About Me

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Austin, Texas, United States
I'll make you laugh, or break my neck trying. This is usually accomplished with daily bouts of swimming, biking and running. A former "chub-a-holic," I got fit and healthy the good old fashioned way and went from a mid-pack athlete to top age group runner and triathlete. I'm a Writer and USAT Level 1 Certified Triathlon Coach. I guess that makes me part Tina Fey and part Jillian Michaels. Visit my coaching site at www.fomotraining.com

Monday, December 28, 2009

Lessons I Learned in 2009

I'm beginning to sound like a broken record. As I look back on 2009, I can't imagine life getting more satisfying, challenging and fulfilling. Yet, I've said that the last few years and it seems that we manage to top it every year. Every year is full of ups and downs and 2009 was no exception.  This year was particularly special for me and Shawn as we both completed an Ironman TOGETHER in June. There were lots of highs this year, but that one stands out as the pinnacle for me. Along the way in 2009, we swam in the Mayan Riviera in Mexico, raced in Galveston, biked 100 miles in Napa, ran 20 miles in San Francisco, tasted wines in Paso Robles and beyond, completed the infamous Wildflower Triathlon, stayed in a castle on the Rhine region of Germany, swam with dolphins in Honduras, visited friends and family in California and Ohio and celebrated with friends as they completed the California International Marathon.

Personally, I set PRs in the Half-Marathon, Half-Ironman and Ironman Distances in 2009. I was also selected to be a proud member of Erin Baker's National Triathlon Team! Believe me, it's been nothing short of an honor to be among these folks who are stellar at this triathlon thing.

2009 was also a year of good-byes. In March, I bid farewell to meat and began adopting a vegan lifestyle for my overall health and cholesterol thanks to the guidance of Rip Esselstyn and "The Engine 2 Diet." The results have been impressive and my taste buds have thanked me (although a lot of restaurants haven't). Oh sushi and lobster, how I miss thee!! I said goodbye to some of my best friends when I resigned from my full-time job at the end of August to travel and look ahead to my next career of becoming a USAT certified triathlon coach and writer. So many amazing things are on the horizon for 2010. I also said goodbye to a body I take for granted. As most know, I've been battling some nagging leg/hip/back issues since the summer and I plan to spend 2010 recovering, slowing down, rehabbing and giving my body the break that it is so desperately craving.

With that being said, in no particular order, here are some lessons I learned in 2009 that I plan to carry with me to this next decade and beyond!

-Tofu comes in all shapes, sizes and textures. I've tried them all and have eaten tofu ice cream, turkey, and even tofu hot dogs (pretty much as gross as the real thing).

-Volunteering and working at races is truly an amazing and rewarding experience. We all should do it more often.

-A f*cked up hip and back can really screw you up mentally and physically.

-Doing events in costume (beer wench and red dress costumes specifically) make any event so much more fun and worthwhile.

-Say what you will about Facebook, but it has been instrumental in connecting me with new and old friends alike. For that, I'm grateful and fulfilled.

-Erin Bakers (www.bbcookies.com) really does have some kick ass granola and cookies (ok--my one shameless sponsor plug)

-Completing an Ironman is a life-altering event. Completing an Ironman with your husband and 60 of your teammates is truly priceless.

-It's ok to take time to rest, reflect, smell the roses (and put on a few extra pounds).

-Vegans are people too.

-One can never have enough vacations.

-One can never have enough tri-bikes.

-Be a light in the world. People are watching and looking for that light.

-Wine can fix damn near anything (except for a torn hip).

-Facebook can either motivate you or completely make you feel lazy and useless.

-Triathlon and running take you to places never imagined: Galveston, Central California, Idaho, Sacramento and beyond just this year!

-A massage isn't a luxury. It's a necessity.

-Meditation really works--if you can get the inner voices to just shut up!

-You don't always get what you want...and sometimes that's a good thing.

-You have to leave behind the good to get to the great.

--Sometimes you have to do some crazy shit in order to get your workout completed---indoor spin at the Bastrop Lost Pines Resort when MS 150 Day 1 was cancelled, running hotel stairs in Salzburg, Austria, running in the snow in Germany, swimming in Lake Havasou, doing a century bike ride in Napa, 20 mile run through San Fran!

- Austin, Texas is still one of the most amazing and wonderful cities on the face of the earth.

-Most things are out of your control. Accept this and go with the flow. Don't try to paddle your boat against the current of life.

-I actually can sit down long enough to read books. In fact, I got over 25 books completed this year! (a record for me!)

-Exercise, in whatever form, is good for the soul (and ego)

-Never give up on your goals. Since you change, your goals also change. Always set new ones.

-You truly can manifest what you think about (for good and for bad)

-Becoming a vegan really is adventurous and fun (except at a steak restaurant). They don't like it when you bring your own veggie burgers and hummus.

-Friends and training partners are invaluable and priceless. My friends have helped me through so much this year.

-Sometimes it's better to be the cheerleader than the player.

-Sometimes you just gotta find that gazebo from "The Sound of Music" and dance!

Here's to an amazing and inspiring 2010 filled with challenges, adventures, good health and success beyond imagination!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

watching the snow fall from 31B while waiting for the plane to be de-iced. It's been almost two hours now. Can't wait to get back to Texas!

Monday, December 21, 2009

gave Hubster a really cool body fat scale and monitor
for Christmas. That gift would sooooooo not work the other way around. Don't even try.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Time for a Hail Mary!

I always knew that The Virgin Mary and I were kindred spirits. She had a baby without having sex and I had a spinal epidural without being pregnant! We also both find ourselves saying, "Be it Done According to Your Will" a whole lot these days. OK-OK--enough of the Virgin Mary comparisons. That's pretty much where they end anyways. If I ever have a baby, I'm pretty sure he or she won't be the Savior (according to my religion, Mary already took care of that one for us.) My image also probably won't appear on the side of buildings, cinnamon rolls or toast. If it does, call the looney bin because I'm checking in.

I feel like I've been in a looney bin the last several months with my schizophrenic training abilities and pain manifestations. Some days are euphoric. I feel like I could run a marathon (albeit slow). Then there are days when I'm rendered useless after two miles or an hour on the bike. Some days, I get sharp stabbing pains in my groin (probably a result of my labral tear). Other days, the hip/groin feels great, but my right leg goes numb and burns. I lose power in that leg and it hurts down through the ankle as if lactic acid is filling the cavity.  I spend several minutes rolling out my piriformis muscle, sciatic nerve, IT band and quad. This past week in California, I found that 1 hour of running was my absolute limit before having to call it quits. So very frustrating...After several X-rays, MRIs, nerve conduction tests and what not, doctors were able to confirm the labral tear as well as a herniated disk in the lower back that may be putting pressure on the sciatic nerve.

In an attempt to begin ruling out the root causes and seeing if these two injuries are related or completely separate, I had a steroid injection into my L5/S1 this morning. What an interesting experience that was. The procedure itself only took a few minutes and was relatively painless. The only "stinging" part was when they injected the local anesthetic to numb the region. The actual spine injection was pain-free...thank goodness. I've heard horror stories of missing the epidural space and ending up with massive migraines due to the "wet tap."

The nurse took my vital and my blood pressure was awesome. She then asked if I was a runner. "Why?" I asked.

"Because your resting heart rate is really low."

"Yes, I am a runner, but I'm afraid that's why I'm here having steroids pumped into my back."

She, too, thought it a bit sad and ironic as she went over the potential side effects.
* Expect the meds to take 3-5 days to take full effect
* You may feel worse before you feel better
* No running for a few days

The Doc came and confirmed which leg was affected multiple times. He popped my naked back and exposed butt up on the screen and quickly went to work. I could see when the needle was injected and I could see when the steroids began rushing through the space. (see pic below of my sexy spine). All seemed to be going well and I was patched up in no time.

It was what came after that sorta knocked the breath out of me...Thankfully, they had a wheelchair on standby to roll me into recovery. He said that I have small fractures on both sides of my L4 (maybe L5), plus slight disc slippage in the L5/S1 region which would ideally explain the numbness. While minor fractures at this point, he said that this is a patient who shouldn't be running marathons and long triathlons. He compared it to a house. "It's like having small cracks in your house foundation. It may stay that way forever or one moment of instability (or heavy pounding) could wreck the entire house over time. I'm not going to tell you what to do, but I have to present the information. Do with it what you will. Do all the cycling and swimming that you want, but take it easy on the running."  With that, he wrote down the technical terms for the conditions (which I STILL can't decipher) and sent me to recovery where they force-fed me saltines and a Welch's Cranberry Juice Sugar Bomb. Seriously, this is how you promote health? They offered me a soda which I passed on since it was all of 9:00am.   

So, there you go. Phase one has begun. Right now, my leg is a bit sore (like when your arm gets sore after a shot). I'll see how the next few days progress and go for a test jog or ride.

Now, I know that the Virgin Mary and I don't have a ton of similarities, but I do have a ton of faith and I could really use some Divine Intervention!
In Doctor lobby waiting on epidural spinal injection. Bring on some relief. Full report soon...

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Winds of Change

It's official! I signed up for a clinic this morning to become a USAT Level 1 Triathlon Coach! (provided that I pass the exam, criminal background check and CPR certification!) The three-day clinic is in Tucson in March, which is also a very convenient place to train for a week or so. Needless to say, hubster and I will be heading out there a few days in advance for some altitude training action. Of course, it conveniently falls just two weeks before Oceanside 70.3 where hill training is imperative!

When I left my full time job in September, receiving my USAT Coaching Certification was one of the first things on my list to obtain. I know I'm a dork, but an intensive weekend learning about swimming skills, nutrition studies and training plans sounds super freaking exciting!  I've learned and grown so much from this sport so I'm just as excited to "pay it forward."

If you would've told me 10 years ago that I would be applying to be a certified triathlon coach, I would've spit out my chips and queso from laughing so hard. But such is the beauty of life. We hop on our bikes every day and follow the tailwind wherever it leads (because tailwinds are much easier than headwinds). Mine has lead me to this and I can't wait.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Doctors and Patience

I'm becoming an X-RAY/MRI whore!!

I have enough radiation in my body lately to light up a small town these days. Seriously, if you see a glow from Central Austin, it might be me (if we were ever in Austin long enough!) We've been out of town so much lately, but it seems every hour I'm in Austin is spent in a drafty gown that opens in the back. In the last month, I've had a back MRI, standing back x-rays, consultations with two surgeons and a wonderful appointment with a spine doctor who performed a nerve conduction study on my lower extremities. I can't even begin to describe how discomforting both phases of those tests can be. In the first phase, he wired electrical patches on various muscles and then shot electrical currents into my leg multiple times to see how my nerves responded to the shocks. Jealous yet?? I'm sure you are...Essentially, I felt like a human bug zapper! Phase two involved sticking needles into my muscles to test nerve sensation. Needless to say, my nerves are all working properly judging by my reactions! They did this because of the numbness I feel in my leg and glutes after riding or running. Just making sure a nerve isn't pinched. Fortunately (or unfortunately), those tests came back relatively normal.

The nerve conduction study did NOT turn me into an ape. Clearly, this is not my leg. If it was, you would now know why I'm so slow in the water! Lots of drag!!!

All of this has been done to try to determine a course of action for my back pain and
hip pain. This we know:

1.) The labral tear in the hip does cause a certain level of discomfort that has limited repetitive use (i.e. cycling and running). It doesn't debilitate my daily activities, but I definitely always have a pain or burn in the hip/groin region, especially after a run or a ride.  Anti-inflammatories help, but the pain is always there.

2.) The back MRI and xrays show a herniated L4/L5 disk in my lower back the appears to be putting some pressure on my sciatic nerve causing leg numbness and pain from my butt to my foot.

Prognosis: I'm a friggin' mess...for the time being.

Are they related injuries? Did the instability in my hip cause the back injury? Is karma kicking my ass for killing someone in a former life? Is it coincidence or just bad luck? Is it someone's way of forcing a break in my training regime to let my husband catch up? (and now pass me!!) Is this the end of my endurance sport career? Will I ever get my speed and endurance back? Should I just forget about running and learn to become a swimmer? (That fate would be more painful than going through the nerve test again!). Needless to say, these and many other questions fill my little pea-brain at a moment's notice. As I've said ad nauseum, I want to rule out every possible issue before jumping into an arthroscopic hip surgery that has about an 80% success rate. It may be my best option at some point in the not-so-distant future, but until then, I (along with the surgeon), have laid out a course of action in the meantime:

1) Epidural spine injection--who knew that I would ever have an epidural and NOT be pregnant! My husband gives epidurals by the dozens, but for some reason, I'm glad he's not the one administering this one. At least I won't be in labor pains!! This is common with bulging or herniated disks. We'll see if this alleviates the back pain and leg weakness. The best case is that the hip pain goes away too!

2) Cortisone injection in the hip if hip pain persists.

3) Continue training to my abilities. Keep Oceanside 70.3 and Ironman St. George on the calendar. I need them mentally if nothing else.

4) Practice patience, positivity, persistence and prayer (ok--that was my addition to the protocol).

It's definitely easy to feel jealous, self-defeated, angry and down right depressed when you can't run out and do the things you love wholeheartedly. At the same time, I also count my blessings daily for the goodness and joy I receive every second of the day just by breathing a healthy breath.

So, there is the latest on Hip Crisis 2009!!

I suppose it could be worse:  I don't have hundreds of nails stuck in my skull!!

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Final time 3:42! So proud of him! Over 30 min PR
20 Mile Split--2:46!! Shit!!!! Run Shawn Run. Dig!!!!!!!
Shawn's Cali Intl Marathon 13.1 mile split: 1:45:36. Hang on! Half way there...breezy now. Hopefully wind won't be too much of a factor.
Shawn's Cali Intl Marathon 10k split is 48:14...right on target! Stay focused!
Hubster and friends are on the heated bus at the start line. I'm reading in bed...so weird...Will head out on course later! I love race day!

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Hubster Taking on California International Marathon!

We're sitting and lounging at the Hyatt in downtown Sacramento watching the Florida/ Alabama game (Roll Tide!) Hubster Shawn's feet are propped up and he is relaxed and ready to run the California International Marathon tomorrow. His goal is a 3:30 which will qualify him for the 2011 Boston Marathon! How awesome is that?!

I am signed up for this race and actually did pick up my race packet yesterday. We're here with my old Gazelle buddies, Mike and Thon, so there is the added nostalgic sweetness of being with my original running partners. The temptation to run is overwhelming, but my place for this race is the sideline cheering wildly for my rockin' husband who is going to kick its booty!

I'll be posting updates and splits as I get them tomorrow morning. It's a point to point course so I don't know how much moving around we'll do since we don't have a car.

You can also track him at www.runcim.org #463

Go Hubster Go! Run like I'm chasing you with a golf club!! Love you!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

I Couldn't Resist!

It's amazing the plans one can concoct with old girlfriends over a drinky-poo or two! Being home in Columbus not only gave me a chance to connect with family, but it also gave me a chance to be a steward of Austin and convince a couple of my high-school girlfriends to sign up for the Austin Half Marathon and run it with me!

A couple of them are signed up for Spring Marathons and the Austin Half falls at the perfect time! Truth be told, I'll probably be bringing up the rear of the pack, but knowing my girlfriends are coming makes me giddy with excitement!!

Shannon, Emily, Lisa and I are storming the streets of Austin on Valentines Day 2010. Bring on the mimosas!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Flying Feather 4-Miler in Dublin, Ohio

With Iron-Buddies Meredith and Dave

How many people go home for the holidays and actively seek out a race to run?! Glad to say I'm one of the few and thanks to Dave and Meredith's genius suggestion, I signed up for the "Flying Feather 4 Miler" in Dublin on Thanksgiving morning! (This was my one exception to my "not running until the New Year" resolution). Plus, how can you turn down a technical shirt, hat, gloves and FREE bottle of wine for every finisher! Now that's something I'll give thanks for in a big way!!

I showed up in my rockin' capri pants looking more like a suburban Mom than a runner. Seriously, the only thing missing was the triplet baby stroller. I did sport the Ironman Coeur D'Alene running hat just to intimidate those around me. I'm sure it worked. Seriously, I could smell fear.

Meredith was my running buddy as I wasn't even wearing a watch. We had a great time starting slow, passing people, catching up on our lives, realizing how out of shape we both are, and then still finding energy to pick it up for a quick finish!

Yay!! We finished with negative splits!!

What a great way to start the Day!

Here's wishing everyone a safe and happy holiday season. Let the gluttony begin!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thankful for my friends and family who have lovely children so I don't have to. ;-)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

My Biceps Might Not Be Bulging, But My Back Is!

Made quick contact with the Orthopaedic Surgeon's office today to see if they had the results of the MRI I took almost two weeks ago and to make a follow up appointment. It was going to be a huge pain in the ass to have the report emailed to me (something about signing release forms, etc), and I wouldn't understand what it says anyways. The only definitive thing she could tell me was that the MRI Report indicated a Disc Protrusion in my lower back. She didn't indicate the exact location or any other details or abnormalities because she wanted the Doc to discuss all specifics and treatment options.

After glancing on-line today, there are a lot of words and phrases thrown around and they seem to be used somewhat interchangeably...disc bulge, herniated disc, protruding disc, etc. My symptoms do seem to coincide quite nicely with a bulging disc resulting in possible sciatica (Power loss when running, numbness in leg, lower back pain extending through hips, leg and into feet). Aside from the occassional lower back pain and leg numbness, some of these symptoms are relatively new.
Stages of Disc Herniation
1. Disc Degeneration: chemical changes associated with aging causes discs to weaken, but without a herniation.

2. Prolapse: the form or position of the disc changes with some slight impingement into the spinal canal. Also called a bulge or protrusion.

3. Extrusion: the gel-like nucleus pulposus breaks through the tire-like wall (annulus fibrosus) but remains within the disc.

4. Sequestration or Sequestered Disc: the nucleus pulposus breaks through the annulus fibrosus and lies outside the disc in the spinal canal (HNP).

Again, I don't want to diagnosis myself, but let's hope some physical therapy and good drugs can alleviate some of the pain and discomfort! I have a nerve conduction study next week and my follow up with the Doc is December 9th!

And the fun just keeps coming!! God damn I sound like an old lady...I can't believe I've been discussing hip arthritis and protruding discs.

This Ironman is turning into aluminum foil!!!!!!!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Mood Swings!


I'm typing this quick update from my childhood bedroom in Columbus, Ohio. Long gone are the NKOTB and Debbie Gibson posters that used to adorn these walls. Nonetheless, it's hard not to get nostalgic when you come home for Thanksgiving to be with your family. I'm braving this one alone as hubster is working all weekend long. If you live in Austin, do me a favor and don't get sick this weekend. Hubby needs his rest as he is two weeks away from his (fingers crossed!) Boston Qualifying (for 2011) marathon at the California International Marathon on December 6th.

Last week, I was lying on the beach in Roatan snorkeling with dolphins and this week I'm witnessing the onslaught of the beginnings of a typical Midwestern Fall and Winter season. Dreary, cold, drizzly...the kind of chill that soaks the bones. I arrived today and my Dad and I went for a three mile walk at the nature park near their house. It was a great walk even though we both bitched about our back and leg aches and pains....Daddy's Little Girl, I tell ya!

Since my last post, I had an MRI scan done on my back at the request of the surgeon with whom I consulted before we left. I left for Roatan the very next day and expected there to be a message with some results when I returned home. Alas, there was no message so it's on my list of calls to make this week. I'm sure hoping that the back MRI shows something that relates to the loss of power on my right leg during extended activity...Sciatica, pinched nerve in my back, herniated disc...something... Bottom line, I went for a 25-Mile bike ride on a Friday and could barely lumber through a 6 mile run on Saturday morning before we left for our trip. Something is not right and it didn't feel related to the labral tear issue. One week I can churn out a 15 mile run and the next week I can barely move. Therefore, I've basically put myself on mandatory no running/riding until the end of the year. OK--there are a few exceptions as I'm signed up for a Thanksgiving Day run here in Columbus. Something about a free bottle of wine at the finish line...I couldn't resist. Plus, I can and will walk four miles for vino if I have to.

In the meantime, I'm focusing on my swimming , yoga, core and strength. I'll be hitting the Lifetime Fitness here in Columbus pretty much every day this week I'm sure! (for mental and emotional workouts, as well as physical) Speaking of swimming, I decided to go to Sunday's 8am Master's Workout on my one day in Austin and shared my lane with Booher--my long last CDA housemate! Because of his energy (or draft zone), I churned out some of my best times EVER in the pool. Again, it's all relative right?? I'm a famously average swimmer, but, I had a couple of 1:45 100s and hovered around the 1:50-1:52 range for a few sets while feeling relatively comfortable the entire time. I'm usually a 1:55-2:00 minute girl. I definitely feel like I'm developing a feel for the water. After four years of swim coaching, it's about freakin' time, right?! The coaches are great, but it's just such a difficult sport to improve upon if you don't do it frequently. Plus, if I swim by myself, I don't push myself nearly as hard. I actually brought a couple of master's workouts with me (plastic covering and all) to do this week at the pool. Hold me to it...

Yesterday was Ironman Arizona and it was so wonderful and inspiring to see so many of my Austin friends and Erin Baker's Tri Teammates rip that course to shreds. Some are Pros (Go Terra--6th place overall female!!!), some are top-level age group athletes, some are Ironman veterans who have officially caught the endurance bug, and still others were first time finishers who reminded me of the utter joy and elation of crossing that finish line for the first time. I took a break from packing and Shawn and I headed over to Opal Divines with about 20 other T3 teammates to watch the streaming video coverage of people crossing the Finish Line. Not only was it great to see everyone after what seems like an eternal hiatus, it was also inspiring to share that moment with people who "get it." We cheered like it was college game day when we spotted someone we knew cross the line. We laughed and gave virtual high-fives to Kevin and Chris from T3 who were caught on the streaming video! It was so hilarious to send them a text msg and watch them read it on camera letting them know they were visible to the virtual viewers. It's the little things, people. An evening full of pride and smiles.

I left with a renewed sense of inspiration and hope that I will get through whatever this setback happens to be. For the rest of the year, I will do just that...REST...in a sense that I will not pound my body through tough run or cycling workouts. I will get back on the bike for some easy spins (we just received the Ironman St. George Real Course Computrainer video!!), but that's it. It also officially puts my official training start date back by a month. You know what? It's ok. It still gives me over four months to train for my May 1st Ironman and I'm certainly not starting from scratch. Or maybe I am...But I'll be relying on muscle memory and determination to get me there!

Here's to the emotional and travel roller coaster of the next few weeks! I'm in Ohio this week, then to CA for a few days to watch my husband kick some marathon ASS. We head back to Austin for about three days and then go BACK to CA to hang with family. Then we head back to Ohio for Christmas. Wow...Let the fun begin. Life's too short!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Massage therapist called me a jock. C'mon! I was a jock as a kid. Can't I at least be considered a JILF or a JOUGAR???

Hippy Chick- Surgeon Appt #1

A proud Mama shows off her hip x-rays!

My hip/leg feels good. My hip/leg hurts. Lather Rinse Repeat.

Over the last several months, I've seen Chiropractors, Family Practitioners, Sports Med Docs and PTs, Airrosti treatment experts, ART experts, massage therapists, etc. I've taken anti-inflammatories and had an MRA scan which confirmed what was suspected. I have a small labral tear in my hip joint accompanied by a 4 mm cyst. I'll also be honest. The only thing I haven't done is COMPLETELY STOP exercising. With that being said, I have cut back on intensity and mileage opting for more low impact choices like swimming , yoga, pilates and a little bit of running and riding.

While a hip scope is definitely the primary surgical treatment, I don't want to rush into this solution for many reasons. The biggest reason is the lack of longevity and research that supports a full recovery. In fact, trimming off some of the cartilage (if repair is not possible) only compromises the hip further for future arthritis. Quite frankly, this surgery is just too new to have long term results. Needless to say, I've sat on making any moves for months. In the meantime, I've met and spoke with some wonderful Austinites who have also been diagnosed and have recently had or are contemplating surgery for the same diagnosis. Results have been mixed quite frankly and a few of their surgeries are too recent to assess any real results. Time, patience and physical therapy will tell. All seem relieved that they went ahead with surgery instead of prolonging their pain.

Yesterday, I met with my first Orthopedic Surgeon. I delayed the surgeon appointment because I could predict what they would say. "Of course you need surgery!" All I know is that I can work out to a limit, but speed work and cycling makes my right leg go numb.
The appointment presented some good news and some "hurry up and wait" news. First of all, they got me back to the exam room on time (surprise, surprise!). I was quickly assessed by a tech and then they scheduled more x-rays of my hips. I had x-rays done at another doctor's office, but didn't think to have those with me. All I brought were my MRI films and CD. When the surgeon first came in, he was rather abrupt and I understood why some people may be put off by his bedside manner. He definitely wasn't the "warm and fuzzy" sympathy type and proceeded instead to get down to business by asking basic questions such as, "When did this happen?", "When did you first start noticing symptoms?", "Where is the pain and describe how it feels," etc. At first, I was a little nervous (felt like it was a verbal test), but he was asking the proper questions and followed up appropriately. I described my pain as I've been having it mostly....1.) Deep stabbing pain in the hip flexor/groin area that gets agitated when I run fast causing my leg to go "dead." 2.) Lower back pain that extends around the glute, sciatic, IT Band and down into my lower leg (usually when cycling).

After looking at the MRA films, he did concur and confirm that there was a small tear that was probably causing the hip flexor irritation. He definitely didn't make a big deal of either the tear or the cyst, indicating that they were both relatively small. He also brought in the X-rays that they had taken and had nothing but positive things to say about those pictures. My femoral head is perfectly shaped (hell yeah), the S-Curve on the femur looks good, spacing between then femur and the socket cartilage looked healthy and proportionate, no osteo-arthritis, etc.
He very confidently said that he did not see any signs of FAI, confirming what the Radiologist reported. My heart actually leapt with joy on this one because an impingement can complicate surgery and recovery time.

Femoral head (ball) in good shape, good spacing between femoral head and
acetabular, no impingement noted

We spoke about the surgery itself and he didn't want to rush into anything until we know for sure that the tear is the root cause of all of the other pain. For instance, a numb sciatic nerve is not necessarily a common symptom of the tear. In any event, we kept coming back to this lower back pain and sciatic/leg numbness. Bottom line, before we do anything with the tear, he ordered a lumbar spine MRI as well as a nerve conduction study on my leg to rule out any bulging or compressed discs in my back which might be putting pressure in the same area.

I guess in one respect I'm happy to know that my hips overall are in great shape. I had an image in my mind of a shredded socket that was beyond repair. Range of motion is good and the x-rays showed an otherwise normal hip area. No osteo-arthritis in the hips was detected.

Spread 'Em!

So, at this point, he said I can proceed with normal activity and exercise, as long as I'm not in debilitating pain. He didn't think I'm causing any more damage as long as I keep my distance and speed comfortable until we know more details. He also didn't rule out a cortisone shot to see if that helps too.

In summary, I respected his "let's rule out everything else" attitude before scheduling surgery for the tear. He definitely wasn't "knife happy." He spoke briefly to the fact that this diagnosis is "the new thing" and seems to be treated with a lot of haste, which is why some people aren't satisfied with the results. With that said, he sounded very knowledgeable about debridement (shaving the loose parts of the labrum) vs. repair. I didn't ask other specific surgical questions at this point figuring it best to wait and cross that bridge if and when we get to it.

So, there is my report on appointment #1. I'm not at all excited about a nerve conduction study (needles in nerves), but if it helps alleviate some pain in the long run, I'll go through it. It can't be worse than childbirth (so I'm told!)

Someday I will have "The Amazing Hip!"

Thursday, November 12, 2009

I kid you not. I just left my Orthopaedic Surgeon appt. and Black Sabbath's "Ironman" was on radio. I'm taking it as a good sign bitches

Monday, November 09, 2009

Just Like Old Times!

For the first time in many MANY months, I ran with my running partner Amy this morning! "Sapp and Skud" made their return appearance to the trail this morning for a nice 6.5 mile run at a comfy 9:00 overall pace. It was wonderful catching up on literally months of our lives. Because of Ironman training the first half of the year, my running schedule changed and we just weren't able to hook up as much as we would've liked to. I was training with T3 as much as possible and she was running with other friends who weren't torturing themselves with Ironman training.

Between this morning and running into a bunch of old Gazelle friends at Coach G's "Run for the Water 10-Miler" yesterday, I find myself nostalgic for the "good old days" of running and training with Gazelles. Can my hip injury withstand Gazelle training again? We'll know soon enough because I have a surgery consultation this Thursday with one physician in town and another one at the beginning of December.

In the meantime, I will run to my abilities and I will smile...just like old times!

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Wenches on Wheels

Donned a "Hoffbrau Honey" costume and hightailed it down I-35 to New Braunfels with a group of girls for the Wurst Ride today. Now, we only did the 25 mile ride (would you want to ride 60 in a slutty beer costume?!), but it was a grand old time with old and new friends! Funny and wonderful comments from so many riders. Photo ops at every turn (which I never turn down!).

Most importantly--I had fun. On the Bike. It's been awhile.

Can I wear a costume in my next Ironman? I swear it will make the time pass quickly and effortlessly!

Here's to being able to ride outdoors in November and still get a sunburn!

My "Hoffbrau Honey" costume is on and I'm ready to be a part of Team "Wenches on Wheels" heading to New Braunfels today for the Wurst Ride. Lord help us.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Does This Qualify as Stalking?

Over the next two months, I'll be traveling a ton and trading bathing suits for parkas along the way. From Roatan, Honduras to Columbus, Ohio in November and then the Tour of California followed by another trip to Columbus in December for Christmas! We'll be in So Cal for almost a week between the California International Marathon and then a return visit to visit my brother-in-law before Christmas.

For those that don't know, I'm a huge fan of Ellen Degeneres and have been ever since the late 80s when she was a lowly stand-up comic making the circuit and frequenting HBO. I've always appreciated and respected her quirkiness and ability to be funny without resorting to the easy sex jokes (if only I could be that good). So, every day I check her website where I can request tickets to be in the audience when I'm in California sometime between Dec 10-16! Oh my god...Just sayin'...If I get to the Ellen show, Lord only knows what might happen. More than likely, I'll make a huge fool out of myself, but that is a regular routine for me anyways. No surprises there. She's just one of those celebrities I totally feel is doing it totally right.

If you or anyone you know has any ties to the Ellen show, let me know! Otherwise, I'll keep you posted on my "be in the Ellen audience" quest! For some reason, I think this goal may be a little more attainable than qualifying for Kona!!!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Area Between Pleasure and Pain

Happy November!! Yikes! This means one month left of my "no real fitness plan" plan. And, at this moment, I have no idea what my Oceanside 70.3 training schedule will look like, or if there will even be a training schedule at all. I take each day as it comes and just kinda do whatever it is I want to do. Some days I hop on the Computrainer for an hour or so. Other days I start my morning with yoga downloaded from iTunes from Yogamazing. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I try to hit the 9am T3 Swim workouts. Still other days, I lace up the shoes and go for a tolerable run. Just last week, I rejoined the land of the gym rats and signed up for a membership to Lifetime Fitness. I like the idea of taking different classes, utilizing the pool, weights, and other services. Plus, it allows me to hit the gym when we visit the parents in San Antonio and Columbus. Some people have said I'm overdoing it. I feel like I'm letting the spirit move me.

On December 1st, I have planned to start training for the March 27, 2010 Oceanside 70.3. Everything is so up in the air right now and I literally take my hip labral tear day by day. On Saturday, I was able to run a slow, but comfortable 14 miles. This morning, I got up and joined the Jack and Adams shop ride for the first time. I hadn't ridden outdoors in months and frankly was scared to attempt it (read: intimidated). I was going to join the 20 mile "no-drop" ride, but a few friends talked me into the 35 mile ride with the promise they wouldn't drop me. Impossible to believe I completed an Ironman just a couple of months ago...True to their word, I rode a decent 2 hours and friends Rich, Kevin and Phil didn't let me fall behind. My hip/groin area felt it during hills (as did my heart rate), but overall I was exhilarated to be riding outside on such a beautiful morning in Austin. This afternoon, I went to the gym joined a pilates class and hopped on the foam roller to work on the quads and glutes.

It was one of those encouraging weekends where I felt hopeful that surgery might not be imminent. Inevitable? Probably. But, not necessarily urgent. And yet, there's a part of me that knows I'm also probably kidding myself. I don't know what the deal is, but I now know at least 8-10 people in Austin who have been diagnosed with a hip labral tear. Many of them have either had a hip scope or are in the planning stages. After my run on Saturday, I had brunch with Erin, new pal Amy and Leslie. Leslie just had her hip scoped two weeks ago and showed up in good spirits and crutches! Today, I ran into former Gazelle Rich who has had not one, but TWO surgeries on his hip for labral tears. His road to recovery has been a little more than bumpy. T3 friend Jeremiah just had his hip scoped last week. Muna was scheduled, but switched surgeons and is now booked for a hip scope by one of the high-profile surgeons in Vail in February. There's also Julie (MFJ) and Austin Fit friend Tom who are fighting the same injury. Seriously, what is the deal?! Part of me has the "misery loves company" feeling, but it certainly leaves me wondering why this has suddenly become the new diagnosis. Is it because technology and MRIs are better? Is it because hip scopes are becoming easier and more commonplace to perform? Is it because we are all pushing ourselves too hard? Probably a combination of all three.

So here I remain in this random gray area of trying to work within my pain/comfort limits. I, too, have started the surgeon interview process and will be receiving several opinions from both local and out of town docs. Even patients have differing opinions on what to do. So, while I have Oceanside 70.3 on the calendar at the end of March and Ironman St. George on the calendar in May 2010, I have no idea if I'll be able to race in both or either of them. Ultimately, it doesn't matter, because it's becoming obviously clear that longevity and my future health is more important than any 2010 race.

With all that said, it's time for my evening stretches!

Me, Amy and Leslie after Saturday Brunch! Good times!!!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Thank You Computrainer!

Many thanks to Kevin at Computrainer USA for recently sending me some new goodies just for being an avid CT user and promoter. If you are looking to improve your cycling both on and off the road this winter, consider a Computrainer. It has saved me much-needed time and allows me to get a safe and ultra-effective workout in a short amount of time...(15 second plug over).

Seriously, I plan on using it for both Oceanside 70.3 training as well as Ironman St. George! In fact, I heard a rumor that the St. George Real Course Video is just about to be released!! If you're doing this first-ever Ironman, you know what an invaluable tool the Real Course Video is going to be!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Random Images of Germany and Austria

Dancing in front of the famous gazebo from "The Sound of Music"

Devo called and they want their outfits back!! Actually, these were our uniforms for the Salt Mine Tour in Salzburg. Made going down the slide much easier!

At the 1972 Olympic Swin Center in Munich. We actually got to swim there for a few hours!

At the famous Hoffbrau House on our final night!

Shawn's pre-run carb loading meal :-)

Neuschwanstein Castle under a Winter Wonderland

We climbed the tallest church steeple in the world! Holy cow were we dizzy!

Note--Shawn's GIGANTIC German Schnitzel with fries and my salad!
Bike riding in Heidelburg. Our bikes definitely weren't made for time trialing!

Running near the Rhine along the endless bike and running pathways. They were everywhere.

One of my lovely vegan meals at the Castle
Visiting Burg Eltz. It required a lovely 1 hour hike!
View of The The Rhine from our castle room

Riding in Rothenburg

Jetlagged and weary, we still made it to Oktoberfest as soon as we arrived!

...so many more memories were made on this wonderful trip!

We're Back!

Where oh where has the last month gone?? Our trip to Germany was nothing short of spectacular. We joke that Germany is a lovely country with a major PR problem. A couple of our friends were like, "Why would you go there?" Well...the trip started with one word: OKTOBERFEST. Any questions? Seriously, I truly had no idea what was in store or what my eyes would behold as I am by no means the resident trip planner. Hubster spent some adolescent years there while his Dad was stationed in Germany. I too had essentially two images of Germany in my mind--Beer and Hitler. Those two don't necessarily coincide to create a happy-go-lucky combination. Lo and behold, we witnessed a bit of each.

In the 2 1/2 weeks we were there, we witnessed drunken men in Lederhosen at Oktoberfest, we took a Night Watchmen Tour in Rothenburg, stayed at a castle for three nights on The Rhine, sampled German wine and beer, hiked several forest-covered miles to Burg Eltz, toured and visited King Ludwig's castles, climbed up almost 800 steps to the top of the world's tallest church steeple, rode bikes in Heidelburg and Rothenburg, took a tour into the Salt Mines of Austria where we got to slide down into the caves, swam in the swim center of the 1972 Olympic games in Munich, hung out at clothing-optional German Spa in Baden-Baden, and even took the "Sound of Music" Movie Tour in Salzburg, Austria where Shawn and I danced at the infamous Gazebo! To try to recap the trip would be impossible. Even now as I type this, I know I'm forgetting some amazing moments. We spent a day in Shawn's childhood city of Landstuhl and also spent a day at Dachau Concentration Camp where 30,000 people lost their lives courtesy of Hitler. Of all of the fun and relaxing moments we had, the day at the Concentration Camp left the most profound impression. How could it not? Regardless of religion or ethnicity, it is incomprehensible to think that humans were (and are) capable of such acts. Needless to say, every day was filled with something more fascinating and interesting than the next.

Aside from missing the kitties, I was still not ready to come home. I embrace the European simplistic way of life--and the fact that they don't have speed limits on their Autobahn. I swear we were driving 100 mph and would be passed by a car going 140 like we were standing still. The roads were in impeccable shape. And the bike/walking trails...Oh the trails were EVERYWHERE because people actually walk and ride their bikes to get from one place to another. One morning I went for a run and the bike/running trail had more "rush hour" traffic than the actual street. It was lovely to experience. Even the crosswalks had images of bikes on them. The weather did turn and we witnessed our and Germany/Austria's first major snow of the season. Even that didn't stop us from walking and hiking to our destinations. It put the kabosh on a couple of small bike rides, but we still got up and walked/ran as much as possible. Actually, even one night we didn't stair repeats in the stairwell of our hotel because it was raining so much outside. I'm sure they thought we were crazy, but we both needed and wanted to do SOMETHING. Why not climb and descend some stairs for 45 minutes??!! Crazy stupid Americans.

I'm happy to say that I also had some pretty decent runs/hikes while there leaving me with a renewed sense of encouragement with my hip. Shawn ran 19 miles one morning while I ran 13 (most since my June Ironman). I also did a couple of other shorter runs with relatively NO pain. Could it be a turning point? Have I found my limits? Seriously, I was very hopeful (up until some runs this weekend that have left it sore and irritated again).

Food was an interested challenge to say the least, especially when the culture of Germany pretty much centers on pork and dairy. The major cities had some AMAZING vegetarian/vegan restaurant options. We ate at two restaurants inspired by Guru Sri Chinmoy. One was called Waves in Heidelburg and the other was called Heart of Joy in Salzburg. We ate at a vegan Indian restaurant called Spicy Spices (interesting name) and two others in Munich called Prinz Myshkin and Kopfeck. Even the castle we stayed in on the Rhine provided me with my own "special" printed vegan menu every night that included eggplant steaks one night and zucchini/squash served over pasta on another night. Talk about feeling like a princess!! I got used to looking for and asking for Gemuse, which is German for "vegetable." However, most of their vegetarian dishes featured kasespatzel (German Mac and Cheese). There was a cool restaurant that had spatzel and lentils. Yum... Most hotels served some form of breakfast so I would fill up on cereals and fruit. I did have some milk as most places don't even have soy as an option. I did carry around soy milk for a couple of days, but grew weary of looking like a dork.

Another awesome trip has come to an end and I actually spent this weekend entertaining some friends who were in town from Ohio. We took the Haunted Austin Ghost Tour downtown (hokey and fun at the same time) and even took a Bat Cruise on Town Lake. We hit up some Tex Mex, BBQ and visited Austin classic dive bars Donn's Depot and the Broken Spoke. Needless to say, after a month of traveling and entertaining, I'm happy to be home and catching up with friends and life. Even if it is only for a couple of weeks. After all, Shawn is running the California International Marathon in December and then it's time to start training again for Oceanside 70.3 and IM St. George.

Until then, I'm still in vacation/slacker mode!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Friends from Ohio coming this wknd! What to do? Maybe we'll go to the Oasis to watch the lake level rise or play in the Zilker Park mud pit!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Sent a couple of emails after taking an Ambien last night! Hilarious!!
Was planning on joining hubster for a portion of his long run, but woke up to several inches of snow! Maybe later...not winterized yet!

Thursday, October 01, 2009

The Hills Are Alive...

Off to Germany and Austria for a few weeks! The Oktoberfest festival better brace itself because here we come :-) Actually, I'm not much of a beer drinker, but apparently they also have a wine tent. Oh Lord. Look out...Looking forward to this getaway that will include places like Heidelburg, Rothenburg, Baden Baden, Munich, Vienna, Salzburg, The Rhine and Bavaria. We're hiking, taking bike tours, drinking, and visiting some baths in Baden Baden where most Germans hang out completely nude. (On second thought, pass me a pint. I may need it) Let's also see how this vegan thing goes in a country that prides itself on the length and taste of their sausage (that's what she said). Hell, I live in America where we pride ourselves on the length and taste of our hot dogs and trans fats. I should be ok, right? If I can find vegan options in the land of fast food, I'll be able to find vegan in a country that isn't afraid to say, "wiener schnitzel."

In my mind, this trip has a fantasy-like quality that kinda resembles this:

In reality, it will probably look more like this:

"Bring it." Or, as they say in the land of Normann Stadler, Faris Al-Sultan, Nina Kraft and other triathlon gods, "Bringen Sie."