Leap Day Sports - The Triathlife of Jesse Thomas

Two Weeks Down…

…14 or so to go.

Hello all you crazy like that kid who’s got a bionic wheel leg attached to his leg ass fans!  It’s been roughly two weeks since I “announced” an injury and surgery, and 4 weeks since my last workout, a swim – bikerun around Lake San Antonio, so it’s time for a check in.


First off and foremost, thank you all for the incredible support after the announcement and the surgery. Honestly, you all made me cry a little bit. Please take that as a huge compliment even though by reading this blog you might think I cry fairly regularly. I seriously appreciate all the comments, tweets, and facebook messages guys, it’s been overwhelming, humbling, and has helped a lot.

I’m going to make sure this happens.

A Tough Month

As you might imagine though, the last month hasn’t exactly been easy. It was a shock to the system to go from professional athlete in peak physical condition and huge career performance to a 100% sedentary dude with a smelly ass foot locked in a boot who needs help changing his clothes. Bend hasn’t exactly helped, as the weather here has been mid 70’s and freaking gorgeous – exactly the reason we moved here, but right now it’s just toying with my emotions. Damn you, Bend!

The last few days were maybe the toughest because the high of Wildflower has worn off, and even though I logically know I’m not, I now legitimately feel fat and out of shape – today I was sweating by the time I’d hop-crawled to the top of our staircase. I’ve also had to watch the first round of my planned racing go by – though it was awesome and confidence building to see Joe Gambles beat a stacked field at Quassy. But all in all, I’ve piled enough on my plate to keep my brain occupied, and I think the hardest part of this process is almost over.

Wish I would have kept the hospital gown. Looks money, literally.

Wish I would have kept the hospital gown. Looks money, literally.

Surgery & Prognosis

See, not that bad.

See, not that bad. Just a few stitches, really.

Long story short is that surgery went great. It’s still super early obviously as I haven’t tried to do anything, but the surgeon said that it basically went as well as it could have. I had a screw stuck in my foot to permanently support the fracture site, and some kind of platelet injection to stimulate healing in the bone. Luckily, I didn’t have to have a bone graft, which would have added three more weeks to the recovery process. All in all, it went about as good as possible, and for now, the prognosis goes like this:

  • 2 weeks post op (this week!) – Light exercise: strength work, and swimming & stationary biking with the boot on. Be ready for some weird ass pictures of me swimming with a boot on.
  • 3-4 weeks – Walking with boot on
  • 6-7 weeks – Boot goes in the garbage can.
  • 6-8 weeks – Swimming with kicking (arms are going to be strong like bull after 4-6 weeks of dragging my legs)
  • 7-10 weeks – Biking without the boot, first stationary, then outside
  • 10-12 weeks -Aaqua jogging (Lima Bean’s favorite), and potentially some light anti gravity treadmill running
  • 12-14 weeks – Ease back into “real” running

While it’s great to have this plan in front of me, the big picture is that none of this timeline really matters, all that really matters is taking the time I need to fully and “permanently” heal my foot. If it takes twice that time, so be it. All of my sponsors and Matt have been incredibly supportive about me taking as much time as I need to get back into it safely. I can’t tell you how much of a difference that makes for my mindset, and how much easier it makes it to make the smart long-term decisions in this process. Thanks so much, guys.

12 more days on the Rollerfoot!

Try carrying a gift basket on a broken leg without a Rollerfoot. Impossible!

Keeping the Athlete Mindset, Mostly

I just submitted a Triathlete Magazine article about how to deal with a major injury, which not only seemed like an appropriate topic at the moment, but one I now consider myself an expert on. Without giving the whole article away, I’ll say that the hardest part of facing a long return back to training and racing is keeping the “athlete mindset” – by which I mean staying motivated, productive, eating healthy, sleeping a lot, doing what you can to stay fit, etc. It’s super easy to do all those things when you get a natural endorphin rush from 3-6 hours of exercise during 2-3 workouts a day. You always feel stoked, motivated, hungry, and like you’re gaining forward momentum towards your goal. But when you swap swim for work, bike for baby prep, and run for bad daytime TV, rarely leave the house, and no matter how hard you try, still feel like you’re getting fat, it’s pretty hard to stay motivated and feel good about yourself.

So far, I’ve done what I would call a decent job of keeping the athlete mindset. I’d give myself a B or B+, which I’m satisfied with. Like anyone who faces a long recovery, I’ve had to balance staying mentally “on it” with giving myself a mental break so I don’t get burned out during what’s going to be a long and challenging recovery process. To a certain extent, I’ve spent the last four weeks like I would a break at the end of my season – absolutely no exercising, spending extra time with Lauren and my family, and tons more work at Picky Bars. The only difference is it’s June instead of November and I’m doing it all with a boot on a Rollerfoot.

Nerd Alert! My sleep record for the last month.

Nerd Alert! My sleep stats for the month of May.

Healing Training

While I’ve given myself a mental and physical break, the one thing I haven’t sacrificed is doing what I need to do to heal. Healing is my number one training & triathlon priority. It’s no different than nailing each workout and recovery during a big training block. So for the last 2 weeks, my “training” has been:

  • Sleep 9+ hours a night
  • Keep my foot elevated as much as possible & ice regularly.
  • Absolutely no weight bearing, using the Rollerfoot.
  • Eat “fairly” healthy, take calcium & vitamin D supplements.
  • No alcohol or caffeine, or carbonated drinks – all allegedly slow the bone building process.
  • Use the bone stimulator 10 hrs a day…on my foot, you sickos.

The way I look at it, it doesn’t matter if I keep myself in shape if I don’t properly heal and rebuild this foot. I’ve got one shot to do it right, and being conservative on my recovery only costs me a couple of non important races at the end of the season, and gains me the best chance at having the foot I need to win a World Championship. So that’s what Matt and I are doing right now.

What I’ve Been Doing

At first, I tried to fill ALL of my non-sleeping and non-icing time with watching TV. I never believed it before, but turns out there is such a thing as too much TV. When I finally turned off Day’s of Our Lives, I started doing this stuff:

Baby Watch 2013

Despite Lauren’s wishes and her best attempts at any and all natural labor induction methods, Lima Bean is holding out. The 39 week doc appointment went something like, “yeah, you’ll probably be late.” I’m paraphrasing here, but that’s what I heard. We learned that first pregnancies deliver an average of 10 days late anyway. Can someone please tell me why they set your due date at 40 weeks (June 7) when they know the average is 41.5 weeks (June 17)? I’ve spent some time pondering this question, setting up the car seat, baby area, and in general freaking out about what the hell I’m going to do when I’m responsible for keeping a human being alive and healthy.

Taking Baths. Also, Why Do I Smell So Bad?

Speaking of helpless baby, nothing makes you feel more like one than hop-crawling your naked ass into bathtub while trying to keep your boot out of the water. Since I normally take 3 showers a day for a combined total of less than 6 minutes, this 30 min ordeal is maybe my least favorite of my current state. Adding insult to injury is that even though I don’t exercise, I smell worse than I ever have before, sometimes requiring multiple epic journeys to bath land per day! What is the deal with this BS!? Am I the only person who smells way worse when they aren’t exercising? I guess the 3-6 hours of sweating naturally clear out my BO or something, I almost never need deodorant. But God Damn, deodorant can not match the “natural manliness” my body produces on an almost minute by minute basis nowadays. I’m looking forward to exercising solely for this reason.

Baths aren't nearly as fun as they used to be, no bubble bath and brothers to mess with.

Baths aren’t nearly as fun as they used to be, no bubble bath and brothers to mess with.

Picky Bars Campaign & Hiring, Booyah

If you’ve followed my twitter and facebook you know that we’ve got a lot of stuff going on with Picky Bars. On Monday, our Indiegogo campaign will end – which is basically a pre-sale for our new flavor, Runner’s High. It’s going remarkably well, and it’s cool to see how fired up people are about supporting small startups. I can say after trying our test production run of the flavor, that it’s going to be very popular. Lauren once again nailed it.

The biggest news on the PB front is that we’re hiring! We’ve seen some amazing growth and solid profitability the last 7 months, so we’re pulling the trigger to add to the team – a Marketing and Sales Manager, and a Finance and Operation Manager. This is by far the most exciting and my favorite part of my job, so I’m really pumped to see how it goes. I’m already amazed at not only the number of applicants we’ve received, but also the quality. It’s humbling to see how excited people are about potentially joining our team.

2014 70.3 Worlds Location Announced

This is a big deal. The venue for the 2014 70.3 World Championship was announced as Mont Tremblant, Quebec. I’ve obviously never done this race or seen the course, but from what I can tell, it looks pretty ideal for me. The average high temperature in September there is 62 degrees, meaning it will be a much cooler race, similar to Oceanside. It will also likely be a wetsuit swim. Finally, it looks like it is a pretty tough and hilly ride and run. Booyah x 3. I’m super psyched to check it out, and hearing about this venue change makes me more excited and motivated for next year. Whether it is or not, I’ll take this as another sign that the world is conspiring to help me achieve big things.

Onward – Back at it Tuesday!

I drove to Eugene and back on Saturday to have a 10 day checkup with my surgeon. As much as it was a pain in the ass (and lower back), it was great to see Amol, have him take a look, answer a few questions, and get the confidence to know that everything looks good and is on track. The wound is healing great, and the swelling is basically completely gone. I met with Jay Dicharry at Rebound Sports Therapy in Bend, and I can’t tell you how excited I am to be working with those guys. In addition to some incredibly smart and decidated staff who’re psyched to help Lauren and I, they have some state of the art boimechanical analysis equipment that is going to make me a more efficient, less injury prone athlete. Translation: faster than ever.

I’ll start my “workouts” on Tuesday. I’ll try to log as many of them as possible on Strava, so follow along if you want to see what I’m up to. It will be slow going at first, but I’m hoping enough to make me sweat and limit bath time.

That’s the update crazy ass fans. Hope everyone is doing well, and thanks for following!

17 comments to Two Weeks Down…

  • Solid post, J-Man. Really love the insight into the pro life and what really goes on. I am going to write all of these things down for when I inevitably become overwhelmed and depressed in my “new life” working 80 hours a week which will sort of be like going from high of best shape of my life (unicorn status) to injury (stabled unicorn). I’m just really hoping I don’t gain the “intern 15,” which is, like the Freshman 15, apparently a real thing.

    Anyways, you’ll get plenty of exercise once baby is here. I’ve gotten many a good lunge sessions trying to rock kids to sleep.

    Finally, rollerfoot = UNREAL!!!

    If I didn’t have a gig lined up, I’ll totally apply for PB job. So cool.

    Best of luck and glad initial recovery is going well!

  • Allen

    Looking good. You gonna give any local support to the Deschutes Dash in July? I’ll be there racing the Oly distance.

  • JC

    Glad everything went well. Man your posts make me laugh out loud!!!
    “Use the bone stimulator 10 hrs a day…on my foot, you sickos.”

    “But God Damn, deodorant can not match the “natural manliness” my body produces on an almost minute by minute basis nowadays.”

    good stuff man, cant wait until the next post!


  • dan c

    Hey Man, you look good on the cart . hang in there. When can I interview to be an PB Ambassador?
    Drop by for a swim sometime. The kids miss you.

  • Justin

    Recovery can be a mental drain, and I’ve been through it recently. What was supposed to be a two week break in training back in October 2012, turned into two surgeries in three days (one was an unplanned ER trip + surgery), 8 weeks or so of recovery before any physical exertion, and not getting on a bike until about 3 1/2 months after (February 2013).

    3 1/2 months later, I’m biking and running longer and faster than I did all of last year. Point is, the recovery part sucks, and there will be days you’ll think you’ll never get back to where you were. But you will, and will exceed it. Enjoy this downtime with your soon-to-be-born son or daughter.

  • That’s one upgraded knee wheely bob you’ve got going on compared to the one I saw from your Stanford days. Wishing you and LF the best with lima bean whenever he/she arrives!

  • Lonn

    Always wonderful to read/hear how you and Lauren (and now, Lima Bean) are doing. Thrilled that surgery went well. Is Lauren journaling about any of this? She must have quite a perspective after going through many similar attacks on her plans over the last couple of years. We miss you here on this side of the big hills. Keeping you in thoughts and prayers. Lonn and the Gang

  • Eileen

    There is a reason behind everything that happens…maybe this time will only make you a lot stronger than you think you are.

  • Glad to hear everything is going well with the recovery. It’s draining isn’t it? Good luck with the “training”, sounds like you have a lot to keep you busy at least! 🙂

  • Thanks for checking in with your CAF’s! Love the wristbands for surgery!

  • Sabrina Adams

    Another great post Jesse. I’m glad to hear things are going so well with you.

  • Brad

    As always, a great post. Thank you for keeping us fans in the loop with how it’s going. I’m very interested to hear how you progress and appreciate the insight. Unfortunately, like many people, I’m familiar with the instant halt of going from hard training to couch potato. Not on your level, of course, but I think the feelings are the same. For me, it was a ruptured ankle ligament while training for an IM in 2011. Quite a shock to the system.

    From my experience, your approach to “healing training” is excellent and so important. It literally is just like any S-B-R training session during your normal season, even though you feel like a slug. If you aren’t already (although I’m sure you are, given your sleep chart), you might consider logging your daily healing training as you would any other workout. It’s just a mental lift to be able to see you are doing work to get back into shape.

    Good luck with healing and with the new dad experience!

  • Chipper

    So no coffee or beer? I’d tap out:D Also does Strava have aqua-jogging segments? Best of luck in your recovery Jesse!

  • Arie Strobel

    Definitely, the best offer on here is the Haka flash mob from Callum. I love a good haka and have been treated to one by a visiting Kiwi…he learned it from the All Blacks. http://youtu.be/5Ex7trEM2qs

  • Chris Harris

    Jesse, great post. Glad to hear the recovery is progressing nicely. I had a stress fracture in my foot in high school and pushed it too early. Make sure to take the time (even more time than you think you need) as I know you will. We’ll miss you in Boise this weekend–still remember when you were a mere amateur lapping me on the run.

  • Brandon M

    I noticed you hadn’t put any workouts on Strava for awhile so I checked to see if you had an injury. I’m a cyclist/runner as well who lives in Eugene. We like some of the same areas (McGowen Creek, Seely, Shotgun, Fox Hollow, MacBeth, etc) so I started following you on Strava.

    Anyway, I just wanted to commiserate with your injury and time off bro. On June 7th, I fell 40ft straight on my gluteus while rock climbing. I broke 3 vertebra (compression fractures) and shocked my entire body. Needless to say I’ll be out for 2-3 months during peak racing season. This on top of my 3 back surgeries two years ago which took me out for 9 months.

    What I appreciate about you (and what I employ personally) is that time off, breaks, injuries, inconveniences, etc, are just as much a part of being an athlete than the athletics of being an athlete. We don’t stop the lifestyle even though we can’t train for awhile. Additionally, keeping that positive attitude is so important. We end up affecting all those people who have spent so much time and energy supporting us and our dreams if we don’t stay positive – even if we have to fake it sometimes. I have two kids – 6 and 3 – and they still need a dad no matter what frame of mind I’m in.

    So thanks for using your influence to invoke inspiration in others. You could live in your small professional bubble and not let anyone else in, but life’s too short right? Kudos on blogging and chronicling your life bro. Keep doin what you do and I’ll see you out there sometime. Hit me up if you’re in cycling in Eugene. Brandon M on Strava. Peace!

  • Meghan

    This post is pretty old, but I stumbled upon it while searching for inspiration from Lauren’s post-surgery posts! I had surgery a few weeks ago for a freak accident in which I lacerated part of my proximal Achilles. I am a marathoner and triathlete and was curious about swimming in a boot or splint either with a pull buoy or just kicking with one leg if that is even possible…what boot did you swim with? How did it go? Thanks! Craving cardio big time.

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