Endurance Adventures Beating Rheumatoid Arthritis

Thursday, May 12, 2016

St George Ironman 70.3 err 57.2 May 7, 2016

I raced Oceanside 70.3 four weeks before St George 70.3 on a stress fracture in my fibula from an accident this spring where I was hit by a suburban in a cross walk while running. The accident has increased my disease activity, causing a lot of pain, inflammation and fatigue. I have been fighting hard to get it back under control but the injuries and not being able to run have made that difficult. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is often compared to a combination of flu like symptoms; body aches, low grade fever, nausea, exhaustion and a feeling of being hit by truck along with painful swollen joints. I completed Oceanside but stressed the stress fracture. The bone still hurts to touch and the tendons around the fracture are inflamed as well. I was running a fever and coughing all day at Oceanside but I blamed it on the RA and wasn't going to let that stop me. But the days following the race a flu virus knocked me down flat as pay back. So the time between Oceanside and St George wasn't filled with a whole lot of quality workouts to prepare me for race day. Coming into race week I was physically and emotionally exhausted. The weather was stormy with a low barometric pressure front which makes me flare worse (more disease activity). I spent a majority of my days that week in bed with a heating pad wrapped around whichever part of me hurt the worst at the moment. I was not excited to do anything let alone race. But I managed to pack a bag and get in the truck when it was time to go. We left early Friday morning surrounded by thunderstorms, rain and wind. It made me nauseous and achy. I knew that my leg wasn't healed enough to run. My doctor had given me clearance to swim and bike but had recommended that I not run until the bone healed. I had paid for the insurance at the race and contemplated not starting, I did have a legitimate medical reason not to race. I had right up until the start of the race to decide, as long as I didn't cross the start line I could still get a refund. I told Josh that if it was stormy I wasn't going to race. Two of my last three races were under cold, miserable hypothermic conditions and I didn't need to prove anything, especially on a stress fracture (I have done that multiple times as well). I also knew that if I started I would want to finish and it would be hard to pull myself out of the race and not run. I know this sounds depressing. But everything quickly changed when we arrived in St George. We made it to athlete village and for a short time the sun was shining. It felt amazing! At both athlete check in and then at Sand Hollow for a pre-race swim with Salt Lake Tri Club I was surrounded by amazing friends and athletes whose excitement was contagious. It reminded me of why I was there. The fog I had been under all week was lifting, and I started to feel better. My body was still flaring but I had a better mental outlook to deal with it. We went to an early dinner with friends and then headed back to our condo to get ready for race day. Josh and I planned to go to bed early to be ready for an early morning wake up especially after getting up at 4 am that day. But my teenage daughter was at a dance competition and did not get home until 12:45. Even though we were away I couldn't go to sleep until I knew she had made it safely home. So not a lot of sleep pre-race. But really, who sleeps the night before a race anyway? Race morning went really smooth. I was still fighting the nausea that comes with a flare and had a hard time eating my bagel but I got it down and it stayed down. I also had a diet coke and a Core Power protein drink. My hands were still swollen and flaring but the majority of the flare was now under control. Josh drove us to the bus pick up and we weren't even on the very last bus headed to the lake. Once at the lake everything moved really fast. No sooner was I ready and it was time for me to wade into the water and wait for the signal for my wave to start. The swim went really well for me. The wind was already picking up but the waves weren't too bad and I wasn't cold. The exhaust from nearby boats was the biggest nastiness. As we swam the kayak crew was working to keep the swim lane narrow. I understand they did this for safety. I have watched from the shore how quickly it can get dangerous out on the lake if the wind picks up. But it felt like I was fighting to swim around kayaks the entire swim. I smacked one of them with my swollen hand and oh man did it hurt. Overall I enjoyed the swim. I passed swimmers and swimmers passed me. I was kicked and smacked but nothing too serious. Before I knew it I was climbing the boat ramp and hobbling across the parking lot to my bike. Time 50:01

(photo credit ~ Vicki Mathis) I wore a thin pair of socks to protect my feet from other swimmers. At IM AZ my feet were clawed repeatedly by other athletes and even little scratches will make my immune system over react and attack the area. My feet are affected enough already so I wore the socks to protect my skin. When I got to my bike Josh was standing there. I expected him to finish his swim close to mine but I didn't understand why he was standing around waiting for me. He told me he had gotten dizzy on the swim and was blacking out and had DNF'd. I thought he was joking for a minute and had really just passed me on the swim but he was serious. He joked about going out to breakfast instead of biking but before I could think too much about it he turned and took off with his bike sans timing chip. I continued getting ready. My transitions are slow and in the cold they are excruciatingly slow. I was having a hard time getting my fingers to work to put my shoes and socks on and clip my helmet. But eventually I was all put together and ready to bike. It was sprinkling in transition and the sky looked ominous but I had already started so I didn't give the rain too much thought. I love the St George bike course. It is a challenging ride with over 3,000 feet of climb over the 56 miles all the while surrounded with breathtaking and inspiring views. Saturday the ride was made more challenging by adding cold, rain and wind. For a well written report on race conditions read: http://303triathlon.com/Ironman-Utah-703-St-George-Aftermath-Freeze-or-Fry As I left Sand Hollow the rain and wind picked up. I told myself it would pass and to keep going. It didn't. It rained and the wind blew for nearly all of the ride. I wished I had opted for full gloves and my cycling jacket but I had optimistically planned for a warmer ride. I did at least have a long sleeve cotton shirt on. It was wet and soaked through in the first half hour but it at least kept some of my body heat in. In an attempt to stay warm I stayed aero all day except when I needed access to my brakes. Like everyone else out there I was frozen. I kept asking myself why I was doing this... I already said that I wasn't going to ride if it was raining. But here I was pedaling my way through the course. I had started the bike and I would finish the bike. I no longer cared about the wind, rain or the cold. I just wanted to ride my bike. Dr Tom Fletcher had kindly taped my stress fractured leg the night before the race to add a little more support to my body. It really came in handy on race day. The tape helped protect my leg and kept my leg functioning in the cold and wind. (Arizona 140.6 was similar weather and the cold wet weather made my knee flare and I had to petal one legged for a good long while)
(Photo credit ~ Tom Fletcher) Amazingly even in the cold I pr'd some of the race segments from previous times I had ridden the course. But overall with the cold and wind it was a slow ride Heading up Snow Canyon into the wind and rain was tough. At one point I stopped to make sure my brakes were not stuck. It felt like I was dragging my bike up the mountain. My hands and feet were completely numb. I was extremely grateful for my husband. For my birthday he had upgraded my bike. I now have Di2 (electronic shifting) that shifts my bike at the touch of a button. On a good day my hands have a hard time gripping and doing basic things.
With the conditions on race day I wouldn't have been able to shift. I got all emotional and teary on my ride realizing that his foresight, kindness and love for me was making it possible for me to continue. Just one of a million reasons why I love and appreciate this man. But even in the misery Snow Canyon was still beautiful and awe inspiring. I could easily loose myself in the scenery and it made the climb more bearable. As we reached the top volunteers were coaching us to shake out our hands to get the blood flowing so that we could use our brakes on the fast descent to come. I had ridden Snow Canyon two weeks before with crazy cross winds and was nervous to ride down the canyon again. But I was also freezing and just wanted to be done. The road was wet but the winds weren't bad so I rode as fast as I dared to safely reach transition. As I came to Diagonal Street I started to cry. After riding the bike portion I knew I needed to turn in my timing chip and not run. I had been arguing with myself over this for the entire bike ride. It wasn't because the bike ride was cold and miserable and I was tired and didn't want to go on. I did want to run and I knew that I could finish the race. It was because I rode the bike portion despite the conditions that I had said I wouldn't ride in again after racing in similar conditions before. I knew that if I started the run I would finish the run. It wouldn't matter if it hurt or if I was making my stress fracture worse and risking a full break. If I started I would finish. So instead I came into transition crying and removed my gear and timing chip. I put my run shoes on and before I could talk myself out of it I dropped my timing chip in a pile of others so I could no longer tell which was mine and change my mind and run anyway. I sat in a porta potty and cried. Time 3:58 I wanted to finish what I started so badly. Quitting was so much harder, especially knowing that if I am unable to get Ironman to change their snorkel rule and again allow for their use with a medical exemption this would be my last Ironman brand race. I was so sad but I have raced on a handful of stress fractures and I know what it costs. I have already given up months of running because of this accident. Running is the single best thing that helps me control my RA. I can't afford another two months off of running to recover. I also needed to remember why I started doing triathlons... I kept stress fracturing my femurs trying to reach my goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon. The whole point was to force me to cross train so I would be stronger and be able to attain that goal. That is still my goal. Running St George would have taken me further from that goal. Whether Ironman decides to change the rule or not (I hope they do) I am grateful. I am grateful for what I have learned and how far I have come. I love Ironman's marketing slogan that "Anything is Possible." I am disappointed in them right now for taking away the opportunity for others like me who require a snorkel to swim the opportunity to embrace the dream they are selling. I am glad I went to St George and participated in the swim and bike. I am even happy that I gave up the run. The race felt like a complete system re-set for me. My body feels better this week. I am moving better and managing my disease much better. I needed a physically challenging day to re-boot. Now it is time to finish healing my bone, set new goals and conquer more obstacles. I have a dream to run down and I hope this fall I will reach my goal. This was extremely long winded. If you read it all, thank you. Now I am putting my headphones in and going to go listen to "Fight Song" by Rachel Platten and get my work out done for the day. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xo1VInw-SKc

Monday, April 11, 2016

Oceanside 70.3 April 2, 2016

Oceanside 70.3 recap.

I hate to admit it, but getting hit by a truck while running hurt me a lot more than I like to acknowledge. In addition to several sprains, a stress fracture and tendinitis it made my RA & fibro flare with a vengeance. I still haven't missed a day training in 3 + years but the quality of my training suffered for this race. Plus with the stress fracture I haven't been able to run for over 6 weeks and was in a boot last week. So coming into the race my goal was to be able to finish the run without too much pain and not dnf. My swim went well. The water temperature was nice. It felt very congested as we got to the turn around and I spent a lot of time trying to get around other swimmers. The waves made me a little sea sick but it was manageable. (49:52) Transition was super slow. I didn't want to run barefoot and risk messing up my leg before I even started so I walked.T1 7:49 The bike was by far my favorite part of this race. My grandfather has told me stories my entire life about his military days & time he spent stationed at Camp Pendleton. Being on base gave me a visual to go along with the stories. I had no idea how beautiful and how big it is. It is like a giant nature preserve. It was a challenging ride with nearly 3000 ft of climb and a few really steep hills & plenty of wind. But after taking it easy for the past 6 weeks it felt amazing to push my body. I love a challenge and it helped me feel like "me" again. (3:36) Again not a fast transition. I made sure my socks were on straight and headed off to see if I would be able to run. T2 10:37 I started the run cautiously. The stress fracture is in my right fibula and isn't completely healed yet. I saw my orthopedic surgeon last week and he X-rayed it. He put me in a boot to help speed the healing and gave me his "ok" to race. He said the bone had healed enough that it wouldn't snap, but that it would hurt so I could try to do the race if I wanted to. I had tried to run on Tuesday before the race but couldn't make it a quarter mile without sharp pain and limping so I was very nervous about the run. I decided before hand that I was not going to limp 13 miles just to say I finished and was prepared to dnf if I couldn't manage it. But it held up, I couldn't toe off very hard without the pain getting sharp so I slowed my pace to where I could manage it and just putted along. It was awesome to see so many friends on the run. SLTC & BAM kits were everywhere and everyone was cheering each other on. I love the sense of family & the support we have for each other in our local community. It makes this sport fun. (2:28) I came across the finish line and I was very emotional. My leg was hurting & I was incredibly grateful that it had held up so that I could finish the race. I was happy to have completed my day and even happier that it wasn't a full distance race today. I was happy and sad. I love Ironman. I love to race. I love the difference it has made in my health. I am currently waiting to hear back from IM on a recent rule change that no longer allows snorkels for any reason. It is medically necessary for me to wear mine to swim. I hope that they will amend their rule and if not I am prepared to fight them on it but I hate that I might have to. I want to participate & I want others who have the same physical challenges to be able to compete as well. The Ironman dream changes lives. It makes us better, stronger people when we can believe that "Anything is Possible." Overall time for the day 7:13:17

IRONMAN New snorkel rule no longer allowing medical exception ..picking and choosing which disabilities it will accomadate. A letter to the United States Justice Department

As of March 1, 2016 IRONMAN (IM), under the World Triathlon Corporation (WTC), a subsidiary of the Chinese Wanda Group changed their policy regarding the use of a snorkel during the swim portion of the race. The rule change prohibits the use of a snorkel under any circumstance. In excess of ten years prior to March 1, 2016 the use of a snorkel was allowed with a medical exemption to allow an athlete with a physical disability to participate with the understanding that the individual using the snorkel would be exempt from any podium placement or from qualifying for a World Championship race slot. The disqualification from any possible accolade eliminated any possible advantage that the snorkel might possibly provide. Therefore, the only advantage to using a snorkel would be the medical necessity of its use to participate. This rule change is in direct violation of American’s with Disabilities Act of 1990 which states that reasonable accommodations, which is a change in the way things are typically done that the person needs because of a disability. For over a decade prior to March 1, 2016 IM and WTC were compliant with this act and made accommodations for athletes who had medically documented needs to use a snorkel to overcome disabilities to be allowed to participate. Now the organization is no longer compliant. I thought that perhaps IM did not realize the legality issue of the recent rule change and emailed them directly to address the issue. I emailed athlete services and was told that my email had been forwarded to the Global Operations Director and that she would be in contact with me soon. It has been more than three weeks and she has yet to respond. Athlete services has granted me the permission to participate with the snorkel with my medical documentation of disability in the events that I had signed up for under the previous policy but not moving forward. Moving forward I was told there will be no exception or allowance of the use of a snorkel. I also communicated directly with Jimmy Riccitello, IM’s head referee. I explained to him at length how the rule change discriminates against me and other athletes with physical disabilities. He stated that there are no plans to change the rule to allow snorkels. IRONMAN is the number one user-based sport brand in the world. IM’s marketing plan is based on the theme that “Anything Is Possible.” They market physically challenged athletes and celebrates the overcoming of challenges. They spotlight “everyday heroes” in the World Championship race in Kona, Hawaii. The organization works closely with the Challenged Athlete Foundation and accommodates physically challenged athletes to allow them to participate in their events. A few examples of accommodations include: - the use of a rope during the swim to tether a blind athlete to a guide - modified bicycles, tricycles to accommodate physical challenges - prosthetics - etc The rule change to no longer allow the use of a snorkel for an athlete with a medical necessity is blatant discrimination. Picking and choosing which disabilities IM is going to accommodate with reasonable accommodations is unacceptable. Especially given the fact that IM markets and celebrates disabilities that are easily seen and discriminates against an “invisible” disability. The following are examples of disabilities that make a snorkel medically necessary. This list is not all inclusive, just a very small sampling of reasons. Joe has had a double lung transplant. Inhaling water is a major concern for his lung health. However, the use of a snorkel minimizes this risk and has been approved by his doctor to effectively allow him to continue to participate in a sport that improves his quality of life. Mark had neck surgery and under the advisement of his neurosurgeon is not to swim without a snorkel to prevent reinjury. He has participated successfully with the use of a snorkel for the past six years. Emily has trigeminal neuralgia, an extremely painful facial pain condition. The pain is triggered by changes in pressure and touch. The constant motion of swimming without a snorkel is excruciating. The use of a snorkel allows her to keep her head in the water eliminating the trigger for her disabling condition. And I have rheumatoid arthritis and cervical degenerative disc disease with left sided radiculitis exacerbated by repeated cervical spine rotations as needed to breathe in freestyle swimming. Along with severe headaches caused by repeated cervical spine rotations. It is disabling to the point of loosing arm function. It physically disables me for days. However, the use of a snorkel eliminates the problem and I am able to swim safely. These athletes and many like them are not asking for anything extraordinary. Only that Ironman follow their own previously stated rule and allow for reasonable accommodations for an athlete with a physical disability in which a snorkel would allow them to participate. It is my hope that you to will see that the new rule change regarding the use of a snorkel by Ironman under the World Triathlon Corporation is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and help persuade them to reconsider and reinstate the medical exemption. Thank you for your consideration, Jodi Pettit

Marathon Story from the Deseret News

Here is the link to the story in the Deseret News http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865618580/South-Jordan-mom-eyes-Boston-Marathon-despite-debilitating-disease.html?pg=all

Moving With Purpose

The National Arthritis Foundation Published a very nice and inspiring story about me. Here is the Link: http://www.curearthritis.org/moving-with-purpose/

Arizona IRONMAN 140.6 November 15, 2015

The LONG winded version Just over a year and a half ago, while training for a marathon I stress fractured my femoral head for the 3rd time (rotating legs) and decided I needed to do something different if I was ever going to reach my goal of qualifying for Boston. I signed up for Vineman 70.3 in an effort to force myself to cross train. It needed to big enough that I would put in the work to get stronger. I ran 3 more marathons while training for Vineman and participated in Ironman Boise 70.3 in a relay group. We went to California in July for Vineman. A few weeks before the race we met Brandon Sadler at a SLTC event and found out that he and his wife Jessi were also doing the race. We became facebook friends and met at the race. Vineman was beautiful and I really enjoyed racing. As I finished I thought to myself, I could have gone the full distance today if I had to… I wouldn’t like it, but I had enough leftover that I felt like I could do it. The whisper of desire to do a full had been planted. I talked with Jessi about it and she felt the same way. I was looking at Arizona for 2016 but it was so far away it was hard for me to commit, not knowing how my body will hold up over the next year. Jessi figured out that through Endurance Sports Travel this years IM AZ still had spots available. We talked back and forth and pretty much talked each other and our husbands into signing up for the race. We had 4 months to prepare. It was so much fun to have a girlfriend to train and prepare for the race with. We chatted, texted, trained and supported each other through the whole thing. Training for an Ironman takes a lot of time and commitment. I am grateful for a spouse who not only understands it, but who trained side by side with me coaching me along the entire time. He has over a decade of knowledge on the sport, he has read countless medical studies, hired different coaches, read the books, he knows his stuff and there isn’t anyone I would trust more to advise me. He had me listen to podcasts from Endurance Nation both specific to Arizona and on race day execution. He found a youtube video of the bike course so that I could ride it from the comfort of our basement. I also worked with my doctor to keep my RA in check and minimize the inflammation from the impact of training. The biggest thing he had me do was double my MSM dosage to 10gm a day and reminded me to take my vitamins, minerals, fish oil and antioxidants along with eating healthy. For one of the 1st times ever I slept good on race night. I wasn’t anxious or worried. I had no expectations other than to finish. We woke up early, before the alarm went off and got ready to go and picked up Bill, a great friend who flew in from Colorado to support us for the race. In transition I had my bike racked right next to Josh. It was nice! I took our special needs bags to the drop off points and he pumped up our tires. I came back and we walked around for a bit and got ready for the swim. Time went by very quickly between 5:30 and 6:50. Before I knew it the cannon had gone off and the pros were in the water. I finished putting on my wetsuit, got a good luck kiss from my sweetheart and waited to enter the water. The line moved quickly so I didn’t have long to fret. The swim start was what I was the most afraid of for this race. I have herniated discs and bone spurs in my cervical spine and can not turn my head properly to breathe while swimming without inducing a debilitating migraine that shuts me down for days so I swim with a snorkel. I was afraid I would get bashed in the face with the hard plastic or be constantly clearing water from the snorkel. I didn’t have to wait long, my goggles and snorkel were completely ripped off my face within 200 yards of the swim start. apparently another athlete did not think I should have it. I tried not to panic as I choked and sputtered grabbing my equipment before it disappeared in the murky water. I recovered quickly. I tried to settle in and swim easy but it felt like I was swimming back and forth as much as forward trying to find holes between other swimmers to move forward. I was afraid of the time I was loosing and decided to just count to one hundred over and over and over again. It calmed me down and I swam. I was happy when I reached the turn around and it didn’t feel like I was being hit or drug backwards nearly as much on the way back. I relaxed and enjoyed the swim. It felt good to be in the water, I wasn’t cold and I was on my way to completing a goal I never thought possible. Out of the water in 1:29:45. T1 was a long loop through wet dirty ground. My feet hurt by the time I made it into the changing tent. My friend Shelby was volunteering and I was beyond grateful to have her help me get ready! She brought me cups of water and helped me wash the mud off my feet. She went through my bag, handing me everything I needed and helped me get dressed. She gave me a hug and wished me good luck and sent me on my way. Time 11:33 Bike. As I left transition I heard my Dad yelling and cheering. It made me smile to know he was there. I turned on my bike computer and started peddling. I looked down and noticed I had no cadence or power measurements. 90% of my bike training was in the basement and I planned to ride by wattage. Ahh! No wattage! I stopped, messed with the computer, jostled the bike around, turned the power on and off. I tried everything I could think of but nothing would make it work. It showed it was connected but no measurements. Well, I remembered what Josh told me, “stay in your box, things are going to go wrong and when they do only think about what you can do about it right now” I had planned to start out conservative so I did that, based on effort. The 1st loop was much slower that I wanted to peddle, it felt way too easy, but I hadn’t ridden the course, I could not afford to blow up so I took it easy. On the second loop I knew what I was facing so I picked up the pace. The wind had also picked up a little bit adding a minor head wind on the way out. I had a rain jacket on to warm me up and by the start of the second loop I was finally warm so I dropped it at an aid station. Big mistake… within a few minutes it started raining heavily. I was glad I had at least kept my long sleeve shirt. It continued to rain for the remaining 70ish miles. The second loop I averaged more than 5 miles an hour faster than the 1st and still felt like I was going easy. I was excited for the final loop where I would push the pace and help make up time from the slow start with not knowing where my power was at. I loved the three loops on the bike. It made it possible for me to see Josh as he sped away in the opposite direction ahead of me. My favorite moment of the day was when Josh was headed toward transition finishing his last loop and I was starting my final go round… he yelled across the street “I love you” Climbing at mile 70 my right knee was being pelted my rain and wind and getting cold. I could feel the radiating pain of an RA flare starting. It radiated up my knee into my hip and low back. It made me nauseous and I started to panic. Am I done?! If my knee flares now there is no way I can finish. I reminded myself to stay in my box and focus. I changed position on the bike, coming out of my aero bars and sitting up. I pulled my foot out of the clip and tried stretching and kicking my leg to relieve the pain. I peddled with just my left leg for a bit. (Hooray for one leg drills.) But one leg couldn’t do the work alone for 30 more miles. I found a position where I used the bike seat to squeeze against my leg to help control the nerve pain and only peddled lightly with my right leg. If I could make it to the top of the climb I could coast slowly most of the way back if I had to. I visualized staying in my box and not thinking about the what ifs. I even pretend to hang out in I Dream of Genie’s magic bottle, but the rain interrupted the fantasy as the bottle filled with water so I stayed in my very soggy but cozy cardboard box instead. I hid from the rain in an outhouse for a few minutes trying to warm up my knee but mostly I just lost time. I made it to the top of the hill and proceeded to peddle back as hard as the pain would allow. I knew I could push harder but wasn’t sure I would be able to run on it if I did so I just went easy. Coming in to transition my teeth were chattering and I was shaking uncontrollably. Time: 7:10:29 I was so happy to be off the bike. I was freezing! It was a welcome relief to walk into that warm changing tent. I had thrown in a run outfit “just in case” I wanted to change off the bike. I really hadn’t planned to, but I was soaked head to foot and thought starting dry would be my best chance to avoid hypothermia. I had shorts and a tank top. I started changing but my fingers, which don’t cooperate great on a good day, were frozen and completely useless. I had to wait for a volunteer to help dress me. But at that point I didn’t have any self dignity to worry about I just wanted dry clothes on. I felt like I was in there forever shaking uncontrollable. I asked a volunteer for an emergency blanket and wrapped it around me and headed out for the run. Time 10:44 Run. Coming out of transition both Bill and my Dad were waiting for me. Bill gave me a pep talk reminding me to let go of the things that went wrong on the bike and to start running. He told me I had to get my core temp up quickly so I could finish my race. My dad ran with me for a few minutes telling me how proud he was of me and then I was on my own. The volunteers brought out the chicken broth early and between that and my little foil blanket I was warming up. I have heard other athletes joke about how delightful chicken broth is on the Ironman run. Personally I don’t like chicken broth, but it was the most delicious and appreciated thing I had ever tasted that night. I stopped after a mile and relocated a dislocated toe and then moved on. Running slowly flushed the radiating pain from my knee. I felt good and wanted to run faster but the plan was to stay between 10 & 11 minute miles so I didn’t end up walking the last part of the marathon. I walked aid stations and ran the rest of the course. For the most part my run felt easy. I was running a pace that was easy for me to maintain. A third of the course was on a dirt trail by the river and with the rain it was a muddy mess. It was dark and hard to see where I was stepping. I rolled my ankle once slipping in the mud so I slowed down even more through that part to stay safe and watch my step. At the half way point I grabbed my sweatshirt from my special needs bag and a pair of gloves. I dumped the foil blanket just before it started raining again. I saw a pile of them by a trash can a short distance later and picked one up. I wasn’t making the same mistake twice. I would carry it the rest of the race, I was staying dry. Somewhere around mile 18 my legs started to hurt and cramp up. I decided I probably needed more minerals so I took the 6 tums I had in my pouch, drank more broth at aid station and continued on. After another couple miles the pain subsided. I loved anytime there were spectators with music playing. It helped me pick up my pace and remember that running is fun. As I finished my last mile I took off my sweatshirt and sunglasses (I looked like a dork, but they are transition lens and I still needed them to see in the dark) I tried to compose myself and not break down sobbing as I came into the finisher shoot. I could hear Josh, my dad & Bill yelling from the bleachers. I did it! I finished my Ironman and I still felt great! Time 4:45:53 Total race time 13:48:24 I wanted to stay and be there when Jessi finished, but as I got cold the nerve pain in my legs started firing up. When it does this the only way I can stop it is to soak in very hot water. I needed to get to the hotel before the misery started and I couldn’t stop it. As we started to leave I heard someone yelling my name and looked over to see my friend Shar Madsen Cardona from high school. We both live with chronic auto immune diseases and have bonded over social media. I was so happy that she came to my race! I cried and gave her a very stinky hug. It was a big surprise and I appreciated seeing her. I sincerely appreciate all the love and support I was given for this race. I heard friends yelling and cheering for me all day long. I felt the support from afar when I was struggling. It was amazing to see so many there volunteering and cheering for us. Bill, Jack, Rory, Jeanette, Shelby, Mick, Andrew, Wesley, Jen, Chad, Suzanne, Vicki, Wesley, Ryan, Tom, Shar and everyone else who was there cheering& volunteering thank you for being there! Thank you for the prayers, cheers and support from home as well. I know it carried me! That night I even slept well. I usually run a fever and sweat all night long after running a marathon. Not tonight. Slept good, got up feeling good. No blistered feet, not even a gimpy stride. (some serious chaffing from my improvised bike style the last 30 miles but that is it) We got home after a 10+ hour drive in white out blizzard conditions. I raced my youngest son down the street because he was waiting in his Ironman shirt and wanted to race. I then ran up and down the stairs laughing hysterically because I could. (I will blame the endorphin high for the delirious sense of humor.) As far as nutrition: (mainly an after thought for me IF I ever do it again) Breakfast: bagel, cupcake & coconut water, diet coke and water Bike: 8 scoope cytomax, 1 ½ scoop ISO-100 protein, 5gr beta alanine, 2 licks of base salt every 30 min, 1 gel, 1 ½ bags honey stinger fruit snacks, half a banana, 2 mini donuts, a handful of Pringles, water Run: Chicken broth, coke, oranges, grapes, pretzels, water. Mz9AR7Lil2ZcskwLLVdMt2Q/s1600/12244496_10205462681876833_2139879761680017055_o%2B%25281%2529.jpg" />

Vineman 70.3 July 12, 2015

This time last year I was recovering from my 3rd femoral head stress fracture brought on in part by a 198 day run streak & part because of the chronic inflammation that comes along with rheumatoid arthritis. I was frustrated & decided that if I was ever going turn my dream of running Boston Marathon into a goal that could be accomplished I needed to make some changes. I had already signed up for St George Marathon & decided that if I trained smart I would be able to run the race. Over the summer Josh & I spent a lot of time mountain biking. I did most of my running in the pool with an aqua jogger flotation belt to keep the impact off my bones. My longest pool run was 3 hours long. Leading into St George marathon I only did one long run on solid ground, a 17 miler with Salt Lake Track Club on the rail trail in Park City. Race day came & I felt unprepared & under trained. But the mountain biking & pool running paid off. I had a great race! I ran the marathon in 3:57, a 47 minute PR for me that included 4 bathroom breaks thanks to tummy issues. I was thrilled & decided that my time was now close enough that I could turn my dream of qualifying for Boston into a goal. I recognized that cross training should be a regular part of my training if I want to stay healthy & ever reach my goal. I decided to sign up for a 70.3 Ironman race as a way to keep me honest & “force” me to put in the time cross training that I should. Cold water hurts, so I opted for Vineman in Sonoma County California. The 6 months leading up to Vineman included 2 more marathons attempting to earn my BQ. I used Vineman as I had intended, as goal that would get me to cross train & not just run. I put in my swim & bike miles but up until the end of May, running was still my primary focus. My training was going well & the cross training approach seemed to be working until one early morning in April. I had been in the pool swimming for less than a minute & I had this terrible pain in my head overwhelm me. I was disoriented & my head felt like it was going to explode. My arm hurt & had this strange numb feeling while my head felt like someone was stabbing knives through my skull in different directions. I sat on the side of the pool for an hour holding my head, trying not to move & afraid if I did I would loose consciousness. I was almost convinced that I should have someone drive me to the er, but really didn’t want to move so I just sat there. After a while it subsided & I went home. The migraine that remained stayed the rest of the day. Three days later I thought that maybe it was some freak random spasm so I went back to the pool. Same thing, within 50 yards in the water my world was reeling. This time it took 2 days to calm down. I tried to swim again several more times over the next few weeks always with the same outcome. Thanks to the RA I have herniated discs & bone spurs in my neck. I have been warned by doctors that it would present a problem. But why now? I signed up for a race that required a 1.2 mile swim and I couldn’t make it 50 yards without days of pain. I tried to swim through it, but it wasn’t possible. Luckily for me Josh had a brilliant idea… why not swim with a snorkel & avoid neck rotation. Worth a shot… and it worked! So I was back in business. I was self conscious about what a dork I looked like going to the pool with my snorkel to swim laps, but I didn’t let it stop me. At 1st it was extremely frustrating; I had to adapt my swim stroke so that my body wasn’t rotating in the water to keep the strain off my neck. I wasn’t fast before, but now I was even slower. I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to make the swim cutoff. But I kept working at it & slowly improved. Bike & run training were pretty low drama. I took it easy on both, wanting to be healthy & prepared but not wanting to push to hard & suffer another injury & subsequent setback. Leading up the race we listened to the pro’s speak. Mirinda Carfrae spoke about race day nutrition & told us that she prefers to eat on race morning. She said cupcakes. She may have been joking, but I took her seriously and decided to try it out. So race day came. I ate my cupcake on our way to the river. I watched Josh’s wave take off and then finished getting ready for my own swim. This would be my 1st river swim and I was a little nervous. But the water was a nice temperature and it felt good to get started. I had no issues on the swim with other athletes or my snorkel. It was rewarded to complete the swim I had been dreading. My swim time was 45:25 Transition was a dirt parking lot and by the time I exited the water it was a muddy mess! I tried to wipe my feet off as best I could and get started on the bike. T1 6:04 The bike ride was gorgeous! We rode through wine country in Sonoma County California. Compared to where we ride at home in Utah it was a fairly easy ride. This being my 1st 70.3 race I kept my effort moderately easy with the intent to not blow up on the run. Bike time 3:07:16 Transitioning from the bike to the run I again took a few minutes to try and wipe more mud off my feet. My feet are severely damaged from the RA and any added stressors don’t help. T2 6:59 Then off on the run. My run started out well with a good pace. By the time I reached mile 8 my feet had started to hurt. My toes are bone on bone and sometimes they do not like to stay in place and I need to stop and realigned my toes and adjust them. It feels like the bones are trying to protrude out the bottom of my feet and slows down my ability to run. So I stopped and adjusted my toes repeatedly over the next few miles. Run time 2:20:36 Overall time 6:26:20