Tuesday, July 31, 2012


Phew.  Only a few more hours left in July.  I should be able to make it through without any more bodily harm.  What in the world is up with me and July???  Judging from the last 3 July's, next year I should probably just hide under a rock or lock myself in a padded room for 31 days.

Remember 2 years ago?  July brought my first round with plantar fasciatis, and some badly sprained toes.

Last year?  Nasty case of shingles.

And of course, this July brought the intercostal pain and a stress fracture.

I probably should have thought about my July bad luck before I signed up for this next July......

But bad
I couldn't help myself!!  Placid has always been on my Ironman "bucket" list - loads of climbing on the bike and some awesome descending.  Warm-er water.  Plus I have never been to that part of New York so I'm very excited!

Bad luck comes in 3's (like plane crashes right?) so next July I will be perfectly healthy and butterflies will surround me as I run along in fields of wildflowers.  But I won't trip or fall.  And I'm not allergic to wildflowers or butterflies.  I think.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Ironman Broke Me

Dear Gawd, where do I even start this post??  Let's see, I left off with the whole intercostal/ab pain on my right side.  I vaguely mentioned a chest X-ray.  And I don't think I said anything about a sore foot.  Where to begin.....

These last few weeks have been oh so tough for me!  But, before I go wallowing in any type of self-pity and poor poor me.......the troubles that I have been experiencing are NOTHING/TRIVIAL compared to what happened - the tragedy - in my town on Thursday night.  So, really, I know this is just my core.  Just my foot.  But - I do have my health, my family and friends, my dog, my house, my athletes - I can go on and on here about all the GOOD in my life!

OK, let's just sum up the whole Portland "incident".  An ER visit, a healthy gallbladder, good pain meds and a chest X-ray that showed a spot on my left lung.  What?  The big "C" scare sure put the ab pain in perspective.  But it was something else that was wrong with me.  Waiting for the results of the follow-up CT Scan was horrible.  All the what-ifs.  What if I have CANCER?  What happens?  What if I have to have a biopsy?  What if what if what if what if.....I was a wreck waiting to hear!  Finally I got the call that it was clear.  Phew!  But wait, the CT Scan revealed a small lesion on my liver (I believe they said it had the CU logo stamped on it) so that ordeal is not yet over.  I'm waiting for the ultrasound that was taken in Portland to be sent to my doc but getting records released has been a huge pain in the arse.

While all this was happening, I had pain in my right foot.  I had taken a full week off after CDA and reluctantly (because mentally I wasn't ready) went for a run on day 8.  Besides being pathetically slow with an outrageously high heart rate, the top of my foot was a bit achy.  I thought it might have been related to my shoes being laced too tight in CDA.  Day 9 I went out for another little run, same pain but it didn't stop me.  Day 11?  Stopped me with mucho pain at mile 1 and had to hobble back to my car.  WTF?

Over the last 2 weeks, I have been treated for the ab pain and the foot pain.  Finally I freaked out and had an X-ray done on the foot.  Inconclusive.  Had another one done a few days later.  Still negative for a stress fracture.  But, Dr. Ken and Dr. Stull decided to treat it like a stress fracture.....you know....looks like a stress fracture, acts like a stress fracture (3rd metatarsal).  I've never had one before so I don't know if this is how it feels.  I've been in the boot for the last week and although I absolutely loved Dr. Stull and his positive outlook, I am definitely out of Boulder.  So bummed as that was my one local race!!!

As you might imagine, no swimming and no running makes Michelle a very unhappy girl (as I type this all I can think about is Jack Nicholson in The Shining).  Hubs always seems to have a glass of vino waiting for me. PIC took me out for a Boulder day last week and that was an awesome break.  There was a nice long ride (and cinnamon rolls) to Glen Haven on Friday with PIC and new friends Jocelyn and Jeremy.  Well not really Jeremy cuz we roll way too slow for him.  And tomorrow the Vail/Aspen/Vail adventure begins with this same crew.

It's also been a constant question of - what did I do wrong?  Everything went extraordinarily well in the build-up to CDA.  I hadn't been sick since a minor cold in February.  No injuries.  I followed the Dirkinator plan to the "T".  I.Was.Healthy.  There are no answers for now but I will keep looking for them!  But I did lay it all down in CDA - I pushed myself harder than I had in my previous Ironmans.  Thank goodness my pain cave was well decorated since I spent some quality time in there.  Ironman broke me:(

There is some good news though!  I swam 2800m today!  And with minimal discomfort.  A HUGE shout out to Stephanie Shober at Whole Health Center.  Some wonderful people commented after my last post and recommended acupuncture (thank you!) so I went to see my dear friend (and acupuncturist) Steph.  Immediate relief on my intercostal/ab stuff!!  After the 1st appointment I was finally able to breathe deeply without pain.  Wow!  Now I am almost pain/discomfort free:)  I know I'll be all healed up as soon as I can sleep on my left side without waking up with an ouch.

To sum up July (so far):
1 ER Visit
1 Ultrasound
1 Chest X-ray
1 CT Scan
2 Foot X-rays
Another potential ultrasound 
Countless caregiver appointments

Boulder is out, Vegas is still in play, and the big goal is Kona.  My foot is healing (I think??), my side is good, I'm sure the liver thing-y will be fine.  No whining. Life is good:)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Aftermath

I've got lots of time on my hands these days so pull up a chair, pour a large cup of coffee or crack open a beer or electrolyte drink, and get ready for a long one.....

After CDA, I was ecstatic to do nothing, nada, zilch, not a thing for at least a week.  The Dirkinator had suggested sending a schedule out on the Thursday after the race and I politely declined.  A full week of no training and just recovering was what I needed.  And it was just a bit more than that too.  The reality of starting IM training again.  So soon.  I hadn't factored that into my Kona goal.  Just one week.  That's all I wanted for a mental and physical recharge.  Well, more mental since the recovery process is still in the works!

Sooooo, what does one do without a full training schedule?  And kids out of school?  Playtime!!  Once I was able to walk (ha), the girls and I did some fun hanging out.  Movies, Jumpstreet (I watched, not jumped), WaterWorld with PIC and Annie, Dairy Queen, frozen yogurt (will this heat wave ever end), pool time, water balloon fights. It was fun!!
Another blue ribbon at a track meet for Charlotte!
Then a week later it was time to start getting back into the training frame of mind.  A run and a bike that day were nothing less than UGLY.  The next day's run was a bit better and my swim felt OK.  I knew it was going to hard to get going again mentally but the first 2 days were brutal.
Thanks Crowie for stopping by Kompetitive Edge!!

Oh, how things change!!

Last Thursday, PIC and I left home for Portland, OR to join the awesome Rev3 team to get the Rev3 Portland event set up for Sunday's Olympic and Half races.  I had the opportunity to work with this amazing crew back in May for the Knoxville race and though I worked sooooooo hard, it was an awesome experience.  So I was really looking forward to this trip.  The staff are top notch and it truly feels like a second family.  Plus, for this race I was assigned new duties - Bike Course Coordinator.  It sounded fun and a bit challenging because really, I know how to RIDE a bike course, not SET up a bike course!!  By the way, if you haven't participated in a Rev3 race yet - why???  You are missing out on a fantastic event!!
My favorite part of setting up the bike course??  Yep, sampling the fresh berries!
But this trip had more "excitement" than I could have possibly imagined.  See, on Thursday night as I lay down in my hotel bed I experienced something that has really never happened to me.  Like, severe pain in my abdomen.  So bad that I was unable to move, roll on my side, get out of bed and take deep breaths.  PIC was asleep in the next bed but I knew she needed sleep so I just lay there whimpering.  About an hour later, the pain finally let go enough for me to fall asleep. The next morning came around and though my side was sore, I was able to get to work.
Oh the duties of cleaning up the bike course.  That's Tony sweeping up a deer carcass with a god-awful smell.  I just took the picture.

But Friday afternoon it happened again as I was driving the course with my fellow course coordinator Tony.  I didn't let him in on what I was experiencing and he probably thought I was just getting lazy since I was no longer putting out signs and marking arrows.  Once again, an hour later it released and I was kind of OK.  PIC put in a call to her sister-in-law who is a resident at a hospital in Oregon and I spoke to her about my symptoms.  Gallbladder is the term that came up.  Google gallbladder and the symptoms listed were quite similar to what I was going through.  It was decided that if it happened again, I would head to the ER.

Unfortunately, Saturday afternoon brought the same issues but this time they lasted....for several hours. And that's when PIC's and my relationship went to the next level.  Our first trip to the ER together!!  Now, we always have a good time together and we always can laugh at any situation but laughing made me hurt!!  And it was almost impossible to not make me laugh in this situation!!  The "eye candy" in the waiting room was just too much - trying to figure out people's stories.  But as soon as I start to laugh she would say "dead puppies" as if that would make me stop laughing.  Fun in the ER.  Oy.

To thank PIC for being there with me in the ER is really just not enough.  It's kind of scary when you don't know what's going on but she made it bearable.  She was exhausted from working and we both knew it was going to be an incredibly long night/day without sleep.  But she was just smiling, tucking in my blankets and taking awful pictures of me.  Plus I think she really enjoyed seeing me on morphine.  Thank you PIC:)
29 was my number.  Not my race number, my ER number.

And not a race bracelet.  Don't laugh, morphine was involved. 

To make a long story not as long, blood tests, ultrasound, chest X-ray, and 4 hours later......it was determined my gallbladder was just fine.  Discharged with some awesome pain meds.  And absolutely no idea what was wrong with me.

We got back to the hotel at 3 in the morning and I was meeting Tony at 5 to drive the course again.  And PIC had to be up just a few minutes after that.  There was really no question of me not working.  My gallbladder was fine, the morphine was still working its magic and there was a race to put on.  Suck it up buttercup!

On the bike course, some lovely individuals did some work the previous night.  Some signs had been re-located.  Duck taped arrows on the ground had been pulled up.  Caution signs were taken down.  Even more fun were that some directional signs had been replaced with signs that had arrows going the wrong direction.  That's the reason we drive the course in the morning.
After the race the clean-up starts and let me tell you, that is where the real work begins!  Even after 1.5 hours sleep, I was ready to work.  It's amazing what adrenaline, lasting morphine effects and caffeine can do to keep you going.  But that's when Eric (race director extraordinaire) put his foot down and sent me back to my hotel room.  That's pretty much my worst nightmare - being sent home because my body isn't working correctly. So while I didn't like the instructions, I filled my pain med prescription and went to bed.

Now I'm back home and have seen a couple of doctors and have some answers.  My gallbladder is fine.  My pancreas is fine.  So are my kidneys and liver.  But there are some muscles in that area that are not fine.  Going back to the swim portion of CDA, I breathed to the right every stroke.  Something I NEVER do.  I'm a bilateral breather but the conditions at CDA and my condition at CDA caused me to change my stroke.  And that really pissed off my ribs, external obliques and intercostal muscles.  They are in spasm.  They are incredibly tight - like a tendon.  And since they are somehow connected to the ribs (I'm not a doctor, I just play one on TV) it is causing my breathing issues.  Of course, these are also the stabilizing muscles in your core so it pretty much effects every movement.  Cool huh?

I'm due for a CT scan at the end of the week for some other checks and am on injured reserve currently.  I'm trying not to freak out and have already written off Boulder 70.3.  I was allowed to do 20 minutes on the stationary bike yesterday.  Today may bring (wait for it) an HOUR on the trainer!  Maybe even ride my bike outside tomorrow!  No swimming or running yet.  And if all goes well, an outside ride Friday!!!!  And maybe, hopefully, please please please, I'll be able to resume real training soon.

Now you know why I have so much freakin' time to write such a long post!!!

Monday, July 2, 2012

IM CDA - The Run

Coming out of transition I was wondering where my body was at.......was I sore?  Stiff? Tired?  Hurting?  By the time I hit the street, I knew I felt pretty good - I had decent legs.  But I had a big task at hand.  Run the marathon.  One of my top goals for this Ironman was to just run the marathon.  No stopping, no walking, no wimping out.  And that's a tough order!  I was basically asking myself to ignore every single ache and pain and discomfort and whatever else to keep moving forward.  The body just begs you to stop during the marathon and put an end to the craziness. How tough could I be today?  So far, I'd had an "interesting" swim and a great bike.  I needed to nail this run to secure my Kona slot.
Coming out of T2 with my new best friend #1494 (at least for the next mile)

The volunteers told me I was 3rd in my age group coming out of T2.  Clearly I had miscounted on the bike.  Oh well, there goes that slot!  But, the finish line was still 26 miles away and a lot can happen during that time.  So I ignored that and got to the business of running.  Yes, my body felt good, as in I could run, but I did not feel good.  I could tell I was going to have some tummy issues to deal with.

Once again, I was running up that awesome spectator lined street.  There was all kinds of cheering going on and once people figured out I was a girl I got all sorts of love.  I guess I need to wear more pink - the Newtons aren't enough:)  After the first mile, I got some clarification on my status.....I was third overall age grouper.  OK, I like that!!  But no matter, I need to run and not think about my placement or what it may or may not mean.

The run course is beautiful.  Starts out in town, then winds around a neighborhood and ends up on a path next to the lake.  There's a nasty steep hill that would have to be dealt with twice.  Miles 1 and 2 went by fine just not as fast as I had hoped but I settled into a pace that seemed maintainable.  I had a nice pick-me-up when the same girl from the bike passed me and told me I rocked the ride.  Then 3 or 4 other guys around said the same thing - congratulating me on a great ride.  I hadn't thought my ride was that spectacular but it felt really good to have these athletes go out of their way to say something to me - thank you:) My pace picked up after that and I felt fairly light-footed going up the hill.  The first out and back I was able to see pro friend Beth and say hi, wave to the always smiling teamie Katie B. and see some other friendly faces.  PIC and I low-fived and I figured she would catch me at around the halfway mark.

My tummy issues hadn't resolved so I was just managing.  There was 1 porta-potty stop.  When I felt good, I tried to pick up the pace. If I started to feel bad, I would slow just a bit to see if it would pass.  I had a big cramp that hit about mile 9 and I dealt with that the same way.....slow down, don't stop, breathe into it and let it release.  By mile 10 it was gone and I was able to really run the downhill into town.  This stretch was awesome despite the cramp since I was able to see lots of the Colorado contingent on the run - Keith, Peter, Randi, Kirsten, Justin and many others!  It's always a lift to see your friends.
Pretty hilarious sign!  
Finally at mile 12 I heard footsteps behind me.  A quick glance to the side and I saw red - PIC was there!  Yippee!!!  I was in another low point and struggling just a bit but she (as always) had some very encouraging words.  She told me to be tough and keep fighting and then made sure I had heard her.  This was exactly what I needed.  Michael confirmed that I was leading the age group when I passed him but he made it sound like second place was a bit closer that I was comfortable with and that she was running 1:30 faster per mile.  Uh oh.  Down the hill to the turnaround, up the hill to start loop 2.  Where was the aid station?  I need aid!!  For some reason there wasn't an aid station at mile 13 and it was getting warm.  I had ditched my hand bottle (it was now warm and gross) and needed something wet and cold.  Crap....this could be a problem. Approaching the aid station I made a quick deal with myself - I could walk this station and take in as much as I could and start running again right away.

I wish I could say that that was the only aid station I walked but it wasn't, I walked another 2.  There was also one more porta-potty stop.  I now had 6 miles left and I was determined to run to the finish.  And any smiling that I was doing was pretty much done now. There was the business of finishing to contend with. The counting down of miles and minutes started....5 miles left I can run that far.  3 miles left, you are almost done.  My quads up to this point were sore and getting more sore by the mile and with just 3 miles left they had had enough.  They started seizing up on me but I saw the 24 mile sign.  Just keep running.  It's amazing the tunnel vision that happens those last few miles.  The pain for me was just about unbearable but all I could think about was the finish line.  I know people were cheering for me and I just needed to finish.  The final stretch is really really really long, my watch had clicked 26 miles before the turn and I'm sure it was more than .2 to the finish.  But there it was.  Finally. The huge bottle of Perform, the carpet, Mike Reilly saying my name, and the finish line.  I slapped some hands, smiled, clapped and celebrated my finish!!
Happy happy ouch ouch

Run: 3:54:25 (3rd in age group)
Overall: 10:41:23 (1st age group, 9th overall)

And then I came to a stop and thankfully the catchers were right there because my legs basically gave me a big middle finger and said that they had enough.  I was sort of coherent and when asked whether I wanted food or medical I went to med.  They laid me out on a lawn chair and took care of me.  Since I had peed at mile 14 I really didn't need a bag so they wrapped me up, iced my legs and brought me broth.  Big brother Anthony was there as well and we sat together and talked - it was awesome.  Then PIC found me and we had our reunion:)

So, I'm going back to Kona!!! A huge thanks to my sponsors and my coach and my family (my main supporters/sponsor).   Coach (the Dirkinator) laid out the plan to get here and I committed to it whole-heartedly. Kompetitive Edge always has my back - fixing my bike, getting me what I need to keep training, and generally taking care of me:)  Ron at Punk Rock Racing is da bomb!

Of course, reality has set in - I'm going back to Kona and it's only 13 weeks away!  YIKES!!!