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!