Hashimotos

Team Work Makes The Dream Work....

I am back with a literal and figurative point to prove.  After a humbling medical DNF in Placid, I came home to nurse my injuries and wipe the slate clean.  I had nothing but time while laying in bed allowing my spleen and ribs to heal to read, research, watch videos, read blogs and take notes on everything triathlon.  

The first thing I felt I had to address was my diet.  I considered myself to have been eating the “right” foods for my Autoimmune Disease, cutting out all things Gluten as I was allergic to wheat.  I wasn’t a label reader by any means, the extent to which I would look was if the packaging said “Gluten Free” it was fine for me to eat. Lazy? MMMMM, Maybe.  For the most part, I’m like every other single parent working two jobs it was time, distractions and everything in my life was fit into a neat little compartment, I didn’t have the time or energy to put into structured shopping and meal prep.  I was a linear thinker when it came to nutrition and “diet”. I knew I had to follow the rules pertaining to the food pyramid. Eat your veggies, proteins, grains and dairy. This stuff is mashed into our lives from the time we are small. As a child of the 70’s and 80’s there were no water bottles at lunch for us.  We had trays stacked up outside of our classrooms of those little red milk cartons that make the fantastic bubbling sound with a straw. Admit it, you just giggled because you did it too.

I opted a few years ago to try various, internet and multi level marketing promoted shakes. What a learning curve.  Every product I tried or was suggested to me was made in a lab, compounded into a power to be consumed once or twice a day.  Are these good for some people? Yes. Are they expensive? YES. Were they right for Me? NO.

For each new shake trial, most days I felt worse than I felt better.  It became cyclical for me with a combination of good days and bad days, trying to find that perfect “shake”.  Daily I wondered what I was doing wrong and why it was working for all these other people and not me?? The more I read and took I notes, one thing kept becoming more clear.  Eating right is not a “one size fits all” thing. It is a thing that is specific to each individual person on a cellular level.

Because, you know...SCIENCE.  

In September, 2018 after Ironman on my follow up post Spleen injury I was 5 feet 5” tall and weighed in at 155 pounds.  I thought I was in relatively good shape and kind of just resolved myself to the fact that this was my “healthy weight”.  I thought my Hashimotos was for the most part managed as well as my asthma and other AID symptoms. (Prior to being diagnosed with Hashimotos Hypothyroid with Autoimmune (Celiacs) I was 5’5” and 124 pounds in October, 2010.  At my heaviest before finding the right dose of TiroSint (150mcg) I was 178 pounds in April, 2011. 54 pounds. In 6 months. Holy cow. I looked and felt terrible.

The end of September, I bought the book “The Plant Paradox” written by Steven R. Gundry, MD.  It was the first time in recent memory that everything that was going on in my body made any sense. I felt empowered.  Shortly after, I called my Mom, Joan on the phone. “Hi, Mommy!!” “Hi, Baby!!” (Our daily greeting for each other. ),  “Mom, I know you already think I am a crazy person with the Ironman obsession, but I need your help” “Sure, what do you need?”  I began to explain to my Mom in detail this super structured, daily food plan and diet I needed to try. I got the usual “Your Crazy” from Mom but surprisingly it was followed by a “I think this is fantastic and I’ll do what I can to help”.  

I first had to address my “vices”.  I don’t drink or smoke but, damn do I like my candy and potato chips. I had become dependent on their comfort food feel on a daily basis. Dare I say, I was addicted to simple sugars and starches.  I went through my house and purged it of any and all synthetic sugars and potatoes. (I cannot confirm nor deny that I cried a little). Next came the grains.  They all got packed up and stored into the bomb shelter in my basement, along with anything that contained any Soy byproduct. (I genuinely had no idea that Soy is in almost everything)  This was becoming a labor of love. I love my chocolate, however I had zero idea that most commercial chocolate has soy in it. I spent 45 minutes in my local health food store reading the back of every label of dark chocolate.  Know where I found the best one? Starbucks. As much as I love my dairy, that went too.

Then, I proverbially sat back and waited to embrace the suck.  The suck of withdrawing from synthetic sugar and grains. It was hard, but tolerable.  When it got bad at work and I was stressed, I would immediately have a thought pop up to grab for a comfort food.  I was crabby and a touch irritable but it was tolerable. I refused to get on the scale. (I do this every morning religiously to keep track in my upswing of maintaining water weight) I began to follow a daily, structured routine of certain foods and started to religiously meal prep.   My Mom helped. She would help me with my grocery shopping, reading labels with me. Everything became about “pastured” meat and dairy. Makes sense if your allergic to certain grains, to stop consuming things that consume grains. I would come home, Mom would have meal prep suggestions and find the best prices on pastured chicken and beef.  Courtney then jumped on board. “If your doing this, then I’ll do it too. Maybe it will help my Crohn’s”. It became teamwork.

About three weeks in, I noticed it.  My anxiety level decreased. My clothes began to feel loose and I genuinely began to feel like I had some energy back.  Initially, I thought it was a coincidence between my spleen healing and feeling better. But quickly I realized it wasn’t.  

Mid October, I went to Labcorp and had my annual blood work for my thyroid.  Dr. Fomin runs my Vitamin D, TSH, T3, T4, Cortisol and Thyroid Antibodies. I went to see Dr. Fomin on November 8th.  Dr. Fomin is a whirlwind of an Endocrinologist, her office staff is incredible. She comes buzzing in shakes hands, sits at her little glass computer desk and asks me how I am doing as she is pulling up my lab work.  I state that I am well, I now weigh 142 pounds, however my hair is falling out and my anxiety level has been a bit off the charts at night as I am not sleeping well. She looks up at me and back at the computer screen and asks what I am doing different.  I explain to her my diet and all of the changes I have made in the last two months. I talked to her about my training schedule and how well I have been doing with it.

She comes back from around her desk and says…”Well, these symptoms are due to you now taking too much Tirosint”  Wait. What?! She said “Your Thyroid antibodies have come down 60 percent, you have lost weight and your numbers show your taking too much, so we need to lower your dose.  That is what is causing your symptoms”. She told me it looks like I’m well on my way to “healing” my thyroid. Gave me a Script for more blood work in 6 weeks and told me to call her after I get it done.  

You know that feeling you get when you WIN at something?  That was the feeling I had walking out that door that day.  

Eating the right food initially was a labor of love, it turned into a love of eating right.  It made me more driven than ever before to be the best version of myself. I committed 100 percent to eating only the things I should eat to give my body the fuel it needs to succeed in healing.  Two weeks ago, after two really long training days (usually adds two pounds of water weight) and 5 12 hour shifts, I got on the scale. Unprepared for what I was going to see. 139 Pounds. Oh. EM. GEE!!!  This morning, I weighed in at 137.5. I have never been hungry, I have no gas or gas pains, I have zero joint pain, my anxiety level is almost gone (minus the one or two pucker factor jobs I have had at work), the brain fog has completely dissipated.   I am back to my 03:30 am wake ups and two hours of training before work. The most important part is I feel fantastic and have a positive mental attitude, which is palpable to all who know me.

Teamwork, has made my dream work and for that I am grateful.  

Here is a one day sample of what I eat on the Medic Truck:  (Most of what I get is from either Whole Foods or ShopRite)

Coffee is life.  Medium roast coffee with one teaspoon of coconut sugar and some Organic Heavy cream from Pastured cows and 1 tablespoon of organic MCT Oil.

1 tab of AltRed

Banana with shredded coconut, chocolate flax and chia seeds.

“So Delicious” brand Coconut milk yogurt.  (The Key Lime is crazy good)

Raw, unsalted almonds.

Broiled brussel sprouts baked with avocado oil and pink sea salt. (I love snacking on these while on the Medic truck)

1 pan fried then baked chicken breast, with organic pastured fresh shredded cheddar on top and ½ cup mashed red sweet potatoes with kerrygold butter and pink salt.  

½ avocado or broiled asparagus

If I really am in a jam and need something sweet, 1 teaspoon Manuka honey.  (Keeps the bad virus JUJU away)

For 2019’s Tri season, I am now a proud member of the Speed Sherpa Nation (www.speedsherpa.com). I have an entire, national Tri family who now has my back. They help me train, keep me motivated to help me be the best version of myself. Feel free to read all about them and their mission on their web site!

Next week Denise and I get in the pool for the start of our training and my cycling classes at Cycles 54 in Wall, NJ start January 3rd...can’t wait to tell you all about our training shenanigans!  Until then, stay safe and be good to each other! ~ T

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My "Do Over" September 28, 2018

September 28, 2018 was a new start for me.  Well. Not really a new “start” per say but more a “do-over”.  After my DNF at IM 70.3 LP on Sunday, September 9th due to a Spleen and Kidney injury I was allowed to start training again.  


I have to say, there is not much I am afraid of.  Legitimately. But this day, I was afraid. I have determined to this point that the bike has been and will continue to be My primary nemesis and now the pain it has caused me has made me afraid of it.  AGAIN. Well, I’m afraid of the pain, not the bike. I love my bike. The pain, I don’t love that.


After much discussion and back and forth with Michael for both the positive and the negative sides of triathlon, the decision was made to start training again.  Once I made the commitment, the fear set in.


I consider myself to have a super high pain threshold, especially after the break to the bones in my right leg in 2010.  The pain I experienced with this most recent injury is the most intense, relentless pain I have ever experienced. Relentless. Every minute of every day, asleep or awake, I was reminded that my Spleen was angry.  I had swelling on my side that was pronounced enough that you could see it under my white uniform shirt. I lovingly referred to it as my “Spleen Baby”. I was tired, sore, swollen, short of breath and generally crabby.  


To my fellow EMS providers that had to put up with me for those two weeks, I’m sorry.


September 28th, I suited up, stretched and headed out with instructions from Michael.  Start slow. 30 seconds on 30 seconds off, see if you can tolerate it and only do 20 minutes.  So I did. One foot in front of the other. Right foot, Left foot. Right foot, Left foot. Right foot, Left foot.  


Zero pain.  Like a child on their first day of school, off I went. Within a minute all of my fear and anxiety began to dissipate and I smiled and continued on. I finished, came into the house mildly short of breath and Michael asked how I did.  ZERO Pain!!


Then it sank in.  Eventually, I would have to get back on the bike and ride outside. Well, SHIT.


On October 2nd, that is just what I did.  I don’t know who was more leary, Michael or I.  Well, I think Michael may have showed it more than I did.  I hydrated, suited up, pumped up my tires and went through my gear to make sure I would have everything I needed.  Then just like that, I clicked in and off I went. At about the first half mile, the fear started to take a back seat to being hyper vigilant to my surroundings (at work we call it Situational Awareness).  My train of thought began to focus solely on the traffic, bumps in the road, animals and the smells of fall in the air.

At mile 5 I looked down saw how far I had gone and I smiled.  It was glorious. The wind in my face and the quiet solitude of just me and my bike, My little green monster.  


I’m not really sure at what mile exactly it happened, but it did.  The fear completely went away. When I returned home after 15 miles, it was clear to see that it had left Michael also.  It was like a breath of fresh air had entered our home.


So in the process of me attempting to finish my first half Ironman this past September, I learned a lot of new things and made a lot of new friends.  There is one in particular who I am especially thankful for coming into my life. You know that one friend who comes into your life when you most need it, like a giant hug from the Universe saying: “Here, I made this just for you!”.  Her name is Denise, she is Friends with Michael, they were training buddies for IMLP in July 2011, she had been following my progress all along and had a vested interest in my success.


Denise is an Ironman.  She has completed 5 full Ironmen over the course of 8 years.  Her resume also includes 15 marathons, two 50K’s, one 50 miler and a 212 mile bike in one day.  


Denise is a legit BADASS.  (if you ask her she uses the hashtag #usedtobeabadass.)  Denise has become my go to girl and my biggest support system next to Michael.  She is a Nurse, She is my Sherpa and I love her. Denise and I signed up to do a 70.3 together and train for it.  Our choice? The newly acquired IM 70.3 VA on May 5th. The rooms are booked, the entry has been paid for and away we go!  On a daily basis now we compare notes, training, equipment, diet but mostly, Denise shares her wealth of knowledge and experiences with me.


So, Denise and I have decided that we will set aside two days a week with our rotating schedules for our long runs/rides with one of the two being a rain date/alternate training date.  We may or may not have Michael convinced to do one with us!


WE will keep you posted!!  


Denise, Jaker, Ladybug and Myself will be participating in this years “2018 Stomp the Monster Almost 4 Miler” in Manasquan, NJ on Saturday, October 20th if you want to join!  No timing chips, just a great group of people running for a great cause and post race hanging out at our local go to place, Leggetts!

https://runsignup.com/Race/Events/NJ/Manasquan/StomptheMonsterSpooktacularAlmost4Miler#event-245946


Until next time, Stay Safe out there and BE GOOD TO EACH OTHER!!  - T



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I AM TITANIUM....

So, today I left my local Starbucks and headed North toward my Medic shift at JSUMC.  I was sipping my green tea and had a warm feeling on my right cheek.  It was the rising sun, My promise of a new day.  Even after 20 years on the Medic truck, the anticipation for what is awaiting for me between the punches still gets in my head.  I am still kind of groggy, this is the third 12 hour shift in a row. I haven’t really slept in a few days as much as I should have and today, I feel it.  I’m distracted with my own thoughts (so many of them) specifically, the bike course of IM 70.3. I’m still gun shy from my fall. I have been working on my hill climbs and getting comfortable being out of the saddle and pushing my non cooperative legs.

Suddenly, my attention is immediately drawn to what is coming over the radio from my iTunes.  “Titanium” I am a firm believer that when we need it the most, signs are thrown at us from the universe but most are too distracted by life to pay attention.  This time, however I was locked the hell on with all of my senses and I hear this specific phrase:

“I'm bulletproof nothing to lose Fire away, fire away.  Ricochet, you take your aim. Fire away, fire away. You shoot me down but I won't fall, I am titanium.  You shoot me down but I won't fall I am…”

Titanium.  Yes, I have it.  It’s a constant reminder of an injury that has prevented me from being the athlete I always wanted to be. That’s always been how I processed that song, reminding me of my own personal titanium.  Then I realized, wait. That’s not the song’s message. This song is not so much about titanium, but about taking whatever life has to throw at you and not letting it take you down. It’s about always getting back up.  It’s about perception versus reality. That’s it. Universe, I got your message loud and clear and thank you for the reminder.

Last week, I started the “taper” process portion of my training.  It’s that part you look forward to as you know the super long hours of training start to wean down, theoretically giving you some more time with family and friends.  The downfall of the “taper” process is loving referred to as the “taper blues” and apparently, I have a raging case of it. It’s hard to describe honestly. The easiest way is maybe to say it’s like the week before summer is over. You know the days are getting shorter and you have to go back to school and you grumble in anticipation.  I have come to rely on my pre medic shift exercise induced endorphin rush and I miss it terribly. I’m legit a crab and ball of stress.

Last week, I went through all of my pre race “to do” list.  Bike check up, pharmacy refills, supplement refills, things that are lost and or missing.  WHERE THE HELL DO ALL MY WATER BOTTLES GO?!?!?!  Ugh, Jaker and Ladybug that's where.

Most importantly, I went to the Podiatrist to make sure my feet are in good health.  I make it a point to take exceptionally good care of my feet since I broke my leg. I go every three months for evaluations and injections.  At some point over the last few years, I developed “Tarsal Tunnel” syndrome. If you haven’t heard of it, I’m not surprised, I had never heard of it either but let me tell you.  That shit hurts. Years of not running in the right shoes, hyper-pronating, not using orthotics and a totally different method of running post fracture lead to this. When you add to that annoying thing called AutoImmune Disease where everything is swollen and hurts and it makes for a miserable way to be.  

This week, I went to see Dr. Greg Clark from Jersey Shore Podiatrist Associates in Sea Girt.  He assesses my feet, states I’m doing a great job keeping my toes in line (I started to develop a bunion on my left foot in January.  GO GENETICS) and it looks like I caught them in time. He reviews what therapy I am doing on my feet and suggest some new ones. He pushes my instep and on the medial part of my ankle and I quickly retract in pain.  “Ok, it’s time for more injections. When is your race?” “The 9th. Oh My God, I just said that out loud. It’s coming!” Ladybug giggles. Dr. Clark says its perfect timing and sets me up. Then the manipulation and injecting a tuberculin syringe into the sheath of the nerves that are trapped and causing me to lose feeling in my feet.  This is miserable. I shudder. He says, “after everything your feet have been through, this is nothing” He is 1000 percent correct. He puts on my lovely little latex free bandaids, wishes me luck and sends me on my way. “Good LUCK! We are all rooting for you, we will see you when you get back!” Yes. YES YOU WILL.

I am TITANIUM.  Literally and figuratively.  

So after a minor pity party this morning during shift change, I got my shit together. I got a pep talk from Anna and Michelle my Medic Sherpa’s and started my day.  I have a 12 hour Medic shift and two wake ups before I leave and holy shit it's coming fast!!

I AM READY.  I WILL TRUST MY TRAINING.  I am, after all:  TITANIUM.

For those interested in following the incredible triathletes I will be sharing time with on Sunday, September 9th you can track each one of us through the Ironman Tracker app or on www.ironman.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Today, I get a day off. KIND OF.

Today is my day off.  Well.  Let me clarify.  Today, I am not on the Medic truck.

I got to sleep in past 03:45 and take the time to enjoy my coffee.  In all honesty, once you become acclimated to waking up at O'Dark Thirty on a regular basis your body naturally starts to wake itself up at an ungodly hour.  Today, I woke up in a panic twice between the hours of 04:00 and 07:00.  You know the kind.  "Oh, SHIT.  I slept late, I'm going to be late for work!  Where's my uniform?  I HAVE TO CALL THE SUPERVISOR!!" You heave your legs to the edge of the bed, feet dangling, head spinning with a raging case of bed head and it sinks in.  I do not have to go to work today.  GREAT.  Now what do I do with all of this unnecessary adrenaline?  

I laid in bed for a bit, scratching Sammy's ears.  When the light starts to creep in through the windows and my eyes begin to focus I think about all of the things I have to accomplish today.  Groceries.  Meal prep. (My Mommy is making me Chicken Salad today) LAUNDRY. (Have we talked about how much laundry we generate?? For the love of all things holy) Cleaning.  Eating.  TRAINING.  Oh lord.  What does Michael have on the agenda for me today??

I get up, Sammy reluctantly follows,  we both wander into the kitchen and I try to figure out how to make the coffee. I am a train wreck in the morning. Sammy is too. The pups go out, do their business and then lay in the morning sun to recharge their batteries.  I keep the house the temp of an Arctic Tundra at night and sleep with a fan in my face.  My bipeds and quadrupeds hate me for it. (Sorry, not sorry.  I'm the Adult who pays the bills)

Sitting at the computer, I have in front of me my Paleo-ish pancakes, my java and I log into my social media accounts to read the "news".  I get a text message from Michael. "Morning love"  "Morning, Babe" is my response.  "I'm up, moving super slow today, I'm going to finish my coffee and run"  See, now by this I mean I am going to figure out which way is up and then go do my circuits.  "Bricks" he calls them because they are blocks of daily workouts.  I call them shit bricks.  Blocks of heavy, hard work outs that at times make me feel like shit.  SHIT BRICKS.  

"Today you should be doing 1 hour on your bike and 25-30 min. run..the run is the easy part..you have to be prepared to be on the bike for 4-5 hours" "Just eat something, let it digest then stick a phone book under your wheel and do 1 hour and then your run..you need a brick with  1 hour bike and 30 mins run."  "OK, I'm on it"  Grumble.  There is not going to be enough coffee for today.

I then look to my left and there staring at me like a beast...Matt Long.  He's giving me an unapologetic stare from the cover of the book I use as my bible and motivation.  "The Long Run" By the way....Whoever did his cover work photography should receive an award.  He has a stare equivalent to the "Mona Lisa".  Anywhere you go, he's like "get the hell up and do this, you have no excuses."  Right, Matt.  I'm going. UGH. You Sir, are a beast. Today, however I am NOT.

So I'm heading out to do my "brick" so I can finish the rest of my day.  There will be lots of grumbling and bad, bad words today.  So here is what I can offer you today: For the Paleo-ish pancakes:  3 bananas, 2 eggs, one scoop of almond butter, mixed together really well.  When you pour them in the skillet, make sure to make them smaller than your spatula.  We learned the hard way, they don't like to be flipped so they fall apart easily.  Whatever you don't eat, put in the fridge.  They are just as good cold as warm.  I bring mine to work and snack on them throughout the day.

Heres a sampling of the training "BRICKS" (Shit Bricks) Mike has me doing through September 2:

August 13-19: 2) Bricks 1.5 hours bike then 35 minute run.  2) swim 3 intervals pf 5 mins with swim lanyard with 2 mins rest.

August 20-26: 2) Bricks 2 hours bike and 40 minute run. 2) Swim 4 times 5 minute intervals with lanyard with 2 minutes of rest.

August 27-September 2: 2) Bricks 2 hours 30 mins bike followed by one hour run. 2) Swim 3 times at 7 minute intervals with swim lanyard and 1 minute 30 seconds rest in between

After a 15 minute warm up on trainer, concentrate on incline trainer work.  Stand up and crank when tired..spin for last 5 minutes before going for your run.

Enjoy your day, Be safe and Be good to each other ~ T

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"The Lion and The Gazelle"

When I was growing up, I was not necessarily a quiet child.  I wasn’t a very loud one either. I was always the kind of kid who observed everything around me.  I took it all in, processed it and figured out what was going on. I never really spoke unless I was spoken to.  When I was asked a question or was provoked I would answer or come at you. There really was no in between. I wasn’t the kid who went looking for a fight.  I was the one who if the fight came to me, I would end it.

Not much has changed in 48 years.

At some point, I started to grow up and ease into adulting (there is an undertone of sarcasm here that would otherwise go completely undetected unless I point it out).  People appreciated my drive, tenacity and “tell it like it is” personality. I was the girl who if you asked me a question you better be prepared for an honest answer because that is all you will get.  “Are you sure you want me to answer that? ‘Cause it’s going to hurt” is my typical response. I was referred to as a leader and that is where I fall in line in both my social circle as well as professional one. “My pack”

I am a Leo.  Without really having to go into too much detail, I fit the personality profile perfectly if you believe in that kind of thing.  I am action oriented, warm hearted, I have an insatiable drive to succeed and I am not afraid to let people know I mean business.

A few months ago, I was watching some Ironman motivational videos.  (YouTube is life!) While on the Medic truck, I will sit between calls and watch these amazing athletes crush the sport of triathlon.  This of course, initially bothered Ed. It wasn’t until he began watching them with me that he began to understand. One one of my shifts, I came in more sore and tired then normal for a 07:00 start time.   That morning, I had spent an hour on the virtual bike trainer doing blocks of high intensity intervals to help with my fear of the hills in Lake Placid. Being not just a lifelong friend but partner, he listened graciously.  I grumbled something about “embracing the suck” and “this shit is hard” then Ed said “Tracy, you understand that the reason this is hard, is because IT IS. Your doing things a human body is not designed to do. Literally. Humans are not physically designed to run marathons, let alone a triathlon.”  Uhhhhh. Well, SHIT. Point taken.

One of my favorite videos to watch is “Wired Differently”.  It is that one video that gets my blood pumping and makes me want to go out and break land speed records. (In actuality, I’ll be lucky if I don’t trip over my own feet and roll backwards down a hill. GRAVITY.)  There is a part where Eric Thomas is speaking about the difference Lion and the Gazelle, how they are wired differently. “When a gazelle sees a Lion because of how he’s wired, automatically fear takes over. When a Lion sees a Gazelle, He lights up.  It’s SHOWTIME. The hunt is obviously what I was made for” I took that, memorized it and put it away.

While in Lake Placid a few weeks ago for my family’s annual vacation, my Best Friend, Melissa and I were talking about the personality differences in each person in the house.  (10 of us) She and my Father, Sid are both Taurus, the Bull. Jake and I are lions. Courtney is a Cancer and at 14 years old, she is in fact, a crab. (especially in the mornings) I started telling her the story of the “Lion and the Gazelle” then broke out the ipad so she could watch the video.  She watched intently. She got it. We spoke about the amount of commitment that trying to be an endurance athlete takes. I reminded her that the only thing stopping her from doing it also was herself.

Later that day, Michael signed me up for a sprint Triathlon after our Open Water Swim practice in Mirror Lake.  High Peaks Cyclery has a summer series Sprint Tri every Monday night (.35 mile swim, 12.5 mile bike, 3.1 mile run).  It’s fantastic. I’ll “Tri” anything, I thought. (see what I did there??)

I took my time, as the water is my worst suit especially getting in with a hundred people. I got out, transitioned and got on my bike. At mile 6, I threw up whatever I had in my stomach. The bike sucked. On the last 2 miles, at the hardest point for this race coming up to Main Street, my right leg gave out and I fell off the bike in grand fashion. I picked myself up, walked off the pain, got the hell back on the bike, clipped in and finished. I came into the transition with my right hand bleeding, black and blue and unable to make a fist.  Walking was hard, My hip felt like it was out.

Immediately, Mel knew something was wrong. Courtney came up and grabbed my bike and said “what happened?” “I think I broke my wrist” The Paramedic in Mel immediately grabbed my arm to look and said “let me see.” I stopped. Looked up at her and said. I’m fine, if it’s broken I’ll deal with it later.  I don’t need my arm to run.” I saw my quitting as a sign of defeat and with the bigger picture in focus, my inability to finish a 70.3. I refused to stop this far in. Mel bent down next to me to help me ties my sneakers. She whispered to me. “When the Lion sees the Gazelle, it lights up. It’s SHOWTIME.” I looked up at her, smiled and said “It’s Showtime”.

I stood up, transitioned out and I began the run. The first half of this 3.1 miles is completely uphill.  Somehow, I managed to pull off reverse splits. As I came down to the bottom of Mirror lake, toward the finish line, there waiting for me was My family. Cheering me on.

I came in first place in my age bracket.  After this particular race, I cried. I am not a crier, but this time I cried and it was a good cry. It was a validation that I could do this.

I refused to be a gazelle and run from fear.  Fear of failing myself and my goals.

The moral of the story:  In the world of Triathlon: Don’t be a Gazelle.  Be a LION.

Wired Differently - Ironman Triathlon Motivation https://youtu.be/107ldORVThs

Motivational Speech by Navy Seal Admiral William H. McRaven https://youtu.be/Z7QL6hjeNDA

 

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Janae asked me a question.....

Well, she did and it got me to thinking.  A few weeks ago, my Friend Janae (Emergency Room Doctor in Newark, NJ and Former Paramedic) and I sat around the table at our Medic Station eating lunch.  We were live streaming Heather Jackson kick ass and take names at Ironman Lake Placid and stuffing our faces in between calls.  Janae watched me systematically go in the refrigerator a few times and pull out a few pre packed meals and eat them like I was going to the chair.

"Can I ask you a question, Tracy, Do you follow a specific diet for all the training you do?" My immediate reply was... "Yes!!  I eat everything"  Then I got to thinking.  No one has really asked me that before.  I mean really, I was never handed a guide book on what to eat when you have Auto Immune Disease and Celiac's.  I just knew in the beginning not to eat wheat, what made me feel crappy and what didn't.  Becoming an endurance athlete added a whole new dimension to my meal planning and eating habits. 

Listen, I am just a Paramedic who treats really, really sick people.  I am not a dietician, doctor or endocrinologist.  I just fix dead people, so I was kind of on my own when I got diagnosed.  Having been 2011 when I was, I had the benefit of the world wide web at my fingertips so that is where I started.  I read.  I read more.  I read even more than that.  It would have been easier if I had someone to text, call or guide me and do all of the leg work for me on a whole new lifestyle of nutrition. I didn't, it was just me. 

Let's be honest.  Most public service employees (Police, Firefighters, EMS providers, etc.) don't exactly eat right. We don't eat to be healthy, we eat out of necessity.  We eat in what's usually a super rushed environment, we are never guaranteed to even be sitting down, let alone have time to properly digest whatever crap we put into our mouths.  We have a joke in my house, keep all appendages away from me when I sit down to eat, you might be missing something when I'm done.  Its a matter of conditioning.  I eat fast.  Now I eat fast and I eat right.

I started following certain blogs, websites and reading every article I could.  The resounding theme: think about what you put into your body.  It is a machine that instead of being well oiled and functioning properly, it is in a constant battle with itself.  AID sufferers know the struggle well.  We can't just go out and slam down few beers, eat potato chips or whatever we want.  Well, actually we can but then we pay the price.  Gut pain, cramping, swelling in your face and joints, chicken skin, rashes, I could go on but you get it. 

One of my favorites to read is by AmyMyersMD.com, it is titled "7 Foods you should be eating if you have Hashimoto's".  It is a step by step that explains why, what and how our food works in our new AID food reality.  Lot's of B's.  ALL OF THEM! (B1, B2, B3, B9) IODINE. All the dark veggies, spinach, kale, sea weed and my FAVORITE Collard Greens. IODINE. All of the dark fruits.  IODINE. PROTEINS!  Beef and Chicken. IODINE. Salmon. IODINE. Avocado. IODINE. Bone Broths. IODINE. All the oranges too!  Carrots, Sweet Potatoes.  Did I mention Iodine? Good. Cause no one told me how important it is to thyroid health.  Something so simple like switching to table salt that contains Iodine fixes it.  

Here are a few more links to some good sites:

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321197.php

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321197.php

https://universityhealthnews.com/daily/energy/a-hashimotos-diet-can-help-manage-your-autoimmune-disease/

I work long 12 hour shifts.  I get up at 3:45 in the morning, fumble my way to the coffee pot and sit for about 5 mins to figure out which way is up.  Then I start my circuit.  I either run for an hour, bike for an hour on the virtual trainer, or do a combo of both in rapid fire sequence to train the legs that even on a good day I can't feel very well. This shit is hard.  Really Hard. It's a full time job trying find that perfect balance between training time, work, kids, boyfriend, family, proper nutrition and staying healthy and most importantly: listening to your body.  Meal prep helps.  I buy only what I need for a few days, I don't like to waste.  I cook and pre pack everything to save time.  My time after work is spent preparing whatever I need to get me through the next shift, while tackling homework, sports, college shopping and social calendars for Jake and Courtney.  And the Laundry.  (Did I mention how much laundry two teenagers produce on top of a Mom who trains for Triathlons???)  

Here is a sampling of my daily meals:

Coffee. UGH. COFFEE, how I love you. (I am a coffee selfie nightmare on social media)

Refrigerator Oatmeal: Certified Gluten free Oats, Chobani Chocolate yogurt drink, chocolate flax and chia seeds, honey and topped with fresh blueberries or blackberries.

Starbucks Unsweetened Green Tea. (I love going there to see my favorite people)

Snacks bags of Almonds (avoiding peanuts) carrots and hummus.

Grilled chicken cooked with coconut oil, usually topped with home made pesto, or some sautéed tomato and parmesan cheese.

My Ka'Chava shake.

Minimum Three liters of water. (I usually drink Essentia 1.5 liter bottles)

Fage 5% yogurt, Kind oats and honey granola a banana and honey. 

Dark Chocolate.  Let's be honest, it keeps me sane and this makes all of my coworkers happy. 

I eat. A LOT.  Michael says "you need to feed the beast" I say I need to not be hangry.  Speaking of, it's time to feed the troops and tomorrow starts a long week on the Medic truck.  Stay safe and be good to your body! ~ T

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Well, here we go.

So let me start off where most people do.  With me introducing myself.  My Name is Tracy Connellan.  I was born and raised in Wall Township, NJ falling in at lucky number 7 of 7 kids.  I was not necessarily shy or quiet, just the kid who did her own thing, surrounded by Brothers and Sisters who loved me and taught me all of lifes lessons. I was the littlest one of our clan in both size and birth order.  I grew up busy, involved in sports of all kinds and suffered chronically from Asthma, which I to this day have to struggle to manage on some days.

I went to college, I travelled, I worked, I met a guy, got married, had two pretty amazing humans, Jake and Courtney (Ladybug) and got divorced.  Then, I met my Soul Mate, Michael. 

At some point in my 20's, I made the genius decision to leave my crazy good paying job at UPS for a job being a critical care EMT. I wanted to go back to school to be a Paramedic.  "Are you for real?!" My Father asked.  Yes, Dad, just trust me on this one.  My grandmother, Helen told me on hearing my news, "You know, Tracy.  Sometimes, in life you just have to jump off that bridge and build your wings on the way down" "Besides, God made Paramedics for a reason.  That reason is that they do things that no one else can do, ask Grandpa!"  She was right.  It was my life's calling.

I started my career in 1997 and put 100 percent of everything I had into it.  As a Paramedic, I wanted not to be liked so much as a person, I wanted to be the Paramedic that other Paramedics wanted treating their family.  It has been 20 years.  I have become that Paramedic and my Grandmother was right.  God made Paramedics for a reason.

My whole life, when things got bad, stressful or just all out annoying, I turned to running.  There is something to be said about running alone, It's just you and the road, some really angry music, feet pounding, listening to your own breath and plenty of time to fix all of the worlds problems.  I wasn't a great distance runner, you see.  I was always the 200/400 hurdles kind of runner.  Short, quick, explosive with a general point to prove.  I was little, but damn I was quick.  I had to work really hard to do distance.  It didn't come easy.  

In January 2010, I had a very significant injury to my right leg.  I fell out of the back of a moving ambulance on a CPR call.  Flying out of the back of the bus like Superman, I broke my leg in grand fashion, tearing all the ligaments and tendons in my ankle requiring multiple surgeries to repair all the damage.  I was told I would never run again.  

Well, Shit.

In October of 2011, I got the go ahead with a LOT of not so gentle persuading of my Surgeon to start to jog again.  RIGHT.  I am Lion, hear me roar, I'll show them!

I started out pretty slow but was able to get myself back to an 8:15 mile for those 5k's that I loved to do.  By December, however I noticed that was getting harder and harder to do.  I watched my times gradually creep up to the high 11's, eventually not able to finish even a mile on a treadmill without being completely gassed and in terrible pain.  What. The. HELL, Over.

To the Doctor I went.  "It's your Epstein Barr, It's active again".  No.  I knew that feeling all to well from college and having suffered occasional flare ups.  That wasn't it.  I kept going to the Doctor.  "Something is really wrong here.  I can't think, I feel like my head is in a fog all the time.  I can't stay awake, I only want to sleep.  My joints are inflamed, my hair is falling out, not to mention the chicken skin and rashes and...LOOK AT THIS EDEMA!.  Please help!" More and more blood work.  I was then asked to come back to the office to review.  I had a diagnosis: Hashimoto's Hypo Thyroid Disease with Auto Immune. The best part? I was allergic to Wheat.  Wait, no more hot bagels for breakfast on the Medic Truck?

Well, Shit.

I went from a respectable, healthy 124 pounds in October 2010 to a bloated, puffy and painful 178 pounds in February 2011.  

This is where my good Friend and confidant, Kate Palmer, APN from Jersey Shore University Medical Center came in and saved me from myself.  She set me up with an amazing endocrinologist, Svetlana Fomin helped me set up a meal and exercise plan and I was on my  way.  A few changes in diet and daily medication (switching from Synthroid which has a wheat coating to Tirosint which is a gel cap) and I was well on my way to being a brand new me.  

If it was not for Kate listening, guiding and most importantly believing me, I would not be where I am today.  (You will hear from Kate in a later blog)  I am going to listen to my body and rest now.  This was a long two weeks for me!  My Family and I went to Lake Placid for two weeks for our annual pilgrimage.  I'm Signed up for Lake Placid Ironman 70.3 on September 9th.  I got in lot's of Ironman training for 14 days! 

I'll tell you all about it in my next blog post.  Until then, Stay safe and lead by example. ~ T

 

 

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