Thursday, March 23, 2017

My Battle, My Journey

My immune system has taken a big hit from RA, my medications, and Ironman training. I recently had a severe UTI that was not responding to treatment. On my fourth antibiotic I developed pneumonia. For that I was given a Rocephin shot and another oral antibotic making it 6 antibiotics in 2 months. The dr then decided to continue me on an additional 30 day treatment of antibiotics.

I had an appointment with my rheumatologist and got some news I didn't want to hear. Osteopenia has progressed quickly to Osteoporosis which explains why I break so easily. I am at high risk for another hip fracture and fracture of the major bones. The inflammation caused from RA as well as the Prednisone and Methotrexate increases bone loss which is one of the reasons we are trying to taper to a lower dose of Prednisone. We are beginning treatment for Osteoporosis.
The doctor took a listen to my lungs and there is still fluid in my lower lung. The pnuemonia has not yet resolved.
My RA is not repsonding as well as we'd hoped. We're going to make another adjustment to my RA meds and depending on how I respond discuss other treatment options.
None of this was news I wanted to hear of course.

When this journey began, I was told never to do more than a Sprint distance triathlon with Rheumatoid Arthritis. I have done every distance but a 140.6. That WILL happen on April 22. As you know it hasn't been an easy journey. In just these two years of training I have had 4 broken bones, 4 surgeries, nerve damage in my elbow, numerous illnesses, and my daily fight with RA. I know it sounds insane. Should I have listened? Why is it so important to me to keep going thru all this? While a lot of people wouldn't understand, I think many of you who follow my journey do. There's a fire in you too! You fight your battles and you don't give up!
And you stand beside me as I fight mine. I can't tell you how much I appreciate that. I can honestly say this journey wouldn't be the same without you and without your support!
In 30 days I will be running in this very spot and I WILL hear the @ironmanvoice Mike Reilly call out "Iron Will Iron Jill YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!!!" 

I have an amazing team of doctors and I owe them so very much! I wanted to share their names with you in case you ever need them! Good doctors/people like these ones are so very hard to come by! I am so thankful for each and every one of them!

Dr. Randall Johnson - Rheumatologist 
Andy Cox - Physical Therapist 
Dr. Albert Lipscomb - Orthopedist
Dr. Raj Syal - OB/GYN
Dr. Kelly Aguilar - Endocrinologist 
Dr. Kristyn Payne - Dermatologist 
Dr. Samir Shirodkar - Urologist 
Dr. Bernardo de la Guardia - Cardiologist 

If you would like one of my team shirts they can be ordered at

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Hard Days with RA

I don't talk about my daily struggles with Rheumatoid Arthritis often, but I felt like it was important to write about the struggles I am facing right now because it is affecting my training. You see every day is a hard day it's just that some days are harder than others. This has been a rough couple weeks. I am trying to taper down on my prednisone which is a very long process. I just recently dropped down  again and it's been tough. But I want to see if I can work thru it because I desperately want to be off prednisone or at least on a lower dosage. There are a lot of side affects I am dealing with. One of these side affects is a lowered immune system. And because of this I am susceptible to picking up all kinds of things. For example I am on my 4th antibiotic for a chronic UTI. Not sure if you have experienced a severe UTI, but the pain is akin to urinating shards of glass and holding a match to your urethra. Sorry if TMI, but you get the point. It's pretty awful. Not to mention abdominal cramping and frequent urination. I'm also pretty sure I'm working on a case of bronchitis. And I have been fighting an RA flare since lowering the dosage. So needless to say I am not feeling good or sleeping good. But I don't have a lot of time left before race day and I'm already behind due to breaking my foot, so I can't afford to let anything hold me back. I know I need to train smart and healthy too, so I'm trying to find the balance and take care of me too. 
Today I had a long swim on the plan. I really wanted to just stay in bed. The house keeper was coming so that was out of the question. So after getting all my boys off to school I headed to the gym. Near tears, in pain and exhausted, I seriously considered sleeping in my car rather than going in. Even after going in, I sat in the locker room feeling sorry for myself. But then I pulled myself together and got into the water. And I DID it! I swam. And I swam 4400 yards with a 2:22 pace. It was hard, I was tired, but I got it done! There are going to be more hard days and I will face them as they come. But this day I won and RA did not!

Monday, March 6, 2017

Swim Smooth Video Analysis and Correction

"The successful warrior is the average man, with laser-like focus." - Bruce Lee

My friend Jana of e3tricoaching, who is an amazing triathlete (4 x Kona finisher who placed in her AG), suggested I see a swim coach that she has been to. So I contacted Gemma Hollis of Push Glide Kick and I am so happy I did.
Gemma uses the Swim Smooth approach. She is kind, straightforward, and super encouraging! We hit it off right away! I am a nervous person and she made me feel extremely comfortable. 
I opted to do the Swim Smooth Video Analysis Session. The session begins with video filming both above and below the water. Below is video footage of my swim.

Next you receive a full analysis of your swim that is recorded for your keeping. This was important to me because I am a note taker and here I had visual and auditory notes that I can refer back to as often as I need. During the analysis, Gemma also compared my stroke to other swimmers, so I was able to see the correct form and its efficiency. I was able to see measurements and angles of my stroke and where it should be. I was able to see what needed improvement but also what I was doing right.
See the link below for my full video analysis.

The final part of the session was the correction. I got back in the pool to work on what we had discussed. I wore bone conduction headphones while Gemma spoke into a microphone, so I could make corrections during my swim. This was more helpful to me than discussing it after. We worked on several drills to correct my form. Right away I could tell a difference. The main things we worked on for me was head position and breathing, rotating my hips, and my catch. I was lifting my head before turning to breathe. Not only was this causing drag, but I was losing my bow wave and this is why I was drinking water. And once I started rotating my hips other things started to fall into place like better breathing, more of a reach, and better kicks. We worked on some drills to better my catch. I could tell I was using muscles I don't typically use. And I no longer had the windmill effect going on. I could actually feel myself gliding thru the water.

Also with the Swim Smooth Approach, you get access to The Swim Guru which gives you videos, drills, and workouts all catered to what your needs are as a swimmer. You get homework to help you continue to focus on your areas for improvement.

I have to be honest, I thought I would pick up a few pointers, but I had no idea how much I would learn in 90 minutes. So if you haven't had a video analysis done I would highly recommend it. It would be beneficial to swimmers of all levels. 

I hope this helps YOU as well!