Thursday, September 27, 2007

Catchin Up

So, you are probably thinking me & my pretty new red purse have been out shopping around trying to find things to fill out... Well, not really - although I have found it very useful in packing all of my stuff around. I'm SO glad I chose the bigger one. That was my biggest decision ya know.... which size to get...

Anyhoo.... here's a quick recap of what's been going on.. I'll try to make it the short version.

I spent most of the weekend and beginning of the week preparing for my Real Estate Exam. It's funny you know. They make you spend 90hours in a classroom, then basically memorize 1400 possibly multiple choice Q's... of which, you will not retain once you pass the test.. Then you have to take a 6hour "bootcamp" on contract writing... then you can go take the State exam.

It's all a bunch of hoo-wee if you ask me. The stuff they teach you isn't practical. It's pretty much vocabulary of words which, none of use on a daily basis. No real 'training' just a bunch of tie wasted sitting listening to some arrogant retired brokers talk about how much money they've made and what they think about EVERYTHING, not Real Estate Related.

But, I made it thru... I passed the test (90%!) yesterday and finally got to put all the notes that have been flooding my house for the past week in the recycle bin!

On Tuesday I survived an MRI. Yes, I do mean survived.. I am claustrophobic. I freak out. I mean TOTALLY FREAK out. I've had several before. I think 2 or 3 on my knee, but I didn't have to go all the way in the machine. Also had a couple on my lower back.. which is where I first realized the extent of my phobia. Now, it's only gotten worse. I freak out in elevators sometimes too. So, I'm lieing there ready for them to put me in and I totally start to panic. Tears going down my face.... HR like 195 - not sure if I can do it. THEN, I did it...

I PULLED THE IRONMAN CARD! Yup, on myself I did it. I thought, how can I make it through 5 months of training, and a 13hour day traveling THAT far... and be freaking out over this stupid machine. So, I closed my eyes and started thinking of the beach..... the beach that I am on my way to in a few hours :-)

So, Sara called me yesterday and read me the MRI Report. Unfortunately it kinda went in one ear & out the other, even though she so carefully described it all, non-medical terms. There were several things noted on there, some about my discs, some about the fusion of the vertebrae...and something about more sensitive inflammatory response? That's the one I really heard, cause it might make sense why I can get SO incredibly sore, from you know, walking across the street....Ok, slight exaggeration, but you get my point.

I'm going to a "pain management" Dr. on Thursday to see what he can do to help with the arm pain. I really hope he has some answers because I NEED TO SWIM!!! It's been nearly 3 months since I have been in the water....

There's also the usual. You know, work, train for a marathon.....

Now, I better getting moving. I need to get ready to get out of town! In a few hours Shane will be home & we are heading to Mexico! Tomorrow, Natalie, her husband Jeff & baby Kate, and the momo clan are coming down to spend the weekend with us as well. It's Shane's b-day tomorrow, so a little tequila celebrations it is. Cause, that's how the LaPan's roll. Marathon, or not, I'm still having me some fun this weekend! Oh, and Stacey & Dave will be there as well....they're staying on another beach, but hopefully we'll get to see them and have us some HORNITOS!

So, stay tuned next week for a full report on the fun. MAYBE, just MAYBE we'll get some good pics to share ;-)


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Happy Birthday to me.....

NO I'm not 30 QUITE yet..... BUT, I already got my first birthday present....:-)

You all know I love me some RED. Kinda like SHE loves her some Pink. Except, I don't have to wear it every day. My bike isn't red (although it would be so cool if it were).

I do however have:

a red wall kitchen
red (black & white) dishes
a new red phone
sassy red shoes
a red wallet

but... the one thing I've been waiting for.... a NEW RED HANDBAG!

I've been checking this site obsessively for a new season of RED to come out.

And wouldn't you know.. the new season is here, and it was FULL OF RED. And, not the flashy fire red, but the pretty dark deep red that I love....

And then.. wouldn't you know it... a couple days after said find, I get a preferred customer coupon in the mail for 25% off....

If only the timing weren't so bad. If only I still wasn't making up for my IM expenses. If only it were MY birthday this month not his.

After about a week of obsessing, I finally decided I would buy myself a bag for an early birthday present. My grandfather and parents usually give me some cash so I decided I would just have to pay myself and my credit card back. Because, if I didn't go buy it... I would obsess even more... and regret saving the 25%, and then it might not even still be there when I could afford it...

So, as I'm telling my wonderful husband about this (I think I was looking for some validation that it was ok), he replies with "You know, you make it really hard to buy you a birthday gift!!!"

"what, really... you were gonna buy this for me? But, but... the 25% off is only for a week. If I don't buy it then the bag will cost llike $100 more!!"

Apparently he had it all planned out to steal the coupon from the recycle after I tossed it....

So, last Friday I got to go pick out my very own, brand new RED bag!

Now, my official birthday isn't until December 24th... but I have to admit it was pretty cool to get a gift a few months early! In fact, I thought it was SO cool, I decided we should do this EVERY year... You know, separate it out from Christmas. How smart am I?

Unfortunately, when I picked out my new bag, the display was the only one left, so they ordered it for me & guess what just arrived?!?!

How pretty is she?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

When life throws a curve ball....

You know the saying you heard from your mother OVER and OVER and OVER?

Life isn't fair. It's true. It's not fair. It's not always nice, it's not always easy. I guess that is what makes us who we are. How we choose to deal with things, how we choose to live our lives...

Just when I was beginning to feel normal (as normal as an IRONMAN can be) again. IT band issues resolved. Confidence back.... It's time for yet another speedbump.

I've posted a little bit about what has been going on with me. Then, I haven't been able to find the words to describe what is really going on.... I think I'm finally getting there.

It started out as left shoulder pain, turned left neck & shoulder pain, turned left and right shoulder and neck pain. Ok, time to do something about this.

The pain started a few weeks before Ironman. The left shoulder pain that is. I figured it was an overuse injury. But 2 months of swimming with NO improvements and the pain getting worse, and expanding.

My good friend Sara is a nurse practitioner. She convinced me to give the chiropractor in her office a shot at helping me. He works mostly with athletes (a must in my book), so I went to see him for the first time a few weeks ago. I got immediate relief from the pressure in my neck, but the arm pain was still there. And getting worse. I began having trouble sleeping because everything hurt so much. I wake up in a tremendous amount of pain.

Based on some advice (thanks Di!) Sara had me go get an x-ray last Friday. It explained a lot. The report said: "C4-5 "congenital partial fusion" and slight subluxation of C5-6 (where one vertebra is pushed forward more than the other)."

What has been explained to me is that basically I have NO disc between a couple of the vertebrae, and there is fusion between a couple of the others. It's congenital. I was born this way. AKA - I'm screwed.

Now, you think this would come as a shock to me, but it is not. You see, ever since I was teenager I've been dealing with these weird issues.... I played competitive volleyball my whole life. I was on several club teams, including one very select team that traveled all around the pacific northwest and southern California playing in tournaments. We were the ones to beat.

I started getting sever back pain when I was 16. It would get to the point where I would fall to the floor when I was serving a ball. The pain was shooting down my right side to my toes. I was in and out of Dr's offices, physical therapy and orthopedic specialists.

My MRI showed the same as my mothers. A form of spina bifida occulta. In my families case, a portion in the spine where there is a gap. I struggled with this pain for years. I ate Advil like it was candy, and in turn can no longer stomach due to ulcer problems. There were days when I would swallow 1600mg 4 times per day. Some days the pain was less, some days it was more. I had trouble sitting in classes for a long period of time...

Slowly, as I figured out how to control the pain with heat and stretching and not sitting, nor standing for long periods of time, and also after giving up Volleyball I got active again. I was in college and started running and cross training and sure enough the pain went away, or was a lot more mild. I would still have flare ups, and to this day still do, but it's nothing like before....

Then there was the whole knee pain, IT band stuff. Which, my PT is convinced came about because of my back issues and leg length discrepancies..... See, it's all tied together. But, once again I fought for 3 years in pain. I never gave up. I had doubts I would ever run again..... I no longer have any of those doubts or fears.

My mom and my sister live in this kind of pain I described daily. My sister is still seeking a "cure." and my mom, well I think my mom has given up. She's unhealthy and she's not active and her response to my latest neck issue was -

"You just have to learn to live with the pain and manage it."

My response - "I refuse to. I have an active life and I will continue it."

So, I'm trying to keep the best attitude I can, and thankfully my knee surgery was successful so it makes it a little easier to see the light a the end of the tunnel. The chiropractor is helping, but he's only helping relief the tension in my neck. My arm pain is so bad sometimes I can't even lift a pan from the stove or scrub a dish. It is the worse in the morning, then other times it just kinda starts while I'm moving a certain way. I just have no space or disc in a couple of places so it's putting all this pressure on a nerve.

It has been suggested that I see a pain specialist about getting epidural injections into my neck. Sara is going to talk with the specialist in her office about me and get his opinion. I'm leaning towards trying the epidural injections to get the inflamed nerve calmed down. It's not a "cure" - there really is no cure.

I feel like if I can get it calmed down and get my upper body moving and loose again in the water I will be ok. I've had a lot of neck things in the past, I always just thought it was bad sleeping, posture, heels, tight muscles. I can deal with the neck - just need tissue work and heat, etc. It's this arm thing I can't deal with. I don't know if my theory on getting the inflammation of the nerve down, then swimming is right, but at this point it's really my only option besides surgery, which to me, isn't an option....

It's all just so frustrating. It's not fair. It's not right. But then again, I've come to realize that maybe that is why I love all of this crazy endurance stuff I do. It's not easy for anyone, and I feel like it's particularly not easy for me (not to take away from anyone else). I have a lot going against me and to me, when I reach a finish line, it makes me feel like I've accomplished so much more because I have to try so damn hard.

The easy thing would be to give up, and give in. And, that is never going to happen. I can sit here and feel sorry for myself, which I have to admit I do sometimes, but of course it gets me nowhere.

Tell me no, or tell me that I can't do it, and I will prove you wrong.

Friday, September 7, 2007

The Dog Whisperer

Our friends Stacey & Dave told us about a TV show on National Geographic, the Dog Whisperer. They told us how this man could turn around even the most "un trainable" dogs with just a few steps.

I finally caught this show on TV last week. Actually, it was Monday while I was sitting on the couch trying to recover from the "hell run," flipping thru the channels. The show I watched featured two dogs. One who had aggression issues, and the other had a barking problem. With in the few minutes I saw Cesar, A.K.A. Dog Whisperer, work with these animals, it was like watching a miracle take place. I've never seen anything like it in my life... Truly amazing...

Let me digress here a bit back to Wed..... I think I mentioned in my last post how not only were momo & I pretty wrecked after the run, but my poor boy Baxter was too. He was limping around all afternoon, barely putting any weight on his left front leg. The OPPOSITE leg of where he has the small cyst that has to be removed in a few weeks. Knowing how he just won't give up when he's really hurt (hmmm, sounds familiar), S & I made the executive decision that he would need some time off. And, the timing wasn't so bad with Abby not feeling so well either.

So, Wed am I headed out for a 5mile run. The temp was ok, so much better than Monday, but something wasn't right. I had my headphones blaring.... the route was one of my favorites... Something was still missing. It was my dogs. I missed them. You know, for a while it was a chore to take them. Extra water, more stops, the constant pulling. But, I didn't realize how much I've come to rely on their companionship. Kinda like how I rely on my friends for the rest of the training & motivation. Someone to share all that time with on the bike, or to make me accountable at the pool. Baxter & Abby have become my running partners. They keep me company and make the time fly by. I apparently talk to them, cause I swear it felt like the most quiet run ever with out them... So, when I got home and got the rath of "cheating on them," I let them know that I missed them as much as they did me...

Now fast forward a few days and you would have never known anything was wrong with the crazy bastards. They are running around like puppies again, jumping through the house and BEGGING to be exercises. I already had plans to meet momo this am somewhere, so Shane took them. I bet he's happy to have them back as well. I think he started off saying he wouldn't run with them for a couple of months. I think he ran 1 time by himself, then started taking them ;-)

Guess who happened to be in this month's Runner's World? Cesar Millan, The Dog Whisperer. And now, now I have my favorite new quote:

"Running is great Therapy, and it's free. If we all walked and ran with our dogs, it would be a different world."

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

another week gone by

Sometimes I wonder where the time goes. I swear, I JUST did my Ironman... But, you know what - it's been 2 months!

I'm not sure why I was better about blogging when I was actually training, vs now... Maybe because I'm doing or dealing with all of the things I ignored while training so much. Yes, that must be it.

What has happened since last Sunday when I wrote. Lots... nothing earth-shattering, but it seems like more than one could fit in a week...

I had my first Chiropractor visit on Tuesday (last week). It was AMAZING. For someone so scared of the chiropractor I was impressed. He did nothing out of the ordinary. Lots of tests. Some stretching and heat and a few adjustments. Not at all like what I was expecting. It wasn't scary, or weird... actually a lot of similar movements that my PT did.

Best part, he thinks he can help me out in a few visits. After the first visit I was sore. But, a significant amount of tension was gone. Shoulder pain was still there, but minimal.

Today, I had my second visit. I felt a lot better than normal when I woke up. After my appointment, he said I was so much less knotted up. I was 30% better. So, I go back on Friday.

Maybe I will actually get to swim again... sometime SOON!

Why do I want to swim again so badly? I've decided, after yesterday's HELL RUN where I felt my hamstrings ever step because they are so tight, that the reason I did not have this weird sensation while training for IM was because I swam so much and kept my legs loose. Particularly after my long runs. My body needs the swimming I guess..

It also wouldn't hurt with the lack of muscle and new found flab to my arms. Momo and I pondered this as we were running (if you can call it that) last few miles of our 20miler that was actually an 18.7 or .9 or something miler. I was chafing on my armpits. Because they are not as fit as they were 2 months ago. Or, at least that is my theory.

Backtracking a bit.... Wed-Friday Momo & I were in Toronto for work. We were able to do one of our runs Thursday am. 8 miles in cloudy, under 70 temps. It was heaven..... especially considering yesterday, which I will get to in a minute..

After a long day of travel I was home & in bed by 10:30 Friday night. I of course made plans to ride my bike Saturday, which sounded like a GREAT idea until the alarm went off. Too bad the plan involved others that were meeting at OUR house so, there was no backing out of it. Actually, it was a good thing because I got in an almost 2 hour ride.

A much needed 2 hour ride if I really think I'll be ready for this in November.

Saturday afternoon S were out doing errands and decided to go test drive a car for me. I actually already ordered a car, but it wasn't in yet. I was going to get the VW Toureg. I've always wanted a VW, and when they came out with this model, I fell in love. Now that I am self-employed I need to come up with a lot of tax help. Buying a new SUV is one of them. As long as it meets the 6000lb criteria. Which the Toureg did.

I test drove the Toureg a couple months ago, and found out that getting what I wanted was actually not that easy. I don't like brown interior, especially with my dogs.. and I want all the hoopla that comes with a lot of them... for a pretty penny of course. So, a dealership found one that was being built and quoted me a great price for getting it in. An oral agreement, if you will.

The thing that I was uneasy about wast he interest rates they were offering. We all know they suck in general right now, and VW was not offering any special financing for this particular model.

There was also one other thing... The plan was for me to get a smaller SUV, and shortly Shane would by the larger, a Toyota Sequoia. Well, some things came up and we realized S wouldn't be getting the Sequoia for a couple years so that left us with a smaller SUV, and still 3 70 lb dogs. Not easy to travel with.

So, I decided I would give the Sequoia a shot. We stopped at the dealership, drove it and then we were out the door with it, deal closed 4 hours later.

You know what the funny part is. They gave me a trade value for my 4-Runner without even seeing it! That's how random this purchase was. We didn't even drive it there, we had Shane's car. We are just now taking it to them today. They better not try to pull any funny stuff!!
So, here is my new car! It's huge! It's nice... and I love it!

Sunday we went over to a friend's house for a BBQ. It was a lot of fun, although I was a total party-pooper. While everyone else was busy livin it up, I was the DD, or designated boring person rather. I had planned my long run with momo for Monday, thinking that the party was Saturday, not Sunday. With the heat we've been having, and past experience, I knew all I could allow myself was a glass of wine. Have you ever seen the girl at the OUTDOOR BBQ drinking a glass of wine while everyone has tequilla shots & beer? Yah... that was me.

HOWEVER, I must say, I made the right decision. Not only was I able to get S & I home safely (he enjoyed himself, that is for sure), Monday was nothing less than BRUTAL.

The run started at 5am. Momo, Baxter & I headed out in the dark. It was dark, windy and 92degrees. We were all panting away. At mile 4 it felt like mile 10.

At mile 7.5 I ran out of water and we hadn't met up with Shane yet who was coming to pick up Baxter and refill our fluids. We met him a few minutes later. I'm not sure Baxter has ever been so excited to END a run. That boy never gives up. But, he jumped in the car like he was running for his life.

We didn't plan that well, cause we thought Momo would have half her pack left and didn't leave any to refill, and my new set of fuel belt bottles were frozen. So, we ran a half of a mile further and got MORE water. I drank a 20oz bottle in less than a minute. It was so refreshing....

Around mile 12 things really started to go bad. We were drinking and drinking.... and neither of us felt like it was doing anything. We didn't have to go pee. We didn't fill refreshed. We just felt HOT and THIRSTY. We started to think of plans to shorten the run. They only thing was, Shane had left us more fluids at an intersection around mile 15.5. 3 hours later, we finally got there.

Ok, maybe it wasn't REALLY 3 hours, but it felt like it. There on the corner of Shea and 130th, I plopped my sweaty butt down on the concrete and started refilling my fuel belt. M filled her water pack. Then we realized we had a half frozen gatorade and 2 half frozen waters. We were not willing to give these up yet. There was also a baggy of ice that I threw in with it all. I placed that in my bra top to keep my cool.

So, off we went across the street. In total carrying about 100oz or more of fluids. We walk ran like we did in Ironman. We came up with a strategy to make it to "this" street, or "that" fence.

We started being mean. We would see a runner out with NO water, trotting along, like we were standing still. We would deem this person "not a REAL runner."

There were also a few "not a real cyclist."

Good thing we were both wearing our M.Dot hats.

We finally got about a half a mile away from home and walked. My HR remained in zone 2 while walking. My face was purple. Momo's hair looked like she just stuck her finger in a light socket from the wind. We finally made it home, jumped in the pool, and finally felt refreshed.

S came out of the house and said he was about ready to come get us. Baxter was also roughed up. He wouldn't eat his dinner. He was limping. I had chills and a headache all day. I lost 4.5lbs during that run. I NEVER lose during exercise because I drink so much.

Oh, and there was a HEAT advisory yesterday.

Needless to say yesterday was spent on the couch, trying to rehydrate for me. It actually worked out ok being that the dogs had been left alone most the weekend, and well Shane wasn't exactly feeling spunky after his day of fun at the BBQ.

It was one of those epic runs. Those runs that you just do what you can to get through. A day when you realize how lucky you are to have a training partner and friend. A day where you realize how strong you are and how you just have to dig deep and get to the end, whatever that may be.