Just Dropped In (to See What Condition My Condition Was In)

I have been (notably?) absent from my blog, and it's been a love/hate sort of thing.  There's so much I've needed/wanted to say, and it's been so hard to find/make the time to say it. But I also genuinely enjoy writing.

A few notable items from the last few months . . .

  • Still haven't lost the 15 lbs.  I lost about 6 or 7 of it, though.
  • Finally made it under an hour for the 10k
  • Olympic-Distance PR came very unexpectedly in July.
  • I became the Social Coordinator for the Seminole County Triathletes
  • Fall is going to be packed with travel!!! Augusta 70.3 to watch the race, two weddings, the Griswold Family Thanksgiving in NC....and let's not forget a lil' ol' thing called The Chicago Motherf'in Marathon!!!!

On that note, I survived my first long training run of the season - 18 miles in 12 hours.  My long runs are split between two days to allow the fatigue of the mileage without the risk of injury. I love training this way.  And from the results and plan so far, I think this is the first year I have a reasonable chance to go sub-5.  That's so slow for so many, but for me 4:50-anything is the Holy Grail of finish times.  I'll finally be two hours faster than when I started.

Anyway. One of the reasons I began blogging was that whole idea that you get to know yourself better and learn more about your inner workings when you journal.  Sure, blogging took a big chunk of my time.  Sure, some of the people I met were out of their goddamn minds (no apologies).  But mostly, I learned a lot about myself and made friends.

I have been spending some of that time lately doing goal setting and reflection, and that has actually helped me personally more than blogging at this time of my life.  It doesn't allow me to express my love of writing, but where writing sometimes makes me focus or dwell on things too much, goal setting and reflection has let me see what practical knowledge or action items I need to improve on all kinds of things.

Like negative self-talk.  I've mentioned many times that I'm both budget restricted and heavier compared to my fellow athletes.  Being part of the tri club has been amazing for meeting like minded people with whom to work out, but it's also a visual reminder that lots of others have the bodies and bank accounts I don't.  It's also a reminder that my chronic disease will always keep me from pushing as hard as I can.  I've gotten off the bike during power meter sessions and burst into tears when no one was looking because I couldn't do what I knew I was capable of. 

Goal setting and reflection have helped me a lot with my negative self-talk about being inadequate.  Although I do think it's something I'll struggle with for life, I've made a lot of progress. We all have our shit.

Just like battling our inner demons, training is a hugely personal thing.  There are lots of different options and coaches with different philosophies and you have to find the ones that work best for you.   I love my Doctor Jack Daniels running plans.  I loooove that I never run 20 miles in one whack while marathon training. I still cover 20+ miles, just in two days instead of one. My VDot and my stress level about making my workouts have improved. 

The other thing that impacts my stress level? Social events.  I love social events.  What I don't love is how violently ill I get when I stay up past 9.  Even 10 is too late for me sometimes.  I only sleep 3-5 hours a night as it is, so the later I hit the hay, the less and less hours I log. So when someone invites me somewhere that threatens my ability to sleep, I panic.  I never quite know how I'm going to feel some days, so why tempt fate? But then my FOMO kicks in and it's a one way trip to the Land of Cognitive Dissonance.

I often think, "gosh, this blog is kind of like The Chronicles of a Chronically Ill Athlete." But that would be giving the diseases too much power. And while I can't Be my diseases and become all about them, I also can't bring my memory or ability to sleep back, or make my body any more cooperative with my Delusions of Amazing Athleticism.

I wish I could help others understand the quandry of chronic illness. It makes you feel isolated and inadequate all on its own. It can be very stressful not quite knowing what the fuck your body will throw your way some days. You start getting excluded from Things because you say No too much.  People think you're just lazy or that you're forgetting things because you're a bad friend. Worse, they think you're crazy or a bad person.

I have learned something pretty huge this year.  I thought I'd 
learned this already, but apparently I needed a reminder: on most of the worst days, I have a bare minimum I know I can accomplish.  That's usually workout and work (on work days), or a workout and laundry followed by naps (on off days.)  If I can do nothing else, I do at least these things. It keeps me from feeling like nothing got done, and the workout almost always makes me feel better.  

Although some days my issues are my biggest limiter, they're also sometimes my biggest motivator.

So that's pretty much it. That's where I've been for the last few months.

Also, blowing away my fundraising commitment for AKBTC!

Oh, and just enjoying life.  Check out some of the latest events.  It's like my Instagram feed just barfed all over you!

Suck it Up Buttercup!  SCT at this HOT 10k

Right Where I Need to Be: 2 Weeks, 2 Races, and 1/3 of a PR

It's been a busy few weeks here in MAJland.

The 5-year scan came back.  The same group of lymph nodes that always appears? They appeared again. Especially the big calcified one. So, no real chance I'm meeting NED until it's more certain they're not continuing to grow and increase in numbers.

Next, last weekend I attacked my 3rd Escape From Fort DeSoto Sprint Tri.  This is a notoriously tough race for me. The run is almost 4 miles (they claim it's 3.4, but it's about 3.8), the field is super tough (some very fit athletes use it as a practice race for St. Anthony's), and halfway through the run you go up the steps of the fort, over the fort, and then a solid mile along the beach, which is only partly packed sand.

All in all, it as a wonderful race. The weather was phenomenal. The water was beautiful. I can say with 100% certainty that I could have not gone any harder on the run. I felt so fantastic during the whole thing that I was absolutely sure I'd PRd or placed in the top 10.  I placed about where I did last time, though, (about mid-field). I had a swim PR and matched my bike PR.

(So that's like . . what . . . a 1/3 a PR?)

The main things that limited me from not performing better were the extra weight I'm getting off, the run being tougher than I remembered, and not feeling good.  I could have gone harder on the bike or the swim, but the run was tough enough, so I'd say I did just right with what I had.

For me to say I wasn't feeling good is saying something, too, since I generally don't feel very good.  I'd had a killer bout with bronchitis the week prior, and the day I started to feel recovered, I did one of those things where I jerked the muscle between my neck and head really hard. (Ever done that? I've heard some people call it a "stinger.")  It turned out to be way more than a stinger, though - the muscle pull activated one of the worst migraines I've had in literally YEARS. Today - about two weeks after the pull - I'm still struggling with my usual migraine-associated vertigo and a good ol' headache.


Some photos of the past few weeks' hi-jinks.

Also, this past Thursday I also completed another annual IOA Corporate 5k.  I felt pretty terrible and it rained the whole race.  Despite almost pulling out of the race because I felt certain I would pass out two separate times, I pulled it together through the scary parts and slowed it down enough to finish 3.18 miles in 30:45 (a 9:40 pace.) I took a few extra days off after that race and having to place a rescue call during a 4-miler (made it 2 and change). 

So....no PRs at either race.  At least not by time.

But I think I still set some personal records this week.

I looked back at some old race pictures and thought about some old race days.  Even though I'm 20-30 pounds thinner, I don't look much different.  You'd think that'd be a drastic difference looks-wise, but it's not. For me to run a 9:40 pace during one of the worst days I've had in one of the worst few weeks I've had recently is nothing short of miraculous.  I remember when I'd die to maintain an 11:40 pace when I was feeling GOOD!

It's how I feel that is drastically different.  Yes, I'm still socially awkward (more on that another day), I still don't like my inner thighs, and (at this moment) I'm about 8 pounds heavier than my body's favorite weight (and my closet), but even on the worst of days I outrun me on some of my old best days.

And every time I think oh, I should go half Iron again, I think about how nice it is to have a social life (Epcot Flower and Garden Festival, above), take time off for being sick, and still run a single-digit-per-mile pace in the rain while fighting fainting. And a bunch of mystery lymph nodes.

I am right where I need to be.

And man, does that feel good.

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