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Friday, October 21, 2016

Let go. Jump in. (Kona, and what's next)

    Well, our Kona trip has come and gone and my own season is coming to an end, and stuff is happening, so I figured that a little blog update writing therapy might be in order!  Where to start...?  Kona seems logical.  Dave raced, in case anyone didn't notice my 9000 different social media posts on every outlet I'm on that day.  He raced well, finishing in 9:55, under his goal of 10:00.  He swam and biked extremely well, and held on well enough on the run.  Anyone who knows Dave knows that he's really pale and really, really sweaty, so he doesn't normally fare too well in the heat.  He's also been dealing with an ankle tendon injury all year that's limited his run volume, and was pretty overloaded at work heading in.  But, he trained for the heat and raced within his capacities, so he ended up with a strong, steady, well-executed day.  Lessons for all.
Time out for a whole bunch of pictures, because taking a bunch of pictures is what one does in Hawaii.  Plane trip!!  I was much more caffeinated (and pain med-ed) and thus enthused than Dave about early AMs and travel delays.

Bike Blue Steel.  Just because.

Since I didn't torture the internet with pasty Dave in a speedo at the underpants run this year, here he is giving me a pasty finger in miniscule run shorts while getting a massage.

Age group male swim start.  The washing machine was wide.

From what I gathered from my twitter feed post-race, coverage of the women's race was sub par (boo).  Thankfully, I was stalker enough to get pics of the podium women as they headed down Palani to the finish.

Maybe taking pictures of triathlon with my smartphone could be my alternate triathlon-related career.

Nope.  Missed Heather Jackson.  Here's her back.

Natascha Badmann finished just before Dave did, so I was able to capture some of the final moments of her career here.  #legend #respect

Either Dave just raced really, really hard, or he has to poop.  Or both.

Post race with Dave!  Good thing I look sweatier.  I was rather disgusting. #poolshoweredthatnight
   As for me in Kona, I had my moments.  In all honesty, I'd blocked the place out of my mind as a defense mechanism-if I pretended like I didn't care about racing there, then not racing well enough or being fast enough to earn a slot in 2014 and my injury battles since that have kept me from even being close to trying a damn Ironman wouldn't hurt as much.  But, as soon as I got there, the scab got violently ripped off the wound, and I spent the first half of the trip scared, vulnerable, angry, and just in pain, both physical and emotional.  There I was, on my Hawaiian vacation, being a petulant little child.  But eventually, I came around.  After some rest heading in, my pissed off left side became only cranky, and I was able to resume some sort of training through the pain.  It kept me more sane than nothing.  I swam with turtles.  I stared at huge, angry waves crashing against lava rocks at the southernmost point of the entire country.  I swam to the far buoy of the course, completely alone for a good 20min, with a healthy dose of fear, but made it back.  I rode in the wind on the Queen K, terrified at times (one bad crash with wind as a factor will do that), but didn't give up, cry, and call Dave like I wanted to.  I spoke up about things.  I drank wine (and still ran the next morning).  I met with Jesse; there was venting, crying, swearing, more wine, some kind of planning, and as much peace as could result through the confusion.  I socialized and laughed a whole bunch, and cried at other times.  I fully allowed myself to feel what I felt when I felt it, and I made no apologies.  I was real.  I faced more fears and jumped off a cliff (the low part, but still a cliff).  When all was said and done I headed home not healed physically-nothing changed-but in a far, far better place mentally.  I was forced to remember what I want to at least be able to try for, whether successful or not, and I at least had some sort of muddy algorithm for what to do in the meantime to give myself the chance.
Turtles!!!  He (she?) was awesome!

Southernmost point.  I did not jump off this cliff.

Pictures couldn't really capture the awesomeness of the surf.

"If you face the fear that keeps you frozen, chase the sky into the ocean, that's when something wild calls you home"

Things they probably don't teach in any USAT coaching courses: sometimes, you just need to pour your athletes a glass of wine. #properhydration

Cliff jumping.  I went from where the girl is here (good enough).  Dave from where the guy is.  Jesse from the top level.  It's like the podium of people I've driven nuts in the past couple of years, in order. ;)

We survived.  Note that even after racing on the sun, Dave is still ghastly pale.

If you go to Kona and don't take a picture of a sunset over the water, is it like you were ever even there?
   So, then, there's the physical stuff and the plans moving forward.  As for the race plans, I'm currently set to head down to Austin next weekend for one more go of a 70.3.  I had, as previously mentioned, wanted to see if I could get through a fall IM (ok, Cozumel revenge, I'm probably not fooling anyone here) this year.  But, as life would have it, I could accept that my body just was not going to allow for that.  In Kona, I sort of grappled with things-I didn't want to end the season yet because I would have been a wreck if I didn't train while I was there; I was in pain; if I was training while I was there, I wanted it to have a purpose; I wasn't doing nearly enough to be able to race a full, though.  Finally, during a 2.5 hour ride, it dawned on me that a 70.3 would be a good compromise.  I could get through a few more weeks like that, and mentally being able to say, ok, I ended the season on a race just sounded far more preferable than saying, I ended my season because stuff hurt and I finally caved and waved the white flag.  I know that no one would have blamed me for the latter, but I would have blamed myself.  I can fully recognize that I need to take a long recovery period moving forward, and I know myself well enough to know that while I'll still be an impatient bitch about it, it'll be easier if there was an actual end point beforehand.  So, I'm still training.  It's been touch and go orthopedically, but with an end in sight, I've been (perhaps a little too) willing to push things to the limit of what I can handle.  It's the best way to assure myself that I'll be at least a little content when it's all said and done, even if this year didn't go the way I would have liked it to.  Of course, I'm absolutely paranoid that something's going to go wrong in the next nine days, and even more completely petrified that I won't make it to the finish line in Austin.  I remember what happened the last time I tried to make it through one more race to end a season on a high note, and as the time gets closer and closer, those demons get closer and closer, as well.

   As for the orthopedic stuff and what I'm going to do about's still a little up in the air.  Right now. I've got three separate (but linked) issues going on.  Left sacral pain, right anterior hip/groin pain, and right butt pain.  I'm having an MRI next Monday, thanks to the continuing patience and assistance of my orthopedist/hip surgeon-I can't say enough about the care that I've received from that end of things.  The left sacral pain is pretty simple.  I had some MRI findings of a stress reaction there last winter, which didn't matter too much at the time because I wasn't running anyways.  Based on the location of pain, that could very well be back, and would obviously require rest.  It does hurt pretty consistently with running, and to a lesser degree swimming, followed by biking, and it aches to no get out at night (and while sitting), but the bottom line has been that I have been able to run decent distances at decent paces through it to this point (knock on wood), minus a couple of weeks of not much after Barrelman.  So, we'll see.

   As for the right side, that stuff is the same chronic crap I've been dealing with all year, managing with endless rehab exercises, visits out to Tiffany for deep tissue massage when the going got more rough (it's certainly been up and down), and a couple of rounds of injections.  This has been my choice all summer and fall, and I wouldn't change it.  But, my choice now is to see what I can do now to truly repair things, rather than just piling on band aids because I really wanted to race.  The anterior hip/groin pain is likely related to athletic pubalgia/a sports hernia.  The repair for that is fairly simple, with a recovery period that wouldn't be beyond a normal off season.  This pain has been going on consistently since I started running again after my hip surgery, so I can accept that it's chronic and not going anywhere.  I don't have much to lose with that one, and I intend to have this done locally (I met with the doctor earlier this summer, and we agreed to defer until post-season, if I could handle it).  The caveat to that would be if the MRI shows some sort of specific adductor damage, in which case I might consider a specialist out of town (with out of pocket pay...ouch).  The true pain in the ass is the pain in the ass.  I know I've mentioned it before, but there is a small bone spur where one of my initial fractures had healed (after a lengthy period).  But, the surrounding/attaching structures (proximal hamstring tendon, mainly) looked perfect, so disturbing them to get at a small defect didn't seem worth it.  I have had periods during this summer where it didn't bother me at all, but now it's been ten months, and the irritation at that spot is again building a couple of months after my last round of injections.  Still, the procedure to get it at is major, and would require a long recovery, so I'd still like to avoid it if possible.  Rest, rehab, and maybe another injection at at time where I'm not immediately going to go out and start running on it the next day are what the current game plan consists of, but again, there's that MRI coming up.  If there's anything to indicate that the soft tissues around the bone are in fact being irritated by it, then I might have some decisions to make.  But, given how unremarkable my imaging has been to this point, I doubt that will be the case.

   So, that's that.  I'm making my way towards peace with all outcomes of everything.  As for the race, I just want to make it there and make it through it.  Harnessing the toughness I've learned over the past couple of years and embracing every last second of the race misery pain are what's important there, not outcomes.  I know where my fitness sits, and I've accepted that I just haven't been sound enough for so long now to get it anywhere wonderful.  The training I've done the past several weeks hasn't been spectacular, but I can be assured based on how things feel that it's the most I could get out of myself at the current time.  As this week has progressed, I've found myself worrying less and less about what hurts-something always does, that's a given-and trying more and more to just enjoy moving, testing myself, pushing myself through swim sets I love to hate, major sweat fests on the trainer, and cold runs in the pouring rain.  I don't have too much longer to be able to do that this year, and I'm not banking on being able to resume doing so quickly, so I might as well get it out of my system now.  From there, I'll either get answers, or I won't, and both have their advantages.  Although I know I'll have my inevitable moments-I can't deny this-I have a team to help me through them, and I can just keep continue to press forward through them.  As always, thanks for all of the support, kindness, and love that has come my way!  I've had some major players in keeping me sane and holding me off of the ground, and I absolutely could not do it all alone.  I'll be putting my best foot forward ( I have one anymore?) for the remaining time of my season, and then refocusing that energy on getting myself as "better" as I can from that point on!
I can't say I was upset about coming home to WNY in October.  Love love love our woods!


"You might have some bruises, and a few scars; but you know you're gonna be ok.  Even though you're scared, you're stronger than you know."


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