Ironwoman Dreams

If I can do this, anyone can.


Catalina Curtailed: A Health Story

I really thought I had it, that my energy issues were behind me, and that I was ready to move on. After having my thyroid medication dosage reduced (my blood panel results said I was taking too much), I had started incorporating long runs into my workout schedule in preparation for the Catalina Island Conservancy Marathon in March.

At first, I was feeling great, on top of the world. Then, after last week’s and this week’s runs, long and short, left me with the old “running at top speed in a hurricane-force headwind” feeling, I began to wonder if something was still up with me, health wise.

I saw Dr. Shammas today and when I detailed my training plan, she told me I should probably cool it with the long runs, that my body, just two months out from having a major surgery, was probably not ready for such an aggressive regimen. Instead, she recommended shorter distances, and that I exercise non-aggressively six days a week, instead of five.

I can’t say I’m not disappointed, but, after everything I’ve been through, I’ve learned to listen to my body, and I know, deep down, she’s right. I shouldn’t have tried to push so soon after surgery. I just miss the feeling of being able to run forever and ever, that freedom, there’s nothing like it. I guess I’ll have to get it in smaller doses now, until I work my way back up.

I suppose that it’s good timing, with me starting my new role within my company, and getting up to speed, traveling and such. It’s not really an ideal time to be training for distance running.

Patience is a virtue, and I’m learning to be very, very virtuous. :-/

Sidelined again...le sigh!

Sidelined again…le sigh!



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Sometimes Superheroes Need A Push: A New Year Story

My thought process began last week, after being informed by my doc that I was now taking a bit “too much” Synthroid, according to my labs. Until that point, I’d felt pretty great, with the exception of sleeping like a rock for 9-10 hours and feeling groggy for the first hour or so after waking. I was a bit skeptical of her conclusion at first, but then things started to feel worse.

Hyperthyroid symptoms aren’t exactly the opposite of hypothyroid symptoms. The body’s funky that way. With hypothyroid, your body doesn’t produce enough adrenaline and other energy-giving hormones to move you along to function at highest capacity. With hyperthyroid, the body dumps a ton of adrenaline into your system, so you’re in “fight or flight” mode all of the time, which, obvs, konks out your system, hard. So, sure, I’m going along, feeling skipperdee-dee because, for once, I have energy, until…KONK! And I did konk.

Christmas Eve morning, before packing up and heading down to San Diego for the holiday to see my cousins, I decided to fit in a quick 3-miler. Waking up that morning was, as usual, difficult, but I figured, once I got going, I’d perk right on up. After walking the dog for 30 minutes and after about five minutes into my run, I realized that there was no “perking” to be had. I felt like a lead puppet, that same, sloggy, lurching feeling I felt before this whole thyroid mess. My cardio system was working overtime, trying to move this huge, brick-like body along the concrete. I had to stop and walk a couple of times to get my heart rate back down. All in all, I finished feeling failed and worse than I felt before I started.

The rest of the week, I took a break from the running, opting instead to do more walking than usual, but it didn’t really feel like I was doing anything significantly helpful, fitness-wise, and that was frustrating. Finally, over the weekend I chose to get out there on an eight mile hike with the dog. I woke up that morning with a familiar groggy feeling, and, hitting the trail, felt significantly fatigued at first, to the point where, halfway up the out and back trail, I wondered if I should stop and quit pushing myself. Still, I continued the gradual climb to the top.

It was coming back, though, that the strangest thing happened: I felt energized! I sped back down the winding dust and rock with youthful, athletic zeal, so much so that I felt like I could have done the whole trek over again.

I decided I was going to get in at least ONE hour-long run before the end of the year. A friend of mine posted on Facebook, after finishing a six-mile run himself (he’s one of those annoyingly perpetually fit types who can sit on a couch for a year or two, get up, and run six miles at an eight or nine-minute pace without feeling any pain–grr), that running over three miles made him feel like a superhero. I was going to get my cape back, thyroid be damned.

My body fought the first three miles, even though I tried to keep it “slow and steady,” and a cloud of doubt began to rain little droplets of quit suggestions into my head.

“Maybe you should take some walk breaks. It wouldn’t hurt to walk for a couple of minutes.”

“You don’t have to go the whole hour. You haven’t run an hour in a while. Maybe do 45 minutes today, and build up to an hour again.”

“Maybe your body isn’t ready to handle this.”

But then there was stubborn ol’ me. There was the me inside that took me by my own shoulders and said, “No. You have been very caring and you’ve gone easy on yourself for months and months, always opting out of the harder version of the workout because you were afraid to ‘push it’ because of your health. You will feel worse if you quit. You are doing this full hour, no matter how slow. You will stay on your feet.”

Easy as anything, my energy came back. Not in epic, superhero proportions like it did my first run back after surgery, but enough to where I felt like I could keep going forever. I was in the running “zone”, the sweet spot, the point where running was fun again, enjoyable. Granted, I traveled much slower than my usual pace, but I hit the pavement for a full hour and, as I slowed down to a walk, I felt a wave of gratitude and pride of accomplishment splash over me.

I guess that’s how superheroes must feel all of the time.

Happy New Year!

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The Comeback Kid: A Recovery Story

I won’t lie when I say I have been antsy to get back to some sort of exercise after surgery. My anxieties have been worsened by (not recommended) reading of post-thyroidectomy forums, where poster after poster claims to not only have gained weight after surgery, but to also have trouble losing weight. Feeling already not-so-awesome about the weight I’ve put on in the past year, the thought of putting even more on does not feel great. Furthermore, they don’t tell you this, but your hunger escalates after you have major surgery. You are an eating machine, once you get your appetite back. With every bite of food I never would have thought twice about before this, I’ve started picturing my derriere expanding uncontrollably, like “The Blob.”  Maybe it’s because I have had times in my life where I have been completely out-of-control regarding my weight, and it’s a fear that it could happen again. At any rate, I know I’ve been somewhat irrational. I might have gained a tiny bit of weight through not exercising, but, at this point, I have no reason to think it is unmanageable. Still, I have been very eager to get back to at least FEELING like I’m doing something to contribute to my health.

You don’t realize it, but your neck does a lot of work, and takes a lot of impact. It takes a while for the swelling and tightness to subside, so, obviously, things that heavily involve the neck, such as swimming, are out for a while. I have decided to hold off on things that involve stretching or straining the neck, or holding it in a fixed position, for at least three weeks, so that nixes most exercise, such as yoga, Pilates, cycling and most strength training. The only thing I have held out hope to be able to get back to soon has been running.

My doctor told me to give myself more time than I thought that I needed to recover before going back to vigorous activity. Every morning this week, I’ve woken up early and jogged in place, just to see if my neck would take the jostling of the running motion without feeling any soreness or spasming in the area of surgery. Yesterday, I almost gave myself the go-ahead, except for a nagging little bit of soreness. Begrudgingly, I gave myself one more day to chill and heal up before attempting to run.

Today was the day. I pulled on my faithful Old Navy leggings, my dry-fit gear and new teal colored Nikes, and took the dog out on a walk. I told myself I’d go easy, just lightly jog for about twenty minutes, just to test the waters and see how it went. I promised myself that I would be forgiving of myself and not be disappointed if I had to start back from square one, that I’d get my fitness back fast.

With the “Beep!” of my Garmin, I was off, holding myself back at a nice and easy pace. The tendons around my shins were a bit tight, as I hadn’t stretched them much at all in recent weeks. They burned for several minutes, but then loosened up. So far, my neck was feeling just fine, aside from my breathing feeling a little weird as it pushed back and forth against the swollen tissue. As I neared the halfway mark of my run, my body felt looser, painless, energized, strain-less, free!

“Whee! I’m running!” I wanted to trill gleefully to the treetops.

I looked down at my Garmin, which told me I was running at an 8:45 pace. Suddenly, I felt a small spasm, from deep inside my neck, a little “beeping” pain, as if warning me to chill out. This is supposed to be a jog, I reminded myself, and dialed it back to a 10:30 pace. Effortlessly, my pace kept creeping up to 9-9:30, and I had to keep checking myself to slow down my free-wheeling legs.

I finished feeling like I could have run at least twice the distance, which is a good, good, awesome sign. Either my body has really relished the rest, or it’s finally got enough thyroid hormone, which, I hope, will make me an even more awesome athlete in the end.

I’m back!

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Meditation: A Running Story

As I talk to more people about this whole thyroid thing, the more panic and horror sets in. The reoccurring fantastical image in my mind is waking up from a foggy, drugged sleep, only to realize with the sheerest of visceral terror that someone or someTHING has slashed into my neck and stolen one of my organs while I was sleeping (I MAY be watching too many “X-Files” reruns, but still…).

Even though it’s perfectly logical and I know it has to happen, I am freaked out. I can’t help it. I am trying to do what I can to lull myself into states of calm, to cure these painful, fearful feelings, to get used to the change that is about to occur.

I started going back to yoga, both vinyasa flow and restorative practices, focusing my breath, quieting my mind. I’ve learned to carry these practices with me, the mindset, in my daily life, and also, to recognize it in other things that I do.

I’m a runner. I’ve always loved the solitary simplicity, the strength and the fire I get from being out there in the open air, relying on my own two feet to carry me anywhere. The other day, as I was running, even though I’d thought this before, I really realized that running IS meditation, if done properly.

When you become fit as a runner, it’s not the muscle in your legs that carries you great distances, it’s your heart, lungs, and the rhythm of your feet. As long as you have breath, heart, and allow yourself to rely on them, you can cover great distances existing in a space of total freedom, peace and passive mindfulness.

Throughout my short-lived existence as a distance runner, I’ve had friends, coaches and teammates tell me I’m “fast”. I don’t really think that I am “fast” so much as that I am consistent. I keep a steady pace that feels right to me and slowly increase as time stretches on, as my lungs and legs stretch out. I keep enough “juice in the tank” for a one-mile sprint to the finish. I listen to and trust my body, I trust the rhythms of my feet to drum out the right pace for that time.

Running’s one of the few times when life’s crummy moments can’t get to me. I’ve used it to get through so many things. Sometimes a conundrum calls for a slower, thoughtful run, and sometimes anger or worry lead me to sprint out my anxiety. Other times, digging into a steep up-and-over hill workout can be like sticking a pin into the very center of my deepest pain or sadness and relieving the pressure.  And when I don’t want to think at all, running breakneck downhill without stepping on any cracks helps me focus on my feet, and less on anything else.

A lot of people try to muscle a run, or try to fight it, but if you relax and trust your body, it becomes an experience, an opportunity for focus and betterment. You can run fast or take it slow, knowing that your body is strong and it is meant to do this. It takes time to “get out of your head” on a run, but, when it happens, it is the best feeling, ever. It is cleansing, rejuvenating and a beautiful opportunity to breathe and embrace living.

Trust yourself, and follow your heart.

Running as meditation--and you get to see cool stuff like this on the way.

Running as meditation–and you get to see cool stuff like this on the way.

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Running On Empty: A Health Story

Ever had a dream where you’re running away from something and your legs, arms and body just won’t move fast enough, as if some tremendous force were pushing you back? That’s how I feel most days when I go for a run. Typically, it doesn’t start out like that, but, after about 17-20 minutes, the heavy feeling starts to spread: to my eyelids, my shoulders, my arms, glutes, legs and feet. My heart, lungs and mind want to move faster, but my body is unwilling.

The doctor called this week, immediately following my ultrasound. She said that my bloodwork showed normal levels of thyroid hormone, but that my B12 levels were really low (hence the low energy). Then, she told me that my ultrasound revealed that my nodule was a complex one, meaning both solid and fluid-filled, and that I would need to schedule a biopsy.

It’s funny, through all of my time fundraising for cancer research, I never thought that I, myself, would come so close to “The Big C”. Reading through statistics, you’ll find that most thyroid nodules are benign, that, even if they do find malignancy, it’s very treatable in most cases. Only about 2% of cases get a bad prognosis, and that’s usually only if they’ve let it go for a while. Still, it does put things in perspective, when you suddenly realize that life isn’t this guaranteed forever thing. What are you running toward? What are you running from? Is it really necessary to run anywhere?

In running toward some things, I know I have sprinted painlessly away from others. I’ve spent so much of my life running away from things that scare me, or, worse, never trying because I was so afraid of the humiliation of failure. Mostly, I’ve run from myself, from the me I would be, if I’d never been afraid. I wonder how my life would have been different if I wasn’t afraid of showing the real me, instead of trying to remake myself all of the time into something better…

And now, because literal running has become so difficult, I have no choice but to find other ways to cope with life’s scary things. All of the alone time, in my own head, in my own world, just me and the pavement, safe, with my two feet drumming my independent rhythms against the road, all of that has been voided of freedom and joy. I now run just so I don’t lose all mojo completely, but it provides little satisfaction at this point, as I often find it difficult to run more than 40 minutes.

I may not believe that things happen for a reason, but I do believe that things can happen that give you reasons to learn, to reflect, and to grow. Maybe, while I’m still finding out what this health stuff means for my body, it’s time to slow down, stop running, and maybe consider taking in the landscape. Maybe we all need that, a pause, to figure out where we are going, and the roads we’ve hoofed to get us here.


Even The Best-Laid Plans Get Scrambled: A Training Story

Milestones. Sometimes they’re physical and tangible, like crossing a state line to a place you’ve never been, and sometimes they exist in hidden spaces inside the self. Either way, they are a gateway to a new layer of self, a new dimension of seeing the world, whether their impact is large or small.

This week was our scheduled 100-mile ride, or a “Century”, as spandex-clad Tour de France fanboys tend to call it (and as it’s known in the world of cycling). Century sounds a bit epic and intimidating, like standing at the edge of a cliff and looking way, way down at the infinite landscape stretching on and on for 100 whole miles. 100-miler sounds more like taking one mile at a time, in small bites, til you get there.

No matter what you call it, I was doing it. The team met in a new spot along the Pacific Coast Highway, and I managed to somehow let my GPS lead me astray in getting there. As if 100-miles were not intimidating enough, I ended up arriving just in time to throw on my helmet and scramble onto my bike to catch up with my already-wheeling away teammates.

My goal this week was to relax, to let myself have fun this day, and not worry too much about my time, or about being separated from the pack. Typically anyway, everyone sort of spreads out during the long rides. I was going to keep it steady, focus on keeping my breathing even, and avoid panicking about anything for every mile until the end.

It was going okay, but then it wasn’t so okay Within the first 20 miles out into Ventura County, I began to get a familiar cramping in my thighs and hip. For some reason, my body really does not like that stretch of the PCH. Luckily, I managed to get to the mile 25 SAG station and hop off to get in a long, long stretch session, which enormously helped things.

There are always spots on the PCH that are no fun, like long climbs along lots of beach-going parked cars, and stretches where you can’t really see much of anything cool, and you just have to keep on truckin’ til you do get to something cool. I can definitely think of worse places to bike, scenery-wise, but sometimes the cars and trucks zooming past you while you hug a small sliver of shoulder can be intimidating.

Overall, I was handling my ride pretty well, all things considered, and I was keeping up a nice little merry clip– not all-out, but a good, happy-legged pace. Best of all, even when I had to dig deep, my mind hovered just above that really nasty ditch-place, the one that’s really hard to get out of, once you’re in there, and it’s a really dark, desperately tragic, alone spot to be in.

At the second SAG spot, at the turnaround to head back out to Los Posas in Ventura County, I met up with one of my teammates, Lisa, who’d already “been there, done that” at Ironman Coeur D’Alene the previous month, but who had come out (along with many other already Ironman teammates) to ride support with us along the way. Lisa and I chatted easily along the road, maintaining a 15-17 mph pace along most of the flats and moderate inclines. She told me about how she maintained an easy-going pace, and still had plenty of time to finish her race. Of course, I thought, she had 17 hours to finish hers, whereas Vineman racers only have 16 hours. Yipe and yipe.

Before I realized it, I’d cycled out to Ventura and back to the first SAG station. Over 60 miles killed, and only 40 to go. And I still hadn’t gone to a really dark place. Things were not sucking. I was actually enjoying myself. And keeping a decent pace (for me) just over four hours in.

Back again to the turnaround I went. Lisa had left me to myself at SAG, but the fun I’d had riding along with her on that second loop remained. Though, admittedly, the cycling was getting a little bit harder as my legs and body fatigued, my attitude and outlook were still, as compared to my other monstrous cryfests, really awesome.

I saw my speedier teammates heading back toward the start line, figuring they were probably about an hour ahead of me, overall. Teddy Roosevelt once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Conversely, if you’re feeling happy, then you don’t feel much like comparing yourself to others. Seeing them speed by, the only thing I could think was, Wow, they must be really happy to be that much closer to being over this ride.

I knew it would be my turn to be “over” the ride soon enough. Heading back toward the start, there was a ton of traffic, plus lots of long, not too steep climbs that really required some deeper digging, just to get past them.

Finally, I could see it, the FINISH. Seven hours and twenty minutes in, I was almost there. It was happening. I could almost taste it. Then, SPLAT!

It wasn’t so much a “splat” really, but it happened as fast as a splat would. Something caused my handlebars to jerk crazily to the side, and, before I knew it, I was flying head-first toward the ground at 16 mph. Luckily, my years of horseback riding training had subconsciously prepared me for any fall, as if my brain knows, “Ground contact is immanent. Prepare to go limp in 5, 4,  3…”

My shoulder took the brunt of the impact, although I quickly became aware of my face sliding across the pavement as well. Just to show where my priorities were at that moment, I remember thinking: No! Not my face! I have meetings at company headquarters tomorrow! I tried to pick my head up as much as I could, even though sheer inertia (and my bike) had me somewhat pinned to the concrete.

I landed with my bike on top of me, and I was in pain. Luckily, it was a holiday weekend, so there were lots of people around to witness my spill. Some woman in a long, jersey dress had stopped along with a couple of men and another, older woman. The jersey dress lady pulled my bike off of me and asked if I was okay. My knee, shoulder and face were bleeding. She was convinced I had hit my head (I had not), and called the paramedics. Meanwhile, a nice man helped to pick me up off of the ground, once I determined that nothing was broken.

I called Jason, who showed up almost immediately (I was only a half mile from the finish), and waited with me until the paramedics appeared, which was also almost instantaneous. They slapped on a crude gauze bandage and put me through some standard brain damage tests. Then, we loaded my bike into the car and headed back to where I started.

Tears flowed freely, maybe a bit because I was in shock, but mostly because I had experienced the greatest ride of my life, and had it end SO suckily that it trumped all of my other spills and mishaps. My insides were stuck on some kind of looping coaster of emotion and couldn’t make sense of any of it.

The next day, we were scheduled to swim two miles and run 20. For obvious reasons, swimming in salt water was out, but I was determined, soreness and all, that I was going to attempt the run.

I started out a little faster than I should have, given that both of my knees and body were pretty banged up. By mile 11, my shoulder and back were beginning to cramp up . I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to continue.

“I’m just not sure about this…” I began to tell Jason.

“Listen, I know you can run a marathon, but, mentally, I need you to finish what everyone else is doing. If it gets too painful, just walk it out, but you need to finish the mileage,” Jason calmly, but firmly laid down the law.

Booh. This was not going to be easy. Everything hurt. It was hot. I hated the whole world. But eff if I was going to “walk out” the next nine miles. I just kept on going.

While, yes, the mileage was much slower, and much, much more painful than it would have been had I not been body slammed into the concrete the day before, I finished what I started in just over four hours.

“So, theoretically, I could do a sub-five hour marathon on race day,” I mused to Coach Emily while stretching out my ridiculously sore body.

“Yes, you could,” Emily replied. “But don’t hold yourself to that.”

Sure, anything can happen on race day, but I’ve already experienced my fair share of banana peels, monkey wretches, and other such plan-spoiling devices. And, more importantly: I know that I am prepared for anything, that, mentally, I can take the hard knocks.

Vineman, I’m coming for you. And I’m more than ready.

Built Iron-TOUGH!

Built Iron-TOUGH!

P.S. It’s the last weekend to donate to support me and to fight cancer. Please click here to help:

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Moving Targets: A Training Story

The past 7 days have tested me again. Here we are, three months before my big race, and I have had moments where I felt completely broken. Last week, I biked 75 miles and ran for 60 minutes afterward, but was so exhausted that I skipped out on my ocean swim and 15-miler the next day, instead opting to go home and sleep for a few hours, and then, later, I made a feeble attempt at running, only seven miles along the beach.

I felt determined to pick things back up again, but, every workout, my limbs felt weighted, and I struggled against them, from sluggy swim, to burdened, burned-out bike, to ragged run. Finally, on Friday morning, I felt a break-through on the swim, a sudden burst of power that hadn’t been there in ages. My arms and torso pulled and twisted in unison, leaving me gliding through the pool like a regular sea creature, through endless 300s, speed drills and pacing drills. I left the pool that morning thinking that perhaps I’d gotten back that mojo I’d lost in the last few weeks.

We knew Saturday would be hot, and that there would be 80 miles of hills to climb. On top of everything, my knees had been a little achey all week from last week’s hilly bike ride. I asked to take the alternate “below the waist injury” route that the coaches had devised, which skipped the Cat 4 climbs, but still included several Cat 5 climbs. No biggie, considering what we’d been doing.

I clipped myself in and headed out on the route, keeping a high cadence and letting the morning air chill what little arm I had peeking out between my warmers and my sleeveless tri top. I looked down and saw that I was going at a good 18-20 mph. I felt okay, like, maybe I could get through this thing without crumbling, or feeling too much pain. 35 minutes in, I wasn’t feeling that sentiment as much. My leg power reverted back to its mid-week faiblesse, and I knew this whole thing was going to be a struggle. I felt cyclists whom I was perfectly capable of passing, or, at least, staying in time with, zoom by me. I gritted my teeth, turned up my gears, and pushed harder, but my bursts of power faded and became less intense as the sun began to turn up the heat.

As I continued on, struggling against my own physical weakness, I noticed that my new Adamo saddle was also beginning to bug me. Adamos are lauded by many triathletes because they have a cut-out in the front, and no nose, so there is nothing to violently smash and chafe a person’s more sensitive areas. However, they are both wider and a bit harder than your average bike saddle, and their positioning forces a person to sit on the sit-bones, as opposed to the mid or front of the saddle, which takes more than a bit of getting used to. Their site’s FAQ specifically mentions that the body must adapt to the saddle, and that it takes several rides to “build up” to comfort. Well, my body was not used to it yet, and the saddle uncomfortably dug into the crease where my thighs met my body on either side, as well as ground into my sitbones. After a while, it would go numb, and I would have some relief, but a change in position would leave me aching again.

After the first 26-mile loop, I had a feeling that two more rounds were going to be tough on me. By the fourth Cat 5 climb, my knees were unhappy. I stopped at our SAG point, grabbed some water, and met up with Coach Dave, where I told him that my knees were bugging me. He told me to cut myself off at two loops, and, disappointed as I was, I agreed that today just wasn’t my day. Tail between legs, I hopped back on my torture device, and started the slow wheel back home. Meanwhile, my right foot started to hurt, right where the pedal sat, under the fourth toe. At first, it was tolerable, but, by mile 45, it was killing me! I began whimpering as I pushed my foot and pedal up the hill. That was that. I phoned up our rescue SAG person, and he came and scooped me up, defeated and miserable.

I still managed to get in an hour run immediately afterward, but I felt so disappointed in myself that I hadn’t been able to complete 80 miles with the rest of the team. Well, not everyone finished the whole thing. Some had worse days than I did. Still, I have yet to have an amazing bike ride. I don’t even know what that feels like.

Jason suggested that I stop mashing such heavy gears, focus on my quad strength and my technique, which I will attempt in the near future. Still, I worry about making my cutoff at Wildflower if I go that route. I know mashing is bad for a person’s knees, but, if that’s the only way I know how to go faster, how can I train myself the other way in time for a tough race? It’s a concern, that’s for sure.

The next day, we gathered in Santa Monica for our regular ocean swim session. As we got up to the water, I choked, remembering the high, scary waves that had occurred last time I found myself in that big body of brine. Coach Quinton stayed with me the whole time, making sure he was in my line of sight as we navigated the smallish waves on the way out. I found it hard to catch my breath in the chilly water, but, eventually, I was able to keep going more than a few strokes at a time.

Before I knew it, I was out of the water, exhausted, but feeling accomplished that I didn’t let my fear get the best of me. Finally, we were onto the run, and I was feeling ready for the 17 miles we were about to accomplish.

Our coaches planned the route along the CicLAvia To The Sea event, a city-wide block party in Los Angeles that ran from Downtown L.A. to Venice Beach. What a sight for L.A! No cars, just people of all ages and races out enjoying the weather on bikes, rollerblades, and on foot. As we ran along sidewalks in our purple TNT gear, random folks would shout, “Go Team!” from the crowd in the street. It felt like some kind of crazy, reverse-world marathon!

The sun was working overtime that day as well, as we ran up Venice Blvd. My Nuun-filled water bottles were sucked dry by the time I got to SAG at Mile 6 (and we had stopped at a Taco Bell to refill them and go to the bathroom at Mile 4), and I was down to very little by the time we neared Fairfax, our turnaround point, two and a half miles up the road. Luckily, one of our teammates, Rob, came to the rescue, offering us ice pops, ice and water to fuel us forward on the next leg.

By the time I got back to Kris, my bottles were again drying up. I refilled with more Nuun, which wasn’t my typical long run electrolyte (I’m a Gatorade gal on a long run), but I’d thought, “I’ll be fine. I have two GUs and a Stinger waffle–what could go wrong?” Not even a mile out of our last SAG stop, I felt it happening. My legs slowed down, my eyes felt droopy. I was bonking, hard. Wuh-oh! Luckily, I still had Gu #2 stashed away. I slowed to a walk, and sucked it down, along with some sips of Nuun. I hoped it would get me through the last five miles of the run.

About ten or fifteen minutes after my Gu shot, my energy returned for a bit. My pace picked up and I managed to get in some conversation as I continued forward. The initial burst of energy flagged a bit by Mile 14, where I took a couple of early walk breaks to get through the rough patches. The last mile, my endurance returned, and I finished strong. All in all, I finished in under three hours and ten minutes, and, with all of the stopping (stop lights, SAG stops, bathroom breaks), the crowds, and lallygagging, and bonking because of the heat, I think that wasn’t half bad.

Afterward, a teammate and I stood in the ocean for a bit to cool off our legs, a natural ice bath. What a weekend!

Sometimes I think that I’m not getting any better as an athlete, because of these hardships, but, as Coach Quinton put it to me this weekend, “You’re trying to hit a goal, but the goal post keeps moving, the training keeps getting harder. So, you are getting better, but you won’t know it until your race.” I sure hope he’s right!

Here are some pix:

[All photos are credited to Paiwei Wei]