Wednesday, April 30, 2014

I Want My Mom Back

“There is something about losing your mother that is permanent and inexpressible – a wound that will never quite heal.”  Susan Wiggs

My mom’s Alzheimer’s is progressing.  It’s not anything alarming such as her not knowing who I am or wandering off, it’s the little things.  She becomes confused more easily, sometimes it is difficult for her to follow a conversation, and she is repeating herself more often.  It is heartbreaking to watch my mom slowly drift away.  Even at 40 years old, I need my mom.

I need her to help me deal with the recent passing of a friend and fellow competitor.  I am having a difficult time accepting that my friend is gone.  Prior to her becoming ill, she was the epitome of total wellness.  She had a radiant, infectious smile that would make her stand out in a crowd.  She was an accomplished runner and triathlete, a personal trainer, and a coach.  She set the example on how one could live a healthy and active lifestyle in spite of having diabetes.  She encouraged others to pursue a life of health and fitness by stepping out of their comfort zones.  She and I competed in several races together; I will miss seeing her at races.

Initially I didn't tell my mom about my friend’s passing, but she knew something was wrong with me.  When I told her, she tried her best to console me, but she had to keep asking me the same questions repeatedly to fully grasp our conversation.  It hurts to see my once strong, independent mother become more and more childlike.  She is completely dependent on me.  I didn't think our lives would be like this. 

My mom and I have been best friends ever since I moved out after my junior year in college.  We both lived very independent lives, but we stayed connected by talking on the phone almost every day, sometimes several times a day.  I could call her day or night, and she would be there to listen, to offer a word of wisdom, and pray over me if needed.  And if I was in the wrong, she would tell me.  My mom had no problem showing me tough love! 

I thought she and I would go through life in our traditional mother/daughter roles, but that is not the case.  I am now the mother and she is the daughter.  It is my responsibility to protect her, keep her safe, and enhance her happiness.  I have no issues taking care of my mom, but I would be lying if I said I was not reluctant taking on the mother role. 

Early in my marriage I decided that I did not want to have children unless my husband wanted them.  Fortunately for me, my husband did not want children either.  Please understand, I love kids, but I never really had that desire to be a mom.  Furthermore, children are a huge responsibility and they are completely dependent on you for who knows how long.  I enjoyed the freedom and flexibility of being married without children.  Now that my mom has Alzheimer’s, things have changed.  I can no longer get up and go.  I have to make sure things are in place so that my mom is ok while I am gone.  She is completely dependent on me.

I manage her finances, medications, doctor appointments and pretty much any other aspect of her life.  I have to know her medical history, allergic reactions, and what medications she is taking.  I practically have to think for 2 people.  Usually I can handle the responsibility, but some days it’s just overwhelming.  And I don’t know how I am going to handle if and when things get worse.  One thing I know for sure, I do not want my mom to die of Alzheimer’s.  I pray God will transition her before she becomes a complete non-functioning shell of herself.

Until that time comes I will do the best I can to look after my mom and enjoy those glimpses of her that appear more often than not.  I know I can’t turn back time nor is there a cure for Alzheimer’s, but I wish I could have my mom back.  I need her.  

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Redemption, Progression, and Determination

“Your attitude, not our aptitude, will determine your altitude.”  Zig Ziglar

I know, I know, I know….this post is way overdue.  I definitely need to do better.  So to be economical I’m combining all 3 race reports into this post.  As always, thanks for reading.

Redemption – Monticelloman Olympic Triathlon – 3:32 (May 5)
The first time I attempted this race I DNF’d.  I did not make the swim’s 50 minute time cut-off.  After having my pity party, I was determined to come back and redeem myself.  The morning of the race I was feeling pretty confident as my husband and I traveled to the race site.  My confidence soon faded as I made my way to the transition area and saw Lake Monticello.

Fear and self-doubt rushed through me.  A part of me was ready to turn around and go back to my friends’ house.  I was afraid that I was going to DNF again.  Once I finished setting up my transition area and getting my stuff for the swim, I walked over to my husband.  He could see I was on edge and began giving me one of his pep talks.  When we got to the beach, my husband held me close and said a prayer over me and all of the participants. SN – I LOVE my husband! 

The race began with the United Athletics team of Jenna and Craig.  Jenna is a very special young lady who has been partnered with Craig to race with her in her first open water tri.  Jenna sits in a raft and Craig pulls her through the water as he swims.  It made my heart full watching them take off.  It also distracted me from my own nervousness.  One by one each wave entered the water.  When it was time for my wave to go, I waited for everyone to get in the water first.  I took a deep breath, walked into the water, and started the swim.

At the beginning of my swim parts of John 14:27 (Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid) kept going through my mind.  I didn’t have a panic attack and I actually found myself enjoying the swim.  The only concern I had was making the 50 minute time cut-off.  So I pushed myself a little bit more than I should have, but I didn’t care.  My only goal that day was completing the swim.  Anything else was gravy.  When I exited the water I raised my hands in the air, thanked God, and kept screaming, “No DNF for me!”  I made it through the swim in 45:01!

I had some trouble during the very hilly bike, but that was because I had pushed a little too hard during the swim.  I was able to regroup and have a solid run (1:05).  Overall I was very pleased with myself.

All Smiles!

Progression – Ground Force IT Power Sprint – 1:24 (May 19)
This was my breakout race!  I improved my time for all 3 disciplines.  I am the most proud of my swim and bike splits.  I dropped my swim time by almost 3 minutes from the previous year.  Thanks to my sponsor, CycleOps, I have been using my trainer to get more comfortable in aero.  I was able to hammer it and average a pace of 18.24 mph over the 12 mile course.  This race proved to me that I definitely have potential to be a competitive triathlete.  It also confirmed that my hard work combined with my weight loss was paying off.

 Going Fast!

Determination – Ironman 70.3 Raleigh – 7:42 (June 2)
Raleigh truly broke me down.  The race was an uphill battle from the start!  The swim was in Jordan Lake and the course was triangular shape.  I was hoping that the water would be calm like Lake Monticello.  It was for the first 1/3 of the course, but once I came around the first turn buoy, I felt like I was swimming in a washer machine.  The water was so choppy!  I really had to focus on my stroke to make sure I was pulling through the water effectively and efficiently.  Furthermore, I had to sight more than usual to make sure I did not get off course.  Unfortunately there were some people that had a very difficult time during the swim.  I saw people going off course, while others were asking for assistance from the numerous kayakers. 

I would be lying if I stated that I was not worried about DNF’ing because of the swim.  I had to pop-up once because the water had gotten so chaotic and I had felt a panic attack coming on.  Once things had calmed down, I went right back at it.  There were people grabbing on to me and bumping me.  I pushed several people off of me.  This swim was not ideal for someone like me who manages swimming induced panic attacks.  By God’s grace and me keeping my wits about me, I was able to complete the 1.2 mile swim in 59:38.  My goal was to complete the swim in an hour.  Goal accomplished!

Besides having to deal with the brutal heat, I enjoyed the first 36 miles of the bike course.  The course contained rolling hills with some flat stretches that I could really hammer on while in aero.  The last 20 miles… big hill after another.  I did my best to use the momentum from the previous hill to get up the next hill.  I’m so glad that I spent the extra money to rent race wheels.  They definitely made a difference.  I have started a race wheel fund and I will gladly take donations. 

I was so glad to see T2!  I wanted to be off my bike even though I was not looking forward to 13.1 miles I had to run next.  As I started the run I realized how drained I was.  The day had gone from being comfortable to downright hot.  I know the temperature had risen up to 90+ degrees during the bike.  The sun had literally been beating me down.  About 5 minutes into my run my beloved coach ran up beside me.  She told me how proud she was of me and that I was doing so well.  She ran with me for almost a ½ mile and dropped off.  One of my teammates, Travis, took her place and ran with me for a bit.  Travis told me my swim split and said that my bike split was good too.  Knowing that I had decent splits gave me a short-lived boost.

It was so hot on the run course, I think I saw Satan trying to find shade, and the hills just kept coming one after another.  Even though my body wasn’t hurting, my brain was.  It kept trying to make my body stop, but I kept pushing forward.  I had gotten too far into the run when I started to break down mentally.  I did not see how I was going to make it through the run.  I was ready to throw in the towel and give up.  Fortunately for me that run course was an out and back.  So as my faster teammates were nearing the end of the run, they would pass by and encourage me.  One of teammates, who I call Grumpy Jon, really surprised me.  When he saw he ran across the road and said, “I’m so glad that you made it through the swim.”  He then gave me a big hug and asked me how I was doing.  I started to cry and told him I didn’t think I was going to make it.  He told me to “harden the f*ck up” and that I was going to be fine.  He slapped me on my butt and sent me on my way.  That was my turning point. 
I knew I wasn’t going to make my goal for the run and that I would have to adjust my run/walk ratio.  I accepted those facts and just took the race one mile at a time.  I made numerous deals with myself.  I would allow myself to walk in the sun as long as I ran in the shade.  I could walk up the hills as long as I ran down the hills.  I stopped at EVERY waterstop to make sure I stayed hydrated.  As each mile passed I noticed I was not the only that was walking.  There were groups of people walking together, encouraging each other.  I was not the only one suffering.  The heat was wrecking havoc on just about everyone.  Knowing that brought me comfort.

With less than 2 miles to go I heard this cowbell.  Normally I would not have paid it any mind, but I looked to see who was ringing the bell.  It was my husband!  One of my other teammates had told him I had been crying on the course, and he felt it was his duty as my husband to find me on the run course to see if I was ok.  He ran/walked with me for several minutes while ringing his cowbell, giving me encouragement, and talking crazy to distract me.  At one point during our run/walk I told him if he did not stop ringing that cowbell and shut-up, I was going to kill him.  He didn’t pay me any mind, which was a good thing.  I needed him, but I was just in too much pain at the time to realize it.        

After keeping me company for about 10 minutes, my husband told me he would see me at the finish line.  I was on my on again.  With less than a mile ago my coach reappears.  She runs with me just for a few minutes to tell me that I’m doing great and her name for me is “consistent.”  She peels off with about 400 meters before the finish line chute.  I have NEVER been so happy to see a finish line in my life!  Even though I wanted to walk, I was determined to run down the finish line shoot, even if my run was only a jog.  As I came down the chute I could hear people cheering for me.  I started to pick up my pace.  I ALWAYS finish my races by sprinting across the finish line.  I was so tired and worn out that I didn’t think I had anything left in tank.  I dug deep, I mean reeeaaaaalllllly deep and sprinted for about the last 50 meters.  The crowd erupted and I heard the announcer say my name.  It was the best feeling coming across that finish line.  After battling for 7:42:33 (a PR for me) and pushing my body to its limits, I definitely want to do Ironman 140.6 Mont Treblant.  I’m ready to step up to the challenge of a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike, and a 26.2 run.

 This medal was hard earned!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Operation Ironman Phase 2 – The Battle Within

"The battles that count aren't the ones for gold medals.  The struggles within yourself – the invisible, inevitable battles inside of us all – that’s where it’s at."  Jesse Owens

Operation Ironman Phase 1 did not go as planned.  As discussed in my last blog post, I injured my foot and ankle.  The injury warranted for me to wear a boot for almost a month. 

Besides dealing with my foot and ankle injury, I have dealt with a bad case of bronchitis, which I call “the crud”.  The crud had me down for the count for days at a time.  I missed days from work and training.  Then of course there has been the crazy Virginia weather. This was one of the worse winters we have had in quite some time. My office closed twice this past winter, which just doesn’t happen! And unlike last year when I was able to bike outside during most of the winter, that didn’t happen this year.  So as the weather breaks I find my once strongest discipline, cycling, is now my weakest.

When I felt well and my foot/ankle allowed it, I would ride my bike on the trainer.  The trainer is a great way to get your cycling workouts done when the weather doesn’t permit.  I love my CycleOps Fluid Trainer. 

Riding on the trainer is also a great opportunity to test nutrition without being concerned with GI issues.  If needed be I can just hop off the trainer and run down the hall to my bathroom.  Fortunately for me I have discovered that Hammer Nutrition’s Sustained Energy and Peanut Butter Gel are a winning combination for me.

The problem that I am having with my cycling is that even though I have been riding my trainer, it has not been consistent because of injury and illness.  I have ridden outside 3 times so far in the past week, and on each ride I have struggled.  My cycling fitness just isn’t there.  I am concerned and downright embarrassed when I ride with my friends and teammates.  I am doubting myself and wondering how I am going to pull it together in time for Ironman Mont Tremblant.  The bike is what is going to make or break me for IMMT.  

I have started a doctor prescribed back to running program, but I do not know where my running will be for IMMT.  I changed my running shoes from the Asics Kayano (slight stability) to the Saucony Ride 6 (neutral) with over-the-counter orthotics.

Monticelloman and Rev3 Quassy triathlons have been changed to aquabikes.  For the Richmond Tri Club Sprint, one of my teammates is doing the run portion for me since there is not an aquabike division.  

It is imperative that I have a strong bike split so that I can give myself as much time as possible for the run. I am really going to have to push myself with my bike training.  I can only gain so much time from the swim.

Who would thought that the swim, my weakest discipline, is now my strongest?  Even when my foot/ankle was at its worst, I was still able to swim.  I have seen gains in speed and endurance.  My stroke is looking better too.  The swim is the discipline that I am not concerned about.  Go figure.

The only part of Operation Ironman Phase 1 that I completely accomplished was finding my mom a companion, which is more important than my quest for Ironman.  My mom is able to stay in her home and still have her independence.  The companion comes twice during the week and my husband and I take turns taking my mom grocery shopping and to church on the weekends.  When my mom is happy I am happy. 


I am not too happy with my current training status.  I am behind the 8 ball.  There is so much training I need to do in so little time.  I know if I fuel and recovery properly I can do what I need to do. My problem is keeping myself mentally on track.  I can be my best cheerleader or my worst enemy.  It’s a continuous battle.  Self-doubt rages through my mind almost on a daily basis.  I have to remind myself of the strives that I have made in the past 3 years of doing triathlons.  I hate that at times I don’t see myself as others do. Oh well, instead of me going on and on about my inner battle, I need to get my behind on my bike!