Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Thinking BIG.

Today mark Remicade treatment #2 and now I am resting up for the big Ironman Canada weekend where TNM will be represented with 20 amazing athletes all with different visions, different goals, and different journeys getting them to their race day. So exciting on all accounts.

(Ironman Canada 2009 swim start)

We leave tomorrow to the gorgeous Penticton. I will be on bed rest for two more days and then gradually start my second "block" of training!

With all this down time it has given me the opportunity to think, then evaluate and re-evaluate again. Reading, studying, planning! I am thinking big and dreaming big for the future as my health WILL be better. Mark and I are working together now, literally working together (not just in a relationship) and are excited for 2011. We have fun ideas for our facility, for the business, for the athletes and everything just keeps getting better for 2011 and we are excited! He has taken over the "business" side of things and I just get to help make decisions.....so he does the hard stuff and I get to say how to do it!! Ha!!! Truly though this gives us both the opportunity to focus 100% on what we are great at and what we love to do. And budget and retail are not my thing (okay, they are my thing, when it comes to personal shopping), but not the bulk orders. He keeps things organized and seamless, I mess them up, and then he fixes it again...we are a perfect match (at least I believe so!) . I just write programs, do schedules, and read and learn more and more and talk on the phone....love it!!!

For training and racing I am planning as best I can based on when the doctors think I can race (right now we are looking at a minimum of 5-8 more months before I will be at the start line), but with that said I can at least plan and dream big!!! And the "idea" of exercise is nearing...maybe 8 more weeks (but will evaluate when that time comes, medicine needs to have "time" to work and I am giving it the "time"). I am getting excited just thinking about it.

(Athlete #511 is looking forward to this moment too!)

Thinking big is always a great place to start, details come later!!! Many of you dreamed big a year ago (or more) and the details have all been drawn out, your time is here!!! Good luck to everyone racing this weekend and a special shout out to those of you "going the distance" in the ironman events around the country. Whether your goal to finish, to PR, to learn more about yourself, or to qualify for Kona remember that getting to the start line and crossing the finish line are both HUGE accomplishments in itself. Enjoy your day, your moment, your journey! Looking foreward to the stories, the success and the memories! Ironmanlive.com will be on multiple screens for us!

Dream big and execute!!!

Thursday, August 19, 2010


Things are getting brighter and brighter. Don't get me wrong I am no where back to my "normalcy" but I am closer to normal. It's the baby steps, like eating solid foods (wisely), standing instead of sitting, gaining weight, its all happening slowly! I think of this past week as the first week back to training, you want to do more, your body tells you to do more, but you know that it will create set backs if you do. So you continue to follow your program as coach says in order to flourish in the results later. I am on my first "build" of the program and then recovery week comes a little early (next week) with another treatment of Remicade. But each block will get me a little closer to my "happy, healthy, place!"

I was stoked to be able to go to watch over 25 TN multisporters at Lake Stevens 70.3. I had to "taper" the day before to make it to the race, being on bed rest from noon on! Then we got a hotel room in Everett to have a "calmer" nights sleep since the heat temps in Seattle were record breaking. I was "preparing" for the big day!
The pro field was stacked, TNM athletes were on fire, the heat was up and the results were nothing short of amazing out there. It was fun to be a part of so many athletes "special" day.
(My bum sat like this ALL day! 2 phones, notebook, and a camera!)

(Mark played super coach doing all the "running" around and relaying message from me)

Yesterday was another team event of Swim For Life. It is a 2.4 mile swim across the lake from Medina to Madison park. TNM had 60 athletes participate in the event. In the past the water has been calm and the sun beaming onto the swimmers, however, this year we arrived with lake chop, wind and less than ideal conditions, but the athletes DID it and they MADE it and are stronger because of it! I am so proud of each of them. The money was raised for the Puget Sound Blood Center. Awesome event!

(Team Girls Rock! Johnna, Kara, Bridget, Kim, Karissa, Heather, Ann)

The girls above had to be combined as one team. And I was smiling ear to ear as they took off, 7 blondes, one kayaker and the doubts, nervouseness, and giggles were quite silly coming from these girls that podium at every race! Way to go ladies!

(H* and I staying warm post swim event.....stoked that the braid thickness is coming back from last years treatments!!)

We are now packing up and headed out to Ironman Canada next week. It is a super fun time of year full of excitement. Being sidelined has me balancing rest with building myself back up and enjoying the little things. I am learning so much about "me" and "life" that I can keep with me forever. Excited that things are looking up and we can see little improvements each day. Not so excited that I am SO sore from standing a couple of hours yesterday...unbelieveable, once again...baby steps, think I should go book a post-standing massage for recovery :)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

HOME never felt so good!

All I can really say is WOW. The past few days were tough.

After the first trip to the ER I vowed I would not return…knew I had some doctors appointments lied out for the following week. Days of REST and more rest and I returned to work late Monday. Barely able to make it through the lessons as soon as I hit home things got scary. We headed back to the ER for some treatment and before you know it we were NOT going home.

Severe dehydration, the lack of nutrition, and the intense flare up had me in my worst state EVER. Yes, I had flare ups before lasting 4-6 months but never this severe, they were managed well by medication and listening to my body and resting as needed.

Ironically my GI doctor was the on call gastroneurologist for the week so he was able to come see me every day. It took 7 huge iv bags to have to go to the bathroom. And after losing over 8 lbs, I soon blew up so much that I did not even recognize myself. I didn’t care about anything though, just wanted to get healthy and feel normal again. I soon had cankles, swore I gained 15 pounds (later to find out only three), and looked like I had collagen injectons all over my face.

Many have asked what causes the flare up and so just to address it, it is not “caused” by stress or nutrition. It is that I continually have inflammation due to ulcers in my colon and it needs to be attended too, once a major flare up occurs (which for me comes on quickly and strong) then anything (ie: stress and nutrition) become a huge component it getting it to settle. So I was on complete bed rest, iv bags and liquid diet (chicken broth and jello). They do not know what causes ulcerative colitis but is very similar to Crohns disease (on a smaller scale). I had heard of hospitalizations and individuals having sections of their colons removed but truly never thought I would be in this situation.

My tests all came back negative so I have started the Remicade treatments (yep, they run from t $7,000-$14,000, thank goodness for insurance). I responded very well to the first one, as I was actually moving and was able to eat solids starting the next day. I was pretty exhausted immediately following but with the help of amazing friends and family the time was spent much more pleasantly than having to go through this solo. I had the most beautiful flowers to look at (thank you Johnna, Ryan, Bryn and the Cunninghams!), magazines galore (Thank you Bri, Bridget, Jenn, Kirsten, Sarah, Karen, unbelievable that there were no "repeats!") (BTW the black blazer is the hot item now!), a fantastic new lululemon scarf/blanket/do anything cover, a real toothbrush and toothpaste, room spray (Miss Bridget is like a mom!) , the cards, the FB messages, the concerns, and an ipad that has EVERYTHING a girl could want to watch and the little trip for a cute lulu tank and deodrant was over the top (thank you Beth!), itunes gift card (H* thank you!) , and visitors that made the time fly by (You guys are the best!). And thank you everyone for taking care of Mark during this time too, he was more of a trooper than myself I believe (the sandwiches, the pretzels, the banana bread, a trip to Azteca- he likes food!, but the messages too....I can't thank you guys enough).
I have another treatment in two weeks, then in four, then in 8, etc, etc. It is a progressive medication that does have many side effects but if I lay low and rest then I hope to continue to respond like the first treatment.

As for training, that is no more for now and there is no time to telling as to when. But I promise to be the best spectathlete to all of you out there pursuing your fitness dreams! My time will come! I am pretty okay with it for right now. Just had a small bout of sadness when looking at the pro list for Lake Stevens this Sunday. That quickly changed though when I had to “walk” around the hallway (which I had not been out of my room in 3 days) and felt dizzy just doing that. Amazing to go from 100 mile bike rides, to walking 50 steps as success, baby steps I know! Leaving the hospital was pretty emotional, seeing the sun, going home, and having this new amazing husband that could not have been any more supportive made me appreciate life even more.

I know most of you reading are triathletes and taking time or days off is really hard to swallow. I wanted to just remind you that are bodies are pretty amazing things and they “let” us do what we want on a day to day basis. It is important to listen to it and know when to say when and also to appreciate it and on those days you are looking for motivation just remind yourself how “lucky” you are to just be out there doing what you love. So often athletes are so focused on the time goal, the PR, the winning, and truly it is so much more than that. But yes, I understand that winning is fun! Triathlon has kept me fit, given me the best job in the world, has let me travel the world, but what I think of most is how the sport has one by one added new amazing friends to my life. The support and the messages that rolled in during this past week reminded me of what a family this multisport lifestyle really has become. What I will miss the most during this time is that which I get to spend with my friends, the fun memories we create while doing these crazy workouts and the laughter. The races are the icing on the cake and as much as I love to race….it can wait for now!

Tonight we are hoping for a great nights rest of no more pottying in toilet hats, no more BP and HR reading on the hour, no more iv’s, no more moveable beds (to prevent bed sores), and to the lady next door whom was on “high alert for falling” whom bed sung “Mary had a Little Lamb” like the ice cream truck was driving by every time she would’t wait for a nurse….you will NOT be missed! (PS, this was more than an hourly occurrence, no joke, ask my visitors!!)
Cheers to your health and to being able to appreciating what our bodies can do for us!

Saturday, August 07, 2010

New Path.

So simple, yet so complicated.

It’s simple to say I am done for an indefinite amount of time off of racing and even training. NADA. U.C. (ulcerative colitis), which you don’t see, is that this disease is taking a toll. Nobody can see the disability so it can be hard to believe I have it, but quality of life has diminished.

Amazing that one can be stopped in their tracks so quickly, training and living life to the fullest. One of the reasons I did turn pro was because I had been so healthy for multiple months. Exercise is the last thing my body will accept right now, so now I rest, and rest. I have accepted that training will increase appetite (which I am unable to eat) and adds stress onto my body (that needs to heal), along with adds to issues of dehydration. No fun :(

Two months of trying to get coverage of a pre-existing condition, and now dealing with finding new docs has been a ridiculous challenge. But thankfully, after a trip to the ER the docs finally found it urgent enough to see me quickly and we are on a solid path to getting out of another repeated flare up.

Since regular meds are no longer working it looks like (assuming I pass all the tests) I will be on a lifelong treatment of Remicade or get the colon removed (which honestly, I would not mind at this point). There is a super high success rate with the i.v. treatment , so finger crossed I pass the test to qualify for them. However, there is no end in sight for when and if training and racing will ever begin.
This liquid diet of Ensure is not as bad as I thought it would be (I have tried all flavors now) , but ironically the weight loss is out of control. I always love being fit and healthy and being super thin and not healthy is not the ideal lifestyle. I feel weak. So whoever wrote “ Being Thin Never Tasted So Good” or something to that extent….I don’t agree. “Being Fit Never Tasted So Good” would be my book!

I am accepting this as a path I was meant to take, a journey to make me appreciate health, training, racing, and more than anything living.
There is a big picture to this that I am anxiously awaiting.