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Showing posts from 2012

My Weekend as a Surrogate Parent

Several months ago, my brother-in-law in Orlando called me and asked if I'd be available in December to watch his daughters, my two nieces E (three yrs.) and T (one yr.). He was planning a surprise trip to New York City for my sister, and he wanted to have childcare plans in place. The girls would stay with my mom, in Mount Dora, and I would help watch them. I agreed with enthusiasm, as I was excited to get to spend an extended amount of time with these two particular nieces, whom I usually only see for holidays and birthdays. Here is what I learned from the experience:
Snot flows regularly from little children. Like a faucet that won't shut off. Sometimes, tears and drool flow along with the snot, usually onto an adult's shoulder/neck/chest/hand. And if you do manage to control the drainage up top, you'll inevitably have an overflow of stuff coming out the other end to deal with. At one point before the weekend, I remember thinking that the care-taking shouldn't be…

A Slow Return

This morning I ran four miles at about a 10:30 pace. It was not easy, and I did feel some residual pain (not from the calf injury, but from shin splints), but it's four miles I couldn't run a month ago. I'm grateful for that.

I actually started back running several weeks ago, after a nine-week break, and I had about three successful four-to-five-mile runs, and then on my next run I felt pain in my left leg and thought it was my calf injury letting me know it was still there. I was pretty disappointed about that, but then when I was telling a friend about the pain, and how it was a little different than what I'd experienced before, he said it sounded like shin splints. Now, I'm no stranger to shin splints, as I'd trained through them for the Chicago Marathon, but it simply hadn't occurred to me that I was feeling something new; my mind just went straight the injury. And because the soleus muscle (which I'd injured) is really close to the tendon where shi…

A Rough Introduction to Trail Riding; Or, How I Gave New Meaning to the Term "Tree Hugger"

This weekend I did something pretty far outside of my comfort zone--well two things, really: camping, and trail riding. I accompanied my friend Cameron to the SWAMP Alafia Fat Tire Festival at Alafia River State Park. Here's how it went down:

The Night Ride Friday evening after work, I drove out to the park, farther away from society than I've been in Florida. Part of Cameron's directions to me read as follows: "Stay on CO672 for a long time. Like 10 -15 miles. Enjoy the amazing scenery, like the landfill and Bob's Dirt Pile. Road deadends at a hole in the wall gas station. Turn left. You'll see Alafia State Park on your right." We immediately prepped for night ride, which would be my introduction to trail riding. My lighting was not exactly sufficient--I had a front light and tail light, but no headlamp, so I had to make sure to sandwich myself between well-lit riders. I really had no idea what to expect. I knew there would be a trail cut in a forest, but …

Sadness and Gratitude (but Mostly Gratitude)

This past weekend was one of great joy peppered with moments of sadness. It was my birthday weekend, but it was also the weekend I had previously planned to be in D.C. to run the Marine Corps Marathon. While I'd somewhat made peace with the fact that I wouldn't be able to run the marathon, due to injury, I knew that the actual race day, the same as my birthday, would tug a bit at my heart strings. But I was lucky enough to stay occupied with birthday activities all weekend long, with only a couple of intermissions in which to take my quiet time to be alone and just feel sad.

The weekend started off with birthday coffee with a friend at the Oxford Exchange. This is a new venue in Tampa, basically downtown, that houses a coffee shop, a tea shop, a bookstore, a home goods store, a restaurant, and rentable upstairs meeting space. The building is historic, located across from the University of Tampa campus.

The coffee and tea vendors that occupy the building just happen to be two o…

My First Reiki Session

I don't pretend to know much about Reiki. What I knew before going into this session was that it was a form of energy healing of Eastern origin, based on the body's chakra system. Throughout my injury, I've done every kind of hands-on treatment I could think of or read about, but it occurred to me that there was another source of healing I hadn't tapped into: energy medicine. Actually, my aunt Pattie is the person who suggested Reiki early on in my injury when I posted about it on Facebook. Only later did it occur to me that I had a friend who was a Reiki master and practitioner. So I asked her if she'd be able to give me a session. She happily obliged, and we set a date.

I had my session a couple of hours ago, and this is what my experience was like:

First, it was a casual meeting, as Melissa and I had known each other for years, and we met in my office and closed the door.She sat across from me and put her hands up, palms facing my body, and pretty much said, &quo…

A Belated Ashtanga Yoga Preparation

Yesterday morning I did something I hadn't done in exactly one year and one day: I attended an Ashtanga yoga class. For a number of reasons--chief among them the priority that marathon training took in my life, but also the lack of offering at my preferred studio--I stopped going to a regular Ashtanga class. But I often missed it. So I was very excited that "my" yoga studio, Bella Prana, announced last week that they'd be offering Ashtanga classes twice per week. Further, I'd taken my only Ashtanga classes with the two instructors who happened to be staffing the new classes, so I had two happy reunions to look forward to.

The Sunday class was taught by Eric Wheeler, who is special to me because he is the instructor who ignited in me a deeper interest in and appreciation for yoga. Way back in the days when he taught at the USF Rec Center (2005-06 or so), I would attend his class with the intention of getting a physical practice, but he helped open my mind to yoga …

So, Just Kidding

Monday I posted that I had made my decision about whether to participate in the Marine Corps Marathon, and that my decision was to go. But last night, I came to my senses. (This is pretty much how all the days since my injury have gone--I will go, I won't go, I will, I won't...) I've been unbelievably stressed over this decision and over trying to train effectively for a marathon when I CAN'T RUN. In retrospect, the decision should have been more obvious to me, but I suppose a lot of things look better in retrospect.

Further, I'm also planning to run a marathon in mid-January, and it just occurred to me how little time I'll have to train for it even if I don't go to MCM. If I did go to MCM, I'd undoubtedly be taking time away from healing my leg, and then I'd be in this same "should I run or should't I" predicament for that marathon. That's not what I want.

But as a good friend pointed out to me last night, I have to commit to whic…

MCM Training: Week 14: Decision Time

I gave myself a deadline of this past weekend to decide whether I would try to run the marathon, now 20 days away, or forgo it in favor of more recovery. After a week of more concerted therapy efforts, more rest, and lots of reflection, I've decided to go to DC and "do" the marathon. Whether that means running, walking, or a combination of both, I feel confident I'll be able to finish within the time limit and, more important, not further injure myself.

Throughout most of the day Saturday, I was almost certain I would not go. I was feeling the same sort of background pain in my calf, in addition to other pains in my body--right IT band, left piriformis, right back-of-knee, achy shoulders--and I felt like my body might never feel good again. I was pretty despondent, despite getting to spend the day with my sister, mom, and niece. In fact, I've noticed an increase in depressive symptoms during the past week, in particular, even though I've tried my best to prep…

Epsom Salt Believer?

I hesitate to put this in writing, but today my leg feels better than it has all week. This is particularly surprising because I had a rough day with it yesterday. After feeling the pain all day, I went to the gym after work to try to get some cardio in. I first went to the elliptical machine and stayed on it for a whopping 15 minutes. But I could feel some mild pain even with that. So I then moved to the stationary bike and managed another 15 minutes (I hate doing stationary things). I then did a circuit of three weight machines, went to a treadmill to power walk for 10 minutes, and did the circuit once more. I left feeling very frustrated that this "low-impact" workout took so much effort (partly because I didn't know what to do), and I still felt like my leg was bothered by it.

When I got home, I ate dinner and then drew a hot bath with a lot of Epsom salt poured in and just soaked in it for as long as I could take the heat. I then applied my ice pack for about 30 min…

MCM Training: Rehab Accountability List

I realize today that I'm not taking my rehab as seriously as I've taken my training. While I know the various reasons for this, I'd rather not delve into those and instead would like to make a list of actions I should be seriously focusing on to help my recovery. My hope is that publicly declaring these actions will help keep me accountable during a time when I'm really having to dig deep to stay motivated.

Ice 3x per dayDo strengthening exercises given by PT 1x per dayStretch 2x per dayIncorporate elliptical or speed walking 2x per weekTake epsom salt baths 2x per weekBike longer than I think I canGo to bed earlier to get appropriate sleepListen to my body; if it hurts, don't do itBe grateful for what I can doPractice yoga--for well-being of both body and soul If anyone would like to help keep me accountable, I welcome your efforts!

MCM Training: Week 13 plus Diagnosis and Treatment

Week 13 This past week was my first full training week without running (mostly) or CrossBoot. It was definitely challenging to find activities that could replicate the levels of intensity I achieved in those two things. I had one bad and one good experience on the bike, and I did a lot of yoga.

I also did a couple of things that I should have known better than to do. For example, on Saturday afternoon, I attended a lindy-in-the-park event, put on by a group of swing dancers who have recently begun organizing new events. (As a side note, I originally moved to Tampa because of swing dancing, and I used to be heavily involved in it; but as the local dance scene changed, my interest began to wane.) I haven't danced in over a year, and I was excited enough to want to go and see some old friends and try my dance legs out. But dancing on concrete in rubber-soled shoes was just about the last thing I should have done. Swing dancing--lindy hop, specifically--can involve a lot of jumping an…

Yoga Therapy

After another day of worrying about my injury and whether it will heal in time for me to run MCM, I was feeling defeated. I left work thinking that all I really felt like doing was going home and lying down for the whole night. And eating. Lying down and eating. My other option, since I'm still not ready to go back to CrossBoot, was to go to a yoga class. But even that seemed like work, and I just felt like giving up. I thought about how I'd feel if I chose my first option, and I knew that would potentially make me feel even worse than I already did. So, while stopped at a traffic light (of course), I used my phone to register for the yoga class at my studio, Bella Prana (there's now an app for that!). I knew that if I registered, I wouldn't back out.

So I arrived home in time to change and get to class a bit early. I hadn't taken a class from this particular instructor, Greg Hass, so I wasn't sure what to expect. The class was a Flow Level 2 class, which was j…

Humbled by the Bike

Actually, I've been humbled by a lot of things lately, but I felt particularly put in my place by my bike ride this evening. I took the road bike out to Flatwoods after work, in my first real effort to do more than the typical 12-mile route I do. I thought this new route, a paved path without the interruption of traffic and surrounded by trees, would be inspiring. And while it was a beautiful setting, I just didn't have a great ride. I can't seem to go much faster than 15mph, and even then other cyclists buzz past me as if I'm barely turning my feet over. My thighs burn constantly, one knee gets tight, and my hands cramp.

I know I don't have a lot of power in my legs--it's been pointed out to me more than once, but this was ridiculous. I struggled to just get through 18.66 miles. Meanwhile, a man comes up along side me for some chit-chat and tells me how he's just out for a 38-miler. He asked me what speed I was trying to go, and when I told him 15, he pret…

MCM Training: Week 12 Update: Cautious Optimism

I've gone through quite a range of emotions over the past four days of rest from training (Thursday through Sunday).

Thursday, the first rest day, was fine, as I usually have one day of rest in a week, anyway. But Friday was greatly frustrating. My leg wasn't feeling any better (I know, I know--I hadn't even given it two days of rest), and tiny seeds of doubt about running the marathon had planted themselves in my brain. To add to the frustration, I learned rather inconveniently that my gym membership on campus had ended and was in need of renewal. So when I arrived to take a Muscle Madness class and was told I needed to renew (which I hadn't been notified of), I lost my civility and started mouthing off to the desk attendants (who were, in fairness to me, pretty much the opposite of helpful). Instead of helping me, they told me I could renew over at a kiosk. I wasn't prepared to make the decision to renew, and I didn't want to pay the daily fee of $10. So I st…

MCM Training: Weeks 11 & 12: Broken Down, but Not Broken

Last week was a fairly strong week, except that I really started to feel persistent pain in my left lower leg, mostly in my shin (anterior and posterior) and high Achilles. If felt the worst of it Thursday, when I attempted a 5-miler but instead cut it short to 3. I wanted to preserve my legs for my 17-mile long run on Saturday. I'm sure it didn't help that we did tons of sprints at CrossBoot on Wednesday night. I've been so proud of myself for making it out to two CrossBoot classes per week, but I'm afraid my legs are just not handling the speed drills very well, on top of my long training runs.

Monday I ran 4 miles before CrossBoot, because I didn't wake up in time to do it in the morning. This was my first run since the previous Saturday's 20-miler, and I really felt the pain in my leg. Then we had a rather leg-heavy CrossBoot class, but I didn't feel much pain during or after the class.

On Tuesday I ran with a couple of buddies in the evening. Our meet-…

MCM Training: Week 10: Second 20-Miler

Last week was basically an anticipatory build-up to my second 20-miler, which I initially wasn't planning to do, as that meant I'd end up with three total before the marathon. But I was feeling good enough to do it, and in a way I think I was still riding the success of the first one.

Also last week, I got two more CrossBoot classes in--one was a morning holiday session (for Labor Day), which are notoriously brutal sessions, and the other was my normal Wednesday night class. I feel really good when I can get two classes in per week; although, in the immediate days following, my legs don't feel great when I run, but I think in the long run (no pun intended), I'm getting stronger and even a bit faster.

I wasn't as good about doing morning runs last week, and in fact, I fell two miles short of my weekly mileage because my Tuesday run, which I switched with my Thursday run, was a painful one (and should have been six miles). For pretty much the first time this training…