No more crutches!

I’ve been walking around in a state of euphoria for no other reason than…I can actually walk around!  I went back to the doctor & he seemed confused as to why I was still walking around on crutches (“umm, you can lose the crutches now…”)–even though he specifically told me not to even MOVE for a week.  But I was more than happy to get rid of them & resume some regular activity.  I came home, put on some tennis shoes, and went out on the town (and by “on the town,” I mean Sunday night Bingo).

I still have another week or two before I can start running & swimming–but I can get back to the gym, the dreaded elliptical, or the bike (though I’m out of town and without a bike for 4 days).  I was so happy to be back in the gym yesterday doing some dead lifts–but mostly still sticking to upper body workouts.  I’ve been mostly positive through this whole thing, but I got pretty bummed when my trainer started asking about upcoming races.  I’ve really been building for the past 3 months for summer/early Fall races & suddenly it feels like all that training has been washed away & I’m starting from scratch again–not knowing when I’ll really be back to 100%.  But it’s a reality of planning any kind of year long plan.  Plans change.  So I’m re-thinking what my goals will be the rest of the season.

In the meantime, I’m super happy that my trip to Texas will be on my own two feet, although I’m sure my brothers were excited to make fun of me wobbling around on crutches.  Fourth of July is my favorite holiday, and I can’t think of any better way to spend it than with my family at home in Texas.  I also am really craving a breakfast burrito from Rudy’s BBQ, a Sonic Cherry Limeade, etc.  Food and family.  That’s about it.

I’ll be back in L.A. on Monday & camp starts Tuesday.  We’re trying out a new 5 week camp this summer (with middle school and high school), and I’m excited to see how that turns out.  There is a certain relaxed vibe that comes with teaching in the summer–especially “camp style”–that suits me really well (since I tend to teach with a certain relaxed vibe year round).  So have a great 4th & I’ll report when I’m back in town.

Off My Feet, Part II.

So about a week ago today I went to the emergency room for a bite/infection on my foot (see Part I of the story).  Time for an update.  Well–on Thursday night, while the Lakers were battling it out with the Celtics in Game 7 of the Finals, I was getting my foot drained.  I won’t go into too much detail (but feel free to contact me & I’m happy to go into GRAPHIC detail), other than to say that numbing your foot HURTS.  I walked out really happy, though, because the doctor said that now I should actually see some improving.

Finally on Saturday the swelling went down pretty fast, and I could see my ankle bone.  I had a party for it.  It was good times.  And then I could see all my little veins popping out again, so I had a party for them, too.  I’ve never spent so much time celebrating my ugly feet before.  I went back to the doctor on Sunday, he took some gauze that was stuffed into my wound out & said from now on, I would just need to wash it daily, put a bandage on it & wait for it to heal.  Oh, and also–not walk.  And keep it elevated.  For two weeks.

Yikes, for some reason, I thought I would leave the hospital with the news that I was completely well again–throwing my crutches dramatically in the dumpster & skipping back to my car.  It took a minute (ummm, more like 24 hours) to adjust to the news that gaping holes in my feet don’t get better in a day.  Now, I’m not able to spend 24 hours a day in bed.  I’m just not mentally capable of it–especially when I’m feeling well.  But I know how important it is to get better, so I move as little as possible–drive to work, prop it up high on a desk & stay there until I climb in my car and go home.  Today I was able to work from home, so I didn’t move much at  all (though things like fixing a meal, taking a shower, etc. are quite an ordeal when you do them on one leg).  I can tell it’s getting better, which is quite a relief & at least I’m prepared for the reality that these crutches may accompany me on my trip to Texas next week.

I try not to think much about working out.  It just makes me sad.  So instead, I’ve moved my focus to other things–I actually have done some productive things.  I finally ordered my dad’s b-day present, booked some summer travel, ordered an AC unit for my room, postponed jury duty–stuff I normally don’t have time for because I’m always working/working out.  I finally started a higher protein eating plan I’ve been wanting to try for months (starting the day off with a shake!)–mostly because it can speed up the healing.  And of course, I’ve been watching quite a bit of TV, reading magazines, and wishing I had a great book around to read.

I’m getting used to the crutches, though I can never get used to the looks and sounds of pity all around me.  “Awwwwwww.”  Attention deflected ASAP, please, I’m just fine, nothing to look at here.  Alright, I’ll let you know how my next doctor’s visit turns out.  Happy Summer!

Happy Father’s Day to one of the OTHER few people that admit to visiting this site.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad.  Sad to say it, but my card for you is on the floor right now–addressed and ready to go…without a stamp.  So, I’m a little behind.  I’m using my crutches as an excuse on that one.  Hopefully you’ll get it in the mail this week.

In the meantime, let me tell all of you how happy I am to celebrate Father’s Day.   My dad’s the greatest.

My Dad introduced me to country music.  He hummed songs, he sang bits and pieces, he made up his own lyrics here and there, he bought the tapes, the cds, listened to the radio–it was all the music I knew until I turned 15 and tried to become alternative and cool.  I rediscovered country music in college & slowly became more familiar with all of it.  Now, it’s my favorite genre precisely because when I listen to it, I feel like I’m home–especially that 80s country (Reba, George, Randy, Dolly, etc…so gooood!)

My dad once forced me to order a donut by myself.  I was a shy kid.  Heck, I’m still pretty shy on some days (quiet, I like to say).  But one day when I was 7 or 8, we went to my favorite donut store to get a donut.  I wanted a second, but my dad said I could only have it if I ordered it.  For me, the idea of speaking up and ordering a donut seemed like the most daunting task in the whole world.  There were tears involved.  But if there’s one thing that will push me through my fears, it’s my dad (and donuts).  He’s got an unending sense of faith in my capabilities, which I often doubt.  I’m glad he expects great things from me.  It helps to push me forward on days when I feel like not facing my fears.

My dad is incredibly funny in his storytelling.  He can throw a phrase or a sentence in that will completely crack me up & he just keeps on telling the story as if he doesn’t notice how funny he is.  He’s made humor one of the cornerstone’s of our household, & it’s served me well.  It has made me a pretty joyful person.  Or at least one who laughs really loudly all the time.

My dad has a wall of fame for me at home.  I never played many sports growing up, or won many trophies (I think I have one from bowling…who gets a trophy for bowling?)–but my dad has made a beautiful collection of medals, race numbers, & pictures of me running/racing/triathlon-ing.  I don’t spend much time looking at it.  It’s a little embarrassing.  But I continue to send him my medals and pictures, so I think he and I both knows how much it means to me.

My dad bought me a hard-to-find Judds’ single “I know where I’m going”  when I was a kid just because I wanted it REAL bad.  We were in Lubbock–he was working to open up his second store & I was rollerskating around that store, pretending to be an Olympian (thanks to the white skates he bought me at the nearby toy store).  Later on, I had mentioned the song, & he searched multiple places to find it for me.  It means something so special to me when someone will go out of their way simply to bring me joy.  And Dad does this all the time.

My dad gave me a peacock statue several years ago.  The peacock had a variety of outfits you could dress him in, depending on the approaching holiday/season.  I found it to be a really strange gift (my first reaction to most of my dad’s gifts), but I found myself looking forward to changing the outfits as the months rolled along.  I really missed that peacock when I had to pack my car and drive away from L.A. for the first time.  I have no idea where he is.  But I’ve learned my lesson.  No matter how strange, I always keep my Dad’s presents.  They have such a sense of humor about them (really, Dad–the Ed Hardy TIGER shirt!!), & as I said before–it’s good to be reminded to not taking things so seriously.

My dad was at the finish line of the marathon I did in March.  The last 1/4 mile was just filled with spectators…I knew he was going to be there, but I was worried he wouldn’t see me.  I searched the crowd & when I heard his voice yell my name & looked over to see him– it brought me such pure happiness (which is hard to come by after 26 miles).  He is my biggest cheerleader.  Well, he’s pretty much tied with my mom.  I’ll never forget that day, with them both there just to support me.

So to my dad on Father’s Day, all I can really say is thank you! And I love you!

Off my feet.

So, lesson learned: don’t compete in a triathlon when you have some sort of open wound/bug bite bothering you.  It’s probably a better idea to go to the doctor.  The nastiness of the tri–barefoot across sand, gravel, rocks, swimming in gross lake water, and shoving my foot into my dirty ol’ cycling and running shoes–well, apparently BACTERIA might be a part of the equation.  Now I’m stuck with an infection that made my foot blow up like a balloon (a bright red, really painful one).  It’s so not pretty (there go my plans of strappy summer sandals!!!).

Luckily, I was smart enough to see my inflated foot & think, “ummm, this is probably not normal,” so I headed off to the ER at 7am on a Tuesday morning.  A lovely way to spend a morning.  Actually, the ER was empty, my nurse was incredibly nice and soothing, & everything moved as quickly as those things can (3 hours or so?  wow, maybe not so quick).  I had to get an IV of antibiotics right there, which scared the crap out of me–especially when they insisted on x-rays and blood tests.  Oh no!  Luckily, everything else checked out OK–so they discharged me with crutches!  I was told to keep my foot elevated as much as possible, keep the wound wrapped up, don’t do much walking around, and take some more antibiotics.

I told them my pain was a 0 on a scale of 1 to 10 (not sure why I’m trying to prove my pain threshold to doctors)–but admitted anytime I actually had to walk on it, the pain was about a 5.  Chuck thought I should’ve upped my answers & I could’ve walked away with some pain meds.  I wanted to tell them, “It doesn’t hurt nearly as badly as when I forced myself to do a 3 hour swim/bike/run on Sunday.”  But man, after I’ve been sleeping & then try to walk on it—oh wow ouch it’s such a sharp pain.  But for the most part, besides a couple of half days at work, I’ve been in my bed elevating it & feeling no pain at all.  But it still looks gross and swollen.  I hope these antibiotics work some major magic soon, just so my fear of amputation can be diminished. (I’m dramatic).

I feel stupid, of course…like “man, why didn’t I take care of this earlier?”…” why did I do that tri?” but also sort of resigned to the fact that these things just happen.  I used to be afraid when I had to rest and nurse an injury that I would gain about 40lbs and lose all athletic ability.  But, nothing much really happens.  I’m not moving a lot, so my appetite immediately diminishes to a normal person’s (my appetite when I’m exercising=ferocious).  And a couple of forced weeks away from my training can send me back recharged.  This is what I tell myself today, anyway.  If I’m in the same position (in bed) next week, I may have a different perspective.

What I do realize is how much I move throughout the day.  I’m a drama teacher–so we’re talking setting up sets, figuring out costumes, running around to make a show happen, etc–there are times when lunch is the only time of the day when I’m seated.  And I like it that way.  But I know this is one of those moments where it just doesn’t pay off to push myself.  It’s our last week of school, though–so I made it in this morning for 2 performances & will head in again tomorrow for 2 more–these are actually pretty easy days because the kids are doing most of the work.  And the rest of the time is spent here.  Off my feet.  In bed.  Luckily classes are over tomorrow, so it should be perfect timing for recovery.

I guess there are productive things I could be getting done while sitting here in bed.  Watch some informative documentaries, plan some curriculum for the summer, or flesh out a couple of business ideas (FLESH OUT=bad use of words right now).  But currently I’m watching loads of Bravo Reality TV (thank you Kathy Griffin, Real Housewives), sending occasional text messages, logging in and out of facebook way more than anyone should, and internet researching pictures of other people with skin infections (I’ve banned myself from that last activity…will do as the nurse told me, and try positive thinking…but how come anyone ever asks me to think positively, I immediately think of the worst thing that could happen?)  I figure I’m going to have so much time to spend with me, myself, and my electronics–I’ll have plenty of time to be productive.

I go back to the doc tomorrow night, and they will determine if these antibiotics are working (or working fast enough).  I can’t tell much difference myself, but luckily they did a high-tech marker outline on my foot to show areas of infection (p.s. doc–that totally smears when I take a shower, hope this doesn’t impede my recovery)–so hopefully another night’s rest & another day will be enough time for some shrinking.  It would be really awesome if the swelling went down some more sooon–so I can show off my best feature: disturbingly bony ankles.

There you have it.  I just kind of toss all my training to the side & with it the thoughts: “how am I going to recover?” ” when will I be able to at least go for a swim?” “when do i workout with the trainer again?” Every time there is something in my way of training, I usually get angry at it.  But I’ve learned that doesn’t work.  It just makes me miserable.  I look at this rest period as a time to well–rest my body.  4 triathlons and 1 marathon since March…a little on the ridiculous side when you think about it.  One week, two weeks, a month, two months, however long it takes until I’m 100%—I can’t say I look forward to it, but it really is an invaluable lesson I learned (be careful with your body! it’s priceless!)–so a little time off my feet is a small price to pay.

What goes through my mind during a race…

I could give you my typical Race Report, but it’s the third time I’ve raced this course, so I’m not sure how thrilling that would be.  The swim was longer (1,500m instead of 1,000m) & the run was, too (10k instead of an 8k)–so it made it an official “Olympic Distance” triathlon.  I’ve only raced this distance 4 times (including today), so it’s still pretty new to me (but becoming less daunting).  I finished 5th in my age group in 3 hours and 16 min.  My swim continues to be pretty ridiculously slow–for a variety of reasons (mostly because I haven’t the urge or ability to go fast).  The bike and run are pretty solid–both 4th place finishes in those categories.  I won’t complain too much about the 1st place winner–who should probably consider racing as an elite to give us age-groupers a bit of a break…how many medals do you need???  Oh wait, you can never have too many–what am I talking about?

Anyway–so that was the race.  My spider/insect bite on the top of my foot gave me trouble just about every step of the way–it felt like a really really large rock was in the top of my shoe the whole race.  I considered going home after the bike, but who are we kidding?  I would’ve run barefoot if it meant finishing the race.

In running races, you are allowed to wear mp3 players/ipods, etc.  In triathlons, according to the USAT rules (and almost every race I’ve done is sanctioned by this organization)–they are not allowed.  It completely changes my race.  During a running race, I can choose songs to speed me up, make me think, inspire me, keep my pace, lighten the mood.  I LOVE running to music.  So instead, picture 3 hours and 15 minutes of just you and your thoughts.  It can be a scary thing.

Here are my thoughts during the swim:  Ugh, get off me!  Give me space!  Stop kicking my face!  Ugh, these girls, don’t they see we have a whole lake to swim in?  Why are they so close to me?  Am I in last place right now?  Where’s the buoy I’m swimming to?  Oops, just went about 50m off course.  Concentrate on your form.  Use your hips.  Think about your hand entry.  Wow, it’s really sunny today.  But man, this water is so dirty.  Did my chip just fall off (stop swimming to re-attach race chip)?  Ugh, how big can this lake be?  Oooh, look, you’re getting into a groove–see, swimming can be fun!  This is a breeze.  Go faster!  No, I don’t want to go faster.  The shore is still so far away.  Why is this woman running into me?  Why aren’t these buoys bigger, I can’t sight them at all.  Oh wow–look, I see the shore.  Oh, I can stand up in the water now.  Why are these people cheering for me?  I can barely breathe & am probably the last one leaving the water.

The bike:  OUCH, my foot won’t fit into my cycling shoe.  OUCH, this is going to suck…let’s go.  Ahhhh, good to be back on the bike.  I love this course.  Let’s call this first loop a “warm up” loop.  Weeeeeeee.  Oh wow, these hills hurt.  Where’s the airport?  I’m really ready for the airport segment.  Oh no–it’s the horribly paved “cobblestone” road again.  I think I’ll sing a song about it: “cobblestone, cobblestone, it’s cobblestone” (sung for a good 3 minutes in my head…can’t think of any other lyrics).  Second loop.  This is no biggie.  Ooh, look, I’m passing a guy on his bike.  wait, he’s 88 years old.  Wow, I hope I’m lucky enough to be doing this at 88.  I hope my skin doesn’t look like leather, though.  My foot is going to really hurt on that run.  Maybe I shouldn’t do it.  Maybe I can just stop after the bike–it’s still a good 2hr workout.  And why should I have to kill myself just to finish this random race?  Oooh–cobblestone song time!!!  “Cobblestone, cobblestone, I’m riding on the cobblestones ” (wow, NOW we’re getting somewhere with that song).  Yikes, this hill is really hard.  Maybe I can think of an inspirational song to get me through it.  That new Eminem one, I’m not afraid.  I’m not afraid!  Yikes, I can’t remember any other lyrics & this hill just keeps getting longer.  Phew, one more time around.  Really, do I need to see that bloody roadkill squirrel THREE TIMES?  I wonder if anyone’s run over it.  Am I going slower?  I can’t tell.  Where’s the airport?  Ooh, look Raging Waters…looks like a fun slide.  Ooh pretty mountains.  I love this downhill–it’s what makes this bike ride bearable.  Oh we’ve reached the end.  Can my foot handle the run?  Time to find out.

The run:  ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch…but not as bad as I thought.  I can do this.  At least I can run the first 3 miles and then walk it if I have to.  Oooh, water, thanks volunteer!  I love this run.  Look at that view!  Oh wow.  This woman is running with one leg.  Maybe I should stop thinking about how much my foot hurts & be happy that I have two legs.  But her prosthetic one does look really fast.  Nice, I’m passing people–yes, people that look like they completely blew out their quads on the ride, but hey–a pass is a pass.  Ok, let’s just take this run piece by piece–20 minutes at a time.  Let’s pretend this part is just an everyday trail run I’m going on.  OUCH, my foot hurts!  At least it’s masking any other minor pain/soreness I might be having elsewhere.  Oh, no, my quads are hurting as well.  At least it makes my foot seem like it hurts less.  I should walk up every hill, just to give myself a little break–but eat a Clif gel, so people don’t think I’m walking because I’m tired.  Hmm, this run isn’t so bad.  I think I’ll speed up.  Is anyone else on this run with me?  Lots of motor homes in this park.  Oh look–jet skis on the lake!  I wonder if anyone wants to go jet ski with me sometime.  Although I don’t have any jet skis.  It’s too complicated already.  I can barely drive the 8 miles it takes to hang out at the beach.  When is this run going to be over?  Oooh, thanks volunteer for the water.  OMG–that woman is wearing headphones & she’s BEATING me.  Can I tell on her at the end of the race?  The race organizers would probably talk about what a snitch I was.  And remember that first triathlon that I brought my headphones to–because I knew I wouldn’t finish in the top 3 anyway, so why not.  Well, now I play by the rules.  I wonder if I could sneak headphones next time around, if they were really tiny…would it really make me faster?  How come this race doesn’t have any mile markers?  Probably about 1.5 to go.  I don’t feel like speeding up.  I’m just gonna take it easy.  Oh no–who is passing me?  I think I will speed up.  Thank you, race, for finally seeming like a race & not me out for a random weekend run at the park.  Oh wow–I can see the tents up ahead.  I don’t think I’m gonna sprint this one in.  Why is this guy walking?  He’s almost there!  “hey there! come on, it’s just around the corner!!!”  OH wow, why did I just say that out loud?  Maybe he has a much worse insect bite & can barely walk.  Nevermind, I hear him picking up the pace.  And crossing the finish line!  Where’s the water?  Guys, I need WATER.

So there you go–some of my race thoughts.  Now imagine that & multiply by 100—geez, let me just say I’m sick of my own thoughts about right now (especially after writing them out).

early on a Saturday morning…

Saturday mornings are (for whatever reason) the day I do my long bike ride (when I’m not racing the next day).  It’s my longest workout of the week, so maybe I like to get it over with really early on in the weekend–or by this time, I’m done with work and eager to get outside for a long stretch of time on the bike.  For whatever reason, it has become regular for me.  It means lame Friday nights.  I have to get up early because the later I wait, the worse traffic gets on my way home (and I hate traffic).  Some mornings I’m racing out the door, but today–I’m sitting here in bed with an iced coffee & my computer–feeling a little less than motivated (but a feeling I know I will get over in a 1/2 hour).  So why not WRITE about working out?

This year I bought a “triathlete training diary” 1/2 off at a bookstore that was closing (please don’t all close, I love you too much).  I’ve never kept one of these before.  The most planning I ever did was printing out a 3 month program, but it became too daunting to know every workout was planned.  So then I just went from week to week–with a general idea in my head of what I wanted to accomplish.  This year is a little different because I’m attempting longer distances at a faster pace, so I’ve got to put more time and more thought into what I’m doing and when.

So I have gotten pretty good at recording my workouts in it & also coming up with an “hourly” goal each week.  And this week, if all goes well, I’ll be hitting the 9 or 10 hour mark when it comes to weekly workouts this week.  Hooray!  It took forcing myself outside Thursday night after a long day at work, but my single motivating factor was “come on, you have to if you wanna hit 10 hours this week!”  So thank you training diary, for helping me to slowly up my training.  I’m seriously a girl of habit–so any kind of change must be taken on slowly…and I really have to take a look at where I can add a workout or lengthen one without losing too much of the rest of my life (geez, I could never train for an Ironman–the time involved in training is ridiculous!)

I am super excited about school ending in two weeks.  We then have a couple of leftover activities the following week & then a week getting ready for summer camp–so no true “break”–but a break from classes is really a mental and physical break for me.  Even if my work hours are the same, the energy I’m putting out there is much much less…leaving me with ample time to get my workouts in—hooray!  But right now, two weeks still seems like forever.

Elsewhere in life–things are strangely stable.  I feel like I am usually always chasing things (jobs, boys, dreams, race times, etc), but then I go through times where I just slow down.  Partly this is because teaching takes its toll on me, and I’m mentally done after work hours are over…and physically done after the gym is over.  But I love that this weekend really just involves me getting outdoors & enjoying it–and also maybe catching a movie or two.  Could I be advancing my career? my social life? etc?  Probably.  But after lots of chasing, there’s the hope that maybe if I just sit back for a moment & relax–it’s not the end of my world.  It doesn’t mean my life will be a stagnant mess (drama classes have taught me to be so dramatic).

Speaking of dramatic,  I had a mini meltdown after the gym Wednesday night.  It was one of those 6am-10pm kind of days, which I’m not a pro at.  I stubbed my toe really badly while doing some plyometric (hurdle jumps!) stuff at the gym & it was throbbing through all of my workout.  Plus, I had to get in a swim in afterwards–by the time I made it out–it was so late.  I went to Baja Fresh for a burrito to take home & made it to my car before the tears started coming.  A classic case of pity party, even though at the same time I told myself “you are lucky you are healthy enough to make it through a day like this”–sometimes, it isn’t enough to curb the emotions.

I give 100% focus to the kids from 8am to 6pm attempting to have 30 kids’ needs met all at the same time (it’s really loud).  I’m hyper-focused the entire time, moving around, answering questions, engaging my creativity, my intelligence, my experience & trying to make it all come together for a successful class.  There is no time for the internet, for phone calls, for day-dreaming, for lunch.  For this I’m totally grateful (I’m completely engaged! all day long!) and totally tired.  It’s not a complaint so much as it is my reality–and what I signed up for.  And you add in 2 hours at the gym after that, and well, there may be some tears.  But man, as soon as I stuffed that burrito down my throat, I felt like a new person.  So lesson learned: sometimes when you think you’re having an emotional breakdown, you are just really really hungry (I thought it was a good idea to go ahead and pay the $1.00 for the extra guacamole that night).

But it’s funny–as soon as the weekend rolls around, I’m pretty easy to transition.  I don’t sit around on my weekends (well, not usually) planning and preparing for work.  I’ve learned to separate the two, and so that’s definitely a balance I appreciate.  Did I mention only two more weeks of school? 🙂

So, enough stalling–let’s get on that bike!