Two weeks ago I headed over to Vancouver to meet with a vascular surgeon to discuss the stenosis that was discovered in my left common iliac artery. It was a trip I had been waiting for with anticipation. There were still many unanswered questions that I was hoping he would be able to answer for me. Most importantly, whether he could make any connection between the blockage and the abdominal pain I’d been experiencing. The idea of having surgery was daunting but the thought of racing completely symptom free eased my mind. Although it wasn’t certain that I would need the surgery I had prepared myself that it was inevitable given that my CT scan reported a 90% blockage.
Needless to say, the consultation was not what I expected. First off, the surgeon was certain that the abdominal pain was not connected in anyway. It was not what I wanted to hear. For so long I’ve been trying to find the cause of my discomfort, and then to have what I thought was finally the answer get shot down so quickly was tough. Furthermore, he explained to me that he doesn’t perform any surgery based on medical imaging alone, and since my follow-up tests (ABI’s) were all normal and because I don’t present with enough left leg symptoms, he couldn’t justify doing the surgery on an otherwise healthy 25 year old. He assured me at was at no risk to continue training and competing without treatment and my doctor agreed.
So, instead of preparing to go under the knife I quickly packed my bags and headed to Madrid this past weekend to resume my season. Overall I would say the race went alright considering everything that’s gone on over the past month. I had a good swim and was in the main group on the bike. I was pretty conservative starting the run, in the hopes of minimizing any abdominal symptoms, but within the first km I started struggling with the cramping again, which lasted for about 2 laps. I was able to keep running through it, although I lost a significant amount of time in the first 5k. Eventually it subsided enough where I felt like I could actually run well. Surprisingly I felt pretty strong on the last 2 laps.
I was happy with both the swim and bike and I’m pleased that I was able work through the cramps and finish strong, but the overall result is still frustrating for me. We’ll continue to investigate the cause but in the meantime I’ll be experimenting with different strategies to minimize the symptoms.
I’m in Des Moines, Iowa now getting ready for the big money race this weekend. We have a much bigger group of athletes racing than usual and a full support staff so it’s been nice having a few more people around. Looking forward to getting out there on Sunday!