Monday, October 31, 2011

Not a Total Failure

It's hard not to think about the last two years and not think "total failure". At least that's what I thought after Ironman Louisville last year. This year I'm a little more grateful for what I've achieved instead of what I've failed. In the last two years I've:

  • PRed in the 70.3 distance with each race I've done. My first 70.3 was in 2005 and I did a 6:10. Then in 2008 I did it again and finished with a 6:09. Last year I did IM Kansas 70.3 and finished with a 5:46 - a HUGE PR! This year I only was able to take a few seconds of that PR, hanging out now with a 5:46:05. I have come to really like the 70.3 distance and think I can do even better.

  • I have continued to improve my time in the Olympic distance and even walked away with a top-10 age group finish at Rev3 Knoxville this year. To me, that's big.

  • I placed in my age group in every "local/small" race. Despite not printing that, it was goal of mine for 2011.

  • I won my first triathlon this year!!!

  • I rocked a half marathon (Capital City Half) without any specific training.

It's also easy to forget that there was life before Ironman. I have had great success at running and am looking forward to getting my running back on track. Sure, I really want to become an ironman, but I have to remember that I've run Boston four times too. I may never become an ironman, but there are a lot of people who will never run Boston no matter how badly they want to. My athletic career is not going to be defined by this "failure." And someday, ironman will be a success along with many more other successes to come.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

My Confession

Confession - Yesterday I was signed up to participate in the Beach2Battleship full ironman. I made the decision to sign up for this race shortly after Cedar Point. B2B was technically sold out, but had opened 25 more charity slots. For days I wrestled with making this decision but when the slots were down to 4, I jumped and signed up. I felt right away that I had made a horrible mistake. I had spent an ungodly amount of money to participate in yet another ironman and I was stuck. I figured, though, I had seven weeks to get back in the game. But as you know, those seven weeks were disastrous with going back to work, hurting my back, having bad saddle sores, catching a cold, and finally falling and busting up my knee.

Nonetheless, Wednesday we packed up the car and began our trip to Wilmington, North Carolina. Earlier in that day I began to feel the internal tension and nerves that ironman continues to serve up. By dinner time I was full-on nauseous and barely kept that dinner down. Thursday was no different as breakfast was a little bit of cereal, lunch was a little bit of sandwich and then I did something truly embarrassing - I cried when I picked up my race packet. We checked into our hotel and I was going south fast. I began to panic and kept telling Dave over and over again "I just wanted to go home." Thankfully, our hotel had a "happy hour" and just one glass of wine later I was feeling fine. But, I still couldn't eat dinner and I was a blubbering mess by the time I crawled into bed. Friday I had a full-blown panic attack - sweating, sobbing, heart racing, full-on nausea. All of this over a stupid race. A stupid race I have at least tried before. I never unpacked my bag and told Dave I was ready to go home. He checked us out of the hotel, then checked us back in. We went over to the Convention Center where I turned my chip in and then got it right back. Seriously, I could not have been more of a mess. I sobbed uncontrollably as I called my coach. She talked me down and I agreed I would give it a try. That lasted all of 30 minutes. We turned in our keys at the hotel and we were off. For the next two hours, Dave tried to convince me to turn around and at least give it a try, but there was no listening or reasoning with me. We drove half way home on Friday, and made it home yesterday.

What the hell?!?!

To say I'm embarrassed is an understatement. Which is also to say that I'm mad, angry, upset, and sad. I so badly want to be an ironman. I so badly want to put all this behind me. But, I'm just not ready. What I haven't really spoken about and have completely internalized is Louisville. Louisville did some serious damage to me mentally and I just haven't recovered. Unless you were inside my mind and body on that day, you have no idea what I saw or experienced. Honest to goodness, I think I am suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. That race feels like it ruined me. Every time I read a race report from an ironman all I fixate on is how sick they were - everyone feels crappy during that race - and I can't get past how awful I felt and then being shipped away in an ambulance in Louisville. I CANNOT move past that. Physically, I know I am ready for the ironman, but for some reason my head cannot make that leap with me. Truly, I was ready for Cedar Point, but given that it ended poorly, I just wasn't ready to move on so quickly to Beach2Battleship.

So what's next? I don't know. Maybe that's a good thing. Ironman will always be there and someday, someday I will do it. It just won't be any time soon. What I need before then is to live life, have fun, gain more experience, and learn to love racing again.

Tomorrow I will hang up my bike and I don't plan on getting on it for a long time. I plan on doing some yoga, pilates, weight lifting, and a lot of running with friends. I am currently signed up for the Houston Marathon, but in all honestly, I'm going to switch to the half marathon. I need to find myself again. The person I was when I rocked the Boston Marathon in 2009 is not the person I am now. Heck, if you told me to go out and run Boston tomorrow, I probably couldn't do it for fear I wouldn't be able to do it. In the future I will be that beast again. Today I am Meredith. And that's all I need to be.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

I Fought the Asphalt and the Asphalt Won

I played tennis in high school. One summer I went to tennis camp at a local university and just one or two days into the camp, I rolled my ankle so badly that the doctors weren't sure if it was broken or not. I was so swollen they couldn't read the x-ray. The doctor concluded it was not broken. I will now, gracefully, disagree as it clicks and pops every time I walk or move it and it has been weak and a sign of trouble for my running ever since then.


Friday was supposed to be a swim day. I had packed all my gear and brought it to work with me. But on my way to work, while thinking about the swim, I thought, "Hmmm, I don't think I packed a swimsuit." And sure enough, I didn't. Thank goodness I discovered that before going all the way to the pool and beginning to change my clothes. So, I decided to switch gears and run after work. I invited Dave to ride his bike with me and he agreed.

I've been going to physical therapy for my back and it's feel TONS better, but despite all that, my running still feels a little off. I just don't have very much strength on my right side and it feels like I'm kind of dragging that foot a little. The run was going well, though, if not a little slower than I liked.

(Don't I look fat and slow?! And that abrupt change in scenery in the video....yeah, that's Dave getting his jeans caught in his chain.)

With just over a mile until we got home and the run was over, my right ankle rolled, and down I went. Fast and hard! I rolled over and sat in the grass for a minute. My ankle was throbbing but okay. My knee and hand however, were a mess. My hand was killing me and my left knee was oozing blood all over the place. I got up, dusted myself off, and started to cry. Not because I was seriously hurt, but because it just seems like things went from great to horrible in zero time flat. I was riding high leading into Cedar Point and then everything went wrong. In the several weeks since the race I've had food poisoning (during the race), hurt my back, got really bad saddle sores, caught my first cold in 18 months, and then this. I feel like the universe is trying to tell me to hang up my bike and move on.

Back to reality, as soon as I got myself back up and began my sob story, Dave got a phone call from friends we were hoping to make plans with. So here I am bleeding and limping my way down the sidewalk, while Dave is on his cell phone. A car stops and the man says, "I saw you fall, are you okay?" How embarrassing!!! I'm sure he was worried Dave was calling 911 and I had was a deep cut on my knee.

By this time it was past dusk and getting quite dark. I was wearing all black and my sidewalk was about to run out. I still had one mile home and only the road to do it on. Dave too didn't have any lights on his bike. I decided it was time to finish the run instead of walk home, so I cut through a park I was sure was going to be darkdarkdark and muddymuddymuddy. To my surprise, part of the park had been paved between our neighborhood and the road so there was no mud and now I never have to run the roads again!

Two days later, I'm still a mess. I can't get to the pool to do any swimming because I really did a doozy on my knee. I took off so many layers of skin that it has yet to scab and is still oozing yuck. My hand is painful and bruised but manageable. At least among the last couple of times I've fallen (here and here), this one was quite mild.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

It's Time To Grow Out My Hair (Again)

If you missed it, I cut all my hair off in July.

I went from this:

To this:

I've had days I've loved it and days I've hated it, but I've gotten a lot of compliments on it and it's soooo easy, so I decided to keep it. Until today....

...Friday I started to get a little tickle in my throat. Throughout the weekend it became a full-blown cold. Crap! I haven't had a cold since March 2010. It's now Wednesday and I'm still really sick. Surprisingly, my sinuses are pretty clear, but my throat on the other hand is a mess. I sound like a freakin' man and needless to say, I'm coughing up, um, gross stuff. On the way to dinner tonight, Dave and I decided to pick up some Mucinex. We took it to the counter and we were asked for our CVS card. We didn't have it so I gave the woman our phone number to look up the phone number. Then she asked me my age. What? I thought it was to verify the card number, so I pointed to Dave because the account is under his name.

Here's where things went a little crazy.

The woman said, no, I need yours. If he gives me his age I need to see his ID. Um, what? She said it was because we were buying Mucinex. This confused me even more because we didn't buy it at the pharmacy counter, just off the shelf. So she says again, I need your age or I need to see his ID. So I asked, why do you need to see his ID and not mine. She said it was because he looked under the age of 18.


First of all, you've delighted my THIRTY FOUR year old husband, but you've really insulted his YOUNGER wife. She actually thought he was under 18. Dave and I both look young, but not 18 young. Maybe 25 young. Then, to dig her hole deeper, she then said, "you should take it as a compliment." And what should I take my non-compliment as?

Obviously, it's my soccer-mom hair. It's time to grow it back out. I want to be "18" again.

Friday, October 14, 2011

I Should Have Gone to Medical School

I made a promise to myself that if my back still hurt this past Monday that I was calling the doctor. When I called, however, because of the marathon this weekend, I couldn't get in until Thursday. Good grief! Of course, Tuesday I woke up and my back was feeling a lot better. And again on Wednesday. So Wednesday I did a small brick that included a half hour run. I barely got going and the back was really bothing me. I stopped and thought, this is stupid! But, I wanted to do the workout come hell or high water. So I started walking for a minute, jogging for a minute. I was only averaging 15 minute miles but I was getting it done. By the time I reached half way, I was starting to jog and pick up a little speed. I "ran" the remainder of the run. I spent the rest of the evening icing my back (as I have every day for two weeks).

Thursday was my doctor's appointment. To my surprise, he didn't remotely think it was a stress fracture. He didn't even take an x-ray. He immediately thought it was my SI joint. Yes! I had successfully self-diagnosed myself on the internet. He tried some manipulations like a chiropractor would. My back didn't even crack. He then did a little ART, which hurt like a mother-effer!!! He had me walk around and it was feeling okay. I was then scheduled for physical therapy later that afternoon.

The physical therapists took a look at things, did some measurements and concluded, my body is all twisted to the left. My back is all jacked up on the right side--I had knots in my back along the spin and in my butt. She did some exercises to try straighten things out and taught me a few stretches to do on my own. She then did ultrasound and more deep tissue massage on my butt and back. Ouch! For sure I was walking out of both appointments with bruises on my buns. I go back for two more PT appointments next week.

Today I feel really good. I'm excited to give running a try this weekend and very, very thankful it wasn't anything more serious.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Hey Jealousy

It's not secret, I'm competitive. But what others may not realize is that I'm not really that competitive with other people, I'm super competitive from myself. I expect nothing short of perfection from myself. Since switching to triathlon, perfection has been a hard pill to swallow. Not only can I not measure up with swimbikerun, I'm finding that training for ironman the last two years is really screwing with my running speed.

This past weekend I was glued to my computer watching the Ironman world championships. I had five people (friends/teammates) I knew doing the race. And they all kicked butt. They did exactly what was expected of them. How do they do that? How are they so consistent? How are they so fast? What are they doing that I'm not that makes them super-stars?

Then my former training partner, Andrea, ran the Denver Half Marathon yesterday. For years we (including a third girl) have been trying to get qualifying standards for the NYC Marathon. Being that those standards have changed to, honestly, completely unreasonable standards starting next year, this year is the last real shot to do that. Personally, I have no desire to run NY, but I would like to know that I could qualify. Well yesterday Andrea finally got her qualifying standard and it was BIG!!! The standard was a sub-1:37 half marathon. She had run a 1:36 earlier this year but unfortunately it was on a non-certified course. Yesterday she tore that course up running a 1:33. Her pace was almost as fast as my 5K pace. Seriously.

I have to admit, I'm soooo jealous of what everyone else is doing right now. I want to be fast. I want to be able to go to Kona (shit, I'd like to just finish the damn ironman). I want to be able to continue to bring my running times down. I want to be a super-star!

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Falling Apart

**I know you all love a good TMI story, so here you go!**

When I returned from Cedar Point I was angry. I took that aggression out on my bike. Just two days after my failed race I took that bike out for a quick 30 mile jaunt, mashing as hard as I could. It was a great ride, except I made a critical mistake. I rode that ride in an old pair of bike shorts. I developed some nasty saddle sores. In the three weeks since that race those sores have come and gone, but this weekend they came back with a vengeance. While doing a little grooming, um, I noticed my saddle sores had grown into full-blow blisters. I tried to pop them, ew, with no success. Yesterday I rode a designed trainer ride that may have been the most painful thing I've ever done. I even stopped at one point to drain one of the blisters. Ew! This morning when I woke up the blisters were HUGE and I was in pain. I called the doctor and got in this afternoon.

Now, if you guys know me personally, you would know that this was a risky move. You see, my doctor is a good friend of mine. I have run with him for years. We are on a first name basis. So for me to show him my hoo-ha was a big deal. Luckily, the appointment was done with sensitivity and discretion and I may be able to look him in the eyes again. :) And the decision? Well, he did nothing. I thought he would drain them but he didn't. He recommended padding them with a band aid while riding, which I did yesterday, getting a new fit on my bike, and getting new shorts and chamois cream. Awesome. (Yes, that was meant to be sarcastic.)

So were these blisters really caused by one ride in one bad pair of shorts?

Here's the second half of my story.

I eluded in my last post that there have been some major changes in my life. A little over a month ago, while hanging out with friends, I mentioned to them that I was interested in getting a part time job once ironman was over. Immediately the wife popped up saying I should work for her husband, a good friend of mine, as he would be hiring part time seasonal employees starting in October. Perfect! Except, I was worried about being seasonal as there was no guarantee that I would be hired on at the end of the holiday season and be able to continue with the part time work. In the mean time, though, this same friend had a full time position open. I thought about it for a few days and figured, I could make that work. Before I had even finished filling out the online application, HR had contacted me asking for an interview. And the ball was rolling. I had a phone interview on a Wednesday, a face-to-face interview that next Tuesday, two weeks later I had an offer, and I started three days after that, which was last Monday. Life went from zero to 60 in no time flat.

Last Tuesday I started to notice some pain in my back/tailbone area. It was the same kind of pain I had after I fell down the stairs this past February. As the week went on the pain stayed and maybe even got a little worse. I have no idea why I was having this pain. Was it the three photo booth events we had over the weekend? Was it because I wasn't used to sitting all day in a hard chair? Did I do something while doing my last long run?

Now it's a week later and the pain is still very much there. I feel it with every step I take. I have been taking ibuprofen around the clock. I have iced it. I have put a heating pad on it. I have moved all my runs to the elliptical machine. I have taken a little (although not much) time off. Today I attempted a long run. I got in about 14 miles before I had had enough. The pain was intense and I couldn't take it anymore. Frustrating! I had planned on a much longer run than 14. My legs and lungs felt fine, but I couldn't handle the pain in my back anymore.

Is it a pinched nerve (I've struggled with this since my fall down the stairs)? Is it a pulled muscle (I did set the photo booths up by myself over the weekend--not the smartest idea)? Is it something worse, like a stress fracture in my tailbone/pelvis?

So this brings me back around to my blistered saddle sores. Is the pain in my back, although I don't notice it when I ride, causing me to change my position on the bike? Whatever the hell is going on, I feel like I'm falling apart. I feel like my body is telling me that enough is enough. I need a break.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

September Totals

After my disappointing race at Rev3 Cedar Point, I decided to keep training. There's no race scheduled, but I just find comfort in the training. My next plan is the Houston Marathon and I'm not quite ready to start my specific training for that, but I wanted to keep my mileage high in preparation for that.

Sometime earlier this week I tweaked my back. I don't know how I did it or what exactly I did, but I'm working through it. Today I will be moving a run to the elliptical machine. But, the plan, is to keep on trucking on...

Swim - 18,500 meters (~11-1/2 miles)

Bike - 303.28 miles - I had a 100 miler I was planning on doing last week, but I got rained on twice, was cold and wet, and decided to call it a day. I got in 72 miles.

Run - 46.73 miles - I enjoyed a descending 18 miler last weekend that I did perfectly without EVER looking at my Garmin.

Training and life has changed drastically in the last week. More information on that soon...