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 I’ve withdrawn from races, the biggest one being Galveston 70.3 which takes place this Sunday and is one of my absolute favorites!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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Where’s Waldo? I mean Kat? Part 1

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I last checked in on December 16, life was in a flux state, as I was dealing with what I consider the worst injury in all my years and preparing for a half way around the world trip of a life time with the family.

I received my epidural steroid injection (mental note…costly and ineffective, but I won’t go there right now) on the 17th, and left for London, England/Cape Town, South Africa on the 19th.

As Thursday approached, I was getting some relief, not from the shot; but from the multitude of drugs (bad choice) I was taking. I was actually really excited to fly Richard Branson’s airline, Virgin Atlantic.  Unfortunately, it started like this….

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I have to say, in all my years of travel, I have never sat next to the toilet for 7 hours.  I never ever will again.  I have a wonderful family, who made sure, they had their earplugs and eye masks securely fastened so they didn’t have to hear and see me moan and groan about:  

  1. the neck, shoulder and arm pain
  2. the constant stream of visitors to said toilet

We arrived in London for a whirlwind 12 hour stop, to dine, do some tourist things and visit Will and Kate (but the doors were locked).

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London is a beautiful albeit expensive city.  I am looking forward to going back and taking in all the sights over the course of a few days and not just twelve hours.  Jeff secured a day hotel for us to shower (get in pjs) and prepare for the 12+ hour flight to Cape Town. Back on VA, with a much better (more leg room) seat and far away from the rest room, we settled in for a long evening ahead.  I actually slept thanks to the medical advice from my nurse friends….how many painkillers and glasses of wine will knock you out, but won’t kill you required precise mathematical skills (or so they said).  All I know is I woke to the smell of coffee, which meant, breakfast was being served and we would be landing in a couple of hours.

Up next….Cape Town South Africa!

 

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.