Monday, November 16, 2009

Am I Ashamed of my Fibromyalgia Symptoms?

This morning, I woke up with sharp pains in my lower back and glutes, and heavy feelings all around my body, especially my legs. I pushed myself to get up and moved around a bit, but it was impossible to loosen up my muscles. I went for a walk hoping to walk the tightness off, but instead I felt fatigued, which shortly after I fell hard into my bed and didn’t get up for the next five hours.

I didn’t do anything out of the ordinary this weekend when it comes to training. I ran 4 miles on Saturday followed by conditioning work, then on Sunday I was on the bike trainer for an hour at moderate intensity. I did yoga afterwards. I did have a few weeks of long work hours leading up to it, perhaps sitting for long hours for weeks did it for me at the end…but regardless of what the real reason was, I was frustrated.

I have been in a new relationship this past couple of months. I have to say, having fibromyalgia and managing a relationship is tougher than I thought. I have laid out my condition from the get go and I know he knows that I have it, but I know for sure he doesn’t have a clear idea as to what is entailed in it. I am so outgoing and energetic and active normally it is difficult for anyone to imagine me completely helpless in bed, completely shut down from my world. But that is the world that I have to face, and unfortunately the person in my life has to face it too...eventually. Now that, people, I have been having a really tough time with. I never want to expose myself to my significant other when I am weak, I only feel comfortable with my strong side. It is a silly kind of pride, I know. But to be blunt I have no idea how to deal with this kind of situation without making either myself or the other person potentially really uncomfortable.

So today, over the phone, I had to totally muster up all my energy to sound chirpy despite the pain and discomfort, as I was too worried about how he would feel about me being completely helpless and useless all day. He asked me if I needed anything – I said no, it’s just my every day thing, I’m used to it, bla bla bla… I could not get myself to say, yes, it would help me greatly if you could come by and help me have some water and eat some food, cuz I’ve been just starving all day long. But no, I had to sound in control and the last thing I wanted was for him to think that my condition could turn me into a weak person. Not that I think he would think that way, but it is my stupid ego to always wear the image of a strong person – because I am! Vulnerability is not my element…which ends up hurting me at the end.

But then I thought – why am I so cryptic and silent about the fact that I still have fibromyalgia symptoms, especially when I’m actually having them – am I ashamed? I am certainly proud of my accomplishments within the confines of my conditions – in fact I am grateful for being able to do more than I or anybody else had told me I could do. But what about my weaker side, am I proud of it? Perhaps I have been constantly touting my strong side and what I’ve accomplished, but been hiding my weak side, because, I was shameful of it? I am shameful of the weakness in me, when it was this very weakness that made me strong?

I know there is a balance in this life that I have to find – while pursuing my health by doing the things I do, I need to accept myself as someone that can be very weak and need others’ help from time to time. I only recently opened up to my closest friends to help me when I’m vulnerable, so I know it is going to take me some serious amount of time to let anyone new in my life to understand me and let that person see my vulnerable side. It is harder than I imagined. I really care about this person, so while I want to make sure I don’t overwhelm him with what I have, I would also be fooling him if I only showed my strong, energetic and strong side. But for now, I will admit I do still feel comfortable with my strong side…for now. In the mean time, I have to learn how to be vulnerable without feeling like I have to hide under my bed.

I shouldn’t have to feel shameful for my symptoms. It’s something I need to embrace, not merely cover up with my training and racing. I am not in denial of the fact that I have fibromyalgia, perhaps I never wanted it to rule my life anymore, but I do need to accept it a little more and embrace the fact that I have my condition…but be more proud of the fact that I’m working hard to overcome it.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Half Marathon Training begins TODAY

Signed up for another half marathon in February. The Surf City Half Marathon on Super Bowl Sunday. This year's goal is to really finish it without any stopping or walking. Run the entire race, injury-free. THAT IS MY GOAL.

First day of training today - easy 30 minutes run. Warmed up for a good 10 minutes leading up to it. Kept it at 12 min/mile pace, slowing down a little towards the end at some inclines. It was pretty tiring!

Today, right hip flexor is struggling, so is my lower back. One of those days. but I still ran. Feels worse when i'm sitting. Once again, WE ARE NOT MADE TO BE SITTING ALL DAY IN FRONT OF A COMPUTER. We are supposed to be moving.

More specific training plans to come. I have some serious conditioning regimes to follow in addition to the running plans. This I know will keep me from being injured again and again and again...

Also contemplating on a Full Aquabike race in July 2010, basically it's a full Ironman triathlon race without the full Marathon - 2.4 mile swim and 112 mile bike. It should be a great prelude to a full ironman the following year. I know it's weird, but this stuff excites me, I have something to look forward to and work hard for!!!

God bless*

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Bike Accident, and Malibu Triathlon – my attitude killed my joy, and I paid for it!

I haven’t written in a while – not only have I been busy with work since the end of my first half ironman, but a lot has happened and I have been trying to make sense out of it. I think I can finally look back and make sense out of all that has been happening as I organize my head.
First, shortly after the exhilarating high of the half ironman race, I started feeling a little down and got extremely bored of the day to day life – it was as if I didn’t know what to do with myself now that everything I’ve worked for all year was over and done with. Still, I wanted to maintain my fitness level by continuing to do weekend rides and ocean swims, etc… then about month ago something happened that shattered what was left of my desire to keep up with my training.

I was riding north going to meet my friend on the Pacific Coast Highway, near Zuma beach. This was mid August. There was construction in that area, which I was not aware of – neither were there any signs up saying there was a re-pavement construction going on….all of a sudden I find myself riding on a seriously ripped up bike lane – bumps and cracks everywhere, and I can feel the bumps and gyration in my arms…there were several more people on the road, and especially this one woman ahead of me, maneuvered pretty well through the bumps that I just kept focusing on following the path she went on to avoid falling into the cracks. I was getting pretty scared and tired of all the shaking, and the moment I let go of my alert and wanted to just stop, that is when my wheel got caught between the cracks and then…from what I can remember, I felt myself float into the air, rotating, along with the bike (my feet attached to the clips, so my bike and I were one, good or bad), then falling straight on to the ground, with a big thump on my head. The minute I fell, I looked around to see where I was – I fell into the middle of the road (survival alert!). I looked around to see if there was a car coming my way, and yes, there was..(note, PCH speed limit: 50, which means people go at least 55 mph)…a big black Mercedes…I started dragging myself (still attached to the bike) back on the bike lane…on my butt (bike still attached to my feet), I almost remember literally bouncing off my butt into the bike lane…how did I do that? Anyway, I was watching that big black Mercedes slow down right in front of me as I was doing all this…thank God, really, the driver was able to slow down. He pulled over and came out of his car to check if I was ok. I thanked him profusely for being able to slow down. What you will read will surprise you – he said that he was able to stop only because he was already slowing down to watch another person fall on the other side of the road! There were at least 4 accidents that day that I witnessed, and there were about 20 in total as reported. Fortunately my friend found me and he drove me to the ER and I got a CT scan on my head and xray on my right shoulder – everything was fine. I was so thankful for being alive and not having any serious damage.

On the other hand, my emotional side was not doing so well. For weeks I couldn’t get rid of the visual of the black car coming towards me that could have killed me. I avoided getting on the bike for weeks, and my desire to train and continue on with my efforts pretty much went to zero, from what was already at low levels. My right shoulder was tight and my right hip was definitely not doing very well. Head and neck pain came and went for weeks. All these things gave me great excuses to build on my already withering eagerness and passion for the one thing that has been keeping me alive – my training.

It was the end of August soon and then came the first week of September, and I had the Malibu Sprint Triathlon just around the corner on 9/13. I’d maybe gone on two ocean swims and done a few short runs. Maybe I got on the bike trainer once. But most of the days I was either nursing my tight injured areas or just doing pilates or yoga to loosen up my joints. I didn’t want to train, and I definitely did not want to do this upcoming Sprint race. I just didn’t want to do it. But I also knew deep inside that I had to do it, especially because it was a fundraiser for the Children's Hospital of Los Angeles.

Race day morming comes around, I'm still bitter that I had to get up at 430am for a short race. I mean, I was setting myself up for a bad race. If it hadn't been for Detra who carpooled with me and my other friends that met me there, there was NO WAY i would have even gotten up on time. It didn't help that when we got there there was already massive traffic and it was nearly impossible to park to get to the transition site on time to set up for the race. We parked alongside the road and just biked to the race site.

Long story short, I had one of the most unhappy races in the 5 years of my triathlon experience. I was sluggish from beginning to end, and I really did not feel much joy except for when I got out of the ocean. I had all the reasons to be proud of the fact that I survived the swim in Zuma beach, since I had been putting off doing the Malibu Triathlon all these years for the exact reason that I was too scared to face the unpredictable waves there. I killed it and I did well! But no, i didn't even think about it, all i thought about was that I wasn't up for doing this race.

With that attitude, even recovery was bad. I was sore all over for days, after a sprint! I recovered nicely after a half ironman not too long ago, granted I was very well trained that time, but still I do think my whole bitter attitude delayed my recovery.

What have i become? I started wondering why I was not feeling the usual joy - I understand, the accident shook me up a little and I was coming down from an immense high of completing a half ironman, but mang, I was just the biggest sour patch!

Now as I look back, I am realizing that I got spoiled. I lost my gratitude. I forgot WHY I was racing. I forgot that even two years ago I was not able to race without training diligently for it no matter how short of a race it was - now i'm at a fitness level where I can still race (albeit poorly) without much training and recover decently without severe consequences. I have dozens of reasons to be grateful for and continue to race with a smile no matter what! I became arrogant and foolish, and I apologize to those who cannot race because of the pain, that i have momentarily forgotten you. I let this whole half ironman experience and the accident get to my head.

I vow never to have such a sour attitude when it comes to training and racing! I mean, I love this stuff!!!!!

I definitely learned my lesson. In triathlons and in life, we walk into situations where we just don't feel like doing things, no matter how important they are to us. We can easily find excuses that back up our negative feelings about them too. So we allow ourselves to forget what got us there, what made us who we are, and most importantly where we are going. I almost let myself let go of everything i've worked for just because I got into a bad accident. I took my time getting over it, and gave myself every excuse in the book to delay a rebound. Eventually I even didn't want to do the race that brought me the joy and recovery of my health for the past 5 years. Once we lose our gratitude, excitement and the vision to go forward, we lose sight of the big picture and then..we get lost. Being positive is most of the time a choice we have to make and renew every day. It just doesn't come naturally all the time. However, it is that positive attitude and fortitute to move forward is what drives us to be better, live better and laugh a little more, so we have to choose to be positive and happy. Happiness is a choice.

Let's keep our joy alive by renewing our positive attitude every day.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Recovering, Resting...and Working

Not much to report since the race... I've recovered fairly well, actually let me not be ungrateful here, I've recovered miraculously well, been doing yoga, pilates, some mountain bike rides, some walks here and there, some ocean swims...and as it is the busy season at work, been working like crazy. The long hours of working have been bit of a burden on me, as sitting still for prolonged hours are stiffening up my hips beyond what my pain levels can tolerate. But work is work and I have to manage.

Seriously, on the recovery part...except for the day after the race, overall fatigue level was minimal. It was a shocking experience but of course an AWESOME feeling - hip pain was bearable the day or two after the race, but it actually got pretty bad for several days after that. I have no idea why that is, but I supposed it's a part of delayed muscle fatigue after an event like that. Just managed with a lot of self-massaging and conditioning exercises.

Here's what i think helped me recover pretty well after the race:
1. Nutrition/fueling DURING the race - my fueling during the race was like clock work, every hour for clif bars, trail mix bars, clif bloks, gels, etc..., and I drank Perpetuum as my drink supplement (Hammer Nutrition makes these - basically a meal supplement energy drink mix...amazing stuff). All this not only helped me get thru the race but I am sure it contributed a lot to faster muscle recovery

2. Recoverite right after the race - i packed double servings of Recoverite (also from Hammer, no i'm not sponsored by them) to drink after the race. I found this extremely effective over Endurox or Accelerate and other recovery drinks out there. Trust me, i've tried pretty much everything. It has Glutamine in it, which speeds up muscle recovery.

3. Eating a lot of protein and fats after the race. Protein for muscle recovery, and fats (good fats, like almonds, avocado, etc) for minimizing inflammation. And they also taste great after a race (well, anything does).

4. Icing/ cold water and hot tub: i went back and forth between the pool and the hot tub at the hotel when i got back from the race site. Reduce inflammation (cold) and increase blood flow (hot). I also iced my hips in the middle of the night (cuz it was hurting, but i didn't ignore it!)

5. Next day - continue to eat lean protein, fats and a good portion of carbohydrates. drink a ton of water to flush out the toxins.

6. Keep moving - while no specific exercise is necessary, i made sure i wasn't sitting or lying still - i kept moving around, walking, etc to keep my muscles moving. You can't stay still and stiffen up your muscles all of a sudden after an intense race like that, it would be too sudden of a halt for your muscles!

7. Enjoy the victory! Smile, be happy, really revisit the race and the amazing experience and live off that high! Share your story with others and multiply the joy!

after two weeks of mellowing out on the training, I think i'm sort of back to wanting to train again...nothing intense, just for a sprint race coming up in 3 weeks in Malibu. It's for a great cause, raising money for the Children's Hospital of Los Angeles.

Time to go back to work! Lots to do....

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Photos from Half Ironman

Pre-race events photos:
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=132060&id=678347111&l=cd27050a07

Race Day photos:
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=132592&id=678347111&l=75b0eed7a7


Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

I am officially a Half-Ironman finisher




8/1/2009. Barb’s Race – 1.2 mile Swim, 56 mile bike and 13.1 mile Run. My first attempt at becoming a Half Ironman. Sonoma, CA.

Alarm goes off at 505 am. Wondering if I slept or been up all night or if I have been dreaming. I feel ok. I feel rested. However, I do remember debating all night…can I do this? What if I panic in the water? What if I could say I’m not feeling up to it and just not do it? But all my friends are here for me, to cheer me on…I can’t betray them! How am I going to run a half marathon after riding 56 miles? Can I really swim 1.2 miles? What was I thinking when I signed up for this race? Was my training enough? Bla bla bla on and on and on… then at some point I told myself, I’m here for a reason. I’ve made it thus far. I can’t think of the entire race right now. I just need to swim when I’m swimming, then bike when I’m biking and run or walk when I’m running. I needed to stop driving myself crazy. The last I remember was telling myself I will do this, no matter what. Then I probably slept for real.

645am arrive at race site.

It is cold! Like 51 degrees cold, and a bit misty too. At least it’s not blazing hot first thing in the morning (trying to think positively). Detra and I finally see the rest of the gang – Shirley, Lilian and Jon – as we walk into the transition area, alongside the river where the swim part was to take place. We realized that the full ironman waves have already started (since 630am!), and basically us Barb’s race participants were the last two waves of the combined events. As I set up my transition area putting all my bike stuff together in order and put on my tight as heck wetsuit, Shirley, Detra and Lilian all showed up to cheer me up before the race. I have to say, all my nerves and excitement, as well as my gratitude for their support all welled up into a big ball of…tears and I hugged them as I thanked them for being there with me and getting on the course as a relay team to keep their caring eyes on me throughout. Let me tell you, I could not have gotten to the start line without these girls (and Jon, who was holding the “Club Minnie” sign and videotaping us the whole time)

815am – line up at the swim start, an in-water start

The gun goes off, my mind is empty. I just start. I have about an hour of swim ahead of me, so I really couldn’t afford to waste my energy worrying about stuff. Instead, I filled my head with random songs, the Lord’s Prayer (if you repeat that like a 100 times, you’re done), happy thoughts, pretending I was training, pretending the people grabbing my ankle and hitting on my face weren’t there, I wasn’t even thinking about where the turnaround point was, I was just going, stroke after stroke, completely mindless. No panic attacks (usually happens in the first 10 minutes of pretty much every swim, every race), no nothing…just swim. The only thing that kinda bugged me was that the goggles were fogging up a lot, but because there were so many buoys along the course to sight through the foggy goggles it didn’t bother me as much. Or I was forcing myself not to be disturbed by it.

After a while, finally I see two red gigantic triangular buoys where people were turning around. As I got closer, I could vividly see the bottom of the river, making it nearly impossible to keep swimming without scraping the ground and digging up rocks. I got up and started walking (water is only up to my knees), with a smirk on my face and also saw other swimmers doing the same thing. It was then I actually cleaned out my goggles and as the river started getting deep again I started swimming – woo hoo less than half to go!!!!!

At some point, I was swimming against stream, which made me a bit tired and stressed out. I didn’t feel like I was making any progress! Ugh, ok I can’t let this get to my head, I kept going….and next thing you know I saw the finish arch from not too far away, which got me excited as heck. I was wondering how long it has been taking me. I wanted to look at my watch but it was too murky in the water to read anything. I just kept swimming until I reached the bottom again and I was 5 feet away from the swim out area…I emerged out of the water the first thing I saw was Shirley, who was out of the water about 10 minutes ahead of me, and Jon and Lilian…friendly faces…and then heard their voices… looked at my watch, 52 minutes and change…STOKED!!!! A smile on my face, greeted by volunteers that were there to help me strip out of my sausage case, I mean, my wetsuit… free at last! I run to my bike and I’m ready for my next stage…

Bike – 56 miles

One thing I did differently this year was deciding not to track my mileage but only focus on my speed and cadence. I didn’t want to count every mile I was going because I didn’t want to drain my mind with the stress of how much longer I needed to go.

To make a long ride short (not literally although that would be nice), all I can say is lots of rolling hills, a couple of challenging climbs, and strong headwinds. I mean, what’s so interesting about this course was that it was magically set up so that every turn would pick up the wind right in front me, AGAINST me. This was a rare moment I was grateful for my weight that allowed me to keep riding against the wind without being blown around! At around mile 40, after a rather challenging climb, I started getting pretty bored of riding and dealing with the ups and downs of the hills and hence the frequent shifting. Several memorable moments, tho – around mile 8, I had two chain pops on an incline which may have slowed me down a little bit, but it was just annoying to deal with because…well because, it’s something that you don’t want to deal with during a race. I was chugging along a little disturbed and irritated after having to deal with that, until I saw something rather unusual about 20 feet in front of me. As I was approaching closer to that *something* I started realizing that it was another female cyclist struggling to go up the hill…as I got even closer my jaw dropped. This woman was pedaling with one leg, and as the hill got steeper, her body was shifting side to side and front to back more frequently to help her balance, as she was putting all her might to keep her cadence going before falling off the tip of the climb. My complaining mouth just had to be shut, and I went close to her to tell her how much I respected her endeavor – she smiled and said “have a great day!” I thanked her and I was able to get on the road with a renewed attitude. I felt like a selfish little kid for having been annoyed by a small chain problem. I was so over that at that point. God’s little reminder to focus on what’s important. I was out there in wine country, doing a half ironman, keep smiling!!!!!

The last 5 miles, as short as they were, felt a lot longer…most of it was flat and I really wanted to zoom through it all, but I wanted to conserve my energy and legs for the run. I thought it took me longer than 4 hours which kinda bummed me out, but I just saw in the official timing that it was 3 hours and 56 minutes. J a mere 4 minutes, but it makes me happy to have met my goal of 4 hours.

Run – 13.1 miles. It all started with a full-body spray of sunscreen.

The minute I entered the transition area, I heard familiar voices that brightened up my soul – Detra, Shirley and Jon were screaming my name and had a big sign with my name on it (and also a photo of me in an 80’s aerobics costume from last year’s Bay to Breakers). I had a big laugh while I moved on to my transition area…I saw Lilian, who guided me to where my run gear was as I felt completely lost in the middle of thousands of bikes. While I was putting on my running shoes and taking off all the bike gear, she sprayed sunscreen over me, from head to… I guess ankles since my toes were covered. Lilian had been waiting for me to get off my bike so that we could be on the course together, although Detra, who did the bike part of the relay, had come in over 30 minutes ahead of me. My friends, my angels…without them I wouldn’t have been able to get through this. I felt blessed throughout the race…and I needed to continue with the run, which I knew would be the most challenging part of it all.

Surprisingly when I started running I didn’t feel as bad as I used to during my brick training sessions – I could actually run for a change instead of limping right off the bike. I stuck with my original plan of 8 minute run / 2 minute walk intervals. The first 2- 3 miles were doable, and Lilian’s company made the run even somewhat enjoyable. As I was chatting and running with her, I caught something in the corner of my eye – a sign that says “Minnie You can do it”…and then I saw Shirley and Jon heading our way, apparently coming back from posting more signs. Gosh, seeing my friends over the course just made me so happy, made the long grueling race so much easier. Their smiling faces, their words of encouragement…sometimes all you need are those two things to get through a tough time. I was the happiest participant in the race.

Lilian and I kept going, she graciously slowed herself down to stay with my slow and sluggish pace. We were cracking jokes, encouraging other runners to keep going, enjoying the scenery and the occasional aroma of horse manure.

Starting around mile 5, what was very familiar but forgotten for a split second reared its ugly head – yes, my hip flexor pain! Took 3 advils out of my race belt and just kept going. Shortly thereafter, my already pretty slow run started getting slower, and some of the smiles were turning into cringes. I told Lilian that my pain was getting worse, and that we needed to slow down. She was very understanding, she still managed to slow down even more (if that was possible) for me. As we progressed regardless (slow and steady wins the race! Well in this case finishes the race), the pain got worse. As much as I asked Lilian to run at her speed ahead of me so that she could get a good run, I was so relieved that she was next to me at that moment. At the start of our second loop (around mile 9) a thought struck me, that I might not be able to get through this, as the left hip, both front and back, felt like they were being paralyzed. I could feel my arms and jaw shaking from the struggle, which caught me off guard. Suddenly I heard Lilian almost whispering at me, “Minnie you can do this, what can I get you” to which I answered, “I know…I don’t know, I’m just in a lot of pain.” Lilian then offered to run to the next aid station, about a quarter of a mile away, to find some advil – me, being someone never to accept people’s favor in situations like this caved in like a sick puppy and nodded “ok, ok” – I figured she could get her fast run in, at least.

As I was waiting for her return with all the goodies from the aid station, I kept going. Run, limp, skip, walk, whatever form it took me to move forward…I knew that in order to finish this race I had to slow down, despite my eagerness to go as fast as I could. I walked, stretching my hips as much as I could every stride. I also realized that there wasn’t too much left to finish, that I could do this. The 8 minute run/2 minute walk interval was already turning into like a 4 minute form of run but really walk speed/5 minute explicit walk. Egh. Lilian came back with cups filled with ice and 4 aspirins. I poured the ice into my tri shorts to numb the hip, and took 3 of the 4 aspirins. We kept going with the whatever intervals I could muster up, until we hit the last 2 mile mark, where we did our last turnaround. I almost kissed the dang sign.

I wanted to save my last running strength for the finish line (photo opp), I wasn’t sure at what point I could start running again, but I just kept going slow, walking more but as fast as I could. The downhills were excruciating, and the only humor left in the race was the slushy sound of ice in my shorts, of which some pieces ended up in some undesirable places which led me to occasional moments of shock, but definitely a welcome distraction from the hip pain. I realized, there was no way I could finish this race had Lilian not been on the course with me, the length of time to endure required for this race was way longer than what I had experienced before. And I knew that my friends were anxiously waiting for me at the finish line…I just wanted to get there as fast as I could, so that we could all stop waiting and start celebrating.

About 50 yards or so ahead of me, I saw the last curb that would eventually turn into the finish line area, I could hear the crowd more clearly, and I knew I had to just bite my tongue and dash towards the finish line – I think I whispered to Lilian that this is when we really run, and we both picked up speed, and I could hear her saying how great I was doing, and that we got this. My hands were shaking, my entire body was trembling, I was excited and relieved and shocked all at the same time that the moment was approaching. As I gathered my hands together before me and prayed for a final surge of strength, I started sprinting. Tears came out of nowhere, I felt the wind blowing in my face, which meant I was actually running – I heard the announcer mentioning my name, along with Lilian’s name…and we crossed the finish line side by side. We hugged, we were in awe, I was balling, Lilian was smiling, and we celebrated the moment with a joyful hug. I couldn’t believe myself. Despite the pain, I didn’t feel as tired as I did in other shorter races. I was elated. I was so amazed at how this day unfolded. Lilian and I both started looking for the rest of the gang – where are they? I couldn’t wait to see them and share the joy. It turned out that they thought we’d cross the finish later than we did… the run/walk lasted 3 hours and 15 minutes. Ah, that was a long time, but that was what was required to finish, whatever it took…

Finally, we saw our friends and we all celebrated the happy finish! I was officially on the course for 8 hours and 12 minutes. I had hoped that I’d be happy to be done in 8 hours and 30 minutes, assuming that I wouldn’t be able to run most of the time – so I was very grateful for my timing. Can I do better? Of course! Will that be next time? Heck yeah! I learned now that I could do this. I can do a half ironman – a distance I never thought I could attempt even two years ago. I would rather be the slowest person in a race than to quit out of fear or shame of being too slow.

Post-race recovery and thoughts

It’s been three days since the race. I’m still so grateful and thrilled I was able to cross that finish line…yet now my body has started feeling some of the inevitable pain as a result of such a physical exertion. However, I am feeling a massive amount of pride behind the pain, and I know that as long as I take care of it properly they will heal.

I have never prepared harder and more diligently for a race before, in my recollection. This was my first year of swimming more than 1500 meters (in fact, double that) and riding more than 50 miles during training. These were distances I used to think I could never break through without aggravating my pain threshold. This year, I knew I had to train these distances in order to do a half ironman race, and I slowly built up to it and I believed in my heart that it was doable as long as I managed it well. And guess what, it worked and I was able to survive the swim and bike portions of the race relatively pain-free – an unprecedented yet welcomed phenomenon. The mind is an interesting thing – when it tells us we can’t do something, we won’t be able to do them. But the minute the mind tells us even MAYBE we could, we get that much closer, and we can eventually do it as long as we keep pushing ourselves and reminding ourselves we can.

Training was one thing. But I am most grateful for my friends who took their time and resources to be on the course with me and cheer me on all the way through. Without them, I wouldn’t have gotten my foot out the hotel room race day morning, and I definitely wouldn’t have been able to go through the run without having some kind of mental breakdown. A smiling face, one word of encouragement, and knowing that I am so blessed with amazing people in my life, and that they were out there waiting for me no matter how long it takes… is what kept me going.

None of this was done on my own. I thank the numerous people I met through months of training, who taught me a thing or two on how to keep going and reminded me to never give up. Thanks for pushing me to get through the tough hill rides, thanks for being there in the ocean calming me down when I was in panic, thank you for reminding me how far I’ve come every time I felt overwhelmed with what was coming. I thank those who have been sending me words of support throughout, through my blog, through emails, through facebook, through twitter…help and support is all around. Sometimes we may be traveling on the road alone, but we should all remember that we are never really alone in the grand scheme of things. There is always someone wishing you the best, near or far.

And lastly, as corny as this may sound - Thank you God for adding purpose to my races.


Friday, July 31, 2009

Pre-race Prep

Just had a pre-race prep session - practice swim (see photo), bike warm up, and then packet pickup and full registration (see other photo, I'm officially on the list).

There was a pre-race meeting to go over the key points of the race, I am not sure if that was a wise move or not because it made me extra nervous. But my friend Detra was with me and she encouraged me the entire time that I would have no problem finishing this race... Thank you Detra!

Rest of the day will be eat, relax and meditate...and give thanks for this amazing opportunity.

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Monday, July 27, 2009

All the hard work is done, Race Day is 5 days away

As of yesterday, I closed the books on all the hard training required for the half ironman. One week left...and this Saturday I will be on the Barb's Race course in Sonoma, California.

Saturday I did a 3 hour ride along the Pacific Coast Highway, doing about 38 miles in total. There were several tough hills, but all in all it was pretty manageable. Then I met a colleague of mine, as she was starting out with her new pair of clip-ons (those pedals that you attach your bike shoes to in order to enhance speed and control, kind of tricky to get used to in the beginning) and rode with her for about 45 minutes to help her get used to stopping and starting on the road with those annoying clips. I remember how tough of a time I had when I was starting out on my new road bike and those trecherous clip-on pedals, I couldn't help but lend a hand to someone who was just starting out and feared going out on the streets because of them. It was fun and hopefully she feels better on the street now.

On Sunday I met up with the LA Tri Club members to do an ocean swim in the Marina. Detra and I had a great swim for 40 minutes in the ocean, getting ourselves more comfortable swimming in open water. The water was a bit choppier than last time, but it was nothing compared to Strawberry Fields. It was a pleasant challenge, a bit of a drag getting out of the water because of the opposite current, but I felt great.

Pretty much the Sunday swim was the last real training before the race. I had a good wrap-up weekend that made me feel quite ready for the race. I'm nervous as heck, have no idea how I'm going to run 13 miles after the 56 mile bike ride, but I guess I will have to manage when i get there! :) I have done as much as I could, I have really stretched my previous limits and done more than I could ever think of. There is of course so much more i could have done, but I can't think about that right now. I've made a lot of progress, and most importantly, I'm not injured and i am not too fatigued.

I also slept 9 hours Sunday night! Sleep is sooooooooo important especially when you're training a lot, i'm sure i've said this over 30 times by now. Did I also say that solving the sleep problem solves at least 50% of fibromyalgia pain issues? Sleep people, sleep! take some Total Sleep and sleep!

This week is going to be all very short sessions - tomorrow I will swim for 40 minutes and then run 30 minutes. Wednesday I will swim 30 minutes. Thursday is Rest, and Friday is going to be 10 minute run, 10 minute bike and 10 minute swim. SATURDAY - RACE DAY. As simple as that.

I am constantly meditating, praying and centering my thoughts to stay positive and optimistic. There is nothing to fear, really, I just have to pace myself and do what i can to finish, even if it takes me a long walk for hours to get through the run course. I know that my friends will be there with me to cheer me on, and I will pray the entire time I'm on the course. I know that this is not my doing, and at the end it is a higher power that will get me through the finish line. I have always felt it in every tough race, when I was about to give up, when I thought I had no more to push forth with, there was always that something extra that carried me through the final obstacles. I will think of all of the people in my life that have touched me and motivated me to take on this journey. I can do this, thanks to the great people i have had the honor to get to know, albeit just simple comments on my blog or emails back and forth.

Thank you everyone for giving me the energy and strength and the motivation to keep on. It is in my times of weakness that I have seen my strength come through, and that comes from a place outside of me. I know it, and I learn it over and over....

God bless!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Strawberry Fields Sprint Triathlon and the Ride back from Oxnard...on bike

7/19 - Strawberry Fields Sprint Triathlon.

Up at 345am, get dressed, have breakfast (or something like that), make sure everything is packed (i packed up pretty much everything into the car the night before - u NEVER want to pack for a race on the morning of!), mentally prep for myself for the day and pray for a quick moment.

Pick up Detra at 435am, load up her bike and stuff.

Pick up Shirley and Jon at 5am.

Arrive at Oxnard Beach Park at 6am.

Race start - first wave at 700am. My wave starts at 730am, Shirley's wave started at 708am so we went out to the ocean early on to send her off.

I spent about 15 minutes in the water while waiting for my wave to start - the water was freezing cold, the water was pretty choppy. I was so glad that Shirley and I went for a practice swim the day before, when it was even choppier. Very nerve-wracking, but I knew I could do it as long as I kept my heart rate down and just went slowly at my pace.

Finally, time for my wave to start. I didn't even use my legs. I just pulled with my arms, which saved me a lot of energy and oxygen (hence keeping the heartrate down). I felt a lot of people passing me (kicking, punching, swimming over me, you name it), but I didn't get shaken up by that. I just kept going, pretending I was in the ocean by myself. I had moments of panic, but they were temporary. I knew I could do this, it was only 400 meters. The water was cold and the waves came and hit me several times, but i just kept going, not thinking too much about anything, just telling myself that this was totally doable. I swam really really slow, as I knew that was the only way I could get through this very cold water swim. I got out finally, i looked at my watch, it took me 18 minutes. I was ok with that, just happy to get out of the water without a panic attack. Yeah, i'm on land!!!!

Bike and Run - short 12 mile bike, mostly flat. Uneventful, except that my inner thighs and hip flexors felt so awfully tight. I did my best. Then the Run (3 miles) - forget it, my legs and hips were so tightened up that I could barely lift my legs. I felt quite scared when I saw this happening, because the first thing that went through my mind was "geez, how am I going to do a half ironman if i can't even do a sprint???" Oh well, what do you do, you just do what you can. I finish, 1 hour and 48 minutes total time. that was a sloooooooow race, but I was glad I got some practice racing in.

The race was not even the big event (except for surviving the ocean swim, yey, pat on my back) - Detra and I planned on riding back to Santa Monica from Oxnard on our bikes after the race. That is about a 58 mile ride. I figured, might as well try. By the time we left the race site, it was 1035 am. Already starting to get hot.

A couple of tricky turns on to the Pacific Coast Highway from Oxnard, but after that it was just a straight up ride for EVER... several rolling climbs that sucked the energy out of me, but the challenge was not even those hills, really. First, it started getting super hot around noon. Second, Detra got a flat tire that took forever to fix (45 minutes?)...so it got even hotter as our ride got delayed. I was hungry, we never stopped for real food (just kept eating trail mix bars and gels...don't want to see them for another year). I think there was sand left in my tri shorts so i was very VERY uncomfortable sitting for hours....ouchhhhh, and my legs and feet started swelling up (i think it was from the cold water (bad circulation) and then getting really hot???) and it was making my bike shoes feel like torture contraptions...totally feeling miserable. To top it off, because of the hot weather, the PCH was so crowded with cars (PCH goes along the beach) and there was also some accident at some point, where cars were mean and deadly to cyclists... then my front tire got gum on it which collected debris every 20 seconds which i had to scrap off... ha ha i usually don't get so dramatic but mang this ride was one thing after another. I was so tired both physically and mentally.

At mile 42 (Big Rock/PCH) I was done. Sooooooo done. At that point i had stopped like 5 times in 10 minutes to scrap off the debris that stupid gum kept collecting (it just wouldn't go away or dry up!) I called Shirley to come get me (they had my car, already back in Santa Monica all showered up and full from REAL food), which she so kindly did in the crazy traffic. I felt bad but I was also so tired. I also held Detra back a little bit but i think she was done riding too. so all in all I did a pretty brave and tiring ride attempting to ride back from Oxnard, partially failed. I was still happy with it though, because I did the ride after racing, which not many people think of doing. I guess i've become one of those crazy people that think racing is not enough activity for the day. Well, I needed a long and challenging ride, and I definitely got one. One thing to note though, was that I did finish all the main rollers along the PCH...the point i stopped was basically all flat afterwards.

This morning, I was on the bike at a higher (more difficult) gear but I was doing pretty well, and my run wasn't so bad! Maybe the struggles from that day made me stronger. :) At least it was a relief that I could run 2 hours decently well after a 30 minute spin on the bike. If it were like last Sunday, there was no way I could have done what i did this morning. I think the cold water really stiffened me up that day, i don't think I will have that problem on race day (8/1) in Sonoma, as it is over 90 degrees out there right now. I do have to worry about hydration, on the other hand.

Anyway, I had to document this very interesting experience of racing then having a miserable bike ride back - i have never done such a thing, I don't regret it, I just need to be better prepped next time (i.e., stop to eat real food, leave early from race site instead of hanging around afterwards).

But regardless of what happened - thanks Detra, Shirley and Jon for a great, memorable day of fun (yes, it was still fun I suppose)!

Up at 415am

Up early to do a 2.5 hour brick (30 min bike + 2 hour run) before going into work.

If I were doing this for myself, I don't think I could get up this early! Thankful for a purpose greater than myself.


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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Ocean Swimming Tips - things to remember when you're about to freak out

Feel fast and efficient in the pool? Feel confident in your swimming, in the pool? Have limited open water swim experience? That's me. When I was about 9 years old, my oldest brother and I nearly drowned in the Hawaiian ocean to death. All I remember is the part where both struggled as we drowned...and then waking up to the sight of many heads looking at me asking "are you ok???" As odd as it sounds, I didn't even have that memory until I started practicing open water swim in the ocean about 4 years ago. Nowadays, i have to tell myself not to think about that day whenever I'm going ocean swimming. I want to overcome this fear so badly.

So, although I've done several ocean swim races, as you read from yesterday's blog I totally lost control and freaked out in the water, tempting me to quit the swim and get rescued out by someone. It was embarrassing. I recovered my dignity by swimming again and doing another loop out in the ocean, but I was shocked myself as to how I ended up getting so paranoid.

I've put together some key ocean swimming tips, not just for the readers but as a reminder to myself as well.

1. Warm up before you go in the water and spend as much time in the water before swim start - important for your body to be warmed up for the main swim. It usually takes longer for me to warm up and get acclimated to the water temperature. Start early.

2. One stroke at a time - the scope of the ocean can be overwhelming, causing the thought of finishing a full mile undoable, even if you've done 3 miles during training. Always remember - it is each stroke after stroke that will get you closer. don't look too far ahead. Just keep going, focus on your stroke.

3. Every 5-8 strokes, lift your head and to make sure you stay in line with where you're going. When I get nervous, I will swim while sticking my head out constantly to see where i'm going. That makes me super nervous because all I'm doing is reminding myself how far the swim is. Swim as usual, except periodically checking to see if you're still heading towards the mark. When you're not lifting your head to see, just swim as normal. Pretend you're in the pool with less visibility and no black line on the bottom.

4. Breathe deep, Exhale loooooong - especially in the beginning, even if it slows you down. It will stabilize your heart rate and prevent you from hyperventilating.

5. Think about happy/comforting things while swimming. Distract yourself from the constant push and pull from other swimmers and the daunting task of finishing the swim. Keep the rhythm of your strokes consistent, think about your friends, what you're going to do after the race, chant something, sing, pray, etc...do whatever you can to keep you distracted yet calm.

6. Minimize kicking. Until you're about to finish the swim (at which point you start kicking to get the blood flowing in your legs in prep for the run out of the swim and then bike), minimize kicking. This will save your legs and also help you exert less energy and help ease the heartrate as your body will need less oxygen the less kicking you do. It may slow you down just a tad bit, but if you're priority is to finish a race vs. winning and you will need a lot more energy for later, try to manage that during the swim by minimizing leg usage. This definitely helped me stay calmer in the water.

7. You can do this! You're not going to drown, nothing is wrong, you can totally do this!!! if you're too scared and you start overly hyperventilating, flip over and lie on your back...you will float as long as you're in your wetsuit. catch your breath, and then repeat 1-6. I can do this! You can do this - stop worrying, keep going.

and lastly - practice makes perfect. Keep doing these ocean swims, don't sporadically show up to ocean swim sessions right before a race. This is definitely one of the biggest mistakes I made. I am going to be a regular at the Wednesday Ocean Swim Speed Circuit with the LA Tri Club! Yeah!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Triathlon is a Team Sport!

** I dedicate this blog post to my dear friend Shirley**

Today I benefited from amazing kindness and generosity from a dear friend of mine. She has been for many years my triathlon race mate and everything beyond.

I went to a LA Tri Club group ocean swim session this morning. My dear friend was there, when I least expected her! She said that she had to get a new wetsuit because of a tear so she wanted to test it out. We started together, and we swam through the first 50 yards or so...until I started hyperventilating. At some point I thought I was going to have a heart attack as my chest tightened up, and it completely discouraged me from going forward. She realized that I was falling behind, so she came back to check up on me. She helped me regain my breathing, relax and waited until I could continue swimming again. Thanks to her, I was able to stop myself from doubting. She stopped every time i stopped, she kept encouraging me and making me feel at ease. I realized that I may have started way too fast, gave myself too little time to get used to the cold water (which revvs up my heart rate). I wanted to get out of the water and quit altogether, but i knew that was not an option, because in order to get out of the water i would have to keep swimming anyway.

Finally, on the first loop back to the shore, I didn't have to stop as I was able to breathe long and steady, and I kept my strokes more under control (i.e., not flying arms). My friend never stopped checking up on me. I was so grateful. I got so psyched up that we managed to do another loop out and back!

I realized, triathlons, despite having its very individual nature, can be a team sport when it comes to training. So far I have had the help of so many people cycling with me and swimming with me, keeping me motivated and strong. Without my friend today who stood by me the entire time, I would have never finished my ocean swim. And because of today's successful swim I will be able to keep going forward. Had I quit today, I would have lost the courage to go back to the ocean because of this single incident.

Sometimes we panic. Sometimes we feel helpless. In those times, we have our loved ones around us - don't be afraid to reach out, as they are kind and loving enough to help you through when you are struggling. I am so grateful for what happened today - it really put in perspective how my efforts are really not just my own - i have become who i am because of the people in my life who have been there for me. Even some of the readers have given me amazing advice and encouragement to keep going when I thought I had to stop because of my prolonged injuries. Thank you all. I cannot boast about what i can do - because it does not just come from me. Without the people around me, I would be nowhere right now.

I am thankful for the team (friends, training buddies and my blog readers) in my triathlon life! You are all a part of Minnie's team! Thank you!!!!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Details of the Encinal Canyon Climb

Just checked mapmyride.com -

9 miles of climing, gained 2000 ft of elevation. Mostly 4-6% inclines, while some reaching 8%!

Total ride that day was 22 miles. Definitely wayyyy short of the 60 I targeted, but my unplanned early climb up to the canyon sucked the wind out of me and I knew i had to cut back. Had i done a longer warm up/flat ride, I could have done 40-45 miles. With climbs like this, it's hard to sustain a long ride especially without a good warm up.

Doing a long flat ride this weekend, from Oxnard back to Playa, after doing a sprint triathlon to practice my ocean swim and transition.

Milestones

I achieved two milestones this weekend -

1 - first long climb up Encinal Canyon. I have to check the actual mileage, but I managed to climb up a long incline up one of the canyon roads in Malibu. It was challenging to say the least and there were times I wanted to just call for a cab. But my riding buddies helped me through. Felt very fatigued for the rest of the day but I didn't experience any flareups. I just drank a lot of water and ate a lot of protein and healthy carbs to recovery better. It was hard, painful, grueling...but I think if I repeated the climb every other week I will be a stronger rider.

2 - first ocean swim of the year. Finally! I tackled my biggest fear yet again...managed to muster up the courage to jump into the ocean and spend some time there. Nothing strenuous, an easy 900 - 1000 meter in the ocean, going back and forth from shore to buoy. Having friends to accompany you helps! My friend Detra swam with me the entire time, we stopped in the middle if we had to, just hanging out and encouraging each other. Felt great.

This whole process of training for a big race is really overcoming my own doubts and obstacles. Nothing is ever easy, especially if it is something new and challenging. We tend to freak out and react strongly to the things we are not familiar with. And we easily give up as we hit a wall - but the true test comes when we hit that wall - are we going to go over it, or are we going to turn back and never look forward again? Who do we have around us that can support us? I am so grateful for the people I have come across in my life lately. They are all amazingly positive, kind and encouraging people. I wouldn't gotten through certain periods of my training without these people. Carol, Karen, Shirley, Detra, Jef, Susan, Lilian, Jon....thank you friends!!!!

Race is really coming up! 8/1!!!!!!!!!! 2 weeks of build and then peak, then complete taper as we go into race week.... shivers :)

Friday, July 10, 2009

As I prepare my body and my mind for tomorrow...

I have a rather challenging 60 mile ride waiting for me tomorrow. A severe allergy attack today outdoors, tired now yet recovering tonight and thinking about the ride tomorrow. There will be some long climbs as well as rolling hills to keep me working hard. I'm a little nervous, but also excited about a new route. Pretty much tomorrow will be one of my last long rides before the race. I am not going to like the climbs but I will do it, slowly and steadily.

I'm mentally prepping myself as well - telling myself tomorrow will be fun, that I will do fine on the hills, that I will not give up. I will feel ready tomorrow when I get up.

I am so blessed to be able to do what I do. I am slow and I am weak at times but my strength shines thru in my weakest times. I know this. I need to keep going with a humble attitude, and let God carry me thru...wherever he will take me to, I will go.

3 weeks to race day. Blessings all around...I feel it.

I'm devoting my ride to all my fellow fibromyalgia fighters!!! Let's keep going, for a better tomorrow...
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Sunday, July 5, 2009

Another decent week of training

Thursday - 6 hour hike
Saturday - 3000 meter swim
Sunday - strength and conditioning.

Was supposed to have a long ride today but I had to delay to tomorrow due to the 4th holiday and a rather tired body after Thursday's long hike and Saturday's long swim. After tomorrow's ride, the rest of the week will be taper workouts.

4 weeks left. Nervous as heck. Just doing the best I can while preventing injuries and flareups.

A thank you to my dear friends who have offered their time to join me on the hike and the rides, which I couldn't have done alone. You know who you are.

Blessings*


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Monday, June 29, 2009

After a long brick session...

Yesterday I did a 3-hour bike then a 90 minute run/walk. It was grueling. I did notice, however, improvements in my hill climbing which was a huge relief. I was still cautious about my hip so during the run i mixed in some walks between intervals, which helped me stretch out my hips before things got too unbearable. I figure, it is more important to prevent injuries at this point than to try to fill up my ego with the satisfaction that I did a full run for 90 minutes straight and then risk suffering the consequences....

I was pretty sore afterwards (or even way before it was over) so I drove straight to the supermarket and picked up bags of ice - dumped it into the tub and threw myself in there. yes, freezing but i think it paid off because today i am not as sore and uncomfortable as i should be.

I think, despite the ongoing pain and spurts of fatigue, I managed to get stronger somehow. My hip flexors were tight last night and this morning, but they are not as inflamed or stiff as they were last week after a short brick session. So that tells me, ice bath or not, things have improved.

Over the past week some of you have been sending me amazingly encouraging comments to help me overcome my distress. Thank you so much! When i'm weak, i definitely can use the help...i am only human, I know there are limits to my ability to self-generate motivation all the time. I am so honored that I could encourage some of you to stay positive and improve your daily lives... and so happy and grateful that you have done the same for me when I am struggling.

So i have about 4 weeks left until the race. Nervous, but i just have to do my best for the next several weeks and just leave everything else in God's hands - I know i will finish somehow, in whatever shape or form. :) i am so grateful and relieved that my friends will be there with me to share one of the most important days of my life to date. I will have all of you in my thoughts to help me push through and persevere when i feel like stopping or quitting. I cannot even describe the power of your encouragements and thoughts and prayers and what they do to me - it makes me realize that what i do is not just through my might, but so much more beyond the physical efforts - something magical happens on race day, when everything comes together.

What gets me through at the end is not the training, it is what I know fuels me in my heart and my mind... my purpose, my promise, the love of my friends and the people who have become a part of my life through this little blog of mine...

I am tired, but very happy.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Thoughts on death of Michael Jackson

so, was just thinking - if you want to stage a comeback, or just improve your life for that matter, don't wait too long. just start now...u never know what's going to happen tomorrow

Monday, June 22, 2009

Patience is required!

I'm still waiting for this weight and pressure on my ankles and shoulders to dissipate... I was feeling a lot better yesterday, but not quite today. Frustrating. But I guess I have to be patient and hopeful. The fogginess is getting increasingly annoying but the more I think about it it's only going to make me feel worse - it's all stress inducing, isn't it???

The mantra is, stay patient, stay positive, just believe...I will be better at the right time. Kinda out of my control at this point.


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Sunday, June 21, 2009

I got Greedy

Yesterday I experienced the worst flare-up and all-over body pain I've had in...3-4 years, or as long as I can remember. I was so frustrated all morning. I felt like a loser laying in bed, missing my brick workout with the LA Tri Club... ugghhhhh I was feeling worse and worse about my race, was wondering how I got into such a bad situation with the level of pain I was feeling. I was shocked more than anything, because it was so unexpected that i would be in this much pain. a bit fatigued, a bit sore, i get it, but this time...I was devastated.

The most disturbing thing about it was that the pain levels took me all the way back to 3-4 years ago, when I was mostly in pain and was depressed frequently. Fear sunk in...am I going back to those days? What have I done wrong????? I was scared.

I could not get up all morning, pretty much until 1-2pm. I really wanted to have some fresh fruit but had to laugh at the fact that I couldn't get downstairs to the kitchen... :) Finally, I dragged myself out of bed and into the bath tub, where I had an epsom salt bath. I felt slightly better.

Then I got a phone call from my friend Shirley, and her words woke me up. She reminded me how far I've actually come, not how much of a loser I am for having been injured all season and am now laying flat on my bed incapable of functioning. My talk with her reminded me how I used to struggle trying to ride 3o miles, swim 1500 meters, and how i used to just train slowly and at my own pace...just to finish. I got competitive over the months, which I would say is natural, but i really forgot where I started. I used to just want to finish a race, and it didn't matter how little I was able to train or how unprepared I was. I still managed to find the joy in racing and finishing, no matter how long it took me. It turns out, I got greedy. and my body was paying for it.

I did a 60 mile bike ride 2 weeks ago. I consider 2000 meters of swimming "not enough" now - i mean, this is a huge leap compared to where I was last year. I forgot how to be grateful for the progress i've made. instead I kept pushing for more, never feeling like anything was enough, anxious to do everything and more... which not only pushed me physically but also mentally stressed me out on top of an already stressful work life. There was my answer to this explosive flareup - a bit too much, cuz Minnie got greedy.

Yesterday's incident humbled me. It started with making me angry and frustrated, but I realized that I was forgetting why I was doing this. This is not about me, my glory or my ego...i need to go back to where I started and go by this process with humility and gratitude.

I'm so grateful for this weekend - it woke me up. With 6 weeks to go, I can start again with a new attitude.

Blessings to you all - you are all my motivation for this. I promise not to forget.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Helplessness

Laying flat on my bed, cannot move at all. I am shocked.

God, help me get through this.

Even my fingers hurt typing this...

Humbled but hopeful for recovery.

Blessings to you all.
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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Staying Strong is easier said than done..

Ah, patience is wearing thin. Pain in my hip flexors move from left to right, lower to upper..getting tired.

Last night during my 90 minute run I had a mild panic attack, or so it seems. My chest was tight and I felt pain on my right chest. At some point I could hear a wheezing sound out of my throat. It was all very strange. But I kept going, even if it meant stopping and stubling for a little bit.

Sitting is painful. I'm working in front of the computer standing on my knees at work...

Patience is wearing thin. But again I tell myself I need to keep going and not be afraid of what might go wrong in the future.

The past two months have been painful, somewhere in my body, every single day. Tiring. But life is still meant to be lived. I won't give up.

We all gotta do what we can. The rest, God will lead the way.
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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Ups and Downs, and the joy of recovery week

Since the milestone 60 mile ride there has been some interesting incidents... Sunday and Monday after the run I felt horrible, stomach was turning and I just didn't understand what was happening. I felt like i had done an ironman race or something. Work started getting busy, and as I got over my stomach problem my left hip flexor tightness started creeping up on me again. Had some long bike sessions during the week on the trainer, felt ok but very fatigued. Come Thursday/Friday, i declared a burn-out from a week of 12-16 hour work days and my unbelievably tight left side, from my hip flexor all the way up my left side and abs. I just didn't know what to do with myself, so I skipped the long ride on Saturday.

I spent the entire Saturday morning cleaning and doing normal human things, like having brunch with friends and cleaning out old mail, etc. It was really nice for a change. I went to my strength training session with my trainer, which helped me a lot with the tightness.

So speaking of strength training helping with the tightness - here's my point. we get tight and feel pain because we don't move enough and our muscles stay constricted. Muscles stay short - short muscles equal weak muscles. so if you try to move with those short muscles, everything is going to hurt. My trainer started me with stretches, and had me do lateral moves concentrating on my hips and upper body - because they never get to move laterally, only front and back. I sit all day at the office, I sit for hours in the car, then i bike/run/swim which are all front-back movements. our body, however, is built to move 360 degrees. My lateral movement muscles have fatigued so much, which caused weakness in my hips and core (more the obliques), which made sitting one of the most painful things to do. I reconfirmed my learning of late - move, move, move...sitting still, or lying down still is not something you do for a prolonged period of time. It will make you stiff, short and eventually fall into a state of pain. Move, stretch, dance, spin around, utilize those muscles that are meant to move and pump some oxygen in to those muscles. It works!

This week has definitely been awesome. It's called recovery week, where most of the workouts are 30-45 minutes long, after a series of rather grueling weeks preceding. I have been so enjoying this, this morning I swam 1200m and ran for 25 minutes. It was so fun and short and sweet. :) I know that this means next week I ramp it up a notch and things will be tough, but I'm sure enjoying the short and sweet workouts for now!

I feel like over the past 3 weeks my body has been going through some extreme ups and downs and they have been exhausting to the body and the mind, I admit. However, I also know that there is a solution to everything, and I'm still searching for the solution to my left side problem...they just hurt along the entire upper body. Strange. But i'll get there. We can grow so tired of dealing with pain it's so easy to give up and drop the ball. At this stage, I have no idea if i can actually train up to be ready for my half ironman, but what the heck i just have to keep training as much as I can given my situation. I will only know what i am capable of on...8/1 RACE DAY. until then, i have to face the cards that i'm dealt with and go through the rounds of ups and downs, hoping for some stability in the next couple of weeks. I believe in hard work. I believe in ....believing. Just gotta keep going.

We get stronger as we aim to find peace in the midst of chaos... that's my thought for the day.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Race simulation (well, sort of)

First, the good news - I managed to get thru a 60 mile ride, including 2 big climbs!!

Now, the aftermath - today when I woke up I was pretty tired, and my stomach was extremely acidic. I recalled that I had a very high dose of caffeine yesterday (coffee bf ride, power gel with caffeine during ride, FRS 3 servings post-ride thruout the day and then another coffee to stay awake in the evening), not to mention tons of sports drink mix and energy bars. My stomach was hating me. Oh boy.

I was pretty sore, but for the sake of simulating a race situation (I figured I'd have a stomach ache, feel like passing out and have atrociously sore quads) I just said what the heck and went for a 50 minute run. It was HARD, but for some reason it felt good (I know, I sound like an adrenaline junkie right now).

After the run, my stomach made its final revolt....urgh. I feel like I just finished a half ironman. Well, might as well be prepared! I'm just soooooo grateful that I am not having muscle pain after everything I've done this weekend!!!!!
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Friday, May 29, 2009

Yet another newly approved drug.

"Savella, the third medicationapproved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of fibromyalgia, is now available by prescription."

It says, "Savella was approved by the FDA on January 14, 2009 for the management of fibromyalgia, a chronic condition characterized by widespread pain and decreased physical function that afflicts as many as six million people in the United States. Savella is a dual-reuptake inhibitor that, in-vitro, preferentially blocks the reuptake of norepinephrine with higher potency than serotonin, two neurotransmitters thought to a play a central role in the symptoms of fibromyalgia"

and then of course it came with paragraphs and paragraphs of potential side effects, including suicidial thoughts and bla bla bla.....

To boost serotonin levels, exercise. if you exercise, you don't have side effects. you may be a bit sore but that actually strengthens your muscles in the long run. you will lose weight, you will feel better about yourself, which will boost your serotonin levels even further, and you will keep wanting to exercise to keep it up. THAT IS ALL I CAN SAY ABOUT SEROTONIN LEVELS.

I'm all about fibromyalgia gaining recognition in the medical community, and i know there are people who definitely need the help of prescription drugs to mitigate the pain. with or without prescription drugs, EXERCISE. if you take prescription drugs, exercise to counteract the potential side effects of these drugs. many of these drugs have weight gain as a side effect too, which totally defeats the purpose of taking these drugs because if you get heavier, your muscles and joints will be in more pain from lugging all that weight around. Move around, use your body, make it do what it was made to do - MOVE.

sorry if i sound pushy and frustrated. I am quite frustrated indeed. a day like today i wish there was a magic pill that would take my pain away. But i know, from my experience, is that the only thing that will take my pain away without further consequences is - well several things, are - time, eating clean, sleeping well, moving around/stretching and keeping my smile and positive attitude. It takes a bit more work than popping a pill. That is the bottom line. We have to WORK for our well-being. this one-pill/one-trick will solve all attitude has got to just go away in its entirety.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

a few kinks, prevent further injury by stretching and strengthening

I knew i would be quite sore today from the run yesterday so I decided to just stretch and do conditioning work this morning to nurse my hips. I definitely felt tension on my left hamstrings and inner thighs, which tightened up from the run - which to me still means that the hip flexors are not as strong so the other parts of my body are doing more work to carry me through. I started with some leg lifts, front/back (more like up/down since i'm laying on my back) and also lateral lifts (side ways). Lateral leg lifts are always tough because my body never uses the legs laterally - it's always front/back or up/down (walk, run, bike, sit, etc...). But doing those lateral lifts are helping me gain strength on my hips, so that has been a part of my daily, well almost daily, routine.

As i felt some serious tension on my left hamstrings I was relieved that i didn't jump on the bike or do another run this morning - a totally unexpectedly smart move on my part. :) I used a long strap to wrap my foot and pulled each leg towards me as i lay on my back (knees bent)...argh painful but it also felt pretty good as I released it.

Tonight I will go swimming for about an hour and a half. Hope i make it after a long day at work. Tomorrow is rest day (foam rolling day) and then I'll attempt my ~60 mile bike ride Saturday and see if i can hold up. Excited yet anxious.

The next several days are crucial - my full recovery is depending on them. I better be smart about it.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

I think I can run again

I woke up at 530am. I huddled up all my laundry, went downstairs and out the courtyard and into the laudry room and started the washing machines. Came back into the house and made some coffee. While coffee was brewing, I started stretching. I moved on to some strength exercises and worked up a sweat. Coffee was done and started to cool off. Had several sips of the coffee and went to move my laundry into the dryers. I came back in, put on my running cap and off i went on a 30 minute run.

Because all my muscles were already loosened up and in fact fired up to move, I started with a run straight out. 4 minutes. then 1.5 minute walk. I repeated this interval 3 times. Felt pretty good. Left hip flexor was feeling fine, no real kinks being felt anywhere, my upperbody was upright and stayed that way without much struggle, I was pretty happy. After the intervals, I just ran very easy for about 8 minutes...and the last 2 minutes I spent doing 30 second sprints 4 times, with a minute of rest in between. The sprints were challenging (as they are supposed to be...30 secs never felt so long) but they felt great. I came back in to my house and stretched my calves, hip flexors, hamstrings and inner thighs. Of course i didn't forget to take out my laundry out of the dryer and fold them (actually, only some of them due to time limitations). OMG did that whole process feel absolutely amazing. Well, except for the laundry.

The past 4-5 weeks have been frustrating but I think I made the right choice by not even going near running but focusing on conditioning and strengthening my pillars - hips and shoulders to be specific. Those have been chronically weak areas for me, with a long history of problems. I just focused on strengthening those areas while still biking (no hills) and swimming. I stretched religiously and diligently went through the strengthening exercises, and let's not forget the grueling foam rolling sessions. I'm so grateful and relieved that my run today felt pretty good.

I will probably give my leg a rest tomorrow and just swim. Friday I will do strength training and do regenerative exercises (meaning foam rolling) while giving myself a rest day before the Saturday ride. I'm going to see if I can do about a 60 mile ride on Saturday, but if i start hurting I will back off. If all goes well, i'm back to the regular training schedule of swim-bike-run all week starting Monday! I'll still mix in some strength work especially around running days.

Yesterday I called it - i called that the pain should end. I feel the power of my words making my weaknesses surrender.

I may even come out stronger thru this process. I'm very hopeful about the next couple of months.

Setbacks may not even be a bad thing - depending on what you do with it, it can actually provide you with the opporutnity to raise the bar for the next stage.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Need to start Running again...

It has been a blessed couple of weeks, I have to say. Two weekends of 40-45 mile rides without further consequences and the hip flexors are healing up nicely.

My only concern right now is the running part. I haven't ran, like really ran in months and with the recent injury I was discouraged from running even further. I'm basically going to start from scratch. 20 minutes of easy run tomorrow, followed by an 1.5 hr swim.

I was just reminded also that I had signed up for an olympic distance tri at the end of June. I have to be able to run 6.2 miles in a month. Swim and bike i'm very comfortable with, but the run is going to be a challenging one. Oh well, i'll consider it practice for the half IM race in August and do my best. Time is just flying by.

I tried getting up early this morning - i went on a rafting/camping trip over the weekend and I must have been so tired, I slept right through the alarm. I'm seeing my trainer Nicole tonight so i'm sure she'll work me pretty hard and make me make up for the missed training session this morning. My body needed the sleep apparently and I am glad that I let it happen, although it was really not my intention to do so.

This week's goal is to squeeze in 20-30 minute runs before every non-run training session, just to get my muscles used to running again. they will be easy. on Run training days, they will be a little tougher, but hopefully not to a point where it will induce any further injuries.

Time to put injuries behind and get it kickin'. i'm sick of talking about it!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Thank you Thank you Thankyou

I just wanted to say thank you to all the people have read my blog and left me amazingly encouraging and inspiring comments. I am sorry i haven't had the time to individually respond to them (work is non-stop and i've been out of commission for a couple of days thanks to my lactose intolerance ordeal), but I just wanted to say thank you for reading and thank you for caring to comment! I can do what i do only because I know that someone can be encouraged by my sometimes what seems to be a reckless effort. But it's so worthwhile when I read about you all and what you're doing to make your lives better! thank you for all your advice, all your thoughts, thank you thank you thank you. I'll try to post some stuff answering some of your questions, but that won't be until next week or so.

i'm finally gaining some strength since my stomach/discovering lactose intolerance incident (have i even talked about that?). still digestion has been rough but i'm getting there. i just did a quick 45 spin on the trainer this morning, feel o-k. will try to swim tomorrow after work, and then Friday probably yoga and then Saturday a long spin on the trainer before taking off to San Francisco for the weekend.

God bless you all and thank you again.

Monday, May 11, 2009

44 miles on the bike!

Saturday I rode my longest distance on the bike ever - 44 miles. I started from my house, stopped at Venice to pick up a friend (turns out she couldn't ride so I had to continue alone), then headed on to Malibu to meet my group. Riding back was a challenge, as by mile 35 I was getting pretty tired, esp my hip flexors. But thankfully I returned safely and I felt pretty good. I took a 30 minute nap before going to my strength training session. A bit of boxing mixed in, it was fun!

Sunday and today, however, not so good. My body has become lactose intolerant, I discovered. For a few weeks my stomach was bloating up quite extremely. I thought I was getting fat but this was a balloon like swell. So strange. It got to a point where I just couldn't eat anymore and I have been in pain for two days. I am starting to eat again, now no milk in cereal, no yogurt in my shakes and no more of my favorite cottage cheese snacks. Sad. Time to find other alternatives.

Hope to muster up some strength to be able top swim tomorrow.

Blessings,
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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

An interesting discovery about Pain and Starchy Carbs

As i have mentioned in my previous posts, I've been on a new nutrition plan that is based on a 40/30/30 percent carbs/protein/fat ratio. I've also alternated that with 30/40/30 carbs/protein/fat composition as well and actually sustained that mix for about a good month, to see if i can promote better fat burning. It definitely helped...until about a week or two ago, when I started feeling more pain in my shoulders and arms when i woke up in the mornings. I certainly had the hip flexor injury, but i'm talking about the tingling/lingering pain we feel in the mornings. I hadn't had that in a while so I was a bit curious as to why that was happening again, especially when I wasn't loading up on weights as intensly as I did previously.

In the past 3 days or so, i upped my starchy carb intake just because my body was craving it a lot. I was pretty much back to the 40% level. I was doing some stretching in the evenings to alleviate the tightness everywhere as well - however i have to say i stretch often in the evenings anyway and the only real variable here is the increased intake in starchy carbs that may have contributed to the less pain i have been feeling. here's why:

i read an article about chocolate (just because) and within it i read that high carb foods enhances the level of serotonin (that's why women crave sugar like crazy during PMS) - so my guess is that while i have been working out although i have increased my intake of Omega 3 and 6 fats and protein to prevent inflammation and help muscle recovery, my low intake of carbs (cereal, oatmeal, my usual breakfast stuff) caused to lower serotonin levels and probably contributed to the heightened perception for pain. I think this makes sense.

Of course this doesn't mean that I'm going to eat carbs like there's no tomorrow - i'm just going to make sure that i eat at least 35% of my daily food intake that is carb-based, instead of keeping it at 30% or below. There's a balance to everything - i was focusing too much on the weight loss that I forgot to consider other important things.

when I say starchy carbs, i mean complex carbs from grains, not sugar or refined grains. sugar promotes inflammation, so we have to watch sugar intake levels - if our brain craves sugar because of low serotonin levels, it doesn't mean we should respond to it with sugar, cuz that would lead to inflammation. What we can respond with is exercise (boosts serotonin), followed by proper recovery nutrition (starchy carbs or sports drink and some protein) - so we double up on the serotonin WITHOUT exposure to possibility of inflammation.

ok, this is all my theorization based on experience and putting together facts - i'm not a nutritionist, i'm not a doctor, not a credited expert on any of this stuff. I'm just an expert on my condition and how my body responds to things. i enjoy learning about these things and applying them to my life. it has made me better. so here they are to share with you.

God bless,

Sunday, May 3, 2009

30 mile bike ride - success!

Finally, after 3 weeks of no riding (except for a few short spins indoors), I was able to survive a flat 30 mile bike ride without any painful consequences. Woo hoo! My hip flexors were a bit challenged, but it held up and felt pretty good especially after the stretches.

No hills yet until I can feel strong on the flats, but I look forward to hitting the hills in the next couple of weeks! I hope. If it takes longer, it will take longer.

I will walk off some of the tightness today - what a beautiful day!

God bless all!
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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Want a little inspiration? I got some!

http://newworldgreetings.blogspot.com/

Read this story! This woman's journey to complete the Boston marathon is amazing - she overcame polio and crossed the finish line! I am so inspired by her.

God bless!!!!!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Hip Flexor injury continues

Turns out that my injury is a lot worse than I thought. A little lost as to how i'm going to maintain some kind of decent training schedule, but basically i'm thinking over the next two weeks I'm going to have to just focus on my upper body (weights, swimming, etc).

I ordered a bunch of stuff to help with my ergonomics in the car - including a foot rest. Having never driven an SUV before I definitely feel some challenges in adjusting to the new setup.

I'm feeling a lot of pain not only in my injured area but my lower back as well at this point since my back is handling the load on my body what my left leg can't handle.

Having a desk job that runs 10+hours a day doesn't help, especially after doing the same for 10+ years. Sitting like this for hours and years weakened my hip/upper quad/hip flexor area wayyyyy too much. this is not right.

I sense that it is time to make some drastic changes in my life right now. I'm praying about it and thinking hard about it.

I am a bit frustrated but I will not let this deter me. Every problem has a solution. My task right now is to patiently and proactively heal and recover, and get back to training over the next week or two. I can do this. Athletes get injured all the time and they come back all the time. Unless it is a serious injury i have not seen a single athlete give up on a race even before starting. Half Ironman, I'm still coming to get you.

God bless everyone, please stay healthy and positive.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Sunday Summary

60 minutes of boring as heck walking. there is nothing harder than having to walk for that long when my mind just wants to run. However, even that walk made my upper quads/hip flexors pretty tired, i stretched and iced when i came back.

Weights and conditioning for 40 minutes. Worked my shoulders and core, couldn't do the step-ups, but did a less intense step down exercise as suggested by Dianna (my amazing sports massage therapist and beyond) with 16 pounds of weight, which I still found pretty challenging! The squats were qute tough with the weights definitely demanding upper quad strength which has been subsided from the injury. I love how our muscles work, or don't work in this case - the intricacies of our muscles and how they interact are quite amazing to me. I really want to study it some times. More stretching and icing afterwards. Pushups are still so challenging. I always used to hate it when people grown while doing weights - well i was doing that myself on the pushups. The last two of the 12 reps (x2)...major groaning action. So unappealing.

I slept about 9 hours last night - and i slept pretty well. I so needed that sleep from a pretty challenging weekend. But all is well that ends well, and I'm looking forward to this week.

I signed up for the Marin County 10k run to support my friends who are doing the half marathon (it's this Sunday) - it looks like i might have to just walk it or just stand by and cheer them on. But who knows, I might just heal this week! :)

have a great week everyone - and may every day bring you a new challenge and learning experience. Put your heart into everything you do - no matter how small or insignificant it may seem. it all adds up to something big in the future...

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Hip flexor /adductor injury

It looks like i'm paying for my indiscretion - last Saturday i biked 30 miles on my road bike. The next day instead of my usual swim or yoga I got on my mountain bike and rode about 20 miles along the beach, with a pretty poor setup (i knew the bike wasn't fitting right but i kept going because i didn't have the tools to fix it). Then the following day I went for a short hike. It was short, but i think it was more than my body wanted to handle. My left hip flexor and adductor were so tight that i couldn't walk without limping. I went to get it massaged, then I went to my surgeon to get it checked. My hip flexors weakened over time and it couldn't handle the load, causing all the other muscles to work harder to do all the riding and running i've been doing. The doctor was actually saying that I should be grateful for not having torn a muscle. What a relief!

I couldn't bike today with my group, but I went swimming instead. i have to say, just simple kicking never felt so bad...my hip flexors were definitely hurting. So i minimized the kicking and focused on pulling harder with my arm, and i ended up doing 2500 meters. i was so happy. the weight training, i have to say, has given me a lot of strength to enable me to do long distance swimming. My goal is to eventually be able to swim 2 miles (about 3300 meters). Exciting.

Injuries definitely suck. On top of that, I had a 24 hour flu/cold but i have to say, all my colds or flu symptoms have been limited to one day - that's it. i have to credit my regular vitamin intake and healthy eating for giving me the ability to kick the virus fast. My recovery has been really fast, i'm so grateful.

I think i'm way behind the running in my training schedule, Bike is almost there with less speed but more distance, and swimming i'm right where i should be. once the injury heals, I will do some more running and try to get some hills on the bike. Until then, Im going to have to focus on swim but also make sure my old shoulder injury doesn't act up (what is a girl to do????)... just need to be careful. also i need to do a lot of strengthening and conditioning exercises for my hip/adductor areas. It will only equip me to become a better athlete.

i'm grateful for this time of recovery and learning.

happy Easter everyone - be blessed on the day of Christ's resurrection!