so tiny, they barely seem effective. Yet it is all I can handle and still do them correctly.
The muscle tightness and lack of flexibility is the next relatively huge problem. Brian did some stretches with me and I was surprised by his candor. "Carole, this is really bad. Most athletes have a 50 degree flexion, you have barely 20 degrees."
He went on to tell me without this flexibility, my range of motion limitations have been forcing other muscle groups to engage. When aero on the bike, the nonexistent glutes are calling upon the hamstring to engage even more, but they are too tight to do much, so what is left? Quads and back. This partly explains why my quads can move mountains... and, why my back has exploded. I haven't stretched much in years, mostly due to listening to the suggestions that it wasn't helpful. For some it may not be. Some may not need it. My body does. The condition my body is in now, the extreme lack of flexibility in my hip flexors, glutes, and hamstrings is currently a problem quite large. It may not have mattered much if my job wasn't one which involved extreme physical fitness, but, it was. Thankfully, it is fixable.
So now it seems 2008 will be the year of rebuild and strengthen. It is the year of rehab, quite literally. Yes, it's all a bit frustrating, but I am happy answers are coming. I believe my body was rapidly headed towards complete breakdown. Thankfully I seem to have caught some things in sufficient time to make corrections that won't damage my daily living long term.
I have no idea if I will race this season. I hope to, but at this point I don't know. I won't be on my bike for another month, at best. I've been teasing my friends, "Do you think being off my bike for 5 months will be bad for my bike fitness?" I'm really trying not to think about racing right now, I am focused on getting myself healthy. Maybe 2009 will be a year I come back with a vengeance... or maybe I enjoy triathlon as a spectator and never race again.
The funny thing is, either way, I don't care. I don't mean that as a callous jab, I mean that as the ultimate sign of health. I have loved triathlon. Truly I have, in ways I would never be able to explain. It revived my life, got me out of an abusive relationship, and has given me a platform from which I have been able to do good for others. But it has hurt me, too. Too much of one thing isn't healthy. Even Disney World - if it's all you did each day, every day, it's all everyone around you talked about, your vocabulary had been reduced to only Mickey Mouse and cotton candy, even Disney World would break you.
So, I'm going to follow my body and my heart, and will be sure they are aligned...