Monday, September 14, 2015

Race Report! The Maritime Race Weekend Half Marathon

Saturday morning I was up before my alarm went off. I was ready to gett'r done at the Maritime Race Weekend. I had trained, not as much as I had wanted to or planned to, but I felt ready enough to run the half marathon with my brother Josh. We got ready but in our nervousness/rush we both forgot to eat anything before we lined up at the start. Ugh. I had run for 2.5 hours on nothing before but I knew this race would last slightly longer than that given that I was wearing an extra 3lbs. of brace on one leg. We lined up as we both realized this little fact, but by then t was too late to really do anything about it. And then we were off, running through a narrow chute of people dressed as pirates (the race theme) to Shore road, which winds along the coast for 2.5kms. We ran the whole 2.5kms without issue, although I started faster than I expected. The we turned onto the Caldwell road hill, a steep 20 degree incline that humbles most people to a walk. We trudged up that to the Ocean view manor loop where we began running again, hit our first water station, then continued on to Cow Bay Road. The volunteers were full of energy and smiles as they cheered and directed us along the way. We hit a good pace going down to Cow Bay, passing a few people and enjoying the reduction in runner traffic. Then we started up Dyke Road where we were actually stopped by a very frazzled RCMP officer who asked if we were the last people. We knew there were a lot of people behind us so we told her no as we stated walking (we're in a race here!), there were plenty more coming. She seemed very shocked by this and asked us the same question two more times before a volunteer came over and tried to explain the situation to her. It seemed like she was told to go control some traffic without being let in on the race part of the job lol. We continued on our way up a long slow hill until we finally reached the turn at 10km. There we found the "temptation station" which had skittles, resiens and cold coffee. I grabbed some skittles since I desperately needed a sugar boost at that point. A few hundred feet down the road we hit the steepest hill, one where you seriously question the thinking behind the road designers to put a road at such a steep incline. Yeah, that steep. We power walked it and then jogged the downhill. We plodded on, the easy pace a few kilometers back now becoming more of a struggle. Still though, our time and pace was better than I expected and I secretly hoped we would make the finish in 3 hours. My knee had other plans. We rounded a corner, heading back to the finish line when saw the 15km sign. My knee saw it too and decided right there and then to give me a shot of stabbing pain straight through the center of my knee. I stopped to walk. After a minute it passed and we continued on, although by then my quad muscles were now cranky and cramping up periodically. My brother was super kind and wasn't bothered (at least not verbally or visibly) by us stopping to walk every few minutes after that point. By the time we got to the 18km mark it felt like tiny nails were suddenly banging around inside my knee and we were both starving. We talked about food, I joked that I could stop in at the corner store and get a bag of chips, but we continued on. I was going to finish this thing, and I was going to finish it running even if I had to drag my leg to the finish (something that was becoming a possibility at this point). We walked for a few seconds just before the final turn then started to run. We passed two walkers and just kept going. It was 100% mental for me at this point. My leg was throbbing, my knee stabbing, the opposite thigh was stinging from some serious Velcro chafing, and I was fighting every step to put it out of my mind and focus on the finish. The cheers from the crowd at the finish helped lift me up as we made our way closer and closer to the finish chute. Once we were in the chute I knew it was mere seconds before we finished so I kept my resolve and continued on running. My brother was cheering as we neared the line. All I could say was "Thank God." as we crossed my brother giving me a sideways hug as the photographer snapped pictures. I did it. Its been years since a 21km felt that hard or took that long to finish (3:17 is our official time) but it was one of my most rewarding races. Not because I hit a new PB or distance, but because I finished it giving it all I had and I had family there to support me every step of the way.

Monday, August 24, 2015

10 Humid Kilometers

I'm going to say that this year Mother Nature decided to cram all possible summer weather-types into one month. Seriously. Last week's race had scorching temperatures and a blazing sun. This week my 10k consisted of an overcast sky but 100% humidity making the 10k feel longer than it probably should have...but at least I had my daughter's pool to jump into afterwards! The 10k run itself went better than I expected. My legs felt okay, I will fess up and admit I had to take a few pain-related walk breaks, but overall I squeezed out a few really solid kilometers, even with Mr. Peanut in tow. So last Thursday was one of my last torture visits to the Chiropractor, Dr. Helson. He's off competing at an Ironman (I'm so not worthy), and honestly there's only so much deep tissue message can do. Some of the healing has to happen in the knee. He noted I've got a loser-then-normal MCL, which is why my inner knee has been paining me a lot lately (that combined with the torn cartilage). He worked on it but honestly it was like someone lit a match and threw it in my knee, it burned so bad. I was the closest I've been to tears at that session. Even the laser-which just sits on the surface-caused me to give a few yips of pain. So, of course, being a child of the Internet era, I Dr. Googled it. And there's not a hell of a lot that can be done that I'm not already doing (which is actually shocking, I half expected Dementia to be among the symptoms lol). I just wonder if I'll be in this much pain forever??? And finally, I've got that half marathon coming up in, oh, 2 weeks! Yikes! I know I'll finish it, and I think since I don't have a time goal I've been not too stressed about making the distance. I know I can do it (well I know the OLD me could do it), so I figure at the worst I'll just grin and bear any pain. Thankfully the pain only creeps in badly after a run.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Race Review! The Navy 10k

Well, the first race that gave me a good case of heat stroke didn't disappoint with the steamy 27 degrees Celsius temps yesterday! Lol. Thankfully this time I learned my lesson and hydrated often, spilled water over my head at every water station and ran in the shade of trees when possible. Overall it was a fun, exciting race and I was SO happy to have my husband right beside me the whole way. The morning started off great. We arrived in plenty of time, milled around saying hello to fellow runners and grabbing a quick banana and nervous bladder-porta-potty run before the race start. Richard and I decided to head to the back of the group since I had no plans at an all-time 10k PB and was simply hoping to finish without needing a pair of crutches. The route was the reverse of what it had been for 29 years, so this apparently caused some confusion for the leaders (as I learned afterwards), but for the mid to back of the packers I think it was nice to switch it up and see which way was more difficult. Personally I think the reverse way was much more difficult, but that's debatable. We started off in front of the Stadacona military base, running a few hundred meters before heading up a short but hilly street then turning right onto a well shaded side street before turning again, then again onto Agricola street, where we would run for the next 2k. Agricola took us up a long climb then flattened out and dipped downwards again. Then it was more side-street zig-zagging before heading straight down Gottingen street to the end of the first lap. By the end of the first 5k Richard was feeling pretty good and was keeping a strong pace. I wanted to die I was so hot and every limb felt heavy. But the cheer of the crowds as we passed by, including a very cheerful motorcycle gang, gave me the pep I needed to keep going. I focused on my pace and back up the side-streets we went. By the 6k mark Richard was having a hard time with his legs and a blister that was forming on one of his big toes. He pushed through it though. As for me, my knee would sting whenever we went downhill, but otherwise everything held up very well, which I give credit to my Chiropractor for! As Richard and I came up to the 7k mark we started looking behind us and suddenly there was no one. Now, I knew we had passed other 10k runners and walkers earlier and that we had held it together well enough that I didn't see them all pass us, so we started to wonder..did everyone else drop out? Were we the last ones on the course?! It was HOT but it wasn't as hot as it had been in previous years....Then a police officer drove up beside us on his motorcycle. "Hey guys, he said, have you seen anyone else on the course?" he asked, kind of embarrassed. "No, we both said, are we the end, the last ones?" "Well, there was this other lady but I can't find her now so yeah you are probably it. Thanks!" he said as he drove off. "Frig." we both said. Then I spotted a couple walking ahead of us, who were just far enough ahead they were probably out of earshot for our exchange with the officer. "I don't want to finish last." Richard said. I agreed, neither of us wanted that, so we started running again, keeping the pace we'd had the whole race but which felt a lot harder now. We passed the couple then eyed four more runners ahead. We kept going, and going for another 2k before the heat and a hill got Richard and we had to walk. It wasn't too long before I saw the couple we had passed though, now running! I started running again, agreeing to walk again when we got to the next water station. It was there that Richard saw the other couple and it was enough to give him a push to run it out to the finish. We came within 30 seconds of the person ahead of us, but simply not finishing last was good enough for us. As we stood cheering the couple behind us into the finish line the announcers said the couple was, in fact, the last people on the course. Whew! We had done it. We finished the 10k in one piece, felt satisfied with the time and managed to not come in dead last. Mission accomplished.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

First Race of 2015!

Well I certainly would never have bet back in January that my first race of 2015 would be the Johnny Miles 5k family race in Sydney Mines NS. Nope. I was supposed that have been in PEI, running the Brookvale Ultra trail race this past weekend, but I knew a few months ago the quad and hamstring crushing course would not be possible for me this year. So after a race-less spring when my husband casually mentioned the local 5k race that would be happening the morning after we arrived in Sydney Mines to visit his family I jumped at the chance. I knew this low-key event would not be punishing to my legs and hoped that I could convince my daughter to join me. Thankfully she wanted to do it once she heard her parents were running it! The race was on the hottest day we've had so far this year. To boot, it's held at 10am, when the sun is bright and hot. The three of us casually walked up to the start line (usually one of us is a bucket of nerves!). Then with a "go!" we were off. I should actually say my husband and daughter were off. I kept up with them for, oh, say 100 meters when they left me in the dust. I plodded along, determined not to walk until I reached the bottom of the big hill (1.5km away). The sun was already scorching and I tried to focus not on the other runner's chatter but on my own breathing and trying to relax into the run. I repeated to myself "run your own race, run your own race" until I could feel my legs getting into their normal everyday run groove. Happy with that I looked downhill at my daughter and husband, now at least 500 meters ahead and running strong. Finally I got to the bottom of Fraser Avenue and turned left to start power walking the steep incline. With the heat and my leg in its neoprene brace (HOT!!) I knew trying to shuffle up the hill would waste precious energy. So I power walked that hill until I hit the apex, the started to run again. I saw my mother in law had walked down her street to meet us, but she missed my daughter and husband and had to settle for cheering for me. I caught sight of my husband and daughter shortly after the 3km mark, my daughter now reduced to walking. To her credit, she hadn't run a race in over a year and hasn't been running at all this year. She tried to stay ahead of me, but in the next kilometer she just couldn't get her legs back under her and had to walk most of the remaining 1km distance. I had caught up to her by then so we walked/ran it together as we watched my husband pull away and continue on, running much stronger than I honestly expected. I finished in 45 minutes, pretty much where I thought I would be. My husband finished closer to 38 minutes, which was a good solid time, for not having trained anything close to 5k this year and carrying around a few extra pounds. My daughter, for being the youngest runner in the event, got a special plaque and her picture taken with the winners. All in all it was a great first race. My next race will be in only 2 weeks, where I'll be doubling down and running the Navy 10k with my husband, who now thinks he'll do just fine without training lol.
The original "Johnny Miles"

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Black and Blue...but is it working?!

So my Chiropractor is doing myofascial release, along with message and a wee bit of laser on my knee. It is incredibly painful (the myofascial part) and has left my leg literally black and blue with bruises. Owie. Initially, my leg felt "freed up" and I went for a glorious 7km pain-free run. Then I had another session and the results were less than awesome. Albeit, it is incredibly humid around the city at the moment, so I can't blame my crappy run on just one thing, still. My leg felt like I had DOMS and my ankle decided that it would swell up-yay :-/ Even with that though I squeaked out another 5k run. This Navy 10k is happening, so I'd better be ready (that's what got me out the door yesterday anyhow lol). Dr. Google has mixed feelings about this black and blue thing. I am pretty sure I bruise fairly easily, which I blame on fair skin, but is it normal?! Some forums say yes, it is pretty common, although I don't know if they mean a tiny little bruise or the ones I'm currently sporting that run down my leg from the thigh to the calf? Others say heck no, they're doing it wrong if you bruise, you should go lighter. To that I wonder, is that just a reflection of general society's view now that any therapy should be as pain-free as possible? I disagree and know that sometimes a bit of pain, or yucky tasting medicine, is the best way to go, even if it makes you scream at hilarious octaves. Either way, even with the bruising, my knee feels more mobile and less painful overall (no more stabbing pain all day, every day!) so I'll keep up the Chiropractor routine for a bit longer, I just hope I don't need to wear a swim suit any time soon lol.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Shoe Review! Saucony Hurricane 16s

First off I have to say this shoe is the cushiest shoe I've ever had. Period. I've run on sidewalk, road and trail with it and it gives the same consistent ride through all types of terrain. Large trail rocks are no match for them-no footpad bruises! It has a much larger heel to toe offset than I would have normally chosen (8mm) but I wanted a shoe with lots of forefoot cushion since my gait pattern has changed since I started running again and I'm rolling much more to the right on my right foot and literally running on the side of my left foot, gawd, I must look like a hobbling duck. Anyway, back to the shoe. Here are my Pros and Cons: Pros: Cushion: Cushy factor is at a 10. If you've been nervous about taking the maximalist shoe leap and buying a pair of Hokas, this shoe might be nice middle ground for you. I grow about 6 inches with them on, they have a big platform to store all that cushion, but I don't find it bothers me. Ventilation: Even though it looks like a lot of shoe, Saucony covered the top of the shoe with a durable mesh that lets your foot breathe, even in 30 degree (Celsius) weather. Traction: Although not an actual trail shoe, this shoe has decent enough treads that you won't be nervous to run down a dirt trail or cross a stream in them. Responsiveness: Now I'm not bombing down trails and making super fast changes in direction with my messed up knee, but I like to think my usual street to trail route changes enough that I can say that this shoe doesn't try to "control" your foot at all, it goes where you want it to even though its actually billed as a stability shoe. Cons: Weight: The weight is a bit heavier than what I'm used to, coming in at 9.5 ounces, when most other shoes I've run in lately are less than 5 ounces, but really, it didn't take long to adjust to that small difference in weight. Heel Lock feature: Umm, what? My husband has the men's version of this shoe and he loves how it "locks" his ankle in place. Mine, not so much. I have to really tie down my foot tightly to get my ankle to stay put, but it hasn't given me a blister or anything yet, I'm just not buying this "lock" feature they speak of. Toe upper: What the heck is this huge cushiony thing? It seems a bit over-stuffed and I was concerned that the toe upper would irritate me as I ran by slapping against the front of my ankle, but it's been fine actually. I was also worried it would act like a sponge and collect water or sweat (yuck!) as I ran, but it hasn't done that either. All that cushion in that part of the shoe seems a wee bit like overkill in my opinion. So, all in all, this is a decent shoe. It is not my all-time favorite, but right now, as I come back from injury/with injury, it is a comfortable shoe that responds well during a run on any terrain. I give it a 4 out of 5 stars overall.

New Therapy-what the heck

I went to my GP yesterday about my new stabbing pain in my knee. Again, for the millionth time, I love my GP. She is so kind and she's also a runner so she knows my focus is to regain the quality of life I had before I messed up my knee. She checked out my knee and agreed that most of the HA fluid has probably gone straight into the lower left patella bursa, so it really hasn't been helping with my knee issue at all, although the double kneecap look sure is interesting lol. She asked how much I was running and was actually shocked that I'm running through this pain, I told her my surgeon told me to haha. In all honesty though, I would still try to run even if he hadn't told me to continue ;-) So, in the end she disagrees with my surgeon that for the next 5 months or so I should just deal with the pain, so she's sending me to a Chiropractor. I'm up for anything at this stage. It sounds a bit odd, but really, the issue is with bones and cartilage so I guess this makes sense. Whatever. This guy comes highly recommended and he's a triathlete himself, so at least I'll find a kindred spirit. Now hopefully I won't have to wait a month to see him :-/ As for my running plan, I'm continuing on, as best I can with my Breg shortrunner brace, and hope that the stabbing pain doesn't mess up every single run.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Shaking Things Up to Keep Moving

What I had secretly hoped was a bit of overdoing-it-related pain has made itself known its an issue and I'd better deal with it. That stabbing pain hasn't gone away, and in fact its crept into general walking as well. Something is wrong with the medial side of my knee. I don't know if its just the OA or if something has worn down or if the meniscus is more damaged than it was when I got the MRI in February. I just don't know. What I do know is that this hurts damn it. So, taking the bull by the horns so to speak I decided to postpone my long run this weekend and do some cross training instead. I can certainly say my arms and butt needed it! Oww! I did a great chest, shoulders and arms workout Saturday and followed it up with an hour of legs and back on Sunday. Since both workouts required minimal knee involvement I felt great. I think this might be the magic pill for me; if I can get in one of those workouts each day (or most days) then I won't feel as horrible if I have to do more walking than running when I'm hitting the streets and trails AND I'll be following my surgeon's advice by continuing to work out. Now, big ideas aside, I really do need to do something about this silly pain. I know if I want to keep building my mileage (and heck-finish that half marathon in September!) I will need to find a way to run without feeling like I've got a gremlin stabbing at my knee with each step. I looked at unloader braces, but they seems pretty extreme. Do I really need something like that? Tightening and adjusting the hinges in my short runner brace isn't helping much anymore. If I was talking with someone else about this I would tell them to see their physiotherapist, but my surgeon didn't think I needed to see one. Ugh. A wee bit frustrating but then again none of this issue has been really easy (aside from the MRI appointment - Love you Mom!). Okay, so I've got 8 weeks to get trained for a half marathon and find a way to cope with this new pain. Sometimes when I'm running I wonder if one day my knee will just decide its had enough and totally give out on me and that will be it for running, but then there are other days when I hear from people who've overcome injures similar in severity to mine saying "Find a way around the injury, don't let it be a crutch!" And my perseverance side kicks in and I know I will continue to push on any way I can.

Friday, July 17, 2015

A new Mantra

Ow, ow, ow. That's been my mantra for the past couple of runs and recovery days. Ugh. I'm at a loss. I haven't done anything unusual to my knee but its angry nonetheless. Every footfall feels either like bone is hitting bone (like a pencil being poked REALLY hard into the side of your knee if you want a comparison), or it has felt like someone stuck steel wool in there. It's only on one side so I'm starting to wonder if that so-called "minor" tear in my meniscus has somehow gotten bigger? Or maybe my knee just isn't happy for some other reason. Either way, running, with or without a brace at the moment, sucks. My angry knee is twice the size of my good knee, even with daily icing and rest days. Okay, so with that whining done, what do I do about this? The way I see it I have three options, each with their own issues. 1. Go see another doctor. The Pros to this is that maybe they'll tell me what is going on and be able to help take away this pain. The Cons is what I've been dealing with since I injured myself. Doctors that if they don't see an issue on an X-ray, there's nothing wrong, right? Well I have a healed cracked knee, slightly torn meniscus and 50% of my cartilage that says xrays don't show the full picture all of the time. Never mind waiting in that ER eats up half of a day. 2. See my doctor for a physio referral. Pros, I know my doctor will give me one and maybe the physiotherapist will figure out what's going on. I could get a different brace, one that is called an un-loader so it takes the pressure of that angry side of my knee..or Cons, they could be as incompetent as my last physiotherapist and do more harm than good. 3. Do nothing, keep running with the brace, grit through the pain, ice constantly, and hope someday I don't totally collapse on the sidewalk. Pros...well that saves me tons of time in doctor visits. Cons, well that description pretty well sums it up. So what do I do?

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

How did I forget that?!

Yesterday I managed to forget to bring my brace. Yeah, really. Somehow I totally forgot the 5lbs of neoprene and plastic hinges sitting on my kitchen counter as I packed the rest of my gear. I had a remarkably short debate with myself at the end of the day when I was getting ready for my run-commute. Do I skip it since I have no idea how my knee will feel afterwards if I run without it (but probably not great), or say screw it and go for it. I went for it. In the interest of total honesty though it did take me 5 minutes to work up the courage to transition from a walk to a jog. The run itself went pretty darn good. The Saucony Hurricane 16's are incredibly cushy but comfortable. My feet were very happy. My knee...not so much. I kept dialing back my pace and taking short little steps to keep the impact to a minimum, but even then it felt like someone was stabbing a pencil into the side of my knee with each footfall. Guess I need that brace after all. After my daughter and I got home we quickly threw our stuff aside and jumped (I stepped ;-)) into the small pool we bought the other day. My knee was instantly happier after getting submerged in the cold water. I sat there for a good 5 minutes watching my daughter dance around with the pool noodles. Now this is the kind of recovery I can get used to! So, so far so good. I managed my 5k of training yesterday. Today I've got either a 5k or some speed work (Ha!) of 7x400. I think I may switch up the so-called "speed work" with hill training of 7x30 seconds though since I'm likely to get a better workout that way with the brace on. I'm feeling cautiously optimistic about my chances of completing the Navy 10k and then the Half Marathon. I am also longing for one of Jodi and Karine's trail races, but when their 5k trail race equals the toughest 10k you've ever imagined, I know I'm not ready for that kind of running...just yet. My heart is already back out there though, now I just need my legs to catch up!

Monday, July 13, 2015

I'm In! (Gulp)

I pulled the trigger. I took the leap. Yup, I signed up for a half marathon in September! I don't think I've been this nervous since my first ultra! Okay, so the details. I'm running the Sunrise Half Marathon at the Maritime Race Weekend on September 12th. I've run the full marathon on this course so I know the half marathon route, which follows the first 40% of the full marathon route. It's a scenic, hilly but fun half marathon. It also comes with swag and a cool medal, which is half the reason I picked it. My opinion is that if I'm going to do this I want something to show for it in the end and while the MEC half marathon in October is a bit easier and cheaper it doesn't give me anything other than a non descript bib to show for my training and effort on race day. I want the medal, damn it! It also helps that this race course goes right past my house, so travel won't be an issue ;-) I've got four weeks to my first 10k race with my brace. So far the training has been going pretty well. I haven't had any major setbacks and I've managed to be consistent with at least 4 runs a week. So far so good. I decided to follow the Runner's World Half marathon training plan because I think I need some guidance and the fact it also follows a run 4 times a week schedule. This weekend it has me doing a 12k run. I haven't gone that far yet this year (at one go), so I'm excited/nervous at the prospect. The bonus though is that I finally got NEW SHOES! Yes, my husband and I both got a pair of Saucony Hurricane 16s this past Saturday. I actually haven't run in them yet per se, but I plan on it this afternoon as I do my first Half Marathon training run of 5k. So, stay tuned for a shoe review coming soon!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Being thankful and daring to dream

Yesterday's run was a good run. It was hot as all heck but I managed a solid pace for 3 miles. I was extra pleased later last night when my leg wasn't throbbing like crazy either. It just goes to show some days will be good. I wanted to post on Facebook but it just seems so silly to post "Had a great 3 mile run!", yet I could use the support too. I am so thankful for my mother who made sure I got treatment right away and I didn't have to be a victim of Canada's public health wait list for a year. I'm thankful for my wonderful husband who supports me by taking care of our daughter so I can run and caring enough to ask how I'm feeling. I'm also grateful for my online support which, honestly, has really helped me as they also know what it's like to live with OA day to day and all the ups and downs that brings. I'm also SO incredibly thankful for still being able to get out there and run most days, even if it is with a leg brace now. On my run yesterday I made sure to go through one of the only parks between my work and my daughter's day camp. As I ran along the tiny little patch of dirt trail I imagined being in one of Jodi and Karine's races, with the forest around me and 45kms ahead. Ah, a girl can dream, right?

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Another Pep Talk and new Plan of Action

Yesterday I had a check up with my orthopedic surgeon. I pretty well knew what would be said before I got in there. So it was no surprise I had my fifth pep talk about this injury taking time to heal, as much as it will, and if I don't find any significant relief in the next few months I can ask for another HA injection. The first injection seemed to improve how long I could go through the day without pain meds so maybe in a few months another one will help get me back into better running form. We'll see. Between now and November though I'll be doing all I can to get my leg back to the new normal as best I can. My plan of attack: 1. Keep running, consistently at least 4 times a week. 2. Run that 10k in August and half marathon race in the fall. I would personally like I run a half marathon a bit earlier than what I have planned but we'll see if there are any cheaply priced ones around. 3. Lose these damned injury pounds. I've been thinking about going vegetarian, I pretty much follow that way of eating now, except for, well, bacon. 4. Look for a non-neoprene leg brace. I didn't know neoprene would give me a rash if I wear it too long, but now I know. It's probably been adding to my hatred of the thing so the less I resent the brace the better. 5. Get a new pair of running shoes! A new pair of running shoes is a great motivator for any runner but besides that I seriously need a new pair. So that's it. My in-laws are visiting tonight but I'm still going to get my short run-commute in before making supper for them. I'll try not to drip into the pots and pans lol.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Slog On!

Well, even after yesterday's whine fest I managed to get out for a run. The heat was insane as I left work so I was happy to jump on the indoor track (that circles an ice rink!) once I picked up my daughter from day camp. In total I managed 5km walking and running, but more walking really. Regardless, I was soaked and from what I hear today will be more of the same. I've been trying to space out my runs so I have a day of rest between them but with this week's schedule; my surgeon appointment tomorrow afternoon, then my in-laws (maybe) visiting Thursday overnight, I want to make sure a possible two days rest doesn't evolve into three or four days. But back to yesterday's run. I started off slow, because hey, I've got a leg brace on so I figure no one will be too judgey if I'm moving at a snail's pace, trying hard to focus on my landings so I push off from a neutral position rather than over pronate, which I've somehow developed lately (I need to see a physiotherapist again!). I thought about a YouTube video I was watching/listening to earlier which discussed how to "reverse" arthritis. The host had some interesting opinions about extinction events and vaccines, but his reasoning around food, exercise and pain certainly gave me a few light bulb moments. His case was that it is processed food which is causing our bodies to develop chronic conditions, such as repetitive overuse injuries, MS and arthritis, and by going vegetarian and exercising at least 30 minutes a day we would alleviate much of the issues we experience. I'm not sure its the miracle cure he says but it certainly is simple (and cost efficient) enough to try. So, 30 minutes a day shouldn't be too hard. I already do that in a typical day. It's the no meat and no processed foods bit that will be more difficult. It did have me thinking about my recent trip to France though. Honestly, I saw one overweight person while I was there and you wouldn't consider her obese. Their culture is not obsessed with food or diets, although they love their food. They eat three-four meals a day. Their meals are big enough (and delicious) to satisfy you until the next meal so snacking just isn't a thing there. Really. I didn't see corner stores selling candy, chips or sticks of pepperoni and cheese, nope. You eat a real meal and move on. No one was fretting about this sauce or those calories at all. Top that off with endless amounts of daily walking and you've got a society filled with average-sized, healthy adults. I think we in North America could learn a thing or two about that approach, but then the multi-billion dollar diet industry would be out of business. But I digress... Once I got to the day camp we went up to the refreshing ice rink track and did laps for 30 minutes. My daughter raced around me, lapping me as she stopped for breaks in between (the little speed monster!). It was nice to get back on the track though. I used to spend a lot of time there and I know how helpful those sessions were to my training over the years. For a moment I had the glint of feeling like my old runner-self, just with an extra 30lbs of "injury" pounds added. One day, one run, at a time right? Right.

Monday, July 6, 2015

I can do this...right?

This past week of running has been a slog-fest. I've forced myself to get through each run interval and walked far more than I should. I've been achieving my goals in distance but it's literally been taking me twice as long as it used to to accomplish it. It is very frustrating. To boot, I need new shoes as the ones I bought just before the accident have finally worn out, or rather my "good" leg's shoe has worn out from the new weight imbalance. I don't even know what shoe would work for me nowadays. Do I continue to buy minimal shoes, knowing I need far more forefoot padding than I used to? Do I stick with what I know? Does it matter since I'm slower than a turtle in peanut butter? I'm not just frustrated with my shoe choice though, it's my lack of groove. I just want to be back to normal. I want to just throw on a pair of shoes and go, to feel that steady beat of my feet, wind in my hair and sweat on my forehead. Lately though it's felt more like some kind of weird horse gallop, no wind (I'm not going fast enough) and yes, there is sweat, a lot of it, everywhere except on my forehead. Ugh. I'm doubting myself. My ability to "get through this", my ability to bounce back in any shape or form. It doesn't help that my husband, who used to be my biggest supporter, now me tells me to take more time off. I am taking it easy though. Honestly. I run up to 4 times a week (down from 6-7) and I still haven't cracked that 8km mark, although I've only made it to 8km once in the past 6 months. So it's not like I'm overdoing it. I see my surgeon this week. This appointment is an update since I had the HA injection 3 months ago. I'll tell him that I think it had some positive affect. I don't hurt all day long any longer, now the more severe pain waits until the end of the day. I'll also tell him that I need a new physiotherapist as my last one was a total bust (treating the wrong side of the knee). I still ice every. single. day. I still take pain killers every. single. day. My leg still swells, sometimes with the changes in weather, sometimes for no apparent reason at all. And I still wake up most nights with some kind of leg pain, whether it be my quadriceps or my knee. We'll see what he says. I don't really expect him to do anything actually. I expect him to tell me (again) to have patience and that this takes time and to continue to push through the pain when I run...and he'll see me in another 3 months. I don't expect him to suggest more HA therapy or anything more invasive, and I can't get a different brace until next year when my insurance will cover it, so really, there's not much to chat about. But I'll go, because at least he encourages me to run.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Keep Going!

I move between acceptance and ambition, even on my runs lately. I'll be trucking along, steady pace going when some random flash of pain will hit my knee or leg. If it stops I keep going, telling myself to try and push through the pain, to keep going, unless it is unbearable. If the pain continues after that initial flash I'll modify how I'm running, usually shortening my stride. So far it's been working. It's a slow process. So this week I've been trying to get back on track after my work trip and week of recovery from said trip. So far I've run a couple of 4 milers/6kms which has not been easy. It's like I pressed reset on my running button to two months ago. My leg swells, the brace can't seem to fit right and running on a swollen ankle (while the opposite leg is just fine) is borderline ridiculous. But I continue on. Because my choice is either continue the fight to regain what I can or just give up. And I certainly didn't give up when I started running, 50+lbs heavier, running in yoga pants in the pre-dawn darkness to avoid onlookers, I didn't give up during my first half marathon, marathon or ultra, although there were points during each that I really, really wanted to and questioned why I was even out there to begin with. Nope. I kept going, kept pushing through all of that and I'll do the same with this too. It's not that I'm a particularly good runner. Actually I'm really slow (even at the best of times) but I enjoy being out there. Moving through the woods, along a trail on a sunny day, there's nothing better. It doesn't matter how slowly I move, just that I still can and I will. All that said I have a new goal! My work is actually paying for employees to run the Navy 10km race in August. Free race you say? Sign me up! It'll be my first race of the year and I'm excited and hopeful to try and run it in under 1:30. This time last year I would have been aiming for less than an hour but things change and this year I'll get to appreciate the course more ;-)

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

First run back

There's nothing like coming home. Settling into a routine with the ones you love, enjoying simple life pleasures and the comfort in predictability... and the first run back in the neighborhood. Yesterday I geared up and headed for home after my first day back in the office. It was a gorgeous sunny day with a slight breeze. I started off slow (and didn't really get much faster) but relished every familiar step along the way. In the end I stood with my hands on my hips, feeling confident and happy to be back where I belong. On my run I thought about my trip and the things I would miss about Paris (the baguettes, the friendly people, the chocolate!) and the things I wouldn't (the heat, the crowds, the nicotine filled air, the shower curtain-less rooms-wth?!). Then I remembered a conversation I had during the trip that gave me an extra push during my run. I was asked if I had "lost confidence in my body" after my accident. While I'm not sure if the person meant to be hurtful, it certainly came across that way, as if they doubted my ability to overcome adversity. As an ultra runner there are SO many times you momentarily "lose confidence" in what you are doing, but part of my journey with running has taught me that the body is an amazing, adaptable thing and with patience I can persevere through these difficulties. Will I be the same runner? No, but I haven't been the same runner after each injury or lay off. A runner adapts, learns from their mistakes and if that adaptation means running less, with a knee brace or on different surfaces for a while (or forever) then so be it. The point is that I can still get out there and enjoy nature and all the beautiful things running can give me. So what was my response? "No, of course not."

Monday, June 15, 2015

Au Revoir Paris!

Oh mon dieu it is good to be back home! I just spent two weeks taking training in Paris, and yes, it was beautiful and fun but it was also time away from my family that I missed so dearly. Leading up to the trip I was very worried about my swollen knee and how it would react to being at 30+ thousand feet. Needless to say, it throbbed and hurt a lot but I managed to refrain from calling a mid-air emergency both ways. I hobbled off the plane after 11 hours and walked for another 2 trying desperately to find my hotel (it seemed so straight forward on Google back at home!). Once at my hotel I got settled and tried to recover from my first bout of jet lag. All I'll say about that is that jet lag sucks and it took 3 days for me to feel normal again. Somehow I managed to get to work the next day though and stay semi-conscious, with the aide of 3 double espressos. My leg eventually felt better, but then the constant (and I mean constant) walking of over 6km a day (sometimes 16!) left me hobbling back to the hotel day after day looking for an ice pack. I tried my brace, but it chaffed my leg and was insanely hot in the 35 degree weather that is June in Paris. I think if my mother hadn't joined me for the second week I probably would have spent the weekend in my air conditioned room instead of walking for 10 hours each day, but hey, I saw the sights right? Jury's still out on how I feel about that. So no, I didn't join the throngs of runners endlessly running in the beautiful streets of Paris at all hours of the day, but I felt my endless walking was making up for the shorter runs I'd normally be doing. After a day I figured out why Parisians are not overweight (or even seem concerned about their weight). It isn't their diet, although more fatty and heavily laden with carbs, is mostly free of fast food and pre-packaged everything. Their secret is the insane amount of walking they do every day. These people have functional fitness down to an art. Seriously. I saw two people in two weeks who would be considered overweight, and not once did I see an obese person in a wheelchair or huffing and puffing up stairs. The runners I saw ran with such a relaxed pace it could almost be called "jogging" (gasp!). They often stopped for walk breaks and I didn't see one doing anything close to speed work or checking their watch for their splits. And I saw hundreds of runners. I just wished that I could have been one of them, even for a short run.

Friday, May 22, 2015


I can finally walk up stairs again! yay! (Sometimes it's the little things ;-)) I've been taking them slowly, but I don't have to take a "pain-break" between floors and it doesn't sting for minutes afterward any longer! Holy crow this recovery is taking a long time, but at least I'm improving, even if it is by baby steps. I had a good weekend of running while I was away at another dance competition for my daughter and on the way home my husband asked about my plans for the summer, meaning, was I planning to race, and if so where and when so he can plan camping trips around it. It was time to decide. Enough wobbling, hoping and wishful thinking, it was time to chose what exactly (if anything) I'd be doing this summer. I thought back to a conversation I had with a coworker recently, who had told me about her own extensive knee issues and her applauding me for saying I was going to take the year to recoup and get back into racing form for the next year. Did I really mean that? I decided that, yes, I did. So, no formal races for me this summer. Instead I'll be running and training my knee to learn how to endure longer than a 10k run again. I did hold off on cancelling the entire year though. I think I do want to do a half marathon in the fall, something with small hills, no major climbers or big fanfare, just a simple half marathon to prove I can still do it. That, if it goes well, should catapult me into a solid winter season of training for next year's Waskally Wrabbit trail race and the Brookfield trail race in PEI next summer. Yesterday I enjoyed the beautiful weather (+17 and sunny) to take in a short 4.5km run from work. My knee protested for the first half kilometer, so I walked for a few meters, but then was totally pain free for the remainder of the run (^?^). My leg was a bit swollen but doesn't (knocking on wood as I type) to be as much of an issue as it has been on every. single. run. My brace has been giving me some chaffing burns on the back of my knee, where it is open for comfort (ha!), so I've been wearing capris as much as I can to avoid the burns. So far it's working. Today it's raining so I may just work on strength training, something that's become a big part of my recovery. In a week's time I get to go to Paris for work. Anyone who knows me well knows I don't like to fly (although I love planes and know way too much about them) and that I hate to be away from my family. So I'm not exactly looking forward to the trip, although I know it will be amazing (I don't expect any sympathy, I know many people would love to go). I am hoping to get in some running, although with the cobblestone streets I don't think I'll take my VFFs with me. At the moment my biggest issue is figuring out how I can take everything I'll need in a backpack since Paris is known for its endless stairs. Thank goodness I can finally go up them again!
(I may follow this little girl if the stairs get too much! ;-))

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

A beautiful run in Moncton

Getting ready for a run this weekend I almost forgot my brace. I laughed at myself for the oversight, knowing that I wouldn't have gotten too far without it. Strapped up and ready to go I ventured out onto the foggy streets of Moncton and headed towards Dieppe. The temperature was a chilly 2 degrees when I left but it rose steadily over the next hour. First I ran on the sidewalk, empty and wide on this holiday morning. My legs felt tired and slow, but not in pain. I got to the 1.2km mark and looked at my phone-1.2km! I thought I had (at least!) run 2kms. With a sigh I continued on, looking for a way to get onto the more scenic trail that was on the opposite side of the road. After another half kilometer I found an entrance and watched as the river appeared to my left as the fog lifted. The trail was lovely. Crushed gravel gave way to a wooden boardwalk that paralleled the main street. Then, after a fork in the road, it turned to dirt and continued on for another 2kms, rolling and curving beside tree saplings and small pavilions. After 45 minutes I had to turn around to make it back to my hotel room. I had the path mostly to myself, with the odd couple or cyclist appearing for an early stroll or bike. My knee "reminded" me it was injured a couple of times in the first few kilometers, but after 4kms it settled down and I felt like I had a solid pace going. I could only manage 6kms in total but then I managed to follow it up with another 2kms of walking with my family, so I was really pleased to actually cover a whole 5 miles in a morning again. Maybe next time I will run the whole thing! ;-)

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Run and Rehab

It was rather stormy yesterday so I took my run and rehab to the gym in my office (yes, I know how sweet it is to have a gym in the workplace). I was joined by my cube-mate, Drew, who also suffered a knee injury this winter. He took to the bike while I ran. I only managed about 30 minutes but I felt good to sweat and keep a consistent pace. Now, about that treadmill. The office bought a new treadmill this past month and it was my first time trying it. It was a nice machine but it was missing one big button-PAUSE! I was about half way through and realized my leg had started to swell. I looked for the pause button so I could adjust the straps on my brace but there wasn't one. WHAT?! Did treadmill manufacturers do some ground-breaking focus group and decided this button wasn't necessary any more? My only option was to stop the workout, get off and adjust it, but no, I wanted to keep my pace so I plodded on, with increasing discomfort. Thankfully I only had less than 10 minutes left so I SIU'd and pushed through. I'll be using the other machine from now on though lol. After my run it was time for rehab. Even though both Drew and I have knee injuries our injuries are vastly different, affecting totally different structures and areas in our knees yet here we were, doing the same rehab exercises. I can understand some exercises are probably good-practice for all knees and knee injuries, but it seems odd to me that we should have the same rehab plan. It makes me wonder if there's a point to going to physio after a rehab plan is in place, since it seems the prescription is the same for all knee injuries. Hmmm. Since Training is my profession I know that one-size does not fit all in terms of education, be that the mind's muscle or another one in the body. So why treat knee injuries the same? I'm trying to "teach" my quad to pull so it doesn't use the side that is injured, while also strengthening my patella tendon, which was weakened after the crack in my kneecap (aka patella). Drew, on the other hand, is trying to strengthen his lateral knee joint and encourage/teach his knee proper tracking of the kneecap. Interesting - but probably just to a teacher ;-)

Friday, May 8, 2015

Running, nutrition and arthritis

I used to be a fair-weather kind of runner. I rarely (willingly) went out for a run in the rain and usually only in the warmest of winter conditions. At the time, that was a struggle. Now, I get to also consider how much pain I'm currently in and if the upcoming run will exacerbate it. This week I've been reading a lot about arthritis and nutrition, having resigned myself to the fact that I'm doing the worst sport possible for my pain, but yet I want to continue. There are only so many factors a person can control and nutrition is certainly one of them. So, how does a runner combine a high protein, mostly vegetarian diet with an anti-inflammatory one? Side with the nutrition plan that causes the least amount of inflammation, which equals pain. I'm still eating protein of course but now I'm watching to make sure that protein isn't fried or contains an additive like Omega 3, both of which cause a build up of inflammation. I'm eating berries, grapes and whole foods as much as possible and trying really, really hard not to eat French fries or cookies. On the up side, if there is one, the pain medication has been making me a bit nauseous lately so my night-time overeating hasn't been an issue. The frustrating thing is, when you're in a lot of pain all you want to do is eat comfort food, but with arthritis that's the worst thing a person can do. Yesterday was a bit tough, and I questioned if eating like this would have any benefit, but yet today I woke up with a few twinges of pain but not the level I expected after having run 6km the night before (typically I've been in serious pain for days afterwards). Maybe there is something to this anti-inflammatory nutrition after all...

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Taper Week that Wasn't

Back in January I figured I could recover in time. I had no idea how slow my recovery would take or even the true extent of the damage. So here I am. Four months later and a few days away from what was supposed to be my longest race to date, a 60km trail run. I was so pumped back in January. I was running a solid amount each week and was just going to start injecting long runs back into my training when this accident happened. I felt like I HAD this race...except the universe, or my stupidity didn't. So, instead of tapering this week, and watching how much water and salt I take in, I'm working on eating clean and trying to get past the 6km mark. I am having a hard time finding the motivation to run when it feels like a small child is hanging, dragging, onto the side of my knee while punching my outer quad. Awesome. My choice is this; do I go to the race and attempt to do the 20km race? My logical side says NO-you haven't even figured out how to get up to 10km never mind a trail 20km! My runner side says why not, giv'r and see how it goes. Yeah I might be laid up in pain afterwards but at least I'll know where I stand. Except, I already know where I stand, at the bottom. Add to that the fact I would need to rouse everyone for a 7am drive out to the trail head for 2 hours of bug bites and I think I'll skip it. How do I feel about that? Angry, really. Mad that I couldn't get it together fast enough for even the 20km. Mad that I'm not doing the 60km, mad that I'm not even attending the race I've grown to see as the highlight of my racing season. Except, there won't be a racing season, not for me anyhow. Maybe I can pull something out for the fall, but right now I'm going to take it one run at a time and work on getting to that 10km mark.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

An Arthritis "Flare up"...what the heck is that?

These past few months have been such an education in arthritis. I had no appreciation for those that cope well with arthritis and how severely it can affect a person. I also learned I've had arthritis in my little finger for years and just didn't know that's what it was! So, in case you don't already know, people with arthritis can have no pain, a little pain, chronic pain or what they call "flare ups." A flare up is when you're having low to no pain for a while, a few days, or weeks, and then BAM! You feel like crap. It might be caused by stress, diet, lack of sleep, pushing yourself too hard or just the freakin' weather, but it happens. For me, my knee will feel like it's filled with broken glass. I can see why people with more active jobs than mine, have 1 in 5 odds of stopping work completely within 5 years after an OA diagnosis. It truly is a struggle to get out of bed and go to work when your knee hurts that badly. At the moment, running, even a short distance, feels like I'm half pulling my "bad" leg with me. It doesn't cause me stabbing pain per se, that feeling usually shows up at the end of a day or if I sit too long, its like the muscles just don't want to fire and my leg gets tired faster than the other. My "good" leg is sore because mechanically it does more of the work to compensate for the other leg now. My right calf muscle is notoriously sore after every run now, something I haven't experienced since I started running regularly 7+ years ago. So I'm starting to strengthen my right calf muscle more now (Lots of calf raises! lol)and really focusing on rolling out with my foot so I don't land with my weight on the inside of my knee. It's a process, and I'm working through it one run at a time. So what do you do? I see two choices, a fork in the road of life, so to speak. I can forget running, take up easier exercise and try to find happiness in that...OR I can continue to struggle and see what kind of gains I can make. I can see now that my running won't last forever, that pain might very well eventually cause me to reduce what I run or stop me altogether, but today is not that day and I am not a quitter. I will continue the struggle, cope however I can and move forward. Standing still is not an option.

Monday, April 27, 2015

A (sort of) long run

Distance is both finite and relative. A mile is, indeed, a mile, but the feeling of accomplishment a person gets from running that mile will be different for those who have run a mile a thousand times and those who have run one once. And, as I'm finding, that feeling of accomplishment gets a bit muddy when you've run a mile a thousand times, but haven't done it in a long time. Last week 3.5 km felt awesome, and I was on a total runner's high. Then I ran commuted on Friday a solid 6km, although not strictly running, I covered more distance than I had in 4 months. Then I did it again yesterday with Peanut as a "long run." It certainly felt long, it took a little over an hour for goodness sake and it was mostly on sidewalk! Later yesterday my brother offered his congrats for my 3.5km which I had bragged about on FB, and I told him that I had actually ran a total of 15km for the week. He was so excited for me, but all I could feel about it was, meh. I mean really, 15km?! I could do that in a single run four months ago without batting an eye. Now, to do it over the course of a week is now admirable. Look, I know I'm making good, solid progress. I am happy about it. I just can't shake that part of me that's disgusted with myself for putting myself in this position to begin with. Yeah, after 4 months I'm still beating myself up. I'm trying hard to reign in my desire to push it, to just go, to jump back on that schedule I was on before all this happened. But the pain tells me to back off. Even now, at the 5km mark I get twinges of shooting pain through my kneecap which is followed by that feeling someone is being dragged by holding onto the right side of the left knee. So, I go another kilometer or so and wrap it up for the day. I just hope I can continue to push the bar further so I can eventually do 10km before feeling pain. This week's goal is to match or better that 15km. I will make sure, that unless I'm suddenly pain-free, I'll put a cap on 20km for the week.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Learning to Run, all over again

Oh my. It's been a couple of months since I posted. My apologies. I've been living the alter-ego life known as the Injured Former Runner for a little whole now. I guess I should pick up where I left off and give you the cliff notes summary of February through now (April). So, when I last posted I was anxiously waiting on an appointment with my surgeon. We met, we reviewed the MRI-I was actually correct about the soft tissue stuff (hey, maybe I'm not to shabby with that MRI imaging stuff after all haha). The results/diagnosis after four different diagnosis and two months of frustration? A bad bone bruise, signs of previous internal bleeding, a cracked patella (aka kneecap-so bad the two halves were being held together by the smallest piece of bone) and I destroyed 50% of the cartilage in my knee (effectively giving myself instant arthritis in the knee, according to my surgeon). A doosie for sure. The crack on the patella was healing well so I didn't need a cast. My surgeon told me to try ditching the crutches, ditch the cane when I could and keep doing physiotherapy. We scheduled a follow up for 6 weeks later. So, off I went to physio. I was a good patient for weeks but made very little improvement. At least twice I questioned my therapist about the area she was treating, but she would just scrunch her face and say no, I was wrong, the area affected was the opposite side. So, I figured, since she's the professional in this I should trust what she says. I was still in a lot of pain and both my physiotherapist and my surgeon said I should be functioning better, but I just wasn't. I would run for a minute then need to stop and walk. That routine could go as long as 25 minutes before my knee would ache so bad I HAD to stop. Then I'd spend three days after in insane pain. It was very discouraging. I made an appointment to see my GP, Dr. Kate, for the day before my follow up appointment for my surgeon. I tried to figure out why I wasn't improving, what I was doing wrong, or maybe I was just a "baby" about pain. I met with my doctor who, heard my story of woe but put her support in my surgeon. I saw my surgeon the next day. I told him I was still in a lot of pain and was making some, but not great, progress in physio. He went over the results again and then (on a whim) I asked what area the cartilage damage was in. The are he pointed to, then showed me in an example knee joint, was the opposite to the area my physiotherapist had been treating. I was being told to use the muscles around the damaged area, not the "good" side, which probably explained the lack of progress. So, in the end my surgeon gave me a prescription for a knee brace and recommended HA therapy (an injection) for my knee that acts like a crack filler. I was upset about the physio. Here I thought the one medical person in the team who knew what she was doing, didn't. For 6 weeks I wasted my time. I swore not to go back, ever. I bought the brace, a lovely, light Breg Shortrunner brace, fitted at the Arthritis Injury and Care Center. Then I waited two more weeks for the injection. I had heard it had good results but you wouldn't know if you are one of the lucky people until 5 weeks after the injection. I'm currently on week 2. So, where am I with my running? Well, I've gradually gone from running for one minute intervals to running a 3.5km a few days ago! I was so excited I posted it on FB for goodness sake. My knee hurts still, I take meds for it, still. I get cramps in my quad muscles from the shots of pain in my knee, causing the muscles to fire and get sore over the course of the day (by the end of the day at least one muscle is burning from my knee to my hip or pelvic area). After a kilometer of running my leg swells so badly I've stopped wearing regular running shoes and switched to VFFs so my ankle can flex (yes, it's that's bad). My surgeon has had three discussions with me now about how slow this recovery will be, and how I may not ever get back all the functionality I had before. But I'm going to try. I'm learning to run with a brace and constant pain on the right side of my left knee. I find if I keep my stride length short and roll my foot outwards, I can run longer. My aerobic capacity has taken a hit, but since I can't run for very long I'm slowly building that up too. I still can't walk upstairs on a regular basis without it causing my knee exquisite pain, a major challenge when you live in a split level! I've totally mastered the art of the one legged step up, and thank goodness my workplace has an elevator ;-) It's been and will be a battle. There's no just "bouncing back" from this. This is about re-training my knee and leg to work together while compensating for this injury. But I'm committed to recovering as best I can. I've joined an arthritis support group for trauma-based arthritis (yes, it's a thing), and have had wonderful advice and support from the members there. I truly helps to talk with others in the same boat and hear some positive perspectives. I can do more than I could a month ago. That's progress.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Eight More Days

Well the countdown is on. I've had my MRI (Thank you Mom!), and now I'm waiting for my follow up Doctor appointment next Tuesday. I got a nifty CD with all of the MRI images on it, so I did what everyone does, and tried to Google diagnosis this problem based on my images. So far, I can clearly see my bone bruise. Yup, that's it. Obviously there is a lot of swelling but I don't see anything else wrong. I can see my ACL and my PCL, both of which seem to be okay. My meniscus look okay too...I think. Ugh, my basic radiology isn't doing the job-I guess that's why people go to school for this! So from my POV my knee is fine! Just a stupid bone bruise! Ah, but I know if it was just that they wouldn't have ordered an MRI and I know I wouldn't have 3 more serious diagnosis. Waiting sucks, but I remind myself I could be waiting a lot longer. I'm still on crutches. I feel like I've gained 50lbs since I was injured. And it all still sucks. I've started the P90X program so I have something to focus my energy on and hopefully keep me sane and from gaining more weight. Running seems like a long lost dream nowadays. I have a hard time looking at my Facebook newsfeed with all of my fellow runners having fun in the snow and finishing races. I have tried to run, in place and for about 30 seconds, and it felt okay. A bit stiff in the front of my knee but I think I could probably get out 2 miles or so if I kept it slow and focused on a forefoot strike. Ah, but I know that would be foolish to do, especially when I have no idea what's wrong with my knee so doing something that could make it worse sounds like a stupid idea. So I don't run. Last night I dreamt I was reading a running magazine lol. I am getting ever more frustrated with my crutches. I think I could get around with just the cane now but my PT is firm that I need to wear a brace before I can switch. Really, my leg feels almost 100%-I just have the odd sharp pain or general feeling of weakness at times so I feel like its almost back to normal, although something doesn't feel quite right inside there so I know something is up. I've also realized I hate braces (my husband laughed at that one). They are too warm, they bunch in the back of the knee and I don't fully believe they actually DO anything aside from be a constant reminder I hurt myself. With all that in mind I was disappointed when my PT suggested I use the Playmaker 2 brace by DonJoy. While it looks like a good brace, it also looks like it has everything I hate about braces. So I emailed the brace people directly and asked, based on my 4 different diagnosis, which brace they would recommend. They recommended the Playmaker if my injury is a mild ACL sprain. Aside from that they don't recommend it if my injury is any combo of the other 3 diagnosis. They recommended a variety of other braces, which tells me I really need a firm diagnosis before I go spending my insurance money on anything. Ugh, so no brace means no cane and the result is me still on my crutches-even my bus driver said that today-"Still on the crutches eh?" Yup. Yes. I. Am.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Wait Time Progress-Thanks to My Mom

Well, here I am. Four weeks of no running. I still have most of my sanity...I think. I've been doing my physiotherapy exercises as directed, and a few more if I'm feeling good, and I'm doing P90X pretty regularly. The P90X is giving me a tiny weeny bit of the endorphins I used to get from running so I think that is keeping me sane more than anything. After using crutches now for over 2 weeks I think the extra arm exercises are helping me get around more easily. I can't wait to get a brace and move to a cane-these crutches suck. Oh and I'm also having to be a bit more strict about what I'm eating since I'm not burning 700 calories a day steady any more :-( My pant choices are becoming few and far between! So my awesome mom called me Saturday and offered to pay for a private MRI so I could get back on the roads 100 times faster than if I waited in the public wait queue. So, I called the private clinic to see how long their wait time would be and expected a 3 week wait, nope, they could get me an appointment in a week's time-wait a sec-a single week?! I can't tell you what I difference that makes to my state of mind compared to the "up to" 268 day wait in the public health care system. It isn't that I expect to be back on the trails in a few weeks or anything, no, I know the road to recovery is going to be lengthy with this injury, but knowing what the hell I'm rehabbing for and what the plan (surgery or not) is huge to me. If I've got a plan then I'll work the plan. If I don't have a plan and 4 diagnosis I feel helpless and useless. At least with this I'll know in the next 3 weeks what's wrong and what I'm doing about it...whatever that is. My mom doesn't have a $1000 just kicking around, she works longer hours than most people I know so for her to offer this to me is so huge, such a gift. I cried when she offered, because I was so grateful and because I was angry at myself for being stupid and getting hurt (which she told me to stop, accidents happen, I know they do-but still). So, feeling grateful, I am patiently waiting to see how fast my orthopedic surgeon can get the file to this imaging center and hopefully this week I'll actually have an MRI Appointment set!!!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Starting to wonder what Doctors actually DO

This is sadly going to be completely and utterly NRR. If you need to, you can go now to some other blog that is probably less whiny that this one will be. I hear Ultra marathon Man has a good blog lol. Alright, so when we last left off I was waiting for my first Physio appointment. Well I finally met Julia, my PT. She could hardly read the scribble that Dr. Urquhart had made on my referral so I went through my story for her. I fell. On my knee and hands. I knew right away something had happened with the knee, but what I STILL DO NOT KNOW! It became swollen in under 6 hours, it was badly bruised, it took 5 days of intense icing and elevation to get the swelling down and now I limp. I had a big bandage on for a week when they thought I had broken a bone. A week later I heard a crazy crack noise and had intense pain across my kneecap (with the bandage on). After I removed the big bandage one ER doctor had put on my leg (because another ER doctor said my injury was just bursitis) I saw my bruise had changed into a sick yellow color and spread down my leg. I've had 3 x-rays, all clear. One ER doctor even claimed he could see that I hadn't damaged any soft tissue from one x-ray. I honestly thought all you could see on an x-ray is bone, but this guy was quite sure of himself. Then I went to see the Orthopedic surgeon and he said I had hurt my PCL and maybe other tissue in my knee so I should have an MRI. So Julia took notes and then did her own physical exam. She said she thinks I might have sprained my PCL but her bet is on a torn ACL. GAWD. So, to recap dear reader, I've gone from "it might be a broken kneecap/patella" to "Nothing is wrong" to "You probably tore your PCL and might have hurt other tissue" to "Sprained PCL and Maybe Torn ACL." Oh. My. God this is SO frustrating. Honestly I was hoping for a broken bone since you can see that on an x-ray, no other tests required, throw it in a cast then move on to rehab. Now I've got this game-show joke of an injury list with no end in sight. MRI wait times are about 250 days in the HRM. Everyone tells me to simply pack up and go somewhere else for the test. That still puts me and my family out at least $200 for gas and lost wages from work. I cannot afford it. Plain and simple. Even then I would likely wait 2 months or more. What the HELL is the point of these tests if you are already healed before you get access to them?! I have contacted my MLA, my MP and provincial Ombudsman. The MLA is forwarding my concerns to the minister of Health. My Ombudsman was NO help whatsoever, simply repeating the information easily found on their website. I've also asked if I can get the possible-cancer inducing CT scan since it seems to give the same information as an MRI. All of this is causing me so much stress it makes me cry. I hurt and I don't know why. I can't run and I don't know why. Four doctors and none of them can tell me what is wrong, just that something is. Really.-Is that what you spent 100k on for a degree? At least two of them agree I should be on crutches. None of them gave me any pain medication so I went begging for some from a pharmacist. What the hell kind of health care system do we have here?! Mentally I am having a hard time (as if you couldn't read between the lines before now). I don't want to take my pain medication because it has nasty side effects, I don't use my crutches unless I have a long walk to do, and even then I'm getting to the point I might just toss them too and I'm not "resting" my knee like I know I should, but honestly What For? No one can say 100% that XX is injured and the health care system doesn't seem to think my injury is serious to get a timely test so what is the point?

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Heavy Heart and Muscle Tantrums

I found my physiotherapist to help me through this torn PCL. I've had Brent as my therapist before but it was for another issue four or five years ago. He's a big cyclist so he should be able to tell me if I'm okay to start cycling on a stationary bike. I start tomorrow morning...yay? My experience with physiotherapists has really run the range of super sweet to a closet psychopath-seriously. The super sweet physiotherapists, while they seem to double as a counselor, they also don't push me enough so I can see results quickly with whatever injury brought me in to their office. The psychopath only happened once, but it was for a finger I broke in 3 places. He was rough (physically), gave me a lecture on my priorities when I was late ONE time (I had even called ahead to let them know!), meanwhile he was constantly late for our appointments, told me how he "got back" at other patients who were late or missed appointments, made weird statements on how all physiotherapists must like to cause people pain (um.... what?!) and even chastised me for grocery shopping on the weekend for god's sake! If I disagreed with him he would be even more rough, which he said he needed to be because I wasn't working hard enough on my own. Fair enough, but when you have no tendon to use because of a surgical accident, bending a finger that was broken in 3 places is only going to have limited results at best. I stopped going to him after 7 or 8 visits. Honestly I'm surprised I made it that long. I always was in more pain when I left that guy. I've also had totally normal physiotherapists, which is the category Brent falls into. He seems to enjoy his career and is efficient at getting people back on their feet (or legs, knees, whatever). He did seem a bit aloof, but he's also super busy. Whatever, we don't need to be BFFs but I need to know I can trust my therapists not to leave me in more pain than when I started, be willing to formulate a treatment plan together and know that I am willing to do whatever I need to do to get out of their office and back outside doing what I love. I don't think that's asking too much. Last night I had horrible calf cramps in my left leg, so bad I was rolling around on the bed clutching my leg waking my husband from his sleep. The leg still hurts this morning so I asked a friend what he thought and he said it's my calf muscle "crying out for exercise." - I love how he put that. My whole body is crying out for exercise though!! He recommends swimming to help. I'm going to use the hot tub tonight while my daughter has swim class so I'm hoping if it hasn't calmed down it will after that. OUCH!! Like this didn't hurt enough already! My heavy heart is from losing a good friend from my childhood to cancer. She was a beautiful, creative, funny and a straight up good friend to me during some difficult years in my own life. We were on the swim team together for years and she once tried to teach me to play her favorite instrument, the violin. I was so bad at it she said I should stick to the drums-she was right! Despite her beautiful and generous soul she suffered greatly from bowel cancer these past 7 years and passed away yesterday. She leaves behind her husband Andrew (who she also knew since childhood) their two adopted children, her younger brother Manuel, her parents, along with countless friends and fans who adored her and her music. My heart breaks for her and her family. RIP Fleur

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Road to Recovery is called PCL

Well I finally have my answer after 2 weeks of hobbling around, babying my leg. The Orthopedic surgeon said I have likely torn my PCL ligament and I have a bad bone bruise. Then I was told to get on a pair of crutches until my physiotherapist says not to use them any more. He made it pretty clear I was not to try and "work through" the pain with this injury, so in the interest of getting back out there faster I will be a good patient and listen and not run. UGH! %$^#%*^*(^%!! Okay, so what to do. I have chosen my rehab place-the physiotherapy clinic in the same sports complex where Hannah takes her dance classes. Seems like a convenient choice. They offer physiotherapy but also other alternative treatments (like acupuncture) that I enjoy. Aside from that, I've looked up KT taping methods for this kind of injury and found a simple one that helps keep my knee from feeling like its pressing down on my leg. Its actually supposed to help the swelling that's still in there. I'm also doing whatever upper/middle body workouts I can modify with a leg I'm not supposed to use. So, no plyometric or cardio workouts, its weight training and maybe a bit of upper body yoga for me. These crutches are certainly giving my arms a workout-ouch! I don't know how people do it for more than a week, those things pinch man! I don't think I'll need them for very long though, they are really just helping me keep a normal walking gait without putting all of my weight on my left leg. My hips and my right quad muscle are grateful. So aside from upper body work I've also looked up the initial exercises physiotherapists recommend for this stage, in this case it consists quad flexing (glamorous - I know). I sit and squeeze my left quad muscle and hold it for 10 seconds, repeating 10 times, three times a day. I can also do this standing up and with my hamstring muscle (yay, variety!). The idea is to keep the big muscles firing so they stay as strong as possible for when I get full ROM back in my knee. I think I will find a whole new level of patience and perseverance with this injury. lol

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Pitty Party

Okay, okay so I've had my pitty party, complete with a small binge on chocolate chip cookies and a short cry. Now I've moved into impatience. At times the pain in my knee is almost gone, albeit my leg is usually frozen in place during those moments, and then there are times when it feels like someone is stabbing me in the knee or leg with a hot poker. When my pain is almost gone I start to think maybe the ER doctors were overreacting and I can get away with just taping my knee until it feels better but then the hot stabby pain starts and I think I need a full-blown cast. Either way I really, really can't wait for Friday morning when I see this Orthopedic surgeon so I can get a definite answer and then a treatment plan. This whole "we're not really sure" diagnosis sucks. How can I rehab something when they don't know what's going on? This is very frustrating and I'm now 2 weeks behind schedule in my Waskally Wrabbit Training Plan, never mind giving up any idea I might have had about running the Run for Marilou next weekend! If it turns out that nothing is seriously wrong then I can deal with taking my runs easy for a few weeks. But this whole let's wait and see thing is HARD. And I've exhausted Google's search functionality researching the difference between a broken knee cap, an injured knee ligament and a simple knee sprain. My Google diagnosis is that this is likely NOT just a sprain. But I've got symptoms of both a ligament and broken bone issue so I sure hope this guy has an answer. C'mon Friday!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Oh My %$!!@##*%^ Knee

Okay, so that stupid fall I described in my last post? Yeeeaaah. I finally got it checked out after realizing Friday that the swelling was still pretty significant and the kneecap itself felt distorted. I went into the ER Saturday morning (which, BTW, is the BEST time to go into an ER in HRM since there is no one there). I waited all of 30 minutes to be triaged (it was between me and the older man who had the flu) and seen by a med student (during a regular time I could wait up to 3 hours for this same sequence of events). She lightly touched the top of my knee and I almost cried it hurt so bad. Yikes, I knew that couldn't be good. She said there was still a lot of swelling but it wasn't significant enough to be drained (-wait-what? Oh hells no you were not going to stick a needle in my knee-OMG!) Then she said I might have broken my knee cap. I'm not sure if I said Oh Damn or Oh Shit. Off to xray I went. Another 30 minutes passed and the Doctor (with the med student in tow) came in and asked if they had taken the xray of the correct leg. I said they had but had to do the xrays a few times over. So I waited another 30 minutes for a radiologist to come into work and have a look at the xrays. They couldn't find anything conclusive. So I sat in the cast room having a huge bandage put on my leg and I'm still asking, so did I sprain it then? Or is it cracked...or what? The Doctor had long gone onto another patient (by 10am the place was filling up) so it was me, the med student and the casting guy. The med student said if they hadn't taken an xray they would say it was broken. She gave me an appointment slip to see an orthopedic surgeon in a week and a prescription for crutches and a leg brace. She said hopefully by the time I see the surgeon the break will start to heal and should show up on an xray at that time. Until then I'm to keep my leg immobilized, keep taking pain meds and wait. I looked for the "butterfly" brace she had prescribed but it seems those need to be ordered into a drug store (yes even in a city like Halifax, they don't supply these things in-store). My poor/very accommodating husband and I spent hours driving around the city looking at braces but had no luck finding anything that worked. I figure I'll wait until Friday and see what the surgeon says before I start ordering knee braces. My hope is that I cracked it and I will only need to tape this thing up after Friday. I can tell you, having your leg immobilized gets old after about three hobbling steps. So this also means my daily running streak is out the window. Boo. My January Pushup challenge though is still going strong. At least I can do upper body work to try and keep the grumpiness at bay. Let's see what Friday holds...

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Big Chill

This Christmas my husband got me a few different rolls of KT Tape (he's so romantic-lol). I have only discovered KT tape this year because A. it wasn't widely available here in little-old Nova Scotia and B. I haven't been injured. Now I'm wondering if my hubby has some psychic abilities. I was running along, on my run-commute home after work on Monday, debating whether I should have stayed on the trail or gotten off when I did to catch the bus when BAM. The sidewalk rushed towards me as I caught a toe and tripped. It's kind of funny though, the little flashes of thought that go through your head as you fall. This time it was "Oh damn, my white mittens are going to get all dirty." I mean really. I was suddenly worried about my white mittens?! Ugh. Anyhow. I landed on my suddenly precious white mittens and my left knee. Ouch. I rolled to my left side in pain but got up quickly as I was now being watched by everyone heading home from work in their cars. I checked my jacket-whew! No rips (great job Mountain Hard Wear!). I could feel my left knee stinging but I forced myself to walk to the next bus stop without looking at it because I didn't want to miss my bus (it was FREEZING) and I knew once I looked at it I would feel worse. Arriving at the bus stop I grabbed a handful of snow and pressed it to my knee. Ah, that felt better. I looked at my new tights (THANKS MOM!) and was surprised to find no rips there either (Go Nike!). My kneecap was swelling up though. I grabbed the bus and got home. Since then I've been icing and elevating my knee but the swelling hasn't gone down by very much. I'm pretty sure I really banged up the bursa on top of the knee. I can walk, yes, I think I'm fine, but I am a bit nervous to run on it. So I looked up some KT taping videos and with a bit of patience and practice got a configuration around my knee that helps, a bit. So I'm walking no problem but I don't want to cause more damage if I run. Honestly though, with temperatures at the -15C range I'm not overly eager to spend more than a half hour outside. I've been alternating running short bouts outside and using my treadmill (best $150 I ever spent on kijiji BTW) until this happened. So, should I chill out and wait for the swelling to go away? Should I suck it up and run anyway? Or should I (gasp) go to the ER and get an xray? Decisions, decisions. I'll keep you all posted :-) Until then stay safe and stay warm out there!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Hello 2015!

Wow it's really 2015. The year the movie "Back to the Future" said we would all ride in floating cars, ride hover boards and wear strange looking military-inspired outfits. Well, aside from a hover board prototype, none of that's happened. I think the difference between 1989 and 2015 is big enough thanks. Okay, so onto running related topics. I've become a streaker! Yup, not the nudity kind but a "I'm gonna run at least 1 mile every single day in 2015" kind of streaker. After last year of waffling around workouts I figure this will encourage more consistency in my running. So far, so good. I've had two 1 mile days so far with the rest of my runs between 5-7 miles. Both of my 1 miler days were days that it was too nasty outside to do anything so I hopped on my treadmill. And, I have to say, I am enjoying it even if I have a banged up little toe from a Christmas-based accident. Yeah, a big heavy piece of wood came crashing down on my toe causing it to be a wee bit swollen for...what are we now...three weeks?! Wearing my running shoes is very uncomfortable so I've gone back to my trusty VFF sprints. It's funny. The doctor who looked at my toe told me to do RICE and wear a sturdy shoe. Uh huh. Every time they say that I try their advice (I swear I do!) but after a 10th of a mile in my "sturdy" shoes I returned home and put on my VFFs. Bliss...well, at least I can run without pain in them! Honestly though, I would rather wear my regular running shoes. Wearing VFFs in the winter gets you some strange looks from people when you're in a winter running coat (LOVE my Ghost Whisper jacket!!), tights, a buff to cover your face, mitts and a hat. Comfortable-yes. And if it keeps me running (and not the crazy grumpy person I became for the week after the toe smash), then I think we can all agree this poor fashion choice is best for all. I just hope the swelling goes down soon-this sixth toe feeling sucks! So, my goals for 2015. Well, the first is to keep up the streak. The second is to run the Moose 25k Run in March, the WW Ultra again in May, run the Sole Sisters 5k with my mom and daughter in June and possibly run the Brookvale Ultra in August. I am toying with the idea of running the NS Marathon (it's in its 45th year!) but that's a week away from the Brookvale Ultra-which is not to be underestimated. Neither fill up quickly so I have time to decide. For the fall I'd like to run a race in October, but that's a very difficult month to schedule with my daughter's birthday, Thanksgiving and Halloween. Last year I managed to run the last MEC trail half marathon so I might just repeat that. It was a really nice way to end off the running racing season. Well, that's my check-in for the moment. All of my Mountain Hard wear gear is holding up great during these colder days, and with the temperatures going down to -18 this week I know the Ghost Whisper jacket will keep me warm-now if they could only make this material for running pants! :-) Happy running out there-and stay safe and visible!