Friday, March 26, 2010

I get to race? really?

yes, I finally get to put these race-deprived, bike-leaden legs to the test next weekend.

as some of you might know, my coach "banned" me from not only racing, but simply running a marathon this spring so I would concentrate more of my energy on the bike for IMCDA. I was more than a bit miffed when he delivered this news and have considered (often) disobeying and running one behind his back.

alas, with all the expenses related to Ironman training/travel/racing, I decided to heed his "no marathon" mandate and focus on a few half marathons.

my first is next saturday and I'm giddy with excitement because I not only get to race, but I also get to participate in an inaugural event: the 13.1 Marathon® New York.

I stumbled upon this race when I was searching around for an inexpensive, easy-to-get-to races in the area. I liked that it wasn't another race in central park (I love you NYRR, but I can only do the loop-de-loop so often)—it's being held in flushing meadows park, queens—and it starts "late"-- 9:13AM! the icing on the cake? packet pick-up is downtown—close to home—or on race day at the event site (again, I love you NYRR, but trekking to the UES is a pain in the butt). I was sold.

after registering, I realized there was a double layer of icing on the cake...the 13.1 Marathon® New York benefits World Vision, an unique org committed to raising funds and awareness for children and communities in Africa. 

you may or may not know, but I spent countless seasons fundraising and mentoring with Team In Training, an endurance program that benefits the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. as my MA thesis reared its ugly head last year and my life took on more and more demands, I realized I needed to give up something for the time being...that something was TNT.

regardless, running for a cause is extremely important to me...if I can use my running talent to help the world, I'm all for it. thus you can see why I was stoked about the World Vision association. plus, no fundraising minimums (key, as I have tapped out nearly all my outlets for awhile).

so there you have it...I get to race a great event and I get to do it for a cause...what more could this girl ask for? (friends to join me! if you want to sign up, click here...prices go up after sunday, so don't wait). 

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

100% cheery

I've said it before and I'll said it again: my blog isn't always about happy go-lucky topics...but such is life...and that's what I write about a

that said, there are a lot of things in my life to be happy about, thankful for, appreciative without further ado and in no particular order, my 100% cheery list (this is for you amarathoner_com...and me):

-my handsome, sweet, caring boyfriend who is not only a great "roommate" but a great friend

-my curls...while I can make my hair pin straight, I love the freedom and wackiness of the curls I inherited from my mom

-my apartment (and building)'s a sanctuary...I am so very thankful to call it home

-my friends...they make me laugh, they listen to me rant, they all-around rock

-my Twitter friends...I could not be more thankful to have had the opportunity to get to know soooo many wonderful, wonderful people via Twitter...and then to meet & become friends with some of them "in real life"...with many more to meet in the future...thanks for inspiring me everyone! requires a lot of this...I'm thankful that I can—most often—let life ebb and flow while being patient until the still water comes

-smarts...I'm thankful that I've been gifted with good gray matter

-determination and perseverance...I've got a lot of both...I'm so thankful 'cause I need them both...a lot!

-a strong, healthy body...I swim, I bike, I run...a lot...sometimes all in one day...I'm so thankful to have the ability to do so...and do so well

-fleet feet (and legs)...I am so grateful for my running "talent"...for the opportunity to participate in and enjoy my "first love" as often as I can...and it's really cheap therapy!

-bourbon...I had to put this in here...such a great spirit (and spirit-uplifter)...must be consumed in moderation, however...and never while writing your MA thesis at 2AM in your bed (like last can probably guess what happened when I fell asleep holding the glass)

-my dad...even though he stresses me out and makes me worry about him endlessly, he's the best dad...EVER

-trying new things...this winter I learned to ski...and LOVE it...I will be out on the slopes early next winter

-being a budget superstar...NYC is not cheap...and neither are my new grad school repayment amounts...thus I've become a crazy budget-er...and I'm even starting to save some for an IRA (I know, I should have started awhile ago, but that's what you get for paying to acquire three higher ed degrees)

-a job...while my current pursuit is less than exciting, I have a job...a lot people do not...I am thankful (even when I bitch and moan)

-my 5'11" height...I love been tall despite the dumb comments people make when I wear heels (which I also love to do!)

-cheese...I'm sure my cholesterol is abnormally high for a skinny athlete because I truly do eat that much cheese (ANY type)

-support...from all sources in my all keep me strong!

I could go on and on and see, I have so very many things to be happy about and thankful for...this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg...thus to many more 100% cheery posts.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

I am not a good cyclist. nor ever will be.

stop right there (for all who are ready to refute this post based on the title) and hear me out.

some are blessed with the ability to kick butt on two legs (me) and some are blessed with the ability to kick butt on two wheels (not me).

for the most part, I'm ok with this. I LOVEEEEE running (duh) and I wouldn't trade my love for it for anything. there are, however, times (say when I'm training for an Ironman, as in right now) that I just want to be a good cyclist. not just ok (which I am), but good.

I wrote a post several weeks back titled, "it's all about the bike. or is it?" if you read it, you know about my struggles with the bike. after penning that post, I sent my coach an email desperate for advice on how to get better on the bike. his response was as expected: time on the saddle. he also added the following:

"Don't compare your running skills to your biking skills, just not fair! You can become a better biker, but chances of being as good as you are a runner are not too need to be realistic and know that you are a runner -who needs to become strong on the bike-to kick butt when the run starts on IM day."

ok, I agree...I'm not going to ride like I run. ever. but still, it completely bums me out when I ride with my team and about the only butt-kicking I'm doing is on the uphills ('cause I'm light).

so once again I am adjusting my attitude. yes, I have to work a lot harder than others to even try to keep up, but I need to remember that at the end of the day, I'm doing this race for me.

thus from this day forth, I'm going to make IMCDA a personal celebration of all that I have accomplished in my nearly 30 years (in August!). no more bad attitude. no more being hard on myself. no more bellyaching. I am an Ironman and will be once again—regardless of time or place—on June 27th.

so here I come CDA...

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

"for dad, grandad and diabetes" -- marathon no. 2 -- june 21, 2003

It's fairly accurate to say that I was a bit scarred—mentally and physically—from my first marathon, hence the year+ gap between events.

after my marathon debut, I experienced IT band problems that put me out of commission for quite some time. I also decided to focus a lot of my energy on cycling (then-bf was a semi-pro cyclist) and completed the seven day RAGBRAI (Regent's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa) in the summer of 2002 (a must-do event...a complete blast).

I knew my promise to "never run another marathon" wouldn't last, though. thus, when I started fishing around for marathon no. 2 ideas, I stumbled across a flyer for the Central Ohio Diabetes Association (CODA) advertising their "Team Diabetes" marathon group. my father had been diagnosed with type 2 the year before and my grandfather had passed away due to complications from the disease. I knew I had to sign up (plus the event was in Hawaii...hello!).

the $5000 fundraising minimum scared me (I don't do well at asking for money), but I knew the many generous people in my life would be supportive. I'm a writer so I figured a letter would be my first plan of attack (see above). and whoa, was it a success. at the time, I also worked at a restaurant to augment my just-out-of-school salary. many of my regulars were also so giving. by the time the june fundraising deadline rolled around, I was golden: over $5k in my account. sweet!

so how did that whole 26.2 training part go this time around? well, while the CODA was great at providing fundraising support, umm, training support? no so much. thus what did I do again? I found my way to and that dear old beginners schedule. witness below how I keep track of all my training. such a nut!

training went seamless and I went into race day fairly fit. I also went into this 26.2 a lot smarter: I had a race plan and more than one Gu! I, however, was not the focus. I was doing this race for my dad and my late granddad aka Sport. race morning I wrote their names on my quads so I could look down and be reminded why I was running.

they weren't they only ones I was journeying for though. the pre-race pasta party stories left me completely awestruck—and absolutely inspired. so many of the people ready to run the next day were diabetes sufferers...running marathons in large part due to insulin pumps and other advancements made possible by funds like the $5k I had just raised. story after story left me more and more excited to be a part of this great organization—and to be helping so many in as many ways as possible.

naturally, I was pumped on race morning and ready to rock the course. I knew I was running the legendary Ironman Championship marathon course and I wanted to do it proud. as the race was in June, we started early—6am I believe—in order to avoid much of the day's soon-to-be scorching heat. the sun rose quickly (nearly the longest day of the year) and we were spared little. as we headed out to the notorious "energy lab"—aka black lava rocks EVERYWHERE—the temperature rose quickly. by the time I reached halfway, it was over 100F and rising. the blacktop and clear day were only making it hotter.

I rarely have problems with heat, but the day proved to be a tough one for me. I did everything to stay cool, but I knew I wasn't having my best day. no worries. I kept smiling at the wonderful volunteers and talking to many of the runners I encountered. I was here for daddy and Sport and so many others; whatever my time, the day would be a success.

after 4 hours 6 minutes and 29 seconds of pounding the kona pavement, I crossed the finish line exhausted, but elated. mission accomplished. 6th in my age group. 29th female. that would do. plus, this time I was ready for another. bring on marathon no. 3!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

"rookie" -- marathon no. 1 -- october 21, 2001

after I stopped competing collegiately, I knew it would only be some time until I tried my hand at the marathon distance. I really can't recall why I decided to run my first. maybe it was because I was about to turn 21. maybe it was because I was bored with racing piddly races. maybe it was just to say I had finally done 26.2?

regardless, I do remember scouring for a beginner marathon plan. and I do remember putting in some serious miles for it (some with my then-bf russ, an AMAZING athlete). but truly, that's all I can remember. until race day. I actually don't even remember the start line. was there bag check? no clue. what was our plan? no clue. I do, however, recall approaching mile seven...and we were cruising! were we going too fast? no clue.

russ and I separated somewhere around mile 15. he was feeling strong so I sent him off. no worries. I was fine. until mile 18.

oh, mile 18. this is when it donned on me that maybe I should have the chocolate Gu I brought along. I hadn't thought to take in any calories (other than gatorade) until mile 18? I know, absurd.

I remember "climbing" the one hill that the Columbus marathon is known for...and then bonking, badly. I took the Gu in an effort to revive myself. and while it give me a bit of energy, my fatigued stomach hated it. no, I didn't throw up...I'm not that kind. I just kept total misery. I hit mile 21 and met a guy who was super chatty...he exclaimed (yes, exclaimed) that this was his 2nd marathon that month. I couldn't believe anyone would do such a thing! (yeah, umm, I've never done that before..."snicker"). he bid me farewell and I keep plugging on.

I was hell bent on not walking. and I never did...until I crossed that beautiful finish line. my time-3:24:37-meant nothing to me. BQ time? what was that??? oh, how naive.

the most significant part about that day--other than finishing--was a few hours later. nauseous, sore and unsure what to do with my destroyed body, I was laying on the floor my apartment just "being." I hadn't seen my bf after. neither of us had a plan as to how we were getting home, so we had each hitched rides back with random friends who had been spectating. he called me once he was home and showered, "that completely sucked," he said. I replied, "I know." I think I also added that I was never, ever doing it again. (hah!) tell that to the girl that sits here typing this.

so there you have it. marathon no. 1. columbus, oh. october 21, 2001. 3:24:47. 18 more recaps to come.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

missing in action: my mom

 mom + me: a trio framed in my bedroom

for regular readers of my blog, you know my posts often address subjects and situations that have shaped me into the individual I am today. alas, here comes another. put your seat belts on, folks.

I recently (yesterday) visited a new psychiatrist to try and work out my panic attack med situation. she was almost everything I hoped for...sweet, interested, caring...thoughtful (with a really heavy polish accent). regardless, I left her office feeling a bit hopeful. no, she didn't tell me I was ready to abolish all meds from my daily routine, but we had decided on a new course, one I couldn't help but think might work.

my point. she asked me a zillion questions (being new to me and my situation). I had dreaded the appointment knowing that I would have to give up all the little details of my so-called screwed-up childhood and early 20's. once I started relaying this info, no problem.

I related all the key facts: my father's history with panic attacks, my two trips to the ER due to my then undiagnosed condition...and, oh mother's "disappearance" from my life at, I believe 14. when I told her this, she stopped dead, "I have never heard of such thing" (read in a polish accent). yes, smack dab in my teens, my mom took off.

I suppose she had reason. when my parents separated (after 19-odd years of marriage), my sister, brother and I decided to go live with my dad because, well frankly, he fed us. my mom was going through an EXTREMELY rough time and simply forgot to take care of us. no biggie...we shuttled off to live with my dad where we got to eat chinese take-out several times a week, sleep in one room like a big slumber party and generally live life like rockstars.

the courts eventually got involved. we were all supposed to testify about our intentions to live with our father, but somehow they spared us. in any case, my mom was PISSED! we had betrayed her. we were her children. we didn't want to live with her? no, actually we didn't.

after the courts granted my father custody, my mother grew increasingly distant. she wouldn't tell us where she was living nor provide a phone number. I didn't mind at the time. I was making my way in the social maze that was high school, so whatever, right? plus, I had my older sister. she was a better mom than I could ever imagine at that point.

at some point (I can't remember when), my mom disappeared off the radar...pouffff! she was gone. I hate to say it, but many years passed by and I just wondered, "I hope she's okay. I hope she's still alive." that sounds terrible, I know, but she had vanished from my life as well...she was...gone.

I grew up. 5 feet. 5 feet 10 inches. high school graduation. NYC move #1. college graduation #1. 1st marathon. college graduation #2. biggest heartbreak #1. NYC move #2. grad school. biggest heartbreak #2. marathons #15, 16. ironman florida FINISHER! true love...found. MA graduate (degree #3). marathon #17 (PR). ultra-marathoner. success...

many people have asked me about my mom in the last 15 or so years. it's a "weird" subject for most inquirers, but for me, it's simply life. I can say with certainty that it's not a sore subject; I don't recoil when someone says, "so, how about your mom?' it simply is.

close to two years ago my brother went on a serious search for my mother (he was the closest with her and his search was definitely a sign of this). he hired a PI and went about locating her. slowly he was able to piece together her path since she left us: cincinnati to becoming a buddhist monk (my jewish mother, mind you) to shaving her head to getting remarried in colorado to...texas...somewhere.

it took the PI some time to locate her within in the great state, but eventually he provided my brother with an address. ezra (my brother) called me shortly thereafter. he wanted me to go with him and his wife. I desperately wanted to, but at that time I was entrenched in grad school, work and coaching a group with Team In Training (and scheduled to go to the next marathon to support them). I couldn't let down the individuals that were counting on me. so I declined.

he called me immediately after ringing my mother's doorbell and spending the next hour with her. one of the first things he said was that she looked good. and that her "new" husband was very sweet. and that her beautiful curly hair that we all had inherited had gone straight. and gray. whoa. really?

he relayed other info, but it's too detailed to enumerate here. I did, however, ask if she was well, truly well. my brother indicated as such, although with some reservation (my mother has always been a bit off...she certainly gave him the sense that she was not altogether well).

the visit affected him for sure...he was, after all, her "golden child"...think what you may of that. he was hesitant to provide the phone number she gave him. I prodded him for sometime but gave up eventually (sorry, but my brother can be a selfish bastard at times).

so, here I am...15 years later and mother-less...but as my new psychiatrist said to me yesterday, "my dear, you have done so very well for yourself. be proud."

yes, I am proud, dammit. I have overcome SO much adversity, yet I don't let it define me. I am just a girl in the city working, running, training for her second ironman, overcoming a mental disease and kicking ass.

I truly hope I am able to reunite with my mom sooner than later. I'm excited, actually. we have so much to catch up on...and so many hugs to give...and receive.

here's to hoping whatever is right works out as such.

I love you mom. xox

Monday, March 8, 2010

i swam. i biked. i ran.

I was cleaning out some files at work this AM and came across the post I wrote about IMFL for figured it would be fun to share it here as I'm once again relearning these top 10 things. hint: click on the image to view it a fairly readable state.

Monday, March 1, 2010

((((panic)))). a wild ride.

when I was growing up, my dad would sometimes seize up with panic. frozen with fear, he would hyperventilate, become non-communicative and pretty much scare the shit out of my sister, brother and I. eventually he sought medical help for what would be later diagnosed as "generalized panic disorder" and today, while still taking meds for it, he has it mostly under control.

while I witnessed my father's panic attacks, I never truly understood why he couldn't just take a deep breath and relax...until the summer of 2006. I had just moved back to NYC and was under extreme pressure: a new job with a heavy workload, the beginning of grad school and a "new" city where all my old friends had left.

"it" hit on the fourth of july. I went to coney island to witness the infamous hotdog eating contest. it was blazing hot. and crowded. and loud. jammed between a mass of people, I freaked. I sent the friend I was with a text and made my way to the less crowded boardwalk. a million thoughts pummeled me. was I dehydrated? did I have low blood sugar? was I just under the weather? I had no clue, but I knew I wasn't well. my friend came to find me shortly after and tried to get me to eat. I couldn't. shaking, I was certain I was going to throw up. maybe I was just getting sick...

I decided to pull the plug and head home to the UWS to get out of the sun. I didn't have a couch yet for my apartment (and at the time, a pain in the ass loft bed), so I curled up on the hardwood floor with a pillow. I flipped on the tele to distract me...hours later, I had yet to move...and felt worse. but not sick worse, just simply freaked out. I remember watching the NYC fireworks on TV and weeping, thinking 'what is wrong with me?'

I didn't any feel better the next day. when I was still in a tizzy the following day, I decided to go see an urgent care doc. he took my blood oxygen and flipped out; he was certain I had a pulmonary embolism (blood clot in my lung) and called 911. in an ambulance I also REALLY freaked out that there was something seriously wrong with me. yet after blood tests, MRIs, chest xrays...the whole nine yards, the only thing the could determine was that my iron was a bit low. brilliant. I was discharged seven hours later and went home to my apartment, feeling no better than when I left nine hours before.

over the next few days, I continued to feel worse...short of breath, heart pounding, body shaking. I couldn't eat. I couldn't sleep. the only thing I did was go to work and hope I could endure the day.

on july 11th, a week after the initial symptoms, I couldn't take it anymore...I hauled myself into a cab to another ER. something was wrong with me. it had to be. hours later...the same news...nothing wrong. this couldn't be. I remember sitting in my apartment that night sobbing and wishing that someone would help me.

it turns out, I helped myself. the next morning on the way to work I realized what was wrong: I was having constant panic attacks. duh. my sister had struggled with it for years and obviously, so had my dad. I immediately got on the phone with my insurance and picked the first doc with availability.

I wasn't cured instantaneously and I'm still not "cured."in the summer of 2008—after two years of being on meds—I decided that maybe I'd have a go without them. I was fine for two months, then WHAM! the panic hit me like a truck (right in the middle of my training for Ironman #1). so back on the meds I went. I also switched from Effexor to Lexapro at one point...the withdrawl from Effexor was like nothing I've ever experienced...absolutely HORRIBLE.

now nearly four years since my first being diagnosed with the same affliction as my father, I am struggling once again. I haven't stopped taking any of my meds, but the panic attacks are creeping back...ALL the time. up the meds? change again? add something? maybe, but to be honest, I'm SOOOO tired of all of it. the panic, the side effects, the cost, the slave I am to daily (sometimes twice daily) little white and yellow pills. I'm 29 years old, not 89!

I don't have a plan of action to tackle this yet. my bf understands which is nice. and I do have the name of a new doc (my present one is just, yet wayyyyy overdue for retirement). I guess my first step was to write about it...just talk to myself in the way I know best: through word. and then take action. and as we all know—myself included—I'll find a solution no matter how pretty or ugly the path is.

so here goes...