That which does not kill us, makes us stronger. - Nietzsche

Saturday, July 20, 2013

the obligatory "yes, I'm still alive" post


I couldn't just leave ya'll hanging with that bit about my innards, could I?

I make the mistake sometimes of waiting until I have the time or energy or wit to write something amazing. Obviously that didn't work.

So here's the rundown of what's happened in the past four months (eek, bad blogger alert!)

Let's see...I.....

-Ran at least a mile every single day in March, for a total of 150 miles, the most I've ever hit in a month. Ever.

-Coached a Girls on the Run team for the first time ever and LOVED it.

-Coached a Sit to Fit group and ran a 5k with a woman who was running one for the first time. She cried and hugged me at the finish line.

-Ran the Flying Pig. It was a meh sort of day but I ran the last 10 miles with a friend and got her to the finish line. I was one hour off my goal time. I'm over caring.

-I freaking ran a 50k ya'll. Another Dam 50k in June.

-Volunteered at a 3-day, 108 mile ultra marathon. I could write a book about that amazing experience, including doing bike support for 7 hours straight on the last day, 26.2 miles, in weather so hot that the blacktop melted and stuck to my bike tire.

-Now I finally has a bike short tan line again. Woohoo!

-I got my ironman tattoo! I'll have to post that.

-Am not running currently. I have jacked my foot a bit. Tendons? Ligaments? Who knows. Two weeks off it right now and I think another week or so and I'll have it back to being runnable again.

-I have actually been sadly meh about running for a while....until I volunteered at that ultra. Now I want to run everything. Of course, my foot doesn't, but once it catches up.....

-I'm going to try a new mindful approach. One where I work on speed on a limited basis but otherwise spend a lot of time getting back to running for the pure joy of it. This is something that a lot of ultra runners seem to do really well.

-Thinking of more races. Rev3 again? Tough mudder? Some craaaazy non-traditional stuff coming up? Oh yes. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

running and mah ovaries

Have I mentioned before that I have PCOS? I can't remember. Anyway, I do. It stands for polycystic ovarian syndrome and it's a fairly common (betcha know at least a few people who have it) and not-always-well-understood sort of a thing.

Anyway, part of the awesome thing about running is that it seemed to keep a lot of my symptoms well under control. I even impressed the crap out of my doctor. Well, running and cutting down on carbs. In a year, I managed to lose 35 lbs, get my high cholesterol down to the "normal" (high side of normal, but I'll take it) range, and get my blood pressure from high down to the low end of normal. Running is also the thing, a couple of years before that, that led to me being able to say buh-bye to anxiety meds.

Yes, all those things are the wonderful result of my hormones being wacked out.

Wellll, I had everything under control. Then I started training for an ironman and put my body through all kinds of stress and started eating more of whatever the heck I wanted, because it's so very hard to NOT do that when you're voraciously hungry after an hour of not eating. And then I finished the ironman, and it was Christmas, and I was sick, and I put my body through more stress by getting Lasik, and then I was sick AGAIN, and then I changed jobs and now I'm working three jobs and....yeah. I didn't realize how much I was putting myself through when it happened.

The result: hello, PCOS flare-up. I am tired. Absolutely everything I do feels like it takes 1.5 times as much effort as I estimate it will. Cholesterol is back up, I have headaches, my stomach gets bloated on a regular basis, the anxiety has returned, and I gained ten pounds in pretty much no time. I can't locate anywhere that they went except my stomach.


Might that explain some sluggish runs lately, and my even-though-I'm-trying-to-ignore-it-s l o w e r pace? It just might.

So I'm working on some things - meds (I hate meds, but really, I was feeling like a barely functional human for a minute there), diet, and not being hard on myself anymore. And ignoring others who advocate being hard on oneself in the name of motivation. And, again, looking more outside myself while still trying to make myself better.

The good news is that after just a couple of days, the crazy talk in my head has definitely turned down the volume, I can sense my energy trying to make a comeback, the hypoglycemia (a symptom that has never ever gone away, and was 10,000 times worse during IM training) is not rearing its ugly head, I did a 9:30 mile today that didn't feel half bad (just one..but still!) and if the scale is to be trusted, I've dropped 3.5 lbs of that extra weight.

I've never tried to cut carbs (has to do with insulin resistance, a major feature of PCOS) while training for a marathon before. I'm experimenting and I do know I haven't eaten nearly enough the first couple of days of diet tweaking, probably because when you feel like crap and you're kind of afraid of food making you feel like crap, you do that. Or, I do that. You caught the anxiety part, right? So this will be a lot of trial and error, but I'd love to figure out how to get everything back under control and possibly help others with the unhappy hormone curse to do the same.

The other good news....being very very hard on myself means that I'm starting with a high baseline, and I'm coming to realize that what looks like a screaming hot mess to me looks like a pretty functional human to others. Not optimally functional, but doing better than a heck of a lot of people. I've been doing pretty well with hanging in there and realizing that I'm not going to bring my world crashing down.

So, there's that. A more intimate understanding of my insides. *cue "The More You Know" music*

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

ebbs and flows and shifts

Hi everyone!

I'm still around, just ridiculously busy these days. My job change means that I'm working three jobs for the time being. It's turning out to be a very positive change; I just can't wait for the day that it's a little less crazy and more steady and predictable....

I'm still slower than I used to be. I'm slowly regaining some speed. Maybe. It's so slow that I can't completely tell. It's a little discouraging, not gonna lie. I did the Lifetime Indoor Tri again this year. I was talked into it by a friend, really. I didn't run quite as far as I did last year, but I knew that would happen, and I'm happy with my run - it was actually pretty darn close and I felt a lot better than I remember feeling last year. Where I'm really disappointed is my swim. I was thinking my swim had improved by leaps and bounds and then I swam the EXACT SAME DISTANCE that I did last year. I'm not gonna lie, that was pretty freaking disappointing.

My excuses reasons for that: the pool was too warm, in masters we've been doing lots of short sets and I don't think I've swam more than 300 yards in one set since the Ironman. Yep.

At any rate, I couldn't have swam 2.4 miles last year. I think maybe my body's stuck in endurance mode and is having trouble with the discomfort of going faster.

But I'm mostly letting my pace fall where it may and focusing on the good things, and I feel better when I focus outside myself. Coaching for Girls on the Run has been awesome so far. I love running with the girls and cheering them on. Yesterday it was cold, windy, and snowy and we got them out there. They're already taking in some of the benefits and lessons from running that I've got and they're still in elementary school - it's SUPER exciting. And they're super cute. Adorable.

I'm 90% sure that I'm going to throw something else in the mix and coach Sit to Fit again this year, too. I really, really love helping others right now and not trying to focus so much on what I'm doing/not doing. Heck, maybe I'm even looking for an escape from that!

So that's where I am for the time being. I think after such a big huge goal, I don't have the energy to focus much on self-improvement, so I'm content to stay in limbo myself and help others advance. We'll see what clicks with my brain next.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

I almost forgot!!!

I started another project - 101 things in 1001 days. It is what it sounds like. I heard about it from a friend, but if you google it, you'll find that it's a fairly popular phenomenon.

I started on January 1 and I'm blogging about my progress. I have some running-related things, some general athletic things, some life goal things, and some small mundane things. I stole some from my 30 while 30 list that I didn't get done.

Check it out if you want...and tell me if you end up doing your own!!

Heeeeey, I'm back...I think!

Two months post Ironman, and things are starting to fall together again. It happened this past week, seemingly overnight. Wednesday, I tried to make up for missing a group run (working late) by running on the treadmill. Fifteen minutes in at a not-fast pace (or it didn't USED to be fast), I had taken a one-way ticket to Suckytown. I felt awful, my legs hurt in this oddball numb sort of way, and I realized that I was having exactly ZERO fun. So I bagged it. I did fifteen minutes of weights because it seemed oddly important to log an hour of working out for the day (I had done 30 minutes of yoga in the morning) and I went home. And I didn't feel bad about it in the least. For real, I didn't. That's a bizarre change in me right there, but since I tend to err on the side of obsessive freak more than slacker, I think that's a GOOD shift.

The next morning I felt tired as soon as I woke up. One of THOSE days, but I made myself do the five mile super hilly run I had planned. And I did it. And I. Felt. Awesome. I wasn't back to the speed I used to run but I was faster than a lot of my runs have been lately, and more importantly, I felt really good while I was out there. THAT hasn't happened much since the race. Saturday was a 10 mile run. It was supposed to be 9. Adding on that extra mile wasn't bad. I barely looked at my Garmin. It helped that I had a few new friends and we talked the whole time. And I felt great after the fact. Energized, even. OK, I won't pretend that I felt energized ALL day after that run, but I didn't feel beaten down like I have after long runs lately. And, of course, that was my longest run since the IM. If you want to be technical, it's the first time I've run ten miles in one stretch (since the IM was a lot of run/walking) since 11/10/12.

AND I feel more like myself in the rest of my life. Suddenly, I'm little miss productive. Now that I'm getting some energy back, I'm seriously stoked about the extra time I have in my life now. I can make food, I can clean the house, I can organize things that went totally awry last year. It's amazing. I feel more like the me I like - productive, energetic, confident - yep.

Time to tackle life like an Ironwoman!!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

So....yeah! Now what??

I'm still here...somewhere!

It's taken me a bit of time to figure out what I'm doing now. The not-quite-two months since the IM have gone by super fast. Of course, December was full of all manner of holiday stuff, plus my immune system took a nosedive, so I had an eye infection followed by an awful cold followed by holiday traveling....yeah.

I gave myself December "off", but I ran once a week or so, swam a couple of times, did some yoga and hiked up a mile-long 50% grade incline at Colorado elevation (my bro-in-law's idea!!) This month, I've gotten back to training and joined the Flying Pig Training group.

Umm, ya'll....running is HARD now. I'm still doing it, but it's a real struggle and I have to run at a slower pace than I have in years just to feel like I'm NOT dying. It took me by surprise and threw me for a bit of a loop. However, it looks like I'm not alone in taking a while to recover. I've heard people say it took them 2-3 months to feel "normal" again after an IM, particularly a first one. I read an article that said that for a triathlon, it takes 3-5 days to recover.....for every hour you're out there. So, hmm...anywhere from 38-78 days. Yep.

It's kind of a relief, though, because it's forced me to not pay attention to my pace AT ALL. Not even for long runs. It's futile - I have no idea what my comfortable pace is anymore (and I really don't have such a thing) so I run. I can't run with the people I used to run with, but I've made some new friends in the group, a little further back than I used to be. It's not a bad place to be, it's really not. I made a new friend in the running group who told me she's in awe of the fact that I did an Ironman when I'm "normal" - not a super athlete, not super fast, not super obsessed. I'm really happy about that. That was part of my motivation to do it - to show others that a normal person can achieve lofty goals.

I just wish running felt zen-like and easy again, but it's slowly getting there. I have good moments with it. They're just that, moments, but I know they'll turn into longer and longer moments. And if I never PR for the rest of my life, well hell, I'm an Ironman. :) I can ride that for the rest of my life. Maybe.

ANYWAY....I did come to a realization. Last year I was so, so selfish with my training. I mean, I had to be, I'm not dogging myself or anything. But this year is the year of giving back. I'm going to get back to donating blood regularly, because last year I didn't, because I was too freaked out about missing workouts. I'm going to coach for Girls on the Run, which I am beyond stoked to do. I'm going to get back to running for the sake of running and loving it. I do want to do the Pig, just because I STILL have a score to settle with that race, but I'm (almost) ok with the idea of doing it just to finish it.

I'm in the middle of a job change, too. I've accepted a different therapist position (part-time) and a health coach position, also part-time. So I'll be transitioning between jobs for a while. It's a scary, stressful change, and it means I technically have three jobs to juggle at the moment, but heck, one of the things I learned from IM training was how to juggle my time. I think the new positions will suit me well and will be a good career move, more in the wellness direction, more toward where I want to be rather than straight mental health.

I'm cutting myself a little slack on integrating biking and swimming back into training; I still get tired a lot easier than I used to. Blame stress, blame illness, blame recovery. I'm working on it, though, and doing some more strength and core training to improve my run fitness, too. I wish someone could just pay me to work out. I'm still trying to figure out how to do it all, but I'll get there.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Ironman Packing List

Seeing other people's lists was very helpful in putting mine together, so I thought I'd share what I had with me on race day (as well as some thoughts on what was helpful and what wasn't!) The task of packing for this thing was ridiculously overwhelming, but I think I did pretty well.

Swim to Bike bag:
  • bike shoes
  • socks
  • tri shorts and top (DeSoto 400 mile shorts and skirt sports top. I chose to swim in a swimsuit and change rather than deal with the chafing caused by wet clothes. Plus, my tri shorts have better padding than my tri suit.)
  • bike gloves
  • small towel to dry off
  • helmet
  • sunglasses
  • bondi band
  • chamois butter (a must for that distance!)
  • 2 powerbar gels (one for right away, one went into the cleavage pocket for later. my stomach no longer likes gu. Go figure.)
  • an individually packaged wipe (didn't use. I thought I would like to clean up after rubbing chamois butter, err, where chamois butter goes. As it turns out, I didn't much care on race day if my hand smelled like butt after all.)
  • garmin
  • arm warmers (YES, in Mexico, shut up. The day before the race was actually pretty freaking chilly until about noon, and I am super sensitive to cold on the bike. I didn't use them but I was prepared for anything!)
  • 2 spare small packets of chamois butter (I put them in my shorts pocket and lost them. The pocket on  my tri shorts is unreliable, I guess!)
  • list of instructions for what to do with everything and in what order (I ignored it.)
In the zipper pocket of my top:
  • little spray thing of neosporin (didn't use, even though my ankle and foot were bleeding after the swim. I didn't care enough about infection to stop moving.)
  • spare contacts (also didn't use, and I have never lost a contact while biking, running, or even swimming, but that would've sucked so much that I'm glad I had backups, just in case!)
  • my good luck charm Speedy (he never misses a race!)
On my bike:
  • bandana tied to the handlebars (I stole this from someone else's list. It was a GENIUS idea. It was reachable from aero position and soaked up mass amounts of snot. My gloves would not have sufficed as snot-catchers for a race that long.) 
  • old throwaway water bottle with day-old water (they didn't have water out at the resort that morning) to get me through to the first aid station
In my saddle bag:
  • spare tube
  • patch kit
  • 2 co2 cartridges and valve for them
  • multi tool
  • individually packaged wipe (all this is the same stuff that is usually in my saddle bag)
Bike Special Needs:
  • another spare tube (in case I had already used the first one)
  • 2 more c02 cartridges 
  • more chamois butter (was glad to have it after the other ones fell out of my pocket!)
  • another wipe (again, didn't care about cleanliness at that point)
  • 3 aleve in a plastic bag (thank God!!)
  • peanut butter and strawberry jam sandwich (my usual go-to on long rides but tasted like cardboard that day)
  • v8 (I loooove v8, worked well for nutrition, too)
  • snickers bar (that got stolen!!! WTF!!!!)
The stuff in this bag got thrown out after the race, but I'm glad I spent the money on an extra tube and cartridges. I thought of it as a flat insurance fee. (I had to leave the other co2's behind, too, since they're not permitted on a plane. I asked tri bike transport to donate them to needy Mexican triathletes.)

Bike to Run:

  • running shoes
  • fresh socks (in retrospect, I would've been fine keeping my other socks on and it was such a pain putting socks on sweaty feet!)
  • race belt with number on it and one gel, one wipe in the pocket (I don't know WHY I was so obsessed with cleanliness when I was packing for this thing!)
  • body glide
  • contact solution, in case of dry eyeballs (didn't need)
  • another pb&j (this was an afterthought but I was definitely glad to have it. I'm sure it helped fuel the 26.2, and I may not have been able to stomach it halfway through the run.)
  • list of instructions (again, didn't use)
Run Special Needs:
  • anti-chafing gel (didn't really need, as they had vaseline on the course, but I used it anyway on the parts that I hadn't thought to body glide before the run)
  • 3 aleve in a plastic bag 
  • bag of fritos (yes, awesome, I can ALWAYS eat crunchy salty things!)
  • can of v8 (again, worked out well) 
  • starburst gummies (didn't really need them and they tasted too sweet, so I trashed them anyway; they were an afterthought at the resort gift shop when I bought my other food)

There wasn't anything else I wanted or needed during the race, besides my missing snickers bar!!! :) Most of the stuff that I didn't use, I was glad I had anyway (because a flat tire or lost contact would have been an epic disaster if I wasn't prepared!)  besides the thousand wipes and the neosporin. They didn't take up much room, though.

I was also really glad to have a stopwatch counting the race time. I guess a normal watch would've sufficed but that was an easier visual. Of course, I had my road id too. It made for some funky tan lines but that's a badge of honor for a triathlete, right? last item I packed....a spare pair of goggles just in case mine got knocked off while swimming. I pinned them to my suit and they tucked away quite nicely and unnoticeably between my breasteses. I'm not sure what guys would do with spare goggles...or where they'd put their spare gels for that matter! Those things can come in quite handy.

Again, I'm proud of myself for going in so well-prepared. Can ya tell I was a girl scout??