Monday, December 17, 2012

getting the boot

It was a lovely autumn day, sunny and warm, and I was at my morning soccer team with Fury.  In the first 15 minutes, I'd had a few break-aways and a few shots on goal [to no avail, sadly] when once again, I see the ball coming my way.  I sprint up the field full force and get my foot square on the ball to make another shot against their goal keeper.  Unfortunately, at the exact moment I made contact with the ball, the opposing defender, also coming full force towards me, planted her foot on the ball as well.  BAM!!!  The ball shot straight up into the sky as pain permeated my foot.  Ouch.

I tried to convince myself I wasn't hurt too bad and wanted to burn some extra calories, so I limped my way through another 5 or 10 minutes when I finally pulled myself out of the game.  Sitting on the sideline with the remaining ice from my morning's iced tea, Joann and I determined that I should get some x-rays.  Bleh.  Everyone knows how I feel about hospitals at this point (see Exhibit A).  My leaving the game put our team short players and Joann leaving also would mean we'd be playing down even more (and I just hurt my right foot, so driving myself was out of the question).  With my phone in the jeep, Joann texted Jon and James to hopefully help transport me.  Jon was doing volunteer work at the zoo and wouldn't be able to get out to Fairfax anytime soon and we never heard back from James, but we didn't want to leave our team in the lurch, so I sat through the second half of the game.  This worked out well actually because that freed up more people and Daz was able to follow us with my jeep.  

For once, the wait at urgent care was minimal and I was getting examined fairly quickly.  Initial results showed no sign of fracture, but a severe sprain, and I was not to walk for at least a couple weeks.  I planted myself on the couch for the rest of the weekend.  To make matters worse, this happened 6 days before Jon and I were set to leave for Dominican Republic for Cori and Marcello's wedding.  I will say this, however, about travelling with a boot:
  • No waiting in the lines at airport security... anywhere!  
  • First to board means first dibs at the overhead bins.
  • No rushing to make your connection flight... instead, they will summons the people mover and transport you in a timely manner (even better that your destination flight knows you're en route and will wait for you)
  • No standing in lines at customs!  Just like with airport security, they wheel you right through.
Nonetheless, having the boot is annoying.  It makes paradise a little less fun, and it makes an active person antsy to get moving again (though admittedly, there were times that I was grateful for having a decent excuse for sitting on the couch).  Driving was a pain and entirely unsafe.  Formal occasions were difficult, and of course I had several:  Joann's birthday at the oyster riot, holiday parties, Ingrid's birthday, and of course the wedding in the DR.  Yuck, yuck, yuck!

BUT.  This injury is temporary, despite my orthopedic surgeon threatening surgery if it does not heal soon, and I am looking forward to spring races and even my first triathlon in two years, this June in Williamsburg.  Guess I should be hitting the pool or the bike trainer, huh?!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Slam the Dam

I was so nervous about this event.  2.4 miles.  This is what I consider the "marathon" of swimming.  It's the iron distance to the sport in the same way that 26.2 miles is the marathon of running and 112 miles is the century (plus) for cycling.  This was double the distance I've ever swam, my arm has been injured for weeks, and even worse, there were no walk breaks, no coasting down a hill.  This was keep pulling and keep kicking... or sink.  The water temperature was in the 80's and my desire to carry on all my luggage meant no wetsuit (aka security blanket) for me, another scary factor surrounding this event.

There was some uncertainty about who was going to this race.  Deb wasn't sure she could swing the trip and Jon already told me he was out since he's got 2 other trips the same month.  How the heck was I going to do this all alone???  James was going to Vegas with me but didn't offer to accompany me to the event, and Ed wasn't even flying in until Saturday.  This might have been the most stressful part, not having race company or a sherpa.  Racing alone is lonely, not having anyone to talk to before the race or greet you with a smile at the finish, I wasn't looking forward to it.  Luckily Deb *did* find a way to make it happen and arrived in Vegas around 10:30 Friday evening just in time for a quick bite to eat and few hours sleep before our 5:00 wake up call.

For once it wasn't difficult for me to wake up considering I didn't sleep at all.  Contacts in, new tri-top on, shorts, Mamma's Fools jersey and I was ready to go!  After a brief encounter with casino security (there was some kind of attack in our hotel and they were worried I was the victim) and an attempt to get into the wrong car in the parking lot, I was finally off to pick up Deb.  The drive to Lake Mead was uneventful and the lake was beautiful with the sun coming up over the mountain, definitely an instance of the calm before the storm.  Deb and I sat in the car until it was time for the pre-race briefing and before I knew it, the horn was sounding beginning the start of this uncertain swim.

I waded in and let most other people move past me before diving in and setting out.  A few early collisions with another girl, but it wasn't long before I separated myself from the group and settled into a rhythem. As I slowly made my way buoy after buoy, I did some calculations, counting the buoys (20 total), knowing I was 1/4 done... 3/5th done... 7/20th done... I saw Deb not too far behind as well as a couple other people.  We were not last!  Just passed the halfway point I started getting really hungry (pizza!!) and my fingers started hurting.  I had to stop to adjust my goggles a few times, but was otherwise really comfortable in my swim ensemble.   There was one girl just ahead of me that I kept in my sights and saw her make the final turn (and then she slammed right into my bad arm - ouch) so I knew I was close to the home stretch.  Only 5 more buoys to go and then the swim to shore.  I picked up the pace as I was just so ready to be finished.  stroke, stroke, kick, kick... I knew my prediction of 2 hours was optimistic (based upon my 1.2mi wetsuit time), and indeed heard the start of the next race just before my final turn around that last buoy but I no longer cared about time and just wanted to be finished already.  The water was clear and it was getting shallower... finally it was time to stand up and walk out of the lake.  I DID IT!!!! 2:10:50*.  I'll take it.

I felt dizzy and water logged as I made my way out of the water to collect my medal, and was surprised to see Deb standing there.  It turned out she got really cold and called it a day after 1.2 miles.  It was nice to have her there at the finish.  We collected some food but didn't spend too much time hanging out.  After a quick detour to Hoover Dam we returned the rental car and grabbed a cab back to the strip.  James had been out exploring casinos and made his way back to meet me in the room and Ed's plane just landed so he was checking in.  Shower and lunch and then a couple of fun days hanging out in Vegas, losing money on stupid football bets.  We ate the Bellagio buffet, saw the Penn & Teller show, went on a ride at the top of the Stratosphere and explored an off-strip restaurant and casino.  All in all a good weekend, my arm hurts a lot, but I am so pleased with myself for completing this swim!

*Official race results post my time at 1:59:55, however this seems impossible considering a) my own watch wouldn't be *that* far off and b) the 1.2 mile event started at the 2 hour mark (schedule-wise) and this was before I passed the final buoy.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Rev3 Cedar Point -- Swim

This is my second intentional DNF with the concept being introduced to me last fall at the Baltimore Half Marathon. Did I get lazy this summer or just plain burnt out? I'm not sure but I just wasn't feeling it and had no interest in jumping on a bike or heading out for a run. So, I made the decision to stop doing triathlon training. I suspended my membership to Team Z (not that I was doing any of the workouts anyway, that was a big waste of money), and stopped feeling all the pressure to train in all three sports. I liked the swimming though. Since I'd already paid for the Rev3 Half and reserved a room at a resort, I figured why not just go, swim, and call it a day.

Health issues in the weeks leading up to this race questioned whether or not I could even do just the swim. In fact, my doctor suggested that I just sit this event out. Being that it was my only chance at an open water swim before the 2.4 mile event in Las Vegas, and that I was going to be there anyway, AND Deb was there doing the full race, there was no way I was backing out. The first 600m was HARD, straight out from shore and completely against the current. I almost gave up and flagged down a kayak. But... I am not a quitter. I painfully continued on.  Once I made the first turn around the red buoy, it got a bit easier. It helped knowing that Deb was right there with me. We somehow managed to stay next to each other almost the entire swim. One yellow buoy after another, I was a third done, four ninths done, almost halfway.... Part of my health issues involved a severe pain in my right arm which was throbbing at this point. I also had a lot of pressure in my head from various facial swelling and my goggles were making me miserable. Finally, that next red turn buoy and all I had to do was get back to shore, though it seemed so far away. For the first time in my life I had a kayaker approach me and ask if I was OK. I must have looked as awful as I felt. I kept going though, inching my way toward the shore and finally, finally, finally it was shallow enough for me to stand up and walk up the beach. Since I didn't see a timing mat, I went all the way to transition, through 6" deep sand and the water in my head making me dizzy. OK, done and in 55 minutes which oddly isn't my worst 1.2 mile swim time. We must have had the current to our backs part of the way? Sure didn't feel like it though.

Deb got out of the water a minute or two before me and headed off on the bike and run. Meanwhile, Jon and I went to the rental car so I could change and hung out at Cedar Point. Unfortunately, roller coasters combined with the pressure in my head was a terrible mix and I ended up back out in the parking lot to sleep in the car after only 3 rides. The good part was that this meant I was around the final part of the run course to see Deb run in about half an hour ahead of schedule... enough to capture 2nd place in her age group. Way to go, Deb!!!!

I did end up back in the amusement park to ride one more roller coaster with Jon before heading back to the hotel. A good dinner of ribs followed by a full day at the water park and animal attraction at the Kalihari resort were how we ended the weekend. I was so glad to get back to Virginia and my bed. Flying with a swollen face and head pressure is no fun at all.

Background: Driving to work a few weeks ago my vision went completely blurry on my drive into work. Scary! After a stop at the nurses station at work, I was directed to the Urgent Care. Stephanie and Joann took me there and together we waited well over 2 hours for me to even be seen. By the time the doctor called me back, a severe headache had started and my right arm started hurting and went completely numb. I ended up at the hospital ER where they ended up admitting me for 24 hours of observation. Luckily my CT and MRI scans came back clean and they sent me home with a diagnosis of "complex migraine". Well, the headaches and arm pain continued, despite the medicine, and then to top it off, my face started swelling up every 1-2 days. Eyes, mouth, cheeks, nose, throat. It was awful. I finally got an appointment with an allergist and neurologist and was told to cease all medications (antihistamines for the allergy testing and anti-inflammatories in case that was causing an allergic reaction). This meant no more Allegra for my allergies, which naturally got worse. It also meant no pain killers for my back pain along with my constant headache and worsening arm pain. This was the worst week ever, so sick and so scared that they aren't going to figure out what's wrong with me.

Update: Allergist is convinced the swelling was a reaction to one or both of the migraine medications so she ended up not doing the skin testing after all.  Instead, we're treating the symptoms with a powerful antihistamine and steroids which I should be able to taper off from eventually.  The neurologist still isn't sure what's wrong.  Everything seems to fit a complex migraine except for the persistent headache and arm pain/numbness.  So, that's what we're going with and I started wondering if maybe the arm pain is really just a soccer injury made worse by the open water swim?  Maybe it's swollen and creating pressure that's causing the tingling? 

Monday, July 2, 2012

taking a break

I'm burnt out.

This summer has been hot / busy / lazy -- I have not been running, only been on the bike a handful of times.  Ingrid and I started out doing a weekly thing but that faded away almost as quickly as it began.  I'm just not feeling into racing these days and wonder if what I really need is to just take a break.  Rev3 Cedar Point is coming up and I am not sure I have any desire to train and race this event.  I just don't want to.  
*THIS* is how I'd like to spend my summer!!
For so long, I have been running, biking and swimming as my basic workouts outside of the soccer field (which really, let's face it... that's running also).  I'd like to be able to try kickboxing or zumba or something fun and different.  What happens now is that I come home, realize I have a 70.3 race coming up and need to get in a long workout, yet if I only have the energy for 2 miles, is it worth it?  Probably not.... and so I sit on the couch.  Not productive.  The pressure is mounting as the summer creeps along and I just don't see myself getting in shape in time.  Nor do I seem to care.

I was signed up for the General Smallwood relay this past weekend for what would have been my first event with Team Z, yet ended up bailing out at the last minute (my teammates were able to find a replacement).  I was also signed up for a swim across the Potomac with Wave One swimming which I intentionally slept through.  My excuse was the heat, but really I think I just lost interest.


I have made the executive decision to take a break from triathlons.  It feels like a weight has been lifted.  

I sent an email to Team Z ending my membership with the triathlon team.  It just wasn't worth the money, $70-80 per month and I wasn't going to any of the workouts.  The burden of training is gone.

I'm still in for the swim at Cedar Point and have inquired with the race directors about switching my registration to a relay, but honestly I don't feel like searching for teammates.  I'd rather just suck up the lost cost of the registration fee, do the swim and be done with it.  

I also have Slam the Dam in the fall, my first attempt at 2.4 miles, and I'm really looking forward to that.  I think this might be my summer of swimming!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Rock 'n' Roll Half

Once again, I'm looking at doing a race completely untrained.  My back has prevented me from running, and lack of motivation has kept me from walking.
Joann has had a stress fracture..... do we attempt to just walk the whole thing?
Paula also has had an injury and thinking of skipping the race...... but wait, my willingness to walk prompts Paula to remember our Baltimore experience and suggests that we complete part of the race and then find a metro.  Interesting.

As this race gets closer, I'm more and more anxious to get a valid finish time... not bail from the race halfway through, not cut off mileage due to a fire, but actually complete the given distance and cross over the finish line.  Can I do it?  

Packet pickup for this event was a clusterf*ck.  100% most ridiculous thing from the location all they way at RFK stadium, to the house that closed at 7pm forcing me to go during the day, to traffic in and around DC that made a 40 minute commute into about an hour each way, to parking about half mile away from the actual expo.... UGH.  Got my stuff, went home, selected my outfit.  In retrospect, I wonder if the main reason I wanted to go through with this race was because of the sparkly green skirt I planned on wearing to support St. Patrick's day?  Getting a pedicure the day before was probably not my best idea, but I woke up Saturday morning with sparkly green toes to match my skirt and headband.  Off to Clarendon to meet Ingrid, Rachael and Deb!

The metro ride to the race was absolutely terrible.  It rivaled the bus to NYC which was already topping the list as worst transportation experience ever.  Our train arrived at 7:15 and it was estimated a 30 minute ride to Stadium Armory.  HA.  The train was completely packed.  the 4 of us got separated and were literally squeezed into strangers.  Then we pulled into a station where the crowds from the earlier train were forced off due to a malfunction.  No way all these people were going to get onto our train.... right??  Wrong.  OMG.  The train could barely move at this point, and we finally pulled into Stadium Armory at 8:02.  Too bad the race started at 8:00.

We got out of the metro station around 8:15, still had to do bag check and make our way to the start line.  Luckily we were using chip timing.  At 8:40, we make our way into the starting corral, which is still oddly crowded... turns out the race was going in waves.  We got into the corrals as they were starting wave #8.  We started with wave #24.  The good part about this was that we somehow met up with Paula and Tommy, something that we had chalked up to a lost cause given the crowds and are lateness.  Eventually we got to the start line and were off....

Paula and I started walking, and noticed Ingrid and Rachael not too far ahead of us attempting to run.  They weren't really gaining any ground on us so decided to just join us and the 4 of us stuck together.  Came up on the first mile marker... then the second... could already tell this was going to be a long day.  Paula left us around mile 6 and as I glanced at my watch, I noticed that 2 hours had already passed.  Really?  2 hours to go 6 miles?  Ouch.  But the 3 of us kind of picked it up after that, incorporating some runs into our walk.  Mile markers started coming faster and at some point we began running more than walking.  We toured areas of the city that I'd never seen before and passed some incredible smelling restaurants -- we were starving!!  Mile 11.. mile 12.. we picked up our run pace.. mile 13, we were almost there!  The 3 of us sprinted to the finish and collected our medals... WE DID IT!!!!

Our finish time was ~3:36, so we really did pick up the pace in the back half.  It was really hot by this point and the race gave us towels soaked in ice water along with various food and refreshments.  I grabbed a yogurt, but the real prize would be the huge meal at IHOP after meeting up with James and Deb, who had finished well over an hour earlier, and a looooong metro ride back to Ballston.  Nelda met up with us for breakfast also before James and I took a cab back to his place for well-deserved (and needed) shower.  So happy for a finish time and medal and starting to get pumped for the next one!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Good Riddance 2011

Worst end of the year ever.

It all started the Monday after graduation.  Gosh, in retrospect, at least this all began AFTER graduation!!  Anyway, I started having this pain on the left side of my mouth, similar to the pain that I felt a year ago when I needed a crown.  This crown that I got was so deep that my dentist told me I'd need a root canal one day because it was so close to the nerve... so close in fact that my dentist sent me home with a slew of antibiotics and pain killers after putting in the crown.  Naturally, I assume that this new pain is the indication that I now need the dreaded root canal associated with this crown.  Tuesday morning, I call my dentist and schedule an appointment for Wednesday morning where she takes full mouth x-rays, conducts the tap test and fracture test and concludes that everything looks OK.  Since I'd been stressed with school, she concludes that I must have been clenching my teeth which can cause this type of pain.  I'm sent home with instructions to use a mouth guard and take ibuprofen, and the pain should go away soon.

Not so much.  The pain does not go away and on Friday morning, it hurts bad.  This is the only day that I can actually pinpoint one tooth that hurts, versus the generalized pain that had been present... and of course the pinpointed tooth is the one with the crown.  I call my dentist's office which is closed, and then based upon Joann's recommendation, leave a message on the emergency line indicating that my mouth hurts so bad that I cannot sip liquids.  No call back.  Saturday morning, the pain is much worse and Jon takes me to the local emergency care center.  It took the doctor there about 10 minutes to diagnose me with acute sinusitis, which made sense because James had mentioned that sinus problems was a possibility.  I go home with antibiotics and pain killers.  Up until now the pain would come and go in spurts, becoming very intense but only for 10-15 minutes every hour or so, but now... the pain was not going away.  I had to cancel Christmas with the family and skip the annual Leftwich party in lieu of sleeping off the pain.  Hopefully the antibiotics would start working soon!!

Christmas morning, I wake up with a partially swollen face, and I can no longer eat without massive amounts of pain.  Since I had not planned for this, I asked James if he'd go get Chinese food with me for lunch since that was likely the only place open on the holiday.  Jon goes for Chinese food with is family every Christmas for dinner so I didn't think there would be a problem, however apparently not all of the restaurants are open for lunch.  After driving all over the place, we finally found an open place, though the soup wasn't very good and I still wasn't able to eat very much.  As a consolation, James went next door to the 7-Eleven and stocked my kitchen with a ton of ice cream and soup which would end up being my only food source for the next few days.

Monday morning the swelling was worse.  The antibiotics didn't seem to be working and it seemed clear that I'd need to schedule an immediate follow-up with an ENT doctor to figure out what the heck was going on.  Of course, all the offices were closed because of the holiday and so I'd have to wait until Tuesday.  Ugh.  Finally, on Tuesday I started getting through to ENT doctors offices, only nobody had any available appointments.  I tried everybody I could think of, and was even willing to drive all the way up to Georgetown, but not one place was able to see me.  The earliest appointment I could get was Thursday.... I ended up taking that one, but needed to do something about the pain and swelling and so James agreed to drive me to the ER, only this time I decided to go to an ER that was actually attached to a hospital so that they could conduct any necessary tests.  Joann said that INOVA Fair Oaks was the best, and so this is where I ended up.

I checked into the ER around 10:30 that morning, had two CT scans, hooked up to an IV and told I'd have to stay the night.  WHAT????  The doctor was sure this wasn't a sinus issue, and we're back to the dental problems.  Turns out there was an infection behind the tooth, and to make sure it didn't spread to my brain, they had to monitor me and give me a full dose of antibiotics.  I should have had breakfast before heading out that morning because now the doctor wasn't sure if I should eat because he wasn't sure what the oral surgeon would want to do.  OMG, I was soooo hungry!!  James hung out with me the whole day and finally the doctor allowed me to eat, and I had the best pizza ever from the cafeteria (ok.. probably not the best pizza ever, but I was so hungry it tasted fantastic).  Jon showed up a little later and the three of us killed a few long boring hours until my room was ready for me.  I was admitted to the hospital for the first time ever.

Joann and Ingrid were on their way to see me, but the oral surgeon had other plans.  He had to do a procedure to drain some of the fluid in the abscess.  This meant drilling a freaking hole in my gum, which I would feel because with all the swelling, the numbing wasn't going to work.  I'm sure this procedure lasted only 5 minutes or so but it felt like forever with the needles and scalpel going into my mouth... thankfully James stayed behind while Jon got dinner and held my hand through the ordeal.  I made it through in one piece... well, one piece with an extra hole in my mouth.  Worst pain ever, and now my mouth was stuffed with a bunch of gauze and so now it was as hard to talk as it was eat.  I'm sure I was a great sight for Joann, Ingrid and Rachael who arrived with balloons and Panera mac & cheese... turns out when it comes to mac & cheese, I could eat!!  One noodle at a time and confining the chewing to the right side, YUM.  The constant checking of my vitals and changing of the gauze started getting annoying.. one by one my friends left and thus began my lonely, sleepless night in the hospital room.
Mr. Bear joined me for the stay in the hospital :-)
I ordered yogurt and applesauce for breakfast on Wednesday and tried to nap until Jon showed up around 9.  Other than a brief outing to check on the dogs and get lunch for us, he kept me company all day until James showed up that evening with a lovely strawberry milkshake.  Not too much later, Joann arrives with sushi, and then Jon returned... we actually had a pretty good time joking around and playing games on James' iPad.  I needed to get out of that room and so we took a walk through the hallways where Jon said goodnight.  The pain was getting worse as I think I overdid it with the laughing and the eating.  I was so unhappy to be there for a second night and I think I worked myself into a good enough panic that the pain medication stopped working.  It was awful.  The hours kept passing and dose after dose of pain meds didn't seem to make a difference.  Jo and James stayed there with me even though they both had to get to work on Thursday morning, taking turns talking to the nurses and trying to get a doctor to come see me.  Around 2AM, I had a craving for pudding so James went on excursion and returned with a ton of pudding, crackers, soda, cupcakes (for the going home party) and flowers.... it helped.  Joann finally headed home around 4:30, and James decided to stay and sleep in the most uncomfortable chair ever for the next few hours.  So ready to go home.
Awesome flower color choice!

By Thursday morning, I was soooo exhausted, yet I could not get any good sleep in that hospital or with the IV machine hooked up to me (which, by the way, was the most annoying thing to have to unplug and drag around with me every time I had to go to the bathroom... which was frequent because of the constant stream of saline solution they were pumping into me along with the antibiotics).  I spent the morning alone fielding calls from work and trying to catch up with a few friends.  Cindy decided to come see me and took the day off so that I'd have someone to drive me home when I was finally released.  A coworker stopped by with more Panera mac & cheese and then finally, finally, finally, the discharge papers came.  I was FREE!!!!  Cindy and I went to CVS to fill my prescriptions and then back to the hospital to pick up my CT scans and then I was home-bound.

I got home around 4:00, took some Nyquil, and slept straight through until 3AM.  I took a couple more Tylenol, which is the only pain medicine they gave me, and slept until about 9 on Friday.  I had some of my cupcakes for breakfast, scheduled the root canal for Saturday and went back to bed to nap off and on for the rest of the day.  I finally did take a shower (first since Monday) and wash my hair (you don't even want to know when the last time *that* was), but later that evening, Jon scolded me for trying to do too much and so I didn't get a chance to flat iron.  I did have to call the doctor and get better pain meds called into the pharmacy.  My mouth started bleeding again and so it was back to bed, but Jon bought that iPad game and sat with me and played it.

Saturday.  The dreaded root canal.  I was soooo nervous.  I was told that if I went to a specialist it wouldn't be so bad, and it really wasn't except the way the Endodontist had to play with my mouth really hurt the incision from my procedure and the remaining swelling in my cheek.  That is, it was bearable until she started filling the canal.... because of the infection, the numbing agents didn't work 100% and so I felt a LOT of the filling process and it was seriously horrendous pain.  She finally finished, and my mouth was all swollen again, and I was in so much pain that I couldn't even stand in the reception area to handle the paperwork.  Luckily Jon was there and agreed to finish up inside while I sat in the car.  He brought me home and then went to get me scrambled eggs and fill my new prescriptions.  Back to bed.

Luckily, after breakfast and a nap, the swelling started going down and I started feeling a little better.  After all the sleep I'd gotten in the past couple days it was hard to nap any more and so I scheduled a nail salon appointment... decided to bring in the new year with pretty nails (sangria color with sparkle!).  I'm finally starting to feel better.  My mouth still hurts and I can't chew much.. and my arm is sore from where the IV is, but overall I was already so much better and ready to get out of the house and ring in the new year with my good friends over a quiet and classy dinner at Chef Geoff's.  Good riddance 2011, bring on the new year!!