Detoxing, Destressing

The cancer clinic at the UI is beautiful, full of colorful glass chandeliers, soft lighting and lovely images. There is an infusion therapy desk at the entrance, and tables and comfortable chairs seated in random patterns for families to wait and converse.

In spite of the calm and tranquility the decor inspires, as soon as I stepped foot in the clinic on Friday my anxiety levels shot sky high. Even though both a 3D mammogram and ultrasound were pronounced “normal” by the radiologist on Monday, the final nurse I saw in the breast clinic last week wanted me to do a fine needle aspiration just to make sure that the palpable lump she could see clearly on the mammogram was just fibrous tissue.

The breast nurse (a highly trained nurse who has taken a big interest in breast cancer and breast issues) had the most valuable information I have heard yet. She was very empathetic about my weight gain and immediately made connections between my thyroid deficiency, my endometriosis and my age. We all know that estrogen increases and progesterone decreases in perimenopause; that’s why women stop ovulating eventually. What I didn’t know is that excess estrogen basically can really slow down my metabolism and that my thyroid disease also blocks the receptors in my body and tricks my body into producing even more estrogen. estrogen

We discussed ways I could cut back on estrogen production, by eating even more organic food since chemicals in processed food and in sprays can cause increased estrogen production.  (There are xenoestrogens, or estrogens in food/meat that is injected with hormones.) We talked about parabens in cosmetics, and also stress reduction.

Stress reduction. With a forced smile I told her that normally running is my big de-stresser, but I can’t. And the plantar fasciitis doesn’t appear to be responding very quickly to therapy, so I’m not going to be running soon.

Of course, I could be biking and swimming more than I have. But somehow I’ve felt terribly lethargic and depressed this last week. It’s been a vicious hormonal cycle. The nurse explained a lot about cortisol. Our body’s normal response to stress is to produce cortisol to calm us down. Too much cortisol also makes fat cells stick to our bodies and not break down. It can cause depression, sleepiness and all the other symptoms I’m having.

cortisol
I have about every issue on this chart, except hypertension. UGH.

After reading about cortisol, I’m not even sure I want to be tested to see if I have excess cortisol. There no cure for it. Basically I need to reduce stress in my life.

My status as an adjunct faculty member and freelance musician does not make this easy. I know I can’t make money grow on trees, but it is a constant worry.  This summer my “fallback” job of online scoring has been very disappointing. In the last two years there was plenty of summer work, but this year almost none. It’s been a rough summer financially.

Sometimes I’m good at taking care of myself;  I take time to take a nap, or go for a run, or a long bike ride. I know the pool can be a tranquility tank, but some days it’s hard to get myself across town knowing how much time a shower afterwards will take.

Honestly, I can’t see myself meditating.Lotus position on the edge of a cliff

I’m sure it would be amazing, but I am both physically and mentally kind of hyper. I’m sure it would be good to clear my brain and do deep breathing. I’m just not there yet.  I would need someone to hold my hand and drag me to a session, and make sure that it wouldn’t be a friend that I would get the compulsive giggles with as I say “OMMMMMM.”

Yoga would be wonderful, but right now I am avoiding gym fees until my finances improve. I’m sure it would help my tight calves and tendons and help my plantar fasciitis disappear.

In the meantime, I will eat healthier. Yep, even healthier than before! I’m taking Vitamin E for inflammation and to fight stress. Vitamin E acts in a similar way to progesterone to  calm and soothe our bodies. I’m taking Flax Seed Oil or Evening Primrose Oil pills every night to  also help with hormonal balance. Both of these are supposed to reduce breast pain and swelling. In addition, she did commend my efforts to stop caffeine, although she says that research only shows that caffeine avoidance only helps with 50% of women studied. I always take a multivitamin that contains Vitamin C and D, which are also very important at this stage of my life.

The news after the fine needle aspiration was good; it confirmed that my lump is just a bunch of tough tissue. I still have a lot to live for and enjoy. I’m one of the lucky ones who entered the cancer clinic last Friday and I need to celebrate that.

Let the detoxing and de-stressing begin. It’s about time!

 

Truth Be Told

“It’s plantar fasciitis. You can run on it if you feel like it’s not hurting.”

Even though I was at the doctor because my foot hurt, especially after running, I came home overjoyed that he had mentioned that I could run. It wasn’t a stress fracture, after all.

Yes, I have painful flames coming out of the arch of my foot. OW!
Yes, I have painful flames coming out of the arch of my foot. OW!

 

Truth be told, it’s not a good idea to run on plantar fasciitis. That truth came from my physical therapist the next day as he suggested resting it “at least another week,” along with massage, ultrasound, and many different stretching and strengthening exercises.

The truth can be hard to hear. When I was talking about a half-marathon in three weeks as my therapist counseled me to do a “walk to run” rehab program when I was healed, I knew I was ignoring the truth.

One week later, truth be told, I am STILL super-tight. My hamstring is tight. My calf is tight. My plantar region is super tight. My achilles is tight. And I’m stretching almost always three times a day.

No running for me.

No coffee for me, either! “But,” you say, “You gave that up last year! You wrote a whole blog post about it!”

Truth be told, that addiction crept back into my life with the Brewmaster. It’s really hard to wake up in the morning and smell a freshly ground French press. The cravings took over, and this summer I was back to me 3-5 cups a day. And the fatigue that comes with the coffee crash.

This time, the truth was administered by my women’s health doctor. I was complaining about more booby pain and she asked if I consumed caffeine. Apparently that is the first thing that the booby doctor is going to tell me to give up when I see her today after doing more imaging. Caffeine, in coffee, tea or any form, is not good for the cystic masses I get.

Truth be told, I don’t really like the truth.decaf

But I’ve put my Big Girl panties on. I don’t pretend to love my weak decaf in the morning, but it helps me to pretend I’m sipping coffee with the Brewmaster. I’ve gotten to the pool three times and dusted off my mountain bike to do some commuting around town. I bike to PT, and walked a couple of 2+milers, although that sometimes aggravates the plantar.

Many mornings last week I got up with Ballet Boy at 6:30 and had a bleary-eyed breakfast with him. Many mornings I was fortunate enough to have time to go back to sleep virtually all morning. The headaches are getting better.

Although that particular half-marathon is off the books, I believe in these therapists I work with and I know if I listen, I will run again. It’s hard to have SO many come backs and rehabs, but it’s also better than becoming a couch potato.

Truth be told, it could be much worse. Just be aware that if I seem like Grouchy Sleepy Dopey all-in-one, I have a few lame reasons, but it will pass.

Goal keeping

Today I was sipping coffee around 8 a.m., thinking about a group of friends I have doing the “Pigman” triathlon series in Palo, Iowa. Many of them are doing a Half-Ironman, or 70.3 miles today. I couldn’t help thinking back to a week ago when I was struggling through my first real tri (not counting indoors) in several years, but I was primarily look forward to a bike ride with Ironcelloman who offered to go out on the “Sugarbottom loop”, a very hilly route that heads north from my house through the rolling country hills around the dam on the local reservoir. However, mainly I was very excited that Ballet Boy is finally on his way home today from one month at a dance conservatory in Florida followed by an immediate month in Southern France with his father.

Different jitters than my pre-race. Happy jitters!

Top of the hill after lots of construction. Tired? Glad to not have gotten side-swiped!
Top of the hill after lots of construction. Tired? Glad to not have gotten side-swiped!

We had a wonderful bike ride, in spite of a nasty construction zone with lots of cones. Early Sunday morning is probably the best time to attempt such a route. Ironcelloman got up the hills a lot faster and snapped some good pics.

It was fun to see a group of 200 cyclists riding in the opposite direction: they had done a big ride from Hiawatha, Iowa, to Riverside (home of a Casino) and were on their second day of fund-raising for cycling north of Cedar Rapids. I hope they influence the construction of the Cedar Valley Bike trail between Iowa City and Ely, Iowa, where the trail dies. If that’s completed, we could ride almost 100 miles!

This week I took a day off, swam once and then got into some major painting projects with the Brewmaster. He doesn’t joke around; when I told him that I’ve always dreamed of changing the bleak white walls of my basement into something cosier, he was on it. We are a great team; he does most of the cutting in and trim since I am a spazz, and I follow him with the roller. I did some cutting in, but mostly it was him. I did most of the sorting of junk and putting things out of the way so we could actually paint. I made some messes (think dripping and spattering paint), and he patiently cleaned up after me with a kind word or joke.

Mostly I took time off to rest my foot, which intermittently feels great and then will hurt. I’m anxious to see the doctors at the University of Iowa Sport’s Medicine and, more importantly, a therapist. 

Because I REALLY want to do a half-marathon this fall, or maybe two. I’d like to start training for an Olympic Triathlon, and I’ve been having funny twinges of “Maybe I Could Do a Half-Ironman, TOO!” Yikes. Honestly, after seeing me compared to the other ladies last week, the Brewmaster went from saying “You’re nuts” to “You’re still nuts, but I bet you could do a Half-Ironman!”

So, cross you’re fingers that this arch pain I have is something like plantar fasciitis and treatable, and not a stress fracture. In the meantime, I’ll keep making some little goals and working on my swim/bike. 

Gorgeous Iowa Countryside
Gorgeous Iowa Countryside

Racing with Women

Yesterday I completed my first Iron Girl triathlon, my second ever sprint triathlon outdoors. Iron Girl is NOT an Ironman, which is a much longer race. It is a trademark that bought the Danskin women’s triathlon series.

Sometimes I look back on what motivated me after 40 to start training and take on these challenges, and each time I think of specific people: A friend at my 25th high school reunion who was a high school swimmer had just done one, or Ironcelloman, my cello professor at the University of Iowa who went from sprint triathlons in his 40’s to Olympic to half-Ironman to complete the full Ironman in Madison the year he and his second wife had a baby.

People inspire me. I love reading about another man who went to junior high with me who does 7 mile swims, or a member of my endurance club, Iowa HEAT, who just placed 8th in her age group in Nationals. My bike friend who does really fast (30 mph average) rides shares them via Garmin video camera that he uploads to YouTube and those are almost as fun to watch as Le Tour. Or Candyass, who has completed two marathons since we started dragging ourselves through 2 mile runs four years ago. My brother-in-law, a Boston Marathon finisher and Ironman, or a friend who plays French Horn and knocks off Ironman races and ultramarathons as a hobby.

All of these people have day jobs and lives around their training, but they make time for their passion that is also a lifestyle. They motivate me, awe me, and give me a small idea of what I can strive to be.

Sunday as I swam 1/2 mile, biked 12 miles and ran 3.2 miles, all of these people were on my mind at different points.

As I waited on the beach for the swim start of the Iron Girl Pleasant Prairie tri, I met another inspiring woman. She was trying to give a pep talk to a stranger next to her who was very nervous. She showed her that she had a broken wrist, and got teary when she said that she had thought this would be her PR (personal record) race, but that she wasn’t going to be able to shift into more than 3 gears on her bike leg. She had to swim with a closed fist because of tendon issues in the broken wrist.

An all women’s race had never tempted me since I’m not intimidated by male athletes and count many of them as friends and training partners, but there was something very special about the race Sunday. Women are not afraid to congratulate and encourage each other. Our names were printed on our bibs, and as I struggled through the run which was not easy for me on Sunday, complete strangers would pass and say, “You got this, Amy!” or “You’re almost to the turn around.”  There were mother-daughters, friends from work, friends from running groups, lesbian partners and many women attempting their first triathlons alone in a “safe” environment.

What made a women’s race special was not pink or glitter, but the support. It was also the first race I’ve ever been to where there was a basket of tampons outside the port-a-potties! Very considerate.

On the bike women were cheering and yelling things like, “Nice work on that small hill (the course was VERY flat, yay!), Ladies!” or just “You go, ladies!” I went full out on the bike, knowing it was only about 12.2 miles and pretty flat. I was happy with my average pace of 18.75 mph considering that there were many types of cyclists out, ranging from people going faster than I on tri bikes with racing wheels, to mountain bikes weaving in and out of the bike lane. I even saw some very heavy Raleigh bikes out there, and I felt pretty awful passing a 69 year old lady. I found myself yelling out encouraging things like, “Nice age and nice outfit!” when I passed someone with my same age–47–on her leg wearing exactly the same pink top and black shorts I had on.

The women next to me in transition were also super friendly, saying “Have a good race!” as they took off.

Swim to bike transition
Swim to bike transition
Start of bike leg
Start of bike leg

 

All in all, I was very pleased with my race.  I was very nervous on race day and the day before, but when we passed Six Flags I decided I’d much rather do a triathlon then go on one of those roller coasters. My transitions were much faster, even though I had to rack my bike at the start of the transition area, far from the “out” exit.

My same swimmer friend from high school had invited me to meet up with her team, Team Turtle, from Bettendorf, Iowa and we had a nice dinner the night before the race.  I learned why they were doing their race in memory of a certain Paul. One of the women from the group had dated a man three years ago and he had asked if he could watch her do a tri since she had done some in the past. He died that winter and never got to see her. It took her a while to recover from her grief and get back on her feet, but she did great Sunday and I think that training group became a sort of support group for her. I wish they lived closer to me so I could train with them!1795787_10152324939266025_6856969005433455862_n

My race splits! Better transitions than last time.
My race splits! Better transitions than last time.

My goal was to beat my old time of 1 hour 51 minutes and do faster transitions. In practice my swims in open water had taken me from 25-30 minutes, but yesterday I swam the 1/2 mile in 23 minutes. I’m sure I can get faster, but mostly I was really happy that I put myself at the front of my wave so I wouldn’t get kicked. We went in waves of about 50-100 people every 5 minutes and they split my age group into two groups since it was so big. My only problem was that we swam directly into the sun, and although there was a lot of support at the start of the race, the buoys were hard to see for the rest of the course and I felt like I zigzagged a lot. Cheering on the opposite shore helped direct me and I was thrilled to see the shallow water at the end. My outfit kind of sucked; I felt my bra sloshing around under my top at the beginning of the swim and it was frankly not enough support during the run. I want to get  a tri suit and wear a better bra next time!

Of course, I tripped getting out of the water. Unfortunately the Brewmaster didn’t get a shot of that.

The only leg I think I could have done better on was the run, but my legs were lead and my breathing like Darth Vader for the first 1.5 miles. There was no water until then, and I probably should have drank more on the bike and grabbed my inhaler at T2 (transition two). Lessons learned. I will get faster on the bike, but with four turnarounds and some slight inclines, that was probably as fast as my current body will take me. Swimming, well, I’ll keep working on my kick and practicing in open water, but maybe not in E. Coli country. A wetsuit would be great, but I need sponsorship to afford all of the equipment I want. Zoot? Tyr? Aqua Sphere? Garmin? Bueller? Anyone out there?

The Brewmaster said a lot of women were talking to themselves at the finish. One was saying, “You can f*@#cking make it!” over and over again. Another was just yelling encouragement to herself. I guess I’m not the only one who does this, but usually I try to keep it internal during a race.10403167_10152324938056025_5339631248723815874_n

It was fun to hear, “Amy Phelps, you’re an Iron Girl!” and meet up with the rest of the gals from Bettendorf and see how proud the Brewmaster was. I finished 3 minutes UNDER my goal of 1 hr 45 inspite of my slow 5k, and I’m ready to train hard for another race.

As soon as I can get more money in my pocket book for race entries (the next tri in my area in September is up to $75  for a single entry now!), I would like to sign up for another tri and a local half-marathon. First I need to see sport’s medicine at the University of Iowa about this nagging left arch pain to see how to treat it and verify it’s not a stress fracture.

All in all, I would highly recommend an Iron Girl race. In spite of there being 1050 some people on the course, it went smoothly. We were not allowed to clear transition until the last cyclist came in. We were all waiting to go in when she came through, and everyone cheered her on like crazy. I hope that our cheers helped her as she was struggling and that she didn’t feel ashamed. She was a heavy woman and the Brewmaster heard her telling the support crew that she didn’t think that she could make it on the run, but I saw that the race page on Facebook posted a picture of her finishing. Kudos to a company that posts a picture of the last place finisher, because we all know that it was probably more of a struggle for her than anyone else. I know it was really hard for me carrying twenty pounds more than my last race.

The finish line
The finish line

It was great to see all the body types out there, and much more normal than looking at a women’s fitness mag. The good swimmers have broad shoulders, the strong cyclists had strong thighs and legs and the good runners tended to be quite thin. Some people are able to combine all of these attributes, but might only win in the triathlon arena, not in individual events.

I hope that I in turn can inspire people to be brave and strong. Choose a race and train wisely, and everything is possible. Find good support, like the Brewmaster who drove me all the way to Wisconsin and back and got up at 4:30 a.m. with me on race day. The Brewmaster also wore an awesome emerald green t-shirt with symbols for Eat Sleep Trumpet on it, making it easy for me to find him on the course all morning. Find training pals or groups through your gym like the gals from Bettendorf.

Then you can say, “I’m an Iron Girl!” just like me. And feel so strong and brave!10576922_10152324937731025_7592758018880408998_n

 

 

Nervous I am, Strong I will be

Nervous. I am.

Iron Girl Pleasant Prairie is in 2 days. I have my list of everything I need to remember, organized by transitions and type of activity. It’s a long way from home (4.5 hour trip) if I forget something.

I’m dealing with my nerves on two levels: things I can do something about and things I have no control over.

Things I can control:

  • My stuff (hence the list)
  • Cleaning my bike and chain
  • Using allergy medicine and inhalers to limit my asthma
  • Bringing gluten-free food with me
  • Being nice to my support team (the Brewmaster)
  • Stretching and hydrating
  • Breathing and kicking during the swim
  • Taking time at transitions to think
  • Running as fast as my training will allow me

Things I can’t control:

  • The weather (which is going to be optimal at 77 degrees and sunny)
  • My ankle/knee/arch/hip pains
  • The splashing and waves in the water

Look which list is longer!The Things I Can Control!!

I know I need to trust my training and that I can’t do more than where I am, but it’s hard to not want to be faster in the water and in my run.

We did a quick trip back up to Minnesota and I swam 1/2 mile EVERY day for three days straight. The first day was choppy and it was really rough swimming. I recruited my niece to swim (she is a 17 year-old competitive swimmer and left us all in her wake even though she blew quite far off course), and various family members.10320475_10152311741531025_8517888576609096224_n

The last day I swam alone, but the lake was glassy and calm. I felt like my breathing was awful from allergies, but the Brewmaster said I was much faster. He kindly was the support crew, trying to balance a group of swimmers with three different speed levels. He looked a bit grim after the first day since he had to keep my fast niece on track as well as check to see if I had swallowed the lake and gone down.

Swam from dock to  the point of the bay across and back three days!
Swam from dock to the point of the bay across and back three days!

I still don’t own a wetsuit, which certainly might help me float. The Brewmaster noted that my “back end wasn’t doing much” for me on my first swim, so I need to focus on my kick so that my rear end isn’t just dead weight. The water will probably be too warm in Wisconsin this weekend to wear one, however, so I’m glad I’m used to training without one.

Finally the water is perfect for an open swim!
Finally the water is perfect for an open swim!

Coming home from the Lake we missed our “healthy” food exit and ended up with only Taco Johns or KFC as an option. These are not happy gluten-free options and the expression on the teen’s face working at KFC was priceless when I asked if they had anything that wasn’t deep fat-fried.

We had Taco John’s and I’ve been paying for it ever since. I had never eaten there, being the health food addict I am, and I’ve decided it’s some kind of spicy dog food in disguise.

So today I am making Quinoa Blueberry Lemon Muffins to take on the trip. I love quinoa but the Brewmaster claims it wreaks havoc on his digestive system. With some luck the flour will be easier, or he can just abstain and leave them to me. They look delicious and will have a lot of good protein and slow-burning carbs to fuel my race. For once I followed the directions, only substituting blueberry Kefir for the buttermilk.

http://www.kitchendaily.com/recipe/quinoa-blueberry-lemon-muffins-gluten-free

Blueberry Quinoa muffins hot out of the oven
Blueberry Quinoa muffins hot out of the oven

I’m eager to get to my race and meet up with the five other women on Team Turtle. We are racing in memory of one woman’s friend Paul who lost a battle to cancer. I know I will survive, but I also would love to beat my first sprint tri time of 1 hour 51 minutes. That was a 500 yard swim, 18 mile bike, 5k run. The Irongirl is a 880 yard swim, 12 mile bike and 5k run, so that may affect my times, but since it won’t be raining, I hope my bike time will compensate for my slow swimming! Only time will tell.

Enjoy the beautiful end of summer weather, and get out there and tri!

Strong. I. Will. Be.

Algae and E. Coli and Trucks, Oh My!

With my Irongirl Sprint triathlon only a week away, I decided I would do a trial run and try and improve my transition techniques this time. They couldn’t have been worse my first triathlon and I’d like to improve. 

Today I tried a new tri-top from the company Run Girl Run, a sporty pink thing with a zip pocket that I thought wouldn’t drag too much. It seemed like swim suit material, but there wasn’t much support for the Girls so I added an extra sport bra underneath. I was particularly happy that it was on sale at We Run in North LIberty, IA for only $25!

http://rungirlrun.com/collections/sport-tops/products/affinity-tank

It worked out really well today with my tri shorts. I didn’t have to change clothes or try to pull a tight top on over my wet skin like my first triathlon. I will wear a race belt so I don’t have to pin my race bib on after the swim. The top dragged a little in the swim. In fact, I’m sure that’s why I was slow.

Right.

I might have to just be a geek and tuck it into my tri shorts. I will try this out and get back to you. Two years ago I just wore the top of a Tyr swim bikini under a shelf top, but I spent about 3 minutes in transition struggling to get it on. And this year I am 20 pounds heavier and don’t feel like strutting around in that pre-race.

Fortunately I was talking to a friend last night and found out that the lake I was planning on swimming in has been closed quite a bit this summer because of an E. Coli problem. Ewwww. I called this a.m. thinking maybe I was off the hook, but the ranger assured me that it was all good. This is an Iowa State Park and they don’t even have this info on their website! 

When the Brewmaster kindly chauffeured me out there this morning, I found an park employee looking at a sign about it and we had quite a chat. He gave me some good info on the roped off distance that I could actually swim in, plus filled me in on the bacteria issue. It turns out that the problem stems both from geese, which they have herded away, and cow run-off from a farm up the road. Yum. Nitrates…

By the time we got down to the beach I was feeling pretty grossed out, but the Brewmaster didn’t give me much time to reflect on the nastiness of the green water. Yes, green from algae, which is also a serious problem right now. 

I ran out and did 3.5 laps of 700 yards. I really needed to do 4 laps to get my half-mile, but my brain wasn’t handling advanced math that early today. (11 a.m.) They were not pretty. It took me double what it does in the swimming pool, probably because I couldn’t see and was afraid to breathe in the water. Whereas in the past the swimmable area was roped off, this year they installed steel pipes. At one point I bonked my head on one (because I am Grace) and that made me a little wary so I started sighting more often and breast stroking too often.

I promise y’all that this will be faster in one week. We are going up to Minnesota to our cabin and a beautiful spring-fed Lake where I will practice swimming without being able to see a black line.

I was REALLY proud of how fast I was ready to get on the bike. Helmet, glasses, set some apps going, and just wore my bike shoes with no socks and no gloves. The Irongirl is 12 miles, I actually rode 14.7 home today. My bike shoes are tri shoes and meant to be worn without socks, but I lubed them up a little. 

The bike ride was great. I was cruising on the highway for awhile while I had a good shoulder and averaging well above my usual speeds; around 21 mph. Then the shoulder got all gravelly and then it disappeared. I was surrounded by cement trucks and semis barreling down on me, and was really afraid I’d wipe out a few times. It also started raining at this point. Note that this was NOT on the radar even if I had bothered to check it. I had not.

I decided to cut onto a bike path through the woods and get off the road, but this meant more curves and hills and slowing down for other people. The only funny moment of the day was when I was thinking that I needed to hydrate before my run, grabbed my water bottle, and then realized I was at the top of a very steep hill that curved sharply somewhere below. My brain went into slow mo as I realized I really needed both hands on the brakes and that if I looked down to put the bottle back in it’s carrier, I would wipe out. So I chucked it to the right.

The Brewmaster and I might take Rose out for a walk and retrieve it later. Ballet Boy has vastly depleted my bike bottles by forgetting them at his ballet studio. Fortunately I had my back up.

All in all, I was pleased with my bike splits as I will be able to go even faster on a protected course. I averaged almost 19 mph. Not speedy fast, but better than my usual.

I was also very pleased with my bike to run transition. I installed new little triathlon quick ties on my shoes and that worked like a dream. I folded my socks so that they were really fast to get on. I fiddled with my phone apps, but I won’t even have those. I took off in the pouring rain, which only got worse.

Drying my Saucony's and lucky hat
Drying my Saucony’s and lucky hat

A little old lady up the street offered me shelter and probably thought I was nutso when I said that I was enjoying that cool rain. At that point, I didn’t care…I was wet anyway! Halfway through the run, it wasn’t so fun. My shoes and socks were soaked, I heard some thunder and then it started to hail. At that point I realized I would hope anyone I cared about would head home and not hit by lightning, so that’s what I did. I ended up only doing 2.66, but at my usual average pace. I know this will be faster and that’s really not bad after pushing it on the bike!

All in all, I’m SUPER glad I did the trial tri. Transitions need practice. I’m always telling my cello students the same thing! I know what I need to work on (swim) and I’m now a little more confident that I will survive next weekend.

So, today’s race report was .43 mile swim, 14.7 mile bike, and 2.66 mile run. In under two hours. I have this! I will do way better than my younger self. 

The Lumpy Bumpies

Today I realized how close I am to turning 50. I may crash my brother’s 30th high school reunion tonight, and mine is just around the corner. And I thought turning 40 was hard.

Of course, I’m still 46. But not for long, and I feel like my body is slowly giving in to this whole age thing. I can’t stand up without a creak or a pain, I can describe about five places in my body that hurt chronically (upper arm, arch of left foot, right hip, lower abdomen, boobs). My teeth have coffee stains, my hair is greying at the roots.

Welcome to the Old Hag stage of life.hag

Blindly optimistic, I chip away at banishing this evil twin. Although triathlon training probably contributes to many of my aches and pains, it is also a time balm. In the pool today I found a rhythm I haven’t found in a year, and ended up swimming 45 laps when I only meant to swim 30. Maybe my new goal would be 46 minimum for every year of my life. I would need time, as I am not very fast.

More time in the pool=strength. Pool time also calms me down, stretches out sore muscles and is an all body workout that is unrivaled.

Hopefully my new running shoes will cure my arch pain. I kept having other financial priorities and waited way too long to replace them. Don’t do it, people! Buy new shoes every 500 miles minimum as otherwise they stop supporting your tootsies. 

But some pain doesn’t go away. The boob pain is disconcerting, upsetting and hard to manage. I mean, it looks weird if I massage yourself every time it hurts, or walk around with ice taped to my chest. Apparently I am prone to cysts, which I found out after a few alarming visits to the doctor and ensuing ultrasound. I also have lumpy, bumpy breast tissue, as one radiologist told me in a consoling voice. This means I have a lot going on in normal times, and it’s hard to tell what is a bad lump and which is a good.

There is a wonderful Ted talk on the politics behind why diagnosis isn’t better for women like me. https://www.ted.com/talks/deborah_rhodes

Take the time to watch it if you are not aware of different densities and how it can affect a mammogram. Watch it for yourself, your wife, your daughter or your friends.

They do have digital imaging at the hospital I frequent way too frequently, but 3D imaging is too expensive and not covered by most insurance. Ultrasound is helpful with my type of breast tissue, but it’s easy to miss a lump in the mass of dense tissue.

If this envelope of skin, muscle, blood and bones I call my body can hold on so that I can meet all my goals. Short term I’d like to make it in one piece to and from Pleasant Prairie Irongirl Triathlon in two weeks from now.

If I can be a role model to my son, Balletboy, who spends hours pushing himself physically as a dancer, that also will make me happy.

And I’d like to spend some quality years with the Brewmaster, who is the most wonderful partner I could ask for. We’ve survived traveling, house projects and all the other litmus tests I have thrown at him.

So hang in there my twin, Old Hag, and help me ride this lumpy bumpy roller coaster of life. We’re going straight to the top.

 

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