Saturday, May 31, 2008

Dazed and confused

I went back to work this week. I started my LAST clinical rotation with the Veterans Health Administration doing acute care physical therapy. I worked as a PT tech in Cleveland (Ohio, in case you're from Arkansas) before we moved here so I have a good idea of what the setting is like. This week was mostly orientation, sitting on my butt for 8 hours listening to a lot of stuff that doesn't pertain to students, but yesterday I worked with my new clinical instructor and got to see the hospital. My first day was FANTASTIC! My CI is a super nice guy, everyone in the department seems super nice, and everyone that works in the hospital seems really nice. Oh yeah, we saw some patients too.

So that is the good part of my life right now. That I have 9 weeks of graduate school left and it seems like it will be an enjoyable experience. What a relief!

It's my triathlon life that's making me nuts. My training is OK, I guess. I just don't know what, if anything, I'm training for. I have moments when I'm fine and I think Kansas will be OK. Then I actually picture the swim start and think of what it will be like on race day and I get a really sick feeling in my stomach. Sure, I went to the lake here with friends since my "incident", but we all know race day is a whole other ball game. And what if it's choppy? I found myself getting anxious in the pool when two large men were swimming on each side of me creating a lot of motion. The thought of not doing the race depresses me because I feel like a quitter. The thought of doing the race scares me and gives me anxiety. I'm stressing out over a sport that I took up for FUN. This is NOT fun!

To Ironman or not to Ironman? How do you not do a race you paid so much for? How do you do a race that will require so much training time while managing a full-time job, 2 kids, and preparing to take an exam you've worked 6 years to earn the right to take (the PT board exam)? I'm already an "Ironman". When I signed up to do it a second time I did so to improve my time and do my absolute best. I am not at my absolute best right now. Physically or emotionally. I just saw pictures of myself before the bike ride we did last Saturday and one of me in my wetsuit. Nothing is more honest than spandex or a rubber suit. When we moved here 3 years ago I was 10-13 pounds lighter than I am right now. The loneliness of being away from all my family and friends, and the stress of PT school, made it really easy to pack on the pounds I vowed I never would. I buckled down after having babies and was thinner than I ever had been in my life. Exercise was a means to lose weight. Now exercise/training is a license to eat and drink, and drink more.

Like my title says, I'm just dazed and confused. I'm trying to get my head on straight and focus on good things and be positive. I guess what I really need to do is go to the lake and make friends with the open water. I've ordered a Swim Safe belt so maybe once it arrives I'll go do that and see what happens.

Dino Dash 2008

This is the 3rd year the kids participated in the Museum of Discovery's Dino Dash. Nada and her friend Sarah ran the 5K, and Luka did the kid's race 1K. The post-race party is great, that's why the kid's are always eager to do this race. When I saw the Star Wars dudes (I think they're clone troopers?) I knew Luka was going to go nuts. Thank God I brought the camera!

I think Luka might be my future running partner. Nada had no desire to actually train for this race and was perfectly happy walking most of it. She got pretty tired of me and Sarah telling her to run. Luka, on the other hand, took off from the start of his race and only stopped once to catch his breath. When he started running again it was an all out sprint! All I had to tell him was, "The faster you run, the sooner you'll get to the finish, and if you're there before all the other kids you'll get a better pick of all the dinosours". He had to have a T-Rex. It also helped after the race he was on his way to a friend's birthday party.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Memphis in May

I think I'm ready to write about my experience at Memphis in May on Sunday. It's been really tough to get a grip since the event, but I think I'm starting to wrap my head around it a little better.

I was feeling great right up until the time I "lost the picture". I was really enjoying all the people I was seeing at the race and really wasn't nervous. I was having FUN and looking forward to what I expected to be a great race.

I should mention, because I'm suspicious this might have contributed, that allergies have been BAD around here for the past few weeks. I come home from workouts outside and my eyes itch for hours. Same thing happened Saturday after spending so much time outside at the race site. I had to take out my contacts and where my glasses to dinner. Sunday morning, prerace, the eyes were "ok". I wasn't sneezing at all.

I was participant #502 so I started fairly early in the race. My swim started out great and it stayed that way for 3/4 of the course. I felt like I was putting out a good effort, I wasn't taking it easy or worried or anxious or panicked one bit. Even when I got swum over by some faster swimmers who started behind me, it didn't freak me out. Even when I swallowed a bit of water, I just coughed it and kept going. I'm telling you, it was a great swim.

The course is an inverted triangle starting at the tip. The course is also lined with a rope that connects all the buoys. At the last turn of the triangle which headed us back in to the exit the chop picked up because of the wind direction. Again, I did not freak out and I did not stop. I just reminded myself of my strategy in Dallas and slowed down my stroke a little, relaxed, and focused on breathing. Up until that turn I had been breathing bilaterally, but when the chop increased I decided to just breathe to the right since I turn my head higher to that direction and I wanted to avoid getting hit with water. I remember doing this for a few minutes, I remember swimming next to some other swimmers and looking up to see how far I was from the finish. It wasn't far. I'm guessing 500 yards max. I also remember thinking maybe I was breathing too frequently and I should go back to bilateral every 3rd stroke. I turned my head to the left, it didn't feel too good, I breathed to the right again, and I remember feeling sort of "drunk", but before I had the chance to think I should stop, I turned my head to the left again and that was it. The next thing I knew I was under water and completely disoriented. It felt as if I was upside down in the water sinking to the bottom so I tried as hard as I could to stroke my way up to the surface. There was no surface to be found...anywhere. I realize now that I was probably face down pulling myself further down into the water. I could NOT get out of the water and the air in my lungs was slowly diminishing. Yes, I was panicked and felt very helpless. I truly believed this was the end of my life and I was drowning. The only thing I could think of were my kids, that they would never see me again, and that I had done a very foolish thing depriving them of having a mother in their life so that I could selfishly enjoy a sport that I'm not even good at. I knew no one on those boats could see me and that it would be hours before they realized a swimmer hadn't made it out of the water. I stopped stroking and trying to save myself and just waited to lose consciousness and thought "this is what it is like to drown". At that moment I felt a BODY! I grabbed hold of who or whatever it was and finally came to the surface. I begged for help from this woman, that she would just let me hold onto her. She was so extremely kind and reassuring. She kept telling me over and over I was going to be OK and yelled for the nearest boat. We were very close to the rope line and I asked her to take me to the rope because I knew I was holding onto her really hard. Once I got a hold of the vest and the boat was next to me I thanked racer #460 repeatedly and told her to go on. I felt bad for taking up her swim time although it didn't even seem like a thought to her. I got on the boat and was extremely nauseous. Unfortunately, they couldn't get me to land for a while because we were stuck in the middle of the triangle. Initially, I didn't care. I can't describe how fortunate I felt that I made it onto that boat and out of that water. I just sat there completely traumatized by what had just happened thanking God for sparing me and being merciful. Eventually they were able to get across an opening in the swimmers and I managed to walk myself to the med tent where I sat for a long time because every motion of my head made me feel like I was going to puke.

I went to the doctor yesterday, which was pretty useless. I think what happened was a combination of increased sinus pressure in my head, turning my head to one direction for so long and then turning it to the other causing me to become "dizzy". I've been reading forums about vertigo (which I don't typically have) and swimming and dizziness. I think I am prone to motion sickness. I think not stopping and holding on to the rope or buoy was a mistake. I think I should wear ear plugs like I used to do and don't know why I stopped. This would have been my 15th triathlon to complete. I've never experienced something like this. Yes, I have panicked and freaked out in choppiness, like I did in Dallas, but I finished the Dallas swim without stopping and never felt "sick". Grant it, I know I was putting out a higher effort in the swim Sunday than I did in Dallas and that probably contributed.

I have thought so much about what happened and where to go from here and right now I don't have an answer. There are many things to consider, such as I need a really good life insurance policy. I know I'd be fine in a sprint swim in the lakes around here in the middle of summer when it's so hot the water is still as mud. So I'm not saying I'll never do another triathlon again. What happened has just made me really think about where my priorities are and what am I really trying to get out of this sport? I have to put things into perspective and figure out what my real goals are in life.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Greek Fest

This weekend is the Greek Food Festival that our church here in Little Rock hosts. They raise a TON of money for the church and for organizations in the community. The food is really awesome and there's a variety not just Greek. I have yet to have a gyro (yee-roh), but their tabouli and pastitsio is AWESOME! No, we're not Greek, we're Serbian (all 4 of us, 100% full blooded), but the Greek's are Orthodox and that's where we go to church when we go. Greek dances are similar to the "kolo's" the Serbs do. Boy, it's been a long time since I've had the chance to break a sweat with some good kolo dancing (there are little to no Serbs in Little Rock). Milan can kolo dance too. It's the only kind of dancing I would do with him in public. We used to dance pretty often when we were dating and hanging out at the "Serb Club" on Friday nights in Pittsburgh. Ah, the good old days. OK, back to real life...

My kids have been rehearsing with the "micro" Greek dancers for about the past 6 weeks, every Monday night, and recently Wednesdays too. I have to say, I'm really glad the festival is finally here and that they were ready to perform. This is the third year Nada has danced and she's become really good even though the dances have changed each year. This year she even lead one of the dances, called the Gerakina. It was great. This is the second time Luka has performed. He didn't dance last year because me and him were in Pennsylvania for my dad's surgery, but he "danced" in 2005. They both did great tonight. I wish I could post the videos. Luka even got on TV with the 5 o'clock news! The meterologist was there from Fox news covering the festival and the gorgeous weather we had today so he asked for some of the little kids to stand in the background and show their dance (without music).

I feel a little guilty that I won't be around to see them perform again tomorrow and Sunday. I'm heading off to Memphis in the morning for the race so Milan is in charge of getting them to the church hall on time to change and ready to perform. I have no doubt he can handle it, he did it last year with Nada. Plus I told every mom there that I wouldn't be around so hopefully someone will help out if needed with the costume. Hopefully they won't talk about what a bad mom I am for going away for the weekend and leaving my husband alone (I'm so paranoid). On the other hand, I am also looking forward to getting away by myself and racing with TONS of friends in Memphis. This kind of opportunity happens once a year, if I'm lucky, so I'm going to enjoy it!

Good luck to everyone racing this weekend in Memphis and Florida!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Weekend fun!

Saturday morning, both of my kids have friends over to play with, Milan went to work to "polish" something (I don't ask questions, it will get too technical), so I have time to blog!

I had a really good brick this morning. We rode a flat course today so it was perfect race prep for Memphis. Pretty much no drafting for me and I was able to maintain a decent, steady pace for the whole ride. My short run afterwards felt good too. It's kind of hard to gauge since you know how you don't really get your legs back until a few miles into the run.

I realized this week, probably not for the first time, after reading a blog about swimming aggressively that I don't swim aggressively. I don't race the swim. My race starts at T2 (I should have that put on my next Splish suit!). I should not be disappointed or surprised when I get out of the water and see my sucky time. I DO hurt in the water, every time for about the first 5-10 minutes (the wrong kind of hurt), but then I just stay in my comfort zone until about the last 200 yards. Last night our tri/bike group had an open water swim practice at a small local lake with our wetsuits. I've already had my wetsuit on this season, twice, and swam 1500+ meters in open water. Yet I still found myself having that moment of panic. And the lake was calm as glass! I know I was swimming a little too fast to start so I did manage to calm it down and get it back together, but I did think it would be nice to have a wall at that moment, just to catch my breath. Plus, I just get sick of having my face in water that long. I'm going to have to learn to like not breathing at my leisure and the sight of darkness because that's what I'm going to have to do August 31 for at least an hour and a half. Looks like I'll be making quite a few trips to the lakes of Arkansas this summer.

My new theme song for swimming is Jordin Sparks, "No air". It says it all for me about open water swimming. Yeah, I know it's really a love song. I don't sing this song to myself while swimming in open water. I think that would just make me panic more. I stick to happy Dorey from Saving Nemo.

The other day at the health club I bought a can of Verve. I have been curious about Vemma ever since reading the camp HTFU blogs. I'm even considering getting some, but I'd really like to try it first before I give up on my multivitamin and glucosamine & chondrotine. The can of Verve is still sitting in my refrigerator. Why? Because I paid $4.84 for a 12oz. can. This has to be saved for a special occasion, when I need something fantastic to brighten my day. I couldn't drink it after "just" a swim workout. I am anxious to taste it. I don't know if I'll really feel any effects after one dose, but it'll at least give me an energy boost.

I guess that's about all the randomness I can come up with at the moment. Hope all the mom's have a GREAT Mother's Day and everyone down at the Gulf Coast (Joy, Laura, Ashley, and Mary) has a fantastic RACE!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Vacation!

I finished my clinical rotation last Friday, and yes, I am very happy it's over. I am going to thoroughly enjoy having the next few weeks off and to myself. The kids get on the school bus at 7:05am and it brings them back home at 2:30pm. During that time, it's just ME! I have really needed a chance to catch my breath, de-stress, get my house (and life!) back in order, and put in some longer training hours during the week.

It's been a fairly productive past few days, at home and on the road (biking and running). The kids finally saw the dentist. My deck and deck furniture finally got scrubbed of all the green pollen it was covered in. I did a 2.5 hour brick yesterday morning, outside, in the day light. So nice! I decided to sleep in this morning and swim on my own later in the morning at my health club instead of going to masters. I made note that swim aerobics is from 9-10, which isn't too bad except for the women who douse their heads in perfume for class. Nothing like getting a whoof of stinky perfume when you're having a hard enough time breathing anyway. After swim aerobics, it's toddler swim lessons, or "mommy-and-me". That was a little too much noise. At least now I know when not to go to that pool.

I do have to start putting together my graduation case report while I'm on break. If I was really an overachiever I'd start studying for the licensure exam too since I have 2 study guides sitting here unopened. Also on my agenda (this one will get done)is to get a pedicure before Memphis in May. I think I swim better with painted toes :-)

Speaking of MIM, that's next on my race schedule. I did MIM once and I still don't know that I really like the TT start. I guess the nice thing is that I'll just be racing against myself (and my watch) and I won't be thinking about who is in front of me or behind me. I'd really like to just have some fun for a change and stop stressing myself out with all the competition.

Hope everyone is enjoying spring!