Sunday, December 1, 2013

New York New York

This Thanksgiving we decided to spend more than the actual day with our extended family on Long Island NY.  Pt. Lookout is near and dear to my heart.  As a kid we spent many a weekends, holidays and summers visiting the beach.  Probably the number one reason I LOVE the beach!   Some of my fondest childhood memories involve endless play outdoors, walking without shoes to the beach, outdoor showers, salt, sand, Marybeth's ice cream truck and LOTS of laughter.  My dad's two sisters live next door to each other, 2 houses from the bay and 2.5 blocks to the ocean.  I spent 2 summers in between semesters at Penn State living with my Aunt and Uncle + 5 cousins and absolutely enjoyed every minute.

 I let my coach know that priorities were family this week and we planned accordingly.

We headed up to my parent's in Wilmington DE wednesday evening.   Lanie styled my hair along the way ps- my scalp is still tender.
Great dinner with the fam.  Got to meet my youngest sister's beau (who happens to resemble clark kent).
Dad and I on our way to Bwine Creek state XC course Thanksgiving morning

Thanksgiving day was spent in Summit NJ at my Uncle Gene and Aunt Michelle's house.  My 93yo Grandfather flew in from Ohio to make a special visit.  Lots of laughter, great food, our annual turkey bowl football game, LOTS of red wine and fun was had by all.
lanie new BFF

Lanie and Carlyn


Uncle Bobby

Games began shortly after desert which included "Left Right Center".  Lanie won 40$ followed by "the plank off".  My Aunt Connie's previous record of 3:45min was challenged.  Heat 1 included my Aunt Liz- ok, a little back story.  My Aunt liz >50yo has 4 kids one of which has cerebral palsy.  She is a BEAST!  She sure gave me a run for my money.  at 4:45min we were both shaking, family is cheering as I hear from Anthony  "don't let me down"....others shouting "Aunt liz looks so good, Michelle is crumbling".  at 4:50 Aunt Liz relented, and I did as soon as I grabbed the win.  Holy cow she is strong!

Aunt Michelle, Aunt Kathy, Aunt Lauren, Dad, Grandpa, Aunt Connie , Aunt Liz

Left Right Center

We later headed to Long Island that evening.  Recap, good convo and wine ensued until nearly 1am.  Uncle bobby with a fire in the fireplace and a "thimble" of wine provided the ambiance.

Friday's activities included a walk on the beach with Duke and Daisy the pups followed by a hike on Fire Island.  We even climbed the Light House!  Awesome views although frigid temps.  We warmed up upon our return with another fire in the fireplace, the lumineers on Pandora, Red wine and Pizza.  I truly love my New York family!  We are so blessed to have these people in our lives.  Thanks to Aunt Kathy and Aunt Lauren who took such good care of us this visit!

We headed home Saturday (8hr drive).  Essentially I was staring sideways the entire trip to avoid shrieking in fear as Anthony weaved in and out of traffic at 80mph.  No use in looking, I'll end up sore by the end of the trip from tensing up.

Well, today was back to the grind. Long run followed by bike, house chores, shopping etc.

Hope everyone had a great holiday......cheers

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Where I was and where I'm going....

My Story,

It's hard to think 2 years ago I was faced with the thought I'd never race, run, or perhaps comfortably walk again.  The pain, anguish, heartache, fear and regret is palpable if I take a minute to stop and really think about the place I was in.

It all started with a little hint of knee pain just prior to my first Ironman, in lake Placid.  Some swelling was present but most notably pain initially when I ran and after my workout followed by intense sharp pain walking up and down the stairs.

Against better judgement I pressed forward with Ironman although I did shed some tears on the bike, was unable to stand and shuffled through the marathon unable to then walk for the following week.  The sense of dread was overwhelming.....did I just seal my fate?  Kona was out.  The disappointment deeply depressing....

MRI revealed a condylar defect (cartilage on the end of the femur) had torn a dime sized crater revealing the underlying bone.  A large stress fracture was present in the distal femur through the shaft (edema in the bone from repetitive stress).

For crying out loud, I was doing orthopedic surgery at the time and didn't pick up on the symptoms.....or couldn't recognize them in my state of determination that season.

Surgery January 2012- the dreaded microfracture procedure, 2+months nonweightbearing.  I can remember waking from anesthesia to see the arthroscopic pictures like a horror film, assessing the damage to the knee.

Doctor's response was encouraging but tentative.....hopefully this would work.  Could I run again?  maybe.  Would my knee ever be the same? probably not.  I spent the next two weeks on the couch, in the continuous passive range of motion machine staring at the ceiling, crying frequently, feeling quite sorry for myself at times, but in another sense, relief that action was taken to get better.  this COULD give me  a chance.....and that's what you've got to believe.....

I can remember my first PT sessions with my alway encouraging and optimistic trainer who put me to work with upper body and abs.  She introduced me to Postural Restoration which is a technique to restore neutral skeletal position by restoring neuromuscular imbalances that have occurred with overuse and
repetitve activity.

I can remember like a picture snapshot in my brain, my first 10minute spin on the stationary bike, oh how that felt like sweet victory!

Floyd Mayweather says "HARD WORK takes Dedication".  He might be a bit of a character but in the back of my mind, that was my mantra.  Every early morning doing an hours worth of prehab exercises, 8 agonizing weeks without the ability to place my foot on the floor, each night laying in bed with worry and fear, the blood, sweat and tears that followed a near 1 and a half year break teaches you a lot about yourself.  Are you going to lay down and give up?  This was a constant struggle within myself.  I almost hated myself for not being able to decide.   Recover and try to race, try to fulfill your dream of being a professional athlete?  or recover and move on with life?  maybe this is a sign that this was not my path in life.  I'll live a normal life and move on.  Sometimes its almost easier to just give in.....move on Michelle!

So I went on for the next year with the I all IN or am I OUT?  My husband encouraged me daily convinced that all the work I'd done over the last year would pay off and he had this sense I would come back stronger and that there was no other way.  I had to commit myself fully and embrace the challenge.  who cares what the future holds, make a committment to go for it.

I decided to play it day by day.  After all, in 2011 my motivation did wax and wane a bit....I even considered taking a break to travel and spend more time with my husband. You can think those things but when the decision is made for you, you can't help but want it more.  I'd never been faced in life with " you can't do this" or "this is not a possibility".  If I worked hard enough I'd see college, grad school, with athletics.  Now the rug had been pulled out beneath me......with me on the floor saying "wait, I didn't choose this".  

So I got back to the basics.....

I swam to swim, because I love it.  I biked hard on the trainer because I could and I loved to do 10min all out intervals until my legs wouldn't spin.  The satisfaction of all out riding took out some of the anger and frustration.  Slowly, daily, I let go.  I let go of the worry, the fear and I became ok with just working out for fun, because I loved to and I enjoyed myself.  I also knew the pain of not being able to swim or bike and I became grateful for what I could do.  It could all be gone in an instant.   Over the next year, my mood changed, elevated.  I went out west to Arizona then following to St. George and I soaked up some of the most gorgeous bike riding of my life.  A friend asked me......why are you training if you aren't going to race?   I simply said without question, because I love to ride my bike.  At that moment, it didn't matter anymore.   I didn't HAVE to race, I'd won.  I'd gotten back into shape wtihout running.  I  swam and rode because I loved to, and if I never ran or raced again I would be OK.  Sigh, relief.

Then I did something that would change the course or path of my life after I had already come to a certain conclusion.   I signed up for a race.   4 days before a local olympic distance, I decided to go for it.  without pressure or expectation.  Following that, I raced 5 more times in 2 months.  Unexpectedly, without pressing, worry, fear, and trusting my own abilities, I quietly and softly did what I thought at one point was impossible. I managed to again qualify to race professionally.   Dreams from 2-3 years ago rushed back, along with emotion.  This was the moment I thought was out of reach, and it suddenly, without expectation, presented itself.  TAKE IT.

So, I'll race professionally for 2014.  I won't be the fastest, I might be the slowest pro but in my mind I've already won. This is the icing on the cake.  This is a celebration of what I can do and throwing away the 2 years of worry about what I couldn't or didn't think I would do.   Taking in the moment.......making each day count.  Not living with regret...."if I just tried, maybe I might have".   Explore all opportunities, give yourself a chance.  Gratefulness.  

Now, once again..... this is not a struggle like those with serious medical conditions, cancer, I don't have a life threatening illness, my famiy and close friends are in good health.  I have all of my limbs.  My loved ones are safe.  I don't want it to sound like I really have no perspective.....all things considered, my injury does not compare.  I simply want to give an honest account of my own personal struggle, however small it may be, and how it has shaped the path of my life currently.   I hope it can somehow relate to others......and can be of sound advice.  This is my story....

Life is your oyster......find your pearl

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

I'm Back.....

A new beginning ...

I wanted to start this new blog with a thank you to those who have been there over the past 2 years.  Your continued support and motivation saw me through some tough times, not knowing if I'd make it back to competing.   No, I didn't have a life threatening illness, cancer, or suffer a major loss.  I simply had a setback, an injury, like so many others.  I'll share my story and hope some can relate.  

Thank you to my husband, your unwavering support and sometimes tough love has taught me the most.  I love you more than you know.

Thank you to my parents, extended family for loving me although I seemingly lost my identity.  You loved me and showed me I am more than a sport.  Thank you Theresa and Caleb for our talk.  All in.

Thank you to my masters swim group- Matt, kurt, Julie, Trish, Brianna, Charles, Chuck, Ryan, Steve, Adam, Adam, Patty, Kathy, Chris, Bridgette, Jamie, Erin, Coach Steve.   I swam the day of my surgery and showed up 4 weeks later on crutches.  You've seen me at my lowest and my highest. (slowest, and fastest).  You remained a constant despite the uncertainty.  We've come a long way.

Thank you to Rachel:  My sidekick, cheerleader, motivator, inspiration and friend.  We logged many a miles during my recovery, you've made me a stronger cyclist.  You've been such a positive influence giving me confidence to go for it.

Thank you to the TCH Arizona crew especially Emma and Frank.   I found myself, my love for cycling, my passion for travel and I let go for once in my life.  Arizona was a turning point.  I biked because I loved it and for no other reason.  I've made lifelong friends.  I can't wait for our next adventure.

Thank you to my gal pals.  Tiffany, Trisha, Crystal, Julie, Cindy.  So.. I don't just have workout buddies. I have great girlfriends even if we weren't training.... you stuck by me....dinners, brunches, walks, mountain bikes, coffee.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Thank you to Debbie Teller, busy bodies studio.  You are so passionate.  Your enthusiasm, contagious.  7 days after surgery we were in the studio working what we could work.  You've introduced me to rehab that literally changed my life.  I wouldn't be where I am without you.  Thank you for sticking with me.

Thank you to my Boss/ sidekick/ buddy/big brother, Dean.  We began working together 2 weeks after surgery while I was on crutches.  You've seen me through the recovery, despite you wishing I would retire from sport, I proved you wrong haha.  You've always had my best interests in mind.  I know you truly care about my health and well being.  Cautiously supportive..... i understand.  Thank you for being in my corner.

Thank you to Laura R.  many a long talks and laughs in the office

Thank you to the OL cross country team, Nestor- 8am. every sunday, long run.  Rain or Shine.  This was my goal for OH so long.  I'm back and enjoying every minute!

Thank you to those I've met post injury.  You know me now, not before, there is no judgement, no comparing....a clean slate.  

Thank you to my supporters:  Village Bicycles, Busy Bodies Studio, Cantrell Center for Physical Therapy, Charm City Run.

 I took this blog down soon after major knee surgery January 2012, at the time, not believing in myself.   The journey was long, had it's ups and downs but in my mind I've made it....back and better.  ALL IN.