It’s Official, My Legs Hate Me

Sometimes, as much as the outcome sucks, it is good to know a decision was made based on correct intuition.  When I pulled out of Rutgers, it was not a difficult decision.  I just knew something wasn’t right.  Remember when I said a gut feeling is not just a euphemism?  This is a perfect example.  I knew what I was feeling wasn’t in my head.  Although, I wish it had been.

Turns out, what I was feeling at Rutgers, was not in my head.  I saw the doctor on Thursday when the pain was only getting worse in my foot/ankle.  I was terrified of a stress fracture. 

The goods news is, nothing is broken in my foot!  And seriously, that is some great news!

The bad news is I have a pretty significant case of Peroneal Tendonitis. 

Peroneal Tendonitis refers to painful inflammation of the peroneal tendons located on the outer side of the foot, a little behind the ankle bump. 

There are two peroneal muscles on the outer side of the lower leg. One long one, called the peroneal longus runs from the knee to the ankle, and one short one, called the peroneal brevis muscle runs from below the knee to the ankle. Both these muscles when they approach the ankle, convert into tendons, which are thick bands of fibers that connect muscle to bone. Both these tendons run side-by-side and curve behind the outer bump of the ankle, then run below the foot where they insert into the bones of the foot.

As the muscle contracts, these tendons pull the lower surfaces of these bones, pulling/bending the foot downward (plantarflexion) and outward (eversion).

Once we had a diagnosis, it was time to treat.  Out of waitressing for 10 days and lots of RICE method.  Additionally in an effort to keep my leg stabilized and because “I can’t be trusted to stay off my feet,” I was also put in the CAM walker for the weekend.  Thank God that was only for a few days.  If I never have to see that boot again, it will be too soon.

And I’ll be rocking this again for a weeks to keep my ankle stable:

2013-04-29_08-34-02_385I know, I know…desperate for a pedicure!

I was also supposed to do this weird thing…I think normal people call it relaxing?  Yeah, I am not so good at that but didn’t have a choice.  I spent Thursday night, Friday night and all day Saturday on my couch with my foot up and ice on and off.  Sunday, I mowed the lawn in my boot- that was a new experience…!   Other than a few errands, my friends housewarming Saturday night and mowing the lawn Sunday, my weekend mostly looked like this:

 wine2Relaxing is better with wine.

As much as relaxing isn’t my thing, I’ll admit it was a nice break.  I run on empty most of the time, so to be able to have a reason to do nothing was a good and much needed chance of pace.  It is hard to stay off my feet at my day job as well but I am trying.  And since I am not working  nights this week, and I cannot afford to do anything because I am not working night this week, the above is pretty much my game plan for the rest of the weekFor now, running is completely out of the question and I have to wait until I am pain free to get back to ballet/barre but I am hoping next weekend to get a work out in, even if it is just slow on the elliptical and some lifting.  I’ll take anything!

It may seem as though my spirits are up; that is mostly due to the fact that I am so happy I don’t have a fracture.  But the truth is, I am really bummed out.  I did everything right training for Rutgers.  I felt so ready.  And for things to just fall apart and me to be back off running is a huge blow.  I am frustrated.  Actually, I am beyond frustrated.  I feel like I am always injured.  While it seems everyone I know is getting better and faster, I am regressing.  My running has never been the same since I broke my foot and I am worried that it never will be.  The other day a friend of mine said she really felt like a runner now that she was fast.  I said she was always a runner because if you run you are a runner.  She replied that before she felt like an imposter.  I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it.  Is she saying that slow runners are imposters?  Am I one?  I mean, I don’t think so…but when I am struggling, this is the exact thing that gets in my head.  The exact thing that makes me just want to throw in the towel.  I don’t even know if that is what she meant or if I am just hyper sensitive because I am feeling so low.  I have been fighting injuries for so long…I am not getting any better.  How long do I keep doing this to myself?  I don’t know.  I have to see how this PT goes and in the meantime, I’ll be sticking with barre and ballet and lifting and trying to get strong.   Both physically and mentally.

In other news, to end on a good note…this came in the mail over the weekend:

bosontshirtBest mail I have gotten in a while!

Rutgers 7.8 Race Report

7.8 what huh?  I thought it was a 13.1?

Yeah…so about that…

My training leading up to the race went pretty well.  My 10 miler was a beast but I chalked it up to a bad day.  My taper runs went off without a hitch and I saw my sports PT three days before the race and everything checked out.  Then, Friday after work my ankle and shin were bothering me.  It was a long shift so I just iced and stayed off it most of Saturday.  Sunday, I could feel it but wasn’t too concerned.  My friend Lisa and I drove up to the race together and while I debated dropping to the 8K, I thought it was all in my head so I headed to the half-marathon start line.

Miles 1-4 were okay.  I really did not expect the hills.  The race is described as flat but it was entirely full of rolling hills.  My calf muscles weren’t happy- I mean, I train in SOUTH JERSEY!- but I was getting by.  It was at about mile 5 that my race started going downhill.  My pace was still fine but my calves were cramping and my shins were on fire.  There was a certain level of “push through it” and a certain level of “don’t hurt yourself” going through my head at the same time.  I was walking a whole lot more than I like and no amount of stretching was helping.  The last thing I wanted to do was give up but I was getting increasingly frustrated.  I would stop, stretch and then less than a quarter mile I would have to stop again.  By mile 7, I had pretty much had it with the race.  The cramps in my calves were getting worse and every time I saw a hill, I wanted to cry.  At this point, I wasn’t running at all and still had over six miles to go.  I really did not think it was wise for me, mentally or physically, to keep going.   So for the first time ever in a road race, I stopped.  At mile 7.8, I pulled myself from the race, walked over to an aid station and had them radio me a ride to the start where I was able to catch a shuttle to the finish line.

I kept waiting for the tears.  To feel the failure in the pit of my stomach.  It never came.  Because I didn’t fail.  I made a decision.  And truthfully, it wasn’t even a difficult one.  I have spent much of the last 3 years injured.  It isn’t worth it.  I have no idea why my legs failed me- obviously, I need more hill work, but it has to be more than that.  Today, I will meet with my sports chiropractor and see what he thinks.  We have already talked about the next marathon (another post for another time) and today we will talk about the path for this year.  I don’t have any more races planned until July, so for now, I am just going to work on getting these legs back in working order.

After the race, I met up with my friends and we had lunch at a local brewery.  The day went on as normal.

Here is a photo from the day-

Happy Boston Marathon Day!

boston-finish

When I was 17, my family took a trip to Boston.  It was one of the best trips.  My parents were awesome enough to let me bring a friend which made everything that much better.  We did the touristy stuff like Ride the Ducks and visiting the Cheers bar but we also saw the Titanic expo while we were there and best of all…we went to Fenway.  My Mom, Dad and I are all HUGE baseball fans.  Of course the Phillies come first in our heart but a close second would be the Red Sox.  My Dad had always wanted to go to Fenway and of course I loved the idea of visiting a new ball park.  In addition to seeing the game, we took the tour.  It was then, in 1998 that I fell in love with Boston.

It would be 12 more years until I would get back.

The first Boston Marathon I watched on TV was in 2008.  At the time, I was training for my first 5k.   I was home sick from work that day (truthfully) and it was the first race I ever watched on TV.  I thought these people were nuts.  Pretty sure I thought to myself more than a few times, “I’ll never do that” during the course of watching the race.  At the same time, there is something so inspirational about watching such a historic race be run by people who have trained through blood, sweat and tears to get there.

In April of 2011, my mom and I flew into Boston for the marathon weekend.  A bunch of my blogging friends were either running the marathon or like me, running the 5k.  In addition to the blogger meet-ups and racing, we were able to spend some time with one of my mom’s friends who lives right outside of Boston.  Spending time back in the city and seeing new places, made me fall in love all over again.  The weekend was a whirlwind, but it was so much fun to run the 5k, cross the line and then of course watch the marathon on Monday.  My mom and I sat just past mile 17 in the Newton Hills.  It was a great space; people weren’t hating their lives yet but you could see them pushing hard!  And I was so close to the elites when they went by.  It was awesome.

Watching the race this year is not a problem.  A-my boss is from Boston and B-my boss is a runner (ran Boston twice in the 70’s).  I asked him if it was okay to live stream it and he said, “Well, I can’t tell you no if I’ll be doing the same thing!”  So while it would be a whole lot more fun to be AT the race, I am excited I’ll get to watch it once again.

Do you have personal memories of Boston?  Where will you be watching from today?

Solid Reminders For Running In The Heat

With the spring weather in full effect (yeah!) over here in New Jersey, I am back to being excited about running outside!  I am kind-of a baby when it comes to winter running and usually relegate myself to the treadmill because it is either A- too dark or B- too cold.  I wake up in the dark, drive home from work in the dark…I miss my Vitamin D in the winter!

Over the past weekend I began going through my clothes to start the changeover from winter to summer.  The same goes for my running gear.  Each year, as I do this, I am reminded of some solid tips for running in the heat.  If you google “summer running tips” you’ll get a million hits.  This is not new information.  I am not giving away any secrets.  However, everyone can benefit from a reminder now and then.  So let me be the millionth and one hit when you google for tips!

Here are my top 5:

1. Check the heat index:

It really isn’t enough to just check the weather.  The Heat Index tells you what the temperature feels likes when combining the air temperature and the relative humidity.  If the air quality index is code orange and you have upper respiratory problems, you may not want to run. If it’s a code red, it’s not suitable for anyone to run.  The temperature alone is not enough information.  For example, you may think it is okay to run in 84 degrees but if the relative humidity is 90% then you are dealing with 98 degrees.  No thanks!

A good way to avoid high temperatures and high heat index’s is to run early before the sun is out or after 6pm.

2. Wear Sunscreen

Please, please, please wear sunscreen.  I am amazed by runners (any outside athlete for that matter) who skip this part.  Research shows that runners have a higher rate of skin cancer than non-runners.  Makes sense given that runners are outside more during the summer months and wearing less clothes than the average person.  In addition, remember to protect your lips from the sun too.

3. Drink, drink, drink

Don’t wait until you are running to begin drinking.  Get those fluids in starting before you run.  Make sure you have enough fluids on your run.  Either carry a bottle, wear a hydration belt or make sure your route includes water fountains or other options for drinking.  In addition to water, if you are out there for more than 30-45 minutes you need to start supplementing with electrolytes.  The hotter it is, the more you sweat and you need to replace the vital electrolytes.

4. Dress the part

Technical clothes (I seriously cringe when I see runners in cotton!), light colors, wiking socks, a visor (hats serve to keep heat in and are great for winter, but not for summer unless they are a light technical hat) and sunglasses (with UV protections) will all help aid with keeping cool and safe in the heat.   I love Nike Dri-Fit clothes in the summer and C9 from Target is fabulous.  I live by Balega hidden comfort socks but there are a variety of great light wiking socks on the market.  In the photo above, I am wearing tank and shorts both by C9, balega hidden cool socks, my Team Triumph visor and Foster Grant Ironman UV protected sunglasses.

5. Be smart & safe.

This tip is for year round.  The best tip for running ever, no matter what season, is to run safe and smart.

  • Invest in a road ID– Get one. Now. Do it.
  • Bring your phone-  if you end up stranded, hurt or in any way in need of someone, this is your lifesaver.
  • Change up your routes- Not only does it make running more fun but makes you less predictable.
  • Ditch the music- If you MUST wear an IPod, run with one ear bud out.  I really like running with music, but always keep my ear closest to the road open.
  • Keep your eyes open- You might see the car but there is no guarantee the car sees you.  Assume every driver is distracted and pay close attention especially when running on the shoulder (always against the flow of traffic) and at intersections.  When crossing a street, make eye contact with the driver.
  • Run in populated areas- Chances are if it is populated with runners it is safe.  And if you get hurt or have an emergency there will be people around to help.
  • Be visible- Wear bright colors and if you are running at night wear reflective clothing, tape or lights.
  • Trust your gut- If someone looks shady, they might be; if a street looks scary, it could be; if something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.  Better to be safe than sorry.

Have tips to add?  Please do!

Shamrock Weekend

This past weekend a few of my friends and I traveled down to Virginia Beach for the Shamrock Half Marathon and Marathon weekend.  It fell right on Saint Patrick’s Day which made it that much cooler.  I have gone down to this race three times and it is always a good time.  Even this year, in the very cold, we had a great time.  We drove down Friday night which was great.  We were able to relax Saturday morning before heading the expo.  We had talked about watching the 8k but it was really cold.  And it was so much easier to watch from our hotel room.  You could see the finish from our balcony!

After the expo, we had a late lunch and then headed back to relax before an early bedtime.  This was my friend Lisa’s first full marathon so we made sure she got plenty of rest!  The first alarm went off for my friends Victoria and Stephanie who were doing the half-marathon.  I stayed back with Lisa, so we could walk down to the marathon together.  (I am racing a half in April, so I decided against this race.)  We walked down and met up with my friend Stephanie’s husband Josh before Lisa had to get into her corral.  Once she did, Josh and I headed to the half-marathon finish without about 8 minutes to spare before Victoria crossed the line (1:44’ish- she is awesome!).  I went with Victoria back to the hotel so we could prepare to see Lisa at Mile 12.  Lisa was sending updates so we would be able to run down from the hotel as she passed by.  Shortly before we left Stephanie and Josh came back, which was great; this way, all of us would be there to cheer her on!  As she ran by, she looked happy and strong.  After we saw her we headed back up to the room and I went out for my own run.  I had 7 miles of my own to do and totally wimped out and got on the treadmill.  By the time I was done it was time to shower and get ready to meet Lisa at the finish.

The finish energy was great and we had an awesome spot about 500 feet away with no one blocking our view.  After Lisa crossed the line (4:51!) we headed to the post-race party for a celebratory beer before getting to the hotel and packing up to drive home.

It was a super fast weekend but we had a blast.  And it got me really pumped for the April half-marathon!

sham1

Expo- Lisa and I look so small!sham2

Pre-race!

sham4Post-race!!!

This week, I leave for Mexico.  One of my best friends is getting married and I am one of her bridesmaids.  Currently the weather in New Jersey is 50 and rainy.  In Mexico it is 90 and sunny!  We leave super-duper ridiculously early (think 3am early!) on Thursday morning and I come home Sunday night.  While I am there, I do have to get a run in, but other than that but plans are to relax, relax and relax.  I also plan to take full advantage of my all-inclusive status 🙂

I will definitely post photos when I get back, but until then…happy swimming, biking and running!

 

Why I Ran Philly in 2012

I had signed up for the race in April, thinking it would be a good motivation for me to start running again.  That was a joke.  I was barely running.  Signing up for a race only meant I was barely running AND out $65.  But then summer rolled around and I had some more time on my hands, so every few days I would go for a walk.  Then a jog now and then.  And then eventually, I just started running again.  But it wasn’t far and it DEFINITELY wasn’t fast.  And it wasn’t consistent.  By August, I was supposed to run the Wildwood Half-Marathon, but had only been running about 8-10 miles a WEEK at that point.  So, I bagged that race.  While I was down the shore, lamenting on my inability to get my shit together and just friggen run, I had a major awakening.  Major.

[BACK STORY:

I have a friend Jessica who I have known since high school.  We had some classes together but we really weren’t close until our senior year when we roomed together on a trip to England.  Although we hadn’t gotten close until then, everyone knew Jessica.  Jess was the girl with Cystic Fibrosis.  She was the one too sick to come to school for days at a time.  She was the one so sick over break our junior year, she spent weeks at CHOP and the class took a bus trip to visit her.  She was the one in England who had a lot more to pack than just clothes.  I remember being legit stunned at how much medication she needed on a daily basis.  But man, Jessica lived life.  She definitely didn’t let CF hold her back.   (For those who don’t know, CF is an inherited chronic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system.)

After high school we stayed in touch if we saw each other but it wasn’t until Facebook that we really reconnected.  The best part about getting back in touch was that I found out she was going to be getting a double lung transplant.  And thank God too, because by the time of her transplant, Jessica was a very, very sick girl.  Simple tasks like getting out of bed were simply too much.  The surgery was successful and life completely changed for Jess.  Yeah for new lungs!  By the time our 10 year high school reunion rolled around, Jessica was two months post surgery and looking and feeling fabulous.  The transplant worked!  After the reunion, we definitely got closer.  We talked often, usually emailing back and forth since we lived in different states.  And then came the bad news.  This past Spring after only 2.5 years with her new lungs, Jessica began to experience rejection symptoms.  And the report was not good.  Rejection.  Double rejection.  You see, a lung transplant does not cure CF because the defective gene that causes the disease is in all of the cells in the body, not just in the lungs.  While a transplant does give a person with CF a new set of lungs, the rest of the cells in the body still have the CF and may already be damaged by the disease.  And for Jessica, it was not a slow moving decline.  By the end of summer, doctors determined she was too sick to undergo another transplant. There would be no new lungs.

There…would…be…no…new…lungs.  I don’t have to tell you what that means for Jessica.

END BACK STORY]

So here I am at the shore that hot day in August.  And it just hits me like a ton of bricks.  I have lungs that want to breathe and legs that can run and I better get with the damn program.  Because there are too many Jessica’s out there.  Too many people who would love to run and can’t.  It was time to woman up and run.  I ran the very next day.  And the next weekend.  And slowly, I got began to feel it again.  How it feels to feel good running!  The training was brutal…and not near what it should have been, but come hell or high water I was running that race for Jessica.  And by running for Jessica, that is exactly what I mean.  I started up a page to raise money for The Lung Transplant Foundation (Jessica’s choice) and began telling her story.  She was my reason for running.  I would run for her.

Before I knew it, it was November.  I was far under-trained, my nutrition plan was laughable and I was really unsure of how this race would unfold.  But, I was going to finish.  Fittingly, the night before the race was a Beef and Beer for Jessica, an event I was NOT going to miss.  So it meant a late night…I mean, I wasn’t trained anyway, right!  It was a great night and I got to spend time with Jessica and it was totally worth it.  Between my mom and I, we also won six baskets- BONUS 🙂  While the reason we were there permeated through the night, spirits were high and it was exactly what I needed the night before the race.

I don’t need  to go into a detailed race report.  I’ll just say this:  the first 8 miles, I was having the race of my life.  Then my joke of a nutrition plan started its backfire on me, GU decided it did not in fact get along with my intestinal tract and my stomach interfered with my amazing race.  The last 5.1 miles were a brutal mix of walking, stopping and using way too many portal-pottys.  But nothing was going to keep me from that finish line.  I cried a lot…it was physically painful and emotional.  I just knew I could not stop.  And, many minutes later than I would have liked, I crossed the finish line.  For Jessica.

The first thing I did was email her to let her know I finished!  And she emailed me back to say she was proud of me.  She was proud of me!  She fights for every breath.  I am simply in awe of her spirit, grace and inner fight.

I wish there was more I could do than run a race and raise $1,950 for her foundation of choice.  But all I can do is share her story.  Make people aware of the importance of supporting foundations that are often overlooked.  Lung transplantation is a relatively rare procedure and this area receives little research support from National Institutes of Health or any disease-specific research foundation.  Currently, the Lung Transplant Foundation is researching treatments for chronic lung rejection, but there is no cure.  There. Is. No. Cure.  Jessica is still fighting.  But there are more bad days than good.  And, I know what that means. You know what it means.  She knows what it means.

england1999- Trip to London.  Jess and I are next to each other, front right.

jessica

Jessica and I at our reunion.

jess2Sign my mom made and had through the race!

jess1Ran with this on my back the entire race!

philly1#8 done!

I won’t make this part long.  Here is the link to the page http://www.gofundme.com/1a3cig

I am trying to raise a total of $3,000 in her name to the Lung Transplant Foundation.  I can’t let myself stop just because the race is over.  The race is over, but her fight isn’t and neither is mine.

Notsomuch Swimming, Biking or Running…

As it turns out, the foot pain I was having during the last miles of the marathon…yeah, I broke my foot! 

I had some pain entering around mile 20 but just kept pushing it down and considered it mental.  My foot was a little swollen at mile 23, but I put my shoe back on and kept going.  Very slow, but moving.  And not only did I finish, but I ran the last mile and three quarters.  At the time, I really thought it was just sore from running.  I had no idea the reality!  Turns out, I ran at least 5 miles on a BROKEN FOOT!  So it was back in the boot within three days…every day.  Every minute (except for showering and sleeping) was spent in the damn boot.  I came to HATE the boot.  Even after my Christmas party when my friends lovingly, and drunkenly, bedazzled it for me.  Still. Hated. Boot.

Bedazzled!  And if you are wondering what the heck I am wearing…it was an Ugly Sweater party!

I had plans post-race.  And a lot of them.  I expected to take two weeks or so off from running, but intended to be fully engaged in other workouts and be racing again by the first of the year.  Instead, I had a broken foot.  No working out, period!  This, coupled with some personal things I went through directly following the race, left me somewhat devastated.  I couldn’t work out and I didn’t want to do anything.  Or, I should say…I didn’t want to do anything but be angry and throw pity parties for myself.  I threw lots of these parties (sometimes, still do) and spent a lot of time thinking about what to do next.  It was so hard for me to process that the marathon was over.  I was burnt out but at the same time I was craving to be on the road again.  And I couldn’t.  I really think part of the burnout was going from having such a rigid schedule to having almost no schedule at all.  What I had was a friggen broken foot!

I was in the boot until the second week of January.  But it wasn’t like I could just up and run again.  It was a slow, slow, slow process.  It was another three weeks in a brace and only sneakers for weeks after that.  The first day I wore regular shoes, I was so excited.  My first run was a 1/4 mile.  To date, I still haven’t had a run over three miles at one time.  Most runs are two miles.  I coach softball and run 1/4 mile with my girls every day and once a week we do the mile. 

As for other workouts, I lift.  That is about it.  Lifting. 

I haven’t been outside on a bike since the disaster at Belmar.  I have swam all of three times this year.  Spinning? Nope. Pilates? Nope.

It is April!!!!  Time to snap back into the program over here!!!  I have a 4-mile race planned for the end of this month, but it is highly unlikely I will go through with it.  My main focus is on learning to fit in the workouts that I once so easily made happen.  In the last four months, that time has all been filled and now I need to re-focus and re-balance.  I am going to continue to take it slow.  First re-work pilates into the mix and then swimming.  If I don’t get on the bike at all this year, I will be okay with that.  Seriously.

I do not have any tri’s planned this year.  And I only have two half-marathons planned.   I think I’ll probably do a few relay tri’s, as the swimmer, because I really do love swimming.  The deal is…I really don’t like biking.  Never have.  I tried…for years, and I still don’t like it.   I really want to stick with running this year.  My real focus is on staying healthy (emotionally, mentally and physically) and not getting burnt out.  I have spent three seasons in a row battling some type of injury.  I think that is another reason why breaking my foot set me back so far.  As if the burnout from the marathon wasn’t enough, I was injured yet again.  I feel like I am always in recovery.  I am done with that for right now; I need a year of good running health.

So what have I been doing?  Well, that is another post for another day…