Monday, June 11, 2012

Numbers Game

When I was training for Ironman, numbers were important.  Heart Rate, Zones, Pacing, etc.  I think I put too much emphasis on those numbers. I focused on the data before, during and after sessions. It wasn’t until my coach Jen, had me start training based on FEEL that I saw big gains. In some ways I think the data held me back mentally. I had already determined in my head what my max was, instead of just going with my feeling. I pushed myself harder based on feel. Don’t get me wrong, I still had my Garmin on, but I didn’t look at the data until after my workout.

Now I’m in a completely different numbers game. It’s all about Estrogen, Progesterone, FSH, lining numbers. Again, one can become obsessed with these numbers. I found myself in the same situation. We are now entering attempt number three for baby number two. The first IVF cycle failed, and the second one was canceled and moved to an IUI based on low Estrogen numbers. Truth be told, this has been very, very hard on me. It has been almost 9 months since Ironman. In my mind, I would be ready to pop right about now with baby number two. Not starting on cycle number three. You know what they say… if you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans. A sobering reality that I am not in control of creating the miracle of life no matter how many supplements I take or if I live gluten and sport free.

In my last appointment with my doctor we talked about a new protocol to try. If it doesn’t work I was told we would need to think about another route (meaning donor eggs). My heart sank. I’ve done everything under the sun to increase my chances. I’ve given up Gluten, Swim, Bike, Run, and I take enough supplements to win hands down a pill popping contest with a 90 year old. All of this, and still we struggle. Tears forming at the corners of my eyes, I asked my doctor is there ANYTHING else I can do to increase my chances? She said I am doing everything that I can, and doing it right. But then she said something that shocked me. She told me for the next month (while I’m not on stimulation medication) that I should eat my glorious gluten filled pizza, go for a run, swim or bike- BE NORMAL.

Jack ready for the Running Race!
Now the tears were really threatening to flow. I was scared. What if this ruins my chances? She must have read my mind, she reassured me it was okay for the next month, but cautioned that I couldn’t do anything crazy like Ironman training, but a little here and there and dropping 5 lbs. would be just fine.  I need to go off of FEELING again, and drop the numbers obsession. Since that appointment, I’ve gotten out to run a handful of times. I like to do this with Jack, as he LOVES to run with me. In fact, the week after that appointment, Jack and I ran our very first 5k together. Now, I must tell the whole story... I was going to do the 1 mile walk because I only ran once (the day prior) since Ironman. I had NO intention on doing the 5k. I was there to support a friend, and an all around amazing organization, Wellness Place in Palatine They provide education, counseling and support for those affected by cancer for FREE. So Jack and I headed to our running race which he was looking forward to all weekend. I stopped to get a coffee along the way. We signed up and listened to the opening ceremonies and then they announced all those doing the 5k to line up. I started to see a ton of people with strollers, super fit folks and the not so super fit. Something came over me, and I found myself saying I’m an effing Ironman! I can do this. So I jumped in line and we were off. Jack was so awesome! He was the best cheerleader :) Given my, ahem, training, and the fact that Jack is 26 lbs PLUS the stroller and it was in the high 80s that morning... I did stop and walk 2 times... each time Jack said- you can do it Mommy, you are doing a great job! AND EACH time, I welled up with tears. This race was above and beyond the best since I was there doing it with my son.

Jack and I after our first 5k together! He was awesome!
He is truly awesome and I am so lucky that God picked me to be his Mommy. 35 mins later, we crossed the finish line, had our bananas and juice, and then it was his first trip ever into a Porta Potty. (I have to say it was the cleanest porta potty I have EVER been in) Jack was too funny, he was perplexed since there was no flusher ;) I love this age where everything including a porta potty can be magical. He got to jump in the big bouncy and then we watched the balloon release. He loved watching the balloons and was very upset with me when we left. But the post-race pancakes more than made up for it. It was a GREAT day!

This past weekend I managed to get on my bike for an hour. I got out early on Sat morning and I forgot how I much I love morning training. Swim, bike or run, in the AM there is something so special about it. I feel sorry for those who miss out on the magic of the world waking up around you. The soft hum of the sprinklers, the birds chirping away, and the sun just rising... truly God’s work. I feel so blessed to be out taking in it. I love seeing the animals, Cows and horses, the previous weekend while out on a run with a great friend, I saw a bald eagle perched on a large branch in the middle of the Fox River. I also saw a giant turtle resting on a rock. Magic. Back to my ride, it went well... I wasn’t pushing too hard, but managed to get almost 17 miles done in an hour averaging 15.5 mph. Humbling considering what I was doing prior to my IVF hiatus. But as my husband said, it is better than the ride I did the month before. Point taken. Then Sunday morning I was blessed with getting into the open water with my Mom, brother and my brother's friend Ryan.

Jack ready for the beach!
My awesome sister in law, Ana, was on the shore playing in the water and at the park with Jack. I swam a mile, and had a few hiccups here and there. Since I am not in shape, there is NO way I can fit into my wetsuit I wore for Ironman, so it was back to my oldie but goodie... heeelllooo stuffed sausage. We started off and about a quarter mile in I remembered why I didn’t like that suit. The neck comes up too high and makes me feel like I’m being choked. All last year with my TYR I never had that issue. Then because of our mild winter the seaweed was Out. Of. Control. Holy smokes, I panicked a good couple of times, seaweed right in my face and getting tangled in my arms and legs... I pressed on after rolling on my back. Humbled again, I felt like this doesn’t look anything like an Ironman... but I remembered what Chrissie Wellington said... You need to adjust your expectations based on where you are at in your life. I was back to going off of FEELING, and got out of the weeds and back to shore where my cute little Jack was busy playing.

Until next time....
Keep smiling and have fun racing and training.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Post Ironman Life

I’m probably the only person who was not excited about the early summer weather. You see, I was hoping my next post after Ironman was … guess what I’m pregnant! We’ll that has yet to happen, hence the reason for my lack of posts. It was a struggle to get pregnant the first time, so I should have known better than to expect it would be easy the second time around. After all, the fertility doctors had the formula of what worked… so this time it should be a piece of cake, right? Riiiight. So now I’m faced with the daily reminder that I am neither pregnant nor a triathlete. I see the oodles of pregnant women come into our building to see the OBGYN. I get to see all the runners soaking up the warm weather. I hate them all. Not really, but I am insanely jealous that I don’t have either right now. I feel like a fraud with my 140.6 sticker on the back, and feel like all eyes are on my ever growing stomach and fading fitness. If I were pregnant I would care less about these things… but I’m not, and after all the hard work put into Ironman it kills me to see my fitness just fade away. 

My approach to getting pregnant this time around was to follow exactly what I did last time. I go to a holistic office that covers nutrition, acupuncture, massage, yoga and more. They helped me to get and stay pregnant with Jack so I follow their advice (along with my fertility doctor) to the T. They say no gluten, then no gluten, they say no running, then no running, they say no swimming then no swimming. All of this since Ironman. It is making my skin crawl, really. For those who have struggled or are currently struggling to get pregnant you know all the stress that comes with this task. Then top it off with no outlet to alleviate the stress. It can really wear on you. The last time I was going through infertility, I did yoga and really embraced it. For some reason, I just can’t do it this time. I suck at trying to get in a ½ hour session of yoga. I often wonder how the heck I got 3+ hours in when I can’t even do one bloody half hour! Maybe I’ll find my love for yoga again? BS – what I need is a nice long run. 

So life after Ironman has been a struggle personally since I am unable to do the things I want. We have one shot left at IVF, and then insurance doesn’t cover the procedure anymore. So I am giving it all that I have until April, when we try again with the medication and doctor’s visits. I leave the results up to God. If we are meant to expand our family then it will happen. If we are unsuccessful, I will be sad, but will start doing the things I love again and continue to try on our own in hopes that one day God will bless us naturally. In the meantime, it’s no gluten, running or swimming. I will learn to like yoga again and I will endure the endless needles and doctor’s visits for the last time. At least there is a deadline to which I will then know what journey my life will embark upon next.

Jack putting his big boy bed together
Even though I complain, I’ve had lots of time to spend with my son, who is just the love of my life. Every day he has me rolling on the floor with laughter. We are potty training now and he is moving along fast. He is such a sweetheart and feels the need to remind me occasionally what comes out of which end. Along with potty training, Jack has moved up to his big boy bed and his independent streak is in full bloom. I have also been able to tend to our beautiful new house. I’ve been painting a room every weekend which keeps me inside and less likely to see the runners in my neighborhood. Probably best for everyone this way. 

Ana- smiling with a PR finish; Mom - waving to Jack; Dave- making it look easy

Last weekend we went up to the March Madness ½ Marathon. It is the unofficial kickoff to the season. My Mom, brother and sister-in-law all ran it. I won’t lie, it was so hard to be on the sidelines, but also very fun to cheer everyone on in the warm weather. What a change from the previous year- 40s and freezing cold rain! I loved seeing all my triathlete friends out there. While most everyone looked miserable, I just kept telling them to enjoy the run. I would have killed to be out there working hard. I had to remind myself that this is temporary and that I will be back. And when I am, look out- I have a fire in my belly! Or maybe it’s just the gluten free bread I ate. 

So to all of you embarking on the 2012 season, enjoy the journey. I will be out there cheering you on- HOPEFULLY with a big pregnant belly! 

If not, I will be back and maybe do some late races this year.

Train Happy, Train Hard – but most important enjoy the journey  
(whatever that is)!