Friday, June 6, 2008

The Feeling

You know that feeling? That I just swallowed and think I possibly might feel a slight sore throat, but I’m not quite sure feeling? The I had some night sweats last night, but I know I’ll be okay feeling? The Everyone else in physical therapy is sick or getting over being sick, but I’m still a-okay feeling?

Yeah – that feeling.

Yesterday, it hit me.


After completing a swim, where I nailed my send-off times (isn’t that a great feeling), even though the last five were, in my own opinion, a bit of a stretch given my condition, I quickly packed up my gear, grabbed oatmeal and coffee, and set out to Fort Walton Beach, FL to meet up with Terri Grier.

I met Terri through my blog. So, officially I hadn’t met her yet. She and her St. Louis friends, The Guru Gals (because the 3 of them all ride Guru bikes), were steady readers of ELF’s blog, but started reading mine after my accident. Terri even sent Jen a contribution towards my care package. THANK YOU!

So when I received an email a while back from Terri, mentioning that she would be vacationing in Destin, FL with her family the first week in June, I jumped at the opportunity to meet her. And give her a hug. Because let’s face it: anyone who turns to triathlon at the age of 50 during her self-proclaimed “mid-life-crises” gets an A++ in my book. And now, 5 years later, Terri is still going strong.

After driving around nearly all of Fort Walton Beach, Valparaiso, Niceville, and the surrounding countryside, we finally decided on the tried-and-true Eglin AFB trail on Range Road. The same road where I raced the Timberlake Half Marathon last year (one of the most painful half marathons of my entire life. A week out from Clearwater, I watched my hr quickly jump above 178 and creep into the 180s for the entire race. After that, I quickly decided that I wasn’t interested in knowing my heart rate for races shorter than an IM distance. Good stuff. Let’s face it, seeing your heart rate spike above 180 at mile 2 of a 13.1 mile race doesn’t bode well now, does it? Thought so).

The road was lightly traveled and took us deep into the heart of Eglin Air Force Base. We chatted as we rode along, side by side, commenting on the heat (92 degrees) and steady SE wind (10 mph gusting up to 20, if not more). Conditions worthy of Kona, in my opinion. Except I’m sure that Kona is hotter and windier. But I wouldn’t know. I’m just guessing.

After hitting the turn around 14 miles up the road, we made our way back, enjoying the headwind, shouting between breaths, and watching military jets from the local base fly over head. Being at Eglin AFB, I figured the jets would be F-15s. But upon inspection of the tail fins, which were sticking out sideways (the F-15s stick straight up and down), I thought the jets may be F-18s. But they kept dipping below our tree line reference points, and I never got a clear view.

On one occasion, I nearly ran myself off the road, craning my neck trying to get a better view.

And then I realized how silly that was.

Imagine re-breaking my sacrum on my second ride outside because I was trying to identify military jets.

Nathaniel would kill me.

But he would have to get behind Jen.

Who would be racing my scary-California-neurosurgeon. Who of course, would ask me, “What did you learn?”

Uh? Not to identify military jets while riding my bike at 15 mph into a 20 mph headwind?

Not so bright.

So with my eyes affixed to the road ahead, and with Terri by my side, we steadily pedaled back to our cars. I kept passing points on the half marathon course, and had flashbacks of the race. Mostly about how high my heart rate was, and how awful my quads felt. Even though I set a pr (at the time) on the course, I never knew my body could retain a heart rate of that speed.

Some things you would rather just not know. Or feel.

What a relief when last February I ran the Pensacola half marathon, and Jen informed me that I would NOT be using a heart rate monitor. Yeah, much better. No more freaking out about seeing a heart rate that I usually see when sprinting up a really big hill or during a 5K run test.

1:40 later, Terri and I were back at the air conditioned cars, deciding where to go for lunch. We were both hungry and wanted some sort of sandwich.

Not living in the FWB area, I really didn’t know where the “hot spot” restaurants were. However, I DID remember McGuire’s Irish Pub – a local jewel in Pensacola – had a second Irish Pub on the other side of Destin Pass.

We quickly agreed and I led our little caravan of 2 to McGuires.

It was great! The conversation, the Pub, the Reuben that I chomped down, and the home made potato fries were fantastic. And I had a great time with Terri, hearing about her race schedule, her local tri club, the group of 3 Gals who all ride Gurus, and sharing stores about life, love and triathlon.

After we bid farewell – she headed back to her vacation house in Destin where her family awaited, and I back to Pensacola to Nathaniel and The House Monster – I found myself soon bumping along 85 North heading towards I-10.

It was then that I swallowed and had that feeling.

The sore throat feeling.

The oh-my-gosh-I-CAN’T-be-getting-sick-because-I’m-just-finally-getting-back-into-training feeling.

I swallowed again, just to be sure.

I thought I could feel something, but it was just a whisper of a sore throat. If I didn’t keep swallowing, I surely wouldn’t have noticed it. It was slightly worse on my right side, but I couldn’t be sure.

After another five swallows, I was convinced that it was indeed something. But I couldn’t be sure.

But if it’s anything that I’ve learned through this entire ordeal, it’s that I need to listen to my body. If something isn’t right, if something feels off – it probably is.

I’ve been so terrified of re-injuring my back, that I’ve almost developed a hyper-sensitive awareness of it and how its feeling. As though my back is a separate side of myself, and has its own needs. In a way, it is and it does.

A slight twinge, or soreness and I know to back off. After my PT session on Wednesday, J-Flo asked me if it ever felt like I had back surgery.

“Well – I KNOW that I had surgery, so I suppose yes. But if I feel as though I broke my back? No. Except for the occasional twinge or ache that I feel right here.”

And then I pointed.

J-Flo quickly pulled open my shorts and inspected my scar. I am not kidding: there I was, in the middle of the PT studio, with fellow PT patients and therapists all around, and J-Flo had the back of my shorts pulled wide open and was examining my scar.


It would have been fine, except I was wearing running shorts.

The kind that have the underwear built in.

I felt myself blush as he examined my scar and backside, and then I flashed back to the amount of persons who - in the past 3 months - had looked unabashedly at my backside. It started with Elizabeth's Chris pulling out my shorts after the crash to look at my road rash. And then every other person at the San Deigo Camp.

I remember laying on the floor after we returned from our ride, unable to really move or protest, and Chris pulling down my shorts to reveal my butt to everyone in the room. Then Sherpa Thomas made a big back of ice and put it on my back and told me not to move.

I was happy to oblige.

So the larger question: who hasn't seen my lower back or rear?

I know I should be used to this, but a small bit of dignity prevents me from accepting this full stop.

But he assured me that everything was looking great, the scar was really flat and healing well, and then mentioned that I could do anything that I wanted “as tolerated”.

Meaning if I wanted to run for 1:15, and my body could handle it, I could.

Again, I floated out of the office, dignity mostly in tact.

My back has healed the way that it has – I’m convinced – because I’ve really listened to my body; to the signals that it has given me. If something didn’t feel right, I stopped. A dull ache, or the need to take more medication and I knew that what I had done earlier in the day was not well tolerated.

And so now, when faced with the whisper of a sore throat, I knew what I needed to do.

Rather than finishing my ride on the trainer, I reluctantly pulled off my cycling shorts, sports bra, and HR monitor, and instead put on comfy pajamas and warm slippers. I grabbed the pack of Cold-EZE, a bowl of cherries, and a water bottle, and threw in “French Kiss”.

After Nathaniel arrived home, he saw me laying in bed, empty Cold-EZE wrappers by my side, cherry pits in the bowl, and could tell I was less-than-stellar.

We discussed my whisper of a sore throat, and he confirmed I was doing the right thing. One or two days off right now would be much better than the alternative: a week or more down with a serious cold or sinus infection (which I’m prone to).

Exactly last year at this time, I developed one of the worst sinus infections of my entire adult life, after completing a 3 hour brick while visiting my parents and sister. I had awoken with a sore throat and instead, pressed on with the workout. Silly me.

I was so sick, I missed Karyna's graudation from Lawrence University. I was so sick that I spent my entire 2 week trip home to Minnesota, inside and miserable. I was so sick, that I went to the doctor and begged for medication. I was so sick that I wanted to leave early and fly back to Pensacola, just because here in Florida we have air conditioning, and my parents don't (during my illness, the temperature held steady above 90+ degrees for 10 days in a row. A new record. And without air conditioning, my sinuses felt as though a hot, soggy towel was being pressed against my face the entire time.)

It was awful. Trust me.

But now, I'm a year older. And a year wiser (so it seems). So I'm listening to my body and taking the day off. Or two. We'll wait and see and then re-evaluate.

So that’s the latest and greatest.

It’s Friday morning, and I’ve missed my run. I was supposed to run for 45 minutes, easy. Instead, here I sit in my pajamas, with the laptop on my lap, my rear parked on the couch. I have absolutely nothing on my schedule, a far cry from how busy I’ve been these past 6 days. Between the early mornings, the PT sessions, my meetings and doctor appointments aboard NAS Whiting Field, and my own training, racing (yea!), traveling, and trying my best to keep things together, I’ve been at my wits end.

It’s been so hectic, that I’ve 1) failed to update training peaks and 2) have read no more than 10 pages of Ken Follet’s “At World’s End”. Things have already changed.

Training Peaks has been updated, and my book awaits. Along with the House Monster who has felt more than a bit neglected this week. She just jumped up on the couch, parked herself half on me, half on the couch, and has one paw firmly placed on the keyboard. I’m sure that at any moment, I’ll have my thumb bitten or scratched. But that’s how life goes.

My sore throat feeling is gone, no longer present when I awoke. But I’m not fooled. I know that a cold or sinus infection is just around the corner, waiting to catch me the moment I head out for my run or swim. And I refuse to fall into that trap.

I’ve learned enough about myself to know that these “little” feelings, when ignored, can turn into bigger and bigger problems.

Besides, I’ve earned a day off and I’m looking forward to curling up on the couch with cat and book in hand, a box of Cold-EZE at my side, and hot tea at the ready.

And this time, I have a good feeling.

Good LUCK to everyone racing this weekend. I know it’s a biggie: Vancouver and Eagleman, and many many others. Swift Winds and Flowing Seas, my friends!


Eileen Swanson said...

Enjoy your day off. Resting and curling up on the couch with your kitty sounds so warm and fuzzy ;-) HA!

Seriously, get better or fight off whatever it is you're feeling.


Beth said...

I hope you feel better Marit!! I am so impressed - much, much harder than all the hard training is knowing when to take a few days off from the hard training!!

Anyway, it's really exciting to know that you can do any type of training you want (once you feel better!) and that even running is back in the books. I am so excited for you and your return to racing tris!!

Have a great day and take care of yourself!

Anonymous said...

OK....I just jumped online for a brief second and YOU ARE being smart. NO running today. I will email you! I had no idea you were sick. I feel like I am in Mars!! : hahaha. Jen H.

Sarah said...

Glad you're listening to your body and helping things to get better before they get worse. :)

Hope you feel better over the weekend!!

Wes said...

We haven't seen your scar! Can we be expecting any pictures :-) Good idea, nipping it in the bud!! Hope everything shakes out soon. Have a great weekend!

TriGirl Kate O said...

Read your post just after I emailed you. Here's to listening to our bodies, clink!

Brooke Myers said...

Oh Not the "not feeling good" thoughts... Seriously get a nice warm cup of throat tea, maybe gargle with some warm salt water and just simply relax with a good movie.

Hope feeling better comes soon !!

Pedergraham said...

You have the right idea! I wish I had done this last Friday when I woke up with a sore throat, rather than going straight to the pool. Have a nice, realxing weekend. :) Danielle