Tuesday, September 15, 2009


So I'm suppose to be blogging consistently since I'm a Triabetes captain...but I have not. It's been over 2 months since my last blog, and it is almost 2 months until Ironman. I have time to redeem myself. Summer recap, IT WENT FAST. No racing for me since the Black Bear, just lot's of training. Probably won't be doing any races until Ironman. The cost of Half's and Olympic's is just ridiculous, Triathlon has gotten big, and they can charge whatever they want and races still fill up. So I've just been doing lots of training, it's free, which keeps peace at the Ricci house. Which brings me to a training weekend I did 2 weeks ago. My best friend Sinibaldi asks me if I want to go up to New Paltz to train on some hills, yeah sure, I suck in hills and would love nothing more than to go torture my legs for a day. We head up at 5am on a Sunday with our friend Mark. We will be training on the SOS adventure triathlon course, because they will be doing this race in 2 weeks. Little did I know that I would be training with them as if I were doing the course. For any of you who have never heard of SOS, it's a adventure Triathlon, it does not follow the same format as most tri's. It starts out as a 30 mile bike, followed by a series of 4 runs and 3 swims. The unique part is whatever gear you start with after the bike, you must finish with. So what that means is you have to run with your wetsuit and swim with your sneakers. The run is a bit over 18 miles and the swim over 2. You can be as creative as you wish and swim with a dry bag, or just tough it out and run with wet sneakers. Well I knew the race was wacky but I didn't realize we would be training as if it were the race!!!
Here's how it goes 5am wake up, meet Sinibaldi grab a bagel and coffee and head to meet Mark. We get up to New Paltz and are riding by 9:45am. Mark tells us we are going to be riding the bike course plus an additional 14 miles. OK, this is what I came for, let's roll. I suck in the hills, downhills and uphills. I brake way too much going down and can't pedal fast enough going up. Yup I suck at hills! Ride is going well, we are 6 miles from finish and Mark tells us its ALL up from there. OK, F-in great 6miles of uphill, here's where the cursing begins and does not end until the day is over. I think of Mt. Lemmon I stay in my lowest gear and ride, I try to talk to Sinibaldi, but breathing is an issue, so that ends quickly. We finally make it back to the parking lot where I believe that we will be able to leave our wetsuit, goggles, nutrition, accucheck etc. Oh no, I'm quickly informed that whatever I will need to swim and run I need to bring with me. OK, I remind the 2 crazy people I'm with that I did not sign up for this race. I'm just training for a normal Triathlon(imagine..calling Ironman normal) so here is where I learn I will be running with my wetsuit and swimming with my sneakers if I want to continue to hang out with my friends. I'm in the middle of nowhere, what the heck else was I gonna do. Here it goes, I figure what's 6 miles of running with a wetsuit aound you, maybe a lot of chafing, but I'll hack it. Then Mark informs us that we will be, running around 10 miles. OK seriously, WTF I have to carry my wetsuit for 10 miles and after I swim I have to carry it wet. Just great. I decide I'm going to wear it like a cape and leave my goggles around my neck since my GU's and accuckeck took up all the space in my fuel belt. So here we are running through these beautiful hilly trails looking like a bunch of freaks, we get to this hill its apparently called cardiac hill, are they serious? In a loving manner I continuously curse Sinibaldi. Three miles in I learn we will be dumping anything that's not waterproof, thank god I have my insulin pump and my accucheck, we hang it from my pink fuel belt in a tree so that we can see it when we are swimming back. We are trekking through some deep brush and I'm convinced I'm getting chiggers, poison ivy and ticks, I figure this will just be the icing on the cake. (It was all in my head, I didn't get any of them.) We run about a mile around the lake where we learn that you can only swim in designated spots or you will be ticketed. Great, now my insulin pump is hanging on some tree in the middle of nowhere. Oh well, I need to just go with the flow, who would seriously steal a insulin pump? Especially not a waterproof one(Do u hear me Minimed?). We swim at the designated area for about 25 minutes, the water is chilly and I'm glad I have my wetsuit, UNTIL its time to run again. This time I decide I will try to tie it around my waist instead of the super hero cape format I was running with. We take a different trail to go find my insulin pump and I decide running with a wet wetsuit is abnormal and it sucks. We find my stuff and by this time I've been without insulin an hour and my bg is 245. Its funny how just last year I'd be content with that number, now I know I need to get it down. I dual wave bolus and start running. Mark informs us the next few miles are all uphill , he promises the views are worth it, they are. He also promises us the few miles after that are downhill. I find out quickly he has lied. The run continues he is much faster than us so he goes ahead and waits for us at turns. It winds up being one of the most beautiful places I have ever trained, as much as I wanted to kill Sinibaldi for making me run with my wetsuit, it was definitely one of our most fun memories. The run comes to an end at the twelve mile mark and Dunkin Donuts is our reward. Before that day I'd sworn to Monica that I'd never sign up for that race and now I'm thinking it is a race I must do someday. Tri is always teaching me something, that day it reinforced, never say never, and that I'm capable of doing things that I thought not possible. It will be fun someday to attempt that race as a type one diabetic, trying to keep insulin, and an accucheck dry.

So this weekend was their race, this weekend was also a heavy training weekend, my 20 year reunion and my 38th birthday. Saturday comes and I have a 4 hr bike ride 30 minute run, followed by 20 year class reunion, and then a midnight drive to New Paltz. The reunion went fast and it was nice to see everyone after 20 years. I pound 5 diet cokes and prepare myself for a long night/day. It's weird how those four years stay with you for the rest of your life. Looking back it all seems so insignificant and life is so much better now, but even after all those years it feels like just yesterday I was a teenager trying to "fit in." I think how far I've come, I'm now running around trails with wetsuits wrapped around me, far from normal behavior. It definitely doesn't matter to me anymore if I fit in, because the beauty of age is that we realize who we really are. And the people that we surround our self with, accept us for all of our good, and not so good qualities.

On the drive up I am singing and happy. I am happy that this is my present, I had just left the reunion, my past, but this is my present, and there is no place I'd rather be other than driving up to see my bff race. Yup, at that moment, Life was so good. I arrive at 2:15am and Sinibaldi is awake, we stay up till 4am giggling like a bunch of teenagers, then sleep for an hour. Funny 20 years ago I had sleepovers with long lost friends I had just seen, and now every race away from home brings more sleepovers. Triathlon makes you feel like a kid again, swim, bike, run and hang with your friends, yes it's the greatest.

The race starts at 7am and Mark's wife and I navigate to find them at different transitions. These people are tough, Sinibaldi is tough, the cold mountain lake water causes most to cramp, they are crawling out of the water. It inspires me, what makes us do this torturous stuff to our body, out of our own free will? Anyone who has participated in endurance sports knows the answer. It's the mental toughness you feel when you are done. The sense of accomplishment is like no other. Some day I will sign up for this race. Sinibaldi finishes and we head home, she is my hero, tough as they come. I'm in bed by 10pm and CRASH. The next day is my 38th birthday, I wake up knowing I have a 6 hr bike to do followed by a short run. I head onto the bike feeling so content. I'm 38, a diabetic for 24 years and I can ride my bike for 6 hours, I am lucky. There was no place I'd rather be. The weather god was out in full force, the sun was shining my sugars were perfect what better present could I ask for. I think of my dad and brother, why would they commit suicide? I still don't get it, I work hard to stay healthy, I mean real hard, and they just give in. As my training days get longer and I push through hard workouts, I think of them a lot more. Not a ride or run goes by, that I don't feel their presence. I wonder if they can feel my pain during the workouts as I push through, are they up there thinking "Yup, that's our girl, she sure is tough." Well that's what I like to believe they are saying, and it is sometimes what keeps me going. Nope I will not be a quitter in life like them. The way I lost them has affected me more than I'd like to admit, I miss them everyday. Sometimes I wish I could forget, bury their memories far away, I can not. I'm a 38 year old women that wants her dad and brother back, I can only hope they are watching over me proud, especially since I had my best hgb A1C ever, 7.3! Still not in the 6's but a far cry from where I was last year! "TRI on my friends! I'm off to swim!"

4 comments:

Colleen Desmond Brandt said...

Denise - you are my hero. It was great seeing you on Saturday night and I regret that we didn't spend more time talking and catching up. I remember when you were diagnosed with diabetes as a teenager and how you struggled to fit it into your teenage life. We try so hard as teenagers to be like everyone else and fit in and then we realize later in life, if we're lucky, that it is what is unique about us as a person that makes us special. I can't even begin to imagine the pain of losing both your father and your brother (especially how you lost them) but I can't imagine that they are looking down on you and not feeling anythign but pride. Let their spirit help you up those hills and the freedom of knowing that you have survived so much help you soar down them. And remember, no matter what number you are as you cross those finish lines that you are a winner. You are a truly amazing woman and I am lucky to have known you in my life. And I know why Monica is your BFF. She too is an amazing woman that I just love.

Colleen Desmond Brandt

Marcus Grimm said...

"Oh well, I need to just go with the flow, who would seriously steal a insulin pump? Especially not a waterproof one(Do u hear me Minimed?)."

Best. Line. Ever.

Great post!

jpnairn said...

Fantastic picture, Denise, but it doesn't even begin to reveal the story that goes with it.
You rock!

Jen said...

Denise, you are one amazing woman! There is no redeeming necessary. Who knows maybe you can get me to join you in that crazy SOS ;). Love you!