Thursday, January 31, 2008


I've been avoiding discussing my injury. Why? Because I was been scared. I wasn't sure I was in a place where I could reflect on what had happened to me, physically or mentally. I am now just starting to come out of that shadow of doubt.

We all have our stumbling blocks in training. Sometimes, they just hit too close to home, or hit too hard to want to dissect them play-by-play for all the world to see. But looking back, once you've turned some sort of corner towards recovery, somehow, one gains objectivity that was not there before in looking back.

Now, that I think (THINK) we've got the problem correctly diagnosed and I'm back to a modified workout schedule, I'll do a recap. Back around Christmas, I did something to my chest. At first it was just pain in certain positions, then it got worse. I continued to work out, and deal with the pain until after a 3-hour brick one Saturday in early January, I tried to take one too many breaths. (That tends to happen as I huff and puff, running down the sidewalk). I stopped and tried to take a deep breath. Sometimes, this is not easy, with my Exercise Induced Asthma. I tried a gain. OUCH. At the bottom of each breath, there after, was a sharp stabbing pain, in my lung. My chest hurt. I was frightened. I was in a lot of pain, and kinda wanted to just not breath, because of the pain. As my breath slowed down, so did the pain. But every once in a while, I'd sigh and there it was again rearing its ugly, scary head. I called my doctor. The wait for an appointment was about a week.

And, I know many of you have heard this part of the skip it if you want. My doctor told me it was one of three things. Either

1. I strained my pectoral minor, and after that workout it went into some kind of spasm

2. I had an infection in my plural lining of my lungs

3. I had a pulmonary embolism.

What! Isn't that what kills people? God. I think I'm going to faint. Can I lie down?

He says, just take some Celebrex (which I'm too chicken to take) or a huge dose of Advil and (DON'T) call me in the morning. Oh, and don't worry! It's probably not that he says.
Oh, and the only way to find out is to give you a CAT scan, which is like 50 chest X-rays, a lot of radiation.

He doesn't know me. At all. Not worry?

So, I am afraid to work out. I am afraid that if I run too hard it will dislodge my pulmonary embolism and kill me for certain. (Can you tell I have no F-ing idea what I'm talking about?) I don't want to run because then I might have to take a deep pain-stabbing breath. I am terrified, but trying to have a sense of humor. It doesn't come as easily as I had hoped.

A week later, still suffering from chest pain, another doctor decides I need an EKG.

No, your not having a pulmonary embolism -- it's just a heart attack! ha ha.

More worry ensues. I decide these doctors are idiots! I want another opinion. I finally get to talk to a receptionist at a pulmonary specialist.

"What did your X-ray say?" she says. My what? He won't see you without an X-ray. OK, so you can see a pulmonary embolism on an X-ray? I high tail it over to St. Mary's Hospital for an X-ray.

Several days later the pulmonary specialist can see me. It looks OK to me he says. Your kinda young to have a P.E. You don't have the traditional risk factors. I've seen folks with all the risk factors who didn't have a pulmonary embolism and I've seen folks with no risk factors who have it. You might or you might not have one. He says. But don't worry! It's probably not one.

I see a theme here. If I'm going to die, the last thing they want me to do is know about it and worry. An in person appointment with the guy is slightly reassuring. He offers to give me a CAT scan if I really want one. Um, no, not really.
By this time, I'd taken nearly 3 weeks off of my training. My goal of going for a Half Ironman in April was shot. The idea of swimming seemed impossible. The reaching motion was causing me so much pain. I started to doubt that I would have enough time to get better and still train to be in shape enough to complete one of my dreams: swimming across the Cheasapeake Bay in June. My mental game was suffering hugely. The more I didn't workout, the worse everything around me seemed to be. I could tell that even my 3-year-old son was worried about me. I wanted to work out, but not if it was going to kill me.

A week later, I got an appointment with Dr. Dec. Did I mention that Dr. Dec is a goddess?
She has tons of experience with injured athletes. That is what she does all day long. She has even been a sports medicine doctor for Olympic teams. For the first time, a doctor put her hands on me. Really felt around. Could see what things caused pain for me and what didn't. She listened.

I told her, "Taking my shirt off: Agony. Pulling Redfish's shirt off, double agony. Buckling him in his car seat: Lord have mercy on me. Aerobars? Not a good idea. Want to make it hurt twice as bad? Just add stress. Reaching for cereal? Hmm, maybe with the other arm."
Dr. Dec told me what was wrong with me. Rib Dysfunction. I know, it sounds like I made it up.
She said I have a block. In Eastern Medicine the call it that. I don't know how they treat it in the East, but here they use physical therapy. But most of all, she told me I was going to be ok. She told me I could workout. And how I could work out without further injuring myself. She gave me exercises and stretches to do at home. Dr. Dec doesn't know why this happened, but seems to think it had something to do with my overcompensating for having my abdominal muscles cut during 2 C-Sections in the past 7 years. She gave me hope, and said she thought that I could be on my way to recovery in 2 weeks. She sent me Jason, my physical therapist.
I've never had physical therapy before. I don't know if it is supposed to make you feel worse, but I can tell you I was in alot of pain after and during my 2 plus hour appointment. I learned that I don't like to have electrical current wired to run through my body. Jason showed me how my body was uneven -- lopsided even. And how my shoulders were starting to slope forward compensating for back muscles that weren't strong. He gave me this sort of bear hug from behind that made everything feel much better, at least temporarily.
The good news: A run the next day, with my new running partner, Becky, was the best and fastest run I've had in a long time. And my brick the day after that was fine, but taxing, about what I expected for running 2 times in 15 hours.

My physical therapist assures me that when I see him later today, I will hate him for the pain he causes me, but love him tomorrow, when I feel better. I'll let you know.

Most of all, I am happy. I am happy I have hope to be better soon. I am happy to be alive, without being fearful all the time that I am about to die. I am soooo soooo happy to be working out again. Even if I can't swim, go aero, or strength train -- yet. Sometime, being away from one of the things you love most, helps you appreciate it again.

The other good news -- I found a new primary care doctor. He's a runner, so I know he'll understands the demands of training and and the complexity of injuries. Dr. Dec recommend him which is a great sign. And, when I meet with him in a few weeks, I'm going to be sure to tell him, please don't tell me I might have a fatal condition, but not to worry.

Whey Protein: The Breakfast of Champions....I Mean Superhereos

Good news. I just came across an article that says whey protein, one of the key ingredients in Accelerade, ( my long distance training drink) can help you lose weight, improve insulin sensitivity, and increase muscle mass.

Now get this: It may also be able to reduce stress, moderate cortisol, and support healthy serotonin levels, thus imparting feelings of well-being. In other words: help fight off depression.

And, the cherry on top?

These findings add to whey’s already well-established benefits, which
include boosting glutathione levels, facilitating immune function, and
aiding in the fight against cancer.


One of the study’s most interesting findings relates to body weight, which increased in the group receiving food and supplements compared to the fasting group. In the groups that received either glucose or whole-milk protein, the increase in weight was from body fat. However, in the whey-fed group, the weight increase reflected an increase in muscle mass and a decrease in body fat.3 Whey thus appears to be the preferable choice for supporting improvements in body composition.


Whey may also support weight loss by modulating levels of the crucial neurotransmitter serotonin. Serotonin is involved in a wide range of psychological and biological functions, and influences mood, anxiety, and appetite. Healthy levels of serotonin are correlated with relaxation, calm, and an improved ability to cope with stress, whereas lower levels are associated with depression, anxiety, and poor appetite control.
Since serotonin is derived from the dietary amino acid tryptophan, scientists have speculated that increasing dietary tryptophan might increase serotonin levels. A recent study conducted in the Netherlands examined whether supplementing the diet with whey-derived alpha-lactalbumin, a tryptophan-rich whey constituent, would influence plasma tryptophan levels, reduce depression, or modulate concentrations of cortisol, the so-called “stress hormone.”

No wonder you Ironmen are so Iron! I think I might go get some right
now. ...Actually, maybe my next project will be to buy some whey protein and make my own drink, without all that succrose and food coloring.

It is a fascinating article. GO read it!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

USA Triathlon Rankings for 2007

Every year when the USA Triathlon rankings come out, I post mine. I think it is really cool that even middle and back of the packers like me get ranked right there with the rest of the age groupers. Still, I'm not sure why this appeals to me, but it does.

Last year, I ranked slightly higher than this year, despite my 3 minute PR on the only race I did both years, Sandman. I guess what that goes to show is that easier races (as opposed to taking on Eagleman) can help your rankings. In 2007 I definately was faster, more in shape and more passionate about triathlons that I have ever been. It was a great year, and looking back on some of my posts, I'm seeing I learned alot, by taking my racing to the next level (the half iron distance). Ok here are the results:

9/16/2007 Sandman Triathlon
Time 1:54:16.40
Ranking 56.01075

I Love the Tavern Triathlon
Time: 2:07:40
Ranking: 56.37458

The Eagleman Ironman 70.3 Triathlon
Time: 7:39:06
Ranking 50.49307

Overall Score 54.15465
Gender Grade 59.57011

On another note, I just finished reading Slow, Fat, Triathlete, by Jayne Williams. I figured it was required reading for me since we seemed to have some things in common and I had run into her comenting on the Athena forum that I sometimes check out. The good news: It is a really great book for beginers, age groupers and folks like me. The bad news, I didn't learn anything, except that our journeys have been quite similar. Well, that is not true. I did learn one thing. That a neoprene (wetsuit) swim cap is called a Squid Lid. I guess what I'm saying is that I should have read this book a long time ago. It really would have helped me in my first or second season.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

7 Weird Things

TRIgirl 40 tagged me, asking me to come up with 7 wierd things about myself. Are you sure you want to know?

1. Who ever thought of asking, "What's the worst thing that can happen?" Bad, bad idea. My mom, said it to me all the time, when i was scared to jump off the high dive, when I didn't want to go for the first day of school.
Now the worst thing that can happen just naturally pops into my head. (Thanks, Mom!) And, I counter every time, "What's the best thing that can happen?"

2. I hate socks in bed. I don't know why, but it gives me the hebegebes. What's worse? socks on someone else in bed.

3. I love soda water aka seltzer water. I've been know to pretend it is real soda or beer even -- I'm easily fooled! Daisy has tried soda (Dr. Pepper and seltzer) she cries every time! Don't ask me why she keeps trying it. She hates it.

4. I wake up automatically at 5:30 a.m. or earlier every day!!! The only time I don't wake up automatically is if I have something to get up for. So, I have to set the alarm. Which, I've been known to sleep through.

5. In general I hate getting my hair cut. Really. Pretty much everything about it. The smell of chemicals. A stranger touching you. Taking my glasses off. Hair dryers. Itchy neck. I hate getting my nails done too, I know, weird, right. For a while, I had a friend who would come cut my hair at my house while we drank beer. I was in heaven.

6. I have a ritual with my morning coffee. First i put sugar in the spoon. Then I let a little coffee into the spoon and swirl it so it melts. Only then can I add the sugar to the coffee and add cream (Silk soy creamer that is!) This is very important. I hate it when I don't have a spoon for my coffee!

7. I can only comb my hair in the shower. And I can't brush it. Ever. It's just the way it is. My hair gets frizzy if I do it any other way. Pretty funny, since I won't let Daisy leave the house without combing her hair. So, next time you see me and my hair looks like it needs a good brushing, you know why -- and what I really need is a shower!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Remembering Ruby, Stella, Bryan and Kathryn Harvey

There is something sacred about New Years Day. A precarious balance between remembering Ruby, Stella, Bryan and Kathryn Harvey and celebrating life.
Richmond will never forget. I will never forget. We will remember them well.

The Story of Stuff

Yet another non-triathlon post. Sorry guys. My friends Daniel Farrel and John Sarvay are on to something. They posted a link that explains so many mysteries...and yet seems so obvious. Why we keep buying more stuff and then can't figure out where to put it all -- The Story of Stuff.
I know it's depressing but we can change. So, take a look -- mystery solved. I think I know what my new years resolution is going to be: buy less stuff.