Friday, September 24, 2010

Saying goodbye

Thank you to Erin who sent me this quote - I can't seem to get it out of my mind, it's perfect.

"Even the most domesticated animals remind us what it is like to be wild, to be gentle, to be loyal, to trust, to flourish, to slow with age, to die. They connect us with something fundamental in our beings -- and we are the caretaker of that connection."

Last night was perfect, everything we needed. Calm waters, the beach to ourselves, a pitcher of margaritas and the tide heading out to take her away.

I can't express the sadness we felt, but also relief that we were able to give Miss Abby what she deserved after the best possible life she could have. While it was short and unfair she absolutely lived it up while she was with us...

My boys playing together, priceless.

Somehow this boy of mine knows exactly when I need him.

It was exhausting for all of us - after we got b ack to the house Baxter fell asleep with his baby "Abby" given to him by the sweet sweet Kate who thought he needed it more than she did.

Here are some of my favorite pictures of Abby... This was the baby we just gave her just 2 days before I took her into the hospital. Baxter has now adopted it as his own.

She truly loved nothing more than she loved her Baxter....moments like this made my heart melt.

Not one for too much sun or heat, she was always looking for some shade at the beach.

I haven't had clean floors for 5 years......

She was such a baby here - she really never lost the puppy look

Happy dog at the beach!

You all know this "busy bee" was more for our entertainment not hers

This is exactly how she fell asleep for the last time, only she had a baby under her head. So peaceful.

Hence, the margarita toast :-)

Goodbye Baby Abby.... you are missed and will always be in our hearts.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

24more hours

Just 24 more hours and you will be set free on Bubba's beach, baby girl....

Monday, September 20, 2010

Thank you.

"The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention." ~ Oscar Wilde

Last week was a whirlwind. My emotions were all over the place with a big hole in my heart. My first and most important goal was to focus on my bubba, and keep him happy. It turns out he's been doing the same thing for me. He hasn't left my side, he is happy when he needs to be, sad when he thinks I'm not looking. He's trying to fill the void. He's playing with toys, and has adopted Abby's "baby."

He's bringing the smile back to my face every time I look at him.

A big thank you goes out to so many people that have gone above and beyond with their thoughts, kind words and sympathies. You know who you are. Emails, blog comments and facebook notes. And, a special big thanks to some real good people that made some impromptu visits to the house filled with gifts to make Baxter forget, to cheer him up. Right now there could be nothing more special than keeping that boy happy and healthy for me.

I feel so lucky to have such amazing people in our lives.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Baby Abby

Unfortunately this isn't going to be my happy memory, favorite pictures post...but it is coming, I can't wait to get to that part. For now I've ignored all the questions and sympathies and I just wanted to put out there this one time what happened. It was one of the worst 24hours of my life and I hate that I remember it so detailed.

Monday morning I headed out with Baxter & Abby for a 40min run. My HR seemed to be running high and we were all just kinda sloshing thru. It wasn't too hot out so I actually had more than enough water for all of us and made a couple of extra stops to give the dogs extra drinks. Truth be told not one of us were exactly pushing the pace, more like sloshing thru the minutes.

I went about my normal routine checking email having my protein shake and letting the dogs settle down about an hour before I fed them. I could hear one of them making a funny noise behind me and turned to see what it was. Abby was curled up on the dog bed just staring at me and Baxter was in front of her. Thinking her tummy might be a little upset (this is common) I got a pepcid and forced it down her. Baxter was whining for his dinner so I scooped up their dishes, testing to see if Abby was going to eat or not. She wanted nothing to do with it. Her breathing seemed worse and she was drooling. As I walked thru the house I saw puddles of drool all over the tile. I sat down with her for a bit and tried to calm her down, but could feel her pulse and heartbeat going like mad.

Let me digress. Since the day we got her she's never been healthy. I hate to admit it, but I'm pretty sure we got her from a bad, over-breading place. Abby has had problem after problem starting with Valley fever when she was 6 months old. She's been on anti-fungal medications basically her whole life. She has also had urinary tract issues and had to be put on another harsh medicine. While this poor puppy has had so many health issues she's taken it all and made the best with it. When she is feeling good she's the happiest puppy in the whole world. She bounces around room to room getting excited about the smallest things (like a special treat on her dinner). She stalks you after her dinner to give her treats. She stares at her toy basket for help because she's scared to put her face in it. I call her "puppy" because well, she never quite grew into a DOG. She has always hovered around 65-69 lbs, but she was always skinny and awkward like she just never filled out. I don't know if it was where she came from, the valley fever or now after all that happened to her it could have always been her heart.

I sensed something was significantly wrong. I know I'm usually overcautious, but this was different. Abby throws up on a regular basis, she doesn't have the best appetite and she has crazy energy for short spurts then naps a lot. This was something I had never seen before. I called the vet and they told me to bring her right in. I grabbed her collar and got her to the car (not an easy task leaving Baxter behind as he cried and barked at me making him stay).

I was only at the vet for maybe 10minutes when they came in and told me her EKG was all over the place and there was a cardiologist at a pet hospital waiting for me. They handed me a CD and sent me on my way, not even letting me pay the bill yet.

I had to pick Abby up to get her into my front seat. I had the AC on full blast trying to cool her down, but she just kept dropping her head. When I walked in the door at the pet hospital they took her from me. I waited in the lobby for Shane and as soon as the Doc came to get me he had pulled up. They brought us in a room and had her on a bed hooked up to a machine that was looking at her heart. Her eyes were huge and I just tried to calm her down. Her HR was between 280-300bpm and not slowing.

The doc was talking all sorts of medical mumbo jumbo, showing us how extremely bad her heart condition was. It wasn't even just the HR it was the anatomy of the heart. I didn't really see it, even after he showed us a normal dog's heart, but Shane said he did. What he was showing us and saying was something like the wall of her heart was like 2inches thick. This wasn't something that just happened, she could have been born with it, she could have some sort of lymphoma or it could have just slowly progressed. Whatever it was, it wasn't good.

I'm usually a glass half full kinda person. Especially when it's something I really really want or feel strongly about. This was different. You could see it in the Doc's eyes, in Abby's eyes. The plan was to keep her overnight, hooked up to the machines and try to get some drugs into her to get the HR under control and take the stress off her heart. I hated to leave her there, but I knew there was nothing I could do.

We called and checked on her a few hours later with little change and then I got a final update for the night around 7pm. They had gotten her HR down with drugs and she was resting. They were going to try to feed her and would call me in the am with an update. For the first time all day I was feeling a little positive. My gut feeling now was that I knew she wasn't going to be healthy or return back to the active running partner puppy, but we could put her on some more medication and get her back to our family.

It was a long night, no sleep, tossing and turning. My cell phone rang at 7:00am and it was the Doc. His tone said it all. They had controlled her HR for a few hours with medicine, but when it went low it went too low down into the 30s. She threw up a few times over the night and some of the tests showed there was some other damage or problem with her liver and spleen. He started talking pacemakers and waiting to see if it's lymphoma...but for every possible diagnosis he had, he also somewhat counteracted the treatment because of her underlying poor health. He wanted us to come in at noon to see her and talk.

I pretty much heard nothing else. In my heart I knew we needed a small miracle to get my baby girl back to health. I was frozen. I paced around my house all morning long, and I couldn't sit still. Baxter was freaking out, jumping on me as I cried. I called Shane & told him I could not wait until noon, I had to go see her now. We showed up 2 hours early to the hospital.... The Doctor was in surgery, but the nurses were amazing. They carried Abby into a room set up with blankets and a dog bed. I can't explain how awful she looked. Her eyes said it all. She was so tired, and weak. She wagged her tail when she saw us, but then basically shut down. While she has never been the most snuggly dog in the world, she was so far removed. All she wanted to do was drink the water dish they gave her. She immediately threw up all over, it was all stomach acid and water.

I just wanted to hold her, tell her everything would be ok, but she wouldn't sit down. After the nurse brought in some fresh blankets we finally got her to lie down, her head on her baby we brought her.... She looked slightly peaceful.

The Doc came in and without saying it, he was basically saying she was just too sick and weak. This disease she had in her heart was worse than anything he had seen. All I could think of is what a STRONG amazing puppy she is, fighting with so many things against her her entire life. In our hearts we knew we couldn't let her keep suffering, but I just didn't know what to do. She was there and alive, but with not much more to give. I wanted her to see her bubba. I thought about bringing her home where she could be with him, but I couldn't decide if that was more for me, and would it make it better or worse.

There were nurses coming in every 10mins to check her hr and pulse. After a while, Shane finally said they didn't need to anymore and within 20mins we were putting Abby in peace. She fell asleep looking like a princess with her head resting on her baby. As soon as she was gone I had to rush out. It wasn't her anymore and I was sick, I couldn't breath. As I was leaving the Doc said we did the right thing, never doubt it. He said it over and over. He also asked if it would be ok to examine her heart. He really felt like he could learn more for it, and potentially help another dog. Of course....

I could go on and on about the sadness in this house, but I know in my heart she is happy and finally in no pain. No valley fever, no constant tiredness. I've thought a lot about any signs or symptoms and how could she have been like this for so long and yet still been able to do so much. While I can think of a dozen changes in the past 2 weeks - She's lost a few lbs. Her energy level has been lower, and she's had more little "spells" I always related it to valley fever. I think all of this just tells me what a trooper my girl had always been. How tough she was to fight against so many things, and she did it smiling and happy as could be. She is the epitome of "IronDog," thus wearing her leash proudly.

You can bet one thing for sure, that girl will be with Shane and I the entire 140.6miles next June in CDA.

Right now, I'm doing the best I can to keep her bff, her Bubba as happy and healthy as can be. The 3 of us will be taking Abby to Bubba's beach next weekend to give her one last "BF" (beach fever as we call it) in Mexico.

I'm so thankful to every one's kind thoughts and sympathies and will be sharing our goodbye in a post next week, all good memories, pictures and most likely a toast of margarita as we spread her around and let her go free.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

9 years ago.

9 years ago I was living in an apartment in Scottsdale. My roommate and I were training for the Monaco Marathon. I was out for my typical morning run in the dark and when I got home I was stretching and doing some core work. I turned on the TV and watched as they showed a live feed of one of the planes crashing. To be honest, I don't remember much after that. Everything was consumed over these events. Everyone's lives were changed in some way or another.

Our training group had diminished into about half of the size. People were afraid to travel. I'm not sure if it was my young age and being slightly naive, but I'd be lying if I said the thought of NOT going even crossed my mind. It was 9/11 and our travel plans were to leave to Europe the week of Thanksgiving. We had trained for this huge event for several months, and most importantly raised thousands of dollars for UCP. I was not backing out now. Of course I didn't blame those who decided not to travel. A lot of people had young families and the risk to them was just not worth it.

The trip was absolutely amazing. We were among very few Americans in the race, if not the only and proudly wore American Flag tattoos on our arms. I've never experienced such respect and sympathy from so many strangers in my life. Probably the most memorable thing that happened on the day of the marathon was when another runner or maybe even spectator came up to myself and friend Colleen who ran the entire race with me. This person gave their respects to us and handed us an American Flag to carry through the finish in Louis II Stadium.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Getting back to "normal"

"People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness. Just because they're not on your road doesn't mean they've gotten lost."--H. Jackson Brown

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately. I mean, what else do you do when you are recovering and used to feeling completely exhausted and having most of the hours of your day and week planned out. Well, that or eating, which unfortunately is still pretty high up there....

Ironman Canada was an experience of a life time. I worked hard, I met amazing people through the training journey and I found an awesome coach that brought out the best in me. While the 4am calls were getting a little old, truth be told I already miss it all. It's only been just over a week, and I guess if I didn't already have a packed schedule for the first half of next year I'd have what they call the post ironman blues.

Don't all know you've had some sort of form of them... We get hooked on the endorphins, the constant fatigue. The camaraderie, the annoyingly self absorbing training chitter chatter. While we are in it we can all at some time or another say we can't WAIT to get back to to NORMAL. Then, when we don't have that big thing to look forward to, we can't help but feel sort of, lost in a way.

After a disappointing second Ironman where nothing went as planned (for me), Shane & I had decided to take 2010 off from the long distance racing. The idea was to get back to basics, shorten the distance and hopefully get some speed back. Get out of the house more, be more social. I'm not really sure any of that happened as it sounded in our heads. While we did spend an amazing summer in Coeur d'alene, ID, about the only thing we improved on were our happy hour skills. If it were racing categories, I think we would have both been racing elite in the happy hour category. Just sayin.

As we ended our summer trip (exactly a year ago) we landed back home about 10lbs heavier (each) and feeling a little bit lost. We needed that carrot, that goal. I trained for a marathon, and Shane was really working on his career, but it still just didn't seem right. Then, at the end of February when we signed up for Ironman Canada things started to change. We got that passion back. The excitement of the unknown, the possibilities.

Truth be told, I don't think either of us realized how much happier we were individually, as well as together as a couple until we got back to what we do best. It shouldn't be that hard to figure out I suppose, our relationship began while training for our first adventure, the Monaco Marathon.

I know not everyone feels the same as we do. Not everyone feels the same about training and racing. I think I actually at times may have let other's ideas of "living" and enjoying life alter what was true to me. I let it get to me and make me feel like I should be doing something else.

I think it's really important that we all be true to ourselves. That we do what makes us happy and full of life. Starting a family, a new career, learning to cook or picking up a new sport. I'm not saying this is what I'll be doing until I'm in my 70s, but for now this is my thing. This makes me feel alive, and this is my normal.

With a little side of Mexico weekends and happy hours of course. As long as I'm still in bed by 9pm :-)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Ironman Canada

Grab a comfy chair - as much as I am trying to make this short and sweet, it is Ironman....


We arrived in Vancouver with ease and ready to roll. Just a couple little hiccups with directions and an extra trip to the US Border (oops), but Wed evening we were safely parked in our rental home ready for a good night sleep. We eased into Thursday heading down to pickup a few things from IM Village, but decided to wait for Lindsay and register on Friday. The water was like glass and I was itching to get in to do a pre-race swim. Unfortunately the weather turned and we got our bikes and gear bags picked up just in time to hurry home and out of a big storm that shut everything down! At least we got to loosen up the legs a little with run.

The Utah crew arrived Thursday evening and we all met up for some dinner. I got to meet some more Utah Bad A@@ athletes (do they just BREED athleticism in Utah?) and we had a yummy dinner.

Friday we headed down to register in the am and I finally got to get in my swim. I was in HEAVEN. The water was clear and smooth and everything I hoped it would be. I was calm and comfortable and felt great on the swim. Somehow 2 days before the race, I knew this was finally going to be MY swim.

Later in the afternoon we headed out to do our pre-race ride. Unfortunately mini-me had some issues... As we are ready to head out I had a flat. I had just changed all the tires, etc so I was a little worried. I quickly switched out the tire and we were off again. Or so we thought. As we headed up the driveway I went to downshift and realized I wasn't getting anywhere. My rear derailleur cable had snapped. I tried to stay as calm as I could as we rode down to the LBS to have her fixed up. I have to say I was less than thrilled when I learned I had to leave her with the shop & couldn't pick her up until the am. Whadayado?

I have to give a big shout out to Bike Barn. My bike was ready first thing Saturday am, and the gears were PERFECT. They even stretched out the cables JUST RIGHT. Bike & bag drop were completed and we were headed home to relax.

Lindsay's WONDERFUL friends from Utah made us the BEST pasta dinner ever. We didn't have to lift a finger. I can't thank Jody, Danielle and friends enough for everything they did. It was a blessing having you both with us.

Sunday morning was the normal pre-race jitters, porta potty lines and anxiety. However, something about this time was different. I was almost CALM compared to those around me. I entered the water with ease and moved my butt right up to the front with the big boys. I assured Shane he was not to mess with me as I WOULD be coming out of the water first :-) Little did I know it would actually happen...

The swim was INSANE. To say I was in over my head was an understatement. With over 2800 people starting at once I had my a@@ handed to me. Boys are mean. That's all I have to say. I was punched, pulled under and swam over. I wondered if it was ever going to end. I was dying to look at my watch, but made myself just keep on trucking. I never saw an open stretch of water, but did manage to stay on a few people's feet for a bit. As I started to see the bottom of the lake I was relieved. I had no idea what my swim time was going to be, but I knew I had given it my all and most importantly didn't swim off course. As my hand started to touch the bottom I looked up and saw there was still a ways to go, but everyone around me was standing so I did as well. I took off my goggles and lifted up my wetsuit to the see the time. 1:03:xx. I honestly started LAUGHING. Only in my wildest dreams did I actually think I would swim to my potential. I realized I was wasting time walking so I put my goggles back on and swam a bit more.

In T-1 I was elated. I looked up and saw Linds and screamed at her about our swim times. We were both quickly out of there and on our way to the longest part of the day.

Swim time: 1:04:20
T-1: 4:24

My excitement from the swim carried me the entire day. I've been waiting for a swim like that since I started racing tris, specifically the longer distance. The bike course was STUNNING, I was feeling great and I just knew it was going to be a good day. I rode with Linds for a bit, then slowly she moved up ahead of me. Shane passed me (and gave me my official YOU BEAT ME OUT OF THE WATER) around mile 30ish I think, and then I just settled into my own pace. The first section was FAST. Then we had our first big climb of the day, Richter pass. I have to say I was a bit discouraged as I was passed A LOT, but I stuck to my plan and did my own thing. I was relieved when I saw a sign that the first pass was over, and it wasn't really hard. I realized my training was truly paying off.

The rollers were tough, but doable. The hardest part of the entire day was trying to pee (yes, I peed myself- but to my defense I wanted to stop but the lines were SO long) and the headwinds. I was able to see all my friends and a few tri-scottsdale peeps along the way. I realized I hadn't lost much time at all compared and just kept on plugging away trying to keep my nutrition going and stay in aero to minimize the head wind. The only time I really felt a little off was around miles 50-70. I was almost sleepy. I was taking in plenty of calories, but I decided to get some caffeine in to see if that would do the trick. It did, and just in time. Around mile 75 the weather turned and we were riding into a pretty bad storm. Pouring down rain and wind made the last 35miles extremely tough. The last climb up to Yellow Lake was scary and freezing cold, but seeing our cheerleaders out there, as well as all the locals and spectators put it all into perspective. The day is going to give you all that you can handle, and you do with it what you know how to. I think Shane said, "They don't call it EasyMan."

My hands and joints were achy from the cold and rain, but I knew we had a nice down to get back to T-2. I was cautious but still aggressive on the descend and as we got out of the pass you could feel the temperature warm up a bit. The crowds in town carried me through to the end as I realized how close to 6hrs I was. I had no idea what I was going to end up with on this ride and was extremely pleasantly surprised.

Here is a picture of one of the Utah stars to show you the weather. I'm not even sure this sums it up as you can't see the wind...

Bike time: 6:03:06
T-2: 2:24

In the first mile of the run my feet were numb, but slowly warmed up. I had a quick porta potty stop in the first 10mins, but realized even with that stop I was well under 9min mile pace. I saw our friends Nancy and Wim cheering and they helped keep my smile rolling for a VERY long time. My legs felt fantastic. My effort felt easy and I was able to hold my sub 9min pace for the first 10miles before the majority of the hills started. I saw everyone again around the out and back and couldn't believe how close I was to some. Of course the Utah girls were just getting started doing their thing and were flying making it look EASY. I finally let myself walk the first big climb around mile 11. It was a steep up and I had Lori, my coaches voice saying if you are running as slow as you could walk, just walk. So, I opened up my walk stride and leaned forward just like she said. I had taken in 2 gels (forced) by mile 11, and just alternated water and gatorade at the aid stations. I was doing my nerdy math and realized after the halfway point even if I slowed down about a min a mile I could still marathon PR in my Ironman.

I caught up to Shane around mile 14 when he was struggling. I gave him some pepto and was on my way still feeling strong. Unfortunately things started to turn for me in the second half and I was now dealing with some stomach problems. I tired the porta pottys, chicken broth, pretzels, oranges, pepto, salt. It was getting worse and I began to feel extremely tired. I caught myself feeling faint in a porta potty and quickly got myself out to get some air. I decided I wasn't going down like that and just kept walking. I used my garmin to keep my walk pace under a 15min pace. I tried to keep the smile on my face, and tucked my head down to avoid the crazy headwind.

Shane repassed me somewhere in there, maybe mile 20ish? I really don't remember. I was walking and eating pretzels and making deals with myself to try to jog. Finally as I got to the last 5kish I dug as deep as I could go and started running. I had gotten down 2 baggies of pretzels and my stomach was a little better. It was a slow jog, but I wasn't walking. The crowds downtown were amazing. I saw Nancy and Wim once again and they carried me through to the end. I had tears in my eyes the entire last mile.

I was very disoriented at the end. I had pushed to my limits for the day. I made myself proud. I gave it all I had and wore a smile (nearly) the entire day. I met every single one of my goals (minus a tad slower on the run) and enjoyed every single minute of it.

Run time: 4:36:24
Final Time: 11:50:56 - 1hr and 19min Ironman PR.

The best part about the day was heading back down to the midnight finish with Jody and Lindsay. Jody - thank you for "convincing" us to go. It was worth it all watching the final finisher cross at 11:59:50ish... Priceless.

Thank you to everyone out there cheering. All the amazing good wishes and congrats. It was a day I will never forget. It was a stunning course, amazing support and of course... I will be back. Thank you to our amazing coach Lori for bringing out the best in us. I've never felt better in my life, and completely put my trust in you. I can't wait to do it all again with you guiding us.

A special thanks to Lindsay for bringing such great support and to Jody, Danielle and husband extraordinaire Devin for being out there for us.

Now some POST race wine tasting and fun pictures!!!

Therapy Winery - appropriate??

Stunning scenery.

Yummy desserts

Small town wildlife (this is actually ON the run course - we were driving back from a winery)

Crazy stormy weather (on the drive home)

And the best Irondog ever, proudly wearing his medal.