Tuesday, November 28, 2006

And then, one day, you realize you're stronger.

I don't like numbers.

I don't like to quantify things with digits. I've always been someone who uses words--uses emotions. Whenever I'd compete in performances for the flute and piano, I always got marked up for my "musicality," and occasionally would get marked down for being off a beat slightly.

But to me, it was fine. It was the way I felt it--not "felt" with a snotty attitude, but I mean FELT with my heart and soul, and that's how I liked it.

AP Calculus was nonsensical to me, but Emerson and Steinbeck and Vonnegut were clear as day.

I dreaded this past weekend for a long time in several ways.

Jacks reminded me that today--that when I stopped at her apartment on September 6th on my way to Madison, I mentioned the possibilities of this past weekend's events. And she told me, "If it could make you worry more than an Ironman, it was a big deal."

It was. I'm accepting that. It was and I dreaded it and it's over and I made it. And I feel...better even. Vindicated in some ways.

And even a little bit stronger.

Today I got my flu shot at school. Yawn. Or, in my case, THUMP (the sound of me passing out whenever I get a shot). But I didn't pass out this time. I felt a little queasy and nauseous...a little like I felt Friday around 6pm...but I made it through with a smile despite the churning stomach and I'm pretty certain that no one even knew the difference.

(Except, someone did on Friday--I learned that on Saturday. That someone, at one time at least, knew me very well, though. So we'll let it slide.)

I then got my numbers for my health screening--they do it every year for free at work, when we get our shots. So, what the heck, I thought. Might as well.

They have my numbers from last year--November 4th to be exact.

The nurses jaw dropped when she wrote down my new stats:

Blood pressure? 30 points lower.
Cholesterol? 30 points lower.
"Good" cholesterol? Slightly higher.
Resting pulse? 48 beats per minute.

"What did you do?" She said, surprised.

Well...I guess...I did an Ironman?

But that's probably not it. One day didn't do it.

I woke up early for nine months. I hate waking up early. I swam endless laps in a 20 yard pool with Noodle Lady, Navy Guy, Dave the Lifeguard, and TriEric.

I rode on a trainer in my basement, when I couldn't ride outside. I did one leg drills until I swear I did them in my sleep.

I ran. And ran and ran and ran. Slowly. Which, I didn't like to do at first, and then I got used to it as being necessary. To make me stronger.

I rode more hills than I've ever rode in my entire life. I doubted myself. I felt tears welling up in my eyes several times on the course that kicked my butt over and over and over again. And I kept going back. Every. Single. Weekend. Because, what does not kill you, most assuredly makes you stronger.

I rode 100 miles 4 times. And then ran afterwards up to an hour.

I got tossed around by waves and felt the sun shine on the back of my wetsuit as I focused, focused, focused on my stroke. I ignored the dead fish that I ran into in July. I pretended he was just sleeping.

I made it to the start line.

I made it to the finish line.

"I did a lot of things," I answered, smiling. There's no way I could explain it all--nor would she have probably cared to hear it all. I just know that I did a lot of things.

And I'm better for it.

All of it.

It was worth the pain, it was worth the tears, and it was worth the joy while it lasted. I remembered that, this weekend, too.

All of it.


Wes said...

That's priceless...

Habeela said...

Oh my word! That's amazing! Now, what I want to know, is what was your resting heart rate a year ago?

massoman said...

those are great numbers.

there is no way to explain to someone who has not done it, how life changing it is or what it feels like to get really good at kicking your own ass every day.

Kate said...


RunBubbaRun said...

Great numbers, resting pulse under 50, I don't think even Lance Armstrong's resting pulse is not that low. Plus you get to wear a cool hat after all of this.

Jodi said...

Great job!

But how much healthier do you FEEL?

If you have any tips on how to enjoy slow running send them my way. I'm starting to resent it a little...


ps. Great job getting through another tough weekend. I'll take a physical challenge any day over an emotional one.

walchka said...

What a great post Sara! You always have the best post. Seriously...

Cliff said...

You swam in a 20 yard pool..poor girl.

:O...that's a lto of drop in numbers..awesome..i love your resting pulse btw.

Amy said...

Those are awesome numbers!

Great post.

Kurt said...

I love numbers. Of course I use numbers for both running and work.

TriSonq said...

How can you not like numbers like that?!?

The ups & downs are what makes life exciting and wonder what challenge is around the next corner.

Love your post.

TriJack said...

reminds me of the HarleyDavidson mantra...

"If I have to explain it, you wouldn't understand..."

Lance Notstrong said...

You swam into a dead fish?

E-Speed said...

girl you have come a long way! Can't wait to see you this Sunday!

Spokane Al said...

Great post.

And I agree with your point on the numbers. That is great that those numbers have made major improvements but to focus on them is to loose sight of your total accomplishments. You set out on a mission and a goal and achieved it, and as a side note your resting heart rate and other stuff improved as well.

However, it sounds to me like the biggest improvement to you is not quantifiable via a medical test.

Keep rocking!

coachh said...

great post...can i share w/my kids(xc runners). Good job.

DaisyDuc said...

That is amazing...truly shows how far you have come and how much of an impact it has made in your health!!

TryAthlete said...

Oh, those are good stats!

momo said...

wow, sara! you, and your health are better for what you've accomplished this past year. you should be so proud of yourself!

Lana said...

Wow, great post. You have so much to be proud of. Anyone who doesn't or didn't understand your Ironman training can surely understand the difference in those numbers. That is aweseome!

Rachel said...

That's awesome! It's great to see such positive results from all that training!

qcmier said...

Wait Vonnegut makes sense and x + Y = Z doesn't?

When I played piano, my being slightly off beat was how I felt, too. As in my fingers can't reach that note, so let's gloss over it.

Triteacher said...

LOL - pretending the dead fish was just sleeping. Thank you for yet another great post. I too am a "feeler" versus a quantifier (or whatever its opposite would be).

Papa Louie said...

Yep, you did all that you could to be what you are today. And I'm sure there were times when you had to sacrifice junk food, and family obligations.

Robb said...

I've printed this post and stuck it on my bulletin board at work! Hard work pays off Sara. Amazing.

jkrunning--Just Keep Running said...

"One day didn't do it." Obviously your doctor is not an athlete. How funny.

Great job on the numbers Sara.