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
Sunday, April 06, 2014
Today my daughter and I went on a 9 mile run. We live in a rural area, about a bazillion miles from anywhere, really.
Around mile 2 we came across a snake. He was a vicious little fella, and he didn't like us messing with him. My daughter picked up a stick and pushed him out of the road so he wouldn't get smashed by a car. He bit the stick. But at least he ended up safe in the grass.
Then we ran on a little way, and we saw sheep, along with a couple of working sheep dogs (great pyranees). We stopped to pet the dogs. My daughter took a picture of the sheep.
There were so many trees that looked perfect for playing. We stopped for a photo op in a Hobbit Hole
Then we played on a log, and I tried to act like I was balancing. I was holding on tightly to the fence post.
We saw 4 deer hop across the road in front of us, but we couldn't take a picture of them. They were too fast.
Then we played a little in the creek.
By the time we were done in the creek, it was getting late. We both had things to do. It was time to finish the run and go home.
By the time it was all said and done, we had run 9 (almost 9 1/2) miles, and we'd had a ton of fun. Today has been a happy day.
Sunday, March 09, 2014
WARNING: This is a rambling blog. I'm tired from swimming, biking, running today :-)
How did my tri go? It was good!! We got in the pool to warm up. I was in the first heat (aka "slowpoke" heat). I shared a lane with a man named Chuck. He was faster than I was, but since we didn't circle swim, it was okay. We each stayed on our side of the black line. The pool was different than the pool at the Y. The chemicals were different, and it caught me off guard. It affected my breathing at first, and I had to get used to it. Also, it seemed like the black line ended closer to the end of the pool, and I almost klunked my head into the wall. It only took me a couple of laps to get accustomed to the different pool, and I had a nice, steady swim. I was slower than most, but I was faster than at least 2 people. So yay!! Next, it was on to the spin bike. I can spin with the best of them. My legs know how to turn over quickly!! There was nothing very exciting about the bike portion. It was just "go fast, go uphill, go fast, we're done!" After 30 minutes of spin, we were off and running. I worked so hard on the bike, my legs were wobbly for the first quarter mile or so. But every lap (21.1 around the track) was +/- 1 or 2 seconds of the first lap. It was the most evenly paced 5K I'd ever run. Fast? No. Well executed? Yes.
I spoke with the event director afterward, and she said my swimming form was really good. That made me feel good, because I am obviously (visibly) weaker on my right side due to the titanium shoulder replacement. That is something I have to deal with. It's a pretty major thing, really. It may mean I will never be as fast as I want to be, but I'm not going to be as slow as most people with a shoulder replacement would be.
It was a training tri today -- a wonderful introduction to the world of triathlons. My next triathlon is a sprint tri on April 26th. Today's tri gave me the confidence I needed to know that I may not be last place!! And if I do place last, I'll be good with that. Triathlons aren't easy. First place or last, we're all triathletes.
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