odds and ends from a life under construction

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Loosening up and running the trails

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One factor that probably contributed to my training exhaustion a couple weeks ago is that I wasn’t really eating all that much. I don’t eat much anyway thanks to my tiny stomach, but for a few weeks it seemed like everything I tried to eat was getting stuck, meaning I couldn’t eat anything at all. There were days where all I’d have were a few tablespoons of soup or some crackers because everything else came right back out. I couldn’t eat anything solid before 11 am, and even lunch was hit-or-miss some days. It’s hard to run very far on an empty stomach once, let alone four times a week. And it made going out to lunch with co-workers or on a date with my husband a terrifying ordeal because of the chance I’d have to find a secluded public restroom in which to clear out my esophagus. Even on good days, I was having to apologize to co-workers for burping my way through meetings because something was trapping air in my stoma. I was literally afraid to eat.

As our weekend in Breckenridge and week in Texas drew nearer, I decided the prospect of starving for over a week (and/or having my friends and family get a front seat to my “productive burping”) was a non-starter and made a quick appointment (as in, I called on a Thursday and was in an hour later) with my surgeon’s office for an unfill.

I was supposed to go to my surgeon’s office for my six-month check-up in July and have put it off because I haven’t had a chance to do my blood work to make sure I was staying healthy. And I suspected my blood work wouldn’t be that great since I was hardly eating at all. So, when I showed up for my “emergency” unfill, the nurse scolded me and reminded me to make my appointment.

This unfill was definitely more uncomfortable than my previous visits; with the weight I’ve lost, there’s less fat around the port and more nerves, so the feeling of the needle going in was a sharper pinch. Amanda took .25cc out, which seems like an insanely small amount to make any difference. My last fill was .75cc. For reference, it takes 5cc to fill up a teaspoon. So this was a teeny tiny bit of liquid. But, miracle of miracles – it made a massive difference.

Since my unfill, I’ve been able to eat bread, consume solid foods for breakfast (although not much, but more than nothing), and I’ve only had one incidence of of something getting stuck in the past two weeks and it was because I didn’t chew long enough; prior to my unfill, I could chew the minimum of 30 times for every bite and still feel uncomfortable and burp food up almost daily. My band had gotten trapped in a vicious cycle. Something would get stuck or irritate my pouch, I’d clear the block, but then I’d try to eat something again later and my stoma was still irritated so it would cause more problems, and so on. The unfill has given my pouch a chance to rest and heal; after a few weeks, I’ll decide if I want the fluid back in, or if I can still lose weight at my current fill level.

It was a relief to head into the mountains and not having to worry about embarrassing trips to the bathroom while sharing a condo with friends. Oktoberfest is something we’ve done every year for the past 5 or 6 years, so it was nice to keep that routine and also have a little relaxing weekend before heading to Texas for my mom’s burial. I had searched online and found a great deal for three nights in a condo just a block from Main Street in Breckenridge, where all the Oktoberfest action is, and it ended up being even nicer in person than the pictures seemed online. It was a two-bedroom unit (we shared with our friends Kevin and Shelby and their son), and each bedroom was almost like a little suite, with a door that closed off each bedroom and bathroom pair from the rest of the unit. One more sound barrier for Evan’s late night fussing to travel through. We also had a big galley kitchen, a comfy living room, and a giant dining table. And the covered balcony had nice furniture (not the cheap plastic lawn chairs we’re used to) and a grill, although we didn’t get a chance to use it. I might have to book this property for us every year, or come back more often in the summer so we can actually use the community pool and hot tubs. The condo owners also seemed to know I was a Texas fan:

They sensed I was coming. I'm not sure why it's purple, but I'll take it.

They sensed I was coming. I’m not sure why it’s purple, but I’ll take it.

We arrived on Friday evening, and on Saturday morning Kevin and I dressed in our running gear and everyone headed down to the starting line of the annual Oktoberfest 5k trail run. Kevin has done the run for a few years, but I was a novice. And honestly – this was a great race to have in the middle of my training break. It wasn’t a “fast” course; sure, there were people who went fast, but trail running at elevation is challenging, and this race gave me a chance to forget about a PR or something and just try to meet the challenge and finish strong.

Me and Kevin. Fierce!

Me and Kevin. Fierce!

The run started with an uphill climb for the first half mile. Kevin had warned me about it, so I took teeny steps and focused on breathing and keeping a consistent cadence without falling down. But it didn’t take long for my lungs to feel like they were on fire. People around me started walking 30 seconds after the start. Everyone’s breathing was loud and strained, and I heard people cursing or saying they couldn’t feel their legs. I was content just to power through, although my throat paid for it later with a cough that took a couple of days to shake.

After the initial climb, the trail narrowed and I was forced to run single file for a while until we got onto some paved streets further up the mountain. I managed to pass a few people, including a woman in tiny Lululemon pants with full make-up and – no lie – hair that had definitely been “done” for the run. She became my motivation. I’d pass her, then take a walking break (especially in the middle when the trail went up and down like a roller coaster) and she’d pass me, then I’d pass her again. For the last mile, when I was in the lead, I never stopped because I knew she was right behind me and I wanted her to see my jiggly booty cross the finish line in front of her. Motivation!

My breathing finally settled down and my lungs relaxed about halfway through, so the last stretch – a narrow trail on the side of the mountain through Aspen trees, where a misstep could send you tumbling downhill – was actually pretty “easy.” And toward the end I could hear people cheering at the finish line and powered through. Kevin had finished almost 15 minutes before me, so he and his son were on the trail to cheer me on, and Jason and Evan were not much further past them. I ended up finishing in almost 42 minutes flat; not my fastest 5k time, but faster than the first race I ever finished, and definitely an accomplishment for the elevation. Not for the faint of heart (or lung)!

 

Beir!

Bier!

And what can you do after an Oktoberfest run but celebrate?!? Kevin and I changed into street clothes and we all headed down to Main Street for beer and German food. It rained a bit when we first arrived, but the sun came out long enough to give us a couple hours of drinking and strolling before we were forced back to the condo to stay dry. We spent the rest of the day puttering around – watching football, cooking, playing with the kids, enjoying being away.

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On Sunday, we headed to the gondola to ride up to Peak 8, where during the summer Breckenridge has all sorts of fun stuff like bungee trampolines and alpine slides and bouncy castles during the summer. Jason and I mostly watched and let Evan run around, but Kevin and Shelby and their kiddo went down the alpine slides. Next year! By lunch time the kids were pretty exhausted, so we headed back down the mountain via gondola and did some more puttering – the highlight being the Manning Bowl, the kickoff of which Evan slept through.

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We intended to stay Sunday night and head back to Denver Monday, quickly stopping at home and repacking before heading to the airport for our flight to Austin. But Jason’s infinite wisdom prevailed and we headed down Sunday evening just after Evan’s bedtime so he would sleep most of the way and we wouldn’t be scrambling the next morning to get home. I appreciated the decision even more when I got to sleep in a little the next morning. A stress-free end to a relaxing weekend.

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