10.22.2013

Huh...?

So I spent the last 4ish days feeling really...off.  Vertigo, nausea, lethargic, sinus stupidity, "general malaise."  Several people in my circle of local friends have been battling colds, so I had suspected that maybe I was coming down with something, but never really did.  I had that sore throat that generally precedes a cold, but then never got truly sick.  A few days ago I did a bike ride with a bunch of dudes on a semi-hilly route.  The sort of terrain that doesn't typically faze me too badly...but I felt just really horribly out-of-shape and lacking any ability to attack hills in the least.  Everything pointed to impending viral attack, but nothing really materialized fully.

I suspect it's simply been my body's way of saying "WTF is all this new shit you're throwing at me?!"  I'm guessing that the vertigo and nausea were common side effects of Prometrium.  Fortunately I feel pretty "normal" today.

I also just started Symbicort for my asthma.  My allergist wasn't all that impressed with the effectiveness of even high doses of Qvar (similar drug, but lacking long-acting bronchodilator--simply an inhaled steroid), so is having me switch.  I must say that I'm very suspicious that my recent cold-like symptoms could be due to this med.  I was on a similar medication, Advair, for maybe 8-9 months several years ago.  And was sick all the friggin' time!!  The worst effect of that was chronic oral thrush.  Fortunately I can use a spacer device with Symbicort, which should help with that.  I hope it doesn't beat my immune system up as badly as Advair did, though.  It really sucks when the "cure" is worse than the illness.

Today I'm generally feeling a lot more like myself, so hopefully any negative effects from the Prometrium are behind me.  It can take a cycle or two for a woman's body and natural hormone levels to settle-down with this stuff.  In the short term it can actually cause a woman's system to pump out even higher levels of estrogen.  This peri-menopause business is not for the weak!  I have my fingers-crossed that the next cycle will be a little easier to bear.  But even if I have 3-4 "off" days/28 I can deal with that.  It still beats the alternative.

And I never did hear back re: the ovarian cancer screen blood work I had done, so I am assuming that no news is good news.  I'm still pretty weirded-out by the thought of a kiwi-sized cyst in my belly, though.  I hope that sucker just shrinks on its own.  At this point if it doesn't seem like it's going anywhere or if it appears to grow I will have it and its defective ovarian buddy removed sometime in the coming month or two.

I've lost 3-4#s since this was taken...still need less ME, over
Now I need to feel solid this weekend -- I have races both Saturday (gravel road on the back of our tandem with my hubby) and a cyclocross race on Sunday.  The Halloween race.  This year I hopefully don't have a jacked-up back.  I'll be wearing the "costume" I bought for that race last year and never ended up wearing.

I have lost some weight in recent weeks (like maybe 4ish #s, or so).  Running and biking on calorie deficit are also likely to blame for my craptacular workouts.  I have to keep reminding myself that the end result will be a faster runner and cyclist, even if it means sacrificing many months to less-than-stellar training.  I've got about 16#s left to lose.  On my shorty frame that will make a big difference and likely have me dropping 2 sizes.  Now to behave myself over the holidays...

10.17.2013

The Honeymoon is Over

While our trees are about at peak Fall color, we're also getting a taste of true Autumn weather -- not "Indian Summer," but Fall slop.  Last night our weekly Weds. Night Gravel Ride was semi rained-out. We managed >20 miles, but it was hard-fought, slow, cold, and wet.  There were a lot of UNfun moments on the back of the tandem with bald tires, too.  Downhills through loose, gravely mud are scary.  Uphills on the same terrain are extra hard as the wet sand-slop sucks at our tires.  Add to that the fact that it's dark and spitting in our faces.  Running in the rain is mostly pretty fabulous.  Biking in it...not horrible if it's Summer, but in the low-50s it's challenging to not become horribly chilled.

Monday night was also a gravel road ride from the impending bike shop.  Most of us ended up underdressed, so we were actually colder by the finish of that ride than we were last night.  One of the difficulties of dressing for the weather in the Spring and Fall is that the temperature swing from the beginning of a ride to the finish can be pretty drastic.  It's easy to be over or under-dressed, depending upon whether one is riding in the early AM or just prior to dusk.

Me, MC, Heather, Kaat
Sunday was another fun Kisscross cyclocross race and redeemed a course that I really loathed last year (and was the straw that "broke" this camel's back for about 3 weeks, last season).  It was also the first race for our 3rd Coast Racing team with legitimate kits!  We only had 5 gals in the C race (which has me pretty bummed.  I think we had about a dozen women in the first race of the season, but it seems like 4-5 is the number of C women competing most weeks.  I think that's about half the # of competitors we were seeing for most of last season.  I can't help but wonder if the relative difficulty of the course for the first race has a lot to do with this.  There were several individuals on brand new bikes who have never been back.  Even as a semi-experienced CX racer I was not thrilled to see courses that so heavily favored mountain bikes), but we placed 1, 2, 4 (that was me in 4).

Scott's first B race...my hubby in hot pursuit!
I believe we still have 3 races left, including the Halloween race in about a week-and-a-half.  My goal is to simply not be the last C woman for any remaining races.

I had a lot of fun shooting our team members during the B race.  I think I'll be bringing my big ol' DSLR to all of the races in the future.  Contemplating a new lens, too.  My 50mm is too short and doesn't yield the sort of depth-of-field results that I like, even shooting at f/1.8.  My 100mm does a nice job, but I have to stand WAY back...and then people invariably end up standing in front of me, not realizing the chick with the camera a mile from the action is actually shooting.  My short Tokina zoom is nice for portraiture, but too slow-focusing for sports.  A fast Canon zoom would cost as much as a new bike.  So I'm eyeballing a fast 85mm Canon prime lens.  Christmas is coming!

Still no word on the ovarian cancer blood test I had last week, so I'm assuming no-news-is-good-news. Were my results positive for a cancer marker I'm certain they would have called me, already.  I have an appt. in a couple of weeks with an OB/gyn surgeon.  I really hope they recommend simply taking that ovary and its big cyst buddy out as soon as cyclocross season is over.  I'd probably even be fine with leaving the uterus in place if there was no evidence of anything too amiss, at this point.  Removing the ovary would be a no-big-deal recovery.  Even laparoscopic or vaginal removal of my uterus would likely have me down for a month, minimum.  And right now we're planning on an epic New Year's Eve bash at Casa Bikestra™ with our 3rd Coast Racing teammates.

And a lot will probably rest on how well the Prometrium (bio-identical progesterone) works to eliminate/minimize a lot of miserable peri-menopause and endometriosis symptoms.  I'm hoping this stuff is like a miracle drug.  So far I'm 3 doses in and have 0 side-effects.

Speaking of miracle drugs, I visited the allergist yesterday.  They want to do further deep-skin testing to screen for mold, trees, and grass.  I have a feeling I would trigger at least 2 of the 3.  My mom has mold allergies.  And Spring is generally Hell on my sinuses.

The allergist is also starting me on Symbicort, since even crazy high doses of inhaled steroid (Qvar 80mg, 2 puffs 2x/day) aren't putting my lung function where it should be and I have "obstructed" lungs.    Symbicort is steroid + long-acting bronchodilator.  The steroid brings down airway swelling and the bronchodilator further opens airways (like a rescue inhaler, but for more than a couple of hours).  The funny part of this is when they ask me how my breathing feels to me I always find it to be pretty decent, but the spirometer tests tell a different story.  My lung function has been so awful for so long that I don't even have any concept of what it would be like to have acceptable air intake.  I have to wonder what I'd be capable of with normal lungs...

I also wonder what I'd be capable of with a leaner bod.  I'm working on that.  I'm down 5#s in about the past month or so and about 4#s over my lowest recent weight -- back when I was newly out of my long-arm cast.  I'm currently about 16#s from where I'd like to be (130#s).  I think I'm going to start doing photos at 5# intervals -- in the same sports bra/shorts -- to see just how transformative those pounds lost are.  I'm at that point where every few pounds can be pretty apparent on a relatively small frame.  Even with the 5-6#s I've lost in the last couple of months I'm seeing my midsection flatten and my face looks slimmer (bat-wings are still stubborn as hell).  Keeping motivation in the face of tasty eats is crucial!!

10.11.2013

Kiwis (the fruit, not people from NZ) are dumb.

2 days ago I had a message on my voicemail to call my OB/gyn's office back re: recent pelvic ultrasound (aka "dildo-cam") results.  The ultrasound had been ordered by the PA I recently saw to get a look at some small fibroid(s); to help determine whether or not I need a hysterectomy or if simply adding 200mg of Prometrium™/bio-identical progesterone will combat annoying-as-hell peri-menopause symptoms.  First thing yesterday AM I talked to one of the nurses at the office and she said I have "a 'kiwi-sized' 'cystic mass'" on my right ovary.  Oh joy.

The term "cystic mass" is horribly ambiguous.  Anything cystic in nature falls under this umbrella.  By definition ovulation creates a cyst.  But cysts can be benign or they can be cancerous.  At my age and given my history of endometriosis it's highly unlikely that it's "the big C," but still...until I know for certain, yeah, my brain keeps going to worst-case scenarios. And since the blood test they do to try to narrow things down can throw false positives when a woman has endo, there's some probability that I won't know anything for sure without removal and biopsy.  I had lab work done yesterday, but have yet to hear anything.  The waiting is gonna suck. I have an appt. with an OB/gyn on 11/4...I'm guessing if the blood work comes back sketchy that we'll be scheduling surgery. That may be the case either way (I may just opt to have this ovary and my uterus out now. I'm 40 and done with baby makin'). Looks like I might be missing the last cyclocross race (or two) of the season for the 2nd year running if the doctor determines that surgery needs to happen ASAP. If it doesn't appear to be cancerous or in any other way risky I'll likely schedule surgery as soon as CX season is done.

This finding does explain some various symptoms I've had over the past few months, the bulk of which I chalked-up to the stress of moving.  I'm guessing this cyst developed right around the time we moved, so 6-7 months ago.  At this point I'm guessing the doc is going to recommend surgery or waiting a month or two to see if there is any change, assuming it's a straightforward cyst.  If it's a cyst caused by endometriosis (an endometrioma, which is my suspicion), then it will almost certainly require surgery.

I've even lost close to 5ish pounds in the past month or two without huge effort...I should be overjoyed by this, but it makes me sorta nervous, as I've never ever had an easy time losing weight -- certainly not without obsessively logging every morsel that passes my lips.  Unexplained weight loss is a symptom of ovarian cancer (but so is exhaustion and I've not had that in any noticeable way, which is greatly reassuring.  In fact, some of my strongest runs all year have been in the past week or so, thanks in part to blissful and cooler Fall weather).  Fuck me to tears if the only way I can drop pounds is to have a potentially deadly tumor on-board.  Seriously...just fuck that!

Bikestras™ on our bicycle built for 2!
I hope whatever is going on that it's not something that will require going under the knife ASAP (assuming that it's not cancer.  In the event of cancer I, of course, want that evil out of me yesterday!).  DH and I are registered for a gravel road race on our tandem...this would be my first ever gravel race AND race on a tandem.  It's only about 2 weeks away.  This would be my last shot at a big race in 2013.  The long-course duathlon I had recently been registered for was cancelled due to lack of registrations and volunteers.  Bummer.  I was really looking forward to it and feel pretty strong (for me) on uphills after our JDRF century ride in the hills on the Natchez Trace near Nashville.  I was looking forward to representing 3rd Coast Racing (in our swaggy new kit, seen at right) with at least an age group podium spot.

We've been taking out the tandem most Weds nights with many from our 3rd Coast Racing team (we rode this past Monday night, too, so lately I've been logging most of my bike miles on the back of the tandem in the dark...it's a surreal experience much of the time, for sure).  I'm over the worst of my earlier abject terror.  Super-fast steep downhills with loose gravel/sand still have me feeling about to shit myself, though.  I don't know if it's helpful that I can't see where we're going or not.

10.04.2013

Falling into...Fall!

We're into October and about halfway through Kisscross cyclocross season (3 races down, 4 to go).  It's sorta surreal, since it's a little unseasonably warm.  Hopefully we get some cooler, wetter races.  This girl loves her some mud...on her legs, back, helmet, and grit in the teeth!

I'm also eager to rock my new 3rd Coast Racing kit (which perfectly matches my road bike...and my blog!).  We received them a couple of nights ago, before a team gravel road ride.  I'm loving the short and long-sleeved (fleece-lined...ahhh...I want to sleep in it!) jerseys.  Not fond of the shorts.  They have compressive leg bands (size L...yet they are like boa-constrictors on my ample quads).  Losing even 5 more #s should help, but they have other issues, like poorly-placed seams.  Next time we place an order I'll be snagging a pair of bib shorts (which I'm generally not fond of, due to an icky wet-1-piece-bathing-suit effect and the PITA of having to strip down just to pee).  DH has a pair of the bibs and they have super comfortable and flattering leg bands without elastic.  Also no inner-thigh seam to rub between saddle and adductor.
Stupid sausage thighs, but check out that matchy-matchy bike/kit action!
I actually tried his bibshorts on yesterday (same model, but part of his local JDRF team kit).  They are a hair small on him and were big on me, but gave me a good overall idea of what to expect and fit surprisingly well, aside from being far too long through the torso/straps.  Also the chamois placement was weird...because boys have different parts than girls, duh!  :p

I gotta have more tattoo!!!
I've managed to drop a few pounds in the past month...not doing anything super structured, but mostly avoiding eating/drinking crap and restraining myself from eating out of boredom.  Didn't really make any progress with that this weekend, because I had a bunch of running girlfriends in town for a friend's wedding and a half-marathon.  Yeah, there was much eating and drinking to be had!  Wouldn't have let a diet put a damper on that fun, though.  I still have nearly 20#s to lose to be to my goal of 130#s  When I get there I'll be rewarding myself with a new tattoo -- on my outer, lower right thigh.  Instead of Cow Bell it will say Run Bike.

I'm also planning to schedule a pin-up girl photo shoot with Sweet Wink Photography.  That's as much for the hubby as for me.  At 40 it's only a matter of time before photos are gonna require a shit-ton more airbrushing, heh.

Bonus photo of me all prettied-up for my friends' wedding
At 40 I'm also solidly into peri-menopause, as was confirmed with a doctor (PA, to be precise) visit this past week.  She's putting me on 200mg progesterone for 10 days of every cycle.  This should hopefully help with a lot of random, stupid symptoms I've been battling for at least the past 5 years (easy bruising, difficulty losing weight, insomnia, low libido, short cycles + bleeding for an excessive amount of time, etc.).  Actually, the low progesterone could go back as far as puberty for me.  It can be the factor that causes "estrogen dominance," which often triggers endometriosis and fibroid tumors (both conditions I suffer from and have for decades).  I also had bleeding issues while pregnant.  A lot of women who miscarry do so because their bodies don't produce enough progesterone to support pregnancy.

I'm pretty happy that the PA suggested this course of action, as I was prepared to be told that it's time for a hysterectomy (removing my uterus and potentially one endo-scarred ovary).  I wasn't looking forward to the 4-8 weeks of surgical recovery time.  I've got too much I want to do this Winter, including training for a friend's new 55 mile gravel road race in the works for April!  I ain't got time to go under the knife!!

9.25.2013

>5 Months...

Where were we...?  Oh, yes, last time I found time to pen an entry we had just moved into our new house.  We've now been here nearly 6 months and it's really been such a treat.  We have space to have friends over, which has been wonderful.  By the 2nd half of Summer we were having friends over after weekly local criterium races -- Wine Wednesdays!  This weekend we're having 5 of my running friends stay here while they're in the area for the wedding of 2 of our friends.  We're also running a local half-marathon on the morning of the nuptials!  Having 2 guest rooms makes this possible...we had NO guest space at the old place (which we still have yet to put on the market, but as Fall quiets down we'll be in a better place to get that in the works).

My helmet's not crooked, it's jaunty!
3 days ago we arrived home from our JDRF Ride to Cure weekend in Nashville.  What a fabulous time with >500 friends and fellow cyclists.  And this single event raised a record-setting $1.5 million to fund scientific research towards curing a deadly autoimmune disease!!  I managed to roll some of the miles of that 104 mile day with some Nashvegas-area friends, too, which was a major bonus!

Each JDRF destination ride has been an amazing experience -- this year's ride was no exception.  The sheer size of it was particularly awe-inspiring.  This new Nashville ride was the largest in Ride to Cure history.  Our team head coach received a special award honoring his years of selfless service to the program.  That was the cherry on the top of the weekend's warm-fuzzies.

Earlier this Summer DH and I joined a newly forming local cycling race team, 3rd Coast Racing.  We've got a really great group of teammates...and all different disciplines and strengths, but universally fun people with a common love of 2 wheels. Some of us excel at criteriums, many of us participate in cyclocross (yeah, it's that time of year, again, so I will be covered in bruises until about Thanksgiving!), mountain biking, time trials, gravel road epics, and a few of us love us some dus and tris.  My 3rd duathlon of the year is coming up in about 10 days.  For all intents and purposes it's an olympic distance race.  I did my first longer-course duathlon in July, so I'm really looking forward to this, especially after my strong century in Nashville.  The 26 "hilly" local miles of this bike leg should be a piece of cake!  In a recent sprint race I placed 5/32 overall women and 2nd/9 in my age group.

The view does sorta lack, I must admit...
DH and I are also going to do our first race on the tandem (it's only recently that I'm a fan of it -- saddle and fit issues made it a very miserable experience for me in the past) in Nov.  A gravel road race...OK, I feel sorta queasy just typing that, for realz!!  We should have our team "kit," by then.  It will be fun to represent 3rd Coast Racing as a married couple!

Speaking of 3rd Coast -- it's not just a race team.  3rd Coast is also a "coming soon" bike shop -- 3rd Coast Cycles.  DH and I are are co-owners with 3 friends.  Any time you're in West MI come check us out (our shop will be located next to the Family Fare grocery store in Hudsonville, MI).  Our shop motto is "For cyclists, bicyclists."  We hope to be open on or around 12/1.

This is a pretty quick-and-dirty update.  We keep waiting for life to settle-down, but it seems like every week leaves us feeling like we're chasing our tails and out-of-breath.  It used to be once the snow fell that cycling season would ease-up, but now there are fat bike races and indoor cyclocross events and The Sufferfest indoor trainer workouts in basements with friends.  So much for an off season!!

In the "slower" months (ie months without any specific "goal" races) my aim is to get back on track with the weight-loss.  Now that I'm part of a race team I don't want to be recognized as the slow, chubby chick on the team.  Dropping 20#s should take care of both.  No one really needs more than one chin...