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

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Peaks and Valleys

I suppose this is the post where I would say that I had a bit of a down week from a physical therapy and rehab standpoint. Now I know what it's like to be a contestant on "The Biggest Loser" who loses 15+lbs week after week, only to have a random "off" week where they drop 5lbs and feel disappointed. That's how I feel my progress has been. I've been making strides, getting stronger and overachieving with my recovery. Unfortunately, with strength comes confidence. In my case, with confidence comes cockiness. I got a little too cocky last week and pushed my hip a bit too much. It could've been the extra five minutes on the bike each day. It could've been the fact that I was actually trying to push some wattage and feel some resistance. It could've been the aggressive PT or the hike at Wild Basin. It could've been the four swims. If resistance was what I wanted, I certainly got it alright-- in the form of a stiff achy hip and a pissed-off nerve. Needless to say, this week was a "recovery" week in my recovery.

Ironically, it was while I was cutting a big slice of humble pie that I was inspired and energized to sign up for this:

May 21, 2011

Yep, hubster and I (and about 30-40 of our closest friends) signed up for the Inaugural Ironman Texas in The Woodlands next year. I'm not sure what is more shocking--the fact that we've signed up for another Full Distance Ironman, or the fact that we signed up for a Full Distance Ironman in HOUSTON. Ugh...at least the Woodlands is a lovely suburb of the dreaded concrete metropolis.

So, while the week had a few valleys to cross, it certainly wasn't without its peaks...and I'm happy to say that I'm getting strong enough to travel across them both.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Turning Circles

This data upload is funny for several reasons:

1.) I actually wore my Garmin to walk two miles on a track.

2.) I averaged a whopping pace of 21:51 per mile when I used to knock out 6:20s.

3.) Going around in circles is as boring and silly as it looks.

4.) It actually categorized my workout as "running." I assure, it was NOT.

5.) What you don't see was even more funny. I was wearing my Vibram Five Fingers.

6.) I'm actually able to walk faster WITH the crutches.

7.) I'm learning how to upload and transfer data from my Garmin making me even more of a dork than I was before.

Monday, June 21, 2010

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Recovery...

"Yep, I think it would potentially be something you could train for..."

That was all my PT needed to say, really, to ignite the fire of desire and give me a spark of hope to grasp onto during a pretty bleak moment. It was my initial pre-surgery consultation with her. She knew how frustrating it was to be rendered motionless by doctor's orders. She knew I was an "athlete" and had that typical overdramatic mindset that I was literally "going to die" if I didn't exercise...I admitted my deepest darkest fears of retreating into a world of laziness, queso and vast amounts of belly goo.  I also confessed how difficult it was going to be sitting on the sidelines while everyone else was getting better, faster and stronger. Let's face it. The latter is the most frustrating part of any injury and subsequent recovery.

While in my meeting with her, we talked about races, people we knew in common, philosophies and everything else that goes with the territory. As an aside, she said she was about to start training for a four mile open water swim taking place in September. In an instant, my eyes became the size of saucers. The flash of light went off in front of us. She saw it and, probably in an effort to appease me, said, ""Yep, I think it would potentially be something you could train for..."

A FOUR MILE SWIM??? ME????  Just thinking about it makes me quiver with haunting memories of days gone by. Much of my childhood was spent wearing t-shirts and coverups over my bathing suits so people wouldn't look and point at me. I was the short, chunky tomboy with huge boobs. Awesome. I was the one who was doing cannonballs off the diving board because it got the most laughs (and the biggest splash, thank you very much). In high school and college, I never had a desire to do the Spring Break thing, although I'm pretty sure I would've rocked the wet t-shirt contest.  

I still find it almost impossible to imagine that I'm a triathlete because it involves swimming. It has taken me eight years of participating in this sport to become an average swimmer. It wasn't long ago that swimming one continuous lap in the pool was impossible. Before I knew it, I was swimming a 1/2 mile, then 1.2 miles, then amazingly 2.4 miles in strange and murky bodies of open water.  

And now, I'm gearing up to swim four continuous miles in Lake Austin to benefit Colin's Hope. It's going to take me between 2- 2 1/2 hours. FYI--that's a long damn time to be swimming. The Ironman swim distance is 2.4 miles and I never thought I could train up to that. I'm swimming 4-5 times a week now (yay! I can swim!!) and starting to get the flow and feel of the water once again. So, yeah, my PT was right when she said it was something I could potentially train for. I'm four weeks post-op and loving every minute. 

I was so caught up in my own eureka moment when she mentioned the swim that I didn't even notice the flash of light that came over her. She told me that I really needed to get in touch with the woman who dreamed up this charity swim. It would definitely be good for us to meet, regardless of if I did the swim. Turns out, the Event Director had hip labral tear surgery about two months before me with the same surgeon in Austin. Our stories are similar, our injuries are similar and our recovery involves testing our limits in any way we can. In fact, she concepted the charity swim while she was sitting on the couch in her CPM Machine. 

I couldn't have scripted this play better if I'd tried. Here is some of the cast of the GOT2SWIM4 TEAM benefiting Colin's Hope.  There will be about 30 swimmers and an amazing support crew of  kayakers, stand-up paddle boarders and medical personnel on hand Thursday, September 2nd.  Stay Tuned for updates from the water all summer long!

Monday, June 14, 2010

She's Got Legs...She's Remembering How to Use Them

Bye, Bye Crutches!  I've given the sticks the official heave-ho and I'm ramping up physical activity and physical therapy to new levels every day. Hot damn. Now, I can start to justify my over-active appetite. Apparently, no one told it that I'm not in "training mode." I'm going to become the first morbidly obese person who eats nothing but veggies, beans and tofu. Oh yeah-- and drinks wine. Some things in life are just too good. 

Speaking of good, my physical therapy sessions are rockin! I like to think that I'm the "model patient," but everyone in there is working hard to fix one problem or another. Hello--it's a bunch of type-A athlete types who want to get back on the court, field or bike as soon as possible. I'm not really special--just one of the many gimpy athletes who has a few holes in my leg. I was basically off crutches after 2 1/2 weeks. I would still take them to the gym or to the grocery, but mainly used them for stability...(or as a weapon if some little kid got on my nerves. )  I kid, I kid...

I'm happy to report that I had breakfast with my hipster group last Friday and everyone seems to be doing incredible at their various stages of post-op bliss! It's encouraging and important, as the 'fresh meat,' to follow their progress and ask questions along the way. One thing we noticed was just how vastly different everyone's post-op protocol has been. Granted, everyone is different and everyone's surgeries were a little different, but the differences in our recovery treatments are pretty amazing. It just reinforced to me that it's not fair to compare myself to anyone else in this process. (Although I am doing pretty flipping AMAZING!)

Hipster's Anonymous (or not so anonymous)...Labral Tear Repair Gang!

I'm now swimming four to five days a week between 2500-3500 meters a pop. About 30-40% of the time, I'm still using a pull buoy in between my legs to keep my hip stabilized. The swimming I'm doing without the buoy is focusing on form, light kicking and rotation--no speed work just yet. Holy Moly, it hurts just thinking about kicking hard and fast. I actually did my first wetsuit open water swim over the weekend. I did 2000m at an easy pace and started feeling it on the last couple hundred. That was, by far, the longest I had gone without the buoy. I felt pretty buoyant, though, in the wetsuit (or perhaps it's the extra weight I'm carrying around).  I swam with my PT, so I figured it was ok ;-).

I'm still going to PT three times per week and it should back down to two times next week. I did some strength tests today and everything is looking good. My hip flexion is now up over 120 degrees! It was 107 when I was tested two weeks ago. Awesome--that means I'm now also able to ramp up my indoor cycling time! Watch out Lance, because this little chick can now ride for 30 minutes at a time with little resistance. Yep, that's right. This Ironman who is used to riding for 5 to 6 HOURS at a stretch is now up to a whopping 30 minutes daily! I'm also able to increase that by five minute increments if I'm not aching. It must be fun being a PT because every little affirmation or mention of doing a new activity is like a little gift. It means 1.) I'm moving in the right direction and healing properly  2.) I'm able to move my body and get back to a semblance of a routine.  I received several gifts this week.

One of my favorite exercises is the Core Thrashers on the Pilates Reformer. It's always a humbling experience to work my core. Talk about exposing weaknesses. Hopefully, it will be exposing my kick-ass six pack abs soon. I also like to do the leg presses. We continue to increase resistance. I'm now over 50% of my body weight. They also work my balance and body positioning by forcing me to wear a band around my knees and a lovely pair of Birkenstocks complete with half-ball on the bottom to work my core and balance even further. Only in Austin can you work out in Birkenstocks. I love it. 


Maintaining Balance and Proper Leg Positioning. They don't pass out free granola with the Birkenstocks. Fortunately, I get a monthly shipment thanks to Erin Bakers!!

So, all is well in recovery land. I'm doing some P90x upper body work a couple of times per week just because I can. I'm obviously not able to to run, jump or do any crazy plyometrics just yet, but I'm patiently biding my time.

Through all of this, I've definitely realized why I'm called a PATIENT. I've definitely needed a lot of it, but the patience is paying off every day. 

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

My "Aha Moment" Has Been Released!

Click Here to watch video of my Official 
Mutual of Omaha "Aha Moment"

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Better than Tales from the Crypt

The Original "Tales from the Crypt" Guy

The New and Temporary "Tales from the Crip" Chick**

Amazing and surprising things happen when you walk around the world on crutches. Disabled people who read this probably want to smack me and say, "Duh! You have NO idea what it's like!!"  To that I humbly and graciously say, "You're right. You have my utmost respect."  I have no idea what it's like to live with a permanent disability, but being on crutches for the last few weeks has certainly given me a glimpse into the world of handicap accessibility (or lack thereof).

Most of my encounters with people are amusing. A few have been inspiring. My visits to the gym have been the best encounters by far.  The first day I hobbled into the gym, I tried to hit the handicap button which would open the door for me. It didn't work. No worries. I can push the door open and quickly hop into the building. The freakin' door was heavy as hell and it was tough to get my balance. I'm pretty sure I looked like a circle trying to squeeze into a a square peg. Fortunately, someone saw my awkward attempt at an entrance and grabbed the second door for me. That was all before I even had a chance to show them my membership card.  

First of all, I know I look sexy as hell when I walk towards the pool with my swim cap, bathing suit, towel and crutches. I get looks of condolences, no looks at all, and several "be carefuls" to which I so desperately want to jokingly respond, "If I was careful, I wouldn't be on crutches, now would I?!"   Usually, I just say, "thank you" and hobble on...

The first day I headed towards the pool, a guy who was exiting the pool asked me if my crutches were for a permanent disability. 

"No," I explained. "Thank GOD they're just temporary because of recent hip surgery."

"Oh, you're lucky," he replied. "Aren't those crutches great? They are so much easier than regular ones."

(I looked down and noticed he had tan lines on his legs where leg braces normally go. He went on to explain his permanent disability that requires him to wear braces and use crutches every day.)

We chatted a bit more and he wished me luck with my recovery. I already told him that I felt lucky because my disability was temporary. If I could've lifted my foot to insert it into my mouth, I would have. 

The next time I was at the gym in the women's locker room hobbling towards the hot sauna. A lovely woman approached me and grabbed my arm to help me along. Along the way, she warned me to be careful because it was slippery.

"God Bless You," she said. "I'll be praying for you."

"Wow...Thanks," I responded. "I need it."

"In fact, " She continued. "Hold my hand and touch my ring. I want to pray for you right now." 

Holy crap, this is slightly awkward. I'm standing in the middle of the women's locker room in a towel and crutches. Women are around us in various stages of dress drying their hair and putting on make-up.  She starts saying "The Our Father" OUT LOUD while I'm holding on to her crucifix ring! Do I close my eyes? Do I pray along with her? Do I dare look around and notice if others are staring?? I'm being prayed over in a women's locker room and you know what? It was lovely. Awkward as hell, but so very kind and lovely. 

She opened the sauna door for me and fervently told me that she would say some prayers for me. I sat in the steam room for several minutes saying some silent prayers of thanks of my own that people like that exist in this world. 

For the most part, people have been great. Kids look at me funny so I just look back. One day, I was in the locker room getting dressed while two young teen girls were putting on their makeup. Ironically, Bon Jovi's "Livin' on a Prayer" was playing over the speaker. I laughed at the irony that I was their age when that song was released. Now, over 20 years later, I'm on crutches proving that that song has more longevity than I do. 

Needless to say, I'm relieved that my time with the sticks is hopefully coming to a close this week. My physical therapy is going great and my leg feels stronger every day. I definitely learned some valuable lessons along the way though! More than ever, I want to thank those who opened doors for me (literally) and those who told me I was a bad-ass for being at the gym in my compromised state.  Trust me, I didn't want to be anywhere else!

**Meaning absolutely NO offense to those that physically challenged! Humor me, please.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Go With The Flow

"I went for a hike yesterday!"

"Whatchu talkin' about Willis?!"  (In light of his recent passing, I'd like to give props to Gary Coleman) "Seriously, you did what??"

Yep, I went for a small hike yesterday at Pedernalas Falls 40 miles outside of Austin. Granted, it wasn't a strenuous hike by any stretch of the imagination, but it was a wonderful treat to get outside and take part in a "Hike and Heal Retreat" hosted by Wendy De Rosa.

Ironically, the hiking was secondary to the healing portion of the day. We walked down (or, in my case, hobbled down) a path of rocks to the banks of Pedernales Falls. We found a wonderful shaded tree in the sand near the banks of the river, sat down and just listened...Wendy led us on a guided meditation to clear our minds and focus on the flowing water. She talked about the energy healing we can do within our body. Sounds pretty hippy trippy doesn't it?!  It totally was!! But, it was so peaceful and relaxing as well. It's all about letting go and "going with the flow"...figuratively and literally.

First of all, how many times do we allow ourselves to just lie down and literally "go with the flow?" Um...if you're like me, the answer is "never." We're too obsessed with doing something, changing something, creating something, or judging something that we can't just sit in non-judgemental stillness and "be." Or, at the very least, slow our lives down even for a minute.

My surgery and subsequent rehab over the last few weeks has been a lesson in humility, patience, slowing down and "going with the flow." I physically am not able rush through my day. Every step is a conscious decision. Even my physical therapy is slow and methodical as I essentially build a new foundation for my body. I can't go out and run 26.2 miles (like I did three weeks ago--hee hee). I can barely walk properly. In essence, I'm "going with the flow" and once I surrendered to that, life got a heck of a lot easier.

Ironically, when I got home yesterday, I was inspired to read the book. "My Stroke of Insight" by Jill Bolte Taylor, Ph.D.  . I first heard of this book about a year ago while listening to an Oprah Radio podcast with the author. Dr. Taylor was a Harvard schooled brain scientist when, at the age of 37 (my age now), had a stroke that affected her left hemisphere. The book is about her description of what happened that morning as her body and mind started to deteriorate without her control. Because she is a brain scientist, she instinctively knew what was happening, but couldn't stop the effects of the hemorrhage. It chronicles the steps she took to get help, as well as the long process of physical and mental recovery. It's her description of "going with the flow" with an impaired existence.

In any event, my Mother-in-Law had brought this book last week and I picked it up yesterday and started reading it. I read it in a few hours. Needless to say, I was drawn by the parallel themes of this book, my rehab, and the morning's relaxation by the water. "Going with the flow" means to slow down, stop judging, and realize that we are all connected to nature and each other. Essentially, it means to shut the left side of our brain down for a while that analyzes and critiques everything,  and focus on the right side that simply feels.

Easier said than done, right?? Hell, yes it is. But, that's precisely why we need to grant ourselves permission every now and then to get a little hippy trippy and simply "Go With the Flow."

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Moving Forward in Slow Motion

You give me an inch and I'm going to take a mile.

I made contact with Mitch Thrower with Triathlete Magazine a few weeks ago in response to a piece that he wrote. I shared a little about what I'm going through now and he graciously responded with kind words of encouragement. He also told me to make sure I record my journey.

This past weekend was a rough one for whatever reason. While most were enjoying an extra day off from work on Memorial Day, I was on the couch barely able to lift my head. I have no idea exactly what happened, but I finally felt how I thought I was supposed to feel all along. On Saturday, we had breakfast with the Stanfords and then Shawn and I took a day trip to Schulenburg, Texas to admire the "Painted Churches" in the area. We capped it off with a semi-meal at Senglemann Dance Hall.  I woke up Sunday and felt perfectly fine. Stephanie picked me up and I headed down to Auditorium Shores to watch some friends take part in the annual "Doggy Du!"  OK--it was hilarious to watch some of these dogs jump in the water, swim 10 feet and then turn around like, "Hell No I'm not doing this!" After breakfast at Galaxy Cafe, I went home to take my place on the couch with the leg CPM Machine. Within an hour, I had a wave a nausea, headache and fatigue that went on for the next 24 hours. It was like I ran smack into a brick wall. Every time I would try to sit up, I felt dizzy and sick. Even my leg was acting up and producing new sharp pains. Crazy and awful...I felt miserable and lethargic all day Monday as well. I tried to find the energy to get off the couch and just sit outside, but I couldn't do it.  To this minute, I'm not sure if it was a touch a food poisoning, my body's reaction to too much activity, or a reaction to the anti-inflammatories. It passed on Tuesday and I've been relatively back to normal since my post-op appointment on Tuesday.

Either way, I'm so relieved to finally beginning a normal existence again. I'm allowed to drive, which is huge. I'm also allowed to do a little weight bearing while still using the crutches as an aid. I drove myself to my first official post-op physical therapy appointment this morning. For the first two weeks, my PT consisted of sitting my ever-expanding ass in the CPM machine and watching my leg move up and down from 0 degrees to 90 degrees for 6+ hours a day. Today, it was great to finally get out and GO SOMEWHERE. This appointment consisted mostly of taking measurements of my flexibility and formulating my timeline.

Right now, my external hip rotation is at 36 degrees (It was 44 degrees pre-op). She wants to see me close to 50 degrees.  Also, my hip extension is at a measly 5 degrees and she wants it to be somewhere in the 10-20 degree range. I was already able to lift my knee to my chest (lying down) up to 107 degrees. (Thank you CPM machine) and I can also put all the weight on my bad leg with no pain. I'll be seeing her 3 times per week for two weeks and then 2 times per week after that. My long range goal is to be starting to run again within 8 weeks. Now, it will be light and easy running, but running nonetheless. None of that will happen, however, until my core and glute region is strengthened enough to do proper single leg squats multiple times.  Until then, I've been give some clearance to MOVE!!! 15 minutes of pool walking and swimming with pull buoy. I'm also able to get on my bike and do specific pedal stroke practice for 10 minutes 3x per day. I also have some core work to do to fill up my day because, frankly, I'm getting tired of Oprah and Dr. Oz.

I haven't even made progress yet and I felt like a proud graduate today. It was as if I passed my first two weeks of post-op recovery with flying colors and I can now move on to the good stuff. I finished my appetizer and am headed straight to the buffet line...

In my case, the buffet line is Lifetime Fitness. I left the PT office and headed straight to the pool because, of course, I was carrying my goggles and suit "just in case" she said it was ok....

Evil ;-)

Just because it's from Whole Foods, doesn't mean it's healthy. Thank you, TriGreyhound, for identifying my weak spot for sweets. Add a week of recovery for each container of white chocolate, dark chocolate and gumdrops!

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

I'll Have You in Stitches (Or Out of Them!)

I'm definitely not bringing sexy back, but I am one step closer to being active once again. The sutures came out today and I've been given clearance to make baby steps back towards humanity!

**WARNING** If you don't like stitches coming out, don't scroll down!!  **WARNING**

This was my first view of the arthroscopic wounds

And they're coming out...

Trying my best to relax!

Thanks to my Mother-in-Law for driving me to the appointment!