Friday, July 17, 2009
The answer - pretty much yes.
I am thankful the surgery went just fine on Tuesday. And got some great photos to take home. :} He removed the loose body (cartilidge), a lovely bone spur and some arthritis. After surgery was a breeze and felt pretty good that day. Even Wed wasn't so bad.
And then the novocaine wore off in the middle of the night on Wed night/Thursday morning. OMG! Shock to the system. Tuesday and Wed I could hobble around pretty well with no crutches and not much pain. Thursday was miserable. I finally broke down and took the codeine. Ewwgads. How do people take that stuff? I was completely out of it AND my knee hurt.
Last night went a little better and it isn't quite so awful today - but damn does it still hurt.
All my visions of being up and zipping around by Saturday or Sunday without crutches are now a crazy thought. I am having difficulty walking on that leg, much less not limping.
So, I will sit some more. I have already watched 4 movies and read 3 books. So now, it's time to spend some time on line and catch up. I am doing my best to enjoy it - but it is disconcerting to feel my back end spread out and get larger each moment I sit here.
But, still I will try to be thankful that everything went well. That I have my family to hang out with me and keep me company. That I will be walking/running soon enough. That it could always be worse.
Here is a quick "On The Run" video from the comfort of my big red chair today. It should be labeled (Not) On The Run.
Thursday, July 2, 2009
I rarely sit. I rarely rest. So, how will the week go? Will I lose my mind?
I am also trying to build up some strength. Seems like I only have a small amount of time for walking and biking - work is taking up way to much time.
I have found one advantage in all this walking. It is something my husband and I can do together. We have been talking a few walks together at night - it is a nice change. A chance to catch up - that never happens.
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
The days have been a blur between work and home stuff and so much as changed since my last post. Last Monday I had my second opinion with a orthopedic who actually knew what he was doing. He sent me for an MRI Tuesday night and by Wednesday I learned that I didn't have a degenerate knee - instead I had a loose body under my knee cap as well as arthritis.
The solution - scope to take out the loose body and smooth out the rough patches under my knee cap.
I was escatic! This means that runner isn't out of my future indefinitely but instead for just a few more months. I should be running again by Sept 1st.
Surgery is scheduled for July 14th - should be a quick one with about 1 week recovery and then 5 more weeks of walking/biking only.
I am now trying to put as much in as possible the next two weeks to be in decent shape for the surgery and crutches. Do you think it is possible to drop 10 pounds in 2 weeks? Yeah, me neither. But I will work on dropping a few and building my core strength.
Last week exercise:
Sunday - 2 mile walk
Tuesday -3 mile walk
Thursday - 3 mile walk
Saturday - 15 mile bike, 2 mile run
This week so far:
Monday - 4 mile walk
Friday, June 19, 2009
Sunday - bike 15 miles
Monday - walk hilly 2 miles and exercises with Tucker
Tuesday - walk 2 miles with kids on bike (is it possible to do a walking fartlek? If so - I did.)
Wednesdsay - walk 3 miles (90 degrees) ugh. and exercises with Tucker
Thursday - nothing
So I guess I shouldn't complain - I did get 7 miles in and 15 miles on the bike. If I can get my "long run" of 8 in tomorrow morning - I would consider this first week of reformed running ok.
My knee is still acting up. Just when I think that it is "all better" and I can go back to running, it "goes out" and reminds me that all is not well. At the appt with the orthopedic, he told me my right knee was really swollen - which I had the intelligent response of "oh, I thought it was just a bunch of fat there." I mean, come on, I am getting to middle age and I am finding fat building on the oddest places. yuck. Well anyway - so last night I am doing some gardening and only as I am bending and reaching do I get a good look at my knee and realize that it is really swollen. I think I finally saw what he was trying to describe.
Sure, it is hard to bend at times and even trying to stretch it is tough - but again, I thought it was just because I was old(er).
I am looking forward to Monday - my second opinion is scheduled at 8 am on Monday with a sports med knee orthopedic guy. My hope that he can either give me different news that is really good; provide better options for the bad news or find a way to reach me to help me deal with it.
I am already talking with myself to try to keep it together. As you know from my post from my last appt, I fell apart into tiny little pieces. I need to be more logical this time so I can ask better questions in addition to keeping my cool to be ready to do back to back presentations at work starting at 9:20 am. This will be interesting.
I think I am coping better with the thought of never running again. I decided that I will take it day by day and week by week. Just like I didn't go from running 1 block to 20 miles - I can't go from full time runner to nonrunner. Little by little I need to work through it.
Through all of this, I am so thankful for my RL partner, friend and coach of Tom. There are very few people who can so completely understand the challenge and sadness of not running as well as take on the feel feeling. Tom has been so kind to "get it" and offer suggestions. And more than anything, offer the chance to talk it through. I have wonderful family and friends, but they don't know the right things to say or how to help me work through it. This is where it is so important to have running friends - they know.
Let's hope next week this time all of this is just a bad memory. :}
Sunday, June 14, 2009
And I am using the term "running" here loosely as I have officially kicked off my "no running" running training for my half marathon.
Saturday - 3 miles. I walked the first mile and then somewhere around mile 2 I realized I had been running for at least the last mile. Can't even tell you where or how it happened, but my body just started running. When I realized it about mile 2, I thought about stopping but decided it really wasn't worth it to blow a good thing. After all these years of running, it was only Saturday that it became crystal clear that my internal cadence is set to something like a 10-12 minute a mile run. Anything slower than that doesn't jive with my mental pace and doesn't give me the mental refreshment I feel when I run.
Knee went out twice on Saturday.
Sunday - 15 mile bike. Back on the bike. I won't lie - it was nice. I like going out and stomping on those pedals and just letting it go. I do love speed. Ok, my knee was a nag about the entire ride. It kept groaning and whining when I really laid some pressure into the pedals. I just wante d to slap it and scream, "get a life, get in line and just cooperate." It was a reality check to make me realize that it isn't just running that may be a problem in this training.
Knee went out twice on Sunday - at Walmart - it was painful enough that it made me sit down quickly. I grabbed it and moved it a bit and it went back into place and all was good.
Tentative plan for half marathon training is a 3-2-2 in 5: 3 "cross training days" which is one long bike, one short bike and 1 medium walk (3-4 miles); 2 running days - one long (6-10) and one short (2 miles) and 2 strength training days - but all packed into 5 days with 2 rest days.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Well, I guess it is good to get it all out. Monday night's post was one long rambling tirade of nonstop typing. Looking back at today, I can see all the typos, grammer issues, etc - but I have decided to leave it just that way. It captures the moment of Monday.
Tuesday was a day of distraction - I couldn't get anything done.
And today, I am starting to think more clearly.
I have decided, as of this moment to do the DSM half marathon in October, the Living History Farms in November and a tri or duathlon in Sept. I have pledged to run just once a week - and make it count and make everything else a cross training. It will make the runs challenging but I hope I can maintain some fitness.
And then the bigger decision was to buckle down and lose weight. I spent A LOT of time online going back thorugh the doc's words and there are two things in my control - when/where I run and weight loss. It's not that I am gigantica, but I do need to lose 15 pounds. Every pound lost means less pounding on my joints.
Only time will tell if this is a good decision.
I am also getting an almost second opinion. My son goes back to his world class PT for a foot review and PT update and I trust her with my son (which is more valuable than my own life). I am going to review the x-rays, progress and doctor's opinion to see what she would do - would she get a second opinion.
At least I have a plan. I know what is next.
Monday, June 8, 2009
I have taken even greater pride in helping others become runners or rather unleash their inner runner. Helping runners see that they were a runner all along they just had too many rules they created before allowing themself to be labeled with "I am a runner."
So here I sit, now, and wonder what I will become if I can't be a runner. The visit to the orthopedic surgeon is over and their are really no options for me now except to stop running. Degenerative. Arthritis. Cartlidge is gone. No real space in the knee. Just a matter of time before knee replacement. We have no good way to fix this problem with a knee. How old are you? All the things I would tell you do you have done but you are still here. Activity modification. No pounding. No jumping. No running. Elliptical. Bike. Swimming. Soft trails. Running will make it worse. If you can't take it - cortisone shots - but it doesn't fix it. There is no fix for it. You are running right into a knee replacement.
I am 38.
It took all my will not to cry in front of this doctor - a stranger. He was helpful, but I knew he wasn't a runner. He wouldn't fully understand. Especially since I am not an elite athlete or a local superstar. I am a mom runner. A weekend athlete. But I am a runner.
My PT came with me today - bringing a summary of her treatment as well as herself. No other options she said. Just keep working on balance and strength to keep the symptoms away. Won't get better, will get worse. No other options.
So I come home tonight to think it through. I go to change my clothes and realize that every "after work" outfit is a running shirt from some race. All my shorts have been purchased with a run or after a run in mind. I go slip on shoes and stare at my closet of running shoes, all purchased with a specific run or season in mind. I look on the shelf of the hallway and see my GU, my spibelt, my winter running wear and my water bottles just waiting for another run.
Everything in my life, every habit has been built around the fact that I am a Runner. Maybe this is how you know you are a runner when you can't separate one part of your life from your running life. All of the sudden you wake up and realize that running has become intertwined with all other parts of your life. And it feels right. It feels so right you don't realize what has happened. It feels so right that you can't figure out how you would possible untangle running from your daily habits.
I grab the mail and pull out my medal from Drake Relays - it has finally arrived. I walk it over to my medal wall and stare at an entire wall devoted to my running medals and memories. Pictures framed to capture a moment. Running books stacked by my reading chair waiting for another read. Runners World dog eared for an article I wanted to read again. My bottle of Powerade Zero left over from my last long run flop in the chair.
The thought of what I would read in the place of all that material stops me cold. What next? What do I care about as much as running? I grab a cookie from my secret stash. My brain reflectively shoots a message back to not worry - we can work off these cookies in the next run. But wait. A deep breath. There may be no more post cookie binge runs to counteract the uncontrolled cookie feasts. Oh god. No more celebratory long run indulgences.
Or worse. No more long runs. Oh the feeling of the long, slow run. The feeling of happy exhaustion. Of joy in accomplishment. Of stronger muscles. Of feeling like and knowing that you are one of a small community who are able to do what you just did - and like it. The silent satisfaction the rest of the day or weekend of knowing "I did it". The confidence to know that you can push past discomfort or pain or mental weakness and keep going just to show you can do it.
Gone is the time reserved for you. To recharge. To detatch. To get lost. To find yourself. To learn something about yourself you never knew. Or sometimes to rememeber something about you that you had forgotten. To make lists. To get organized. To stop thinking. To give time to think. To praise God. To talk to yourself. It's the reward of being a runner. Time. Precious time for to make a mental -physical connection that seems to make the rest of the time not running so much more enjoyable.
So, now what?
Do I stop? Four doctors with the same four messages. The fourth doctor the most informed of all. The fourth doctor with the painstaking tour of my X-Rays to show that he isn't making it up. The pain and symptoms aren't in my head or imagined or overblown. It is the lack of black space on the X-ray which tells a pretty loud story. It yells back - yeah, it's real.
My brain keeps trying to shift to injury mode. Chanting, just a few weeks off and then good as new. So I keep showing it the X-ray and whispering back - this isn't an injury - this is for good. And it just gets worse. Resting, icing, ibrofen will not fix this. Not running won't fix it. Running will make it worse. 38, 39, 40, 45, 48 is too young for a knee replacement.
But my brain is rationalizing now. Squinting at the X-ray. Thinking...he could just be trying to scare you - does a few milimeters make a difference? Really. Come on - he's just a conservative. But a walk, a jog and I am reminded that it isn't just a picture - it is also pain. It is locking, it is grinding, it is the swelling. He didn't make it up. He just took a picture of it. And he was smart enough to send it home with me for a moment just like this.
So it's real. So it's not going away. So it's something I need to manage. So the best option isn't running. (for how long....) (do I start now...). I am bargaining with my knee. What if I run all my favorites this year and see how it goes? (Injury mindset talking....) What is I get it out of my system and then stop at the end of this year? (One last hoorah talking...) What if I just run until I can't do it anymore - how made could a knee replacement be? (emotion talking)
What I can't seem to ask myself is, "how can I stop running?" I am not ready to be rational and logical and an adult. I am too sad. I don't want to stop running.
Frayed Laces mantra pops into my head, "someday you won't be able to run, today isn't that day." Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit- TODAY is that day. It's here. Now what. No running blog tells you what to do when it becomes THAT day. There are posts about pre race, post run, taper madness, pregnancy running, EVERYTHING but this. No runner wants to talk about what happens on the day you can't run anymore. Ever. I remember Nancy going through this moment and talking about it on one of my favorite podcasts. The participants starting laughing because the way runners were talking it was like Nancy had died. We could laugh about it as a group, but the reality is - we all knew that losing the runner in you was like something had died.
This is a bad moment. And during bad moments, I run. And because I already have on my running clothes and running shoes - I could run. But I don't, I walk. I walk and cry. I walk and think. I walk and try to put together the answer to the question, "what do you call a runner when a runner can't run anymore?"
No matter how I try to answer, none of my responses are acceptable. I am a walker. I am a biker. I am a big, fat slob. I am a ...... I am a ex-runner. I used to run. I once ran. I did a few races. Oh my god. Those are not the way I want to be.
I stop and remember that this is small in a world full of bigger things. This isn't cancer. This isn't a heart attack. This isn't a brain injury. My kids are healthy. My husband is happy. I have a job. I am tremendously fortunate to be who I am doing what I do. I just need to find a way not to say....I am a runner.
So what to do? What's next? Do I keep running? Does running become the exception? Is running my cross training days? Will I wake up in a few weeks and find that running has untangled itself across my life and I won't remember the wonderful feeling of being a runner?
That I can't imagine because I am a runner. I will always be a runner. I won't stop running. I just can't. Not yet. Not now.
Saturday, June 6, 2009
Nothing has really changed the last few months. Outside of finding a new and higher level of understanding and appreciation for balance and hip strength - my knee itself is still a pain in the ass. It locks, it pops, I have too be very careful twisting pivoting. Hills and stairs are killers, digging in my garden is torture.
It's hard not to think about it since there is some kind of pain with it at all times. Heck, I rolled over in bed last night and it popped and about sent me through the roof. And it is so unpredictable - never quite sure when it will feel ok and when it won't.
I am still not sure if I should hope for the doctor to tell me it is all in my head and to work past the pain and keep going with the painful exercises or if I want him to say - "yes, there is something wrong and it must be fixed." Is it a mark of a truly insane runner to hope to be told they are mentally unstable versus they need to stop running or get treatment that goes beyond PT?
I have never heard that a diagnosis of "crazy" putting a runner on the disabled/must not run list....
Teams are a great way to get started in TRI's - safety in numbers and you don't have to be good or train for all three sports. If it wasn't for this stupid knee of mine, I would sign up now!
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
I had also just wrapped up my MBA and knew I needed a new and different challenge to redirect my energies. I had a friend who was doing sprint and olympic tris and suggested I could do it.
I can remember that my biggest concern of taking on TRI's wasn't the distance or even the actual events - it was wearing a swimsuit in front of other people - on purpose. It wasn't that I was grotesquely obese - but it was definitely something I have never enjoyed.
It took me more time to talk myself into going to the pool and trying a few strokes than it did to work my way up to the actually swimming the first mile.
A good friend once told me to never miss a personal deadline. That the key to succeeding and moving forward is to set goals/timelines/deadlines for yourself and then not let anything get in the way. So I took his advice and picked a date, put together a plan and then just did it. I got a suit, I went to the pool and got in. The first few times were hard - just like when I started running. But over a few visits, my swimming was stronger.
And the bike. I liked biking. I ad a great mountain bike with nobby tires. I knew no differently how hard that would be to ride on for a olympic distance tri of 25 miles. So I trained on it. I liked it. On race day, I was a bit intimidated by all the very nice tri bikes in the stands. There stood my $90 Target special with big nobby tires and 7 of 10 gears that worked reliably. But I did it. Wheels are wheels - they can get you there - if you try hard enough.
And then the run. Obviously the run wasn't intimating. A mere 10K. I think it was the thought of doing it after the mile swim and 25 mile bike that worried me. And through all the training, I wondered if I would survive. I found out I did. I found out I could.
In the end, I found a true love for triathlons - more than marathons and probably equal to half marathons. I have a short attention span so it is wonderful to switch events three times. I find just when I am tired of the activity, it is time to do another. I found that I really find comfort and joy of the feel of "brick-like" legs off the bike to the run. It is very satisfying. And the best part is I have found a consistent faster pace on my runs in a TRI than a stand alone road race.
But best of all - the change from running alone to cross training made me appreciate my run times more and then the cross training made me a better, stronger runner.
It was change that did me good then and now every year at this time I am thankful for the chance to change up my running and take on new and exciting challenges in training for a tri.
School is now out and activities are wrapping up - so I am very hopeful that time will feel like it is slowing down around here.
So in two weeks we covered again more soccer, tball, work and stuff than I can remember. Also managed to squeeze in a flying visit to the hospital as my dad had a heart attack. That was a surprise for him and us.
Also got through Dam to Dam. Had the sheer fun of running with Mary and Steve. Mary I worked with for year and Steve was a friend from the Lounge. It was so nice to catch up and learn more about them over the miles. The day was great - a bit warm - but ok. One of Mary's friends started with us, but got sick at mile 2 and ended up with IV's and then a few days in the hospital. Since I learned the lesson of a heat stroke the hard way with last year's race - I really understood how hard it was for her to stop. But how scary for her to go through all those tests.
And my knee. 5 days left until the orthopedic appt. Can't wait. Not sure if I am hoping for him to tell me I am crazy and deal with it or tell me that there is really something wrong. Monday night it twisted in a way that about made me scream and faint. But then it went back to the right place and it was ok.
It still hurts to do the balance exercises so I have backed off. I am becoming less fond of inflicting pain upon myself intentionally. I am really tired of my knees hurting as well as being overly carefully of turning and twisting.
In the meantime, I really need to figure out what event is next.....Bix? ugh - hills. Tri? ugh - where to find time to swim? Nothing? ugh - don't like that option at all.
Monday, May 18, 2009
The last few weeks have been an absolutely blur. I have written all my posts in my head but somehow they never make it to the actual blog. It's that time and priority thing.
Let's see, since April 29th, we have had 10 soccer games, 5 baseball games, 8 soccer practices, 3 dance classes plus 2 dress rehearsals and a recital. There was a whole mess of work deadlines that took over my life and my husband threw in some extra shifts to cover coworkers. I added in a few trips to my beloved PT, a few doctor appts for the kids, and even for the pets. We had a handful of family events and some catching up with neighbors. My garden is still a wreck but I did find enough time to get all 16 hanging baskets planted. That is all the good stuff.
And we also had the experience of a suicide of the dad of our daughter's friend. Tough week that one. Hard to watch and help the kids - ages 6 and 4 go through the emotions of losing their dad so unexpectedly. There are just not enough things we can do. Still working through that one.
And in there were a few runs. A few, like a handful or so. One long run in a downright, good old fashioned thunderstorm. Thought lightening would strike me or my friend as we ran on a 1/2 mile bridge over water. But God liked us and we were able to finish. I don't think I have been that wet in a long time or maybe ever. The next long run was by myself and was so cold my hands almost froze into one position. But still, I am getting a bit faster. And I am almost taking the advice of my family doctor, PT and chiro - stop running. Almost Isay, because I am walking my runs during the week and only running my long runs. I don't have that much time or patience to walk the long ones.
My PT officially discharged me. Time to go to an orthopedic and get the verdict on the knee. I am stronger but have a ways to go and work on - and I will. But Amber decided that PT wasn't going to fix it alone. You know, it is kinda sad to get "discharged" by the PT before you are "fixed". I feel like I got fired. I am working on my balance exercises like a maniac - hopeful that the continued work might pay off before I see the specialist on the 8th.
I did visit my chiropractor - the savior who brought me back from my hip injury - and he tried laser and ultrasound on it. It was a bit sore but at the same time it felt different. I think better - but hard to explain. It felt looser and more flexible. It hasn't gone out since then. He thinks it is a cartlidge tear and to stop running. But I am still more hopeful and going to try a treatment or two with him to see what might happen.
Dam to Dam is barely two weeks away - I am very excited to see what this year holds and even more excited to be given the chance again to run with 2 new runners. Can't wait!
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
The clock had barely advanced a minute after I crossed the line and I was holding my all time favoriate treat of a chocolate chip cookie. And by the time I walked away from the finish line, I am ashamed to say that three cookies lost their lives to my happy post race munching.
And as the day went on, I happily munched along - rewarding myself for all my hard earned 13 miles. There was a grilled chicken sandwich from Subway, a bag of chips, a couple Diet Cokes, a hot chocolate, a beer, a few pieces of pizza and oh yes, some frosted brownies. And in my normal tradition, I let myself eat whatever I wanted that day - it was my guiltfree reward. Well, almost guiltfree.
Many months ago, Topher had a great post shouting out the fact that you burn enough calories in a MARATHON to eat 11 donuts but not a full dozen. It was a really interesting point. Granted, not many people can or want to eat a full dozen donuts - but it is the principle of the fact that if you run a stinkin' marathon, in your head you translate it not into 2600 calories but instead to some infinite number of calories. The laws of physics and body digestion should be put on hold after a big race - let us indulge in peace for goodness sakes.
So, some amount of guilt crept into my head on Saturday. But then on Sunday, the real problem started. Because when I get started on a bad road with food, it is HARD to turn the car around. If I get a little junk, I want more junk. I make better excuses, I forget my small slips in an effort to allow others more guiltfree. I get crazy about being bad.
It's taken a few days, but I have finally wrestled my indulgent diet back down to the floor and I hope I can keep it at bay long enough to get back on track. I really need to because my next race is only a month away.
Quick knee update: Damn thing hurts with every step. Every walking step. Every stairs. And today at work, every push back in my chair - it would "go out". Very, very frustrating.
I did my strengthening exercises on Monday, Tuesday and tonight - so still on track. They are still hard - but I am being consistent and careful. Friday I go back to see Amber and talk more about what is next. I have decided to walk my miles duing the week in hopes of putting less stress on it versus running all of them.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
I finished in 2:26:26 (clock time) - still don't know chip time - and had a great run between time zero and the end. I didn't walk, the hills didn't stop me, and the weather was a cool 45 and drizzle - which is great for long distance run. I actually had a faster time for this race than last fall's half marathon!
I am absolutely escatic about finishing under the time. It gives me confidence for the rest of the season!
I recorded an audio journal along the way for the few days leading up to the race and the day after. I did it as a way to share some of the thoughts that went through my head and hopefully reassure other runners that they aren't only the one who freak out right before their chosen race.
I will post it soon...
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
I don't get it. I have been religious with my PT the last four weeks. I do feel a bit stronger - but my knee just doesn't feel right. It is beginning to feel like the muscles around my knee and hips ARE stronger but my knee itself just doesn't feel solid at all. If feels like it is hanging on by a string. Something has changed with it in the last few months.
But even with all the mental drama of my knee, there is still part of me that is in full swing of half marathon race preparation. I thought that maybe I could head off the more debilitating symptoms of a race if I didn't taper - but that doesn't seem to matter.
My mind continues to calculate and recalculate splits and finish times randomly throughout the day. I find myself thinking about hydration now and my plan for the week. I have already started worrying about hydration the day before. I checked that my favorite socks are right where they should be. My shuffle is set for tunes. I have confirmed my weekend plans with hubby more than a few times. And I have checked, rechecked, rechecked, rechecked, rechecked, and rechecked the weather. Still not ideal - if you were wondering at all.
It is amazing of the number of times I have run a half marathon, how these crazed runner symptoms come back time after time. You think that like a virus, if you get it once, they would pass you by the second and third times.... no luck. Still stuck thinking half marathon thoughts.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
But as I close in on my first half marathon of the season as part of the Drake Relays, I can't help but compare and contrast how different my runnning is compared to elite runners. It may be that every news story seems to be showing and talking about some of the great amateurs and elites that are in town that has caused this exercise - but whatever the reason - here is my list:
- Training Run Fuel. Elites have experiments out of the way and now have specific food while training and racing that maximizes their performance. Me, the mom runner, runs out of Gu and can't find time to get more and find me stealing packages of fruit chews (not the healthy ones either) out of my kids hands of scrummaging at the bottom of their Easter basket to try to find a handful of stale jelly beans to stash in my pocket for a long run. Ewww ... I know.
- Strengthening. Elites work with trainers to make sure muscles are balanced and the right strengthening exercises are done throughout training. I find myself begging my kids to play one legged catch with a squishy ball and trying to eeck out 20 reps before they get bored and move on. On batting away a lovable Golden and spoiled cat as I try to get in my floor exercises.
- Cross Training. Elites find low impact or other complimentary training to offset their high mileage on their off or cross training days. I find that most days are cross training and seem to be at soccer practice for my son, baseball games for my daughter, or my favorite - carrying my workout bag to my car and then back but with no chance to work in my run during the day.
- Rest. Elites get a good night sleep and even rest during the day. Moms don't sleep. Ever.
- Gear. Elites get top of the line gear from sponsors and other cool places. Moms hope that they washed their gear and the stink actually came out and their husband or child didn't put away laundry - because they know they will never find their favorite running clothes again.
- Post Race Massage. Elites have trainers and other support to make sure they are hydrated, refueled, muscles cool down and reduce the risk of injury as well as speed recovery. Moms don't stop running and recover - they just run to their car and keep the family's day moving.
- Race time. Elites are intense and focused for their race - take time to mentally and physically prepare and go to the line ready. Moms go to the line ready for a well needed few hour break on the roads to sort through the events of the week as well as to figure out what is for dinner next week. That's not our splits we write on the back of our hands after the race - it is the grocery list.
But for as many things that are different, I have no doubt that the joy in running and finishing is the same. Maybe even greater for a running mom who didn't think that they could find time to do it, want to do it, should do it, followed through with it or could even do it.
Running is cool - no matter how you do it.
Good luck to all the very cool, very fast, very talented runners at Drake this weekend. I am prepared to be as inspired as always.
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Friday is sunny with a high of 85 (what the heck?!?)
Saturday is low of 50, high of 74 AND a chance of thunderstorms. Groovy. Lovely.
Rain, wind and heat - my three run killers. Looks like I might get them all.
Saturday, April 18, 2009
So bad that I remember I "hated" running immediately after. Now I guess that I had a touch of post marathon blues - but I remember being so disappointed with my performance that I was too dishearted to run for any reason or any way.
But for some reason, I remember thinking - what the heck - so what if has been months since I ran - I should jump back in and do a 1/2 marathon. Oh, and look, here is one in Des Moines - great.
That week, I took an unplanned trip out of town all week and flew back in just in time to get my packet and jump in the race. I was (again) undertrained, underhydrated, poorly nutritioned, tired and horribly clueless what I was doing. Drake Relays on the Roads has a 8K and half marathon. When the gun went off, there was a good group of a few hundred runners. It is a really fast field and I found myself at the back of the pack by the one mile mark. At the 2 1/2 mile mark I was in the last 20 runners. And then when the 8K and half split off at the 2 1/2 mile mark, I found myself with just 2 other runners and I was the last one.
At 5 miles, I realized I was in trouble. I was already spent from running faster than I should. I was hungry, thirsty and was really just tired of running. And then when I thought I was at a low point, the sag wagon/officer informed me that I would need to hit the sidewalk because I was slower than the course control standard. So, there I was - the last runner in a race I shouldn't have been in with very little motivation to keep going AND that any water and fuel stops weren't going to be there because I was now officially too slow to be considered running this race. I slowed to a walk and then stopped. I thought about my options. What I wanted to do was to call someone and tell them to pick my up. But, in 1998 - I didn't carry my phone with me. And we were still new to Des Moines and I had no flipping clue where I was. I was lost.
At that point, I can still remember sitting down on the curb, putting my head in my hands and crying. I felt yet again like a big loser of a runner for the second time in a few months. But then, the rational side of my took control and realized that the steady rabbit of a runner was 2 blocks ahead of me and since I was lost, if I didn't get my butt up and start running I might be wandering around this town all day.
With that thought, I got up and started out again. Complete with the little sobs and snotty nose. I forced myself to start shuffling and think about anything else but all the while keeping a trained eye on this woman in front of me. She wasn't running fast and in fact, didn't run much faster than me but she was doing two things right - she was running and she was running a consistent, even pace.
For the next 7 miles, I did a cat/mouse. I ran to catch up to keep her in sight and then took a walk break. Her metronome pace never varied no matter the course, hills, wind - nothing. In mile 11, I caught up with her long enough to say a few words, but then fell back.
The last few miles felt like an eternity that would never end. But as I ran up to the finish line and crossed, I saw the magical numbers that showed I finished in 2:29:46 - just 14 seconds before cut off. I don't think I was ever more relieved and overjoyed than that moment.
And then I made a promise to myself to never, ever, under no circumstance - run this #@$@# course again. Ever. Never. No matter what.
So...I am running the Drake Half Marathon on Saturday. Nothing has changed about the course - it is still hilly and tough. Nothing has changed about the timing or weather - it promises to be unpredicatable but at least windy and too hot or too cold and certainly it will rain. And nothing has changed about me - I am still full of good intentions but never enough time to become properly trained. And in fact, I am older - 11 years older with a cranky knee to boot.
So why am I doing this? Because this winter, as my 9 year old son struggled back from his second foot reconstructive surgery and then an unforseen 8 additional casts and months of PT - there was a moment as I coached him through his rehab work that I realized that I need to listen to myself as well as take on his spirit. It was watching him walking for 30 minutes on the treadmill each day while in double casts. And then it was helping him through 30 minutes of ab work which was difficult for him. And through that I heard myself telling him that he shouldn't avoid things that are tough. Because it is those things that make us stronger. I heard myself telling him that he shouldn't "not try" just because he thinks he won't be able to do it or do it like others or as easy as others.
It was somewhere in all those conversations as he kept a smile on his face and kept trying and then told me that he still wanted to take a 10K this year and wanted to keep trying because he wanted to run again that I realized how many new running goals I have put off because they are hard or because I might fail or I might be slow. Sure Drake is a tough course, too early in the year for my liking and with awful weather, and with a cutoff way to fast for a runner like me - but should that stop me from trying. No, it shouldn't. It should make me try more.
Because it is by trying that we learn the most. It is from trying that we expand the bounds of our strength and courage. It is by trying that we uncover another small clue of what we are made up - down deep inside of us. It is by stripping away all the easy stuff that we start to get a more clear picture of what we are truly capable of.
While I hope and care that I run this darn race in 2:30 or less, I care more that I tried and over the course of this experiment the last few weeks that I stand a bit taller because I know I have tried and haven't completely failed and along the way have been rewarded by opening yet another dusty door from within me.
Many panges and twinges with the right knee when I pivot and push off/back (when sitting in car, getting out of the car, etc).
It is tired and sore. It hurt like a bitch after the run. I was babying it right afterwards, but luckily our company for dinner had a 1 1/2 year old that loved to do stairs so I found myself going up and down the stairs about 100 times. And you know what - it seemed to help it.
It doesn't feel very lovely today - but it isn't screaming at me either.
I did 2 sets of 5 pikes. yeah. and then a ball tossing session with Sophie - which should count for 2 since it took much longer to do it with her than a big person. And also did band exercises with Jim. Let's hope all the little stuff counts and makes it stronger.
Friday at therapy was the first checkpoint of how things are coming. Overall, stronger and better, but still a ways to go. The most striking aha moments have been watching my leg and knee in the mirror as I do a partial single leg squat. I always knew I was weak - but that is so interesting. And then when I did the partial one leg wall squat and watched my knee go in. I could visibly see the weakness - but it wasn't until Amber reminded me that my knee does that with every stride of my run that I think I truly finally got it.
I have been thinking about what "self checks" a runner should do to check themselves against weaknesses that could cause future injury. One leg squats seem to be a key one.
Still hoping for a miracle by Saturday.
Every step of the run as hard. As much as I look forward to the long, quiet time of a long run - I could feel the hesitancy before this run. I wasn't into it. It had been a long, hard week at work and I was mentally tapped. I have learned long ago that my long runs sometimes take more mental determination that physical ability and when I am feeling mentally weak - my runs become a hell of a struggle.
I was also feeling very rushed. I had hoped to start running at 3:00 in order to be home by 6:00 for our company for dinner. Instead I started at 3:45, which left only 2 hours of run time. For "normal" runners - that would be lords a plenty - but for me - that is only enough for 10.
The weather was a beautiful 70 degrees which is great for a picnic - but not so good for a spring run when all other runs have been closer to 40 and 50 degrees. And then throw in a headwind and you have a mix of a really crappy run.
Funny thing is that I was prepared to be disappointed and found myself chanting over and over, "its just a bad run, you are not a bad runner", "good to get it out of the way now and next weekend", "this too shall pass", "it should be expected - its the first bad one of the season", "there are good and bad runs, you need both", "you learn from all bad runs". And then when I was more than half way through, I heard myself saying, "don't stop now - let's get it over with", "don't throw it away."
And funny thing was, miles 7, 8, 9 were 10 minute miles. The first 5 miles s.u.c.k.e.d. No other way to log it. Crappy, awful. ick. 6 was all sucking it up and keeping going. Mile 7-9 were lovely. Like I was a different runner. 10 was a long one - but necessary for the pure principle of it.
The missing 2 miles of the run are still haunting me - and I feel a great need to find a way to redeem myself tomorrow. I need to feel a strong, easy run before Saturday.
I did all the math for Saturday in my head during Friday's run. I need to hit between 1:06 and 1:08 for the first 10K and then 1:08 to 1:10 for the second 10K and then bring it home in an even 12 minute pace for the last 1.1 miles. I have run halfs in under 2:30 when there was no pressure - so the most important thing for me to remember is to not worry about it and just stay in the mile I am running. And also, who cares if I finish in 2:30 or not. Right?
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
But, I did get my PT exercises in on Sunday, Monday (at PT) and tonight. And Monday night, I conquered the dreaded pike on the ball AND my single leg bridges. If you aren't familar with this form of torture, the pike on the ball goes like this. You roll out on the ball until you are in a push up like form with your feet on the ball and arms in push up stance. And then you pull in the ball with your feet until you are in a pike position with your butt in the air. Let me say that the demonstration of this little move looked as easy as breathing when my PT did it. But it looked like a trainwreck with my first attempt last week.
But Monday night, I could hold it for 5 seconds and do 5 reps. Hot damn! And tonight at home, I pulled it off again. And then followed it with the @#$@#$@ single leg bridges - 10 seconds each leg, 3 reps. How such a simple exercise can make me quiver and shake like the bowl full of jello I am....I have no clue. But I can feel my lower back and hips and knee getting stronger and stronger.
The only bummer today is that my knee pain was back. From the moment I stepped out of bed in the morning until this moment - it hurt. I don't know if I overdid it at PT yesterday or it is the constant motion of the last few days - but it isn't feeling good. It hurts to walk on it, stairs, and sit. I am hoping tomorrow is better.
Only 11 days until Drake and I still have at least one big run to conquer.
Sunday, April 12, 2009
I grabbed them out of the box, put in my insoles and hit the road for 9 miles. It was a wonderful ride! So, so smooth!
Damn I love these shoes!
I think I lost it somewhere between 65 hours of work, 600 miles of driving, 3 soccer practices, 2 baseball practices, dance, 3 therapy sessions, one first communion class, one first communion, Easter services, Easter bunny duties, and maybe a few hours of sleep.
Didn't get a drop of running in between last Friday and this Friday. And was dead tired by the time Friday rolled around. So instead of doing the 12 on my calendar, I opted for 9. When I started, I told myself and my running friend Mary that this would either kill me or rejuvinate me. I am happy to say it didn't kill me. And it helped me last through Friday night with the kids.
Overall, the running is coming easier - when I am able to get it in.
My knee pain is so much better! It isn't gone, but I can do slight bends without screaming - so there is something. I love my PT. She seems to come up with just the right mix of strength training that is making me stronger in the right places. I can't believe the difference 30 minutes of simple exercises 5 times a week can do.
I can know do back leg lifts (on my side) with 1 1/2 pound ankle weights without falling over. My single leg bridges (ack!) are stronger and I can hold them 10 seconds each without dying or collapsing. My balance still sucks as do my squats - but it is coming.
Just two weeks until Drake. I have resigned myself that I will be last and will probably miss the cutoff. But, since I am still running and my knees are holding up -it have renewed hope that I am going to be able to finish. It's all about perspective, no?
Now back to the frig to stare at the family calendar and figure out where my next three runs are going to fit in. If at all.
Sunday, April 5, 2009
And I can't help but thinking about that what I really need, in addition to all this stuff, is simply more time in the day.
Don't you wish you could saddle on up to the gift certificate kiosk in the store and pick up a free hour or 15 minutes of quiet thought or a free 30 minute run when the world stood still?
Now that would be precious.
But until then, I guess I will have to go back to staring at the calendar and trying to decide where the runs will fit in this week. I am traveling this week and working long days. It is going to take a miracle or discipline to fit in the runs. Not sure either will happen.
Saturday, April 4, 2009
Earlier in the week, I threw out an invite to my friend Mary to join me in the run. She is getting ready for her first Dam to Dam 20K and was looking for a running partner to do her first 4 mile run in some time. Knowing that I would be more apt to do the run if someone was waiting on me - I made sure to give her a time.
Within an hour of run time on Friday, I realized that I had hours and hours of work to do before my trip Monday and I mentally, physically, and every other way wasn't prepared to run. Sure, I had brought the right clothes and shoes and an extra water bottle, but I hadn't psyched myself up or thought about it.
But with my commitment to Mary, I dumped everything else and made sure I was ready to run at the time we agreed. She was late, so I started without her but we connected a mile into the run. We don't have a chance to catch up much, so it was a nice chance to hear about family, kids, husband and job. And even better, she had told me that she had been struggling with her runs - and I was certain it was because she was going out too fast - and sure enough, if she ran at my pace, she could run farther much easier. At the four mile mark, instead of stopping dead, she yelled, I feel like I could keep running. That is a great feeling to hear that from a newer runner.
About mile 3 in the run, we ran into a past coworker and friend, Claudia. Claudia is also new to running and does it for the pure joy. She is a natural born runner, even though she wouldn't admit it. She has a perfect stride, a bunch of speed and it makes it look so easy. She said she was out for a quick 4. And after we dropped off Mary at her mile 4 we kept moving forward. When we reached her 4 and my 6, I asked her if she would keep coming with me and she said yes. I don't think she knew what she was agreeing to - but I was so happy to have the company. We put in another two in the midst of a lot of conversation and I still didn't see her slowing down. She pretty much finished a 10K without blinking and had never finished more than 4 miles before. As I dropped her off for her 6 and my 8 - she was escatic. It was like a gift from God to have her appear while running and an even bigger gift for her to agree to stay with me that long. Running with friends makes the miles go by sooooo much faster.
But after dropping her off, I still had the task of getting in another 4 miles. We had been on most of the trails on Grays Lake, so I headed over to waterworks and so new scenery. With my tunes and thoughts, the other 4 miles went by ok. At mile 9, I finally felt the first 8 miles catching up. At mile 10, I was tired and ready to walk. And did for a bit. But then, I felt my second wind and the excitement of finishing the last leg and running home. And did. My best guess it was about 12 minute miles. Which won't be good enough for Drake Relays.
But in context of the week and my unpreparedness, I am so pleased that I could do it and finish. My knee held up without a great deal of pain. I could get out of bed this morning and walk up and down the stairs without grimacing. It feels ok - no worse for the experience. Maybe, just maybe, it is getting better.
In this 12 mile run, I was reminded of a few key principles of my long runs:
- No matter how many times I do a 12 mile run - it never gets shorter. 12 miles is still a long friggin way.
- No matter how many times I experience the fatigue and tired feet, it doesn't make it feel any better or any less achey the next time.
- The longer I run, the more I enjoy the sassy music selections.
- The longer I run, the more acceptable I believe it is to sing more loudly and dance more in public.
- I really stink after a long run. And I wear it proudly.
- The only time I like ice water is during a long run. It was delicious.
- There are substitutes for Gu, like stealing my kids fruit chews or starburst jelly beans, but I don't really like them at all. Too sticky in my teeth.
- Even when I don't think I have the time or I think I should be doing something else, there is something deeply fulfilling about a long run. In all that I did this week, the long run is something I can say I accomplished that is worthy of talking about.
- I know there is a mind-body connection in running, but I am amazed everytime how a seemingly physical task can tear you down mentally and physically, but leave me feeling so mentally rejuvinated after a run.
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
...Because after 500 miles I still smile when I put you on because you feel so darn good.
...Because you still look almost as good as new even though you lived through a very wet fall and winter.
...Because you help make my size 10 1/2 ginormous feet look like a normal size for a girl.
...Because you are so unassuming, yet powerful as ...a Hurricane.
...Because you are made by a company that understands runners better than anyone.
Oh, my Saucony Hurricanes....How Do I Love Thee!
(OMG...And I just found a new pair of you on Amazon.com for $80 and free shipping. I must have died and went to heaven!)
And their constant campaign of getting running shoes and other stuff into the hands of runners is not only commendable - it's really something they should get more accolades for doing. Runners don't buy stuff because they are sweet talked into it from fancy ads, catchy phrases or buff looking models. Runners buy stuff because they are convinced that it can help their running. Runners need to feel it, touch it, use it or at least hear other runners talking about it. That is what makes Pearl cool - they get it about runners. They like getting their stuff out there.
And for a runner, outside of a well earned race Tshirt is there any greater gift than coming home from a long day and finding a shiny new pair of FREE and COOL shoes waiting to be opened? I am not ashamed to tell you that I had everyone in my family smell them. Yep, had them look at them in their box, touch them, sniff them - it was quite the family affair to take in the whole experience.
I couldn't fit in a run for a couple days, but I still laced them up and walked everywhere in them. What I quickly determined was that my toes loved the roomy toebox - very comfortable. My heals loved the stable cushioning in the rearfoot. My arches....well they weren't as quite as in love with the way the arch support fit my foot.
So then I had the chance to take in a few runs with them. Overall, good shoe to run in. Because I have trouble with rubbing and chafing around the toes and sides - I liked this shoe because it didn't cause those issues. I wasn't quite as comfortable with the push off for my forefoot and my arches aren't designed to fit the support perfectly. I am accustomed to much more cushioning and support and didn't enjoy "the ride" as much.
After a few more runs, I have found a place for the Pearl's in my line up and love them for walking and short run distances. They look great and my toes enjoy the ride overall.
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Sunday night, after my 100th trip up the stairs with laundry and other crap, my right knee was screaming at me. It is always noisy and generally complains, but screaming doesn't even do it justice. It was bellowing, howling, wailing - all of those descriptions - so much so, I finally gave it and plopped down and iced it for 20 minutes.
Next day it was a bit better but still bothering me. I had hoped to walk that night - but no luck. It was close to 10 pm before I even sat down for the day to think. And Tuesday - had early am therapy - which was ok so no walking and then an evening of activities again.
The best part of therapy was the stim and ice at the end. Lordy be that was wonderful.
My at home therapy is now the side leg lifts, small knee bends, bridge (ackt!) and ball balances. Still under 10 minutes - so can do. Do need to pick up leg weights (ick). But I feel the progress. I just wish my knee would feel better. It hurts all the time under the knee cap and really hates hills and stairs.
I still plan to try to squeeze in 11 miles on Friday afternoon. Wonder where all the extra time will come from? I need to find time just to stare at the calendar and try to figure out where running can go.
Sunday, March 29, 2009
But after a 1/4 mile, I then started to think like a mom and coach. I could see him slowing down but trying to keep going. About 1/2 mile into the run, he stopped and turned around and started heading back towards me. I wondered if he was pleased or disappointed in the distance. I wondered what his goal was for the day. I wanted to stop and give him some advice that if he would slow his pace and change his form just a bit he would be able to go so much farther.
But as I drew closer and looked over to him, what I saw was the biggest smile I have ever seen on a 12 year old boy. He was grinning ear to ear and still running along at his happy, speedy pace. I could tell he was feeling that floating, happy feeling so I simply smiled back in my biggest, happiest, I-know-exactly-what-you-are-feeling-right-now smile.
Could there be anything more invigorating than seeing the joy on another runners' face?
I was supposed to do 11 miles on Friday but the events of the week kept me from doing it. I finally got in 6 to do. Sure, I could have found time to do all 11, but mentally and physically I just wasn't up to it.
I think Jim's accident on Monday finally caught up with me. I am dead tired and my brain feels like mush. The lure of a mindless use of 2 hours just wasn't enough so I did 6 instead. It was ok. I took my time and tried to relax and just shake off the events of the week. It worked. By the end of the year, I felt lighter in my head. A bit of weight of my shoulders. I think I covered it in about 12 minute miles.
Now I need to redo my running schedule for the next month and see what I need to do and when in order to feel more prepared for my arch nemisis, the Drake Half Marathon.
Knee stayed in place. A bit of pain in the top of shin under the knee.
Did my PT exercises today. Stronger on left side. Right side still miserably week.
And then the blog grew and so did our love and passion around connecting runners. So we built the Runners' Lounge community site with even more capabilities to connect runners to other runners and running information. And that site has grown and continues to grow. And over the last 18 months, we have found a slow transformation of the original blog from something that shared more of a personal connection of Tom and I with runners to a blog that shares what is going on in the running community.
And there is so much to share! Each week when Tom and I sit down and talk about what is going on in the Lounge there is usually more than we can pack into a week. And so week after week and new feature and new feature, I found that the personal posts about me, my running, my family, my running struggles, my running accomplishments, etc, etc did have a place in the Runners' Lounge blog and more than that - there were so many other great stories or information about other runners that I really wanted to share.
But now as I continue to struggle with my running, I am beginning to find that I miss the "journaling" aspect that comes with a running blog. A chance to think about my running, write it down, reflect on it and then look back later.
So, it seems like a natural progression that I would start a blog for me, Amy, the runner. A home for my running thoughts and stories and learnings and failures. A place to get a 1:1 or more personal connection to runners as well as help my running.
This blog is an unplugged version. No formatting, no editing, no prettying up. Just me and my running thoughts.
And as change and transition is an important part of continuing to live and learn, I am excited to start something new. So, without further ado.....now......here I go with this blog.