Friday, April 6, 2012


I recently had a little scare. Over the last couple months I had developed a cyst in my lower cheek which needed to be removed and biopsied. My oral surgeon suggested that it was fluid based but wanted to biopsy because there were characteristics that indicated a possible tumor. I was notified that I would need to be put down under general anesthesia – paralysis and my breathing would be controlled by a machine. The cyst was located next to two main facial nerves. One that controlled sensory input – my sense of touch; and one that controlled sensory output – facial expressions. Under general anesthesia he was able to use a device that would activate the sensory input nerve.
The other nerve was left “in the dark” and his goal was to stay the f*** away from it. As if the thought of a tumor wasn't scary enough?!

I stayed with my momma the night before the surgery. She is one of the few people I could trust not to kill me while I was in a state of fasting. Some might say I can be asshole hungry! She also has a way of turning stress into laughter. While sitting in the waiting room she told me that a family friend's sofa burned down by way of a snow globe. WTF? I thought she was making this up. As we're sitting there the 6am news comes on and I'll be damned! Apparently the light from the sun caught the snow globe at the right angle and lit his sofa on fire! My mom and I rolled over laughing. Ah yes, a fire is not funny.......but come on, from a snow globe?
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Ok, ok, my humor is dark. 

My momma always ensures my utter most comfort. I was freezing cold in my little backless surgery virgin gown, so she went and got blanket after blanket from the incubator and wrapped me up like a mummy. It took 8 blankets to stop my shivering. I was still cold though. My vaso-spasms were playing hind-and-go seek when the nurse tried to stick me with the IV. Luckily she got in on the third try or I would have struck someone out. It took forever to fall asleep. I was sure they were going to cut me while I was awake. That was the last I remembered.

When I came to I was ready to get up and go. I was a little groggy but I felt no need to lie down and rest. I mean what for? I had been resting while they were operating. Plus my tummy was growling. Feed me Seymour With my momma's assistance I got dressed, threw on my kicks and I was on my way to a Starbucks Frappacino.

Later that day I grew to regret my impulsive decision. I developed an intense headache which turned into a migraine with violent vomiting. 5 hrs of vomiting led to severe dehydration and muscle cramping. The migraine that was so bad I had to keep my zebra-printed sleeping eye mask on. I could not tolerate the sight of light. My momma took me to the ER. The fact that we arrived in one piece was a miracle. My momma doesn't like driving in the rain (let's not leave out the fact she hadn't changed her windshield wipers since she bought the car -5+ years ago), or the dark, or the freeway, or that she didn't know how the hell to get there! I had to navigate through a 40 minute drive and across 3 main freeways......blindfolded! Holy Moly. When we arrived I was going to kiss the ER welcome mat, but instead I threw up on it. Needless to say I was immediately wheeled into a private room.

The next 2 hours I laid in a cold, dark room with intense hunger pains, thirst, nausea and leg cramps/spasms......waiting for my turn to see a doctor. If it wasn't for my mother's comfort by my bedside I'm pretty sure I would have died. Seriously, she had to “steal” blankets from the incubator to keep me warm and got yelled at for doing so!

Once the doc saw me I got admitted. First I got a couple of bags of saline for hydration. Next came morphine for the migraine. The morphine experience was God-awful. Hot sweats and numbness everywhere. Thankfully the Benadryl kicked in and knocked my ass out. I wasn't out for the count for long. My legs spasms rudely awoke me from my drug-induced slumber. Last but not least was the IV drip of magnesium – which I think hurt the worst. For the next 75 minutes I felt like someone was jabbing an IV in my arm repeatedly. The doc diluted the concentration but that only mildly helped. F***! Can't a girl just get a break? At 4am, 6 hrs after arriving at the ER room I was released to go home with a take home basket of anti-nausea pills. Finally at 5am I was able to stomach food. It was a first in 34 hours. Oatmeal has never tasted sooooooo good. My momma and I crashed hard and slept a good part of the morning away.

It's been two weeks since the operation and recovery has gone well. I went back to see my doc this week for a follow up. He told me that the cyst he removed was the size of a quarter. A f***ing quarter! How it wasn't more visible from the outside was beyond us both.The good news is it tested benign. The iffy news is that I have another hard pea sized lump. The doc said it could be built up scar tissue or it could be yet another cyst. Sometimes I think FML....but I'll retract that and stay positive, praying it doesn't grow. 

This whole clusterf*** made me very grateful for a number of things. Sometimes bad things happen for good reminders. 

  • The cyst is BENIGN = NOT CANCER. Thank God! 
  • I have the best mother in the world. I knew this prior but was again reminded. She selflessly stayed up for 25+hrs straight to take care of me. She made me laugh when I would cry. She brought me warmth when I was cold. She sat by my bedside while I whined endlessly in pain. I LOVE you mom.

  • I live in a country where food is plentiful. (Seriously – look up the obesity stats!) I have never gone without food or nutrients for so long in my life. The fatigue, malnutrition and hunger pains were unimaginable. I will be more thankful of having food/fuel. 
  • I work for a company that is supportive of its' employees health. I never felt “stressed” from my co-workers for missing work. Instead they made me feel wanted and cared for. I have REALLY great health insurance. Sure, I had to sit for hours in the ER w/o care but once I was seen I was treated well AND at NO COST.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Surf City Marathon

My initial goal was to get through the training and run the event injury free. Being injury prone for the last couple years made this goal feel lofty.

Once I accomplished my training goal I decided to up the ante and set my sights higher. How would I know what I was capable of if I didn't push my limits? I decided to “race” the marathon and give it everything I had. My first marathon (3 ½ years prior) I successfully ran and even Boston qualified. I knew my new goal wasn't far fetched.

Race day came and I felt confident. I walked up to the starting corral and waited with friends until the final count down. Bang! The gun went off and my engine went from idol to cruise control. I knew not to push the throttle. I stayed focused on breathing calm, keeping my upper body relaxed and tried my best to run efficiently.

When running a marathon (either Ironman or stand alone) I never think of the full distance. Why that would just be overwhelming and rather terrifying. Instead I think of each mile I am going to run down. As I passed one mile marker after another I was reminded of my training. I've never needed help finding motivation. My momma made sure I was stocked at birth. I am a person who has been humbled by injuries. Let's also not ignore the fact I keep aging up. What I needed was help finding confidence that had become lost over time. I found this confidence from my friends and family. They kept me company on long runs that scared me. They listened to my worries and complaints, and provided positive loving support. They joined me in post training feasting, although I don't think I had to twist anyone's arm. I'm now rambling on. What I'm getting at is they believed in me. They gave me the tools I needed to believe in myself. Although I was running this marathon solo, I felt my friends were running with me. As corny as it sounds – My friends and family are the wind beneath my wings.

Back to the race!

Everything felt good until mile 10 or 11. At this point the course took a U-Turn and I ran directly in to the rising sun. Oy! My eyes! I wore sunglasses but ignored advice to wear a hat or visor. Sweat poured down my face and stung my eyes. Blinding me as I ran towards the orange flaming ball. I ran without sight for a good 5 mins. Rubbing my eyes and praying I wouldn't “run” into someone. Thankfully it passed and I retained my vision without the need to stop.

The run went on comfortably until right after mile marker 20. In a matter of seconds my stomach wrenched and I spewed out my insides. Holy Moly! That was a disgusting first! My Gamin vibrated to alert me that I had stopped. Really?! So on I continued to run. My goal now was pick up my pace to reach an aid station. I needed to seriously wash my mouth out or I was going to get sick again from the taste. As I approached the aid station I grabbed whatever sports drink they offered and used it as mouth wash.

The last 10k felt like an eternity. I had thrown up all my GU and electrolytes and was now running on empty. I tried to channel caloric reserves from my rendezvous at Coldstone the night prior. Once I lost nutrition it was hard to keep a positive outlook. My legs wanted to run but my body and mind did not. The darkness set in and I started to walk. My head bowed in shame. I could only stand walking for a few seconds. I couldn't stand moving sooooo slow. I started to run again. This would only last a matter of minutes. I was too tired. I grabbed a banana from an aid station. I knew solid food would end up upsetting my stomach but it didn't matter. If I didn't eat something I would have ended up walking all of it. The banana wasn't exactly rocket fuel but it did allow me to pull my head out of my a** and run the last bit in.

I crossed the finish line at 3:43 – 7 minutes longer then my revised goal and a PW (personal worst). Although I didn't technically achieve my new goal; I still felt like a success. I did “race” the marathon. I continued to run after I puked. I did not DNF even though I secretly wanted to in the end. I stayed healthy training, during the race, and after into marathon recovery. I accomplished so much this day. I am a very grateful and proud woman for this experience.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

What are you made of?

It's been a long journey to reach this place. What place is that? The mental and physical strength to be able to race. Tomorrow I will race my first marathon in 3 1/2 years. Initially my goal was just to be able to "do" the marathon distance again. Injury upon injury left my confidence shattered. Slowly I built it. One step at a time. One mile after another.

I have not done any speed work. I have done minimal mileage required. I have done what my body has allowed me to do. I have made it through weeks of training injury free. I have listened to my body and my mind. That has made me strong.

Racing doesn't mean I have to beat every other person. And I sure as hell can't beat myself. I have to work as a team - mind and body. I don't need to get a 1st place ribbon. What I need to do is push myself further then I've ever pushed. I WILL find my limit (hopefully not before mile 20!) and break that boundary. I will run win it hurts and I will do so will a SMILE and maybe a little bit of profanity.

  • Success is not measured by what you accomplish but by the opposition you have encountered, and the courage with which you have maintained the struggle against overwhelming odds.
  • Champions do not become champions when they win the event, but in the hours, weeks, months and years they spend preparing for it. The victorious performance itself is merely the demonstration of their championship character.
  • A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.
  • Promise me you will always remember – You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.
  • Most people never run far enough on their first wind to find out they've got a second.
  • Success isn't a result of spontaneous combustion.  You must set yourself on fire. 
  • It is easier to go down a hill than up, but the view is best from the top. 
  • I don’t measure a man’s success by how high he climbs but how high he bounces when he hits bottom.
  • Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.·       Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination are omnipotent.
  • Celebrate your success and find humor in your failures. Don’t take yourself so seriously. Loosen up and everyone around you will loosen up. Have fun and always show enthusiasm. When all else fails, put on a costume and sing a silly song.· 
  • The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings
  • People think I’m disciplined. It is not discipline. It is devotion. There is a great difference.
  • It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.
  • Gold that buys health can never be ill spent.
  • I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness because it shows me the stars.
  • Everyone has his burden. What counts is how you carry it.
  • Learn how to exhale, the inhale will take care of itself. 
  • Effort is only effort when it begins to hurt. 
  • I am not afraid of storms for I am learning how to sail my ship.
  • Most people run a race to see who is fastest. I run a race to see who has the most guts.
  • Anything I've ever done that ultimately was worthwhile... initially scared me to death.
  • I will keep a smile on my face and in my heart even when it hurts today.