Monthly Archives: April 2010

4/30/10 Running in Circles

Friday.  Wasn’t going to blog today because I didn’t think there was any fitnessy thing for me to take note of but then I realized I was wrong.  Sometimes the bigger lessons are the more subtle ones.

Back up in CT for a couple of days.  Yesterday we got my Mom’s new dentures so now both my Mom and Dad have new teeth.  It’s amazing what a difference new teeth make.   Cosmedically — they both look YEARS younger — my Mom could pass for a sun-loving late 60’s easily.  More than the ability to flash a winning smile is the ability to enjoy a meal.  If you think about how many times a day/week/month/year you chew, and to not have comfortable teeth to be able do that with, what a constant annoyance that would be.  I take it for granted that I have teeth (maybe not such a good thing in my case if you get my drift/girth).  Took Mom and Dad out to dinner last night and Dad had his first real hamburger in probably six months.  (Always the meat and potato man).   No longer a big eater I figured the big hamburger they served would be coming home with us.  Nope, he ate every bit of it and wiped his mouth and pronounced “Delicious.”  That made me happy.  It’s the little things.  To be able to enjoy your hamburger again after months of mushy food.  These are the little things that make life good.

In the car my Mom’s hearing aid battery went dead.  Just like that poof, deaf.  Without that hearing aid she is 100% deaf.  It’s frightening to be suddenly shoved into a soundless world.   We pulled into a pharmacy and got some batteries and her hearing was instantly restored to its usual almost-deaf state.  But her relief was so great to be able to hear anything again it made me realize how much we take all of these basic functions of life for granted.  To be able to hear, see, walk, talk — chew.  Just the basic every day functions of life are so often taken for granted.  It’s easy to lose perspective on what we should be grateful for.

When I was in Florida last weekend a friend pointed out that I hang in circles of friends that are not anywhere near average.  “Your friends are all like elite athletes, these conversations are not what everybody else sitting around talks about.”  I realize she is right in many ways (though by the weekend she had been convinced to join TriLife Half Ironman team and she’ll soon be talking under the influence of the red kool aid too.)  I came back from St. Anthony’s feeling fat, out of shape, not where I should be in my training (how come I couldn’t run in heat and humidity? what’s wrong with me? 17 mph?  that stinks…)    I started to think about it and yeah, sure, for most fit triathletes I am fat and out of shape, but for middle America I’m doing above average.  It’s all perspective.    I could go knock on my neighbor’s door here in CT and pretty sure I can outlast him in a run.  (Though not sure I would be faster, just last longer.) 

So while lying in bed this morning I had to laugh at myself.  For the average American you are doing great.  It’s just that in the circles I run in (pun intended) are not average.

This weekend I’m off to training camp in New Paltz.  On Saturday I will ride my bike for 1 hour, run for 3 hours, ride my bike for another hour.  5 hours of training.  On Sunday I will ride my bike for 6 hours.  This is more than most people do in a month and even if I am not performing at the level I want to be at (really who is?) I have two good legs, my knees don’t hurt and I can scrounge up a smile on my face if I try really hard.  When it comes down to it, if I wipe away all the ridiculous expectations I have of myself.  I like to bike.  I don’t hate to run.  If we are running on trails, I actually like that too.  And if I have to walk, why is that such a crime?  I’m in the sun, breathing the air, getting healthy.  It’s okay to be human.  It’s okay to be average.  I will leave the super hero cape at home in the closet.

Just to keep things in perspective.  Here are the things I am grateful for this morning as I am packing for my weekend of training:

1.  I don’t have to wear glasses anymore.  My Lasik surgery did a pretty good job.

2.  I have all my teeth.

3.  I have okay hearing (though I am aware of saying “what?” a lot.)

4.  Two bikes from which to choose to bring and I may just bring both of them and ride one bike each day. 

5.  Lycra expands to fit.

Today I will be grateful for all of these things and more.  I will end up exactly where I am supposed to be.  One foot in front of the other and enjoy the fact that I can be out there doing this.

Namaste

So I admit I’m a total sucker for this tv show “Glee” particularly last week I loved this rendition of Beautiful.  I think everyone should watch this once a morning. (Sorry I couldn’t get actual video which is better but here is the song at least.)

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4/26/10 St. Anthony’s #5

Monday.  Well my first triathlon of the year is over.  Can’t say it was particularly pretty but all in all I made the most of it and my biggest goals were met.

Before I start on my race story have to brag about my friend/coach Jac who came in 7th in her age group.  They called her name and gave her a plaque.  Very cool.  As I was going out on my run she was already done and cheering.

My friend Melissa made her big come back to racing as well.  Two babies one almost 4 and one only 15 months and Mommy Meliss kicked some butt on her first Olympic in six years?  I would hate to see what she would do with a bike that didn’t weigh a ton and without mountain bike tires….

The rest of my friends all had good races as well.  Everyone had something they were happy with. Everyone thought the swim was hard but they all fought through it.  Was a lovely bunch to hang with.

My number one goal for the race was to finish without feeling sick.  My number two goal was to finish the race with being able to function the next day.  What point would there be to finishing the triathlon and then being too tired to do anything for another two weeks?  Right now I am spending considerable time trying to find my boundaries.  How hard can I push without killing myself?  Where is the wall?  How do I get around it?

I had to keep reminding myself that I was not going to have the same results as 2007.  That would be ridiculous.  I had to keep reminding myself of that every 15 minutes because no sooner would I think “new year, new race” I would be doing all my but-what-ifs…  ..  This race was about relearning how to pace and to let the results reveal themselves.  “Start where you are” and all that. For all intents and purposes I’m a different person now and I’m starting all over.  That’s the mature me.  The immature me was thinking, ‘Yeah, I’m gonna crush it, I’m going to be better than I ever was.”   What ridiculous games I play in my head.  I’m still carrying a lot of extra weight right now. I haven’t been training as long and hard, I am battling medical issues I didn’t battle then. Why oh why would I expect the same if not better results?  Because I’m a nut job that’s why.

THE WAITING GAME

They start the triathlon with athletes going off in groups also known as waves based on age or some other characteristic.  I race in a category called Athena (women over 150 pounds).  The race was starting at 7 a.m. and my wave was scheduled to go off at 8:51.  They close transition at 6:45 a.m. (transition is where you put your bike and gear and transition from swim to bike and bike to run.)  Once transition is closed you cannot get back in until you are in the race and finish the swim.  So obviously you want to make sure it is set up correctly.

We were all staying at the Pier Hotel which turned out to be a great location and really nice management.  The hotel itself is a very old and shabby but  I actually liked it.  My room was nice and roomy with an old fashioned claw tub (original), fridge, microwave and internet.  And the location was great.  Melissa and I were up at 4 a.m. because we couldn’t sleep so we went down to transition, set up and came back to the hotel to eat and I took a nap.  Yes I took a real nap — over 30 minutes I went out like a light and I needed it.  (I had been very, very tired the day before and had not been not looking too well.  Melissa was worried about me saying she never saw me like that — I kept saying, yeah this is how it is now.  It will blow over.)  After my race morning nap, I felt much better. Definitely felt well enough to do the triathlon.

We went down to the beach about 7:45 to see Melissa off.  Then I saw Jac off.  Then I waited  for my wave to go off.  And I waited.  They announced that they were holding up the race and redoing the swim course due to wind.  I guess it was too choppy far out and people were getting pulled out of the water.  So they stopped for about 30 minutes and moved the buoys to shorten the course from .9 of a mile to .6.   Instead of going off at 8:51 I went off at 9:21. The pros were finished as we sat on the beach waiting to start.  I sat in the shade on the beach waiting for my start and had a nice long chat with a gal from Florida and have a long list of open water swims for my friend Deanne to do.

My swim took me 23.55 minutes which is about on par with what I usually swim.  Figuring it that had been .9 instead of .6 it would come out to about 36 minutes and that’s in my ball park.  It’s apples and oranges though, different course, different length, different conditions.  You can’t really compare.

I felt fine in the water.  No wetsuit for me (because the like the rest of my clothes it doesn’t fit!) and the water was really warm and beautiful so I probably wouldn’t have worn one anyway for that distance.  I think they said it was 74 degrees.  I tried to swim a little harder because I knew it was a shorter distance.  On the way back I was fighting some current but I ended up with a couple of fellow blue caps at the end and we swam into the finish together.  That made me feel not so terrible.  I was not the last in my wave.  I felt like I always do coming out of the water — wanting to swim more.  I really love open water swimming and I felt like everyone else got the full Sundae and I got a small scoop of vanilla with a few sprinkles.  I had to remind myself that I got a nice swim in the day before for a half hour and also the day before that (the day when Rob and Anne were being chased by a dolphin!)

Transition 1 (swim to bike). 4:26 I have no idea why this took so long.  I didn’t even put socks on this time.  I think it is because I took the time to sunscreen myself and then I had a long run out of transition.

THE BIKE.

The bike, the bike, the bike.  For me it’s all about the stupid bike.  I measure everything about my fitness on the bike.  I kept reminding myself to not expect the same result as last time.  Frankly not sure how I ever did 19 miles per hour last time.  But once I was out on the course I remembered how.  It is flat as a pancake.  About 10 miles in I started to explore pushing it a little harder.  I wasn’t sure exactly how hard to push to have something left to run with so I just focussed on a nice cadence and noticed that my speedometer spent a lot of time saying 17.  There were some downhill grades where I saw 21 a lot, but for the most part I saw 17.  My final time was 1:25 which comes out to about 17.4 and six minutes slower than last time.  I’d like to say it was the headwinds but I  remember there being a lot of headwind last time too.  I’m just slower now.  I’ll get there.

The part that meant the most to me was about mile 10.  I was hunkered down (in aero the entire race), starting to feel like maybe I could push a little harder and I was overcome with that old familiar feeling.  I LOVE THIS.  I love, love, love to bike.  I love to bike like this.  I love to race triathlon style.  I love the goal, I love the people ahead of me, I love passing people, I admire people who pass me.  I love playing tag with a couple of people.  I love how my legs feel when they are in that perfect cadence and I just love how I feel when I’m doing this.  In almost all of my triathlons I have this moment on the bike.  A feeling of  being totally present — one with my endorphins and happy as a clam.

No incidents on the bike.  I was cautious on the corners (saw a couple of bleeders out there).  I practiced my shifting.  Coach George in my head to increase my cadence before I shifted to a harder gear — something I don’t really do.  For the 1:25 minutes I was out there I really tried to focus on that and accelerating out of the turns.  A lot of turns on this course.  No hills but a lot of headwinds and a lot of turns.

T2 (transition from bike to run): 4:55.  Another slow transition but I think this just may be my lot.  This time I paused to put socks on before the run.  Balega socks.  Coach Earl told me about these socks and I can’t say enough about them.  Balega, Balega, Balega.

THE SLOG

My run was pretty miserable.  It was basically a walk.  I walked 85% and ran 15%.  Here is how it went.  Hot, couldn’t breathe.  I was sucking deep, deep wind.  Made it to an aid station, covered myself with 4 cups of water.  One on my head.  One down my front. One down my back, One in my face.   A nice breeze would come and with the water I would cool down enough and my breathing would calm down and I would start a nice little jog and think I can do this, I can do this.  Within 3 minutes the water was dried up, the heat was killing me and I was sucking wind again.  Walked to the aid station.  Repeat.

My heart rate was fine — 138 most of the time which means I should have been running but I didn’t trust how hard I was breathing.  The heavy breathing made me nervous that I might be doing something bad to myself and I didn’t want to end up sick at the end.  My legs felt fine.  It was my chest and I decided I needed to respect my limits and my inner fear.  Whenever I could, I jogged.  I walked mostly.  It was not a good run but for a walk it wasn’t bad, lol. 1 hour and 32 minutes.  This was a  far cry from my last showing at St. A’s in ’07 where I did an 11:35 (still not where I would like to be).  This was a 14 something.  Total time 1:32.  Walking pace.  Oh well.

After the race I felt okay and that was the big goal accomplished.  I did not feel sick, I did not feel nauseous, I was not in pain, I was not going to pass out.  None of the symptoms from the previous week at Hook mountain were there.

Things I did right.  I’m on week 2 of the mega vitamin doses.

I took my mega doses before I went to bed.  I think that maybe all the iron is making it hard for me to digest some of my food in the morning.  This way I figured it would be out of the way.

I stuck to almost all liquids.  Heed seems to be easier on my stomach.  It tastes blah but I don’t get any queasy when I take it.

  • 6:00 For breakfast I had a whole wheat bagel with peanut butter (compliments of the hotel).
  • 6:30  banana.
  • I drank another bottle of water.
  • 8:30 I took a gel and drank a small bottle of orange gatorade thinking I was going off at 8:51.  Nothing else until I got out of the water.
  • 1 gel in transition before getting on the bike.
  • I did two bottles on the bike (more concerned about getting enough fluids than calories).  I drank 2 bottles in 1:25 which is good (Normally I drink about 1 bottle an hour).  Each bottle had 100 calories so I got in 200 cals for the bike and more importantly, plenty of water.
  • On run I carrried another bottle of Heed with another 100 calories and drank that during my run.

Felt fine.  No bonking.  That was enough calories for the day.

Sleep.  I got six hours the night before plus a nap.  I think the nap did more than the six hours.

Total time 3:30.  Add another 12 minutes if I had done the complete swim.  Eh, not great but not unexpected….

Biggest goal was met.  I completed the race.  Today I feel 100% okay.  Will need a nap but that’s okay.  Muscles are fine.  Ego is okay.  Love for the sport of triathlon renewed.

Abundantly grateful for the opportunities to do what I do and for the fantastic friends I have to do them with.  I was so happy to share this experience with friends from all stages of my triathlon “career.”

I’m starving, time for brekkie.

Namaste

Name: Constance Carpenter
Race number 3578

Wave: Athena
Total Time: 3:30.49
swim 23.55.49
t1: 4.26.60
bike: 1:25.17
t2: 4.55.42
run: 1:32.12

mile 1 13.40.05
mile 2 14.34.25
mile 3 15.34.58
mile 4 15.03.27
mile 5 15.53.28
mile 6.2 17.28.60

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4/22/10 Running Hope Through America

Thursday.  Feeling much, much better except for my sore muscles.  Systemically I feel pretty good.  I think the rest and vitamin blitz are helping.

Yesterday my Mom and I went down at 5:30 a.m. to see Lisa Smith-Batchen off on her third day of 50 miles in 50 states.  I had no intention of running with her, a) because I had been too tired and b) I wouldn’t be able to keep up with her.  It was fun to see her take off with the group.  Mom and I headed home for coffee.

Got a good amount of work done until 11 a.m. when I just crashed.  I had a 2 hour nap of the dead.  One of those coma like sleeps that I never get.  I had taken all my new vitamins and settled in for a snooze.  When I woke up I felt finally rested for the first time in a long time.  Those coma naps are hard to come by but when you get one it is like striking gold.

I  had to run some errands for my Mom and then I figured I would pack up the car and stop by and see how Lisa was doing and head back to NYC.  I had on some old sneaks and a tshirt with capris. 

When I got there one of the coordinators said “you just missed them they just took off.”  Bummer I thought.  “No” she said “I mean you JUST missed them, look you can still see them down the trail.”  I looked down the trail and sure enough I saw the black nun’s habit of Sister Mary Beth and the white shirt of Lisa.  “They are walking you can catch them.” 

I don’t know what possessed me.  They were about a half mile ahead but they were walking so I figured if I did a nice easy run I would catch up to them and I would walk with them.  So that’s what I did.  They were surprised to see me and I started to tell them all about my CT “hood.”  All of a sudden Sister Mary Beth says “You’re faster than me, I’m going to turn around and you pace Lisa.”  Kerwha?!?!?  I can’t pace Lisa.  I’m just powerwalking.  Lisa was tired.  She had two days of 50 miles and she was 32 miles into her third day and had only 4 hours of sleep!!!  My fast power-walk was just fine.  Lisa and I chatted a little and kept us going in super power walk mode.  It was nice to catch up.  We made it back to the parking lot — 4 miles down of power walking down with Lisa Smith-Batchn world famous endurance athlete and I felt fine.  Time to go home.

When we got to the cheering station, they rubbed her legs and gave her water.  I was ready to say good bye to everyone but Lisa was looking pretty tired and she was thinking it would take her 4 hours to finish walking the last 14 miles.  It had been a long day because the news people had been there interviewing her holding up her running.  Now she was pretty tired.  Then stupid me said ” Well I can pace you for some of it if you want to do any easy jog.”  She quickly said yes and then next thing I know I was heading out with Lisa and Michael on a 6.2 mile stretch.  It was surreal.  Lisa is tired and burnt.  I’m trying to pace her which is the most ridiculous thing I can think of.  How could I, slow turtle, pace this world class endurance athlete through anything?  It wasn’t about speed it was about consistency and moving forward.  Well that I can do.  So I got into my little Marathon des Sables shuffle and just kept going.  Michael speed walking/running when necessary to catch up with me, Lisa shuffling behind me.  I couldn’t quit or slow down because Lisa needed me.  I felt like I was doing a 12 minute mile while jogging and then my powerwalking was pretty good so that was about a 14 minute mile.  I felt okay.  Lisa was just following me.  I got it, she didn’t want to have to think.  She just wanted me to drive.  Okay, if you are okay with going this slow, I can do this.  ….I think….

So I paced a world class endurance athlete for 6.2 strong miles for me, slow miles for her.  Took us 1:15 with a quick stretch break and a quick bathroom break to do 6.2 miles.  That’s pretty good for me.   Pretty solid 12 minute mile so I think we were probably running faster than I thought.  She was happy with what we did.  When we got back to the cheering area, NBC news was there and wanted to interview her.  I was feeling okay but I knew I needed a lot of water and some calories.  I had not planned on doing this.  The crew swept in and gave me half a bagel with peanut butter and an electrolyte drink.  Oh my God,  I don’t think I should be doing more but I felt kind of okay and Sister Mary Beth rolled out my legs with the roller thingy.   I didn’t want to let anyone down but I wasn’t wearing my good running shoes either…. 

I think the stopping is what did me in.  My body had a chance to think what the heck are you doing?  The bagel and peanut butter were not sitting too well.  The NBC guy was done interviewing Lisa and we set out to run again.  I was having serious doubts.  I was aware that Lisa was now picking up the pace.  I could tell she was now meaning business and just meant to get this over with.  I was pretty sure I was no longer going to be of any assistance.  Hmmm….   She must have gotten an adrenaline hit from being interviewed about the cause.  I was now following Lisa and the gap was widening.  I would have to really run hard to catch up and keep up with her.  I made it about 1.5 miles and when she turned around to check on me,  I signalled I was finished.  I could keep going and finish but I would be dead.  And I was just starting to feel better this would be a sure way to make sure I didn’t feel better.  So I told her I had to stop.  She understood and gave me a hug and went on her way.  I turned around to walk back.  Then another Michael was running (running/running not my running) and he was going out to pace her.  Whew, the Calvary was here. 

I walked back to the cheering section.  They were all whooping and hollering for me.  For me?  Nothing great here.  I stopped my watch.  It said 3 hours 20 minutes.  I covered 13 miles (11.5 with Lisa)  in 3:20 and that included stopping twice for refueling/stretching and an interview with NBC.  I’ve done worse.  And in my own small, slow way, I think I kept her moving toward her goal.  I couldn’t fathom that she had done 50 miles on Monday, 50 miles on Tuesday and was about to finish 50 miles on Wednesday.  It just wouldn’t register in my brain.  And she was going to do it 47 more times before she was done.  Inconceivable.

It was time for me to head back to NYC, it was getting late.

By the time I got to NYC and in my apartment it was 9 p.m.   I knew I had bike practice in the a.m. and that was highly unlikely that I would be able to get up to do that.  But I hate to wimp out and not go to bike practice just because I stayed up late.  But at the same time I was aware that I had to be careful not to over due.  My strategy would be to not set any alarms and if I woke up in time,  I would put on my clothes and go.  Unfortunately I woke up in time.  A deal is  a deal so I put on my clothes and heading out at 5 a.m. to make it to practice by 5:15.   I was stiff from the day before (and driving).  Oh well, I would just go and do my best.

I would have been just fine to do a nice easy spin this morning but my dear friend and personal sadist was out there.  (I won’t name names but she is petite with long blonde hair and speaks with an Australian accent…)  She let me kind of be for the first loop.  Overgearing for a very long interval.  For the second and third loop she pushed me.  I couldn’t have worked any harder.  My quads were screaming.  But as I said to her, I can deal with muscle pain and being out of breath.  As long as I have the systemic energy to push.  And I did have the energy to push.  It wasn’t a great performance because I had pushed my muscles yesterday as well.  But I’m okay with that.  There is muscle tired and systemic tired.  I’ll take muscle tired any day.   I was grateful a) to have made it to practice and b) to have worked hard and c) to have finished.  Of course I had to slap my friend when we were all finished ’cause she pushed me so hard.  Not to worry, we are doing St. Anthony’s this weekend, I will extract my revenge!!

I leave tomorrow for St. Anthony’s.  If I can maintain this energy I will finish the race.  I have all my vitamins laid out.  I need to work a little on liquid calories.  I’m sensing a trend in my not being able to eat solid food.  So I must buy a lot of bananas and protein shakes.

I’m looking forward to St. A’s.  If I pull this one out of my…. hat…. it will be a true miracle.   I can’t wait.

Namaste

My St. A’s times from previous years.  Not expecting to beat 2007 buet it would be nice to hit 2005.

2007 – 3:25 (Swim 38:40, t1 3:20 Bike 1:17 (19.28 mph) T2 2:43 Run 1:12 (11:35)

2006 – 3:45

2005 – 3:39

2004 – 4:13

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4/21/10 Linear Logic

Wednesday.  In CT.  Had another forced day of R&R yesterday.  Had been feeling a little better from 8-10 p.m. on Monday night so I thought I was on the mend.  Tuesday spent the morning at UCONN medical center with my parents and the three of us all looked like we needed major naps.  I was in need of more sleep — like 100 years.  After full morning at UCONN and full afternoon of work,  pulled the lounge chairs out of the barn and Mom, Dad and I got a little sun in our faces in the backyard. 

My plan right now is to really, truly rest.  I leave for Florida on Friday.  I promise I will only race if I feel up to it.  But, I have to say I am so looking forward to an open water swim it will be hard to tell me to not swim for the days I am down there.  I really miss swimming open water.  And once I’m out of the water, how am I going to pass up a a flast (flat + fast) 26 miles on the bike?    And then there is just a 6.2 jog –what’s 6.2?  You see how my mind works…  One step at a time and then next thing you know  — another finishline and all those happy endorphins….

I’m not feeling guilty or anxious about not working out.   Couldn’t workout right now if I tried… But after a nap?  A nice brisk walk?  We’ll see.  I’m okay with wherever I end up, I would just really hope it’s on the other side of a good race one of these days.

I tried to go shopping yesterday to buy something to wear for my Florida trip.  I lasted 20 minutes before I had to go back to my car for a rest.  I was too tired to drive all the way to West Hartford to get some vitamins I needed so I stopped at the Vitamin Shop in my town.  I had never been there.  Sometimes I think the Universe guides you to certain places and people.  I think I was supposed to meet Vitamin gal.

I met a gal who works in the Vitamin Shop and after spending about 3 minutes looking at the wall of vitamins and going nowhere fast asked her for some help.  She was amazing.  She got me all the vitamins I needed and we got to talking.  She was curious about why I had to take such high dosages and I told her I wasn’t sure but I think it has something to do the fact that MAYBE I wasn’t absorbing my vitamins.  That’s when she started to dish her own story.

Apparently she is a marathon runner and was having similar problems to what I am experiencing.  She said she would feel good then after a long run wiped out.  Not just need a couple of days of recovery — weeks of feeling exhausted.  She went to a doctor and he told her she wasn’t absorbing nutrients of any kind and basically she was totally wiping out her reserves when she did the big race and after a couple of weeks of rebuilding she would feel better.  He put her on a high dosage of Hyaluronic Acid routine for 3 days and then down to a normal level.  She said in 3 days she started to feel better. After 2.5 weeks she was back to normal.  Something about the lack of acid inhibiting her absorbtion.   She also had to take Iron, Vitamin D, B Vitamins and Potassium — all were low.  She extolled the virtues of the magic doctor.  I bought all the pills and took the doc’s number.

I called the magic doctor and he doesn’t have an opening for a new patient for 2 months.  But I’m on a waitlist and if someone cancels, I’m in.  Sounds about as hard to get into as Kona.  Vitamin Shop gal swears by him and says she knows a lot of athletes that go to him. 

Don’t get me wrong.  The one thing in the world I hate more than anything is what I call Linear Logic.  I can’t stand it when someone sees or reads something and immediately thinks “oh that’s me.”  Someone lists a few symptoms which you may also be experiencing and boom you jump to the conclusion that must be your problem too.  For me it’s right up there with stereotyping.  Drives me nuts mostly because Linear thinkers will change their conclusions with every new piece of data.  For me, I believe it is rarely just one thing.

So I don’t think I’m just low in Iron or I’m just not absorbing nutrients or I’m just training too hard or I’m just old or I’m just fat or I’m just over-stressed.  I think I’m low in Iron, not absorbing, training too hard, too old, too fat AND over-stressed.  So it’s not about treating one symptom — it’s about treating a whole being.  Anyone of those symptoms can be broken down into a ten sub-causes.  Why am I over-weight?  How much genetics?  How much thyroid?  How much age?  How much potato chips?  Why am I anemic?  Born that way?  Can’t absorb Iron?  Vegan?  Not eating my lemon juice with my Kale?

So when someone says to me, just take this pill and all of your symptoms will go away, or stop doing blah and you’ll be better my immediate thought is I’m speaking with a simple mind.  There is no quick fix.  I know this because Oprah has assured me that if there was a pill she would have bought it years ago.  Plus I have an entire library of quick fixes.  It’s whole mind, whole body.  It’s about been connected and caring for every part.  This is hard to do in our busy world.

So I’m looking at everything.  Food, sleep, meditation, Vitamins, exercise.  It’s not just about my refusal to eat a hamburger or I eat too much pineapple or I work out too hard or I drink too much or the latest  theory that I don’t drink enough alcohol (though I am considering that theory)!!  To try to fix the whole by just looking at one piece is a mistake.  I am a sphere, not a line.

So my plan is to listen to my body to tell me what it wants.  I know right now it wants more sleep so I’m going to give it that.  Meanwhile, although I don’t really have a scientific explanation for it, I’m taking the Hyaluornic Acid for a couple of days to see if I get the miracle jolt that Vitamin Girl got.  I also took my mega dose of D, have a new raw Iron supplement, Potassium and B vitamins.  I also have some good nutrients lined up, a nap and a yoga tape.

Much, much work to do which isn’t helping matters.  Later today I will attempt a nice walk/jog if it feels good. Nap if it doesn’t.  Tomorrow I will attempt bike practice if I wake up feeling good.  If I don’t I’m going back to bed.  That’s about as linear as I’m going to get.

Woke up at 5:30 this morning and took my Mom to see Lisa Smith-Batchen head out on her 50 miler today.  She introduces me to everyone as an Ironman and finisher of Marathon des Sables.  I had to laugh.  You all go run 50 with Lisa, I’m going home and back to bed!

Namaste

Pulled out the lounge chairs to get some sun.  Mom and Dad getting their Vitamin D.

Little St. Francis of Assisi next to the Pagoda.  I love the juxtapostion.

Apple tree from teh 1850’s.   Many an apple pie from this tree.  Alas it no longer bears fruit but does bear pretty apple blossoms.

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4/19/10 DNF #4

Monday.  There was a time when I honestly believed I would never DNF (did not finish) a race.  It was a matter of pride — carry on and finish no matter what.   Of course I care about my individual performance but usually a good performance is merely crossing the finish line.  I think that’s why a lot of Back of Packers push when they shouldn’t.  It’s a fuzzier area for us.   It’s always slow, it is usually uncomfortable — it’s just shades of discomfort. 

I DNF’d my race yesterday at Hook Mountain.  Bottom line is I am not feeling well.  I can’t explain exactly what is wrong I just know something is not right.  Haven’t felt well since Wednesday and it just wasn’t bad enough or specific enough for me to realize it.  Afterall, I felt terrible on Thursday morning, not able to eat breakfast and had my best ride of the season at bike practice.  So I figured, just go out and see what you can do.   You are stronger than you think.  (Ha!)

Thursday, Friday and Saturday I kept trying to nap all day.  Exhausted but not able to really rest.  I’d go to sleep for an hour and wake up more tired than before.  I wasn’t working out.  I rode on Thursday morning.  I did play one hour of tennis for the first time in a couple of months on both Friday and Saturday.  (I didn’t want to play but the club called a begged both times so I went begrudgingly).   Both days I played chicken tennis.  I eeked out wins that should have been easy walk-overs.  Pushing the ball instead of hitting it.  Just getting it back into play hoping the other person would make a mistake before I did.  Was not playing my game (which is on the aggressive hit-hard-and-risk-the-miss side).  I wouldn’t call them workouts as much as being a human placeholder for a tennis opponent.  I had no zip, no pep but I could function — just not well. 

Things that were suspicious in retrospect.  I wasn’t as nervous about Hook Mountain as I usually am.  I figured I would get through it somehow.  That’s not like me.  Usually I toss and turn and moan and groan about Hook Mountain.  I was very lackadaisical about it.  I thought I was just suffering from been-there-done-that syndrome.  My packing preparation was — bring your running shoes.  Uusally I lay out every little thing I think I may need from chapstick to a hairbrush and enough gels and powders for the whole team.  Pre-calories, post-calories, emergency calories — I didn’t care about any of it.     I rolled my eyes and threw in a pair of socks at the last minute so I didn’t have to run in my cycling knee highs.  But I didn’t care.  Good enough — just go do it.

The oversleeping race morning and need for constant naps the days before should have been a hint but instead I thought that I should be plenty rested and have no excuse.   I slept a lot and couldn’t get enough rest.  Still don’t feel rested.

The big ding, ding, ding was I couldn’t eat breakfast race morning.  That’s NOT me.  I usually can eat seventeen breakfasts before 10 a.m.  I’m pretty sure I invented breakfast in a previous life.  I’m a morning eater.  I don’t really care about anything past 1 p.m. but from 5 a.m. to 1 p.m. is my eating time.  I couldn’t bring myself to eat so I threw a banana in my bag and jumped on my bike.  I wasn’t nauseous — I was just desireless.

My ride up to Rockland was slow and painful.  I had overslept so I didn’t actually leave my apartment until 5:45. (Another missed sign).   By the time I got to the race parking lot it was 8 a.m.  I was riding 14 mph in a 19 mph zone and I felt like I was riding through jello.  Some of the A riders passed by in a paceline and the normal me would have tried to jump on just to see how long I could hang.  I couldn’ t have cared less.  I had to work really hard to get to Rockland and that wasn’t supposed to be a hard ride.  I had no zip.

I managed to choke down a banana before I started the race and I did drink one whole bottle of sports drink (200 calories) on my ride up.  (Well aware that was not enough but I still wasn’t remotely hungry).

I still wasn’t nervous.  Bad sign.  I just figured I would muddle through somehow.  Another race, another bib.  Not my usual attitude of planning it out, visualizing the course, giving myself a lot of can-do talk.

First mile I was shocked that I was keeping up with so many people.  Second mile same thing, why am I not running alone?  Didn’t make sense.  Then they split the people off half marathon to the left and I guess the 5K people straight.  Now it was just me and about five other people and I was keeping up with them up until the firehouse.

I was holding a 12:30 pace and killing myself to do it.  This was not like NYC half where I kept waiting for the piano to hit and continually surprised that I was surviving.  Yesterday I was aware of every single step I was taking and forcing myself to keep going.  I told myself I could walk when I hit the hilly area.   Honestly didn’t feel that terrible when I was walking and then when I picked it back up I thought I was okay.  I was aware of some slight tugging on my knees but I’ve run through MUCH worse than that.  I was carrying my own water bottle with sports drink and I was drinking it and I had two gels.  They didn’t help.  I know I’ve felt worse in other races.

I made it down Suicide Hill and about 1/2 mile maybe a little more out onto the flat and all of a sudden I just stopped.  I was about 6.5 to 7 miles into the race (according to their map).   There was no mental discussion.  No, c’mon just keep going.    I was done.  No second thought.  All I wanted more than anything in the world was to be at home in bed under the covers.  I unpinned my race number and put it in my pocket and turned around and started walking back.  I was running one second and the next second I was turned around and walking.  I paused for a second to stretch my legs and felt how tight everything was.  My hamstrings were shrunk and pulling my quads were tight, my chest was tight — hard to breath.  But all that I could have muscled through had I had any energy.  Systemically I was wiped out.  I just needed to be out of there.  Away from all of this.   Suddenly I hated all of this.  There was nothing fun in this.  No adventure.  No sport.  My brain was shut down.

One part of my brain knew I should feel ashamed and hate the fact that I was a quitter.  The other part of my brain couldn’t have cared less and just wanted out of there as fast as I could.

I think the biggest shock that came to me is when I realized I couldn’t ride my bike home.  I was nauseous and exhausted and there was something else wrong I just couldn’t put my finger on it other than I was weak.  Thank God my friends Rob and Anne had driven there supposedly to ride home with me but they had their car and they drove me home.  That’s the part where I knew I was sick (I know, duh, THAT’S when I knew I was sick?)  I always figure I could ride no matter what.  But I knew I couldn’t even ride.

When I got home I had to crawl under the electric blanket.  I still couldn’t eat.  Now I knew I was sick.  I tried to think of my favorite foods — something to eat to help replenish and restore.  Nope, couldn’t think of eating anything.    After about an hour I managed to make some tea and toast.  That’s all I could muster.  I tried to sleep but I didn’t feel right.  Something not right and not able to put my finger on it.  It wasn’t from the race.  It had been there all week.  A weakness.  Something deep down inside just doesn’t feel right.

While I was shivering under the covers the tire on my bike exploded.  If that had happened on the road I would have shot myself.

I managed to eat a cup of some plain brown rice and chickpeas before finally throwing in the towel and going to bed. 

Slept 8 hours and I still don’t feel okay.  Something is wrong I just don’t know what.  I’m going to take a week off from training.  I need to sleep.  I leave on Friday for Florida and I have St. Anthony’s race on Sunday.  I would like to feel better by then.  I’m not interested in another DNF though honestly it is very difficult right now for me to muster up even a smidge of care or concern about a race.  Any race.

A week ago I felt on top of the world.  Now I feel like something someone scraps off the bottom of their shoe.

I guess my big question that still remains is should I have just not gone to the race?  When do you know that it is better to just stay home?  Or do you always just go out there and see how it goes?  Is it better to race and fail or just not race in the first place?

Going back to bed.

Namaste

DNF #1 – Lake Placid Ironman

DNF #2 – Van Cortland 15k in the rain and mud and after a huge brick the day before

DNF #3 – 4 Miler in Central Park after Marathon des Sables and the start of not feeling well

DNF #4 — Hook Mountain 2010.

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4-16-10 Sub-Doping

Friday.  Very tired.  This is a recovery week for us.  On Monday I thought “pooh, I don’t need a recovery week, let’s just keep going.”  I felt good flying in off the weekend. But I forced myself to stop on Monday and then the house of cards came tumbling down.  I got a nice easy run in on Tuesday and then headed back to the city.  Wednesday I was picking up the house of cards off the floor.   I wasn’t feeling well at all.  Crap.  My streak of feeling really good had come to a screetching halt.  I felt anemic again.  I felt weak like someone had drained all the blood out of me.  I had too much to do so I couldn’t sleep, didn’t feel like working out.  Overwhelmed with the feeling that this was it, it had been a good streak but  now it’s back downhill.  An article from “Runners World” came to mind about the traits of succesful athletes and one of the top five traits is the ability to roll with the punches — some days good workouts, some days bad workouts and some days stealing a nap by putting your head down on your desk but no judgments about it. 

I didn’t know if I should go to bike workout on Thursday.  It’s recovery week maybe I just need more recovery.  Sleep in — take a load off.  If it wasn’t crowded enough in my head with Dopey, Grumpy and Sleepy, my eighth dwarf showed up  — Guilty.  The GUILT!  Go to practice.  Just do what you can do.  Even if you can’t do the time trial just go spin your legs around the park.  I realized I was in trouble when I fell asleep for a minute while sitting on the side of my bed, fully dressed and with one bike shoe in my hand.  Then Pushy showed up.  Just go and push as hard as you can until you puke and then you can go home.  My plan was to go the park and just go until I couldn’t.  I figured I was good for one lap all out and when I hit the westside I would just come home.  I stopped at the Bodega on the corner and got a vitamin drink.

So of course I had a decent bike.  Isn’t that the way it always goes?  It was my best time trial of this season.  Still way off from my best time trial of previous seasons but I averaged sub 20 minutes for 3 loops.  I broke 1 hour for the first time this season.  Go figure.  Sad part was the second two loops I could have shaved a few more seconds off if I didn’t keep getting caught in biker traffic.  And I definitely have seconds to shave off my hill climbing which wasn’t that good.  I was totally running on adrenaline.  No calories because I didn’t feel like eating (for once).  Made no sense whatsoever. It really was like my legs were operating without my upper body. I was very happy but really, very, very surprised. What the heck?

My doctor called with my blood test results and we had a nice long chat.  I really like her.  She takes a lot of time with me and seems to be really trying to help me figure out what is going on.   So in a nutshell there were several categories of discussion:

my T4/TSH — good.  These numbers tell how well I’m taking my hormones and if my body is converting them.  Seems to be in the correct range and good. So my dosage level is good and we’ll keep it there.

my Thyroglobulin aka TG — good. This is basically the number looking for any bad cells left hanging around. Seems nice and low. My friend used an analogy of war time. This is the number to tell you if there were any more enemies out there.

my Thyroglubulin Antibodies aka TG AB — too high. We want it as close to zero as possible with acceptable high being 40. I have 155. That’s much too high. This is the tricky number. Nothing to worry about because some people have this and it doesn’t necessarily mean anything. Continuing with my friend’s war analogy, these are my soldiers in my body. The high number means I have a lot of troops and they think they are trying to fight something. But the trick is there may or may not be any enemies in there. When that number is high it makes it hard to tell if my Thyroglobulin number is really good or not. Are the soldiers in there fighting because they see enemies we don’t? Or are they really sitting around smoking and playing poker just waiting for their lift home? (I’m betting on the smoking/poker-playing).

The clunker was when my doctor said it will take about three years for this number to get all the way down to zero. As long as it keeps going down every time we take my blood we are good. But until it reaches near zero we have to be on the watch. My chin dropped to the floor. THREE YEARS before I can say I’m all good? Are you nuts? I was thinking Thursday.  I have to keep seeing her every three months for  THREE YEARS?!?! I hope not, I hope they drop faster….   I have a renewed sympathy for our guys at war. Even if Obama wants the troops out of Afghanistan, it takes a while to get them all home. You can’t just say the war is over without some clean up involved. And sometimes even if the official war is over, some troops are left behind.

So meanwhile those were not even the numbers my doctor was concerned about. “Your Vitamin D and Iron are still much too low.” Although my Vitamin D has risen since my last test (just about doubled) I am still under the acceptable range. I started at 12 (considered severe deficiency), now I’m at 26 (considered mild deficiency) but acceptable range is between 30-100. I’m taking my Vitamin D pills every day but I’m not absorbing them. We are going to try something new — once a week I’m going to take a huge dose. So instead of taking 2,000 units a day, once a week I’m going to take 15,000 units. Should be an interesting test to see what it does.

Her bigger concern was my Iron. Again she questioned how I was doing all of these workouts with my low D and Iron. “I dunno, I just do them.” Was my weak response. My Iron is 16 which is not below normal — normal 10-291 but it’s low enough to indicate I do not have enough Iron in my blood. Her bigger concern is that I’m not absorbing the Iron. So we are going to increase my dosage but also now I am going to take it twice a day instead of once a day. We talked a lot about diet and she has no problem with me being Vegan (I suspect she might be herself). But she talked a lot about the need to mix certain foods. Her big emphasis was on taking Vitamin C while I was eating my greens which have Iron. Vitamin C will help my body absorb the iron from my leafy greens. So when I make my Kale salad, squirt some lemon juice on it and I’ll get a much bigger bang for my buck. Well that sounds pretty easy to do. Too bad Olive Oil doesn’t help absorb anything — oh right it helps absorb fat.

Then she started in on her lecture. She was very serious. “Do you understand what these athletes are doing when they are accused of doping in events like Tour de France?” Uhhhhh, I dunno. She goes on about something about them swapping blood to give fresh red blood cells which deliver the oxygen to your body.  (I’m paraphrasing, she was kind of ranting). “You don’t have enough Iron, so, basically, what you are doing is ANTI-DOPING.”  She said ANTI-DOPING three times. I get it, I’m ANTI-DOPING. But I think that’s the wrong word. Anti-doping just means you aren’t doping, right? Shouldn’t she say I am Sub-Doping? Or Reverse-Doping?  Under-Doping? I guess anti-doping could be correct too. So that’s why I’m sucking wind? It’s not just because I’m old and fat? I did have to chuckle because it really is the first time in my life someone has accused ME of anti-doping. Was a time when…..

The part that cracks me up is how this doctor talks to me like I’m some kind of real athlete. (And no I don’t need emails about how I am a real athlete, you know what I mean.) It’s not like she doesn’t see me in her office. She knows I’m not some kind of contender.  She knows I’m overweight and she doesn’t say boo about it.  (She also knows I’m trying to work really hard on fixing it.)  “It’s harder for some people than others” she says in an understanding voice.  Same thing with my surgeon. They act like I’m some kind of professional athlete or something. Even my primary care, heart doctor and lung doctors do the same thing. I thinks it’s because they are used to dealing with really sick people so compared to their average patient I’m a dream case for them.  I haven’t seen him in a couple of years but my lung doctor used to just chuckle over my low heart rate and pulse.  “Wait, here take a shot of this inhaler” he’d say and then wait a couple of minutes and take my pulse and crack up like it was the funniest thing.   It cracks me up. I feel like I should explain to them that I don’t actually win any of these events. And if they saw the rest of the people on my team they’d know exactly how much of a poser I am. I don’t win at anything. Heck just getting up Harlem Hill is a win. The fact that my doctor talks about doping and sports and me all in the same sentence totally cracks me up. That said, of course I’m going to make it a top priority to do everything she says. If she wants me to eat Kale with lemon juice every single day for lunch, I’ll do that. I’ll take mega doses of pills. Who knows? Maybe it will help and I won’t be sucking wind the entire time I’m out there — or I’ll still suck wind and go a little faster.

This is why it is so important to have your blood tests done. All your tests D, B’s, Iron. Have your Thyroid checked. Have your Glucose checked.  Your potassium.  If you are lacking in some vitamin or mineral you are going to eat more to try to get it  into your body or sleep more because you don’t have enough energy. Then you want to eat more because your tired.  I think every athlete and every person starting a diet or race program should be required to get a full blood workup done to know what they are dealing with. You may be overeating because your body is trying to get more Iron. Your metabolism may be asleep. You may not be performing well because you don’t have any oxygen in your blood. Instead of hitting your head against the wall — draw some blood and find out what is happening with your troops.  Let’s face it, the older you are the more possibility you have of some systems failing.  If you are 25 you are probably running on fresh blood.  By 50 it’s been around the circulatory system a couple of times and it might be tired.

A wise doctor said to me once in my 20’s to get a full blood workup done so if nothing else you have benchmarks for the rest of your life.  I’ve been anemic since I was in my 20’s.  It’s something genetic with me.  So I don’t really freak out when someone tells me I have low Iron.  This is not new, it’s more like a reminder — take your Iron pills.  And when you get your blood tests, always get a copy of them and put them in a file.   Maybe you’ve always been vitamin D deficient and you’ve just never known it.  Get your benchmarks so when you get older you’ll know what YOUR normal is.

After a couple of months of my new pill regime I will go back and get blood tested again. If vitamin numbers are not rising we’ll test for celiac sprue which is a condition that prevents you from absorbing vitamins (just means you can’t eat gluten). I don’t think I have that. I think I’ll just eat a lot of Kale with lemon and I’ll be fine.

I also went for acupuncture yesterday. I don’t have any aches or pains, I’m just going every two weeks for preventative. I told him to poke me so I’ll absorb vitamins better. He says he can do that so we’ll see if that helped. He agrees with everything my doctor says. I say I’ll try anything that helps me keep on going. He says “well that’s what you’re famous for — keeping on going.” I took that as a huge compliment. I’m famous for something? I’m famous for keeping on going? I’ll take that, even if it’s not true, it’s what I’d like to be famous for. On my headstone they can write “She kept on going” which roughly translates to “She rumbled.”

I’m tired today. Going to take another day of rest without any judgment. A lot of work/work to do.  Maybe just a nice recovery swim in the afternoon. Pump up the vitamins, the kale and lemon juice. Lots of sleep. Light bike on Saturday morning to just spin out the legs. Sunday is Hook Mountain show down. 30 mile bike ride to Rockland Lake, run the half marathon (13.1 miles) and ride my bike back 30 miles. I’m a little tired right now so I can’t get nervous. I’m not going to get nervous this time. I’m bringing my bike. Bringing my own lock. Going to do my own thing. As long as it takes me, it takes me. Because I may not be fast but apparently I’m “famous for keeping on going.”

Namaste

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4/13/09 Blessed

Tuesday.  Figured I better throw in a blog entry before I forget everything that is going on.  I was kind of hoping to wait until I had good blood tests to report but looks like I have to wait a few more days as my last tests were inconclusive so we are waiting for some more test results.  Apparently I have some kind of antibodies that are interfering with some of my test results.  It may mean nothing.  In fact it may mean that I’m better than my test results show because the antibodies are interferes.  Hence, inconclusive.  I’ll know more this week but I’m going by the fact that I feel just fine and I think that is the best marker of all.  (Though in my continuing addiction to the word “perfect” it would be nice to hear her say something other than “we’ll talk next week.”)  I will say my doctor did not seem remotely worried and it’s hard to be worried when I feel just fine.  More than fine.

I feel really good.  In fact sometimes I’m overwhelmed with now realizing how terrible I felt back last summer and into September, October, November.  I had no idea how crappy I felt until now when I realize how good I can feel. 

I’m not even worried in the slightest about St. Anthony’s, Tupper Lake or Ironman.  I am happily training away and will gladly accept any result that I get.  It’s a weird feeling.  It’s really okay to just work my hardest and feel happy with whatever I can do.  I’m keeping up with all my IM workouts and although I’m not fast, but in the last couple of weeks I finally feel endurance has returned.  I was never fast in the first place but I always felt I had that endurance chip in my pocket.  For the last 9 months I really haven’t felt like I had the endurance chip.  But now I feel like I have it back.  I am doing long workouts and I’m not bonking.  My muscles have been giving out but not my head.  Muscles will build.

I’m working very hard on the food.  We’ll see what happens this week at WW but the home scale is not really budging.  I’m not gaining but I’m not losing as fast as I wish I would.  I continue to work hard on it.

Spent the long weekend in CT with my parents.  More doctor trips for my Mom and Dad.  Dad is doing well.  Mom is getting there too.   I predict by summer everyone is going to be feeling great.  I am liking the training in CT better than New York.  There is more variety and it’s prettier.

On Saturday my friend and teammate Ro and I went to ride the Rev 3 half ironman course in Middlebury CT.  I think I can sum it up by saying it’s a hilly course.  We didn’t ride the entire course because I got us lost.   I had to give Ro a briefing before we started that I am notorious for getting lost.  The look on her face was precious. I was surprised she didn’t know.  I had printed out maps and the directions and told her, no matter what you have to follow the maps and directions yourself.  If at all possible I WILL get us lost.  I don’t think she really believed me.  I was shocked that someone who has known me as long as Ro did not know this endearing little defect I have of a broken internal compass.  I can read a map and I have learned to rely on the position of the sun to tell me N/S/E/W but if you give me the choice of left or right I always pick backwards.  It’s certainly annoying at times and always puzzling but after all this time I have learned that my internal GPS has never really charged.

After 9 miles of climbing a series of hills we saw painted on the road a big smiley with “LAST CLIMB!”  We thought that was weird because we were only 9 miles into the ride.  “Must be a joke” I said.  Remembering the Vermont century where they wrote than on a hill and on the next hill they wrote “Just kidding.”  But after the climb and turning the corner we found ourselves back at the start!  We had done a ten mile loop exactly.  “Okay!  I said.  Now we can start figure out where we went wrong and do the regular half ironman course.!”   Ro looked more worried.  I could tell she was thinking this was going to be  along day.  “C’mon!”  Dora the Explorer with her hat on backwards.

Off we went following the instructions and this time I was ignoring the markers on the road.  Sure enough we had taken the wrong turn at Quassapaug and this time took a left instead of the right.  More hills.  And then some more hills. Parts of the ride reminded me of the Westchester tri course where you ride by one beautiful home after another.  Every house seemed to be out of a picture book.  Then we had a few flatter farmland sections and we were just taken aback by the beauty.  We could not have asked for better weather.  Pure sunshine.  Perfect temperatures.

The big difference I noticed was how nice all the drivers were to us.  Not one person honked at us.  When passing us the cars pulled all the way over to the other side of the road.  When I was going down a big winding turn the cars just waited until I cleared and passed by at a slow speed — not that annoying speed up because I held someone up for one nano second.  Everyone was so nice and respectful.  SOOO unlike 9W.  All day I kept saying to Ro, I’m just so glad to not have to be on 9W.  I’m truly beginning to hate 9W.  It’s so crowded with cyclists and cars — it’s just not enjoyable during peak hours. 

We took a cutoff to shorten our ride to get back in 4 hours.  We had to stop a lot for directions but we agreed that our 4 hours of hilly riding was comparable to a longer ride.  We had to do a 2 hour run after our ride.

We had parked at the Quassy amusement park which made  a great transition area.  The park was not opened for the season yet so we had the parking lot to ourselves and a baseball field across the street with porta-sans.  I didn’t have the map for the run course so we just headed out and explored.  There was no real flat area to run but it was sure pretty.  I had to walk most of the uphills.  My legs were getting that log-like feeling.  It was a hard workout but it was great to have company for a change.  

Even though we did not ride every inch of the course, my general assessment of the Rev 3 Half Ironman course is that it is a worthy course.  Like St. Croix I think it will be a challenge for anyone to do but in the end you would feel like you really accomplished something by finishing it.  I do not think it is a PR course by any stretch but it is beautiful and doable.  There is no hill like the Beast or even as big as State Line.  The hills are shorter and slightly steeper and  more of them.   I would call it a tactical course.  If you get the downhills with enough momentum you can take quite a bit off the uphills (ala Tupper Lake) I think anyone doing this course will feel proud to have finished.  That was how I felt about St. Croix.  I felt proud just to finish.  Because the courses are beautiful too it makes the suffering a little easier.   If you have something pretty to look at you can remember the view more than the pain.  I would definitely train for and do the Rev 3 half Ironman next year or the year after.  A worthy adversary.  This year we will be doing the Olympic course and that will be just fine, thank you.

On Sunday we had to do a 3 hour economy endurance ride.  I decided to ride up to Massachusetts along route 10.  I was kind of cheating because I knew route 10 was basically as flat as I would find in all of northern Connecticut.    Here is the great thing about doing hills.  When you get to ride flat you can feel like a Rock Star. Route 10 has a nice wide shoulder and once again, not one car bothered me in anyway.  When I got to the 90 minute mark I checked my mileage.  I had to laugh.  My odometer said 22.5, exactly!!  Perfect!  Then I got the biggest present of all time.  The whole time I thought I had been riding flat it wasn’t.  When I turned around and started riding home I realized it was just slightly downhill.  Very slight but very slight was all I needed.  And that headwind I had been riding into?  Finally it wasn’t a cross wind, it was at my back!!!  I was flying!!  Well, okay I thought I was flying going 21 mph until two different guys flew past me going a lot faster.  I didn’t care I was keeping my cadence going and that’s all that mattered.  AND I was in aero 95% of the ride.  That was huge for me.  I was happy.

Then I got teary again.  I’ve been finding myself overwhelmed during my workouts a lot these days.  When I have a good run or a good bike or a good swim I feel so grateful and appreciative that I get teary and choked up.  It’s finally happening.  I’m getting stronger.  It really doesn’t matter to me if I’m strong enough or fast enough by any of my race days because I know now that it will happen.  I know that by August I will be stronger enough to finish Canada.  I may not be as fast as I want to be (or maybe I will be) but that’s 100% okay.  I’m so grateful.  I’m so appreciative of any moment when my body can maintain a nice cadence on the bike or now when I can run for more than a few minutes without having to stop.  It seems like yesterday when my heart was beating five feet in front of my chest going up Harlem Hill on my bike.  Or trying to run down the river trail and working my way up to five minutes without stopping and not being able to do that.   Or when I used to have to hold onto the tree branches on the bridle path because I was dizzy.   Last week I ran 40 minutes without stopping or slowing down for even one second which was the most I have been able to do so far.  I had to fight back tears. 

I am filled with thankfulness.  I am also appreciative of my new perspective.  To be able to do the things that my friends and I do is truly a blessing.  Who gives a hoot what our time is?   I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous about Hook Mountain next weekend but I am focussing on feeling gratitude and not embarrassment.  To be able to ride my bike 2:15 to get out to Hook and then run the 13.1 (which will take me 3 hours I am sure) and then ride back 2:15 to get home.  This will be huge.  Who cares what my time is?  I am just grateful to be able to do it.  I know too many people robbed of the opportunity to do what they love and I am thankful to be able to do this.

When I think of Hook I have so many memories.  Having my asthma/anxiety attack in front of my coach.  Poor Ross just trying to calm me down.  I couldn’t breathe and the more I couldn’t breathe the more hysterical I was getting.  That was three years ago and I don’t need an inhaler anymore.  Blessing.  

I also think of my teammate Lauren who came in first woman that year.  As I was trudging up the hill on the way out on the course, Coach Earl and my teammate Lauren came flying over the hill already on the way back.  That image will always be imprinted on my memory.  I was looking up the hill and they were coming over it toward me and all four feet were literally off the ground flying through the air.  It still gives me goose bumps to remember it.   Lauren has been dealing with her own health issues recently and is fighting hard to be able to get back to training.  I want nothing more than to honor her by just for a couple of seconds to get my feet off the ground.  She actually won some money.  I jokingly told her to put it toward a new bike because she had been riding a bike that used to make a lot of noise as she passed me.  Good egg.

After Hook we have St. Anthony’s triathlon in Florida.  Words cannot express how excited I am to be able to do this race.  Not only will I be able to do this race but some of my favorite people on the planet are coming down to do this race with me.  Melissa, my dearest friend from my very first Triathlon is dusting off her triathlon clothes to come out and do this race with me.  Melissa has been there from day one in all of my training as a teammate, mentor and best friend.  The fact that she will be out there with me means so much I can’t tell you.  This is a comeback race for Melissa too — two babies since her last race is quite a distance. 

Rob and Anne are coming too.  Rob who has been a training buddy since we really met on that Mountain in New Paltz and really had to decide together are we going down that freakin Mountain?  “Cause if we go down we have to come back up.”  I laugh to think of how earnest we were in our deliberations.  Did we have what it took to do that?  From then on our training was one milestone and joke after another.  I have never laughed so much with a training buddy as with Rob.  From helping me inflate my tire in the freaking freezing rain in Lake Placid when my hands were numb and to countless hysterical and tough rides and swims.  He’s like another little brother to me and he’ll be at St. A’s too.  And Anne was there in the Fall helping me get back on my bike when 3 loops of the park seemed like a huge accomplishment.  Good friends who have my back.

Jac, my training buddy from 2008 and now dear friend, assistant coach and part-time psychotherapist.  Never letting me backdown.  Always there with a good Aussie push.  Guard of the no B.S. Zone.  She carries the spirit of her dear friend and my former training buddy Cindy who I’ve been thinking about a lot recently for some reason.  Having Jac there will be symbolic of the many paths we have all taken to get where we are and honoring those who can’t be here to do what they love. 

A couple of my favorite teammates from TNT days Claire and Ilona will also be coming.  I love their spirit and to be surrounded by good spirit right now is such a blessing.  I couldn’t have picked a better bunch of people to come help me recross the St. A’s finish line.

So that’s what I am feeling righ now, blessed.  I feel healthy and happy and blessed.  Today the sun is shining again and the Metacomet Trail is going to be dry and I can’t wait to get my work done to get out there and feel the air in my lungs.  I am blessed, very blessed.  And grateful.

Namaste

Oh yeah this is ultra corny but I can’t get this out of my head:

An Old Irish Blessing
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Still practicing my panoramic shots.  Here is entering the backyard from the woods at sunset:

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