Wednesday, September 9, 2015

What mustaches and running have in common

Just about a month ago I was contacted by the crazy-cool peeps at The Mustache Dache. If you haven't heard of their race series before, you are hearing about it right now.

It is the world's biggest mustache-themed running series. Aside from the obvious awesomeness of their theme, The Mustache Dache has a bigger purpose: raising funds and awareness of men's health issues (in particular: prostate/testicular cancer and mental health). I doubt that anyone today can say that their lives have not been touched in some way by either cancer or mental illness.

In the unlikely event that you have no experience with either, here are a few quick facts:

  • 1 in 2 men will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. 1 in 2. 
  • 1 in 6 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime.
  • Risk of being diagnosed with prostate cancer increases with age. 
  • Testicular cancer is the most common cancer in men aged 15-35. 
  • 1 in 4 adults in the United States will experience a mental health problem in a given year.
  • Men in the United States are 4 times as likely to die by suicide than women.
No, I am not trying to bring you down. I am trying to make these issues real to you, as both have hit home for me. What can you do to help change those stats for the better? Run The Mustache Dache.

Events like this running series bring public attention to men's health issues. Men's cancers and mental illness are both difficult to talk about and The Mustache Dache provides a way open a conversation in a relaxed environment. A portion of the registration fees are donated to men's health charities and all registrants are given the opportunity to make an additional donation during the registration process. 

The Mustache Dache is being held in 16 cities across the country and also offers a virtual option. The virtual race is a 5k that will take place over Thanksgiving weekend. The folks at the Dache have given me a promo code just for my readers that will give you 10% off the registration fee. Participants get a sweet shirt and a medal. If you are a kid 12 or under you get a CAPE. I might have to be 12 or under for this one because capes are sweet. 

Here is your code: FALLDOWNGETUP and here is a direct link with the discount applied, if that works better for you:

I am absolutely participating in this event, and I know that MS will be too. I have a strong suspicion that my sister will register Boo so he can get his sweet cape. Right, Sister? Let me know in the comments, on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram if you are registered. Lots of time to make a sweet outfit and get your friends or family on board as well!

Monday, August 3, 2015

A quick note on growth

Today is Day 1 of Army Ten Miler training. I will be spending it on the couch in my jammies with NyQuil and lots of veggies. I spent a good chunk of today debating with myself about doing the workout on my calendar. Written on paper, in ink. And highlighted. Sure, I'm sneezing and coughing and can't breathe through my nose. Sure, it is 90 degrees out at 6 pm. But...running. Training. My pre-injury life almost back within my grasp.....sigh.

If I hadn't just spent the past six months of my life riding a couch, stuffing my face, and spending too much of my PTO on doctor's appointments, I would be outside running right now. The thought combination of "my leg feels fine" and "I breathe through my mouth when I run anyway" would have gotten the best of me. The run, if I got through it, would have been mediocre at best. I probably would have extended this cold by a day or more by putting additional stress on my body. Tomorrow's run would probably be crap too. String a couple of crap runs together and your mind will start you use them against you. Perfect way to kick off a training cycle, right?

Not this time. This season of injury has taught and continues to teach me invaluable lessons. Today's is remembering that rest is just as important as any other piece of a training program, even if it is unscheduled. That training programs are not written in stone. That the little voice in your head telling you that you suck is a damn dirty liar. That the true benefit of making good choices today will make itself known on race morning. Look at me, growing.

With that said, I'm off to eat said veggies in the aforementioned jammies on my preferred couch with a purring cat. Having a cold still sucks. Being confident that I made the best choice for my body does not. Only took me 30+ years to figure that out.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Spartan Race entry winner!

It might be late in the day, but it is still Monday and that means I have a winner of the free Spartan Race entry. Congrats goes to commenter #3:
That is Jody!  WAHOO!!!!!

Please email me here: to claim your super special discount code!


Thursday, May 21, 2015

Ready to find out?

When I hear the word "spartan," I immediately think of my school district's mascot. I think about wearing blue and gold on the sidelines of football games and the less than flattering uniforms from indoor and outdoor track seasons. What does not often come to mind is the immensely popular Spartan Race series.

I'm not going to lie, I have never done an adventure race. I've considered it before but have been mid-marathon training cycle each time and an adventure race sounded like an injury risk I couldn't take. Now that I am sidelined by injury, I look at any and all events that involve running and think "I wish." I wish I could run. I don't care where or how. In a similar vein, I think many people interested in trying running for the first time see races and hear that same "I wish" in their heads. Maybe they think they aren't strong enough or fast enough. They might finish last. They might not finish at all. Anyone else hear those voices before? They aren't unique to the new runner.

Spartan Race is the stop button on that defeatist tape. The founders of the race series wanted to create an environment that appealed to those with a sense of adventure, those who are active, and those looking to discover their inner athlete. There are options for everyone, (kids too!) including a team event. For those still on the fence of "I'm not sure I can...," Spartan has your back there as well, with the Spartan SGX training program, free workouts in cities across the country, nutritional tips, and more.

I know that I have taken on previously unthinkable race challenges (oh hey, first marathon) because that voice in my head started wondering "but what if I could." I wanted to find out. We as athletes and humans are capable of much more than we can imagine, but we only find out when we step outside our comfort zone. Sure, there could be pain and frustration, but more often than not what I find most often is MAGIC. Not just in me, but in what I see from others. There are no restrictions on who is or can be an athlete. None. The guts and grit I've seen on the race course is incredible and often comes from what many would consider to be unlikely sources. Maybe you think you're that unlikely source.

There are over 100 Spartan races across the country. Each of those is a chance to Find Out. If you need just a bit more nudging, let me throw in a discount code for race registration good through May 27th, 2015. Use: MEMORIAL. You could save up to $40! If that still isn't enough, the awesome people at Spartan Race have given me one free race entry to give away. Yup, FREE. Comment below and tell me what race made you wonder what you were capable of, or how you turned off that negative script. Winner announced next week!

So, what are you waiting for?

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

And...we're back.

Welp, I've been sitting on this one since last Wednesday, the 6th. That morning I had my follow-up appointment with Dr. Yokel from Regenerative Orthopedics and Sports Medicine. For those of you following along at home, I had my first session of musculoskeletal prolotherapy with him on April 6th. From then on I was restricted from all activity. I could go to work (using my standing desk as much as possible) and go home. Basic errands like buying groceries were fine but that was about it. I spent a lot of time at home just laying down. Standing and laying down are the two least painful positions that don't engage the area much, if at all.

The time seemed to pass really slowly and I was not easy to be around. I ate a lot, which didn't help at all. Cried. Got pretty bitter seeing all the people out enjoying the incredible weather we've been having. Shaking my fist at the sky. I didn't blog (clearly) or do much else in the running social media world. It has been really hard to engage in a community I feel like I don't belong in right now. As much as I love the friends I've made in that community, it hurt to see the post-run pictures, race recaps, and workout ideas. It has been so long since I was able to post something about a run that I was beginning to think it might never happen.

I tried to find ways to occupy my free time (and wow did I have a lot of it). Cooked a bit (I wish I led a less foodcentric existence), read several books, watched way too much TV. I honestly don't know how people who don't have an active lifestyle survive. I was so bored. Total cabin fever. I just wanted to be able to MOVE.

After what was a true eternity, I was back in Dr. Yokel's office. I gave him a brief and pathetic update on my injury-related life since the treatment. Despite the mental and emotional mind f*ck, my physical body had actually accomplished something. No, I'm still not healed. Tendons are jerks and take their sweet time. However, my discomfort level has decreased and my ability to stand/sit/walk has increased. Huzzah! There is still a ways to go and he suggested that I have a second treatment. I had a feeling that would be the case and while I don't love it (ouchy!) I can tell that it (slowly) helped. A dash of cold spray and a few tense minutes later, it was done. It was much less painful this time around (another good sign).

I didn't know how this appointment was going to go, so I brought in a laundry list of questions. Most of them were specific to "can I do this?" and "when?" I'd already lost out on registration fees for two races and I wanted to have as clear a picture as possible of what the next couple of weeks/months would look like. I'll get the bad news out of the way right now: I cannot go to the Oiselle/ZAP Fitness running camp in June. While it is likely that I will be doing short runs by then, I would not be in the best shape to take on a 4 day running camp and would likely lose the progress that I will have made up to that point. That is the crappy but honest truth. I have been looking forward to it since I signed up in January, but I have to keep my eye on the prize.

With that band-aid ripped off, I went down the rest of my list. Yoga? Yes but really no. Nothing that fully extends the hamstring or asks that tendon to tighten/become taut. Lifting? Yes, but see restrictions under yoga. Running? Ha, silly girl. Here is what we agreed on:

1 week of complete rest (which is up today, nerds!)
After that, begin light activity (swim w pull buoy, spin w light resistance)
- if either feels like I am aggravating the area, back off
2 weeks after injection resume manual therapy
- the surrounding areas are pretty grumpy so the hands-on work will help
If I am feeling good after two weeks of light activity, I can start logging time on the Alter-G.

I also asked if I could get a massage to work on some of the stiffer areas and got the thumbs up as long as the injection area is left alone. Luckily, my PT clinic has a sports massage therapist on site and I have an appointment with her tomorrow!

My next appointment with Dr. Yokel isn't until early June but it gives my body the time it needs to continue responding. Right now I am focusing on the fact that I can attempt a swim tonight (so excited!). I don't plan on doing something every day, even though I really want to. Swim tonight, massage tomorrow, possibly swim again Saturday.

MS and I have also turned the lemons of no running camp into the lemonade of a beach in Florida. I'd already taken the time off work so why not use it for something awesome? I've got my eye on a new pair of running shoes that I hope to use on the Alter-G and maybe on one sunset beach jog. The mental image of that jog is the carrot on my recovery stick right now.

I'd apologize in advance for the barrage of Instagram photos that I will post later from my swim, but...I won't because I am not sorry! Thank you for all the well-wishes and support, keep them coming! This is definitely a good update but there is still a long ways to go.

Head up, wings out.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Finding new favorites

I was going to write a quick update on how my non-active life has been going, when suddenly a post from this chica showed up in my feed. Excellent. I am outright stealing this idea and making it a list of the non-running things that rock my socks these days. Update + fun - pity party = everybody wins.

1) Sitting on my patio because I CAN!

There have been a few warm days recently that have allowed me to air out the apartment and sit outside on my patio. Maybe read. Maybe enjoy a seasonal brew. Maybe watch my cats while they steal my chair and try to chase birds. All those things. Getting be to outside in the sun. Happiness.

2) Messing around in the kitchen

With apologies to MS, I've been spending some of this new free time creating more dirty dishes than I already do. I love cooking and baking but I don't do it as much when I am training consistently. Post-workout meals usually involve the first thing I can put in my mouth, so the joy of preparing food (picking a recipe, prepping, the intention set when I cook, the lack of frenzy to get to the final product) fades away. I've been on a roasted vegetable kick and making fresh batches of these to try different flavor combinations. I don't tend to plan ahead when I get the urge to cook, so I hope that I have the necessary ingredients in the house or I wing it if I think I have suitable substitutions. Either way, fun!

3) Working through my Goodreads/library book wish list

Since early January MS and I have been conducting an experiment of sorts with the concept of e-readers. I really love have a book in my hands, but I am picky about what books I buy (only ones I know I'll read again) and traditional library access is hit or miss. Enter MS's new iPad mini provided by his office. I downloaded the Kindle app and synced my library's e-book catalog. I am pleasantly surprised with how much I've enjoyed using it and how often (except when MS takes it on work travel with him. Rude). My library has a great selection of e-books and multiple copies so even placing a hold isn't a big deal. I've got a wish list on the library account as well as a few books downloaded to read at one time. I've read a lot more because of this and I've saved money too. Here is what I've gotten through recently/currently reading/on my to read list:

I think procuring an e-reader of my own is in the near future.

These are my three favorite things right now, and I hope to find more in the coming weeks.

Anything I should add to the list above?  What is a favorite of yours right now?

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Help Wanted

It has been five days since I saw yet another doctor about my injury. I wasn't in the best headspace afterwards to recap what happened and what the next four weeks look like. Honestly, I'm not feeling that much better about anything. I feel like I've been able to keep my fears and disappointment at arm's length, focusing on what I COULD do (swim, lift) instead of what I couldn't (everything else). It helped that I was making progress in the gym, adding weight which in turn has helped my swim (especially since I can't kick, just pull). That came to a screeching halt on Wednesday morning.

I'll try to keep this part short, and suggest that if you want learn more about what I'm talking about feel free to email me or hit me up on the Facebook page. At the urging of my PT, I went to a sports medicine clinic in Maryland. She spoke to the doctor ahead of time, giving him an idea of what had been going on and what I'd done so far for treatment. During the appointment, he asked me questions about what was going on and I gave him an earful of how stressful this has been, how frustrated I am, how much being able to run (hell, be able to exercise at all) is critical to my emotional health as well as my physical health and career aspirations. He fired up the ultrasound equipment and starting poking/prodding/ultrasounding the general area. It didn't take long to zero on the spot and from there things went pretty quickly. There is your tendon, there is a tear-type thing (ps I still don't know how anyone sees anything on those screens). Area not as vascularized, takes time to heal, etc.

Options included doing nothing (cost: $0.00 and my sanity), musculotskeletal prolotherapy (cost: a few hundred $, not covered by insurance, more needles),  platelet rich plasma therapy (cost: at least $1,000 a pop, not covered by insurance, needles and local anesthesia), and bone marrow stem cell therapy  (cost: I don't want to know, not covered by insurance, needle jabbed into a bone, and local anesthesia). I had the option of taking some time to think about it all, but I have had my fill of thinking. I am also living paycheck to paycheck so PRP and stem cell were not a financial possibility (not to mention scary-sounding). So, I went with door #2. Watching the screen, I could see the needle going into my leg and doing its thing. It was NOT awesome, but over in a decent amount of time. Slap a bandaid on it and off we go. For the next two weeks: no activity. I can go to work, come home, do the basic things that need to be done in life. No lifting, no swimming, no stretching, not even a push-up. WHHHHHAAAAAATTTT!? After those 2 weeks, see my PT and get a status report. See the doctor again at 4 weeks.

Nothing is at arm's length anymore and I don't feel like they have to be. I am not trying to be overdramatic but I think it is perfectly reasonable for me to see this for what it is, feel how I am feeling, and be honest about it. I'm a little tired of thinking of this as temporary, knowing it will be worth it in the long run, and all the other things I've been told by people who mean well but don't know what this is actually like. Letting me vent and cry and be upset because this sucks is important and trying to sell me a silver-lining right now feels dismissive. Sorry, friends and family, but it does (especially since most know this is about more than being able to knock out a few miles). What I need is someone to accept that what I am feeling is 100% okay. I'm not looking for someone to co-host a pity party. I'm looking for someone to acknowledge how this is impacting my daily life and say "hell yeah, this sucks. WTF."

I need help staying distracted. This is no easy task. Staying off social media doesn't matter as my own home is a constant reminder of running. Medal racks. Race pictures. Magazines. Piles of shoes. Living with a runner. I can only rot my brain on so much TV.  I'm reading a bit but my eyes are starting to cross. I'd like to go see movies but I can't sit comfortably in the theater. Same goes for taking a sunny drive through the beautiful areas around my house. The area aches within 5-10 minutes of sitting in a car seat. I've spent most of this weekend reclined on one couch or another and it is getting old. My brain needs to be occupied. So, here comes the ask. Please help me brainstorm ways to fill my time for at least the next two weeks. I'd prefer not to binge-watch Netflix and the like but I know I can't exactly be picky.

I appreciate all the love and support I have received in the last few months, it truly means a lot. I hope this post hasn't been one whiny mess; that was not the intent. I just needed to be able to say what I've been trying to say for weeks now and finally be heard.  The situation is what it is, I want help getting through it. Thank you. XOXO.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

DNS and the big picture

Somehow it is March 31st. Where did March go? Why is April almost here? I do not understand. I shudder to think that my run analysis was so long ago. At the time, I was told that I would be good to run a trail half marathon the first weekend of December. Oh how the Universe likes to take all those plans, dump them down the drain, and then run away laughing like a toddler. I see you, Universe. I see you.

So, the race I was contemplating participating in the previous weekend. It was part of a series put on by EX2 Adventures, the Spring Backyard Burn. I have been wanting to run one of their races for a couple of years now but I have never been healthy enough to do so. I registered for the 5.6 mile option at Laurel Hill Park a few months ago, confident in both my PT and my progress in treatment. Don't get me wrong, I love my PT. She's amazing and she has thrown the kitchen sink at my body in hopes of getting this figured out. My body just continues to have other plans.

I spoke to my PT and the needle guy early in the week about how, if at all, I should participate in the race. I'm pretty sure I heard the laughter as soon as they opened my email. Their obvious answer was don't do it. The secondary, "you're a pig-headed runner who would try to race anyways" answer was to enjoy a brisk walk on a Sunday morning and stop if it hurts. Get my first DNF. For once in my life, I wanted to really think things over and make the decision that was best for me in the long term. If possible, I was even more hypersensitive to my body all week. On Saturday night I sat down and journaled about it, threw it up to the Universe, and went to sleep.

When I woke up race morning, I felt really peaceful. I knew I wasn't going to run, walk, skip, or crawl. To avoid any last minute change of heart, I threw on jeans and a long-sleeve t shirt so that I was not dressed in anything remotely appropriate for running. My job that morning was to support MS as he ran the course and spectate my broken heart out.  Although I knew it was the right call, I will be honest and say it was still hard to be there in a non-running capacity (plus, it was windy and bitter cold). I did my own thing at the gym later in the day and that was that.

Six months ago I would have run that race. No doubt, I would have and ended up in worse shape for it. The only difference I can see now is that I have bigger goals set for this year. More important races, running camps, and fitness challenges, all of which matter so much more to me. I want to be as healthy as I can be and if that means going batshit crazy resting the lower half of my body, so be it. I have an appointment tomorrow morning with what I hope is the last doctor I will have to see. I'll hold off on the details for now, but I hope to have this resolved once and for all. Even if it isn't what I want to hear, at this point I just want to know. I'm done with the doctors and therapies and the uncertainty. I'm going in with a list of questions and I plan to leave with answers and an action plan.

The pool at my gym is starting to feel too much like home these days and I would like that to stop as soon as possible. My running shoes miss me. My favorite trails miss me. No seriously, I can feel it. They do. I miss them too. Hopefully we'll be reunited soon.

Monday, March 16, 2015

That time I had needles in my leg on purpose

Happy Monday, friends! Okay maybe not happy, but...Monday. I wanted to pull this post together in a fairly prompt fashion so that it would be done while the experience was still fresh in my mind and so I could share this experience with anyone who might be considering dry needling as a form of treatment for injury.

Before I tell you what my appointment was like, I thought I'd provide you with a little background on dry needling. Honestly, I had never heard about it until it was suggested that I try it and I saw myself as someone who was fairly up to date on injury interventions and treatments for runners. First of all, do not confuse dry needling with acupuncture, as they are NOT the same. While acupuncture targets meridians in the body, dry needling targets myofascial (muscular) trigger points. The goal (in my case) is to treat spasm and tension related to muscle and ligament strains. This is a great explanation of what dry needling is and how it works.

The short short version is that a small solid filament needle is inserted into a specific area (for me, the insertion was guided by ultrasound) in order to create a twitch reflex. This reflex interrupts the pain cycle. Additionally, the insertion of the needle itself generates an immune system response and asks the body to respond to the increased inflammation. The end game is to increase range of motion, decrease pain, and promote healing. I'm (clearly) not a medical professional so I don't completely understand the science, nor can I articulate it as well as I would like. If I have muddled the explanation at all, forgive me. Onto the appointment itself!

I was treated by Dr. Tobacco, and he was awesome. I'd seen him a few weeks prior for the original ultrasound that identified what was going on. I could have had my first needling session right then and there but I wanted to have a day or two to think about it, do my research, and find out if my health insurance would cover it. Once I decided to move forward and had the thumbs up from the insurance company, I made the appointment. I honestly didn't know what to expect. The whole appointment took 30 minutes but most of that was getting ready beforehand and putting myself back together after.

We went back over what was originally seen on the ultrasound and he explained how things would work. Because of the location of my injury, we had to get pretty comfortable pretty quickly. Runners aren't a modest bunch to begin with, but whatever modesty I had left went out the door at this appointment. As I'd explained previously, the injury is located where the adductor meets sitz bone. Or, as I am calling it, my legbutt. This means 2 things. 1: I'm getting needles stuck into what is already a fairly sensitive area. 2: I'm baring almost all to a person I've met once before for 30 minutes and he'll be paying pretty close attention. Sigh. Remember what I said about modesty?
The face of a very unhappy camper
Because I was prone as shown above, I could not see the needles being put in. Once I was in an optimum spot for prodding, he used the ultrasound (and some hand-poking) to narrow down the spots for insertion (aka find the ouch and then add more ouch). The initial poke of the needle was fine, but location of certain needles and what they connected with shot the pain meter up more than once. I had 5 needles in overall, two or three that stayed in for several minutes as I could tolerate them easier than the others. When Dr. Tobacco and his tech stepped out for a minute, I did my best to snag a selfie of his handiwork. Yes, I got the picture. No, I will not post it here. Ow and ew.
My view while they worked
As I said, I was in and out in 30 minutes. No activity for the next 48 hours, although I could stretch a little later in evening if I felt up to it. On Sunday I could go for a slow 0.5 mile jog (yes, I used the word jog) to see how it felt. Based on the outcome of the jog, we would decide if another session would be helpful. I went back to work for the last couple of hours of the day, but it wasn't ideal. I could not get comfortable at my desk. I wasn't in pain, I was just really uncomfortable. Standing up was the best option but my workspace isn't set up for that (yet). I spent Friday night horizontal and therefore slightly less uncomfortable. All sorts of soul-soothing foods were applied (thanks, MS).  I took a sleep aid after struggling to fall asleep on my own (mental and physical stress, my friends).

Images Dr. T captured to show needle placement
I was achy on Saturday morning but things eased up the more I moved around. Nothing strenuous, just walking around the apartment (and maybe a stop at Trader Joes and Total Wine). Easier time falling asleep, less achy Sunday morning. At this point, I am a little shaky on determining what is actually pain, or whether I am anticipating pain. I felt good enough to try the 0.5 mile jog. I foamrolled first, walked for 5 minutes to make sure I felt warm, and then hit start on the watch. I focused on all the form cues I've been given over the past months, kept things as slow as possible while still making forward progress, and overanalyzed every second. After I hit the mark, I walked another 5 minutes, foamrolled again, and resumed my horizontal position. On a pain scale of 0-10, I'd say that jog was a 1. Progress.
I could waste emotional energy on the time it took to complete that 0.5 mile. But it was my first run in almost 8 weeks. And I was outside in the SUN. It was both a HUGE tease and a HUGE treat. I felt less achy this morning, but after 10+ hours of sitting in a car, at my desk, and in a plastic chair at a study group, I was uncomfortable again. Sitting = stretching the area. Sitting = pressure on an ouchy area. I've got the ball rolling at the office to see if temporary accommodations can be made in my workspace. Fingers crossed there! I am leaning towards a second round of needling, as I feel better after than I did before. I am planning to debrief with Dr. T and my physical therapist tomorrow, let them know how things have been going and see what a return to regular activity should look like.

I have a race this coming Sunday. Ha. You know I'm going to ask if I can go. Stay tuned to see how that shakes out. :) Thanks for hanging in there this long! Have you had dry needling or any other new-fangled treatment before? Would you consider trying it?

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

What you make of it

If I had a real post for every time I actually thought about posting an update, there would be one gazillion posts on this blog. Instead, I have an idea for a post and then I watch 4 hours of Big Bang Theory reruns instead. That’s normal, right?

I am long overdue to provide a physical therapy update, and the longer I wait to do so the worse things seem to get. Hopefully this breaks the cycle or gets rid of the bad juju or whatever is going on.  Anyways, in the span of less than two weeks, from January 25th - February 7th, I tripped twice. Once while running, once while walking, both times yanking on the same spot of my left leg. Like a good patient, I told my physical therapist at my next appointment, as it had caused some minor discomfort. She did some manual therapy in the area and said that it did seem to be “lit up” but taking a break from running and keeping up on the foam rolling/strengthening stuff should knock it out.

Oh if that were only true. Instead, I started having discomfort during activities that were previously pain-free (spinning and elliptical). Rude. Not to mention the discomfort continued over the course of the day. Super rude. Given these sudden developments, my physical therapist shuttled me across the parking lot to a sports medicine doctor who had the pleasure of getting real up close and personal with me. I had an ultrasound of my left hamstring/adductor/glute area (where all those things come together) this past Friday. While I had hoped for answers, I was holding out for something…not what it was. Three microtears in the adductor near the ischial tuberosity (where both the adductor and hamstring connect). With the added bonus of bursitis in the bursa in the area of the ischial tuberosity. Sigh.

Ultrasound image. I can't see sh*t on it.
Immediate actions? Stop all cardio for 2 weeks. I can try to swim but only if I use paddles and a pull buoy so that my legs are not involved.  Otherwise, I can do upper body work and gentle yoga. Consider a steroid shot to the bursa in hope it will calm the heck down (OW). Dry needling with guided ultrasound to the area of the tears (what is up with all the needles?). At the end of the appointment I told both the doctor and my physical therapist that I needed a day to process this and see what, if anything, would be covered by my insurance. I’m already paying out of pocket for the physical therapy and it is a struggle just to do that.  While I await word from my insurance company, I am asking around about people’s experiences and opinions on both treatments.

I am 99% sure I am not going to get a shot. I’ve heard too many bad things about it and the odds of it being helpful (beyond pain relief, which I don’t need) aren’t awesome. As far as dry needling goes, I’m getting 50/50 reviews. Some said it hurt and did nothing, others said it was fine and really helped. I still have a day or two to mull things over while I wait for the insurance company to get back to me. I have a new sets of home exercises to do and I had manual therapy at the clinic this morning. Hoping to get in the pool tonight. I know that these things are better than nothing, but not being able to work up a good sweat just sucks. I think about all that endurance I’ve built up just leaking out of me like a soft tire.

I thought I had convinced myself that I would have a 5 second pity party and then move on, appreciating what exercise I was still able to do. The areas I could gain strength in where I hadn’t focused before. But that has not been entirely successful. I miss the exhaustion and epic sweatiness that comes from a spin class or a long elliptical workout. I know that the lifting and the core work and the PT exercises are helping my body become stronger. But at the end of the day I am still that toddler who wants to do the one thing she was told she could not. Does anyone have any other ways to look at this turn of events? Lemonade from the lemons? Silver linings in the thundercloud? 

The 2 week cardio embargo is up shortly (because it took that long to post this), but I still need to lay low and see what the doctor says. I am sure it isn't "go back to everything you were doing before" because the human body doesn't work like that. I am just hoping to hear that things are improving. These surprise setbacks and trouble spots that weren't there before are making me crazy. Which means I'm making the people around me crazy. Thank God that MS loves me because living with an injured runner is not an easy task. Especially when that injured runner is me. 

Captain Crankypants, signing off. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Cleaning house and what running means right now

Running will always be an integral part of who I am. Why I run, what I get out of it, and what it means to me has changed significantly and will continue to do so over the course of my athletic life. Having been injured/not at 100% for well over a year now, all I have really paid attention is what running HASN'T been for me (fun. pain-free. self-esteem building). I think you get the picture. I didn't reflect on those negative feelings until I had some quiet time in late December.

If you know me outside this blog, you know that I am less organized than most and prone to procrastination (stop laughing, sister). For example, I moved to a new apartment in July of last year. I did not have my medal rack and race bib holder unpacked and on the wall until the end of December. For something with so much personal meaning, you'd think I'd have gotten around to it sooner. Nevertheless, both are finally situated in the perfect spot but carry a different load from their previous home.

This "cleansing of the wall" could be chalked up to having too much. Too many medals. Too many bibs. Yes, both were approaching max capacity but that would not have prevented me from slapping them back up as they were in my old place. What changed were the feelings that came up when I sifted through the bibs and medals. When I first started running/racing in 2006 and for a long time afterwards, medals were a big motivator for me. I'm not going to lie. Once the challenge of completing a distance for the first time was met, it became about what I could get for crossing the line. With a few exceptions, the decision to register for a race depending largely on a medal (that there was one and that it was COOL), and a shirt that wasn't cotton. Added to that was a desire to keep up (no pun intended) with my running friends who were smashing PRs and collecting medals on what seemed like a weekly basis. I put pressure on myself to keep up, believing that the frequency and quality of racing was the only measure of satisfaction or accomplishment in the sport.

Now, before I go further, let me say this. There is nothing wrong with racing every weekend and chasing "bling." I am not passing judgement or saying it is a bad thing. For the majority of recreational runners out there, a podium finish is a pipe dream. So why not race for something else that makes you happy and rewards you for your time and effort? I certainly have. What happened recently was a shift in that thinking brought on by a confluence of factors, two of which are time and money. I did not have much of either. More importantly however, was the change in my physical ability to run. I couldn't. And for while, looking at bibs and medals made me sad. Then bitter. Maybe throw in resentful and jealous too.

Hindsight being what it is, I realized how lucky I had been that I could race what I wanted to when I wanted to. Some of that ability could be related to my age at the time and some of it to dumb luck. I was in my mid-late twenties. I didn't cross-train. Or stretch. Or lift. Or eat all my vegetables. I was just out making friends and enjoying running. Because that was enough, I didn't realize that there could be more, until I needed it. With this perspective shift came a shift in what my prior running accomplishments meant to me and how they would (or would not) motivate me moving forward.

Rather than have a bib rack overflowing with crinkled paper, I hung only the few bibs I had from 2014. The hope is that I will have bibs equal to or above that number for 2015, now that I am on the road to health. Not in a "I must beat that number" way, but in a "I CAN race and I am dying to feel my feet on a trail again" way. I am already registered for two races (with my PT's blessing) between now and the end of April. That is half of my bib count from 2014. Should I continue to progress, I will look into more.

My medal rack had a few pegs still open but it seemed cluttered to me. Run a race, hang it up, run a race, hang it up, repeat. It wasn't that they didn't all mean something to me, it was that the ones that meant the most were being crowded out by those that meant a little less. As I unwrapped the tissue paper (yes, I packed them in tissue paper) I started putting aside certain medals. My first half-marathon, Marine Corps 2011, Cherry Blossom (all of them, sigh), and a few others. Having those few hanging in plain sight means more to me now than every piece of metal en mass. Now I see what is possible, what comes from hard work, and what it means to suffer and come out the other side.

THAT is what running means to me now.


Saturday, January 10, 2015

Checking in

It is ten days into this year and a little over a week into nurturing change. So far I've reinvested in things I already knew made me happy and am trying new things that I think will contribute to my overall happiness. It hasn't all been sunshine and rainbows but nothing ever is. I have heard numerous times that creating new habits and breaking old ones takes at least three weeks, so I am by no means out of the woods. I have found several things that are working for me in terms of staying on track, accountable, and motivated. I'm sharing here, of course, and I'm interested in hearing what does and does not work for you as well.


I created a Google spreadsheet and kept it simple. Eight columns with the week range and days of the week. Four rows per week, one each for the specific things I'm tracking. Right now those things include weight (a weekly weigh-in, no more than that), completing my PT exercises (daily is the plan), workouts (type, not miles or duration), and sleep (hours the night before). None of these are set in stone and will probably change over the course of the year. 


Not in a "hey world, I'm trying to XXXX and I'm going to tell you all about it in minute detail whether you like it or not" way. More of a "I have a workout buddy and she has access to this spreadsheet" way. My buddy has a tab of her own that she updates with what she's tracking. We touch base about once a day to see how things are going and provide high fives or butt kicks as needed. Yes, friends and family are incredible sources of support but fellow athletes "get it" and know how to pump you up or talk you down in a way that others might not.


None of this is easy. And it will never go smoothly. With that in mind, I decided to document this process in a lighthearted way. So far that has taken the form of pictures via Instagram, some of which also make their way on to Twitter or Facebook. It is another form of accountability, of course, but it also a way for me to remind not to take this too seriously. Yes, I am trying to accomplish something, but no it does not make or break my world. Here are a few:

First circuit workout in 10+ years

New pants and all the colors!

One of many pre-spin class shots

The ongoing 30 day yoga challenge
So, that's me. How has the year been treating you? What have you found that successfully motivates you and keeps you on track? What hasn't worked so well? Tell me!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Calendar Reboot

Happy January 2015. If you know me outside of this blog, you know that I do not make New Years Resolutions. I'll spare you the litany of reasons why and skip to what I am up to in the first few days of this year. A fellow runner-blogger I know shared a 30 day yoga challenge in a group we belong to, offered by DoYouYoga. I love practicing yoga, I love what it brings to my life, and I haven't had a consistent practice in quite some time. This challenge, plus an awesome gift card from MS to a local studio, should be just the ticket to get me back in my blissful yoga zone.

What I have liked about this challenge so far is how short the videos are. While most studio classes and DVDs are an hour or more, these videos have been 20 minutes or less. I find it makes them easier to fit in to my day (can anyone justify not having 15 extra minutes in their day?) and helps me ease back into a routine without stressing my body. This last part is particularly important to me as I am trying to up my cardio workouts. The last two days I've done the yoga and then gone straight into my longer workout. My body gets warmed up, my mind gets focused, and I still have tons of energy to devote to the harder workout. I am mixing that up a tad today, as I did a morning spin class and am going to do my yoga later in the evening to wind down from the day. I'll be posting a picture a day on Instagram (yay accountability!), please follow along and join in the fun!

When I started drafting this post yesterday, I was also catching up on some of my favorite blogs. One kickass chica in particular, SoCalRunnerGal, had recently posted her year in review/look ahead and she said something that clicked with me. I've been searching for the right word or words to explain how I approach this time of year and she hit the nail on the head. Aspirations and Intentions. YES. Those are exactly the words I have been looking for and express how I look at the next week, month, and year. Life is so unpredictable and I've learned over time that nothing is set in stone. I can make all the plans in the world but that doesn't mean any of them will work out, no matter how hard I try. I am learning to embrace that flow and those two words just fit. There is fluidity in them, space to grow, room to breathe. Grace. I could always use a bit more grace. As I'm typing this, I realize that perhaps the appearance of those two words and this yoga challenge are no coincidence.  I see you, Universe. I see you.

What about you? Do you do resolutions? Goals? What are you hoping for this year? What are you looking forward to this year? What do you think your biggest challenge will be this year? For me, consistency. Consistency has never been my strong suit, and no amount of training plans/logs/etc has changed that or worked well for me. Perhaps a more genuine approach, better suited to who I know myself to be, is the way to go. I think I'm on the right track!