The first few days after surgery, I couldn't do a whole lot. I mean, I walked; I moved. I was kind of in a fog. There were certain movements that would cause that twinge. Even on the days that I felt really good, there was that little voice at the back of my head asking, "Am I doing too much?" "No. I'm ok. I'm doing what the doctor said."
The first week was good. It went incredibly well. Scroll back and read about it.
On Wed of last week, I was 1 week post-op. At one week, I was allowed to start riding and running again. You can imagine. I was feeling pretty good at this point.
I rode the trainer. I ran a little bit.
We had a blizzard hit. We got more snow that anyone other than the mountains. We got over 2 feet of snow with drifts as high as 4 feet. Right after that storm, we got another storm of an additional 8 inches of snow.
I couldn't go outside for any walks for risk of falling or causing any kind of injury. (Remember: I'm only 7 days out from surgery.) Trainer rides inside. Walk/runs on the treadmill.
Day 10 was the first day that I felt 100%. I had no more twinges. There were no activities that I didn't feel comfortable doing.....with the exception of 2. I was nervous about sneezing. Granted....not an activity, but you know. The second was lifting really heavy things. I tend to err on the side of caution. I avoided sneezing, and Mr. Tea did all my heavy lifting.
It was day 10 that I started struggling.
I don't know what to do. I'm lost. I didn't realize it at the time. All I noticed is that my mood had changed. I'm always pretty happy. I was still happy, but I wasn't my normal happy.
Mr. Tea told me that I just needed to get to Wed (my follow up appt) and that everything would be better once I had the ok to start training again.
But that's 4 days away. I know what you're thinking, "It's just 4 days, Tea. BUCK UP."
It's not that easy. This isn't a matter of "bucking up".
I woke up today (day 12) and realized that I have been lost. Prior to surgery, I had worked ahead. I had done all my work for a week, so that I could take as much time as I wanted to recover. Now, I was lost. I was feeling lost because I had no structure to my life. The first week was really fun, doing what I want when I want, having off from work.
But now it was a burden. I needed structure back in my life.
This morning, I sat in front of my computer and went through my training schedule. I found Liz workouts that I could easily do. I started copying and pasting training into my schedule.
Next, I sat down and wrote out a work schedule. I need to accomplish x, y, and z today.
I did the same thing for Tuesday and Wednesday.
I opened trainingpeaks, and Liz had put in training for Thursday of this week through the end of next week. It made me smile.
Liz is always passing along little tidbits. Sometimes, she puts them in my training log. Sometimes I read them on her blog. Regardless of where I read them, I keep track of these little morsels of awesome. I have a document on my computer that I print off before every race. I read her words before every single race. Her words are reminders of what I have gone through to get where I am, right here at the start of a race. I know what you're thinking. I print off a sheet with a bunch of "YOU GO GIRL" quotes. That's not really my style. The words that speak the most to me aren't the words of support or encouragement (which she gives plenty of). Instead, the ones that speak to me the most are the ones that speak to what it's really like to be a triathlete. These are the pearls of knowledge that point me in the direction of reaching my goals. They keep me on the path. Although I have hundreds of them, these are my favorites. 1.) Make sure your goals & commitments are aligned. It's easy to get wrapped up in what your friends are doing. Early in my tri-career, I jumped on the Ironman wagon. I had two kids at home who were very active in sports & activities, a business that was just starting, a spouse, and all those other things that go into being an adult. During training, I was tired all the time from 4am swims....in order to get to two different kids' practices at 8am. I was cranky all the time. Needless to say, after being up early and covering more miles on a Saturday than most people cover in a month, I wasn't being the best mom, spouse, business owner, friend. The experience was so horrible that I took a year off from triathlon after that. I realized that I could still enjoy everything that I love about triathlon by doing shorter races. To this day, every once in awhile, I think about doing Ironman again. Then I realize that even though my sons are adults and have moved on to their own lives; our business has grown to a point where I can train when and where I want......I can't commit to Ironman training. I have goals and dreams that challenge me; a training volume that I can handle; and plenty of time on weekends to be with the people who are most important to me. I'm happy where I am. 2.) Train with intention. You need a passion for this sport. Training, fueling, recovery shouldn't be seen as a sacrifice. It should be seen as an investment. Training with intention is more than consistency. It is giving your best physically and mentally every.damn.day. It's doing the workouts you need to do. It's doing the hard work, the workouts you don't always like. It's having a back up pool for when your pool closes. It's having a back up for when your back up closes. It's about suffering when you need to suffer. It's about recovering when you need to recover. It's about training in 40 mph winds. It's about swimming in cold water. It's about not giving up on that last hill repeat.Training with intention is about your purpose. Remember: The easy way out will always be there. Don't complain about the results you didn't get for the training you didn't do.
3.) Accountability is the wholehearted embrace of what you desperately want to ignore. For me, this happened last year at Age Group Nationals. Every year, I would watch women in my age group do amazing things. I kept improving incrementally. I repeatedly asked myself, "When was I going to make the big jump in my finish times?" Over and over, I told myself a story to make me feel better, "Those women are natural athletes. They've been doing this much longer. You just need to train harder". I even went as far as, "You're just not a runner". Those stories were lies. The truth was something that I desperately wanted to ignore. After Nationals, I took two weeks off. During that time, I did a lot of reflection. I have always like the the way I looked. I hate the standards that are imposed on women, but I realized that my weight wasn't a body image issue. My weight was performance issue. I could no longer ignore it. I could blame everyone else for my performance, or I could wholeheartedly embrace my issue. I hired a nutritionist.
4.) Never underestimate the importance of your crew. This goes way beyond a support crew. Your crew are the people who believe in you and your crazy dreams more than you do. They see you clearly when you're too tired to even make dinner. They see your strengths and weaknesses. These are the people who tell you what you need to hear, and it's not always what you want to hear. They are 100% vested in YOU. I've been doing triathlon for 11 years. I never really had a crew until about a year ago. I never understood how important it was to have these people in my life. They're a very small group of people who challenge me physically and mentally to be my best. They're coaches and friends. Recently, I ran a 5k. The day before my race, "M" said to me, "You're going to run a 27 minute 5k tomorrow". I responded with, "A 27:00 5k? That'd be nice, but I've never even come close to that". The next day, I ran a 27 minute 5k. Always listen to your crew. 7.) There is no better feeling than reaching a goal that seemed impossible a few years ago. Set the biggest, craziest goal you can. Set the goals that you are embarrassed to tell people. If you can dream it, you can do it. For years, I had wanted to qualify for Nationals. I could never get there. In my first year of working with Liz, I qualified. It took me 7 years to get there. SEVEN years of training of getting close but missing. When I crossed the finish line, I broke down. I hugged Mr. Tea, and I let the emotion of 7 years come pouring out. I have never felt anything like that. It was the greatest feeling I'd ever had. It doesn't end there. My first 70.3 finish time was 8:45. I was 2nd to last to finish, and definitely last in my age group. Even back then, I had a goal. I didn't share that goal with anyone because I was too embarrassed. I just finished 2nd to last. If I told anyone, they'd say I was crazy. But every year I worked toward it. I posted the goal on my wall. Eleven years later, it's still there. A few months ago, I shared that goal with Liz. She was the first and only person I ever told. She didn't laugh at me. She didn't think I was crazy. She said, "Ok. This is what we have to do." I don't know if I will reach that goal this year or next or in 10 years, but I won't stop reaching for it. 8.) Confidence is being proud of your accomplishments on the inside but being outwardly humble. Again at AGNats, I was overwhelmed. It was my first time there. Everyone looked so pro, and I had no idea what I was doing. I saw a woman that I recognized, but I couldn't remember how. I went up to her and asked, "Are you from CO?" We introduced ourselves. Her name sounded familiar, but I figured that I'd just seen her at races. She had been to Nationals before and asked if I had any questions because she knew how overwhelming it could be. She took the time to answer my questions and give me course advice. She was the nicest, most genuine person I'd met. Several days later, we were back home. I remembered her name and looked her up. She was one of the top 5 women in my age group in the US. I would never have known it if I hadn't looked her up. To this day, I hope to run into her again to thank her for everything she told me that day. 9.) Enjoy life outside of triathlon. As an age grouper, triathlon has to fit into my life....not vice versa. Is it your birthday? Anniversary? Are you seeing old friends for the first time in years? Celebrate. Have dessert. Eat the damn cake. Enjoy food. Enjoy life outside of triathlon. Triathlon is one of the most structured sports. We have to fit in several workouts every day. We "fuel to perform". We are constantly being analyzed. We need down time. We need time away from that. Take one day, once a month where you have opportunity to be you: the parent, the partner, the sibling, the friend....outside of triathlon.
It's now been 9 days since surgery. I attribute my crazy fast recovery to several factors:
1.) My Coach had me in exceptional shape prior to surgery.
2.) My surgeon (Dr. Beckley at Alpine Surgery in Boulder) told me that because I was in great shape, that I would recover fast. In addition to this, I did exactly what he said.
3.) My nutritionist gave me pre-surgery & post-surgery advice.
All which is laid out in the previous posts.
At one week, I was able to start riding and running again. (I did this yesterday).
I rode on the trainer and did a very easy spin. I started with an easy warm up. By the end of the 35 minutes, I was in zone 2. I was upright for the first 10 minutes. (Unsure of how aero would feel). The next 5 minutes, I put my hands on the elbow pads. After that, I was aero for the remainder of the time.
Later in the day, I was really excited to see how running would feel. I ran 25 minutes on the treadmill at 2% incline. Well, I didn't run the entire time. I walked a 10 minute warm up then did intervals of :30, 1:00, 1:30, 1:00, 1:00 each separated by 2:00 of walking. I covered 1.5 miles.
Besides this, I have done a number of strength workouts (all unweighted). Depending on the workout, I will skip a day between. It really depended on what else I did that day.
The TIRED: Don't be surprised if you feel unusually tired during the day. Like clockwork, I was getting tired around 3pm. I wasn't sleepy. I was tired. I would lay down on the couch for about 30-40 minutes. I felt better after it. Pay attention to how you feel and honor those feelings. It's very normal to feel tired a week after surgery. (BTW: Yesterday, day 8, was the first day that I didn't have any of the Tired. I went through my day as normal).
ICE: For awhile, I looked like I had a softball in my abdomen. I decided that after any workouts (walking, strength training, anything) that I would ice it. Nine days later, and my bruising is going away. I'm not nearly as swollen as I was. I don't have any discomfort around the area....meaning that I can put pressure on it without pain. In an effort to be as honest as I can, I don't know if the slight swollen-ness that exists is because my period is getting ready to start. I normally get bloated and big down there. Because I have other factors that I'm dealing with, it's a little tough to call.
Incision site: The incision site doesn't even bother me anymore. It can get irritated if something rubs up against it. So, I just wear my pants lower than normal. I roll down the top of my pants, so it doesn't irritate the incision. The incision now looks more like a scab. If you've ever cut yourself, you know how it feels to have something rub up against it. It doesn't hurt. It simply gets irritated.
My follow up exam is next Wed. Based on how things are going, I have no reason to think that my doctor won't release me to start swimming again and to resume training.
At that time, I'll also post how my workouts are progressing.
My recovery updates are getting a little boring. After this one, my next one will be at one week post surgery (Thursday).
A couple of things to note:
1.) Every single day I'm walking further and or faster and continuing my non-weight bearing exercises. I do unweighted squats, lunges, back lunges, side lunges. I continue with the recovery core exercises. I haven't been comfortable (more or less a mental issue) starting significant core exercises. My recovery is going so smoothly, I'm a little nervous about it. I think I'll wait until I'm at my week mark. One week, was the time frame my surgeon gave me for being active but not doing any Olympic activities.
2.) The tired. Every afternoon, I get tired around 3pm. This is not normal for me, but it IS normal for a few days after surgery. I listen to my body. I lay down, turn on the tv and relax for about 30-40 minutes. At that point, I feel normal again.
3.) My nutrition: filled with leafy greens, protein, nuts, & fruits means that I've gotten over the bloat much faster than anticipated. I'm still swollen, but the bloat is going away. I'm starting to see my stomach muscles again. Seriously, I think the Kombucha has played a HUGE role in this. I never even had it before surgery.
4.) Pain = no pain for awhile now. I have some minor soreness that feels like a bruise (which, of course, I have a beautiful rainbow colored bruise on my abdomen). I only feel the soreness when I'm inactive for awhile and then make a quick twist or something like that. In fact, I no longer roll to my side to get up from laying down. I can sit up without any discomfort.
My follow up exam is March 30th.
I'll post a one week update at the end of this week.
Unrelated to recovery. This surgery was so worth it for me. I can't tell you how happy I am that the lump is gone. It was visible through tight clothing. It was visible through my swimsuit. It was visible through my tri kit. There was always the worry in the back of my mind, "Is it getting bigger? Should I see the doctor?" That's gone now.
If you missed the first post and are looking for information about how the surgery went, you can find the post here.
Today, I want to tell you about the first 24 hours and also what I did prior to surgery and what my recommendations were from the experts. I think everything that I have done has had a huge positive impact on how I'm feeling 36 hours later.
My surgery was 2pm on Thursday. On Friday, I woke up (see previous post) feeling pretty darn well. I was a little stiff in the incision area but (again) not debilitating, more of a nuisance. I took Tylenol at 7am.
I didn't take any over the counter medicine for the rest of the day.
I had the day off from work. I was advised to take the day off from work to avoid making any decisions. Sedation stays in your bloodstream awhile.
The day after surgery, there were 4 things that stood out to me.
1.) The bloating is SO BAD. If you are a woman who has been pregnant, it's very much like being 12 weeks pregnant. If you haven't been pregnant, imagine the worst cramps and bloating and stomach issues that you can get during your period. It was very uncomfortable. (Read on for what I did that I truly believe helped). In a nutshell, I couldn't bend over. My entire middle was gone. My waist is normally 26 inches, and I have defined ab muscles. Yesterday, I was just under 29 inches. I didn't measure my hips, but the bloating doesn't really seem to go down that far.
2.) The day after surgery, I have virtually no pain. I am absolutely shocked. I can feel little twinges when I don't move for awhile. (JMan visited to take care of me yesterday, and we spent the day watching movies). The twinges tend to happen when I go from laying down to twisting to sit up. It's not even painful, just a minor twinge.
3.) I showered. I was able to shower after the surgery, but I was pretty worn out. Obviously, I can't scrub the incision. Having the hot water running all over, felt really good. I also think it helped relax me.
4.) I started walking and doing core exercises. (see recommendations below). As for core exercises, I did these. I intended on just doing the deep breathing, but I moved on quickly when I realized that I had no pain at all. None. Zero. Zilch.
I also did a 1 mile walk. I started at 30:00 pace on 0% incline and by the end I was at 2% and did 1 mile in 20 minutes. No pain. Zero. Zilch.
After both, I felt better afterward than I did before.
The rest of the day was uneventful. I slept great. In fact, the night of the surgery, I was only able to sleep on my back. Sleeping on my sides was really uncomfortable. Last night, I could sleep on my sides or back. I'm not about to try laying on my stomach. I have accidentally hit my stomach a couple of times, and it hurts. So, I don't think I can sleep on my stomach yet. (Again, getting hit in the stomach was much like being pregnant. If you are familiar with the baby kicking your intestines, THAT's exactly how it feels. I give out a little "oof", and that's it.)
Let's talk about recommendations
During my initial consultation with my surgeon, I told him that I'm a triathlete and that I work with a nutritionist. I was training 13 hours per week. I'm in exceptional shape. At that time, he gave me a few pieces of advice about supplements, then said, "It's great that you work with a nutritionist. In fact, don't listen to me. Listen to her. She's the expert."
How can you not love a surgeon who says, "Hey, this isn't my area of expertise."
If you read my blog regularly, you know that if I pay for information, I don't share it. I have a Coach who creates workouts for me based on my abilities. I have a nutritionist who set up a plan based on my own nutritional needs.
This time it's different. I worked with Dina for this information, but it's not specifically tailored to me. This is information that pretty much anyone, heading into surgery, can benefit from. Pre-surgery: for 1 week prior -Vitamin C: 1 gram 2x/day - Zinc: 30 mg /day <— can cause stomach upset and nausea so be sure to take with food - General nutrition: “anti-inflammatory foods” —> lots of leafy greens, variety of vegetables, berries; watch simple sugars. Cooking with turmeric would be great (dry or fresh)
Post-surgery: for 1 week post - Vitamin C 1 gram 2x/day - Vitamin E gel cap to break open and apply to skin where procedure was performed (depends on incision size) -Check your omega-3 dosing and aim for 2 grams DHA + EPA total per day. (I don't eat seafood, so I always take Omegas.) - Protein: be sure you’re getting no less than 120 grams per day in the week following. (This is based on my weight of 136lbs.) - the anti-inflammatory food focus as mentioned above should continue.
If you are going to be put on antibiotics, then a probiotic wold be good to take. Also, if you are on pain meds, some of these can cause constipation so you’ll want to be sure to drink plenty of fluids.
I did everything that my nutritionist recommended with the exception of one thing. I have not used the Vit E on my incision. I read several research articles about this. Using vitamin e too early, can cause skin irritation and delay the healing process. I decided that was a risk I didn't want to take. I have vitamin e and will use it once the incision is healed to reduce the scarring. For now, I'm not doing it.
Let's talk about the bloating for a minute. The bloating and constipation were pretty bad. I had forgotten that she had mentioned taking probiotics. I didn't have any at home. (I don't eat yogurt). Mr. Tea and I went to the store and bought some Kombucha.
I was advised by my surgeon to take a stool softener. When it comes to medication, I'm a naturalist. I've said it before. My preferred method is to use natural foods, spices, etc to recover. I didn't even buy a stool softener. BUT, I would have used it if necessary. In my case, the natural remedies worked for me. (The exception is Tylenol. As of this writing, I've only taken it twice. Once for the headache and once in the morning the day after surgery).
I'm not typically someone who jumps on a band wagon. At the same time, I was a little desperate. I really wanted the bloating to be a little less uncomfortable. I knew that Kombucha is known for being an acquired taste, and that (anecdotally people report that it helps with constipation and bloating).
I decided that no matter HOW BAD it tasted, I wanted to try it. Surprisingly, I didn't have a problem with the taste at all. In fact, I liked it.
The best part: instantly, my stomach felt better. The bloat didn't go away instantly. It just felt better. The next morning, I woke up and realized that I wasn't as bloated as I was the day before.
In addition to that, I'm having berries and citrus fruits at every meal (which is pretty normal for me anyway). The difference, right now, is that I'm focusing on the fruits/veggies that act as natural inflammatories.
EXERCISE RECOMMENDATIONS This is really important if you are an athlete. When I was researching, I only found posts from bodybuilders. I couldn't find any information from triathletes. (As I previously mentioned, I found two very helpful blogs: one from an ultramarathoner and one from a runner/swimmer/golfer). Both the ultramarathoner and runner/swimmer/golfer were able to move immediately and started running very quickly. If you are a bodybuilder and are going through this surgery, you can't be too careful with the heavy lifting. Your fitness will come back. It's worth taking the time to heal.
From my surgeon: No olympic activity for the week after surgery. For the first week after surgery, your lifting limit is what you can lift with one arm. Then, you need to use two arms to lift. So, if you can lift a 50lb toddler with one arm, your weight lifting limit is 50lbs....and you need to use two arms. No steeplechase race the first week after surgery.
I want you moving as much as possible. Walking, going up and down stairs. Do everything you can and let your pain tolerance dictate how much you can do.
I should also say, swimming is not allowed, but that has to do with causing a possible infection and has nothing to do with physical limitations. The soonest I'm allowed back in the pool is after my follow up exam which is in 2 weeks.
So far, this surgery has been incredibly easy on me. I believe a lot of that has to do with the fact that I'm a very coachable athlete. I work with my team. If I have questions, I ask. Whether I'm working with my coach, nutritionist or surgeon, I see us as a team with ME being their #1 priority.
I woke up at 5am the day of my surgery. I wanted to go back to sleep, but I was hungry. (I always wake up hungry).
Old habits die hard. I went downstairs to make breakfast.
Then, I remembered.
Dinner was the last real food I could eat. I was allowed to drink clear liquids....until 8am.....or wait, was it clear liquids? Was it just liquids in general?
Clearly, I can have coffee, right?
And a smoothie? Not like a thick smoothie but a bunch of my fresh fruit juiced up and mixed together.
That counts as clear liquids....doesn't it? Shit. I can't remember. I pull out my pre-op instructions. Yeah, like I can read the doctor's handwriting.
I'm having coffee and my smoothie. That's settled.
We have to leave for the hospital at 11:30am. It was early. With the storm coming in, we figured that we'd be better off leaving early.
This was going to be my first surgery. I haven't been in the hospital for over 20 years, and the last time was to have JMan & Googs.
Was I nervous? It's kind of hard to say what I was feeling. I wasn't worried about the surgery. I wasn't worried about recovery.
I was worried about waking up during the surgery.
The head nurse came into my room and introduced everyone. The entire team was absolutely amazing.
Then my surgeon came in.
Later in the day, Mr. Tea asked if I remembered cracking jokes and making the everyone laugh.
Of course, I do. I'm hilarious.
Head nurse came back and said, "We're going to give you an amazing cocktail that will give you the same feeling as 3 margaritas. It's meant to relax you before surgery."
Me: WAIT. 3 margaritas? I don't drink. Do you know what that will do to.....zzzzzzzz
The last thing I remember was an oxygen mask being put over my face.
"He got a ticket", the voice said.
Me incoherently mumbling, "Was he on a bike?"
"She's a triathlete."
I slowly open my eyes.
I must be done. I didn't wake up during surgery!
I see the head nurse walking by. This groggy feeling. I don't like it. I start shaking my head, trying to clear my head. The nurse comes over and asks if I want to sit up. YES, I very much want to sit up. I want to move. I want to stand.
She tells me that before I can leave, I have to pee. I tell her, "in that case, bring me water. I can down more water than anyone."
A few minutes later, I was standing up to head on over to the wc.
My hospital gown flies open in the back. Mr. Tea is scrambling to cover me up. I tell him, "Don't worry about it. It's a show most people would want to see."
I put my regular clothes back on. I look down at the incision site. I'm shocked. The incision is inside my belly button. There won't even be a visible scar once I'm healed?
WHAT?! No war wound? Nothing I can brag about? That's not much fun. Now what am I going to talk about at parties?
You're probably wondering about pain. I'm still under the influence of a local anesthesia and sedation. Although, I feel great. The grogginess is all gone, but I know that sedation takes awhile.....I learned it from House years ago.
My surgeon told me that the first night I will want to take the Oxycodone prescription. After that, do everything I can to avoid taking it. He told me to do what I can to manage pain with over the counter medicines.
I don't like prescription medication. I even like narcotics less. My goal was to have the local wear off and see what the pain level was like. I wasn't planning on being a hero, but if I could manage it without narcotics....you bet I'm going to.
Hours later at home, I start getting a headache. I get headaches rarely. I decide to wait it out. I eat more food. (Not a lot but enough that would allow me to figure out if the headache was a hunger headache).
The food didn't help. Now the headache is getting uncomfortable. I decide that it is the sedation medication starting to wear off. I'm the best at making up stories to fit my life.
I take Tylenol. Unfortunately, this is going to delay feeling pain at the surgical site. The headache is really kind of uncomfortable.
30 minutes later, the headache is gone.
From Dr. Google, I find out that local anesthesia can take 4-6 hours to wear off. By the time I hit 6 hours, I'll be in bed.
The night was pretty uneventful except for one instance.
I woke up in the middle of the night. (It felt like the middle of the night). I had to pee so badly. Getting out of bed was no issue. Although, once I stood up, I realized that I was in a little pain.
I didn't know what time it was. I didn't want to take Tylenol because I had already taken it, and the last thing I want is to od on Tylenol. I had brought the Oxycodone to my room just in case.
I laid there and allowed myself to feel the pain, to really feel the pain. I think I can manage this. Just then, Mr. Tea walked in. I asked him if he could get me some Aleve.
My plan was to give the Aleve 20-30 minutes to start working. If it didn't work, I would take the Oxycodone.
The pain wasn't going away. If I laid on either of my sides, that made it worse. If I laid on my back, that helped.
I decided to try meditation. It's been years since I've meditated for any real period of time. However, I had a very serious meditation regime for a long time.
I laid on my back. I focused on the pain. I cleared my head of all thoughts and allowed the pain to wash over me. I started to see the pain grow and start to dissipate.
The next thing I know, there is light coming in through my window. It's 7am. I slept straight through for 8 hours without the help of oxycodone.
Here's the real crazy thing. I woke up and didn't feel any pain. I thought getting out of bed would be bad, but it wasn't at all.
Once I started moving around, I started feeling....discomfort....more than I had yesterday but absolutely not debilitating and definitely manageable. I decided to take Tylenol. A short while later, I wasn't feeling any discomfort other than the bloating and slight twinges when I bend over.
My surgeon had told me that I'd need to push myself up out of chairs (with my hands on my legs). I haven't had to do that.
I do not feel 100%, but I also don't feel anywhere NEAR as bad as I thought I would. I can walk, go up and downstairs, I can pick up things; I can twist and turn.
The biggest issue I am dealing with, right now, not even 24 hours after surgery is the bloating. I usually have defined ab muscles. You can't see my abs at all. In fact, I look like I am about 12 weeks pregnant. That makes bending over difficult but not painful. I took a picture, but I don't think I'll post it. I'm not really a fan of of injury pictures.
I, also, now have a small purple bruise right below my belly button.
So far, I can say this has been pretty uneventful.
For those of you who are interested in the specific recommendations from my surgeon, I am going to write about what I did leading up to surgery and post surgery. I was unable to find that information when I was trying to find firsthand experiences.
It just might help someone else getting ready to go through umbilical hernia surgery, especially, those of you who are athletes.
I'm still afraid of things. The difference is that, now, I don't let fear stop me.
This month has been much harder than I thought it would be.
March is our busiest month of the year. It is our biggest revenue month. It's not even halfway through the month, and we've blown away all our numbers. We have fewer people on staff. So, everyone is working harder than they've ever worked. I can't figure out how they do it. They get everything done. (Superhero team).We are building product to get up on the website at a crazy rate. Corporate taxes are due on 3/15. OH! That's today! One level of our house is being remodeled. As is normal, some of the projects were delayed or dates had to change. I'm having surgery this week. That means, I'm working ahead.
The surgery is there, looming over me. I wish so much that I could have had it done earlier in the month.
It's hard to stay focused on workouts knowing that I will not hit the official training again until the beginning of April. I think Liz knows this, so she's had me going full steam ahead. Run tests (which I dominated). Bike test #4 which was another smashing success.
Keep me busy, so I don't have to think about it.
I have researched. I have talked to my surgeon. Liz and I have a plan. This will be my first surgery. I've never even had as much as a broken bone. I've only been to the hospital to deliver widdle babies....and visit people.
It's been really hard to find athletes who have been through this. Not because there aren't many but because most people don't write about it. MOST people (I've found) are being treated for the regular hernias that everyone hears about. "Oh, you have a herniated disk?" No. It's completely different. "Oh, I've had a hernia repair. It takes months!" No. It's not that kind. Trust me.
An umbilical hernia is very different than the other hernias. This is something that I got back in 2012. It is has never been painful. It has never stopped me from doing anything. The reason I am getting it fixed is because it is time to get it fixed. They don't even have to be fixed. They are mostly cosmetic. However, they can cause problems down the road......15-20 years down the road.
The difference between other hernias and umbilical: my surgeon wants me to move the next day. Then he wants me walking and going up and down stairs as much as possible. I have core exercises to start the day after surgery. I have other exercises to start as soon as 48 hours after surgery. I'll post all of those as soon as I start them. I'm supposed to take as many walks as is possible during the day.
I've read blogs from people who have been through the same type of surgery. I have a great idea of what recovery will be like. Honestly, I'm not even worried about that.
It's just the feeling of having this thing looming over me. I want it done, so I can start the recovery process.
I've wanted to write, but I didn't know what to say. After reading 2 particular blogs of athletes who have had this surgery (a runner/swimmer and an ultramarathoner), I realized it's important for me to get everything posted because someone else might stumble across my blog looking for information about recovery time. That's important because there's just not that much information out there. (Oh sure, there are a lot of stories out there from bodybuilders, but what about triathletes? I was only able to find a few people who asked questions. Then, there was no follow up. No information about their recovery process).
Now that I'm thinking through this, I see this like a test....just like my run and bike tests. I've prepared as much as I can. I've been talking to Dina regularly. I know how I need to change my nutrition during recovery. I know what supplements to add to aid in recovery. (I'll go over that too, but it might take a few days depending on where my head is).
Overkill? Possibly, but I feel better knowing that I am doing everything that I can do.
I started working with Liz a little over 2 years ago. In my first season, I spent the entire year learning; learning her methodology; learning her workouts. I wanted and needed a new approach, and I absorbed everything she said to me. I kept notes of things she said for easy reference down the road.
In my 2nd year with Liz, I knew the system. I knew what she expected from me as an athlete. I understood the direction we were going.
At the end of the 2nd year, I was training for my half marathon.
I had been racing triathlon for a really long time now. There was this nagging issue at the back of my mind. I've never really done any focused bike training. The thing I absolutely love. The THING that I felt like I could completely dominate.....I was SO good on the bike.....what would happen if I actually spent time training on the bike? I'd had this feeling for a long time that if I could put significant effort into my bike, my run would follow suit.
Halfway through my half marathon training, I decided to talk to Liz. I asked her if we could do a bike test right after my half marathon. I knew my power would have dropped (from a watts perspective), but I really felt like the bike was the missing link in my training. How did I know? It was just a feeling I had.
We did a bike test. As expected, my watts had dropped, but my kg/w ratio had improved dramatically with my pretty significant weight loss. As I was uploading my data to Liz, I sent her a message saying, "I want to do another bike test."
She set up another bike test a month later.
With each passing week, I was getting stronger on the bike. My bike tests were jumping 10-15watts every 4 weeks.
Best of all, my run speeds were making HUGE jumps. So much so that I sent Liz an email one day and said, "Do you see what's happening to my running speeds?" My HR was dropping, and I was running faster than I've ever run.
We decided it was time for a run test (and one more bike test).
During this bike focused time, I've been running, but Liz changed my runs. Obviously, I was running few miles than during my half marathon training, but the structure of my runs changed as well.
Yesterday (Saturday), she had me do a long workout, 3 hours.
I read her instructions for my 5k: Run this without looking at your watch. Go from your gut! Put it all out there!
Run a blind 5k the day after a 3 hour bike/run brick. Ok.
How it all went down:
As Liz instructed, I ran this without looking at my Garmin. I set up distance alerts for .5 miles, 1 mile, 1 mile, finish.
I thought I would use the first .5 miles to "warm up" so to speak. Ease into the race. Because I was running blind, I had no idea what my HR was or my pace, but I felt like I started out too hard. I told myself "back off just a bit". It's ok if it feels easy.
I can't really say I had a "strategy" from that point on. I thought about what Coach Andrew (my masters coach) had told me about swimming. He had recently shared a story with me about his experience racing at Sin City. His story really spoke to me.
I wanted to get faster each mile, but I knew it was going to feel harder. So, I might not get faster, but it would start to get really hard. I SO badly just didn't want to slow down.
This was probably the hardest thing I've ever had to do.
After .5 miles, I started to pick people off. This was hard for me to do because I was thinking "You can't let them pass you back". Could I hold on, though?
Am I going too fast? Am I going to crash and burn?
When I got to 2 miles, my legs were hurting. I wanted to run faster. I felt like I had "spurts" of pushing it. I'd see someone, try to catch them, etc.
Then, the longest half mile of my life. It was a mental battle. I really wanted to slow down. It felt like the wind picked up, but it could be my imagination. It could be that I was just at the end of a 5k. Maybe this is how a 5k is supposed to feel......
At this point, it's a complete battle. Me versus old me. I was trying to convince myself of great things, "WHAT IF you are seconds away from getting a PR? Are you going to back down now?"
Then there was the other voice, "I'm going hard. What if I'm running a 10:00 min pace. I can't bear it. I really can't bear to have a 31 minute 5K."
"Well, you're 48 now. Maybe doing the best you can (even if it is 31 minutes) is enough, as long as you give it what you can."
Then, the timing clock came into focus. It said 24:00, and I had maybe a .25 miles to go? Maybe more? I thought, "Oh god oh god oh god. I'm THISCLOSE to smashing my PR. BUT YOU HAVE TO RUN NOW." Now, my legs really hurt. I kept saying "FAST AND FLUID. FAST AND FLUID." I tried to catch the last woman in front of me. I couldn't do it. We were together for the entire race. She dusted me in the last .25 miles.
I gave what I could. I started fast then backed off. Then, I felt like I held on for the rest of the race. I couldn't believe it when I saw crossed the finish line and the clock read: 27:17. That's an 8:46 pace, and my fastest ever, beating my previous PR (on the same course) of 28:15.
I haven't had a feeling of satisfaction like this in a long long time. A 1 minute 5k PR is HUGE. I didn't know if I could still PR.
I'm enjoying this one for sure but only for a day or so. We have a bike test coming up.
I have always believed in signs. I truly believe that the universe talks to us, and we have to be willing to listen......and trust.
Earlier this year, Mr. Tea told me he wouldn't be at my 70.3. I'm totally cool with that. The 70.3 is tough to watch. It's not my first. More than likely it won't be my last. I have friends who are doing the race. In other words, I would have plenty of support. There's something special about seeing friends on the race course. It's the "we're all in this together" attitude that I love. That high five can come just at the right moment.
My race schedule for 2016, organized by Liz & I, consisted of an April Oly, a June 70.3, an Aug Sprint, a Sept Sprint, & a potential fall 70.3.
In February, I found out my April & Sept races were canceled. The RD was not giving out refunds (as is normal), but they were transferring registrations to other races later in the year. This was problematic for me because these races were out of state, and I already had my race schedule set for the year.
I contacted the RD. I explained my situation. I told him that I really loved these races, and I asked, "Could you do anything for me?"
He deferred my registrations until 2017. I was shocked. That's never happened before.
Two weeks later, the end of feb, I found out about needing the surgery.
The first race that was canceled was scheduled for the beginning of April. My surgery is scheduled for 3/17. If the race hadn't been canceled, I would have had to miss it.
Liz and I talked. Liz had a c-section at the end of 2014. She turned around and raced to become the North American 70.3 champion in 2015. If anyone could get me ready for a 70.3 post-op, it was her. My surgery is in the same area and will have a similar recovery.
Still, I looked at the calendar. Is it too aggressive? Can I recover and get ramped up for the volume necessary to do the race?
I put the odds at 50-50 and mentally surrendered to the idea that the race was probably not going to happen. Mr. Tea wasn't going to be there. It's really no big deal. There are plenty of races to do.
The emotional roller coaster has been tough.
Regardless of where this takes me, I talked to Dina. She is advising me on foods that will help me recover and reduce the chances for infection.
Meanwhile, Liz and I have been full steam ahead. Bike tests every 4 weeks; run tests; swim tests.
Every test has been stronger than the previous one. I'm going harder for my strength work, and the results are....well, that I'm stronger.
Over dinner, I told Mr. Tea that I'd found another race at the end of June that I was planning on doing.
He said: Don't mentally give up on the 70.3. I'm going to be there. I'm looking forward to it. I want to see you do this.
Me: Since when? You hate the 70.3.
He said: I've been planning on going the entire time.
The universe is speaking to me, but I didn't realize it back in Feb.
I'm listening now.
I have my sights set on doing the 70.3. I'm going to keep training hard leading up to 3/17. I have a list of rehab exercises that I can start immediately after surgery. I can walk and climb stairs (and it is recommended that I do) the very next day.
I'm not going to think about what will happen or what can happen. I'm going to take every day as it comes and give my best that day.
This is the best I've felt about it. I've let go of expectations. I'm trusting the signs.
I still have Plan B in my back pocket, but I'm going into the next few months working toward Plan A.
Being an athlete is hard work. It requires scheduling & flexibility. It doesn't matter what your sport is. Soapbox time: We all have bad days. There are days that we are rushing around trying to get things done. BUT, If more often than not, you're rushing around or stressed or moving around workouts or skipping workouts (don't get me started on ignoring the family).....it's time to take a look at your priorities. I'm saying that as someone who has gotten 3 degrees as an adult, working full time, raising two kids, being married, travelling (internationally & domestically) for work, and starting & running a business. Now that I'm off my soapbox, there are products and services that make my life easier. Since people seem to be most interested in what I'm eating, I'm going to start there. (I get it. A weight loss of over 26lbs tends to get people's attention). FOOD FuelFood: Based in Miami, FL, Fuelfood ships out pre-cooked, fresh meals. I am on the biggest plan they have. I pay $7.50 per meal and order 20 per week--for me and Mike. (As my volume goes up, I'll order more). These meals heat up in about 1-2 minutes. When I first told Dina (my nutritionist) about this company, she looked into it and said, "This is one of the best companies I have seen." Why do I use them? Because I love food, and I need quick options for the middle of the day. I always prefer to get my nutrition from real food as opposed to smoothies (see below). I don't always want to spend time prepping meals for the week. Cons: Obs, cost will be an issue for some people. Here's how I see it. $7.50 is less than going out to eat, and it saves me from having to do that BIG shopping on a weekly basis. Most importantly, it saves me time. Another issue: they are a small business that is growing extremely quickly. They have technical, process & communication issues at the time. I understand what that's like. We have a very good relationship with the owner, Erik. We have local companies that do something similar, but they do not offer the flexibility that Fuelfood does. Sunbasket Based in San Jose, CA, this company will only ship to the SW (US). They offer only organic, free range ingredients. This is another meal prep company. Sunbasket sends out ingredients, and you get to cook the meals. We get 3 (for 2 people) meals per week, and the cost is approximately $65 per week. I have tried every meal company out there. I've tried Plated, GreenChef, Freshly....and two others that escape me right now. Why Sunbasket: The food quality is the absolute best. The menus are incredibly varied (and include breakfasts if you are so inclined). The have Paleo, Vegetarian, Chef's choice, and breakfast menus to choose from. You can choose meals from any menu. Want to try a vegetarian dish? Go for it. Another benefit to Sunbasket. Sometimes, the side dishes are HUGE. We save half for the next night's dinner. We make a protein and use the rest of the sides. The recipes are so good, that we save the cards and make them again. We rarely have the same dinner twice in a week now. We used to have the same stuff over and over. Cons: NONE. I have nothing bad to say about Sunbasket. (I guess if you're not in the SW, that's a problem). Smoothies As I mentioned, I prefer to eat real foods. Sometimes, particularly when I'm going to masters, I know I need to eat, but I don't want to sit down to a "meal". I can make a smoothie and bring it in the car. It's also a great option for people who don't want to cook breakfast in the morning, which is shocking to me....because breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. I have been asked many many times for my favorite smoothie recipes. It's tough to pick just one, but it would have to be this one. Pina Colada Smoothie (keep in mind that all ingredients are to taste. I love coconut and use more. I'm not a fan of lime and use less).
3/4c of pineapple. (I prefer fresh but you can use frozen)
About 1/3 c of 100% coconut milk. (This is found in the baking, cooking aisle where the store has flour etc. Although, the link above is to the product that I use). If you aren't familiar with 100% coconut milk: once it is opened, it doesn't last long. Once refrigerated, it thinkens up to the consistency of pudding. (If you buy the canned stuff, it actually goes past thick and hardens up). Don't freak out when it happens.
1 TSP 100% maple syrup (it might be less. I don't measure it. I just put in a drop)
1/4 c of shredded, unsweetened coconut. (I love coconut, so I use more)
Juice of 1/4 lime. Mr. Tea prefers more lime. You can use half a lime of you like.
About 3 ice cubes. Blend. It's very fast. I have a number of smoothie recipes that I make, but that's my favorite.
If you use trainingpeaks.com, you might already be aware of this. I was talking to someone recently, and they didn't know this option existed.
I have to write everything down. EVERYTHING goes into my gmail calendar. Oil change? Yep. Need to go to the grocery store after masters? Yep. Need to schedule an appointment? Yep. I am constantly putting notes into my calendar.
But what if I have a big training day? How do I negotiate that?
Yes. If I need to schedule an appointment, I can open trainingpeaks, then open gmail....but bouncing back and forth is a hassle.
Did you know that trainingpeaks gives you the option to send your training calendar to your "regular" calendar?
YES! Here's where you do it. (You might have to click on the image).
Here's how it looks in my gmail calendar.
BAM! Scheduling appointments is much easier if I know that I have swim masters. It's also helpful to know when I have a hard effort workout because hey.....I'm going to need to eat pretty quickly, and I might not have the energy for a lot of physical work after that.
Other than my multivitamin and iron pill (I'm anemic), I tend to get my vitamins/minerals from food. (My vitamins are Dina approved).
However for the past few years, I'd been reading about the research done on tart cherry juice. The stuff really is amazing. The downside is that the juice has a ton of (natural, not added) sugar and calories. As much as I wanted to try it, I didn't want to add sugar to my diet when I have eliminated it. (Hell, I'd rather have cake than tart cherry juice).
Now look, since I changed my nutrition, sleep has not been an issue. Still, I thought I'd experiment with it.
I took one pill before dinner. I took a second one at bedtime. The results? I'm out cold at night. I am going into the deepest sleep that I have ever experienced.
I have no sleep hangover the next morning either.
There is a caveat. Mike has sleep issues. He tried the 2 pills, and nothing happened. He only did it for one night, and he is double my size. From experience, I've noticed that my sleep has gotten better over time. Second, since he is a bigger person, I think he needs more, like maybe 4 pills. That makes complete sense to me. When we're dealing with supplements, there is always a danger of overdosing on unknowns. Take this all with a grain of salt. I'm just here to say what works for me.
That's it for now. Those are the products or services that make my life easier.