Monday, August 11, 2014
Saturday, August 9th, I got to participate in something I thought I'd never, ever do. I competed in the USAT Age Group National Championships, Olympic Distance Triathlon.
When I got the invitation to participate, I initially ignored it. I'd only done two other triathlons, and I really wasn't very good at it. Then I got another invitation, and it got me thinking. I figured I'm not getting any younger. I probably won't ever qualify again. So why not? My husband thought I was nuts. I don't have much experience with open water swimming, and a bicycle accident in 2000 left me very afraid of the bicycle. I'd only been working on overcoming that fear for the past year. But my husband saw it in my eyes, my mind was made up. I was going to do it. He reluctantly went along with the hairbrained idea. When I mentioned the invitation online, two awesome triathlete friends told me to "Do it!" If they believe I can do it, that was all I needed. Thanks to my coach, I had the necessary training to get it done. I wouldn't be fast, but I would get it done.
So on Thursday we made our way to Milwaukee so I could swim 1500 meters in cold Lake Michigan, bike 25 miles and run 10K (6.2 miles).
Friday was packet pickup. It was amazing! I was standing in line with all the "real" athletes who knew what they were doing. They had no idea I was so nervous. I pretended not to be.
(packet pickup included all my stuff, plus a really cool jacket)
Also on Friday, there was a practice swim. I can swim, but I haven't had much experience with open water or wetsuit swimming. I put off getting in the water as long as I could. Brrr!! It was COLD!! Even in the wetsuit, it was cold. The cold water set off an asthma attack. I went about a half mile, and then had to get pulled out of the water. I was so afraid the same would happen on race day. But I didn't spend all this money and drive all this way to take a dnf (did not finish).
Next on Friday's agenda was bike check-in. I'd never seen so many cool bicycles in my life!! My bike was just a regular road bike that costs several hundred dollars. The other bikes were in the $2000-$10,000 range. But I proudly racked my bike and walked off thinking, "Yep, it's really happening!"
(bike check-in on Friday)
Race morning I got up early and set up my transition area. I pulled on my wetsuit and waited with the rest of the pink cap ladies. At 7:51am we were off! I couldn't put my face in the water without setting off an asthma attack, so I struggled during the swim. But it wasn't unbearably cold, and I finally finished on my own.
(my husband took this awesome picture of my wave start, with the "pink cap" ladies)
I ran to transition and got out of the wetsuit and onto the bike. I was surprised at how well I was riding. Around mile 18 I got really hungry! Like, I thought I could eat an 8 course meal! But I was on a roll, steadily plugging along. I finished the 25 miles in a faster-than-I've-ever-gone time, and pulled into the transition area. I was so hungry I ate all kinds of stuff I'd left there -- chocolate bar, energy chews, gu. A volunteer came over and asked if I was okay. He said I'd been in transition a while (abt 3 mins). I told him I was just really hungry. Then he reminded me I still had my helmet on. I thanked him, took off my helmet, and then took off on my final leg -- the run. About 4 miles into my run, I met a 74 yr old woman keeping my pace. We ran together the final 2.2 miles. She was amazing! She didn't start doing triathlons until she was in her mid 60s!! And she was even scheduled to run the Sprint tri the next day! We both picked up the pace in the last .2 miles. I was giving it all I had when I crossed the finish line. I think I couldn't stop smiling! I think I may even have been crying!!
(crossing the finish line)
August 9th I played with the cool kids, and I held my own. I will do this distance again. And again. And again.
(I couldn't go to Wisconsin and NOT buy cheese!)
(It looks so calm and unassuming)
(most awesome medal EVER)
Sunday, April 27, 2014
Yesterday I stepped waaaaayyy out of my comfort zone. Way, way out. This is a journey 14 years in the making.
August 13, 2000. I thought it would be a good idea to get on a bike and ride it for the first time in about 20 years. I got about 2 houses down from my own house, and I kind of freaked out with the wobbliness, I slid in gravel, I hit a retaining wall, and I fell about 10 feet.
(this is where I fell, over that wall on the side of the road, into this yard)
The fall shattered my right shoulder, leading to an emergency replacement. The surgeon was very bad, and in addition to not putting in the correct size prosthesis, he also removed two of my muscles -- my pectoralis major and my supraspinatis. These are the muscles responsible for forward and sideways lifting. I ended up with an arm that just hung at my side. Six years went by, and the shoulder never stayed in the socket. It would get hung under my collar bone, and it would put pressure on the rod going down through my arm bone, and it kept fracturing it. Finally a doctor replaced it in 2006 and tried to make it right. He said it looked like a bomb had gone off in there. He really couldn't do much, but at least it quit hurting for a while. I still had no range of motion. My arm just hung at my side. In 2009, I fell in my kitchen and broke my arm again. This time they had new technology, and they replaced my bad shoulder with a reverse shoulder replacement. It reversed the position of the ball and socket, and allowed the deltoid to do the lifting. After healing from my surgery, I could actually move my arm!! For the first time in 9 years, my arm was about 80% functional! However, I ended up with a bacterial infection following the surgery, and I had a picc line for several weeks and oral antibiotics/anti fungals for a total of 6 months. What a mess. Eventually it all healed, and I still have about 80% function in my right (dominant) arm.
The bicycle accident really had an impact on me. I never wanted to get on a bike again. Not ever.
But last year, something clicked in my head. I was an injured runner. I love running, and between a hip flexor injury, a meniscus tear, and a fractured tibial plateau, I was out of commission all last year. I had to do something to maintain my fitness. I started swimming, and I discovered I loved it! I'm slow, but I'm actually quite good at it. And then the thoughts of a triathlon started popping into my head. What the heck?? I was scared, but I knew I wanted to do it. I wasn't going to let my absolute fear of the bicycle stop me.
I did a little practice tri in March. Indoor swim, bike, run. It was fun. But I knew one day I would have to get out on the road and ride like a grown-up.
That's the back story to yesterday's tri.
The day started with a scare. I let my dog out at 5:00am, and he was barking and carrying on at the neighbor's window. I went outside to stop him, and a drunk man stepped out of the shadows. I thought, "Oh crap!" I didn't know what to do, so I acted like I wasn't scared, and pretended I was in control. He turned out to be a nice enough guy, trying to talk to a girl in that house. Yeah, I'm sure she was impressed with his drunkenness at 5:00am.
I got to the triathlon, and my swim went really well. I was faster than I expected, but I hadn't learned how to pass people in the pool. So I slowed down in the bottleneck at the end of each lane. I'll have to figure it out.
My favorite picture of the tri is when I'm standing by the pool. You can see the surgical scars on my shoulder, and my lack of muscles where the surgeon removed them. And you can see my deformed toes where 30+ years of rheumatoid arthritis has destroyed them.
I was nervous getting on the bike. I took off down the bike path and onto the open road. A couple of men passed me on their bikes. Okay, I was alright with that. A car passed. I realized I was alright with that, too. Up hills, yes, they were okay too! Then I realized I was actually okay on the bike!!! My front derailleur, however, was not okay. While climbing a long, steady hill, my gears did not shift out correctly in the front. It was apparent that the derailleur was damaged last week when the bike rack (and bikes) fell off the car. I had to get off my bike and walk it up the hill. When I got back on, I got the gear working on the downhill. That was my only bike issue. I pulled into the transition area, and I was so happy to have survived the bike!!! I realized I could do it, and it wasn't a big deal!! All those years of being scared -- and for what?? Nothing. 15 miles over hills, with traffic, with other people. I was good with that!!
Then came the run. My legs were rubber for the first half mile or so. But then I got in my rhythm, and that cross country 5K was a piece of cake.
I was so pleased with my tri. All those years of being scared of the bike. I realized that most things we're scared of are really not worth being scared of. It wastes a lot of time being scared of something silly. Yes, that bicycle accident changed my life. It left me with a useless arm for 9 years. It gave me a panicky feeling just looking at a bicycle. But in the end, it was just a blip in the grand scheme of things.
Don't be scared!! Step outside your comfort zone, and face your fears!! It is exhilarating!
(the finish line)
(Did I mention I got an age group award?)
Sunday, April 13, 2014
Today my daughter and I went on a run. It was hot and hilly, and we were having a grand and glorious time.
We live in the country, and we can run for miles without seeing anybody. And that was the case for the first 4 miles.
We saw some pretty horses. But one horse -- the one who wanted the most attention -- was very skinny. I hope he fattens up like his playmates.
We saw a spooky and beautiful really old house. My daughter told me when she was a teenager, it reminded her of the Blair Witch house.
Then I saw a sign for an Amish store. It pointed up a hill.
I'd never been up that hill, but there were two old men working on lawnmowers at a barn/garage in the intersection. We stopped and asked them how far that road went. They were funny old men. One man started telling me how running is bad for your bones. I told him not so! Then he said his brother runs and rides a bike, and his other brother does something or another. And his other brother. So I stopped him and said, "Wait! Your other brother? Is his name Darrell?" He said yes. He didn't get the joke. "My name's Larry. This is my brother Darrell. This is my other brother Darrell." But we all laughed, anyway. Then he said he drives, and rides around with a deer in the passenger seat. Sure enough, there was a deer in the passenger seat of his BMW. We told him to put it in the driver's seat so we could take a picture. There's just something funny about a deer driving a BMW.
Then the old man told us a bad joke. "You wanna see a butthole wrapped in plastic? Look at your drivers license!" He laughed and thought it was the funniest joke he'd ever heard. We said, "Alright, now, we're heading on up the hill!" That was all the humor I could stand from those two old men. Hahahaha
Just when we thought our run couldn't get any better, I spotted a strange object on the side of the road. I believe it's the Kentucky Chupacabra!!
There was a burned out house with a toilet sitting there. Naturally, the photo-op with a chupacabra in a toilet.
That was all the fun we could stand. We ran home. Yes, I took the chupy with me. He's currently in the washing machine, getting who knows what kind of grime off him. He's adorable!!!
Such a grand and glorious day.
Me and my awesome daughter/running partner
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