Why I Had An Arrhythmia Heart Procedure Done and Why I Don’t Want to Talk About It

I started writing this post three weeks ago, when I was easing back into training again post-heart procedure. I thought I’d explain what had happened, because I thought I was already past the worse of things and reading some of what Sam Warriner and Amanda Lovato and Erin Densham had gone through for the same diagnosis and procedure had helped me.

But then things got a lot worse and I didn’t really feel like explaining it and I didn’t have a way to finish that original post, and now it’s been long enough I don’t really want to answer the same questions again and again, actually I don’t really want to talk about it at all, so I’ve sort of just been ignoring everything. But then I end up just answering the same questions again and again one at a time.

So, here, this is my explanation. I’m only making it once. I am not taking opinions, advice or thoughts.

Continue reading “Why I Had An Arrhythmia Heart Procedure Done and Why I Don’t Want to Talk About It”

Week 31: And Then It All Hit Me

Friday I had a meltdown. It was coming. People keep asking, ‘What’s wrong?’ Dude, what’s wrong is I did an Ironman and bounced back pretty well and then I did a really hard half-Ironman and buried myself and did not bounce back well.

I kept thinking I’d come around all week. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, oh, it’ll pass. Thursday I was exhausted still, without doing very much. It’s fine; it’ll pass. But Friday I could not hit my swim workout times, was failing everything, got out of the pool halfway, and went home to sleep for 3-4 hours. I don’t do that, generally. I cut things short sometimes — a 3:30 ride is sort of like a 4:00 ride — and I have a tendency to space out during recovery weeks or mini-breaks. But abandoning a specific workout mid-way through the intervals? Nope. Usually I just suck it up and sprint until I hit the times, or ultimately fail on one and then I take 10 seconds and try again.

I slept and ate and ate and laid on the couch dicking around on my phone, mostly texting and watching bad TV. Then I slept more. And Saturday I got up and rode over seven hours (which actually took eight hours with stops, which is basically an entire work day). And I bounced back. More or less.

While I was laying in bed Friday afternoon freezing and whining to Steve to bring me more blankets, I thought, ‘Well, if I can’t rebound in time for Louisville, I’ve had an OK year anyway, that’s fine.’ I may have been slightly melodramatic, because of course I’ll rebound in time for Louisville. Nothing about this is unexpected. Including the fact that I’m done, ready for the end of the season. Just under four more weeks, guys, and then you won’t even believe how much I don’t plan to get out of bed.

 

Week 28: Back to Work

Leslie was right. Sometimes you just have to get back to work and it becomes normal day-in/day-out and what once seemed crazy no longer seems crazy.

The day after Ironman, I went for a short ride and swim, without even being told. That’s crazy. In seven weeks I’m racing another Ironman. That’s crazy too. But it really doesn’t seem crazy anymore.

I actually feel OK, minus the five toenails I’m in the process of losing. I did some slow jogging/shuffling around New York (city of, just for clarity’s sake). I swam a couple times at the Prospect Park YMCA. I biked around Central Park on a terrible rent-a-bike and tried to avoid being killed by the swarms of tourists. I walked a lot, like a lot, like all around Montreal and then all around Manhattan. At Steve’s half-marathon yesterday I had to bike kind of hard to get to a spot to watch him. It was the hardest I’ve gone in a week, and I maybe wasn’t gaining on the casual large man cycling in front of me.

But I feel OK enough I decided to race Santa Cruz in two weeks. Which also seems crazy. (I rarely make specific promises to myself during races, and I always keep the very detailed ones I do make, but the actual thing I promised myself while I was running in Mont Tremblant was that if I went under 10 hours I wouldn’t have to race Santa Cruz. And, well, that didn’t happen anyway.) Except maybe it’s not crazy. Maybe it’s just all part of redefining normal.

It was a good week of doing nothing. I toured Montreal with my mom and uncle, then I went to New York to visit a friend — which I haven’t been to since high school. I tried not to focus too much, while pushing through throngs of people, on what might happen if everyone also came out of all the tall buildings at the exact same time. Of course, then that was all I kept thinking about. *THINK ABOUT IT*

I have no real idea what’s going on in the world, besides vague outlines and general headlines. It’s not that I wasn’t online; it’s just that most of my internet was overrun with triathlon-related congrats or Google Maps. And the week-old magazines in my bag were interesting, but let’s be real: news that’s a week old might as well be months old in our current reality. I imagine this is what it’s like for most people usually.

Now it’s back to work.

Oh, Rest, Right

Usually, I train on a three weeks on/one week off schedule. Sort of. I mean I tend to not operate exactly on a seven-day plan and it’s all relative. But, I do always make sure to have three to five days of very, very easy stuff to recover about once per month.

Here’s the thing, though: I kind of forgot to do that.

I wasn’t training crazy over break, just steady and hard. And, I was doing some other random stuff (like cross-country skiing). And, I kept taking a day or two off or easy every now and then, when I felt tired. So, it just seemed like I could keep chugging along. Plus, my schedule was such that I was going to have two weeks at the end of January of basically no working out. It made sense, then, to push through until that break.

Only that didn’t end up happening. And, instead, the first two weeks of school have beaten me up. So, Tuesday, when I was trying to decide what I was going to do this week and how I was going to deal with the fact that I’d barely slept the night before and this documentary that’s trying to kill me and the fun of driving all over Greater Los Angeles, Steve suggested maybe it was time for a rest week.

No, I’m fine. I don’t even feel physically beaten up.

As soon as I decided this was a rest week through Saturday, though, my entire body just collapsed. It stopped functioning. I slept 15 hours on Thursday, after being not well over night. I’m pretty much about to fall asleep right this second. The idea of working out is mind-boggling. It’s amazing how as soon as you cross a finish line, you stop being able to even walk straight.

How Do You Get Started Again?

I haven’t done much in the last three weeks. I mean I’ve done plenty, but not working out or triathloning stuff.

Usually, when I take a hard core break, I aim to hit rock bottom. My goal then is to let the fire go all the way out, so it can be restarted again — though I’m not actually sure that’s how fires work. It’s a good mental exercise to do NO exercise until you want to do exercise. (Of course, most athletes tell you this is hard because they want to get started right away again. For me, it’s hard because it’s easy to wait too long and then you can’t even find the fire under all the brownies.) But, usually, I eventually feel like doing some easy trail runs and fun bike rides again. I do those for a bit and then that builds into for real training as plans start to form in my mind and ideas take shape. And, then we’re back at it.

(This is pretty much Tupac the Cat.)

I’m having a hard time getting back at it this time around though.

Partially this is because it’s hard to hit bottom when you have to go to all-day class every day, and learn how to shoot and edit a video, and learn street photography — and learn that it is not your strong suit. And the minor breakdowns — because fuck, moving without actually moving sucks — don’t help the general feeling of exhaustion. But, partially it’s been hard to get back into training because I’m not sure if I’m getting back into a season after a mid-season/post-Ironman break or if I’m going into an off-season. I don’t know how Ironman recovery works either, but it seems a little longer and rougher than regular race recovery.

Usually when I start Googling races and jotting down ideas for what I want to do next year that means I’m ready to start training too. But, like everything else in my life right now, what I want to do is up in the air. Should I race collegiate? Should I do an Ironman? Maybe I’ll just run since I won’t even have my TT bike down here. There’s nothing I’m super excited about this fall — besides Big Kahuna in four week, which I’m signed up for and hoping to get through on the basis of my existing fitness — so maybe I just do the LA Marathon and Oceanside 70.3 in the spring. Without knowing what my schedule is going to be like really it’s hard to say.

All that has meant getting moving is hard. And when I do get moving it hurts.

So last weekend I ran half of a half-marathon with my friend, which was definitely as much as I had any desire to run. Then, I tried to ease back into some light workouts last week: easy short swims that were slow and sucked, one day of yoga, and a six-mile run on Friday. Today I went to a Masters practice because I thought it might kick me into gear and also because I wanted to see what this Masters was like.

And, of course, because swimming is stupid, after not being able to swim faster than 1:22s for months, today I was dropping 1:15s all over the place.

Then, I had to take a two hour nap.

See, back at it.

Workouts After Ironman

Here’s what I have done in the last two weeks:

– two 40′ easy swims — both of which felt exhausting
– commuted on bike four times 30-40′ in regular clothes
– ran just under 5 miles not super slow, but not hard

My understanding is that’s how post-Ironman workouts are supposed to be: minimal, easy, and stress-free. This has been exacerbated by the fact that I’m in my all-day intensive class nine hours every day with outside projects and homework too, so it hasn’t been hard not to work. It has, however, been hard to sleep enough for real recovery.

The only thing that’s throwing me is trying to start doing easy swims and runs has felt Terrible, just awful. Since I just decided to do Big Kahuna half in five weeks, I’m hoping the legs and arms slowly come around. They will, right?

Ways Not to Recover from an Ironman

– Move to LA 16 hours after you get home from your race
– Start a graduate fellowship program immediately after moving (like without enough time to unpack your clothes)
– Have that program begin with an intensive, 9 hours/day, three week bootcamp
– Stop sleeping
– Become a coffee drinker

In case you were wondering, this is a recipe for feeling fantastic.

Ironman Training Week 12: March 10-16

Last week was a recovery week from Camp #1 and Camp #2. AND, extra bonus, my right foot was/is crazy messed up. That made it a really, really easy decision to chill out. The arch of my right foot is getting better with rest, but I’m pretty sure I pulled or tore the muscle that runs along the bottom. I’m quite fit right now. The question is going to be if I can 1. not lose the fitness while letting my foot recover and 2. get running again soon (or soon enough).

Monday

Couldn’t quite walk around the airport. That’s basically the same as rest.

Tuesday

Biked the 15′ to the JCC, with a stop at the mall–in each direction. It barely even counted as a bike ride, since I just rolled all downhill one way.

Yoga class.

Wednesday

Swam 2,000 yards easy with a decent amount of pulling.

20′ of light core work and PT

Thursday

REST, though walking around in dress shoes (even flats) hurt my foot again.

Friday

Rode 2:10 on the mountain bike, because my road bike was still in a truck somewhere and I thought it’d be fun to mix it up. It’s now official: I haven’t made it through a single mountain bike ride in 2014 without falling over.

10-15′ of yoga moves and stretching stuff.

Saturday

Crossfit. Which was maybe stupid, because my foot got pretty sore from the 10 x 100 meter running, even though I did the running as a tempo jog. It was a decent test actually of if I could run again. It turns out the answer is: sort of not exactly. The first steps were insanely painful, then it just turned into a dull ache, but the whole rest of the day the arch of my foot was cramping and sore. Other than that, the workout was a lot of overhead presses, which I’m still feeling in my triceps today.

Swam 2,000 yards relatively easily again–not on purpose, my arms just hurt a lot.

Sunday

Rode 60 miles hard with Steve. If I can’t run, I might as well make sure my bike fitness is the best it’s ever been. Steve and I rode the Marshall loop (which, if you’re from around here, is a landmark long and crazy hilly ride) in 3:49. I’m pretty sure that ride usually takes me closer to 5 hours than 4 hours. The whole time I was positive that I sucked and that my strong riding at Arizona camps was a fluke. But, the numbers don’t lie. I was actually riding insanely strong, averaging the best power numbers ever. Steve is just fast, even when he’s not training seriously.

TOTAL: 9:55

This is the start of my last sort of solid block of base training before I start racing and faster stuff, etc. In theory. But, I’m really messing around with my schedule and trying not to be limited by trying to cram everything inside a weekly structure. And, you know, praying the foot feels better. Magically.

The Art of Calling It

“Calling” a workout, knowing when you’re just done and need to lay down, is not easy. It is an art.

But, it’s an important art. I believe, with very little basis for this belief, that part of the reason I have, on the whole, done better coaching myself than being coached is because it’s hard for coaches who are not right there with you to make decisions about when to call a workout. Unless they happen to be crazy fast with the text/email responses — and I have sent some hysterical texts/emails. You are still the best equipped to know when you are exhausted.

There are some general rules I follow for calling it, though:

Recovery days should make you feel recovered. Yesterday was an easy day. But as I was on my bike, I felt terrible and not at all like this was easy. I decided that unless I called the workout there was no way I’d be able to run hard in the morning.

But don’t be stupid about the other recovery things. I also ate like I was a moron yesterday. This did not help. If I keep forgetting to eat lunch and then feeling awful and calling workouts I won’t be well-rested, I’ll just be out of shape.

Unless you’re a total mess, start the workout. There are days I don’t even make it out the door. Generally this has happened when there are lots of other reasons I feel wiped out: too much work, not enough sleep. Sometimes those things are just going to be too much. But, most of the time, I try to follow that 5′ rule: do it for 5′ and see how you feel. Once you get moving you often feel better than you thought and there is no need to call it. (This is not true of swimming for me. Swimming is usually a constant battle not to quit in the middle.)

Only call hard workouts if you have a really good reason. I call easy workouts all the time. (OK, not all the time.) But that’s because those are often there for recovery and if they’re not making me feel recovered then *shrug*. Hard workouts, though, the kind you only have a few times a week, you better nail those. I try to only call hard workouts if I’m a hot mess, hurt, or can’t do them. That equates to: if I’m drowning in work or life and having a breakdown (see: when Floyd died), when I have a physical injury, and when I’m just totally missing the times.

Don’t lie to yourself. This isn’t easy to get right. And I screw it up a lot. Everyone screws it up a lot, because it’s hard to do honest self-assessment. Consider the general rule that you should call a hard workout if you’re missing all the times you’re supposed to hit. What if you’re just missing them by a little, but you set them too hard in the first place? What if you’re not missing them, but you feel super awful terrible? What if that super awful terrible is how you’re supposed to feel because it’s not an easy workout? What if you’re secretly self-sabotaging because you subconsciously believe you can’t hit the times and just want to be done? Self-coaching (or, even if you have a coach and you start questioning the schedule) is constantly tinged with self-doubt. You have to know when you really are not doing something for the right reasons and when you’re just being lazy.

Like right now: I am avoiding heading out the door for my hard run. Because I’m tired and it sounds shitty. But, it’s time to go. This is not a workout I should call.

The Problems with a Recovery/Easy Week

This week was supposed to be 3-5 days easy and then jumping back into training after I recovered. That was the plan. But, oh man.

By the time I was ready to get moving again on Thursday my legs felt terrible. Driving the car with my right foot, moving from the gas to the brake, hurt my hip flexor and I stopped being able to bend well. I got the leg worked on to loosen it up and then the whole thing was covered in bruises. Last night, I rolled over in the middle of the night and couldn’t bend my left leg either anymore and a giant knot appeared in my right shoulder.

This is pretty much what I look like now:

Somehow the recovery week screwed up my body. I’m sore and aching and having a hard time gaining momentum again. I thought I’d at least get some work done with all the time. But, man, this month has just not been my month.

Today, I was supposed to ride with a friend and, of course, it actually started raining finally. Ah well, we have to feel good about the rain!