Thursday, December 26, 2013

2013 Highlights - My Top 10 List

In David Letterman style...

10: My first 40 mile bike ride (and crash)

By late August, most of us had been feeling pretty confident on the bikes.  Several of us had done over 30 miles, and after I survived Death By Hills (number 8 on this list) I felt ready for anything.  Jackie, Kristen, Luke and I headed out for a 50 mile ride on a very hot and humid day.  None of us had eaten first.  None of us realized just how hilly the course was that we plotted.  We had ridden most of these roads before but not all in one ride, and we quickly realized "the Winter Street hill feels a lot worse 30 miles into a ride than 15 miles into a ride".  We decided based on a number of factors that this wasn't the day to attempt 50 miles and cut it short to 40.  As if to further emphasize that we were all gassed and couldn't pedal a single mile more, I managed to fall off my bike at an intersection in Uxbridge in the final mile of the ride.  Yes people saw it happen.  Both me and the bike got some bruises but it made for a good story!

9: Jackie's birthday ride

For Jackie's 32nd birthday in July, a bunch of us got together and did a 32 mile bike ride.  It was the longest ride most of us had ever done, and it was a hot day (90 degrees by the finish).  I used Map My Ride to get precisely 32 miles through Mendon, Northbridge, Upton, Westboro, Hopkinton, and Uxbridge.  Towards the end we were pretty darn hot and most of us were fed up with the hills, but it was Jackie's birthday and she eats hills for breakfast, so for her it was the perfect gift!  Here's a recap of that fun filled day in July!

8: Death by hills

I thought I was decent on a bike, until I decided to go for a relaxing 25 miler with Mark and Diana on the hills of upstate New York in August.  It was the most difficult, painful, and gratifying ride of my life.  It made me realize that you really don't know what you're capable of until you are confronted with a seemingly impossible task, and I also learned that no matter what: Never. Stop. Pedaling.  Check out this post to hear the full account of this unbelievable journey.

7: Boston training run
What I liked about this run so much was that, unlike when we had done it on our own, this one was organized through the Hopkinton running club in March, just weeks before the marathon.  I felt no pressure to keep up with anyone, and Brad and I chit chatted for pretty much the whole 21 miles.  I ended this run feeling great.  It was my longest run on the Boston course, itself an accomplishment, and I was confident and ready for race day. Check out this post for all the details of this great training run.

6: 26x1 club relay
This event, organized by the Somerville Road Runners and located at Tufts University track in June, pits local running clubs against each other in a 26.2 mile relay race.  Our TVFR club was a mix of all ages and abilities, and we gleefully cheered on all of our teammates while they were out on the track.  Some of us picked up some new mile PR's.  I didn't, but I did run the mile in 7:28 with a torn ligament in my foot, so that's got to be some sort of record, right?  When our final runner came towards the finish line, we all met him on the track and finished together as a team.  It was such a memorable team building event, capped off by some well deserved brews at a local Somerville bar.  This event should be on the race calendar of all Boston area running clubs!

5: Hyannis Marathon weekend

Start with a great group of girlfriends sharing some hotel rooms, add in some meatballs, beer, and a deluge of pouring rain on Cape Cod in February, and you have one heck of a fun (and soggy) weekend!  Hyannis has a history of rough winter weather and this weekend didn't disappoint.  We made the best of it with makeshift ponchos, ran with some very heavy, saturated clothes, and warmed ourselves up with some beer afterwards. Here's a link to my Hyannis race recap.

4: The Greenway Challenge

Step 1: Get a cool name for our all-female team like Iron Maidens.
Step 2: Get matching badass shirts.
Step 3: Look fabulous.
Step 4: Kick ass.

The six of us rocked this relay race in September and came in 2nd place in what was one of the most enjoyable days of the year.  Here's a look back at all the fun we had at the Greenway Challenge.

3: The Iron Girl Triathlon

Oh if I had a nickel for every time I said I hated swimming, would never swim in a lake, and would never, ever, ever do a triathlon... and yet with the power of persuasion and a lot of encouragement from friends, I did what I swore I'd never do.  Competing in this triathlon in July was probably one of the most fun athletic accomplishments of my life, and I was quickly bitten by "the bug".  So much so that I've now bought a wetsuit and signed up for a half Ironman!  To relive this incredible day, check out my Iron Girl race report.

2: The Disney Marathon

It's hard to pick just one memory from this trip back in January.  I'd say it's a tie between meeting Scott and Tricia in person for the first time, dressing up like Cruella Deville in the 5K, crossing the marathon finish line (my first!), and hanging out in the hotel afterwards with beer, pizza, and a whole lotta friends.  The whole trip was an unforgettable experience!  To relive any of these adventures, check out my blog archive.

1: The Boston Marathon start line

Even now, eight months after the Boston Marathon, I find it difficult to reflect on this day, either through memories or by reading my race recap of the event.  But I can't deny that the hours leading up to the start, and a good portion of the race, were the most memorable of my life.  Our dreams had come true, we had all made it safely and without injury to the start line on April 15th 2013.  We were about to run the world's greatest race, in the presence of the world's greatest athletes, practically in our own backyards.  It was, without a doubt, a hell of a day.

Here's to a happy, healthy, and peaceful 2014!

Monday, December 23, 2013

5 things I love about running

1. Mental clarity
Few things can clear the stress out of your head faster than going for a run.  I enjoy running with friends, but I also cherish my alone time.  It's time I can work out problems, get some time to myself, and decompress.  9.9 times out of 10 I come back from a run a happier, more productive person.  That's a good deal for pretty much everyone!

2. The challenge
When everything inside you tells you that you can't do something, and you find a way to get it done anyways, that's success.  Overcoming challenges comes in so many forms.  Running a new distance, making it up a hill you always had to walk up before, signing up for a race and following through even though you immediately had buyer's remorse.  Nothing feels better than meeting a challenge.

3. The sense of accomplishment
Often times I get hung up on the things I didn't do, and I forget to look at the accomplishments I had along the way.  Sure I had a lousy foot injury for the better part of this year, but I did run two marathons (my first and second!) and I overcame my fear of road cycling, bought a bike, and completed my first triathlon.  That's a pretty good year, I'd say.

4. Crappy weather
Seriously.  I'll take a 20 degree run over 80 degrees any day of the week.  Rain? Perfect, I love the feel of it on my face.  I love to wonder what drivers think when they pass me in the pouring, freezing rain (like they did today).  I don't even mind dodging the puddles in the road when the cars don't leave me enough space.  Even when I complain about the crappy weather I still love it, because it reminds me of how badass runners can be.  I still squawk about the time we ran the Boston Marathon course and it was so cold that all my water bottles froze and I started crying running up Heartbreak Hill, and some guy stopped to ask me if I was okay.  It sucked at the time, but it's kind of fun looking back on it.  And I'll never forget the time we ran a long run during a snow storm and were constantly passed by trucks spraying sand all over the streets and sandblasting our faces.  That was an interesting 18 miles.

5. The people
If it wasn't for the people I have in my support system, I probably would have given up a long time ago.  The running community is a powerful source of insight, opinions, and motivation.  There have been plenty of times in the last couple years that I've become discouraged, mostly due to untimely injuries, but I have a great group of friends that always remind me that nothing is permanent and I'll be back at it in no time.  Also, running friends give the best presents!

Because they know that after a long cold run, nothing warms you up like a hot cocoa with Kahlua and Bailey's.

Because who else would give such a practical gift as some 9mm ammo?

Because we went through some harsh stuff together in April and all came out okay.

Because they think of things like giving a snowflake necklace to signify the amount of snow we ran in together that helped bond us throughout last season's marathon training.

Because they get that this says it all:

Scenes from this weekend

I wish I could tell you all about the party I had on Friday night, but most of it just isn't suitable for a public audience.  I had a few friends over, and although I can't go into detail, here's a review in pictures:

This wine stopper was a big hit:

Our "signature drink" involved this:
It was quickly determined that naming our drink the "Jill-tini" was a terrible idea
Things got sloppy when this guy crashed the party:

As you can imagine, I didn't get a whole lot done on Saturday.  I spent most of the day watching movies and eating leftover meatballs.  I had a run planned, but ehhhhhh Boston's still 4 months away right?

Yesterday I got in my longest run so far, post-injury.  A whopping humdinger of a 3.1 miles.  Most of my runs have been on the safety of a treadmill, and this was my first time in probably six months running up my street.  Wow I forgot how much faster the time goes when there's something other than senior citizens doing bicep curls to look at!

I haven't really talked a lot about my heel lately because I didn't have any good updates.  A few weeks ago I had a cortisone shot which seemed to work wonders, but then after two weeks I was back in a lot of pain.  After taking another week off of running I decided to try a totally different type of shoe to see if maybe changing my gait would help.  I went rogue and ditched the Brooks, and got myself a pair of Altra Torin zero drop shoes.

It was a huge adjustment going from a supportive shoe into something with virtually no support, and I quickly realized how weak my foot/ankle/lower leg muscles are!  I was sore in places I'd never been sore before, but my heel felt great!  The wide toe box is great for my platypus feet, so I'm crossing fingers that these continue to work out for me as my runs get longer.

My plan for this week is to do a short run today (in the pouring freezing rain) and then hopefully a long run on Christmas morning.  A 5 miler sounds like a pretty great Christmas present to me!

Friday, November 29, 2013

And speaking of Iran...

I know the suspense is killing you so let me just get it over with.  Yes, I'm running again!  Don't crap your pants just yet, we're talking baby steps.  I got the all-clear on Monday afternoon to run, but I have to start off very lightly and gradually increase, so that in 3-4 weeks I should be back to my 'ol self!  I'm pretty much sticking to the treadmill, just doing 1-2 miles.  So far so good!  Of course, with yesterday being a holiday I just couldn't resist going out for a little run out back.  Just me, the icy puddles, howling wind, and a butt load of hunters.  I had originally thought of doing a little loop in the woods but made a grown-up choice to do an out and back on the roads to avoid getting shot before dinner.  Look at me, so grown up now!

And speaking of making grown up choices...even though I'm cleared to run, I'm not going to give up the other activities.  Swimming, biking, and <gasp> strength training have become a part of the routine so I'm sticking with them!

And speaking of strength training... last weekend I was at the gym and it was an interesting mix of weekenders.  Usually I only go early weekday mornings before work, where most everyone is a couple decades older than me.  On this day there were a lot of teenage boys.  You know, the footballish types.  The ones you wonder what the heck their parents fed them to make them so ginormous.  I made an assumption that they were probably on a football team, and they were probably talking about whatever big giant teenage boys talk about.  Imagine my surprise when I walked by them on my way out, and overheard them engaged in a very grown-up discussion about the Iran nuclear negotiations.  I probably should've stuck around to learn a thing or two, but speaking of football, I had to head off to a frigid Gillette Stadium to watch the Patriots game!

so cold that our clothes were threatening to fly off
And speaking of frigid, it's been super cold around here all week.  I was lucky enough to get to work from home today, and just now realized this is what I've been wearing ALL DAY:

I look like I'm ready to shoot a deer and rob a bank all at once.  Maybe I should consider turning the heat up.

And speaking of turning the heat up... tomorrow morning I'm in for a huge sweat fest!  Jackie and Kristen are coming over with their bikes and trainers, and we are going to do a group trainer ride in my family room!  I'm so excited about this, because trainer rides are so boring.  These girls are bound to spice things up, and I can't wait!  We'll keep this up all winter and will be ready for triathlons in the spring!

And speaking of triathlons... although I'm totally anti-retail, especially anything to do with holiday-themed sales like Black Friday, I got sucked in big time.  Scott, who apparently likes me to spend money, told me about a ridiculously good deal on a wetsuit.  Granted, I won't need a wetsuit for another six months, but I will need one next year and this was just an offer I couldn't refuse.  So, now I'm the proud future owner of an Xterra Vector Pro wetsuit.  Happy birthday to me!  I told Scott that since he made me buy it, now he needs to come to Massachusetts and do a triathlon with me.  I think he thinks I'm kidding.  It will be amazing if this wetsuit actually even fits me.  I did use the online sizing tool, which customer reviews tout as "very accurate", but I didn't even meet the minimum height range of 5'2" for a female.

And speaking of being adorably small, here's the annual picture of me with the kids: my nephew, niece, and son.

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving!  I'm very thankful for my health, good feet, good food, great friends and family, and - of course - online shopping.

Friday, November 15, 2013

There's Hope!

Well it's been a long, long road with this bum foot, but I'm happy to say I think I'm finally going in the right direction!  After spending the last 7 months doing everything from physical therapy, to buying stock in KT Tape, to using plantar sleeves and Strausberg socks, to orthotics, and not to mention "das boot", I finally took the plunge and got a cortisone shot.  It's too early to say if this is the miracle cure because I still won't try running for a couple more weeks, but this is the first time I can "hit the floor walking" first thing in the morning instead of sounding like a wounded animal.

I got the shot on Monday afternoon, which was uncomfortable to say the least.  I walked out of the doctor's office feeling great, since my foot was so numb I couldn't feel anything.  Unfortunately the numbing spray wore off and I was suddenly thrust into one of the top 5 pains of my life.  Seriously, it was that bad!  Lucky for me I had a hidden happy stash of Vicodin, and I'd be lying if I said I didn't pay it a visit.  The next morning when I got up, I was afraid to even step out of bed.  After a couple little tests, I gingerly stepped down, and couldn't believe what I felt: nothing.  No pain. I know part of that was probably the residual Vicodin and Motrin floating around my body, but I was very encouraged by this!  Over the next few days I really took it easy, even though it was feeling pretty good.  My foot was still quite puffy from the shot, and I definitely didn't want to do anything to cause damage.  Yesterday I swam, and this morning I biked with no issue.  I'm not going to say it's 100% pain free, but it's a significant improvement since pre-shot, so I'm hopeful!

So what else have I been doing with all my down time?  Well, it got a little too chilly for kayaking, but I've been continuing to swim 3-4 days a week.  And finally, after going to my gym for a whole year, I finally branched out and went to the weight room.  Now I'm incorporating strength training and the elliptical into my workout routine, which makes me sore, sweaty and happy.

A couple weeks ago I went to North Carolina to see my good buddy Scott complete his first full Ironman distance triathlon at the Beach 2 Battleship in Wilmington.
Me & Scott at the swim exit

Feeling unmotivated?  Go watch one of these.  Watch people exhausting every cell in their body, and then digging even deeper, to achieve their goal.  It's inspiring and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't awestruck, humbled, and impressed.  I don't think I would ever even consider doing that distance, but it definitely gives me something to think about!

We chased Scott down the highway!

Scott was amazing and smashed his goals with a time of 10:24, which is good because I warned him that since I was driving 14 hours from Massachusetts to see him, I expected great things!

And since spectating was such grueling work, we then rented a beach house after the race to rest and recharge!

Views from the beach house
Fall is my favorite time of year for riding my horse, and I've been lucky to get out on some beautiful fall rides.

Brigham Hill in Grafton, MA
Recently Julia decided she wanted to get into mountain biking.  I hadn't been on my mountain bike since I bought my road bike in June, but decided to go out on some fall rides.  We went to the Upton State Forest, along with Jackie and Mike, and I forgot how much I love it!

Flying down Park Road in Upton - weeee!
We loved it so much that the following weekend we went back out, in the Douglas State Forest.  This time Julia brought her husband Tony, who hasn't been on a bike in 20 years!

Altogether now:  "awwwwww :-) "

He's clearly a natural, because I wouldn't in a million years have ridden this route if it was my first time on a mountain bike.  I never did check in afterwards to see if he could walk or if he's even still speaking to me, but at the time he had lots of smiles on his face! In any case, proof that we made it back alive!

It was a race against the sunset trying to get back before dark!
So there ya have it.  Running? No. Vacationing? Swimming? Gym-going? Riding? Mountain biking? Yes! I'm truly hoping that my next blog post will be full of complaints about how sore my legs are from running!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Greenway Challenge Race Report

Back on September 28th (yeah I know, I'm a little behind) me and five of my favorite ladies competed in the Blackstone River Valley Greenway Challenge.  This is a 60-ish mile relay race comprised of some combination of running (trail or road) cycling (trail or road) and paddling.  The route goes through the Blackstone Valley Corridor in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.  It changes every year and the course is unveiled only two weeks before the event, leaving very little time to practice the actual route.  The segment types are listed in advance (road run, mountain bike, etc) so that people can register for their sport, and then the waiting begins.

The girls (Kristen, Coleen, Marie, Julia, Jackie) and I formed a team and dubbed ourselves the "Iron Maidens".  We had fun with this name and even bought matching Iron Maiden shirts from H&M.  As we decided who would compete in which segment, we recognized there could be a couple problems with injuries.  Jackie and I have each been dealing with nagging foot injuries so we knew we'd have to be flexible.  I was assigned a 19.5 mile road bike, and Jackie was assigned a 6 mile mountain bike.  We decided that we would be each other's backups in case one of us had an issue come race day.  Sure enough, weeks before the event I was diagnosed with that pesky torn ligament in my foot which hobbled me in a walking cast.  I was ordered not to cycle, and with that I decided to back out of the Greenway Challenge.  Naturally, my fellow Maidens wouldn't let me go without a fight, so I was instead reassigned to kayaking while Jackie took over my bike segment.  Well, it's a good thing we Maidens are hardy and flexible, because Jackie's injury flared up as well, and Marie ended up having to pull double duty by taking on the orphaned bike segment as well as her own run.

Having absolutely no kayaking experience whatsoever, I wasn't feeling very confident in this segment and the last thing I wanted to do was disappoint my Maidens.  Just a few days prior to the race, Kristen took me out to Wallum Lake so that I could experience kayaking.  It was quite a process too with my foot in a walking cast, which I had to remove and then try not to put weight on my foot as I made my way into the boat.  Once secured in the kayak and in the water, Kristen and I had a great time on a sunset kayak trip.  We stopped and took pictures, I got used to how to paddle and focused on not hitting my thumbs on the side of the boat.  It was beautiful and fun, and I was thinking, wow this kayaking thing is so easy!  I'm in such good shape! This is not hard at all!  So with that crash course on kayaking, I was good to go.  The only other possible issue I was running up against was some terrible stomach problems I had been enduring for a couple weeks before the race.  Two days before the race I spent a lovely 7.5 hours in the emergency room, and was unable to eat nearly anything that Friday or Saturday.  (This is actually news to my fellow Maidens.  I didn't want to worry them with my issues, so I only told Kristen in case she had to unexpectedly take over my kayak spot).  Anyhoo... my stomach pulled itself together fairly well for race day, so crisis averted!

Okay enough about all that, let's get onto the race!  Well I think because I had it in my head that I wasn't going to compete, I never really paid attention to the segment details and all the logistics of the race.  Thank God we had Julia as our team captain.  She was clutch at telling us what to do and where to go.  I, on the other hand, couldn't even grasp the concept that I wasn't at the start line (I was hanging with Kristen at the start of the 2nd segment).  All day I just went wherever people told me to go, and answered about a billion and a half questions about my walking cast.  No, I'm not running - haha.  Yes, you're right it probably would make a good anchor - haha.

Early morning at the Quinsigamond River

It was fun hanging out at the transition stations though and chatting with other competitors as well as the guys on the TVFR team.  One nice guy took this picture of us while we waited for Marie to finish her run.  He said his wife told him to take lots of pictures, so he did.  Of us. :-)

Marie came blazing in from her run and set us up nicely in the standings.  We were off to a great start.  Literally, she was blazing.  Look at this - she's gazelle-like:

Marie handed to Kristen and she was off like a lightning bolt down a very steep and tricky path to the water and into her kayak.  It all happened so fast that I never even got a chance to see her off!

Once Marie caught her breath we headed over to Washington Mills where Kristen would be arriving in the kayak and Coleen would be heading out on her bike.

Waiting with Coleen for Kristen to come in

At this location, they were allowed to have a sprinter from the point where the kayaker came out of the water to where the biker was waiting to get tagged.  Marie was the sprinter, and then Coleen was off and biking all the way to Wallum Lake in Douglas!

Jackie waited at her transition while we went to the lake to get my kayak ready.  I was weak and nauseous and nervous but also getting pretty excited.

We had asked if there was any way we could have someone pass the slap band from Jackie to me since I can't walk without my cast, and the answer was a big fat no and something like "they wouldn't even let me have help when I was missing both my legs!" or something equally dramatic.  And since we were starting to be seen as a "competitive" group, I didn't want to take any chances.  So I stood there at the transition station and waited for Jackie to pass me the slap band, and then I walked/limped/shuffled to my kayak.  If it sounds like it was a slow process, trust me when I tell you it was slower than it even sounds.

Once I finally made it to my kayak, I underestimated how far into the water I should have pushed it before getting in.  I jumped in, bottomed out in the sand, and had to do some aggressive thrashing/humping/jiggling to get myself off the beach.  I wanted to die of embarrassment.  Once in the water though, I focused on kicking ass.

I paddled way faster than I expected and was excited that I passed one guy in a kayak and two guys in a canoe.  I was nervous about how I was going to exit the kayak.  The transition was a really lousy incline up a rutted up grass strip, so I was praying that I would be able to hand off the slap band to a sprinter.  Unfortunately I wasn't able to, but they said I could have someone help me drag the kayak out of the water.  So I hopped out, and very, very slowly made my way up the hill and hobbled over to Marie, who was waiting on her bike.

The pep talk/ass pat
Once I was done, I couldn't believe how much faster I was than I expected.  I thought it would take me 30-35 minutes, and I was done somewhere just over 20 minutes.  In fact, I apparently paddled across the lake faster than my mother could drive across, because by the time she got to the other end of the lake I was already packed up in the jeep and headed to Rhode Island!

By this time in the race, we realized that we only had 2 other teams ahead of us in the Women's division, so we started getting serious about competing.  Marie pushed hard on her bike route from the lake to Woonsocket to retain our 3rd place standing, and then Julia crushed her 6 mile run, edging out the 2nd place team, to take over 2nd place for the finish.

It was so nerve wracking waiting to see in which order the females would finish.  We saw 1st place arrive, and it was so exciting to see Julia heading to the finish line next!  We all lined up to give her congratulatory hugs, which I apparently needed to live tweet or something...

After the race we hung out in the field and enjoyed a nice barbecue lunch.  Some of the cutest little Iron Maiden groupies came too!

Group photo - 2nd place winners!

And another with all the guys from TVFR...

The Greenway Challenge hosts an awards banquet, open only to teams and individuals that placed 3rd or higher in their division.  We were pretty excited to make it to the banquet, and had a great time.  Look how cute we are, all dressed up and spiffy!

And in case you haven't figured it out yet, yes we are already talking about next year.  Yes there has been scuttlebutt about buying better tri bikes and mountain bikes.  Yes I'm thinking about buying my own kayak.  One thing I know for sure is that I was woefully under-prepared for that level of kayaking.  Although at the time I felt guilty for "only" kayaking, the next day when I couldn't even roll over in bed, I realized I have a lot of work to do!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The "Benefits" of Not Exercising

It is Day 17 of my foot's captivity, and I'm starting to lose my mind.  I wasn't naive enough to think this would be a fun little break and would give me a chance to do all kinds of indoor stuff like reading and catching up on TV shows.  I knew I'd get restless and bitter.  But still, I've tried to remain positive.  It's getting tough, but I managed to wrangle a list of the benefits of being on the disabled list.

  1. I get to sleep late.  I've slept until 7:30am almost every day for the last three weeks, which has never happened that much in my life.  No more worries about sleeping through my alarm or struggling to find a free lane at the pool.
  2. I haven't had a chance to injure anything else.
  3. I've had all kinds of time to do things like paint my nails.  They've never looked better.
  4. I started fake tanning with spray on tan, mostly because I'm in denial that summer's over and I don't want to look like a vampire.  Not a sexy vampire, that would be okay.  But more like a middle aged, out of shape vampire.  
  5. I've saved so much gas because I haven't really been driving much.  I can, but it's a huge pain and probably not a great idea (due to the walking cast on my right foot), so I stay home more than usual.
  6. I'm all caught up on Days of Our Lives.  (Sammie's out of jail, Kristen's still crazy, Jennifer looks exactly like she did 20 years ago).
In short, during this downtime I've turned back into the teenage version of myself.  I'm thinking about getting a subscription to Teen Magazine and plastering my bedroom walls with posters of Zac Efron and Robert Pattinson.

In case you, like me, were thinking that at least being in a cast means I can shoot down to Disney and cut to the front of the line on all the rides, you can forget about that.  Did you hear about their new policy?  Guess I picked a bad time to get all disabled.

On Monday I have a follow up appointment with my podiatrist.  I'm not overly optimistic because my foot is still pretty painful.  I'm hoping for a miracle because it's killing me to be stuck on the sidelines while all this beautiful picture perfect weather has been coming through.  I was okay with being injured when it was 90-100 degrees, but not when it's 60!  That's my jam!

In the meantime, between painting my nails and watching soaps, Kristen took me kayaking to prepare for this weekend's Greenway Challenge.  This is a 60-ish mile relay race comprising of running, cycling, mountain biking, and kayaking.  I was supposed to do a 19 mile road bike segment, but due to my foot injury I was reassigned to the kayak.  I tried to back out of the race entirely, but my fellow ladies wouldn't let me wuss out.  It was a little dicey getting in and out of the kayak without putting a lot of weight on my foot, but while I was in the kayak it was a total blast.  I'm hooked, and naturally dying to go buy my own!  Maybe next year.  After our kayaking adventure we cracked open a beer and ordered some take-out food to pick up on the way home.  So now we can add drinking beer in the woods to my list of teenage-like behavior!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

MRI results (& further proof of my badassness)

I'd like to formally retract the statement I made in my last post where I secretly wished for something alarming to show on my MRI which would justify the pain I've been in for six months.  Be careful what you wish for, right?

So last Thursday I went in for my MRI, and I was happy to hear that I was only having a regular MRI and not with a dye contrast as I originally thought.  Some people hate MRI's but they don't bother me at all.  I just close my eyes, listen to some loud music, and even sometimes nod off despite the loud noises.  Every time you have an MRI, you have to go through a thorough interrogation 1. on the phone when setting up the appointment, 2. in the office with the person registering you, 3. on a paper questionnaire, and 4. with the MRI technician.  These questions are almost identical in each situation, and sometimes I think I'm going to get caught in a lie.  Samples include: Do you have any tattoos?  Do you have hearing aids?  Do you have any shunts or stents?  Do you have any metal in your eye?  I felt like responding saying, "you know, I did lose my paring knife this morning, thanks for reminding me!  I stuck it in my eye socket...there it is!".  Do you have any osteoarthritis? I said, "how about you tell me after the MRI?".

I anxiously awaited the results of the MRI, and in the meantime I took the opportunity to go for a run Friday morning in the nice cool weather.  Ever since before the Boston Marathon I've been feeling really burnt out from running.  I think running back to back marathons was probably not the best idea (mentally or physically), and I really didn't mind taking a break from running.  Lately though I've started getting the itch to run more, and Friday was a beautiful cool day and I took advantage of it with a 4 mile trail run.  Despite my heel pain, it was a wonderful run and made me realize that I do in fact still love running.  I hoped that I would get the MRI results, get a cortisone shot, and get back into a steady running schedule.

Monday afternoon I got a call from my doctor.  He started off by saying that he looked at the results of my MRI and now he knows why I've been in so much pain for so long.  Uh oh.  He said that the MRI confirmed plantar fasciitis and inflammation, but also a torn ligament in my heel.  He said that without complete rest, this ligament would never have a chance to heal, and my only option at this point is to completely immobilize my foot.  This means four weeks in a walking cast, and possible surgery if there's no improvement.  The one great thing, he said, was that fortunately there is no tumor.  Wait, what?  That's the good news?  Was a tumor even on the radar as a possibility?  

So, once again I find myself in the familiar place of being sidelined with an injury as autumn (and in my opinion, the best time of year to run) approaches.  It seems kind of cruel that this is the third consecutive autumn that I've had to halt running.  For those keeping track, in October 2011 I had hip surgery, in October 2012 I got a stress fracture, and now September 2013 I'm diagnosed with a torn ligament.  Unlike my previous doctor's orders, this time I plan on fully adhering to the requirement to rest.  The threat of surgery is enough to smarten me up, because that's the last thing I want!

Instead of doing all kinds of things to sidestep my doctor's orders, I'm doing other non-active things.  I paint my nails a lot.  I've been doing a lot of reading.  I've watched a lot of Tosh.0.  I'm thinking about going to buy some yarn and crochet an afghan.  Really just anything I can think of that will keep me busy and not thinking about all the running I'm not doing.  One thing I'm not doing is spending a lot of time on social media like Twitter or Facebook.  I'm happy that so many people are happy and out running, but I'm not, and I'm trying not to get too bitter about it.

The good thing is I have plenty of support from loved ones.  Like this guy --->

And this guy! --->

Isn't Rocco great?  He took me apple and pear picking in the front yard.  He's really good at sidepassing his way through the branches and helps me get the fruit that's waaaaay up high.

And one final thought:  Have I mentioned lately how badass I am?  Just to remind everyone, after tearing this ligament (most likely in the Boston Marathon), I still ran a half marathon in May, and completed my first triathlon in July.  I did those in some serious pain.  Just think of how great I'll be next year when I'm all patched up!  Right?

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

MRI's and bike crashes (totally unrelated)

You may have caught on over the last six months that I've been having a bit of an issue with a pesky case of plantar fasciitis.  I've tried to spare you from the frustration of it all (you're welcome) while keeping myself busy swimming and pedaling all over town.  The PF started just before the Boston Marathon, and never really went away.  In May I finally went to a podiatrist where I was ordered to do some additional stretches, icing, resting, and walking with Power Step inserts.  Progress was minimal, and in June I started a six week physical therapy program.  The problem, it seems, originated from my under-developed hip, which never really fully recovered from my hip surgery back in October, 2011.  PT had me doing all sorts of core and hip strengthening exercises to even me out while doing massage on my calf and foot.  The short term result was new hip pain in addition to my heel pain!  But, the long term result was that my hip strengthened up and that sets me up for a stronger, more even stride.  Unfortunately, the PT didn't provide a whole lot of relief to the heel pain, and after six weeks I was maybe only 20% improved.

At my last appointment with the podiatrist, he recommended we take the next step and get a cortisone shot, but before that he wants an MRI to really get an in-depth look at what's happening inside my foot.  My MRI is finally scheduled for this Thursday, and I'm looking forward to getting the results.  Part of me wants to hear "hey great news, it's not as bad as we thought!", but part of me wants justification for all the whining I've been doing for the last six months, with something akin to, "I can't believe you're walking let alone running!  You're simply the strongest, most amazing person I've ever seen in all my years!".  Okay, maybe dial it back a notch.  But you get it.  I want my pain validated.

For now I'm just continuing to run a couple miles at a time, a couple times a week.  And of course pedaling all around town!  After doing several 30 mile bike rides, we (the gang of women) decided to up the ante and make it a 50 miler.  Saturday morning, Jackie, Kristen, Luke (honorary member of the gang of women) and I headed out for a long long ride.  What we didn't realize was how much harder a 50 mile ride was than a 30!  I think the 150% humidity had something to do with it, but man were we spent.  We decided to be responsible and cut the ride back to 40 miles, and start our Corona re-hydration plan early.  In case there was any question that I was just being a sissy and could have made it another 10, I managed to crash my bike at mile 39.  Proof positive that I was just too gassed.  Not to worry!  Lexi is fine.  She has road rash on her pedal, but that just builds character.  As for me, I have a fabulous bruise on my leg, which this photo just doesn't do justice.

And for the record, there was nothing sissy about this ride.  Check out these hills!

In the last week I've managed to crash my bike and crash my horse (yep, poor Rocco took a nose dive while galloping).  I really hope this MRI gets me pointed in the right direction, because these cross training activities are getting risky!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

2014 Boston Marathon - too soon?

Question: Is today, August 29, 2013, too soon to start blogging about the 2014 Boston Marathon?  Answer: Yes, yes it is.  Especially for those of you that had to endure months of me droning onnnnn and onnnnn about my Boston training this past Spring.

I'm really not ready to start talking about Boston.  I know so many people were instantly committed to going back next year, better! and stronger! than ever! Woo Boston Strong, Yay!!  I'm just not there.  Try as I might, I just can't seem to drum up the enthusiasm I feel obligated to have.  When people would ask me if I would do it again, I sidestepped the question, figuring I had months upon months to heal and make that decision.  Maybe I'd feel a smidge better if I hadn't been dealing with this nasty plantar fasciitis since March.  Maybe I'd feel better if we weren't still seeing news stories every single day about the Boston Marathon Tragedy.  When the BAA announced that the 5,700 runners who weren't able to cross the finish line would receive a guaranteed entry to the marathon, I was of course grateful for that opportunity, but not ready to commit.  I'd have months and months.

Earlier this month we received the official email notification from the BAA, announcing that if we would like to register for Boston 2014, we needed to register between August 19-August 29 and fork over $325.  Talk about being put on the spot!  Not only did I need to make a decision, I had to hand over a boat load of money!  (hey, I keep my money in a pretty small boat).  While on one hand I wasn't ready to commit to this decision, on the other hand it was probably exactly the push I needed.  After hemming and hawing for an entire day, finally Anthony talked me into it by saying, "If you even think you might want to do it, just sign up for it.  The worst that happens is that you lose $325".  Someone else commented that, "It's so far away from now, you could actually get injured and recover and still have time to train for Boston!", to which Anthony chimed in, "And knowing you, that will probably happen!".  So with all of that encouragement, on August 20th I took the leap and registered for Boston.  Not that I'm one to believe in "signs" and "omens", but here's what happened when I signed up for Boston:  I inadvertently transposed my first and last name on the registration form.  I didn't catch it while I was filling in the fields, nor did I catch it when I got to the summary page that said to "please review this form for accuracy".  My first clue was when I got the confirmation email that said, "Dear Duhaime,".  Doh!  Good thing there's not an IQ test to get into Boston or I'd never qualify!  My very next action was to send an apology email to the BAA, asking them if they could please kindly fix my name.

Later that day I got another email confirmation with my corrected name.


So let's just hope that this little bobble isn't an indication of how my next Boston experience will be!  While I continue to have mixed feelings about running Boston again next year, I'm starting to warm up to the idea.  Several of us girls will be doing it again, along with some other friends like Kerri and Ronnie who are trying to get in through charity means.  I'm looking forward to the upcoming cool autumn runs and even - dare I say - the long cold snowy runs.  Now we just have to get this heel pain all patched up!

In other news, my newest obsession is with Shakeology.  I'm looking for the best way to get the most "superfoods" into my diet, and Shakeology seems like a slam dunk.  The price is steep, but some people swear by it.   Is this just a fad or the real deal?  I'm going to try it for 30 days and see how it goes!