Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The Proof is in the PR

I decided it was time to call off my self-pity party and take stock of where I'm at.

I've had lots of good intentions for LSD workouts, but between them being a bit boring and the fact that I get so bummed out when I'm limited to walking... well, let's just admit that I haven't been perfect about them and leave it at that. I've been doing them with regularity, but certainly not by the book.

My Wednesdays have been discombobulated for quite a while now, because they used to be my lift weights and swim day. When I got the trainer I started doing some biking to replace the swimming. Now the PT won't let me bike either. So I geared up for the gym out of habit this morning with no clear idea what to do even though by process of elimination I didn't have much of a choice.

I decided to just run. No plans, no goals. Just pick a speed, let 'er rip, and see what happened. Figure out where I'm really, truly at, and where I fall on the idiot scale for still wanting that half-marathon in six months.

I have a theory that jogging is rougher and perhaps the reason I have yet to conquer the walk/jog LSD speed crossover is that a plodding jog actually seems to take a lot more out of me than an easy run, even though an easy run puts my HR in the 170s-180s. With that in mind, I picked a speed I knew would put me into running and not jogging - 4.5 mph (13:20 pace).

Then I just ran. And they were the best miles of my life. (Check it out! Miles - plural!)

I could breath. Nothing hurt. I could talk. I was lip synching with my music. I was happy. This has got to be what running is all about.

My HR was at 188 almost dead-on for about the first 30 minutes, then drifted up to 195 over the last 15 minutes. I was going to shoot for 4 miles, but when it inched over 200 I decided it was time to stop. I still felt fine, was having a nice conversation with the guy beside me about local races... but 200 seemed scary.

I know that sounds insanely high, but in my case it's a huge improvement (aside from the fact that mine seems to run quite a bit higher in general than most people). Last summer even an easy jog at a 15:00 pace would send it skyrocketing in the first few seconds from 130s to 190s. It was painful and awful. Every step was torture and every breath felt like it was being ripped out of me. If I really pushed, I could go maybe 5-10 minutes. Never before did I have the fitness to keep my heart at a steady rate - let alone for 30 minutes!

That's what I expected today, and I simply can't believe I just ran - RAN!!!! - 3.5 miles. Not just without stopping... but without wanting or needing to stop at the end.

Clearly, the numbers need to be lower. And I'll keep working with LSD to get them lower. Even though I have yet to conquer the lower HR aspect of LSD, it's already working its magic.

Distance: 3.5 miles (PR for distance)
Time: 46:45
5K split: 41:30 (5K PR by 2:29)

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

PT Jackpot

Turns out the PT has been a triathlete for, ooooh, 20 years or so. Honest to god.

She felt around my shoulder for a while and proceeded to give me a freakishly accurate explanation of just how bad my swim mechanics are (or were, before Swim Coach Marcy helped me, but by then the shoulder was already a problem).

Today was ultrasound and Stems. Thursday will be too. She said first step is to quiet it down, then we'll move onto strengthening. She's going to have dramatic modifications to my weight lifting in the future. Apparently it's a bad idea to mix overhead weights with swimming a lot.

Road to Recovery

As I suspected, the Physical Therapist my surgeon wants me to see is not in my insurance network.

I spoke with their office several times yesterday and they were very helpful - even calling my insurance company to get information for me I couldn't get out of them myself.

Out-of-network coverage = $1000 deductible, then covered at 70%, limited to 26 visits.


So, my options are to bite the bullet and shell out money I can't really afford (although we do have a Health Flex Account, so that helps). OR... find a therapist in my network and take my chances with someone not used to working with athletes.

It's even more fun making these decisions when Wonderful Husband is on a business trip in Malaysia. We managed to navigate the 14 hour time difference and IM for a few minutes. He agrees I should go ahead with this PT.

We both kind of think that if I went with an in-network therapist not used to dealing with athletes that I probably wouldn't get the appropriate treatment and am likely to end up in the same boat a few months down the road. We trust this surgeon and understand there's a good reason he recommended so strongly that I work with the particular therapist.

So, we'll figure out how to pay for it and be grateful for the opportunity to be treated by someone who understands my needs. My first appointment is tonight.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Calorie Nazi Status Report

I can't even believe I can report this, but in the 5 weeks since I devoted myself to the Calorie Nazi, I've lost almost 10 pounds. That's insane. Unheard of. And - let's just come right out and say it - clear evidence I probably should have tried him a long time ago. (But I wasn't ready then, so I guess it's a moo point.)

[Yeah, I said Moo. Bonus points if you get the reference ; ) ]

This has started a distracting little whisper in my head - one I don't want to listen to for fear of getting my hopes up. I've been disappointed like this before. It's become a predictable pattern for me to lose 10-15 pounds fairly quickly as spring arrives and my thyroid perks up with the changing of the seasons, only to plateau until the next cycle.

BUT. Still - I can't help thinking... if it keeps up at this rate, I'm going to hit that half-way point 6 months early. In fact, I'd be hitting it in late June, riiiight about when my first tri is scheduled.

The idea of being below 200 pounds for a race. Speechless. A dream I haven't yet dared to dream.

Couldn't help spilling it because it's been pounding around the inside of my brain, dying to be validated. Now I'm going to tuck it back into the recesses of my mind because dwelling on it will only distract me from the things I really need to focus on. Like getting through the PT and back into the water.

Total lost to date: 54

Friday, February 23, 2007

Prozac Patch

I haven't learned to navigate the prozac patches yet like Wil and TriSaraTops have.

These moments of doubt are just that - moments - but when they happen I feel like they're going to swallow me whole. Like I should really just give up now because I'll never be able to do all the things I keep talking about doing.

After they pass - as they always do - I can look back and understand it was a temporary state of mind. But while I'm in it I just can't see any way out.

While most prozac patches have no rhyme or reason, the source of this one is plain as day.

I haven't trained nearly enough over the winter because of my shoulder. Problem is, that's not really an excuse for the running. It sort of is, because there were days even moving it that much caused pain, but I'd be lying to myself and the world if I even pretended to think it truly kept me out of it as much as I've allowed it to.

Now that I know there will be no surgery I feel lost and scared and hopelessly behind. I just wasted three months. And the Shamrock Shuffle - my first race planned for 2007 - is only 4 weeks out.

I haven't been able to pull off running an entire 5K since the one (and only!) I scraped out in November. I've been trying desperately to do LSD, thinking the whole damn winter was surely enough time to improve my speed to the point I could run the whole 5 miles for this race.

But I haven't gotten one second faster - not since my initial improvement over a month ago of a measly 20 seconds per mile. But I need to improve by at least a minute per mile to even move up to jogging... hence the wallowing.

I hadn't registered before now because of the possibility of surgery. Now that I have an answer on that, I keep telling myself I need to sign up immediately because in a day or a week I'll be sad if I didn't. And I want to believe that once I work my way through the bad patch I'll be able to accept the need to plan a run/walk strategy. But right now that feels like failure and I just can't bring myself to go there.

[Update: I guess the Powers That Be decided for me. Registration is already closed.]

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Surgeon Says....!

No surgery. At least, not yet. He manipulated my limbs a whole bunch, identified multiple angry muscles/tendons and, while the biceps tendon is most certainly complicit in the whole mess, he's not completely convinced it's actually ruptured.

He gave me a prescription for physical therapy and specifically recommended a therapist who works with athletes. Next step is to find out if she takes my insurance.

If a course of physical therapy doesn't solve the problem, then I have to go back to discuss surgery.

He said he can't make any promises, but if all goes well with PT I could be swimming by May.

[Oh, and I totally went swimming last night. I wanted the pain to be fresh in my memory so I could tell him accurately where it hurt. Well - it was certainly fresh! And not just in my memory. Next time I've got a brilliant idea like that, just smack me please!]

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

New Workout Partner

Happened to meet a really nice guy this week. Turns out we've probably seen each other before, because after talking we realized we bike the same country roads out around Hebron.

He's got a pretty nice Fuji road bike, doesn't actually race (yet, but he seems really driven and athletic so I can't imagine he won't at some point) but goes for rides about three times a week in the summer. He invited me to train with him!

Very excited - my causal biking friends have no interest in riding 20-30 miles of hills in the middle of summer and it can get lonely. Will be nice to have a cycling partner once in a while.

He's faster than me, but what better way motivation up a killer hill than chasing a hot guy's spandex-clad ass? ; )

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Great Feeling

Thanks to the wisdom and support of Wylee and Veeg I decided to go ahead and sign up for my sprint in June. Because, in their infinite wisdom, they hit with me a clue stick until it got through my thick skull that worst case shoulder scenario, I can get a swim partner and do it as a relay.

I'm feeling really good today - first run with my new shoes, shoulder feeling almost normal (of course, because I'm finally seeing the surgeon in less than two days). Thinking I'll almost certainly be able to grind out a 750m swim in 4 months, even if I have to sidestroke it.

SO. Registration sent. Hotel booked. This season - come what may - is ON baby!!!

Inquiring Minds

To answer Geek Girl's question about what goes into the "little" cages visible in my trainer pic from the other day, I give you....

the Dog Monsters.

Kona's 87 pounds now and as exuberant as ever. Sable is my sweet precious baby girl dog. We refuse to acknowledge she's pushing 10 years old because we never want to live without her. She's a 65 pound Golden/Chow mix.

All our dogs will always be crate trained, even though they aren't technically crated very much because I work from home. Sable loves hers and goes in to nap all the time. Kona is starting to realize the crate isn't all that bad and is starting to go in on his own too. The crates are so enormous they factored into our house hunting because we needed a space big enough to keep them.

The crates are also a great storage option for surplus cats...

Calorie Nazi Status Report

It's getting harder again. Flo made me go up a couple pounds, so the Nazi has been dialing back on my caloric budget like the sadistic bastard he is. I'm literally getting about 400 less per day than I was a week ago. Powerful software, but clearly doesn't take typical fluctuations of a monthly cycle into account - it sees it as weight gain, sees I was still eating within my budget, and decides the logical course of action is to slash it.

Now that she's on the way out of town the extra pounds disappeared overnight and then some. But I guess he's not taking any chances because he still gave me even less to work with today. Hopefully it will balance back out in a few days, 'cause I'm pretty hungry. : )

Total weight loss to date: 52 pounds

Now I'm off to the gym! Can't believe it's been over a week since I visited my home away from home - all my replacement workouts last week involved thermal underwear and snow shovels.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Ridin the Bitch Train

Valentine's Day doesn't do anything for me - far as I'm concerned it was just Wednesday. So Wonderful Husband took a good friend in Recent Breakup Mode out for dinner so she wouldn't sit at home crying over photo albums. Or the fact that someone had, just that morning, hit-and-run her parked car and destroyed the front quarter panel.

I think maybe he was grateful a reason to get out, 'cause Aunt Flo's roaring into town on the Bitch Train and she ain't in a good mood.

I decided to work out to see if that would exorcise the she-demon lurking inside me. (Get it? Exercise... exorcise... No? OK.) Asked Wonderful Husband to take my picture right before he escaped because I'd had an 'OMG This Shirt Fits' moment that cheered me up briefly. I bought this bike jersey back when I was a size 20 and it fit. But I promptly learned that they're serious when they say line dry and it's been hanging in the closet for two years as a teeny tiny little useless reminder that I need to read the laundry labels on my technical fabric gear. I was eager to see what I looked like now that I can comfortably wear the jersey that was formerly Dead To Me.

(The verdict - still not great, but much better than before. One of the first pics of me - in skin tight gear no less! - in many years that didn't make me cringe!)

Camera duties done, he beat a hasty exit. In no small part because he saw what I'd stuck in the DVD player.

Now I'm SURE you're wondering what someone in my frame of mind might pick to work off some aggression with. If you're a guy you're probably thinking Apocalypse Now or something equally explosiony. Or maybe I went for a killer Spinnerval 'cause I, um, recently "borrowed" a couple from a friend. Ya know, electronically borrowed. Indefinitely and all. Or watching Kona for the 4th time. Or the Wildflower video - haven't seen that one yet.

Nope. It was all about Buffy baby! The musical. Because, I ask you, what better way to judge RPE than a vampire sing along? What better way to cheer myself up than brilliant Whedony dialogue?? Seriously - where else can you hear people say things like I gave birth to a pterodactyl. (OMG, did it sing?)

But alas, the cheering up lasted only as long as the video and Flo stomped around the house for a while, pissed off at everything and nothing. I channel-surfed after dinner and stumbled across the last five minutes of Ice Princess, one of those movies that, unless you're an 8 year old girl, you should run screaming from. I not only stopped (thinking 'Why is Dawn wearing ice skates?)... I watched the last five pathetically staged schmaltzy Hollywood moments. And then I cried.

This was serious. I had to get out the big guns. My drugs of choice...

I wasn't fuckin around. Siren, she's a Cosmopolitan kind girl. But Flo - she likes a good ol' martini, pretty damn dry, only the very best vodka, and while you're at it... just keep them olives comin'.

Somewhere into my second martini I figured it was best that Poor Wonderful Husband had gotten the hell out. Because he's just too damn sweet and tries so hard to help. He doesn't understand that FLO HATES HIS GUTS.

So, if he brings her a new martini... she complains there aren't enough olives in it. Or that he didn't make it with Grey Goose.

If he brings her a heating pad, she bitches he didn't pre-warm it.

If he brings her ice cream, she'll scream about how he can't possibly love her because if he did he would not have failed to microwave it for precisely the 17.3 seconds necessary to make it scoopy-outy enough to eat without being too runny!!

(At least, that's how I roll, in a what-the-fuck-am-I-saying, out of body experienced kinda way, for about a day once a month or so.)

And if you're wondering what the Calorie Nazi had to say about all this... he didn't know. 'Cause Flo? She don't answer to NOBODY. Especially not some pansy-ass little piece of software that's just gonna give her a hard time about the extra sour cream with the roasted potatoes at dinner, let alone the martini. And half a jar of olives. And don't even start on the SECOND martini. And that dirty little romp with Ben & Jerry? OUR LITTLE SECRET. Flo told the Calorie Nazi to go fuck himself.

[But you know what? The next day? HE. KNEW. He fucking knew. Because if you skip a day, he guesses. AND HE GUESSED RIGHT. OMG YOU GUYS THERE'S NOWHERE TO HIDE FROM THE CALORIE NAZI AAAUUUUGGGHHH.....]

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

When I Should Have Been Working

(Or at least working out.)

Made a quick stop - that turned into a long visit - at Borders today on the way home from a meeting. To pre-order Harry Potter #7.

Yeah. I admit it. Pre-ordering Harry Potter. And I'm going to stand in line at midnight to get it too. Even though, the very next morning, I'll be hitching up with my girls to head for a triathlon, and last possible thing I should be doing at 1 am the night before is standing in line with 200 kids to buy a book. You got a problem wid dat?

But all I get out of it was a slip of paper representing a book I will own in 4 months. And that doesn't count. There is something in my DNA that won't let me leave a bookstore empty-handed. I've tried. Really. I have.

I get in there and... I just can't leave without taking one. little. peek. You know - a walkabout. Like doin' a lap to check out the scene, only without all that pesky beer and people pukin' in garbage cans. Sometimes I wander a bit aimlessly, overwhelmed by all that potential knowledge in one place. I might wallow in despair for just a moment that I'll never have time to read them all, never be able to take it all in and hear what all these voices had to say. I'm kind of that way with libraries - but bookstores are different because when you take the books home they're yours. Forever.

Whether or not I'm buying classics on a given day I always stop by the literature section to pay homage to the greats - the Jane Austens and Charles Dickenses of the world. Then I check in on my friends. Writers of contemporary fiction. Authors whose voices I've come to know so well they've set up shop in my head. People who write books I read and read and re-read, trying to learn from them. Trying to figure out just how the hell they do it so effortlessly. So brilliantly. Writers I envy and admire and aspire to sit beside on a bookshelf. Hoping someday my voice will be the one whispering inside someone's head, and my words will be the ones they can't leave the bookstore without.

I buy them all. Even the ones that don't necessarily get the best reviews. Because we forgive our friends for their flaws, and every day can't be their best. And because I can learn from their successes as well as their not-so-successes.

So that's my secret.

These are the voices that called out to me today...

Viral Box

In a hilarious display of kick ass girl power style cleverness, a girl called bunny spoofed the SNL Dick in a Box skit with her own version of the concept.

It's sweeping the interweb. If you thought the first one was remotely good, you should totally check out My Box in a Box because it's even better.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Doing His Duty

My dog trainer is always reminding us that our dogs live to make us look like fools. Today Kona gave me some of his best work.

Kona the Crack Monster was the only one thrilled about the new piles of snow this morning, and I let him out to dive into drifts while I made breakfast. I looked out the window and saw him belly flopped into a snowdrift with something hanging out of his mouth.

Something big and white and flapping in the wind, which made him insanely happy to pin it down and tear it apart. I squinted through the blowing snow and realized it was one of those big square styrofoam take-out containers. After my initial 'where the hell did that come from' I remembered it's garbage day and there's 40 mph winds. Seeing as how it was just 4:00 this morning he woke us up puking up a piece of something stupid he ate yesterday, I knew I had to get the damn thing away from him.

Grabbed my snow boots and threw on the nearest coat I could find, which happened to be my dress coat with my favorite new gloves in the pockets. I'm wading through knee deep drifts in the yard trying to chase the now-ecstatic Kona, who has torn the thing apart and is gleefully running around me in circles.

Ever tried to pick pieces of white styrofoam out of knee deep snowdrifts in 40 mph winds in a snowstorm while a 90 pound puppy body slammed you and tried to steal them back? Good times.

Once I found most of the foam pieces I turned to back in. At which point he dove in, pulled the glove off my left hand, and ran away. Ordinarily I wouldn't care, expect that these were my brand new, just-got-them to-go-with-my-new-dress-coat, match-my-new-scarf-gloves.

So now I'm wading at him to get the glove back, he thinks I'm going to play now so he drops it in the snow and runs off.

If you had told me before this morning that a bright blue glove could be lose in a split second on a field of pure white I'd have said you were crazy. But he managed to bury it when he bounded away. It finally turned up buried under about six inches of snow.

Half the neighborhood was out shoveling. Nice to know we gave them something to laugh at while they worked.

First Sign of... Spring?

Not to be daunted by the raging snowstorm outside my window, I just got MY first official sign of spring...

Mizuno Wave Rider 10

It's a little tough financially for my new running shoe needs to generally crop up around Christmas (I've been putting off the purchase for two months), but I do love starting the new season with new shoes.

Went all the way downtown to Fleet Feet again. Thankfully, a handful of shoe companies have thrown their hats in the ring next to New Balance and started (gasp!!) offering wide width shoes. Good thing too, because they were out of stock in my New Balance size when I stopped in (and by "stopped in" I mean drove 60 miles through mind-numbing Chicagoland traffic).

The only minor bummer was that the first ones I tried on were the perfect colors to match the rest of my gear (red/black/white), but my stupid 6-and-a-teeny-little-bit-more left foot didn't quite fit comfortably and I had to go up a half size, at which point the color changes to blue. Grrr.

Had planned to test them out today, but see snowstorm reference above. Not even going to hit the gym for treadmill time because the roads are attrocious. (They're so bad my husband's boss called him and told him he didn't have to come in - unfortunately, he was halfway there already.)

So, my snazzy new shoes will remain pristine while I get through today's cardio extravaganza - incidentally, just like yesterday's - snow removal.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Calorie Nazi Status Report

I realized earlier this week I've got two tallies going - my overall weight loss tally and the one I started since I got on board with the Calorie Nazi software. That's just silly and pretty soon will get too confusing for me to keep track of anyway.

As of last week I lost enough with the software to get back back to my low point from just before the holidays - 50 pounds off.

So, from here on out I'm just going to report my total weight loss. Not sure why I was keeping them separate - it's not like I had some legal obligation to clarify which weight I lost on my own and which weight I lost with the help of the software.

So, without further babbling...

Total loss to date: 51 pounds

Saturday, February 10, 2007


I was feeling really great yesterday so I went to yoga. Yogini is very cool and lets me hide out in the corner, just doing the poses I can that don't involve arms. If there's something even a little questionable she'll tell me not to try it, and when possible she'll suggest an alternative that works the same muscles. I really appreciate her paying the extra attention to me when she's got a whole class to think about.

The shoulder was barely talking to me at all, and this month is a pretty low-key series of poses for opening chakras so I was really looking forward to it.

Long story short, I did some stuff I shouldn't have. It felt fine at the time and I was so excited I went home bubbly and optimistic. I was even starting to think maybe it was finally healing.

But. This morning my shoulder hurts so bad I'm not sure I'll be able to get dressed without help.

Brilliant, eh?

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Can Someone Please Kill Me Now?

The doctor decided it's time to consult an orthopedic surgeon. No big shocker there.

I'm thinking "GREAT!!" I'll call right now, maybe even get in tomorrow. I'll have an answer, we'll create a treatment plan and I can MOVE ON.

His first available appointment is February freaking 22nd.

I'm actually crying I'm so frustrated. The longer it takes to find out what's wrong, the dimmer my hopes for racing in June.

I did some reading and found out it's somewhat unusual for a younger person (unless they're an athlete) to rupture a bicep tendon, and most people just live with it. Most people who get them are also 60+ years old. Surgery is only recommended if someone's job requires heavy lifting or if the person is an athlete.

If it is a proximal bicep tendon rupture, let's hope they believe I'm enough of an athlete to deserve a surgical solution. Because living with it and living my life the way I need to are clearly incompatible.

Glass Half Full

I finally got sick of waiting and called the doctor. I don't think they'd even pulled my results off the fax machine yet.

Since it's a tiny family practice and the nurse knows me well, she went a head and told me what it said while we were waiting for the doctor.

They said the rotator cuff is intact. Woo hoo!

BUT. They only got partial visualization of the bicep tendon and they cannot rule out a partial tear of that. Because hello, something is still causing all the pain.

She's going to call me back after the doctor mulls it over. I suspect it's time to consult the orthopedic surgeon.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

The End is Near

This morning I saw the Tuettles on the Martha Stewart show.

Baking valentine cookies.

You can't tell me that's not a sign of the apocalype.

[In other news... nothing. I woke up this morning and realized my doctor is off on Wednesdays, so he won't be calling me with the MRI results until tomorrow.]

Monday, February 05, 2007

Moving Forward

Today the doctor decided to send me for an MRI on the shoulder. It's just not getting better. They're going to put me on the schedule as soon as the insurance authorization comes through.

Update: Insurance came through. MRI tomorrow (Tuesday) afternoon. I'll finally have an answer.

Calorie Nazi Status Report

Week 2: Down another 1.5, for 5 total.

So far, so good.

This means I'm back to exactly where I was in late fall (the 50 pound mark) before it started to creep up when I got with the double blow of holidays and my shoulder being at its most painful.

That means I'm only a few days away from another new low. And another the week after that, and after that.

This is what I needed and I feel good about it. It was an adjustment, but now that I've got a system down the extra effort is more than worth it. The main thing is that I feel like I'm in control of it and can continue to lose weight no matter what happens with my injury or my season.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Nostalgic Jello

Today is Husband's birthday and we were scheduled to be at him mom's for lunch at noon. I had to get in a workout this morning or not at all, because later tonight we're (me and 8 of our closest friends) escorting him to a strip club and tomorrow we're hosting a Super Bowl party (Go Bears!!). Somewhere in there I have to clean the house for the guests crashing at our place tonight and staying for the party tomorrow.

At 10:45 I decided I could still squeeze in a quick 30 minutes on the trainer. Had a nice workout, was sorry it had to end so soon. I'm in the early stages of training my muscles to spin at a higher cadence and so far it's going pretty well - I've gotten to where I can maintain 85-90 RPM for 20 minutes.

Oh, and it's so cold today (how cold is it, you ask?) I actually wore my cool weather tights to ride the trainer in my bedroom. Furnace is having a bit of trouble keeping up with today's -22 wind chill and 20 mph winds.

So around 11:20 I'm finishing up and crunched for time. I hopped off my bike, kicked off my shoes and jogged towards the shower.

My knees buckled, I fought for a second to keep running... and my eyes welled up, just a little bit, as I was hit with a wave of nostalgia for T2.

Between the weather and possible surgery, my next jello-legged journey through T2 seems awfully far away. I'm glad I found a way to remind myself what it feels like.