Andrea and SSSMST Alum hubby Jim at Kona 2007
Since post-Kona depression has set in for everyone, we’ll take this opportunity to hear about Andrea Lamastra’s 2013 season. It was really intended to build up to her Ironman at Louisville, but ended up much more about how life has evolved for her (and probably parallels a lot of us in the “masters” category)…..with a few races thrown in:
I haven’t written any race reports this year so now that I’m finally sitting down to do it, I decided to combine all of my reports into one. My triathlon season has come to a close but I now realize it has been more about the journey then the actual races themselves. This year I completed Ironman Louisville on August 25. My first Ironman was 10 years ago, my second 8 years ago. I’m not sure if there will be another so I wanted to remember everything involved with this journey so someday when I’m really old and gray and lost most of my memory, I will be able to live it again through my words. For anyone that’s already bored, you can stop reading now…I’ll never know This is for me and maybe for Luca…to someday understand a little bit more about why his mother is so crazy!
I haven’t raced much in the last few years. Life gets crazy! I didn’t realize how much I missed triathlons and being involved with a team until last year when I completed the Rev 3 Cedar Point ½ ironman. I had only trained since June for the early Sept race so I wasn’t sure how it would go but I ended up having a great day. I had fun, felt alive and knew at the end I had more in me. I ran the Chicago Marathon in October with my sister, Jocelyn Rood, Kara Lade and another friend from Columbus and had a blast. I don’t really like marathons but doing it with friends and having a girls weekend away, further sparked my push for more. I took a break through the holidays, got lazy and a little fat, and started thinking about what was next. By the time January rolled around, I started thinking about doing an ironman. I didn’t tell anyone…I pondered and pondered and pondered. I was turning 40 in July and wanted something to remember. Now most people would be pondering…should I have a party, should I plan a trip away, should I just get really drunk! For some reason, that darn ironman bug must never fully go away. I didn’t just want something big, I NEEDED something big.
Two years ago while on vacation with my family, my sister and I went for a run that ended on the beach. We were talking about life and the struggles that Jim and I have had with fertility over the years. Jim and I had struggled to get pregnant with Luca, but at the time, didn’t realize what a miracle he was. We knew we wanted more children if possible but had no idea what a struggle it would be. We tried everything medicine had to offer without success. The years of emotional and physical torment had added up but as we were running on the beach that day, I said to my sister “how will I ever stop hoping?” I couldn’t control the tears. As hopeless as it was, I still always had hope. I realized I had to set an end date to save my sanity. A time when I had to stop hoping. I decided it would be when I turned 40.
When I finally mentioned to Jim that I was thinking about doing an ironman, he was all in. I still wasn’t sure myself so I pondered some more. I knew I was going to need something to occupy my brain and help me to have a positive goal to work toward as my birthday approached. I mentioned it to Jim again and before I knew it, he was filling out my race registration. He finished, made eye contact with me, and I didn’t object. He hit return and it was done. It’s a strange feeling once that button is pressed. Excitement which quickly turns to “what did I just do”. And so it began.
I decided that if I was going to do this race, I wanted to be all in. Jim had been working with Chris Martino and he graciously offered me his services. We met, I told him my goals, and the plan was set. “What did I just do?” My goals were simple. After years of fertility treatment, my body and mind felt out of whack. That’s the only way to describe it. I also had some other odd things that were off in my body that I wanted to figure out. So my first goal was to achieve improved health. My second goal was to finish an ironman with a smile on my face. Sounds simple…right?
The training began. I was excited and motivated but that only usually lasts for a few months before I’m ready for a break. This was going to be more training that I had ever done so I was really worried I would get burnt out long before Aug. I quickly realized my reasons for signing up would get me through.
By mid February, I started to have a problem with my right hip. I thought it was just from jump starting training but after sitting in a continuing education course for work, I was starting to have trouble walking. I thought my journey was going to be over before it ever really began. Instead of finishing an ironman for my 40th birthday, I was going to need a hip replacement and a cane. Panic set in. I saw the doctor, got an MRI and realized I had a small tear in my labrum. UUUUGH! I was planning to make an appointment with the orthopedic surgeon but thought I would give it some time. I started to do some very specific stretches to open up my hip joint space, took some meds and hoped for the best. I stopped running, barely swam and did some very easy spinning. After a couple of weeks, I started some gradual running and it felt ok. I had no idea if I would be able to race at all but decided to keep trying. I slowly increased my training time and had no major flare ups. I had qualified for the Boston Marathon in Chicago and my same crew, along with Jim and his dad were all planning on running. I knew it wouldn’t be smart to try to run a marathon but I didn’t want to be left out either. I was already signed up so I decided to start the run, and just go as far as I could. I studied the train schedule/map so I knew where the mile markers were and could stop when needed. We loaded the buses in downtown Boston and headed out to the race start. Along the way, I looked at Jim and tears started to form. I realized it was just about the 1 year anniversary of our last failed in-vitro attempt. I couldn’t believe it had been another year already but at that moment, I knew my hope was gone. We hugged each other, and sat peacefully for a few minutes. I was on my way back to health and headed toward my new goals.
The gun went off and I was smiling as the race started. I felt alive. I made it 17 miles. I had no hip pain but a lot of muscle soreness from the lack of training and didn’t want to cause any other injuries trying to push my limits. I hopped on the train and headed to the finish line. I sent a text to Jim because I knew I couldn’t get there in time to see him finish. We planned to meet and wait for everyone else. I found my sister, our friend Missy and Liz Vega. I found Jim. While waiting for Liz in the changing tent, we heard the first explosion. And then the second. We found a police officer who confirmed they were bombs and told us to evacuate immediately. Thanks to Jim’s crazy loud whistle, we found the rest of our group and quickly left the area. Once several miles away, we stopped in a small bar and the news reports and video footage had already started. We couldn’t believe what we were seeing and how close we were. Suddenly, turning 40 and thinking about my own struggles seemed unimportant. After seeing the devastation so close to where we had been…life that we so often take for granted became very precious. All I could think about was getting home to hold Luca. My return to training had already become very emotional but confirmed my desire to live life to the best of my abilities and shoot for new and exciting goals along the way.
I had a new sense of motivation after returning from Boston. There are so many things in life we can’t control but striving for improved health was my first goal. I hope to have a long and healthy life with Jim, Luca and the rest of our family and friends. I knew I had the control to make some very important changes. I made an appointment with an Integrative Specialist at Ohio State that a friend of my sister recommended. He specialized in Celiac disease and uses diet and vitamin supplementation to treat his patients. This is what I wanted. Not a doctor who’s first order of business is handing me a script for medicine to treat an unknown diagnosis. After ordering a ton of lab work, he confirmed that I had a gluten sensitivity which was affecting my absorption of key nutrients. He explained how this contributed to all of my seemingly unrelated complaints. Infertility problems, chronic fatigue, lost enamel, low blood counts (hemoglobin/hematocrit and HDL). No other doctor could correlate my complaints that I had for years. I continued to change my diet, started taking the vitamins that he recommended and quickly felt better than I had in years. Even with my increased hours of training, I was less tired than I had been for most of my life. I again had a new sense of motivation and finally knew I was on the right track to improved health.
The summer started to fly by as Jim and I were constantly orchestrating workout schedules while trying not to leave Luca in the dust. He was a trooper and our family and friends helped out tremendously. The grandparents got some extra one on one time with Luca, while Jim and I got to enjoy a few bike rides together. I completed the Huntington Sprint Triathlon in July and felt encouraged. It’s always nice to support a local race and compete with a ton of team members. It was hard to get the legs to turn over after training long but it was really fun to actually be done with a race in a little over an hour! The longer miles started to pile on but I truly felt great through most of the training. I had a few workouts that were mentally tough but for the most part, I was enjoying the ride so to speak!
As I finished my last few weeks of hard training, the realization that the race was coming started to hit. I turned 40 without too much stress. The surprise party that Jim somehow pulled off was a blast and set the stage for a great start to my 40th year!! I was healthy, happy and ready to race.
On the way to Louisville, I of course started to do the usual worrying. Why were my legs so heavy, did I train enough, would I make it to the finish line. I slowly settled the worries and finally started to feel the vibe!!! I knew I was ready and was so excited to start the race. Everyone has their own reasons for doing an ironman, their own journeys. Getting to the starting line is the glory! The rest is bonus! Of course everyone is hoping for the perfect race but just like in life, nothing is perfect. You just learn to roll with what you are dealt. That is what I have learned through this journey. I had a great day! The swim was as smooth as I could’ve hoped for. It was a little crowded at the start but as soon as I made the turn around the island, I had open water and just did my thing. I knew the current was in our favor so it was easy to pick up the pace without exerting too much effort. I got out of the water, hit my watch and couldn’t believe what I saw. So far, so good. I got to see my family as I headed into and out of T1 and felt great starting the bike. I had no major events through the ride. Jim rode the course the day before and told me to start easy and be patient. I followed his words. I stuck with my nutrition plan and with 30 miles to go I was able to pick up my pace for the home stretch. I was having fun and ready to start the run! I smiled, I got tears every time I saw my family and friends cheering me on (thank you Rood family for making the trek, and to Chris Martino for cheering us on even though he wasn’t able to race himself), I waved to the police officers stopping traffic, I thanked as many volunteers as I could and I just tried to smile. It got a little tough toward the end. Of course I had a pie in the sky goal of under 11 hours. With about 5 miles to go I was trying to figure out what pace I needed to hold and still make it under 11. I messed my watch up at some point during the race so I couldn’t figure it out…my brain had lost some higher (for anyone over the age of 6) math functioning. About 3 miles out, I tried to reach for a cup of water at the aid station and realized my balance was a little off. I knew I was dehydrated so I chugged some chicken broth and hoped it would hold me off to the finish. The adrenaline started to pump the last mile as I realized I would make it under 11 hours and I heard the race announcer calling out names. I knew he would be calling my name soon. I saw Jim first because he was jumping up and down like a lunatic!! I know this is terribly cheesy, but I wanted to make him proud! I knew he would be no matter how the day ended, but having the day I had hoped for made it extra special. Of note, there are no sports accolades that could ever compare to the triumph of a husband surviving a wife going through fertility treatment. It is like PMS x infinity. I’m sure at times over the last few years he wondered if he was married to a human or a werewolf! He had to protect his jugulars on more than one occasion and knowing that part of our life had come to an end was comforting on more levels than one! Thank you for surviving this journey with me!
I gave high fives to anyone willing along the last stretch of the race. My family, Luca and Jim’s parents were waiting near the finish line. There is nothing that compares to seeing their faces and feeling the gratitude for the support they have given me. Thank you for supporting my crazy dreams, always!
I crossed the finish line smiling!
This has been quite the journey…one that I will carry with me forever. I guess turning 40 isn’t so bad!
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