Monday, October 24, 2011

An unwelcome distraction

It’s going to be hard not to be incredibly jealous of me for all that I have experienced in the last week.  Today is Monday, and it’s hard to believe my surgery is at the end of this week!  This is my last chance to get a few things done before surgery, and as usual I had things planned pretty carefully.  I had a certain amount of people I had to catch up with, shopping to do, errands to run, things to clean up around the house while I could still walk.  It’s amazing how much preparation is required to go into surgery!  Unfortunately I got sidelined by some ridiculous cold and I’ve spent the last nine days doing everything possible to get well.  I tackled this cold in the same manner I tackle a race or any other significant event.  Lots of planning, execution, and strong follow through.  At the first sign of the sore throat I loaded up on cold medicines and stocked the cabinet full of tea bags.  Mom made a giant batch of chicken soup, which I had for lunch and dinner pretty much every day all week. 

My anti-monster cold war chest

My plan seemed foolproof, and things were looking promising by Friday when I started feeling a little better.  Timing was good too, since I had to go for my pre-op screening.  I did mention to the doctor that I had a “little head cold” and she didn’t seem too concerned.  It was a thorough test, complete with an EKG (which I nailed, thank you very much) and lab work.  Everything went smoothly until she told me I wasn’t going to be able to take any aspirin or Motrin for one week prior to the surgery because it thins blood.  This was the first I had heard of this, and I wasn’t too excited about it.  I’ve been living on Motrin for the hip pain, so I knew that going without an anti-inflammatory for a week was going to make me one cranky individual.  I hadn’t planned for this!
Somehow the best of preparation couldn’t compete with this monster cold though, and I got even sicker over the weekend.  At this point I got really nervous because if I can’t shake this cold, or it goes into my chest, there’s a chance my surgery will get postponed.  By Sunday morning my eyes were sealed shut, and my throat and ears were killing me.  I dug through my bag of random old prescriptions, and found two amoxicillin pills.  I took them both.  This morning I woke up and my eyes were still gross but not sealed shut, and my throat wasn’t quite as sore, so I think it’s getting better!  I managed to get a bootleg prescription for antibiotics so I’m on the mend and fully expecting to be good as new by Friday.  And if I’m not, I’ll pretend I am.  I must not let the surgeon see any sign of weakness.  I must not get this surgery postponed!
On Saturday I was feeling pretty down on myself and needed to buy myself a pre-op present.  Although I felt like crap and didn’t want to get out of bed, I took a trip over to Best Buy and bought myself a Nook.  Now that I can download and read any book I want, I’m hoping time will fly during my recovery!  I’ve already downloaded four running books, so they are sure to keep me motivated during the downtime.  And on the way home I couldn’t resist a medicinal cup of ice cream from Dairy Queen to soothe my sore throat!

"Alternative Medicine"

Here are the stats on the cold:
9 days
1 ginormous batch of chicken soup
3 bottles of Theraflu
1 bag of oranges
2 bags of cough drops
1 box of really strong cough drops
2 cases of water
1 zillion green tea bags
On a positive note, my cats are thoroughly enjoying all of this downtime and have staked claim to my recliner.

Slowly losing the battle of the recliner

I’m sure this is all going to be funny someday, and I will reminisce about the time that I was so busy taking care of some hideous cold that I didn’t even have time to stress out about my upcoming hip surgery.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Working (not crossing) the finish line

Yesterday was a brisk, blustery day and I spent it doing volunteer work at a local 5k.  I really enjoy volunteering for races (when I’m not running them) so I was looking forward to this event.  Runners are such a fun bunch of people to chat with, and we always have something in common, so the time passes quickly while we catch up on the goings-on of the local race scene and discuss training techniques, injuries, and the inevitable topic of “who’s running Boston”.  Every year a handful of runners from my club get into the Boston Marathon, and I was hoping that in 2012 I would be among the group.  Unfortunately that will have to wait one more year until I recover from my surgery.  Everyone asked about the status of my hip, which always leads to the question of recovery time.  When I tell most people it’s going to be four months I get the sympathetic nod.  When I tell runners it’s going to be four months, the look is something closer to hearing I just received a death sentence.  It’s unimaginable.  So… I try not to dwell on that and just focus on how good I’m going to feel when I start back up running in March!
Any runner who has never volunteered in a race needs to add that to their bucket list in the near future.  It’s amazing to see how much goes into putting on a smooth race!  That finish line you take for granted, for example, requires half a dozen people, careful coordination, and sometimes a little creativity.  Luckily we have Gary, a seasoned timing veteran, showing us the ropes.  (Literally, he had to show us how to string up the ropes).  Gary was reluctant to have his picture taken in the timing area because he doesn’t want to get inundated with race organizers asking him to time events.  How cute that Gary thinks race organizers read my blog! 

Gary "Not For Hire"

Gary-Not-For-Hire is a great teacher and has a very structured method for setting everything up, and we had that finish line set up in no time, despite some gusty winds!

Jackie setting up the cones

Me putting the final touches on the chute

Once the race started we set the clock (I’m getting pretty good at this!) and waited to see a glimpse of the runners.  Luckily the course went right past us so we got a chance to cheer them on at the beginning of the race!
Like father, like son! TVFR members Peter and Richard Berdos

In just 15 or so minutes we saw the lead police car making its way towards us with the first runner.  We all geared up and waited his arrival, which happened in 17:06.  From there it was a constant flurry of runners coming in, with some breaks in between.  The real challenge was trying to track all the cross country runners that came in all at once!  After the last of the walkers came through we got a request to time the kid’s one mile fun run.  It gave me more experience working the clock so I didn’t mind.  And boy some of those kids can fly! 
When the last of the kids crossed the finish line, it was a scramble to break everything down and lug it all back to Gary’s truck while Gary computed the race results.  It was surprisingly easy work (since Gary was such a good teacher).  The most amazing part was watching Gary load everything so precisely into his truck.  It took some serious technique!

The Gary Sandwich

Gary-Not-For-Hire and Sherry

It was a great day for a race, and since I couldn’t run it I was happy to at least be there.  Once our work was done, I headed out to enjoy some of the day. 
And finally, what running blog post would be complete without a picture of my horse?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Hustle and bustle!

Two weeks from today I will be in a post-surgery painkiller fog, waking up from what’s sure to be an uncomfortable night’s sleep.  It’s been nearly 6 months that I’ve been dealing with my hip injury so needless to say I’m ready for the surgery!  Even still, the last couple weeks I’ve spent trying to squeeze in every last thing I need to do ahead of time to make my recovery less stressful.
                In an unusual demonstration of “nesting” behavior, I decided to remodel the downstairs family room.  This room had been underused to say the least.  (Actually, it was pretty much just a dumping ground for random junk and lousy furniture).  Since this room is on the bottom floor, I thought it would be a good room to spend time in post-surgery so I could avoid a lot of stair climbing with the crutches.  The problem with the room was that it was so aesthetically nauseating that I couldn’t bear to spend five minutes in it.  So as usual, what started off to be a simple project turned into a major overhaul.  For starters, the room had yellow walls (it’s well documented that I detest the color yellow) and pink carpet.  It also had some hand-me-down couches that sink almost to the ground when sat on.  There was also a hole cut out in the wall to insert a television, because my father was ahead of his time with the idea of “flat screens”.  It was a great idea 20 years ago, but now it’s just an odd hole in the wall. 

The "before"

So, with the help of Mom and Andrew, we managed to turn all this into a very comfortable and aesthetically pleasing space!  Once the hole in the wall was filled in (thanks Mom!) and the ceiling, walls, and heater were painted, it was time for carpet.  I went with a low profile gray berber from Lowe’s, and they did a great job installing it.  A trip to Best Buy on my lunch break (thanks, New Hampshire for saving me the sales tax!) resulted in a 42” HD TV.  Finally, after checking the internet for deals on furniture, I made a trip to Bob’s Furniture.  Less than an hour later I had picked out a sofa, recliner, and TV console.  Andrew was a little disappointed in my furniture selection because he was hoping for some giant oversized poofy recliner that rocks and swirls.  I tried out a few of them and they literally gave me motion sickness.  Finally I explained that this is my recliner, all mine, so I get to pick out what I want, and it wasn’t going to be something so big I could get lost in it.  I went with something on the smaller side and very comfortable.  The furniture was delivered last weekend, and the room is just about done!
My cat Joey is really enjoying "his" new recliner and sometimes shares it with me
  I need a couple final touches (a few wall decorations and baseboard) but it’s looking great and I’m thrilled we were able to get this done in such short time!


                Another pre-surgical task was to get my camper squared away for winter.  I made my appointment for next week to get it winterized, and all I had left to do was find the ideal place to park it over the winter.  Last winter it was stored offsite (part of the deal when I purchased it in December) but this year it’s staying on property.  We needed to find a spot where it would be out of the way for snow banks, so I decided on a whim to see if my neighbor might be able to smooth out a little area for me.  They own a construction company and have lots of machines, and the 18 year old son had told me once to give him a call if I ever needed anything.  He stopped by to take a look, and within 10 minutes was back with the backhoe.  A couple hours later (and multiple trips back and forth with the backhoe, bobcat, and loader) I had a perfect new parking spot for the camper!  Big thanks to Gabriel and TJ Enterprises!

                Once I have surgery, it’s going to be a few months before I get to ride my horse again, so I’m trying to squeeze in as many rides as I can over the next couple weeks.  We had an impromptu camping trip a couple weekends ago at a friend’s house in Rhode Island and had a blast with some great rides, amazing food, and stomach-busting laughs.  This week I took a couple days off work and we did some day trips.  Wednesday we went to Dover, MA and had a blast over some of the best groomed trails in the area.  The foliage is just starting to turn so it was a pretty ride.

                On the health front, it’s come clear to me that if I’m not training for a marathon, I can’t keep eating like I am.  Over the last six months, even though I was still running, I had scaled back considerably on my mileage and had gained six pounds.  Even six months ago I was a few pounds over my ideal weight, so I have to really start to monitor this.  For the last few weeks I’ve been much more careful about food intake, tracking my food and weight, and I’ve lost 3 pounds – yay!  I have been experimenting with some new crock pot recipes.  So far I’ve had mushroom smothered pork (fabulous), lamb stew (pretty good), and a chicken, bean, and swiss chard soup (yummy!)  They all came from a Weight Watchers cookbook so I’ve got the whole family eating healthy.  Even Andrew has lost 8 pounds since June!  Maybe with any luck I can get him to join me on my rehab walk/runs in a few months.  We managed a little walk earlier this week to check out the foliage.

 Finally, the gossip column.  Well, there’s not a lot to report because I’ve been a little out of touch with my lunch run buddies.  Todd made a successful triathlon debut despite his lack of preparation.  I tried to warn him about the importance of incorporating brick sessions into his workouts (I know this because of Scotty Tri’s endless – and I mean endless – blogging and tweeting about it).  Jaimee is training for the Hyannis Marathon in February!!  I’m so excited for her, because it’s an awesome course.  I have run the 10k and the half marathon there, and I think she’s really going to enjoy it.  I’m so disappointed that I won’t be able to run it, but I’m planning to go and cheer her on.  I usually have a few pals that run that race so it will be a great time.  Kerri finally met the new guy (the Ken Doll) and chastised me for under-emphasizing his good looks.  She seemed a little deflated about being the slow one in the group, so I reminded her that in a few months I will be back to reclaim my position as the slow runner in the club.  Speaking of clubs, I’ve been a little out of touch with my running club.  But that changes tomorrow, when I will be volunteering at the finish line of a 5k race in Douglas.  It’s always fun working the finish line so I’m really looking forward to that.  I’m planning to volunteer as much as I can (once I’m off crutches) because it will be a great way for me to stay plugged into running and will help keep me motivated.
                Over the next two weeks, I will continue to get my last few (dozen) things in order so I can be prepared for a smooth and restful recovery in my recliner, which apparently I will be sharing with my cat.
One last thing:
Example of how I’m successfully exploiting the injury for personal gain:  I just called my mother and asked her to bring me her camera, and she did.  (She’s upstairs).
The end!

Next up: The running bucket list!