Several New York Minutes

My three kids all live out of state, and while it  is heart wrenching to spend every day without them, we find ways to stay connected.

Enter “game changer”, Charlie Belle. Nobody told me about the feeling of complete and total NEED to be physically WITH one’s grandchild. When you have a grand daughter that lives three thousand miles away, your heart aches for her every day. I wake up craving photos of her on Facebook, or maybe a video text of her doing something silly. I laugh. I cry. I buy plane tickets.

Recently, my daughter-THE MOTHER of this gift from Heaven itself, deviously ramped up the frequency of posts, texts, and Instagram pictures of #mygirlchuck. I had no choice but to  get my butt back to NY for some “Charlie-fix” Oh, yeah, and to see Dede and Evan too.

Since I am in training for another Ironman, I naturally  had to plan ahead for my workouts. No problem!  With a free pass the the YMCA, a sweet rental bike, and the Central Park Half Marathon, I was set.

I arrived on a Thursday evening and navigated the AirTran to the subway, and then walked the last several blocks to my daughter’s apartment. I have finally figured out the subway. Well, almost. I have the E and F trains nailed! I couldn’t wait to see the little monkey, so I practically ran to the apartment.

Charlie was awake and she was so gracious, she didn’t even object when I made her wear the Cabbage Patch hat I had bought for her.

Seriously, woman!

Chuck is a great sport, and for the next 3 days, she put up with all of my smooches, cuddles, and squeals of delight. The weather in New York was perfect for getting out and seeing the sights. After my swim at the YMCA on Friday, Dede and I took the princess for a long walk around Manhattan. We met up with Evan after work and cut through Central Park on our way home.

Da girls

What’s up, Chuck?

This is me taking artistic photos

Poor little Charlie was teething while granny was visiting, so she had a few rough nights. Two teeth in one week is a lot for a little girl!

Saturday morning was incredible. The sun came out and temps got up to almost sixty degrees.  I rented a great bike and went for a nice 32 mile bike ride along the Hudson River Greenway.

George Washington Bridge!

New York City!

Riding a bike in New York is a little insane to say the least. Dodging taxis is a skill I never knew I needed. I’m fairly certain it is not one I hope to use often.

After my ride, and a much needed shower, Dede, Charlie and I walked to a place called Sweetgreen. OH MY FREAKING WORD!!! I ordered something called Spicy Sabzi, a cavernous bowl of spinach, kale, broccoli, raw beets, carrots, sprouts, basil, roasted tofu, quinoa, and some spicy dressing. I think it weighed 7 pounds. I ate the entire bowl. Burp.

Doin’ lunch NY style

We walked around for another hour or so, and then I decided I should get back, put my feet up, and rest for my half marathon the next morning. The weather report called for a chilly morning, so just to be on the safe side, we ducked into a Goodwill store, to buy a “throw-away” jacket, to get me through the start of the race. I would ditch it sometime early in the race.

The balmy weather changed overnight. Just my luck. I awoke to sub freezing temperatures and up to twenty five mph winds. Hahhaa, really? I did my normal morning routine-breakfast of hot tea, a banana with peanut butter and shredded coconut. The wheelbarrow of kale and raw veggies I had for lunch the day before started to feel like a bad idea. Let’s just say, I waited until the last minute to call an Uber.

I got dropped off on the West side of Central Park at W 96th. SWEET JESUS it was freaking COLD! Frost bite cold, and windy as ever. There was nowhere to hide from the arctic blast. People were gathering and jumping up and down, trying to keep warm. Where were the bathrooms? How can you have a race without porta potties???? I was told to walk North and I’d find them. They were about a half a mile away. The lines were typical for a race, and I feared being late for the starting gun. No worries, I made it in plenty of time. Gathering in a crowd with a few thousand people was the best part of the morning so far. At least in the pack, it got warmer! Thank God for Goodwill and the extra layer of HUGE men’s fleece that I bought.

Frostbite and a grimace for you

9am and we were off. I felt great! I guess Ironman training IS working. The West side of the park is the hilliest and that’s also where the wind was the strongest. This race course went 2.5 times around the upper end of the park, so we ran up  Harlem Hill twice. It’s a killer. The first lap was great except that at around mile two, the kale memory started to get stronger. Um. I’m a coach. I know better than to eat ninety seven pounds of  roughage the day before a race. I thought about a port potty stop, but the lines were long and I was making good time.  Passed another bathroom a mile later, but thought I could hang on. The third bathroom that I saw, I actually pulled over and got in line. Twenty seconds later, I abandoned the line and started running again. “I can hold on for another eight miles!” HELL no I can’t. Unfortunately, there were no more bathrooms until mile 8 or 9, so by the time I had no choice to but to stop, I was doubled over. SIX minutes of wait time before I got to enter the potty. I think I was in there for another six. Mother of MERCY!

I exited victoriously and got back in the race. Now I was freezing again, after having such a long break. I still had that ugly black jacket on, and was grateful for it! The rest of the race was non eventful, but overall, I felt pretty good. I worked hard and finished strong. Dede and Charlie were there to cheer me on at the finish line.

I opened the coat so my bib number would show and they could call my name at the finish. Vanity, I know.

Dede had dry clothes for me and we started walking home, looking for a place for me to change. I started shivering like crazy and finally I went into a hospital to get into warm, dry clothes. We walked back to the apartment, which is another mile and a half. Long day!

My sister Terie arrived in the afternoon, and all of us went out to a gluten free Italian restaurant called Senza Gluten that was incredible beyond words. Charlie even sat in a high chair for the first time!

Can’t get enough of this kid

The trip was molto bene. I flew home Monday morning, without any problems, and made lots of memories to hold me over until the next trip. Kids are awesome. Grand kids are the bomb. Life is good.

Like a Lion

Image

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?

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.

 

A Day in a Ditch

The alarm was set for 4am, but after spending hours NOT sleeping, I got out of bed at 3:45. Struggling to shake off the drowsiness, I prepared my tea and small breakfast in silence. It was 19 degrees out, but it would warm up to 80 by the afternoon. I quickly dressed in layers, and Jeff and I headed down to the hotel lobby, to meet the rest of the runners. We nervously joked about the temperatures and the physical challenge we were about to undertake.

group shot

We set out to run the Grand Canyon.

Arriving at the Bright Angel trailhead, the 9 of us turned on our headlamps, donned our gloves, took a few pictures, chatted nervously in the dark, muttered something like “Holy FUCK, It’s COLD”, and off we ran- beginning our descent into the biggest hole in the USA.

head lamp

Six of the nine quickly disappeared into the abyss, as they were the elite athletes, embarking on a 50 mile “Rim to rim to rim” run. Jeff, Shane, and I had our sights on 20-23 miles. As any of my running buddies will tell you, I am a bit of a whiner on the trails. Before attempting this crazy ass adventure, I hadn’t  convinced myself that I even REMOTELY liked trail running. So, what the heck was I doing? Too late to turn back! I pushed the button on my headlamp, and started down the trail. Visibility was limited to the beam from of our  lamps  and  obstructed by the eerie swirling of the trail dust. I had no idea what lay beyond the small circle of light as we silently barreled down those first miles of switchbacks. Of course, I would find out later that most of the trails had shear cliffs and deep drop offs just outside of our sight.

The first signs of light began to glow within an hour of our start, and as morning broke, the views opened before us. The reveal of the Canyon’s layers, as the sun rose  provided a dazzling show of rainbow colors against the massive walls surrounding us. We  stopped to photograph the moment.

Sunrise in the canyon Sunrise

At the 4.5 mile mark, we came upon Indian Gardens campground, nestled in a valley, with colorful trees and a stream. It was only when we approached this area that we saw the first signs of other people. We mistakenly took a wrong turn, which turned out to be a 3 mile detour and ran the  Tonto West Trail. This lead us to a gorgeous rock platform overlooking the Colorado River. Gorgeous, but in the wrong direction.

Patty at overlook

 

We turned around and found our way back to the correct trail. What’s a few extra miles, anyway? The terrain was mostly flat for these few miles, so we ran comfortably and took in the sights. It’s indescribable.

Before long, we found ourselves navigating  steep and technical trails, with extreme switchbacks, so we slowed our pace considerably. The trails were now crowded with people hiking in both directions, but as far as I could tell, we were the only one’s actually running. I got some wonderful comments from people of all ages, showing encouragement and awe at what we were doing.

Jeff on trailPatty on trail

Shane on trailAs we rounded a corner and saw the Colorado River, I was blown away by it’s power and history. The sound was mesmerizing. We stopped  for a while, just to experience it and stare. Here was the 17 million year old river, with the power to cut a 277 mile, 6000+ feet deep canyon. The mighty Colorado River.

Colorado River

At this point, Jeff’s calf was giving him trouble, so he decided to start the trek back up the canyon, and Shane and I continued on to find Phantom Ranch. As it turns out, it was only a few more miles and one metal, grated bridge crossing. SCAREY!

bridge

By this time, we were 4 hours into our run and I felt incredible. I had energy to spare and wanted to keep running forever. Shane and I found Phantom Ranch and took a break to snack and refill our water bottles. There is a US Post Office at the ranch, and the mail is brought out on mule train, so Shane sent some post cards to his family. Post office

I was THRILLED to find that the small cafe served Tazo English Breakfast Tea-my favorite!!! I sat down outside and thoroughly enjoyed a cup with my snack of peanutbutter energy bars. At that moment, all was right in my world.Resting at Phantom Ranch

A short time later, I took this

The first 6 miles of the ascent felt great. I had energy to spare and I powered up the hills, sweating, but thoroughly enjoying the challenge. I met people from around the globe, and shared encouragement with them all. It got quite hot though, so I started dunking my head in every stream crossing, to cool off.I kept looking up at the cliffs and started feeling a bit overwhelmed with the long, steep climb still ahead.

Once back at Indian Ranch, I thought about the 4.5 mile 4600 foot climb and realized that I had to do it without stopping or I would get miserably discouraged. It was approximately 8 hours since we started, and I knew I didn’t have several more in me. I told Shane that I would meet him at the top and headed off. This excruciating climb took me 1:21. This was the most physically and mentally challenging thing I have ever done. I can’t even convey the degree of difficulty, putting one foot in front of the other, all the while looking up at the grueling switchbacks and knowing I still had miles to go. I sweat like a pig and stunk worse than one when I reached the top. I could barely walk.

Jeff met me at the car and we went back to the hotel to shower and submerse ourselves in the glorious hotel hot tub. The pain was incredible, but nothing like what we would experience in the next few days. We drove back and met Shane and the rest of the group and then gathered to have dinner and celebratory drinks. I ate almost an entire gluten free pizza by myself.

The next morning, we all stumbled down to breakfast and shared our stories. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting everyone and sharing this epic experience with them. Late that day, we said our goodbyes and headed back to Phoenix for our last night. Getting out of the car was hilarious. Our legs didn’t work. Checking into the hotel, I was informed that the room I reserved wasn’t available, so they upgraded us to a Jacuzzi suite! YES!!! I think we stayed in that tub for an hour.

hot tub upgradeThe next day at the airport, I couldn’t resist…my poor body.

Airport massageOver the years, I’ve traveled the globe, and seen some amazing things.  There’s a reason why the Grand Canyon is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. Go see it. If you are crazy like me, go run it. You will love it. Every beautiful, sweaty, stinky, sucky part of it.

As always, thanks for reading my blog. Subscribe so you can follow along. Share it, if you’d like. Until next time….

 

 

 

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

Semper Fi

On October 26, 2014, I, along with approximately thirty thousand other people participated in the 39th annual Marine Corps Marathon. To say that this event was an “experience” wouldn’t be enough. Words escape me, but since this is a WRITTEN blog, I’ll give it a try.

I entered this race in a charity slot with the  Zero The End of Prostate Cancer organization. My dear friend and former coach was diagnosed with Advanced Stage IV Prostate Cancer last Winter, and I wanted to do something to help in the research and awareness effort with Zero . In all, there were around twenty seven  athletes on our team from all over the US that  raised money and secured an entry into the race.

After a hectic day of travel on planes, trains, and automobiles, (in that order, I might add) a large group met up for lunch and the ultimate pre-race feast at an Italian restaurant. Holy Moly, the FOOD!!! The chef was kind enough to cater to my gluten free needs, and made me a whole plate of special pasta!

Patty's pastaAnother round of trains and automobiles, and another group of us met up for a pre race dinner. EAT ALL THE FOOD!!!!

Team dinner Oh, and yes, beer and wine are part of our training.

The morning of the run came very early. I awoke at 4am so I could have my traditional breakfast of eggs, banana, peanut butter, and tea. We  took the car to the train, to the Pentagon, and then had a brisk two mile walk to the starting line. Yes, we walked two miles BEFORE running 26.2 miles! Naturally, I visited every porta potty along the way, and several times before the race actually started. Oh, my nerves!

pre race

Pre race goof balls

It was chilly while we waited for two hours at the start, so we huddled together and gave each other encouragement. (And mostly harassed each other with dumb running jokes)

A few minutes before the start at 7:55am, we made our way to the starting line. I could see dozens of men lined up “watering” the trees and bushes one last time before the big trek. I was supremely jealous of them at that moment. The crowd was buzzing with energy.

Some of the 30,000

Some of the 30,000

Coach Jeff-the reason we now know all about Prostate Cancer.

Coach Jeff-the reason we now know all about Prostate Cancer.

The energy at the start of this race was beyond electric. The Marines put on a show with fly by’s, hovering aircraft, and parachutes. This was my favorite:

One of many paratroopers displaying the flag

One of many paratroopers displaying the flag

Right on time,  the race began, and we were off. My goal was to hang with coach Jeff and plan on a four hour and thirty minute finish. With almost thirty thousand people running shoulder to shoulder, there was a lot of bobbing and weaving, just to keep up a steady pace. (When it was all said and done, my Garmin showed 26.8 miles. That’s a lot of extra steps!) We managed to keep our group together for three miles, when I had to stop and use a rest room. FRUSTRATING!!! So I dropped off and got in a line. I tried to catch up afterwards, but never saw my team again.

Running this course was incredible. I looked at the sights, smiled at people, and generally absorbed the experience. The weather was perfect, and the crowds were abundant, loud, and very supportive. After running “alone” for two hours, things started going wrong. At one moment, I was flying along, barely feeling my feet hit the ground, and in the next, my left Achilles, calf, and both knees began to hurt. I mean HURT. like, “Uh oh, what’s going on, and am I going to be able to finish this race?” kind of hurt. I ran my first two marathons with two torn tendons and a torn muscle in my left foot and that didn’t hurt as badly as THIS! I started to crumble. Just about this time, my emotions surfaced, and the realization that I was  possibly injured and not able to complete this run became a possibility. Then everything around me became a trigger. There were  Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine soldiers everywhere. American flags float in the breeze. People proudly ran with flags.

There were several groups like this that ran the whole course carrying flags

There were several groups like this that ran the whole course carrying flags

I began to tear up at the sight of this. I watched the monuments go by, and saw the soldiers-mere babies, in uniform, and cried some more. I thought of the reason I was here. Not just to run another marathon, but to support a cause that has become near and dear to me. I’ve never run for a cause. I was now a part of a purpose. It was right about this time that I came across the Blue Mile. This is a mile long stretch of the course where people hold flags and the street is lined with photos of fallen soldiers. blue mileI had heard about this, but nothing could prepare me for it. The photo  posters are on stands, evenly spaced, and they are hauntingly beautiful. I found myself slowing down so that I could touch the top of each one, and whisper “Thank you” to each one. I sobbed for these people. I cried for their families. I didn’t care who saw me. I was not alone in my public grief at this spot of the journey.

I still had miles to go. Suck it up buttercup.

The second half of the marathon was an exercise in grit, determination, extreme cursing, and involved a lot of self talk. I  hated most of it, cursed my lack of training, my lack of mental toughness, and tried to keep it together and power through. I had a bad attitude, and horrendous pain in my legs. I put my head down and stopped looking at the other runners, and ignored the crowds of well wishers. It was the darkest race I’ve ever run. When I saw the finish line, and the row of soldiers, lined up giving “high fives”, I couldn’t even muster the strength to participate. I crossed the finish line in a daze. When I finally looked up to see the young, smiling Marine that congratulated me on my finish, and put my metal around my neck, my fog lifted. I gave him a huge teary eyed smile, thanked him for his service, and thanked God for letting me be a part of this experience. OO-RAH!

There was a lot of limping for several hours after the finish. It was my slowest marathon to date. It was the biggest, most profound one as well. I met people I had only known online, deepened friendships with them, got to see our incredible nation’s capital, and raised money for Prostate Cancer research.

I will be blogging about Prostate Cancer in the future. I am excited to share that I have partnered up with Zero  again and will be participating in  Ironman Chattanooga next September. If you would like to make a donation of any amount, please do so here: http://www.ironman.com/triathlon/events/americas/ironman/chattanooga.aspx#axzz3HeVD6LdT.

Thanks for reading my blog.

 

Facing My Fear Part Two-Race Day!!!

 

Race Day, Montauk Might Many Sprint Triathlon

The alarm went off at 4:14am, not that I needed it, because I had been awake most of the night. I wondered if any other participants were as worked up as me.

Like most athletes, I have a specific morning routine that I follow, down to the smallest detail. I drink a cup of tea with honey, a toasted gluten free bagel with almond butter, jelly, and Chia seeds. I have to get up early enough for this to digest, so I can…ahem…leave a little of it at home, so to speak. With the race day jitters I am a frequent user of all-that-is “toilet”.

My race day equipment was packed. I had a bucket filled with towels, a plastic garbage bag, bike and running shoes, socks, extra water bottles, 2 swim caps, goggles, gloves, a jacket, bike helmet and glasses, inhaler, Vaseline, my phone, and God knows what else. It didn’t all fit in the bucket. I WAS going to put on my wetsuit at the house, since the starting line is just a half a mile away, but I opted against that…..I knew I would need frequent visits to the Blessed porta potties before starting. I arrived at 5:45am and the transition area was already about 75% full. The grass was wet on my flip flop clad feet and my sweat pant legs were getting damp. This pissed me off way more than it should have. (STRESS) I methodically set up my transition area, positioning everything I would need for the two changes. My helmet was perched upside down on my handlebars, with my glasses inside.  My wool socks were rolled down to the toes; my towel was ready, water bottle to wash my feet off was ready, and my bucket was turned upside down. Next to all of this were a jacket and my running shoes, and a small water bottle filled with an electrolyte drink for the run. Taped to my bike was a plastic bag with a small protein bar that I could shove  down at the start of the cycling. All that was left was for me to go to the bathroom six more times and put on my wetsuit.

Good morning athletes! Do you like my fake smile?

Good morning athletes! Do you like my fake smile?

Approximately thirty minutes before the scheduled start of the swim, I took a long pull or two on my inhaler and proceeded to encase myself in black rubber.

The time came for all athletes to move over to the shore line and assemble in our “waves”. I was in the 4th wave: females, 40 and older. We all had white swim caps. They assigned MY group of WHITE CAPS? BORING!!! Anyway, we lined up and nervously chatted.

White cap? Yes, but I think the purple adds a little fashion. Oh, and notice the look on my face!

White cap? Yes, but I think the purple adds a little fashion. Oh, and notice the look on my face!

One by one the waves of swimmers entered the water, for their “chest-deep” start. (I assume we didn’t do a beach-run start because they didn’t want people stomping on all of the snapping turtles.) As I  moved toward the water, I felt like a cow going to slaughter. The voices in my head laughed  and told me I was going to die. Then the shivering took over. As I moved further into the lake, I looked around and had what I can only describe as an out of body experience. The only thoughts I had were: 1) Oh my God, I am really going to do this, and 2) Oh my God, I wonder how many of these people around me are peeing in this water?

There was no time to worry about pee because the next thing I knew a gun went off and my wave started. SWIM PATTY! I took a few strokes and found myself playing a water version of Twister with four other swimmers. My goggles fogged up and I couldn’t see. All I could do was TRY to swim, which was impossible because a group of us were seemingly staying in one place, wrestling. This did not please me. I tried zig zagging, looking for a way out of the churn, and I realized I wasn’t breathing at all.  CALM DOWN! Since I couldn’t see out of my goggles, or stop shivering enough to get a good breath, I flipped over on my back and did some kind of messed up version of sculling. Embarrassed by this, I flipped back over and did some breaststroke. Then for some reason, I started side stroking. SIDESTROKING?!!! Who the HELL sidestrokes??? Oh, and I was barely 25 yards from the start! I  considered giving up right then and there. Yep. BUT I DIDN’T. I decided that no matter what, I was going to finish this God forsaken swim and get out of that lake. I never warmed up enough or calmed down enough to do more than ten to twenty crawl strokes at a time. I swam on my back a lot, inventing ways to move my body through the water. I breast stoked a TON, and did my best not to drink any of the lake’s blackish green water. I wondered: “WHERE THE HELL DID ALL MY TRAINING GO?”  I kept going. I stayed on my belly all the way into the shallow water, and jumped up when it was only two feet deep because I heard that is faster than trying to run through waist deep water.

This is how I WISH I felt after the swim....hahahahaha, silly girl.

This is how I WISH I felt after the swim….hahahahaha, silly girl.

I stumbled, exhausted, out of the swamp. As I gathered what remaining strength I had left, I unzipped my wetsuit and ripped my goggles off. I found that my entire face was covered in slime. I thought it was seaweed, until I realized it was coming out of my nose and mouth. I was a phlegm factory. It took several attempts before I was able to rid myself of that shit.

By the time I ran to my bike, the swim experience was completely behind me and I was READY! I had a little trouble getting my left leg out of the wetsuit because of the bulky timing chip on my ankle, and I started to panic. I stopped, took a calming breath,  and pulled my foot out. I put my glasses and helmet on, ripped open the bag with my snack in it, and shoved the protein bar in my mouth. Never underestimate how dry those things are! I was in the very back section of the transition area so I had to navigate around several people before I exited the area. I clipped right into my pedals, headed down the street, and spit out the protein bar, for fear of choking on the damned thing.

Something happened to me as soon as I got my feet spinning. I turned into a combination of Godzilla and Jim Carey in “The Mask”. I approached other cyclists with the screaming voice; “ON YOUR LEFT!”, “PASSING!”, “On YOUR LEFT!” Oh my God, I was actually embarrassed. (Well, not really) I was a mad woman throwing my head in the air and cackling!  “You’re MINE, I tell you!”

GET OUT OF MY WAY!!!

GET OUT OF MY WAY!!!

The course has a bad ass hill about a mile into the start, that sneaks up on you and never lets go.  My lungs were in my throat half way up. I crested the top and shifted into high gear. I usually brake a little on the downhill, but this time, I just let it go. WEEEEEEEEEE. (“Oh God, please don’t let me crash, please don’t let me crash”) The ride is an out and back and the usually fierce Montauk wind behaved on this day. I rode hard, although my legs were protesting the whole way. At one point I looked down at my computer and it read 30 MPH. WHAT? The last hill was a killer and I slowed down to 11 MPH for a portion.

This lady scares me!

This lady scares me!

Before I knew it I was back in the transition area and in short order, I changed into my running shoes and grabbed my water bottle. My feet took off faster than I thought possible, and for the first mile, I had no feeling in the front half of either of them. The course circles the lake and the views are stellar. Now that I was no longer IN the lake, I enjoyed its beauty. I got a little fatigued and in an effort to avoid an asthma attack, I took a few short walk breaks. I passed a lot of people on my run and finished with a sprint.

Coming down the home stretch

Coming down the home stretch

I put it all out there that morning. When I finished, I was heaving, and wheezing, and within about a minute after the finish, the tears arrived. Like I said in my previous post, they always do. There’s a mixture of: joy, exhaustion, wonder, elation, and accomplishment that I just can’t describe. I did it. I did well. I gave my all. I didn’t die. I didn’t shit myself.

2013-09-28 10.27.41

My bike shop buddies: Pierce and Lenny, and me, enjoying our age group awards!

To some, a Sprint Triathlon is like an easy walk in the park. They could do one in their sleep. For me? It was my biggest physical and mental accomplishment since I did my first marathon last year. But in many ways it was harder. I loved it. I hated it. I laughed and I cursed. I know I will do another one. Will I ever make it all the way to an Ironman? Oh boy…. time will tell. For now, I will enjoy this memory, and keep on training.

Race Season Rules for the Road. (The Pleasure and Pain of the Porta Potty Visit)

Now that race season is in full swing, I am presenting my first installment of Race Season Rules for the Road. Well, specifically, for what happens on the SIDE of the road. In the Porta Potties to be specific. There, I said it. Yes, the Porta Potties. (The modern version of what we used to call “Stink Peuw Houses” when I was a kid….you know-the fly infested Out Houses you’d use when camping?)

Oh yeah, there they are. Me first, please.

Oh yeah, there they are. Me first, please.

One thing I am aware of in public places is the consistent lack of hygiene in the public bathrooms. Germ-a-phobe that I am, I can’t tell you the number of times I have held my breath and cleaned up after someone, or forgone the pleasure of relieving myself in a public bathroom due to the unspeakable nastiness that I have found lurking in, on, and around public toilets.

When did mothers stop teaching their children to flush? If your child is too young to tend to themselves, then for the love of Mary, please assist them.

What the hell are people eating?

Why don’t they do that before they leave home?

RUNNERS!!!! PLEASE! Head my prayer! At group events and organized races, I know you LOVE your port-a-potties, but please pay attention to the Race Season Rules for the Road!.  Porta Potties are put in place for everyone’s comfort and relief. Be courteous!

Leave unto others that which you would leave unto you.

If you sprinkle where you tinkle, please be neat and wipe the seat!

If you splat where you shat, please be kind, and clean up that!

OK, enough poetry.

God knows I refused to step into a Porta Potty until I became a runner. Though they are disgusting little sweat boxes, when I am running a race I have been known to thank the Almighty when I finally see one on the horizon, and fall to my knees weeping for joy when there isn’t a line waiting outside one. But how many times have you opened the door and wish you could poke your eyes out with your own ear buds, or wished you had a hazmat suit to don before entering? Time stands still as you weigh the decision: “Do I enter and close the door, or just keep running and hope I make it to the next one before shitting myself?” Am I the only one that cries when the hand sanitizer dispenser is empty? Yuk, don’t touch the door handle!!!

So here are my Race Season Rules for the Road:

If it FALLS out of you, is PULLED out of you, PROJECTILES out of you, RICOCHETS off of your running shorts, or otherwise leaves your body at rocket speed, PLEASE take a few precious seconds and clean it off the seat, back, floor and walls of the “John”. Whether it is snot, vomit, pee, poop, or blood, nobody wants to navigate around it when they too are desperate to make their OWN emergency deposit. Sure you might be on your way to a PR, but this is just rude and crude, and makes you a bad sports person.

As someone with Celiac Disease and the lovely gastrointestinal “issues” that go along with it,  I am fully aware that there are many times when the body does things to us that we could never imagine, admit to, or ever want to remember. I am not criticizing those that are truly sick, in pain, or otherwise shouldn’t have eaten that last double chili bacon burger 2 hours before their marathon. All I’m saying is, please, please be aware that there are other people in the world besides you and they deserve a more sanitary place to potty. Thank you.

Stay tuned for my next installment of Race Season Rules for the Road in the coming weeks. Do you have pet peeves regarding runner etiquette? Care to share?  Be well. See you at the starting line.

 

 

 

Not This time

As I sit here digesting the news and reading about what’s happened all week  in Boston, I am finally ready to write about Monday’s attack. The city of Boston was under lock down. Police, SWAT Teams, Military, Law Enforcement, and dozens of News Agencies were crawling all over the city. There was a massive manhunt for the second suspect in the horrific bombings at the Boston Marathon. Fortunately, he was caught and the city and world breathed a collective sigh of relief, at least for the moment.

537282_10200174320136325_1574030274_nI was not in Boston on Monday but many of my friends and fellow runners were there. Some of these people are very close to me, and some I have come to know through Facebook. Social Media is  amazing  Because of it, I have been introduced to people I never would have had the opportunity to know, and I feel Blessed because of these relationships.

All week I have been vacillating between anger, fear, extreme sadness, and hope. I have struggled with some of the PTSD that I suffered with after 9/11. There are people that will say this is not like 9/11, but for many people, it is very similar. Senseless violence against innocent people, no matter the number of casualties, is unthinkable.

After 9/11, there was a huge movement towards “closing your circle” of exposure. We have created layer upon layer of security systems to protect our privacy. We screen our calls, emails, online presence, Facebook posts and photos, and keep ourselves protected in many ways from the outside world. I became suspicious of everyone. I used to fear going in tall buildings, or driving across a bridge if I saw an airplane in the sky. Even now, if I am driving or running and I see a “suspicious package” or a backpack or box sitting alone on the side of  a road, or in a building, I have a momentary feeling of fear-wondering if it is a bomb. Is this rational? Hell if I know.

But THIS time, I will not let this tragedy send me into a spiral. I will not let the Terrorists affect my life in a negative way. Of course I will grieve for the innocent lives lost and for those that will be forever affected. YES, I will pray for them and their families and loved ones, but I will commit to becoming a better person for the world around me, as my way of giving back.

There is a strong need in the world for people to reach out to others and get to know them. A simple smile and a “Hello” as you cross paths with someone on a sidewalk, can make someone’s day. I see a lot of people walking in the various neighborhoods where I run, so I have several opportunities to give them a warm smile and wish them a good day. I notice  the young people-maybe 12-16 years old, that look serious, heads down, maybe dressed in baggy or trendy clothes, and seem sad or uncomfortable in their own skin. They try to avoid eye contact but lately, I make a point to look into their eyes, smile, and say “HI”. I have seen some of them transform their faces with huge smiles, and show a sense of appreciation and a little embarrassment that they were even noticed!  I see the same one’s a few times a week, and we are starting to recognize each other, and they have even initiated the smile and hello. Our worlds are overlapping and it is a good thing.

There is a man that I call “My Amish Boyfriend“, that rides his bike near my house. I used to see him while I drove to work, before I started running. He wears a top hat, like an Amish man would wear, instead of a bike helmet, and he has a grey beard. I figure he is in his late 60’s or early 70’s. When I started running, I saw him all over the place at a certain time of the morning. After several times passing each other, we would nod and go our own way, then over time, we’d say a quick “hi”. Recently, when we see each other, it is a bigger smile and a nice comfortable, knowing “Hi” or “Good morning”. This week, on my run, I saw him mowing a lawn at a house nearby and I ran by him and waved. I was planning on turning around and doubling back at the end of his block, and just then I decided to stop and introduce myself. I did this because of Boston. I felt like my reaching out and making this small gesture to another human being, was important. So I stopped and walked up and introduced myself to John. He gave me a big smile and said that he sees me running all over the place. We chatted and I found out his brother had just run Boston and that he was “just fine”. What a small world. I bid him good day and continued my run, feeling on top of the world for having stopped. My “Amish boyfriend” now has a name, and I have a new friend.

This week I attended a memorial run for Boston that was organized by the Portland Triathlon Club. I would guess there were over a thousand runners of all abilities that showed up to publicly proclaim their support for the people involved in the tragedy. After a short but meaningful memorial service, we ran a loop around the waterfront in honor of Boston. It was inspiring to see such a turnout and see people of all ages running, walking, pushing strollers, and being supportive. At the finish line, the organizers set up a line of people, cheering on and “high five-ing” the runners as they completed the loop. It turned into a long “gauntlet” of sorts and the energy and enthusiasm for each and every person lifted everyone’s spirits tremendously. I felt completely connected. EVERYONE that passed through got a high five and thunderous applause from all those gathered. At one point, two very dirty, scruffy homeless men, one carrying a dog, approached the area where this was all taking place. They hesitated for a second, perhaps not knowing what was happening, and then, the crowd broke into another round of applause for THEM, and they both lit up. They smiled huge smiles, stood up straighter, and briskly walked through the tunnel of cheering, high five-ing runners, that patted them on the back and thanked them for being there.It was a beautiful moment.

These gestures, small or large, create incentives that can be the beginning of change. Change someone’s mood. Change someone’s attitude. Change someone’s heart. Change YOURSELF. In the past week, I have seen a different response to this National tragedy than in times past. Instead of cocooning and “pulling up the draw bridge”, I have seen people reach out and embrace each other. Strangers have started conversations with strangers in neighborhoods, airports, waterfronts. This is the power of good over evil. This is humanity elevating itself above fear, pettiness, and ignorance.

Runners and their families were attacked. Who are runners? Why this group? We are not political, controversial, powerful, or threatening. We are “everyman”. We are old, young, fast and slow. We are dedicated and committed to endure. We love community and celebrating each others’ achievements, no matter how large or small. We take care of each other. Period. The world just saw how much of a “family” runners and their supporters are. We love. Unconditionally and completely.

So, to all the Terrorists of the world, that have no regard or respect for human life, you will not defeat us. You will not cause us to live in fear. The city of Boston and all the cities of the world that supported the victims this week have proven this. You will not win. NOT THIS TIME.

 

Have a Heart (But Don’t Take Mine)

On Valentine’s Day, hearts are everywhere. Chocolate mostly, although I did actually see a bacon heart this morning on Facebook. For the record, I think bacon smells good, but I would never eat it.

THIS is more like it.

The-heart-sign-dogSpeaking of hearts, I had an interesting thing happen to mine this week. It’s funny how, when you are in your 50’s, you start thinking about keeping yourself on this planet a little longer, and paying attention to “little things”. When I was in my 20’s and 30’s, I never thought about stuff like blood pressure, pulse, cholesterol, and all those boring things old people talked about.

This past weekend, I was laying in bed and felt a strange sensation in my chest, like there was a fish flopping around in there. It lasted a few seconds and then stopped. A few minutes later, it happened again. Being the dutiful Catholic that I am, I said an Our Father, and an Act of Contrition, just in case I didn’t wake up in the morning. I didn’t really think I was having a heart attack, but I wasn’t going to take any chances. As it turned out, I did wake up, went about my day, and that was that. Until it happened two more times. Then once again, while watching TV the next night, that flounder was back in there, flopping around. I mentioned it to my husband, who, glued to the TV as usual, grunted something and held his blank stare at the flat screen. Deciding that I needed something to drink, I got up and wooohooo, the dizziness hit and I floated across the floor, like a drunk, all the while, watching the little stars blinking, and the blackness closing in. I managed not to pass out, and continued my evening of TV watching.

Just before bed, the old lady in me-the one that has turned into a hypochondriac, decided to email the doctor, just ‘cuz. I managed to wake up alive the next morning and received a call from the Dr’s office, telling me to come in today. Ho Hum. OK, sure, fine.

Fast forward to the appointment. My regular doctor was off that day, so I had the “pleasure” of seeing a first year intern. No offense to this guy but really? What, are you 12?

Doogie had the technician take my vitals sitting, standing, and laying down….three times. They did an EKG, and low and behold, aside from a First degree AV Block, which I already knew about from a previous EKG, there was nothing unusual or concerning.  The doctor asked me if there had been any changes to my life recently that might be a contributing factor to these episodes. Normally at this stage of an exam, with my regular fantastic doctor, I would have had a chance to discuss what is going on in my life, the stress issues, my injury that has prevented me from running for 9 weeks, female issues, daughter getting married stress, how my big toe hurts, the migraine I had last week; you know-normal stuff. But this guy didn’t want to hear any of it. For some reason he decided he wanted to focus on how much I drink and what kind of drugs I take. I told him that I regularly enjoy a glass of wine at night and that can mean anywhere between 1 to 3 glasses, but that several weeks ago, after the holidays were over and I was taking hold of my senses again, I had curtailed my alcohol intake by about 80%. He then said that “Sometimes in people with such excessive alcohol consumption, withdrawal can cause these symtoms. I looked at him like he had three heads. Then he asked me what type of stimulants I was taking. This is when I started getting pissed. I sat up and looked him straight in his teenage eyes and said. “One or two cups of English Breakfast Tea per day.” He didn’t seem amused and asked me to hold my hands out in front of me. He wanted to see if I was having tremors. Now, I have a good a sense of humor as anyone, but this was not funny anymore. Who IS this guy? I attempted to “gently” explain to him that I am not a heavy drinker, I do not take ANY drugs or daily medications, I work out 5-6 days per week, currently swimming a mile or more per week, bike 30+ miles per week, PLUS work out at a kettlebell gym twice per week. When running, I routinely run 35-40 miles each week, AND I run my own successful business. I eat primarily vegetarian and seafood meals, and don’t eat a lot of junk, plus I drink somewhere between 30-60 ounces of water each day.

At this time he suggested that I wear a 30 day heart monitor so they can track whether or not I have recurring symtoms, and evaluate them. He left the room and asked the tech to do my vitals again…sitting, standing, and laying down. By now, I felt like I WAS going to have a heart attack. For the record, my blood pressure was something like 90/60 and my resting pulse was <60. It didn’t change much in the three times they checked. I had a feeling by now, however that they were going to be higher. (They weren’t) 

While the tech was checking these things, she said the doctor wanted me to fill out a questionnaire, because apparently they thought I was crazy and suicidal.

 hosp

After filling this out I asked the tech to go get the doctor and ask him if I could do a 48 hour heart monitor as opposed to the 30 day one. I was trying to imagine wearing this wirey, bulky contraption in the pool, or while swinging a kettlebel, while wearing my business clothes, or anything else for that matter. A short time later, the baby doc returns with a more mature, seasoned doctor, and I  thought, “Thank God she’s here to change his diaper and let me go home.”

She started out just wonderful! She explained my AV block in such a way that I fully understood it, and also explained the symptoms I was having, and how they are very common, bla, bla, bla. Just as I was about to pull out my car keys and leave, she stopped, got all serious, and said, “But more importantly, I want to talk to you about your excessive alcohol abuse.”  I really thought Ashton Kutcher would pop in at any moment with the “Punked” crew. I thought about arguing with her, but then she would probably think that was the alcoholic talking, so I just shut up and nodded. I had had enough. I guess they must have just had some kind of seminar on substance abuse and their reticular activators were on hyper alert!

I managed to leave there with a smidgen of dignity, WITHOUT the heart monitor, because they were out of stock, and went home. I vented my frustration with this experience to numerous people and went on with my life. I am waiting to speak with my regular doctor, to see if she wants me to wear the monitor. I will be a good girl and listen to her. I will not let prepubescent medical residents examine me in the future. I will continue to be an ADHD, running obsessed maniac. AND, I will find ways to manage my stress.

I think I will start with a nice Valentine Lobster dinner and a glass of La Crema ChardonnayDSCN0114

Happy Valentine’s Day. I hope it’s a good one. Take great care of your health.