About Me

When I was 8, I was always the last one picked for dodgeball. Now at 29, I'm training for my first Ironman.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Back from the dead

I'm back.  With a vengeance?  At least in the blogging department - we have a lot to catch up on.  And lots of pictures to tell the story.

This last month, I have learned some very important lessons.  Such as:

1) Being sick sucks.
2) Trying to just push through and stay on an Ironman training schedule when you're sick just makes you stay sick longer.
3) Giving in to the 'listen to your body' gods really does work.
4) But not as well as antibiotics work.
5) The fact that I can still run 2 sub-4 marathons in a 2 week period means I'm in a lot better shape than I give myself credit for.
6) This doesn't prevent me from being concerned that I may die on the Wildflower Long Course this weekend.

That's basically the last month in summary.  Now here are the dirty details.

Leading up to Boston, I just stopped looking at my Ironman training calendar.  I gave in and went to the doctor (which I never do).  My brilliant doctor at Kaiser blew me off and when I told her I was just frustrated because my immunity was down and I couldn't stay healthy, she suggested an HIV test.  Really?  We're going straight to AIDS?  Thankfully, the cute medical assistant who took my pulse when I got there mentioned that another doctor at Kaiser actually does Ironmans.  I switched to him.

Anyways, I stopped looking at my calendar, listened to my body, focused on getting healthy and just tried to do one easy workout a day for the week or two leading up to Boston.

Boston was awesome.  Because it just is.  I had planned to go out and get my sub-3:25 PR but the weather Gods had different ideas.  At 89 degrees with 61% humidity, it was the second hottest Boston in history, and I decided to take the advice of my beloved and wise Coach John and just dial it back a bit and have fun.  And man did I ever.  Let me say it again.  I. Love. That. Race.  I love that town.  I love those people.  There is just nothing bad about the Boston Marathon.  Even when it feels like you're running it on the surface of the sun.  I high fived so many people that my hands were hurting more than my legs.  This was very much a "mind over matter" race.  Not in terms of digging deep to get a good time.  I did not worry about my time (other than I always want to be under 4 hours) and stopped looking at my watch very early on.  Rather, it was "mind over matter" because I thought I looked soooo much better than I actually looked.  So I took away from Boston 2012 three very important lessons:

1) My stomach does not look good enough for public display.  It is very very very very white.
That's a fist pump by the way.

2) Just because I'm happy, does mean I look how I feel.  I felt very very happy in these pictures.  I just look hot and sweaty and delirious.

3) I will run Boston every year they let me.

So back to reality ... now my plague-like illness had been improving before I left for Boston, but planes are never good for this type of thing.  I started getting that scratchy throat feeling again the day before the marathon.  Then I woke up the day of the marthon with hardly any voice and coughing up a lung.  Lovely.  Whatever - it did not really affect me in the marathon.  But afterwards ... oh were my lungs angry.  I did not stop coughing all day.  Or the next day.  The people on the plane ride home probably thought I had TB.  I should have told them my doctor just said it was HIV.  That would have made them feel better.  So I called the Kaiser advice nurse.  She said my doctor had noted that I run and asked if I had been running since that last doctor's visit.  "Yes," I replied, "I ran the Boston marathon yesterday."  She laughed.  And then she paused and said, "Wait.  Are you serious?"  Classic.  Yes, lady, I'm serious - now Kasier learned their lesson.  If you don't take me seriously when I come to the doctor (since I rarely do) I will continue to run myself into the ground until you clearly and explicitly tell me to stop.  I got in the next day and got antibiotics for bronchitis.

I thanked my diseased body for letting me enjoy Boston and decided to give it some rest.  I did nothing - NOTHING - for 5 whole days.  I felt ridiculously lazy.  I even skipped the Millerton Olympic triathlon that I was supposed to do on Saturday.  And then I slowly eased back into things ... a little 2 mile race (that almost killed me), slow bike rides (which is the only way I ride the bike anyways), a couple more slow runs, and even a swim at the lake (where Jason thoroughly demolished me even though it has been proven many a time at GB3 that I am a faster swimmer than him - can you hear me Jason? Friday was a fluke!).

And then I ran the Big Sur marathon on Sunday.  It was amazing.  Beautiful, breathtaking views, ridiculously hard hills and howling wind that makes you feel not the least bit guilty about taking a "this is not a race" approach. 

I met my "just don't go over 4 hours" goal with a 3:56.  It would have been faster but we had this pesky little distraction at Mile 17 when my running partner, Katy Robinson, got a surprise marriage proposal from her boyfriend Brett.  So exciting! So happy for her!

The Boston 2 Big Sur Challenge is a really cool thing because of the huge contrast between the two events.  They are both amazing but in completely different ways.  Boston is a big loud crowded party running through towns where the people are the greatest scenery.  Big Sur is a small, quiet, serene Sunday morning where the landscapes speak for themselves.  Oh, and a concert pianist at the top of a really big hill.

Point being this - the Boston 2 Big Sur Challenge was a great reminder to me that I don't just love running, or racing, or getting faster.  I love the marathon itself.  It's an incredible feeling to know that I can go out on any given Sunday and run 26.2 miles.  As Pat Hill would say, anybody, anywhere, anytime.  Oh, and still be able to ride my bike to work the next day and take the 3 flights of stairs to my office.  :)

So now here we are, Boston and Big Sur are done and it's on to completing this Ironman challenge.

I am proud of myself that, even though I learned the hard way, I finally let myself rest and get better and then came back slowly.  (Ok, slowly for me - not a normal sane person)  I think the lightbulb finally went on and I'm learning that Ironman is not just about learning how to swim, bike and run for a really really long time.  It's about learning how to take of my body so that it can swim, bike and run for a really really long time.

Now it's time to get back to work.  I let myself sleep in this morning. I'll swim tonight. Probably bike and swim tomorrow, etc. etc. etc. 

This weekend is Wildflower long course.  It is going to be ridiculously hard.  Katy warned me that it will not feel like a half ironman - it will feel like a 3/4 ironman.  I feel like I've lost some of my fitness in the last month of being sick and running marathons coast to coast.  But I'm pretty sure that's in my head.  Either way, it's time to find out.  It's time to get back to work. 

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