Saturday, March 9, 2013

Wanna Come to my Party?

I don't quite know what to say.  I've been distracted the last couple of days by planning for my son's 4th birthday party tomorrow.  But the truth about my condition pops into my head now and then.  I realized the Rock n Roll Half Marathon is really just a few weeks away.  Not sure what will happen by then.  I was thinking I will walk it if I have to but I'll tell you the truth, that thought is a bit of a downer for me right now.  I don't want to walk a half-marathon, I want to run it!  Woe is me, right?  So as you can see, there's a little pity party going on in the back of my head.  I'd invite you but it's a real dud of a party.

When I went to the doctor yesterday I was hoping for some, "Ok, things are sounding better, keep it up."  But instead got, "things are not sounding any better."  She said my body seems to have done too good of a job managing the infection and walled it off, which is not allowing it to break up and leave my lungs.  She talked in a range of 3-4 weeks as far as recovery time.  I go back on Wednesday and if I'm showing no improvement by then, well, let's just say that won't be good. 

I feel a mix of embarrassment and stupidity over this.  How could I not have known something was wrong?  I was waking up in the middle of the night with night sweats, I was so friggin' tired in the afternoons I had to pull out all the stops to get myself into the gym (that's just not normal for me, right?), and I was coughing and intermittently feverish for weeks.  Looking back it seems obvious something wasn't right.  Well, of course I knew something wasn't right but I figured it was a chest cold combined with that other chronic condition from which I suffer - parenthood.  I didn't figure on it being pneumonia and taking me down for weeks on end. 

This has been a real lesson in listening to your body.  Generally I think I do a fair job of that, but this situation shows I could be doing better.  Way better.  It's just so damn tricky.  Tired?  Skip the gym?  No.  Tired and coughing?  Maybe.  Tired, coughing and waking up with night sweats?  Dork, of course you skip the damn gym and by the way, go to the friggin' doctor.  Which I eventually did.  Oh dear me I'm rambling.  Told you I didn't know what to say. 

So we have the birthday party tomorrow.  I think I mentioned my son is turning 4.  Four!  Time...slipping by.  Anyway, they'll be loads of kids running through the house all jacked up on cupcakes and a bouncy house, along with their parents, keeping me distracted.  Then the post party delegating (because I'm not really supposed to be doing much), and then Monday.  Monday will be quiet again, very restful, and I'm so looking forward to that actually.  As much as I like the distraction, I do feel like I need some alone time.

Ok, to snap out of my sad-fest for a moment I want to share a very thoughtful and inspiring post that Melissa shared with me on my FB page:
I know you're stuck in bed right now healing but I want to share something that you may find encouraging. I ran a half today. It's not my first but I really wanted to PR on this one. Anyway, you came to mind during the last 1.5 miles. I was so done, so tired, and I started thinking, "I'm close enough to my goal---that's good enough." Then I thought of your blog about your half a few weeks ago and how you thought towards the end, "Do I want it?"---"YES I WANT IT" and you pushed ahead to meet your goal. Anyway, after I thought about that, I didn't let myself slow down and pushed through. I got my PR plus 69 seconds to spare!!

Just know you're an inspiration to your readers! Take care of yourself and remember, when it's time for you to get back out there, you'll appreciate it even more than you already did and you're gonna kick ass! :)
She's right, I do find it encouraging.  It's so downright special to have helped someone during a challenging moment.  Melissa dug in and found a bit more inner strength, she tapped into that extra well of push, and something I wrote helped her find it.  It's like I get to share a tiny piece of her success and it's awesome!  I'll have to keep that question, "Do I want it?", in mind during this phase.  I'm down, but I'm not out.  I'm feeling a little blue but I try to push any negative thoughts out of my head and replace them with positive ones.  What's it going to feel like to run again sans illness?  Easy (eventually), fun, free.  How will I feel once I'm at 100% again?  I'll feel great!  That's what I'm reminding myself when I get all waaaaaah on myself.

Besides, this isn't end-stage cancer. I really need to keep this crap in perspective.  Oh hell, this whole post is an embarrassment, well, except the part about Melissa, that's the only redeeming quality.  I'm stopping this now. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

It's Pouring

You know how they say, when it rains it pours? Well it's pouring buckets over here. I'm posting this from my cell phone. Because my daughter dumped water on my laptop and now it won't turn on. I've been very tired all week. I thought it was due to having more on my plate than usual with Miguel being away, and this cough that won't go away.  But when I went home early from work yesterday because I felt so bad I figured it was time to see a doctor.

I went in this afternoon and the doctor listened to my lungs and immediately sent me for a chest xray and blood work. Several hours later I get the call that I have pneumonia and am told I am "very sick". The doctor started me on antibiotics and put me on full bed rest. I might have then drowned my sorrows in a bag of candy. But it's going to be healthy eating from here on out. This is not a reason to gain 5 pounds. Because then I know I'll feel even worse.

Here's a picture from the x-ray today. I'm smiling because I still thought everything would be okay. And everything will be okay. I have to remind myself it's not that earth shattering. It's just a little scary for someone like me to be told to lie down and do nothing.  What if I don't get up? But those are old fears, right? I've changed, right? This is a temporary setback and I'll be back to normal before too long.

Thank goodness for the kindness of friends. I've got a movie and lunch being dropped off in the morning and chicken lasagna is being made for our dinner (thank you leigh and danielle!). And to Wendy and Catherine, Michelle and Alison and all others who have offered help...thank you!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

2013 Escape From Alcatraz *Volunteer* Race Report

Still dark out
What a day!  I volunteered at my first event, the Escape from Alcatraz international distance triathlon.  I had an amazing time!  Seriously, I had so much fun I'd almost pay to do it.  My day started at 3am when I rallied myself out of bed to get ready for my 4am shift start in San Francisco's Marina Green.  I didn't allow for walk-time from my car and ended up arriving closer to 4:30am but I didn't miss anything.

I was shown to my area in transition and told we'd be running a hydration station.  So we got busy setting up water cups and mixing the Cytomax.  It was pleasant out when I arrived but a couple hours later, as daylight broke, we were freezing our butts off.  Normally this event is held in June but due to conflicts with the America's Cup they held it early this year.  Next year it's going back to June.  I had four layers of tops on plus a light jacket and my teeth were still chattering (people who live in the snow, I'm sorry, I know we Californians are soft).

We answered as many participant questions as we could and I chatted up my fellow volunteers.  Most people have some connection to the sport but some don't, they just do it for fun.  Everyone was friendly and we managed to keep ourselves entertained, including by taking pictures of ourselves.

Our Crew
Hope I didn't jinx myself if I ever do this event.
Here's a picture to give you an idea of the layout and where I was.

The Big Finish!

This is serious business!
Don't I look cold?
A group of high schoolers arrived just as the race was getting underway around 7:45am.  They would be the ones actually handing out the beverages.  And as we were all settling in to our spots I ended up standing at the entrance to transition, right where the swimmers ran in, the runners would be running out, and also right where the finishers would be passing seconds before they cross the finish line!  Sa-weet!!

Before long the pro came running in from the swim the excitement level shot up.  How fun!

Once the pros passed things settled into more of a conveyer belt of swimmers coming out, some looking a bit rough.  The water was cold, choppy and, based on the looks on some people's faces, generally miserable - "Water temperatures were about 51 degrees, air temperatures hovered in the mid-50s, and 11 mph winds made the air feel closer to the mid-40s." - SF Chronicle.

And unfortunately, someone died.  Again, from the Chronicle:
A 46-year-old man died of cardiac arrest Sunday just after plunging into frigid bay waters in the annual Escape From Alcatraz Triathlon, held three months earlier than usual and under much colder conditions.

The Austin, Texas, man, whose name was not released, died less than a minute after he jumped into the bay, which was about 10 degrees cooler than last year's water temperature when the race was held in June, said race director Bill Burke.

"Was it colder than normal? Yes. But in my opinion, the water temperature was not a factor at all in this tragedy," he said. "This gentleman obviously had a heart condition he was unaware of."  It was the first death in the triathlon's 33-year history, Burke said.

In all, rescuers pulled about 150 competitors from the swimming portion of the race, more than three times the normal number, he said.
So sad.  I heard his wife was brought over while they were working on him.  Ugh.

Before long, the pros were back from their bikes and heading out on the run.  Things got tricky for a while because we still had swimmers coming in and the swim-in and run-out are side by side. 

I was kind of shocked by how fast the pros run!  They aren't messing around out there.  You can see (in the bottom picture) people coming in from the swim on the left and behind the runner.  Some people are quite disoriented as they enter transition (well, in general really) and once or twice we had to physically turn people to get them headed in the right direction.

And then, about 2 hours after the start the first place finisher comes running down the chute.

Javier Gomez Noya of Spain finished first with a time of 2:04:27.  Incredible, right?   A 1.5 mile swim, 18 mile bike ride and an 8 mile run that includes running in sand and beach stairs - all in just a bit over 2 hours.  These pictures are with my cell camera, not super zoomed in, that's how close I was!

About 14 minutes later the first female comes down the chute.  I captured this cool series of images of her running in, hearing the announcer say she had a strong lead, looking back to confirm and then joy - pure joy in knowing she'd done it, she won!

Heather Jackson, 2:18:08.
I love it!  I know that feeling.  The feeling of success and accomplishment.  And I saw that face on plenty of regular Joes out there too, pushing themselves and living the dream.  I also saw the face of suffering, another feeling I know well, as some people dragged their spent bodies toward the finish.

Not too far behind Heather was Sarah Groff, who'd been first out of the water if I recall.  I took some fun pictures of Sarah but I have to share the one that ended up in the SF Chronicle that has me in it!

Sarah Groff, 2:18:37.  (and yours truly)
I think I'm pointing runners toward the run exit, which is strange because I took some pictures of Sarah as she passed me.  Maybe I whipped my camera out, snapped some pictures and then got back to work in a jiffy?  Can you tell how excited I am?  I'm telling you, I had a lot of fun out there.

After the bulk of my directing work was done I spent some time picking up cups and empty gu packets.  My official shift was long over but I was happy to help.  And then I got busy cheering on finishers until my voice almost went out.  I especially loved cheering on the women.  Seeing women of various ages, physical shape and overall style out there doing it - it really gets me fired up.  I'd cheer for them and some would break out in huge smiles and I just wanted to do nothing more than stand out there all day.  Fun stuff.  Fun, fun, fun.

Maybe even more fun than ever doing the event.  Based on what I saw today I'm in no hurry to throw my hat in the lottery for this one.  But maybe when it's in June it would be a bit more inviting.  I plan to volunteer again next year (in the same spot!) and then we'll see what I think. 

Well, there you have it, my Volunteer Race Report.  If you haven't volunteered at an event, I highly recommend it (as if you can't tell).  I can't say I'dve had as much fun if I were doing post-race cleanup or manning the results station but who knows - I like to take fun with me wherever I go so maybe a bit less exhilarating but fun nonetheless.

I had a half-hearted plan to run 6 miles after the event but I stayed so late there that it didn't happen, which is fine because my cough is still lingering and I got up at 3am!  I drove the BMW into the city and it was too cold to put the top down in SF but once I was in Marin the sun was shining and the top came down.  I tried to nap when I got home but as tired as I was, I couldn't do it.  So now I'm off for some heavy-duty sleeping.  Is it really Monday tomorrow?