Update from Ann, brain aneurysm survivor:

It was wonderful seeing Krista, David, Brad Rex, Andrea Mathias and the whole She Does Tri group at the Luray Tri last weekend!! Congratulations to everyone involved for organizing such a great event! The camaraderie and support from the athletes and within the graduates of the She Does Tri camp was fabulous.

Racing at the Luray Tri this year was a gift. I had canceled my participation last year when my brain aneurysm was discovered a few weeks before the race. Coming back this year was a personal victory. I cannot say enough about the organization and quality of the race and the pre-race clinic. I attended the clinic and the information provided was great. Race day was beautiful – perfect weather!

The Swim:

I had a tough swim, but two women in a canoe who were ensuring our safety will forever be in my mind and heart. As I started the swim my nerves were on edge. It was my first open water swim in a race with no wetsuit. They said “relax, we want everyone to have a fun race and finish.” They watched that I was safe on the whole course and it made all the difference. The run and bike were beautiful after that!

One year anniversary:

I  can’t believe I am coming on my one year anniversary since brain surgery. It has been quite a journey. In a way, I feel like it has been a lifetime. I have had a lot of “first’s” since surgery…the first time I walked again, the first time I ran, the first time I put a bike helmet back on my head, my first triathlon, and so much more. I have learned a lot and healed in a way that has been better than I could have imagined…admittedly fighting every day to build back stronger. I have all of my mental and physical function back at 100% and I actually feel like I am at 200% compared to how I felt prior to surgery. Nothing was lost and much has been gained.  My goal in life now is not just to survive, it is to thrive.

It  would be cliche to say that my life has gone back to normal. There really is no such thing. I am back to being a dedicated mom, to working in the international corporate world, to enjoying time with family and friends, and to living an active, athletic lifestyle. I have been medication free since a week after surgery and I enjoy a life with a sweetness, beauty and calm that comes from facing your own mortality in such an intimate way. There are daily challenges that life brings that now seem easier to put into perspective.

I ran the half marathon and raced in the Columbia Tri as I had written in my original update. Columbia was my first tri, so completion was the goal. I had the jubilation that I could finish, but I also realized that I had a lot more strength and endurance training to go. I decided not to compete at Eagleman this year because I wanted to go into a half IM much stronger on the swim. I went to Eagleman, cheered on friends, and learned a lot in the process. A half ironman and even a full are in my heart to complete, but I need to do it in a realistic time frame.

Over the last year I have overcome many hurdles in turning tri training from a hobby into a lifestyle. I am still working out six days a week and I love it. I must admit this sometimes means late night or early morning trainer rides while my daughter is sleeping. I am becoming an expert at fitting in exercise while on business travel.  CycleLife invited me to join their tri team- it’s a fabulous group of athletes. I also go to DC Tri Club events when I can.  I spend more time now focused on my nutrition and recovery in between workouts. It has made all the difference in my overall quality of life. I am looking forward to adding cycling and running races to the calendar to supplement the tri’s. There are so many great races out there!! This will all be coordinated with Steve Dolge, my ever supportive coach.

When I spoke at one of the She Does Tri camps this year I mentioned that living an athletic lifestyle can give back even more then you put into it if you find a healthy balance. It is demanding in many ways, but one year out from my surgery, I know that endurance training has made me heal faster, stronger, and in a more well rounded way than I could have ever imagined.

As I mentioned in my first update, “life is full of the unexpected.” This does not necessarily need to be a negative statement. What is so clear to me now is that the unexpected can bring many new relationships, adventures, and beautiful memories if you let it – even from something as challenging and unexpected as brain surgery. I am proud of being a brain aneurysm survivor, thankful for my wonderful family and friends, and excited for the future that has been given to me. Being a triathlete is one of those unexpected elements of my life that just keeps getting better as the journey continues.

Thank you for your continued support and friendship,