Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Love, Peace, and Happiness

Jane took a week off from everything after her Ironman and has started back slowly--some running, swimming, and biking (not much, considering what she was doing in her Ironman training), and also yoga. I've started her on a weight training program to work on her strength. I also have talked her into trying to get into the Nike Free's. She has issues with her feet--shooting pain under her toes, tendinopathy in her achilles where it attaches to her heel, and had pain in one knee during her Ironman training--wears orthotics and a heel lift and very cushioned shoes... and still has those problems.

So, I decided that after her Ironman, if she was willing, we should try the minimal approach with shoes, and work on strengthening her feet. She got some Nike Free's and started out just walking in them. Now, she's running about 40 minutes every other day in them and... so far so good. No problems! It's still too soon to tell, but wouldn't it be great if it works!

Mari-Lee had an awesome race two weeks ago. Her goal event is the Miami Marathon January 31st. She started training in August and ran the Palm Beach Marathon as part of her training... and ran it in less than a minute off her PR marathon time! Along with the marathon training, she has been working with a trainer at her gym, doing running-specific exercises.

I feel I am progressing in my physical therapy. Still have pain, but I am determined to work through it till I am completely pain-free. I will be going to the Midwest for the holidays, so will have to do what I can on my own with the exercises. I have a stability ball and resistance bands I can take along when we go to John's mom's for Christmas, and the fitness room at our condo in Milwaukee has adequate equipment. I won't be able to get outside much, it's just really difficult to walk... really icy.

Probably won't get a chance to blog for a while--kids are coming in and I am having the family at our place for Christmas on Sunday. We will fly to Wisconsin on Tuesday. Then Wednesday take the train from Milwaukee to Omaha, and drive from there to Sioux City... an 11-hour journey. It will be an adventure, more fun than driving! Christmas in Sioux City then back to Milwaukee the following week.

Wishing everyone a joyous holiday with love, peace, and happiness!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Yard Work: The Perfect Cross-Training

Physical therapy is going well, but I still hurt. John ran me through his tests again on Friday. The muscles of my left hip/leg, especially the abductors and adductors, are so much weaker than the right... I didn't realize how much till now, going through the tests. I think this really shows how runners must cross-train in some way. Running is so limited in movement direction... all forward and back. Trail running helps because it does make you have to move in different directions somewhat; but I think you still need more.

I had the perfect cross-training when I first began running 17 years ago. I worked in the landscaping industry, first in the office then--because I felt I could do the work--out in the field, for 12 years. Digging, raking, planting, lifting, bending, stretching, twisting, pushing, pulling... it was a great workout! And such a sense of accomplishment when you finished! At the time, I did no cross-training--didn't need it.

Those days ended when I married my present husband and began traveling between South Florida and Wisconsin. I didn't realize how good the working outside was for me till now... both physically and mentally. I miss it.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

PT - I Have Hope!

The physical therapy is great! I've had two sessions and go again tomorrow.

On Friday (first session), John (the therapist) put me through all his testing and we found out just how weak my left hip muscles and hamstrings are! So, we need to isolate those muscles and strengthen them. I started out pretty easy on Friday, but today I worked a lot harder. After the session they put electrical stimulation on the places that hurt (piriformis and hamstring tendons) along with an ice pack around my hip. I also have specific exercises to do every day at home.

I am walking for an hour or two every day also. It's okay--not running. I have my ipod playing and just kinda relax for that time. And I really think this is going to help. I feel better already, but I've been taking naproxen for two weeks, so...

Anyway, I feel John, the PT, knows what he's doing, and I have hope!

Well, I will be very busy with cooking for Thanksgiving, and visiting with family for the next few days. Looking forward to spending time with my kids!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Piriformis Syndrome and PT

I decided not to wait two weeks before going to a doctor; saw an orthopedic surgeon on Wednesday. First, let me say that I've had ongoing pain since the hip surgery over two years ago, after almost three months of physical therapy and both the surgeon and PT giving me the okay to start running again (see first blog - Aug 16 '09). The pain would not be too bad, but would get worse as I would try to move up my mileage and/or speed. So, I would back off a while and start again, only to be stopped by the pain again. I saw an orthopedic surgeon in Wisconsin who told me to stop running and take Aleve for a month, then start back again slowly. I did that. My hip/leg eventually blew up again. A few months later, I saw an orthopedic surgeon in South Florida who told me to stop running and take Aleve for a month, then start back again slowly. I did it again. Hip/leg eventually blew up again. For the past year and a half I have been going through this cycle.

The doctor I saw on Wednesday thinks my problem is piriformis syndrome. I have piriformis tendinitis, high hamstring tendinopathy, sciatica, and some hip bursitis. AND, he told me something new. After explaining everything to him and him examining me, my movement, flexibility, what hurts when... (the two other doctors barely touched me--very poor examination)... he said that they are seeing people who have had hip arthroscopic surgery (like me) who develop this piriformis syndrome; people who haven't been rehabbed correctly after surgery.

Soooo, he prescribed aggressive PT for the next eight weeks, AND I am seeing a PT who is a runner who treats runners. YAY! I have hope!! And, it makes sense... I have been able to run just fine for miles and miles with not too much trouble or pain, and then not be able to run at all for four or five days--too much pain.

Anyway, I go tomorrow to my first PT session, so I will let you know!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Don't Worry, Be Happy...

I came across this video on YouTube...
remarkable, very inspiring..

Just wanted to share...

Monday, November 9, 2009

Training Smart

If I'm running in pain, that's not "running to joy," is it. It's running to run.

My leg has been starting to hurt all the time again... So, I've decided to take two weeks off, see what happens. If it still hurts, I'll see a doctor. But for now, no running. Rest... that's hard.

Jane's Ironman was Saturday. She did it! She finished, though the race volunteers kinda screwed things up for her... One of her bags with her (plastic) water bottles filled with her sports drinks was tossed around by them so carelessly that the bottles broke, and so she had none of the sports drinks that she had trained with. Then when she finished the bike and was going to start the run, she was supposed to get another bag with her gels, aspirin, a shirt... They couldn't find it, and realized they gave it to someone else! So, she was freezing because it was now night and she had on only her sleeveless tri-suit that she had been sweating in for the last 6 1/2 hours; she didn't have her Gu's or her pain meds, which really help at that point. Anyway, I think she could have been finished at least a half hour before if she had had her drinks, Gu's, pain meds, and shirt. But she is still very happy... she trained hard, but smart. Followed her schedule with minor changes here and there, and took recovery time when she felt she needed it. She listened to her body...

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Back in Florida... Running Barefoot (or almost)

It's nice to be back in SoFL. I had a fantastic run in the park this morning, on the trails in my Vibram FiveFingers. It has cooled down just a bit and is slightly less humid (but is still pretty hot and humid--just the way I like it!) I also got a pair of Nike Free's for Florida. They are a newer model than the ones I have in Wisconsin, fit slightly different, but are fine.

I found this video on YouTube of Christopher McDougall; he talks about running and his book Born to Run.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Nike Free

Thinking about the Nike Free, and how it didn't fit me... I thought I would try again, going up another half size. The first time I tried them, they were okay length-wise but too small width-wise, so I thought if I got a half size larger they would be too long. Well, I got them, the larger size, and wore them on Saturday, and they are great! They seemed a little long when I put them on, but they are okay running. In fact, they fit like a glove in the back and instep; my foot does not move at all in them.

My new Nike Free's

I have been doing my resistance workouts twice a week (not three times a week). I have a hard time getting myself to do it, but once I do, it makes me feel better... stronger.

I go home to Florida tomorrow. A cool front went through while I have been gone... right on schedule--mid-October. Instead of being in the low 90's, it's now mid to upper 80's and less humid... beautiful!! I am soooo looking forward to it! It is so hit and miss here. Today it is raining again, and I just can't get myself to go out and run in the cold rain. Elliptical again today.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Fall in Wisconsin

I was in southern California last weekend, L.A. It was unseasonably hot--low 90's! Those people were not happy! The older homes do not have air conditioning, so it gets very hot in the house when it's so hot outside. I only ran once while I was there... decided to enjoy the kids (my daughter and her husband) and give it a break.

I didn't even run when I got back to Wisconsin--it was cold and rainy for two days. We got a little respite on Wednesday, so I went out and ran a nice, easy 10 miles. 60 degrees, sun peeking out from behind the clouds now and then, and no wind (that's the most important part). It is definitely fall here in Wisconsin. The leaves on the trees are gold and orange, red and yellow, and falling.

My running path in Wisconsin in October...

But it lasted only one day. Back to cold rain, wind... and the elliptical.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Cold in Wisconsin, Two-a-Day's, and the Beach

It's Sunday and I am in Wisconsin, flew in from South Florida on Friday. It's cold here, three in the afternoon and only 39 degrees! SoFL has had record high temperatures the past week (low 90's) so this is taking some getting used to! I did go for a short run yesterday morning, dressed appropriately (for me, anyhow)--two long-sleeved shirts, tights, hat and gloves. I came upon a young woman running in Vibram FiveFingers, and I just had to talk to her about them! She's been wearing them a few months, she said, and really likes them. She was doing some quarter mile intervals on the pavement in them. I didn't get to talk to her long because her watch went off signalling her to do another one. Pretty cool!

This past week in Florida, I did more trail-running in the park in mine, plus a few barefoot beach runs. And last Sunday morning I met up with Jane after she had run about 40 minutes, to finish her long run with her. Her schedule called for a run of two hours and forty minutes. We had planned that she would run an hour before I joined her, but she got a late start. I did not really know how much I was going to run--was just going to run how I felt. Well, I did the rest of the run with her, a little more than two hours, which was around twelve and a half miles or so for me. It was slow, but it didn't matter. She just had to get the time in on her feet, I just wanted to run as long as I could, and we both enjoyed the time spent with each other.

Back in the "good old days" when Jane and I were doing our hard marathon training, we would do "two-a-days" once a week (and occasionally twice a week) to get our mileage up. We would do seven miles at 5:30 in the morning, get our kids off to school, go to work and work all day, then meet again at 5:30 that evening for another seven miles. We typically would have done a speedwork session on Tuesday with a total of ten to twelve miles, recovery run on Wednesday, a two-a-day (seven in the morning and seven in the evening) on Thursday, off Friday, then a 20-mile long run on Saturday. Those were the good old days!

On Thursday, I did a two-a-day: four miles in the park in the morning in my "froggy feet" (that's what Jane has dubbed my Vibram FiveFingers), then another four miles on the beach late that afternoon. Not exactly like the old days, but the same idea, I guess--getting some more miles in but giving your body a little recovery time in between.

The beach was littered with "moon jellies," a kind of jellyfish that's very common in SoFL. They get stranded on the beach, and the waves can break them into pieces.

A moon jelly on the beach...

Up on the dunes, the sea grapes and beach grasses separate the beach from the road. Here is a beach daisy amongst the sea grapes and grasses...

I didn't bring my "froggy feet" to Wisconsin. I run mostly on a paved "rails-to-trails" path, and I don't think I'm ready for pavement in them. And, besides, the forecast here is continued cold and rain this week. I'm a Florida girl--rather run in heat and humidity than cold rain any day! So, I'll probably do a little less running, more gym work for a while.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Running Barefoot

Okay, so this is about the best thing that's happened in a loooong time in my running.

First of all, before I had surgery on my hip, I would run on the beach barefoot at least once a week. Let me tell you something... my most very favorite place to run is the beach. I love running on the beach! Well, I have been avoiding running on the beach because I figured it would be terribly stressful for my hip and I should not be stressing anything. Then yesterday, I decided I would run on the beach, because, I mean, what the heck, after all the babying I've given my hip/leg... I still hurt.

So, yesterday I did five wonderful miles on the beach--it was great!

My favorite place to run... on the beach

I got the Vibram FiveFingers... and they are just fantastic!!

Ran three miles in them over at the park on the trails--no problem, and I think... I think... because running in them forces me to land midfoot--or even forefoot--that my body stays directly over my feet as I run. I take very quick, short strides, and my pace is slow, but I think it's correcting my form, and eventually the pace will just naturally pick up. It feels like you are barefoot; that is, you really don't feel them on your feet. They protect the bottoms of your feet, but you do feel any bumps you land on. I did not do too much on pavement; will work up to that.

My Vibram FiveFingers... ugly! but very cool!!

Growing up, my childhood was actually perfect for this running that I love to do. I grew up in the Midwest, and as soon as school was out for the summer, we were barefoot. We got a pair of flipflops (we called them "thongs" back then) and a pair of white canvas "tennies" (Keds tennis shoes) that we would wear if we had to wear shoes. But, mostly, we played and went everywhere barefoot. All the kids did. Our days were spent playing outside--jump rope, hopscotch, riding our bikes, swimming at the local pool... and at night we played running games--tag, freeze tag, kick the can, and the like. All barefoot.

When I first began running, it was on the beach, barefoot. I was 37 years old, and enjoyed long walks on the beach. One day I just decided to run a little bit... and that was pretty much it. At the time, I was walking about three miles a day (not just on the beach). I would run as far as I could and then walk; then run again, and walk. After a couple months I could finally run the whole three miles without walking... then I felt I could run forever. I continued my beach runs at least once a week throughout my years of training.

My very first ultra was a 55k in England in 2000, the Dartmoor Discovery 55k. Down in southwest England, the moors are the setting for the Sherlock Holmes books. It's very bleak up on the moors--cool, misty, and kind of barren; not the lush green you think of when you think of the English countryside. And quite hilly. Long hills, steep hills. As there are no hills--none!--in South Florida, I decided that running on the soft sand of the beach might help build strength to help me run those hills in Dartmoor. I worked up to running 10 miles on the sand, then putting my shoes on and running up to the bridge over the intracoastal and running back and forth across that for about an hour or so.

Race day was the first week of June, 52 degrees and raining. I stood on the starting line with a hundred other runners, mostly men, thinking, "What am I doing here?" But, you know what? Once you start running, it is what it is. You are doing what you love to do, and whatever comes your way--be it the rain, the cold, the steep uphills, the long downhills, or... the wild ponies and the sheep grazing along side the road, and the sun coming out down in the clean little villages with the people standing on the side clapping and telling you, "Well done!"--you take it all in... and that's joy...

Photos of Dartmoor National Park
View across Dartmoor


the 'Dartmoor Inn'

And then there was my first 50-miler up in Central Florida in the Withlacoochee Forest on the Croom Trail in April of 2002. A few weeks before, I had run a trail 50k over in Sarasota. There were several stands of water (knee-deep) on the trail that we had to wade through (couldn't go around, saw palmettos and such on both sides), as there had been lots of rain in the week before the race. The course was an out and back seven times, and everyone's shoes were constantly wet. (Stay with me here; there's a reason I'm telling this.)

I won the women's overall in that race, and was met at the finish by none other than 92-year-old Johnny Kelley of Boston Marathon fame!! He and his wife used to winter there in Sarasota and somehow the club that put on the race had persuaded them to come. After the race, I washed my shoes, set them out to dry, and did not wear them till I put them on that Saturday morning of my first 50-miler. Boy, was that stupid! At the time, I was in the habit of getting to races at the last possible minute before the start. I had put my shoes on in the car on the way to the start, which was at 5:00 am. When I put my shoes on, I had to loosen them up to get them on (they were kinda shrunken from being washed in the washer), and tied them up, not giving it a second thought. I (stupidly) did no running in them before the start of the 50-miler. I did not realize that they were too loose on my feet. Getting to the start area, I got all my stuff ready (water bottle, Gu's, s-caps, Clip, aspirin), went to the bathroom a couple times, and we were off and running.

The Croom Trail in the Withlacoochee Forest in Central Florida is hilly and sandy. Not terribly big hills, but hills just the same, and sandy. Well, with my shoes kinda loose on my feet, on the downhills my feet would slide down and my toes would bang against the ends of my shoes. The 50-miler is three loops around the trail, with several series of ups and downs each loop. After a couple loops of the "downs" my toes started to really hurt. That's not so unusual; everyone who does marathons and ultras gets bruised toes. Well, then they started to really hurt, and it got so bad, that I just couldn't run anymore, hurt too much. I kept trying to run and couldn't; walked, tried to run again, and couldn't. Finally, I sat down on the trail and pulled off my shoes. My toes were a bloody mess! On inspection, I found that five of my toenails were actually completely off the nail bed, and three others were just hanging on. But, what else I found was... that it was such a relief not to have my shoes on!

I knew I was not far from the next aid station, so I picked up my shoes and started running. It felt so good to have my toes free! It was about a mile to the aid station. When I got there, my feet were filthy, a mess! I sat down in a chair and the woman who looked at them asked if I was going to quit or keep going. It was another seven miles to the finish, and she said it wouldn't do any good for her to try to clean them up if I was going to keep going.

As I had not been running very much over the last six or seven miles, I actually felt pretty good... so I decided to keep going, barefoot. The Croom Trail is mostly sand and soft dirt; no rocks, but there are parts that do have lots of roots. Those were the killers--catching a toe on a root! But I finished, and won the women's masters title! Ran the last eight miles of my first 50-miler barefoot!

The Croom Trail in the Withlacoochee Forest...

Croom Hiking Trail

Croom Hiking Trail

(The photo at the bottom of my blog is me on the Croom Trail.)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Staying in the Present

Did I say I was going to slow down, cut my miles, and work on my strength? Well, I am getting the opportunity to do just that. And along the way, I am getting to practice some life lessons; you know... the ones about living in the present, letting go of the past, and not worrying about the future?

I took my baby grandson out for his first run in the babyjogger on Saturday morning. What joy! The park is almost completely shaded, and the babyjogger rides easily over the mulched trails, but it is still quite a workout pushing that thing over the trails. We just did 20 minutes for our first time out, and it was slow!

In the park...

Then on Sunday, I ran with Jane. Her training schedule called for one hour and five minutes of easy running, and that's what we did. She has had a couple of hard weeks of training for her Ironman and this run was a recovery run, so it was nice and slow. But it was just great being out there and seeing everyone again, jabbering with Jane all the way down the road and back... staying in the 'now' and havin' fun!

Babysat again Monday and Tuesday, and 15 minutes in the babyjogger in the park. Over to the playground to swing--he loves that! Then another 10 minutes home. Not very much running, but, I tell you, there's nothing like a baby to keep you in the present!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Born To Run - from Discover Online

I found this article from 2006 online. Christopher Mcdougall uses this research in his book Born to Run:

Born To Run

Monday, September 14, 2009

Your Injury IS Your Training ~Plato

I am changing the schedule... to no schedule. I got waaaaay ahead of myself: long runs, 30/30's, pace runs... What was I thinking?!

I love having a schedule. I love making a schedule. I love following a schedule. I have not had a schedule for years because of my hip/leg.

Six weeks ago my hip/leg was feeling a little bit better so I ran that 5k. Before that I had no schedule... running real easy, mostly on soft trails, not more than about seven miles at the longest, and maybe five days a week, for several months. I was also doing a resistance workout routine twice a week that I devised for myself. Having a good race and not hurting so much, well... I got carried away: "I can train for a marathon!"

I stopped doing the resistance workout I was doing, because I was now training, and started following the resistance exercises in Matt Fitzgerald's book Brain Training for Runners. There is nothing wrong with the exercises (they are designed for complementing your marathon training), but I now realize that I was not ready for those, and that I still need to do a lot of strengthening, until my pain is completely gone.

"You have to become a strong person before you can be a strong runner." That's from a book I just finished reading, a fascinating book called Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. It takes the reader through McDougall's journey to the Copper Canyons of Mexico, the Tarahumara tribe of "superathletes," and "the greatest race the world has never seen." Recommended reading for everyone, in my opinion, not just those of us who love to run. McDougall knows how to tell a story, with lots of historical, anthropological, running, and scientific info mixed in.

What both books talk a lot about is running form and how modern running shoes not only don't help us in running, but hurt us. Fitzgerald and McDougall both advocate getting as close to running barefoot as possible. We need to strengthen our feet, not support them with stability and motion control devices and tons of cushioning. You want your foot to have to work a little, so that the muscles get strong. Also, wearing shoes while running allows you to land on your heel, which you do naturally when you walk. But when you run barefoot, you naturally land midfoot (otherwise you hurt your heel). Landing midfoot helps keep your feet directly under your body, helps keep you from overstriding, reducing chances of injury.

For a running shoe, Matt recommends Nike's "Nike Free" model, which I tried but, as with most Nike models I've tried, found it way too narrow for my foot. What I did find was the Nike Zoom Moire. It fits my wide foot and is relatively support-free and thin-soled. Both authors recommend running in Vibram Fivefingers. These were originally made for water sports--sailing, kayaking, and such. With their thin rubber soles and glove-like fit, they are supposed to be the closest thing to being barefoot without actually being barefoot.

I first saw this Nike ad for their "Nike Free" posted on Facebook by a running friend; it's very clever, as Nike ads always are, and fun :

Matt also recommends techniques for working on your form, such as: falling forward--leaning forward from your ankles (not your waist or hips) when you run as if you were falling and catching yourself; navel to spine--pulling your navel in toward your spine as you run, which engages the deep abdominal muscles; counting your strides--the best runners do about 180 strides per minute.

Looking at it differently, then, I guess if I was not hurt, I would not be trying these other methods, and maybe, just maybe, my running will be better than it would have been.

So, I will run how I feel (wearing my Nike Moires), work on my form, do my resistance workouts three times a week, and get strong.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Catching Up

South Florida was a whirlwind... home for hair and doctor appointments and babysitting my grandson while his mama was away. I did get a chance to run with my best running partner Jane.

Jane is amazing. She is training for her first Ironman, works long hours but always gets her training in. I promised to do some of her running training with her. We did a little more than eight very easy miles that Sunday after my easy trail runs. My hip/leg was fine for the most part.

Took the next three days off completely--Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday--no running, no elliptical, no swimming, no biking, nothing. (Babysat Monday and Tuesday; flew to Wisconsin, then drove with John up to northern Wisconsin on Wednesday.) You would think the time off would help my hip/leg.

But no... on the island the next day, Thursday, I went out for a run and it about killed me. Granted, there are rolling hills, and I took the downhills much too fast, but come on, they were rolling hills, not anything steep! My hip/leg blew up again. So, instead of running, I enjoyed the rest of our island time and the beautiful weather biking and hiking, and working with John on our untouched, wooded shorefront property for the weekend.

On the island...
John on the rock beach

Looking up from the beach into the woods

Sunset over the water through the trees

Back home in Milwaukee on Monday, I was able to run again, short and easy runs all week. We have had gorgeous weather for September in Wisconsin--sunny and mid-70's, just beautiful! How could I not run?

Saturday, August 29, 2009


That's what they say... Listen to your body. Okay, well.. I thought it was saying, "You can do it! Forget the pain. You're back! Let's go!" But, if I would have gone a little deeper I would have heard, "You're doing well, but you still have pain, so you need to take more recovery time. You can do this; you just need to remember you're not where you were. You are where you are." How about that for profound. Haha!

So, I did too much. So, I back off. Regroup. Recharge...

The schedule was a bit too ambitious.

After the nice run with the strides last Thursday, I went out Friday for an easy six miles. Well, before I knew it I was doing under 9's, and ended up doing four miles at marathon pace (what my 5k race time predicts my marathon pace would be). It felt so good! But afterwards I was hurting.

Took Saturday off, 45 minutes on the elliptical. Tried to run on Sunday, hurt too much, cut the run short. Again on Monday, tried to run but again, hurt too much and I cut out. Took Tueday and Wednesday off, very discouraged, but... reminding myself that this has happened before and all I need to do is take a few days off and start again. And how do you know if you've done too much until you do too much? Listen. Listen deep.

Back in South Florida, it is hot! Perfect for taking some down time! Jog/walk in the park on the trails on Thursday morning--beautiful! Friday off. And this morning, again, jog about 3 1/2 miles on the trails, then jog/walk another couple miles. Enjoy the woods, enjoy the fresh air and the waterway and the sun and the people I see in the park... Listen--not to my ego.. go deeper--to my heart.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Recovery and Communion

Wednesday was recovery day after the 15 miles on Tuesday. I walked to our local grocery store to get food for dinner. That was a mile there and a mile back. I also went an hour easy on the elliptical in the fitness room. Thursday, I went out for an easy 6 miles with some strides thrown in. I didn't think I would be able to do it when I started out. I was hurting. But three miles into the run (yes, three miles of "warmup"), I began to loosen up and was able to do six 30-second controlled strides.

Getting old isn't fun. Turning 50 was terribly difficult for me--menopause (Ohmigosh!) and all sorts of health issues that seemed to come out of nowhere. But now, as I am heading toward 60, it seems to all be getting a little easier, a little gentler, and more... joyous! Instead of fighting it, I am learning to accept, and enjoy, the process. I am settling in to being a middle-aged woman, who is healthy and, yes, happy.

In the running world, getting older means slowing down--slower race times, more recovery time and longer warmups needed. But all your running friends are getting older too, so the slowing down doesn't really matter. The road racing community devised a pretty neat thing when it started providing recognition for age groups. Motivation for staying in the game! We now realize that "competition" means helping each other be the best we can be. It brings us together. And that's what it's all about, isn't it?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

I Love It!

Went out for a 12-mile run and ended up doing a little more than 15! Feeling pretty good at 12, I thought I would just keep going another half-mile or so before heading back. A water fountain I was counting on to fill up my water bottle wasn't working. I really needed more water, so I looped around to one I had filled up at earlier, and that added the extra miles. The last mile was a very slow jog, but okay! It is just a beautiful day--sunny and warm, not too hot! Saw two bunnies and lots of different birds on my run. I was out there for almost two and a half hours and it was wonderful!

On my run in Wisconsin...
On My Run...

"I just started running and I love it!!" Barb told me when I saw her last week. We met a couple months ago. She turns 50 soon.

That's exactly how I felt when I first began running at age 37. When I could finally run three miles without stopping, I felt like I could run forever. It was fun! It made me feel like a kid. I felt pure joy when I ran--and that's when I first used "run2joy." It was 1991, e-mail was new, and I thought up "run2joy" for my screen name. My kids were all devising clever little screen names, so I did too.

Monday, August 17, 2009

I'm Training - Yay!!

I'm going to train. I may have to quit, but I am going to begin. The successful 5k on Saturday tells me I can do it.

Starting today, I've set out a schedule for completing the Miami Marathon in 24 weeks, using Matt Fitzgerald's Brain Training for Runners, Jack Daniels' Running Formula, my RRCA coaching classes, and my own knowledge and experience.

No time goal, just finish. Walking is okay.

From my first marathon in 1993 at age 39, and my first ultra in 2000, to my last marathon and ultra (Miami, 2004, Croom 50-Mile, 2004), I completed over 30 marathons and ultras. Now, at age 55, five years after my last marathon and ultra, I'm finally training again!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

What the Heck is Wrong With Me?! and My Return to Running

Okay, so I ran my first race in over three years yesterday. Just a local 5k... but I won my age group!
Irish Fest 5k

The last race I ran was a 5k, April 8, '06. I had decided if I couldn't run long I would train for 5k's. My best friend and training partner Jane and I started training end of January of that year. Trained with the pain in my hip and managed to run a 4-miler and a 5k in March fairly well. But the 5k in April was too much; my leg blew up and, once again, I stopped running.

It wasn't a running injury that stopped me, though I didn't know it at the time. A disease called synovial chondromatosis had settled in my left hip joint. It's kinda rare and will usually only affect one joint. They don't know why it happens, but the thinking now (according to my surgeon) is that it is caused by a virus. The synovial lining of the joint becomes inflamed and then over time produces little nodules of cartilage that then float around in the joint. This would normally show up on an MRI and even an x-ray. Over the next five years, I had numerous x-rays, six MRI's, and a bone scan. The synovial chondromatosis was never seen, though other injuries were diagnosed because I began compensating for the pain in my hip and developed an abnormal gait.

The pain and locking in my hip started in early 2003. From then till I finally had surgery on August 10, 2007, I would stop running, see a doctor, be diagnosed with various injuries--herniated lumbar disks, bursitis in my hip, high hamstring tendinopathy, inflammation in my external rotators--go through physical therapy, start running again just to be stopped in my tracks and go through the whole thing again. I would stop running for two-three months at a time, but the pain in my hip would never go a way.

The pain became so bad the spring and summer of '07 I could hardly walk. My whole leg ached all the time. Went to an orthopedic surgeon, had an MRa, with a dye injection; still nothing showed in the hip joint. But it did show a tear in my gluteus medius tendon. Physical therapy for that and after telling the PT my symptoms, he tested me for a labral tear of the cartilage in the hip joint. He said I tested positive for that and talked to the surgeon about it. Arthroscopic surgery three weeks later, supposed to last about an hour. When I woke up, my husband John said to me, "It wasn't what they thought." I had been in surgery over two hours, my leg in traction--the hip bone pulled out of the socket so they could get inside. The surgeon (who told me my hip was a "bloody mess") cut out the inflamed synovial lining and sucked out all the nodules and blood.

I know now that I made everything worse by continuing to run and race. I ran a 50-miler and a marathon, along with the training and numerous shorter races, in 2003; and a 50-miler, a 50k, and a marathon, and the training for those, in 2004. No racing in 2005, but that little bit in early 2006. I think that that is why I am still having trouble with my whole leg. I have pain in the front of my hip and down the front of my thigh. I have the high hamstring tendinopathy and probably some sciatica. I have pain down the front lateral lower leg. My toes cramp. For the past two years, after surgery and physical therapy and the doctor and PT telling me I could start running again, I have not been able to get my mileage up or do any kind of speed training. Hurts too much.

But... a couple weeks ago, I seemed to be a little better. So, this past week, Monday, I was able to run nine easy miles with not much trouble. And so I did some 30/30's on Tuesday, and some strides on Thursday... and my first race in over three years on Saturday, August 15, 2009.

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