August 19, 2017

What's Been Going On?

Last weekend I completed my fourth half-Ironman race. I want to recap it, but I feel it's important to backtrack a year or so (since my last entry!) to catch up.

2016 was a rough year for me physically. In January, I completed my second full marathon which was wonderful and fulfilling but left me in a world of pain.  My  body is simply not cut out for going 26.2 miles.  I had an awful half marathon a few weeks after (Princess, in Orlando) and then took some time off of running to heal.  I did run in the San Diego Rock 'n' Roll Half (my race report is only half written, and unpublished, so I can't link to it) but even at that race, which was in June, my body just felt "off".  My sciatic nerve pain was worse than ever (caused by my herniated disc) and I kept having random pains. I blame it all on the Carlsbad full.  By summer, though, I was training for a  September race I had signed up for, Ironman Santa Cruz 70.3, which was to be my fourth half Ironman. I paid for the race, booked my hotel, and started training.

However, training did not go well.  That summer I was plagued by nausea.  I was literally nauseous every single day, usually all day.  That affected my motivation (it's hard to go for a big bike ride when you feel like you're going to throw up), and affected my performance (even when I did bike, it was hard to force calories in).  I grew concerned and ended up at the doctor for tests.  Blood tests, urine tests, even a full lower abdominal ultrasound showed nothing wrong---but clearly something was.  I did persist through training, and did what I could on the swim, bike and run.

A few weeks before the race, I went out for a run and as soon as I left my house I felt a stabbing pain in my groin area.  I don't know what I did, but I had pulled a muscle.  A week's rest didn't help at all. I finally had to made the decision to pull out of the race.  It was a hard decision to make, because I was looking forward to it, but it didn't make sense to spend all that time and money driving up to Santa Cruz, paying for a hotel, having my husband take time off work to care for the kids, for a race that I may not be able to do the run.  And, to be honest, my swim and bike training had suffered because of my medical issues.  Luckily, I had purchased the newly introduced Ironman insurance (only $40, and only available when you register) which meant that I would get a full refund, minus the $40. I only had a to provide a doctor's note, which my primary physician was happy to provide, based on my pulled muscle.

Also in 2016, I began a new daily medication for prevention of migraines. While it worked for a while, I started to gain weight immediately.  I wasn't eating more than usual, and was still working out, but the weight piled on. My doctor told me it wasn't actual fat, but that the medication was making my body hold onto weight.  All said, in three months I had gained 18 pounds.  At first, when it was only a few pounds, I decided that was an ok tradeoff for being pain-free.  However, a few months later the migraines started to come back.  Now I was in pain, AND 18 pounds overweight. I was miserable; my clothes were tight, and I didn't feel like "me".  My doctor agreed to take me off, as it wasn't helping anymore. It would take about 9 months for the weight to finally drop off of me.

In October, right before Halloween, I went out for a run (my groin had healed) and my right Achilles hurt.  This began a 6-month long ordeal in which I didn't run, in an effort to heal (eventually my left Achilles hurt too).  My podiatrist diagnosed me with bilateral Achilles tendinopathy, and while he wanted me to rest (no running) he also had me try lots of other remedies, including anti-inflammatory pills, anti-inflammatory creams, different shoes, different orthotics, 6 weeks of physical therapy, ultrasound therapy, night splints, etc.   

After having pulled out of the race, I just focused my efforts on Padres Pedal the Cause, the cancer fundraiser that I had done the year before.  It was a two day event, and I had medical issues on the first day.  My nausea was in full flare climbing up those hills. A tough weekend, but worth it to raise money for such an important cause (I ended up raising $4000).

In November, I took my daughter, A, to a new doctor for her behavior, this time a pediatric developmental-behavioral specialist. She prescribed a new medication, targeting anxiety, and it worked wonders almost immediately.  Coincidentally, or not, my nausea disappeared as soon as her behavior improved.  My body had literally been falling apart (besides nausea, my hair was falling out and my gums were suddenly a mess).   Once she was stabilized my health returned. That was a brutal lesson for me---I usually deal with stress pretty well, but apparently I internalize it and it wreaks havoc on my body.  Lesson learned---I need to take better care of myself.

The new year came with me not running, and not motivated to bike or swim.  Yes, I was still biking and swimming, but not as often as I should, and without joy.  In the spring I decided to sign up for a race, and found the Chula Vista Challenge, a triathlon that had many distances (sprint, international and half-iron) each with an option to do an aqua-bike (swim/bike only, with no run).  I signed up for the half-Iron aqua-bike (which would be a 1.2 mile swim and 56 mile bike ride), thinking that having a race to train for would help me get back into routine. I built some base on the swim and bike, but wouldn't start actual training until June 1, after my son's Bar Mitzvah. 

In April, exactly six months after injuring myself with the Achilles, I began to run again. I still wasn't healed (and still am not, at the end of August) but both my podiatrist and the sports medicine doctor he referred me to told me I could resume running, that I wouldn't injure myself more.  Truthfully, it doesn't usually even hurt while running, just while at rest.  So I began a few tentative runs---starting with a mile, and not going over 3 miles.  Very slowly, very happily.

In May was my son's Bar Mitzvah. It was magic.  It was everything I could have hoped for as a mother, both in terms of how well he led the service and read from the Torah, to how fun the reception was.  It was definitely one of the top two weekends of my life (alongside my wedding weekend).

Training for the Chula Vista Challenge Half Iron Aqua Bike began in earnest on June 1.  I got a training plan from my dear friend Steve. I am proud to say that starting June 1, I hit EVERY SINGLE WORKOUT---all swims, all bikes, and even the runs (which weren't on the plan, but I snuck them in anyway).  For the first time in YEARS I had a new hunger for training; I looked forward to them.  Summer is traditionally hard for me to find time to workout, since the kids are home, but I did it.  During the week I had two bike rides, which I snuck in when my husband got home from work (since it was still light outside) or early morning.  Swims were easier, since the gym has daycaer, but I often went early in the morning before my husband went to work.  I found a new joy in biking, and with all my riding (two short ones in the week and one long one on the weekend) I actually got a little faster. I'll never be fast on the bike, but I improved. One route that I did once a week started out at 12.7 MPH overall; by the end, I was at 15.3.  For me, that's fast, and by any standard an improvement.  I also slowly stretched my running out---first to four miles, then five, then six.  By the time I got to nine miles, I decided to add the run portion in for the race, meaning that I would no longer be doing the aqua-bike, but the half-Ironman instead (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike ride and 13.1 mile run).

In recap, since my last blog post a lot has been going on.  A lot physically, both good and bad.  A lot in my family (mostly great!).  A lot in my life (I got  job---not ready to write about that yet though).  My next post will recap my recent race----but if you've read this far, thank you for letting me catch you up!

August 17, 2017



Is this thing still on?  Can anyone hear me?

I haven't updated my blog in over a year....which seems crazy.  There is no particular reason, except that it hasn't been a priority. I have had lots to write about in the past year---new races, new experiences with the kids, a new job for me----but I've yet to put pen to paper (er, fingers to keyboard, as it is ).  I'd like to change that.  I hope to update this over the next few months.  I likely have lost most of my readers, but I really write for myself. 

Stay tuned.  Posts are coming!