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and so it begins.....

and so it begins….

The beginning of another Triathlon season.  

Triathlon seasons are filled with finding the perfect race, getting the seasons coolest race kits, equipment preps, structured schedules, early bedtimes, even earlier wake ups, (o’dark thirty does not look good on me) race day nutrition planning and prepping, tapering, traveling, transition area set ups, pre race start jitters, crossing finish lines, medals, podiums and 5 months of relentlessly chasing your triathlon dreams.  

It is a season shared with hundreds of other triathletes who share not only their love and dedication for their chosen sport but their love and respect for their fellow athletes.  

Last year, while standing on my little towel in the transition area of the Lavalette Tri, I felt  overwhelmed and frankly a bit sad. There was a sea of people buzzing around me, sharing the collective vibrations of pre race energy, yet I felt completely alone.  

What a terrible feeling.  

I always considered triathlon to be more of single athlete sport, not a team sport.  Honestly, I am not sure why that was and boy was I wrong. The more events I participated in, the more I would see groups of athletes dressed alike, helping each other, walking together, laughing and supporting each other and I realized this is what I was missing.  

Last fall after IM, I was on the Medic truck flipping my way through Instagram (shocking I know), I came across this really cool picture of a triathlete in his blue and orange suit facing a sunset.  I clicked on the link and there was the application for new members and I thought they genuinely looked like great group of people. I filled out the application and patiently waited. I honestly didn’t know if I was going to be accepted or if I was even good enough to be a member of the team; Speed Sherpa. (www.speedsherpa.com)

November 2, 2018:  “WELCOME TO THE SPEED SHERPA RACING TEAM FOR 2019!”  

See, now the thing here is, I don’t make friends easily.  Not at all. I can be really socially awkward and quiet if I don’t know you and I am not very trusting.  Immediately, I noticed that this team is different. Somehow, it just felt right from the very beginning.  (Not to mention I look really good in Blue and Purple) I was immediately welcomed in and made to feel as though I was a member of this huge family of incredible triathletes.  My Speed Sherpa family has athletes of all types and abilities, from novice triathletes like me to the Elite. They provided me with inside access to the best resources for questions and concerns, training aids, proper gear and most importantly to me:  CONFIDENCE Coaching.

Speed Sherpa introduced me to my fellow Sherpa and an all out fabulous human, Kelsey Abbott (www.kelseyabbott.com) Kelsey coaches our team on our individual confidence, the power of positive thinking and the bane of my existence: SELF SABOTAGE.  I was actually kind of surprised that I am not the only person who deals with this. Lack of self confidence has always been a huge problem for me, forcing me to get in my own head more times than I can count.  Why am I not fast enough? Why can’t I do better? Why can’t I be as good as that other person? Why is it so easy for me to want to quit something I love so much and want so bad? The worst of all was I wondered if I was even good enough to be doing triathlons? On my first webinar with our team I was one of the first people to have logged into the Zoom app.  It was nice to be able to see everyone’s face in attendance and like every other class or seminar I attend I did what I usually do and kinda sink into the background and observe. It’s what I’m good at: observation and sizing people up.

Well.  Let me tell you.  Miss Kelsey called me right out on that!  She zoomed right in on me but didn’t do it in a way that made me feel uncomfortable, on guard or threatened.   She made me feel like I was reconnecting with a bestie from college I haven’t seen in a few years. You know that friend, the one we all have. The one that knows all of your strong points as well as every chink and dent in your armour, the friend embraces all of your parts and reminds you what an amazing person you really are.  That is Kelsey.

She made me feel like she knew every layer of the Tracy “7 layer cake” and everything kind of made sense.  She said to me…”Instead of focusing on how your doing something wrong, focus on all of the things you ARE doing right” I had to retrain my brain to only focus on the positive things I was doing right.  That’s a lot hard work.

After I was given some confidence coaching homework, our zoom meeting was over and we were sent to finish winding down our day.  I stood in my dimly lit kitchen and stared at the dark screen of my phone for several minutes processing all of the things discussed between my teammates.   Then, slowly but surely, the proverbial light came on.

One of the primary reasons I started this triathlon journey was to prove to my kids that with hard work, anything is possible.  I mean, realistically, my kids see me getting up 4 or more days a week at O’Dark thirty and going to work 12 hours shifts on a Medic truck.  They know I work a lot. They just don’t know how hard, or stressful it is because they don’t see it. Training for a triathlon allows them to see COMMITMENT and FOLLOW THROUGH.  Jake and Courtney see all the stupid early wake ups, hour after hour spent on the bike trainer in the basement, endless miles of running and swimming. They see my commitment to my chosen sport, they see that improvements no matter how small are made with persistence, consistency but most importantly they see FOLLOW THROUGH .  No matter how hard I fall, I keep getting back up and starting over. That is in fact, Life. In life when shit gets wonky, warped and generally bent out of shape: find one thing positive and focus solely on that. “Did you show up when you didn’t want to?” Kelsey asked me. “Yes, yes I did”, I replied. “Then that is your positivity, commitment and confidence in yourself shining through.”  “You just have to redirect your focus”. Damn, Kelsey, you are a ROCKSTAR.

In January, I took a fall off the bike trainer again. (Admit it, you just either rolled your eyes or laughed out loud.)  Without getting into too much detail, I can say this. SO MANY BAD WORDS. ALL OF THEM. I jammed up my right wrist and shoulder pretty bad.  Did some rehab and tried to push through it the best I could. Then, I finally broke down and went to the Ortho. Torn labrum in my right shoulder.  FML. No swimming or heavy arm use for a few more weeks. Guess what that meant? No Ironman, 70.3 in Virginia. W. T. ACTUAL. F.

It’s hard to mentally regroup after this shit continually happens.  The bike, which used to be my best and strongest suit, has now become my absolute worst after my AID diagnosis.  I had to dig deep and focus on WWKS (What Would Kelsey Say), dust myself off, rehab and find at least one positive thing to focus on.  I found three. I believed in myself, my kids and family believed in me, but more importantly: MY SPEED SHERPA TEAM DID.

With my teams help and support, I worked harder than I ever have to build up my shoulder and try to be prepared for my next race: IM 70.3 in Connecticut June 2.  On race day, I will show up for myself, my kids and my team. I now know that when race day comes, while standing in a sea of Triathletes...I will never again be alone, for I am a Speed Sherpa triathlete.

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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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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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My "New Reality"

This morning I woke up more groggy than usual.  

Waking up on any other day of the week I roll over, drop my heavy legs over the side of the bed and meander my way to the coffee pot trying to figure out which way is up.  Today, however is not that day. Today I had no gumption to move out of bed and laid quietly staring at the spinning ceiling fan for a disproportionate amount if time. Ugh.  Maybe I’ll just stay here all day. Who would notice if I didn’t? Then I feel the cold, wet nose of the younger of my two quadrupeds, Belle pushing up against my arm. Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle.  “Morning, Mom! Your up late! WE ARE HUNGRY, FEED US!” Yes, I talk to my dogs and YES they talk back. Don’t judge.

Today is the day I will have to dig deep and get it done.  Today, I have to come back to the one thing that above anything else provides me clarity.  Running. Today is the day that after the dust settles of having been on a Medic truck for 24 hours I am given time to process and realize sometimes, I HATE MY JOB.  You see, in my world, like many other “PARAMAGICIANS” there are two realities. Life before Paramedicine and life AFTER. If you are or have been in my shoes, then you are now shaking your head in agreeance.  If you have not, it is something you can only try to understand but I’ll try to explain my BEFORE and AFTER.

After I left college I worked in the corporate world for a Fortune 500 company, making crazy good money. I had stock options, fantastic benefits and financial stability.  I was a hustler. (My Father used to say I could sell a Ketchup Ice pop to a woman in white gloves). I was relatable, I was honest, I was good at my job and people liked me.  (What's not to like??). But I genuinely felt something was missing and I had more to offer the world.

In 1993, My employer at the time was looking to send people through an EMT class, it seemed intriguing so I signed up, finished the class and with my bright orange jump bag in hand I was on my way.  On my way home from work one night, I drove past a sign saying “members wanted”. I turned the car around and walked into the open bay door. I was met with a smile, witty sense of humor, a handshake and introduction of “Hi, my Name is Nick.  Can I help you?” The first words of many and the start of a lifelong friendship.

Nick Curcio and I became besties in every sense of the word.  He was quickly someone I could confide in and seemed to have an “old soul” vibe about him.  Nick had been through more medically in his short time on earth than most could ever fathom.   He became my protector and I in turn became his. Through him, my Mentor, I quickly found my purpose in life as a “helper”.  A few months into being a “squaddie” we were dispatched to a motor vehicle accident on one of our towns interstates. Enroute to the scene, bumping down the road we were advised that this was a “fatal” and where to stage on scene for our safety.  We arrived and the scene was a blur. Sirens, people moving, cars moving, smells of smoke, fuel and oil, Medics shuffling intensely yelling medical orders on a wireless box and with a sense of purpose, radios squelching, bystanders gawking. Then Clearly. THE SCREAMING. It’s a primal scream, one that can never be unheard. That is all I can distinctly remember.  The screaming.

On the way home, Nick and I were quiet.  Nick was seasoned, I was not. Nick spoke first as I stared out of the Internationals window bumping down the road.  “This is terrible. It is the worst thing another human being can see. It hurts. Tracy if your going to do this from here on out,this is your new reality.  This is not the movies or TV, this is real life, some things cannot be fixed. Bad things happen to good people who don’t deserve it. Here’s the thing though.  These good people need good people like us to help them.” My new reality? I thought….what does that mean?? We sat with our compatriots at a CISD (Critical Incident Stress Debriefing) meeting and discussed, cried and processed with other “helpers”.  Bill Voelkel, Captain of the North squad pulled me aside. “Your a Hawk too. (a reference to being a Monmouth College alumni) Welcome to the family.” Thanks Bill. “Find an outlet.” he says. “Walking, running, swimming, knitting, whatever it is. Do it. Don’t drink. Talk to others and find your outlet.”  “I will, Bill, thanks.” (I miss you every day, Bill. Every. DAMN. DAY.) It took me years to figure out what he was talking about.

In 1996, I felt compelled to leave my crazy secure, good paying job to go back to college and become a Paramedic.  My Parents thought I was an insane person. (Insane? No.  This was my: “Wait, Hold my beer” moment)

I married a man who was also in public service, he was a police officer.  In my early days of being a Medic he sat me down (I am stubborn and obstinate but I think I covered that in an earlier blog) and with kid gloves Bill had a talk with me. “Tracy, your job is changing you, it’s’ making you a different, unhappy person.  I think it’s time to start talking to a CISD or genesis counselor to help you develop a coping mechanism”

Ok, now Bill had a world more experience than me so I listened and I went.  It helped. Over the course of time, I learned coping mechanisms and how to live life with my “new reality”  The Paramedic’s new reality, the one that we as EMS providers know all too well: We only see the worst things that life has to throw us.  911 medical emergencies are never called to someone’s house to celebrate the good, only to help ease the burden of the catastrophic. Those primal screaming kinda calls.

So one day I figured it out.  Running. Running gives people endorphins.  Endorphins make people happy. Happy people can cope.  So I started running. I ran, I processed, I healed. I had the best, cheapest and most effective way of coping.  Loud, angry music, just me and my feet hitting the pavement, breathing in and breathing out and time to figure out all of the worlds problems.  I was fast and lean and was capable of running long distances.

Then, in 2010 I broke my leg. Another "new reality": “You will never run again, you have hardware in there now."  Well, SHIT.

Fast forward to 2015: I am Lion, hear me ROAR.

I was able to get my coping mechanism back and it was glorious.  I was slow and I will now always be slow. It was painful and it will always be painful, but I was back.  Damn Straight I was back.

There are days on the truck where, like the last two days, I know it’s going to be super hot and busy and in an effort to conserve my energy, I will not get up at 04:00 and train.  I try to save my energy for the shit storm the universe will throw at me. The downfall to this thought process is, I don’t get my pre shift endorphin dump.  This is where you hope for the best and try to make it through the shift with little to no drama. The last 24 hours, however that is all there was.

The bad things happened.  Then the worst things happened.  Then, the SCREAMING.

I arrive and take control of the scene, like I always do and has come to be expected of me.  I take control of everything and everyone in my presence. I take control to slow things down, to let everyone know the emergency is over, the cavalry has arrived.  

I take control to stop the SCREAMING.

The literal screaming stops, but the proverbial sound still echoes through my head.  I punch out at the end of my shift with yet another little piece of me left like a crumpled up piece of paper on the floor and I go home.  My co workers, who stand in the trenches with me, text, message and call to make sure I am ok, because they get it. “I will be, thank you.” is always my response. I shower, eat and crawl into bed after my good nights and I love you’s, grateful for another opportunity to have made a legitimate difference in someone else’s “new reality”.  

Today, I wake up and I am grateful that now, more than ever I get another day on Earth.  I will bike, run and swim, because I so desperately need those endorphins but most importantly, I run because, I NEED it.  Because someone once told me I would never run again. Most importantly: I run to remind myself that today, in my “NEW REALITY”: The only one stopping me is ME.

Today, Ironman LP 70.3 is now just 10 days away.  Well, SHIT.

Stay safe out there and be good to each other. ~ T

 

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"The Seeds of Doubt"

In an earlier blog I talked about my doing a sprint tri in Lake Placid while we were on vacation.  Here is the back story to what could have easily been me walking away from the sport of triathlon.

 

 

My swim was rather uneventful, I took my time and actually enjoyed the process, something I have come to learn from some amazing athletes on a Facebook triathlon forum, Women For Tri.  I came out of transition and actually had a smile on my face. I walked my bike from the transition with a group in front of me and a group behind. Clip in the left, clip in the right and here I go.  About 250 feet in, I hear a female voice behind me. “Hey. On your left.” Me: “thank you” Her: “you need to get out of my way” Me: “OKKKkkkkkkk?” I could not have possibly been any further to the right.  Whatever, carry on.

 

Toward the end of bike portion, I was coming up to the top of the hill toward Main Street and my legs gave out on me.  You see, part of my Autoimmune Disease (AID) causes me to not feel my extremities very well at times. This is a dreadful part of my new reality.  I manage on most days, but this day was hard. I was tired as I had already done my run and swim circuit that morning. Mid crank, I could not get my right leg to move at all anymore, it was as if my body said, “That’s it, I’m done” and just gave up.  I fell, still attached the bike as I could not release my cleat fast enough as my legs were not responsive. Crashing down on the side of the road, I landed with my right hip on the edge of the curb and my head (helmet attached thankfully) and shoulder went into a concrete pillar.  My right hand blocked my fall and immediately swelled. Pain everywhere. Well, SHIT.

 

As a child, falling from your bike is like a right of passage, at some time in our youth, each one of us had scraped knees and palms as well as a mental note to not do whatever it was that caused us to fall in the first place. As an adult, however we all know that is much different.  Chronologic progression, I like to call it. (I refuse to say I am growing up, I am just chronologically progressing) As an adult when we injure ourselves, everything in our body immediately locks in, memorizes what happened and tries to prevent us from doing whatever “thing” injured us.  It’s a mental note persay. “The coffee table is there, please do not put your little toe into it again”. “”Dopey, your elbow is right there, so is the door jamb. Remember, It’s not so funny, that funny bone”. As a person who suffers chronically from all things gravity, I can tell you very bad, colorful words come from this little person on a regular basis.

 

When I fell during this race a rider behind me immediately dismounted his bike to help me up, saying “holy cow, are you ok??”  Two cars stopped on the hill to assist. I popped myself out of my boot, still attached to the cleat, pushed the bike away and stood up.  Immediately, after with now the post fall adrenaline surging through my system, I looked myself over quickly to assess the damage. Well. My favorite Garneau tri shorts are ripped, I can’t move my hip that well, right knee and thigh are bleeding and crap, I think I broke my hand.  Now, as a Paramedic we are rigorously trained to treat and correct life threatening illness or injury. This training is hard wired into our brains so it never has an off button. I think to myself “Is this anything that is going to kill me?” “NO.” “Is this anything that will prevent me from finishing”  “NO.” “Can this wait?” “YES.” The rider grabbed his bike, and says I’m going to ride back into town and go get you help, stay right here”. “No, thank you. I really just need to get back on the bike and finish as long as it works”. “Your bleeding…” “All bleeding stops eventually” (Insert smile here) He says, “You sure??” “Hell, yes, I am going to get back on this damn bike and finish”.  

 

I knew myself well enough to know that if I had quit and walked off the course, the seed of doubt would be permanently placed in my head and I would second guess over a years worth of training.  

 

I came back in to the transition for the run, Mel immediately assessed my hand. “I am going to finish, I don’t need my hand to run” “The Lion lights up, she says.  It’s showtime” “It’s Showtime” I repeated.

I started the run slow...EVERYTHING HURTS!!!!  Came up to the top of the hill and made the right turn onto the side street.  As I am now at a decent trot, I recognize a face coming toward me, one of two runners.  He sees me approaching, the recognition washing over his face. “YESSSSSSS!!!!!!!!” “WAY TO GO!!!!!!!!”  We high fived, had our moment and both kept moving. I turned to look back and noticed an “M Dot” (the Ironman tattoo) tattoo on his calf.  “Rockstar” I thought and suddenly, spontaneously I gained my second wind.

 

I ran to the top of the hill and turned that terrible orange barrel marking the halfway point.  “I got this” I thought to myself, looked down at my ripped up hand and headed down the hill. It was getting dark, twilight had set in.  Everything hurts. THIS SHIT IS HARD. I came down toward the end of the gravel road to make the left to head toward the finish line and turning off Mirror Lake Dr toward me was a girl.  She was looking down and concentrating. “Wait. I KNOW HER.” She looks up as she heard someone rapidly approaching her from the front...ME. Her: “Are you F-ing KIDDING ME RIGHT NOW?!?!”  Me: “NOPE! Enjoy the rest of the run!!” I smiled and trotted toward the finish line pulling off some of my best run times to date post ankle surgery and AID diagnosis. I was so proud of myself.   The gentlemen I saw on the run, came over and said how proud they were of me for not quitting and what a huge deal it was that I got back on the bike. Initially, I agreed.

 

The next day however, was a different story.  I woke up, found the coffee pot and began the long arduous wake up process.  Then I headed toward my bike. Nothing really out of place. But was it? Physically, the bike was intact as was I.  Mentally, however… the seeds of doubt had been subconsciously planted. SHIT. Mike said, “we need to get you on that bike today.”  (By WE he meant, ME) “Not today, My hip is killing me” I took the day off. Then the next day, “I’m too tired” and “I can’t” every excuse I could.  The day before we left… My bike shoes were handed to me. “There’s no excuse today, your going” This was followed by many volleys of no’s, yes’s and a myriad of excuses.  I lost. Mike won. Lots of bad words. I would ride, then pull over, dismount and stop. Over and over for an hour. It was brutal. I am stubborn and obstinate. The session ended and I went back to the house with my tail between my legs.  PITY PARTY.

 

We came back to Jersey and I quickly transitioned back to work and Mom duties.  My bike loomed on the trainer, like a vulture awaiting my self imposed demise. Then the email came from Ironman for IMLP 70.3 with the bib numbers and instructions.  AWESOME! Hold, on put the brakes on. I read the time cut offs for each event that would lead to a DNF (Did Not Finish) and being pulled off the course. FULL ON PANIC MODE.  I called Mike shaking. I was not going to be able to do this. I was in full on freak out mode. And just like that, there it was: the “seeds of doubt” had grown into a full sized “I can’t do this” tree.  SHIT.

 

Since last week, I have had multiple conversations with fellow triathletes, both professional and non professional.  The resounding theme: “TRUST YOUR TRAINING”. So I showered the tree of “I can’t do this” with a healthy dose of “trust your training” and I hit my shit bricks hard.  Blocks of risers, intervals of hitting the “Hills” hard and learning how to come up out of the saddle with heavily cramped legs and hip flexors. Spinning. Intervals.  Spinning. Intervals. Hours at a clip. Run intervals. It has been a physical and mental reprogramming process. Any triathlete will tell you, this shit is hard, but what makes an endurance athlete different is how we are wired, it’s how we handle the hard shit.  Our “seeds of doubt”.

 

So now, I am digging up those “seeds of doubt” and liek caution, I am throwing them to the wind.  I am going to go out there on the 9th, trust my training and remember this one thing:

Every amazing athlete standing in the Triathlon trenches with me on that frosty morning has at one point, had their own “seeds of doubt”.  “It’s SHOWTIME”

 

Stay safe and be good to each other ~ T

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