Monday, June 16, 2008

Run Bike Treat Test!

An interesting day, it was today. Don’t even know really where to begin, so I figure the start is best.

Woke up bright and early to a run from the house to UWF campus (where I stopped to avail myself of the facilities at the Natatorium – for some reason, I just hate going in the woods. Especially with creepy crawlies, deer flies, and the random Boy Scout romping around the next turn. That was embarrassing, to say the least. But I digress). and back again.

I survived, to say the least.

It never ceases to amaze me how one day I can feel just great – like everything is wonderful, that my body was never broken in California, like I’m floating two feet above the grass during my run – and then the next it’s a complete opposite. The legs were heavy, the fuel belt made me feel (small whisper) large and all jiggley in my torso, and I could feel my form drooping.

Picture Santa in running gear, and you get my drift.

The will was there, but was slowly fading with each plodding step. How do you wrap your brain around returning from a debilitating accident? I know the athlete that I once was, and I know how I am now… And I’m very different.

But still the same....

Confused?

Me too. Rest assured, that too is normal. Or so I've been told...

Sure, I look the same. Well, me + the extra peanut butter and peanut m&ms (about 5 lb gained since the crash), but I feel different. Running at a sub x:xx pace was once “the norm”, and I took my speed, efficiency, and everything that I had worked so hard to achieve for granted.

Today I ran not one, but two minutes slower than what I used to.

If that’s not humbling, then I don’t know what is.

But as I plodded along, I kept reminding myself, with each and every last ounce of courage that I had left: that this run was a gift. My ability to run at z:zz pace was a wonder in and of itself. And I should be grateful.

But it is and was still hard.

I have an entirely new respect for the likes of Lance Armstrong or Hillary Biscay – two athletes that overcame extreme odds to reach the pinnacle of their respective sports.

I know the road ahead will be long. I only hope that I have the courage to see it through.

But “onwards and upwards” as Coach Jen likes to say. And as I huffed through the door, happy to be done with my run, I couldn’t agree more. It was one more run that I had accomplished, one more workout that I was lucky enough to complete.

I’m still chewing on this question, this issue though. Of what it’s like to know what I once did, and wonder if I’ll ever get there again. Deep down I know in my heart of hearts that I want to (be the athlete that I used to be only BETTER!). And I know that I’ll be a struggle: one of the more challenging, no - opportunites - of my life. (Incorrect wordage, I know).

Because in the past when I’ve taken a break from sport – be it rowing or running or any other physical activity (and no, mini-golf does not count) – it has always been my decision to do so. School, violin, other commitments got in the way.

This is different.

There was an accident – something that no one wanted.

And now I have a choice about what I want to do: to press onwards and upwards, or give in.

I won’t pretend that some days are easier than others. I’ve been known to hide under the bed sheets with a piece of sheet cake reading a good book, ignoring the pain and fear in my heart. (It came in very handy last weekend during one of our many thunderstorms. Chocolate cake with chocolate frosting with litte sprinkes on the top - in case you were wondering!) After all, a small piece of me remains broken and embedded on that beautiful stretch of Pacific Coast Highway.

But I don’t want to, nay I refuse to let my life be dictated by an accident. So while the sheet cake and good read are helpful for a moment, they didn’t and don't and won't ever define ME.

I do that on my own, thank you very much. (Still marching to the beat of my own drum. Probably a little off center and a little croocked - but that's okay. That's just me!)

And that – if you can imagine – is largely what went around my head while running today.

One of the physical therapists at PT even commented, “I saw you running down University today…”

“Was I running towards campus or away?” I asked, dreading his response.

Ken looked thoughtful for a moment, scratched his goatee and replied, “Running towards 9 Mile, I believe.”

End of comments.

Nothing like “you looked great!” or “wow – you were really going fast!” or even “how fast were you going?”

I looked back, while balancing with both knees on the Swedish Ball, and commented, “Hopefully you saw me in the beginning. It wasn’t a pretty sight towards the end!”

Ken – to his credit – kept his mouth shut.

And then I balanced for 5 more minutes a la Sparky the Seal on said Swedish Ball.

The second interesting (or semi-interesting…remember this is ME we’re talking about) was the mini-drama at the bike shop.

Now that I’m well on my road to recovery, have my new Zipp Vuka Aero bars (all once piece! Hooray! By far the biggest “splurge” that I’ve ever spent on a non race-wheel or tri-bike get up), have my bright pink ISM Adamo Seat – it is TIME to get me on the beauty (my SCOTT! Hooray!)

(Imagine ME jumping up and down – not only because I can, but because I’m so excited. Good. Keep the picture in your head, because it’ll help).

In all actuality, I think that Nathaniel is afraid that I’ll keep buying really expensive gear. You see, I’ve developed the habit of browsing triathlon-related sights whenever I have a sad moment or frustrating day or happy moment or phenomenal workout. It doesn’t really matter: I just like looking at the nice stuff.

And now that I’ve got the bike of my dreams, it only figures that I would want to deck her out in the best stuff possible, right?

To quote Nathaniel, “You spent HOW much on aero bars?”

And then he began quoting Father of the Bride, “A cake, Fraank, is made of flour and water. My first car didn’t cost that much…”

I just smiled and said that the money came from my “tri” fund – and because I wasn’t flying to some big-name races, I had adjusted my equipment budget accordingly. (And on Wednesday, I’m getting a great box of gear from Trisports… :)

In the meantime, I need to be fitted to my new bike. And while I LOVE my bike guy in Pensacola, the folks out in this “neck of the woods” deal more with road bikes and roadie set-ups. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)

It just didn’t cross my mind that all he (wonderful bike owner and mechanic who I think the world of, but who can also be a little, er (whispered) intimidating at times…especially when it comes to aerodynamic fits…) would take the measurements from my old bike and apply them to the new one. And then base my fit on just that.

You can imagine my surprise when he said he would do just that.

“But I was thinking of possibly, maybe, that I might like it if I could be a little more, er, aerodynamic,” I confessed last week in his shop.

He looked at me and replied, “I don’t know who’s been whispering in your ears, but you know that Comfort is Key.”

End of discussion.

Not willing to see my point of view, or hear me out. He just stated his case and then expected me to agree.

So I did what any person afraid of confrontation and who is working on her assertiveness would do.

I gulped and agreed, secretly wondering if I would ever have the strength to stand up for myself. (Uh… what about Time Trial = comfort? Ideally YES, we need to be comfortable and have a good fit. But that doesn’t mean we need to look like our grandmothers riding to the Sunday market. I am whispering, can you tell? Some people LIKE riding upright to the Sunday market. Me – well, not so much. If we were talking about racing to the Sunday market, then that’s something else. But what my friend had in mind was VERY different from what I was envisioning.)

I was just too afraid to say so.

After watching Donna’s incredible fit in Mississippi last Thursday, I knew what I had to do. It terrified me, it made me shake and shiver – and as I’m not a big fan of confrontations and am working on (note the working on part… I haven’t got it down just yet) being MORE assertive, this was a big step.

So Nathaniel offered to accompany me for support. We had a plan, we would walk into the store, chat with our friend, eventually get my bike, and mosey on out.

Donna and Joanna may have stopped by as well – more support. But Donna needed to bring her Purple Monster Bike a la “Barney” (so aptly named for the bright purple handlebar tape) in to get a cable repaired. It was "serendipitous" that they showed up when they did. After I called them to let them know I was on the way – naturally.

In the end, everything did work out. I got my bike back, no cuts or adjustments were made, but I’m afraid that my number-one-Pensacola-bike-person isn’t all that happy with me. And that makes me really sad. I know that he was looking forward to helping me with my fit: he’s done so much for me already.

But this is a new bike, and I’m a new rider. I’m a different athlete: and after what I saw in Mississippi, I am forever changed about bike fit.

The discussion WAS scary for me, as his demeanor changed pretty quickly. I was very happy to have Nathaniel, and then Joanna and Donna there for support. But I keep going over the conversation, wondering if there was anything that I could have said or done differently. It is very hard for me to disagree with my bike mechanic and biker friends.

Mostly because (in the past) I’ve known little if anything about bikes. I’ve always lived in small towns – Havelock and now Pensacola – where finding a really great bike mechanic can be difficult at best. And now that I’ve got one that I consider a friend, I hope that he understands, and doesn’t take things the wrong way.

Because in the end, it is only a bike fit, after all.

So a lesson to all the kiddies out there: Love your bike mechanic and bike store owner. Make sure that they have YOUR best interest at heart and that you aren’t afraid of talking to them. Be grateful for what they do for you and for your bike. But don’t be afraid to assert your needs in the end.

And it doesn’t hurt to have a handsome Marine and two really great friends help you out.

And now that I’ve been very random, I might as well just finish it off.

It appears that Tabbitha has gained 1.6 pounds. Nathaniel was looking at her earlier and commented, “You know, I think the House Monster has put on weight.”

Then he weighed her.

And got attacked in the process.

(Dude – if someone tried to weigh ME, I would probably attack them in the process as well.)

So now we’re up to 19.8 pounds of cat.

I swear, I’ll stop giving her treats.

And extra kibble.

Because you KNOW how mournful her little “meow” is when she’s hungry. And her cute little eyes look up at me… and her tail wags expectantly. How can I deny that?

I’m convinced that Tabbitha has put on sympathy weight for me.

And the real topper?

It seems that tomorrow morning, after most of you have read this if 1) you even read my blog and 2) you’ve made it THIS far (props to you, by the way), I will have completed my first swim test in a LONG LONG LONG time. So long that I don’t remember that previous swim test that I did.

My coach has a sick sense of humor.

When I asked her for advice she replied, “Go HARD until you smell blood.” And then something about, “The gorilla will jump on your back at #7…”

I already contacted the UWF Aquatics Director to see if I could complete my test at 6:00 am, 30 minutes BEFORE the 2.25 lanes that all 11 of us share opens at 6:30. The youth team – the 10-year-olds that butterfly past you when you’re swimming your butt off as though they don’t have a care in the world – start swimming at exactly 0600. And I was hoping to nab a spot in a free lane (minus my 11 other “friends”).

But I was shot down. Ka-pow!

I guess that it’ll be Swimmer Derby a la Swim Test.

So if you hear about any casualties at the UWF Aquatics Center in Pensacola, Florida – rest assured that I’m doing my job and going for blood in the water. I’ll apologize in advance to all the lane “mates” that I run, er SWIM over.

But tomorrow morning, all bets are off. I’ll be going “for blood”, seeking out the gorilla and waiting for Dumbledore to appear in the stands. And when they do, I’ll smile and figure that this is only “natural” and part of my recovery process.

You never know, though. After my test – no matter the time – I may come home and fire up the computer for overly-priced hydration systems. And Tabbitha might get an extra cat treat to boot.

You just never know. And quite frankly, that’s how life is.

4 comments:

rr said...

When you're running, every step is indeed a gift! Sorry it was a hard day out there, but you were running and for that we're all happy.

I want to hear all about the new swim PRs tomorrow morning! GO Marit!!

Marit Chrislock-Lauterbach said...

Hey Rach!

Yup, I realize it is silly to complain about having a "tough" run - as a few months ago I was told that I wouldn't be running. In my recovery I guess I've gotten a bit, er, greedy. Running is my outlet - so I really like to have good ones. :)

Oh - and for the swim test. Yikes!

It'll have to be a PR, as I have NEVER done a LCM test. :) SO that's the good thing.

We'll just see how many blue hairs (old people) or Japanese tourists I take out in the process...

Off to swim...

Beth said...

Hey Marit!! Hope that swim test went well. I'm thinking of you!!

As for the running...oh...I've been in those shoes so many times before. And of course every step is a gift...but I also think it's natural to mourn the loss of fitness too! I have certainly been very, very fit and know what it feels like to run fast and smooth and effortless and I've also certainly been very, very out of shape after an injury or accident and know what it feels like when 8 min pace is a sprint. YOU WILL GET THERE Marit!!! It takes time and swallowing a little pride. But you will get there.

Hope you have a great day. And good for you for getting to a store that's really going to fit you well on your Scott. You'll be very happy you did so!

LZ said...

Don't know if you remember me but I raced against you in NC when you lived in Havelock. Do you remember Kure Beach a couple years ago when the swim was optional?? You told me after the race that you almost quit during the first swim...I still am scared to go back and do that race again! One of my friends was thinking about doing it as her first ocean triathlon...which I suggested she do a lake one first.

I have been reading your blog (found it from Bri Gaal) and wish you the best with recovery.

By the way, our "house monster" weighs 22.5 lbs. :)
Keep up the positive attitude!!
Laurie Zack