Wednesday, August 25, 2010

My amazing life

Greetings!  I have never been as busy, nor for as long, as I have been this summer.  I pull up my iCal and I am floored that I have been able to do all that I've done!!  The pace seemed to pick early August with unique and amazing events and I'd like to share them a bit here.  My paternal second cousins, once removed (it's accurate, we spent a lot of time trying to figure that out!) reached out to reconnect with me, after not seeing them for probably 24-25 years. Christine lives locally and Tom lives in New Orleans. Tom was coming back to Cleveland for his 40th HS reunion and inquired about a get-together. I was thrilled and excited to see them all again. Christine is still married to the man I met as a young girl and hers was the first wedding I ever attended. It was wonderful to spend time with them, talk about old times, exchange stories and catch up. I really hope that we can maintain contact going forward - my kids were excited to learn these super nice, fun people are blood relatives and keep asking when we can do it again! We'll definitely make it a priority, and hope to get my brother and sister involved for the next one. I think I've got a great reason to tackle Ironman New Orleans in 2012 (2011 is just 2 weeks before IM St. George - I'm crazy, but not THAT crazy!!). 

In the next few days, I would be preparing for the arrival of a guest: Blair Ryan, a talented photojournalist who is doing a project on the Triabetes team captains. She is, quite literally, traveling around the country in a large oval-esque pattern to hit every region, every captain, for film footage and interviews.  She'd be spending 3 days with me at my home. My kids? SUPER EXCITED! Me? Nervous. Stressed.  I sent an email in an attempt to prepare her for my kids, the pets, and my lack of preparing anything remotely close to a meal.  If you don't know this about me, you should. I am about as domestic as a snowblower. I don't cook. Ever. My kids forage for their food. I will shop, but I don't make meals. Blair was fine with this. I felt a wee bit calmer knowing that I wouldn't need to attempt to pretend I'm June Cleaver.

Blair arrived, and just as everyone said, she's sweet, laid-back, friendly and easy going. She's one of the most likable people ever!  We went out to Pickle Bills for a nice dinner and got to know her a bit.

The next day, I had a few hours to work so she came along and took some pics, footage of me examining a pet, then did some errands as I finished appointments and did a surgery. After work we head home where I found my new Dexcom continuous glucose monitor had arrived!!! Woo hoo! But first, we had plans: head over to Headland's with the kids and try on my wetsuit for the first time. I think she got some great pics as I struggled - STRUGGLED! - to get into it in the water. Apparently it's easier to put on when you are dry. Which I've always done. I have no idea why, in my infinite wisdom, I chose to put it on in the water. But it provided much comic relief.  :)

After swimming, we high-tailed it down to Cuyahoga Valley National Park for a run. Blair and I signed up for the 10K Shatter the Silence trail run, proceeds benefiting rape crisis center. My daughters signed up to run the 5K trail run. This would be their very first 5K trail runs!  I learned that night that I am NOT cut out for trail running, and, I feared a tree root could take me out both for my triathlon planned on Sunday, and even for the big event, a full IM Sept. 12th.  I decided to settle into a safer pace and do my best NOT to injure myself.   I did the run in 1 hr. Blair, the amazing woman she is, got lost and ran probably a lot further, all the while, running with a video recorder!  I am in awe.

Friday we took on a 50 mile ride. We left Mentor and rode Lakeshore virtually the entire way downtown. We stopped at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for some nutrition, then head over to Ted's building so we could re-up our beverages and she could do a quick interview with him. Then, back to Mentor. I was losing steam on the return ride so Blair took the lead most of the way. She is a very strong cyclist!!

After returning, Blair prepared to leave and embark on the next leg of her journey.  I enjoyed every minute she was here! It was very fun and I found myself relaxing a lot. I am glad to have had that experience! What a neat person she is.

Next up, I was headed to Springfield, OH with a friend to run a 70.3. Let me explain ... I had an Oly scheduled for Sunday, but a good friend from high school, Mike, sent me an email saying that he was coming into town this weekend and would love to catch up. He lives in California and we haven't seen each other in YEARS! I knew the race he was talking about because my friend Elizabeth has been training for it all summer. It was her KEY race! I knew I'd be using it as a training day, as my full IM is about 3 weeks out. So, I jumped on board and was excited to embark on a fun weekend. The biggest issue I encountered was that it was my "kid weekend" and I typically don't travel to do races those weekends. Logistically it made no sense to drag my hubby and children to "watch" me do another 70.3.  Old news by this time! Ted was helpful and agreed to stay home with the kids while I went to the triathlon. Next I asked Elizabeth if she'd want to room together and possibly share a ride. She was all about it! I backed out of the Rev3 preview day - it just would have been too hectic, and, I'd seen the course back in July. This gave us a relaxed time line to get to Springfield.

We picked up our packets on Saturday and it was so awesome to see Elizabeth enjoying this first 70.3 experience!! She was so excited!  I just love hanging out with her - she's an amazing person and I consider myself lucky to call her a good friend!

We then met Mike, his wife, new baby, Tyler, his dad and sister for pizza Saturday evening. It was really nice to just enjoy their company and get to know each other.  After dinner, Liz and I partook in some ice cream and then settled in to bed early. She's a super roommate and I had a ton of fun and lots of long talks.

Race morning we got there very early. Elizabeth and I are both "early" types, always relieved to stake out our real estate then relax a bit.  We met Mike there after a bit and went through our pre-race routines, where I discovered a FLAT TIRE!  I took my wheel and spare tube up to bike support and a nice guy changed it out for me in no time at all. He and I started chatting and I learned he's in for the Rev3 full as well, and planned to race today too! Nice guy, and he was pretty supportive as he passed me on the out-and-back run portions.

My race: My swim went super!!  I had my new wetsuit and I wanted a good swim. I had that tiny period where the HR jumps up and panic can set in, but I remained calm and swam through it, and it went away.  To my knowledge, no one in my wave (ALL women) passed me, and I was passing the previous wave - men. That made me feel pretty good!  The water was a bit rough - more so than you'd think for a lake. The distance seemed long - it was 2 loops and, per seasoned veterans, the swim times were slow.  Water conditions wouldn't account for it though. I know at one point I veered off a bit, but it likely had a negligible effect on my overall time.  I'd give my swim an A-.  Next time I race a 70.3 I'm going to put a little more "hammer time" into it - I held back because this was supposed to be my training day.  :)

The bike: Well, the course was nothing like Quassy or Rhode Island! Much better, but there were a few good climbs.  I liked the little offshoot of ~3 miles ... you climbed up, turned around, then FLEW down!  FUN!!!  I held a decent pace for the first loop then began to feel a bit tired. I settled into a slower pace - don't want to burn and die before the IM.   It was partway into the second loop that Elizabeth came flying by! She settled in next to me and said she was going to ride with me.   ABSOLUTELY NOT!!  I'm settling into a training pace and this is her key race - she's strong and flying! You GO girl!!!  And away she went!!  Looked strong and I was so proud of her!!

The run: Well, here has been my achilles heel lately.  I've been frank about my neglect of the run of late and the subsequent demise of my ability to pace and hold my run. It's gone in the shitter to be frank. I was healing from some blisters - and they did fine, actually.  I had an injury on my heal that I have NO IDEA how it happened, but it was unrelated to anything training-wise.  I got some waterproof bandages and painted the edges with New Skin - it held up beautifully for the entire race and didn't hurt at all, which surprised me. On Friday I was in a lot of pain (superficial, skin pain, not a musculoskeletal injury!).   My goal for this run was to do more running than walking, and even shoot to run all but the water stations.  Well, that didn't happen.  My gut was bugging me a bit early on. I had that dreaded "sloshy gut".  I was hot and thirsty, but the more fluid I took in, the more it felt like a vat of beer in my gut. Then ... GI "distress" ... the adrenal glands sent out epinephrine and created what I've always referred to as "flash diarrhea".  That feeling you may get when you have a very scary event. I suppose this may be a factor with my nerves before IM!  Anyway, there was some discomfort there, but no real "event".   I discovered COKE at one aid station and LIFE GOT INSTANTLY BETTER!!!!  The coke soothed, it broke surface tension, it tasted good, sweet, gave me some carbs. Life was better!  A few good burps and I felt a bit more like running.

I had been playing cat and mouse with a 20 yr old guy so I was mentally working on that.  I saw Mike as he finished at 5 hrs - amazing!  I saw Elizabeth and she was looking super! She didn't have a watch so when I saw her on the last loop, I said, girl, you can go under 6:15 - GO!  She asked how far did she have and what time was it now ... it's 5:55 and you have just over 2 miles.  It's yours, go get it!!  AND SHE DID! 6:14:35 I believe. Got SECOND in her age group!! I am so happy for her.

I found myself with 6 miles to go and 60 minutes to do it in, if I wanted to go under 7 hrs.  I wasn't sure I could pull it off today.  But this was my 3rd 70.3 of the season and I'd sure like to go UNDER 7 hrs today, even if it wasn't my "balls to the wall" effort.  I then realized that if I didn't do the 10 min. miles for the last 6 miles, that it would be me GIVING UP, not going for it. The only issue I had at this time was being a bit tired and NEW BLISTERS.  My feet were a bloody mess. I knew this would end with chopped liver for toes, but hey, that heals quickly! No reason not to accept that. So, I went for it! And I ended up finishing 6:52  :)   And now I have ground beef for toes!!  My run: a C - (and I'm being generous - I almost said D, but I made some progress with the mental demon I wrestle with.)

I saw the Wheelie Fun guy, Ryan Campbell I think, and he said the first time we saw each other: "what were we thinking??"  The next time, he saw me struggling and I said I was thinking about downgrading from the full IM at Rev3 to the half. He emphatically said "No! Don't let the doubt and darkness creep in! You can do the full!"  I'm thinking: How does he know??  But, I do appreciate the encouragement. I get it. I know that now, with under 3 weeks until race day, I'm very scared. Very.

I would imagine that anyone that tackles an IM is scared for the first one. Hell, maybe all of them! My fear? Failure. Not just a DNF.  If I DNF because of an injury, illness, or metabolic disaster, I can accept that.  The fear is of the "mental "quit"" (And, yes, I did just us quotes within a quote - intentionally). The fear is that my mind will tell me it's too much, too scary. That my mind will make the decision to quit.  I HOPE I have more say, but when you are in that dark, hard, hurtin' place, the mind is screaming "QUIT you idiot" ... That would be the DNF that would be failure.  I fear failing on race day.  I feel reasonably prepared physically. But the reason I race every weekend? To strengthen my mind. To feel more in control of the part that says to quit.  I think it's working, but it's still not a for-sure.  What really is, though? This I get.  But I'm trying to desensitize myself to the fear that is brewing. I think, for me, it really has worked, but we'll ultimately see on September 12th.  The ball is in motion and I plan to roll with it!!

So, here I am, nursing my superficial, but very painful, wounds. I'm in good shape otherwise! The day after the race? Not. Even. Sore.   But my feet need to heal and toughen up.  I had this happen before, 3 weeks before my first half marathon, and it worked out perfectly.  I'm doing aggressive wound care and hope to be back running by Sunday. I did make a poor decision, however.  After lancing and draining the blisters, I trimmed off the skin. NEVER. DO. THAT.   It was like having a burn wound open, raw and painful.  Leave the skin on to dry out, but protect, the skin below it.  My bad decision was further exacerbated by working 2 days in a row, on my feet, all day, with shoes on.  The pain on Tuesday was right below my kidney stones. Not good.  Today, less painful and I'm wearing flip flops until further notice. They are healing well because itching has set in. I'm fortunate to have some triamcinolone available to help with that. I think I'm over the hump and on the road to mending. Oh, and that toenail? Still black. Still there. Will fall off one day, I just pray it's AFTER 9/12.

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