Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A New Triathlete!

I've had an abundance of whiny  posts lately.  Yea, I want to explain to people some of the issues that we zebras face, but ya know what? That's not what this is all about!  It's about overcoming adversity, facing fears, attacking life full on and with a smile.  I met a woman at the King Pine Tri this weekend that just reminded me of all of these traits!  It was a good weekend!

The weekend was a different one for John and I.  We decided last minute to get away, do the tri again and go back to the LazyDogInn which is a bed and breakfast that caters to those of us with dogs.  This place just rules!  Last time we were there we had Gemini, so we were a little sad but within minutes Apollo made 3 new friends. Moe, Lilly, and Czar.  They played and played and played, he was not ready for the race the next day!  When the alarm went off, he actually stayed in bed!

The weather reports were iffy, I wasn't sure if the sun would come out or not.  Unfortunately NO would be the answer!  We arrived early, John and Apollo got a great spot for picture taking and I got into transition first!  Time flew by and soon it was time to put on the wetsuit and freeze to death.  57 degree water and no sun make for a pretty cold day!

I made my way down the pine needle path, luckily I remembered from last year, and wore booties!  I giggled at others who were doing the "ouch ouch ouch" dance!  I found the orange caps and bumped into a woman who I overheard say "eeh, I'm really nervous it's my first Tri."  I thought to myself "good gravy, this is a COLD @ss tri to be doing your FIRST one, not to mention it's in the MOUNTAINS.. YOU GO GIRL".. so I started talking to her.

You all know me.  I'm all about talking (yea you know you want to end it there).. I'm all about talking people off the swimming fear ledge.  Nothing to fear, just the same as training day, just more people! 

She then told me she just lost 100lbs and this was her treat to herself.  HOLY CRAP!  Again YOU GO GIRL!  Since I've started writing this blog, People have contacted me with some amazing stories like this, but Christina is the first woman I've met in person!  What an inspiration. You could see the pride in her eyes.  She just wanted this so bad, yet had this tingle of "fear", but it wasn't really fear in her eyes! I would say it was "fierce." 

My race was okay.  I thought about her, wondered where she was.  I figured she wasn't far from me.  The course is pretty hilly, it's in the MOUNTAINS.  But the nice thing is the downhills were very visible and you could GO GO GO, so I had some fun cranking 30+MPH and semi-imagining crashing.  I rounded the last turn and saw John (sitting in Poision Ivy so he told me later). 

Ok only 3.9 miles left to RUN.. ICK!  - not a 5K but I knew this, I did this race last year.  It is quite a nice run, through the cross country ski trails and around the lake.   The boy scouts manned the water stops, the little ones are so cute running out to you "Water? Vitamin Water? " - Don't forget to thank the volunteers at races!  The boy scouts just looked at me funny when I thanked them though.

Vince, the Chi Running Master is the race director so I was REALLY focusing on my chi running.  There were a few times that I really 'found it'  I was like "HEY THIS IS GREAT" only to look down at my Garmin and see that my pace was an 18 min mile HAHAHAH.. ok maybe I didn't find it!    For those of you who don't race, here's a secret.  Our AGE is listed on the back of our calf..... I say this because as I got further in the race, OLDER AND OLDER people kept passing me.  As I passed the last boyscout, this 74 year old man BLEW by me.  I'm not talking just "hey how ya doin" - I'm talking "EAT MY DUST" - -damn!  He won his age group.  (no one else in it though). Another awesome dude I must say!

I finally got back out to the street, crossed to the ski resort and the announcer had decided to stop announcing people.  That's one of the pretty annoying things about being 'close to last.' (that and they often pack up the 'free food' before you're done)... I crossed the finish line and got my medal.  I LOVE FINISHER MEDAL RACES!  I'm not a nicknack gal, but I really love the medals!

I then turned to the timing team and asked if #87 had made it yet.  I REALLY wanted to be a part of Christina's becoming a Triathlete.  They said "nope, but she's on her way." - they radio each other the last folks #s.. (yea they always have my #)!  The people there told me I was allowed to put her medal over her head for her!  Normally they just hand it to you, I figured I'd want this too!  WAY COOL!  VERY VERY cool actually!

I saw her coming in the shoot her friends erupted with emotion! She erupted with emotion, it was like those 100lbs were dropped right there!  She showed us all how strong she was.  Each step was stronger and stronger.  It was like a lion ready to pounce or something.  Closer and closer to the finish line... then one more step to  becoming a triathlete. 

I actually got to say to her "Congratulations Christina, you are now a TRIATHLETE."

Amazing Job Christina!  Just Amazing!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Look Out World!

Nothing is easy for me, never has been!  I guess that's my destiny!  It started when I was little. 

I'm a pain in the ass, I don't take no for an answer, and I don't let anything stand in the way of my goals or anything I think is "right."

I could write millions of examples but a few that stand out that embody my personality and perseverance.   When I was about 7, my brother was about 4 and one of the neighborhood bullies had put my brother's bike on the park fence so he couldn't get to it.  I went down there and took on this 15 year old!  I didn't care that he was twice my size and I clearly was in a no-win situation. I didn't care I was getting that bike down!  I think I kicked him in the shin and said get the bike down.  The kid probably laughed uncontrollably at this little 7 year old girl but he took the bike down. 

When I was about 11, I wanted a pair of Jordache jeans (yea this dates me).  My parents said no! This was not good enough for me, and I wasn't the stomp your feet kid.  So,  I went out, got a paper route and saved my money and got that pair of Jordache Jeans.  My parents thought I was crazy for spending my money on it, but I did it! 

When I was 14, I wanted a boat!  Yup, I said a BOAT!  So I got a job at a Marina (this was before they really cracked down on child labor laws).  I owned a 14 foot Starcraft Boat, and paid for a slip at a real marina at age FOURTEEN!  Just because I wanted one, I wanted to ski, and have my own place to hang out on the river!

That's just a little bit about how I don't let much stand in my way.  I don't care what's in my way, I will make it happen, from the examples above, to finding a way to go to college, to now dealing with my medical roadblocks!  As you've seen from my posts, the last few weeks have been REALLY hard!  It's also really hard to not give up!  I've wanted to just throw in the towel and say "fine I'm just going to sit on the couch and watch TV." 

Then I thought about it for 5 minutes.  That is not who I am!  I am still a giant pain in the ass!  "NO" is not in my vocabulary!  I am not going to let this EDS take any power from me.  It may flatten the physical me, I may have to work 10x harder than others at some points to do the exact same thing, but I have to think - well there's someone else out there that's working HARDER - SUCK IT UP! 

I often see Dick Hoyt pushing his son, I'm not working that hard!  The days I can't move my legs, I have to think "I have the power, use it, dig for it, find it.. kick it in the shin!" 

The days I think "I can't do this" - I have to think "SCREW YOU EDS - YOU CAN'T HAVE ME."

I love this song!   It was played in a spin class, but it has so much meaning to those fighting something!  If you're having a bad day, or just needing some personal inspiration, PLAY IT!  LISTEN TO THE WORDS!!!!

The other day I said to John "I don't know if it's a good for my body to do the Ironman" - he said "is it a good idea for ANYONE's BODY do to an Ironman?" - yea point taken!  I have no idea if I can finish the Half Ironman, but I'm going to start it.  It depends on the weather and what is going to be sucked out of me that week.  I am going to give it my all.  I'm going to GO until the time runs out! 

My success will be crossing 8 hours 30 minutes, not necessarily the "finish line."

Seriously, Look out World, I'm really on a mission now and you are NOT GOING TO STOP ME!

Monday, May 16, 2011

I'm a Triathlete and I have EDS!

Ehlers Danlos Syndrome Sucks!  There I said it!  I also feel the need to post today's blog to vent a little, but also to get some of my theories out there.  There seem to be NO common grounds in the medical world on what to do and what NOT to do regards to fitness.  First, I have to say that EDS peeps NEED to exercise.  If we let the muscles atrophy we will fall into a pile of mush!  Problem is, many physical therapist, physicians, etc dont know how to help us, or push a little to hard and actually HURT us.  Every movement in an EDS person must be purposeful and deliberate!  I will write a post one of these days with pictures of the exercises that I do!

I will eventually post an overview of my EDS pertinent workouts!  Here's the cliffs notes: Keep your body in line at all times!  It takes work to hold it there!  Never pull your head off the floor unless you are absolutely certain that you are not sheering your neck vertebra (that can cause migraines).  Also note I'm not a physician, just someone who has made this work!!

Get a bike that FITS, don't go to WalMart and get a Huffy! Spend the $$ and then go to a real bike store and get a bike fit.  It sounds stupid but it's the best money I've EVER spent.  Once I had the proper alignment  of my feet, knees, arms, head, etc it was like HEAVEN riding a bike.  Then when I added aerobars - WOW!    You will NOT touch the ground feet-flat, you will NOT reach the handle bars with your body upright, look at the guys that ride professionally, look at their form, its natural! After you get used to it, its AWESOME!

Same thing for Spin bikes.  Everyone thinks that you need to have your arms outstretched so it looks like you're reaching across a table, knees bent so you're banging yourself in the chest.  You don't, and honestly it will HURT YOU!, especially if you have EDS!  A few miles being 'out' of alignment and you'll be in pain.   You don't actually 'stand next to the seat and place it next to your hip' to get a height.   You measure it by looking at your foot and knee as they rotate through the crank.   Listen to the instructor!  I personally cannot ride a regular 'stationary' bike, or a 'schwinn' spin bike either, they don't let me get close enough.  Kaiser spin bikes RULE and can get me in perfect alignment!

For running, take a Chi Running class or clinic (I'm having one for charity in Worcester) - its amazing!  it teaches you how to focus your FORM so you don't stress the joints!  This can be transferable to LIFE as well, not just 'running' in competitions!  It helps me in walking as well!

For Swimming, I do Total Immersion Swimming, same concept as Chi-running.  I focus my form, everything is IN ALIGNMENT! (see a theme?).  

Anyway, I spend so much time training, and thinking and training!  It's hard not to get run down!  The past week has been pretty hard!  Really this winter has been very rough!  I have learned SO Much about EDS.  I'm trying to continue to be a positive role model and keep 'running.' 

I have lofty goals, but they aren't without their setbacks!  I didn't know what the heck it was before, as this is the first year I had an actual 'label'.   I go through phases where I train and train and train then all of a sudden I feel like I'm at square one.  I would think "oh I'm just fat and out of shape, I'm never going to get there."  I feel like something LITERALLY sucked all my energy out of my muscles.  Turns out that the weather does that to the EDSer!  It's not just the joints, but it's the muscle fatigue too and it's weather related!  The past winter has been particularly brutal, and this past week has been INSANE!  I have NO idea how I'm going to get through my Half Ironman in just a few weeks!  My joints and muscles have reverted.

I am as stubborn as they come (thank you for being born in December).  I am very Capricorn :).  Nothing can stop me.  I have my willpower, but my body may not cooperate with my "bullheadness."   I will try, but there's a time limit here, and I'm not about to HURT myself.

Being aware this year is a double edged sword!  Last year at the Cranberry Olympic Tri, I walked a good portion of the run.  I used a wide stride and I just killed the joint socket and couldn't walk for 2 days!  Now I know how bad it was on my joints to keep this very wide stride, and I will use my Chi Running form through the entire race!   

To all my Zebra Friends out there!  You have to have goals!  Stay in alignment!  You can exercise (the amount obviously depends on your current condition, but don't lose what  you have)!  Also don't lose the POWER you have, both mentally and physically! 

I've really struggled this week, but the one thing I've kept an eye on is that I am strong and I plan to keep it that way!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Bad @ss or Just Plain Crazy!

I had my first race of the season on Sunday.  It was not all I had hoped!  (Are they ever?).   Had my friends, trisherpa John, and it was even a nice day for a change.  But I should have known I was doomed when I ripped  a nail off to start the day!

We've had a BRUTAL winter, and the water never had a chance to warm up.  Although 58 degrees is much better than I hoped.  I had my skull cap, booties compliments of a friend, and a pretty cool heat pack thanks to my diving experience.  The water wasn't as bad I as I thought.  Everyone was freaking out, face freezing, etc.  I know better, I know that if you put your face in and just go, the burn goes away after about 15 seconds.  The hardest part about cold water races is losing your breath.  (See  Cohasset Tri blog post).

It was a deep water start and I didn't have time to get out to the far right like I usually do, so I just started on the inside.  BAD IDEA!  Normally I like to start front outside, so I can let people pass me and I can catch a draft.  Well, stupidly I started swimming, then swam up near someone's foot and caught her heel square in my NOSE!  John happened to catch the damn thing on camera!  I'm going to blame my pathetic swim time on this!  I told my mother I got kicked in the nose, she asked me if it was on the run !?!?!

So, swim over,  into the transition I go, no problem!    The booties were tough to get off but worth it, as my FEET were WARM! Nothing like last year!   I decided to just wear my shorts and put on a t shirt instead of my packed long pants and long shirt.  (I packed my transition bag for a long weekend)!  I also had to pee!  I decided against it, surly I could hold it!  Off I went.

For some reason the bike seemed to take FOREVER, I looked down at my odometer and I had gone 4 miles -- FOUR MEASLY MILES!  What the hell!?  I felt like someone put molasses on my tires!  I had this really cool fast bike and I'm going like Grandma (actually I think Grandma just passed me).
Also, I had made a mistake that I JUST WROTE about!  Never try anything new on race day.  I purchased a speed fill water bottle.  Of course being 5 feet tall and having the tiniest bike, the new bottle didn't fit with the standard holes, so we had to improvise putting it on my bike!  I never took it for a ride before the race, and needless to say, every time I hit even the slightest bump, it would make a big racket!   ANNOYING!!!!

Ugh, so I turn the final corner and see the last hill to the finish.  Turn in and I just KNOW I'm one of the last bikes in.  Oh well, what else is new?

I did a quick shoe switcharoo, decided not to eat any Gu, and decided I better Pee.  We were just discussing the Active.com article about 6 grossest things about at triathlons  and I wasn't about to do that.. so I hit the portapotty.  John was so confused that I ran past the "Run Out" - he thought it was so funny to take a pic of me going in.

I did end up Running 'most' of it.  I ran (by my standards) to the first water stop and had to STOP.  Here I realized I FORGOT TO PUT MY RACE NUMBER ON!  Duh!  How many races have I DONE?? oh well, I have it written in perm marker all over my body.  And I forgot to put body glide on my timing chip on my ankle so I was starting to chafe.  Lovely, I was going to get a blister.  I had to stop to switch ankles.  I walked for about .1 mile then started to "run" again.  I'm so slow it's pathetic but I got the job done.  I was really almost the end of the  pack. People were leaving (so what else is new). 

The last .4 miles or so is pretty, you run over this viaduct and over this tiny 1 person bridge.  I totally body checked this jerk.  I was OBVIOUSLY still running, this guy was moseying over the bridge with his chair and other spectator gear (in jeans) toward me.  I yelled out "I AM STILL RACING" to which he mumbled something and did not move, I wasn't sure what on earth he said, so I just body checked him out of my way.  He's lucky it wasn't 2 feet further down the bridge or his @ss would have been in the water.

The rest of the .4 was very positive, people are very encouraging (especially of the people at the end of the pack).  I think John was surprised to see me 'early.' Yup, I said early! My run was faster than normal!  I crossed the finish line, got my water and met up with my friends!  WOOHOO! One of which WON the newbie category.  She finished the race in 1:14 or something like that!

After standing there for a few minutes though, I had to go "relieve" myself behind a building.  Seriously?? that's the 2nd time that's happened too!  My friend Rick says that its "stressed stomach" - I ate exactly the same thing that I always eat, and I always work out at the crack of dawn.  Apparently you can get stressed stomach by working 'really hard.'  UGH!  yet another thing to overcome!

I have no idea how I'm going to get through a Half Ironman in 7 weeks if I can't get through a sprint without puking!   I feel like I have no business doing it!  I've had the most positive attitude about this, and take most things with humor and 'can do'; I also take this EDS crap with a grain of salt.   It wasn't until Sunday that I actually considered it a disability!   I've only had a label on it for about 8 months, but I've considered it a road block not a disability.   Kind of like a giant pot hole in the street.  I can go around it, sometimes I get stuck in it, sometimes I may lose a tire, but eh, it's just there.  Sunday  made me stop and take another look, can I do this?   I know you all will just tell me yes you can, but as more things on me fall out of place, (like Sunday my ankle just decided to turn left when I wanted it to turn right), I'm may have to re-evaluate this!

I know I will start it, but if I get to the finish line on foot, that's another story.- I will have a party that's for sure!

Friday, May 6, 2011

You Are What You Eat

"You Are What You Eat" is the most Cliche statement ever, but it's so true!  I've proved it over the last few weeks!

Recently, I wrote about my Food Intervention and how I finally turned a corner in my need to eat better to fuel my body. I've never really had 'bad' food habits, but I know they're not that great. I get really grossed out at TERRIBLE eating habits.  I can't stand it when I watch people eat a 'salad' loaded with fried chicken, blue cheese, buttered croutons, then turn to me and say "oh I had a healthy meal" !?!?!

I even had a chat with the guy that runs the cafeteria at work.  They have no healthy options.  I don't mean for them to go off the deep end, but his idea of healthy is a 1600 calorie portion of pasta, or a half sandwich and cup of soup OF ANY KIND?!- He even called me out in a newsletter saying I asked him to create healthy choices.  UGH! not those kinds!

I usually watch my portions and I'm conscience of my fat/calorie intake, but I'm not eating there anymore.  

It wasn't until I really stepped up my workouts that I finally realized how much food is a part of my fuel. Many of my friends wanted to give me books about nutrition (don't feel guilty if you were one of these friends, I assure you there was more than one). Thing is, I KNOW, but I didn't WANT to!  I loved my carbs (see the food intervention post).

Anyway, about 3 weeks ago I decided I couldn't do it anymore. I had to make a switch. I started packing my lunch.  I made that smoothie in the AM, had the fresh fruit, cheese, fresh cut veggies, triscuits,whole grain turkey sand, etc.  And I have the NUMBERS to prove the efficiency!

I go to a spin class MWF that has a power meter and level gauge.  I'm not telling my 'numbers' for fear of embarrassment, but when I started I was pretty bad.  After building some strength I increased about 10%. Then when I changed my diet, my power and sustained level increased 25%.. yes 25%!!!  I tend to slack on the weekends, as it's expensive and a pain to make all the healthy food.  I noticed that Mondays I was about 5-10% weaker than on Wednesdays!

I'm starting to feel more and more guilty about eating crap (and by crap, I'm now thinking about the bowl of Panera Tomato SOUP I had last night)!  I know how it's going to slow me down, I know that the meal I chose didn't contain enough of a breakdown of protein and carbs, and it had way too much fat in it.  I don't like this guilt, but I guess it's putting me on my way to eating healthy all the time!

I do have more energy, although I can't say it makes me want to get up in the AM. I get up at 4:15AM so who "WANTS" to get up then??   I am more powerful though and the numbers show it!