Spring in my Step.

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Where to start…

December 2013, was one of the hardest and most amazing months of my life.  While I had developed the most debilitating injury of my athletic career, I also embarked on a trip of a life time with the family to South Africa.  Bad and good.  Sometimes those world’s collide. In my case it was like a head on collision with the Acela Train!

Fast forward to April, 2014.  I’m trying to find the silver lining in this injury that has dropped me to my knees, left me in tears, and has changed me. I’ve withdrawn from races, the biggest one being Galveston 70.3 which takes place this Sunday and is one of my absolute favorites! Lemons to lemonade as my dear friend, Leslie said she did last year (and it obviously worked because this gal crushed IM 70.3 Oceanside this past weekend winning 45-49 and crushing all the 40-44 gals in the process)!  

So, Leslie wasn’t a cyclist (albeit she has Kona qualified a ton of times and raced 70.3 World’s too – so she obviously can ride).  She spent the last nine months surrounding herself with the top women cyclists out there in Cali (namely Julie Dunkle).  What she did was transform her cycling, Leslie became a cyclist and an amazing one at that.  So my achilles heal (no pun intended Leslie) is I am not a runner.  BUT RUNNING DOESN’T HURT!!  I can ride but I can only ride on the trainer (great power numbers too), but I am forced to stare at the ground because of the disc(s) injury in my neck (I need to see where I am going).  Swimming is also difficult due to the ridiculous amount of atrophy in my left shoulder, back and arm.  I can swim and am swimming, it’s just really slow.  So right now I work on form and consistency (2km three times a week seems to be about what I can handle).

BUT RUNNING DOESN’T HURT!! 

So JRM (coach extraordinaire) and I had a long conversation this week about a change of focus.  I have four solid years of Ironman training under my belt, two, sometimes even three IMs a year in the process, so I can step away from the bike for a little while and work on my running.  I’ve always, whimped out when I am racing the running part of triathlon.  Fear?  Who knows, but I want it and I want it really bad now.  I want to be a runner!

Take a look at just a few days of intense focus!

Tuesday, I did an EASY 6 mile run….I am listening to coach and running easy when I am told!

Wednesday, was a progressive run (no looking at the watch for pacing). The instructions were…Perceived Exertion but progress through the run…..SPOT ON!

Thursday, was 15 minutes off a very hard two hour stare at the ground ride which included 30, 20, 15, and 10 minute sets at 70.3 pacing….trust me the 15 minute run was easy, if I broke 9 minute miles that would be amazing, needless to say I am pretty confident I did not run more than 1.6 miles in that 15 minutes.  But coach said easy, so easy it was….and that prepared me for today’s track.

Friday….OH MY GOSH! Main set was 3×2 miles at 10K pacing (200m), threshold pacing (200m) repeat….I haven’t run like this ever, especially this early in the season.

ImageI took complete ownership of this place that has scared me time and time again.  I got in my car after the session and just smiled.  Even before looking at the file I knew I won!  

Lemons to Lemonade.

On another note, I’ve been listening to lots of new music.  I was in a Eric Church, Luke Byran, Miranda Lambert rut, and I am exploring stuff my girls are shocked I am listening to!  Take a listen to the teenage phenom Lourde, 17 years old seriously??

Finding new music can make you happy and help you see beauty in things you may have missed before.  I want to stop and smell the roses, I think I have been forgetting to do that lately.  But, with my new found love in my running, I have a SPRING IN MY STEP.

Lemons to Lemonade.

 

 

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Exercise is really the best medicine

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It really is the best medicine.

I’ve now been in pain for 10+ days, we are talking 10/10 scale at night; manageable pain 5/10 scale during the day.  Tomorrow, I will have my first ever cortisone shot.  I am scared to death it won’t work, and prevent me from our family Christmas vacation to Cape Town, South Africa and Krueger National Park for Safari.

I’ve been trying to find the silver lining in this dark cloud.  I was in such a good place with my training, especially my swimming.  I was seeing advancements in my stroke, pace and endurance; and for once was getting positive unsolicited compliments from people on deck and in the lane next to me.  But alas, when C5, 6, and 7 decided to rear their ugly boney process into my spinal column and onto a nerve, I was kicked straight out of the pool.

I have had NINE sleepless, restless nights.  I’ve gone from the bed, to the couch, to the chair, to the floor, and even attempted to sleep pressed up against the cold glass of the sliding glass door.  I’ve taken Vicodin (at night); only to get three hours of sleep with insanely vivid, weird, creepy dreams; and then wake at midnight, to then begin the long agonizing wait until 4am when I could “justify” eating breakfast.

But, ironically in all the madness of this pain, I can RIDE my bike. Now, I must preface, I need to ride a trainer.  If I attempted to ride outside, no doubt I would crash because I have lost a great deal of strength in my left arm due to the nerve impingement.  But on the trainer, I lock and load, get aero (and apparently take the pressure off the nerve) and I can ride.  I’m actually putting out wattage numbers I usually see when I am in peak form.  The rides are good, I feel strong and my mind gets out of the cave.  The positive juices flowing when I am riding, have to be helping in the long run, well at least mentally.  On Tuesday, I tried running off the bike even just for 10 minutes, and 10 led to 11 and 11 led to 12, and before I new it I had run 30 minutes. I was slow, but ok.  I concentrated on form, cadence, posture and foot strike.  And because I did this, for 30 minutes, I didn’t focus on the pain.

The MRI on Wednesday, confirmed I needed a cortisone shot.  Everything was so inflamed, but my doc (who is also an athlete) said continue with my exercise.  It’s what my body needs, and if it doesn’t hurt, then it will actually do me good.

Saturday I rode for 2 hours with a 4×15 minute segment that was stellar, HR under control, watts through the roof!  And then yesterday I ran 1:15 and felt really good.  I even said to Jeff maybe I don’t need the shot….but then at midnight, when I was tossing and turning, and walking and pacing around the house, I knew I did.

This morning I stumbled on an article, that Lisa Van Dore posted on Facebook and the timing was perfect.  Exercise is the best medicine.

So, tomorrow I will get my cortisone shot, and keep my fingers crossed that I am hopping on a jet plane on Thursday evening with the family.

Defying Age

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As a woman, and a woman in the latter half of her forties, I find my self trying very hard to defy age.  Is it human nature? Or is it my nature?  Today at lunch, Jeff asked me how I stay motivated…..I should probably rewind for a moment.

Today, I woke up at 4:10am, and rather than fluff my pillow and roll over for another hour, I stumbled quietly out of bed, grabbed my “daylight” machine and went into the kitchen to begin my morning routine.  By 6am, I was already on my bike mashing out the watts, dripping wet with sweat, and downing Scratch to Eric Church’s new album.  By 8:15, I was done with my 75 minute bike session and 6 mile run, and wondering which part of my schedule I would accomplish first.

By 11:30, I was ready for lunch, Jeff had called and we met up at our favorite lunch spot The Street.  Our lunch conversation turned to motivation and what propels us? Me?

My knee jerk response was, “what else am I going to do?”

But on the drive home I started to think about what drives me? What motivates me? Why do I do what I do for countless hours, many of which are lonely.  I was alway active after college, I never really fell into the mom only mode, I had to be doing something.  I owned every apparatus one could to stay active with the girls. I had the baby jogger, the Kelty back back, then the double baby jogger. There were hikes, runs (aka jogging – silent J) and power walks with the girls; but it wasn’t until Jeff signed up to do a duathlon in 2001 in Rye, NH, that I took the “chance” and signed up to do the 5K.

It’s funny when you are competitive by nature, and you are given the small taste of “glory” it can spark a lifetime of change.  I received a small medal that day in June 2001, and it prompted me to sign up for many more 5ks over the years…and in 2004 I did my first triathlon, at the Danskin All Women’s Tri.  Wow, have I transformed.

So back to defying age.  I look at the image I try to maintain. I eat healthy, take copious amounts of supplements, get the proper rest and recovery, and try to be a role model not only for my girls but for the many women in our community and beyond, who too, will take that “chance” and sign up for a 5k.  Am I defying age, absolutely.  But age is only a number on a calendar, it doesn’t reflect how we feel about ourselves and our environment.  There are days when I feel ridiculously old, when I have to hold the cell phone so far from my face to read the text message my daughter just sent me about staying after school. Then there are days when I feel like an absolute teenager, riding my bike down a crazy steep hill and doing it with confidence!  It also helps when two of your best friends are 28 years old.

But as I look at how I transformed my body since 2001, almost 14 years later, I know I have defied age. I’ve added years to my life by the choices I have made to be healthy and strong, both physically and mentally.  And while I don’t always agree with the face staring back at me in the mirror, I respect and treasure every line there is….each one holds a story.

So here you have my defying age moment from this past weekend….

*2001  38   2/10   F3034   24:45   7:58 KATHLEEN DONATELLO      32 F YORK            ME   
*2013  26   1/15   F4049   21:31   6:56 KAT DONATELLO           45 F ELIOT           ME