Thursday, June 30, 2016

Our little Princess

 I was thinking about this post yesterday, not sure if I made up writing it or if it actually existed. Pretty happy for (most) things saved on the internet! We didn't talk much about Juliette being sick, because honestly, she wasn't as far as we knew. She had been sporty spice going on most of the puppy walks (in fact hopping out of bed way earlier than normal to make sure she didn't miss out). Chasing him around, running around with her new lab friends and just loving life. 


Last week she was having some problems in her mouth, was drooling and the puppy kept obsessing over it so Shane took her in on Friday and we found out she needed to have 4 teeth extracted. She's had some dental problems, but we've watched them closely so I was really shocked at the quick turn for the worse. She was sent home with antibiotics and after 2 days she was full of energy and even got to go to my race on Sunday! It was so fun to see her out there running with me again for even just a minute. Monday everything changed. She had no energy, wouldn't eat and had this look that was just all too familiar. My gut just knew something was wrong as she paced around the house on wobbly legs. I came into the living room to check on her and found her staring over a pile of blood. We immediately rushed her to the the vet ER to be checked out. It's almost scary how many vets I know in this area! The doc was the one who saw Baxter multiple times last summer so I immediately felt at ease. She was so sweet and gentle with J, just like she was last summer with Bubba. While there wasn't much she could do to diagnose her, her vitals were ok so her best assumption was that the antibiotic for the teeth had really done a number on her stomach. She injected her with some anti-nausea and sent us home with some as well. The first priority was to get some food in her stomach so we stopped at wallgreens and got a syringe, baby food, chicken broth and rice.

We tried everything to get her to eat, but basically I was using the syringe to squirt the baby food in her mouth. We just wanted her stomach to have something in it so we could give her a pain pill. She slept (on the bed of course) off and on that night, but when we got up in the morning she had no energy or strength. Shane carried her outside to go to the bathroom (where we found she was still bleeding) and we nestled her in my office for the day. I continued to syringe water into her mouth (she loved that!) and tried to keep the puppy away from her. As soon as the vet's office was open I called and explained her situation so when the doctor called me back we made plans to have her looked at that afternoon. It was a sad day. Last summer I was so close to all these horrible symptoms with Baxter, yet he continued partying for 4 months fighting to stay with us, but right here in front of our eyes, Juliette was fading. As much as I wanted to think positive, my gut just knew how sick she was.

After 2 hours at the vet looking at her in my arms as the doctor told us her blood count, we knew what we had to do. Without a definitive reason for why she got so sick, the obvious culprit is the F$^KING cancer. While we were under the impression that her type (derma/skin) wouldn't spread, every symptom she had showed otherwise and there was just nothing that we could (or would take the risk of putting her in more pain to) do for her.

5.5 years ago this sweet princess came into our lives to heal Baxter's broken heart. I will never understand how at 8 years old a family could just turn her in. She nestled right into our crazy family traveling to Mexico and Idaho and wearing silly medals while posing for photos. She did her best to take up running, when really she just wanted to sprint around then eat all the food. She learned how to snuggle and make friends. She even found herself "adopted" into another family to help keep her company after her BFF Baxter left us. 

After the loss of Baxter just 9 months ago, this sweet face kept me company and healed my broken heart. I took her just about everywhere I went, she never left my side and did her very best Bubba impressions snuggling up to me every chance she could. She protected me while Shane was in California and she she kept me on my toes acting like a puppy again. I can't even imagine what my days and nights would have been without her. I will forever be thankful for her spirit and unconditional love.

It's almost like she spent her time with us to make all our hearts happy, and finally when she felt like we were ok, she was ready to go back and be with the boy that showed her how to be a true Vizsla, full of love and pillows and hot dogs!

So much love for this girl and the only thing that makes this easier is knowing she's running around with Baxter!

Sunday, April 3, 2016


I've missed writing my thoughts and daily adventures down in this blog.  I love going back months, even years to see where I was this time xx year and deciding if I've grown in a way that makes me happy and proud.  Unfortunately, my new job has turned out to be a whole lot more time consuming and stressful than years past at the same time (fortunately) my coaching business is in full bloom leaving a whole heck of a lot less time to write!  I used to sit down with my recovery time snuggling on the couch with the dogs relaxing in my recovery boots and typing, but now those times are less frequent and typically after 10-12hrs a day on a computer I'd rather veg out and stare at mindless TV :).  In an effort to recap the last 2.5 months I'm going to do do a little bullet point catch up so here we go!
  • After 3 months of very little training, I used my WTC Insurance and received a full refund for my Oceanside entry.  Best $40 EVER spent.  My heart wasn't in it and my body still needed more time. My doctor not only agreed, but was proud of me for making this decision.
  • When I decided to back out of Oceanside I also decided to commit to CDA 70.3 and full.  When in Rome.....
  • I slowly re-dedicated myself back to training.  I ran two half marathons learning that a) you can't fake run fitness and b) running faster than you are fit to run takes a heck of a lot longer to recover from.
  • Went on a girls trip to wine country.  Spent way too much $ on wine and lived off bread and cheese for 3 days.  It was glorious.
  • On said trip, got drunk and ended up booking last minute flights to Maui to watch one our closest friends get married.  YOLO!
  • Had a completely unplanned amazing 4 day vacation in paradise.  Totally out of my comfort zone and one of the best and most needed trips away with my husband.
  • Spent the next 4 days working 12+hours to catch up and prep for hosting my 3rd annual spring training camp!
  • Once again got completely inspired by watching the athletes reach new achievements and push themselves harder and further than they thought they could go.
  • Surprised myself with the fitness I didn't know I still had!
  • Got completely rejuvenate and ready to get back to the grind! 
  • Aside from camp weekend, just finished off my biggest training week since IMAZ and I feel fantastic (and hungry).  14k+ yards of swimming, 8hrs of cycling, 30+m running and 90' of strength training.  The kind of week I used to do on a regular basis but have struggled with over the past year.  
We're now on the 8 week countdown until we move back to CDA for the first summer in our new house!  The winter has flown by so fast, I almost can't believe it's time.  I'm super excited, yet also a bit overwhelmed thinking about it as I feel like I barely just unpacked from our Christmas trip.  I feel like life is on this crazy fast track and some days I just wish there were more time to relax and just be.  I couldn't imagine life without everything in it, so I just keep plugging away and managing my time as best as I can.

Next up - another wedding weekend in Napa followed by Adult Spring Break, aka Rocky Point Tri!  A weekend away at the beach with our friends, and our first time renting a house in over 10 years.  I can't wait to get back to Bub's beach and have one last hurrah with our friends before heading out for the summer, but also before putting my head down and my focus into my training.

So much fun on  this girls trip!!!

Moments before out running my fitness and watching my BFF PR!


We did NOT want to leave...

Camp kickoff!

Tri 4 Cure 

"You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough" 
 Mae West

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Tears, sadness, joy, love, wine, dogs, and dreams

It's been 8 weeks since IMAZ. 8 weeks since my heart fell apart over 140.6 miles.  It's taken 8 weeks to climb myself out of a big deep hole.

After a year of heartache, stress and pushing myself up and over what seemed like mountains of obstacles, I am finally started to feel whole again.

2015 started out so full of promise, so full of excitement. My husband embarking on the work opportunity and challenge of a lifetime, my coaching business exactly where I wanted it to be and my favorite Ironman on the schedule.

They say when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. Well, I took those lemons and made lemonade over and over until there was just no juice left in the tank.  I trained on auto pilot, stressed out every single minute I was not at home.  I missed my husband, I longed for more time with my Baxter. We emptied our bank accounts over and over with truck repairs, new AC unit, pool repair and emergency vet surgery and bills.

I got sick multiple times, my adrenals were inside out and my hair began to fall out. I didn't sleep, I lost my appetite, yet somehow I got up and I clicked off the green boxes in Training Peaks, I logged onto my work computer I cried over and over and then I woke up and I did it all over again.

After Ironman I slept. I enjoyed laughs with friends and wine until well, until someone cut us off. I joined some of those same friends and went to "prom."

I let the boxes in TP turn red, and I chose when and what I wanted to do. I paced my friends to PRs and dressed my dog up and brought her to a bar. I curled my hair, I wore mascara.

I spent 2 amazing weeks with my husband building our dream home, Bub's place. We laughed as we opened yet another bottle of wine, because well, it was Tuesday. We held hands and walked to the boat on Christmas and made conversation with strangers.  We woke up on New Years Day and drank as much alcohol as we could consumer in 60' gaining courage to join 500+ crazy "friends" and jump into 40deg water.  I "ran' in 25 degrees, snow and stopped to enjoy the beauty.

 I got sick yet again, and hopefully for the last time, and 2 weeks later I am feeling like a different person. The red boxes in TP are now green, I am finding a slow twitch of race motivation.  I look at pictures of Baxter and I smile instead of cry. I'm able to stay up drinking wine and watching the bachelor with a girlfriend until my eyes are heavy, then wake up and smash a run and feel that high.

And at the end of the day, I look at this little girl, and celebrate the blessings I DO have, and the people that surround me.

Cheers to what's next, what memories we've made and to all the people that helped me, loved me and carried me through the hardest of times.

"The greatest healing therapy is friendship and love."
-- Hubert H. Humphrey

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

#BubbaDay at IMAZ and saying goodbye

A few weeks after IMCDA when the fog of racing 11+hours in an inferno lifted, I realized that I had more fire in my belly. With the support of many friends I joined an amazing charity  and signed up for IMAZ.(seriously, if you are EVER thinking of racing for a cause, this foundation is top notch, and the next time I race IMAZ, it will be with them!). This wasn't a quick decision, but because my training for CDA had been less than perfect due to weddings and trips and then both of my dogs being diagnosed with cancer within a couple of weeks, I wanted another shot at Ironman, and pushing my limits to see if I could qualify for Kona. I did my research on the start list, and while there were definitely a few very top athletes in my AG, it wasn't as intimdating as it had been in the past with a dozen plus names in contention.

IMCDA fatigue faded and Michelle and I got to work. I spent a LOT of time climbing hills. On the bike, on the run. I pushed max watts and was convinced my legs were going to fall off and my heart was going to explode. And just as my fitness was starting to really feel great life took some more turns and Baxter started to go downhill. The entire month of September there were signs and I started to get scared leaving him alone. And, just like that one day I came home and there he was sitting on the floor staring into a corner, and I knew the time was coming so soon.

Without going back to all of what happened again, I'll just say that 8 weeks out from Ironman my world was flipped upside down. 

As a coach and athlete I know the affects of stress on our bodies. 6 months of ups and downs caring for my sick dogs, finding out my company lost the account that I work on and I needed to find a new job, my husband working in another state and trying to train harder and stronger than ever to reach a goal.  I wasn't sleeping, my appetite was lacking, and if I'm honest with myself while I was doing 95% of my training, I wasn't all in. 

When we finally had to let go of Baxter I shut my grieving down and got right back into the saddle,  literally < than 24hours later to ride my bike for 5 hours. We packed up our CDA rental and I was home 3 short days later.  I headed for a checkup with my doctor and when I received the results 10 days later after our trip to Mexico to say goodbye to our house and bring Baxter to his beach,  reality set in. 

My body shut down.  I had the flu and a sinus infection, so talking with my doc was perfect timing. She told me that my adrenals and cortisol were absolutely tanked. My doctor (an athlete herself) wasn't sure how I was functioning let alone training. I had 4 weeks to get my shit together and try to turn my health around so I did what I could. I grounded myself to home, only really leaving to train.  I ate well and tried to keep stress as low as possible. I was advised that due to the low cortisol levels, fueling during training was extra important as my body was unable to really process fat for fuel and truly needed the sugar/carbs. I didn't really change much here as I always practice race day fueling, but I did take care to make sure I went into every workout properly fueled, then recover.

Things were looking better and I was feeling better!  In the days leading up to the race my body started to feel READY.  It was SO stress free and relaxing! I had to push any doubts out of my head and just focus on the race, and that is exactly what I did.

The swim and the bike went pretty much right as planned!  I really enjoyed the rolling start.  It was stress free and for at least half of the swim it was smooth sailing (for me). The return stretch was much more aggressive, and I found myself getting a bit frustrated, but just kept swimming! For once I didn't think about my time, I just tried to focus on the next part of the race!

Swim 1:07:20 - 11th AG.  Last year was 1:07:25 and 14th & 2013 1:10:01 and 16th so despite not feeling like my swim training was awesome this summer (just didn't have that speed or confidence) I'm pretty happy with that!

Transition was super quick and I was out on the bike feeling good. Because I had trained all season with power I had something new and solid to pace myself off. I have worked on strength on the bike so much and Michelle and I talked about bumping up my race watts to try to be more competitive on the bike. I stuck to my plan at the top end of my watts the entire race, but as I saw the fast swimmers out ahead of me gaining time I had to just keep pushing, but not go out of what I new my abilities were in order to run. 

When the wind and rain and cold settled in, I was honestly just laughing. Mother nature truly does control the day, and all we can do is keep doing what we know how! I kept pushing the watts, staying aero and trying to get all my fuel in. My stomach was not wanting my typical solid foods, so I started chewing on some pepto to get it settled.  I came off the bike a few 100 calories short, but feeling pretty good. I knew I had passed a few girls in my AG on the bike, but also knew at least 2 were so far out in front it was going to take a small miracle on the run to even get near them.

Bike 5:35:34 - 7th AG.   14' 5:44:55 - 10th AG 13' 5:18:45 - 6th AG. 

As I started running my legs felt pretty good, but my stomach was not.  I sipped on my Osmo and just kept my cadence up, letting the pace settle. 

Running in the rain felt awesome, but at about mile 3 when we had to hit the thick mud it was not so fun. I followed people in front of me and tried to find the best tracks, but really it was more of an obstacle. I started my plan of gel every 4 miles and that's when things started to go bad. My stomach wanted nothing to do with gels. I kept trying to get them down, but pace was slowing as my energy was fading (this is something I haven't experienced in years as I've had a great nutrition plan!). I started going through each aid station to see if anything sounded good, but it didn't.  After my 3rd attempt at a gel, I just gave up and handed my bottle off to a friend. I got through 20 miles of that run on a little cola, sips of water, but more importantly the support and cheers from my friends, team and husband. I teared up almost every time I saw them, but without them I would have been out on that course a much, much longer time.

In the final miles I had a hard time staying focused.  I was so emotionally and physically drained my eyes just wanted to shut. Then, somewhere after mile 21 I looked up and saw a rainbow.  In the days after Baxter passed so many people talked about the magical rainbow bridge where dogs go to wait for their humans. To be honest everything about the story doesn't sit right with me. The idea of Baxter sitting somewhere waiting for me breaks my heart. I don't know what I think or what I believe, but for some reason I couldn't make peace with the whole rainbow bridge thing and put it out of my mind until I saw one running east on the course.  More tears and more emotion took over and the rest of the race is a blur.  As I headed down the final stretch of Rio Salado and all the cheers support overwhelmed me I got to that finish line and couldn't even hold my hands up. 

I had this amazing sense of relief.  It's like all the grieving I needed to do 6 weeks ago happened over the 4:15 of running that marathon.

Run 4:15:52 - 8th AG  14' 4:00:53 - 8th AG  13' 3:56:32 - 5th AG

It was almost surreal looking at my splits from the run.  When I was out there I felt like I was barely moving, yet with all the walking through aids and multiple potty stops my pace only slowed a bit.  My legs had it all to run my planned 3:45 marathon, but my stomach or whatever else was happening with me that day didn't have it. 

I know many people were worried of my disappointment in the day, but I can say without a doubt, while of course I wish my body had cooperated, even on MY best day, the top 3 girls were stronger and faster than me. To make it to the start line that day with everything I had going on was a win in itself and I learned so much about my mental strength, and grit.  I had support that I never dreamed of, and by choosing to do this race under a charity, WE helped 20+ children receive a life changing surgery. 

I don't know what races are next for me, but as I'm sure you all can guess, I'm not done. Right now, I'm going to let my body and my mind heal, rest and recover.  My heart is full and happy and while I'm still so, so sad missing Baxter, I also feel like I can finally breathe.

I have a list full of names and addresses to thank the many people that have helped me and supported me these past few months and I truly hope each of you know how much you and everything you have done has meant to me.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Bubba Days!

We we left for CDA 4 months ago I was totally prepared that Baxter might not be coming home with us. We had a few hickups in the first week, but after that we all get settled in, I was able to come and go without stressing and everything was going great. Baxter's energy remained that of a normal 14yo Vizsla, making me laugh every night. Our determination to spoil him rotten has made his determination to get everything he wants even stronger...  #parentfail

Dinner at the table with Baxter crying for whatever is on the plate (ugh, I know). Staring at the fridge and barking for more hot dogs. And when it's 8pm and I just want to sit on the couch and veg out for a few, he's throwing his destuffed baby around trying to get me to go to bed.  Barking at every deer and wild turkey and showing off til no end for any visitor that comes to the door.

Oh, this boy....

Friday morning I got a text from Aunt Jen asking how he was (seriously, I have the best friends asking me for updates all the time. They KNOW he is my kid, not my pet) and I said, he's doing GREAT!  I think we are bringing him home AND to Mexico!!

After work I left to go swim.... since I didn't have anything planned but prep my bike for the long workout in the morning I headed to get my atrocious looking toenails done for the first time since all my nails fail off post IMCDA, then grabbed some food to get my through the big training weekend.

When I got home, for some reason I didn't go straight into my room where Baxter stays. Juliette was barking so I got her out of the crate, then headed into the room. Baxter wasn't on the bed.  Instant panic set in and I ran over to the side of the bed to see him laying there in the corner. I flew down to the floor to comfort him and immediately checked his gums. They were WHITE. I've been told this is one of the first signs I need to look for when something is wrong. It means that dogs are in pain and or bleeding. The prognosis of his cancer is that it's a cancer of the blood and it will spread to another organ, most likely his liver or lungs and at some point a tumor would grow and probably bleed out.  There is no fixing it, it's just time...

I helped him get up and while he seemed a bit weak, he went outside, went to the bathroom and was alert. He was a bit wobbly, but still walking. I called a friend to see if I could get some help to get him to the emergency clinic, but no one was answering, so I got Juliette in her crate and got Baxter loaded into the truck. He was barely keeping his head up while he sat in the back seat, but the most concerning thing was he was calm and quiet.  Baxter HATES being in the car. He pants and freaks out... He was just sitting there.

I got into the hospital and I don't even know what I said except he has cancer and his gums are white and I think it's time.

Bless the doctor's hear She was the same one that took care of us when we first got into town and Baxter's paws swelled up.  She came down to the ground to him, so gentle.  I sat there with Baxter holding his head, comforting him while they took a small amount of blood from his leg to check for anemia.  She mentioned that sometimes if they are bleeding it might now show they are anemic right away and we may need to do an ultrasound. I expressed my concern in that we had decided no more tests, no extreme measures. He had been through enough.

When she came back in and said his blood was normal but that his heart sounded muffled, she really wanted to take a quick look with the ultrasound. She would bring the machine in and he wouldn't have to move. In my head I was picturing the big fancy thing that we had a specialist come in with where we had to pick him up, shave his belly, etc....  The doctor again was so gentle as she checked out his lungs and his heart (perfect). She explained to me what fluid would look like (black) and then she found something that could be fluid by his liver, but not free fluid all over.

Her recommendation was that yes, this could be a tumor that is bleeding, but it also could be something completely unrelated.... His was stable, and thought it would be best if I took him home where he would be comfortable.  She assured me I could call with any questions, she would be there for 24hours.

As much as I wanted to be hopeful, I also know how attached I am to this boy and I didn't want to do something that would cause him any pain. I was ready to let him go. I had the doctor explain the situation to my amazing vet and friend at home so that I could have help. They both told me the same thing, he's not ready to leave me. God, it just makes me cry thinking about him. Holding on, fighting because he loves us so much!

While all of this was going on my phone was blowing up with returned calls from my panic calls.  Shane, who had just gotten back to California prepping for probably the most important week (to date) of his career was pacing outside of his car deciding if he start driving 15 hours to say good bye, only to have to drive right back. I was scared for him, but we didn't have the resources to buy a $800 flight to get him home. I made a call to my friend who had offered the last time to get him on a flight with points, and within 20mins she had him driving to a near bye airport, a hotel booked and the first flight out in the morning.

My high school friend was already on her way with bags packed to be with me, and my local friend was ready with whatever I needed. We spent the  night snuggling and trying to keep Baxter happy.  But, to be honest, he was doing the same thing. He perked up when she got here with more hot dogs.
We didn't sleep much (well I didn't), but we stayed in bed until early afternoon when my friend brought Shane home from the airport. I emailed our oncologist back home and told her what was going on.  She was sweet, but honest and direct telling us it could be just a few hours before he would be in pain and needing to be put down, or he could go on his own, but that would be very hard. We were prepared for the worst, but ready....Over the next few hours Baxter perked up, rallied like no other and we spent the day loving on him, spoiling him and in all sorts of ways coming to terms with saying goodbye.  It was honestly a perfect day!
 Back to begging for food.... even if it was just carrots
Lots of outside time watching the squirrels and barking at everything, when it got cold he got to wear Dad's T shirt ;)

Steak for dinner???? YES PLEASE!
And beautiful flowers from my sweet friend back home who has been there for me since day one of this stupid cancer.

Sunday went pretty much the same only I had to get myself together and get some of my training in.  My weekend was planned to be huge with 9hours of riding and 90' run.... After sleeping in then trying to hydrate and get some food in my system we took the dogs for a walk. Baxter struggled a little, but yet he was still all in!
I got myself onto my trainer where I stayed doing intervals for 4 hours. I figure if nothing else I was getting some solid mental training in!  I think 2hours was my previous record for trainer time, so nothing like doubling it.

We went to bed trying to get rest, but unfortunately I just couldn't sleep. I managed to get out for a run before we had to get Shane to the airport. Gosh that was hard. Coming home watching my best friend say good bye to my other best friend. These two have been in my life the exact same amount of time and they both have my heart. I was crushed, but unfortunately Shane had to go, Baxter had to let go and all I could do was watch.

We had a pretty good day yesterday.  I had another wonderful friend come sit with Baxter so I could go swim.  He ate like normal, barked at everything like normal and watched all the wonderful things happening out his favorite window.

We're now Tuesday morning, Bubba day #132. The amount of love, support and outpouring care and concern for me and my family right now is unreal. Unfortunately, I know we are on borrowed time just as I started to write this post Baxter got up wanting dinner.  I fed him and for the first time he only ate the hot dogs.... worried, I offered him some turkey meat after and he took a bite, then shunned the rest of the way. He started doing circles around the house then laid down against the couch with some strained breathing. I grabbed my phone making my (once again) panic phone calls trying to figure out what to do. About 30' later he was resting in my arms, but comfortably and I had a friend coming over to help me take him in.

And, just like that in typical Baxter fashion as soon as the pretty blonde walked in the door he perked up, gave kisses, wagging his tail and more than ready for a treat. So here I am, sitting on the couch with him. He's resting comfortably, but I'm just trying to be the big kid here and take care of my boy.  Everyone tells me he will let me know when HE is ready, and I'm just waiting for that.  He's always trying to protect me, so unfortunately, I may need to be the one making the hard call this time.  For now, I'm treasuring every second he's next to me.