Angela Naeth

PROFESSIONAL TRIATHLETE

Update Oct 7th! - 6 days out from Kona Ironman World Championships!

It’s been a while since my last update, and I’m now on the Big Island of Hawaii to race the Ironman World Championships!  I am so excited to finally race in Kona! I had been hoping to get a spot, and when I heard the news I was just so amazed that we were able to salvage one of the most difficult seasons of my career. So, it is a bit bittersweet to have the opportunity to head over to the Big Island to race. I’m not even looking at it as a race. This time around it is going to be a celebration, a big one!

Quite honestly, being hit with Lyme’s Disease, and its co-infections, and going undiagnosed for several months, really threw me for a loop. I felt horrible for about four or five months, with unexplained deep fatigue, muscle soreness, weakness, depression, and who knows what else. I thought that I was going nuts! And sometimes, I was. The treatments have been a journey. They are pretty aggressive, with several months of multiple antibiotics, which while helping to make me better, was leaving my body wasted. So, to have the opportunity to race in Kona, despite all of this, is both a blessing and an honor.

It also comes with a great deal of gratitude. This truly has taken a village, and it wouldn’t have been possible without those who have supported me along the way, including my sponsors, my family, my friends, my manager, my doctors, as well as my boyfriend and his family. Going from not being able to walk down the stairs to racing in IRONMAN World Championship, it is their support that truly got me through some of my most difficult times, both mentally and physically. Just thinking about the effort and support, I have nothing but 100% focus on doing my best in honor of that.

I have done a number of Ironman’s this year (4 if counting!), and it is a testament to the journey that I have been on. Each race has been an improvement, and a learning experience of how to train and race while on all of these different antibiotic medications. There were times when my body’s response to the different medications seemed quite unpredictable, and I just never knew what to expect, from one day to the next.

Throughout this process I have learned what, and how, normal should feel. I have had to adapt to a different version of normal, and it has taken a lot of getting used to. But, I feel like I am starting to really understand it. And, if I am being honest, though I have I done four IRONMANs, in a relatively short time, I am actually quite fresh. I really just started logging any real run mileage over the past few weeks. Because my health was so sporadic, my training from May through mid-August were pretty fractured. I did what I could, when I could, and it was kind of all over the place. We decided to give qualifying for Kona a shot, just because you only get so many chances. So, we mapped out a path, and decided that we would take it one race at a time. It really became one day at a time. And sometimes, one workout at a time.

As a result, the races were hard single day events, but I never got beat up by a full-on training cycle, and IRONMAN build-up. Tim has me hitting Kona in what he would call a mid-cycle of my training. Because it has been such a screwy year, Kona is not going to be the be-all, end-all. I am planning on a full set of races through the end of the year. It is our goal to hit Kona on an upswing in my fitness. I won’t be razor-sharp, but I do feel like I am just now getting into the best shape that I have been in all year. We plan to build on where I am, now, through the remainder of the season. I look forward to seeing what I can do, and continue to gain momentum! 

The biggest challenge has been accepting each day, and what it brings.  At the same time, aside from one minor setback, September has been the most stable period over the past year. When first diagnosed, my symptoms kind of took over my life. I was struggling to get out of bed. Stairs were menacing, at best. The first couple of months were very difficult, because I just never knew what to expect from one day to the next. Some days I felt okay, and others I was sick in bed. The progression was very slow, and often very difficult to see. But, it has gone pretty much exactly as the doctor described it would be.

When I was able to get out of my own head, and see the slow but steady progress, I started to gain some hope. Lyme’s made me feel deeply fatigued, and consistently nauseous, and like I had the flu, for a much longer period than anyone should have the flu. But, it would come and it would go. One of the co-infections, babesia, greatly affected my muscles, making it difficult to stand, walk stairs, get in and out of the car, etc. My legs constantly felt like I had run a half-marathon the day before. The running that I could do, was neither fast, nor pretty.

But, little by little, by little it got better and better, and better. The progression was humbling. It taught me patience, and made me appreciate both a healthy body, and this sport, more and more. I can’t thank Tim enough. He went through the thick of it with me. Going from crying in the middle of the night, because my body ached, and my mind was depressed, to running intervals, on the track with him, last week – It has been quite a journey.  My health is coming back!  

Ironman World Championships is October 13th!  I’m so very grateful with the people in my life who have helped me get back on my feet literally and figuratively, and have supported me throughout.  To enjoy the experience, push myself to my abilities and find that magic and energy that comes when racing a World Championship event - that’s what I’m going to do. 

I hope to bring awareness to Lyme disease and help others learn about Lyme/ I have been humbled by the many people who have reached out to me, just to let me know that I had played a role in their being diagnosed with Lyme’s after suffering, for so long, with mysterious symptoms. That makes me smile, inside and out!

(Thanks to Topo Athletic for the video to help raise awareness for Lyme: https://youtu.be/BDTrly7yarg!

Update on IRACELIKEAGIRL:

We’re just opening membership for our 3rd year! It has been such a great avenue to meet new females, and to help to support them in the sport, and feel their support for me! It has been a great way for me to really dive into what this sport is all about - a community! The support we have for one another and the ability to meet members at races, and to cheer for them on course, has been simply amazing and fun! It brings me back to why I do this sport - the people, the community, the fun, support, and inspiration that you get from others.  My sponsors have supported us all along the way. It is my hope to continue to build these relationships, in order to help our members in all aspects of triathlon, be it education, support, gear, as well as  a global community of women - all connected through the team.  In the future, I plan to grow the brand and team into events and camps. We have our first camp coming this January in Clermont, FL, and it is already sold out! I would love to create a fund for younger athletes in the sport, beginners, and mothers who need that extra support! 

Registration for 2019 can be found here: www.iracelikeagirl.com/membership-info (we are limiting membership and already halfway there!)* 

And finally! 2019 Coaching!  I love this aspect of my career and helping others achieve their personal best in racing and training.  It’s been an honor to race alongside and be part of their own journey.  *limited spots available  www.angelanaeth.com 

Keep Moving Forward

Keep Moving Forward…

Three words that are now a daily mantra. My boyfriend told them to me after 70.3 Los Cabos in late November of last year. I was getting some odd leg pain that would come and go, and found it difficult to train sometimes. I never thought much of the pain until after 70.3 Bahrain, when we flew over 14 hours in each direction.  My right leg was inflamed, sore and I couldn’t walk after the race properly.  We chalked it up to the long travel and it was my last race of the season. It was time for a quick reset, anyhow, so rest was already on the schedule.  

But the two weeks off didn’t help.  That was the start of many symptoms I developed over the ensuing months.  I kept getting extreme pain in my torso, hips, quads… that would subside for a bit, but then come back. I was not recovering well from workouts, and I was willing myself to get out of bed most days.  I was getting depressed, I found it hard to work at a computer without the font 4x the normal size. I couldn’t sleep, I had high anxiety, and depression was starting to set in. This was not the normal me. 

…  My timeline, symptoms and narrative is like most people who discover they have Lyme disease - by going to numerous doctors, normal blood tests (most), and thinking that these random excruciating pains, in joints and muscles, and extreme fatigue are just in their head or attributable to something else.  Lyme disease effects everyone differently and like 40-50% of the people who develop the disease, I don't remember a bite from a tick.

My hope is that, if someone has any mystery symptoms, that often elude doctors, that they can consider the possibility of Lyme and/or other tick-borne illnesses, and can get the proper testing to find out. 

Next entry: My full timeline of my symptoms, how I came to my diagnosis, my treatment regiment to date, and what I’ve learned, so far.   

Here’s some quick facts on Lyme Disease you might not have been aware of! 

  • Lyme disease is a tick-borne illness from the bacteria Borrelia
  • It comes from a tick bite that only 40-60% ever remember
  • The tick carries infectious bacteria(s), so co-infections are common
  • These infections are anaerobic and spread though out your body, to first where you lack oxygen…i.e. joints
  • There is typically an incubation period after the bite from anywhere between 3 and 30 days
  • Most can often pinpoint an unexplained sickness, at some point after a bite
  • Joints start aching, and other symptoms start to develop - muscle pain, fatigue, brain fog, suppressed mood and many, many more. 
  • The bacteria then get dormant and start to multiply, and regresses into the body. 
  • The bacteria move onto your brain, liver, kidneys and muscles, and can lie dormant for indefinite periods
  • After acute stressors (ie. racing, training hard, travel, etc.) they can start wreaking havoc on the body
  • ·Most standard Lyme tests fail
  • Many, many doctors do not understand Lyme
  • Barbara Johnson, an expert with the CDC Lyme program, reveals that in testing for Lyme “the current two-tier method is positive in only 31 percent of those with erythema migrans (the bull’s-eye rash associated with Lyme disease). This means that out of 100 patients who have Lyme disease, we might misdiagnose 69 of them, leaving their infections untreated … “

    If you or know someone who may feel ill, yet look so healthy, consider going to a doctor that specializes in Lyme. They are typically referred to as Lyme Literate Medical Doctors (LLMDs). There are DNA tests that identify Lyme where the standard testing fails. 

Diagnosed With Lyme

Diagnosed with Lyme. 

I have recently been diagnosed with Lyme disease, a tick-borne illness, alongside two other tick-borne pathogens/co-infections. I am a professional triathlete, and fully rely on my body to make a living, as well as doing the things that I most enjoy. Since November, I started to struggle using my body for these things, with unexplained muscle pain and fatigue. With months lost to doctors, PTs, and myself all shaking our heads, I started down the path towards Lyme. I had X-Rays, MRIs, countless blood tests…They all pointed to inflammation, and I was told that I just needed to take some time off. The standard Lyme testing protocol came back negative. But I am nothing, if not consistently persistent, and found myself a Lyme specialist who ran some deeper testing, and found the infections.

Over the past few weeks I have begun the process of educating myself on all things Lyme. I have reached out, and spoken, to countless people about their experiences. Some athletes, some not, all in an attempt to understand what my journey might look like, and how this could affect me, as a person and as an athlete.

So, because of this, and how frustrating the experience has been, I want to help bring awareness to this illness. Lyme disease is something that affects people in many, many different ways, and looks like many, many different things, often going mis- or un-diagnosed, for years.  My hope is that, if someone has any of these mystery symptoms, that often elude doctors, that they can consider the possibility of Lyme and/or other tick-borne illnesses, and can get the proper testing to find out. According to the CDC, between about 300,000 and 500,000 go undiagnosed, each year, with these illnesses on the rise and growing at an increasing rate! If not caught early, Lyme disease and other tick-borne illness can have devastating effects on someone’s life. 

In some cases the symptoms can clear up quickly, with proper diagnoses and treatments. In others, it can be a long uncertain road. As of right now, it looks as though I may be on a steady path forward, but only time will tell. I intend to use this blog as a chronicle of my own journey, and hope to help others to more quickly identify the possibility of the infection(s), how to properly diagnose them, and how best to work with the treatments to come. And, most importantly, my return to health. I want to help others avoid the ambiguity and confusion that I experienced, so that they can start their own path to health as quickly as possible.

Next post: http://www.angelanaeth.com/updates/2018/5/15/keep-moving-forwards