Wednesday, December 24, 2014

2014: A year to leave behind

I started writing our Christmas letter and I had to put it down. It was getting a bit depressing and the theme felt repetitive. Rode bikes. Went on vacation. Kyle went SVT, got shocked, got an ablation. Repeat. Vacation, deployment, foreign country ER, and return to be ablated again. "Looking forward to 2015" feels a little more real than most imply.

So I did things a bit differently this year. I wrote our "12 moments of 2014" which allows the repetitive nature of our year to come through. 

12 months of sunshine: yep. We're still in San Diego and loving it. Last winter was a sad state of affairs for the CA water table, but pretty awesome for cyclists. We've had a bit of rain this winter and I found it fun to be able to wear my rain boots! 

Over 11 podium winnings. This blog pretty much sums that up. Had a fun early season racing bikes fast. 

racked up a bunch of points at the 805 criterium weekend
10 days in Tahoe: I do love this place. We went in July and had an awesome trip to swim and ride. Followed with a not so awesome trip in Sept for my {cancelled} half ironman {wildfire smoke} and Kyle's overnight stay in Reno ICU after requiring 3x cardioverts. Not fun.
trans tahoe swim relay = fun.
 9 trips with family- went to Phoenix in Feb to visit my new nephew and got to race too. I went back in April to visit during my moms 2nd trip out. I also went to South Danota in May for Jax's baptism and got to visit the Tiedemans! I got some quality swim lesson time with the little guy. Meg and Jax came to visit over the 4th of July. Kyle and I went to Seattle in Sept for my cousins wedding which was a great Gordon family gathering.  We then ventured out to Phoenix again for Thanksgiving. I'm here now for a couple days before xmas and we are heading to Ohio next week to see his family and I get to meet his grandparents for the first time! Okay so that's 8, but he has 3 houses in Ohio we'll be shuttling between!

family reunion at Hannah's wedding
8 years in the Navy - so proud of my Sailor. It hasn't been the greatest year for him, yet he remains so positive. He started taking online classes to finish his degree. He earned a NAM this summer for his work leading up to deployment.

i've turned him into a hockey fan!
7 bikes in the household. Enough said.
Animal joined the family last Christmas

6 years at Moment Bikes. Still loving my job as the bike fit kingpin and guru at the shop. 

Going on 5 married years. In sickness and health was the theme of this year. Oct brought our 4th anniversary and we celebrated at a Kings hockey game in LA! 

4 cardioverts. One at work, 3 in tahoe. 2 were unsedated. He made me video the first one I saw. 

3 ablations. He's gone in for 3 electrical pathway studies to map and ablate the bad nodes. He's an anomaly. 

Category 2 upgrade. Successful racing builds points. Should be an interesting 2015 racing full time with the big girls. 

Ah yes, the willsdynasty. We gotten knocked down but we will be back.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Twas the night before...

Kyle's third ablation.

Finding a "starting" place, looking back to the past, is more difficult than I remember. I suppose it's harder to put challenging times to words, than the race report, podium shot posts of the "on season." It's okay. Everything will be okay.

In my previous post, I had mentioned the #willsdynasty work that would get me back this winter and that Kyle would be finding on his trainer throughout deployment. I didn't intend for that preview to be so literal;
"I'm looking forward. To training as "one of the guys" again, and racing as I have before, solo. I know this will be a challenge as a Cat 2. I know I have a lot of work to get my body where I want it to be. Strong and balanced. My sherpa is going on an extended "trip," yet he'll be back before I know it. Time for a winter of #willsdynasty." 
Well, he was back. And before I knew it.

I got the message at 4am on the Saturday of our team training camp. I had wished him a smooth day ahead {his first real day on deployment} before I went to bed and woke up to, "Yeah, about that..."

So Mr. Less than 1% Chance has defied all odds twice now and got sent home.

I had a lot of people reach out, and most were asking if I was relieved or glad to have him back. Which was interesting to answer. Of course I'm relieved he's back to be able to handle this issue here, in America, with his cardiologist who knows his heart better than anyone. But am I glad? No, not really.

Being a Navy wife is something I signed up for. I knew there would be times apart. Of course I was sad when he left. I cried like a baby in our monster truck. But I was mentally prepared for six months.   I was in shock when he came back. And it's not like his journey home was easy. Poor guy was stuck on C17 planes in a hammock, sitting on airfields, or in small airport terminals and customs rooms for 5+ days.
Scary foreign hospital, luckily w/Western trained docs
So he's back. We had a great meeting with his cardiologist two weeks ago and scheduled his third ablation for tomorrow. So another study and investigation to seek out those bad pathways, and his extra ticks will again be burned.

I think it's most disheartening for him and I by the lack of understanding of anyone else {including our parents, whom we love} of what is actually happening to him. We don't blame anyone, as we are bad at explaining it, but it's frustrating when people hear "heart" and instantly think about heart attacks, blockages, bypasses and stints. That's pulmonary medicine. His issue is strictly electrophysiological. His bad "pathways" are extra electrical nodes on his heart that fire incorrectly, and off beat from his AV node. They get into a bad circuit and cause his heart to beat at 250bpm. His heart is strong and can sustain that rhythm for a while, but eventually his blood pressure drops {his heart is beating on a different rhythm than it's pumping} and in those instances, he has to be cardioverted through many joules of electricity to his heart {getting shocked} to bring him back to a normal rhythm. This past time he was able to cardiovert himself through maneuvers he's tried in the past. He has a 50% success rate at skipping the shock.

He's had to work hard to be able to prove himself competent to complete his PRT today. His cardiologist said the best thing for him is exercise, yet explaining that to his workplace or my friends is challenging. She finds that most people who quit working out only gain other problems through lack of exercise {issues on the other side of the heart}. She just wants him to make sure he's relatively close to a hospital and that he has his pill in pocket {beta blocker} incase of an episode. But he was cleared for riding and physical activity. The funny thing is he's supposed to watch his caffeine intake, yet the Navy is fueled by 2 things, diesel and coffee.

If you want to read further, Wiki is pretty helpful. Supraventricular Tachycardia.


So what have we been up to? Riding! What else? It's been a gorgeous fall/winter here in So Cal. I feel so lucky to call this our home. His command is keeping him on shore/staff duty till we figure out what's happening with his heart, which is great news. Moment Racing had our team banquet at our sponsor, Stone Brewing, and we got a private room at their Liberty Station location. Yummy eats and great beer, paired with the awesome work {if I do say so myself} of Kyle and I on our hammer award project. We are off to Phoenix for Thanksgiving and here for the weekend of shopping madness. I do work retail and have to be at the shop for the craziness! Come visit me, we really do have great deals all weekend. Rides, food at the shop, and extended hours 8-8 from black Friday - Sunday.

GWL - an awesome time back out east.
riding with him to work. he gets a flat. sad face.
tide pool hill repeats on a crisp morning.
I've also been doing a little cove swimming here and there. This place still is my favorite in San Diego, and has been extra special lately, with clearer and warmer than usual conditions.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

tears & friends

I just cried for 8 min straight. I have the best of friends, near and mostly far, who created a little video. These nine ladies {and their babies} have impacted my life in a way that can't be made in a day, week, or year. These women have given me the strength, smiles and memories that have truly transcended time. I am forever thankful for their friendship, kind and beautiful words, and encouragement. To keep on keeping on.

Missy said it best with her song, and one of our favorite {on repeat WAY too many times} - Sway by Bic Runga from 1997!:
And there's no cure, and no way to be sure
Why everything's turned inside out
Instilling so much doubt
It makes me so tired - I feel so uninspired
My head is battling with my heart
My logic has been torn apart
And now it all turns sour
Come sweeten every afternoon
I can't remember the last time I heard this song. And now, actually listening to the lyrics, it's just all to perfect for the feelings I've had for the latter part of this year. I do feel so uninspired. Yet, with the words of these nine women, I've had a fire lit in my heart. So, to each of you, from the bottom of my heart, Thank You.

Seester Megan!
Ah my sister. There is no one like you and no one better to call my only sister. You've taught me way more in life than any little sister should have to, as you've had much of your life experiences before I. We may not always be on the same team, but we'll always be family. It's an odd experience to grow up with someone who is your greatest competitor but the only one I'd want in the lane next to me, because either way, we both win. You are a gorgeous woman and the mother I could never be.
GRHS buddies - Kelly, Brenna, Jaime and Heidi
You ladies gave me the drive and motivation to be a better, faster, stronger girl starting in elementary school when I met all of you on the YMCA swim team. You put up with my spazzy-ness, my OCD, my wishes at 11:11, and antics. You were my teammates, best friends, and girls who stood up for me. Kelly, you are determined and caring, strong and soft. I've never met anyone such an amazing switch from competitor to friend. Brenna, you were most like me, crazy, fun and different. We didn't fit into the regular box of normal high school and I had a blast being your sidekick. Jaime, you are too pretty to be our friend. I love that you and Brenna were discussing joining the lane 2 crew again, "what lane was it?" You were always someone I looked up to (literally as well) and I'm glad you showed me what college was like before college. :) Heidi, thank you for putting this together. I always tried to match your craftiness, and I know I never will. Your love and intensity for others is unmatched. Even though distance has separated us, you all hold a special place in my heart and to hear that back from each of you means the world to me.

The Pink Ladies
The ladies of 821 South 25th St. You entered my life in 2002 and will never leave. The memories we've shared only continue to grow, even as we move farther apart.
Missy {miss-e-poo}
From the day I met you in the summer of 2002, like the creepiness of internet dating for the first time {I think we overloaded either other's email inboxes every week that summer}, I knew it was meant to be. Destiny {or Mavi's alphabetical by first name roommate matching}. You were the college roommate everyone wishes they had. You were forced into our friendship and I'll forever be grateful. Your love and support through so many thick and thin times goes unmatched. You are amazing.
Katie (KT)
Katie you are my comic relief, yet you've always given it to me straight. You are bold, strong and amazing. Thanks for allowing me to invade your personal space with "puppy" - I know you miss it.
Kayley (KK)
Kayley, the wind beneath my wings (kidding, and I thought it'd make you laugh). I am a cyclops because of you. Also a Krachel, Krach, Grodo, Krach-e-pants and way too many other hilarious pet names. Your antics are well matched to mine. Your son's message was too cute. :)
Car. E. {ah, mavi is hilarious with his name pronunciations} You are my dancing queen, always willing to go out with me when everyone else wanted to study. You are a gorgeous women, inside and out, and bring light to anyone's day. I cried the hardest at your message. Your kindness and heartfelt words mean more than you know. 

Phew - that was a lot of memories packed into one small post in time. You all are amazing women and without you I wouldn't be the person I am today. Smiling. Grateful. Motivated. Inspired.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Déjà vu all over again

I know it's only October, but I've had a full year and I'm looking to press reset and start again. 

A year full of sunshine and rainbows, and a lot of smoke and mirrors on the rainy days. We even had thunder and lightening cast over us in San Diego. And over my life too. 

This week, Moment Racing lost our two most active female racers. And I can't help but reflect that loss to myself. There is probably much more to their exits, and I know it's selfish to turn the spotlight back to me, but I am hurt. It's not their fault, nor do I wish to reflect any negativity towards any of my prior teammates. I realize this event is just the last one in a series of "woe is me."  

So I'm going to cleanse my feelings through writing and press restart. 

The problem is, I'm a strong individual. The first born. A Midwestern. Stubborn and a bit sassy. So identifying when something is internally wrong doesn't come immediately for me. I think I'm pretty good at mitigating my stress levels. I have a handle on these crappy situations. But what's happening are those levels become maxed out, and the next stressful event fills my already full arms. My internalization of emotions and events makes me look strong from the outside, and asking for help seems weak and unnecessary. I got this. And the extra tip of the scales suddenly makes that load unbearable. 

Looking back, I've had a great year statistically. 

Top 5 placing in 14 of 16 races

Red Trolley W123 - 2nd
Valley of the Sun Criterium W3 - 1st
Valley of the Sun Road Race W3 - 5th
Valley of the Sun Stage Race W3 - 4th
St Patrick's Day Crit W123 - 4th
Tour de Murietta Road Race W123 - 5th
Barrio Logan W3/4 - 1st
Hancock Twilight Crit W3/4 - 2nd
Hancock Twilight Crit W123 - 5th
Avenue of Flags Crit W3/4 - 3rd
Avenue of Flags Crit W123 - 7th
California State Championship Crit W3/4 - 4th
California State Championship Crit W123 - 5th
Manhattan Beach Grand Prix W3/4 - 1st

Successful Category 3 -> 2 upgrade (points)

Here was my write-up to a teammate gathering info on the season:
"I had an awesome season racing with teammates! We had a blast coming up with race plans and executing, and whether they succeed or not, we always came to the next race with the fire to try again. After racing as a solo racer for most of my career, it was very rewarding to share my successes with teammates, who sacrificed a ton to get me to the line every time. Every one of those results was a team effort. It was a fun season of not only endurance but mental growth, learning to push past pain doing multiple races in one day/weekend. In my last season as a Cat 3, I was afforded the opportunity to both learn from the big girls, and lead the newer racers."
Deja vu all over again. None of that matters when you don't have anyone to celebrate with. I lost almost all my teammates in 2010, just after my first racing season, when they left to start another team. I should have learned back then that nothing is forever in this sport; loyalty is only good till the end of the season. 

I'm a swimmer and a triathlete, which are individual sports. I was a marching band nerd and a synchronized swimmer, but I liked those team activities because they were so reliant on each individual's performance. I thrived knowing I put forward my best for the team. 

Amateur bike racing is unique. The results in the end are who crossed the line first, but the process to get there and how a race unfolds isn't so simple. Teamwork is a beautiful thing when it works, and is what keeps a team together. Second place through the last rider keep coming back to race again. The lure of the line isn't the only reason people race. Maybe I've been blinded by that. 

This summer I had just come off a great road season, ready and motivated to kick butt at Tahoe half ironman this fall. I was happy with my fitness at SDIT and ready to build upon it. We went to Lake Tahoe for my swim relay and Kyle's first long distance mtb race and came back motivated. Only to have our car break down and Kyle to go into SVT two days later. The string of stress started to unravel. Training suffered. 

September 2014 was probably the most stressful month of my life. Highlights (and lowlights) included Tri Classic work craziness, immediately followed by Interbike, my cousins wedding and our fall Tahoe trip. Immediately followed by my race cancellation, Kyle's SVT, watching him get shocked 3x and subsequent overnight stay in the cardiac ICU in Reno. Immediately followed by my worst half ironman, my car dying again of the same problem, and Kyle's mandatory pre-deployment retreat on his 30th birthday.  Immediately followed by his 2nd ablation which took much longer than expected, but yet she expects it to be a non issue. Which was said after the first round. Immediately followed by the exit of teammates. Oh did I mention we are under the two week countdown to his second deployment? Can we just get a break already? Déjà vu all over again. 

before the race that didn't happen 
yep. 247. garmin said so.
not a comfy ride. 
oh, this again? 
that was not fun.
In college I went through a similar low eb during my sophomore year. I was dealing with a sidelining back injury, working on a not yet diagnosed Crohn's disease, and a failed relationship where I was heartbroken. I had just finished my worst swim meet and called home to cry to my dad. In his ever amazing talk to calm me down, he explained how my siblings and I were finally voted into our Chippewa tribe! Did I mention this was the only semester I got a 4.0? Ahh, silver linings. 

It's not as if this is "just a funk," as I kept telling myself. And I know I'll be okay. I have an amazing husband, I live by the beach, I love my job. 

I'm not motivated by swim bike run anymore. I need to step away from the sport until it finds me again. It felt very forced this season, and I don't enjoy sport when I'm "forced" to do it. I'm not a pro. This isn't my livelihood. My college tuition is paid. Triathlon is something that used to make me happy. This year I kept finding it left me feeling guilty about missed workouts. It left me feeling bad about my body image and my slow (for me) times. It actually made me hate swimming. 

Phew. That's a lot of negativity. I'm a positive person. I like to smile. I've lost who I was and I will find her again. I am a swimmer, lost in transition. But I am a native and I always find my way. 

I'm looking forward. To training as "one of the guys" again, and racing as I have before, solo. I know this will be a challenge as a Cat 2. I know I have a lot of work to get my body where I want it to be. Strong and balanced. My sherpa is going on an extended "trip," yet he'll be back before I know it. Time for a winter of #willsdynasty. 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Training Calendar vs Life Calendar

I'm heading to Tahoe 70.3 with mixed emotions. I'm excited to race my heart out, but at this point I'm feeling more like a participant. Taking a look at my training calendar the past month...yeah, um...crickets. 

My life calendar on the other hand has been rather packed with work and fun. Unfortunately we can't have it all and something had to give. And for once, I was okay with it being athletics. 

After Kyle's hospital stay and subsequent tests, I lost a lot of motivation. Looking back, I can't believe how well I handled it, but I'm glad I didn't push myself. As much as I tried to smile through and hide it, the stress was present. And making myself feel guilty over missed workouts was not the solution. 

Soon after, we slid into tri classic mode at the shop which leads to long days, missed lunches, and too much Mt. Dew and Dr. Pepper. We had another great event and it really felt like we had our sh*t together this year. {good job Sara! and super thanks to my husband for all his "voluntold" work. He's the best.}

i love my volunteers. especially him.
omg i need this bike.

Three days after the Classic, JT drove us to Vegas for Interbike {so much for catching up at work!} and we enjoyed two and a half days out there. Long days standing and walking make it pretty hard to find motivation to run. Jim and I flew back late on Thursday night {9/11} and I didn't get to bed till after midnight. 
#nbd - yah - Taylor Phinney

Friday afternoon I was back on a plane with Kyle to Seattle for my cousins wedding. We had a fantastic time at the Copper Creek resort at the base of Mt. Rainier. Simply gorgeous. She had almost the entire side of the family out there, so it was awesome to catch up! Besides the bride and groom, baby Jax stole the show. And I was glad for his snuggles and giggles. Family time is the best, and sadly it went by way too quickly. It was so great to see everyone, and especially my grandpa. Thanks to Molly and Bill for being the best hosts ever. 

gorgeous hannah and pop Bill
gordon family
jax being mr. handsome

#onaduck in Seattle
Kyle + I at Mt. Rainier
Hannah's husband Michael restores VW's. This was their guest book.

Sunday night we all shacked up in one hotel suite and it kinda felt like a college trip I took to Winnipeg. Kyle and I grabbed the early flight back to San Diego for a long day back at work. We worked Monday-Wednesday and started today at Kyle's 0-dark thirty wake up call for departure to Lake Tahoe. And the land of fires. {Well, that's all of California}

Phew. Exhausted reading all of that? I rode my bike on Wednesday and felt great. Usually taper weeks have me feeling down. I'm kinda hoping I can roll from the fitness I had this spring. But I'm okay with whatever race day throws at me. Know that I'll be fighting till the end. Channeling all of that Jens Voigt hour record energy. #shutuplegs

And it's vacation time! 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Trans Tahoe 2014

Lake Tahoe is a pretty amazing place. I think I've put the Trans Tahoe swim relay on my yearly must do list. After the awesome time I had last year with Erin H. on a team we hardly knew, I knew this year was going to be even better. I'm not one for planning, and actually prefer when someone else does it and I just ride the coattails. However, I knew I wanted to swim again and to just be on the lake. So, I assembled the team, registered for the race, rented the boat, got the lodging and executed a fun long weekend!

life is good.
Thursday am was an o-dark-thirty wakeup just as Kyle prefers. We were on the road and into Tahoe around 2:30, just as the crazy thunderstroms were turning on. Lightning, thunder, rain, hail. Chaos. How am I supposed to train for my half ironman in these conditions? Jeremy and I went out for a quick ride once the rain died down, just enough to get my bike nice and nasty.

erin rocking it up brockway.
Friday we had planned for the long ride day.  Jeremy had two laps on tap {that's what happens when you register for the full ironman rather than the half!} and was worried about the afternoon thunderstorms, so we chose to start early. Erin, Erin, Steve, and Mark joined me for the 1 lap adventure. Afterwards we went to the beach for a bit, before the storms rolled in. I attended the captains meeting on Friday night and they let us know the contingency plans should the storms roll in earlier on Saturday. {Radio channels, protocols, etc}

Saturday was another early wakeup as the 5 team members had to get to the boat launch and drive across the lake to the start. Our lead swimmer Erin M. got a more relaxed morning as she got driven to the start line via car. As the captain and organizer, everyone looked at me to be the boat captain. Yeah, I grew up on a lake in Minnesota. But my dad always did the boat launching, tricky driving, and navigation. I think I only took the boat out by myself once. Suffice to say, I was very nervous about the responsibility. After the 2 second, "this is forward, this is reverse" tutorial by the boat rental staff, they pushed us away from the dock and I was forced into go mode, trying to not smash into the boat docked directly in front of me, or the other boats tied up in the area. Phew, made it out of there and we were ready for our long journey across the lake.

sun bathing beauties.
We got to the start very early and were just a floating around in anticipation, yet nervously patrolling the area. Before we knew it, the race had started. We were in the second wave. I started to get closer to the pickup area and luckily found Erin without too much trouble. This part is extremely scary, as there are a crap ton of boats all within a small area and now swimmers are in the water. After finding her, it was then about navigating around  the other boats and out the natural "channel" of swimmers forming through the impending and waiting boats. Phew, we were out in the open water and I was getting more relaxed.

finding erin. and then trying not to run anyone else over. 
Now it was just 10ish miles across the lake in a somewhat straight {or zig zagged} line to the west. We all had fun jumping in, which of course makes for epic photos in a ridiculously gorgeous setting.

so much fun. all in one.
Saturday night we hosted a big party at our house with two other San Diego teams. Sunday was a bit of a rainy day and Kyle and I spent it together as most everyone else journeyed home. We enjoyed some drinks {Woodies} at Gar Woods on the lake, watching a crazy lightening storm roll over the lake and some mini golf after {of which I won by 1 stroke.}

storm watching from the deck at Gar Woods
this is serious.
Monday morning we left bright and early. Only our alternator failed around Lone Pine and we rolled into the only auto repair shop in town. Of course they didn't have the part and we'd have to stay overnight to wait for it to get shipped in. And of course the entire town's hotel business was booked with Badwater endurance run race support crews. Luckily, I gave our sob story to the front desk woman after she told us no, and after we called every other hotel in town hearing the same thing. She magically found a room available. Hotel pool and a race running just outside our door? Sounds like an okay way to spend 24 hours in the high desert. I had Tuesday off of work since the shop is closed, and Kyle called into his work with the news. He went for a mountain bike ride in the afternoon and I waited till sunset to get my long run in along Owens river.

Tuesday morning we decided to ride up Whitney Portal Rd to the trailhead. It's a ridiculous undertaking at 11 miles and 4,000 ft of climbing. Kyle only had his mountain bike and I was on Kermit, so suffice to say, we both didn't have our bikes of choice. Somehow we managed, and I think Kyle dominated with his granny gearing, but was nice enough to ride next to me as I was about to cry every time I looked up and couldn't see the top.

trying not to cry.
mr easy gearing. 
We passed 4 "runners" finishing the final leg of their race, that they started over 24 hours prior. We finally made it, and dipped our toes in the frozen creek, which felt amazing. We actually got the call that the car was ready when we were up there, so we {he} bombed down the descent while I descended like a sissy on my tri bike with sweaty palms, trying not to slide off my brake levers, smiling ear to ear. The fresh air and gorgeous views really do melt away the pain.

Got in the car with the new alternator, and it was idling like crap, and a with another quick adjustment, we were on our way, hoping the work we just forked over an arm and a leg for would get us back to San Diego.

Sometimes an unexpected detour is just what you need after a long vacation. Having it extended that final day actually added to our journey and helped Kyle and I grow closer. It's something we'll need and look back to as he's prepping for D2. {his second deployment} His hospital detour the day after we got home wasn't something either of us expected. Suffice to say, I felt I needed a vacation from our vacation and hospital stay. I definitely fell behind on training and it wasn't all sunshine and rainbows in our neck of the woods {beach}. After hearing about his CT results, we were able to breathe a sigh of relief, for now at least.  Thank goodness he wasn't put on limited duty, or worse, medically separated. Life as we know it will continue on. He's "away" {not underway; this land based navy stuff is interesting} this week for some final prep. And in less than 5 weeks, we'll be back in Tahoe!!