Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Runner DOWN and 4 Words NOT To Say to Someone Going Through a Hard Time

I won't bore you with all the nitty gritty details of this injury. Oh, hell, maybe I will. Because if you are injured you know misery loves company.

So, after three doctor visits and one PT visit, I know I have a severe tear of my hamstring, maybe up to 50%. I was astounded at the bruising, I've never seen anything like that on my body before. Finally, as of yesterday and ten days out from the dreaded fall, I am moving around a bit better and not in so much pain.

Very nice pattern and color scheme. If this were a painting I would call it, "Rocky Mountain Contusion"

I have to tell you - I had prided myself on remaining injuring free for so long with smart training and listening to my body. Then to have this sudden injury that felt very "stupid" and unnecessary was a tough pill to swallow. It took me ten days, lots of wine and Netflix pity parties and many naps to finally surrender to what is going on and to accept I won't run for awhile. One of my favorite races, the Bolder Boulder 10k, is Monday, so of course I'll miss that (but I will get a very expensive t-shirt!). Also, my 50k is out of the question. After many months of training, that's tough, but it is what it is (a phrase I'm not so fond of - sounds dumb - of course it is what it is. What the fuck else would it be??)

I've had a lot of time to think over the past week and a half about why running is so important to me and why it is so hard to fill that void. Why does no other hobby do the trick? Who am I without running?

The thing is - many places of my life feel a bit in flux right now. I am tiring of my job and wondering what my "second act" will be as I get older. My kids need me much less and at this time next year, Ken and I will be empty-nesters. Although in good health, my parents are getting older and are both almost 80.

In all of the uncertainties and stressors of every day life, running is my crutch. It represents strength, perseverance, consistency, predictability, joy, accomplishment. It's my rock and I am lost without it. I don't think knitting, prostituting or playing ping pong would have the same effect.

So, what now?

Well, PT yesterday made me feel like I was doing something. I had dry needling and learned how to tape my leg with the sport's medicine form of duct tape (leuko tape). I can do some very light stretching, strengthening. It's not a lot, but it's something.

My goal now is to be healthy enough to run (slowly) the Ragnar Northwest Passage Relay in mid-July. That gives me about 8 weeks. Our team signed up months ago and if I can do it, I will do it.

In all of the supportive comments I've gotten, one in particular sticks out as not so supportive. I know there are good intentions behind this, but I hate the phrase, "It could be worse!"

Of course it could always be worse. I could have torn both hamstrings while getting robbed and struck by lightening. It can always also be better.  "It could be worse" dismissive and minimizing. Why not just stay, "Sorry, that sucks" and move on?

Believe me I realize that my injury is very minor in the scope of things, but it is MY injury and it alters MY life and I'm allowed to have a response to that. No, I'm not going to sit around crying about it for the next few months, but just because it could be worse - does that mean I can't respond with anger, sadness and frustration?

Well, there you go. That's my update/vent. On the bright side, Heidi and I have had amazing experiences at the hospital (hospice) this week and last. The healing effect that dogs have on people is phenomenal. She is such a gift.

How do you fill the running void when you're injured?

Best/worst comments you've gotten when you're going through a hard time?

Do you volunteer anywhere? If so, where?


Monday, May 14, 2018

F*ck! I Fell and Tore My Hamstring. Now What?

I guess I'm ready to tell you this. But it pains me!

I am so pissed off and in the throes of a pity party. Just last week I was telling you how swimmingly training was going. My body was adapting to every thing I was throwing at it. Nothing hurt. I basically felt great and excited for my June 2nd 50k.

On Friday I had a 3 mile run on the schedule as a shake out before a huge weekend of running big  miles in the mountains. I was literally a 1/4 mile from my home, cruising along on a gorgeous spring day listening to Highway to Hell (appropriate I guess) and minding my own business. Then, IT happened. I don't even know what IT is exactly, but next thing I knew I was falling and falling hard. I tried to catch myself with my left leg to stop me, all the while ripping my hamstring then skidding to a halt on the road as I took on some nasty road rash on my palms, elbow and right leg.

It hurt so bad.

I got myself to the side of the road, gasping for air, not know what the hell I had just done to my body. A nice lady in a minivan (I don't know why it matters it was a minivan. she was probably a mom) stopped to ask if I needed help. Truth is, I really did, but I was so shaken up that I just needed a minute to be alone so I waved her off. For the longest time I sat there, afraid to even try to walk. I had my phone with me, so I could have called someone, but thought I could make it the short ways home on my own two feet. MARTYR.

Walking was a disaster of hobbling, crying and wincing in pain. I don't know what I was more upset about - the pain or the thought of what I had done and what that would mean.

I thought if I got home an quickly iced my leg, took an NSAID and rested I'd be fine. No go. The pain was awful and I knew I needed a doctor. So, Ken came home and took me in. An hour and an ultra sound later, it was confirmed there was a tear in my hamstring. Not the worst possible tear, but a tear nonetheless. I was sent home to lay on the couch iwth ice and compression for the weekend. The doctor told me the injury would "declare itself" (<dramatic doctor speak) within 48 hours, meaning we really wouldn't know what we were dealing with until Monday.

A very small sample of the damage

This made for a long weekend of FOMO, reading (I've been devouring a great book called Born Survivors, not uplifting but really good), watching The Crown, Lifetime and the movie Girls Trip, eating, drinking wine and sleeping. Oh and Cheetos.

Today I woke up worse with a swollen thigh and a big bruise on the inside of my leg where the tear is. Another ultrasound confirmed that the tear was a bit worse than originally thought. I'm still in a fair amount of pain with walking and sitting. Humbling to say the least.

The doc gave me an option of PRP (platelet rich plasma injection) but it's not covered by insurance and is $550. Yeah, no. I'm not some elite athlete. I just need to recover like a commoner. Doc said they cannot do a steroid injection on an acute injury or it can cause further damage and compromise the muscle.

So, my race is less than three weeks away. It's likely I won't be participating, but I will if I can. Hamstrings can be stubborn to repair and heal. Once I can walk and do stairs without pain, I can get on the bike. In  the meantime...UGH!!

I've been here before. But, my past running injuries were all overuse and I could feel them coming on. I haven't been injured in years!! This was like running into a brick wall with no notice or mental preparation.

I know there are worse things in life and I'm working on getting perspective. Right now I'm just sad and mad and humbled. But, I do know life goes on.

I don't know why I think it would be better somehow if I had fallen over a root or trip on a rock going down a mountain. Somehow the stupidity of biting it right by my house on a smooth road makes me feel even worse. It could have been easily avoided.

While I say I don't know what happened, that's not entirely true. Right before running on Friday I had watched a video that did a gait analysis of Shalane Flannigan's stride/form. Believe me I was not trying to run like Shalane. I know better than that. But I was trying to incorporate one tip, which was to look further ahead while running to keep good posture. I think I took that to an extreme and it threw me off especially since I was doing this on a downhill.

Lesson learned.

Here's what injuries give us (can you tell I'm looking for a silver lining?) - they help us to slow down. They make us evaluate what we are beyond runners. They give us the perspective to know there will always be another race.

And, they piss us off and make us bitchy, but oh well.

Last injury you had or currently have?

Number one tip for making it through? For me I do what I CAN do. Once I can bike/swim I'll do that. I also try to take advantage of the extra time I have when not running to be productive and gain insight. And I drink wine and talk to friends who can commiserate.


Tuesday, May 8, 2018

50k Training: What I'm Wearing, Eating and Running

I'm sitting here eating cheese and yawning. What are you doing?

I haven't talked about my training much for this 50k (32 miles) on June 2, but just because I didn't brag out it, doesn't mean it didn't happen (double negative - sorry - I can do what I want on my blog). Actually, I have talked about it, just not on the blog. But on Instagram it's been a crazy party, so follow me HERE.

Suffice it to say that since February I've literally been running over mountains, through valleys and across streams. I've gotten really good at power hiking, squatting behind trees and breathing very loudly. "Fuck" has become a regular part of my vocabulary, especially when I look at an upcoming climb and wonder how I will muster up the energy to get to the top of it. Somehow I always do. I've found a tribe who pushes me without even knowing it (this basically means that they don't slow down, they are tough as nails and I want to be like them so I keep moving forward).

To give you a taste, here's the profile of Sunday's 12 mile run:
That climb up to mile 8 is one we call "Oh, for fuck's sake"

12 doesn't seem so far, but when you add in 3,500 feet of climbing, it's a lung and ass buster. This course is part of the 50k I'm doing, so it was good practice. We started at about 8,000 feet and wound are way through snow and across a stream no less than 15 times. All of this to say, trail running and road running have very little in common except for the running part. Everything else is different (the terrain, the muscles used, the strategy involved on the technical parts, etc).

How I'm fueling:  My stomach has been holding up really well as long as I drop the kids off at the pool before my run (aka pinch off a loaf aka drop a deuce). During the run, I've been inhaling whole wheat tortillas with smashed avocado and sea salt, Bobo Bars, GUs and Honey Stinger Chews. I've been getting really hungry on the run and since sometimes I'm out there for 5+ hours I've had to be careful about packing enough.

Image result for bobo barsGU Energy Gel - Single Serving - Salted Watermelon (20mg caffeine)Image result for honey stinger chews

Supplements I'm taking: Not much. I sometimes take Sport Legs before a run and usually a few Salt Stick tabs before and during depending on how hot it is. I don't tend to drink an electrolyte drink while I run (just water) so I supplement with those. I've also been taking an amino acid (ARO3x Amino) after runs for recovery.

Image result for salt stickImage result for aro3x amino plusSportlegs Capsules One Color, One Size

Miles I'm running: Typically it's been 45-55 miles per week. There's always a speed work out at some point and back to back long runs on the weekend. Last weekend was a 22 mile run on Saturday and a 12 mile run on Sunday. All of my long runs incorporate lots of climbing (2,200 feet to 6,000 feet) and are at elevation (anywhere from 6,000 feet to 9,000 feet). The race starts at 8,100 feet with the highest point being 9,500 feet with a total of 7,250 in elevation gain, so I want to be prepared.

Gear I'm using:

Hydration PackOrange Mud Endurance Pack VL
Trail ShoesSalomon Speed Cross 4
Road Shoes: Nike Women RN Free
Sunglasses: Oakley and Goodr
Socks: Balega (I love the Blister Resist socks)
WatchEpson Runsense sf 810 (I was using a TomTom Spark, but the battery life is too short. The Epson can go for up to 13 hours/GPS without being charged).
Shorts/shirts: Whatever is clean
Image result for goodrSalomon Speedcross 4 Trail Running Shoe - Women's-Blue/Blue/Green-Medium-10.5 USBalega Women's Enduro No Show - 7455, Large / Mid Grey/Sherbet Pink

Plan I'm using: I'm using the 50k plan from Krissy Moehl's Running Your First Ultra. I highly recommend this book. It has training plans for 50k to 100 milers and incorporates lots of wisdom about workouts, fueling, injuries and recovery.

My goals for the race: Based on what those in my age group (50-59) did last year, I'm expecting to finish in 7 1/2 to 8 hours. The climbing in this race is no joke and it will be hot. The winner in my age group did it in 7:50 last year, with the first woman coming in at 5:50.

So there you have it. If you care. I've said it before and I'll say it again - one of the best things about running is there is always a new adventure around the corner. It never, ever gets boring. If I'm lacking challenge and excitement in other areas of my life, I know I can find it with running.

What's your go-to fueling during a run? 

Which do you prefer - trails or roads? Depends on where it is. I love Colorado trails but also like a nice country road

Favorite piece of running gear?