Date Night (Spudman Race Report)

Most couples go out to dinner and a move on date night. My husband and I do that occasionally too. Lately, however, we’ve been hiring babysitters so that we can go on bike rides and open water swims together in order to train for our first Olympic Distance Triathlon. We were training for Onionman in Walla Walla, but due to my father-in-law’s illness (he’s fine now) we had to cancel at the last minute and did Spudman in Burley instead.

This was a big race, consisting of about 2,000 triathletes. We set up our transitions the night before, which helped alleviate some of the anxiety on race morning. Nevertheless, we arrived at the start only a few minutes prior to my husband’s start time. My wave started 30 minutes later so I had some additional time to visit the port-a-potty and survey the swim. The 1.5k swim was in the snake river and was current aided. I got in the water a few minutes before my start time and noticed that I had to actively swim backwards in order to keep from drifting ahead of the start buoy. Finally, the gun for my wave went off and I was able to stop wasting energy on staying behind the start line.

The swim was fast, fun, and in a straight line down the river. I couldn’t believe when I saw T1 on the horizon. I got out, searched for my bike, and started fumbling with my wetsuit. I am always amazed by the elite athletes that can breeze through the transitions like Houdini. I feel like a teenage boy trying to take a bra off. After I finally got my wetsuit off of my ankles I had to sit down to don my socks for fear of falling over. I finally got myself all situated and headed out on my bike. I am not yet coordinated enough to drink from water bottles so I decided to try a Camelbak. However, I accidentally brought by daughter’s bladder. It seemed to fit in my Camelbak okay though.

The 25k bike is fast and flat with only a few turns. I pass people on fat tires like they aren’t moving and people on fancy tri bikes pass me like I am not moving. I notice several people who appear to be riding in groups. I am fairly new to the sport of triathlon but I thought that drafting was strictly prohibited and even penalized. It kind of annoyed me but I tried to focus on my own ride and doing the best I could. I tried to take a sip of water. Nothing would come out. I tried again. Still nothing. After several attempts I decided there must be a kink in the hose and gave up. I tried not to panic that I would not have any hydration on the bike and told myself it would be good practice for something not going as planned on race day. And since it was my daughter’s bladder in my pack I imagined it was her hand on my back pushing me along. I found out after the race that her valve was just switched to the off position. Won’t make that mistake again!

I came into T2 ready for the run, but with such a large transition area I had a bit of trouble locating my stuff. I definitely see why people use helium balloons. I found my setup after a minute and headed out for the run. There was a spectator at the start offering smoked ribs to runners. Doesn’t that sound exactly like what you would want at that point in a race? He didn’t have any takers, but he got a good laugh out of me.

The 10k run starts with a steep hill. I walked up it and used the time to eat and drink, since I wasn’t able to on the bike. Then I settled in to my pace for the remainder of the run. It was hot, but several spectators were kind enough to set up sprinklers along the course. I thought I might catch my husband on the run, but he was waiting for me at the finish. It was a fun race and a successful first Olympic distance triathlon for both of us. I will definitely be back for more!

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Rest, Recover, Repeat!

California International Marathon was almost four weeks ago and I still cannot walk properly. I am finally off crutches, but it is still painful to do anything weight bearing on my left leg. My doctor was not sure if it was a minor bone injury or a muscle injury, but my physical therapist thinks I may have a femoral stress reaction. The jury is still out. If it is a stress reaction, this will be my second one in less than a year (my 40th year no less!) so I find myself wondering WTF is up with that.

It is easy for me to fall into the 2016 was the worst year ever line of thinking, turn that on myself personally, and focus primarily on my injuries. Yes, if there is a bone issue I need to get that figured out. I did have my blood checked and learned that my Vitamin D levels are low (not shocking because it’s winter and I exercise in the dark) so that could be a big piece of it. But my injuries are not my story. They could be my story if I wanted them to be, but I don’t.

As it turns out, I have a lot to celebrate in 2016. I started the year off by running Rock and Roll Arizona, my first post-baby marathon. I worked throughout the summer on conquering some of my fears on the bike (I’ve got more work to do in that arena, so heads up 2017) and placed in my age group in a couple of short triathlons this summer. This fall I completed a 10k (PR!) and a half-marathon while working towards my goal race, the California International Marathon. I had many beautiful runs and rides and so much fun running with and training with my friends. I learned about enjoying the journey and appreciating each run. I also learned that I am not patient and really bad at resting and recovering!

As I look towards 2017, I have a few goals in mind but with my current, undetermined physical condition I do not yet know what is realistic. My goal, first and foremost, is to be patient with my body. There are things I can do right now and things I cannot. My goal is to accept the things I can do, appreciate where I am, and work towards becoming the athlete that I want to be in 2017 and beyond. Cheers to 2017, to good health, to happiness, and to enjoying the ride!

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My Gait Analysis Follow-Up Appointment: A Valuable Lesson in Dissociation

St. Luke’s Sports Medicine is a very generous sponsor of our running team, the Boise Betties, and as part of that sponsorship we can send a runner or two per month in for a detailed gait analysis. This month it was my turn. Two weeks ago, I went in and completed paperwork, did a videotaped session on the treadmill, and several strength and flexibility tests. This week I went back to watch the videos and learn about the areas in which I most need to improve.

As most of us do, I cringed at the idea of having to watch myself run on video. I asked those who had gone before me if it might be appropriate to bring beer or wine for the viewing session. Maybe some Xanax? My coach met me there for my appointment too, with pen and paper in hand so that she could take notes and incorporate any suggestions from the therapists into my training program.

I have done a gait analysis before. I have seen myself running on videotape. I am not sure I had seen myself running on videotape in super slow motion. All I could see were portions of my body moving up and down in disjunction with other portions. Ga-gunk. Ga-gunk. I tried not to focus on that. I tried to play scientist and focus on angles and hip drops and detach myself as best I could from any emotional attachment to the image on the screen, instead trying to soak up what information I could from the health professionals in the room who could teach me how to improve.

But occasionally the eating disordered 16 year old that is still stuck inside me would rear her ugly head: “Look at all of that extra on you. No wonder you are not faster.” To which the older, wiser and more dominant 40 year old woman would reply: “Excuse me little girl, this body can run marathons. This body has birthed three beautiful children. This body is strong. And this body keeps going. So excuse me while I keep listening to these physical therapists because I do not have time for your crap.”

The appointment was very humbling (to say the least), yet also eye opening and gave me things to work on. For example, I saw that I strike the ground with too straight of a leg, which I believe is a compensatory pattern due to years of pain behind the knee cap. The knee pain may be due to weak hips and my glutes not firing so I am going to continue working on hip strength (which I was already working on) and glute recruiting exercises and see if I can make any improvements in this area over time.

In running practice the next morning we did hill repeats. They were the first ones I had done in months, since I am just coming back from injury. I could feel my quads and lower back over working while my glutes were still sleeping. I felt frustrated and remembered my appointment the day before. As I thought back to all of the things that were “wrong” with my running, I felt overcome with negativity and frustration. I was not appreciating my body for the things that it could do, but rather getting angry with it for the things that, in my mind, it was not doing.

Later that day, I read an article about a Playboy playmate who had taken a picture of another woman in the shower at a gym without her permission and then body-shamed her on social media. I was horrified. Who does this? Here we have a beautiful woman who feels the need to take a nude photo of another woman, post it online thereby violating this woman’s privacy in a horrible way, and say awful things about her. Don’t you think it has something to to with the fact that deep down the perpetrator, a playboy model, feels insecure about her own looks and her own body, so she tears others down to feel better about herself? We all know there is a better way. This mom’s response is the best.

Each body is beautiful because each body is uniquely ours. Our bodies can do amazing things. When we push ourselves, sometimes we learn that our bodies can do things we never thought we were capable of. Of course we do not look like photos in magazines. Those are not real. We are. Let’s celebrate each other and what our bodies can do, not what they canNOT

Today my body completed its first race, a short sprint triathlon, since I turned 40 three months ago and was diagnosed a day later with a stress reaction in my foot. I am so thankful for what my body could do today and am hopeful for the future. And next time I am doing hill repeats, I will be thankful that my body is able to run up a hill, no matter which muscles are propelling it. My glutes may be a little late to the game, but they will get there. I will make sure of it.