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?

What Snot to Love?

I just love it when I am talking to someone and a bucket full of water and snot suddenly propels itself out of my nose. Now that I am swimming and training for a Sprint Triathlon, I am having flashbacks of my youth swim team and lifeguard training.

I am proud to have control over most of my bodily functions, but my “swimmer’s nose” just laughs at me and runs down my face at will. It’s one of the ways I am forced to be humble, I guess. Trust me, nothing says, “Consummate Professional”, like a spontaneous expulsion! If I were an Olympic swimmer, I’d be much more able to get away with it.

Poor Ian.

Oh well, back to me. So, now that I am training for my first Triathlon, I am spending two to three days working out in a pool. This increases the chance of my snot rocket surprises by up to 30% each week, for those of you that don’t have mad math skills. I am a very efficient swimmer. I know how to breathe in and out through my nose and mouth while swimming. So why does this happen, and what can be done about it? Experts vary on the reasons and remedies, but they all agree that irritants, allergies, and bacteria are among the common causes.

Germaphobe that I am, I shutter to think about what I am exactly ingesting while swimming in that community pool. I know people sweat, spit, and God knows what else in public pools, but I have always considered the chlorine (which of course is a poison) would take care of that. I recently read that Olympic swimmers admit to peeing in pools all the time. Nice. For the record I have never done this! You are safe to share a lane with me.

The good news is that, if I get all snotty while swimming or afterwards, at least I know that it is because I am working out. I am off my butt, making an effort to get this body moving, in any way that it can. It takes effort and dedication to convince yourself that it is a good idea to put on a bathing suit in the middle of winter when you are pasty white and it is cold, dark, and raining out, and drive yourself to a pool, so that you can take that first chilly plunge.

My advice? Get out there and do it. Swimming is one of the best ways to start or enhance your fitness routine. The first few days may be tough as you adjust to the water, the newness of your heart pounding, and the shortness of breath. In a few days, you will be amazed at how quickly your endurance improves. Just keep in mind that tissues should always be on hand. Or, buy a nose clip-I hear that can help.

See you in the deep end.

 

 

Patience, you say?

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Runners can be very impatient people. I wasn’t exactly born with the “Patience” gene. This is not a revelation to me, however, as I get older, it is increasingly more frustrating.

So here I am, 7 weeks into Physical Therapy, NOT RUNNING,after ripping a few tendons and a muscle because I didn’t want to be a good girl and listen to my body. All runners hurt, don’t they? “This must be normal.”, I thought. (Well, not really, but somewhere deep down, I kept thinking the pain was going to stop if I just kept icing, heating, elevating, etc. Dumb idea.)image

Oh yeah, this is what I did after long runs while I blow dried my hair. Before I went running, I’d soak my foot in this  pot full of hot water. Then I’d add ice when I got home. Don’t worry, I washed it out before I made my famous home made soup!

I was anxious to stay on my 5 day per week running routine, but you’d think the fact that I was limping constantly, wincing while training, and eating Ibuprofen like breath mints, I would suspect something was not right.

 

My Physical Therapist told me that I needed to find something to “feed the beast” while not running. Haha, I love how he “got” me right off the bat. He said I could swim, bike, and walk. It was December in Oregon. Running in the cold, wind, and rain I can do. But, bike? Swim? Seriously? Sigh. OK, well I’ll give it a try.

 

My first bike ride started out as a disaster. The tires on my much neglected bike were flat, it was covered in cob webs, and I couldn’t figure out how to use the bike pump. After 3 attempts, I finally got the tires somewhat full of air, and hopped on, hoping to feel the thrill of the wind in my helmeted hair. I started pedaling, and WHAP, the chain fell off, my foot spun around, and I fell flat on my driveway.Thankfully, I was clothed in so many layers, that I came away physically unscathed.  A few curses later, I fixed the chain and off I went. It was 40 degrees out and I was already sweating from the effort and frustration of simply getting out of my driveway.
I ended up having so much fun on the 9 mile ride and even thought, “wow ,I  AM in great shape; I barely felt that!”  I sang along with my ipod, with wild abandon. “What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger”, Oh Yeah, baby, watch out for me. Woohooo.I’m a CYCLIST!

Fast forward to the next day, and I could barely lower myself to a chair or toilet without grunting in pain. OK, well pain is good. LOL, I seem to love it. If you’re going to exercise outdoors in the Great Northwest, you have to be prepared for all types of weather. I have great all weather running gear, but CYCLING GEAR?

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Yep, that’s me on New Year’s Day, wearing ski bib overalls, snow boots, countless layers of dry fit, fleece, and a water proof jacket, plus numerous neck and head coverings. I needed the basket to carry all the discarded clothing, as I warmed up along my ride. Hey, after all the money I have spent on running gear, I wasn’t about to jump down the money pit and do it in the bike shop….yet.

So, back to the patience thing. My second bike ride that week was when I decided to ride to my PT appointment. I mapped it and saw that it was approximately 9 miles from home. Not having stellar math skills, I thought, “Oh, I can probably do that in about 30 minutes. Don’t even TRY to figure why I thought that. I tried to leave a little early just in case, and after donning lots of layers and even packing a change of socks, shoes, and gloves in a plastic bag, I headed out. It was a cold 39 degrees, and by the time I got to the end of my block, it had started to rain. Hmmm, for about a nano-second, I thought about turning around and getting my car, but then I was worried it would take too much time and the clock was ticking! 10 minutes into the ride, it was now pouring, I was freezing, and I knew I was going to be seriously late. When I finally made it to the Springwater Corridor-the bike path that follows the Willamette River, I was pushing those pedals as fast as I could, but the frigid rain and wind was a killer. I could see downtown Portland, and knew I was close, so I gave it everything I had, all the while screaming at myself for being such an idiot.( There were a lot of bad words in my “self talk” on that ride.)

I finally arrived with rain pouring off of my and walked my bike into the facility. They had a bike rack inside, and the nice receptionist helped me stand my bike in it, and then I proceeded to try and peel my gloves, helmet, and extra clothes off. The only problem was that my feet were numb, my frozen snot was leaking, and my hands were too cold to unsnap my helmet. What a sight. I managed to survive, thawed out, and begged God for mercy for the ride home. Luckily, I had brought the extra dry clothes and shoes, and when I left, the rain had stopped, it was a tad bit warmer, and the ride home was a blast.

I learned a tough lesson that day. Think before you act. I know, that sounds really elementary, but when you roll like I do, you pretty much DO, and then think. I laughed about this experience once I knew that I would live through it. That’s the trick to this whole thing. With new experiences, you are going to make mistakes. Don’t beat yourself up about what you did wrong, or not perfectly right. For me, I look back and say, “Wow, I rode my bike 18 miles in the dead of winter, in Portland, Oregon, in the rain, in 39 degree temperature, with a bad ankle, at 53 years old, after not having ridden a bike for several years. THAT, I could celebrate.