A Year of Unplanned Spectating

  • Aug 11, 2013


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    From July 2012 through August 2013, just over one year, my life-long good luck streak of being fairly serious-injury free has come to a halt... over and over and over again.  Before this year, I had had some broken toes, stress fractures and some pulled muscles, but nothing too dibilitating.  In my athletic career, I've had to sit on the bench for a handful of games/meets, but nothing to write home about. 


    This year, proved itself time to make up for lost time.  For a more in depth explanation of the first two circumstances where I was side lined, you can read about my experience at the 2012 Reebok CrossFit Games and also about how my 2013 CrossFit Games season came to an unexpected end.  Otherwise, here's a brief synopsis... in 2012 I trained hard all season for the 2012 Reebok CrossFit Games while fighting a neck injury.  When push came to shove at the finals, it flared up and for my own safety I was forced to withdraw from compeition.  With the result of that year, my goal going into the 2013 season was to come back with a vengance and fight my way onto that podium, but as luck would have it, the day before competition season began, I was in a freak bike accident and broke my foot.  That ended my 2013 CrossFit season.  When it rains, it pours.



    Fast forward a few months and yesterday, August 10th, I was supposed to race a 100-mile mountain bike race called the Leadville 100.  It's a 103 mile, out and back race in Leadville, CO with 14,000 ft. total elevation gain between approximately 10,500 ft and 12,500 ft.  Crazy right!  Although, this is something I didn't have the time to properly train for due to my foot recovery and life getting in the way, I was so excited to be able to spend 10 hours or so in my CO mountains doing what I love and for a great cause (Team First Descents)....  Now, let's rewind back a couple of months and talk about a decision I had to make regarding my anti-seizure medication once I realized I wouldn't be competing in the 2013 Games.  As the saying goes, "bad things come in three's"...or something along those lines.  A third misfortune has occured in my life.  On second thought, I don't know if "misfortune" is the word, it's just another stepping stone.  I have had a seizure disorder since I was 8-years old.  For the first 6 years of my diagnosis I struggled with medications and their side effects, trying to find what worked for me.  Finally, in 1994, I was stabilized with minimal side effects on a medication called Dilantin.  Now, 17 years later, I am at a point in my life where I need to go a different route with medication and this process has been temporarily life altering.  July 1st, 2012 I started ramping up my new medication, Keppra, and throughout the last several weeks have been tapering off of Dilantin.  Tomorrow will mark the first day in 17 years that I will be Dilantin free (the only medication that has ever "worked" for me).


    This medication change is something that's needed to happen for several years, but now seemed like perfect timing since I was out of competition and had time to deal with possible side effects without hurting my training for the 2014 Games.  With that said, of course I went into it thinking I'm invinsible and will conquer this transition unscathed.  Unfortunately, that isn't exactly how things are playing out.  The first couple of weeks of brining Keppra into my system was okay, but the third week where I was pretty doule dosing with Keppra and Dilantin, my brain and body felt like they were separate entities.  I was dizzy beyond belief, I was constantly exhauted, I was an emotional wreck and extremely irritable.  The first day I knew something was "off" was when I went to the lake to help Marcus with some work and just felt a little tired so I went to sit down for a few minutes.  1.5 hours later, without even knowing what happened, Marcus woke me up from a dead sleep.  So, naturally, I thought I would just go ride my bike for a few minutes to get a little energy and again was woken up lying on the concrete floor in my gym... needless to say I never made it to my bike.  For the next couple of weeks I decided to just ride this out and whatever happened happened, but my intention was to still compete in the Leadville 100.  This intention quickly was becoming unrealistic.  I couldn't even ride an easy trail ride that I've done time and time again without having to stop and rest.  My resting heart rate felt like it was about 120bpm.  Last week, one week before the race, I made the decision with the help of my medical team, my famliy and my boyfriend that my safety would be at risk if I decided to do the race.  Worst case scenario i would be 40 miles out in the middle of the Colorado wilderness and have a seizure.  Best case scenario, I would be fine and make it through the race one pedal stroke at a time.  The reward wasn't worth the risk. 


    I hesitated to write this blog, because I feel like this past year has been full of negative events with regards to my ability as an athlete.  I feel like it's been a "bitching and moaning" type of year, something I'm not used to.  But the reservation was put behind me to again find the positives in what have come of these events.  You can read in the linked blogs above about the positive outlook I found from my neck and foot injuries.  But I can tell you that from this medication change I've discovered more out about myself.  Number one, I am not good at being dependent on others.  I can't drive and I have to let someone know where I am all the time.  I have been forced to ask for help (something I'm not good at).  It's a good thing to know that you can't do everything on your own.  Also, I have been forced to take some down time (another thing I'm not good at).  I have had the opportunity to be reminded of the amazing people I have in my life, who are generous with their time and energy in my vulnerable state.  When you're changing anti-seizure medication, at least in my case and from other's I have spoken to, it's a weird spot.  You feel alone because you're not yourself, these meds mess with your brain chemistry.  It's almost like I'm waiting for a seizure to happen as the sensations I feel have increased.  I am afraid to be alone, but don't want to be around people because I'm sort of wacky right now.  I don't want others to help me, but I can't do this on my own.  It's a lost feeling... but it will pass!

     Seizure Comic

    Do I feel like a failure, sometimes.  In the last year, I quit something for the first time (at the 2012 Games).  I failed to qualify for regionals (yes, I know I was on one foot...but still).  And finally I wasn't able to partake in the bike race that I so desperately wanted to be a part of.  When I look at it from an outsiders view, these aren't failures...this is just part of the journey where I am growing as a person and as an athlete.  I am learning lessons, I am finding different motivations and I am somehow able to inspire others.  So, in reality, I am still winning.  We all have our days, our weeks or our years that just seem to not go our way.  The good news is that it always passes and there is always light at the end of the tunnel.


    For me, this light is 2014!  In a few weeks, assuming my medication side effects subside and energy levels allow, I will start training again for the 2014 Reebok CrossFit Games.  This year, again, the goal is podium!  To kick off my motivation, this coming Saturday, August 17th, I am signed up to participate in the first CrossFit event I ever competed in...the annual Summer Strength Challenge at Level 10 CrossFit in Oroville, CA.  Am I physically ready??  Not at all!!  Am I mentally ready, probably not.  But I'm going to go and hang out with some great people and sweat a little bit while I'm there.  I'm marking this event as the start to a new year... 2014 ain't got nothin' on me!