Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Facing the Past and Forgiving it. For Good.

I'm in Seoul, visiting my family.  After some years in the US together, my family eventually moved back to Seoul when I was in college.  I used to visit every year until about 3 years ago, which coincided with the timing of my so-called evolution into a happier, healthier person. 

Without getting into much detail, and I write all this out of tremendous respect for my family, I don't meant to insult them in any way, but writing about this is important to me because I think I am here, after years of absence, because it is time for me to close the loop and move forward. 

Old habits live at home.  Bad eating habits, an environment discouraging towards exercise and active lifestyles, and excuses prevail on how to NOT improve what's not right.  My family, in general, is comfortable with where they are.  Their views are completely different than mine, which is why I had to keep my distance for years and years and years... 

They are aware of my athletic pursuits.  However, they are not fully aware of my fibromyalgia condition and how it relates to my athletic and lifestyle choices.  I am usually made fun of and looked at with odd wonder as to why I am who I am.  Even the kids in the family (my brothers' children) ask:  "If it is so hard, why are you doing it all the time?"  My compassionate suggestions as to how to manage back pain and leg pain via exercise (pretty much every adult in the family complains about some kind of pain all the time), how to eat right, why exercise is important, etc etc etc...usually get dismissed with every excuse and vehement denial in the book.  The absence of individuality and enforcement of strong group mentality encourages "safe" decisions and actions, not necessarily the best for each individual, but usually the most mediocre for the group. 

I see this, and I feel this - and it really leads me back to so many of the old habits I had and i lived with that unfortunately contributed somewhat to my current condition.  It is almost hard to forgive myself for having accepted them in my life before, which resulted in some serious low times of my life.  And that is probably why it has been so hard for me to come home for a few years.  I was still trying to let go and forgive my past for the poor choices and decisions I made.  I still wasn't sure what I was to expect during this trip.  

This morning I woke up way early thanks to jet lag.  The minute I opened my eyes, however, a thought hit me.  "I am who I am, they are who they are."  Suddenly, i realized that my life now and my life in the future, could never be threatened by my past just because my past happens to still be my family's present.  And if they are "happy" with theirs, who am I to tell them they need to change, when they don't see the need?  I don't agree with their beliefs and excuses, but the blessing in disguise is that somehow and in some way at certain points in my life I've made the choices to get out of the old and find whatever was new that could pull me out of my state of doubt and limitations. 

I may never find that special connection with my family that I always believed existed and should exist in every family.  However, I have ultra special connections in my life all over the world that I have never expected before.  Seeing my past, until now, was seeing shame.  However, now, seeing my past has become seeing the amazing present and exciting future I fought so hard to create with one blind vision of what it is supposed to be, for me. For that reason, I can now forgive my past a little more. 

I am running on the treadmill in my parent's house (it is only used when i'm in town, which means for the past 3 years it was just sitting around collecting dust), and everyone looks at me funny.  Well, keep looking at me funny, because I'm going to keep doing what I believe is right.  I will do my first marathon in March that you think is so meaningless, I will keep finding changes and challenges in my life that you think are risky, and I will keep working on the awesome and beautifully amalgamated future of work/love/charity that you don't believe exists. 

Who I am doesn't make me better than anyone else.  I don't think at all my family is any less than me - they are different.  We were the same before, but a split happened over time - as much as i had hoped that they would not judge me for who i have become, I have to do the same by not judging or criticizing them for what they are not doing.  When I feel upset about it, it is only because I care about their health and their future and that I want so badly for them to see the changes in their lives that became apparent to me when I took my first steps.  But I cannot control their choices, I can only control mine.

I have faced my past, and that is what it will be remain as for the rest of my life, The Past.  As a financial professional, I know that a value of a company is the sum of its FUTURE cash flows.  If i apply the same principle, really, the value of my life is the sum of my FUTURE decisions and choices... the past has NOTHING to do with it.  So why not just look forward as I fully let go and forgive my past, and be ok with seeing some if it when I see my family very infrequently.  If i am strong enough, I definitely should be able to.  So I will, because I am now stronger than ever.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Five Simple Principles I Live By

Last Saturday, I enjoyed a 7 mile run with friends by doing a Christmas 10k run in Venice and then running an extra mile after completing the race. I felt good, not much soreness to complain about, which was great. I followed up with an easy 4-mile run on Tuesday, during which I felt my right leg was caving inwards a lot. I pushed through, felt ok, and 2 days later the right hip pain started seeping in... and had me limping for the rest of the week.

As some of you may have read before, my right hip has been such the culprit of my problems and now I have a sick sense of fear develop inside me whenever my right hip (front side, connecting to the upper quad area) starts stiffening up and I feel the pain radiate all the way down my leg. I spent the next three days stretching, massaging, doing Yoga, and giving my hips alternate ice-heat treatments. I was doing everything i can to prevent any further injuries, including re-alignment of the hip (my hip tends to rotate forward a lot, because of all the sitting at work, so i have to do adjustment work to tilt my hips back, i know, how weird).

Yesterday I was supposed to do an easy 4 mile run again but something told me that i just shouldn't do it. I was running errands all day practically limping everywhere i walked. Whenever I didn't move, the heating pad was on my right hip. Uggggghhhh the level of frustration and fear of my worst nightmare rearing its ugly head (12 months of physical therapy!) just sent my mind to a dark place. But I was focused on managing this pain and resting, and therefore had to perk myself up often. The rainy day of course didn't help the pain elsewhere, but I didn't want to dwell on it. I kept myself busy, and i kept myself filled with exciting thoughts of what's coming ahead (holidays, seeing family and friends, training, making career changes, etc...). Spending time with friends and keeping the laughter going also helped me - just had to stay positive.

This morning I woke up feeling pretty decent. My right hip wasn't as tight, there was still pain if I really dug deep...i learned that the pain was coming from my hip flexors, also leading to my right oblique muscle. I massaged them, stretched them out, and did some conditioning exercises to firm them up. Then I did my usual 15 minute dynamic stretch/warmup, got dressed for the wet weather and headed out. 9 miles was the goal.

It wasn't raining when I walked out the door, just quite windy and really really gloomy. A good enough reason to run outside...the first 2 miles were a bit of a warm up (always the hardest!), then I really got into a rhythm, feeling pretty awesome as I reached around 4 miles. Meanwhile, I was feeling really great - the run felt strong, yet effortless, well hydrated, etc... the only wrinkle was that it started to sprinkle a little... but that was fine, running in the rain felt quite good. The rain wasn't getting any lighter developed into a full-on storm! I was laughing when the weather reports from the night before warned of it, because it always seems like people in LA make such a huge deal out of rain. But today was pretty intense! I was laughing as I was running by the beach, as I found no one but me on it, running through hard, thick rain against a massive headwind.

As I passed through mile 6, my running pants started dripping, my running shoes were squeezing out water every step i took. My hip definitely started feeling it, it got harder and harder to lift my right leg up, but I didn't stop...for some reason, running in this storm felt so exhilarating that I wanted to keep going. In order to prevent any serious injury, I started mixing in a minute of walking intervals between 5 minutes of running...the walking helped me stretch out my hip and recover the muscles, and it definitely helped me run longer too! I kept saying "a little more, a little more", and next thing you know it was 7.5 miles and my right hip was really hurting, and my body started shivering from being a little too cold. It was pouring rain and brutal wind...ha ha ha what am i still doing out here? I loved it though...until it got too painful to run anymore. 8 miles. I stopped. Immediate hot shower and icing my hip afterwards.

Spent rest of the afternoon seeing friends and running some more errands, my hip was feeling very tired, but I focused on stretching it out, keeping it moving. Now i'm writing this blog with my heating pad practically burning the area. I can't let the fear of being badly injured again keeping myself from achieving my goals of getting my miles in while getting enough rest. This weekend was a successful one in that regard - i rested yet I got my long run in. I ate well, i stayed hydrated, and i felt awesome for most of the run. I feel great!

Pain sucks. The mental stress coming from pain is even worse. With fibromyalgia, pain gets complicated, as it is not only a physical phenomenon but it also has a significant psychological angle to it. Pain is not something we can get rid of by taking an anti-inflammatory like normal people...pain is sometimes uncontrollable, and that inability to control it gets us discouraged, makes us feel the world isn't fair, and that we're victims...all that crap. That's when we have to stop ourselves from thinking too much and take action to stop the pain - by nursing it, managing it, waiting for it to end with a positive, "ive been there before, so this too shall pass" attitude.

If so much of it has to do with the balance of substance-P vs. serotonin, then we all know, we gotta get the serotonin levels up. Now, i don't run to the pharmacy or my medicine cabinet for it, but i eat right, I move my body, laugh a lot and get my head out of the unhappy trap. I've taken the medication route before but what happened was long-term weight gain, more stress on the joints from the extra weight, more stress on the psyche from feeling fat and therefore absolutely no healing. I've freed myself from the vicious cycle. There are *naturally* natural ways to feel less pain - so many natural ways. It hurts me every time I read about those who go from one prescription medication to another - and live in endless cycle of pain and suffering and self-victimization. Yes, it is an awful illness. It is a very real and very strong condition. BUT THERE IS A WAY TO MAKE IT BETTER. Instead of crying about getting acknowledgement for the validity of fibromyalgia, if it is so real, why not show that it can be improved??? Isn't it our constantly negative and helpless attitude about our illness that gives fibromyalgia such a bad name?

There is nothing I want more than for this pain i'm feeling to become unreal. Because, man, if that were the case, I can't imagine all the things I can do in addition to the things i'm already doing. I learned how to make my pain more manageable and how to do more with the limitations I have. In fact, they are no longer my limitations, they are my source of empowerment and newfound abilities. We can turn every negative situation into a positive one, if we so choose.

Eat well, sleep well, move well, laugh well, and love well - my simple five principles in life. These simple things have enabled me to do so much in my life and more.... i'm so grateful, and I wish to share my experience with anyone that needs that push to make their lives better. We are not placed in this planet to live a life dominated by pain. We ought to dominate our lives with joy. No physical pain can take away this joy. and it is our job, our individual responsibility, to make it happen.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Anyone Hit a Wall after a good First Week? I Did!

This is week 2 of my LA Marathon training.

I only ran two 3 mile runs, one 4 mile run and then one 5 mile run last week.

This week so far, it has been even lighter - only two 3 mile runs. Last week, I felt so strong running the 3, 4-milers that I felt so hopeful about my first marathon. This week, i've been so tired - and my runs were stiff, heavy and just painfully slow.... WHAT IS GOING ON????

Fortunately, before I started beating myself up for feeling weak and slow, I read a brief article on Runners' World that it is common that Week 2 could feel like a challenge, because the body needs time to adapt to the physical stress of the initial training runs, no matter how short and easy they may be. Of course then I recalled that I suffered a 10-day flu leading up to the first week of training! The first week, tho, still having the accumulated strength in the legs from resting for a few weeks after the Big Sur Half Marathon, the run felt pretty good. I was excited about shedding the flu and just starting off my first attempt for a full 26.2 miler!

Every day this week has been bit of a challenge, which was a total 180 from last week - I felt like I could sleep forever every morning, I felt exhausted in the middle of the day during work, and completely depleted by the time I got home. I was eating well, taking my vitamins, etc..., but my body just got tired. I still ran my 3-milers, but those 3 miles felt like 13. I was tempted to get frustrated, but I had to tell myself that it was just part of the process, which will inevitably taking me to week 3. It would be really interesting to see how i feel next week!

I am sure I'm not the only one feeling like this sometimes - with not just training, but with a lot of other things - just starting a simple exercise regime, changing your diet, working, etc... the first week seem exciting, strong, smooth and successful, then the second week comes, you're doing the same thing, keeping the same excitement, but for some reason, things are not working out as well as it did last week...and then you go, "what am I doing wrong?" or "is this not meant for me?"

I don't think I'm doing anything wrong - if anything, this is a sign that i should stay more focused than last week, to keep my mind strong not to give up this week (and get enough rest and eat well) ! And yes, it did pass my mind that maybe this full marathon thing could put me at serious risk given the conditions I have, but there was no way i could choose the thought that this was not meant for me, especially without even trying running any longer than 13.1 miles (the longest distance i've ran in one setting so far). Usually, from the lessons I learned in life to date, it is always the challenging and doubtful times that we NEED to face and overcome that will lead us to achieving our goals. In fact, not that i'm promoting suffering (i'm not a masochist, altho some of you may disagree), but it is really those tough times that make our achievements so much sweeeeeeeeeter. :)

It is too early to tell. If you just started walking, exercising, eating right, etc. recently, and you feel like it's not changing things much, or in fact feeling worse than before, don't let that frustration throw you off. Just keep doing what you're doing, believe in the positive outcome you can take a little break too (just don't let it last). The minute we start complaining and doubting and nagging about why it CAN'T be done, then we all know...then we go back to square one. Then we start dreaming about it again...from far away...just dreaming a distant dream....then feeling bad about ourselves for NOT doing anything about it! We don't want to feel like that, do we? Just look ahead, keep going... our body takes time adapting, but then when it gets to a certain level, we usually take leaps! Just wait for that moment, while keep working at it.... nothing feels better than feeling that moment... it will come.

Tonight I will rest my tired body, then get up early tomorrow for a quick 3 mile run. I will not be afraid of how tired I could feel again....i will just go.... then enjoy every quick or slow, fun or painful, smooth or tight moment... because i know that all this leads to...that one day I feel everything is running right, smoothly and....then I finally can start seeing the finish line of LA Marathon, and me crossing that thing.

week 2 has been a bitch, but I'm not going to turn into one.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

11/14 Big Sur Half Marathon - Failure is a Platform for Future Success

Last Sunday, I ran one of the most beautiful half marathon courses in the country. The race started in downtown Monterey, and ran out and back alongside the ocean, ending at the Marina. For the sight itself, the race was worth the experience! Personally, this race was discouraging at best at first, for the very reason that I didn't meet my timing goal. My goal was to beat my last half marathon time by 7 minutes - the actual result was a mere 1 minute improvement. It was still my PR and I'm glad that i didn't get any slower, but I was very bummed that I didn't get a chance to show a notable improvement in my running. But here is the deal - we reap what we sow. I don't mean this in a negative way at all - the beautiful thing about our body is that it functions the way it is trained! Here's how I see this race and how I can improve going forward - I may have failed to meet my goals but I am taking this experience to prepare even better next time for the result I want.

  • The body can handle what it was trained for: the longest mile i ran in one day during training was 10 miles. I was supposed to run 13 miles one weekend, but I couldn't finish because it was a terribly rainy day and I almost froze to death trying to finish the distance. I ran 8 miles twice, and maybe 9 miles once as well. Amazingly, my piriformis muscles (the muscles that are under our butt cheeks that surround our hip joints, so to speak) broke down about half a mile after I passed the 10 mile mark. More amazingly, up to mile 8, my average running speed was the fastest i have ever ran in a race! How funny is that - my body handled the 8 miles very well because I trained for it multiple times. However, since I skimped on my longer runs towards the end of training (working 20/7 did not help but let me keep my excuses short), my body basically only handled what it was trained for. Cause and effect. That is the truth.
  • My hip flexors worked great! But my glutes/piriformis broke down: this is yet another amazing result of what I put in. As you may have read before, my hip flexors (these are the muscles that help us pull our legs up when we run or walk, on both sides of our lower abdomen) have always been a huge source of my pain. During training, on the days i wasn't running, I diligently worked on my hip flexors to strengthen them. My glutes bothered me from time to time, so I worked on them, but not as regularly as I did on my hip flexors. Especially during the last three weeks of my training when I was actually working too much and therefore sitting in still position most of the time, I knew I had to work on my glutes (back of my hips) as well as my hip flexors (front of my hips), but due to the limited amount of free time I had, I allocated whatever time i had to keeping my hip flexors from breaking down. During the race, I really did NOT have any problem with my hip flexors, but from the beginning of my race my left glutes were just bugging me, which made me overcompensate with my right legs, which basically later caused my right glutes to break down as well. I had to walk straight for 5 minutes around mile 11, and walking was still causing my eyes to tear up! (But I still finished, which I'm proud of)
  • If you don't train properly, you won't meet your goals: Up to the first five 6 weeks of my 10-week training program, which was programmed to specifically meet my timing goal, I was on track with my plan. It was going great. Starting week 7, things started falling apart (work, work, work), then in the last 3 weeks of my training, I was only able to do half of the frequency and distance of the suggested training, including missing a crucial peak week before I was to taper. As a result, I simply did not meet my timing goal at the race - I mean, amazing, isn't it??? Ok, I know i'm being sarcastic with the whole amazing thing, but really, as I was driving back from work tonight I was no longer bummed about the race. I basically reaped what I sowed.
So what's my next race? What are my plans?

3/20, I will be running my first full marathon in the city of Los Angeles. Towards the end of January, I will do a half marathon race to check the progress of my training. For those two races, I know EXACTLY what I need to do - GO BY THE TRAINING PROGRAM, DO ALL MY DISTANCES, and WORK ON THOSE GLUTES AS WELL AS THE HIP FLEXORS!!!!! There is no other simple formula. Do the training, and do the strength work that are crucial to sustaining my structural integrity.

I'm actually really excited that i don't even have to think hard to come up with a game plan, as my failure pretty much revealed to me what was supposed to be done to succeed!

It's never a mystery why things work or don't work - well, of course there are exceptions. But when it comes to the matter of our body, it really works in accordance with what we put in. So eat well, sleep well, think well and move well. And never wonder, "how did i get this better?"


Sunday, October 31, 2010

Before I head out for a Run...

It's Sunday, 5pm. I need to go for a run now. It is supposed to be 13 miles, but i'm not sure where i will end up because i haven't ran all week. Work was outrageously busy and I got sucked into the stress...

The key to today's run will be to start very slow - my right SI joint in the back is definitely rubbing (ouch!), my right hip flexor is tight and hurting. The only way to get these parts moving right is to warm up right. My body will be in for a shock today, after a full week of lots of sitting still in front of the computer. I have been doing conditioning work throughout the week instead (i only had 10-15 minutes / day to do anything, so i had to choose conditioning work), so hopefully that has counteracted the muscle fatigue from doing absolutely nothing.

Another key point to remember as i start is to get my mind going on the positive direction - a week of bad training is not the end, these things happen. I can't let my frustrations get in the way of my continued efforts to train. When the body is weak, the mind has to hold it up...if the mind break downs as well, it will be game over for me.

All i know is that when i'm done with the run, no matter how short or long, i will feel A LOT better than I have been all week! Every day has its challenges, every day has its startling line and finish line. Today I will finish nicely. Then I will start my week on a positive note.

It is so easy to let the bad things in life take over us... but every day we can choose to turn it around. Things hurt everywhere right now but I will not get down. I will move this body to loosen up the tight muscles, get the blood flowing, and get those serotonin levels up!! Sitting here and trying to get more work done will only harm me in the long run. I will go, even if it is for 45 minutes. I will keep going if i feel up for it. i will stop if i don't. but I will make sure i do my very best to do the most i can.

it has been tough week - my determinations and beliefs were challenged and I was challenged...I was tempted to break down and let go of my convictions. But i didn't. I didn't cave into the pressures of life. Because deep down inside, i know everything i have worked hard on paid off at the end. I have to keep going, go with the flow, and when the flow stops on me, I have to go and get some drano to get life flowing again... just like that, i will fight my fears of pain and doubts about running today and just get moving. Then who knows what can happen. I'm just not going to stop here. i'm just not going to not do this.

Even when it doesn't feel right, we have to keep doing the right thing.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Half Marathon Training - So Far, So Good!

Over the past 4 weeks, I’ve survived 3 long runs of 8-10 miles! I have been diligently doing conditioning work on rest days to strengthen my usual problem areas (hips, hip flexors, I’ve talked about them way too often). It’s not that I don’t have any pain anymore, but the conditioning work has enabled me to continue my runs without prolonged breaks forced from the pain! Now that is progress compared to even earlier this year.

The conditioning work is really nothing intense or particularly strenuous – since I sit a lot during the day without much movement at work, I make sure I move my legs in all four directions (front, back, side to side) and do exercises that strengthen my glutes. Occasionally I’d add upper body workouts as well to strengthen the core (helps posture when running). Very infrequently using weights, most of the times using resistance bands or sometimes none at all. It’s something most of the people (if not all!) can handle if you have a chronic pain issue.

Running a lot also has helped me manage my stress better and get my thoughts organized to make positive decisions in my life. Being back in training mode definitely suits my life better! It is also great to have something to look forward to tackling (e.g. break 2:40 time goal for the half marathon on 11/14), achieving, etc… what is your next achievement? It doesn’t have to be big, just something you have been wanting to do, make it a goal and just go for it! The feeling of accomplishing goals will charge you up for the next!!! Having something to look forward to…a great impetus to go to sleep to wake up the next day and get moving!!!

Here are my goals for this week:

  1. Get all my deliverables done at work in a timely and accurate manner
  2. Make sure I train at least 3 days of the week (out of the ideal 4)
  3. Don’t eat heavily salty, spicy and soy-sauce marinated food (worst for my allergies)
  4. Don’t get frustrated by others’ bad attitude – just stay happy and positive at all times

What are your goals for the week? No matter how big or small, let’s set them and experience the power of achieving them!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Getting back in Gear

It's been a while.

I think I've let myself get lost a little bit. Maybe I got tired of all the discipline, the planning, the training, being strong, being diligent and working hard. I thought if i took a step back from all of this I would feel better. The work load didn't change. In fact, things got worse. Sleeping in most of the days and on the weekends instead of doing my training didn't make me better. Irregular exercise, irregular sleep patterns, work stress and personal pressure to be everything for everybody all made me very...mixed up.

Well, i'm here to say that those mixed up days are over. I'm back and i'm ready for the next step up.

First of all, I would like to thank many of you who have sent me encouraging messages about my blog - although i have been silent for a while you have continued to find me, which motivated me even more to return to where i belong. I realized I am happiest when i'm working hard towards a goal, a big goal i am scared of going for! On that note, I've signed up for my first full marathon ever - the LA Marathon. That will take place in March 2011. I believe it will be my first event into my path to completing a full ironman. It is what i'm meant to do.

I had a pretty nasty flu this past week. I kept questioning why i have been feeling so unlike myself for the past 6-8 months. All the answers came down to what i mentioned before - i realized that i'm best when i'm doing what i was doing up to about 6-8 months ago - training as diligently as i used to!!!

I have a lot to work on - as strong and determined as I seem to be on this blog, i have weaknesses that make me stumble, doubt and hide. I even at times doubt who I am and what I'm worth, and i have realized just now that all of those things are a thing of the past, or I should make sure they become things of the past. Only then will I be able to achieve the great desires of my heart in the future.

Whatever we have inside that is holding us back - we all have those - they deserve to be let go. Some of the past hurts we hold on to probably have contributed partially to the condition we live with. Some were out of our control when they happened. But what we decide to hold on to and let go of - aren't those in our control now? YES. Therefore I'm challenging myself and all of you who are reading this to let go of the things that have hurt us. It will not only make us better emotionally or mentally, but it will make us better physically, even if it is by a margin.

Here's to a new day. here's to stepping up. God has opened yet another opportunity for us to grow and prosper.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Changing things up - Let's keep it Interesting!

I've been giving my hips a break. I've attempted to go back to cycling recently, only to end up with severe tightness in my hips, lower abdomen and hip flexors. The muscles are very weak, probably weakened from months of long hours at work. Sitting still in front of the computer for 10+ hours for two months is not good for anyone!

While focusing on conditioning and strengthening my hip area, I started changing things up a little bit. I picked up a new interest called surfing - i purchased my first longboard and have been splashing around in the ocean! I'm still struggling to catch a long ride, but i love being out in the water just having fun and getting a great work out paddling and carrying around a giant 9' board. Surfing is definitely more intense than slow and steady swimming, biking or running, but I think my health has improved to a point where i can handle some occasional intensity. That is an improvement i can be proud of! The consistent conditioning and strengthening work (none of them really involve much weight - most of it is all body weight and subtle movements, they have really strengthened my muscles and joints, unbelievable) has really helped me handle some of the ballistic and sudden movements without feeling intense pain later.

To be honest, i think the recent years of non-stop triathlon training has gotten me burned out a bit. My passion for tri's remain strong, but in order to continue my dream to finish an Ironman race one day, I feel like I needed a break from the routine training after completing the Escape from Alcatraz race. Instead, I'm really enjoying just being "active" and taking on some new challenges. A change in routine is always good - even in our diet, our workouts, pain management regimen, hobbies, etc. We can feel like we're stuck in a rut doing the same things over and when dealing with pain and fatigue, maybe we need to change things up a little once in a while so that we don't get bored of our routine and lose sight of our health!

I have a half-marathon race coming up in November 14, at Big Sur. I have about a month to focus on strengthening my hips to be ready to train for the race. Until then, i will continue to focus on conditioning and strength training and also enjoying some activities outside of the usual swim, bike and run. By August, my mind and body will be ready for some new level of training after a break from the routine - as it won't be routine anymore!

I've also been thinking about the next 12-18 months - November half marathon, maybe February my first full marathon, and then a year after that may be my first full Ironman???? A dream has been planted, so i know I have to execute. I love thinking about these things and anticipating something new. With that goal in mind, recovery now becomes even a greater priority.

What dream have you planted recently? Are you excited about it? Are you ready to execute, no matter what it takes? Just think of the day you will accomplish it! You are already be on your way to the finish line.

Hope you all had a happy 4th - we are blessed to be able to enjoy a holiday like this.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

What's Stress Got to Do With It?


This past Friday, I experienced the strangest yet the strongest flare up - ever. As you know and I know, I have been blessed because my fibromyalgia has never been as strong as some people who suffer pain levels that make them hurt to the touch. I really could never comprehend what that would feel like, as it almost sounded like an exaggeration (i know it isn't!!!). Well, I was wrong and as if God wanted me to feel what hurting to the touch felt like, it struck me out one night after yet another late night at work.

Just to give you a quick background, work has not only been busy but also incrementally stressful because my new hire has not been working out well for our team. As a result, i have been staying extra long hours in order to review every single thing he does, correcting his errors and then use the late hours to get my job done. I have always been able to let go of work stress pretty well no matter how tough things got. However, people's ability is not something we can control, so I suppose I've been lost in trying to deal with this whole situation. I've been doing my best to teach him and motivate him to do better and communicate proactively with everyone to get things done on time and with reasonable level of accuracy. I have learned so far that it is very difficult to tolerate his mistakes and taking extra time to correct his mistakes while still trying to give him positive reinforcement!!

Anyway, after having a rather unsuccessful review meeting with my analyst at 9pm while all of us were trying to meet deadlines for three different projects, I think something happened that triggered my pain nerves. 30 minutes or so after, my ankles and calves started burning, my head started hurting, and i was just overwhelmed with fatigue. Although I still had a great deal of work to do, I knew i had to go home.

By the time i got home, my entire legs were sore and burning all over, my jaws hurt, and I felt like someone beat me hard on my back, I was not sure what was going on and the fear of the unknown scared me beyond belief. I was also really worried about making it to work the next day as there was still so much to do. The minute i got in, i dropped everything and took advil and two packs of Total Sleep, which is a natural serotonin booster (via tryptophan). I had to hope that it would help me relax and sleep better. As i started changing out of my work clothes, I realized that I was hurting so much from the clothes brushing down my legs! Literally, I was feeling sharp pain from what usually is a soft and pleasant feeling, a soft touch of soft fabric... I really did not know what to do, or how to react. I crawled in to bed, soon to realize that i couldn't lie down except on my back because I couldn't bear the pain from my body touching the bed! So I rolled my body like a ball so that the only part of my body touching the bed was my back. I stayed in that position for at least 30 minutes (not easy to do).

I don't know how long it was, but for as long as I could all I did was just pray that this sharp burning sensation would calm down a little. I was just stunned about it all, it was so different, it was so overwhelming, but i just focused on getting my nerves calm and shake off whatever stress i was feeling from work. I just never had to deal with a people problem like this before.

I think i fell asleep while praying...

The next morning when I woke up I definitely felt less of that burning sensation, but my ankles and calves and my teeth were still hurting (i know, teeth???).

I did make it to work, and I knew had to learn how to let people-related stress not get to me as it did the night before. I have a lot to think about.

I'm still in a lot of pain, my hips are definitely feeling it, i'm fatigued and i'm struggling to stay positive. But i know this is a challenge for me to overcome, that's the only way i can look at this. Maybe my analyst needs a manager that can develop his skills a little further. Maybe i can teach him to be more proactive, and show him new ways to approach problem solving, etc. I will try as much as I can until it is proven that i can't influence him any further.

Stress is a scary thing for all of us - and especially for us with fibromyalgia. Our already low serotonin levels will drop down, allowing our already high level of pain chemicals to shoot up and govern our brains! This flare up was really one of the scariest experiences i have ever had, and my heart goes out to those who suffer this kind of pain on a daily basis. But i know that even this can be overcome and I can get better. I have to keep trying. I hope we all keep trying. it's not easy, but we have to take the challenge.

God bless us all.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Escape from Alcatraz Race Report - The Training part

From the day I got the email “Congratulations! You have been selected in the 2010 Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon Random Lottery!” to the moment I crossed the finish line, I have to start out by saying that I have never gone through a training – racing time period with more emotional turmoil than I did with this race. It has already been two weeks since I’ve finished and I haven’t even allowed myself to meditate on this experience until just now. You are all reading this because you have been a positive influence in my training, directly and indirectly, and it is my minimal duty to express proper gratitude and appreciation for being a part of my life and motivation that prevented me from completely bailing from the race (I had all the reasons!) and to ultimately finish the disastrous run course and into the finish line.

** Training, or no Training??**

Most of you have heard too much at this point about my chronic hip issue… After my half marathon in February, running opportunities were pretty much shot, starting from the time I was supposed to do the Great Race of Agoura Hills half marathon in March. I did the best I could to strengthen my weak spots and hoped for my hips to endure the two half marathons to prep me for this particular race, but no, things just didn’t turn out the way I’d hoped. But that always happens in training, things never go the way you planned, so it seems.

The alternative plan was to then focus on the swim – I mean, I need to get out of the water first to finish the race, right? I had heard so many tales of the cold and the strong current of the Alcatraz swim – and the 1.5 mile distance wasn’t the most comforting factor, either. I recalled the many times I used to hyperventilate and stiffen up in the cold waters of Malibu and Oxnard (Strawberry Fields Tri in July last year), which I was able to overcome only after warming up in the water for at least 10 minutes before the race start. Realizing that the Alcatraz race would offer me no time to warm up (you are required to jump off a boat straight into the water once the gun goes off), I knew I had to somehow overcome that cold water factor. Also, I had to just become comfortable in the ocean in all situations, period. So how would I achieve that in a mere two months’ time?

I thought of the people I knew who had no fear of the ocean whatsoever – who really think being in the ocean in all weather is the most fun thing to do (i won't name names, but there are three, and you know who you are if you're reading this). I wanted their spirit to rub off, so I asked them to take me out to the water. Thanks to them, I did end up picking up the most valuable reinforcement to my psyche – ocean swimming is so fun! I didn’t agree with them 100% and I am not sure if I ever will, but at least I forced myself to believe in it somehow by telling it myself over and over. Their comfort levels in the water, however, to witness in person, helped me feel relaxed too so that I could focus on swimming, not NOT freaking out. I also picked times when the water would be choppier than in the mornings so that I could get used to random splashes in my face and drinking salt water through my nose. Contrasting types of training methods were employed – from a very calming “let’s just tread water and feel comfortable in the ocean” approach to the Spartan-style “keep swimming, don’t stop, don’t be weak, Alcatraz is going to be a lot colder and choppier than this!” approach. In hindsight, they were both very effective training approaches.

Bike training – sooooooooooooooo, I only got on the road twice (maybe three times?) leading up to the race. I could only pray and hope that my grueling trekking experience in Peru’s high altitude would help me get through the hills. There were a few occasional hill interval training on the trainer, but overall bike training was non-existent if I compare this to the time and devotion I put in last year for my half ironman race.

Overall, my preparation for this race was challenged with terribly busy work days, big and rather untimely travel plans (what was I thinking??? But nonetheless I had the best trip ever to Peru) and quite a few changes in my personal life which required me to be more “flexible” with my training time.

But no matter what, I still had to do the race - and that is what i did! :)

Escape from Alcatraz Race Report

The alarm went off at 4am. Shirley dropped me off at the race site around 530am, and she headed off to her volunteer site in the run course (I was really looking forward to getting to that point). I felt like a lamb heading to a butcher site, but Shirley, as usual, did an amazing job at calming my nerves and gave me the much needed pep talk.

I mindlessly went into the transition area and set up camp. Once I was done, I headed to the bus that was transporting everybody to the pier, where the San Francisco Belle was waiting for 2,000 athletes to board to head to Alcatraz. The San Francisco Belle was tourist cheesiness boat at its best!

SWIM – 1.5 miles

The boat left at 7a with all of us crammed in like a pack of sardines – I was in that boat for over an hour and a half, including waiting time leading up to the departure. In the beginning it was so nerve wracking cuz everybody was so quiet in the boat. However, as time went by we all started chatting to work our nerves off, and the boat became more like a party place without the alcohol. This actually really helped me because had I stayed quiet the entire time I was on the boat I would have passed out from the anxiety and the heat generated by crowd. I felt quite at home with 1,999 other fellow masochists who considered this an “exciting” experience.

There were three doors we could jump off from, so we all lined up and started walking towards the doors as the gun went off at 8am – the minute you were out the door you had to jump immediately off the boat, down about 5-7 feet into the water and just start swimming before someone else jumped on top of you. Thanks to Shirley’s advice from her race experience two years ago, I told myself not to wait to feel how cold the water was but to focus entirely on navigation. Crap, it was my turn to cross that door and that was it, I held my goggle down to my face and jumped in as if I was going scuba diving, and the minute I hit the water I just swam like I never swam before. I had the swim finish to my right (3 o’clock angle), but because of the current I was supposed to just sight in the 12 o’clock direction. It was counterintuitive at first, but I was also warned about the strong current that no one can swim against once you are off track, so I just did what I was told to do. About 15 minutes in, I felt my left arm numbing up from the cold, but I couldn’t even let that bother me, so I started swimming harder so that I’d warm up. When I felt nervous, I stopped and looked around me, and the sight of the Golden Gate bridge in the stunningly gorgeous weather made me smile and think “look at me, I’m swimming across the freaking bay!!!!!” and kept me going. I felt like a badass, I really did.

As I got closer to the finish, I saw more people in the water, which gave me a huge relief after being alone for most of the swim (everybody was swimming in all sorts of directions!) – and then finally I saw a big crowd at the swim finish gate, literally right in front of me, then finally was able to get up and start running out of the water – YEAH I did it!!!!! 42 minutes!


There is about a half-mile run out of the swim to the bike transition area – the race directors had us put our running shoes and whatever else we needed for this mini-transition in plastic bags with our bib numbers on them and drop them off before the race. They were swearing “oh don’t worry, we never lose your bags!” Ok, so I run over to find my transition bag, only to realize that I couldn’t find mine. I grabbed a volunteer and we both frantically started looking…after 5 minutes or so we both concluded that it wasn’t there. I almost burst out in tears “what about my run later?” to which the volunteer said “we will find your bag and leave it in your transition area before your run, we will find it.” I kinda didn’t believe in him but what the heck that was not my problem at that point, I just started running barefoot with water dripping all over me. The asphalt was pretty unfriendly on the feet, which was only amplified by the fact that my feet were ice-cold from the water…ouch ouch ouch ouch I kept saying as I was trying to run… it was a pathetic attempt nonetheless, as pretty much everybody passed me to the bike transition area. CRAP.

BIKE – 18 miles. Short and NOT SWEET – at all!

Finally, I arrive at the transition area, and I think I have holes under my feet. This woman about two bikes next to me saw me and all of a sudden offered up her running shoes and said “I saw that they lost your transition bag, I’m a size 9.5 and I have an extra pair of running shoes so if you need them later you’re more than welcome to it.” I’m like, huh? I’m a size 10.5 running shoes (my feet swell up a full size in longer runs, but regardless yes I have big feet) but I knew that could work somehow if things got desperate. She went off to ride and I thanked her as I started putting on my socks (as well as rocks and grass) while drying off as much as I could…I left the running shoes in my transition area and took off for the bike course, hoping that I wouldn’t have to wear them. They were Asics that I have tried before and suffered from serious pronation issues which sent me on a year-long physical therapy adventure… dang dang dang…hopefully they will find my bag….

Ok, so 18 miles, but quite hilly…lots of technical turns followed by ups and downs… it was an out-and-back course, so I knew there was nothing to laugh about going downhill one way as I knew I had to go up on the way back – however the scenery along the course was stunning – that was my only mental escape from the tough course. Once I entered the Golden Gate Park area after going down a long stretch of a fun downhill, the ups and downs finally settled down a bit into a flat path and I was able to enjoy a little break, which I took the opportunity to refuel with melting and sticky Hammer bars (but they really helped me through the ride!). Sooner than later, I got out of the park and I knew I had to go up that long stretch of a hill….ok I survived that ….then turn left….and then turn right…and then straight up hill for another….what, a quarter of a mile maybe? But damn I almost fell off the bike on the uphill after the turn as I pretty much lost all the speed that I didn’t have to begin with????? But I didn’t fall, I didn’t stop and walk myself up as some other racers did! It was so freaking steep I could feel my right hip flexor was about to snap and my right lower back just giving out any minute….ugggghhhhh just keep going Minnie, don’t stop, don’t stop, don’t stop…. Finally after three of those nasty series of hills…I finally enjoyed some flats and mostly downhill on the way to the bike finish….that was a short ride but it was hard and agonizing!

RUN – 8 miles.

I get to my transition area – I put the bike down, taking my bike gear off…and looking for that bag they said they were going to bring…but the only thing I saw was the pair of Asics the lady left for me…. at that point my brain went “hey you know what, they lost my bag, I don’t have my running shoes! I can totally blame them and say I couldn’t finish because of them! They were the ones that screwed up, right?” then I looked at those Asics and thought “what are the chances that this woman next to me happened to be close to my big shoe size? These shoes might not have the right support for me, but this has to be a sign that I can’t ignore??? Oh, this blessing is also a curse, let’s just do it!” so I crammed my feet into those shoes and just went for it. and that was because I had NO IDEA what kind of run course I was getting myself into.

First 2 miles, easy flat peaceful route except that I was desperate for a porta-potty…ugh…running with a stomach full of water is no way to be running… ok finally I see a restroom, take care of business, back on the course feeling as light as a feather…then out of nowhere a flight of stairs! I’m thinking to myself, is this the infamous sand ladder? But there was no sand…ok, these are just more stairs that the race directors *forgot* to mention…then down the road into the beach area…and then when my eyes followed the orange cones I started cringing as they were basically asking us to run on the soft sand…for about half a mile. I dragged my already beat legs and back and tried to run on the soft sand, but let’s just say that I wasn’t making much progress. Finally, I hear someone screaming my name by the water stand…am I losing my mind? I’m hearing my name…am I hallucinating??? Of course then it hits me it’s no other than my hero Shirley who was volunteering to be my eyes on the course!!!! All the other people volunteering with her were screaming my name too, which was totally awesome…. Yeah!!! I ran straight to her and gave her a hug and yelled “the swimming was the easiest part!” at which she totally laughed because she had to deal with me freaking out about the swim for like the past 3 months. Shirley ran about a quarter mile with me to keep me company – running on hard sand closer to the water felt a lot better, and I wanted to kick myself for not running on this surface to begin with, I was just being the law-abiding racer by naively following the cones, thinking I would get disqualified if I didn’t.

As I finally get through the grueling running in the sand, I look up and see crazy Equinox flags flying along a very steep hilly area….OHHHHHHH so THAT’s the sand ladder! Yeah, THAT!!!! I not only had to hold on to the ropes on the railings to pull myself up most of the time (apparently even the pros held on to them at crucial times so I didn’t care if I looked like a wimp for using them to help me) but there were also moments my hip flexors just wouldn’t move in forward motion, I had to actually start going up the steps laterally. PATHETIC! This thing was 3 times the height of the Santa Monica stairs, with sand on every step so that it would suck all the energy out of my legs. I just kept on, I didn’t look up to see where the end was and just focused on one step after another. Finally, with the last push of my legs and pull of my arms (still holding on that rope), I was done with the torture device and moved on to the joy of running uphill (everything is relative). I think I finally hit Mile 5 at that point, can’t recall… but as my feet started swelling up the shoes were feeling jammed in the toes and my right hip was completely shot from all the pronation. I just started laughing. There is always so much irony in my races.

Over the last two miles, I ended up running with a fellow racer from Michigan – he and I were both hurting so much but running at the same pace so we decided to run together to keep each other motivated. However, my right hip just froze up in the last mile I had to walk for a bit. After saying “see you at the finish line” I walked for 3 minutes to stretch out my hip…then went for the home stretch, just bit my tongue and ran/skipped all the way.

Finally, I see the finish line area and the big crowd was still around to greet the late finishers…as I was only about 50-75 feet away from the finish line, the announcers mentioned my name “Minnie Lee, from Playa del Rey” and I started jumping and smiling out of excitement. The announcers continued on to say “who else can you expect all that energy from, other than someone named Minnie from Southern Cali!” oh only if they knew I worked at Disney… anyway, DUDE I crossed that finish line in a leap with my hands up in the air, and I’ve got the photos to prove it!

The other racer from Michigan was waiting for me at the end of the finish area – we hugged and congratulated each other for surviving our Escape from Alcatraz. The company of a total stranger can help us get through a tough and lonely time! This is one of the reasons why I love this race. Oh yeah and the finisher’s medal too. :)


This wasn’t just another race under my belt – this was kind of an adventure, an experience I will cherish for life. From training to the end of the race, lots of unexpected events happened which almost stopped me from finishing – however, after every bad surprise, there was always a good surprise that came from people’s kindness. I was a recipient of Shirley’s kind offer to be there with me before, during and after the race when I thought I was going to end up going through it alone, I benefited greatly from the random woman’s graceful offer to give me her pair of shoes to enable me to finish the race (I didn’t end up seeing her after the race, I think she got timed out on the bike course), and without the kindness of all of your motivating words, support and your time to help me out with my fear of the ocean (you know who you are), I wouldn’t have been able to finish this race, not even close. Because of all of you I was able to face one of my biggest fears and get through a race I couldn’t fathom finishing. Even during the race I couldn’t fathom getting through it all at certain times, but all it took was that one jump off the boat and into the water…the rest was just driven by…the pure need to finish.

A lot of the times we face similar situations in life – actually perhaps this is just like life, in a smaller scale. We are living our lives, we don’t know what the heck is supposed to happen with our lives, what we’re supposed to be when we grow up, how we’re supposed to finish off in style…but we took the plunge, and now we just have to keep going, because we just have to. In the course of all this, I hope to survive a few tough times, enjoy a few surprises, both good and bad, and do a few good things and help a few people along the way…and hopefully I will raise my hands up in the air and jump as I cross the finish line of life. It is so long yet so short, just like this crazy Escape from Alcatraz race. NEVER GIVE UP, and FINISH SMILING!

For race photos, go to:

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Like I Said....

So what did I just say before???? WHY DIDN'T I DO THIS BEFORE MORE OFTEN?????

Swim felt GREAT! Duh.


Training progress

I'm still struggling to get my training back on track, but I am getting a hang of it slowly. I had a bit of a hiccup when I ended up with a severe cold that knocked me down for 4 days...when I was starting to feel better I sat down and went over my training plan for the 5/2 Escape from Alcatraz triathlon... Yikes, the only thing I've been doing diligently is running. With 2 half marathons under my belt leading up to the triathlon, I feel comfortable with the run.

On the other hand - for the 1.5 mile of swimming in the cold and choppy only 1 pool session to date, and for the 18 mile super hilly bike ride - one FLAT group ride to date (with some interval training, etc).... YIKES!!!!! I really have some work to do.

I did revise my training schedule, however. I think it will work out ok. I've even scheduled a practice swim in the San Francisco Bay 2 weeks before the race to at least familiarize myself with the blasting cold water!!! Need to work on getting rid of the fear of ocean swimming (will it ever go away?) and really getting some super hilly bike rides in. Thinking about it makes me stress. Just gotta do them.

Training after work has been tough, since it has been very hard to find the energy and mental motivation to go work out after a draining work day. But that again has to be tackled.

I feel like in general I've lost my rhythm quite a bit this year compared to last. A lot has changed and I let myself get impacted by those changes... At the end I do have to be a lot more flexible with my time, which I have to juggle between being well-planned and being spontaneous. Sounds easy, right?? But all these changes are demanding a new set of mindset and action plans from me - change is never easy!

Well, I keep pushing. I think, I rethink, then I try to execute. If I put off my swim training today one more time, I will just not be happy with myself. It's time to just implement. Just go do it. After I'm done with that swim I'm probably going to ask myself 'so why didn't I do that more often before????'. Sometimes thinking about the future can make things seem a lot harder than what actually could be...we will only know what it's going to be like when we're in it.

God bless!
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


Thank you soooooo much for all your amazing comments. You all inspire me to keep going and stay strong in the toughest times! The fact that you take the time to read my silly writings and then go even further to write something so kind and encouraging...means so much to me. THANK YOU.

Keep Trying, keep trying....and wake up one day BETTER!

I have to go to bed soon because i have to get up at 430am tomorrow to squeeze in a hill run and a swim before work, BUT i have to just give a quick update because I am totally having an epiphany.

The past couple of months, it's been a tug of war between good days and bad days. Back pain, hip pain, neck pain, fatigue, lack of sleep, inconsistent training days, etc... you name, it, you've read them and dang i remember every single day of them!

As I was planning my morning (the aforementioned crazy workout plan) just about an hour or so ago, I realized that despite the ups and downs and frustrating days of pain and fatigue in all sorts of rainbow variety to date, whatever small and seemingly pathetic moves I made actually accumulated into something last Sunday I ran my FASTEST 5K race to date (it was uphill half of the time too!), then I even went for a mile swim the same day, then ran yesterday morning for 50 minutes no problem, and yes, still hip and back pain here and there but quite manageable! WHAT THE HECK somehow I got there! BACK ON TRACK! Ok I'm not excited right now, at all.....

So I guess the point i'm trying to make here is that...for those of you trying all sorts of things to make yourselves better, don't give up! Keep on doing what you're doing, make revisions if necessary, just keep trying...just keep on keeping on....keep trying...again and again...and you just NEVER know, you might, no no no, you WILL wake up on the other side! Don't let go of your hope and belief that what you put in will bear fruit! It just has to happen. It just has to.

OK must go to bed now! Good night and God bless!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Finally getting back on the Bike

This week, I started 45-60 minute interval training on the bike, in order to get a start on my bike training for the season. My goal this year is to ride on the big chain most of the time, and really gain some speed, by 3-4 mph. I tried to maintain a 80+rpm on the big chain for 6 minutes during my high intensity interval, which was pretty tough, and i could feel my legs! But I definitely feel right now that the interval training will help me be a better cyclist.

Today, however, I have to say my neck and shoulders are really feeling it (cycling can really stiffen the neck and shoulder area, as you can imagine), and the intensity of the workouts had me a bit knocked down today. it is bit frustrating, but i don't feel as bad for some reason. I do have a feeling that I will be able to get up early tomorrow for a 4-mile run and then 5 trips up the Santa Monica stairs (great glute and cardiovascular workout!). Let's just hope I can do it!

Just had a healthy pasta and salad dinner - with chicken, artichokes, olives, avocados, zucchini, fresh basil and baby spinach. It was delicious!

I'm struggling with trying to figure out why i'm having rather frequent flare-ups lately, but i also know that this happens in cycles...when i am having irregular sleep, get frequently stressed out and also after a prolonged period of intense workouts. So i have all the reasons to be feeling fatigued, but at the same time I know i have to do a better job sleeping more regularly. I kinda broke my steady cycle. I need to be more disciplined.

Today is one of those days I had to just accept that sometimes I have to just rest and do nothing no matter how frustrating it is, while still dreaming about training again very soon. There are so many things I want to do (and I NEED to do) in my mind, and i'm so when I'm physically limited to do them, I tend to get very angry and down on myself. I mean...why should i let it get to me, i have to react less strongly to my unfavorable symptoms, so that i can get out of it faster. This week was tough, after last weekend's strong flareups, because I really let myself fall into the trap of feeling awful for my condition. Sometimes I feel so small and useless, in the face of all the responsibilities I have and the duties I must complete every day. I feel the world closing in on me, and I want to shut down from everything and everyone....I become a totally different person. And i hate it. It takes a couple of days to snap out of that emotional trap, but I really need to work on not letting myself fall so hard like that to begin with! What an emotional turmoil, which totally is unimaginable when I'm not feeling that way! Fibromyalgia is so complex in that sense - there is the physical side, and then there is the mental and emotional side that can really overwhelm us and in effect worsen the pain we're feeling.

I know I am a healthy, happy and loving person. I also need to believe better that I am a good person, I work hard and that I deserve to be loved - healthy and weak. My self-imposed pressure to be perfect...can be my worst enemy. Accept myself. Accept EVERYTHING about myself...that might just be the most important thing for me to do in order to be strong against Fibromyalgia.

Life goes on, I have another half marathon 3/27, then have Escape to Alcatraz Triathlon on 5/2. I have to start swimming again soon! Lots to do, Lots to brave... please wish me luck! I need to stay focused and determined to keep training no matter what happens.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

We get what we give away - Smile at all times!

This morning, I was hurting quite a bit. I was aching from my fingers to my toes, with sharp pains in my shoulder blades. I felt like my joints were on fire.

Even a couple of years ago, in these kind of tough days, I used to shut down immediately and get all somber (sometimes we can't help it, but...), quietly hoping and expecting that my partner would give me pity and sympathy and be next to me. That, in turn made my partner shy away from my symptoms and keep his distance because it wasn't like he could do anything to make me feel better. My negative mood and attitude acted as a repellent, and nothing else. What i realized recently, as i looked back, was that my somber attitude and the passive/aggressive expectations for "support" was exactly what made my relationships not work at the end (among other things, of course).

The last couple of years of my life, as things turned for the positive and I have learned a thing or two about taking care of myself, I distinctly started to remember my childhood. My mother has had her battles with her health - she always used her lack of health to draw our attention and demanded so much care and sympathy, and later it got so bad to a point where we were always guilted into doing things for her as she pleaded with her health, even when she wasn't as sick. Eventually, I got tired of it all and i just shut down on her every time she started blaming me for being a bad daughter because i didn't meet her expectations. I was on my way to being that same person, and that was the last thing i wanted to be to anyone! NO WAY.

The fact is, flare ups are both physically, mentally and emotionally challenging. Naturally, we want someone to understand what we're going through and make us feel better. Another fact is, however, that after a flare-up there is always relief, and I've been through it many times. People in our lives, unless they have it themselves, have no idea what it feels like to have fibromyalgia-related pain symptoms. We can spend hours explaining it to make them understand, but at the end, they have no idea. And to be honest, i don't even want anyone to know what it's really like. it's painful as it is for me. So anyway, I really started thinking about these things as my relationship has started getting deeper and I have come to the conclusion that I truly care about the person I have been with for the past several months.

Going back to this morning, when i saw that my partner (let's call him J for now) was awake, I just quietly said to him that I was achy - him, being the genuine sweetheart that he is, asked me where, and i said "just all over." we managed to fall back asleep as he held me. That was so really nice. However, as the time came we had to get up and start the day, I was really struggling, but i didn't want to show it without adding a positive color to it. I just said that this too shall pass and that i'm just grateful that my flareups are only happening once every other month or so vs. every week when i was at my worst. I was going to go home, and just rest for the rest of the day, eating vegetables and fruit and waiting for the symptoms to dissipate. J asked a couple of times how things hurt and what i was going to do today (he was off to work also going to be out of town), I just kept smiling and said I was going to be fine. He asked "so is it fibromyalgia?" i just smiled and said "yes." Then finally he asked so innocently "can you die from it?" to which i replied "no, thank god,'s all fine." And i managed to give a cheerful good-bye as we were parting. I felt good. Of course, the drive home was painful, and this day in its entirety has been awful. But i was so happy that i was able to communicate my situation without shutting J down and creating tension that would ultimately do no benefit.

Just about an hour ago, I got a txt from J asking me how I was feeling. To me, that was more than enough care. I know he cares and he doesn't like me being in pain. and I can take care of myself, so i don't have to expect him or want him to take care of me when i'm suffering. So mutually, we're at a great balance of caring for each other and taking care of ourselves. it is a very important thing.

If the person in your life is genuinely not caring at all, then obviously we need to realize we deserve better. However, i believe that we have to be very careful not to burden others with our own and expect them to do something about it to make us feel better. We're not entitled to some kind of special sympathy or attention because of what we have - we should remember to appreciate the people in our lives and always remember to take ownership and responsibility of our health. With our positive attitudes, we will burden others less and they will be more genuinely caring and respectful of our situation.

I'm frustrated right now and my left side is just in so much pain, but i'm still smiling. I'm grateful I have a great life when i'm not in pain. I'm grateful for my relationship, for that special person that makes me laugh at all times. The last thing i want to do is burden him with something he cannot fix.

I'm looking forward to feeling better tomorrow. There's a lot to do, so hopefully I will be able to do most of them once my pain level subsides.

Oh btw, I did manage to cut 5.5 minutes off last year's half marathon time at the Surf City half marathon last weekend. It wasn't quite the 15 minutes i wanted to improve, but given the lack of training I was ok with the results. Now i have to work on meeting that goal at the Great Race of Agoura Hills Chesebro half marathon on 3/27!

God bless, and keep smiling at all times!