Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Can't NO More!

Since when has the word “can’t” become such a popular word in our vocabulary? Why does “can’t” dominate our ability to pursue what we love, how to live our lives. And how will we respond when we continuously hear the word “cant’ over and over (and over again)?

The past two days, Tuesday and Wednesday, have been a mixed bag of emotions.

And, of course, filled with the word: Can’t.

The urology appointment on Tuesday was more positive than negative, although the lack of sensation and inability to void my bladder (ie fancy doctor’s speak for emptying the bladder) was slightly worrisome. Four weeks ago, I thought I had finished with the catheter; so much, so that the mini purse-sized versions that my California urologist gave me, were chucked into the rubbish bin.




Small as they were, I never thought I would have a need for them.

Evidentially, I was wrong.

After my appointment, my Florida urologist gave me a few more catheters to help void my bladder (glad that we’re all on the same terminology). These new catheters were not nearly as discreet, pleasant feeling, or as comfortable as the ones the CA doc handed out.

CA doc gave me catheters used for “a lady” (which I am).

FL doc gave me catheters appropriate for an elephant (which I am not).

I tried using the elephant catheter this morning, and once was enough. For now, the 10-20 ccs of ruminant fluid in my bladder will have to be voided on the next trip to the water closet. As I refuse to insert the elephant catheter into my body any more.

Florida urologist wasn’t about the “can’t”, although he was hesitant to give me the “go ahead” to sit on a saddle. Thank goodness I have my ISM Adamo saddle that will significantly help with this problem.

Today’s round of doctor’s appointments was slightly different.

While my California (brilliant) nuro-spinal-ortho-genius-fix-my-broken-back-and-nerve-damaged-body doctor lacked a bed-side manner (the man made me cry the first 2 times I had the pleasure of meeting him), he helped tremendously, fixed my body, and gave me the green light to carry on with a normal life as soon as I heal.

Today’s Florida orthopedic specialist was much different.

And all about “can’t”.

First – let me back up.

Three weeks ago when I returned to Florida, one of the first things I did was to set up my doctor’s appointments. Initially, I was referred out of the Naval Hospital to a neurosurgeon, as they (the Naval Hospital) have none on staff. However, none of the neurosurgeons that would accept our form of military health insurance would treat a patient with a broken back: their exact words were, “That’s an injury for an orthopedic specialist.”

End of story.

It didn’t matter how many phone calls I made, how many people I pled my case to, or even how many tears were shed in the privacy under my bed covers – no one was able or willing to help.

So I went back to my wonderful and very sympathetic primary care manager (PCM – again, the “military speak”), and he re-worded my referral. Meaning he replaced the word “neuro consult” with “ortho consult”.

Everything else remained the same: Nothing changed with regards to my broken sacrum. Nothing changed with the severity of my nerve damage. Believe me – I would know. Trust the patient. But my PCM was very understanding and has worked with me as much as he can to get the ball rolling on my treatment.

So imagine my surprise, when the Naval Hospital suddenly decided they could treat my case and had one of their orthopedic specialists consult my case.

After a series of x-rays, I finally met with the Florida ortho doc.

30 minutes later, I walked out of the office, tears welling up in my eyes. As I’m not a fan of crying in public (whenever I feel the need, I always think of Tom Hanks in “A League of their Own” yelling, “There’s NO CRYING IN BASEBALL!” – and usually it makes me feel better).

Florida ortho doc was worse than scary California neuro doc. At least the California doc fixed me, and joked around after the procedure. CA doc did in fact have a sense of humor.

Florida ortho doc was all about the “can’t”.

In his words, “I’m not really comfortable working with the sacrum. It’s been 10 years since I worked with the sacrum, and that was back in medical school, Bones take 3-6 months to heal, so you’ll for sure be out of it until then. You can’t do anything with impact; you can’t do anything that could further damage your injury…”

“What about swimming?” I pressed. “There’s no impact involved, and quite honestly, I’m going crazy with my water walking. I can handle that, and I want more of a challenge. I know that my body is ready, I’ve been doing everything by the book, and I feel very confident in how I’m healing. Would it be okay? Please, can I swim?”

Florida ortho doc peered down at me. I was wearing a white long sleeved top and gray camisole underneath, along with the ever-so-stylish Navy issued knickerbockers shorts, rather than the usual jeans and zoot shoes.

I’ve never worn shorts made from paper, but then again, life is full of firsts. The navy blue shorts made me feel slightly exposed, but Florida ortho doc was able to have full access to my pelvic region, hips, and sacrum – so I wasn’t complaining. Not exactly the type of garment I would sport in New York, Paris, or London – but for the Naval Hospital in Pensacola, Florida, it would do quite well.

After examining my scar, he gave me another probing look. “I don’t feel qualified to say that you can swim or that you can’t swim. It would probably be okay, but we need to get a specialist work with you on this one.”

A specialist? Then (pardon my French) who the hell are you? If you reviewed my case and turned down my consult with a specialist out of the Naval Hospital network, then WHY DID YOU WASTE MY TIME, MY RECOVERY TIME AND YOUR TIME with this bull shit? Because let’s face it: I had an appointment with the specialist that was recommended to me back on April 21, but you insisted that I see you first. But if this is how you operate, I give up. Why bother when I’m going up against a system that is more concerned with the bottom line, with saving money, with denying patients the best care NOW, only to have them treated years and years down the line from further complications that could have NOT been complications if they had just been treated properly in the first place.

Thank God I internalized my dialogue, although it was screaming in my head. I was surprised that Nathaniel and Florida ortho doc weren’t aware of my inner strife.

Florida ortho doc continued, “You probably could swim…. But I can’t…”

And pretty much after he began speaking the words “can’t”, I tuned him out. I knew that Nathaniel would catch what FL ortho doc was saying, as he was hanging onto every word.

To me, Florida ortho doc sounded (oddly enough) like the animated parent’s of Charlie Brown when they talk. “Whop wa wha waa whap whap whomp!” He could have been speaking about the capabilities of his car, for all I knew.

The session ended with Florida ortho doc decided that my case was “too complicated” for him to handle, and that I would have to see another specialist out in town.

But I left the office discouraged, upset, and more confused than ever.

Nathaniel and I headed over to radiology to pick up my x-rays that were taken earlier in the morning. It was then that Nathaniel asked what was wrong. And as I felt myself open up, I felt the floodgate of tears finally fall from my eyes, and onto my cheeks, lips, and shirt.

I quickly excused myself and headed for the nearest restroom. The good news: I was able to run pain-free before the water works really turned on full stop.

The bad news: sobbing in an empty stall at the Naval Hospital, frustrated, sad, scared, and angry that I keep running up against roadblocks with my recovery, with my treatment.

Because this past week has been too much about “can’t” for my liking.

I am sick and tired of hearing that I can’t do this, I can’t do that, this won’t work, there’s no way you can do this, we can’t make this happen, the won’t be available for you… etc etc etc.

Throughout this ordeal, I have been a model physical therapy patient. I have water walked, I have done my track walking, I have stuck to my plan – and while I’ve had my few moments of longing to swim, to break with what my physical therapist as recommended – I have remained tried and true to my process of recovery. I have encountered more support form friends, family, and complete strangers than I ever could have imagined. That part of my accident, that aspect of my recovery has been the part that has kept me grounded, has kept me sane.

But today was more difficult than I could have ever imagined. I am tired of doctors who don’t know ME, who are unaware of what I AM CAPABLE of – giving me a generic cookie-cutter response.

When my problem – in fact, I would dare to say – that most individuals who have broken a bone, pulled a muscle, torn a ligament, ALL of these problems cannot be resolved with a cookie cutter answer.

I have spent the past 6 weeks fighting for my life, fighting for the lifestyle that I love, fighting for what I believe. And for the most part, doctors, physical therapists, friends, family, and again – complete strangers – have been very supportive.

It is just frustrating when you run into a brick wall and hear the word: can’t.

But you know what?

I refuse.

I refuse to listen to what this self-proclaimed non-specialist had to say. Who the hell is HE to tell me what I can’t do?

6 weeks ago, I was told that I would never walk without a brace, would never be able to void my bladder, would probably never run or bike again.

And I proved them wrong.

I am walking without a brace.

I am voiding my bladder.

And in time, I will run.

For Pete’s sake – I biked for 10 minutes on Monday.

So for the doctor today who told me that I “can’t”: Well, I have news for you, my friend. I can.

I can.


And I will.

And I dare you to tell me that I won’t, that it won’t happen. That I can’t do it. Because you don’t know who I am, you don’t know what I’m made out of. You don’t know my story, or where I’ve been, or what I’ve gone through.

At first I was sad – but I left my tears in the bathroom floor at the Naval Hospital. I have cried enough over this, and no more. How dare you tell me that I can’t? My sadness is still there, still a part of me – and I will carry it with me. Denying that is being untrue to myself, to my feelings, to my heart.

But the drops of tears that fell on the cold tile floor are there to stay. I refuse to take them back – instead there they remain, sealed the deal that I made with myself in that bathroom stall. Resolutions I made when I walked out of the hospital – without a brace and after voiding my bladder.

I refuse to accept what that doctor said. I refuse to accept his “can’t”.

And now I’m mad, I’m angry. Who the hell are you to tell me that I can’t do it? You have not a clue about my heart, my soul. You don’t know a thing about my passion, drive, spirit, and the incredible mental strength that I have. And finally, you – Florida ortho doc - have not a clue about my body’s incredible ability to heal.

For every person who tells me that I can’t: I’m here to tell you that I can. And I will.

Because can’t isn’t in my vocabulary, isn’t something that I’m willing to accept. I refuse. Do you hear me? I refuse to listen to you, to your negative attitude, to your cookie-cutter approach to my recovery. Because I’m not like any other patient that you’ve treated, so don’t expect me to have the cookie-cutter recuperation.

Because I’m not like anyone else. Others may accept can’t – but I do not. Simply stated: I refuse.

I am myself, I am unique, and I refuse to let someone tell me that I can’t. Because I know that I can.

After all – a wise person gave me a pendant that I carry with me ever since the accident. It reads: Nothing is Impossible, If YOU Believe.

I believe.

Do you?

Monday, April 28, 2008

Picture(s) worth a thousand words

First time on the bike since the crash. Marit on the trainer, ever aware of cadence and form. April 28, 2008

I don't really know what to say, however today I reached a huge milestone in my recovery. It's been exactly six weeks since my crash, and today - for the very first time since March 17 - I had the opportunity to sit on my bike. It wasn't fast and it wasn't that long.

I didn't even wear bike shorts, didn't use chamois cream...

There was no need for water bottles, for nutrition. The i-pod, TV, and other distractions remained put away. It was just me, the bike, Nathaniel, and the camera. And Tabbitha may have had a peek or two.

But for ten glorious minutes, for ten wonderful, fantastic, fabulous minutes, I got to spin my legs on the trainer.

Earlier in the morning, I managed to negotiate with Jonathan, my incredible physical therapist. After a grueling two and a half hour session, he ended by asking me if I wanted to hop on the PT bike at the clinic. I looked at that bike, with its fan front wheel, and soft squishy seat, and all I could think of was my bike at home.

I pleaded my case, explained how I had been the "model" PT patient: following all the rules, not pushing myself, listening to my body, doing my exercises on schedule, keeping a journal of my pain leves/physical activities/daily thoughts - and everything in between. The look on my face said it all, and Jonathan agreed that I could bike at home.

I floated out of the office, I swear.

And technically, I don't even have a "working" bike, as my road bike is still packed up from being shipped from California, my SCOTT plasma has cables going every which way and no pedals, and the seat is missing from my Cervelo. Oh yeah, and I lent my tools to Donna before her race last weekend.

So tool-less, seat-less, cabe-less, but with the green light to bike at home, I managed to contact Donna, get my tools, and remove the seat from the SCOTT and replace it on the Cervelo.

The fastest seat switch in the history of Marit the Bike Mechanic.

There was a flurry of activity everywhere - a wrench ended up on the floor, a screw and washer were lost briefly, and I needed to use some creative ingenuity to make the seat fit. And no, it wasn't the wonderful ISM Adamo Saddle, but it served a good purpose.

And besides - let's face it - with nerve damage and lack of sensation in my pevic floor region, how bad could the seat-thing be, right?

The good news: I made it work. And it was a little uncomfortable - which means that I DO have sensation. I couldn't stop grinning in spite of myself. I can FEEL the discomfort of a saddle! Hooray!!

The bad news:

Uh -

I'll get back to you on that one.

Okay - I thought of something.

I couldn't bike longer.

To everyone out there - please don't ever take what you do, the things you love for granted, as a given. You never know when they might be taken away. It makes me sad to think about how many times I dreaded my trainer - and now I would give anything to spend more time on it, to spend more time on my bike. Be thankful for what you have, grateful for the ability to do, to pursue what makes you happy.

View from the front. Too focused on riding to fix the sleeves of my shirt. Oh well - keep in mind, I only had ten minutes. Too busy focusing on the other stuff to care about what the clothes were doing!

And enjoy the Journey - the good, the bad, and everything in between - that life takes you on.

Oh yeah, and before I get too sappy, remember to laugh along the way.

How could I leave this shot out? This is for Ness, who coined the phrase "extendo crack". The view from the rear. Marit and her extendo-crack. This is the NORMAL level at which I wear my bike shorts, but from this view, it looks like I have a serious plumber's crack going on. The more I think about it, the more I am convinved I will get a beautiful tatoo - that uses the scar in the design - to commemorate my recovery, my Journey.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Painting a New Day

I came across this while I was perusing poetry - and I had to share. Sometimes life inspires one to write, to create. Other times, simply to sit back and enjoy the work and wisdom of others.

By John McLeod

Awakening, dawn's chorus
The day new, untouched
Waiting to be filled....

And will we paint a rainbow
With all its promise
Or dull the canvas
Sadly seen?

Each day brings its own colours
To be chosen, mixed,
Pigments of joy,
Happy moments,
Smiles and laughter....

And which will you choose?
For 'Life' is choice,
We are all painters
In our own way,
All needing to create
Something of worth,
Of lasting beauty,
Marking our journey....

Footprints in the sand....

The sky today is azure,
The sun warm and golden
A filigree of light and shadow-play
Through the gently swaying trees.

I clean my brushes,
Choose my palette
Of vibrant, living colours,
And begin to fill
Today's blank canvas

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Weekend Factoids

Thus far, interesting sort of weekend from my perspective. I find it fascinating to delve into the depths of one’s mind. A scary place at times, but generally good natured, scattered, funny, and random. Add a dash of humor and a pinch of creative ingenuity, and you’ve got one heckuva recipe to create a slapdash-sort of blog.

So here we go.

1. Never realized the mail was so slow in Pensacola, Florida. But now I do. Apparently I was the last triathlete to receive the latest edition of “Triathlon Life”. Go figure, as I’m the one with the broken lower half. I wonder if the same is true for Fed Ex and UPS.

Or perhaps they’re on a different system?

The point is – if you ever live in Pensacola, FL, realize that your mail is probably about a week (on average) behind the rest of the country. Don’t feel bad – just realize that there’s a “different” way of doing things down here. At least it gets done, though. (Well, insofar as I know. Hhhmmm.)

2. When riding your trainer and sweating up a storm, if you drop the remote control to the DVD player, it is highly advisable that you stop the workout (at an appropriate time, of course) and retrieve said remote. Otherwise your sweat and corrosion will destroy a perfectly good remote. Which is especially bad if the remote operates a DVD player that was purchased in 2001, because now you’re out of a remote and a DVD player. (The incident in question occurred a few weeks ago, pre-crash. Don't worry - I'm not blowing my recovery for anything!)

3. Note, that when your husband (or significant other, domestic associate, etc etc etc) says they are going to “pick up a few things” and it is NOT food related – please beware! I knew something was up when Nathaniel called from Best Buy. I warned him to not go “hog wild” (my exact words, I believe). But, he outdid himself. Not only have we got a great new DVD player, but to “test it out”, he bought the entire Jason Bourne Series.

That's Bourne: Identity, Supremacy, and Ultimatum, for all of you at home keeping track.

I couldn’t be too mad, as it was Matt Damon at his finest. But just in case, Nathaniel also gave me Season 9 of “Frasier”. So now I’ve got eye candy in the form of Matt Damon and comedy from one of my favorite shows on DVD. Which is really nice, as now I’ll be able to watch movies on our TV instead of the laptop – and if you ever have a broken sacrum like I currently do – you’ll find that “comfort is key” when it comes to your viewing pleasure.

Secretly - I think Nathaniel has been hankering for a new DVD for years. AND he's been itching to see the entire Bourne series again. Because apparently he didn't get enough when we watched all 3 movies in one sitting over Christmas - again, I'll do whatever I can to support him. :)

4. Of course – this heartache could have been avoidable, had I simply picked up the remote when I initially knocked it over.

5. I downloaded more country music onto my ipod than “other” stuff. The likes of Toby Keith, Dixie Chicks, along with Alanis Morissette and Sarah McLaughlin unplugged. Typical “chick stuff” – yes. But as most of my music is along the lines of “Stained” “Evanescence” “Red Hot Chili Peppers” “Audioslave” and such – well, let’s face it: it was time.

6. When he initially saw the new songs, Nathaniel was more than a bit alarmed. But I assured him that I was okay, and promptly played the music video “As Good As I Once Was” by Toby Keith.

We watched it a few times and couldn’t stop laughing. Hilarious!

7. I’m watching my second triathlon in as many weekends, obviously some sort of record for me. The Pensacola Beach Intermediate Triathlon is on tap for this weekend. Good luck to all racers – Nathaniel and I will be there cheering!

8. Speaking of races – There’s a race down in St. Petersburg called “St. Anthony’s Triathlon”. You may have heard of it…? best of luck to ALL racing this weekend. I’ll be with you in spirit, with my heart.

9. Speaking of St. Anthony’s, after talking to Jen Harrison, I have been assured that she has the correct helmet. No need to repeat 2007 again. GO JEN GO! (Just look for the girl in pink, on the pink bike.)

10. No trip to the grocery store yet. Nathaniel and I are the most boring couple ever – we can’t even decide which one of us should head out to pick up food. We have enough fruit and veggies to last another day, but we’re out of milk and some other essentials. Is anyone getting tired of this? Sheesh! I’m getting tired of this. I just need to HTFU and go grocery shopping.

11. Then again – I AM recovering from a broken back. And let’s be honest: the grocery store can be a brutal place to visit. Narrow isles, too few good produce selections, and old ladies who are determined to mow you down as you reach for healthy items placed on the very tippy-top of each shelf. I’ll need to prepare both physically and mentally for this next challenge. But for fresh veggies, soy milk, and black berries, I will do just about anything.

12. I get an X-Ray on April 30th that will determine my return to fitness and training for the next few weeks. I am nervous. Very nervous. But oddly enough, there is absolutely nothing I can do to control this, to fix this. Usually when I prepare for an event, for a race - I practice, I train, I get ready. Instead, the less I do, the faster I’ll heal.

I sort of feel like I’ve entered some weird space-time-continuum-warp.

13. Speaking of space-time-continuum, just the other day I saw a De Lorean. Someone in our apartment complex drives a De Lorean – just like the one that Marty McFly drove in Back to the Future. Hhhmmmmm…….

Time travel anyone?

Actually, I wouldn't take back a thing. Sure, I wouldn't want to break my back, but so many incredible things have come about since the crash. And I know that I'll be faster, stronger, essentially a better ME after I heal. All part of My Journey...

14. Finally, there’s a part of my body that is hurting more than my back. Just when I finally go off the pain meds, it becomes that time-of-the-month. And ibuprofen has no affect. Lovely. Not only am I crampy and feeling bloated, but I am a very pleasant person to be around – so much, so that Nathaniel left the house to go purchase electronics. Yeah, good stuff.

15. I’m not the only one who is bloated in this household. It would seem as though Tabbitha has the waist that most women would kill for. At 25 ¾”, she would be one svelte woman. But she’s not human – she’s a cat. A House Monter, ahem. And while we may treat her like a person, well, she’s not. But she has the “normal” (if not slightly smaller) waist of a human. And that is not good.

Apparently her perpetual diet is not working. Someone likes to give her kitty treats.

But Tabbitha loves how she looks – she’s very voluptuous. For a kitty, that is. And besides, if she was ever stranded on a desert island, she would survive, because she has the extra stores to do so. So really, she’s okay. Prepared for disaster, which could strike at any moment. But fingers crossed - won't!

16. And last but not least, Nathaniel and I must be just about the most boring couple on the face of the planet. Today for fun, we measured the waist of our cat. Married for nearly 5 years and kid-less. That’s okay, as we still have fun stuff to do. Sort of.

Hope that everyone else has a fun weekend, can look to the bright side, gets lots of fun stuff done, doesn’t have a cat with a 26-inch waist, and enjoys cuddling up and watching a good movie with their loved ones.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Intrinsic Knowledge

There are some things in life that are just certain. For example: tomorrow morning I will have medium roast coffee with fat free French vanilla coffee creamer. And my husband will drink his black.

I will sip several cups (read 3 or 4…or more) from one of several Tom Jones’s handmade Irish Coffee Mugs (picture is of the exact one in our house), while Nathaniel will stick with his Northwestern Crab Fishing mug (from his favorite boat on Discovery Channel's "Deadliest Catch") that reads “I’d rather be fishing in the Bearing Sea.” And he’ll go for 2 cups, perhaps 3 if I brew another carafe or use the French Press.

And it’s not because I need the caffeine, far from it. I just enjoy sipping on piping hot, creamy coffee for a few hours, while reading the newspaper, chatting with Nathaniel, dodging attacks from The House Monster, reading blogs, writing, and catching up on my current, ah, reading. (Can you tell we enjoy reading in our house?)

But yes, the coffee. It will happen. Intrinsic knowledge on my part, at its best.

I just know this.

Then again, life throws us curve balls, the unexpected twist or turn.

I met Nathaniel by accident, nearly tripping over him on the very first day of my very first semester at the University of Wisconsin (Go Badgers!). And FYI, it was the third class of the day – Soviet History for those wondering. But my two left feet made me stumble a bit between the narrow isles of the Mosse Humanities Building.

Yes, I’m a bit of a klutz.

Thank God I’m a klutz – as I decided to park myself right next to him, even though there were plenty of other seats available in the 100+ seat lecture hall. After squeezing by junior-year-Nathaniel, pausing, and giving myself a moment for though, I swiveled in my place, my feet tangled together and I plopped (literally) in the seat directly to Nathaniel’s right side. Splat!

My first word was, “HELLO!” (As though I was supposed to collapse with a bang in the seat right next to him. Naturally, who wouldn’t?)

He turned red, and didn’t quite know what to do or say.

Tonight, he confessed that his original though was that I had just invaded his personal space, as there were plenty of other seats available.


Not very romantic, I realize. But he got over my abruptness, and I got over my two left feet, and we soon struck up a very pleasant conversation.

(And HE was the one who asked me out…)

The point being, I wasn’t expecting to meet the love of my life, didn’t realize at the time the enormity of what happened. It was serendipitous. No – it was meant to be. A happy accident, let’s leave it at that.

And now, after nearly 8 years (holy cow – where has the time gone?), Nathaniel and I are happily married living in Florida.

After a few months (2 for him, about 10 for me), we figured that we’d stay together for the Long Haul. Just never thought we would end up in Florida (and Pensacola of all places..).

Again – intrinsic knowledge that we were destined to be together combined with the unexpected curveballs of life.

One more example, because this is kind of fun (and a picture to boot!)

When Nathaniel returned from his first deployment, I told him that I would wear a red dress, that I wouldn’t cry, and that I would contain myself when he first stepped off the bus. (Mind out of the gutter, please. I meant that I wouldn’t run, I would walk calmly and then embrace him!)

Instead, I wore a green and turquoise outfit.

I cried my makeup off.

And when I saw Nathaniel zoom by in his friend’s truck, I turned tail and ran my heart out.

The camera wasn’t even fast enough to catch the grin before my turn (and subsequent cantor).

Nathaniel – believing his wife was waiting clear-eyed and sporting a red dress, didn’t realize who the crazy, turquoise-colored, teary-eyed woman was until I was half way across the parking lot - just before I cleared the Tuba player on the right side of the photo. He was holding onto a can of beer, and seemed just as shocked at me as I was at having him home.

(Marit running towards Nathaniel after his return. Cherry Point, North Carolina).

Again – I knew he would be home at some point. Just didn’t realize when/how/what/where we would be when it happened…

That’s life.

Today was different.

After my swim, I stopped by our mailbox to gather the usual assortment of bills, magazines, and the occasional heartfelt letter (thank you to everyone out there!). Today we received several catalogues, but nothing substantial.

Until I spied the USA Triathlon “Triathlon Life” magazine.

I glanced once, twice, and felt my heart jump into my throat.

And for 5 heart stopping minutes, I sat in the front seat of my car at the mail hut – towel around my waist, hair damp from my water walk - listening to the tunes of Stained unplugged on the ipod car speakers (do you like live/acoustic/unplugged music as much as I do?). But I didn’t hear a word of what Aaron Lewis was singing, and completely ignored the beautiful guitar playing by his band mates.

Instead, my eyes were drawn to the front cover of the magazine. It read the following:


Blood rushed in my ears, as I breathlessly read and simply devoured the magazines title and subsequent article. I couldn’t read it fast enough, couldn’t take it all in with just one sitting.

Basil – the car (after Basil Fawlty from the BBC’s 1970s comedy "Fawlty Towers" about an Inn keeper who hates guests) – was still running, the radio still playing. But air raid sirens could have been going off, and I would have been oblivious. I was drawn into the article, reading about how multisport helped three courageous individuals overcome severe physical injury and adversity.

I sat in my car, reading the article, inspired and teary-eyed at the same time.

Without thinking, without realizing what I was doing (scary, I know!), I drove the short ¼ mile to our building, calmly walked into our apartment, and all with one fluid motion – almost as though I was in a trance – reached for the scissors and tape, cut out the magazine cover, and taped it to our bedroom door where I was sure to see it numerous times daily.




And for several minutes – not exactly sure how many – I stared at my handiwork taped to the door.

Today I had no clue about this article, had no idea the meaning of what it would represent to me. My reaction was not controlled by my conscious thought – instead I felt as though I was on autopilot, my mind delving into its depths and being commanded from someplace further within. My heart? My soul?

Your guess is as good as mine.

All I know is that the “Triathlon Life” magazine cover is taped to my bedroom door in clear sight, in plain view. Just like my 2008 season goals (unchanged since the crash) remain taped to the fridge, to the car dashboard, to the inside of my wallet.

And please believe me when I say, that I already know the answer to the question posed on the magazine’s cover. It is intrinsic, it is meant to be. It is real. It will be my reality. It will come to pass. I will come back – because I just will. I know it. It just is. It just will be.


Because not doing so is simply not an option. Because I know myself, know what I’m capable of. I know what I’m fighting for; know that this battle is worth going after. Because all my life I have faced enormous challenges, have climbed obstacles far greater than any I could have imagined. Because I try to seek out the challenge, don’t skirt away from the hard stuff. Because I like the feeling of accomplishment, love The Journey that life takes me on.

Because upon being questioned by my Mom as a 4-year old girl climbing the rocks above Lake Superior, as to why I was taking the hardest route, I replied, “But I know it’s the most difficult Mommy. That’s why I’m going this way!”

Because I know myself.

Because I know what I can do, what I want.

Because I know that nothing is impossible, if I believe.

Life is startling with how "stuff" comes at you. Some things we are prepared for, ready to face, still others, well - perhaps not so much. The timing of my relationship was perfect with Nathaniel. We were old enough to realize that we had a good thing going and mature enough to handle it, yet young enough to be flexible to allow each other to follow our own dreams. And together we have grown enormously.

I firmly believe that everything that I’ve done - all the training and conditioning leading to the accident – has helped me enormously overcome the crash, the surgery, and will help with my recovery. The mental and physical training helped me survive my crash and aftermath. The support from friends, family, and complete strangers has made me aware that the triathlon community and people in general are wonderful and supportive – ready to lend a helping hand or give a word of encouragement at the drop of a hat.

Multisport and the multisport community at large has been my saving grace.

And the challenges and hurdles that I’m facing with my recovery will mold me into a stronger, smarter, more cautious, grateful, and fiercer athlete than ever before. And while the accident was horrific, nearly everything that has happened since has been – well – pretty incredible.

And I am so grateful.

Today’s articles was one of those stark reminders, those jolts that makes me intrinsically aware that my return to swim-bike-run is just around the corner.

Waiting for me on the road up ahead…

I’m not exactly sure when I’ll have my first swim, ride, or go out for my first run – but the point is, I will go out for that swim, that ride. And I will go out for that run.

Knowledge is a powerful tool: it helps us realize who we are, where we’re going, and more importantly, what we’re capable of. Life forces US to make changes. Sometimes from a red dress to a turquoise one, from one seat to another, from racing an Ironman in 2008 to a different one in 2009. But the point is, is that we DO change, we DO adapt, we DO survive. And we have a choice, we have a decision.

So we keep moving forward, challenge by challenge, inch by inch, day by day. Mile by miles, if you may.

When times are tough, when challenges arise, what do we do? How do we know that we can do it? The answer may not always be clear – but as long as we keep going, as long as we keep moving forward step by step, we are bound to succeed.

The courageous individuals in this issue of “Triathlon Life” are true testaments to this fact. And it is to them that I look with even more inspiration.

So here’s to life’s challenges and our ability to make opportunities arise, to turn an adversity into a positive, our ability to overcome, to persevere. And the knowledge, the belief in ourselves that we CAN succeed.

Because this is simply what we do.

Thursday, April 24, 2008


I had to laugh tonight as I was channel surfing and ended up watching a clip from Food Network’s “Ace of Cakes.” For those of you - gentile readers – who are unfamiliar with this show, it’s essentially a reality-based cooking show centered on Charm City Cakes (in Baltimore, Maryland). This bakery produces the most amazing cakes ever – from Harry Potter’s Quidditch field, to Manatees, to The Taj Mahal.

For someone (no names here!) who has a hard enough time making a heart shaped cake on special occasions, any of the above seem nearly impossible, thank you very much. And yes, while a manatee or the Taj Mahal would be beautiful to look at, I am reminded of the Steve Martin quote from Father of the Bride:

“A cake, Frank, is made from flower and water. My first car didn’t cost that much!”
But these cakes are certainly worth it. And besides, on tonight’s episode they made a very realistic cherry-red corvette cake. Now can you really beat that?

Car and cake wrapped into one? Priceless!

Perhaps I should back up a bit.

I should mention that my sweet tooth was giving me a bit of a hard time this evening.

It began this morning, after enduring a grueling but awesome 2 and a half hour physical therapy session. Yes, I am master of the hand crank. For 10 minutes, that is. It’s all the time I’m allowed, and though I tried to negotiate for more hand-crank time, I was – for lack of a better word – shot down. The HC is simply a method for warm-up, not the entire session. After lots of work on the Swedish ball, with various medicine balls thrown in for good measure, steady work on the foam contraptions meant for balancing and walking on, and several different exercises using the multi-colored bands, I was tired.

But happy. Very happy, indeed.

And yes, I am still getting zapped by the electro-stimulator-thingy that is helping my nerves. All I know is that I get little zingers of electricity pumped into my butt and back, and am covered by a warm blanket.

The blanket – great. The zaps, especially when they make my muscles (back and butt) involuntarily contract – not so great. But they’re doing the trick.

But I’ll do just about anything that my PT says to get better. Mouth shut, no complaining here, thank you very much! Oh, and while I’m at it, I’ll stop joking around about my balance on the Swedish ball. I swear, every time I make some off the wall joke about busting out my amazing balance, at least two or three other PT’s in the room look at me and very quickly yell, “NO!”

I know, I know. One day. But it is kind of funny, if you as the patient.

Next week will be the magical 6 week mark – and the possibility of swimming FOR REAL, is making me a nervous wreck. It all hangs on my x-rays… but that’s a different blog topic all together.

Later in the day, I headed to the University of West Florida Aquatic Center and managed a 90 minute water walk session. Before you think I’m crazy, I didn’t set out to accomplish a mega session. I just kept adding 5 minutes here, 10 minutes there, feeling great all along – and before I knew it, I was at 1:25.

And come on, let’s be real. If you’re at the 1:25, would it KILL you to hit 1:30?

So I did.

Just because I could.

And one month ago, I didn’t know if I ever would.

So it felt great.

Afterwards, I returned home, answered a flurry of emails, talked to Jen about the second half of my season, and had a local tri friend – Donna – head on over for a saddle exchange.

Donna has been having saddle issues.

Raise your hand if this has ever happened to you!

Thoughts so (BOTH of my hands are up).

On more than one occasion, with more than one saddle, my - er - lady bits have been quite unhappy.

Sorry - but as I figure that most people who are familiar with me, realize that I do quite a bit of biking. So you can, no doubt, sympathize.

I finally found the perfect saddle for me – the Adamo ISM Blackwell Research Racing Saddle. LOVE IT! It is perfect, fits me well, and bonus – my soft tissue is happy and unperturbed. Yes, the saddle may look a little different, but let’s face it – sometimes you have to think outside of the box for the solution that fits.

Lent Donna my saddle and then tried to figure out what to eat for dinner.

I was famished!

And what do you know? We have plenty of food in the house, but nothing that “sounds good.” Serves us right, though. That’s just what we get for avoiding the grocery store for the past few days. Would it have killed me or Nate to head out at some point?

No – not really. But we just didn’t.

I went two days ago for some fresh fruit and veggies, sushi, and a loaf of freshly baked multigrain bread. But nothing substantial and dinner-like. That would have required effort and time, and we were too lazy or too unmotivated to do anything about it.

Rest assured, tomorrow things will change.

I knew we were in for a rough night when Nathaniel busted out the veggie burgers from the freezer.

This, coming from a strictly meat-and-potatoes-kind-of-guy. But he made up for it by microwaving a sweet potato and consuming the entire thing in one setting. I think he washed down said sweet potato and veggie burger patty (note: no bun) with a beer.

There may have been BBQ sauce or peanut sauce involved, or both. But I’m not sure which combination went with which. There was rumor of peanut sauce with the sweet potato. Wow.

Desperate times call for desperate measures. I'll be sure to let you know how his stomach holds out tomorrow.

Finally, I made my own version – veggie burger patty with mixed greens in a soy wrap topped with BBQ sauce – and added two pickles, 4 slices of ham, a small bowl of oatmeal, and glass of wine on the side.

Red, for those wondering.

Cabernet Sauvignon. Rex Goliath 47-pound Rooster. Great little wine. Not that I could tell a difference (and thought briefly to the hilarious “cork-off” episode of “Frasier” when Niles and Frasier blind sampled 4 different wines for the title of Cork King. Very random, I know. So sorry).

Well, actually not. Because it’s my blog.

Honestly, the weirdest dinner I’ve had in a long time. It involved breakfast food, garnishment as a mainstay, two different types of soy, and red wine. Can someone say creative? Or would confused be more appropriate?

Needless to say, I found myself flipping channels and came across “Ace of Cakes.” The thought of a yummy, sweet, delicious, over-sized hand-crafted cake was too much. I thought fondly of my time with Elizabeth in South Carolina and California, as I watched her (like a hawk) hand select the perfect individual piece of bakery sheet cake. I am not kidding – absolutely not.

This girl is serious, very serious about her cake. Sunday night ritual, according to her previous posts. But it can occur on Friday. Or Saturday. Or maybe even Wednesday. Who knows? My understanding is that she requires lots of black coffee, immediate post-workout food, a working power meter, Green Accelerade (does it come in that color? It looks nuclear!), cinnamon with her oatmeal, and access to a computer. And a piece of sheet cake per week.

For those who are curious, we couldn’t decide between the chocolate cake/chocolate frosting or vanilla/vanilla. In the end, I got the chocolate, she got the vanilla, and we split the darned thing 50-50. It was delicious – one of the best pieces of grocery-store, individually prepared sheet cake I have ever had the pleasure of consuming.

My mind was lost in thoughts of soy-infused sheet cake, and sweet potato peanut sauté. Too much blended flavors for my taste – but I’m sure that in a pinch, Nathaniel would make due. Perhaps not happily with the soy, but then again, the boy did voluntarily reach for the veggie burgers. You never know.

Suddenly, my attention was brought to the TV, when one of the bakers on “Ace of Cakes” said that she played roller derby and had recently broken a bone.


Immediately I thought about the crazy sport, people careening around a hard track, crashing into each other and…. Breaking their sacrum.

*Cue the scary music.

Yes, I can see crashing on a bike. But on roller derby? Come on! The sport seems so violent, so vicious – but man oh man, like a heckuva lot of fun. Not exactly a sport for the faint hearted. Perhaps the ladies version of “rugby” if we lived 100 years ago and women weren’t allowed to play rugby.

But if that was the case, I doubt they would be allowed to roller derby then either.

Thank goodness we live in the era that we do, and men and women have equal opportunity to play rugby and roller derby.

I sat at the edge of my seat, veggie burger and soy wrap forgotten, as I waited to hear which part of her body was broken. Was it her back? Her butt? Even a coccyx perhaps? Something, anything rear or back related? I can understand the terminology, I swear! Test me, test me!

But more so, because then I could relate – I could look at this Food Network celebrity and think to myself, “Ha – poor girl! If it could happen to her, then it could certainly happen to me! My accident was justifiable!”

No broken sacrum, though. Instead, she broke her arm. And not even playing roller derby. I think she tripped over something in her home. (Which reminds me of the old adage, “Most accidents happen in the home.”)

So, my friend didn’t break her sacrum. And she didn’t break her arm playing roller derby – a sport that she loved. She was actually a bit peeved about this fact. To quote her, “A 30 year old grown woman is just as likely to break her arm roller skating as anyone.”

But she did break her arm, she did hurt herself. But it just didn’t happen the way she thought it one day would. Does that make sense?

Roller Derby is an intense sport. Participants are flung all over the place: high speed crashes and bumps are a given. No derby is complete without several crashes per session – many of which can be quite serious. So my “Ace of Cakes” friend figure that if she was going to be injured, it would more likely happen while doing the sport she loved, roller derby.

And she was okay with that. A bit sad, yes, but okay with it. Her life wasn’t over from the break – far from it. She laughed about it, but kept moving forward, kapet decorating amazing cakes. Only this time she had a giant yellow and black rugby sock wrapped around her finger-to-shoulder cast.

That’s the neat thing about life. You just keep moving forward. I knew that at one point I was bound to crash my bike, bound to fall down. But just because I fell off, doesn’t mean that I won’t try my hardest to get back up again.

And get up, I will. Stronger than ever, no doubt. Because of what I’ve gone through, where I’ve been. And what I’m doing to get better. I just might have to have some individually portioned sheet cake along the way, lots of laughter, and a few episodes of “Charm City Cakes” and “Frasier” to keep me going.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Another race bites the dust. No St. Anthony's weekend for me

Hey there Sportsfans!

Well, a bit of bad news from my part. But from the point of view from my sacrum and surrounding area, the news is actually good.

At my doctor's appointment earlier today we discussed my recovery, how I was feeling, and my general state of being.

For the record:

1) Recovery is going great. I'm 5 weeks out post crash, and recovery is going faster than can be expected. My body is getting stronger day by day - and although I can't do nearly as much as I would hope (swimming, biking, running), I'm throwing myself full stop into my physical therapy. The aweseome PTs at the spot I go to are really wonderful, and I am challenged daily by the new exercises that I get to try.

Who knew that balancing on a core board could be so much fun. Especially when there are no grips to hold onto. Yes - my days of rowing - from the Minnesota Boat Club to the US National Team - have played a big role in my ability to balance in silly positions. I have volunttered to balance on a Swedish Ball - with my knees of course, not standing like I prefer.

I have never seen or heard 3 physical therapists shout, "NO!" all at the same time.

2) Most of the time I'm feeling great. I'm off the pain meds (wow - my clarity of thought is so much better - hooray), except I have some in reserve incase I start experiencing break through pain. Which - as I experienced Saturday after the Mullet Man Triathlon (local sprint) - was great to have in reserve. 5 hours on my feet probably wasn't the best thing for me. So yes - feeling generally great, upbeat, happy... although I do have my few moments.

I found myself bursting into tears after stubbing my second toe on the corner. Have no idea how it happened. But it certainly took my focus off the sacrum/rear area.

3) General state of being - see #2. I guess my doc wanted to cover all grounds. I have my good days, my bad days, my inbetwen days, days where I want to eat all the unk food in the house - but upo0n finding none get a bit more pissy than ususal. Then there are days where everything seems to go right. It has taught me patience and understanding - most notably with myself.

Now - for the bad news.

When Doc asked what my weekend plans were, I told him I was driving down to St. Petersburg to cheer on a race.

And, just as he did when we talked about how pee-filled the pool at UWF was - he peered over his glasses and flatly said that a 7 hour communte both ways would NOT be good for my back. He assured me that it could be done, but I was really putting a risk to myself, my back, my recovery, my health and my pain level. He reminded me that the bone damage was mereley a small portion of what's going on. Nerve dameage is still quite prevalent, and even sitting for hours on end could compromise the healing that the nerves are constantly undergoing. And further more, a whopping total of 14 hors in the car, coupled around with walking from one spot to another would be more than tiring.

So after much tears, much soul searhing, much dilema - I have decided to skip St. Anthony's. I am SO SO SO SAD! Beyond tears, beyong wiping my nose, beyond eating half baked brownies (none left). I love this race, love what it offers to the spectators and athletes, the challenge of the course - and I was superbly excited about meeting other tri boggers, online friends, seeing old friends, and cheering everyone on. You guys have all been like an extended family of sorts - and know that I will be with you all in spirit as you race around the course! Good vibes will be flowing across the Gulf straight into The Pier.

I know that everone will have AN INCREDIBLE weekend, and I wish you all the BEST! I whish I could be there in person, but I'll be there in spirit, with my heart!

Happy racing - I know that everyone has worked so hard for this one. It really is an amazing course, and the feeling of swimming in the calm water's off the pier as the sun rises orange above the horizon, the thrill of tight turns in downtown St. Petersburg on the bike, and running through the beautiful neighborhoods simply can't be beat. Love to everyone headed to all the fun of St. Anthony's. Have fun - enjoy the opportunity to race, race hard, and remember - don't leave any question unaswered. No regrets.

A wise person once gave ma a pendant that read: "Nothing is impossible if you believe."

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Jenny's Light - please help

I read the following on Cathy Yndestad's blog earlier today, and felt that by spreading the word through blog-land, perhaps we could all help. I too read Timothy Carlson's article and was quite saddened by the devistating turn of events. Even though we don't yet have children, many of my friends do - and it breaks my heart thinking that they could too be quietly enduring something so awful, through absolutely no fault of their own.

One quote by Becky (Lavelle) gave me pause for thought. It read: "When we found out how widespread postpartum depression is, it made us want to create this foundation to help. If the illness can strike someone so beautiful, kind and intelligent who had so much going for her, then it could happen to anyone." (Inside Triathlon, May 2008, page 61)

Here is Cathy's blog from Monday:

Yesterday, I visited Gear West (my favorite tri shop) to pick up the Jenny's Light water bottles I purchased from their website.

After reading Timothy Carlson's poignant article (Inside Tri; May 2008 p. 57) , and hearing more about the Jenny's light foundation, I decided to send a note to a few local tri clubs to help raise awareness for this cause, and to promote their water bottle fundraiser. With potential readers outside these distribution lists, I decided to post here to reach a larger audience.

Here's the note:
Fellow Triathletes,
Although I have no personal connection to this story, I want to help spread the word about a great cause which does in fact have a connection to our triathlon community. Becky Gibbs Lavelle, a former Wayzata resident and pro triathlete, alongside her family, has created “Jenny’s Light” in response to their families’ tragic loss from postpartum illnesses.
This is a foundation created to spread awareness, educate, and help support women and families dealing with postpartum illnesses.
Gear West Bike & Triathlon has teamed up with TYR in a Fundraiser for “Jenny’s Light”. They are selling a limited edition Jenny's Light water bottle in the store and online. They will donate 100 percent of the proceeds to the Jenny's Light organization.
I just ordered a few today, and it would be so great if we could create an overwhelming response and show local support for this worthy cause.
According to their website, “contributions will be used to create content, support chosen efforts, and help spread hope where so many hearts may feel desperate, desolate, and dark.”
Although I know very little about Post Partum illnesses, it seems that awareness and therefore support can make a REAL difference.

More info:

Thanks for bringing this to our attention Cathy!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Training Peaks Dilemma

Lately, I have not been the good athlete that I like to be.


And no, not because my rear is out of commission. I assure you, it is working quite well! But not the rear, rather the entire lower-back-butt region. A broken sacrum is still a broken sacrum; however you want to look at it. Extendo-Crack and all.

So, broken sacrum aside, I have not kept a promise I made to my coach.

Rest assured, when you read what I’ve done (or more importantly – what I haven’t done), you’ll laugh. In the range of life, where a “big deal” would classify as having no money, no safe place to stay, no family or friends for love and support – this is nothing. Not even a blip on the radar.

But it has affected me.

You see, I am not keeping my Training Peaks Journal updated.

Okay – STOP the music! (Just kidding).

Actually, if you could pleas pick your jaw from off the table and hold in your laughter, it would be greatly appreciated.

Still laughing – okay, take a minute to recover from my “groundbreaking” confession.

No, I’m not the typical “good” athlete/pupil that I like to be, that I strive to be, because I’m not keeping a daily log online where Jen can see it.

But why? What is my aversion to this?

I needed time to think, and the pool was the perfect opportunity.

This is the question, the issue that I pondered during my 1:21:08 (not that I’m counting!!! : ) water-walking session today. Let’s face it, when there’s no need to count laps, to stick to a send-off time, to keep track of which set you’re on, the pool can be a great place to think, to release your mind.

As a side note, one of the most difficult aspects of my recovery at this stage is that I can’t do the long training that I fell in love with towards the end of my Ironman build. Jen’s workouts were perfect, just what I needed. And subsequently, I fell in love with. Fell in love with training for an Ironman. Call me crazy, think of me what you may – but I was happy, living my dream and training for the race of my life.

I was the happiest that I have ever been. Nathaniel was pursuing his dreams of helicopter flight, and I was chasing mine through session after grueling session swimming, biking, and running. I was grateful, I was happy, and I felt that I had really found something that completed me more than family and friends can do. I found my spirit, my passion, my drive, my desire. And she was beautiful.

Currently, I don’t have the ability to go out for a long ride or run, wake up early and watch the colors blend from the pre-dawn light through sunrise and into the early morning yellow sunshine. Oh – how I miss those early morning sunrises, where the colors are splashed across the sky, radically different from one morning to the next. Blues, purples, pinks, orange, yellow, and eventually bursting into the white-hot light of our sun, our star – my passion growing with each passing second.

During these moments – these one-of-a-kind moments to myself, I let my mind wander. Hours can pass in seemingly minutes, as my mind races from one topic to another. Other times, my mind just drifts, like a feather blowing on a current of wind.

The path is not yet chosen, but it keeps swirling up and down, around, and never landing or stopping where you expect it to.

Yes, minds and feathers are much alike in that aspect.

But today presented the perfect opportunity to mull over my recent aversion towards Training Peaks. Back and forth I walked, the cool water flowing over my shoulders, the bubbles rushing past my skin. The chlorine permeated the air, and I felt the smooth surface of the pool floor under my toes. My Short John wetsuit kept my core warm, and I enjoyed the tranquility of floating across from one side to the other.

Yes, I worked hard, my arms pumping in different directions, triggering my shoulders, biceps, triceps, chest, and upper back, while my legs moved forwards, backwards, and side-to-side. I enjoyed the feeling of resistance offered by the water, and felt my internal passion and drive triggered by the challenge of working hard. My legs worked powerfully against the push of the water’s resistance, but I felt unnaturally light with my wetsuit and the support of the water. My mind focused on technique – keeping my core tight, shoulders back, and making my form mimic a slow-motion-run. I bounded, slow-motion-like, keeping my knees high, pushing off the pool floor, and thoughts of moon-walking danced across my mind.

Time was passing, but I was unaware of how much.

Eventually my thoughts drifted from form and technique to my training log. While I’ve been keeping a diary of my recovery, jotting down nearly every detail about how I’m feeling, my workouts, my medications, my nutrient intake, and pain levels, I just haven’t been as meticulous with Training Peaks.

And I decided that there were several issues that I had, standing in my way.

For one thing, Training Peaks represents what I do when I’m healthy, when I’m training, when I’m doing what I love. For the past 15 months, until March 17th, I have updated my account daily – sometimes two or three times per day. I was fastidious about my training logs – knowing that my current coach Jen, and at first coach Memo, would view my reports and base my program partly on what I wrote.

But that’s all different now.

And it’s not about needing to keep myself accountable. My desire to train, to recover, to heal, and return stronger than before has never waned. If anything, I am more resolved than ever to pick up right where I left off and continue on my Path (of course, after successfully completing Physical Therapy and getting clearance from my doctors, physical therapists, and last but NOT least – the WONDERFUL Coach Jen).

So it would stand to reason that documenting my recovery on TP, would only help me in the long run. And not hinder my progress in any way.

But it’s hard. I wish I could say more, could describe what I’m feeling in more eloquent terms, but I find the words fuzzy in my mind – I know what I feel, but can’t quite grasp the concept. Like reaching for smoke: by the time your fingers close, the smoke has disappeared – is gone.

I can compare it to the Mullet Man Triathlon last weekend. I had a blast cheering everyone on, really loved seeing people achieve their goals, break through their own barriers, and succeed in any way possible – but after the race it was tough. I was a bit down, sad that I was not participating on the level that I’ve come to expect.

And, as I drifted back and forth across the pool, it stands to reason that I feel the same way about Training Peaks.

I’m taking small steps: I’m updating my own journal, being my usual pain-in-the-butt detailed, but facing the TP makes me sad and a little nervous. Now that I’ve started the dialogue, began questioning “why?” I’m not updating.

Just because I’m recovering, does not in any way, make me any less of an athlete. That, I know. But still – the TP thing kept pestering me. I still have the flame, the internal drive, and it will only be a matter of time until I’m better. I am no less intense, no less driven and still carry the same flame of passion. My butt is just, well, broken. Okay okay – sacrum (but butt sounds so much funnier).

I know that it’ll only be a matter of time. The race was nearly the same – I went, but had a bit of trepidation beforehand, had a great time, but at the end of the day was a little sad that I couldn’t do it the way I wanted to do it.

But each day that passes, is one day closer to my recovery, closer to healing, closer to watching the early morning sunrise paint her beautiful colors across the sky.

And acknowledging my feelings and emotions are a great first step. I am so happy that I’m in the pool, and more often than not, I am the happy-go-lucky person that I was pre-crash. I just have a few small things that need a little work.

But who doesn’t? That’s life.

And as Nathaniel likes to remind me, life is good. I have a husband, family, and House Monster who all love me, wonderful friends and support. I live in a safe place (safe environment are Nathaniel’s words), and am very lucky to have financial security. So there’s no reason to worry. And for that I AM grateful. So yes, the TP thing is a bit odd, I know.

But that’s how problems are – they vary from person to person. As long as we realize what our issues are, acknowledge our difficulty, face our fears, and find a way to cope – that’s okay. For some it will take longer than others. And that’s fine too, as there is absolutely no race, no need to rush through something that is difficult or that gives us fear.

When we are ready, we can move mountains, will conquer our fears, and pass through life’s journeys with flying colors. And I’m as sure about that as I am about the beautiful yet different colors painted across the sky each and every morning The sun will keep rising – just as we can move forward, overcoming our obstacles and growing with each and every new dawn.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Whirlwind Weekend!

Have you ever found that the exact moment that you tell someone that something "will be continued" having left them by the tetherhooks,(for example, oh, let's say a blog that you've written) - that life happens, things get crazy... and suddenly you find yourself sitting at the computer at 11:52 pm two days later, a bowl of mostly stale Lime tortilla chips on the coffee table, a half consumed diet cherry coke at your side, with lot of pent up energy?

Well, I did.

And FYI, the somewhat stale Lime Tortilla Chips are still fantastic. Not that I have magical superpowers or anything of the sort, but I predict that they'll be mostly gone (save a few crumbs) in the morning.

Yes, the weekend went by much faster than usual. Which is surprising, considering the only "training" that I did was 66 minutes (again - not that I was counting) of aqua walking/jogging.

It SHOULD have been simple. It SHOULD have been easy. But that's life. That's what you do. So here we go!

Top 10 Things that happened to MARIT this weekend!

10) The House Monster. She attacked. She attacked Nathaniel. She attacked ME. And, she attacked our friends on Sunday night. Tabbitha was NOT being very "lady like". Then again, that's never been her forte as she cleans herself in public. And, duh, she's a cat. So, she kept me and everyone else with a pulse - on our toes.

9) Nothing like spending our first weekend together alone in Florida - where I don't have to train, where Nathaniel doesen't have to study ALL weekend, where I am mobile enough to get around, where we don't have friends or family over (We LOVED having you over Mom and Karyna - it was just nice to have me and Nate this weekend togeter for the first time since the crash)- going to.... (wait for it, wait for it...) A triathlon.

Yeah. Love my husband - that's all I can say. Who else would willingly wake up at 5:15 am on a Saturday morning to watch his wife's friends race. And just so we could spend more time toghether. (It's okay if you want to sigh. On the count of three: one, two, thre.... Aaaahhhhh!) Nathaniel, my husband would. Round of applause, please! (But he saw lots of fellow Marines, saw our old neighbors from North Carolina who live in Florda, and made some new frineds).

The Flora-Bama Mulletman. Why Mulletman? We already decided that it was due to the fish. But by the number of people sporting mullets - some fake, and even more disturbing, some real - the name behind the race could be in question. Fora-Bama because the bar that hosts the event is directly on the state line. The first race where participants cross into a different state 2 times.

Quick report - I went to cheer on Donna, a new friend that I made at UWF aqutic center a few months ago. Very cool - did her first triathlon EVER as Florida 70.3 last year. Wow. All I can say, is that the girl is hard core. Seriously! My first triathlon, I tripped going down over a curb - and this chick ran a 1/2 marathon. Very talented, and has what it takes to go far in this sport (in my humble opinion). Thank goodness we're in different age groups! One of Donna's friends from college, Zack, also race. It turns out that he's going to fly helocopters in the Army, so he and Nathaniel got along really well. He did great, and beat Donna by 6 seconds in the end. But Donna won her age group - but more importantly, learned a lot along the way.

And Ryan (from Pensacola). Ryan is a MONSTER biker, a heckuva guy. His wife Melissa and amazing daughter Teegan were there as well. Even though I'm an "adult" - I still feel like a kid at times. So 5-year-old Teegan, with her pick polka-dot shirt and perfectly fitting camp chair that she carried around with her - and I had some great conversations. Watch out future triathletes! Teegan is determined to do her first triathlon at the tender age of 7. And if she's anything like her parents (which I'm assuming she is) - she'll rock. Great to see Ryan and his family again.

Finally, Nathaniel saw several of his classmates and fellow Marines. We even bumped into our old NC neighbors when we lived on Cherry Point. Bill was racing his first triathlon - his goal was NOT to win, NOT to run-only, NOT to survive the bike, heck - NOT even to NOT get eaten by a shark. No, he just wanted to beat his brother Rudy. So Bill and Rudy duked it out all race. Which was challenging, as Rudy started 3:00 ahead of Bill. Bill won in the end, probably because he has super powers from flying the Prowler.

AND, my friend from Jacksonville, Florida - the AMAZING runner and triathlete, Jennifer Pinto-Hanley, won the overall race. Great to see her and her hubby. She's racing at Lake Stevens 70.3 this year, and based on how she raced yesterday, I have no doubt that she'll do awesome.

Oh yeah, and I saw a few other local friends after the race. It was great to chat, to be surrounded by people doing the sport that I love. It was really hard not racing, but there were so many other things to do that kept me otherwise occupied.

I found that I really enjoyed the race atmosphere, cheering on the athletes, and most importantly - spending time with Nathaniel and Donna's girlfriend, Joanna. Nathaniel and Joanna had a great time together, and while I answered a lot of the "triathlete" questions, it was Nathaniel who gave her all the tips about where to be, where to stand, how to catch Donna at the swim exit and swim-to-bike transition.

Nathaniel, it seems, has learned quite a few tricks through watching my races over the years.

Saturday morning was pretty busy - early to rise, lots of excitement, race atmosphere minus the butterflies, and best of all? I didn't get eaten by a shark, one of my big fears whenever I go to a race.

8) Did I mention we got up at 5:15 Saturday morning. It gets 2 because we're hard core like that.

7) Went over to Ludi's after getting home from the race to prepare for a presentation I'm giving to one of her Athletic Training and Testing courses at UWF. I'm very excited - and nervous - to talk about triathlon to her students. Hopefully I won't do anything too embarassing, like break out into laughter or sneeze and have snot fly out of my nose. Huh. I think I worry a little too much.

Should be fun for me and hopefully interesting for them. If all else fails, Ludi will ask me a bunch of questions and I'll answer them as best as I can. Then again - I did crash my bike and break my butt/back, so I don't know how qualified I'll be to answer bike-related questions. But I'm great at discussing extendo-cracks.

6) Rock of Love II Marathon on VH1. Word of the wise: don't get sucked into any reality show with the words: Rock of Love II in their title. Stupid TV, Stupid people, 80s music (which I hate), 80s hair (which I saw too much of at the triathlon), and crazy people doing crazy things for some guy I've never heard of.

Man, it was addicting.

5) Sleeping in util 9 am on Sunday is great. Taking a 3 hour nap at 11 is even better. My body's way of catching up on sleep. I fell asleep with my nose in a book - or right next to it. Second time that's happened this weekend (the first being Saturday night). Note to self: get a new book.

4) Aqua jogging! Hooray!!! Went to the pool Sunday afternoon for my workout. THIS time, I was smart and utilized an old QuickJohn wetsuit. You know the kind? Sleevless on the top and short legs on the bottom. Old school Quintana Roo - but I figured that at the pace I've been going these last few sessions, this might be a great help (thanks for the suggesions, my friends!) I was sweating after 10 minutes, and loving life.

Good news about the "jogging" aspect to my workout. As it was Sunday afternoon, the pool was packed - namely the shallow end where I usually do my walking. Instead families and kids of all ages were splashing and playing. Sheesh? Don't they realize I'm supposed to be walking? Humbug!

But they did look happy and cute, and I didn't want to spoil their fun. Plus, one of the diapers on one particularily testy little one didn't look all that, er, stable. Or sturdy. And the last thing I wanted to walk through - wetsuit and all - was baby poop. Not fun. So - to the "deep end" (7 feet, over my head) I went.

Clearly, I would be unable to walk at this depth - so I grabbed an aqua aerobics belt, felt only a little sorry that I didn't have the old style swim cap with flowers pasted on and a chin strap to keep it in place, and hopped in. The buoyancy of the wetsuit and belt kept me high and dry, and at first I walked, and then jogged my little heart out for 66 minutes.

Donna and Zack were in the next lane over, so time flew by - and before I knew it, the swim was over. I felt really great - much better than power walking.

3) Cleaning Frenzy. You know when you invite friends over for dinner, and you realize that your house is a litter, er, messy? Yeah. Good stuff. But Nathaniel and I cleaned everything up in 20 or 25 minutes - and still had time to spare. My heart rate was high enough that it could have dubbed as a second workout.

Man, I can really get that vacume moving!

Had a blast with Donna, Joanna, and Zack. Good times, talk of helicopters, triathlon, photographs, books, life, scrabble, and just generally great stuff. Can't remember the last time I had so much fun with friends who relate so well to me and Nathaniel. Wonderful.

2) The best "salad" ever. How do you make apples taste great? Why you add cool whip and chopped up snickers bars! Zack's salad brought Nathaniel back to his Childhood Luthern Curch basement food days in Minnesota. Who knew that chopped apples, cool whip, and snickers could be so tasty?

I knew it was a winner when Nathaniel was standing over the sink after Zack had left, eating chunks of the salad directly from the bowl.

1) I have gone from being afraid of the mechanics of my bike, to loving working on it. Donna had the courage to let me switch out her stem and seat (aka - tinker around with it), and I actually did it without killing her bike. Or my tools. Her current stem was way too long - freakishly long. So I "borrowed" the stem from my road bike until we can find a suitable fix for her. Also swapped out seats, as her old saddle could not be moved any further forward. I replaced it with a spare Fizik Ariolone Tri Saddle - and it seemed to work really well. Hopefully her "lady bits" will survive the change.

Saddles are so personal, aren't they?

It appeared - for the most part - that I knew what I was doing.

There was one, ahem, slightly difficult time, when I was trying to loosen her seat clamp where I was torquing my wrench in the, ah, wrong directon. (I know, I know: leftie loosie, righty tighty!) But after several attempts by various-unnamed-persons at our place, Zack - the Army guy (to Nathaniel's dismay) - got it figured out. Go Army! (That's for Zack and Danielle's Andrew!)

So yes, my bike skills are coming along. Thank goodness, however, that Donna is doing her 4 hour ride on the trainer tomorrow. Just in case. :)

So - very very busy weekend. Much moreso than what we had originally planned. But, we had a great time. Fun time at the race, great time relaxing - just Nathaniel and I, fun at the pool, great time at Ludi and Katy's, and an excellent time with Donna, Joanna and Zack.

And now it's 12:52. It has taken me an hour to write this out. Alas, no "utility belt" post - but I DO promise. It's on its way. And after today, I've even got a few more things to add.

Friday, April 18, 2008

A Warm-up...

Hey there Sportsfans! As it's late and I need to get up way too early on a Saturday morning to cheer a few friends racing the local Mulletman Sprint Triathlon, this post is just a warm-up, a taste of what's to come...

(And NO, Mullet is NOT in reference to the awful 80s hair style. It's the fish. For real. Last year when I raced this exact race, I showed up expecting to find a bunch of race directors and race supporters/staff all sporting mullet-style wigs. Boy - I was surprised when I learned it was in reference to the fish. Yes, there IS a fish called The Mullet Fish. The awards - pottery fish mounted on driftwood - support the fact. Pretty neat, actually. And this time of year, the race is run in conjunction with the local Mullet Festival. Which - if you're still following me - means that there is MORE than just one "local" Mullet Festival across the country. Because why would it be called "local" if it was the only one out there? Yeah. Confusing, and scary.)

They should just stick with, "all business in the front, party in the back."

FYI, I'm talking about the fish, not the race.

Anyway, as I'm getting up at the ripe hour of 5:20 am, I'm off to bed a tad earlier than usual. So no late-night post tonight.

However, just a little clue about what's in store....

This is what I was wearing pre-power walk today.
(And another FYI, I had to take this shot of myself by myself - in the bathroom mirror. Nathaniel was off getting ready to fly his helicopters. SO it was just me and The House Monster. And she doesen't do cameras. So yes, please be patient with the flash.)

And post power-walk, this is how I looked.
(This was post shower, as I don't make a habit of walking around with a towel around my head. Unless I'm Bear Grylls - a wilderness expert on the Discovery Channel - who, while crossing the Austrailian Outback, put his boxer shorts over his head to provide cover from the sunlight. And then he drank his own pee, because he had no water. Yuck. But in either case, I can never claim to have ever walked around the wilderness with my underwear on my head. And I certainly haven't EVER drank my own pee (the pool does NOT count - its cholirnated, and I don't drink pool water - for all you naysayers out there). That would be plain gross. Disgusting. And wrong. And if so, we would have much more serious problems than Mullet fish vs Mullet hairstyle confusion.)

Back to the subject at hand.

Can you spot any similarities in the picture? Yes - in the second, The House Monster can be spied on her new Kitty Scratch pad, courtesy of her Grandma Zora. But that doesen't count. (Lelia, that was for you!) Otherwise...

Holy Ultility Belt Batman! Errrr I mean Fuel Belt Batman!

To be continued...

Good luck to all who are racing this weekend. Donna and Ryan at the Mullet Man, along with any other local folks.... Also - GO NESS GO! Anyone else? Any takers? At all? Leslie, Eric and Amber R- you guys up for another IM??? :) Er, perhaps not. Remember, as ELF says: No major or life-altering decisions 4 weeks after an IM. (Exnay on the finances, kids, pets... that kind of stuff. And especially, don't sign up for any races!) Good luck, safe racing and training, and have fun to all this weekend!

Thursday, April 17, 2008


First, very briefly - thanks so much to Amber and Eric R in Colorado. You guys are so sweet! I will enjoy everything heartily. Thank you, friends!

And now, C-C-C-Cold!

Now that I'm back in the water, I have a new and alternate perspective on pool water, ie the temperature. What was once too warm for my lap-swimming self is now freezing cold for the new water-walking me. Let’s face it: it’s one thing to swim your 100s at 1:xx pace, but when it takes you 2:00 to walk a mere 50 yards, well, hopefully you can understand why I’m so cold.

Perhaps not…eh?

Let me back up, before my Northern counterparts gag at their computers.

I am from Minnesota. I am a hearty Minnesotan. I love Minnesota, and I love Minnesota weather. It's snowing? Oh boy! I can't wait to go outside and bunny hop in the snow, or go romping around through Como Park, or go skiing on some wonderful woodsy trail! BRING IT ON!

Yes, I DO understand that this past winter has been unfoundedly brutal. Downright awful, in fact. And my heart goes out to everyone living above The Mason-Dixon line. Heck - even those few cold souls living below the Line. While I’m at it, I might as well toss a few of my Northern European readers into the mix as well. (For the life of me, I can't imagine Sweden or Norway, the birthplace of my ancestors could be that much better or different compared to Minnesota...)

Cold weather, namely being cold is NOT FUN. Okay if you've got alternate wintery activities lined up. Like skiing- hooray! But pretty awful when your coach has scheduled a 3 hour trainer ride followed by a 45 minute t-pace run.

Not that I had to spend a lot of time in cold weather this past season. I was down in Florida - where the winters are mild (to put it very mildly), but the summer absolutely is awful. I am still amazed that more than half my runs last summer were done on the treadmill, simply because it was 95 degrees with 85 % humidity - at 7:00 am.

Yea. Good stuff.

So take your pick: either its too cold or too hot.

That's ONLY dealing with the weather.

The pool, my friends, is a completely different matter.

I should know; as I just spent 51:08 of the coldest moments of my life immersed in freezing water.

And believe me, when I say that it's hard enough for me to get into the water in the first place. Pre-crash, I would spend 5 minutes (or more!) on the deck before eventually hopping into the water. The need to workout would eventually supersede my aversion to the cold temperature. So in I would go. But only after adjusting my cap and goggles a few times. Getting a different kickboard. And of course (my favorite) taking several sips of water before the workout even started.

Because - let's face it: hydration is key when swimming, right? :)

Today was different. I knew the water would be cold before I got in. However, as I'm only walking in the pool, I have no need for swim caps, no odd assortment of goggles, exnay on the fins, and definitely no kickboard piled ceremoniously at the end of my lane. It's just me, my watch, and my water bottle (which I didn't even use – due to the extreme cold water).

To top it off - I can't jump in with one swoop. No - as I'm recovering and my back is still "delicate", there will be NO jumping. Yes, I was pushing it with my Little Green Snake friend yesterday - but that was really a matter of life or death. No, now when I go to the pool, I need to lower myself into the water.

Inch by agonizing inch.

And let me tell you, my friends, when the water temp is a chilly 82 degrees, inch by agonizing inch is NOT the way to go. Trust me.

The final agonizing step into the 4 foot water was the worst. There’s just something about cold water hitting my torso and shoulders that makes me break out into goose bumps. At least while swimming – it takes me a mere 200 yards to really “warm-up” to the point where I’m not shivering in the pool.

Today, I discovered that I’m only semi-un-frozen after 200 yards. I’m warmer, yes – but as it takes me nearly 8 minutes to walk 200 yards, it’s a far cry from the usual 3 minutes or so.

As I walked along the pool – forward, backward, and side-to-side – I kept my attention on my swimmer counterparts. On the far end of the pool, the GPAC (Greater Pensacola Aquatic Center) juniors were holding one of their many practices. I watched as each swimmer would dive gracefully off the blocks, their backs arched and arms reaching out towards the water, and sprint to the other end – only to do it all over again. It was a game, playtime for 12 year olds.

And oh – how I wanted to be a part of their group.

But I was on a mission: I need to warm up, and I needed to accomplish my water walking.

I pressed on, watching various swimmers in different lanes throughout the aquatic center. One duo, two lanes over, was particularly interesting. One swimmer (the girl) was holding between 1:17-1:20 per average 100, while her male lane-mate used giant flippers to keep the pace. They swam several 200s and 300s, and I found myself wondering if I could beat her.

The competitive side of me said yes – naturally!

The realistic side of me said to stick to the water walking, and instead focus on passing the other “water walker” in this part of the pool.

Sigh. Back surgery and recovery or not, you can’t take the competitor out of me. Clearly, the other water walker in my section had no chance. (Which is good – this is part of what makes me inherently me. I still maintain my sense of humor, but when the time is appropriate, my competitive juices get going…)

I kept going, and kept watching other swimmers, kids in lessons (shivering blue on the deck!), and the lifeguards changing shifts (they have a 30 minute rotation, fyi). But no matter what I did, I couldn’t warm up, couldn’t escape the fact that I was freezing cold.

I chanced a glance at my watch, figuring I was at least half way done with my 45 or 50 minute workout. I was approximately 15 minutes in. Great.

At 20 minutes, I could handle it no more. My arms were a solid mass of goose prickles. My legs were freezing, and my bladder had shrunk to pea-size. Suffice to say, I was slowly freezing, and aware of every single moment.

So, I started doing a very easy water trot. NOT a run, just a trot. Which consisted of more arm movement, more vertical movement, and more forward movement. But it wasn’t running – I was simply desperate to move faster, to work harder.

And what was making matters even worse, is at the far end of my lane was the hot tub.

Now, I’m not a big fan of hot tubs. I’m a little leery of the germs, and, quite honestly – after every swim I’m way too hot to even consider stepping one toe in said hot tub. But today was different.

Today I stared at the hot tub, and the lucky individuals soaking in its bubbly warmth. They looked so happy, so relaxed.

And where was I? Trotting my heart out, pumping my hands up and down, my nails slowly turning blue, goose bumps the size of crochet needles on my arms, my little leg hairs sticking straight out making my skin feel like sandpaper…. It was awful.

But I knew that the water walking – or trotting – is one of the things that will make me stronger. It will help me recover. And it will help me to become healthier much sooner.

So I kept my mouth shut, refused to look at my watch, gazed at the youth team practicing their starts, and dreamt of how wonderful the hot tub would feel at the end of my workout.

And it really really really was wonderful...

It just took seemingly forever to exit the cold pool.

Let’s face it: if I was swimming fast or hard the way I’m used to, I wouldn’t have had this issue. But for the first time ever, I was cold for the entire time in the water. Had I not been injured, I never would have experienced this, never knew what it felt like to push through until the end of a workout despite being really cold. AND, I never would have had the pleasure of a soak in the hot tub afterwards.

And wonderful it was.

Just goes to show – you never know what’s going to happen, or how you’ll react until you actually hit a certain point. I can relate to little kids in swim class, and I can understand why the aqua aerobics folks are so insistent on warmer pool water. For now, I get it – I understand. And that’s what part of life is – learning as we go along.

Just as long as the pool water remains consistent at this temperature, and doesn’t increase as the spring and summer temperatures grow hot. Because in a very short time I’ll be back in the water, swimming my heart out. And then, I’ll need it to be as cold as it was before…as I’ll return to swimming the way that I’m used to. The way I love. In the mean time, I’ll look forward to the hot tub after each and every session. And a brilliant experience it will be!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Little Green Snake

Little Green Snake
Sunning yourself
Along the sandy
Forest trail,
Drunk with sunshine,
Hot, warm, happy.

I see
Little Green Snake,
Bright Colors,
Small head,
Long Green Body,
And flickering tongue.

And cannot resist:
A touch.

Little Green Snake
How soft your tail is!
And your tongue flickers
Tasting me
In the breeze.

Little Green Snake,
Colis, S-Like
At my touch;
And away I pull
My curious hands.

And Little Green Snake,
Calms down,
Body long again,
Tongue out,
Smelling the world.

And yet,
Little Green Snake
Looks so little,
To my Human Eyes.
A second touch?

Resist, I cannot.

I lean over
To pet
Little Green Snake.

Little Green Snake
Is Not happy.

Little Green Snake
Coils together,
And upwards he springs.

And I jump!
And I scream.
And I dance my feet,
In the white-sandy path,
Away from Little Green Snake's jaws,
Nipping at my heels.

And I decide
To touch Little Green Snake

Good bye Little Green Snake.
Sorry for making
You Mad.
But thanks for
Making ME realize,
I can now


True story, accurate account of my trail walk through the woods of UWF today. I thought that the recent cold snap was enough to keep the snakes - and perhaps alligators? - at bay for a little while.

But I was oh-so-wrong.

Moral of the story: Don't pull a Jeff Corwin and try to pet wild animals. At least my reaction time is fast! AND, I can laugh at myself. After the fact.

And what do you know? I can jump pretty good too. That snake was fast! But it was a harmless garden snake, bright green, with no poison sacks. Believe me - I have no interest in petting a poisonous snake. I draw the line somewhere!

So, next time you're walking through the woods, make sure you have a great reaction time to sudden movements. Or better yet, don't pet strange snakes!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

My new Normal

Today my Mom left, and it made me sad...

I had such a great time with her here in Pensacola. Originally, the plan was for her to fly out to Tempe and spend time with me during my big Ironman debut.

Clearly, it came to a crashing halt. :)

In the aftermath of the accident, my Dad and then Nathaniel were able to make it out to California. Elizabeth was wonderful, and remained by my side until Dad was in town - and then had to return to normalcy in Chicago.

Eventually, I was cleared to return home, and slowly the pieces of my life fell back into place. Dad left California the Sunday after the accident, and Nathaniel and I flew out the Friday after that.

After spending a few days in Pensacola with just Nathaniel and Tabbitha, Mom arrived. I was so grateful for her to be here: it was extremeley difficult to go through what I went through without her by my side (initially). And I knew it must have been excrutiating for her to be stuck in Minnesota, while her daughter lay in a hospital bed.

But it was a HAPPY day last Wednesday when she arrived in Pensacola. The final piece was put in place, and for 6 great days, my Mom and I got to hang out and spend a lot of quality time together. I didn't have to worry about workouts or other obligations, she didn't have to worry about work or her obligations - it was just time for us to spend together.

And I think it was really important for her to see with her own eyes that I was doing okay. MOre than okay...

In fact, all things considered - I'm doing pretty darn good.

I'm giving my Physical Therapists a run for their money (within reason!), am walking up a storm at the track, and have even managed a swim (don't worry - no peeing in the pool yet!).

It's one thing to reassure friends and family over the phone that you're doing much better, but it's completely different when they see you for themselves.

And while Mom wasn't too thrilled with my tatoo idea, she sort of gulped, and agreed that I should commemorate my accident and scar in some sort of way. In her words, "You have an awfully big scar - it would take a really big tatoo to commemorate it... perhaps you might go for something a little smaller...?"

And I grinned inspite of myself.

(Who wouldn't?)

After I dropped her off today, I sulked around the apartment. It just wasn't the same. Even though she had just left, I missed her already. It was great - all the time we got to talk, hang out, play spider solitair, joke with The House Monster, while Mom was crocheting and I was reading - all times that I'll never forget.

And the hard part, is that we only get to see each other a few times a year. Yes, we're a short plane trip away - but Sunday dinners, once the norm with our family when Karyna and I were growing up and Grandma and Grandpa would head over - are no more. And though I talk to my parents every few days, I still miss them terribly.

That's the tough part about growing up, moving away, and marrying someone with a job that takes you to far away places.

But that's also the wonderful part: I realize and know how wonderful my parents and sister are. I love them so much, and even though I don't get to see them all that often, the times that we do share are that much more special.

This bike crash put a lot of things into perspective for me, the number one being to never ever EVER take anything for granted. Family and relationships are so important. And I feel lucky to have the family that I do.

Now that Mom is back in Minnesota, things are somewhat back to normal. I talked to Jen earlier tonight - and we talked a bit about my mood, my routine.

I was as honest as I could be.

In a way - this sucks. I want to get going, I want to get moving, I want to recover and return to as "normal" that I can be.

Bit I have to wait - I have to be patient.

My NEW normal is a life filled with physical therapy 3 times per week, water walking, power walking, and hand cranking a bike. Kind of mixed up if you ask me - I'm walking in the water, I'm pedaling with my hands, and walking backwards on the treadmill. My new "triathlon" if you ask me.

But as I talked to Jen, I realized that there really is no such thing as "normal". There is no right formula, no "magic" solution. Everyone is different, and every individual responds in their own unique way.

And I'm okay with that.

Besides, I've never been "normal" and have always walked to the beat of my own drum. This time, it'll just be in the pool with a water aerobics belt. But the point being - I'm back in the pool, and life is good.

Mom - I had a great time... thanks for everything. I love you! Love, Maritka.