Thursday, November 26, 2009

I failed my V02 run test!

It turns out the whole "run like I have asthma" thing wasn't such a joke after all...

Now how you might wonder, does one fail a V02 test?? Apart from just stopping because you don't feel like doing it anymore, how does one try their hardest and actually fail?

Last night during testing, I was chugging along the treadmill. When I reached 8.5 mph, I ran for 1:30 and then they started the incline...

I lasted 16 seconds!!!!

I couldn't even make one incline. I indicated that I was at my maximum effort and had to stop -- I was wheezing and breathing hard (as usual). The woman conducting the test told me I need to get checked for exercise-induced asthma. After analyzing my numbers she told me that my body is capable of a lot more but that it is simply not getting enough oxygen...

I never actually reached my V02 max on the treadmill -- I had to stop before I even reached it.

Therefore, my V02 results ended up being identical to my bike results -- which isn't supposed to happen. The run V02 is supposed to be higher than the bike.

I was still processing this info when I asked her if my results were common -- she said "No, only among people with respiratory problems." HOLY CRAP!!!!!

On the way home I mulled this information over...And things started to make sense. I basically tell myself everyday that I am not pushing hard enough or am not fit enough, etc. There have been so many times where I talk about how out of breath I am during swimming or running and all I get back are blank stares. Other people aren't experiencing what I thought was normal...

It explains why I always feel out of breath in the pool -- that I am literally out of breath before I start my main set, and how when that set is 12x100 I am wheezing and making god-awful noises at only the 4th set...

That every time I do a flip turn I need to take extra breaths before and after the turn...

It explains why running is so DAMN HARD for me. That the noises I'm making actually are based on something, and not me being a pu$$y. That all the times I told myself to HTFU, I WAS HTFU already!!

I *thought* that not being able to catch my breath meant I was working hard. I thought that breathing hard = hardly breathing. BIG SURPRISE -- What I'm experiencing is NOT normal. LOL!!!!

I was talking it over with my Mom last night and we remembered that in high school, my sister had to use an inhaler when she was on the track team....When she eventually quit track, she never needed her inhaler again. Go figure.

So, now I am SUPER excited to go to my doctor and investigate this. FRIG!!! I am so excited to see what it will feel like to actually SWIM and be able to breathe properly and RUN HARD and actually BREATHE hard. WOW!! Hahahahahahahahaha!!

Was it really any big surprise to find out I'm (gulp) not NORMAL? Hahahahahahahahahaha!!!!!!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


I looked up the definition of "shell-shocked" and here's what I found: Battle fatigue.

Those two words describe exactly how I've felt this past week. A week ago tonight, I got a call from my Mom telling me that "Something is wrong with Dad." I didn't even recognize her voice it was so choked with grief. Mike and I immediately jumped in the car and tore off down the highway. We are lucky that we live about 3 km from my Mom and Dad...

When we arrived, my Dad was lying on a stretcher with two EMTs reviving him. He looked terrible, my Mom was a wreck. What followed was an epic night of pain and struggle.

My Dad was taken to our local hospital. After 2.5L of IV fluid, his heart rate and blood pressure were still low -- this led the attending physician to think "there was a bleed somewhere." My Dad lay there shivering uncontrollably. He was so cold and couldn't warm up. He could barely open his eyes he was so weak, but when he did, I was startled by their piercing blue clarity.

Phone calls to Lethbridge and Calgary were made, and the EMTs prepared to take my Dad to Lethbridge for a catscan...Things were happening so fast yet so slow at the same time. Mike, me and Mom hovered around the bed. I told my Dad I loved him, and as they moved him to another stretcher for transport, I panicked, realizing that this could be it. I called out to him as they wheeled him away, "I love you Dad! You are a strong man and a good father!"

I was thinking to myself that I wanted him to know these things -- of all the things I need to tell him before the end. The level of severity still hadn't sunk in.

I assumed the role of manager -- it is what I know how to do. I called my sister, drove my Mom home, called the hospital in Lethbridge, then Calgary, drove to my Mom's house at 4:45am to let her know what I found out. I had a couple of moments when I thought I was going to fall apart -- I've watched enough TV shows to know that when you phone the hospital and are put on hold...that the news is often the worst.

But it wasn't. My Dad remained conscious all through his ordeal, but barely. He remembers that the STARS helicopter guys didn't think he was going to make it. That they couldn't find a pulse.

When we learned that my Dad survived and was recovering, my Mom left for Calgary. She was so discobobulated -- I wrote a detailed list of things she would have to bring with her...A list of my Dad's stuff and her stuff. I knew that I had to be strong and keep my head on straight. I showed her how to use my Dad's cell phone (yes I DO know how to use one!) and kept my sister updated on everything. I also wrote a letter to my Dad. Going over in detail all the things I've always wanted to say, but never did. My Mom read it to him when she visited him. I am so lucky to have more time to tell him even more things now. :)

Fast forward to today. Things happened so fast, and I felt so removed. I felt numb, drunk. This past week was a weird haze of complete exhaustion. I had a difficult time speaking -- it sounded like I was drunk. The exhaustion I felt was unlike anything I've ever experienced. Sleep wouldn't touch it.

I'm the type of person who laughs all the time. Especially if I've never met you. I'll say something and then laugh right after. I'm just like that. This week I was not myself. I reached out to total strangers -- a girl I swim with for example. When she said good morning, how are you, I told her about my Dad. She was so gracious and kind offering words of encouragment. I lapped it up like nectar. I needed it.

You know when you are running during Ironman and someone shouts out your name -- a total stranger, but they are offering you support? It was like that -- I fed on it.

I am very lucky and blessed to have very good friends...Friends who offered to drop everything and come and cook, whatever. Friends who shared with me their experiences and what they did to cope. As ridiculous as this might sound, these shared experiences prepared me for the exhaustion and grief. Almost like a manual.

Sara (my coach) gave me carte blanche over my workouts. I chose to stick with everything. I needed the familiarity of routine. This past week of workouts were an odd experience. There was one 90 minute steady run where I turned my mind off completely and just had my body breathing hard and moving forward. Like an animal. Nothing in my head that I was aware of.

But my head was full to the brim and I was too paralyzed by fear, shock, grief to realize it. My cosmic twin Charmaine called at the perfect time and told me in plain language what I was going to experience. That I wasn't even coping yet, that all this stuff was in my subconscious and would trickle down into my consciousness soon, that I would feel selfish for doing my workouts, that when my Dad returned home it would hit me.

She gave me two wonderful pieces of advice: That whatever I do/say/think -- to accept it and move on. And this is what she sent in an email yesterday: "Take strength in your determination and use this hiccup to push yourself even further. Look, if your Dad can do what he just did, you had better step up another level here girl." Can you see why Charmaine means so much to me?

This has changed everything for my family. Already we are closer than before. External crap has been stripped away to leave honesty, understanding, and total love. When I saw my Dad yesterday at home, I hugged him, kissed him, kept touching his face and arms, and cried and cried. I told him again how much I loved him.

During a bike session this week, I was listening to one song over and over again by Christina Aguilera: Fighter. While the lyrics refer to an entirely different situation, I heard them through my own experience. Through the eyes of a father's daughter....This was for you, Dad:

'Cause it makes me that much stronger
Makes me work a little but harder
It makes me that much wiser
So thanks for making a fighter

Made me learn a little bit faster
Made my skin a little bit thicker
Makes me that much smarter
So thanks for making me a fighter

My Dad IS a FIGHTER. :) :)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

What a Day

How many feelings can coexist in one person at a given time? When I was younger, I would describe my life experience as being on a roller coaster. Now -- it's more like being filled up. Different emotions in different places of myself.

Yesterday evening my Dad collapsed and was rushed to hospital. After 2.5 L of IV his heart rate and his blood pressure were still really low, which led the attending physician to believe there was a bleed somewhere...

My Dad was shaking with cold, but still coherent. When he was first aroused by the EMTS, they asked him all kinds of questions, like what day of the week it was, etc. When they asked him how to spell his last name he said loudly, "O...N." Hahahahaha!! Me, my Mom and Mike all laughed loudly at that. (For those of you who don't know, our last name is Anderson, and it is always asked if it is spelled "e...n" or "o...n"

The doctor sent my Dad to Lethbridge where they took a catscan of his belly. It was early this morning that I found out, he had been flown to Calgary and had surgery for a ruptured aorta. The surgeon told my Mom that people usually die before even making it to the hospital. He also said that there was no reason why he shouldn't make a full recovery.

I haven't been able to sleep, and am waiting to find out more in the next few hours....

All this was coupled with the good news that I got my towel back...(How truly bizarre is that whole scenario anyway?) There was a plastic shopping bag hanging on one of the towel hooks at the pool yesterday. I saw it there before I went swimming, and it was still there after I finished. I thought to take a peek inside and there was my towel -- freshly laundered and rolled up. I guess all my bally-hooing to the lifeguards and every swimmer at the pool paid off. :)

Next, my Dad :) had dropped off the mail. A while ago, I won a contest on Team TBB's website. (My winning entry is on the first page of this link -- scroll down, mine is the third last one on the bottom of the page.) The prize was a signed jersey from all the Team TBB athletes who qualified for Kona. Well, I just received the jersey yesterday -- and IT IS PINK!!!

Unfortunatey it is XS. I did manage to squeeze into it, but Mike said I looked like that guy that decides to do his own laundery when the dry cleaner tells him she doesn't offer airmiles...

Still, the amount of training that Sara has me doing has been whittling me into shape slowly but surely....I can now fit onto my SMALL Lululemon shirt, but XS is still *aways away.* :)
BUT IT IS PINK!! I HAVE to get into it!!!!!!!!! LOL!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Digging the hole...

My Saturday hilly runs are turning into my deep thought days... :) :)

The subjects of discourse (with myself) this Saturday covered:

1. What my coach means when I am "training to train" right now, and
2. How useful or beneficial the mind truly is in relation to the body.

I like to play devil's advocate in my head on these runs -- with myself and the world at large. I find it mentally refreshing to argue against something that everyone takes for granted...

For example -- this whole business of staying present and repeating mantras to help one focus on the present. It just doesn't do it for me. Now before anyone gets their hackles up (or their panties in a knot, LOL!) please refer to the latter --- It doesn't do it FOR ME.

I have much greater success at staying in the moment so-to-speak when I turn my mind completely off. No thoughts, no emotions, nothing. Just the sounds of my body working, breathing. No static, no struggling with my mind, just silence.

Which naturally led me to question the often assumed *fact* that our minds control our bodies. What if the opposite is true? What if it is the body that has all the answers and the mind just gets in the way and rationalizes and then takes credit?

I've never had any success with the whole "The Secret" thing -- to me it was too, ummmm contrived. Something felt missing. As I was flipping channels on the boob tube one night I came across a PBS special with Dr. Wayne Dyer. He said that he has a different take on "The Secret." That you don't attract what you want, you attract what you are. BEAUTIFUL! Now that is something that rang true within me.

Back to my rambling -- Every time I have had a deep intuitive sense about something and it has been right (instincts are always right -- unless they are clouded by the mind) , it has been my BODY telling my MIND that danger was near/something was going to happen/etc.

I have always thought that animals are superior in intellgence to humans. Yeah, yeah, yeah so a dog can't work at a manufacturing plant and type a blog on the computer or drill for oil. The intelligence I am referring to is the kind that we humans like to easily dismiss because we don't understand it. The sort of intelligence that allows teeny little birds to *know* when and where to migrate and dogs to sniff out an individual cancer cell...

We humans like to lump examples like these under the umbrella term of "instinct." As if somehow that was a rudimentary form of intelligence -- something base, primordial, inferior.

While I'm at it, why is it assumed that we are the only creatures aware of oursleves. How does anyone REALLY know? It's like no one really knows what happens when we die...

OK -- so that was one of the discussions I had with myself. LOL!

The second topic dealt with my coach's explanation of my training plan... This was exciting stuff! Sara explained that now I am at the first step -- that I am literally training to train. Training my body to be able to handle REAL training.

In my mind I visualize myself digging a deep, deep hole. For a well. I see myself every day digging a little deeper, making the hole round and true. The next step will be lining the well with rocks -- every day I will be able to nestle another smooth rock into the walls of my well.

In time, my well will be complete and I will finally have access to the sweet water lying at the bottom of my well. There will be times when I can throw a bucket down there and haul up the water I need. But, most importantly, there will be times when I will have the ability to go down into the depths of my well and climb back out of it.

I am learning that no matter how hard I *thought* Ironman was, no matter how hard I *thought* I pushed myself; I see that there is a whole other realm of pushing myself. Of depths waiting to be discovered and tested. (This realization came one afternoon as I lay drooling on the couch, yet I wasn't even sleeping. I am not joking.)

I don't talk about how "hard" or "easy" a workout is now. Because (again, for ME) the words "hard" and "easy" automatically have emotional meaning attached to them. Besides which, my subjective interpretation of a workout is just that --- subjective. And apt to change. I don't want to limit my growth by assigning limits in the forms of words (and emotional connections).

I am also learning that the fitter I get the deeper I can push myself and the harder a workout becomes. It's hard to explain. I really did feel like I was giving it all I had before I met Sara, but the fact is, I wasn't. You know that commercial where a Mom is telling her baby she's going to eat a french fry and the baby hits her in the forehead - that V8 commercial? I feel like I get bopped in the head all the time! LOL!!!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Invasion of the Towel Snatchers....

A strange thing happened at the pool today....

It started off the same as usual -- the same people showed up to swim like they always do:

1. Guy that usually likes to sit in hot tub and then swims with little black paddles for about 15 minutes, and then leaves.

2. Husband and wife who swim for about 40 minutes.

3. Older dude who does water walking/swimming/ lifts himself out of pool by hanging on the diving board. He's nice -- I think I alarmed him once when I went underwater and grabbed his legs when he was doing his diving board pull-ups. I popped up and laughed, but I think he thought I was a pervert. LOL!!!

There were a few other people who joined us regulars -- they are the sort of irregular regulars if you know what I mean:

1. Larger lady with kickboard/flippers -- she puts all her stuff (clothes, towels, etc) in one of two cubicles in the women's changeroom.

2. Older guy that came in with lady today -- hadn't seen him before.

3. Girl that teaches aqua aerobics.

So, there was only ONE person who I had never seen before. Everybody else I knew....

The question of the day is...

WHO stole my towel????

I hung it on the peg by the showers before I went swimming, and when I finished swimming, my towel was gone! And it was a good one too -- a microfiber one from MEC. You know the kind that absorbs a lot of water and folds up into your palm. It was an AWESOME towel and somebody took it!!!

Now Pincher Creek is a small town -- even smaller than the Crowsnest Pass. There isn't exactly a thrum of foot traffic at the pool at 6:00am.

The only woman who swam and left before me was the lady that swims with her husband -- she's out because I know her. The larger lady and the aqua aerobic girl were still swimming when I left...And I truly can't see either of them taking my towel and hiding it in their stuff and then going swimming. Hahahaha!!

There is a gym that faces the pool, but there were only three people in there this morning -- it is possible that someone from the gym came all the way down the hallway and into the women's changeroom to steal my towel.... BUT WHY?

The only other person that has access to the changerooms is the lifeguard. But WHY would only my towel be taken and nothing else? My backpack, my shampoo, my clothes, were right underneath my towel. I always leave everything lying right out in plain sight -- so why would someone just take a towel?


Fortunately, the aqua aerobic ladies came rolling in just as I emerged from the showers and exclaimed, "Where's my towel?" The LODs (little ole dears) were quite excited that my towel had gone missing and I am sure this has fuelled conversation for the rest of the morning at least! Hahahahaha!

One of the LODs volunteered to go get an extra towel from the lifeguards. I felt stupid standing there naked waiting for a towel. If I was still showering, or DOING something it wouldn't have felt so awkward -- so I went over to the paper towel dispenser and pumped out a few sheets of recycled brown paper and started toweling off old school. Hahahahahaha!!

Anyone have any guesses as to where my towel went?

Ms. Scarlet with the towel in the gym. LOL!!

Colonel Mustard with the towel in the men's changeroom.

The plot thickens, and the mystery continues...Will I ever get my blue MEC towel back? Was it needed in the face of a desperate spill of some kind in the woman's change room? Will it turn up in the lost and found?


Monday, November 2, 2009

Is that a banana in your pocket...

Or are you just happy to see me?


Loaded up and ready to go swimming with a banana in one pocket and an apple in another.

Here's a super easy homemade power bar recipe:

1 cup peanut butter
1 cup honey
1 cup protein powder
3 cups oats

Melt peanut butter and honey in pot. Don't need to bring it to boil -- just warm it up to get things mixed well. Stir in protein powder until well mixed. Remove from heat and then add oats. Mix well and then press mixture into a cookie sheet or loaf pan or whatever you want. Once cool, cut into bars or squares. I like to put mine in the freezer and take out a little square out when I need one. These suckers are awesome and CHEAP and totally bomb-proof to make! :) :)