Monday, December 27, 2010

Blizzard = potty training time

Merry Chrsitmas, a little late. We spent the holiday with Fred's family, at his parents' on Christmas eve and at his grandparents' on Christmas day. I managed a 3.5 mile run on Christmas eve before we left, but nothing for the last 3 days. With the blizzard that kind of trapped us (we were supposed to go into NYC to see my brother, sister in law, niece and mom who is here for 2 weeks...will go Wednesday instead), I decided it was time to POTTY TRAIN and so I haven't left the house. It's going pretty well. I went with the cold turkey method...no diapers (nap and bedtime excepted). Basically she's naked from the waist down (or wearing loose pants when she lets me put them on her...she prefers naked). The first day I sat her down every 20-30 minutes. The morning was rough, after a good start (peed the first time I put her down right after she woke up). She had lots of little pees, most on the carpet. I almost gave up especially when she started protesting. Enter chocolate chips. Went much better in the afternoon, and today, mostly. Although I am exhausted from constantly watching her, trying to catch her if she started to pee off the potty. But, we did go out in the snow a few time, for 30 minutes or so, and she stayed dry. Tomorrow I do plan to take her to daycare for a bit...not sure what they will do (they might want her in diapers, so she doesn't pee on their carpet!) BUT I do think in a week or so we'll be pretty much good in terms of daytime. Not sure I'll ever be able to take her out in public again, but... :)

Friday, December 17, 2010

And again...

Another after school treadmill run. Working on getting the speed back, slowly. Two 9:15 miles, a quick break, and half an 8:00 mile. Then had to go get Andra so we could go swimming. Starting to remember how I used to like treadmill runs, plugged into the iPod, music up loud. It's coming back, I got a second chance. Fingers crossed that was it...I want to do the Mothers' Day 10k in May!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Routine

Just ran 3 miles on the treadmill at school. First time I've been down there ALL YEAR. Now that I can run again, and it feels GOOD to do so, I need my routine back. Frankly I've been so swamped at school with more students than ever and less free time thanks to our new contract, and swamped at home with cleaning and cooking (not that I do either well, which just adds to the stress), that I rarely have time in the week when I feel like I can just RELAX. When Andra's awake, she doesn't let me do my own thing...ever. Which is understandable and all, but even when my husband's home, it's ME she wants to have her attention.

Anyway, I ran, including one 9 minute mile (felt good), half an 8 minute mile, and a quarter of a 7:30 mile. I think I'll start working on my speed more on the treadmill, and try to start doing a longer run (I want my usual 5.5 mile route back!) on the weekends...once it's not in the 20s anymore.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Busy Day

Thank god for friends who aren't wimps. Today was the 3 mile race I wanted to do. Despite the forecast calling for rain (though, a relatively balmy 45 degrees), Jen said she was GOING. So of course I had to, too. We showed up with maybe 50 people and ran. Not too bad, really. I was slow, my watch said 29 minutes (9:40 pace) (update: official time 28:58, 9:39 pace), but since there was so much other stuff to complain about (rain, cold, rain, cold, etc.) my ankle didn't bother me at all! I was cautious going down hills...it looked slippery, and one wrong landing would have hurt a lot. I got passed more going downhill than up. No mile markers, but it didn't matter. Results here. Interestingly, if I had been a man, I would have been 5th in my age group!

Went back to reread my post from March 2008 after I ran my fastest paced race ever, another 3 miler at a 7:34 pace. WOW. I was over 2 min/mile slower today. I can't believe I ever worked that hard! Even then (I'd forgotten this) I was wary about my ankle and knew everything would change one day.

I came to the conclusion that I am naturally a slow runner. I got reasonably fast (for me) through a lot of hard work and being in really good shape. But I lost all that, including the mental toughness, and have to start over. Jen, who also claims to be as out of shape as I am, ran nearly 2 minutes faster than I. She is naturally faster...if she ever really trained, she'd kick my ass. I hope someday we both are in a place to really train for something together.

So, 2010 saw one running race after all. And the rain didn't stop me (though it came close). I am wearing my race t-shirt right now, with three running Santas, and feeling pretty good. A year ago I told myself I was taking December off. Then I had the worst flare ever on New Year's Eve. By February I was noticeably limping and running wasn't even a possibility. Hell, walking wasn't. But...so it goes. My rheumatologist, whom I saw Friday, said I was a "relative success story." I have aggressive RA, but...I've been lucky. I know that.

Today is also Andra's birthday. The cake was made last night after a late-night run to the store to get flour when the cake was halfway made. Gingerbread layer cake with cream cheese frosting. No real party, just one set of grandparents Fred's brother, his wife and their baby. I am just not an entertainer.

I really want to go take a nap. Andra's was short and all I had time to do was ice the cake. Surprisingly she's letting me type this up now

Sunday, November 28, 2010

3 more

3 miles today at 10:00 pace, though I did walk for a minute after 2 miles and again at 2.5, but then did the last .5 at 8:40. Wore my heartrate monitor, and it wasn't a bad as it felt. Most of the time I was around 160bpm when I was working hard, but never higher than 163. For what I have programmed in, that's about 80-82% max (though I think my age is set at 30, not 35...if that makes a difference; not sure if I had to put in my max HR or if it's assumed based on age, it's been a while since I've looked at it).

Had a friend who works there look at my gait, and he said at first it looked normal, but as I went longer, he said the ankle definitely looked stiff, but that my gait wasn't horribly altered. He suggested a gait analysis to see if there's anything else I can do to make it easier. Anyone ever have one or know anything about them??

Thursday, November 25, 2010

No Turkey Trot

I almost did the 5 mile turkey trot I've done the past 3 years (including at 36 week pregnant). On Tuesday I went out and did 4.5 miles. Still slow, it took me 47 minutes (there was some walking on top of my 10 minute pace). But, the ankle has proven itself. If I think it will be fine, it has been. There are days I go, "No way, not today," but in general when I do run, it is ok. The stiffness sucks, the minor gait change sucks (only once I think did I run and have it feel mostly normal), but even though it doesn't feel normal, it feels doable. At any rate, after that run, I thought maybe I'd do the race. I knew there would be tons of people behind me even if I ran an 11 minute pace, as that's what happened when I was pregnant. Still, I didn't put a ton of thought into it, it was more a passing idea to continue the "streak" especially since that was my last race. Would have been nice to pick up after a year of forced rest. But, when all was said and done, I got up at 6:45 and sat on the couch and read a book until Andra woke up at 8. And I don't regret it. Except of course, the not regretting it makes me regret it. I could have run, should I have? Eh...whatever, I still plan to do the 3 miler on December 12.

Thanksgiving went...everyone brought something and the food worked out well. Thirteen adults didn't seem like too much after all, and I didn't even really talk to most people as I was busy either cooking or playing with Andra and Iris. Fun to see the cousins together.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Slightly faster

Ran a little over 3 miles today with my friend Jen, our second Sunday run in preparation (not training, but preparation) for our 3 mile race in 3 weeks. It was GREAT. 32 minutes (my longest consecutive run in a LONG time). We ran the big hill (it's not big) we walked last week, and that was a HUGE psychological boost. Overall I think our pace was a hair under 10 minute miles, which, given the talking we were doing, I am very happy with. Yes, I used to run this route closer to an 8:00 pace. But I have to keep telling myself, it's not about that anymore. It's about the fact that I can run at all. And honestly, I may be able to up the pace to something I would consider more normal for me. What wanted to give out today wasn't my ankle, it was the rest of me. And I had no issues making myself push through that, since that's just me being out of shape. But I felt much better than my runs a few weeks ago, stronger, more normal. I'll take it.

In Andra's world...she won't say "Yes," but "k" is her new response to any question (beats "No!"). She has changed tons in the last few months. Still not a huge talked, but she gets her point across. When she wants me to come play with her, she takes my hand and says, "Pull." When she can't do something, she says "Help." When she wants to find the Pokey (the cat), she calls out, "Peepee!" Eh, close enough. She has, as she always has, a wicked sense of humor. For instance, she just put one of my Bondi bands on her duck's head, held it up, and said, "Cool!" Cool.

Friday, November 12, 2010

This is bad...

I plan to run outside after school today. I need a shorter route than I used to run due to previously mentioned out-of-shape issues. I know I have a bunch of routes saved in an online place, but I CAN'T REMEMBER THE NAME of the website. It's not mapmyrun.com. WHAT IS IT???? Can't believe it's been so long that I can't remember it.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Double

This week school seems to have let up a bit. I caught up on all my grading since I had to turn in first quarter grades Monday. I have the next two weeks of lessons planned out. So, that means I have more time to work out. I went to the gym today after school to run (it was cold out, I am a wimp right now about cold) and did 2 miles. Straight. At a pace of...10 minute miles. It was hard! This is way worse than a post-pregnancy comeback. Then, I ran all but about 5 weeks, including a marathon, a half, a 10k, a 5k, and a 5 miler right at the end. This time, I really have not run at all (minus a few random 10 minute attempts) in 11 months. The distance was fine. The pace though...I can't believe a 10 minute mile was so hard. It felt like what 8 minute miles used to feel like. Oh well, hopefully I'll be able to have fun watching that pace get faster.

Andra and I went to the playground briefly after I picked her up, but she apparently has learned the word "Home" and wanted to go there. The she kept using her favorite new word, "Juice," which takes a lot of effort for her to say (though the girl does practice). I went to the gym AGAIN to the core class I like to take, and when I got home at 7:45 Andra was still up. I wasn't expecting that, since I was told she played happily in her crib for 1.5 hours today instead of napping. I hope this isn't her new normal.

Also, turns out we are having 13 adults and 3 kids at our (pretty small) house for Thanksgiving. This could be...disastrous. It certainly won't be fancy. I have to make lists to ask people to bring things! It could be fun though.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Is it over?

Ran 2 days in a row. There was no bootcamp yesterday morning, so I went to the gym just to work out on my own. Ran a mile, lifted, ran another mile. Hmmm. Felt...pretty fine. So I tried again today after I put Andra down for a nap. Just my new "usual," a 2.5 mile loop from home. Ankle felt...pretty fine. I think I turned a corner, physically and mentally.

My goal is going to be to try to run twice a week. I am seriously out of shape, and the slow running I did was kind of pathetic, but that just means I will see improvement if I keep at it. Mentally, just telling myself to do a 20-30 minute run seems like nothing. Short runs used to be double that. So I should be able to fit them in easily, right after school once or twice a week.

Eleven months of not running. And now, just maybe, that is over.

Monday, November 01, 2010

My Sunflower







I did make the costume (including the flower crown for Duck-Duck). The sweater and pants were just her regular clothes, but I added all the colorful stuff! So much fun.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Fall run

Ran today outside. Walk 2 min, run 8, total 30 min. Totally overdressed, I feel like a novice at figuring out the weather for running! Ankle felt good...not normal, it hurt, but it was runnable without a real limp. Not sure if this will continue, but I think I've had enough of these posts that I need to start assuming that I can run at least once a week. There's no danger of my really running for now, in that I found out I'm pretty out of shape! But the act felt good, the soreness will feel good tomorrow. Hopefully the RA went in, did its thing, and is out now...though I'm left with the results, still, it's not as bad as when it was actively in there 9 months ago. I do wonder if, when I get pregnant again, hopefully next year, it will go away like it did last time. Again, I know I am left with the damage to the bones, but that I can deal with...people run with all kinds of osteoarthritis, which, once the RA isn't active there anymore, is basically what I'm left with. I also think my new Brooks running shoes (the same kind I always have work, though lately I've been wearing some Asics I bought even though I know Asics don't fit me well...figured they'd be ok for non-running things, but they're still not for me) helped. My orthotics I am still not convinced about (my drugstore Dr. Scholl's arch supports do as much if not more for the pain). At any rate...think my hiatus is over. Now I need to carve out one run a week. Added to the 2 classes I take (Saturday boot camp and Tuesday core), that will have to do for now, as tutoring has taken over a lot of my "me" time...but it's ok as the relief from money worries makes up for it. Fitness will come back...

About the costume, yes, I made it! Lots of felt. Sewn to a purchased headband and a hand-me-down sweater. We went to a halloween party tonight at the YMCA and I think Andra had the best costume. I am not a fan of store-bought...though it I weren't a tiny bit crafty I wouldn't be able to think that way. Pictures soon, it was too dark at the party to get good ones.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Sunflower costume...



Ready to go! Hoping it survives the pictures at daycare tomorrow plus a party before the big day!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Change is good

Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death. ***Anais Nin

This quote is on one of my friend's Facebook profile. I like it.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Fall Pictures





Downshifting

Working out is taking a back seat to tutoring this year. No secret that the drive to workout has dropped a lot now that I can't run. I know I *could* work harder at other things, and I tried...with the masters swim last winter, with the aqua-bike races I did, with the CCC bike trip...I tried. And, I had fun. But the DRIVE to GO GO GO just was never replicated. Some of it is probably for the best, in that my focus can't just be on me now that I have a kid. But I also know that's a bit of a cop out, as so many others still do it all, and still love it. Not being able to run means that I have no way to gauge my fitness, nor do I have a need to do so. There's no test...no upcoming 5k, no half-marathon to train for, nothing to prove to myself. I WISH I could. I wish there were local bike races every weekend like there are local road races. I wish there had been local open water swim races. But it seems that, as popular as triathlons are, cycling and swimming events by themselves just aren't. It kind of sucks. And actually, there is a local criterium series (about an hour away, so not so local) in the summer, but...an hour away, with all the hassle of the bike...and a kid...it just wasn't happening. Argh. I sort of sound like I am making excuses, and maybe I am, although I know the bottom line is, for WHATEVER reason, fitness isn't as important right now. I don't like it. And don't get me wrong, I am not getting any fatter and I haven't become a couch potato. I am happy. But I am also scared that I might lose that part of me. Volunteering at road races this summer was important to me, since I couldn't run them. I want to still be associated with the athletic lifestyle, even if I don't live and breathe it any more. Eh...I don't know. And hopefully next summer I will be pregnant again, so I won't be doing any triathlons (except maybe the swim part of a relay?).

Ok, this post started off about tutoring. My point was, instead of working out, I am now working 10 extra hours a week. It's killer money...I am matching my take-home pay every month, or will be if the 10 kids I agreed to work with all need me once a week (ha ha, or perceive that they do...I still don't get the mentality, but it's a wealthy community and I think it's a status thing to have a tutor sometimes rather than asking your teacher for free help). But that was my work-out time, and now that's largely not there anymore. And I'm ok with it. Especially because we have 2 new cars in our near future (my 1999 Subaru, which I love, probably will need to go in a year or so, and Fred's 2003 VW has 200,000 miles on it since his commute is so long), a second kid in the future, the equity in our house has dwindled to practically nothing due to the market, and things like that stress me out. I figure if I do all this tutoring this year, then I can relax next school year, have a baby, and...then stress out again about money the year after that!

Monday, October 04, 2010

Ride Over!

Well, it all worked out. I flew to San Francisco last Friday, in time for most of the opening dinner. Our bikes were there, and, minus a bent derailleur hanger (I have no idea what that is, but the mechanics fixed it so it didn't matter), everything was perfect. We rode out Saturday morning and did 86 miles to Santa Cruz. It was GREAT. I felt GREAT. Super strong.
Then I had to leave the next morning, but it was ok. That morning I also met Jeff, one of the founders of Amgen, and heard the story of how he was pretty much responsible for getting the manufacturing of Enbrel down. (When I first wanted to go on it, there was a waiting list months long because Immunex, who developed the drug, had manufacturing issues with a protein breaking down. Jeff knew how to fix it, and Amgen bought out Immunex and within a year there was no more waiting list. Yes, he was a bit self-inflating, but at the same time, I think he wasn't...and besides, he raised over $3000 the first day riding, including $600 at a nude beach, and that is on top of the $50,000 or so he raised before the ride even started.)

My bike went on without me, looking very official on top of the Amgen team car. At least one of us did the whole distance.
I spent Sunday morning with my friend Sarita and her new husband Andrew who just moved out to Sunnyvale from CT. They got me back to the airport, I flew home, got to sleep around 2am, had to get up at 6 for work, then tutor for 2 hours that night (I didn't even get to put Andra to bed)...it was CRAZY. But, I got it done, and then went BACK to CA Wednesday. Rode 3 more days, 67 miles, 88 miles, and 60 miles. I'd never had saddle sores before Thursday. OUCH. Made Friday and Saturday considerably less comfortable, but still loads of fun. We had some long stretches of relatively FLAT road on the last day into Santa Monica, and I just went. It was amazing, windy, a bit rainy at times, just perfect. And the days I missed happened to be the hottest (in the 9os+) and hilliest (and yes, the most beautiful, but I'm trying not to remember that).

It was neat to see a bunch of other riders with arthritis. Some had RA, others had other forms, but we were all athletes who don't let it stop us, and that was neat to see.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Another run...I'll take what I can get.

Gorgeous day today, so I took Andra to one of the neighboring beaches we can only get into off season. I parked about a mile from the beach so I could get an iced coffee from the cute market in town. Put Andi in the BOB and off we went. My ankle felt ok (instead of my custom $$ orthotics, I had in good old Dr. Scholl's inserts I bought while pregnant...I think I had another post a while ago that these actually seemed to do more than the orthotics, but they've been hidden in my slippers all summer and so I haven't worn them in a while). I figured I'd run a few steps and see. Hmmm. Not bad, except that my iced coffee was sloshing all over the place. (If I'd planned to run, I wouldn't have bought that as a pre-workout drink!) Still, small price to pay if I can actually manage to run...and I could! It was 10 minutes to the beach, and later 10 back. It was slow, but honestly not much slower than normal BOB runs for me (oh, how long ago that all seems...). It felt good...not pain free, but I don't think I had too much of a limp, and running actually feels better than walking when I can do it. I'm not sure I can necessarily plan runs...some days I know it will just hurt too much. But, maybe I can plan more walks that COULD be runs if it feels good. It would be nice to be able to do that again. Working out has taken a backseat to everything lately. Work is a bit stressful, I am tutoring 5 or 6 hours a week as opposed to the 2 last year (we need the $$ badly, especially with this CA bike trip), and the not being able to just go run makes working out much more of a time commitment.

I hope I am sore tomorrow. I miss that.

Friday, September 10, 2010

OK, OK....

I guess I'm not posting much because I'm not working out much. I used to love posting about my runs, how I did, what I felt like. But now that I'm not running, not so much to say. Not so exciting to tell about the set I did in the weight room. I haven't completely given up, I still work out probably 4 days a week (swimming, cycling, a class at the gym or lifting) but with no plan or pattern. I'm ok with it for the most part, recognizing it just as a low point in the cycle. Except for the fact that I have this epic bike ride (well, half an epic bike ride) coming up, it wouldn't matter so much. As it is, I will not be in nearly as good of shape as I wanted to be. Still, I keep reminding myself that this is not a race, it's a tour with apparently LOTS of stops along the way for coffee, pictures, lunch, etc. My ass is going to hurt, but I can deal. The most I have to ride is 3 consecutive days. And we met our fundraising minimum too, which is nice.

Andra and I have been making the rounds at the local playgrounds every afternoon to satisfy her never ending request for "Slide?" (which actually means "swings." Can't convince her to say that one, even though it's what she means.) It's been fun. Good weather. I get a coffee and stand and push her 30 minutes in the swing (God forbid another kid wants a turn), convince her to go to the REAL slide for a while, and take one more turn in the swings before calling it a day. Not bad. I also got her a water table for the deck, a little late in the season but it was $5 on Craigslist. She loves to splash and pour.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

End of summer

This blog has started to become what my journal has...infrequent entries that read more like bullet points of things I don't want to forget. Oh well.

Working out...with vacations and heat waves, this didn't go as planned this summer, especially the last 2 weeks. Last workout was a 22 minute swim in Lake Huron 2 weeks ago. It was fun though! With this being the last week of summer vacation, my motivation is low. As always, I wish I could run. Biking alone just doesn't appeal, though I do enjoy it when I am out there. I haven't come to terms with not running yet. I did have that barefoot episode, but haven't done more. I haven't accepted that I will almost certainly never run distances again, and definitely never at my real speed. The appointment with the ankle guy in the city yesterday confirmed that. Surgery would alleviate the pain, but probably wouldn't cure my limp. So. The best I can hope for is that time will damage the joint more so that it hurts less (weird, yes) and that mentally I can be ok with going for a short run/limp and not having it count as a workout. But when I drive along my old running routes, I miss it. I guess more than that I miss who I was then. I miss the discipline, determination, focus. Life changes, that's fine, but...I guess it's like how I wish I could go back to college again. Can't. Done. That's over. But, I still miss it.

Plan to post pictures soon...we were just in Michigan for a week with my brother, niece, and parents. Then Andra and I took the train to Chicago (4.5 hours) for an overnight with my friend Jessica and her kids. That was a blast...another nostalgia though. Jessica was my first mom friend here in CT, and then she moved back to Chicago just a year later (this past March). Major bummer. Especially since our kids actually sort of PLAYED together. Her daughter has some of her husband's antisocial qualities and tends to not like other kids. Or at least that's what Jessica says...the woman tells FUNNY stories about her family. I miss that honesty!!! Plus it makes me like her kid...right now, I pretty much don't like other people's kids. Ever. (Yes, I am a teacher.)

Monday, August 02, 2010

Team Vlad


Me with the 2 16-year olds on the team. Vlad is in the middle, he averaged 19mph on the bike. Jan is the runner (and he ran barefoot!) and he did the 5k in about 20 minutes. 1:32:30 I think, 10/20 for the relays and around 172/610 overall. They didn't keep splits for anyone, just a final time minus your wave start, so the relays were thrown in with the individual results. Despite what the race officials were calling a "healthy" half-mile swim (first swimmer finished in 13 minutes on my watch, so my 22 minutes wasn't as bad as it sounds), it was good! I hit the first 2 buoys head on, but never saw the third (I was sighting the beach then). No sense of panic or drowning!

These are Vlad's parents, Gabriel finished in around 1:22 and Olympia took pictures!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

I ran!

I decided I had to try running. It has been 6 months, with the last, kind of pathetic attempt, sometime in January. Yesterday I took off my shoes and ran barefoot at the playground with Andra. Today I went to the gym, and did a barefoot 15 minutes (ummm, that was just a little over a mile). Speed can't happen...not that I've lost that much fitness, but I have to change my gait, and at least now, there's no way I'm going to go fast. The thing is? Didn't matter. I had my iPod, and I FELT like I was flying! I tried to run again with shoes on after that 15 minutes, and it wasn't as good. Neither way was "normal," exactly. I can't roll from my heel to push off with my big toe, which is normal (for me at least). I was running slightly more on the outside of my left foot, and I'm sure my hips were moving more than normal to compensate. With shoes, I wasn't able to land as much on the outside of my foot, which is why I preferred barefoot. That, and I had fewer expectations while barefoot.

It was fun. I am still a runner. I got all nostalgic and excited getting on the treadmill. It was kind of emotional. That's why I like running. Nothing else lets me think things through like a good run. (And slow as it was, this counted as a good run.)

My only concern is that, if I can do this once or twice a week because I enjoy it, it can't replace a real workout. I tried to take my heart rate at the end, and I think it was in the 130s. Between the 15 minutes of running and the 15 minutes of rolling out my hip flexor on the foam roller to try to avoid any issues from my gimp, it's a long process for little physical benefit. But, the mental benefits may be more important right now.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Relay!

Sunday I am doing the swim part of a sprint tri in Greenwich. A high school kid who comes to the Y with his parents (they are all super nice, parents are from...shoot, some eastern European country) has done the relay for the past couple years and wanted to again, so his dad asked if I wanted to swim. It should be fun!!!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Vacation #1

And the heat continues...which has made me really just not into doing anything outside. And since I don't run or walk anyway anymore, that just left cycling to get the axe. So I've been a bit of a slacker, though I have kept up the swimming, water running, and lifting, and spinning.

This past week, we were at Lake George, at the Silver Bay YMCA. Fred's sort of a Quaker, and they have their yearly retreat type thing up there every year. I was skeptical last year, not being AT ALL religious, but it was fun and I didn't really encounter any religion. You had to know where to go to get it, and I didn't, which suited me fine! We had a blast. Andra in particular would have preferred if we never left. We were outside all day (and it wasn't 90 degrees and humid!), we went swimming and canoeing, and best of all, she could just walk around and say hi to people who would say hi back. (Home now, we went to the grocery store this morning, and it was a little depressing, as Andra kept waving at everyone and very few people responded...not the friendliest of areas, alas.) She was known as the girl with the orange crocs (or, in her words, "shoos"). Fred and I went for a 25 mile bike ride one day, I lifted once, and two days I swam laps in the lap lanes they put out in the lake (I'm guessing they were around 75 yards...anyway between 50-100). It was kind of a good mix between open water swimming and pool swimming! Also, a friend of Fred's was there, someone he hadn't seen in years, with his wife and 19 month old son. We had a lot of fun with them.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Heat wave


We've been at the pool every afternoon this week. No central air = kinda hot. Actually it's not terrible, we have AC units upstairs and if I keep all the windows and blinds closed and point a fan downstairs, it's pleasant enough until about 2pm. And since I take Andra to daycare before noon so I can go to the gym to swim or lift, it's all good. Our next door neighbor has AC and I hung out there yesterday morning since her house was empty (I was invited!), and I actually had to leave and go home because I was TOO cold! She calls her house the meat locker, and it really is!

Andra likes the crocs I got her today. I've had trouble finding sandals that fit her feet...size 4.5 wide. But these were awesome, and she LOVES them.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

I didn't win!!

This was a great race! I think I feel so good about it because I came in 5/6 in the aquabike division...meaning there was good competition! Including someone I swam with in the master's class. Not sure why she didn't run, I think she just isn't much of a runner. But she was the fastest swimmer in the group (male or female) so I knew she at least would be tough to beat (I didn't know much about her cycling other than I was faster, but didn't know if it would be enough to offset the swim). She ended up beating me by 2 minutes and 13 seconds! The 5 minutes faster she swam* wasn't enough for the 3 minutes I beat her on the bike. That, plus there were 3 other faster (and one slower, though not by much) women aquabikers.

*The swim...can you call it a swim if you have to RUN to the first buoy (and partway to the second)? Can you say LOW TIDE? Ouch. If my ankle wasn't enough to make me unhappy that the swim included a run, the oyster shells on the slimy, muddy bottom of Long Island Sound was. So, I was at a bit of a disadvantage there, but...who cares. After I could actually swim, it wasn't bad. Took a while to get used to the nasty salt water (and sulfur smell that accompanies low tide around here) but the temperature was perfect (71F), there was a lot of room to spread out, and even if I am not fast, I am steady. Felt good. 30:51.

T1. 4:18. Of course it includes the long walk to my bike that everyone else can run, and my wetsuit came off easier than last time, so...whatever.

Bike. Let's start with the flat tire I got while pumping up my tires at 5am. Luckily, still at home. Got my husband out of bed to change it for me...it was the rear tire, plus it's been 2 years since I've changed one. Despite his broken collar bone (crash 3 weeks ago), he was still way faster than I ever would have been. So with everything good bike wise, I went out to have FUN. I decided that swimming was survival, biking was fun, and running (when I did it) was WORK. So, I can't work anymore...better that than not being able to have FUN! It was a tough course, though not as tough as the one a few weeks ago. I did manage to slow down to a whopping 4.2mph on one steep hill that WOULD NOT END. I still passed 2 people at that speed...go figure! And there were a lot of false flats...like, I would be dying and going so slowly, then it would turn into an actual hill and I would speed up and feel better. 17.5 average speed for the 24.8 miles.

That's it! Anyway, it was fun. Phew.

Friday, June 25, 2010

3 weeks??

Geez, almost 3 weeks since I last posted. Clearly not much has been going on! To catch up though:

1. I managed to get 2 unpaid days to go to CA to ride in September. Am I crazy to think this is a good plan? Fly to San Francisco Friday after school, ride Saturday and Sunday, get back to SF for a red eye back to CT to teach Monday morning (with secret coverage if I am late, which I will be). Fly back to Santa Barbara Wednesday night and get to where the tour is, ride Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and fly back Sunday. It's a lot of flying, but...it's worth it, right? The silver lining is that I don't have to leave Andra for 11 days. The downsides are many, but that may make up for it all.

2. I have another aquabike race on Sunday. This one is in my hometown. No, I haven't ridden the bike course...stupid. Though a lot of it I already know, some I don't.

3. School ended yesterday!

4. Working out has been less than inspired. I'm managing 3-4 times a week, but no more. Riding once a week, swimming once a week, lifting or a class once or twice. I went back to boot camp on Saturday and managed to do most of the things, even some jumping (though I have to land flat on my foot or heel, at least it's jumping!). Some modifications necessary, but it felt like I did more than I was when I sort of quit going.

5. I miss walks. Even more than I miss running, I miss going out for walks in the neighborhood.

6. My mom was here this past week, just left this morning. The woman GETS THINGS DONE. In one week, we (mostly she, but guilt made me help her) washed ALL of the downstairs windows, inside and out; made curtains for 6 of the windows to replace the horribly ugly (and dirty) blinds that I hated yet lived with for 3.5 years) (actually, I still have to hem them and put them up...let's see how long that takes me without her here cracking the whip); trimmed tons of tree branches that had been blocking my vegetable garden and others that had made out back yard look like a jungle; weeded the cracks in the sidewalks and driveway; cleaned both bathrooms. Seriously, I don't know where she gets her drive. And yes, I did feel guilty holding the ladder while my 65 year old mom washed my windows, but there's just no talking sense into her sometimes.

7. My friend Sarita moved away...boo! But she's getting married, so it's all good.

8. Need to overhaul diet and exercise plan starting ASAP for the summer. It's a mixed blessing that my weight isn't budging from 147, which is just 1 pound over pre-pregnancy. No, of course it's not like I look the same...

Well, that's an update. More after Sunday's race!

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Race Report!

The swim: I debated whether I should warm up in the water or not (remember I had no time goals here) but decided I would. The water was warm, perfect with my wetsuit (very few swam without one) and immediately I knew things were going to be...GOOD. My wave was the last one, with 40+ women and a few men who were on relay teams. But basically the fast people were long gone so no worries about being swum over. I would guess I was about halfway toward the front of my wave. A little jostling in the beginning, but I felt good. Slow, yes, and I was never out of breath/pushing hard, but that was part of the plan (this time). I just picked off the buoys, and though by the last one I was ready to be done, if I had needed to I really could have kept going! I never panicked, and kept thinking to myself, why, this is almost enjoyable! The official results aren't up yet but by my watch it was .9 miles in just under 32 minutes. I had figured about 30, so...fine. I can't wait to see how that stacks up with my age group...

T1 (Tonly): Slow. Yeah, yeah. Of course it was slow, there was a long walk (well, run for everyone else) from the beach to my bike. And after being extended for 32 minutes with no weight on it, the ankle wasn't happy to be asked to go fast (relatively speaking here). So couple that with trying to get the wetsuit over my ankle without crying, and it apparently was about 5:27. Ouch.

Bike: Not the 17+ I had hoped for, not by a long shot!! By this time, the sun was out and it was HUMID after the morning's rain. I hadn't eaten enough (always a gamble...eat enough, and risk serious GI distress...I figured I'd rather be weak than in pain), so pulled the GU out of my saddle bag and that seemed to make a big difference. This course was HILLY. I'm used to hills, but this redefined rolling hills for me. I would go from 40+ on the downhills (FUN!) to I think I hit 6.2 on one steep uphill. Of course I passed a lot of people. This was expected, given my wave and the fact that, by the time I left transition, there were very few people behind me! I am VERY curious to see others' bike times, as my average was only 15.2 yet I really couldn't have gone much faster. I definitely have a problem maintaining momentum up hills, and a few times (ok, a lot of times), I said screw it and didn't even try. The lack of competition that far back didn't help my speed, but again, I had FUN, and really that was the point today.

I waited around FOREVER for the awards. I actually thought I might have been the only aqua biker, and, well, you know what that means. They went through most of the age group awards (but missed some, including the only 60+ year old woman) but then said, oh, we're not done but we're not ready to give those out yet. UGH. So I went up and asked, and they sent me back to the timing truck, and the guy there told me I'd won. Out of 2 females. Though I did also beat the 2 males. So I went back to the stage and asked for my award, and left. No going up on stage, no fanfare (though honestly no that many people stuck around for the real awards anyway), which I guess annoyed me a little.

On the drive home, I was pissed. I'd had fun and won my division. Why was I upset? Took me a long time to figure it out (I had a long drive), but I guess I came up with the fact that this is just a consolation prize. My competition is now the fat, lazy, and crippled. And ok, I'm the fastest one. So fucking what? I'll get over it. I have no choice. But my performance, fun though it was, didn't deserve a prize. There's just no real meaning in what I won.

All the real athletes ran.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Aquabike #1Tomorrow

I have my first race of the season tomorrow...Olympic distance aquabike. I will probably feel like a schmuck when I finish the bike and see everyone else keep going, but, not exactly a choice, so instead I get to go to the finish line and cheer! I went up to Quassy today to get my packet and drop off my bike. It's about an hour away, so I need to get up at 4:30 tomorrow. Great. Last night I had two (TWO) separate dreams about missing the start and forgetting really important stuff (like wetsuit and bike shoes). Hopefully that's out of my system so I'll sleep tonight.

Goals? Eh...not really. I really have no basis for judging the swim (though there were something like 12 bouys on the lake today...confusing), so my only goal is to NOT PANIC and feel comfortable. My last triathlon (2007 I think?) was basically panicking the entire half-mile and wishing I were close enough to shore to quit the whole damn thing. So anything would be an improvement. And, the aquabike wave goes last (with the older women wave) so I don't have to worry about being swum over. Nice. Bike goals would be to average 17+, since pretty much every ride I've done lately, regardless of course of distance, has been about 16. I don't know anything about this course, but at the same time, I don't have to run afterward, so I would like to end it feeling cooked. We'll see!!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Just Waiting

Waiting for the results from my ankle MRI yesterday. (UPDATE: Initial report looks like just RA, not osteonecrosis, which is a good thing...sort of. It still sucks.)
Waiting to make an appointment with the guy from HSS. (August 17...wow, that's a long wait.)
Waiting to find out what the f*ck is wrong and whether surgery can fix it so I can walk normally again. And run...? Ever?
Waiting to make an appointment with my superintendent to see if he will let me do the CCC bike ride (don't want to do this until I know if I have to have surgery, which would likely mean the ride would be out anyway so why bother. But since my HSS appointment is now not til August, I guess I won't have to worry about surgery before the ride.).
Waiting for the school year to end. I finally reached the end of my rope with it all, maybe a little later than usual but basically right on schedule.

May sucks.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Pictures


Bought her this toy stroller at a tag sale. Super cute to watch her push it around for the first day. Then she decided she wanted to RIDE, not push. The toy is now hidden.

My kid loves to put a hat or bag over her head and walk around blind. She did this when she was crawling too. Can't get enough of it. Weirdo.


These two just cuz they're cute.

We spent the morning at the beach today (a nearby beach for rich people who can afford to live in that zip code...we've been scoping those beaches out because after Memorial Day, we can't get it). Andra loved sitting in the rocks and shells. She tried throwing rocks in the water, but most ended up just dropped at her feet. Of course, I didn't have my camera or my phone. But it sure was a pretty day!

Osteonecrosis

My latest search term in Google.

Saw my rheumatologist today. He wants me to get a bone scan and/or an MRI to find out if my ankle issue is osteonecrosis, not just regular RA damage. Basically, the blood supply may be being cut off to my talus bone as a result of the RA damage, effectively killing the bone. Reading the symptoms (though it's not too common in this bone, more common in the hip), it could be. Because, except for the neck, I have had no other joints flare, and RA is usually much more whole-body. The scan/MRI, if read by someone who knows my history and can compare to my history of x-rays, should offer a definitive answer. He wouldn't really speculate, which was annoying but at the same time appreciated. Assuming my insurance will cover it, I will go to the Hospital for Special Surgery in NYC for these tests. It's nice to live so close to some of the best medical facilities in the world.

I asked for more pain medication, he prescribed Voltaren (which apparently has caused a huge decline in the vulture populations of India...love Wikipedia). This will be the first time in 11 years with this disease I have ever used prescription pain relief. He offered me a narcotic pain reliever...he says if I'm complaining of any pain, it must be bad because he still insists that I have a super high pain tolerance. Hopefully Voltaren will help. It doesn't hurt when I limp (the new walk), but I'd really like to STOP limping because EVERY SINGLE DAY at school at least one teacher I haven't seen in a while asks why I'm limping. "Eh, just an ankle issue," is my standard response. Annoying, though of course they mean well.

Been slacking off in the workout department, partly for lack of time (meetings, doctor appointments, husband now also working out and therefore cutting into my time somewhat, though it's good that he is stepping it up) but more lack of planning. Soon...only 4 more weeks of serious school. Although I do have 2 aqua-bikes (though I still call them triathlons) I'm doing in June, so I probably shouldn't slack off too much.

Still working on the appeal. Blah. I guess I'm in no hurry to get the whole thing denied once and for all. I have two chances...the superintendent, and then if that doesn't work I can possibly file a grievance through the union to try to force the district to let me take the days without pay. Don't really know what any of that means yet.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Making a silver lining...

Next week I will talk to the union rep to see what my options are to appeal. Then I will appeal, and then wait. I figure I have a 5% chance of getting all 5 days off, and a 10% chance of getting 3-4 days. That's a 90% chance of being screwed. So I am preparing to make my silver lining. It will not be nearly as awesome as going to California to ride with 300 other people to raise awareness for the disease that is eating away at my joints...in fact, it could quite suck...but, it will be the best I can do and it will be better than doing nothing.

I am going to ride the distances myself, after school, as if I WERE in California. The longest weekday distance is 65 miles. My parents can still come out to watch Andra (and to be back-up support for the rides). I am sure I can drum up people to ride with me. I can get publicity for all this (positive publicity...hopefully the urge to say terrible things about the actually really good district I work in will pass...). Maybe I can get the Connecticut chapter of the Arthritis Foundation to organize their own Connecticut Coast Classic (in the summer, of course). I might be a crappy teacher for a week as I'll be awfully tired, but honestly, I wouldn't really care.

So that's Plan B. I hope I don't need it, but I am prepared to go gung-ho after it if I need to.

Workouts fell short this week, though Tuesday I did the core class and 45 minutes of upper body lifting after, and Wednesday I swam 1800. Weather has been perfect for running or walking. Yeah. We've been going to playground, and to a school track meet. Gotta say, I loved cheering for the slower girls, it's more inspiring even than cheering for the girl who can run a 5:07 mile (and trains with the boys' team...because she can run a 5:07 mile).

No bike ride for me Sunday as I am volunteering at the Mother's Day 10k I have run the past 4 years. Gotta keep the streak up somehow.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Really?

My request for time off for the ride in September was denied. I really hadn't thought this was a possibility until 3 weeks ago when I asked the union rep for advice. I mean, we get 3 "personal" days a year (although I knew I probably wouldn't be allowed to use them...I had to take an unpaid day to run my last marathon in 2008...to call them personal days is quite a misnomer). I expected I would have to take the days unpaid, but I didn't really get that they could completely deny them. The principal said he would support it before I requested the time. So when my favorite HR guy stopped into my room after school Friday, I knew it was bad news. I was, I think, very professional in my pissed-offedness, I thanked him and just let him know that I would have to speak with the union to see if I had any other options. He proceeded to tell me that he has arthritis in his back, so he knew how I felt.

Yeah. Anyone reading with RA, you don't need me to tell you how that made me feel. Those of you who don't have it, understand that osteoarthritis (what we all usually think of when we hear "arthritis") and rheumatoid arthritis are nothing alike. I don't even want to bother to try to explain, so I won't. But at this point I couldn't get the guy out of my classroom fast enough.

Bottom line is, I have no idea if I will be able to convince anyone (my only hope is the superintendent, and possibly the Board of Ed) that I deserve this. Apparently, through our contract, the HR guy probably does have the right to deny it. So I can ask for special consideration (which they will grant in some situations, but usually it's for deaths or serious illnesses...and...I don't know that I can convey how important this is knowing that they probably just won't care), but I don't know what my chances are.

Two days later I am less emotional about it, but still pissed. I may be able to get them to give me one or 2 days, and maybe ride for 3 or 4 of the 8 days. I may be able to do the ride another year (without having to do all the fundraising again), though for many reasons I feel like if it's not this year, it just won't happen. Fred will definitely still be going, so at least I don't have to tell everyone who donated that the whole thing is off...just my part.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

9:16

First 500 in the YMCA pool: 10:35 back in February.
Second 500: 9:48 April 16.
Third 500: 9:16, today.

This time I decided to push the last 200 yards, but even the first 300 were faster. I am pleased! But I can get under 9:00. I am still really only swimming once a week.

I also did 2 fast (for me, come on) 100s, 1:32 and 1:33. Thought I wouldn't make the second one. Total workout was only 1600, but for me it was way more intense than normal so that seemed just fine. I have no intentions of swimming more than a mile in any races this year so no need to do 3000 yd workouts - which I considered doing, as the Masters group I swam with this winter is now doing 3200+ workouts. Ha, I am glad I didn't do the second session!!!

Recap: Worked out 6 days straight last week including a solo 32 mile bike ride, but then blew off the entire weekend. It was RELAXING and I loved hanging out with Andra.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Swim recap

Swim workout yesterday...pool now is open MWF until 3:30 so that means it's much easier to fit in 1-2 swim workouts a week. Recapping what I did today for my future reference...Warm up 100, 100 pull. Then I decided to swim 1000. Not fast, just to do it because I have never done that continuously. It was fine, 10:15 for the first 500 and 10:03 for the second, so I guess I did negative splits! Then I did 4 50s. First was :47, second :46, third :43 and last :41. Sprints are FUN. And I guess I need to do them more to improve my speed in the longer distances. Weird how training plans for all sports basically follow the same principles...

Today after school our faculty meeting was JUST canceled (not that I was planning to go) so 2 other teachers are meeting down by the beach for a ride. I have last period free, so I am going to go home, ride the 8 miles to meet them, do a 16 mile loop, and ride home. It's a gorgeous day out.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

School gym


This is where I work out when I don't have much time. Today, for instance. Planned to swim right after school, but a girl I tutored last year begged to see me after school. Since 1 hour of tutoring = 2 days of daycare, hard to turn down. Luckily, I had left workout clothes at school, and snuck down to lift during my lunch block. The fitness center is huge, though the equipment is pretty old and geared toward meathead football players (who leave 100 pound weights on the machines). Still, good enough.

I almost signed up for the local aquabike, as I haven't heard back from the relay woman and my sense is I'm not going to. But I couldn't click after I entered in all my credit card info. The thought of swimming in Long Island Sound in June just freaked me out. I will sign up...but I need to psych myself up for it.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Relay team?

A guy on the ride today asked if I was interested in doing the bike leg of a local olympic distance triathlon as part of his wife's team. I said sure, then later realized they do actually have an aqua-bike division (last year, 6 whole people did it! I could win!). But, I'd rather do the relay, I think it would be more fun to be part of a team. I called her, but she had kids yelling in the background and will call me back.

Today's ride was, in a word, CCCCOLD. My thermometer at home said 43 degrees. I dressed more warmly than last week (I think it was also in the 40s then, maybe 46) but was shivering badly right before we left. I was actually thankful for the giant hills on the route (hills I normally avoid at all costs) as they were the only thing that got blood flowing into my fingertips. We did 32 miles, not exactly fast (15.something) but only 6 of us kept even that pace. Seriously, it was one hill after another for the first 14 miles, then a little more downhill mixed in for the second half. 25 riders showed up (there's a big push to get new riders, so most of those people were in the 18- or 22-mile group), and one other woman sort of stayed with our group, but not really. She had a really nice tri bike, yet...she couldn't keep up. I find it weird that people will spend so much money on really nice bikes even though, umm, they don't really need them. Maybe I am just jealous though. Anyway, I hope they don't make the rides much longer...2 hours is enough. But I do hope someone starts to push the pace. It's nice to have a social ride, but, I wouldn't mind getting my ass kicked, too.

Friday, April 16, 2010

9:48

Swam today after school since the pool was open. Did 2000 yards, including 2 timed 500s, just to see. First one was 9:48, vs. 10:35 back in February, so 47 seconds faster. The second one was 10:03 I think, I didn't pay much attention at the very end as I knew it wasn't better.

How come the very first 50 I swim feels incredibly smooth, effortless, and fast, but that feeling doesn't last??? I mean, it makes sense that my form would suffer when I am tired, but pretty early on I start to feel slightly awkward.

Jack, one of the lifeguards (I think that's his name, I am terrible remembering names) that I say hi to, came in almost at the end of my set and said my form looked good, but he had 2 suggestions for me. One, my right arm was entering the water when it was already fully extended so I was apparently missing out on some of the glide, and two, my fingers are spread way apart and so I am losing power. I swam another hundred thinking about what he said, and I can see that making a difference once I can make the changes without thinking about them. As it was, everything else fell apart when I focused on keeping my fingers together.

Almost worked out every day this week...but when Wednesday night came around, I didn't make it to the pool. Andra and I got to a playground every day this week though, which was awesome. I figure if I make my workout a priority, it's only fair that hers is, too. Some days they go outside at daycare, but it's been a bit chilly in the mornings so afternoons with me have been her only outside time.

Sunday's ride supposedly is drawing 20 riders (mostly newbies probably) and we're doing 32 miles. If, that it, the weather holds. I could do cold, or rain, but not cold rain.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Sunday ride

Eight of us went in the faster group today, which ended up being perfect. Definitely a bit of a push, and a hilly course (there really isn't anything else in Connecticut/NY except rolling hills), but totally doable and a much better workout that I would get alone. We rode 27 miles, 1:36 at 16.6mph average. That one mph difference makes...a difference. I guess like running, at one point a 9:00 pace would have been easy for me, but an 8:00 pace would be doable but tough. Anyway, one guy today got dropped after the first climb (which I had just done Wednesday in our 88 degree weather...at the end of my ride...much easier in 50 degrees and at the beginning!) but the rest of us were very compatible speed wise. One other girl showed up today, but she was brand new and rode in the slower group. It is just nice to not have to do all my rides alone!

Friday, April 09, 2010

Signed up

June 5, Olympic distance aquabike. Meaning it's like a triathlon without the run...just the swim and the bike, and it's a separate category (probably with like 5 other people doing it).

Rode on Wednesday in the heat wave...24 miles, my usual 15-16mph pace, but I was exhausted afterwards...I am NOT used to 88 degree weather! Swam yesterday.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Rev3 Aquabike???

June 5, about an hour away in Middlebury, CT. They have an olympic aquabike race along with the triathlon. And half distances the next day. Surprisingly, the swim for the half is only .3 miles longer, which seems like nothing. However, I don't know that I want to kill myself to do 56 miles on the bike, even though I've already done a 30 this week and adding another 26 doesn't seem unreasonable given that I'd have 9 weeks (and wouldn't have to run afterwards!). But, olympic will probably win.

I am setting myself a deadline of Friday to decide and commit and sign up. Please hold me to it.

I rode 30 by myself on Friday. I chose a route that I think of as impossibly hilly (everything is hilly in CT, but this has a lot of really steep hills) just to get it in early in the season and planned to just cruise it. Early on right after I stopped by a friend's house to ditch my vest (too hot), I was passed by some guy. OK, I didn't do anything about it because I figured he was just fast. But no, there was no reason for him to pass me. He hung out about 30 feet ahead of me for 2 miles, and I even found myself slowing down to avoid passing him back. Finally I'd had enough though, it was silly. So I passed him and didn't see him again.

This morning I did 22 with a couple of guys I did my masters swim class with and a few I didn't know (9 guys and me). I was not intimidated to ride with them like I was to swim...and I more than held my own. Granted, it was a no-drop ride and our pace was about 15mph (slower than my solo, hilly, low-key 30), but it was fun. Not only was I one of the stronger riders (and, surprisingly, climbers) but it was a friendly group and I talked to just about everyone. Or, rather, they talked to me. I am really awkward in a new group and am completely incapable of starting conversations, so I was especially pleased that I didn't make a social fool out of myself. One guy tried to convince me to sign up for the next swimming session, and a bunch said they hope I come back next week. One even said I should come back because they expect a bunch more riders, and a bunch who will do an 18-20mph pace, implying that I could keep up with them. Umm, I am all for trying, but I don't know about that. I promised to return, but also said "I might let my husband come now and then instead of me," and another guy said, "No, we want you." (If I weren't about to disclose that these are by and large short, stocky middle aged family men trying to lose their winter spare tires, the whole story would have sounded much better. But still, I don't mind being the token woman on the ride. It's good for my ego.)

Two pictures from today, one from the beach yesterday.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Mommy friends

Since Jessica and Kate moved back to Chicago (all of a week and a half ago) I've been trying to find a way to get a new mommy friend. I don't need many...just one was fine, Jessica and I got along really well and liked doing a lot of the same stuff. She introduced me to Cynthia, and we went to the playground today. Plus, Amanda who was in my swimming lane friended me on Facebook today, her daughter is 4 months older than Andra. So, although I don't know if they'll be quite as much fun as Jess, since there are 2 of them it might fill the void.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Short lived

Cortisone shot worked for about 3 days. Oh well. All I can do now is wait it out. Frustrating, especially at school, but if I dwell on it, well, that won't help. So I can't. Must...look...forward...

My 500m swim time improved from 11:34 to 10:30. Still slow but not the slowest in the group, and one of the best overall improvements. I think from here on out the pool at the Y is open for lap swimming until 4:15 at least 3 days a week, so I can add that into the mix of bike and elliptical and weights more easily. I've taken it easy this week (kind of a bad cold and cough, plus just mentally dealing with ankle) but will have to get my spring plan in swing soon. I keep looking at local triathlons, and maybe I will plan to do an olympic and DNF. What the hell...it's obviously not a triathlon, but the worst part about not running/racing is that I have no gauge of my fitness/effort and hence no real motivation other than just "exercising." It doesn't help that I've been eating too much crap but also losing a little weight (yet, the body fat scale creeps up, so it's clearly not fat I'm losing). If I have a race to do, I can then have the fun of seeing where I fit in with others in the swim and bike portion.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Cortisone shot and beach pictures

Got my cortisone shot Friday. It certainly has helped. When I stand up now and take that first step, I can just WALK. It had been very painful to do that, though a few steps later it wasn't so bad, though I was always limping. I still can't run. The bones continue to click and rub against each other and generally feel loose. Sometimes when it cracks, it hurts. I think it's like an earthquake, the pressure builds and when it finally gives, it cracks and hurts. I can't really balance on just my left leg, because all those little corrections you do to keep your balance cause cracking of the joint. But the painful inflammation is gone, at least for now. And I don't think I am noticeably limping anymore, though my gait isn't quite normal. The ankle is still stiff, and I still am AWARE of it. Hard to explain, but normally when you walk, you just walk, you don't have to think about it. I am hoping that when my orthotics come back (again) next week, that will also help, though I don't think I have a prayer to run for a while. I am not even playing that game where you wonder if your "injury" (not an injury in my case, but a good enough analogy) is real or if you're just being a wimp. I am not being a wimp. There is just no point in my running "through" this. Hopefully the joint will stabilize, maybe fuse itself (so I don't have to consider surgery in a few years), but at least get to the point where it's not so loose. If it stays at least as good as it is now, walks are an option again. Maybe not fast walks that could count as a workout, but at least a way to get outside, especially if Andra needs to go to the park or take an extra nap.

A few pictures from the beach last week. Schools in my town were closed all week, though the town I teach in went back Thursday after power was restored late Wednesday night. My friend Jessica and her daughter Kate are moving back to Chicago tomorrow, which I am REALLY sad about, but we did get to spend a couple days hanging out in the beautiful weather.


Monday, March 15, 2010

Nor'easter

We were lucky and never even lost power, but the nor'easter that blew through this weekend has shut area schools (including mine) today and tomorrow, at least. Crazy! A huge tree fell across our road a few houses down, but didn't hit power lines, houses, or even a car. Fred's brother and his wife and new baby are without power til Thursday probably. I still took Andra to daycare today and went to the gym, then did a few errands and then cleaned half the house. I'll take her tomorrow too and get more cleaning and some organizing done.

We're halfway to our fundraising goal! Not bad for a month into it.

Also, since I am without my orthotics for a few weeks as they get readjusted, I put into my shoes the Dr. Scholl's arch supports I bought during my pregnancy. Amazingly, they worked much better than the orthotics! Less pain, though still the crunching. Which might be taken care of with the shot on Friday. Hopefully the orthotics will come back like that...or else I guess I make them redo them? I like the podiatrist and he said he was "a perfectionist," so...

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Gimpy

I went back to the podiatrist yesterday for an orthotics check, which was good because I felt like they were doing absolutely nothing. He seemed surprised, and decided to get xrays of my feet while standing, with and without the orthotics. I am glad he did. Since my last xrays (I think back in September) apparently things have progressed significantly. That Sept xray report said no damage, the first orthopedic said no damage (and no to the cortisone shot), and the new guy said there clearly WAS damage, though I couldn't tell when he showed me. This time, it was crystal clear even to me. Upside: it's real so I don't have to feel like a wuss for not running (or walking) these last few months. Downside: he doesn't think the orthotics will help much, though he did take them back to have the arch raised more just in case it will help. He also said he'd guess I'll need the joint fused at some point, but that yeah, I could still run after that since no motion = no pain. I go for a cortisone shot next Friday.

I keep trying to compare this ankle pain to my wrists. I didn't think it was exactly the same...but now that I know it really is RA in the ankle, I guess it is, it's just that the joints function differently. My wrists used to hurt if they stayed in the same position too long (sleeping, say, or on the bike). The ankle is always worst when I first stand up. I would have real weakness in my wrists...not being able to pick up heavy books, or open doors. With the ankle, you do'nt use your toes the way you do your fingers so that strength loss isn't the same. Still, the swelling, stiffness and pain are the same. So, now I have some faith that the cortisone shot will actually help. I wish I had realized this earlier, say in September, and maybe some of this damage could have been prevented. But...at the same time, despite all my wrists have been through and the times I probably thought I would never lift a dumbbell again, they are functionally 95% normal and pain free now. SO...lesson is, relax, I will run again. Or hell, at least WALK again.

At swimming last night we did a mini indoor triathlon. Swim 1000 yards (I was second to last, not last!), spin 20 min, run (or elliptical in my case) 20 min. I make a pathetic exit from the pool at 4:18 on this video (ankle, can you tell it hurts?), though I look much stronger spinning in the middle of the video, and despite my warnings I even made an elliptical appearance at 7:30.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Guess who's a real swimmer?

Guess who that is on the left??? Looks like a real swimmer, huh? (Don't disillusion me, if I made it onto the poster, I can't be that bad.)

At Masters tonight, Amanda in my lane told me my picture was on the poster advertising the next session, and apparently the same images were also in an email we got. I feel so cool! And to make things better, a fast woman from 2 lanes over told me in the locker room that I have gotten a lot better and look much smoother and faster. It FEELS better, too, much more natural. Well, except for this breathing stuff we did tonight. I did OK taking only 4 breaths per length for the 200, 300 and 500 sets. The 3 breaths per length for the next 300 was pushing it, and the 1 breath per length for the 200 ended up being more like 8 25s (with loooong rests in between). But I do have faith that all this misery is paying off. We retest the 500 on the last session in 2 weeks. I only really hope for under 10:30, though 9:5x would be very nice. At least now, I feel like I can cruise for long sets and feel comfortable, even if I am not good at pushing the pace. Comfort was all I wanted. If I do this again, I can work on speed.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Another runner with RA

Another runner with RA.

Click and look at the picture of her toes. This serves to remind me that I will run again. Just like Jeri.

Monday, February 22, 2010

More elliptical

Saturday I did almost an hour (7 miles) on the elliptical. Dare I say it? It was kind of fun. It is as close as I can get to running these days, and I miss it!! I turned up the iPod and watched my reflection in the TV on the machine and went pretty hard! I want to make a comparison to running...like, normally in an hour I might have once run 7 miles, but now (ankle aside) could probably only do 6. So should I set the elliptical so that that the effort is the same? Maybe it doesn't matter and I should go by heartrate. Or really, maybe who the hell cares since I can't run and I should just do what makes me happy. But seriously, anyone with elliptical experience want to share how you set it up?? I'm curious. I also lifted, if nothing else at least I can keep my upper body looking good!

Ordered Dansko clogs, should be here tomorrow. Hopefully will make the limp less noticeable. Kids at school have asked, and I don't want it to become that noticeable. Also found a good resource at www.liftmelevel.com for anyone with RA foot issues, they (for a steep price, but worth it if it works) can modify your existing shoes by putting on a rocker bottom or a flat steel rod to stiffen the sole. I will be bringing this info to my podiatrist appointment in a couple weeks. If the orthotics don't work, they need to help me find another solution. I get annoyed that I have to find all this stuff myself, it's the doctors' job to help. But...I know I also need to be my own advocate, because honestly, if you haven't had this disease, you can't really understand what it feels like. It's one thing to know what a talonavicular joint is and does, but it's another thing to know what it feels like when it doesn't work. For me it seems to be the toe push off that gets me. I do this rotation from my hip on the left side to avoid the push off. Hence the limp. But I also want the podiatrist to watch me walk. Seriously, I don't understand (in retrospect) how he could have ordered orthotics without doing that. Yes, they took a mold of my feet, but...wouldn't watching me walk/limp tell them more??? I need to write all this down before the March 10 appointment.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Rocker sole talonavicular arthritis

From now on, every time I do a Google search and come up empty I am going to post it in my title so the next person looking for what I am looking for at least knows they are not crazy. ARGH.

I was spinning on Monday night, and as I was walking from the locker room to the spin room in my cycling shoes, I realized that I could walk in those things without a limp. Now, most of you know that walking in cycling shoes is not exactly normal, those things are clearly not designed for walking. BUT nonetheless, they so prevent a real toe push off, and as such, prevent a certain ankle motion that I find painful! So I've been Googling and the best I can find is that a rocker bottom sole MIGHT work better than these custom orthotics (that my insurance may or may not be paying for...) which appear to do...NOTHING. I did go try on Dansko clogs today (somewhat better, actually) as well as some really ugly Sketcher shoes with the really ugly rocker bottom (not as good, probably because the soles are not as stiff). I did find some places online that will modify your existing shoes by replacing the soles with rocker bottoms, and I've emailed to find out more. My local shoe repair shop basically said no, impossible. OK. And I USED to have this pair of clogs I LOVED (husband hated them) that had WOODEN ROCKER SOLES, but I got rid of them after they spent one too many humid summers in the basement and got pretty moldy. I am SO wishing I had just kept them to see if they would work now. Except, really, I want a pair of shoes I can go for long walks with this summer pushing the BOB. I have sort of given up on the running for the time being.

But I really want to be able to walk without a limp.

Oh, and for anyone who cares, that post where I thought I tool a minute off my 500 swim time? Yeah, turns out my 11:34 time was 500 meters, and my 10:35 time was 500 yards. FUCK.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Mass starts (and my friend's daughter arrived from Haiti!)

At swimming tonight we practiced mass starts. Well, if 11 swimmers counts as a "mass." (See video of the Tuesday group doing this here.) It was actually a super good workout for me. They took out a couple of the lane lines and we all pretended to tread water (the pool is 3.5 feet deep) and went on "go." We did some different distances, 200, 400, 150, 100, 200, 50, maybe one or two others but it was about 1200 meters total (found out this pool is meters not yards). We'd all start and at the other end have to swim under the lane line and go back. There was plenty of hitting and kicking and swimming over people and gulping water and feeling crowded and panicky. It was really good for me! Also because I had to swim much harder than I normally do to keep up. I was NEVER last, and I was in the middle of the pack for all the 100s and shorter (I love sprints in any sport, my endurance totally needs work though), especially in the one 100 we did with pull buoys. So tonight did tons for my confidence in surviving a swim, even if I am still going to be slow.

Now, I just need my ankle to stabilize enough so I can actually DO a triathlon this year! Or if not, I need to find an aquabike race! Or I suppose I could just DNF at a triathlon, that might actually be what I have to do.

ALSO...my friend Nikki met her daughter TODAY! After a rollercoaster I wouldn't believe if I hadn't seen her go through it, Aliette finally got out of Haiti and they met in Miami today. You've got to go see the pictures, and she has the whole story on her blog too if you want to know what she went through!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Does almost still count??

Got Andra to bed and when Fred came home from his meeting at 8:05 I left for the pool. When I got there at 8:15 I stopped just to check that the swim team would be out by 8:30. DAMN. Thursday's they are there til 9! And the pool closes at 9:45. I was not going to sit around for 45 minutes to feel like I had to rush to get in a 45 minute swim. Of course I had no other workout clothes, just my swimsuit. So I came home. And all day I've been try not to let myself wimp out, I really don't like going to the pool so late. I like 6pm, even 7pm workouts, but 9??? Forget it. Luckily I'm off next week and can swim at noon a couple days.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Yay elliptical! (Not really.)

Went to the gym after school with high hopes of running! Felt like I could all day. Had that nervous energy you get when something exciting is going to happen! I lasted about 30 seconds. Moved to elliptical machine #1 (Precor) which caused too much ankle movement and crunching. Moved downstairs (the Y has two levels of cardio machines, I am a 2nd floor regular) to the other kind and it worked. I didn't love it, but I can adapt. Only did 20 minutes, then lifted (some kettlebell stuff, abs, legs). Have to just be patient and wait out this crunchy phase. Not going to lie, not being able to run mentally SUCKS. But I do have other goals to take its place, swimming and cycling.

Fred and I have officially signed up for the CCC and have started the long road to raising $6000 by October. See the link to the right if you want to donate to the Arthritis Foundation! Anyone who has RA that reads and has your own blog, I would love it if you mentioned my ride and posted this link http://cccsocal.kintera.org/clare to your blog! I may try to get creative ala Lil Runner and raise money through blog giveaways or something, but not yet. Anyone have any tips for fundraising??

Friday, February 05, 2010

Minus :59

I went to the pool tonight (I was the ONLY one there for a while, I am SOSOSO dedicated huh?) and swam a mile, and retested my 500. I paid much more attention to my breathing, and for most of it I managed to breathe every other stroke instead of my usual every stroke. There were a few times I thought I might die, but mostly, at least the first 400, I didn't panic. The result? 10:35. Still not anything, but a :59 improvement! Thanks for the comments, the advice, and the reminders that swimming really is hard! I hope by the end of this 10 week session to feel comfortable swimming this "new" way.

As for the 500 time...11:34 was my first ever attempt, so I really had no idea how to pace myself, etc. I think 10:35 is more indicative of my level, as a one minute improvement in 9 days isn't exactly real. I'll chalk that minute up to experience and mental issues, and use 10:35 as my benchmark. We retest in 3 weeks and again at the end, in 6 weeks. I hope to have a time of 9:30, which is 1:54/100. That doesn't sound too ambitious, it sounds pretty attainable to me IF I work at it. So, I will rededicate myself to 2 pool sessions a week on my own. Unfortunately, Friday nights will probably be one of them, and either Sunday afternoon or Monday nights for the other. That sucks, but there's no way to do it in the morning what with school starting at 7:30, and the pool not being open for lap swimming in the afternoons. I know I'll look back on this time in a year and feel proud of being dedicated to something that is inconvenient and not nearly as fun as running, so that's keeping me going.

Andra LOVES swimming. We went today, and she is now a HUGE fan of sitting on the side of the pool and jumping in. She is still, at 14 months almost, an ankle- and wrist-twirler, and when I sit her up there, she gets the biggest, goofiest grin, twirls away, and then lunges into the water. She tries to swim away from me once she's in, but when I almost let go, she almost sinks, so we're not quite there yet.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Why swimming is hard

I keep trying, and I will continue to do so, but this is not getting easier. Maybe it didn't help that this week I didn't make it to the pool on my own at all. But even so....UGH. Tonight was 2700 yards. I managed to do 2600 before the pool closed and they kicked us out, so I only missed the 100 cool down. And I wasn't the only one who didn't quite finish, plus there was a Tuesday guy in my lane (yes, the slow lane) who only was doing 2100. At one point I thought I was doing ok, and the coach said to me, you've almost got it, but for the next 2 laps have your hands touch every stroke. We've done this, and IT SUCKS. I went from being ok (meaning heart rate under control and not panicking about lack of air) to tensing up, feeling like I was stopping dead in the water after every stroke, and having my shoulders and lower back get so tired from trying not to sink (because I felt like I was stopped dead in the water), and gasping for air. Then we had to do some 25s all out, and I loved those, because when I go fast, for sch a short distance, it all comes together. But when I have to do a longer set, I have to slow way down to make it, and feel like I'm working way harder than if I just swam my own way. I guess it just will take more time. The very last 300, it actually did come together, but it's so fleeting!

The ankle doesn't do well being in the same pointed position for so long, and at the end of a set when I rest it takes a while to even put weight on that foot. Looked ridiculous when I got out of the pool, could not walk without a hugely noticeable limp. But I did get my orthotics today. Will take a week or so to break them in. I don't expect to be able to run for a few months, that's just the way the RA is, but it would be nice to walk without pain. Hopefully it will stabilize soon, or I may decide to go for the cortisone shot by June. At any rate, Fred and I signed up for the California Coast Classic so I'll be focusing on riding soon.

Monday, February 01, 2010

I've been walking around NORMALLY today. I caught myself NOT limping and, it was weird! Still hurts but not enough to limp.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Ups and Downs

Not much to report on. Swimming has been ok. We did a 500 yard "time trial" (can I call it that in swimming?) and, not unexpectedly, I was the slowest one in the Wednesday group. 11:34. It's really hard to push for me when swimming, that whole breathing thing mentally freaks me out. If I am breathing too hard, but only get to breathe when there's a chance I might get a mouthful of water instead of air, I am reluctant to go so fast that I can't survive if I miss a breath. Eh...I guess all that matters is if I improve that time, and we'll be retested in a month and then at the end of the program. You swimmers, can you give me any indication of what 11:34 MEANS for a 500? Like, for me, if I went all out I could, at least when I could run at all, have probably run a 6:40 mile or so. A more comfortable mile pace might have been closer to 8:00 if there was a reason to run fast, or a sustainable pace more around 9:00. Clearly 11:34 is not fast...but does it put me in the ranks of the 12:00 milers, the 10:00 milers, the 15:00 walkers?? It's weird having no reference point.

Get orthotics Wednesday. Don't want to say anything else, don't want to think about it. Either they'll work, or they won't.

In order to help in the not thinking about it, I've made a big decision. Although we won't officially commit til next week, Fred and I are going to sign up for the California Coast Classic, a 585 mile bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles that raises money for the Arthritis Foundation. RA has, temporarily I hope, taken away my ability to run. On the other hand, it sparked my running in the first place. But, still, it's taken it away. And I am pissed. But rather than dwell on that, I will ride. And swim (which, incidentally, hurts my ankle), but this summer I will ride. A LOT. I will be a cyclist.

And I will prove something to myself, again.

On a happier note, Andra is the BEST. I went out to lunch with two friends today, and she was incredibly cute and well-behaved (minus a few things dropped on the floor). My kid's got a great sense of humor and, except when she is teething, is so much FUN to be around. And later on today I went to this clothing swap a big group of working moms from the YWCA had, and even though I only brought a few things to swap, I left with TONS of clothes for the next 2 years plus a couple toys. Since I went right at the end, and everything left over was to be donated to charity, I didn't feel bad scooping up everything I did. Good clothes, great price.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Lots of random thoughts

Went up from 1600yds last week to 2150 last night. Big jump for me. Actually, 1600 wasn't too tough with the breaks I take, and I went to the pool twice on my own last week too. 2150 on my own will be hard, but I plan to go tomorrow afternoon and then again Monday or Sunday.

I got fitted for orthotics and they should be in in 2 weeks. The podiatrist said he fits about 5 people a day, 1-2 of whom have RA, but only 1-2 a YEAR are for the talo-navicular joint. He said it should help. I hope so because it ain't pretty right now. No running, walking with a limp most of the time. Lifted today and spin once a week now plus swimming so it's fine but I will be happy if I can get back to running, even if all I ever do again is a 5k I will take it. I know I will...I've been through this with the wrists EXACTLY. They were bad at first, and now for the last 2 years maybe they are FINE even with the structural damage. So it might be a little while, but eventually the ankle won't hurt anymore. And probably I'll go through this with the other ankle at some point. Weird that it's not now as RA is usually bilateral. But, not complaining.

Andra decided this week to start feeding herself. With her fingers AND with a fork. Ok, there's usually no food on the fork, but she gets it to her mouth just fine! Plus, she bit a kid at day care. We think the other kid stuck his finger in her mouth, so it wasn't exactly intentional, and apparently after he screamed, she screamed louder and longer. So, I think she was sorry and won't do it again!

My friend from school who's adopting a little girl from Haiti is on pins and needles. She got a picture of Aliette (10 months) exactly one week before the quake, expecting the process to take 1-2 years. Now, she could arrive on a cargo plane at any time. Last she heard the kids from her orphanage were waiting at the US embassy at 4am this morning to leave. They could fly in any time, to anywhere in the US. She is waiting for a phone call telling her something like, "Be in Kansas City at 5pm." I gave her my old car seat and our school resource officer (aka cop) pulled some strings to get it installed correctly today. I brought her some bottles and some warm clothes, pjs, a couple little toys...seriously, she did not exepct to become an instant mom to a baby! She is psyched but overwhelmed, and of course she has no idea what shape Aliette is in. Dehydrated, dirty, sick, etc. And not knowing and imagining what she's going through has to be awful. I just hope she gets out today and my friend can just get her in her arms. This is her second adoption (first from China) and wow, I'm glad I could get my kid the old fashioned way...the stress and emotional toll of adoption is not for the weak-hearted!