Category Archives: Triathlon

Giving up on goals

I don’t like not being able to accomplish the things that I set out to do. When I set my mind on something, I want to see it through, no matter what. I’m stubborn like that.

But I’m also realistic. I know that things aren’t always going to go the way that you planned. And more often than not you’re probably going to find that they don’t. There are also forces and powers in the universe that sometimes won’t allow you to do everything you plan on doing.

At the beginning of the year, I set out the goals I had for myself that I hoped to accomplish. They ranged from redesigning The Stolen Colon to making my bed EVERY day. I look through all of my goals and I feel happy with where I am at this point and how well I have followed through with them… except for one.

I wanted to complete my first full-sprint triathlon this year. But I have run into one issue after another in trying to accomplish this. The original plan was to do one in April or May, but my broken wrist held me up longer than I had hoped. Then obviously my surgery kept me out for June and July. So I thought, if I could start training even by the beginning of August, then I should be able to slip one in by the end of the season in October. But here we are, already half-way through August, and I haven’t been back on my bike or in the pool in months.

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My bike hasn’t moved from this spot in a while.

My doctor cleared me to get back to all of those things, but I just haven’t felt comfortable with it. Obviously, the bike is just going to have to wait because I don’t want to sit on it when I still have an open wound. And while the wound is doing much better, the idea of exposing it to chlorine and the germs in the water does not sit well with me.

I also know that even if I started training right now, it would be pushing myself too hard to get ready by October. It has been inevitable for a while but, but I am finally having to admit to myself that it’s not going to happen this year. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed. In that post at the beginning of the year I said “This is the first year that I haven’t had to worry about what Crohn’s will throw at me or how it might hold me back from reaching my goals,” but I still feel like it has.
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On the move

I’m a little unsure of where I am going at the moment. But I’m moving again and I suppose that’s what matters most. I have said before that I like to have a goal in mind, especially for any sort of sport training. On my list for 2013 is the compete in a full-length sprint triathlon. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I had planned to do another short sprint in March, just to get a little more experience, and then compete in a full race in April. But breaking my wrist has thrown a big wrench in my plans.

It has been 6 weeks since my half-marathon. The plan was to take a week break from any strenuous workouts and then slowly get back into the groove. I hadn’t been on my bike in a while and I was looking forward to picking it up again. And then my first ride comes around and I end up in a cast.

I’m slowly working my way back. My doctor said that he did not recommend running simply due to the risk of injury if you fall. Now, I’ve never fallen when running, nor do I anticipate that being an issue, but I also want to be careful. So I’ve been working with the stationary bike and elliptical, mostly. I did go for my first run today. Just a slow, easy pace, but it was excruciatingly humid today and my cast/arm got very hot. Not a good feeling. I think sticking to gym equipment is the smartest move for now. (Not to mention that I can’t wear any of my cold weather gear because it won’t fit over the cast.)

I have a doctor’s appointment next week and I’m praying the cast will come off and I will be able to start getting back to normal. I would love to be able to put a date down for my first triathlon this year so I know what I’m working towards, but there’s no way to know how quickly I’ll get full use of my wrist back. To further complicate things, I’ve decided to do another half-marathon over the summer (more on that soon!), which is going to change how I train. I’m thinking I may just have to push the triathlon back until late in the summer, so I can train now for the run and then switch over to tri-training.

The not-knowing is the hardest part. Once the cast comes off, I don’t want to get back on my bike too soon and cause further injury. I’m not sure exactly how swimming will affect the wrist if I’m still dealing with some pain. It also worries me to think that my wrist may never again be at 100%. It’s amazing how many issues can arise from just a simple cycling mishap. It’s going to be a long road, I know, but my goal is to keep up the pace and find that finish line.

01:05:01

That is the time that it took me to swim 250 yards, bike 9 miles and run 2 miles… in the pouring rain. And I am so excited about it!

Of the women who completed the race, I ranked #53. The sad part is that only 116 women were able to complete the race. (The event was sold out with 900 racers.) Another 28 made it through the swimming and bike ride and still another 5 only made it through the swimming. So all in all, only 149 were able to start at all. I definitely consider myself blessed to have been one of them. The Ramblin’ Rose Triathlon is an all-women race and allows racers age 10 and up and includes many first time triathletes. So many women had been working hard for their first triathlon and were unable to even start. And it’s so late in the season, there aren’t many option other than waiting until next year.

Let me tell you a little about race day. I woke up about 5:20 a.m. and triple checked my gear, pumped up my bike tires and made a protein smoothie. We arrived in Chapel Hill and already the parking lots were filling up. I was a little nervous because I had wanted to make sure I could get a good spot to set up my bike and have everything done in plenty of time so I could relax.

Even though there were already a ton of people there, checking in was quick and easy. (The race coordinators and volunteers did a great job!) And I was the first one on my row to set up my bike, so I got the prime spot on the end! Plus, it was right in front of the bike start/end, so it made it easy to get where I needed to be for transitions. It was overcast, but the weatherman had apparently said only a 17% chance of rain.

If there was any part of the race I am a little disappointed in, it was my swim. Out of 149 swimmers, I ranked 103. This is frustrating because of all the sports, I’ve felt as if swimming is my strongest. For the swim, they start you in order of swim speed. You rank yourself on a scale of 1-10, 10 being the fastest and able to swim 250 yards in under 4 minutes. I ranked myself a 9 because just the day before I had swum that in 4:18. In this scenario, it’s a pool swim and you zig-zag through the lanes from one side to the other. Twice in the swim, I was behind a slower person and had to pass them, which is difficult and takes a lot of energy. Then I had someone come up behind me and want to pass. That was confusing, too, because there were too many people around for her to easily pass, so I had to all but stop to let her get by. I ended up finishing in 05:19. Granted, the timing chip starts before you get in the pool and stops after, so it’s not from pool wall to wall.

Stephanie Hughes bicycle transition Ramblin rose triathlon stolen colon ostomy blogI ran over to the bike transition. I realized they are much more complicated when you are wet, cold and nervous. But I still managed to make it pretty quick. I hopped on my bike and took off. The ride started off good, I had a few pass me and I passed some, too. About 5 minutes into the ride, I started feeling the sprinkles. By 10 minutes in, it was pouring. I really have very little experience riding in the rain, much less at this speed. I was only thinking two things the whole time: God, please don’t let me wipe out; and, I just want to finish this ride and get off! I kept going, despite being soaked to the bone and hardly being able to see the road at times, I ended up finishing in 36:17, which is great for me! I ranked #44 out of 145, so it ended up being my best sport.

Also, I came around the corner into transition and saw my wonderful cheering squad there! On this horrible, rainy day, I had 13 amazing cheerleaders standing there rooting for me. I can’t tell you how amazing that made me feel and how much harder I wanted to go at that point.

Getting off the bike, however, and moving onto the run was crazy. My legs felt like jello and would hardly move. My shoes were squishy and it was freezing. But I kept going the best I could. I actually ran/jogged the whole 2 miles, which I can’t usually do because my knees have been hurting. There were many times during this leg of the race I was thinking “I just want to stop,” but I knew I’d lose momentum, so I pushed through it. There were many encouragements along the way! Women cheering each other on and helping push me forward a little bit. I ended up running it in 20:49, which is really good for me. I knew running was my weakest sport, but I ended up #86 out of 116, which in my mind is not too shabby.

I wasn’t under the false impression that I would be a major competitor in this race, soStephanie Hughes Ramblin rose triathlon race finish stolen colon ostomy blog my personal goal for myself was to finish in the top half. And although we’ll never know how that would’ve played out with 900 racers, in this scenario, I accomplished that goal. I was also assuming it’d take me about 01:13:00 to finish and I cut that down by 8 minutes.

After I finished, most people were already packing things up and heading out. All I could think about at this point was getting warm, which was hard considering all of my clothes to change into were pretty wet as well. But it didn’t matter. I had done it. We got home and I took a long, hot shower and my husband made me coffee and blueberry waffles. I felt like a champion, indeed.Stephanie Hughes Ramblin rose triathlon race time score stolen colon ostomy blog

5 months, 3 sports, 1 dream realized

Today I became a triathlete. Today was the culmination of 10 weeks of training to be competitive as a swimmer, cyclist and runner. Today I felt that amazing sense of accomplishment as I crossed the finish line and heard them call out my name and saw 13 members of my family cheering me on. Not only was that feeling from finishing this race, but also because today marks exactly 5 months since I had surgery to remove my colon and replace it with a permanent ileostomy.

May 7 and October 7 will always be aligned in my mind. Both days I woke up before the crack of dawn and spent the morning running around, making sure I had everything I needed. Both mornings I rode with my husband Jarrod to Chapel Hill and talked about how nervous I was for the day ahead. Both days I was surrounded by the amazing support of my family and friends. Both days, there were moments where I wanted to say “Stop! I don’t want to do this anymore.” But both days, I followed through and I came out stronger on the other side.

Stephanie Hughes Ramblin' Rose triathlon race swim bike run stolen colon ostomy blog surgery ileostomyRunning this race today meant so much more than just getting in shape. To me, it was about showing the world, and mostly myself, that just five months after a major surgery, I am stronger than I was the five years preceding. I made a life altering decision in May, and it has led me down an amazing path. I see now, more than ever, how much it has changed my life. I also know that the support of my family and friends has continued to push me along.

The race was an adventure in and of itself, as most of it took place in the pouring rain. I will definitely share more on how the race actually played out in another entry.

For now, I will revel in the fact that my dream of living a normal extraordinary life has already begun.