One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

I guess you are never really prepared for when the unexpected occur during your life. They seem to happen during the most inconvenient times too, huh? Last year when I was preparing for the Patriot Half, I stopped mountain biking. I could never forgive myself if I had an accident while mtn biking and could not train or complete the Patriot Half. I was somewhat a nervous nelly about doing anything that might cause harm to my body whilst training. Heaven forbid anything come between me, my training, and completing that race. Last week started off great. I got workouts in before heading to work. My t-runs after my rides have gotten faster, and I was feeling stronger all around. I’ve noticed significant improvement in my strength– thank you, strength training! All the extra core work and leg work has definitely been to my advantage. I’ve also found myself finding what nutrition plans tend to help, and those that negatively affect my training. I’ve seen a huge improvement in my swimming. I finished my first 3500 yard swim ever! Only 500 more yards, and I will be at the IM swim distance. Nothing beats feeling physically strong and good about how far you have come in training.

Training is really coming along.

Training is really coming along.

Not even 16 hrs after my strong swim, I found myself in the ER.  I woke up one night with horrible abdominal pain. The combination of pain and nausea was so intense all I could do was rock back and forth in a ball on the floor. After a couple hours, I told Kevin he had to bring me to the hospital. Never have I been in so much pain. Heck I do triathlons– triathletes are kings and queens at tolerating pain, right?!? CT scan after CT scan, with no conclusive answers as to what was causing the pain, I was admitted due to my high WBC count, to be seen by a surgeon. As time passed, my heart rate and temperature increased, and on-off sweating sessions began. Even with the IV pain meds, anti-nausea meds, and IV fluids, all I could do is hold Kevin’s hand and cry. We joked it was hard to keep me hydrated when all the fluids they pumped me with would come out of my body as tears.

Waiting in the ER...

Waiting in the ER…

The surgeon saw me early in the afternoon. At first, he said I might need surgery . If it was the appendix, it could not waitI. If it was something else, the gall bladder, etc, then surgery probably would not be needed. So, onto more tests. Through all of this all I could do was think about my training. Seriously, surgery? NOW? What sh*tty timing. Right after I was starting to feel really strong and good about how far I have come. At one point I wondered if the surgery–if I needed it–could be scheduled for August–after IMLP. Yes, incase you are wondering, IMLP means a lot to me right now. I even asked how long it would be before I could resume my normal activities if I was to have surgery. The answer: everyone is different, but it can be anywhere from three to six weeks.( Insert wide eyed emoticon here. ) Around 4:30pm, the surgical PA came in to tell me I was going to need surgery. It wasn’t the gallbladder. Even though they could not clearly see the appendix, they wanted to make sure everything was okay. Now, working as a nurse, I have seen my share of people going into surgery. Heck, I’ve even seen a lap-appe back when I was in nursing school (so neat!). But, the surgeries have never been on me. I have never been intubated, nor have a foley. I’ve never had anesthesia. You could say I was in a fever induced state of delirious shock.

After hearing I needed surgery. Who knew I was being photographed?

After hearing I needed surgery. Yes, I stayed in that position since I entered the hospital.

An hour later, I signed consents and the surgeon came to bring me to surgery. I met the anesthesologist and signed more consents. He explained what was going to happen. I know most of what happens during surgery, but hearing everything as a patient and not a nurse was worrisome.  In my profession, I have learned to keep tears at bay. You learn how to control your emotions. But in that bed, I wasn’t a nurse. I was a patient. I was in pain. And I was scared.  Despite the circumstances, before giving me an IV cocktail to help me relax, as the surgical team hovered around me, they helped me actually laugh about some things. Then, like clockwork and exactly how the anesthesiologist said it would happen, I transferred over to the surgical table in the sterile, bright lights of the OR, laid down, and as someone applied corticoid pressure, I swiftly fell asleep. I was warned that coming out of anesthesia can make you feel nauseas. Sometimes you feel happy. All I remember is opening my eyes and crying. I know, I know. I sound like a blubbering emotional mess. Well, I guess you could say that I was. I spent some time in the PACU and received some IV pain meds. They ended up taking out my appendix, and when I asked how it looked, the anesthesologist said, “Well, this is not in medical terms, but it looked nasty.” (I would later learn that had they waited to do surgery until the next morning, it would have been too late and my appendix would have ruptured, causing more serious complications.) I was then sent back to the floor to “get some rest.” (We all know that it is nearly impossible to get rest when you are in a hospital).

Post-op photo op

Post-op photo op

So, that is my story, of how despite the caution and care you take of yourself, things happen that are out of your control. And you just have to let them be. We cannot control everything in our lives. And if I had waited to go to the ER, things would have ended up being a lot worse than they are.

Gotta keep those lungs healthy.

Gotta keep those lungs healthy.

I am still in pain, but am home now. I can finally use a computer without feeling the urge to vomit. Each day it gets a little better. I’ve come to accept that it is okay to be in pain– it is not a sign of weakness as I (for some reason) thought it was. It never really dawned on me how having the abdominal muscles “messed with”  affects, basically, everything you do–from walking to bending to reaching to coughing and sneezing (ugh that is the worst!). Not to mention, the amount of gas you have. Note: I found that a warm compress to your shoulders really helps with all the gas you get. 

Lucky resting with me.

Lucky resting with me.

I’ve been able to sit up and walk around more with each passing day. We made a joke that I should make a Strava segment of the walk I do around my house. I would definitely be QOM of that segment after my walk today :-p My goal is to walk halfway down my driveway today, and tomorrow, walk all the way to the postbox. (We have a long driveway). Yeah, it stinks that I wanted to run a 5 mile race yesterday and couldn’t.It is hard seeing pictures of everyone enjoying the weather outside running and doing activities that I can’t do, and will not be able to do for awhile. Sitting outside in the sun, thinking about the biking I could be doing, or long runs I could be doing causes tears to well in my eyes. Through this harsh winter I pushed myself to do all those negative-degree runs, and hours on the trainer; to keep myself in shape with the dream of completing Ironman Lake Placid. It makes me sad to think of all the progress and steps forward in training I have done thus far, only to be forced to take steps backwards.

But I need to give it time–give my body time to heal properly, so as to not cause any further damage. My coach tells me I’ll get back to where I was in my training and to have heart; I still have time before IMLP.

I saw the below picture the other day and thought, you know what? I’m not going to give up. I’m not a quitter. IMLP means too much for me to simply give in. Life happens, whether we want it to or not, and I’m not going to let a small setback stop me from completing–or at least trying– to finished a full distance triathlon.

tumblr_mle4lt1siv1qm99efo1_500 This post is dedicated to my man, for being right by my side for those two long days…and apparently documenting the whole thing on his phone. 😉 And a huge thank you to my sister for driving up to see me. What would we do without family and friends? And, to everyone at NDH. What amazing care I received. 

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Was that a fish?

Lake Onteora

After who knows how many times I cancelled my open water swims due to work or fevers, today I finally had my experience swimming in a lake….Seven days before my race. Not too late at all, right? Don’t misunderstand me–I spent every summer of my youth at Lake George, so I’ve had plenty of fooling around and water play. Never, though, have I actually swam in a lake for swimmings sake (remember, up until November I swore I’d never swim). I was meant to do this last week, but the “mysterious disease” I’ve been suffering with for the past month would not allow it.

Today, at eleven o’clock, I met my coach once and for all at Onteora Lake which for people who are unfamiliar with the area, is somewhat close to the Ashokan Resevoir. Actually, if you are unfamiliar with the area, you have no idea what the Ashokan Resevoir is, so never mind. That comment was meant for people who do live in the area. I’m pretty sure there is a fair amount of mountain biking around the lake which I’ll need to check out once this dreaded race is over.

Here’s how my experience went:

I met my coach, who met me bright and early at a picnic table that is located next to the waters edge, carrying in her arms body glide, neoprene caps, a flotation device, and my wetsuit.

“You look tired, are you feeling okay?” Were her first words. I guess it’s obvious to nearly everyone I meet nowadays that I look like crap.

“Meh, not really, but I need to get into the Lake at somepoint before the race.”

My coach herself is doing a pretty popular, tough triathlon next weekend (and mountain bike race on Sunday—I want to be her) so she was going to watch me and not enter the water. After discussing my new baby and life, she went through the motions of putting on a wetsuit. I’ve only ever put a wetsuit on once before in my life and if you’ve never been in one before, it’s very…ehh… different. It took me about eight minutes to actually get into, even with the tri-spray D. used on the inside and body glide. The tri spray helps lubricate the inside of the suit, which makes it easier to take off. The body glide is for your wrists, neck, and ankles to help prevent chaffing.

“You have to inch your way with each leg, then the arms. At the race, you make lots of friends and will need to have someone zip you up. You are going to feel like you cannot breath at first in this, so that is a normal feeling,” D. said as she zipped the back of the suit up for me. There is a sequence that needs to be followed as to how you get into this suit. Holy crap, this is tight, and I cannot breathe at all!

Once the suit was on, I sat on the bench and put on my booties. Now, for race day, you need to remember in what order you put things on–if you put the booties on first and then the wetsuit, in transition, you need to remember to take the suit of first and then the booties. Apparently, Mooseman has people who help strip the wetsuits off you.

However, if you are doing a triathlon and the water is not 56 degrees, then you don’t even need to worry about wetsuits and hypothermia. I really have no idea why I chose to do a triathlon in New Hamphire at the beginning of the summer when the water temperature is in the 50’s. You know what, I really don’t know why I signed up for a half ironman distance triathlon either. I would strongly advise if you are going to try a triathlon, have your first one be (1) in warm weather so you don’t need to worry about a wetsuit and the feelings of claustraphobia associated with being in a suit that makes you have a better appreciation for batman and catwoman and any other superhero in skintight clothes and (2) don’t do a half IM distance one. Please. Listen to me. Sometimes I wonder if I will ever stop making silly mistakes, like signing up for insane races. Parts of me thinks I’ll have a normal thought process after this. And then there is a small part of me that will never learn. I’ll let you know how it goes in 20 years, if I survive Mooseman.

Back to wetsuit application. Once the booties were on,two caps and goggles, I followed D to the water where I continued to listen to her directions and try not to freak out because I felt like I could not breathe.

“Tie this around your ankle. Just incase,” She handed me the flotation noodle thing. Thank goodness she is prepared for if I possibly drown. The water was not too cold, and the fact I was sweating profusely in the skintight thick wetsuit helped me deal with the water temperature. As I tied the noodle to my ankle, I felt something nibble at my fingers.

“Ahh! I think a fish bit me!” I extracted my hand from the water.

“Ohh no! I should have warned you about the fish,” D. said.

My heart rate tripled. Not only was I going to drown, I was fish bait too.  No wonder I waited so long to enter this non-chlorinated water.

At first, I swam to the middle of the lake and back to my coach, mimicking how we would start the race. Then, my coach had me swim out for 5 minutes and then back to her, just enough to get used to swimming outside.

I started swimming when I heard my coach yell to me, “Molly, put your head under the water.”

I’m not sure it was because I’ve been sick and was afraid I would not be able to breathe under the water, the fact I could not expand my lungs enough to breathe in the wetsuit, my fear of what I would see in the murky darkness that loomed underneath me, or a combination of everything that stopped me from putting my head under the surface.

My wetsuit gear and tri suit

“Okayyyyy” I yelled back at her as I continued to keep my head above the water.

After another couple strokes I finally put my head in the water and began to swim normally. Stroke, stroke, stroke, breathe. Stroke, breathe. Stroke, look ahead and breathe. It took awhile to get used to the swimming rhythm, and despite the limited movement I had in my arms from the wetsuit (you are somewhat constricted in how you move your body in something really tight), I got back into my rhythm quicker than I thought. Mind you, I have not swam in a couple weeks due to the mystery illness, so it’s what I remember of my rhythm. It helped that the water was murky and I could not see too far ahead of me. When I almost reached the lake’s edge, I heard my coach yelling for me to come back. That’s when I turned around and realized that the breeze was facing me. I usually like breezes, but not when they cause currents in the water which you need to swim against, especially the first time you’ve ever swam in open water. That’s one nice thing about pool swimming–you don’t need to swim against currents. I was pretty sure seeing little waves coming towards me that I would never make it back, get really tired, and drown. But, eventually, I made it back to my coach.

“How was it?”

“Different,” I panted, out of breath.

“Okay, let’s go through what you’ll do at transition.”

I jogged back to the picnic table as I unzipped the back of the suit. Finally, expanded oxygenated lungs! The tri-glide and whatever other body lubricant I used for the inside of the wetsuit helped it slide off my body with more ease than attempting to get each of my large feet into it. My coach and I then continued to talk about transitioning and triathlons until it was time to leave.

I bundled up my two caps, wetsuit, booties and caps and balled them up on a towel in the back of my car.

“So this is it, Moll, you’re big race is in a week! Try to get a couple more OWSs in if you can, it would be best if you did not swim alone (uhh ohh, me having to wait for someone in order to do something?Not sure if that will be happening) and good luck! You’ll do awesome.” My coach stated as she got in her car.

To be honest, I could not be more anxious/scared/nervous about a race than I do now. My training these past couple weeks, as I’ve mentioned in a prior post, has been slacking do to exhaustion from working 12-15hr nights, lack of sleep, and sickness which I seem to be unable to get rid of. This race is freaking me out. Not necessarily the bike and run portions–I know I am capable of running and riding those distances. It’s the swim which terrifies me. Hopefully I’ll be able to breathe through my nose at somepoint before the race. I will keep you posted mid-week about further triathlon plans.

After a much needed nap, the grill was started up by X (yes, I have a grill and do not know how to use it. I do, however, know how to re-start a stopped heart if that makes you feel any better?) and we had a fabulous picnic feast outside in the humidity and heat.courtesy of Ironman events

So, Mooseman, after debating on whether or not I would actually go ahead and face you, it’s hard for me to give up. So, I’ll be seeing NH in a week!

I had this song in my head on the way to the water. It’s actually good for tempo keeping on a bike too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fuel for rides/runs

Remember a long time ago when I first started training for this race, and my coach said that the hardest part would come in April/May? Well, it’s April, and the training is harder than its ever been. And, the thought of mooseman in less than two months might actually make me cry

Today was my long ride/20min run, and it was a beautiful day for it. I did a new and I love riding places I’ve never been. It seems to make the time go by quicker. How was the ride, you ask? Nice for the first five miles.

At mile 40, I think I did have some tears in my eyes. How do people who compete in Ironman races actually ride more than 100 miles? The route I did (I attached the link to the map below) had some pretty nasty hills, and was suggested by my coach because, apparently, I need more hill work. I hate hills. You could not pay me ten dollars to ride up and down Turkey Hill Road more than once in a row…..Maybe if it was a thousand dollars, taxfree, I might.  I never realized that Dutchess/Columbia counties actually had hills. But, boy, do they have hills. And. for some odd reason, at the bottom of each hill when you would be speeding up to get as much speed to help in getting up the hill, there were workers at the bottoms directing traffic. So, I was never able to speed up on the decline before the incline. I had to STOP. Ugh. Slightly annoying.

It was  perfect riding weather–a little chilly at times when the sun disappeared behind the clouds, but it was nice. And my lungs and thighs ceased to be on fire for small amounts of time on the ride.

looking at the catskills- view from the church must be amazing.

At mile 50, I started getting hungry. So hungry that I began to fantasize about eating macaroni salad–you know the kind–with all the mayo and black olives and pieces of peppers. I have no idea why that food was what I was craving, because I hate mayonnaise, and do not eat pasta. But after 50 miles of hills and rolling hills and gradual inclines, that is what I wanted. And that’s all I could think about.

Mmmm Macaroni Salad

I’ve talked about this before, and I am going to say it again–the importance of supplemental energy when you are on long rides/long runs that last more than 60  minutes. Now, after trying my one shot of Gu last year and detesting it, I swore off any gu- containing products until I had a Shot Blok which I actually loved the night before the half marathon, especially the lemon flavored.

Gu is gross, but a life safer for sure.

After Turkey hill and other hills, after not eating anything before the ride except for consuming coffee, my stomach was starting to talk to me. Not talk, beg me for food. I stopped and searched my backpack for something…anything….because I had over 10miles left to go, only to find a Gu Energy shot–a Gu tirberry flavored shot- it was one of those free-be’s from another race I’ve done in the past. I was hesitant  to eat it, because the last one made me feel sick to my stomach. But I needed that extra boost.And since I was no where close to any place that would have macaroni salad, the shot would have to do. I think the drivers who passed me on Country route 6 headed to Nevis might have thought I was crazy, leaning over my handle bars and trying to eat the gu whist making faces because it was so odd tasting. As much as I hate it, it was a life saver for me because I needed something to eat as I was starting to tear up from so much hunger, and exhaustion (I have no idea how people complete full ironmans. Honestly, Moosman scares me. It’s so close and I don’t feel as prepared as I should.

I’ve talked about this before, and I am going to say it again–the importance of supplemental energy when you are on long rides/long runs that last more than 60  minutes. Now, after trying my one shot of Gu last year and detesting it, I swore off any gu- containing products until I had a Shot Blok which I actually loved the night before the half marathon, which I actually liked and then learned that they came be somewhat appetising, quick energy (preferable with caffeine).If you are going for a workout longer than 1 hr you should always bring something to eat or drink or chew that has some supplemental energy in it, esp sugars and sodium, because even if it is cold, you sweat, and can lose lots of sodium through that sweat. I wrote a post about this subject, so will not be redundant. But since you lose so much energy while working out, you need something, especially if it is longer than 60 miles.

56.68 mile route u p Turkey hill down to linthigo over to germantown, to Bard and home

Feeling  like you're the only one in the world

Feels like you are the only one in the world....

The below song was my motivating song to get me up and OOB to do this ride at 0900 when I usually am sleeping (man, working night shifts with being on your feet for 13hrs and training don’t really go well together. My feet do not really like 50 mile bike rides or any of that, or any of my training at the moment….) If you are a member of my family, you know I have every soundtrack known to man.

And now, off for my 11miler. Yes, it’s 0300. But no one will be on the roads.

How do you fuel up during rides/runs?

And So a New Chapter Begins…

Yesterday afternoon I made my way down to my old ‘hood of New Paltz to meet with the woman who will be training/coaching me for Mooseman in June. Yes, I said it, coach me. For the first time in my life, I have decided to actually train for something. I know in my other posts I’ve written about training. And, I guess it is safe to say that I have attempted to stick to training plans in the past, for marathons, or duathlons, but life just got in the way, and would throw my schedule out of whack and even though I’d continue to run and bike, they were never considered really training. I’ve touched upon that subject mutiple times in posts in the blogs. This daily look into the life of Molly will look at my first meeting with the woman who will whip me into triathlon shape, and prepare me for the hardest race I have yet to compete in.

After looking at different training plans, all of which are quite overwhelming, I came into contact with a fellow night shift nurse who trains for triathlons too. I knew it was possible for people with my schedule to participate in endurance activities (just a couple years ago, a local ER nurse won the S.O.S. Triathlon).  Knowing of someone who is training for the same distance race-a half IronMan, gave me even more hope that I will be able to compete in it.

Our meeting was super–my coach, D., was enthusiastic and full of energy, asking me about my prior races and about my life, trying to grasp a picture of who Molly is. We spend an hour together, going over how the training plans work. Unlike most training plans for ironman distance races, my training plan will be customized to fit my schedule. I told her, days I work, I dont have more than 1-2hrs to train if I want to get any sleep (since I have to work 12hr night shifts). I then told her on my days off I can train longer–3-4hrs. I’ll be giving her my weekly schedule and around that she will figure out when my run workouts will be, my biking, and my time in the dreaded pool. The weekly total of hours spend training will vary, between 10 and then 12 hrs closer to race day. I’m not sure if I am terrified of what I have gotten myself into, or excited, or a mixture of both.

Until next year (in Jan 2011), i’ll be working on base training, getting more time in the pool which is my weakest area of the swim-bike-run race. I might consider getting a coach to help with my swimming technique. Then come early spring, the real hardcore workouts will begin.

I am actually training for something. And I am terrified.

The training will actually start after Thanksgiving. Before then, I was given three tests to do, which can help give D. more information about the person she is working with.

1. I’ll need to do a 10mile time trial on my bike. The only time trials I know of are from watching the pro’s completing their time trials in the Tour De France. Move over Lance Armstrong, here I come! This is so she can get a feel for my speed and heart rate min/max/average throughout the trial.

I'll be getting lots of use out of my Garmin Forerunner

2. I’ll need to complete a one mile sprint, which I can do at Rhinebeck’s High School on their track (that was the first time I found out Rhinebeck has a high school track ). It just so happens D. spent years working out of Rhinebeck, so she knew exactly where I could go to do these tests. With this one miler, I’ll be clocking how fast the  mile is, as well as each lap is (one mile is four laps), and my max and min heart rate.

3. I’m to go to Bard and do 2x 1oo yard sprints at a perceived exertion of 8, time them, and, again, record what my min and max heart rate are.

I have only been in the pool three times in the last month, so this last test should  be really interesting. Even still, watch out Micheal Phelps!

Target Heart Rate Zones

It’s happening! My life for the next 6 1/2 months will be swimming, biking, and running.

When was the last crazy post written?

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