Thursday, January 5, 2017

Two Year Update in One Post

A little over two years ago, I stopped blogging.   I had big plans to "do the double" and race two iron-distance races in one week, however two days before Ironman Mont Tremblant I got sick...

I didn't realize it at the time -- maybe I was so focused on the upcoming race that the occasional wave of nausea, fevered dreams and night sweats and diarrhea didn't really sink in.   In retrospect I really have no idea how I started let alone finished IMMT.  I think it has to do with my massive streak of stubbornness that I prefer calling "being overly patient."  ;)

In any case, race day started and off I went.  Swim was ok, but as soon as I got on the bike, I had no power in my legs.  I could barely pedal up any incline!!  Now with me, as soon as my body is sick, my mind goes right along with it.  Instead of thinking, "Gee there might be something wrong with me,"  instead I thought, "I suck!  It doesn't matter how much or how hard I train I will never improve!"

The run was more of a slow shuffle.  Many times I thought I would get sick out there, but still thought of how much I sucked instead of piecing together that something might actually be wrong.  Managed to cross the finish line and it was only later that night that the shits began in earnest.

And I shit for another month straight.

It took two rounds of tests before the bacterial infection showed up:  campylobacter jejuni.  By this point, I was so weak, my iron levels were shockingly low, my hair had started to fall out.  Alberta Public Health called me and asked me all these questions about where I had been, what I had eaten and where, etc. 

After all that ballyhoo I was prescribed three pills and magically felt better.

Of course, the long road to recovery then began.  Coming back was very difficult.  I had lost a lot of weight and when I started feeling better, my hormones were all over the place.  I kept getting my period -- my boobs and hips grew like Betty Boop.  (I sort of liked this, I have never been voluptuous, but this was me at my curviest!)  At one point, I remember looking in the mirror whilst wearing my bra and flicking the tops of my boobs and watching them jiggle.  I was mesmerized -- I actually had boobs to jiggle!!  HAHAHAHA!

Sara encouraged me to seek out coaching from our good friend Marilyn Chychota (now Foreman -- congrats Marilyn!!!) as she had, "experience with bringing athletes back from the dead."  It was strange talking with Sara about not being coached by her anymore -- she is so much more to me than a coach.  She is now one of my closest friends!  What started off in 2008 as a simple coach/athlete relationship blossomed into one of my most valuable friendships.

When Sara and I would go to Tucson to train, we would always go for coffee and visit with Marilyn.  Marilyn is a southern Alberta girl -- born and bred, thus I have a special affinity for her!!  Hahaha!!

And, one chapter closed and another begun.

Marilyn is a coach with Endurance Corner and when I inquired about the possibility of her coaching me, she agreed!  She sent me so many questions to answer -- she was getting the whole picture.  It took me four days (this is no exaggeration) of me answering them fully.  As I was writing, I knew that there was going to be no bullshit from me tolerated. This woman impressed and scared me at the same time. HAHAHAHA!

Did I mention how Marilyn has been a professional athlete in three different sports?  Showjumping, triathlon and cycling.  I was excited to get to know Marilyn more as well -- every time we would go to Tucson, there just was never enough time to visit.

My very first session she wrote for me was:  20 min walk with arms in running position.  This was in -28 degrees Celsius if I remember correctly.  But, wow, I felt on top of the world to be moving again. The thing about being that sick for so long and then recovering to the point where I could try walking again, was that I threw out all expectations of myself and just wanted to get healthy again -- and do the activities that I love:  which are swimming, biking, and running.

Fast forward to 2015:  I won the Chinook Half Ironman, then got 3rd overall at Challenge Penticton.  2016 - I placed 5th female at the Wasa Olumpic and got some $$$, 5th in AG at CDA 70.3, then 2nd overall at Chinook Half Ironman,  Ironman Coeur D'Alene was brutal:  flat tire but it was a tubular.  I had squirted that pitstop stuff in there but the gash from the shard of glass was too big for the foam to fill the hole.  Had to wait for race support for another wheel -- which seemed agonizingly slow.

On the way to 5th place at Wasa - photo courtesy of Bruce Cocklin

I also had my period that day and it wasn't a good one. (Some months are better than others, this was sort of medium-meh) By the time I got to the run, I couldn't do more than jog.  So, I shuffled along until the third lap where I thought "Hey why don't I try some Red Bull?"

Sweet Jesus that stuff is disgusting.  It tasted exactly like I thought it would -- like some caustic substance that would clean off an engine. And whoo boy was that ever the correct metaphor...about 200m away from that aid station, I had that rumble in the tummy that every runner knows and fears...

Oh yes, this went far, far beyond "Never trust a fart on your long run."  This was imminent.

I made it into the portapotty in the absolute nick of time and the resounding bellows and whistles and trumpeting that went on in there was magnificent.  I don't know about wings, but Red Bull cleaned out my engine!

From that point on, I ran like I had never ran before - it was great!  I was running faster than I have ever run in an IM marathon.  I was grinning and coming very close to becoming one of those irritating smiling people during a race -- you know those kind?  The ones you want to slap to wipe off that stupid smile?  Oh yes, that was me -- grinning away.  Passed people in my AG in the last 2 miles of the run to squeak into 8th.  My goal had been top 5 in my AG and with all the events of the day, that was a win for me.  :D :D

Back at home - photo I think courtesy of Bruce Cocklin, if not him, I have no idea who took this, lol.

This pretty much covers the basics so all two of my blog readers are caught up.  :P

I'm coaching this year with Endurance Corner at the February Tucson camp.  EVERYTHING is included there -- bikes assembled and cleaned, meals made -- the most important asterisk being "Strong Coffee."  Hahahaha!  All an athlete has to do is show up.  Talks every night -- I'm really looking forward to helping out and learning at this camp.

Coaching is going great, I am so lucky to have so many amazing athletes to work with.  I'm also one of the coaches with Equally Inspiring -- an initiative to get more women involved in the sport of triathlon.  I volunteer 3 months free coaching and help my assigned athlete with anything and everything related to triathlon. 

Random parrot-kissing photo.  :D

All right, now that the past two years have been briefly covered, I can now resume my little corner of the blogging world!  :)


Keith said...

I was so hoping for a video of the boob jiggling. There has to be one, I just know it!

Julie said...

Remember years ago you sent me that link of the different size boobies that jiggle and what kind of sports bra to get? Was that you? It was hilarious! hahahaha -- no jiggling video from me, I specialize in cats. :D :D

SWIFTKICKlife Jennifer Sparks said...

Nice to have you back blogging honestly about the glory moments in this sport xox

Julie said...

Hey Jenna! It always circles back to bodily fucntions doesn't it? Hahahaha!!! :) xxooo

Catherine Matsalla said...

Hey Giggle Sister.... so glad to read this... I was really wondering what was going on. So happy to hear of your success. Love you!!

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