Saturday, November 5, 2016

Austin 69.1

Last Sunday I toed the line for the final race of my 2016 season.  It was a fun little adventure.

The race itself got a little delayed because of fog.  As in you couldn't tell where the water/lake was, let alone where the buoys were.  So, as you can see in the picture above, we sat around for a while.  I mostly thought about how badly I had to pee.  And also how I REALLY didn't want the swim to be cancelled.  I'm obviously not a great swimmer.  But I'm not a bad one either.  I'm one of those people that isn't really good at anything, but isn't really bad at anything.  A cancelled swim leaves me in roughly the same spot as I would have been with one.  So really I just wanted to put all my hard swim practices and early morning masters wake-ups to good use.

No such luck.  The swim was cancelled.  So onto a TT bike start it was!

Stretching my arms before starting the bike.  Because that's obviously very important.  :)
Because my last name is Shutt and that's at the end of the alphabet, I got to start almost last in the pro women's field.  I liked this a lot because I like to chase people.  Much harder, in my opinion, to race off the front.

So chase is what I did.  I haven't been riding well all year but my cycling legs came alive a little for this race.  Not quite up to last year's standards but MUCH better and closer than I've been all year!  That made me happy.

Because of the TT start, I wasn't quite sure where I was in the race off the bike.  We had started at 30 second intervals.  I had caught some people.  Some people where still ahead, or were they?  Who knows.  Just run hard and keep as cool as you can is all I told myself.

It was hot by the run.  Like really hot.  Like high 80s hot.  Last time I did this race there were record lows.  This time, record highs.  What can I say, I like to go to extremes.  :)

As the run progressed, I knew this - Jeanni (my QT2 teammate) was going to win by a lot.  Jennie (also my QT2 teammate) and I were really close.  And Kelly (not a QT2 teammate) was running me down and if I didn't let her get toooooo far ahead, I could probably still beat her (she started 4.5 minutes ahead of me on the bike).  But dang was she running fast (as usual).  There was a lot of mental math going on when I was really, really hot and tired.  Every time I saw John he told me to "stay in it, people are all over the place" and that was very true.  In the end, Jennie beat me by about a minute and I barely squeaked it out over Kelly.  Third place.  I'll take it!  Plus that meant QT2 went 1-2-3!  I was very proud of that (and really glad I wasn't the reason we didn't do it!).

See you at camp in the winter, girls!  Let's just hope it's a little cooler.
I deemed this a fine way to end my season.  It's been a rough one, but in the end, when I DID get to race, I enjoyed it and it turned out pretty well.

Mostly I was excited about the fact that for one of the first times ever, I was staying after a race to explore the city and see what Austin was all about!  That's one thing I regret over my years of racing. I've always just come home directly after races.  Which means I've been to tons of great places, but never really seen any of them.  That's kind of sad!

So over the next three days, John and I ate and drank our way through Austin.  It was awesome!

Austin is a beautiful city on a lake.

Graffiti words of wisdom.  #nevergiveup

We took a boat tour at night and got to see the bats under the bat bridge!  So. Many. Bats.

We went canoeing!  And by that I mean, John paddled and I sat in the front and put my feet in the water.

So. Many. Turtles.

Voodoo Donuts!  On Halloween of all days!

Vicki, my gracious homestay and friend, took me to Magnolia Cafe before the race.  It was awesome!  Thanks for everything, Vicki!

She warned me that the pancakes were big.  I didn't fully appreciate this until I tried to eat two of them.  I was defeated.

Izzie.  Best homestay dog ever.  My, what long ears you have!

Always an honor to race with these strong women.
So that's a wrap on 2016!  I thought long and hard about racing in 2017.  There were certainly times that I was pretty convinced this would be my last year racing as a pro.  Mostly because my body fought me a lot this year and at some point you have to ask, "am I just too old to do this anymore at this level?"  The trouble is, I still REALLY love to race.  And I still feel competitive.  And well, I just really love to race.  I have so much support and a busy, yet good lifestyle to continue to train.  So I will.  I'm not sure what TYPES of races 2017 has in store, but for sure, I plan on being on some more starting lines.  On most days I curse this sport but I'm not ready to give it up just yet!

Biggest thanks to a lot of people who keep me running (literally and figuratively).  A great group of sponsors - Coeur, QR, Rudy Project, Normatec.  My actual family who has put up with my shenanigans for years.  My QT2 family who REALLY are like family.  The Snows and my 441 family who have been through all the ups and downs of the past couple years with me and have made me laugh and smile despite it all.  And John and the Peterson family - it is said that a happy athlete is a fast athlete and if that's the case, thank you for making me so fast.  I have a lot of really amazing people in my life.

So now it's time to mountain bike!  If my next post is about my broken arm, you'll know why!  :)

Saturday, October 22, 2016

SOMEone's Got Some Catching Up To Do.

So.  I've gone and not blogged for a while.  #badbeth I will try to make up for this with lots of pictures.  #nobodyreadsthewordsanyway

Since I last wrote, I caught a cooking bug.  Don't worry, it didn't last long.  I'm back to eating cereal for dinner.

Soup.  It was good.  I had to google how to mince garlic.

From Shalane Flanagan's cook book.  It was also good.  Get the book.  Make the lasagna.
Also, we went to Kait and Matt's wedding.  It was fun.  Matt and Kait looked great and there was dancing and food and good company.  What more could you ask for.

Sometimes we don't wear cycling clothes.

The girls.  Largely outfitted by Lauren.

The guys.  Also largely outfitted by Lauren.

The 441.  I got yelled out for using the wrong finger for the "1".  #mypeople
Also, cross season started.  One day I'd like to try it, but honestly, spectating cross is probably more fun than anything else...

Also, I ran a few races!  It was super fun to get back to my running roots.

First, a 4 miler.  John never runs but somehow managed 6:10 pace with me.  What the heck?  It was fun and we got coffee cake for our efforts.  Can't ask for much more.

Then I ran a half marathon a few weeks later.  1:23 which is equal to my PR from about 10,000 years ago.  I was surprised and happy with the outcome.
Also, we went camping.  On the ONE weekend of the year that it rained THE ENTIRE WEEKEND.  #oops.  
John rode his mountain bike.  And got a little wet and dirty.  I stayed in the van.  :)
So that's that!  Next weekend I'm racing the Austin 70.3 and then we are staying for a few extra days to explore the city.  I'm excited about this.  Last time I did Austin I went straight home.  #nofun

And then I'll be done with my season.  But I already bought winter cycling tights AND winter cycling shoes.  Me and my road bike have a date!  

Monday, September 12, 2016

Pumpkinman v2.0

This past weekend two of my very favorite races happened - Ironman Wisconsin and Pumpkinman Half Ironman.  Two very different feels - one an Ironman branded race that has all the Ironman bells and whistles, and the other - a local race with plenty of it's own special touches that has an awesome, grassroots feel to it.

Ironman Wisconsin was originally on the docket, but, as discussed in my last blog entry, axed after I caught the plague.

The plague eventually went away and I got back to a tiny bit of training and so, my new light at the end of the tunnel became Pumpkinman.  A full distance race didn't seem like a great idea but a half distance race was doable and could make for a great training day/reintroduction into going hard.  If you can't do one of your favorite races, well why not do the other!

Luckily, Kat, the Pumpkinman race director, was kind enough to allow me into the race last minute.  And right there is one of the best parts of Pumpkinman.  It's the kind of race where everyone knows the race director and she's there cheering you up the (nasty) hill from the water to transition and she's there to give you a hug at the end of the day and she's...well, she's just everywhere.  For every last participant.

The race itself got a little crazy.  It started well with a solid (for me) swim.  I spent the first loop of the 2 loop course SPRINTING to keep on some feet I had found (elite men and women start together so I had some feet to choose from!).  Then on the second loop those feet either slowed down or I finally caught my breath, and it started to feel easier.  We exited the water in just under 28 minutes (27:53 to be exact, for me) and I was pretty pumped.  That was about a minute faster than last year.  There is no doubt in my mind that I'm swimming better than I ever have, but I have a pretty hard time translating that into open water swim prowess in races.  It's a matter of finding feet (which is often not an easy task in the small women's pro fields) and being able to handle the significant oxygen debt from the fast early pace, until the pace slows a little.  Anyway, swim was good.  Next up bike.

Bike, not so good.  Actually, I'm not sure how it was.  My power meter was not working right and so I was trying to go off feel and HR.  I'm not that good at that.  Actually, I think the real problem was a significant lack of bike fitness.  I felt great for about an hour, then the last 1:25 or so felt not so great.  And long.  Like really long.  HA!  I kept pedaling though and eventually ended up in T2.  I biked a good 6 minutes slower than last year but that wasn't surprising.  I was ON FIRE last year on my bike at this time.  Now, not so much.  But you have to (re)start somewhere so after yesterday's ride, I'm one small step closer.

I started off on the run feeling pretty good.  I was running a tempo-ish pace that was eventually going to feel hard (probably) but that felt very comfortable at the time.  But then things got crazy.  First, I heard the men's lead biker tell my lead biker that they weren't allowing anyone else on the run course as there was a BIG storm coming.  Huh, it didn't even really look dark anywhere?  That was around mile 3.  By mile 3.5, I was not questioning whether a storm was coming because I was all of a sudden in the middle of it.  Holy. Cats.

It got nasty fast.  Wind, hail, branches/limbs/trees coming down everywhere.  My lead biker and I continued on.  I was mostly thinking how glad I was that I was running and thinking about the poor people on their bikes still.  I made it to about 4.5 miles when a police cruiser flagged me down and told me to get in.  Race was stopped, everyone was to get off the course ASAP.  He was there to give me a ride back to transition.

YIKES!!!  I pretty happily hopped in the back seat of his car.  Of course I wanted to finish the race but it was insanity out there and didn't feel that safe.  I certainly didn't expect to end my day in the back of a police car (he turned his siren on and everything!  fun!!) but it was the right call on Kat's part.  Safety first.  I think everyone agreed.

As luck would have it, the storm really only lasted 20-30 minutes and then the sun came out and the weather was brilliant!  This only meant that we could still have the awesome turkey dinner (Pumpkinman is FAMOUS for their post race meal!) and the awards and end the day on a great note.

Takeaways?  Pumpkinman is awesome.  My cycling needs some work.  Half Ironman distance races should always end with 4.5 mile runs (not even sore today!).  Police car rides WITH siren included are super fun...assuming you aren't going to jail in it...  And I'm super happy to be back on the up and up in terms of health.  Feels good to ask my body to do something and it (kinda) listens.

HUGE thanks to Kat, all the wonderful volunteers who stuck around in the bad, bad weather to make sure all the athletes safely made it to transition and to my travel mate Lauren that raced her way into 3rd and then rescued my bike while I was riding around in the cop car!

Next up - a 4 mile running race this weekend!  I ONLY have to bring running shoes!  :)

This podium is made up of Wayland Masters swimmers.  And we were all at practice this morning (the day after the race) too!  Big congrats to Kim and Lauren.  Always a pleasure racing these women!

You get to start Thanksgiving early if you race Pumpkinman.  I was quite concerned the storm was going to mean no awesome post race meal but of course, that was an empty worry.  Meal. Was. Awesome.
And then I headed home to Boston, which is really starting to feel like home.  (notice the perfectly sunny skies after the storm - there has to be a lesson in that somewhere...)
Big thanks to my sponsors.  I don't give thanks enough to a great group of companies/people that continue to support me through a pretty rough, inconsistent year.  That's when you know that you have good people on your side - they stick with you through all the ups and downs.  Coeur (ALWAYS keeping me looking good), QR (the bike works beautifully, just not the legs powering the bike), Rudy Project (keeping my noggin and eyeballs happy and healthy), NormaTec (I have a date with Norma every day), Beet Performer (drink your beets!) and of course, QT2 Systems (not just my team and my coaches, but my family as well).  I am truly a lucky girl.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

So...That Happened...

So.  Last I updated, I had finished IMLP and was getting geared up to race IM Wisconsin.  I was pretty pumped for it.  Training was going reasonably well.  Not great, but not bad.  I caught a cold the first week or so back into real training but that wasn't too bad.  I think I missed a day or two of training and then got right back into it.

Then, on a training ride one day, I got stung by a bee (or some other evil insect).  I'm allergic to bee stings.  Not in the sense that I can't breathe and go into anaphylactic shock, but allergic in that this happens:

Yea, my lip/chin usually isn't that big.
So that was annoying.  But the swelling will eventually go away on it's own, so I continued on with training for the next few days and tried not to scare small children when I stopped in convenience stores for extra fluids on my rides.

Later that week though, I started to feel not great.  Like I might have something nasty brewing.  I went to swim practice one Friday morning and felt awful.  I remember we were swimming 200s on 2:30 and I seriously wanted to cry.  Like for real, tears in my goggles.  I came home and thought I'd lay down for "20-30 minutes" before my ride.  I woke up 4 hours later with the sheets soaking wet.  I was in a rough spot.

It didn't get better from there.  As in I got pretty sick.  And I developed a sharp epigastric pain to the point where I couldn't really stand up.  I definitely couldn't eat or drink.  And John finally convinced me to go to urgent care.  At urgent care, the doctor convinced me to go to the ER.  And that, my friends, is how you buy yourself a day in the hospital.

Worst IV ever.  It was ever so slightly kinked so if I even THOUGHT about moving my arm, the pump started beeping madly at me.  It was worse than swimming 200s on 2:30.
Not much was discovered at the hospital.  Lots of tests and poking and prodding.  My first ever belly CT where the nurse did NOT tell me that the contrast they inject into your IV makes your whole arm feel like it's on fire.  Seriously - you should tell people that's going to happen.  I thought I was dying!  (I don't get sick often so I really suck at being sick, as you might be piecing together here...)  Some discussion about a bad appendix but then my appendix wasn't visible on CT.  To which my doctor asked "you DO have an appendix, right"?  Umm...I think so!  Nobody ever took it out to my knowledge!  Oh man...

In the end, I left the hospital with no real answers but I was pumped full of IV fluids and medicine and I thought feeling much better.

Except I wasn't really better.  And the next couple days were pretty darn miserable.  I still couldn't eat  or really drink and I lost more weight than I should have and I definitely was not training.

Eventually my symptoms got better just by me sleeping most of the day, but what didn't come back was my ability or willingness to eat.  Now.  Those of you that know me, KNOW eating is one of my talents.  And in my 37 years of life, I NEVER remember being sick enough that I couldn't eat.  I spent 12 years as a clinical dietitian trying to convince sick people that the only way to get better was to start eating.  And I never understood how it could be so hard.  For real - JUST EAT.  Even if you don't feel like it...just eat.  But now?  Now I get it.  Not having an appetite and being sickened by the thought of food - that's a real thing.  It's a sad thing.  It made me very sad.

So another doctor's visit and some new medicine (that tastes like chalk but makes me able to eat) and I'm slowly getting back to normal.  Whatever the heck I caught, it was no good.  And I don't recommend catching it.  Zero fun.

Chalk medicine.  For people with peptic ulcers and stuff.  Or people like me who REALLY want to eat again.

In the mean time, I've slowly started to return to training.  VERY slowly.  Somewhere in the midst of my misery (I'm making it sound like it was months and years of pain and torture...really it has only been about 2 weeks), Tim and I decided Wisconsin wasn't a great idea.  Not just from the viewpoint of missed training, but also due to the fact that after being pretty sick, putting my body through an Ironman didn't seem like a great method to full recovery.  So that's pretty disappointing.  But that's sport for you.  Sometimes you are GREATLY, greatly rewarded for your hard work.  But much of the time you are disappointed.  And that's okay.  When the rewards no longer outweigh the disappointment, it will be time to move onto something else.  But I'm not there just yet.

So what's next?  Other than slowly adding food back into my life (oh food!  how I missed you!!)?  I'm not sure!  We'll see how the body responds and take it from there.  One thing's for sure though - I will never take my good appetite for granted again!  Eat on, friends!  And stay away from the plague!!

I made myself brownies in hopes of wanting to eat them.  But then I didn't even want those, really.  Sad clown.

No worries.  In the mean time, the sky was really pretty last night.  :)

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Ironman: Not For The Faint Of Heart (Or The Unfit)

A week ago, I raced Ironman Lake Placid.  About 80 miles into the bike I knew I was in for a long day.  Whether it was mental durability or physical durability, that I was lacking, I'm not quite sure.  Either way, I eventually went into "one foot in front of the other" mode.  Luckily, in Ironman, you can be rewarded for perseverance alone.  The pro women's field got VERY spread out and I knew, barring any major catastrophe, I was probably going to hold onto the place I was in (4th).  Indeed, I did.  I was very happy to see the finish line.  

I walked away feeling pretty disappointed.  I did swim well (hello 2nd loop with AGers - I didn't even have to move my arms and I just got sucked around the lake!), but my bike was poor and that resulted in a rough run.  But as is usually the case, with some time and reflection, I saw the positives of the day.  And there were many:

1) Lake Placid is one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen and one of the most iconic courses on the Ironman circuit.  And I *finally* got to do the race and be a part of it's history.  When I first started into triathlon, Placid was one of the only Ironmans in the US!  Little known fact: Kim Schwabenbauer and I actually signed up for the race in 2006, together.  Then we realized we had no idea what we were doing and riding 112 miles might be a problem.  Neither of us ended up racing that year but she went on to race Placid a few years later (and then a few times after that).  I always meant to do the race but just never got there.  Now it's going to be hard NOT to do the race every year!

See, told you it was beautiful.
2) I'm healthy.  In January my back hurt so badly I cringed at even the thought of having to get up and walk to the refrigerator.  In February it wasn't much better.  In March I still wasn't running.  It's pretty amazing to me that just a few months later I was running 26.2 miles.  I have learned over the span of 25 years of racing, to never take a healthy, able body for granted.  And I will say, even in my darkest moments last Sunday, I was still able to have a bit of perspective and be thankful that I was DOING THIS and that, as rough as it might be, it's lightyears ahead of sitting on the couch.

3) So much support.  On the course and from afar.  I am so thankful for all the people that took time to cheer, encourage and lift me up when I needed it!  I know it's cliche beyond belief, but it's also very, very true - it takes a village and my village is awesome.

So onward to Ironman Wisconsin we go!  Because, why not?  :)  Wisconsin is one of my FAVORITE races.  And I like cheese.  #nobrainer

The run from the water to transition is long.  But it's all downhill and lots of people cheer for you and you kinda feel like a rockstar.
IMLP bike course: not for the faint of heart.
IMLP run course: also not for the faint of heart.  :)
Luckily there was a lot of on course encouragement to KEEP MOVING FORWARD SHUTT!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

So...I RACED! And Then I Went To Placid To Ride Up Hills.

Yup.  The title pretty much says it all.

My friend Joe and I made the 7.5 (or 9.5, okay, it took us like 12) hour drive from Boston to Cambridge, MD for Eaglman 70.3.  Joe is about 134 years younger than me so he didn't know any of the songs on the 80s pop Pandora station.  I found this to be quite alarming.  We solved this problem by listening to the Justin Timberlake station for many, many, MANY hours straight.  This station happens to play a lot of 'N Sync.  We heard the song Girlfriend so many times that it's permanently burned into my memory.  This makes me sad.  The George Washington Bridge in NYC also makes me sad.

ANYWAY, we had a great time.  We got to Maryland and it was hot, humid and windy.  That pretty much sums up Eagleman.  I hadn't raced in 9 months.  I was afraid of all sorts of things.  Like that I forgot how to race.  That I forgot how to hurt.  That I forgot how to go hard.  And most importantly, that I forgot what order the sports go in.  It would be a shame to mess that one up.

But then the gun went off and I just knew.  Maybe my fitness isn't quite there yet but my heart and head were!  That's the more important piece of the puzzle, in my opinion.  I got out of the water 9th.  Got off the bike 4th.  And then ran into 2nd.  I was pleased as punch.  For a good result, for sure.  But also just because I GOT TO RACE.  And because it felt good.  And because I still loved it like I always have.

If it looks like I'm melting, it's because I am.

So that was that.

We drove the 10,000 hours home.  I MIGHT have had to pull over to sleep at a rest stop for 20 minutes in Connecticut at 2 am.  #powernap  But we made it.  Barely.

A few days later my roommate Marie and I loaded up the little red car and headed north (north?  or west?  I'm not good with directions...) to Lake Placid.  We are both doing IMLP and she was doing a QT2 camp while I (and another friend Lauren) did our own little training camp.  

Lake Placid is beautiful.  Absolutely breathtaking.  

Not a bad place to swim.

Also not a bad place to do work.

Annnnnd not a bad place to have fun either.

I swam the course twice, biked the course twice and ran the course as well.  It was a motivating and awesome place to train.  The weather was beautiful.  We had fun.  We stayed on top of a huge hill and I biked up that dang hill every day.  #ouch 

And now, I'm back home and back to training and regular life.  Feels good to be home.  #lifeatthe441

Friday, March 25, 2016

Anatomy Of A Sacral Stress Fracture

The last few blogs I've written have been about the emotional turmoil of injury.  Probably important to write about but enough about feelings for now!  In THIS blog, I thought I'd talk instead about the actual injury and how I've progressed thus far with it.

As soon as the doctor told me I had a sacral stress fracture, the first thing I did (obviously) was google it.  (seriously, I DID live in a time where google didn't exist, but I'm not really certain how...)  What I wanted to know was things like how long until I can run (even though the doctor gave me guidelines, I wanted to know what Dr. Google said)?  Should it hurt when I start back?  Is some pain okay?  What supplements should I take?  Do I REALLY have to stop caffeine intake for my bone to heal?

I scoured the interwebs for blogs, literature reviews, etc... for any and all information I could about having a sacral stress fracture.  Of course everyone's experience is different, but I figured if I told mine, it might help someone who, like me, is looking for information about how this all turns out.

So first, actual anatomy:

On my MRI you could see, clear as day, a fracture line down the holes on the left side.  "Holes" is the technical term, by the way.  :)  
My fracture apparently presented somewhat rare.  I didn't have any pain and then one day I went out on a run and my lower left back started to hurt.  By the end of the run it REALLY hurt.  And then for the next several weeks I couldn't walk without grimacing.  I didn't "do" anything on that run - step in a pothole or jar my back in any way.  It just started hurting.  Or did it hurt before and I ignored it?  Strong possibility.  We are conditioned, as athletes, to deal with pain and so, perhaps it was there and I just didn't "feel" it.  Regardless, on January 5th, I felt it all right!  And it hurt like @$V#@$!!

For the next couple weeks I went to PT, a chiro, I swam and biked, and I took Motrin like it was going out of style.  The pain was pretty bad.  On January 21st, the doctor called and told me that my sacrum was most definitely busted.  Boo.

Starting January 21 through Feb 8 I did nothing.  Like absolutely nothing.  I sat on the couch and tried not to gouge out my eyes or crawl up the walls.  I was successful at these things only.  But barely.

By Feb 8 (5 weeks in), I no longer had pain walking around.  This was amazing.  Stopping all activity together for 2.5 weeks is when the pain finally started to go away.  I stopped taking the Motrin on January 21 when when I found out about the stress fracture (can inhibit healing) and was also glad to get off this medication so it didn't burn a hole through the lining of my stomach.  Progress!

Feb 8 I spun easy on the bike.  I also started to swim again but all pull as kicking seemed to bother my back.  I would try a little kick in the pool and my back would get sore.  So we'd hold off for a while.  I'd try again and it would get sore again.  So we'd wait a while again.  This was somewhat baffling to me because swimming is obviously no impact and walking/biking didn't hurt so range of motion should have been there to kick.  Who knows though.  My body said no so I tried to listen.

All the while, I was doing PT exercises every day.  Weak hips are the root of all evil.  All triathletes have weak hips.  So strong hips were my goal.  As an aside, the labral tear I had/have in my left hip 2 years ago is the primary suspect in this sacral stress fracture.  (at least in my own uneducated opinion - stupid hips!)

I saw the doctor in mid February again and she gave me the go ahead to try running.  So on Feb 23 (7 weeks in), I tried a 20 minute (VERY EASY) run.  The run itself was fine but afterwards, not so much.  My back ached and got sore and hurt sitting and I got scared that I did a bad thing.  By a day or two later it was back to it's normal self but it's reaction to the run scared me enough that I didn't try running again for 2 weeks.

At the same time, I started to do a little elliptical at PT with the thought that it could break up some scar tissue and give me some range of motion back without the impact.  I didn't do much - 15-20 minutes a few times a week.

I tried running again March 9 (9 weeks in) for 15 minutes.  This time better.  It still got a little sore afterwards but not scary sore.  It was around this time that I also started a little kicking in the pool without my back getting too sore.  I went back to masters (where I NEVER pull and I swim HARD) for the first time on March 11.  Back hung in there.

I haven't talked much about riding.  It, all along, was good.  Even in the very worst stages of my back pain early on, riding felt okay.  Once I started working out again in February, riding was always something that I could do and my back wouldn't react negatively.  Even in aero position.  I got a new road bike built up during this time and I'm in LOVE with it so I rode that sucker outside about 4 times a week from late Feb up until the current time - 2-3.5 hours at a time.

Which sort of brings us to the current.  At this point, I'd say swimming and biking are pretty much back to normal.  This was the first week (12 weeks in) that I would say I didn't have any pain swimming or biking and my back didn't get sore after either.  I almost "forget" about the fracture when I'm swimming and biking.

Running at 12 weeks in, is a bit of a different story.  For the past 3 weeks, I've run 3 times a week for 15-25 minutes each.  Each time my back feels pretty good running but afterwards gets a touch sore.  My hip (labral tear hip) is also a bit grumpy right now when running, but that is not out of the ordinary.  My running mechanics feel quite off, although that's to be expected after close to 3 months of no running/very little running.  Each run feels a bit better but I would say that, even if all goes really well and smoothly, I'm looking at another month before I can actually run "train", which would be 16 weeks in.

Moral of the story, a sacral stress fracture, at least in my experience, is not the fastest healing injury around!  And as I come back, it's not without some pain and ache still in the bone and surrounding areas.  Patience is most certainly, key.  (oh goodie, my strong point!)

I hope this helps someone dealing with the same type of thing.  If you got here by googling sacral stress fracture, take heart!  You will get better!  But when in doubt, play it conservative.  And know that it's going to be a while.  But just like with all things, time heals.

Now, for some pictures.

I have to brag on one of my athletes a little.  He dealt with his own injury in the fall but still came back to run a 20 minute PR and Boston Qualifying time in his marathon a few weeks ago.  I enjoy coaching immensely because when you see hard work pay off, well, that's just a darn good feeling.

Rode the train to NYC and caught a rainbow on my way there.

Once in NYC, I got to meet and cheer on some of the amazing Smile Train athletes that were racing in the NYC half marathon.  They raise tons of money for a great cause all the while working and training and living their busy lives.  Honored to work with this great group!

Also, you should know that New Bedford, Mass has a zoo.  And that zoo has river otters.  #boom

This here is Wandar.  He's a shelter cat and he wants to be adopted!!

Masters workout the other day.  Reverse IM is the devil.  #truestory

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Healing A Cracked Sacrum, A Fractured Heart, And A Broken Head

Someone once told me that God speaks to us in two ways.  He either yells loudly (often with pain), or He softly whispers.  And that He prefers to whisper because that means we are leaning in close to Him.  If He has to yell, we've gotten pretty far off track.  You may or may not believe in that but it makes perfect sense to me.  My sacral fracture?  I was most definitely getting yelled at.  Like "you need to do some work on yourself and fix what's broken and until then, I'm taking away all your crutches."  Dang.  Guess I better get to work.

So for the past 8 weeks I've been on a little bit of a mission.  Actually, for the past FIVE-ish weeks I've been on a mission.  For the 3 weeks before that I was busy digging a hole to one of my deepest, darkest places.  I don't want to gloss over that fact.  Because I think it's good to be honest and tell it like it is.  Every time I'm injured, I go to a dark place.  Some injuries, the places are darker than others.  This injury the place was particularly dark.  Part of me feels a little ridiculous for talking about going to a dark place over a silly sports injury.  I mean come on, PERSPECTIVE!  But then part of me thinks "nope, you do not apologize for how you feel and for what is reality to you."  And then the last part of me reminds me that there's probably someone reading this that wants to know that they aren't the ONLY one that struggles and gets pretty down.  So yes, for 3-ish weeks I tried not to slip down into the muddy pit, but I did.  Then, as usual, something snapped me out of it (this time around it was some close friends - love you girls!) and I set some goals and made a plan and got motivated to fix myself.  REALLY fix myself.  As my friend told me, might as well fix your heart and your head while you're waiting for your back to heal.

I've never really spent time on improving myself (outside of swimming, biking, and running faster...I've spent COPIOUS amounts of time on that).  Finding what makes me happy, learning how to let go of the rest, learning to forgive myself (hard for anyone, let alone someone who has thrived on being extremely hard on themselves), learning to tune out all the "noise" and hone in on the still small voice inside of me.  That's hard stuff (so hard in fact, that I needed to bring in some professional help).  And it's not really fun stuff.  But, I will say, it's worthwhile stuff.  And so although I really wished I never cracked my sacrum, I guess it's good that I did.  Otherwise I wouldn't be doing this important stuff now.  It's a work in progress for sure, but I dove in head first this time.  Because I had to.  The dark places were getting darker and darker, and I didn't want to get to the point where it was so dark that I couldn't find my way back out.  It is my hope that I can make myself a whole person again, in addition to making my sacral bone fracture-free.  It's going to take a while but luckily I'm annoyingly persistent.  Here's to stubbornness like none other!

But enough of that "deep" talk!  Now I shall post pictures that will hopefully make you laugh and smile.  Because that is an important part of the healing process too.

Thankful for awesome friends who send me goodies when I'm down, including color books and nail polish and pictures and slippers and ICE CREAM (you know, for the calcium, obviously...).

And ALSO thankful for friends who invite me over and play Settler's of Catan with me!  One of my favorites.

Then there was the time we tried to play trivia & failed miserably.  I'm a JV trivia player at best.  But we laughed a lot?  :) 

House of Blues near Fenway Park.  Awesome venue.

You know it's going to be a good day when your roommate's toast smiles at you!  

Hockey game at Harvard.  Did you know that Harvard's "mascot" is a color (crimson)?  I can't get behind that.

This past weekend it was 55 degrees in February in New England.  So naturally I rode my bike.

And then the next day it was still (kinda) warm so I rode my  jazzy new road bike outside!  #goodforthesoul

Except it wasn't really THAT warm when I rode my new road bike so I was glad to have the Coeur winter cycling jacket.  Get it.  It's awesome.  And when you have it, you can ride outside in 30 degree temps no problem!

When flowers show up with your name on them, just cause.