Like a Lion

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March is about to come in with it’s traditional “Like a lion” self, at least in the Portland area. I’m done with this crappy rain. I haven’t blogged in a while, because I’ve been too busy toweling off 3 soaking wet, muddy dogs. Just kidding.

SO! What’s been happening? Here’s my quick recap of  of 2016.

I had an interesting first half of the year with my Ironman training. I traveled to Phoenix for a triathlon camp and to train on the Ironman Arizona course. Two days into the 5 day trip, I was sick in bed with a high fever, sinus infection, and what ultimately morphed into Pneumonia. Needless to say, I spent the balance of the trip in bed with the curtains drawn. Sadly, Jeff also had the same illness. We were completely pathetic. The flight home was a painful blur, as was the next two weeks.

In June I had Endoscopic sinus surgery and a Septoplasty, to open up the passageways in my sinuses that were too small to function properly. After a lifetime of chronic sinus infections, it finally dawned on me to go to a specialist.

The surgery went well, and after a week I was able to start moderately working out. (I never told my Dr that I ran an 8k race less than 1 week post surgery-shhh)

Summer went well and I started catching up on training. I became a first time grandmother! I felt great, and competed in the Mighty Hampton’s Olympic Triathlon. The swim was crowded, and made for a slower time than usual, but I finished the race 2nd in my age group! The next day, at my house in Montauk, I held a garage sale. Feeling elated at my previous day’s success, and reveling in the visit with my daughter, son in law, and grand daughter, I made a monumentally stupid decision to hop on a balance board.

Nasty nasty balance board

I barely set my foot on it, when it shot out from under me, and down I went….right onto my wrist. Crunch. I don’t think there is a word in any dictionary or thesaurus that quite captures the pain I felt in the immediate moments following the crunch, or the several hours later, as the swelling increased.

I was alone outside, as Jeff was taking a nap (HE NEVER NAPS, but if you have ever been to Montauk, you know EVERYONE naps there) Dede and Evan were packing up the baby paraphernalia and planned on leaving within minutes. I was laying flat out on the ground.

I struggled to get up, and the pain shot through me so severely that halfway into a standing position, I fainted. Right down on the ground. I came to, stood up and tried to walk, and went down a second time. After that, I crawled up the front stairs, and managed to fall against the front door. (Did I? or did I open the door? I don’t remember) Next thing I knew, I was sitting on the entry bench holding my arm and Dede came running over. “Mom, are you ok?” Me-I couldn’t muster up more than a whisper: “I don’t know. It hurts. It hurst so bad” I was hyperventilating, and getting ready to pass out again and Dede put my head down between my knees. She looked at my wrist, against my will. (I was afraid to see it or show it to her, because if I saw it, the reality of the break would be revealed) She went to wake up Jeff and tell him what happened, and he bolted up. “SHE WHAT?” Dede- “I think she broke her wrist.”

IN the car we went- on our way to the closest Urgent care which was 15 miles away. I had ice on it by now, but the pain was intolerable, and I went into shock. The first Urgent Care didn’t have an Xray or doctor on sight, so we had to drive all the way to Southhampton Hospital, which was 32 miles away. In Sunday afternoon traffic. (New Yorkers will know what that means)

The wait in ER was unbearable, and I finally got put on a cot and left in a hallway. The Physician’s Assistant said “Oh yeah that’s a pretty good break you got there.” (Nice guy) And then he left me alone again.  Another 45 more minutes on the cot, I finally demanded something for the pain. The PA brought me 2 Tylenol. By now, my sweet, courteous demeanor had gone all to Hell and I screamed at him, “I don’t have a fucking hangnail! I need something much stronger than this for God’s sake.” I got 2 Percocet STAT.

Once the Xray and CT scan were taken, the break confirmed, they sent me on my way with a prescription and the advice to get back to Oregon asap,to get a follow up, because I probably needed surgery.

My vacation was cut short, and I flew home two days later, high as a kite. The next 5 weeks I had a cast, and learned all about how much we really do need both arms, wrists, and thumbs.

I did everything I could to continue my Ironman training. I swam with a waterproof cover, I rode my bike trainer, and I ran as best as I could.

The cast came off 2 weeks before my scheduled race, and after going for a terrifying outdoor bike ride, I made the difficult decision not to do IMAZ. I had no control over the bike, was completely off balance, and it wouldn’t be safe for me or the other participants if I tried to do that race.

Ironman is one of those goals that consumes your life for 6+ months. Once the training starts, it is a 7 day a week commitment. To have to bow out, for any reason can be devastating. It is easy to tell someone “There will be another one.” “You did the right things” “You’ll get over it.” But if you have never had this experience, you can’t know how it affects you. I didn’t realize how it would affect me until I found myself in a dark depression for several weeks. I finally pulled out of it just before Christmas, and started working out again, trying to gain back the muscle balance and strength that I lost while in the cast. Things were going well…….until I got sick with another sinus infection. BAM. Down again for a week.

There are many reasons that 2016 is a year to celebrate. I raced twice and got 2 triathlon podium spots, I became a grandmother for the first time, I got to see all of my out of state children several times, my Real Estate and athlete coaching businesses continued to grow, and I have the most perfect life partner I could ask for. BUT, I was pretty damned happy to say goodbye to the OTHER things that 2016 brought.

I’ll update you on this year soon. Life for me is one big fat, “second childhood” adventure, and I’m glad to share it with you. When you find yourself running in muck, tighten your shoe laces, and keep going. What other choice do you have?

Less Than One Week Until Ironman

The past 9 months have come and gone. The work has been done. I am ready. That’s what my coach tells me. If you know me well, you won’t be surprised that I have moments where I doubt everything that I have done thus far to prepare for my first Ironman Triathlon. Every missed workout. (There haven’t been many) Every time I didn’t complete the entire planned workout as scheduled. (There HAVE been several) Every glass of wine, margarita, candy bar, bowl of ice cream, extra pat of butter…..I obsess just a bit over details. Me thinks I “overthink”.

What I AM celebrating, however, are the countless hours that I DID do the workouts. Since early this year, I have completed up to 12 workouts per week, sometimes exceeding 16 hours total. I’ve managed to  do this while still maintaining my business, my health, and my sanity, although those close to me might disagree on the sanity part. I can recall many a time where, when working, I fell asleep at my desk, and nodded off during continuing education classes.I barely make it to 8PM every night without sneaking off to bed.

I am sure some of my real estate clients wondered why I sported dark circles under my eyes( from my goggles), and reak of chlorine. None of them ever asked me why I often didn’t accompany them up or down stairs in the homes I showed them, or why I would loudly groan if I dropped keys on the ground-(after a particularly long training ride or run.) I hope they understood.

I have never eaten the mounds of food that I am currently eating.You could  not possibly fathom how much and how often I shovel food.   I am terrified that these habits will continue and I will blow up like a tick once this race is over. (There I go overthinking again.) I joke that I eat like a high school football player. The thing is, I have a son that was a high school football player, and I’m pretty sure he wasn’t the human vacuum cleaner that his mother has become. Oink Oink.

Case in point-today's lunch

Case in point-today’s lunch

My plan was to come to Montauk, NY for 2 weeks prior to Chattanooga, train there on the hills and in the Long Island Sound, relax on vacation, and arrive in Tennessee free of stress, and feeling well rested.

Reality went something like this: We boxed up our bikes and Fed Exed them to Montauk. They arrived on time and 2 days afterwards, we set out for a 70 mile bike ride. Jeff’s bike  had a broken shifter, so he couldn’t change into the small ring. My bike made a funny noise, and 3 miles after we started, I felt a big CLUNK, and my whole bike seized. I was just starting up a hill, and luckily I was able to unclip my feet before tipping over. Turns out, my bike frame broke, my derailleur snapped, and the bike was totaled. No long ride for us.

This frame is toast

This frame is toast

So there I was, 16 days from Ironman, and I was without a bike. Since the carbon frame in all one piece, there was no way to fix this problem. We immediately took to social media and looked for a solution. To my amazement, team mates and friends from all over the country and in Canada offered to ship me their bikes! I was astounded! I had offers from people I had never even met. The triathlon community blew me away. We started communicated with the bike manufacturer too, to see about a warranty. Over the course of the next week, we exhausted every option, weighing the pro’s and con’s until we decided to buy a new Cervelo P2 at Sunrise Tri Shop, in West Babylon.

Getting a custom fit

Getting a custom fit

I can’t say enough about the service Frank gave me at the tri shop. No wonder people fly from all over the world to buy and get fit on specialty bikes from him.

The running in Montauk is scenic and offers a mix of rolling hill roads and an abundance of trails, through woodsy forests and along ocean view cliffs. There are miles and miles of them! In all the years I’ve been coming to town, I had never explored the trails, and now I can’t wait to come back to them.IMG_4471

 

Got a little lost on this trail. Found the mosquitoes though.

Got a little lost on this trail. Found the mosquitoes though.

My last long run of my training was a 3:15 on a Sunday morning. It was HOT and 82% humidity. I managed to get 17.29 miles in, and let me tell you, the last 4 miles were CRANKY! Run, shuffle, walk, curse, limp, whine about my blisters, my knees, and my sunburn, bla, bla, bla….typical long run for me. I imagine Chattanooga will have some moments like this, so in the end, who cares? I’ll get it done.

When I went to pick up my new bike, we decided to stay in Centerport at my friend Kathy’s house because it was much closer to the bike shop. The other bonus was that the Cow Harbor 10K Race was taking place. This nationally ranked race is in my home town of Northport and I have run it the past 2 years. Jeff and I signed up and ran the race, in CRAZY hot and humid temperatures, and had a blast. I ended up not only with a personal best but a course PR of over 10 minutes. I couldn’t have done it without his help pacing me along the difficult course.

 

Official time 52:24

Official time 52:24

We had many visitors during the trip, too. My parents, daughter Dede and her husband Evan, cousin Jill, sister Terie, nephew Richie, and his dad Rich, plus we spent time with a local Montauk friend, Kathy. What a whirlwind.

 

Best parents in the world

Best parents in the world

There's ALWAYS time for Dom Perignon

There’s ALWAYS time for Dom Perignon

I got to ride my new bike for a few hours and it felt better than any other bike I’ve ridden. We got a good swim in at the YMCA of Easthampton, and today we are getting pampered with massage at Gurney’s Inn.

The “hay is in the barn”, so to speak. The pit in my stomach isn’t as big as it was several months ago, but make no mistake; it’s still there. I suppose that’s a good thing. I’m a few days away from completing the most difficult physical race/challenge of my life. Send me some good vibes, will you?

One last thing. I’m doing Ironman Chattanooga for a charity, to raise money and awareness for Prostate Cancer. Would you consider making a donation? The men in your life will appreciate it.

Donate here

See you on the other side of Chat!

First 70.3 at 56

On August 9, 2015, I turned 56. One week later, I competed in my first Ironman 70.3 race. In case you had any doubts, let me tell you. EVERYTHING is possible.

I was excited and nervous  for my Ironman Lake Steven’s 70.3 race. My training, with all it’s high’s and low’s got me here, and there was nothing left to do but get it done. Jeff bought me a Cervelo P2 bike two weeks before the race, but I didn’t have time to get a professional bike fit. I rode it for several days and I started feeling comfortable using the aero bars, and felt completely confident.

I call her Sylvie

I call her Sylvie

We stayed in Mukelteo, Washington, about thirty minutes from Lake Stevens. The alarm went off at 4:30 am and we planned on leaving my hotel at 5.  I had already checked my bike in the day before, so I just had my transition bag full of crap to carry. Jeff was an absolute doll. He did everything for me! (I’m still getting used to being with a man that insists on carrying my bags for me.) I tried not to go over my list for the millionth time, but I couldn’t help myself. All my liquid nutrition was mixed the night before, and set in the cooler.

It was a chilly morning, with a lazy mist on the lake.

lake

The air temperature was in the 50’s but the water was 69 degrees, and I couldn’t wait to get in so I’d stop shivering. My wave-the old gals, was the last to enter the water. In the final moments before all my races, I  shut out the surrounding noise, go deep inside my head, and meditate quietly on what is about to happen. In those moments, just before the swim, I undoubtedly ponder the same thing EVERY time: “Oh God, now that water is full of pee.”

I jumped in and waited for the gun to blow. As soon as it did, the churning began. It was quite civil, however, and only lasted a few minutes. I immediately saw the buoy line, and rejoiced. I’d never done an Ironman event before and had only heard about this line. WOW, did it make a difference. Especially on a morning like this, with the line of bouys being hidden in the fog, it was amazing to just keep my head down and follow the underwater line.  I had to maneuver around a few other people several times but never lost sight of the line. When I exited the water, I felt GREAT, like I could have swam forever! 1.2 miles done.

those are "goggle eyes", not bags!

those are “goggle eyes”, not bags!

My transition to the bike was quick and uneventful. I remembered to down a bottle of GenUcan, ran to the exit, and mounted my bike. Off I went, feeling like a rock star. It was only minutes into the ride that I realized  I was cold. No big deal, I’ll warm up shortly. The weather report called the upper 70’s, so I was not at all concerned. What I hadn’t thought of was the fact that it was only now 8:00 am, and the first 48+ miles of this bike ride was on winding mountain roads, in the forest, so there were little to no sun breaks. Within the first half hour, I was so cold that my feet started to cramp. Then the shaking started. “How is this even possible?” I asked myself. I’ve done this for (only) three years and am NEVER cold on the bike! Try as I may, I could not stop  shivering, and a few times shook so badly, I nearly tipped the bike over. The second thing that happened was  stomach cramps. I was dutifully drinking my GenUcan, but nothing was able to leave my stomach, because my body was tensed up, fighting to get warm. All my muscles clenched tightly the entire ride. I tried sitting up and changing body position, but nothing helped.

I always smile for the cameras

I always smile for the cameras

Beside the cold, I experienced pain in my knees and IT Band at mile 15. This was completely unexpected, but I now know that it was due to the fact that I hadn’t had a custom bike fit. The ride became horrendously painful and nothing would stop it. The hills only made it worse. I can handle a lot of pain, but this just about dropped me. My ONLY thought on that ride was “GET THIS OVER WITH!” Not a very pleasurable way to spend 56 miles.

The elevation was a bit of a challenge to me. I’ve trained on hills in Portland, but nothing like the one’s around Lake Stevens. I saw people walking bikes up hills, stopped, hunched over  heaving, and one or two just standing on the side of the road with the saddest looks on their faces, defeated by the climbs. I was NOT going to be one of those people.

If you’ve read my blogs, you know that I get  emotional during races. I cry. I cry when I struggle badly, (especially when I get an asthma attack) and I cry at finish lines. It’s what I do, and I’m ok with it. It’s not a weakness; it’s just how my body reacts to the pressure and the relief. I live a stressful life and have a high pressure job. I balance several “balls in the air”, and maintain an even keel MOST of the time. When I race, I let it all out. This day was no exception. There is one hill at mile 38 that is legendary. First you make a ninety degree turn and then you go straight UP. (For miles and miles…no just kidding- it just seems like it) I knew it was coming and I was ready for it. I got into the small chain before the turn and tried my best not to look too far ahead, so I wouldn’t get freaked out by the length or grade of the hill. Not even half way up, I saw people dropping out. I kept going. I stood up and powered as hard as I could, but began seriously struggling with getting my feet to turn the pedals. In a sudden burst of Niagara Falls, the tears came. Loud, wailing tears. Angry tears. Fierce, from the gut, tears. I didn’t care who heard me because those tears gave me the power for another crank of the pedals. They ripped out of me and pushed my body up that God forsaken hill and along with the ever-encouraging roadside volunteers’ words of support, I mounted that hill and knew I was NOT going to fail today.

By the time I got to T2, I was pretty sure my legs were permanently damaged. (Drama queen, remember?) I dismounted and they immediately collapsed under me and I had to use the bike to hold me up.

56 miles done.

The pain didn’t go away, and this worried me, so naturally, the tears returned. My stomach still cramped severely and the pain in my knees and IT Band was acute and relentless. I managed to get my bike back to the rack and then I fell apart. A volunteer came over and tried to be helpful, and Jeff was just outside the barrier asking me what was wrong, but I didn’t have a clue what to do. “Can I walk? Can I freaking STAND? Holy Crap, can I RUN 13.1 miles? (Insert more wailing)

I finally got my shit together and decided I had to try. I have never been a quitter, and today was not going to change that. Jeff asked me if I wanted him to pull me from the race…..he asked if I was going to be able to go on…..I remember saying “I’ll try.”

So off I stumbled, shuffled, limped, what ever you’d call it, and started the double loop course. The first few minutes hurt badly, but once my legs stretched out, it wasn’t so bad. My gut still killed me but I decided to take it slow and try and relax everything. Funny how things changed. The run was mostly exposed and the sun beat down, keeping it considerably hot. I hated the first loop of this run. I was miserable, felt defeated, and mentally, there was not much to brag about. I walked A LOT. When I reached the halfway point, however, something happened. I DECIDED I was going to have a good finish, and do it with pride because, damned it, I am a BAD ASS 56 YEAR OLD! I picked up the pace a little, walked when the  nagging side stitch was too  painful, and kept going. I drank one more GenUcan at mile 5, but after that, couldn’t take anything but sips of water. The run course has a few hills, but nothing outrageous. I enjoyed the second loop despite myself and was at that point on a fierce mission!

run

Somewhere in the last mile or so, I started to smile. I was going to finish a 70.3 mile race. On my own power. Wow. Me! The girl who started running at age 50. A Half Ironman! REALLY? Oh. My. God. My smile returned for the first time in what seemed like hours.

WOOHOO, almost done!

WOOHOO, almost done!

I ran most of that last mile and took a short walk break so that I would be able to run through the finish chute. (which, by the way, seemed like a mile long) I started to run through the chute, when all of a sudden my side felt like my appendix was bursting. Seriously-the worst stitch I’ve ever had. BUT, with all the people screaming, the cameras flashing, and the finish line approaching, there was NOTHING that was going to stop me from crossing that line with a smile on my face.

1125_022169

70.3 done.

My official time was 6:41:10. I did it. I will never forget it. As soon as this photo was taken, I immediately collapsed into the fetal position, laughing, groaning with pain, and shaking with excitement. It took a volunteer about 5 full minutes (at least it seemed that long) to get me upright. She thought I needed medical attention, but I kept telling her, NO, it’s just a stitch. LOL, worst one I’ve ever had, but who cares????

Jeff greeted me with the biggest smile, hug, and “I’m so proud of you” and we laughed, and I reveled in my accomplishment. I did it. It wasn’t pretty, but I did it. I gotta tell you, having the support of my coach, SheriAnne Nelson of PrsFit, and of Jeff Kline, I believe I can do ANYTHING.finish love

Life is good with this kind of love. Rock on, people. Go after your goals. It’s never too late. Thinking of starting on your own fitness path? Would you like to do a race someday? Ask me anything you want. I’d love to help and support YOU.

 

Setting Aside Limits

rainy ride (2)It’s 8 am and I am 8 months and 4 days away from competing in the mother load of races: Ironman Chattanooga. Just opening up the website creates a knot in my stomach. I’ve got time. The knot will loosen. It will tighten again, but I am not afraid  anymore. For now, I am focusing on the training-putting in my time. Eleven scheduled workouts per week. I can’t honestly say I complete them all EVERY week, but I do a pretty good job. At 55 years old, I have never put myself through this type of sustained physical effort or concentration. I’m breaking through old self imposed limits and finding where the new ones reside. They won’t live there long though, because I’m starting to relish the shattering sound of them crashing beneath me as I crush them and shove them behind me. Don’t bother looking back Patty, they no longer exist! As a self proclaimed mediocre athlete, I must confess, I struggle with training. Sometimes I train too hard. (To the chagrin of my coach) Sometimes my head gets in the way, and negative thoughts sabotage the day. Other times, I cruise through with the confidence of a champion. Most days are not glamorous. They all end in sweaty, stinky clothes, and I do laundry by the ton.

goggle eyes (2)Goggle eyes are a new fashion statement

 There are moments of agony, while I’m cycling past the ability or will to keep my legs spinning, or swimming exhausted, knowing I have another thousand yards left, while wheezing on the verge of another asthma attack. Then I break through realizing a second wind is coming,and through the pain, a smile forms on my lips, even though the tears may already be spilling. I put my head down and continue. Eye on the prize and all that.

10931339_10205192531229532_6455596911344352003_nCurrently, the phase of my training is called “Base Training”. I’m mostly putting in time and training my body aerobically, to get it used to the hours it will need to sustain. There are lessons learned along the journey and one that I am (not too) happy to be learning now, is how to sustain the work load without running myself into the ground. I am in the throws of my second sinus infection in two months, and not enjoying a single minute of it. I think it has to do with insufficient nutrition and lack of rest. Seems logical! I’m working with the best people I know, and learning more about becoming a successful endurance athlete, but I am making rookie mistakes and paying for them. My goal as I heal from this setback, is to improve my nutrition and to listen to my body. My coach turned me on to MyFitnessPal. I’ve just started playing with it, and I love how it calculates the categories of foods you should eat, based on your weight and the amount of time you exercise per week. I’m also paying better attention to the supplements I should be taking. It’s a journey!

I just finished the book Running Past Midnight by Molly Sheridan. This woman started running at age 50 and has since run in over 45 ultra marathons, including the 150 mile race through the Sahara Desert, (Marathon Des Sables), the 135 mile race through Death Valley, (Badwater Ultramarathon), and she is the first American woman to finish a 138 mile race through the Himalayas over TWO 18,000 feet peaks. (La Ultra-The High) One particular paragraph spoke to me, and echo’s my thoughts about training for my Ironman. Molly was attempting Ancient Oaks for the fourth time and an injury sidelined her 13.5 miles short of the 100 mile finish.

“…but if I’m invited back, I’ll have a new game plan. I am considering carrying my Dalai Lama prayer beads, wearing a rosary, and listening to African Women warrior drumbeats as I chant and pray my way through the Queen’s territory. Some might call me mad. Along that fine line of madness is my desire to reach past my physical and mental limitations. I want to go  beyond what I think is possible. Is there really a big Queen oak tree out there purposefully stopping my progress, or is it my own internal Queen telling me I can’t make it? Whether she is in my head or out in nature, it makes no difference. I still need to overcome her.”

(Quote used with Molly’s permission.)

 Rock on, Molly. I’m in your corner and whether you know it or not, I just put you in mine. Thanks for the inspiration.

If you would like to make a donation to help find a cure for Prostate Cancer, please click here