June 30, 2011

Coming Full Circle

Today is A's 5th birthday. Happy Birthday to my sweet girl! She spent the day in the hospital, although she is doing so much better. Yesterday she went into the O.R. and they extubated her.....and today they moved her from ICU into a step-down unit. No more ventilator, no more oxygen, and no more IV (except for meds). She is now eating full meals and drinking. The only thing is that she still has her chest tubes, which will hopefully come out tomorrow. Once they come out, and she does well (meaning no more lungs collapsing!) she can come home within a day or two, or at least that's what I've been told.

The odd thing is that when they moved us into the step-down room, I recognized it immediately. WE ARE IN THE EXACT SAME ROOM WE WERE IN 5 YEARS AGO, WHEN SHE GOT HER TRACHEOSTOMY! We spent 3 long weeks in this room, post-surgery, learning how to care for her trach: suction it, clean it, change it, etc. This particular unit used to be the trach/airway ward....now that ward is on a different floor, and this ward is being used for step-down, so with all the rooms we could have possibly gotten (Children's Hospital is a big place!) I am convinced we are in this room for a reason. We've come full circle.

I don't think I've ever explained why A had a trach in the first place. She was born (5 years ago today!) with a gajillion medical issues. One of the biggest ones was that she had a vascular ring, which essentially was a blood vessel coming from her heart that was wrapped around her trachea and espophagus. This had lots of bad effects. For one, she couldn't eat, so she lost almost a pound in the first 48 hours of her life (this is what started her stay in the NICU). When she was 10 days old, she had surgery to correct it, but the area where the blood vessel had been wrapped her trachea hadn't properly developed; it was floppy, not rigid, and kept collapsing in on itself. This made it difficult for her to eat, even though now her esophagus wasn't being squeezed, because her breathing was so labored (with a horrific stridor) that she never got the hang of sucking, breathing and eating at the same time. (Eventually we gave up on the idea of feeding her orally, and although she had been using an NG tube (feeding tube down her nose) we had a g-tube (feeding tube in her belly) surgically inserted a few months later. As my loyal readers know, she is now an eating and drinking champ and in fact had the g-tube removed last summer!

But the trach was a harder decision to come to. All throughout her 12 week NICU stay, her breathing was horrible, and it continued to be so after we finally brought her home. Her stridor was so loud that we were literally able to hear her breathing if she was upstairs and we were downstairs. Her oxygen levels were fine (we came home with a monitor) but she was so LOUD! Her pulmonologist kept recommending a trach, but we just didn't think she needed one.

When we'd had A home for 7 weeks (she was 4 months old at this point) she was re-hospitialized because a surgery she'd previously had to help with reflux (a Nissen fundoplication) had come undone and needed to be redone. While in the ICU post-surgery, the nurses were very concerned with her breathing. I mean, it was LOUD. Everyone tried to convince us to get a trachestomy, but we wouldn't hear of it.

Finally, another meeting with A's pulmonologist changed my mind. He pointed out two things, both of which were very valid and very scary. One, she wasn't developing. She was 4 months old and not even holding her head up. She wasn't gaining weight, despite the fact that all of her nutrients were being directly pumped into her stomach. Every calorie she was given was going straight to breathing. The doctor convinced me that a trach would make it easier for her to breathe, and allow her to thrive in ways she wasn't yet. Two, he had a valid concern that should she get sick, even a common cold, her airway was so narrow that it would collapse on itself and she could die; we wouldn't even be able to do CPR if God-forbid we needed it, as there would be no airway. A worst-case scenario would be her getting an emergency tracheostomy by an EMT in an ambulance.

I was finally convinced. It wasn't what I WANTED to do---who'd want to do an elective tracheostomy on their infant daughter?--but it was what NEEDED to be done. I feel, in that moment, I truly became a mother, even though I'd been a mother for 2 1/2 years already. I was ready to give up convenience and gain a lot of hassle in order for my daughter to live and thrive. It was the most painful decision I ever made, and undoubtedly the most unselfish.

So, she had the trachestomy. I sobbed the night before, taking pictures of her neck that I knew would never look the same. We were told she'd have the trach for 1-2 years (in fact, she had it for almost 4 years) and I wanted to remember how her bare neck looked. After the surgery, we came back to the trach ward, to this very room in which I am now typing, where we lived for the next 3 weeks, learning how to care for it.

We missed a lot of things during the time she had her trach. Because the trach was a direct opening to the lungs, water was our enemy. She's never been in a pool, a shower, or a filled bathtub. She didn't go to the beach (too much sand that could get in her trach) until it was removed last summer. I tried to make the best of it. I used to dye her trach ties (the fabric ties that wrapped around her neck to hold the in the trach) with RIT dye; she NEVER had a white tie, instead having purple, green, blue, and many shades of pink to choose from. But I always wanted the trach OUT. And last year, it was.

Now the stoma, or hole in her neck, is closed. And even though we had an unfortunate complication from the surgery, I am so happy. We made it. She's alive, and she's thriving---the two reasons we got the trach in the first place. In fact, she began to thrive right after she got the trach, and we knew immediately we had made the right decision. And being back in this very room is a fitting end to this chapter of A's life.

June 28, 2011

I Miss My Daughter (ICU Update)

It's been 6 days and we're still in ICU. My daughter, A, suffered a complication of pneumothorax post-surgery (we were there to close her stoma from her old tracheostomy). In my last post, I had reported that her lungs didn't collapse. I was wrong. They did. I guess that is the definition of pneumothorax. But she is doing well, is stable, and is set to go to the operating room tomorrow for the doctors to take a peek down her airway; if all goes well, she will be extubated (that is, they will remove the breathing tube which has been down her throat and take her off the ventilator). Her chest tubes will be removed a day or two later. And then we can finally take our baby home.

She has been sedated this whole time, kept asleep so that she doesn't mess with the breathing tube. I miss her so much, even though I'm with her most of the day. I'm actually typing this in the hospital room, right next to her. But having my daughter sleeping next to me is a tease. I miss her voice, her bright eyes, her feisty personality. I miss reading to her, playing games, working on her pre-kindergarten workbook that we've been doing daily. I miss HER!

As hard it as it is to believe, this is our first hospitalization in almost 5 years; only her 3rd ever. Her first hospitalization was when she was a newborn. She spent almost 12 weeks in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) before we were finally able to bring her home. We finally brought her home, but after only 7 weeks she was back in the hospital, this time to re-do a previous surgery (a Nissen fundoplication that had come undone) and to do her tracheostomy. We were in the hospital for a total of 4 weeks exactly.

Both of these stays were almost 5 years ago, in 2006.

Back when we left the hospital in 2006, after getting her trachestomy, we were saying goodbye to the nurses when her charge nurse said to me, "oh, we'll see you again. Kids with trachs always come back...even if she gets a cold, you'll be back because it's hard." But you know what? She never went back. J and I made sure of that. When she got a cold (and trust me, over the 4 years that she had the trach she had many colds) it was hard. Having a cold with a tracheostomy means suctioning the mucus out several times an hour, 24 hours a day. We had no night nurse (and only had a day nurse to help out 3 days a week). When she had a cold, we got very little sleep for 3 nights in a row...we were up all night suctioning her and giving her breathing treatments and caring for her. But it was worth it. We did NOT want her hospitalized if we could help it.

And since then, there has been nothing. Well, we DID have two overnight stays since then, neither of which I count as a hospitalization. In 2007, at the age of 7 months old she was in overnight for one night when she had her cleft lip repaired. And last year she was overnight was one night when her doctor took her breathing tube out (he wanted to observe her overnight). I don't count either of these as a real hospitalization, though, since each was for only one night and she wasn't SICK...both were for observation, only.

This time, however, it's different. She's sick. A collapsed lung, and the results of her tissues filling with air could have been fatal. She is on a ventilator, with two chest tubes stuck in her, getting all the air out. Just yesterday she looks almost normal to me...it took a long time to get the air out. Her lungs are re-inflated. Her vital signs are good. She is going to be ok....yet we're here, because she's not ok yet.

Home is a hard place to be. I've been coming home each night to sleep; normally, I'd sleep here with her in the hospital, but since she's sedated and out-of-it and doesn't really know that I'm here in the first place, I've been opting to go home to get some much-needed rest that I can't get here in the hospital room. Once she wakes up, of course (tomorrow, hopefully) I'll be here all night.

But at home, her absence is strongly felt. When she was in the NICU, I desperately wanted her home, but she wasn't really MISSED at home, because she had never been there. Even when she was in the hospital for the month when she get her trachestomy, a few months later, I missed her, but she was still so new to us (we only had her home for 7 weeks) that she wasn't quite an essential part of the family routine yet (if that makes sense). But now? At age (almost) 5? She completes the family. It's hard eating dinner with just me, my husband J, and my son, D. I'm sad doing laundry and having none of her clothes to wash and fold. It's difficult walking by all her toys, dolls and games, which are just sitting there waiting for her to return and play with. I hate not having her sippy cups to put in the dishwasher, her books to put back in her bookshelf, her little body to snap into her carseat, her warm scent to inhale when I'm cuddling with her in the morning.

She'll be home soon enough. I'm glad she's getting the care she needs in a top-notch Children's Hospital. But man, it's hard. I miss my daughter so much.

June 24, 2011

In the ICU

This is not the post I wanted to write.

Yesterday, my daughter, A, went into the hospital to close the hole in her throat where her tracheostomy used to be. She was decannulated last July, and although she's had no trach in a year she still had the hole. So yesterday was the surgery to close it up. While she was under anesthesia, her opthomologist did eye surgery on her to correct her lazy eye, or ambyopia (she was going to correct the up and down AND the side to side muscles, but ended up only doing the up and down ones....baby steps, she said).

The surgeries went great. Both doctors came out and gave their glowing reports. They were happy. I was happy. I couldn't wait to go back and see her in the recovery room when she woke up.

Finally, I got called back. A was doing great! I was able to hold her on my lap, and cuddle her. She asked where her Daddy and brother were. She asked for one of her books to read. She took a few licks of a popsicle. She got feisty and wanted the sat monitor off her finger. She pulled it off, and the nurse put it back on. This upset her. As I was holding her, her breathing began to sound weird. The nurse didn't seem concerned, as her sat levels (oxygen levels) were fine. But she started to act weird...trying to get off my lap.

Within a few minutes, they were ready to transfer her up to her room. They wanted to put me in a wheelchair and put her on my lap and wheel us up. I got in the wheelchair with her on my lap, and A started to REALLY have difficulty breathing. It sounded like a cross between a hiccup and a gasp. She put her hands to her throat, which the nurse interpreted that she was going to throw up. But I looked at A's face...and was shocked. Her face has ballooned to about 3 times its normal size. It looked like she had mumps....her face was sooooo puffy and was cheek was so huge and distorted that it reminded me of the Elephant Man. Her neck and chest were puffy too. All of this happened in what seemed like 30 seconds. Very quick.

I yelled, and the nurse took one look and shouted for backup. We put A back in the bed, and immediately a whole team of doctors descended upon my daughter. They gave her oxygen and I heard the word "intubate"...and then they kicked me out, back to the waiting room.

The next hour was one of the worst I've ever experienced. I didn't know what was happening with my baby. Horrible thoughts were going through my mind. What if she had to have her tracheostomy put back in? What if she's lost too much oxygen and had brain damage? What if she died?

After what seemed like an eternity, we were brought back to a consult room. Both a pediatric surgeon and an ENT (not her usual ENT, as our doctor who had just done the surgery left immediately after the procedure to catch a plane!). They had taken a chest x-ray, and all looked good. They had also done another bronchoscopy and her airway still looked beautiful. All great news.

They diagnosed her with pneuomothorax...in which air got into her body (through the delicate tissue in her newly closed stoma) and couldn't get out. Coughing could do this...and although she hadn't coughed, she WAS upset earlier about the sat monitor on her finger, and I'm wondering if her getting upset didn't trigger this. And when the nurse put the oxygen mask on (standard procedure) it was the wrong thing to do in her case as it added more air into her. To treat her, she's now intubated with a tube down her throat, and she has two chest tubes. The tubes will slowly leak the air out of her.

She is in ICU and will be for the next few days. They want to keep her under sedation, so she doesn't mess with the tubes. This will also give her body time to heal. I want her HOME! Her 5th birthday is next Thursday, and I want her home by then. I am just so grateful that this episode happened in the recovery room. A few minutes later and we would have been up in a regular room, with no quick response team, or even worse, in the elevator. It could have gone really, really wrong....she could have had a collapsed lung, or cardiac arrest. She didn't. So while I'm sad she's going through this, and I desperately want her home, I'm grateful.

June 22, 2011

Reflect Sports Giveaway Winner

The winner of the Reflect Sports contest is.....LB (by the way, please check out here AMAZING blog...she is a triathete and mom to a precious daughter with Joubert Syndrome. She inspires me every time I read her blog)! LB, you can pick out either a Hoo Ha Ride Glide, a Reflect H20 Pre-Swim and Protecting Gel, a Reflect H20 Swim Shampoo or a Reflect H20 Swim Conditioner. I will get your email and get all the details to you.

And a BIG THANK YOU to the wonderful women at Reflect Sports, for not only giving me samples of your wonderful products but allowing me to do this giveaway to my readers! I will be placing my order for the swim hair-care set in the next few days!

June 21, 2011

Measuring My Progress

It's sometimes hard to measure my progress as an athlete. I faithfully keep logs of my workouts (both handwritten in a notebook and online on dailymile), but as I'm still a slow back-of-the-pack half marathoner and triathlete, it's hard to see how far I've come. I've been back into running for a year and a half now, and started biking and swimming a year ago. I thought it would be good for me to really MEASURE how far I've come.

I'd like to measure by how strong I've become. Some people may use their weight as an indicator of how their workouts are going. However, I've actually GAINED about 7 pounds or so since starting triathlon training. I have gained so much muscle, which weighs more than fat. I have strong muscles that have built up in my legs from running and biking, and more muscles in my arms, chest, back and shoulders from swimming. Plus, I do weight training in the gym 3-5 days a week. I rarely step on the scale anymore, as the number I see doesn't reflect the athlete's body I am working on.

So, without further ado:


I first got into the pool at the end of last June. My first few swims were 18 laps (a lap being there and back). I would rest for several minutes between each lap, and have to incorporate a rest stroke like the side-stroke or breast-stroke to keep going. Now, my average swim is 50 laps (2500 yards). I can do it all free-style, and take no breaks at all between laps. Last week I did a 70 lap swim (3500 yards) which was my longest swim ever. Also, when I first started to swim, I didn't really put my head in the water! Then I worked on breathing, but only breathed to the left. Now I keep my head in the water and an adept at bilateral breathing.


When I first started to ride last June, I was very slow on the bike. Today, a year later, I am still very slow. However, I am getting stronger! Hills that I couldn't get up last year without stopping midway to catch my breath I am now able to get up nonstop. I still have a LOT of work to do on the bike, especially with hills, but in doing routes now that I did last summer, I can easily see how much stronger I have become.


I have been running on and off since 1998, and I have always been slow. However, even though I am still a slow runner, I have improved drastically. My first half marathon was back in 1999, and my time was about 3:04. I didn't run another half marathon until 2010. Earlier this month I set a PR (personal record) with 2:31. It is still my goal to break 2:30, which I hope to do at either Long Beach or Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas this year, and I know I will.

Weight Training

I have always LOVED weight training, but this is the first time I have noticed major results. Maybe it's because all the cardio I do has burned a lot of fat so the muscles are easier to see. Regardless, I can see the subtle but strong definition of the muscles in my arms, legs, upper back and tummy.

When I look back at this, I can really SEE my progress! My strength, endurance and stamina have dramatically increased. Since I'm now addicted, I can't wait to see how much stronger I am this time next year!

June 15, 2011

Reflect Sports Product Review and Give-Away

A few weeks ago I started being followed on Twitter by hooharideglide. I always click on the profile of whoever is following me to see if I want to follow them back, and was intrigued by their Twitter bio: "Custom quality products for women with active lifestyles. Swimming, Cycling, Running and Triathlons. Tri's are what we train for!" Of course, I had to find out more.....I am a woman with an active lifestyle! I swim, bike, run and do triathlons! And I LOVED the name....Hoo Ha Ride Glide!

After visiting their website, I was further intrigued by their products. They offer two main products: Hoo Ha Ride Glide, which is an anti-chafing cream to use while biking (or running), and Reflect H2O hair products (a line of shampoo, conditioner and pre-swim gel, all formulated to protect your hair from the nasty chlorine in the water). I knew I had to try these products. I was especially interested in the hair ones. I contacted the company, and not only did they send me samples of all 4 products, but they are letting me do a give-away on my blog! Please keep reading, as I will have details of the give-away after the reviews.

One thing I LOVE about Reflect Sports is that it's a small company started by two women, Jena Schuster and Laurie Mellott. You can read their story here. It's one of those feel-good stories of two women who followed their passion to develop products that were important to them. Their products are for swimmers and bikers. They also have some other sports gear on their website.

The first product I tried was the Hoo Ha Ride Glide. It's anti-chafing, anti-bacterial, and anti-inflammatory.
Per their website: "Reflect Sports feminine chafing cream, Hoo Ha Ride Glide® protects your Hoo Ha from saddles sores, chafing, friction burns, irritation and inflammation. Our chafing cream provides healing and prevents saddle sores and chafing from exercise. Focused on the sensitivities of the vaginal area our product is anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory. In addition to having healing agents, our chafing cream is enriched with barely extract, lavender, eucalyptus leaf, tea tree and peppermint oil. These specialized ingredients provide a lasting cool feeling so you enjoy your ride, run or spin class."

I used this cream on two different bike rides over the past week. The first was a hilly 14 miler, and the second was a short, but hilly, 5 miler. I followed the instructions given to me, which were to apply the cream on my inner thighs and anywhere else that may chafe, and to the chamois of my biking shorts. I was also advised to apply the cream to my (ahem) girlie parts, although this is for external use only. I was delightfully surprised by the scent: I could totally smell the lavender, peppermint and eucalyptus! It had a pleasant tingle went it was applied, which only lasted a few seconds.

Full disclaimer here: I have never used any sort of glide or lube during my bike rides before (or my runs, for that matter!) I guess I am lucky in that I have never experienced chafing. Because of that, I did not notice a difference in my bike rides. That said, the farthest I've ever biked has been 25 miles. I don't know how my skin will react when I do longer rides (which I intend to do this summer!) so even though I didn't notice a difference on my shorter rides, you can bet your booty that I will be applying this cream to those longer rides. Better safe than sorry! I would also like to test the Hoo Ha Ride Glide on my next long run. Although I never chafe during long runs, I'd still like to see if it helps.

Verdict: For me, it didn't make a difference because I don't have the chafing issues the product is designed for. But I love the scent, I love the feel, and I would encourage any women bikers who have chafing issues to try it. I love that it's designed just for women.

The second product I tried (actually, 3 products) was the swimming shampoo collection. This is a pre-swim and sun protecting gel, a shampoo and a conditioner.

I was very excited to try this trio, and also very skeptical at the same time. You see, I have very difficult hair. My hair is long (to the middle of my back), thick and color-treated. It's always dry, and I am constantly on the search for the best shampoo and conditioner. My hair gets so dry, however, that I have to use a deep-conditioner AFTER I use a regular conditioner. And ever since I started triathlon training last summer, and am in the pool twice a week (for about an hour each session) my hair has been in even worse shape. I hate the feeling my hair has after I swim; it feels tangly, even though it's only been in a ponytail under my swim cap. It also has a weird texture from the chlorine. And I hadn't found a good shampoo or conditioner to make it feel moisturized after all those chemicals.

When I tried the products, I first used the Reflect H2O Pre-Swim and Protecting Gel.
Per their website, "REFLECT H2OTM Pre-Swim & Sun Gel prevents chlorine damaged hair. This pre-swimming gel can be used on wet or dry hair prior to swimming or activity. Our pre-swim gel will coat and seal the cuticle locking in moisture, protecting your hair from chlorine, salt, other impurities and the sun. By using this pre-swim gel you will prevent the adherence of chlorine, salt, other impurities including copper deposits that cause green hair from chlorine. Our pre-swim gel also prevents sun damaged hair and tangles during physical activity." I applied as directed, coating my hair before I got in the pool. The scent was heavenly, and the gel did not feel at all greasy. Once my hair was thoroughly coated, I put my hair in my ponytail, stuffed it under my swim cap, and went out and did my 2000 yards.

After my swim, I came home and combed my hair out. IT WAS TANGLE FREE! It felt so smooth and glossy, even while wet! I then took a shower and used the Reflect H2O Swim Shampoo and Reflect H2O Swim Conditioner. Per their website, "Reflect Sports swimming shampoo has been precisely formulated to prevent green hair, get chlorine out, strengthen and promote the growth of distressed and damaged hair and protect your hair color while keeping it healthy, hydrated, shiny and smelling good." and "Reflect Sports swimming conditioner prevents chlorine hair. It is formulated to moisturize, strengthen and promote the growth of distressed and chlorine damaged hair, leaving it shiny, silky and smooth. REFLECT H2OTM Swimming Conditioner is a salon quality conditioner that hydrates, replenishes and restores damanged chlorine hair. Reflect Sports swimming conditioner will leave your hair shiny, smooth and smelling good."

I LOVED how my hair felt after washing it! I purposely didn't use my deep-conditioner after using their conditioner to see how it felt on my hair. I was impressed that my hair was tangle-free, soft, manageable, silky and smelled delicious. I did not use any additional products on my hair, and later that day my hair still felt good after air-drying and sleeping on it.

Verdict: I love, love, LOVE these products, and will definitely be buying some full-sized bottles (all I have are samples right now) to use after my swims. As a brunette, I can't speak to how it prevents green hair (I think that only happens with blonde hair) but I really feel like these products not only protected my hair, but washed all the chlorine out. Yeah!!

Reflect Sports is being generous and letting one of my readers win a product of their choice! A lucky winner will receive a full-size bottle of one (1) product of their choice: either the Hoo Ha Ride Glide, the Reflect H2O pre-swim gel, the Reflect H2O swim shampoo OR the Reflect H2O swim conditioner. Even if you are a man, please enter! I am confident the hair products will work very well on male hair, or you can win and give a product to a lady athlete of your choice!

You have 6 ways to enter, and the contest will end on Wednesday, June 22, 2011 at 5:00 PST. Please leave me a separate comment for each of the following ways you can enter:

1) Follow my blog via Google Friend Connect by clicking on the "follow" button on the left side of my blog. Leave me a comment telling that you are now following me. If you are already a follower of my blog, you can leave me a comment telling me that too. This will give you one entry.

2) Follow me on Twitter (@sugarmagnolia70) and leave me a comment telling me that you are now following me. Again, if you already follow me on Twitter you can leave me a comment telling me that as well. This will give you one entry.

3) Follow Reflect Sports on Twitter (@hooharideglide) and leave me a comment that you are following them. This will give you one entry.

4) Tweet the following: "check out the #giveaway @sugarmagnolia70 is doing with @hooharideglide products. Go to http://is.gd/MpICp4 for details"! You can tweet this once a day, giving you one entry per day, until the contest ends. (No need to leave me a comment about this, I will see your tweet on Twitter).

5) Become a fan of Reflect Sports on Facebook (click "like") , and leave me a comment telling me you've done so. This will give you one entry.

6) Visit their website and then tell me which of the four products you would like to win, and why! This will give you one entry.

The contest will end on June 22 at 5:00 PST. Good luck! And thank you to Reflect Sports for letting me try their wonderful products and allowing me to do this fabulous give-away!

June 13, 2011

Every Day is Training Day

Tonight during my swim I had a lot of time to think. 50+ minutes of back-and-forth-and-back-and-forth, with no music and really no noise at all leads to a lot of thinking! Sometimes my best problem-sorting sessions are done in the pool.

Anyhow, I was thinking about training. For example, why was I swimming tonight? Normally I swim early in the morning. I NEVER swim at night. But this morning I was too tired and lazy to get out of bed so early, and never got my sweat on. I had a burst of energy after the kids went to sleep, so decided to hit the pool.

Now, I certainly didn't have to swim today. I could have taken a rest day, and would have been justified in doing so, as I've had good workouts the past several days. But I wanted to. Why? Well, for several reasons: to get my cardio in for the day, to burn some calories, to get out of the house. Working out keeps me looking good and feeling great. And I've admitted I'm addicted. But the main reason I swam tonight was to train for my next triathlon....which isn't until September.

Although I have plenty of time until the race, and have a great base under my belt, I am worried about this race. It's my first Olympic-sized triathlon: it's a 1500 meter swim, a 40k hilly bike ride, and a 10k run. Although I have completed 4 triathlons so far, all have been sprint distances---roughly a 500 meter swim, 20k flat bike ride, and 5k run (give or take, as each race was a bit different). This race will be so much more in every sport.

I am nervous.

And so, I train. I swim twice a week, each time doing either 2000 or 2500 yards. This past weekend I actually rode part of the hilly bike course, which was HUGE for me, as I am terrified of riding hills (and I was able to ride them!). I continue to train for my half marathons, so I don't need to train specifically for the run, although I will need to start doing more brick workouts (which are back-to-back segments, such as biking and then immediately running) in order to get the endurance needed to do that run after the swim and bike.

I know that some people train much harder than I do. I also know that some people don't train as hard as I do, and they more than likely do better on the races than I do. Most people are faster and stronger than me. But I'm not a natural athlete; I really need to work at it. Every time I train---each run that I do, each lap that I swim--builds upon the work that I did in my previous workouts.

Can I do the triathlon without so much training? Sure! I can muddle through anything. But I wouldn't feel GOOD about it. I like knowing that I put in the work. That way, no matter what happens in the race, I can be proud. Even if I come in third-to-last place, as I once did, I know it wasn't because of lack of training. There are many things I can't control on race day (weather, crowds, illness) but one of the things I CAN control is how prepared I am. Training hard and consistently ensures that I will finish as strongly as I can, and hopefully finish injury-free.

So even though it may seem like one particular workout is meaningless in the long run in terms of training (aside from having the obvious immediate health and mental benefits), each session is really important. They are all small but important steps that will help me reach my goal, whether it's in my next half marathon or triathlon.

June 7, 2011


For the first time in her (almost five years of) life, my daughter, A, has no therapy appointments.

I am used to running around all over town to take her to various appointments. She's been in therapy of one kind or another practically since she was born. Her first physical therapy (PT) session was when she was about a week old, while she was in the NICU! Throughout her 12 week stay in the NICU she received both PT and OT (occupational therapy) services. Speech therapy was added when she was only 11 months old. So, for about 4 years, we had 3 separate weekly therapy sessions at Children's Hospital. (OT ended when she was three, as we had it only for feeding purposes. Once she was eating and drinking orally, and on her way to getting her g-tube out, OT ended. We re-started again for a few sessions at the end of last year to work on her writing skills.)

Once A turned 3, she started services with our local school district. So, in addition to getting all of her private sessions at Children's Hospital through our insurance, we also added speech therapy, PT and adapted physical education (APE). This past year, when she turned 4, the school district added OT and deaf/hard-of-hearing therapy. Yes, I was busy. Between all of her appointments through the hospital and at school, we were rarely home!

Once 2011 hit, our schedule eased. We got discharged first from PT at the hospital, and then from speech therapy. Both therapists said that she had met her goals, and, while she had a lot of work yet to do, her school-based therapies would continue to help her. I was thrilled not to have to make as many trips down to Children's! We continued, however, to get her school-based services 4 days a week...and NONE of the therapies were at our home school. We had to drive a distance for each one.

Now that the school year is practically over, all of her therapies ended last week. Because she is not doing summer school, no therapy is available to her over the summer. Last week we said tearful goodbyes to her OT, PT, DHH, APE and speech therapists, most of whom we may not be seeing again, all of whom did incredible work with her. All of her therapies will resume in August when school starts again, per her IEP, but for the next few months we have nothing.


Whatever shall we do to fill the time? I know I have work to do with her at home, both with her language and her fine/gross motor skills. But I am amazed that we have WEEKS of no therapy for the first time....EVER!

June 5, 2011

San Diego Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon Recap 2011

"B" is for "BOOYA"!!!

Today I ran the San Diego Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon with high hopes for running my first sub-2:30 race. I wrote earlier this week about my goals....my "A" goal was to crush the 2:30 barrier with a 2:29:59 or less, and my "B" goal was to set a PR (personal record) with anything less than a 2:34. I also had "C" and "D" goals, which I hoped I wouldn't have to face. To end any suspense, I did not make my sub-2:30 goal, but I DID set a new PR, and am very pleased.

My race weekend started on Friday, with a trip to the expo. I love race expos, and I have never seen one as huge as the ones put on by Rock 'n' Roll. What I really wanted to do was spend a lot of time there, browse around, and soak up the atmosphere. However, I had to dash there in between A's therapy appointments and having to take her to school, and had only enough time to pick up my race packet and D's (my son was running the kid's ING Kids Rock 1-mile race the next morning). I had no time to peruse the many booths, which was probably better for my wallet!

The next day, Saturday, D did his race and finished in an 8-minute mile. Where this boy gets his speed, I have no idea! We then had lunch with my step-mother, who had flown in to run the half marathon. That night I had a very special dinner with some friends that I've made on Twitter and dailymile, most of whom I'd never met before. Most were in from out-of-town to run the race, and it was so much fun to meet them, carb-load and talk about all things running and racing with them!

I came home from dinner and was in bed by 8:30, as I had a 3:00 wake-up call. I finally asleep at 9....but unfortunately woke up at 1:00 and was unable to go back to sleep! Finally, at 2:30 I got out of bed and started to get ready. I was exhausted. I had had a migraine on both Thursday and Friday, and that had taken a lot out of me....coupled with such little sleep last night I felt like a zombie! I left the house, and went to meet 3 of my friends to carpool to the race. One of them had sprung for the extra $100 to get the premium parking space at at the finish line at Sea World, and I was so grateful to be able to tag along with her. We bypassed the HUGE line of cars on the freeway waiting to park in the off-site parking, and zipped right into Sea World. A shuttle soon took us to the start line in Balboa Park.

One of my friends, T, is friends with another runner who happens to be a rabbi at a nearby synagogue. The four of us got to go there before the race and USE THE BATHROOM!! For those of you who are runners, you know what a big deal this is. A real bathroom...with no wait! It was positively luxurious! (Later, when we got to the race, the lines for EACH port-a-potty seemed to be at least 20-30 deep, if not longer). Combined with the premium parking, the whole pre-race experience was amazing. While we were still at the synagogue, I turned on my Garmin....to find that for some reason it wasn't charged. It read "low battery" and only had one bar on it. I was surprised, for I thought I had charged it completely yesterday...but apparently something went wrong. I was upset, as I was counting on my Garmin to keep me appraised of my pace and time so that I would meet my goal. My friends convinced me to turn off the GPS and just use the timer as a way to conserve the battery.

The race officially started at 6:15, but since I was in corral 33, I didn't get underway until about 7:05. The crowds lining the streets were amazing. I heard there were 33, 500 runners there, and I believe it! So many people....I hadn't seen that many runners in one place since I did the full marathon here in 2003. Finally, it was my turn to cross the start line. The excitement was palpable....live music playing....spectators lining the street. Unfortunately, almost immediately into my run I got a sharp, stabbing pain in my side, most likely a stitch. I was tried to breathe through it, and it wouldn't go away. I was worried; I was in so much pain, and I had just begun! I had 13 more miles to go! I had to have a talk with myself to HTFU (harden the f*ck up) and power through. Luckily, by about mile 1.5 or so the pain was gone, and it never returned.

I loved the beginning miles of the race. It took us through Hillcrest, a section of San Diego that I used to live in for 10 years, and used to run in. I LOVED running in Hillcrest, and it was fun to be back. We detoured through Balboa Park, another part of the city that I love. I was feeling strong, and according to my stopwatch on my Garmin was exactly on pace to my goal. Right after we exited Balboa Park, the half marathoners split off from the marathoners---they continued downtown---and we went up the on-ramp onto the 163 freeway. I remembered this from my 2003 run as a big hill, but the hill didn't seem all that big to me today. Yay for hill training, I suppose!

Around mile 7 my Garmin completely gave out. I was now running "naked", with no way to judge my time or pace. Yes, there were clocks at every mile marker, but since I had no idea what time I had crossed the start line I had no way of doing the math to determine my own time. I decided to just forget about the time, and concentrate on having the best run I could do.

The rest of the run was pretty non-descript. It was getting hot, as there was not a cloud in the sky. I had brought enough Gatorade on my water belt to hydrate me throughout the race, but I ended up taking 3 water cups at each water station----not to drink but to pour on myself! I'd pour one cup of water down my front, another down my back (dousing my ponytail so that the wetness would be against my back), and the third I would split between pouring it on my head and putting some on my inner arms. Each water station cooled me down, and although I ended up running in soaking wet clothes, it felt good and gave me a burst of energy each time.

I've written before about how much I love being around the the energy of runners at a half marathon. The excitement is contagious: the love for running, the camaraderie, the encouragement. Although I am a solo runner (I don't run in groups, and only rarely run with a friend) I so enjoy the atmosphere of a race. I soaked it up throughout the entire 13.1 miles.

Finally, I hit mile 11. At this point I was feeling very strong, and kicked my running into a bit of a higher gear (at least I think I did; I had no Garmin to show my pace!). I ran as hard as I could to the finish line and crossed it. I was so, so happy. I knew that regardless of my time, I had run a good race, did the best I could (both in training and in the actual race) and had a great time.

Later, the results posted online: I had run it in 2:31 and change. So close to my goal, and yet I didn't quite make it. I think that if I had my Garmin working, I might have made it; I would have seen how close I was, and kicked it into higher gear earlier. But perhaps it wouldn't have made a difference. Regardless, I am proud of myself for getting closer to my sub-2:30 goal, for setting a new personal record, for training hard, and for running a great race.

Next on the race agenda is the San Diego Classic Triathlon in September. My next half marathon will be the Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas in December...and I am DETERMINED to reach my goal then....and earn the reward I want to buy myself! I can't wait!

June 2, 2011

Rock 'n' Roll San Diego Goals

I am running the San Diego Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon this weekend! I haven't done this race since 2003, and that was the full marathon that I ran walked crawled completed. Back then they didn't have the half marathon as an option, not that I would have done it anyway. I was on a mission to do a full marathon to check it off my bucket list. Also back then, if I'm not mistaken, San Diego was the only city in the country to have a Rock 'n' Roll Marathon. It wasn't until a few years later that they added other cities, so it was extra special.

But I digress. This post isn't about what I ran in the past. It's about what I intend to run this weekend.

You see, for the first time ever, I have a goal time in mind. Every other half marathon that I have done my only two goals were to finish and to set a personal record (PR), but with no actual time in mind. And I have done that in every race, except for the last one. Here is my half marathon time history:

1999 America's Finest City Half Marathon: about 3:04
2010 America's Finest City Half Marathon: about 2:54 (a 10 minute improvement)
2010 Disneyland Half Marathon: about 2:47 (a 7 minute improvement)
2011 Carlsbad Half Marathon: about 2:35 (a 12 minute improvement, and my current PR)
2011 Safari Park Half Marathon: about 2:36 (no improvement)

After I set my PR in January at Carlsbad, my friend, T, planted a seed in my head about breaking 2:30. And now I'm determined to do it. I have come so close, only 5 minutes away from that goal, but we all know that 5 minutes is a lot when running a half marathon. In order to meet this goal, I need to maintain an average pace of 11:27. I know that's slow, but hey, that's my pace. My actual running is faster; my runs tend to be 10:45-11:15 per mile. But when I run so many miles, I tend to take a lot of walk breaks to shake out the lactic acid in my legs, and those walk breaks add precious seconds to my overall time.

Obviously, if I don't make my goal of 2:29:59 or less, it won't be the end of the world. Although I've been training hard for this race, there are many factors that could impede my goal. It could be very hot, which may sap my energy. I may wake up with a migraine, which would actually be horrific for me (and one of my worst nightmares, truth be told). I may drink too much and need to take a bathroom break. There are many more half marathons to be run, and many more chances to reach my goal. But it would be great if it would happen this weekend. Here are my goals:

"A" goal: 2:29:59 or less
"B" goal: 2:34 or less (this would still set a PR for me)
"C" goal: 2:45 or less
"D" goal: just finish, uninjured and with a smile on my face

If I reach my "A" goal, this is what I'm buying myself as a reward; I have so many medals from my half marathons and triathlons sitting in a pile on my dresser, and I'd love a formal way to display them. Thinking of this will give me extra motivation to keep running when I'm wanting to extend my walk breaks!

I will report back on Sunday with a race recap. Regardless of how I perform, I know I will have fun. After all, it's a half marathon, my favorite distance!