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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Into the fire-2017 life

   I blinked, and then it was April.  In reality, life has just been happening, and I've started half a dozen different blog posts in that time, none of which have been finished.  I should first mention something I announced via social media a few months ago-I'll be racing this season as a member of Big Sexy Racing's new pro squad, with several other outstanding athletes (and people).  This was a great opportunity that somewhat unexpectedly popped up for me this year, and I'm excited to represent some new companies and sponsors and their products.  I'll be updating this blog with fresh links and such on those, and stay tuned to the blog for a little more information on some of those!  Of note is that my coaching situation hasn't changed-who else could I trust with my crap after all of these years? (Sorry, Jesse.)  Anyways.  As for life.  For a while, I was just still in the post-op recovery mode, semi-cranky and trying to figure out my body and find my way.  Finding my way took a whole bunch of work, targeted strengthening and body work, and patience, arguably mostly from those tasked with dealing with me (and my moods).  When I started to find my way, I went through an odd period (late January/early February) where I was struck down with abdominal pains that rendered me flat out miserable, non-functional at times, and ultimately in an ER CT scan machine.  While that was a rough period in time, it turned out that my post-pelvic surgery body apparently just needs some, well, consistent help moving things along (slightly TMI, but what hasn't been with all this pelvis crap?).  Once that got in order, well, I actually got into training and it sort of got real.
During the stomach mess.  This was legitimately how bloated/distended I was at times.  It totally could beat some people's 20 week baby bump pictures.  Needless to say, this was not comfortable.

   After my stomach saga, I went to QT2 pro camp at the end of February, joining up halfway through.  I was undertrained, unfit, and in an environment where I never really thrive, anyways.  I had a few rides there where I was riding so far off of the back of everyone, losing faith in my abilities, just generally questioning what I even thought I was doing down there, pretending like I'm still a pro triathlete.  The truth was, in those moments, I couldn't be comforted by words or justifications.  I just had to (be allowed to) keep going, because doing the work was the only solution to the problem, even if doing the work meant I had to face the truth that doing the job was going to be a lot harder than I recalled.  So I kept going.  I did the work.  I wasn't always in a positive state of mind, but I started and finished every workout I was given exactly as it was laid out in front of me.  Finally, on the final day of camp, over the course of nine miles of 800m run repeats on a bike path, Beth and I both managed to find something inside as we hit each and every one at paces faster than we would have given ourselves credit for a few days earlier.
This was our "yep, as good as we're gonna look right now, that was a lot of running faster than normal" selfie.  Hawt.
   I came home, and after some recovery, started to actually get back into something that resembled real, true, IM training-those deep, dark, long places I'd both deeply feared and missed.  The prolonged layoff from that type of work has left me in sort of a mental tug of war at times.  It's pretty easy to tell myself, "it's ok, look how far you've come, it's understandable if you're not doing well or can't make it through training".  I've had plenty of instances of indulging that line of thought throughout the past couple of years.  Maybe there's some short term gratification.  But, in the longer term, I end up being too easy on myself, which eventually just leads to the lingering emptiness of not getting to where I would like to be.  I'm honestly just done with this "justification"-it's crossed the line from reason to cop out.  But, at the same time, there's past comparison.  This is the nagging reminder of how much stronger, faster, thinner, more powerful I used to be 3-4 years ago, how much more volume and intensity I used to be able to pound out and push through.  It's the little voice that says, "yeah, but..." when I check my workout numbers and start to feel decent about them.

   The trick, then, has turned into balancing the two.  I need to remember where I'm coming from in the recent tougher times, but also where I've been in the further back, more successful parts of my past.  But, the first part needs to be in a way where I'm not letting myself off the hook because something's hard, and the second part needs to be in a way that helps me to believe in my future self, rather than put down my current self.  Easier said than done.  When it comes down to it,  I've come to realize that the day to day push and grind of training is, in fact, hugely fulfilling to me-more so than painting lawn chairs, tearing up carpet, or organizing cabinets.  I can't put into words why this is, but I know how I feel about it.  I've seen the "other side", I've lived it, and, really, I want this sport to be the predominant part of my life right now.  There's no right or wrong, that's just how I feel.  Even when the numbers haven't been there, I'm still better off on multiple levels with it.

We had a windstorm the week after I came home from Florida and lost power for five days.  This pine tree fell in our backyard.  It's still laying there, because training is better than adulting.

We also had a snowstorm the week after the windstorm.  Everywhere was closed, including the gym, so I ran in it.  It was sort of dumb, but sort of awesome.

Oh, and, NEW BIKE!!!  Still a QR PR6, but an upgraded, super pretty one.  With an ice friction chain!  Jennie needs free speed these days.

   With that, though, also comes more risk.  As much as I've tried this year to just put the past behind me and move forward in training, fact of the matter is that I've had multiple fractures, surgeries, and areas of soft tissue damage to the same general area of my body in the past two years, and I'm attempting to train myself to compete in a really long event to the best of my abilities, not content to simply finish.  This means that despite my (and my awesome support staff's best efforts), I'm at a higher than normal risk of stuff going wrong.  And, the more I invest into training and the further along I get, the harder it gets when anything goes wrong.  I finished a couple of solid training blocks where things went right.  I was starting to actually feel like I was really training for an ironman again, and I loved figuring all of the "training hard" stuff out.  Things didn't feel perfect, but they were functional.  Then, something went wrong.  My left (the side I landed on but didn't break) butt/sacral area went out on me.  I had to bail on a couple of rides and runs, and to put it nicely, I didn't take it well.  Maybe it's cliched, but the closer you get to the fire, the more you get burned.  I got unnecessarily and disproportionately upset, considering if I was just better off not even bothering to risk it in trying anymore-at least that way, I wouldn't have that high of a ledge to fall from.

   That was dumb, though.  That's not living.  I forced myself to stop wallowing, I asked for help, and I remembered that people really are good, and will be there to support you, even if your dreams and goals seem sort of silly.  So, just like a million other things that came before this, I'm working through it, with the assistance of those who have been there a million times before, and it's responding decently enough, for now (albeit sore from some injections yesterday).  Really, I only missed a few training sessions, so the world really wasn't ending as horribly as I was pretending that it was.  With that, the goal remains the same-IM Cairns, in less than 8 weeks.  Dave and I had flight credit from our cancelled trip to New Zealand when I withdrew from that IM last year, and that race made the most sense.  He's registered, we're going regardless, so I'm going to do every damn thing in my power to make it to a freaking start line ready to compete my heart out, whatever that might look like.    I also would be remiss here to not give a shout out to the huge roles that Tiffany at Metta therapeutic massage and Kenny Tsang at Active Care Chiropractic have played in keeping this screwed up body functional-I would recommend them to anyone, a million times over, in a heartbeat (and I work in healthcare, so I like to think I know my stuff here).  And, of course, perhaps more of a task has been keeping my mind out of my way-Dave, Jesse, and those who I have running text and/or email bitch sessions deserve shout outs for this one.  So, well, that's kind of a discombobulated wrap up on life lately!  Imperfect and bumpy at times, but not without light, hope, and help from the kindness of others.  We'll see.  I might not trust my body, but I still have to believe that this is going to be possible, and move forward like it could happen. :)    
And matching lazy orange puppies, just because.  This was during the power outage time, actually, when I was biking upstairs because it was too freaking cold in the basement.  Totally a motivational view.