Sunday, October 28, 2012

Be not afraid!

I was cleaning out an old closet and found a poem I wrote as a teenager.  I must have profoundly understood my ambitions and 'be not afraid' attitude at that time.

As I look at next year's schedule and think about what I'm going to tackle, this is just perfect!

Life is uncertain.
as a fawn in the sight of a tiger
You sit still in the grass,
anticipating and waiting.
Who will make the 1st move?
Does he see you?

Your eyes are wide with anxiety,
for you are on the defense.
One blink and you could be gone.
Your life is in danger!
or is it?

How far away is he?
you will never know!
The grass around you seems to grow,
it covers and hides you.
Is this how you want to stay?
Covered and on the defense?

You see another fawn nearby.
What is she thinking?
She is frolicking through your hiding place,
without a care of the tiger.

Do you take the chance?
Should you live on the defense or have fun?

You decide to join your sister.
As you play in the tall grass,
a curious eye looks toward the tiger
only to see that it was just a shadow.

-Laura Slipski ~1989ish

Monday, October 22, 2012

2012 In the Bag!

2012 is in the bag. It will be all I can do to not sign up for more races this year!

I love training peaks, these #s astound even me.  They do add up so I recommend that you all track your workouts, you’ll be surprised and proud when you see the #s add up!

Cycled:  2272 Miles  -
 that is the distance from Los Angeles, CA to Flint, MI!

Ran: 184.5 Miles –
Pittsburgh to Columbus, OH! (ok doesn't sound as far, plus who wants to go to Columbus J).

Swam: 71.5 Miles –
Almost from Cuba to Key West, maybe I’ll finish the other 18.5 miles before the end of the year just to make that 90.

Races for 2012
  • YMCA  5K April 19th
  • Sheriffs Sprint triathlon April 24
  • Season Opener Sprint Tri May 13
  • Pawtucket Half marathon May 20
  • Woodstock 10K May 28. (3 additional miles)
  • Escape the cape Triathlon June 3
  • Firefighter 6K June 10 (extra 3 miles).
  • Mt Greylock Half Marathon June 17
  • Fairfield Half Marathon June 24
  • Providence Half Ironman July 8
  • Cranberry Olympic (Aquabike) Aug 26
  • Autism 50 mile ride Sept  15
  • ChesapeakeMan Aquabike Sept 29
  • Newport Half Marathon Oct 14

Intended schedule for 2013:
Join me!

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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

EDS has a mind of its own

 EDS sometimes gets the best of you!

I finished my 5th Half Marathon yesterday.  I feel worse than ANY race I completed this year.  That list includes 4 other half marathons,  a half ironman, a full ironman aquabike, and countless others races. What makes this one different? Well.. Ehlers Danlos Syndrome has a mind of its own!

EDS sucks.  I've said it before but I don’t really dwell on it because I can’t do anything about it.  The most I can do is give my best efforts.  I’m not sure many people actually understand what it’s like to be held hostage by an invisible illness.  We see lots of stories of courage for fighting horrible circumstances and defeating cancer.  We all love to hear these stories and watch the athletes succeed! And we can sort of relate because we can ‘see’ what they went through. I cry at the Kona stories every time!  Those of us with the ‘invisible’ illnesses just appear weak, out of shape, or just ‘ hypochondriacs.’ 

I know all of you that read by blog, support my story. This is really for me and for my EDS readers! They need to hear this and know they aren't alone.  I do have a small group of EDS athletes that I can look to for support.  I haven’t been able to connect with a bigger group, because many either have been told they DON’T have EDS because they are active, or just haven’t sought out support online.  I do have a group, join us if you like: 

I want the athletes of EDS to have a voice, and to not feel shunned.  I personally feel a bit shunned from the community because I can do so much, and I also feel like an outsider in my athletic community because I’m so damn slow. Sometimes the EDS just sucks the life out of me.  I’m stuck between two worlds!  But I’m a fighter.. so here I am!

I had a great season, no dramatic problems, just annoyances.  But this week I am HURTING!  I completed the Newport Half Marathon on Sunday.  I started the race with the intention of walking!  Well the gun went off and I jogged and FELT GREAT! So I kept up that jog for the first 7 miles!  I jog/walk when I do a ‘run.’  I am really lucky to hit a 15 min mile with my ‘run.’    Now I excel at biking and swimming because I can keep a forced alignment in my body.  Running is a completely different ballgame. I have to think about each step, make sure that I’m in alignment, and hope for the best.  Chi Running makes a huge difference, but unfortunately it’s not 100% for me. 

My arch usually collapses part way through a run/ ANY RUN.  I’m used to it.  Except on this race, both collapsed and it felt like someone had a flaming hot poker and was jamming it into my foot with every step!  I know I’m not normal; I am usually in pain 90% of the time, but this was a bit over the top.  That comes with EDS, and I've learned to just manage.  Some days it’s tough and almost impossible to ‘push through.’

About mile 9, I wanted to remove my feet. Then I felt my hips were out and my sacrum was crooked!  LOVELY!  Yes I dislocate and sublux all the time.  Both hips were out of place, this means that my femoral head was rubbing on the tip of my hip joint --- WITH EVERY STEP. Needless to say, I couldn't figure out which hurt worse, my hips or feet. I knew I was close, just a little over a 5K to go and let’s face it; I wanted to get my medal and take a picture of it with my crazy nails.

We finished, as MARATHONERS were also finishing!  We got our medals, wondered over to get some chicken soup, and found our way back to the car. I still felt like I could walk at that point.

When I got home and tried to get out of the car, I had to use my arms to lift me up!  I knew I was in trouble!  I immediately took ibuprofen, and then tried to put my feet in an icebath.  OMG first time I tried that, PAINFUL!  I lasted about 2 min, and then just moved onto ICE.  I iced my collapsed arches and my wrecked hips.  I attached my TENS machine and tried to lie on the couch.  I knew I needed HEAT on my quads, but how to get heat there and ice elsewhere... so I iced, then went into the hottub, then back to ice. It was an interesting routine.  (Can someone please invent an icepack that would work IN the hottub)?

As the day wore on, I realized that my quads had ceased to function.  AWESOME!  I could not get up once I sat down! This made the toilet my ENEMY!  I turned on the percussion massager and basically took a bath in Biofreeze.  I woke up the next day with the same problem, it would take me 20 seconds or so to actually stand up, then once I started walking I was somewhat ok.  I continued to biofreeze, percussion massage, TENS machine, Ice, Ibuprofen (Physical therapy at my house)! I tried to get into my massage therapist, but she was booked!

Today, 3 days later I can finally use my legs.  They still hurt but at least they FUNCTION!   At first I wrote this off to EDS, and then I got nervous “what if I did something?” so I asked an ironman friend and super athlete.  I asked if he ever felt like this, his answer “YES AFTER AN IRONMAN – and every race is different!”

Well, I was still freaked out; I did a half marathon up Mt Greylock (2200 ft climb in first 3 miles).  I did a Half Ironman: swam 1.2 miles, biked a hilly 56, then ran 13.1 in 90 degrees, and I didn't feel like THIS with either of those extreme races.  I felt awesome after the Ironman distance aquabike: 2.4 mile swim and 112 mile bike. 

My friend was right, every race is different!  And EDS doesn't give a shit what you’re doing that day, when it wants you, it takes you!

So my EDS peeps, you aren't alone. Even in this pain I think about my race schedule for next year and still get excited about the races!  Yup, I like punishment!

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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Chesapeakeman Race Report

I have so much to say that I will have a few posts to accommodate.  This one will be strictly the "race report."

To start MY race report, I have to rewind 2 weeks. I fell on my last long training ride.  I didn't think much of it at the time but as I started to pedal I noticed that I lost my top 3-4 gears.  CRAP, I fell on the derailleur. I skinned my knee, jammed my aero armrest into my rib-cage  and twisted my other knee.  A normal person would have been done with the knee thing, but my EDS has some good qualities! Like that twisted knee was just annoying.  A day later I was informed I tore my deltoid ,  This coupled with my ear infection (See When it Rains) made for a stressful week of NO training and stress that I wouldn't make it.

Work has been from hell and I was also worried that I wouldn't be able to get away. So Wednesday at 3PM I shut the phone, laptop and never turned it back on until Monday.  I figured what I didn't know wouldn't  hurt me.

We arrived at the Hyatt on Thurs afternoon, after a miserable commute that included stopped traffic for miles through NYC.  EDS is such a pain in the ass in the car.  I can ride my bike for a hundred miles, but make me sit in the car.. OUCH!  Well we were there and that hotel is amazing.  I don't know if I'd justify the expense for the convenience of the race though, since you had to drive to the race site.   There were plenty of other hotels in the area.

I quickly went to packet pickup and got myself settled. So far I wasn't excited  nervous, it was just another race.  It was rather odd for me.

Chesapeakeman has the best swag I must say! Visor, bento box, arm sleeves, race belt, bag, T-shirt (not shown) and a water bottle.  The Ultra athletes's bags were better, they got a long sleeve race jersey and a finisher tshirt at the end, but oh well, this is still pretty cool.

On Thursday night they had a 'carb' dinner that was included in registration.  Turns out it was not just for athletes, it was just in the restaurant.  It would have been nice to have all athletes in a room, but we made due.  I met Sharon in packet pickup.  When we arrived at dinner she flagged us to her large table and we collected other athletes as they came in. I will write an entirely separate post about the characters we met! Suffice it to say we met the BEST people.  I love the triathlon community!

During dinner we discussed doing a practice swim on Friday.  I would have gone at sunrise, but the rest wanted to go out later.  We agreed on 8AM.  I'm glad now too because I watched an amazing sunrise from the hotel.

We drove about 13 min from the hotel to the park.  All I see is flat, calm, gorgeous water.  I thought 'hmmm this is called the Choptank River, would this last through tomorrow?'

We met several more athletes that day.  We gabbed and gabbed! I even met a woman who has EDS and is an ultra triathlete!  Small world!

We went for a nice swim, then a relaxing 15 min ride. It really was beautiful, my arm didn't hurt, ears were fine. I thought "It's going to be a good race."

I then went back to the hotel and packed my 2 transition bags.  I have to say that is stressful.  What goes in the bike bag? what do I need to keep here?  how do I pack my nutrition appropriately, don't forget this, that, ..AHHHH ! I need a drink!

All of the race staff and volunteers were so helpful and sweet. That did help this stress a little.  We racked our bikes, and actually kept our bike bag until the AM.  This was quite nice too, as I needed to add my refrigerated nutrition to my bike shirt in the AM. For Providence 70.3 we had to leave the bike bag the night before and essentially 'cook' our nutrition for the day.

It's funny just how fast a pre-race day goes!  Suddenly it was dinner time, then BED.   I continued to keep an eye on the weather and the WINDS.  Apparently this course can get quite windy.  

I woke up around 2, but the alarm was set for 3:45.  I didn't feel well.. GREAT! spare the details but let's say I didn't want to eat ANYTHING that AM for fear of needing to pack 2 pair of bike shorts. I opted to not eat my normal bagel and I kept a PB and J to eat.

We drove about 5 minutes down the road to the high school, which is the location for the first loop of the bike, bike special needs, T2 and my finish line for aquabike.  We then boarded a schoolbus that took us for a 10 min ride to the swim start.  They dropped us off about 1/4 mile away!  I wasn't very happy about that, not that I can't walk 1/4 mile but I had annoying bags with me. - Oh well!  

We get closer to the water and see this.....

Yea the wind was kicked up so much that I couldn't even get a clear picture of the flag STANDING STRAIGHT OUT! CRAP! It was dark so it was hard to see the water, but you could hear the waves crashing into the rocks.  One volunteer said "eh it's just surface chop." 

I set up my bike, checked my tires, and checked my bag!  I guess that's that, we're doing this!

As the sun came up, the water was bad but not what I expected when I HEARD it earlier.  The chop did not cover your head, it was this constant little splash and if you have large dogs you can relate: while swimming it felt like the dog was on the bed breathing too hard.

So time was approaching and we made our way to the start. You walk down this slippery boat ramp and walk/swim to the 'in water start.'

I made my way to outside front and found most of my new friends there as well.  The field was only a few hundred, so it wasn't like a MDot race but it was still pretty exciting for me. 

I couldn't hear anything from the DJ, so I wasn't aware of the countdown. Suddenly people were swimming. I guess we're OFF!!!!  

As you can imagine, the start is hectic, arms, legs, feet everywhere.  I quickly found a lane and was able to swim.  So I'm a not very emotional person, but a few times especially looking around and seeing a few hundred people about to test their mental and physical strength and I would get choked  up. Then I would yell at my self, DON'T FOG YOUR GOGGLES! 

The swim felt awesome, it wasn't boring, or feel like soup.  I wasn't fond of the jetski exhaust but it wasn't constant and I know they need to be there.  It also wasn't free from swimming collisions.  One dude kept hitting me (note there is room here), then I thought "well maybe I'm being stupid?!?" only to stand up and see him PUNCH a buoy TWICE. uh dude, that's not moving out of your way no matter how much you punch it.  There were the normal bumps, hookups, kicks, but there was one that was pretty annoying to me!  Around the start, where we turn and do a lap, you can stand and WALK. MANY MANY people were doing this.  Ok fine.  Well, I wanted to swim. These two dudes were TALKING and WALKING. I was between them and they just kept at my side and kept getting closer to each other, eventually running into me.  Ok for real? I think if I"m swimming and you're walking, I have the right of way. I eventually just turned on the burn and got away from them. 

I expected a 1:50 on the swim.  I usually pace to 1:40 but with the torn deltoid I expected longer.  I was so excited to see 1:37 on that clock when I came out.  I beat my expectations by 13 minutes IN THE CHOP!  I came up the ramp and there was this odd firehose spraying  cold ass water!  I needed to rinse but not there so I just went by.  The volunteers were shouting out "what's your number?" so they could give you your bike bag. I went to yell mine but a volunteer had ran out to me before I could even open my mouth.  Nice!  I guess that's the difference of sleeves vs sleeveless wetsuits, they can see my number!

Into the changing tent.  This was a new experience for me, actually changing my clothing for a race.  If you are shy, get over i!  I get a kick out of people in locker rooms that must go to the stall to change, well here.. forget it, you're SOL LOL!  

I rinsed myself, got most of my clothing on, and noticed a woman struggling with her bra. You know that point where it's rolled and stuck behind you and you must be a contortionist (or have EDS) to get it undone? so I went to help her.  She was thankful and in disbelief that I helped, as its a "race" ( like that extra 40 seconds is going to matter).

I exited the tent, found my bike and was off!  I still couldn't believe I was doing this. Holy SHIT!  wow!

I exited the park and was off. The first 35 miles were pretty awesome. I was averaging 17.5.  I passed a couple people.  The course is a 10 mile out and back finger, then you loop into a wildlife refuge.  Then I felt the wind.  ugh, slowing!!!!.. I was able to keep my average to 16.5 for the first 60 miles. Now, for some reading this it may not seem like much, but last year I was riding at 10-11 mph. 

I knew I should stop at a portopotty at some point. They were very convenient along the way, but always a line.  I wanted every minute to be ON the bike.  I finally saw this one! EMPTY!  YEA. (No I didn't stop to take a pic, John just happened to take a pic of the same one).

 I was excited, I continued to grin and occasionally get choked up, I AM REALLY DOING THIS!  Then I started to do the math.... let me tell you, you do LOTS of math on long races. "If I pace to this, I will have this time, if I don't do this.."-- then I kept thinking, this is a small field I could place.. PUSH PUSH PUSH!   

I think this is about the time I encountered the percussion massager gone mad!  This one stretch of road was so bumpy!  It wasn't like the pothole crap up in New England, it was just reverberating EVERYTHING. It went on for what seemed like 2 miles.  I have no idea how long it was, but I knew I would see it again!

This sign was along the route.  It HAD to be the vibrating road (or the wind). UGH that wind!  I pushed through it, even though it was a 'loop' we had a headwind for 90% of it.  I hate climbing and I figured it was just me.  I was honestly SO happy to hear other athletes whining about the horrible wind.  One guy did this race 6x and said it was the worst wind he's seen. AWESOME, that's doable for me.  Really I guess I'm psycho.  That wind SUCKED but it really made me feel better to see that I wasn't  the only one suffering.

I kept up on my hydration, nutrition, that was the hard part. You just want to look around, or in some spots get as small as you can and pedal.  You never stop pedaling, which is fine for me but other types of riders hate this. I had to remind myself to get up every 15-20 min.  Once, I got up and my aerobar pad fell off.. uh, I need that!  I thought about what was in my pockets.  Bandaid? hm .. OH KTTAPE!  so while Riding I KT TAPED my aerobar pad back on. 

 The scenery was pretty, I enjoyed the ride and would DEFINITELY ride that loop if I lived in the area.

There was a point that I was pushing through the wind and was trying to stay motivated. I saw my avg  drop .1...another .1.. that wind was taking its toll!  So I started to sing.

First little kids songs: (note we HAVE NO KIDS)!.. 
  • "baby beluga in the deep blue sea, swims so wide and he swims so free... "
  • "Rubber Ducky, you're the one... "
  • "5 little ducks went out one day, over the hills and far away mother duck said QUACK QUACK QUACK QUACK"....

Then I moved onto rap.. yea Beastie Boys Paul Revere.. (Andrea thought of you and swimming in NC) "The sun is beating down on my baseball HAAAAT.. "

Then onto TV show theme songs:
  • "we're a moving on up.. to the east side.. do a deluxe apartment in the sky... "
  • "you take the good you take the bad you take them both and there ya have...."
I was just waiting for a rider to pass me and hear me singing LOUDLY and POORLY!.. 

EH!  oh well.

I eventually came into the last stretch.  Up until about mile 80 I though "hm I can do this, I am pacing to 7 something, I can totally walk a marathon." Then that wind, my feet hurt, I just wanted  to eat something NOT SO DAMN SWEET,I thought "I'm glad I'm only doing the swim and bike."

I finally rounded the corner to dismount.  I thought the arches were the finish line. I was a little disappointed at the finish, everyone that came off the bike went through here so volunteers were back and fourth getting bikes, yelling numbers and I was a little confused on where to go. You had to turn left to run a little bit to get to the timing mat.  That and they yelled "go over there and get your medal." Boo.. it was up over a curb and a volunteer just handed it to me from behind a table.  Another one asked me for my chip.  I felt fine,but athletes should NOT bend over to get the chip after working out for 7-8 hours.

Then I saw VAL!  She was the first IRONMAN ATHENA  I ever wrote about.  She drove 2 hrs to come see me!  Awesome finish.

I went in to sign up for my massage and have something NOT SWEET to eat.  All they had were cookies, fig newtons and bananas.  I thought this was odd considering even small races I do have food, burgers, something of substance.  Oh well I was still on a high from finishing probably the most I'll be able to do for an 'Ironman distance.'  The little things don't matter. I wish I had a finish line that was like the others, no other people in my way. Dismount flag not there. And even an announcer.  I am DFL so often that I NEVER hear my name, I was excited to hear it this time.. nope.

I had an awesome massage!  That was worth the wait!  Then I went to the other end of the lot to watch the apparent "real" finish line.  I saw they received finisher shirts, again bummed but I guess that's the difference between aquabike and ultra.  

I knew I missed the awards ceremony, as it was completed before I even finished. I didn't consider myself THAT slow this time either.  I believe they should have the aquabike awards on Sunday like the Ultra! That way everyone can attend!  I eventually went over to see what my official standing was., they hadn't bothered to post the Aquabike final results (2 hours earlier was the last posted finish). I went into the timing tent and asked. 

 I WON!  seriously I beat 2nd place by 24 minutes.  That NEVER happens, I never 'win' anything. If I'm going to win, this surely was the one to do it! Then the woman apologetically says "I'm so sorry, they took the awards back." (not sure where). But ok I get it, I didn't make it back in under 8 hours so  I missed the ceremony.  THEN she tells me "I am SOOO sorry, they gave your award to 2nd place." - uh WHAT? The staff was super sweet and couldn't believe this happened.

I really couldn't be that mad either because that's just what happens to me.  Looking at the results too, I beat 2nd place on the swim AND the bike. The only thing she beat me on was transition, and that time was probably where I helped  a fellow athlete fix her bra!

They told me it was the only glitch of the day, ok fine. I'll take it, seriously that's me.  They're going to mail me one, and they let me take pictures with another one.  I wish they had a banner to take pics with too.. another thing I never have access to!

The sad thing is this was the LAST race where I can race Athena.  I have to go age group next year where I have ZERO hope, especially since I move up to 40-44!  

Other than that,  I felt really good.  I wasn't in too much pain, just normal achy joints.  I hydrated and fueled well, but I was HUNGRY! I really could have used food!  They eventually had some come at like 5 or 6.. but by that time I was headed back to the hotel to take a shower. 

All in all, it was an awesome race.  Dumb glitches, stupid wind, and a few logistical things I would change, but I would definitely do it again.  

As a matter of fact.. who's in for next year?

Thanks Tri Columbia!

***Thank you to John my Trisherpa for hauling around for 18 hours, taking pictures, finding friends, and just lugging crap around!  You rock****

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